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The Birds Are Confused

January 6, 2012

January BirdsIt was knocking on 70° today. The birds were singing. I think the song was It Might as well Be Spring.

The birds are confused. Hell, I’m confused. This time last year I was breaking my back digging out from the great blizzard of 2011. Today I was out in the Harley getting a cool breeze in my face. There seemed to be a thousand other motorcycles out doing the same thing. What a difference a few months make.

You might remember just a few months back I was bitching about how hot it was. Day after day of temps over 100°. And then one day it was bearable again. It’s like it went from OMG to “isn’t this nice” in the blink of a porch light.

I have a theory I hope proves to be true although I have a poor track record in the prognostication department.

It was so hot for so long this summer it can’t get as cold this winter.

Well, it sounds good on paper but I was missing in action for most of my classes on theory.

I had a theory about Tequila and that didn’t work out too well either.

Winter is nature’s way of saying, “Up yours.” ~Robert Byrne


Can I Shoot Him?

January 5, 2012

Woman with gunOklahoma is still pretty much a wild west kind of place. There’s biker bars and honky-tonks around here where they check you for weapons at the door and if you don’t have one they give you one.

This is the story of 18 year old Sarah McKinley. On New Years Eve, McKinley was home alone with her 3 month old baby when intruders attempted to break into her Blanchard mobile home.

The young mother immediately got on the phone with a police dispatcher and asked, “I’ve got two guns in my hand. Is it OK to shoot him if he comes in this door?”

Makes sense to me – two intruders, two guns, one very protective mother.  This can’t have a good ending for the unsuspecting robbers.

“Well, you have to do whatever you can do to protect yourself,” the dispatcher responded. “I can’t tell you that you can do that, but you have to do what you have to do to protect your baby.”

In Oklahoma the law allows deadly force against intruders.

Standing outside her door trying to enter her home was  24 year-old Justin Martin and 29 year-old Dustin Stewart. Apparently they were on the prowl for prescription drugs and either didn’t consider McKinley a threat or didn’t know she was home. McKinley’s husband died on Christmas day from complications of lung cancer.

When the men entered McKinley acted in self-defense and fatally shot Martin. Stewart fled the scene unaware of the scope of his situation. Prosecutors have arrested and charged the alleged accomplice with first-degree murder.

Grady County Assistant District Attorney James Walters told The Oklahoman newspaper,”When you’re engaged in a crime such as first-degree burglary and a death results from the events of that crime, you’re subject to prosecution for it,” Walters said.

Sounds like a big win for second amendment rights.

(The above photo is NOT Sarah McKinley.)


First Wednesday

January 4, 2012

The sun is high in the sky and temps on the plains are more like April than January. It’s the first Wednesday of 2012 and without my weirdo posts to fall back on I have to figure out what to write about. I don’t have the crutch of a regular topic to be researched and written. I have to be creative on my own and I haven’t even had coffee yet.

The horror… the horror…

The truth is I was getting a bit burned out on Weirdo Wednesday anyway.

Without a game plan, an idea or concept, I’ll be winging it, so to speak, from here on out. You’ll be getting whatever I can come up with. It’ll be a wide range of musings, my perceptions, my hopes and dreams, and my spin on current events.

I’d like to explore the obscure and mundane aspects of life. What better challenge is there than to write the minutia of one’s life and make it interesting. Now there’s a personal contest I can sink my keyboard into.  Many days will be fairly short and brief snippets of my day. Occasionally I will drift into some kind of rant, although I’m not really a ranter. (Come to think of it I could probably use the practice.)

All in all I’m looking forward to more writing in 2012.

Who knows… I may even finish Haunting Charleston.

First, find out what your hero wants, then just follow him!
– Ray Bradbury


January 3, 2012

It seems everyone is getting tattooed these days. It’s not just the domain of convicts and bikers. Celebrities, soldiers,  and the girl next door are as likely to get tattoos as make a trip to the dentist.

Did you know President Teddy Roosevelt had a chest tattoo of his family crest? Not many people did. Chest tattoos are easily hidden from the public.  Caroline Kennedy has a small butterfly tattoo she got on a trip to Hong Kong in the 80s. Even the former Prime Minister of England, Winston Churchill, had an anchor tattooed on his right arm. (His mother, Lady Randolph Churchill, had a snake tattoo on her right wrist. I imagine that was quite the scandal in those times.)

15104And then there’s John Fedderman, the Mayor of Braddock, Penn. Fedderman has been described as “America’s Coolest Mayor.” He has the zip code of his town, 15104, tattooed on his left forearm. On his right you will find six dates inked into his skin. These represent days when a citizen of his town died under terrible circumstances during his tenure. One refers to a child who froze to death after she was left in a park overnight by her father. This mayor is one cool dude!

You know tattoos have really gone mainstream when even Lego’s are getting inked.

Lego Tats

A Google for “Tattoo” images returns over a million hits. Must be getting very popular.

Election Year 2012

January 2, 2012

Every four years Americans line up against each other and go to battle over who’s the best guy to put in the White House. You all know the drill. It’s the Dems versus the Repubs, the left versus the right, this guy versus that guy, and for 2012 it’s Obama versus who knows.

Is it just me or is politics in our country a cross between mass hysteria and situation comedy?

This year you are going to need a scorecard to keep up with all the players. It’s not just the candidates anymore. No, that would be too simple. You have all these peripheral players to contend with. Everyone lining up with their mud-pots and pundits ready to trash the other players field. It’s political war of the ugliest kind and the main victim is the truth.

Between Huffington Post and Fox News, The Tea party and Occupy whatever, this year is going to be N-A-S-T-Y. News travels faster than the speed of Facebook and in the social media age, John Q. Citizen is engaged with in-your-face political positioning as never before.

Just the fact I am sitting here blogging about politics should tell you something. I hate politics with every millimeter of my rather open mind. I consider myself just right of center and from where I sit I can’t even see to the outer extremes of the right and left where this game is being played.

So buckle up tight, it’s going to be a bumpy ride. The mud is going to be flying back and forth like a ping-pong match. Sorting out the lies from the truth is going to be nearly impossible.

I don’t know about you but I can say with much assurance,  I’ve had about all the change I can stand.

Years in the Mirror

January 1, 2012

I’ve seen a lot of years come and go. There are many New Years celebrations that are nothing more than a date on a calendar. I have no recollection of the events surrounding those, what I am sure were, magnificent  soirees.  I am the former life-of-the-party.

This is kind of a banner year for me. It’s 25 years since 1987, one of the worst years of my life and at the same time one of the best years of my life. It was a tragedy/triumph kind of year, a victory/defeat kind of year, it was a ‘you can run but you can’t hide’ kind of year.

I don’t remember January 1, 1987 anymore than I remember the day of my birth. I can only think in generalities. I know I was getting ready to go to Belgium to work. I was to spend several weeks living and working in a facility of the coast of Belgium.  Just before I was to head across the ocean, I got a phone call from home. My nephew had died in a car crash the night before. It was March 4th.

Two days later MS Herald of Free Enterprise, a roll on/roll off car ferry commissioned to ferry cars on the  DoverCalais route, sank leaving the port of Zeebrugge, Belgium. Over the next several weeks I was to watch that salvage operation. It was the worst maritime disaster for a U.K. registered vessel since the sinking of the Titanic, taking 193 passengers and  crews to a cold, watery grave.

I don’t remember much of being in Belgium. I know I stayed at the Holiday Inn in Brugge and spent evenings exploring the many bars and pubs the city had to offer. Weekends were spent exploring distant cities – Brussels, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, St. Pauli, London, and others.

Still grieving the loss of my nephew I massaged my pain with vodka. I returned from Belgium several weeks later in quite the state. From March to August I went about the business of drowning my sorrow. I honestly have little recollection of those months.

I know in early August I was back in divorce court. By the end of the month I was in the hospital detoxing from excess. Little would I know how much my life would change. I haven’t seen a drunk Christmas since.

The one constant in life is change. Days on the calendar click by like mileposts on the highway and we mark them with our presence. Life is not about what I could wrest out of it, it was what I could put into it. In my failings I missed a lot of life’s lessons but thankfully it’s never too late to start learning.

Here’s looking ahead to another year on the calendar where I have the opportunity to be of service. My part is to bring a willingness to serve and a humility to not expect anything in return. My favorite thing is to do something nice for somebody else and not get caught doing it.

“It is one of the most beautiful compensations of life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Rock and Roll Saturday – Dick Clark

December 31, 2011

Dick ClarkConsidering this Rock and Roll Saturday falls on New Years Ever, I thought I would pay a bit of homage to a man that brought rock & roll into our living rooms for many years, Mr. Dick Clark.

Bandstand came to be in 1952 on Philadelphia television station WFIL. The original program was hosted by Bob Horn who left the program in 1956 following a drunk driving arrest. Horn was immediately replaced with another on air talent at the station, weatherman Dick Clark.

In August of 1957 ABC picked up the program for a national broadcast and changed the name to American Bandstand. Clark often interviewed kids in the studio about the music being played. A popular segment of the program was “Rate-A-Record” where two guests would provide opinion on the music being played. The phrase, “It’s got a good beat and you can dance to it,” became synonymous with the program. Cheech and Chong were known to drop in and fill in as reviewers.

The program maintained its success on the advertising dollars spent on the target demographic of the American Teenager. The show aired Monday through Friday until September 7 of 1963 when it was moved to a once a week spot on Saturday afternoons. A year later ABC moved the program from Philadelphia to Los Angeles. In 1967 American Bandstand began broadcasting in color.

Through it all Dick Clark brought top 40 from the radio to the stage and introduced generations of teens to music.

Some of the bands to play on American Bandstand over the years:

  • Aerosmith
  • Adam Ant
  • Bon Jovi
  • Beach Boys
  • Oingo Boingo
  • David Bowie
  • The Carpenters
  • Jim Croce
  • The Cowsills
  • Def Leppard
  • Neil Diamond
  • Peter Frampton
  • The Grass Roots
  • Isaac Hayes
  • Billy Idol
  • Jefferson Airplane
  • Etta James
  • B.B. King
  • Men At Work
  • Van Morrison
  • Pink Floyd
  • Prince
  • Little Richard
  • Run DMC
  • Slade
  • Strawberry Alarm Clock
  • Talking Heads
  • Tommy Tutone
  • War

For a full list of acts to play on American Bandstand click here.

As they say, all good things must come to an end and on October 7, 1989, Bandstand broadcast its last show.

In 2002 Dick Clark hosted a special 50th anniversary edition. Michael Jackson, a frequent Bandstand guest, performed Dangerous.

Dick Clark New Years

Dick Clark Times Square 1986

On December 8 of 2004r, the then 75-year-old was hospitalized in Los Angeles after suffering what was initially termed a minor stroke. On December 13, 2004, it was announced that Clark would be unable to host his annual New Year’s Rockin’ Eve broadcast that had aired for all but one year since 1972. For the 2004 show, Regis Philbin was the substitute host, and during the show on December 31, 2004, he gave his best wishes to Clark.

On December 31, 2005, Clark made his return to television, returning to the Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve broadcast. During the braodcast, Clark remained behind a desk and was shown only in limited segments. Though Clark had noticeable difficulty speaking, he was able to perform his famous countdown to the new year.

On air, he stated, “Last year I had a stroke. It left me in bad shape. I had to teach myself how to walk and talk again. It’s been a long, hard fight. My speech is not perfect but I’m getting there.” Before counting down to 2006, he mentioned he “wouldn’t have missed this for the world.”

Dick Clark brought music to the masses for many years. At 82 years old he’ll be back tonight to host New Years Rockin’ Eve.