Thursday, December 28, 2006

President Ford and Iraq

It's all starting to come out. The late President Ford disagreed with the Bush policy on Iraq. I'm not surprised. Unfortunately, the current administration has typically been hostile to the ideas of other people. "BB's off a rhino," as we used to say.

Now that Rumsfeld is gone and Cheney has dropped out of sight, we might see a change in Bush. It'll be interesting to see what his new plan is going to be for Iraq. Based on past policy, it will probably lack a clear goal and call for more violence.

It's clear already to most Americans...we should not have entered Iraq. It's going to fuel violence and terrorism for at least another generation of Arabs.

There were multiple other options, as Ford suggests in the AP article, but I think Cheney is the biggest creep in this story. I think he saw the whole Iraq endeavor as a lucrative power play, and this is the proper role of a CEO, right?

Even hanging Hussein seems hollow at this point, when compared to the devastation that this war has caused to Iraq. I mean, he was convicted of killing 150 people (although it's clear that he killed many more). With all respect to the dead, 150 seems like a small number when compared tot he ~100,000 (or more?) Iraqis that have been killed as a result of the current war.

Plus, 2,900 American troops have been killed (so we've doubled the number killed in the World Trade Center that what we wanted?). What a mess.

In conclusion, President Ford, rest in peace and please stand by the United States as we go through these dangerous and difficult times.


Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas = Family

During this holiday weekend, I have heard a lot of people talking about the meaning of Christmas. Some say it was originally a Pagan holiday that celebrates light at the darkest time of year. Others say that it originated as a Norse practice involving St. Nicholas and gift giving. Others focus on the birth of Jesus Christ as central to the holiday.

From my perspective, Christmas is all of these things. But how can this be? Here's why: No matter what your particular tradition, Christmas always equals family. Each year, people all over the world gather with family and loved ones at this time of year.

And it goes beyond that: We actually enter into a realm of spiritual selflessness at this time of year. We think about the needs of others and we open our wallets to charitable causes.

I think Joe Campbell would say that we become selfless at this time of year (in the northern hemisphere, anyway) because we have reached the nadir of our annual journey. It is at this time, a time where the sun has all but dropped below the horizon, we realize our precarious place int he universe. That's when we realize that We Are One and we turn to each other and simply say, "I love you."

Christmas is, indeed, a celebration of human love, particularly for family. Pagans understand this, the Norse peoples understand this, and Christians understand this. Everyone who celebrates Christmas or Yule or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa understands that this is the time of year for family.

In fact, my personal holy trinity is father+mother+child.

So, before we get carried away with Jesus's death and resurection (which inevitably enters into the Christmas rhetoric), let's appreciate Mary's triumph. She gave birth to a son, and that, in itself, is enough for rejoicing because it represents all "Mary's" and all "babies."

Second, let's give a shout out to Joseph, who stood by his family to complete the trinity.

My coffee is getting cold and my family is in the other room, so I need to end this entry. But the next time someone asks you about the real meaning of Christmas, you can tell them FAMILY.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Blessed Yule, Happy Kwanzaa


Friday, December 22, 2006

Beat The Drum

I had the opportunity recently to see this wonderful movie - Beat The Drum. It's about a little boy in South Africa, whose whole family is wiped out by AIDS, and how he was to deal with it, and ultimately, how the whole African continent, I guess, is going to, or is dealing with, AIDS. The movie was made in 2003, so maybe a few things have changed, but this was one of the most tragic stories I've ever seen. Both his parents are dead - his father, on his deathbed gives this 11-year-old a drum, which is symbolic as the instrument used to let people know about AIDS. The theme of the movie is that Africans deny the existence of AIDS, considering it a curse, and as a result shut any preventative measures and spread the disease. Practices such as a brother marrying his deceased sibling's wife, even if he died of AIDS, and grown men suffering from AIDS raping pre-pubescent girls because they think sex with a virgin will cure them, are touched upon. The whole thing is tragic and focuses a lot on the plight of the orphans this epidemic is creating. This poor kid in the movie has to hitchike to Johannesburg and work cleaning windows of stopped cars to support himself. And he's doing better than a lot of his compatriots...

I broke down crying like six times. I think the guy sitting next to me on the plane must have thought I flipped. This was a heckuva film on many levels - although a bit preachy, but still I felt it was a noble attempt (on a low-budget) at conveying a valuable message - something rarely done in Hollywood (this, of course, was an Inde flick). Anyway, I wanted to share this art with some friends and relatives but have been unable to find anyplace locally or on-line to rent or buy this movie. According to its Web site, the movie won like 30 awards. So, why can't I find it? But, I can find 30 copies of the Legend of Bobby Whatever (a pretty funny movie actually) at my local video store. That's fucked up.

Cheers. Merry XMas


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

W Cheering on the Troops

In the blog comments from Tuesday December 5, Ralph asked whether GW Bush was a cheerleader. The answer is YES. In fact, he was a letter winner in cheerleading at Andover and Yale.

According to the Information Clearinghouse: "[as a former cheerleader] the president knows how tough it is to keep spirits up when it becomes clear that his team is not winning, but the bedlam in Iraq has become the supreme test. Some of his fellow cheerleaders have quit cheering, and even the Fox News Channel is having trouble putting on a brave front. "

I'd laugh at this commentary if it all weren't so tragic.

And from USA Today: "The mistaken war and botched aftermath have created such a mess that the only credible course change must be predicated on this painful question: Is there an achievable goal that makes the further sacrifice of American lives worthwhile? With each passing day, that is looking less and less likely. ... What, exactly, is the goal that U.S. forces are fighting and dying for?"

Can anybody answer this question? Other than to reply with the tired and vague canard, "The War on Terror."

What's the cheerleader-in-chief's solution in December 2006 (3.5 years into a war that was supposed to take six months)? He's talking about sending more troops.

Can cheerleader's read? Do they have to take history classes in college? Somewhere along the line, this guy must have missed a lot of history and political science classes, because he clearly doesn't understand that Arabs will always drive the white man from Arab soil (just as Americans would drive Arabs from the North American continent, no matter how benevolent their stated goal).

He'll be calling up the National Guard soon to continue this escapade.

When is W's term in office over? That's when the war, the maiming, the deaths--and the money hemorraging from our wallets--will finally stop.

Al Shugart and the Superparamagnetic Limit

In 1956, at IBM Corporation, Al Shugart, along with Reynold Johnson and a team of engineers, invented the first computer hard drive. The first drives were large and cumbersome, but, as with all technology, the footprint was reduced and the capacity was increased.

Fifty years later, Al's legacy lives on, simultaneously enslaving and liberating millions of people around the world each day.

Alas, Al Shugart is dead at age 76 from complications following heart surgery.

During my days as a tech journalist, I had many conversations with Al. He was always willing to offer his perspective on the world of technology. One of the most interesting conversations I had with him involved the "superparamagnetic limit." In layman's terms, the "superparamagnetic limit" involves the amount of data that can be written to the surface of a magnetic hard drive.

Logic dictates that you can only write so much onto a magnetic surface of limited size, right? But what is that limit? 1GB? 10GB? 100GB? 1TB? Today, most PCs come with an 80GB HDD and the upper limit is somewhere around 320 GB. Now, I know they stack platters and use other trick, but still, the amount of data that can be written to a HDD continues to increase dramatically with no end in sight. Amazing.

So, when I think of Al, I think about infinite possibilities. He was an expansive guy and his legacy has left us with a universe of options, from word processing to podcasting to blogging.

Thanks Al, and may you rest in peace.


Tuesday, December 19, 2006


So, I'm reading a biography on Alexander the Great, the Macedonian king who conquered most of Asia by the time he was like 30 or something. So-so book, but a fascinating story. Alexander seems to be regarded as a military and political genius. He was also a ruthless megalomaniac, who believed himself to be descended from gods... and maybe he was... but this posturing made me recall a wonderful story by Rudyard Kipling, entitld, "The Man Who Would Be King." You may be familiar with the movie version, a '70s flick that stars an in-his-prime Sean Connery in the title role. In the story, Connery uses his assocation with the FreeMasons to ligitimitize a link between himself and "Sandra" (as the natives call him) or Alexander, who had once conquered the land Connery is now marauding in. It's a great movie, and the story by Kipling is also great. You can find it here for free download from the Guttenberg Book Project.

Kipling is a great storyteller, and being able to write like him is one of the reasons I wanted to be a writer. Here's a line from the story discussing fake foreign correspondents making threats of blackmail on local politicos in India:

“They do not understand that nobody cares a straw for the internal administration of Native States so long as oppression and crime are kept within decent limits, and the ruler is not drugged, drunk, or diseased from one end of the year to the other.”

That gives you some idea of the style and gist of the story. It's kind of like a Heart of Darkness (by Conrad) type piece, which of course is the story that Apocolyspe Now is based on. Anyway, it's a great tale of adventure told in a humorous fashion, but also a bit of a morality tale. Yes, DoktorDee, I think it's got a lot of the elements of great mythology embedded within. There's also a couple great paragraphs discussing the lives of both loafers and journalists-two of my favorite classes of people.

Carry on,


Wednesday, December 13, 2006


As you may or may not know, I recently returned from a weeklong conference in Berlin. I was pretty busy with work most of the time, but did get a couple nights and one day to see some of the city. Some observrations:
1. Beer was good - well, you probably knew that
2. City was expensive - kind of reminded me of New York City. The area I was staying in, around the Unter Den Linden - means something like "street of lime trees" - was all lit up and had a lot of upscale stores. Plus, the dollar is at an all-time low vs. the Euro. I gave the exchange guy $200 at the airport and got back 130 Euro or something. That sucked.
3. Berliners are not afraid of the cold - It was in the '40s in the evenings (sun went down around 4:30 p.m.), but there were still a ton of people in these outdoor markets they had set up all over town. Many of these were speciality XMas gift setups, but one of them, called the Gendermenmarkt, is apparently a year 'round thing. On Friday evening, I stopped in there, drank a couple Gluweins - this hot sweet wine - and watched some dancers perform on an outdoor stage. You could see their breath, but they were still wearing tights and dancing dresses, and it was quite entertaining. Earlier that evening, at another outdoor market, I wolfed down a big plate of steaming pork and sauerkraut. Good stuff. I also saw a rock band performing outdoors in front of one of the big department stores - reminded me of like a Boston Store-type place, and it was packed. Did I mention that people in Berlin seem to like to shop.
4. Rembrandt and Boticelli are awesome artists - On Saturday I had some time to hit the Gemaldegalerie, this wonderful gallery with something like 900 paintings in 70 rooms. These paintings are from European artists from the 1200s through the 1700s. The Rembrandt works struck me first. I found myself fascinated by one of them, the facial expression really drawing me in, and then I looked down to see who it was by - and I realized why he has such a great reputation. Quickly, it seems to me Rebrandt best captures the ambiguity of human life in his facial expressions. His people seem very complex - they are not one dimensional happy or sad, but have very complex expressions, which draws you in, makes them seem real. The version of the Joseph and the Wife of Potiphar that hangs there (there's also one in Washington, DC, apparently) particularly drew me in and held my interest for a long time. Boticelli's facial expressions had an equal complexity about them, but they were all these sleepy eyed Italians, which really captivated me, based on the make-up of my own face. I really wanted to know what his portaits were thinking and felt very comfortable staring at them and trying to figure this out.
5. Prostitution is legal - Didn't know this. For some reason my tour book didn't seem to mention it. But once I got out of the posh neighborhood I was staying in and spent a bit of time on the Oranienburger Strasse, man, were they ever open for busienss. As a single guy walking down the street, I must have looked like any easy mark - and was approached by someone every half block it seemed. It was starting to wig me out, as I kept picturing myself getting robbed, my wallet and passport stolen - of course, I was kind of hung over and pretty far from home, so I was being paranoid. Now that I also know these women were just trying to make an honest buck, I feel bad that I may have been rude to them.

Hope you find this info useful if someday you travel to Berlin, or just interesting if not. By the way, a round trip airfare, because I returned to Erie on Sunday, was like $530 dollars, including tax.



Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Should Colleges and the NFL Develop a Semi-Pro League?

According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, "More than a third of the 64 college football teams headed to bowl games this season have failed to meet academic standards set by the National Collegiate Athletic Association, according to an annual report released on Monday by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida."

My question: Should the charade continue or should US colleges team up with the NFL and invest in a semi-pro league that would feed players to the NFL but would not pretend to grant degrees to athletes who have no inclination or ability in the area of academics?

Thursday, November 30, 2006

NFL Football Moving Away from Low-Income Fans

I have been watching a disturbing trend lately concerning the NFL. It seems that the NFL---in order to pay astronomical player and coach salaries---has been forced to seek new revenue streams.

The solution is to televise Monday Night Football on ESPN and, now, Thursday evening games on NFL Network.

I do not have ESPN and I do not have NFL Network, so I cannot watch these games. That's the thanks I get for being a loyal fan of the NFL my entire life (and occasionally buying its merchandise...hats, t-shirts, sweatshirts).

I'm curious to hear the thoughts of Ralph's readers. I see it as more evidence of the widening gap between those with plenty of disposable income and those without.

Any thoughts?


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

J.P. Losman

If you haven't seen it yet, check out J.P. Losman's game winning pass from this past Sunday's game vs. the Texans. This is an absolute bullet, on the money, in the back of the end zone. Yes, as a Bills fan, we haven't had much to celebrate this year, but this was one of those rare moments... of course, until I read this excerpt from DJ Gallo's column on ESPN page 2, which kind of put it in perspective:

"After Losman led the Bills on a last-minute drive to defeat the Texans, Houston cornerback Dunta Robinson had this to say: 'If that had been Peyton Manning, you'd expect it. But it was J.P. Losman. That's embarrassing. I hope he doesn't feel too good, because we just shot ourselves in the foot.' Yeah, Losman, you shouldn't feel too good. You had to resort to a last-minute drive to beat Dunta Robinson and the Texans. Most teams usually put them away long before the fourth quarter. You should be embarrassed. You're so pathetic I'm surprised you're not a Houston Texan."


Monday, November 20, 2006

Erie's Dick Chaney

So, I'm sure you've all seen by now that the City of Erie is considering putting Erie Golf Course on the market. Most interesting thing about this is that the City reportedly paid almost $2 million to upgrade the course just a couple years ago, but now say the best they could hope to sell it for as a golf course is $600,000. Wow, talk about a bad investment. The story says council approved this investment - does anyone else think this should be investigated? Shouldn't council have to accept some responsibility for this.

I remember when the funds were being allocated, and I was scratching my head as to how they expected to make that money back. Apparently, someone must have sold council a bill of goods on this. On a much smaller scale, the whole thing reminds me of the Iraq War, which for the life of me never made sense from the get go.

My question is, who will benefit the most from this waste of our city taxpayers money? The waste in Iraq clearly benefits Dick Cheney and his ilk. Who is Erie's Dick Cheney?

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Abe Lincoln

Here's a quote that my buddy Soup sent me last week in response to my post on addiction:

"It has been my experience that folks who have no vices have very few virtues."

It's from our beloved 16th president. It's kind of a hard one to shake. It reminds me of the old Mike Tyson, back when he was the heavyweight king of the world. He was a bad man. I remember seeing an interview with him at the time and, in his funny kind of high-pitched voice, he was bemoaning the fact that he'd be out running at five in the morning and see his buddies just getting in from being out all night. He said he wished he was with them. That said a lot about his character right there. He was also manic depressive, which in my opinion meant he had somed heightened sensibilities, which enabled him to channel the excitement of a heavyweight fight, the crowed and the moment, and really kick some ass. If you remember, he could really kick some ass. Come at you with both hands flailing like jackhammers. But then all sorts of shit started to distract him. And I don't know if he got medicated or what following his attempted suicide/murder of Robin Givens by crashing his car into the tree, but he went downhill after that.

The only other person I've come across who openly supports my theory that psychosis helps the performance of some athletes is Dr. Z. - the grizzled verteran football writer for SI.

But, like Tyson, Abe L. apparently drove his wife crazy too. Greatness is a tough thing.


Friday, November 10, 2006

Leaf bags

Does anyone else live in the city? And is it the same in the county? Apparenlty, there has been an ordinance passed that requires you to use biodegradable bags for your leaves. Seems like a decent enough idea. Same the environment and all that. But, why is it that we are restricted to one brand of bag? I mean who voted on this? Is the company that makes these clear green biodegradable bags owned by the brother-in-law of someone in local government? These things cost $4.00 for 10 - 40 cents per bag and they're not very sturdy, so you can't stuff too many leaves in. And ther is no competition, so I can can't see prices going down or quality improving any time soon. What's behind this monopoly? Did the city sell the rights like they would a cable franchise?

I guess you have the option of using a fleet of trash cans instead, which is nice, but I have to admit the whole thing caught me kind of out of left field. One year, I've got a system down with the clear bags, and even have some saved from last year, and the next thing I'm hit with these new rules. I guess it's maybe listed on the recycling guide I got at the beginning of the year, but who reads these that closely? Did any of the local news outlets cover this? Leaf bags might not seem like a big story, but we've got some big ass trees around town, and I know plenty of people who fill 30-40 bags per year - and that was with sturdier, clear ones. We could be talking 100 of these biodegradable things. That $40 on leaf bags.

Anyway, I need to do some research on the company that makes these biodegradable bags and find out how they got legislated into my life.



Thursday, November 09, 2006


Wow, was Bush quick to throw Rummy under the bus. Not even a moment's hesitation. This guy has been messing up for at least four years now, and Bush finally decides to get rid of him. Doesn't he see that it's too late? Or is this some sort of peace offering to the Democrats? Either way, if that's the way Bush treats his loyal followers - well, I guess the Colin Powell episode should have shown us that it is.

Funny thing is that I saw Rummy's now infamous press conference on C-Span last week. I happened to be feeding the baby and I've found that C-Span has a very calming effect on him - it almost always puts him to sleep. I used baseball for the same effect on my first born. But Rummy was in his legendary rude, condescending and obnoxious form. It was the first time I'd seen it live and uncut for such a long period of time. Boy, did he treat the press shabbily. Anyhow, if it took this last election for Bush to realize what a jack-ass this guy was...well, as I've said before, Bush's obtuseness is remarkable.



Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Matthew Good

More politicians should have quotes like this one: "I doubt that if I cut off my right arm that they’d be satisfied with it.” Good was discussing voters dissatisfaction with him for voting in favor of that midnight pay raise last year.


Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Krauthammer on elections

Speaking of voting, has anyone checked out Charles Krauthammer's column appearing in today's Erie paper? (I used the Seattle Times link because some people have complained about having trouble opening my GoErie links.) Krauty makes some interesting points about the historical dissastisfaction with sixth-year presidents and how we've seen this type of Cogressional changing of the guard before. Is it the typical Republican series of selected numbers that only tell their slant of the story? Probably, but it does seem to provide some interesting historical perspective.


Voting, Part II

Well, I went and took care of business. I kind of surprised myself with the way I voted. I had full intentions of voting for two or even all three Republicans on the ballot, but as I stood at the voting machine, the anger in me over the Iraq War and the deficit started to swell up, and I just couldn't do it. Plus, I thought of all the money Rendell has pledged to the Kohler project and figured he couldn't be that bad of a guy, even if he does come across as an old-school, glad-handler, politician...


Monday, November 06, 2006

Addiction and Grace

I was recently thinking about all the people I know who are addicted to something, whether that be drinking, smoking, sex, work, washing their hands, or all of the above, sometimes at once. This got me thinking about the causes of addictions. They clearly exist to fill some void, create some sort of security blanket for people to clutch to, because we all need that. So, are addictions inevitable? My theory is no -that trust can enable a person to let go. Trust in society, or fellow man, or God (the Church) or whatever you want to call it. You have to able to let go of that security blanket and allow yourself to fall into the great unknown with faith the something will pick you up....Well, that's the short of it at least. I've just launched into a book entitled Addiction and Grace - Love and Spirituality in the Healing of Addictions, that I hope will provide some more insights. It's written by a psychiatrist, Gerald G. May, M.D., and for some reason the previews just seem to connect with me and my state of mind. So I bought a used copy on Amazon.

I just finished the preface and came across this nugget: ..."major addiction is the sacred disease of our time." Not sure what that means, but I like the way it sounds. More on this topic later.




Don't you hate it when people rotely encourage others to get out and vote? I really don't think you should encourage anyone to vote unless they are educated on the candidates and issues. Why would you just want people to vote for the sake of voting? All that does is dilute the vote of those who take the time to make an educated decision. I wish we'd reconsider the way we market our right to vote.

Speaking of voting, this will be the first time I vote on the new electronic touch-screen machines. I guess they debuted in May, but I was out of town and missed the primaries. Let it be know, that I am staunchly against the use of these devices-at least the way they are being currently implimented. In my professional life, I've had occasion to speak with developers of alternative, more trustworthy technology. Granted, these guys had their own agenda to push... but if you need any convincing, wade through this Vanity Fair article from a couple years ago. Granted, Vanity Fair is a clearly biased, liberal rag, but still, this article is pretty damn convincing, when coupled with everything else I've heard. (When I say "wade" - it's acutally a great read, but the quality of the image viewing experience in this link is pretty low. If you can find a printed, or electronic copy of the article, it would probably be better, but I stress again, it's an eye-opening piece.)

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Undercover Brother

I have to recommend this movie to you on several levels. Mainly, it's one of the funniest movie I can remember seeing since The Naked Gun: Part II - that was at least 15 years ago, and I was stoned when I saw that, so this may be even funnier, if you did an apples to apples comparison. One caveat I will insert is that it probably helps to have a 70s frame of reference to fully enjoy Undercover Brother. I was born in '67, so the 70s were definintely my formative years, but someone a little older, who was even more a part of the 70s scene, might enjoy this even more. Great kicks, I'm telling you. (And the soundtrack was just cool.)

I think I laughed out loud about 30 times during this flick. This compares to something like Ancorman, during which I may have laughed out-loud once. Interestingly, during my recent trip to Prague, a couple guys I was with insisted Ancorman was really funny - and that's the consensus I get from 90% of everyone I talk to. Well, I thought this was 10 times funnier. Has anyone else seen both flicks?

I thought Ancorman's jokes were predicable, hackneyed, and played out for the most part. This flick, even though it was made in 2002, seemed pretty fresh. And it had the special quality, that almost whenever you thought it was getting stupid, they'd throw you a curve and make you laugh and "suspend the disbelief." It's really a tightrope walk to achieve this type of effect in a farcical flick, like this one is, but in my opionion, they pull it off masterfully. Check it out if you get a chance.



Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Harold Ford ad

Here's a link to that infamous Harold Ford Ad paid for by the Republican National Comittee. I've read and heard so much about it over the past couple days, I thought I finally had to give it a looksee. Check it out, it's really a pretty funny, well done, watchable ad. And I'm not sure I read the racism that most Dems seem to be reading. The Dem read seems to be that the flirting bimbo is there to insinuate that Harold Ford fools around with white women and therefore stir up all the Tennessee folk who believe interacial dating is wrong. If you ask me, this interpretation is just as much of an insult to white folk in Tennessee as the ad is to African Americans/black folk.

I'm from the north, so maybe I'm discounting the angst the interacial dating causes in some parts of the country, but the first time I watched it, I just thought they were trying to suggest that Harold Ford consorted with bimbos and hangs out at the Playboy mansion, which is a strategy that could conceivably be used to attack white as well as black politicians. I mean look what they did to Clinton over Monica L., and they were both white. I'd have to say that the liberal Dems are just as guilty as the Republicans here, in there efforts to make a mountain out of a molehill - but I must add, that like the Republicans have traditionally been, they seem to be succeeding with the help of the national media.

Just some food for thought.


Monday, October 30, 2006

Verizon DSL

So, I know everyone likes to complain about bad service, but for once, I'd like to give some kudos and plaudettes for some quality service from Verizon DSL. When I first got the stuff installed, the service was great, but then is dropped off severely over the past year or so. However, it seems, they must have had a reorg or something, as I just completed a great and satisfying exchange with them. On Friday, it seems I blew out my modem. Don't know how it happened, but I suspect it had something to do with my wireless router. I didn't know what was wrong, so I just phoned tech support and believe it or not, got a person, right away. It was an Indian gentleman, and he couldn't have been more helpful. He didn't waste time, and after a couple of tries, he determined my modem was fried and transferred me to the correct person to order a new one. They told me two to three business days, and it showed up today. I plugged it in, and I am back on-line. Anyways, it was a remarkably painless service call - with the exception of the $40 for the new modem (or was it $30). Does anyone have a modem older than 4 years, because they seemed to think that was about all I could expect out of the thing?



Friday, October 27, 2006


Has anyone ever heard of the German thespian Klaus Kinski? People my age would probably best associate him as the father of the great beauty and sometimes actress Nastassja Kinski. Klaus, however, was a great actor in his own right. Some say the greatest German actor in history. Granted, it seems he made a lot of crappy movies. Some of his better ones include the Clint Eastwood flick, For a Few Dollars More, as well as a remake of the vampire movie Nosfaratu. He also apparently made three classics with famed German director Werner Herzog. All of this might be conveniently forgotten, as well as Kinski's notorious condescending attitude toward directors, volatile temper, and lavish lifestyle, if it were not for a fabulous book he wrote, called Kinski Uncut - his autobiography. Uncut apparently refers to his member, which was uncircumcised, and if you believe half of what you read -- well, let's just say he knew how to use that thing. The book starts out fairly mildly and a bit depressingly, as he apparently had a really rough childhood, that ended up with him getting drafted into the Nazi army when he was 16 and shot by the British. Well, he survives and somehow becomes obsessed with acting and grows into this phenomenal thespian. He is an artist through and through, totally dedicated to his craft, pretty much at the expense of any normalcy in his everyday life. And part of his thing is fucking chicks. I mean all sorts of chicks, here, there and everywhere, which he recounts in lurid detail in his autobiography. I mean reading this thing is like the proverbial train wreck, you want to put it down, but you keep going back to it, mainly because it's so shocking. The enthusiasm he uses to describe his exploits is infectious. Probably, needless to say, all this fucking wasn't great for his personal relationships, and he was forever have blowouts and breakups with girls and women, but quickly then finding new ones. I don't know, as I said I think this is a great book - mainly for the straightforward enthusiasm which is poured into it, even as you know this train that is Kinski is going too fast and going to be headed off the tracks. I told my friend who gave it to me that it reminded me of a Kerouac novel. Kerouac's life, however, ended much more badly than Kinski's I think... but that's all irrelevant now. If you are interested in a vulgar, intriguing, exciting, disgusting, titillating, etc. portrait of an artist, check out Kinski Uncut.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Bye-Bye Prague

The sun sets on my trip.

Say a prayer for my safe trip home.

Evening traffic on the Charles Bridge

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


So, have you ever drank absinthe before? Apparently, it's a big drink here in the Czech Republic. I think I remember Hemmingway drinking it in The Sun Also Rises. I had a couple shots tonight. Pretty interesting stuff. Supposed to be a hallucingen. You decide. Maybe only a couple shots haven't caused me to see much.

Anyway, the way you drink it, here at least, is that you put a bunch of sugar on a spoon, you dip the spoon in the absinthe, which is really high in alcohol conent, and then you light the sugar on fire. I tried this last night for the first time and thought I was going to burn the bar down. Anyway, tonight, I managed to somewhat convince five other people to come out with me for a shot, and we were more successful. We also ordered a hookah for good measure. Anyhow, after you let the spoon full of sugar burn for awhile (it looks like you basing or something), you blow it out and plunge it into your shot glass full of blue colored absinthe. You stir it around and then down it quickly. It has a strange effect. Seems to counteract the alchohol. Anyhow, I'm.. I just thought I'd tell you about that, as I had a couple shots tonight.

Cheers from Czech Republic.


Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Prague Pics

On the left is the top of a church, St. James (I believe it is called) that dominates the skyline in the Old Towne section of Prague.
On the right are some wooden carved doors at the base of the Church.

This is that crazy Kahfka statue I was talking about.

On the right is another statue in the main part of O'Town.

These last two images are of the clock that sits in the main square at Old Towne. At left is the action - at every hour, those two doors on top of the clock open up and those guys come out and the figurines on the side of the clock move. Really fun stuff.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Prague Post

So, I finally made it over here to the Czech Republic and the reason I think the movie European Vacation holds up so well, is because it's based on true stuff. For example, there's a safe in the room and I've managed to lock my camera and walkman in there with no clue how to open. For example, we spend a half hour wandering around downtown looking for "Old Towne" supposedly the big tourist attraction here and nobody seemed to know where it was. Anyways, when we did find it, we had dinner in a great outdoor beer garden with heat lamps. Drank the local brew and listen to the big stone town clock chiming behind us. Lot's of great stone buildings here. Incredible old architecture.

One of the most bizzare events of the trip ocurred at Heathrow Airport in London. They made me go through immigration/customs to check one of my two carry-on bags and then when I tried to check back in told me I had to wait an hour because I was too early... anyways, nobody's interested in travel woes... but as I'm waiting this hour, I go up to a coffee shop and log onto the Internet. About a half hour later this bald guy with tattoos on his arms who had been sitting at table nearby comes up to me and says, "Mate, do you know what day it is?" "Why, it's October 16, sir," I enthusiastically reply, but not really like that. I say something along the lines of "I think it's the 16th, let me look it up." And then I do and confirm it and he's messing around with his watch. And then he says, get this, "what month is it?" What month is it? Who the fuck doesn't know what month it is? And this guy was in the airport, and he didn't look homeless. I immediately began getting suspicious, but still haven't figured out what his game was. I told him, he thanked me, seemed to set his watch, and carry on his merry way. "What month is it?"


Friday, October 06, 2006

Espresso and more

So, having a baby around the house seems to have caused me to develop an addiction to espresso. I may have to change the mindset of Ralph's Place from an alcohol-centric bar to a coffee bar. You know what would be great? An espresso/sports bar, in which you were able to accept bets on games. I'd love to have a bunch of wired people placing bets. They'd probably be smarter than drunks, however, or would they? Either way, if you just took a cut on the bets and let someone offshore handle the bookmaking... well I guess that's all illegal now, but it could be the beginnings of a plan.

Has anyone out there ever owned an espresso machine? I think I remember somebody telling me they had, but that it was very hard to make your own good espresso. Starbucks, for all the bad shit you can say about them, does make a killer espresso. My hat is off to them for that. I had about six cups of their ground French Roast, brewed here today, can you tell? and I'm still jonesing for a latte.

In addition to the espresso bar, I have this vision for a book I'm working on, which I've written about 50 rough draft "chapters" for. It basically involves the ramblings of an existensialist middle-class would-be poet like myself. Here's my latest. (My lyrical work is somewhat modeled after Jack Kerouac's Mexico City Blues, where he fancies himself a bluesman blowing his horn in a session - with his words being his riff:

My wife is pretty sexy...
I like to rub her shoulders
help her to relax.
Let out her deep breaths
Watch her chest heave up and down
feel the softness of her breasts.

We just had our third child.
A beautiful little boy
so strong and tough
but still a baby of course,
babies are tough like that
solid little monkies

Now I’m chasing my wife around the house
wanting to make love
grab her and bed her down
and all that kind of stuff

and she rebuffs me and I fight back
too soon she says
but I can see from the twinkle
that she wants it too

lovely little lady
long limbed, full-lipped
enveloping mine like a flower in full bloom
swallowing the pollen that my insect
mouth brings to her
like the good Catholics that we are.



Feeback, criticisms are appreciated.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Vikings Bills Wrap -up

Well, Dr. Dee, your Vikings and your (our) boy Brad Johnson came to life in the fourth quarter. I guess we were unjustly doubting him, based on the ugliness of the first three quarters. Like any masterful QB/field general, he was just setting the Bills up for the demoralizing last-quarter charge. Unfortunatley, his teammates weren't up to the task, as the bumbler Marcus Robinson, the guy who I said used to be real good for the Bears many years ago, stumbled and dropped a beautifully thrown bomb that should have nailed the Bills in their coffin - in a very artistic fashion, no less. Johnson was creating a work of art, a comeback masterpiece, but unfortunately for the Vikes, Robinson was not with the program....


Thursday, September 28, 2006


My favorite line from the Bill Simmons (Sports Guy) chat session yesterday on ESPN, Page 2:

Elias Sports Bureau (Somewhere, US): TO has officially broken the long-standing record for "most awkward and fake smiling in a suicide-attempt-prompted live press conference by a distracting wide receiver that has to play with Drew Bledsoe."

That about says it all...


Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Sunny Day

Sun feels really good today. If you get a chance, check it out.


Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Post Birth

Okay, so Andrew is here and we are starting to get settled in. Pretty exciting stuff. We've had about 100 visitors in the past week, so that's been pretty hectic. Maggie's been trying to get some rest, but she's a pretty social person, so there's been some balancing there. For my part, I have bunkered down in Ralph's Place - the basement, a bit more than usual, having a couple drinks at the bar and playing some ABPA baseball with my son, while my daughter, Mariah, plays around with the toys down there. Hopefully, this gives Mom some quiet time...

One new thing we've been doing is watching the reruns, of the HBO show, The Wire. Fascinating show about (at least in Season One) a group of Baltimore police trying to bust up a drug ring in the projects. It was recommended by one of my favoriate columnists, the Sports Guy, and unlike the last video I rented on his recommendation, The Ancorman, the Wire has delivered. We've watched the first five episodes so far, and there very entertaining on several levels. You've got the whole entertaining police things going, some solid production work, a good story, and some urban culture stuff. It's good because appeals to both Maggie and I and there aren't too many shows that do that. Generally, I avoid police dramas, but this show hits many points of life and expands beyond its police/crime pacakaging. Don't know what we're going to do after we finish up with season 1, but for now, because the baby oddly likes to stay awake between about 9 .m. and 1 a.m. - perfect for the bar scene later in life I guess - the Wire is making good filler for us.

I've also watched a couple of Bills games this year and listened to one. Although Red on his radio show yesterday said he was impressed, I unfortunately am not. They laid a big egg vs. the Jets, despite outgaining them all over the field. However, as we've seen for years, moving the ball between the 20s does no one any good in the long run. You've got to punch it in.


Saturday, September 16, 2006

Baby Drew

HAPPY Birthday Big Boy!

This is our baby. Born yesterday. Pretty exciting. Everything went well. Mom in hosptial recovering. I'm headed down to see them.



Thursday, September 14, 2006

Oscar Gamble & In the Name of the Rose

I scribbled this little ditty down as a printed poem, but couldn't figure out how to scan and post at a high enough resolution so here's the typed translation. Hope you enjoy:

Two themes here
Oscar Gamble - sweet swingin' lefty.
Played for the Indians and the Yankees
And other teams I think.
About 5'11", 170-if that
But a big power hitter.
Bat Speed man
And a great big Afro
Big Afro
All-time hair team

In the Name of the Rose
Have you read it?
They made a movie
with Sean Connery
But have you read it
Solid Long complex rewarding
the monks in this book get up at like 2 a.m.
Go to bed at 7 p.m.
Why do they do that?
My wife says it's because it's peaceful at that hour.
Because no one else is up.
But these guys live on a mountain
Where no one else is.
They sleep on hay

My son was watching an informercial the other day
It was about bedbugs
Do you have bed bugs?
Do we have bed bugs?
He wants to take his pillowcase into my Dad's
His grandfather's (who is a microbiologist) lab
And check it for bed bugs
My Dad
Who is at dinner
Says no, nobody has bedbugs today unless they're
really really dirty. Unless they don't change their
sheets for a month
Is that true?
Then why was this informerical guy showing this
But he (my Dad) did say back in the old days
when people slept on hay
They had bugs - hay bugs - or bed bugs in hay
which was laying on the bed
Made me think of the monks
Who in the 14th century abbot
Slept on hay
Did they have bugs?

Monday, September 11, 2006

Heritage Day

This is some of what when on at the bayfront on Saturday. It was Heritage Day in Erie, and all the museums had free admission. We went down to the Liberty Bayfront Park to watch the Niagra and U.S.S. Baltimore sail by. I got some pictures of the Baltimore too, but this one of the Niagra was my best shot. Niagra was in full sail, while the Baltimore only had about three sails unfurled, so our ship looked better anyway. There was also some cool canon firing going on, both from the shore and a few from the ships. Then, we made it over the firefighters museum on 5th and Chesnut. Really quite a neat place that has been there for 30 years, but I never knew it. Packed with all sorts of old firefighting memoriabelia, including trucks, hand pumps, axes, equipment, you name it, and it's all in an old firehouse. The guide told me a story about when they used to have horses pull the pumps and how the horses were so well trained that when the bell rang, they would circle to the front of the fire station and have their saddles dropped on them from some sort of pully system and they'd be ready in like 3 seconds. He said, it was even faster than you could get a truck out the door.



Saturday, September 09, 2006

"Attack of the Mammoth"

Attack of the Mammoth is a Native American Myth from long ago. It's quite powerful.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Monday, September 04, 2006

Labor Day

Happy holiday everybody. Sure, summer seems to have crashed and burned, but that hasn't stopped me from having a great Labor Day weekend - even though I am laboring a bit in the office today - such are the sacrifices we make sometimes to run our own business. Work on off days, but still, it's worth it to be able to take off from work days when you really need to.

Like to sent a special shout out to a couple Ralph's Place regulars who hosted outstanding soirees over the weekend. Stan, you the man. Tremendous amounts of copious (tremendous amounts and copious mean the same thing I think) wine drinking Friday night, great conversation flowing just like the magic nectar of the grapes pouring into the cups around the table... Also, Big Jim threw a nice cookout yesterday. Great ribs and then a tremendous bonfire talkfest to finish the night off. Heard a tremendous story about a killer (literally) running a Chinese masseuse parlor somewhere in Mars, PA. Good times all around.

Weather looks like it's shaping up a bit, but then more showers. Oh well, it was a good, if abbreviated, summer.



Friday, September 01, 2006

1981 All Star Game

I don't know if the Indians had off, or their game was over or rained out, but last night, when I got home after the Seawolves game at like 10 p.m., Fox Sports Ohio was showing the 1981 MLB All-Star game. I found the action riveting.

The game took place at Cleveland's old Municipal Stadium and was "almost a sellout." I'm kind of disspointed I wasn't there, as I was like 14... I barely remember the game, but for some reason, when Gary Carter came up in like the fifth inning, I knew in advance he was going to hit a home run. He actually hit another one later and was the MVP.

1981 was the year of the strike that split the season, and this was the first game following the strike, so it was a bit controversial, and nobody knew how the players would look or the fans would react. Players looked great. There was some solid hitting by the likes of Ken Singleton, Eddie Murray, Dave Winfield, Mike Easler, Dave Parker, etc. And the fans seemed fairly happy, but then again with was at the old stadium and it was hard not to have a good time there.

It did strike me how much the game has changed in some 25 years. To me it seems like this was almost yesterday, but on screen it looked like ancient history. Just the italics used in the graphics, for instance. Or, how un-buff, and skinny the players were. Clearly no juice in these days. Also, you had things like Bucky Dent being pinch hit for. I don't think any manager would dare insult a player in today's day and age by pinch hitting for him in an All-Star game for any other reason than a scheduled substitution. Dent was clearly replaced in an attempt to upgrade the offense with a couple men on base. And then Jim Frey, the Royals manager who was at the helm of the A.L., had Carlton Fisk try and lay down a bunt with runners on first and second and no one out. A sacrifice in an All-Star game by an accomplished hitter like Fisk?

Another curiousity was the fact that at one point Fisk, Rick Burleson, Dewey Evans, and Fred Lynn were all in the game at once, but only Evans was in a Bosox uniform. They had all been Red Sox teammates just a couple years earlier. Why exactly were the Red Sox at that time losing players to everyone else? Didn't they have money back then?

The uniforms, of course, were great. The Pirates guys had bright yellow pants and shirts. Vida Blue, with his great high leg kick, had on a black-and-orange Giants' get up. Bo Diaz was the Indians' only All Star. The fans raggedly dressed as a whole, typical I guess of Indians fans in the early 1980s. The field was atrocious, as a "football game had been played there the night before." The strike clearly brought that into play, but as the game took place in early August, couldn't we have moved what was obviously a preseason football game?

Also, Joe Garriagiola and Tony Kubek were announcing the game. One of them said they were talking to Gabe Paul, who must have been in his second stint as Cleveland's GM at the time, and Paul had described the city of Cleveland as "a sleeping giant" when it comes to baseball. Meaning that if they built a winner, the fans would turn out in droves. They then extolled the virtue of the '81 team, which was playing .500 ball (but I'm assuming eventually crashed and burned). Paul, however, did prove a bit of a visionary, because when Cleveland did finally get a winner in 1990s- and build a new park, I should add,they sold out like 900 consecutive games.

One comment that did not prove visionary, was Garrigiola's comparing the Dodgers youngster, Pedro Guerrero, (or maybe it was Kubek who did this) to a young Willie Mays... If it was Kubek, he did redeem himself a bit with his praise for the "unknown" Ozzie Smith, who came in late in the game in a Padres uniform to play shortstop. True to form, Ozzie made a slick play on a charateristically bad throw from the great Steve Garvey, in a attempt to turn a double play. Slick fielding Manny Trillo and Buddy Bell also had "Web gems."

Oh yes, Mike Schmidt, who was playing late into the game despite starting - that's how the N.L. won 19 out of 20 games when I was kid - hit the game-winning home run in the 8th off the handlebar-mustachioed Rollie Fingers. I've heard Schmidt's Phillies teammate at the time, Pete Rose, given credit as the leader of those N.L. teams, and he was there, deep batting crouch. LA Times sportwriter Jim Murray was given credit for saying Rose would not die of old age, but "prolonged boyhood." This was one of those comments that seems like a compliment at the time, but proves to be a bit tragically prophetic. Poor Pete Rose, Jr. was shown working as an honorary batboy. He, of course, later spent time with the Erie Orioles, and after a long and undistinguished minor league career left baseball in a steroid dealing scandal.

Other great '70s-'80s crouches were on display from batting champs George Brett and Rod Carew. For some reason, Ricky Henderson doesn't seem to have been in the game, bypassed in favor of teammate Tony Armas. Well, I guess not everything is perfect...

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Thoughts on Iran

Yes, like Senor Ralph, I have taken some time away from blogging during the summer months. It's just too nice in Erie during the summer to sit inside and blog.

There is a lot happening (as always) and I'm ready to get started on a number of blog projects. I watched Mike Wallace's interview with the president of Iran the other day and the Iranian president strikes me as a thoughtful and reasonable guy. I rather liked him. He called for peaceful outcomes, he called for dialogue, he said he wants his people to prosper.

As far as I could tell, he wasn't Satan, but to hear it from the Bush Team, this guy is the devil himself. He is part of the "Axis of Evil." But he didn't strike me as an "evil" guy. He wasn't calling for the destruction of America (as some are in the region).

This is the same guy who recently sent a letter to Bush asking for a dialogue, and Bush wiped his ass with it. Now, we have Iran developing nuclear capability and WE DON'T EVEN HAVE A DIPLOMATIC CONNECTION TO IRAN. We aren't even talking to Iran...we haven't talked to Iran in 30 years. What kind of leadership is that? We need a leader who can rise above that kind of crap and bring some big ideas into play.

In truth, we need a leader who can unify the Arab world and the Western world. It will happen some day, but not under the current regime. Bush doesn't even talk about peace...ever.

What has happened to diplomacy? What's the harm in talking? Oh yes, Arabs are all evil. And talking to them would send the "wrong message." Huh? Talking is rhetoric and rhetoric has long been used to avert disaster. But Bush is not much of a rhetorician. He doesn't know the tricks. He doesn't have the magic. He just wants to shoot first and ask questions later. A child's strategy...

So, instead of NEGOTIATING and using DIPLOMACY to avert disaster, we just want to preserve our delusion that all Arabs are evil...all Arabs are fascists...all Arabs are the enemy of America. That enables us to kill them more rapidly and with greater fervor. God help our children. We are not giving them much to work with.

And make no mistake, we kill Arabs. Under the current rubric, we need to kill them before they kill us. So, I guess we should just get used to it. Kill 'em all and let God sort 'em out.

Carry on.


Bills Preview

Been away from the blog for awhile. We'll call it a summer shutdown. Anyway, weather is cooling down and I hope to begin increasing the frequency of my posts again. Here's an interesting preview of the upcoming Buffalo Bills season, for those interested. The analyst is pretty negative, but historically (at least over the past two years) has been pretty much on the money. I don't know what he was like when the Bills were good, but begrudgingly, I have to admit, he's made some good calls lately.


Monday, August 14, 2006

The Other Side

So, we've heard a lot of heroic stories out of the Katrina aftermath, but not everyone seems to be doing so well. This poor sucker is obviously having a hard time dealing with things. This sort of meltdown reminds me of someting that Chuck Klosterman wrote about reporters in his pop culture manifesto "Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs," which I recently finished reading. According to Klosterman, who used to work for the Akron Beacon-Journal, all news reporters eventually go crazy because they can never represent anything at face value and always have to look for the other side of the story. He gives the extreme example of a city passing stricter pedophelia laws, which almost everyone would agree with, including, most likely, the reporter. However, in the interest of "fair and balanced journalism," the reporter must try and find a contrary opinion, most likely from some lobbying group (People for Pedopheliacs?)who claims the new law is a violation of civil liberties. Thus, the reporter gets labled as being in the corner of child molesters, when actually he's not. According to Klosterman, this dual life that reporters lead, leads to insanity. And this Times-Picayune guy clearly went insane.
As a former newspaper report and current newsletter editor/publisher, I'd have to agree with Chuck K. I personally think we should go back to the days when newspapers were shameless political instruments that unabashedly supported issues and causes. It's not natural to write in a fair and balanced style - and still your filters are being used to describe what fair and balanced is - so how fair and balanced can it be. Stop the farce! People have opiions, let it out, go with it... and maybe we'll see less reporter meltdowns.



Friday, August 11, 2006

Browns' Town

I went down to Andy's Pub last night to catch the end of the Yankees game on ESPN. As it turned out there was an hour-and-a-half rain delay, so I would have caught a lot more than the end, I guess. By the way the Yankees lost 5-4 on another A-Rod throwing error. He's doing his best to turn into the next Steve Sax, Chuck Knoblauch, let's hope it doesn't happen. Anyways, that's not my point. My point is I didn't get to watch anyof the game because I walked into Andy's and was greeted by about 100 Browns fans and 50 TV sets, 47 of which were tuned to the Browns/Eagles preseason game. The other three had on the Rams/Colts game. There was no baseball to be had. This is Western PA and this is football country. I was half afraid that if I asked the bar tender to turn on the Yankees game on one small TV set above the bar, I'd get my face smashed in my some fellow in a Michael Dean Perry, or Bernie Kosar jersey. Yeah, the Browns stink, but people still love them. (Also, can you imagine two more diametically opposed franchises than the Browns and the Yankees? I had on a Yankees t-shirt and was kind of nervous I was going to get punched out just for that.) When I got there, it was like 20 to nothing (Eagles) with the scrubs in the game in the final two minutes - and, as I said, the place was packed. I can't even imagine what it looked like at kick-off. And this is the preseason!

I had one overpriced beer, watched the Browns third-string QB throw a PD pass against the Eagles' fourth-string D and walked home. It was a beautiful summer night for a walk - even if it's perpetually football season in these parts.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The beginning of the end

Man, it's really hot out. It feel like its 110 fuckin' degrees out? Why is that? Because it's only 88, you know. So, why does it feel so fuckin' hot? Are we getting soft because of air conditioning? I've really never heard so many people in my life complain about the heat... but it is fuckin' hot, as I said. I guess, it's the old saying that it's not the heat, it's the humidity... you know... but why is it so fucking humid then? I don't get it...

Cheers, I guess. I've got to head to a Little League game tonight. Be interesting to see how everyone makes out. I mean, it is baseball, a game designed to be played in the heat. Bascially, it involves a bunch of people standing around while on person throws a ball and another tries to hit it. Then you get brief spurts of running, when the ball is actually hit. But if it's too hot for baseball... than I don't know what to tell you.

I did used to love this country song they used to play. It's about a guy drinking at a bar (there's a new one) and it has these lines: "It's too hot for golf, it's too hot to fish, but it's much too cold at home."

And that's just the way it is sometime. Of course, then there's that Kink's song with the lines "...telling tales of drunkeness and cruelty" about a guy sitting broke in his backyard sipping a cold drink. So, it goes in this wonderful summer heat of Erie, PA 2006.


Saturday, July 29, 2006

Bruce Sutter

Here's a little piece on one of my favorite all-time pitchers: Bruce Sutter. The guy invented a new pitch, the split-fingered fastball, from what I can remember. Plus, he was a relief pitcher - who are always teh freakiest, coolest players on the team. Like Mariano Rivera defines relievers in today's league, Bruce Sutter defined them in the '70s. He had a really cool shaggy beard, and this cool new pitch that just dropped off the table. His best years were with the Cubs and Cardinals, and he finished up his run with one strong year for the Braves. Glad to see he's made the Hall of Fame.


Tuesday, July 25, 2006


Looks like we're headed down to the Liberty Amphitheatre tonight for the Yardbirds show - part of the 8 Great Tuesdays events that the Port Authority puts on. I've been attending these things with my family for the past couple years and they have been really a lot of fun. We missed the first two this year because of baseball commitments and looks like we'll miss next week's as well, but the Yardbirds seem pretty solid. Someone told me only the drummer remains from the original band; not sure what that means, as that was a long time ago, and I thought John Bonham, of Zeppelin fame was the Yardbirds drummer for awhile. He, of course, is dead. People like Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, and Jeff Beck all played in the 'Birds at one time, and I even think Zeppelin was initially called the New Yardbirds. Now that I think of it, Bonham was introduced to Page by Plant, so maybe, Page was in the old Yardbirds and they had a different drummer. For some reason, the only Yardbirds song that keeps running through my head of "For Your Love" - at least I think that's them. Let's hope the T-showers hold off, but it is looking pretty good out now.

Over and out.


Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Hot Daze; Cold Beers

It was pretty humid yesterday. I had to recut my back lawn because of a stupid error when setting the height on the lawnmower last week - I thought I had it on the second-from-the-lowest, but really had it on the second-from-highest. When I got done, I felt like I had jumped in the lake there was so much sweat on me. And my lawn is covered in shade in the evening, so I thought it would be cooler!

Speaking of the lake, we went to the beach on Sunday. We got there before 11 a.m. - the beach we were at didn't officially open for swimming until noon (meaning that's when the lifeguard shows up), but we still got like the last picnic table. I wish I had brought my camera, because looking north? down the beach (toward gull point), it was quite a site of colorfully clad people enjoying Presque Isle. On the way out, I remarked that it may have been the most people I have ever seen down there on a non-holiday- as every parking spot was taken. Of course, I didn't realize that like four beaches were closed due to e-coli.

Good story in today's paper about putting together a commission to determine the exact cause of the recent increase in e-coli at the beaches. I'm guessisg it has something to do with global warming, but at least hope there are some tactical steps we can take to protect our water. Sure, as Al Gore will tell you, the earth is going to hell, but let's at least enjoy our beaches for a few more years. I came across this AP photo in Sunday's paper and it made me realize how lucky we are to have our beach.

Finally, last night one of my buddies picked me up, wanting to head out for "a cold beer." We thought about Wild Cards, but determined it would be too cold in there to start with. We stopped in the Plymouth - too crowded. We ended up at my old home - the 'Slider. Been awhile since I've hung out there. Ice cold dollar Labbatt's in the bottle. It's always been hard to beat the 'Slider.



Monday, July 17, 2006

National Geographic Offers World Music Online

National Geographic now offers world music online. Check it out.


Wednesday, July 12, 2006

A Truly Beautiful Game

So, there's all this talk about soccer being "the beautiful game." This was especially prevelent during the recent World Cup festivities in Germany. Well, fuck soccer. Although it can be a great game, the matches played in Germany, at least the ones I saw were far from beautiful. A lot of fouling, overly physical play and penalties deciding games.

Just a little history here: The Brazilians are the ones who came up with the term "the beaufiful game." And many actually lamented the fact that Brazil over the past 20 years, started playing more European-style, and got away from what the natives termed their "beautiful game." I think Germany, Italy, France, and Portugal showing up in this year's World Cup final four is evidence that the "beautiful game" of soccer may be dead...

But, moving on to baseball, I'd have to say last night's All Star game in Pittsburgh, at the lovely PNC Park, was truly a beautiful game. What can I say? Fuck soccer. I'll say it again. Why do we waste our time trying to develop great soccer players when we already have baseball.

Could you have asked for more last night? Coming into the game, everyone knew the American League had the better team. But for most of the game they trailed. They game was tight, like a well-played soccer match. Two-to-one going into the last inning, with all the runs having come one at a time-like goals. The National League had actually gone ahead on a wild pitch, and for them to win the game that way would be anticlimatic and disappointing, I think. The N.L. brought in future Hall-of-Fame closer Trevor Hoffman, whose best years are behind him, but still showed strong stuff getting the first two batters - All Stars, mind you, to ground weakly back to him. Then the fun started. Paul Konerko, a hero in the White Sox World Series championship last year, lined a single to left. Joe Buck, who does a great job calling baseball - just like his dad, noted that had the third-baseman not been playing the line to prevent an extra-base hit, the game would have been over. Oh, the beautiful "game of inches." Next batter, Troy Glaus - who hit like a million home runs in Jerry Uht Park 10 years ago when playing with the Angels in an exhibition tour- lines one deep to left that looks like it will score the pinch runner for Konerko, but, lo and behold, bounces over the wall for a ground-rule double.

Now, you've got second and third, two out, top of the ninth, Hall of Fame closer on the hill, and Michael Young, this unimpressive looking Texas shortstop coming to the plate. But, one caveat, Young can hit. And that's the great thing about baseball. Appearences can be deceiving. Fat guys, skinny guys, tall guys, even guys with one hand have succeeded in professional baseball. It really is a pastime for every man. Buck built up the scene, but descriping Young as "the reigning Americal League batting champ." And the champ delivered. Strong shot to the gap that ended up as a triple and scored both runners.

Then, in came Mariano Rivera. If Hoffman is a sure Hall of Famer, Rivera, well, he's beyond that. He's simply the greatest closer in the world. He actually got four outs in the bottom of the ninth, as Konerko's pinch runner came in to play third and made an error. No matter. Rivera closed it out on a popup to Young. Yeah, it was an exhibition game, but for some reason the save, at least to me, seemed just as important as any of Rivera's 30-some postseason saves.

A final note: I'd like to tip my hat to the great Ozzie Guillen who guided, somehow, the American League time to victory after they were on the cusp of defeat. Like any great coach, manager, Guillen never panicked. I must admit, I had my doubts. I remember looking at him in the dugout in the ninth inning thinking, boy, you suck- you got one run out of these great American Leauge hitters. This is a team that Travis Haffner, the great Indians slugger who's in the top 5 in several major offensive categories, couldn't even make. And you got one run. Well, like many, I underestimated the wisdom of Ozzie. His team pulled through - again, and as usual he came out smelling like a rose. He even had enough class to sit down his own White Sox closer once the A.L. looked like it might take the lead, and go to the great Rivera. Ozzie, everyone says your crazy, but the old addage, "crazy like a fox" always comes to mind when I wathch you manage.

Well, that's it. Hope some of you got to see the game. It was a good one.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Democrats Still Don't Have a Message

Richard Reeves' latest article offers some advice to Democrats: Don't focus on Iraq. Instead, focus on "local issues and the overall national governance of Republicans these last six years."

This is sage advice. Consider this context: I've seen some (presumably) Democrat bumper stickers popping up recently. What do they say? They say "Fed up; Throw 'em out."

That's a loser's slogan. It's the same mistake Al Gore made, but in reverse. It was Gore's election to lose in 2000, and that's exactly what he did. His first TV campaign commercials in 1999 focused on some little known clause in a medical act relating to seniors.

Focusing on seniors is great, but save the heavy details for after the victory.

In other words, Gore was way too specific. He should have been talking about SENIORS as a group, not about verbiage. The bumper stickers I mentinon above fail in the other direction. Instead of conjuring a specific image to mind, it just adopts the blind slogan "throw the bums out." Weakness.

In addition to seniors, Gore should also have been talking about JOBS and EDUCATION. There's nothing mysterious about the Democratic platform from where I come from, but it seems the current Democratic leadership is at a loss for such a focus. The party truly is adrift in this aspect.

So, it looks like the Democrats, despite some fairly huge blunders by the Republicans since 2000 (many of which equal and evidently surpass the exploits of the Clinton administration), still do not have a coherent message. None that I've heard, anyway.

Too bad Al Gore put the kiss of death on Howard Dean when he said that he was backing Dean before Dean had even won the Democratic primary. Dean has balls and focus. Now he needs to learn subtlety and diplomacy. He's the last, best hope, as far as I can tell.

As for Gore, he's as brilliant as he is bone-headed. They says his new movei on global warming is something to see. I hope he stays focused on the environment. He seems happy in that world.

As for the PA Senate race, there's Bob Casey, Jr. I watched him at a press conference outside his office in Harrisburg. He held it in such a way as to allow people with Santorum signs to stand directly behind him. It was ridiculous. He should have taken the event into a more controlled environment (he needs to follow the Republicans on this kind of thing).

Bad mistake, right? Okay, we'll forgive that one. But the remainder of the conference from that point consisted of Casey attacking Santorum in a kind of mealy-mouth way. In other words, I was not impressed with Casey. He didn't offer much of anything that he would do...even the boiler-plate stuff (have I mentioned jobs, the deficit, education, seniors, and homeland security?).

What the hell is going on? Doesn't he have any contact with Daddy anymore? Say what you will about the old man, he was a hell of a fighter. I don't see it yet in the son.

Interestingly, Lynn Swann makes a pretty solid candidate for PA governor. And I don't care about the football thing. Swann has been talking about issues in a way that is less microscopic than Gore and more competent and charismatic than Casey. I doubt that Swann will unseat Eddie Rendell, because, as I understand it, the people of Philadelphia can elect anyone they want as governor of this state because they have the population. How about that? So, it looks like at least the PA governorship will remain in Democratic hands.

So, in closing, the Dems will take back some power this fall, but they will not be freed from their Republican masters for many more years. To change this, they need to go back to the basic Democratic issues. They should also focus on border security and start talking about the heroes along the borders of America. That would score them some points on patriotism.

Okay. I'm out.


Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Night rain

The rain is coming down. It's a soft, dark, night rain. Running slowly, gently soaking and soothing firm soil. Softening and loosening. Washing clean sweat, replacing it with fresh water. Cleaning, soaking, baptizing, rebirthing bodies, launching my soul into the stars, where it falls back down in millions of little drops. Did you ever stretch your arms out in a cold night rain, lightening flashing high up? Calling to the heavens and asking why, did you put me here? This small little body amongst these great powers. Feeling soaked. Feeling washed. Feeling naked as the power if it all overcomes you? Have you turned your palm up and allowed the water to soak in? Held yourself open to it all. And washed your brain, all the way through, in the rain, at night, like morning dew, but faster, overcoming you like a river raging down. Keeping your head above the current and bobbing as you flow, with the stream, through the grass, little rivulets run in the night rain, seeking low ground, where they settle and seep in. And me smiling as it washes is all away.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Summer full swing

In the past few days I have managed to play golf twice, coach a little league baseball game, attend Waldemeer/Water World, make good progress in my reading of the Orchid Thief, and attend a One World Tribe Concert at Presque Isle. Not bad.

One comment about Waldemeer: That place rocks. Especially the horror rides - the Wacky Shack and Pirate's Cove. The detail of the monsters in both is pretty amazing. Waldemeer is kind of a great thing to have in Erie.



Thursday, June 22, 2006

Homosexuality and the Old Testament

I received this in an email today:

Dr. Laura Schlessinger is a US radio personality who dispenses advice to people who call in to her radio show.

Years ago, she said that, as an observant Orthodox Jew, homosexuality is an abomination according to Leviticus 18:22, and cannot be condoned under any circumstance.

The following is an open letter to Dr. Laura penned by a US resident. It’s funny, as well as informative.

Dear Dr. Laura:

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God’s Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries todefend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate.

I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the other specific laws and how to follow them.

1. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odour for the Lord - Lev.1:9. The problem is my neighbours. They claim the odour is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual cleanliness - Lev.15:19-24. The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

4. Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighbouring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can’t I own Canadians?

5. I have a neighbour who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?

6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination - Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don’t agree. Can you settle this?

7. Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?

8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?

9. I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

10. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev. 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? -Lev.24:10-16. Couldn’t we just burn them to death at a private family affair like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev.20:14)

I know you have studied these things extensively, so I am confident you can help. Thank you again for reminding us that God’s word is eternal and unchanging.

Dog and Cat Diary

Someone sent this to me. No author was credited, but I think it's funny as hell. DocTor

A Dog’s Diary
8:00 a.m. Oh, boy! Dog food! My favorite!
9:30 a.m. Wow! A car ride! This is a blast!
9:40 a.m. Got to go to the park! Rolled in some really nasty stuff, was so proud of myself. Humans were less than impressed.
10:30 a.m. Got my tummy rubbed and petted -- I'm in love!
12:00 p.m. Lunch: yummy!
1:00 p.m. Played in the yard: I loved it!
3:00 p.m. Stared adoringly at my masters ... they're the best!
4:00 p.m. Hooray! The kids got home! I was so happy I was bouncing off the walls! 5:00 p.m. Milk bones -- awesome!
7:00 p.m. Got to play ball! What a day, this was too good to be true!
8:00 p.m. Wow: watching TV with my master! Heavenly!

A Cat’s Diary
Day 683 of My Captivity:
My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects.
They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while the other inmates and I are fed hash or some sort of dry nuggets. Although I make my contempt for the rations perfectly clear, I nevertheless must eat something in order to keep up my strength. The only thing that keeps me going is my dream of escape.

In an attempt to disgust them, I once again vomited on the floor.
Today I decapitated a mouse and dropped its headless body at their feet. I had hoped this would strike fear into their hearts, since it clearly demonstrates what I am capable of. However, they merely made condescending comments about what a ''good little hunter'' I am. The audacity!!

There was some sort of assembly of their accomplices tonight. I was placed in solitary confinement for the duration of the event. However, I could hear the noise and smell the food. I overheard that my confinement was due to my power of "allergies." I must learn what this means, and how to use it to my advantage.

Today I was almost successful in an attempt to assassinate one of my tormentors by weaving around his feet as he was walking. I must try this again tomorrow-- but at the top of the stairs.

I am convinced that the other prisoners here are flunkies and snitches. The dog receives special privileges. He is regularly released--and he seems more than willing to return! He is obviously retarded.

The bird has got to be an informant -- I observe him communicating with the guards regularly. I am certain that he reports my every move. The captors have arranged protective custody for him in an elevated cell, so he is safe-- for now. But I can wait. It is only a matter of time...

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Defining Magick Part Two

This entry is a reply to Ralph’s comment under Mythology Part Three: Spells and Magick

Ralph: I'm sorry, but Dr. Dee, could you go into a little more detail as to why you define this advice as a spell or magick? Is it because it involves distracting your mind or redirecting your focus -the old "hand-is-quicker-than-the-eye" methodology?

Doc: Exactly. Distracting your mind in order to work with unseen energy IS magickal practice, and so is intentional behavior modification. These two factors, combined with recognizing and channeling universal energy, takes you toward achieving your goals on the physical plane.

That's magick as far as I can tell.

From there, you open the world to serendipity, the potential for wonderful synchronous acts to occur in your life. Maybe your intentional distraction brings you in contact with another person--someone whom you were supposed to meet. Or maybe you pick up a newspaper and find an article that you were meant to read...something that fits perfectly into your life at that moment.

Both of these instances came about because you were open to the idea that you have the ability to alter reality (or, at the very least, your perception of reality).

For the record, I spell magick with a “k” because I want to separate it from the “pull a rabbit out of a hat” kind of magic, which also involves distraction, but is really not concerned, in most cases, with intention and the perception of other planes of reality. Magic is more about parlor tricks, which I’m not interested in at this point.

So it's important to note that magick involves more than the ability to distract yourself. If it ends there, then it's still good practice. However, magick, the way I define it, involves an opening of the heart to serendipity, awe, love, trust, wonder, and, most importantly, the understanding that the visible plane of reality is the only plane of existence (far from it).

Magick involves an understanding of how the universe operates MOSTLY at an unseen level. In other words, you can’t depend on your five senses all the time. Trees grow, but we can’t see them growing. We can only see the result. This happens all the time.

Therefore, feeling has to play a role in the process. Once feelings of the heart, reason of the brain, and sensations from the five senses learn to co-exist, you can adapt your behavior so as to gain a greater comprehension of the seen and unseen worlds. This can lead to amazing magick, like invisibility.

Now, when I say invisibility, I don’t mean the ability to become transparent. This, once again, is a product of our belief system which we have inherited—largely from the Deists and their Age of Reason. In his Autobiography, Ben Franklin thought—quite logically—that he could live each day according to a perfect schedule and that, once he tweaked the schedule, he would be living the “perfect” life. Well, it didn’t work out that way, because Old Ben didn’t account for the unseen.

Instead, invisibility can be achieved by behavior, timing, clothing and other aspects. If you learn how, anyone can blend into a situation and “not be seen.” When I drove to Atlanta recently, for example, I removed the Steeler license plate from the front of my truck. I simply didn’t want to be driving through Ohio with that plate. Do I love the Steelers? Do I root for them each week during the season? Yes, yes, yes. But do I want to be pulled over by an Ohio State Trooper who hates the Steelers? No, thanks. It’s not worth it.

Did my invisibility spell work? Well, I didn’t get pulled over during my 1900-mile trip, so I’ll assume that it did. Am I silly to believe in such things? Maybe, but this type of thing works for me—again and again and again.

It is the comprehension and mastery of the unseen and unrealized that can lead one to think and act magickally.

Think about how many people do not know how to do these kinds of thing. They will stand in line--all pissed off--or they will sit in traffic--honking their horns--rather than relaxing, calling upon the patience of the universe, and making different choices.
The effect of magick upon the watcher is, "How did they do that?" But for the "performer," it's nothing at all.

This reminds me of the magick of music. People watch me play and say, "Wow. How do you do that?" It seems magickal to them---mystical. But there is no sleight of hand to it. Instead, it’s a result of love and devotion and hard work.

Magick has everything to do with intention. To put it into baseball terms, "Build it and they will come." The intention in that movie was to create a place for the ancestors to return to the diamond (itself a powerful mythical shape) and live again.

Unfortunately, organized religion—coupled with the rise of science and rationalism—has driven magick out of the skies. We have reduced magick to parlor tricks and as a result, have robbed our children of latent powers that reside within them.

All of the magick I’m discussing here is white magick: magick used for good. Magic that is driven by the intention to do no harm. There is also black magic and black magicians. I tend to see people who stir up hatred for their own personal gain to be black magicians. You can fill in your own blanks on this one.

In addition, I have not begun to discuss such practices as voodoo, something which—it is said—you have to believe in order to be affected by. Can you put a hex on somebody? Sure, but as far as I’m concerned, the laws of karma kick in at this point and you only end up hurting yourself. Don’t mess around with this kind of magic or the consequences could be severe.

Okay, I have to break this spell so that I can get on with my day.


Summer Solstice Details

Today is June 21, the celebration of the summer solstice in the northern hemisphere. In England, Stonehenge has been opened to the public for celebration of the solar event.

A solstice occurs when the rays of the sun directly strike one of the two tropical latitude lines. The northern line is the Tropic of Cancer and the southern line is the Tropic of Capricorn (both titles of Henry Miller books, by the way).

By the way, as it stands today, the Tropic of Cancer should be renamed the Tropic of Taurus and the Tropic of Capricorn should be renamed Tropic of Sagittarius. This is due to the precession of the equinoxes.

To understand the precession of the equinoxes, it's important to understand the fact that the Earth wobbles slightly as it spins. Therefore, the northern tip of the axis creates a small circle in the night sky--just like a wobbling gyroscope.

As a result, the equinoxes and solstices go through a complete cycle ~ every 26,000 years. For more on this topic, click here.

Despite the name inaccuracies, June 21 marks the beginning of summer in the northern hemisphere and simultaneously heralds the beginning of winter in the southern hemisphere. In 2006, the solstice begins June 21, at 8:26 a.m. EDT.


Summoning spirits

In addition to believing in the power of magick (Christ turned water to wine, for goodness sake) I also believe we have the power to summon spirits. Now, let me be clear: Once summoned, these spirits don’t sit at our tables and eat roast beef. They typically don’t even knock things down. Some mediums claim that they can summon spirits who do such things, but I have never had such experiences.

Instead, when we summon a spirit in good faith—meaning with no ill intent—we can channel the energy of that spirit to learn, to teach, and to understand. For instance, as I traveled to Atlanta in June (2006) to attend a conference sponsored by the Mythic Imagination Institute called “Mythic Journeys 2006,” I found myself summoning the spirit of Joseph Campbell to me.

As I drove, I listened to a good chunk of an audio book entitled, The Wisdom of Joseph Campbell. It was good to hear Joseph’s voice. I felt like he was speaking directly to me, calling me to use my powers as a writer, teacher, and mythographer to follow his path and help others to live within mythic systems that are life-sustaining and meaningful.

Today, after spending so many days of my professional life studying Campbell’s life and work, I feel like I know him personally. I also feel that it is somehow my task to share and explain many of his insights for so many kindred spirits who are thirsting for new—or, ironically and simultaneously—tremendously old approaches to life, ritual, worship, and spirituality. As I drove, then, I found myself rapidly dialing into some of the old concepts and being introduced to some new and enlightening ones.

It is important to note that I began my study of Campbell years ago with Hero with a Thousand Faces and that The Wisdom of Joseph Campbell consists of a series of interviews with Joe during his twilight years. Therefore, I was struck by the alpha and omega effect, you might say, of his thought process…how his notions from early in his career had been developed and refined.

One of his points from Wisdom involves a powerful point about money. He argues, “The individual who takes a job in order to live—for the money or something like that—has turned himself into a slave. He is a money slave. You might say ‘work’ begins when you don’t like what you’re doing. I heard a little formula way, way back: ‘Make your hobby your source of income.’ Then there is no such thing as work and there’s no such thing as getting tired.”

On this point, Joe and I are surely kindred spirits. Like Joe, I have stayed on my particular and eccentric course in life. I’ve basically done just want I wanted to do…even as others said, “An English degree? What are you going to do with an English degree, bag groceries? Hahahahaha….”

It took a lot of courage and a lot of ignoring of people who thought they knew what was best for me. Campbell says taking this route is always difficult, at first “because who the hell wants you to be doing just what you want to do? They all have a lot of plans for you, but you can make it happen and then there is no such thing as work.”

That's it for now...


Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Mythology Part Three: Spells and Magick

I believe each of us has much more spiritual power—more magickal power—than we give ourselves credit for. There are spells for invisibility, for patience, for letting go…there are all kinds of spells that can serve us if we only begin to understand how they work.

The patience spell is simple. Ever been stuck in traffic? Ever arrive at an event only to find a huge line for tickets or food or bathroom? Sure you have. It is at these times you can use the patience spell. It simply involves connecting all of the unlimited patience of the universe into your life at that moment. In becoming mindful at this moment, you realize that, from the perspective of Eternity, your situation is very small and will quickly pass.

It is important to modify your behavior at these moments so that the spell will work. You can’t just call upon the universe and sit there, expecting to be saved. Instead, as you wait in traffic, find a good radio station, make a “to do” list (as long as traffic is not moving, of course), or sort through the junk in your briefcase.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used this spell and how wonderfully it works. There will be times when I arrive at a particular point to find many people in line, but instead of becoming frustrated, I cast the patience spell and distract myself. Then, when I return to the situation, I almost always find that the line is gone or the traffic has abated. It works almost every time.

It will definitely make your life more enjoyable. Welcome to the world of magick.

Gay marriage

So, I've been doing a lot of thinking about this gay marriage topic, which seems to be all over the news recently. Its coverage of course is another one of Carl Rove's masterful strokes, as there is really no way would could possibly pass an amendment to outlaw it, is there? I mean the Constitution clearly has nothing to do with whether people of the same sex want to co-habitate. The proposed amendment is obviously being put together to fuel the hate and drives the ultra-conservative corners of the Republican party. That hate should then manifest itself by energizing the forces for the upcoming elections... or something like that. Of course, then again, as I've said often enough, I thought both Phil English and George Bush were such buffoons that they would never be elected to public office, much less re-elected. So, it's probably pretty important we don't take our eye off the ball as far as this propsed "amendment" is concerned.

That all said, before Bush won the Republican nomination some six years ago, I did consider myself a conservative. And I've attempted to research both sides of the coin as far as the gay marriage quesiton is concerned. Those against have a valid argument. They also have some invalid ones as well, I'm sure, but the main gist of the one I consider valid is that the benefits for married people are set up to encourage and assist with the nurturing of families - which represent the future survival of the species, so we need to assist with that. Makes sense and because biologically, at least traditionally, gay couples can't have children, I'm kind of down with that.

Okay, but let's flip the coin over for a minute. One of the reasons I've heard gay people arguing in favor of gay marriage is that married couples are eligible for something like 1,000 benefits that gay people currently cannot receive. So, that's a bit of a self-centered argument that is not going to fly. I mean, if I'm not gay, am I really going to care if gay people get more benefits, especially if my tax dollars have to pay for them?

To make the argument in favor of gay marriage, I think you need to look at the benefits of marriage itself. Do they go further than the production of children? In his guest Friday Forum column in the June 16 edition of the Erie Times-News, Al Richardson provides some excellent reasons on why we should support gay marriage and why it benefits society. It is this type of reasoning that makes me think we should support gay marriages - and definitely outlaw them through a constitutional amendment.

My personal thoughts on the matter involve evolution theory and consideration of the fact that our society has evolved to the point where gay marriage is normal and natural and should be supported as such. Maybe this wansn't always the case, but there was also a time when we didn't have computers on every desk or even indoor plumbing in most houses. You can't deny that society changes and evolves. Instead of fighting all change, it should be embraced when it makes sense. In the case of gay marriage, it seems to make sense, now.

Of course, I'm open to hearing opposing views, but to date, I have not heard a lot of good arguments as to why gay marriage should be outlawed. If someone could show me some numbers as to how much the legalization of gay marriage was going to cost me and then present me with reasons as to why it's not going to necessarily improve our society, I'd be more than willing to listen.

That's all for now.