Sunday, January 31, 2010

What do you "Harvest" with your Pants on the Ground?

If you know me, I'm not too much into popular culture.  I don't like "The Office", "Survivor", or "The Bachelor".

But, a person would almost have to be a hermit, or Osama Bin Laden, to have missed the recent sensation caused by a 62 year old named Larry Platt, who performed an a cappella number called "Pants on the Ground" on American Idol recently.  The song explores some of the same thematic material covered in Bill Cosby's recent appearances.

One supposes, then, it was inevitable that cover versons would emerge.  I present herewith, Jimmy Fallon as Neil Young, performing "Pants on the Ground":

Edit:  Word has reached the news desk that OBL is rehearsing for his own release of POTG.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Human Camera

And on Wiki:

I can draw a horse's head, from a book I was given in the sixth grade.  Friend and colleague Todd the Blogger can draw...

Trace Adkins and the West Point Cadet Glee Club

Better have a handkerchief handy:

Jesus Loves, Part IV

Jesus Loves...(Part 4) from Keystone Church on Vimeo.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Spanky and my Doppelgänger

It's said we all have a double somewhere in this world.

I suppose that's believable enough, given that there's about 7 billion people on the planet. It stands to reason that there are going to be a few people, somewhere, who look like me. Bless their little hearts. Now, of course, that's not to say they're not unique, just that they look similar.

So, I thought I'd put together, at great risk, a little panel and let you decide.

About 15-20 years ago, the girl at the Sam's Hamburgers in a small Denton county town told me she thought I looked like Richard Gere. As Mr. Gere was at the time rumored to be casting for the sequel to Willard, I wasn't necessarily flattered. (Yes, the Willard reference is meant as a joke.)

Then about 10 years ago, a couple of people said I looked like Harrison Ford. I figured they must be legally blind, but I was grateful for the comparison. In a previous posting on this blog, in fact, I included a photo in pseudo-Indy Jones regalia.

But, the only celebrity, or at least TV person, that ever caused me to do a double take because I thought he looked like the guy in my mirror was a bit player named Daniel Roebuck on Andy Griffith's Matlock series (and I think he's been on Lost, too).

OK, let the barbs begin...

Edit: In the interest of honesty as stipulated in the previous post, let me note that the allusion made above vis-à-vis Mr. Gere has been established to have been an urban myth, with no basis in fact.  What is true is that the rumor was circulating at the time, and I was somewhat disconcerted by the comparison.

White Liar

Up-and-coming country sensation Miranda Labert's latest song chronicles the perils of mendacity in a small town, in the end revealing that she's a liar, too. I like Miranda Lambert OK, and the tune's kind of catchy, but I can't really say I like the song. Nonetheless, it's getting strong airplay, and will probably result in some kind of awards.

About 3 weeks back I took my kids to a funeral for a man in my church. A strong, gentle man, and a gifted singer. In the eulogy, one of his daughters said that, growing up, he wouldn't tell a "white lie", not even to a door-to-door salesman or telephone solicitor, because he didn't want to teach his children to lie.

In yesterday's sermon, on the subject of betrayal and adultery, the pastor cautioned against living our lives according to 'the Gospel of Grey's Anatomy', referring to the ABC-TV drama in which all the beautiful and handsome doctors and nurses have sex with one another, all the while lying to conceal their actions. It was one of the best sermons, at many times you could hear a pin drop.

Lest you think I sat there complacently, judging the adulterers, he also expanded the definition of betrayal to include any activities (not just affairs) that prevent the full devotion that God intended for husbands and wives. So, yeah, there were plenty of things that I could've done better, to show my love for my wife, and I could feel those arrows piercing my heart.

Not to sound like Kanye here, but, while I wish Ms. Lambert well on her new song, I really think there's a better 'soundtrack' for the way we should live our lives.

It's called the truth.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Carry On...With Nostalgia

I'm sure most will agree the GEICO commercial with the Amerasian dude singing along to Point of Know Return is pretty goofy.

But, as one of Kansas' native sons (OK, I was only born there), coming of age in the '70s, I found myself this evening coming home from the Family Video, doing a wicked Steve Walsh impersonation on Carry on Wayward Son.

COWS is one of my favorite classic rock songs, and I can't hear it without thinking of driving down the turnpike (that's I-30 to you youngsters) with my learner's permit, Brother Jon Rivers doing the intro "Z-97 with...Kansas". Some of you may remember that Z-97 was the then 'new' incarnation of venerable Fort Worth radio station KFJZ. Back in those days, KFJZ/Z-97 and Gordon McLendon's KNUS 99 (sister station to his KLIF-AM, and now the frequency for K-LUV) served up top 40 fare in the Fort Worth/Dallas market, featuring many of the same artists you'd see on that Friday night's Burt Sugarman's Midnight Special, with Wolfman Jack, following Johnny Carson's Tonight Show back when Johnny still had a 90 minute program. Edgier, album oriented rock was heard on KZEW 97.9 "The Zoo" and KFWD 102.1 (later KTXQ/Q102 - killed by Tom Hicks in 1998, back when people thought he was smart).

Anyway, it was already past dark, so nobody could [thankfully] see my rock-n-roll fame.

At least my inner dweeb sounded better than the guy in the commercial...

- Textually Inactive in Texas

The other day, driving home, I observed a pickup truck in front of me gradually veering to the right, with its tires beginning to get on the grass. There was no shoulder to the asphalt lane.

Finally, with the tires about 18" off the pavement, the driver righted (lefted?) his course, narrowly keeping from broadsiding a traffic sign. He was using a cellphone.

Did I mention this was in a school zone? (Actually it was after hours.)

While I don't do full abstinence from textual activity, I am so poor at it that I sure don't try it while driving.

I guess I remember replacing the front end clip on my '68 Chrysler Newport after smashing a parked Cutlass (don't worry, it was a late '70s model, not a classic or 442 model) while looking for something on the floorboard, just two blocks from our house. And about a year-and-a-half later, having to take my '71 Opel Manta to a body shop in Bridgeport (circa 1979) to have a new passenger side door skin installed after I flattened it on a speed limit sign (about three more blocks away) while looking for my watch in the console. Drugs or alcohol were not involved.

I did not smash this kind of Cutlass!

Today, I'm much more focused, but now we have GPS, XM, cellphones/texting, and DVD players in cars.

As Pete Seeger might say/sing: "When will they ever learn?"

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Skip the Middleman

Before I get started, let me explain that in the post title, Skip refers to the verb part of speech, as in 'omit', not some yuppie weenie with a 3-series BMW.

Several years ago I had a very good job selling software. Decent base salary, good commissions, occasional travel to tradeshows in interesting cities: New Orleans, Los Angeles, Orlando, Las Vegas, Atlanta. Not Peoria or Schenectady. Although Kansas City was kind of scary, and Minneapolis was on the cusp.

Anyway, while I worked there, the company was sold to an out-of-state, up-and-coming concern flush with cash from irrationally exuberant venture capitalists. In the deal, we got a new sales manager. Terry was his name, probably drove a 3-series BMW. He supposedly had an MBA, had held some very high-powered sales management jobs, and I think he was a member of the Management Book of the Month Club. But, as my Dad might say, the guy couldn't pour piss from a boot with directions on the heel.

Nonetheless, one of the books we were required to read was Selling to VITO. Despite the seeming intrigue of Mafiosi, and being authored by a guy named Anthony, the basic premise was that, in sales, you should forgo large expenditures of time and resources with low-level functionaries in your prospect's organization, and instead go straight to the [Very Important Top Officer] decision maker.

Simple enough concept to understand.

Business and work can be a lot like the schoolyard. There's bookworms and slackers, jocks, stoners, band nerds, drama queens, goat-ropers, and freaks.

And bullies.

And if you find yourself being tormented by a bully, you could go to your BFF, or maybe the room monitor, or the teacher. Unless of course, the teacher is your tormentor.

But, the lesson from Selling to VITO seems clear here: Don't screw around with low-level administrators, bureaucrats, and dipsticks. Don't even waste your time in the Principal's office.

Go straight to the Superintendent or School Board President, and blow the problem right out of the water.

Channeling my inner Manny, Moe & Jack

So, yesterday, out and about greater metropolitan Boyd, Rhome or Newark, I heard that telltale scratching sound as I pulled to a stop.

I knew its voice immediately: "Hey, dummy, do you wanna buy another brake rotor like you did a few years ago?"

"Um, no sir, Mr. Automobile spirit."

"Then I suggest you get your candy a$$ to O'Reilly's and get me some new pads before I really stick it to you with a big repair bill!"

"OK, you got it." I don't know why this last century mid-size SUV feels it can speak to me like that, but I figured it wasn't the time to discuss semantics. Sure, I could've gotten the last word, like "Hey, don't you know you're the most traded-in model in the Cash for Clunkers program?", but I was feeling charitable, and held back. Also, we've been friends for over a decade, and how could I hurt the feelings of a friend who's safely transported me a distance greater than halfway to the moon?

Off to O'Reilly's I went, right after work.

I could've bought the $19.99 (per set) standard pads, but I didn't want to put up with the dust, replacing them in six months, and the inevitable griping from Mr. Automobile spirit. Then there were the $36.99 set, semi-metallic. And $49.99, and finally some $59.99 Pottery Barn or ceramic or somesuch. The salesclerk dutifully asked me if I needed some brake grease, as I'm sure it said to do in his training manual.

"No, I've got some at home. But, just a question. Where do you apply the grease on the brake pad?"

"Right here [pointing to the friction surface]."

"Um, wouldn't that defeat the purpose of the brake pad?"

"Uh, yeah, you might be right."

Idiot. So, forgoing the add-on brake grease sale, and one hundred seven dollars and fifty nine cents later, I owned eight new, semi-metallic, Thermo-Quiet™ disc brake pads.

After feeding the dog and myself, putting on warm clothes, I gathered my tools: floor jack, wheel chocks, crossbone lug wrench, 10mm combo wrench, vise-grips, pry-tool, screwdriver, grease with Q-tips, and worklight.

Like a skilled surgeon, I donned nitrile gloves for protection. My hands looked like they were auditioning for The Blue Man Group.

Brakes are curious to me. I've changed brakes on every car I've ever owned: Chrysler, Opel, Fiat, Datsun, Volkswagen, Ford, Chevrolet, Isuzu, Dodge, Mercury. But the thing is, I don't do them very often, so the first wheel takes me about an hour to remember what I'm doing, about 15 minutes for each of the rest.

I did the left rear last night, and, being cold and tired, saved the right rear for tonight, completed in less than half the time. Apparently I chose the correct order, and just in time, too. As the photo below shows, there was only about 1/32" of pad left, and the backing plate was just beginning to contact the raised shoulder portion of the rotor.

Blue Man Group, or Avatar guy, points out wear marks on brake pad backing.

The front pads can wait until the weekend.

And daylight.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Coming to America

My kids wanted to see Coming to America over the weekend, so we rented it at the Family Video.

They didn't watch it.

Probably just as well, as I wouldn't have wanted my daughter watching it.

Anyway, I figured I'd watch it last night, before I had to return it to the store. Verdict: Not really as funny as I'd remembered it. Possibly, as Her Majesty suggests, we're not as easily amused as we age.

But, there was a scene that was really just a tip of the hat, that I had totally forgotten, in which the über-rich Prince Akeem (Eddie Murphy) hands a fast food bag full of cash to a pair of panhandlers in Queens, NY. The panhandlers turn out to be...Randolph and Mortimer Duke (Ralph Bellamy and Don Ameche) from Trading Places. Just a cameo, but probably the best scene in the movie.

The best performance was probably Madge Sinclair (Nurse Ernestine Shoop from Trapper John M.D.) as Queen Aoleon of Zamunda.

I don't know that this movie originated the concept, but Murphy plays about four roles, and Arsenio Hall does about three. This later became standard, but gimmicky, fare for Murphy and Martin Lawrence.

An Oddity

Today, I saw two SmartForTwo cars in Azle.

In and of itself, that's not too remarkable.

But what tickled me was that one of them had a Browning "Buckmark" logo sticker on the back window. Nothing like loading up the ol' SmartForTwo with all your hunting and camping gear and going out to deer camp.

I guess I sorta didn't picture those itty-bitty car drivers as the outdoors types.

Maybe I shouldn't judge books by their covers.

But I wonder if they've got a 4WD pickup version in the works...

Sunday, January 3, 2010

If I Were Lucifer

Denney Crane posted a version of this this morning. It's been widely attributed to the incomparable late radio commentator Paul Harvey, although my brief internet research failed to ascertain whether Mr. Aurandt actually authored, or only broadcast, the essay.

(Mr. The Blogger: I was going to edit for length, but couldn't find a sentence I'd leave out. Sorry.)

If I were the Prince of Darkness,

I would want to engulf the whole world in darkness. And I would have one-third of the real estate and four-fifths of the population , but I wouldn't be happy until I had the ripest apple on the tree. So I'd set about, however necessary, to take over the United States.

I'd subvert the churches first; I'd begin with a campaign of whispers. With the wisdom of a serpent I would whisper to you as I whispered to Eve: "Do as you please."

To the youth I would whisper, "The Bible is a myth."

I would convince them that man made God instead of the other way around.

I would confide that what's bad is good and what's good is "square."

In the ears of the young married I would whisper that work is debasing, that cocktail parties are good for you.

And to the old I would teach to pray after me: "Our Father, who art in Washington..."

And then I'd get organized; I'd educate authors in how to make lurid literature exciting, so that everything else would appear dull and uninteresting.

I'd threaten television with dirtier movies and vice versa.

I'd peddle narcotics to whom I could; I'd sell alcohol to ladies and gentlemen of distinction; I'd tranquilize the rest with pills.

If I were the Devil I'd soon have families at war with themselves, churches at war with themselves, and nations at war with themselves; until each in its turn was consumed. And with promises of higher ratings I'd have mesmerizing media fanning the flames.

If I were the Devil I'd encourage schools to refine young intellects but neglect to discipline emotions: let those run wild. Before you know it, you'd have to have drug-sniffing dogs and metal detectors at every school house door. Within a decade I'd have prisons overflowing.

With flattery and promises of power I would get the courts to do what I construe as against God and in favor of pornography.

I'd designate an atheist to front for me before the highest courts and I'd get the preachers to say, "She's right." Thus, I could evict God from the courthouse, then from the schoolhouse, and then from the Houses of Congress.

And in His own churches I would substitute psychology for religion and deify science. I would lure priests and pastors into misusing boys, girls, and church money.

If I were the Devil I would make the symbol of Easter an egg and the symbol of Christmas a bottle.

If I were the Devil I'd take from those who have and give it to those who want it, until I had killed the incentive of the ambitious.

What'll you bet that I couldn't get whole States to promote gambling as the way to get rich?

I would caution against extremes: in hard work, in patriotism, and in moral conduct.

I would convince the youth that marriage is old-fashioned, but swinging is more fun; that what you see on television is the way to be; and thus I could undress you in public and I could lure you into bed where there are diseases for which there is no cure.

Then I would separate families, putting children in uniform, women in coal mines and objectors in slave-labor camps.

In other words, if I were the Devil, I'd just keep doing what he's doing.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Enough already...

I hate "infotainment" news, and I hate lists.

In yet another titillating, tantalizing article about the differences between the sexes, MSN or Esquire publishes a list "27 Things Men Don't Know About Women".

The article quotes an equal number of celebritard bimbos (most of them, anyway) who proffer such profundities as:

  • "We need you to be reachable at all times, but we don't always pick up our phones when you call. We realize this seems like a double standard; if you'd like to discuss it further, just leave a message." ( - Julie Delpy, whoever that is...) I have found this to be true.

  • "We can tell how good you'll be in bed by how good you are on the dance floor." ( - Leslie Mann, again, no idea who she is...) Whatever...I hope this one's not true.

  • "Our friends are not your enemies, and our enemies better not be your friends." ( - Kyra Sedgwick) I like Kyra.

  • "When we fall asleep before the end of the film, it's because we are happy and relaxed, not because we're bored of Live Free or Die Hard." ( - Ashley Jensen, don't know who she is but she's cute) OK, I like that. Don't worry, I don't want to watch Die Hard anyway, but don't expect me to watch Steel Magnolias or It's Complicated.

  • "When we ask which outfit we should wear, humor us with an answer — just pick one already! — but expect us to go with the one you didn't choose." ( - Carmen Electra, of course I know Carmen Electra) At least she's honest.
  • "Otis Redding said it perfectly: Try a little tenderness." ( - Maria Bartiromo, no idea) Uncle Otis said that?

  • "Sometimes we think we really understand men. Then we regain consciousness." ( - Sela Ward, I love Sela Ward) Yeah, she understands that ya'll are as confused about us as we are about ya'll.
  • "When you break up with us, that means it's over, and we will only sleep with you two or three more times." ( - Jane Krakowski, apparently a Hollywood trollop) No further comment required.

Just 27 things? Hell, how about INFINITY things?

The best quote on the Venus/Mars issue I ever read was on a Waylon Jennings album cover. It was very concise: A man who understands women - is one!

In semi-seriousness, I think men and women are more alike than different. Women are wired differently, which can be really frustrating, but you're also plumbed differently, which is a really good thing...

Edit: Yeah, it didn't escape my consciousness that the above post, with the bulleted items and all, looked kinda like a list.

Saturday's Reflection

From The Upper Room:

THOUGH we are often inhospitable, God keeps coming, and without regard for a designated season is born in mystery where the known and unknown dance on the edge of the miraculous. Angels appear in human disguise, a hallelujah chorus surrounding us in the fields of this common earth we walk on and watch from. Behind paper windows are symbols we don’t yet recognize, and our unlighted candles burst into flame on altars we haven’t acknowledged. Around us the breathing of the animals is slow and deep, their expectant, steady gaze directed toward the rough door that is just beginning to open. Each night, the stars signal a new journey, and all year long God keeps coming.

- Jeanne Lohmann

Alive Now

Friday, January 1, 2010

Getting in touch with my inner Desperado

Well the stage was set the sun was sinkin’ low down
As they came to town to face another showdown
The lawmen cleared the people from the streets
All you blood-thirsty bystanders, will you try to find your seats?
Watch ‘em Duelin’, Doolin-Dalton, high or low, it’s all the same
Easy money and faithless women, you will never kill the pain

Go down, Bill Doolin, don’t you wonder why
Sooner or later we all have to die?
Sooner or later, that’s a stone-cold fact,
Four men ride out and only three ride back.


The queen of diamonds let you down, she was just an empty fable
The queen of hearts you say you never met
Your twisted fate has found you out and it’s finally turned the tables
Stole your dreams and paid you with regret

Desperado (is there gonna be anything left, is there gonna be anything?)
You sealed your fate up a long time ago
(Ain’t it hard when you’re all alone in the center ring?)
Now there’s no time left to borrow
(Is there gonna be anything left?)
Only stardust (maybe tomorrow)
Maybe tomorrow
Maybe tomorrow



Remember When

Heard this on the way to taking the kids to the movies today...

Remember when? Heck, I'm not sure I remember how.

Yeah, I'm a sucker for mandolins and cellos...