Friday, May 26, 2006

Shamelessly stolen from Rising Hegemon

Poster Worst. President. Ever. tendered this sparkling, scintillating gem:

One night, George W. Bush is tossing restlessly in his White House bed. He awakens to see George Washington standing by him.

Bush asks him, "George, what's the best thing I can do to help the country?"

"Always tell the truth, just as I did," Washington advises, then fades away.

The next night, Bush sees the ghost of Thomas
Jefferson moving through the darkened bedroom.

Bush calls out, "Tom, please! What is the best thing I can do to help the country?"

"Respect the Constitution, just as I did," Jefferson
advises, and dims from sight . . . .

The third night sleep still does not come for Bush. He sees the ghost of FDR hovering over his bed.

Bush whispers, "Franklin, What is the best thing I can do to help the country?"

"Help the less fortunate, just as I did," FDR replies and fades into the mist.

Bush isn't sleeping well the fourth night when he sees another figure moving in the shadows. It's the ghost of Abraham Lincoln.

Bush pleads, "Abe, what is the best thing I can do
right now to help the country?"

Lincoln replies, "Support the arts, as I did. Get out and see a play."

Saturday, May 20, 2006

The dream is over..........

This just in from CNN:

British pop star Freddie Garrity, former lead singer with 1960s band Freddie and the Dreamers, has died at the age of 69.
Garrity died on Friday in hospital in North Wales, his agent said on Saturday.
His five-piece band had hits in Britain and the United States with "I'm Telling You Now," "You Were Made For Me" and "Over You."

Now, I'm not going to claim to have been a big fan of Freddie and the Dreamers. Of course, I remember "I'm Telling You Now", and "Do the Freddie", but they were just one bit of fluff in one of the fluffiest decades in popular music history.

I lament Freddie's passing while at the same time celebrating the golden age of "bubble-gum" music. The Archies were the archetypes, of course, but bubble-gum was ubiquitous, and its practitioners were legion. To name a few: 1910 Fruitgum Company, Tommy Roe, Kastanetz-Katz Singing Orchestral Circus, Ohio Express....the list goes on and on. The authoritative source for all things bubblegum can be found at The Classic Bubblegum Music Homepage.

Did you love it? Did you hate it? Can you still sing along with "1-2-3 Red Light"? (Ev-ry time I try to prove I love you, 1,2,3 Red Light, you stop me....) Add your own percussion. (Hint: Clap-clap, clap.) Before anyone goes all snobbo on me, you should know that Donald Fagen and Walter Becker were in Jay and the Americans before they formed Steely Dan. You might also refer to "The Captain Cooks", XTC's bubble-gum project. I'm still tracking down a rumor that Mahavishu John McLaughlin was the guitarist for Edison Lighthouse. Do you have memories of bubblegum? Would you like to share with the class?

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Words you like

Borrowed from/stolen from/inspired by Kevin Wolf

Words you like. Words you like to use. Words that make you giggle when you encounter them. Words that dance on your tongue. Words you use like tabasco. Words you whip out on special occasions. Words you wish you could get away with dropping into everyday conversation. Words that just look so right. Words you use when no other words will do. Words that make you feel smart, sexy, powerful, sophisticated, authentic, mysterious. Sesquipedalian words. Words that can sink ships.

Consider yourself tagged.

La Cage aux Pols

Oh, this is rich. Any post blending slender, well-dressed right-wing Christopithecus Ralph Reed and cousin-fuckin' deserves your attention. Go read it and recommend it now, before it scrolls off the front page at DailyKos. Here's a taste:

Some call him a cross-dressing, "blatant adultering cousin-fucker" (BACF) with a comb-over. Former Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed calls him the keynote speaker for his closed-to-the-press fundraiser on May 18, 2006, at the Westin Buckhead on Atlanta's affluent and fashionable Peachtree Road.

You can't make this shit up, folks.....

Can you guess who the cousin-fucker is?

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

You're going down, Osmond, you sniveling little shit...

Flamingo Jones (see blogroll) recently posted a tale of triumph and conquest involving masks, whipped cream, and clowns. Hers is a story of the power of the human spirit, the indomitable drive for victory, the undiluted will to power!

I, too, have such a story. A combination of modesty and political correctness has stilled my tongue lo these many years, but La Flamingo has inspired me, nay empowered me to take pride in my victory and tell my story that others may be similarly uplifted.

The truth can finally be told; I kicked Donny Osmond's ass and made him my bitch! (By the way....nice digital watch you got there, sissy.)

The place: Jacksonville, Florida. The time: 1990, I guess. I was in the record business, on the road with one of our recording artistes, whose name it would be indelicate to divulge. The local slack-jaws had organized some sort of festival, featuring big tents, fried foods and live music. There may also have been a hot air balloon, and maybe a jet-ski, too.

This show was what we called a "track date". A stripped down recording of the set had been prepared, minus lead vocals and most of the drums. When the lights came up, the tape rolled, the drummer drummed, the Talent sang, and I, along with various crew members, pretended to play various instruments. (I always "played" bass. "Played" it on the Mickey Mouse Club a couple of times, in fact.) Orleans ("Still The One") opened, the Talent was next, and Donny Osmond was the headliner. It was a daytime gig, so we were finished around 5:00 or so. Instead of the usual backstage catering, the organizers had planned a dinner for the acts, the organizing committee, donors, etc. Attendance at the dinner was obligatory, kind of a grip & grin & meet & greet & eat.

Most of the crew blew off the dinner, succumbing instead to the twin temptations of cold local beer and hot local wimmin. My job, however, required me to stay with the Talent. Make introductions, field interview requests, tear him away from autograph seekers, etc. (I should mention that the Talent was, at the time, hugely popular as a result of his regular role on a "daytime drama.") So dinner is served, and we sit down at long tables laden with grub. At one end of the table, me, the Talent, some other of his "people" and a couple of local teevee reporter-babes. At the other end, the Osmond contingent. You never saw such white people in your life. The Continental Divide is the line which separates North America into the Atlantic and Pacific watersheds. Our table had a similar divide. At our end: Cokes, beer and iced tea. At the Osmond end: Seven-up, water, and milk. Donny and Company eschewed both alcohol and caffeine, suckling only at the bland, pale teats permitted by their Mormon religion.

Not bad, anyway, for a day in Jacksonville. Dinner was fine, the Talent was gracious, and I was making significant headway with one of the reporter-babes. My totally sincere line of bullshit, however, was rudely interrupted by raucous shouts from the Utah delegation.

"Spoons!", they shouted. "Spoons!" I was momentarily puzzled, wondering if the Latter-Day Saints were engaged in some manner of post-prandial religiosity. It was then that I observed various Osmonds and Osmondettes hanging spoons from their noses.

(This is not an actual Osmond. I wasn't sure if taking their picture would be like stealing their soul or something, so I'm using a stand-in. This is, however, what it looks like to hang a spoon from one's nose. As always, kids, it's OK to try this at home without adult supervision!)

It soon became apparent that this was a competitive event, the purpose of which was to determine who could suspend a piece of cutlery from their face for the longest period of time. And I gotta tell ya', Donny Osmond is a world-class spoon-hanger. He was blowing Mormons away left and right. Mutha'-fucka' is one spoon-hangin' sonofabitch!

But I am not one to shrink from a challenge.

So I spooned up and slid down to the Osmond end of the table. "You and me, Donnie," I said. "It's go time". Shit, it was like a cliched scene in a B-western. Folks were scurrying out of the way, diving behind watering troughs, ducking into dry-goods stores, you name it. I wiped my nose with my napkin and gave the bowl of the spoon a quick buff with the edge of the tablecloth. We squared off. "Spoons up!", someone shouted. And it was go time indeed.

It could only have been minutes, but it seemed like hours. There I was, with a spoon hanging from my nose, eyeball-to-eyeball with a bona-fide star of stage, screen and radio, with a spoon hanging from his nose. Time passed. Old folks died. Babies were born. Suns exploded. And still we sat...heads in hands...face to face....nose to nose....spoon to spoon. Now I don't mind admitting that i was tempted to play dirty. A question popped into my mind, unbidden. "So, Donny, about Marie. Nice rack, huh?" My better nature took over, though, and the provocative query remained unasked. Still, I was not about to lose to this capped-tooth pretty-boy. A thought occurred to me. Ever so slowly, with movement so slow as to scarcely be perceptible, I eased my hands up and back toward my occiput. I made small talk to distract my foe. "One Bad Apple...was that you or the Jackson 5?" I asked innocently, knowing that everyone gave the Jacksons credit for that pop music gem. I couldn't tell if his nostrils flared, obscured as they were by the spoon hanging from his face, but I saw a glint in his eye. I had drawn blood. I zeroed in on his eyes with laser-like precision. We were locked in, ojo a ojo.

He was mine.

I slowly raised my gaze toward the top of his head; he returned the gesture. And that was when he saw my fingertips, poking above my head like nubby devil's horns. Whether it was his fear of Satan, or merely a reaction to my audacity, I'll never know. But the involuntary change in his facial expression was sufficient to dislodge the silverware, which fell to the table with a satisfying "clang." I removed my spoon with my left hand and offered my right to my vanquished enemy. He returned my offered handclasp like a gentleman, knowing full well that he had met his match that day in the Duval County Convention Center and Expotorium, or whatever the fuck it was called.

Sweet, sweet triumph. Drinking and dancing and choruses of "Huzzah!" occupied the evening, followed by my return to the hotel, where I and a member of the ActionChannel 25 FirstCoastNewsTeam consummated the evening in a manner befitting a champion. In our enthusiasm, we stirred the ire of the next-door neighbor, TV's Cathie Lee Crosby! But that, amigos mios, is a story for another day.

Sunday, May 14, 2006


We had a big ol' cherry tree fall on our fence during a storm the other night, so I've got to clear away said tree and rassle a couple of 12 foot replacement fence rails into position. Also, we're in the middle of finishing our basement, so I've got new walls and ceilings to be painted, and tile to be laid, and molding to cut and install, and it's a crappy, cold, gray kinda day, so, naturally, I dove into a remodel of the blog. The spiffy new header was created by the charming and delightful Ms. Roxtar, whose PhotoShop skilzz are mad, indeed. (The name "Black Sky Theory" is explained, somewhat, in my maiden post, here.)

I also learned a lot about html, and just let me just say that trial and error is way overrated as a pedagogical method. I did, however, come up with some new 10- to 12- letter cuss words, so all-in-all it worked out for the best, knowledge-wise.

While I've got the tools out, I thought I'd tune up the blogroll, too. Many a trial lawyer (myself included) believes that knowing to which magazines a potential juror subscribes is a great way to determine whether you want them on your jury. A blogroll is similarly revealing. Mine consists of those blogs that I keep coming back to, whether for the content, or the attitude, or (usually) both. Your mileage, as always, may vary.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Death: It's not a penalty.....and I can prove it.

Few issues lead to such apparently inconsistent positions as does the death penalty. Much of the "pro-life" community, for example, is staunchly pro-death in this context. As a criminal defense lawyer, I might be expected to categorically oppose capital punishment; under circumstances where culpability is beyond doubt, however, I have no problem with it at all, but for reasons other than those you might expect.

It's well established that the death penalty is not a deterrent. I would argue that it's not even a penalty. And if it's neither a deterrent nor a penalty, what's the point? Follow my reasoning, here.

First, I approach the question from my own atheistic point of view. Death is nothing more than the permanent termination of consciousness. Once one's consciousness has been terminated, there can be no punishment, no joy, no amusement, no irritation, no nothing. By this reasoning, the death "penalty" is actually an end to the awareness that one is being punished, or, in other words, the premature end of punishment. If Mr. Killer is jailed on Tuesday and executed on Wednesday, he's only been punished for one day, after which his consciousness is humanely and mercifully extinguished. That doesn't strike me as particularly penal. I suspect that most people, when presented with a hypothetical choice between 40 years in a penitentiary and a swift, painless demise, would at least give serious consideration to the "easy way out", with emphasis on the word easy.

But most people do not share my godless take on things, so my argument must address the majority view. In the Christian tradition, there is an afterworld. Those who have accepted Jesus as their Lord and savior are admitted to Heaven, an eternal paradise. Now the various sects of Christianity have various means by which a sinner can be admitted to heaven. Baptism by immersion, confession and absolution, whatever. Even the most evil baby-raping murderer can enjoy Eternal Bliss, if he does what is necessary. If Mr. Killer has complied with the requirements, he attains paradise immediately after riding the spike. Again, not particularly penal.

Let's suppose, however, that our subject's crimes were so gross, so heinous, that even God can't forgive them. And to make matters worse, he's proud of his crimes, and professes an eagerness to commit even more and more egregious offenses. In such a case, Hell looms as the ultimate punishment. The doomed will spend eternity roasting on the coals and being tortured by Satan and his legions of lesser imps and demons.

"Aha!", says the pro-death Christian. "That's the ticket!" Or is it?

Eternity is a long, long time. And if we execute Mr. Killer at age 30, we've only added about 40 years to his torment. Do the math; 40 years is an incalculably, infintesimally small percentage of eternity. It doesn't even equal the percentage of an ocean represented by a single molecule of water! By executing Mr. Killer, we have only increased his damnation by an amount too small to measure.

Life imprisonment, on the other hand, will consume 100% of the damned's Earthly life, during which time he may contemplate the horrible fate which awaits him. Consequently, such a fate imposes decades of temporal punishment on the criminal, followed by eternal punishment on his immortal soul. QED, the death penalty is less penal than life imprisonment.

As life imprisonment is more penal than death, it should be the preferred mode of punishing the worst among us. It has the additional benefits of allowing for correcting for racial bias in capital cases and righting the occasional wrongful conviction. Furthermore, the expense of keeping prisoners fed, clothed and housed for life is a small percentage of our total corrections budget. There is an economy of scale at work here. We could more than make up for it by not imprisoning people for possessing small amounts of marijuana, for example.

Now, you may argue that the death penalty serves other functions, such as providing "closure" to the victims and their families, or quenching our species' unique thirst for revenge. Well, that's fine. But the justice system doesn't exist to provide psychological remedies for the wronged, and in many states (including mine) the "closure" afforded by the death "penalty" is not available anyway, under any circumstances. So, let's drop the pretense that we're punishing anyone by executing them. If we're satisfying our bloodlust, let's just say so. And if we're not willing to say so, then we shouldn't be doing it.

Your thoughts?

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Meme Joe Greene

Blue Wren was tagged with this A to Z, Q&A meme, which struck me as fun, and which I hereby pass along to you. Post it at your blog, answer in the comments, or tell me it's none of my fucking business.


I spent lots of years in the radio business, so my accent (if you can call it that) is Standard American English. I've lived a lot of places, and I have a tendency to chameleon the local accent and idioms, but basically, I'm pure vanilla. Since returning to the Pittsburgh area, however, I have adopted "yinz" (2nd person singular/plural proper noun), although I never used it as a kid.


There was a time when I was entertaining clients 5 nights a week, and semi-competitive drinking was usually involved. I quickly learned that Absolut Vodka was the only spirit that didn't make me wake up feeling as if I had been shat out by a constipated rhinocerous. My golden age of alcohol is behind me now, but I enjoy an occasional glass of wine, and an ice cold Iron City Beer on a hot summer day.

Chore I hate

Perversely, I kinda like most chores. Chopping firewood (we heat exclusively with wood) gives me a feeling of authenticity and independence., Plus, it's a great release. On the downside, my rotator cuff was barking by the end of winter. It's a high impact activity, after all. Mowing grass on a lawn tractor makes me feel like Oliver Wendell Douglas. The entire painting/fixing/home improvement axis is fun, and a pleasant diversion. Filing, on the other hand, sucks like a hole in a spacesuit.

Dog or cat?

I usually had a cat around in college, because they were so fun to watch when I was stoned (which was pretty much all the time.....hey, it was the '70s). My previous wives had cats, too. The present Ms. Roxtar breeds show dogs, so I now am tolerated by a menagerie of 3 cats and 7 Labrador Retrievers. Cats are for selfish people. You can tear open a bag of cat food and leave the toilet seat up, and cats will be fine for a week while you go to Baja. Dogs, on the other hand, require more attention than kids. Still, there's nothing like the loving gaze of a devoted dog.

Essential electronics

TV. Gotta have it. Can't sleep without it. And a viable broadband internet connection is almost as basic a utility as electricity and water.

Favorite cologne

I remember all the oldies and goodies from my adolesence; Hai Karate, English Leather, Jovan Musk, British Sterling, Jade Fucking East! Proust appreciated the power of a remembered scent. It seems to me that there would be big bucks in reviving some of these vintage fragrances. I like Aqua Velva, but I can't wear it with a straight face, so I'm pretty much an Old Spice guy.

Gold or silver

I wear a gold wedding ring on my left hand, and a silver ring with Irish glyphs on my right hand. My watch is stainless and gold. I guess it's a tie.


Here's the list. Wheeling, WV, Shadyside, OH, Indianapolis, IN, Atlanta, GA, Chapel Hill, NC, Muncie, IN, Denver, CO, Charlottesville, VA, Richmond, VA, Las Vegas, NV, Grand Rapids, MI, Amarillo, TX, Panama City Beach, FL, Orlando, FL, San Diego, CA. And now, I'm back in Wheeling. When I came back, after being away for 30+ years, I checked out the phone book, looking up the names I remembered from my grade school neighborhood. It turns out they were all still there, except one lady who died. Other than her, we were the last ones to move away.


Very rarely. Sometimes, I wake up unusually early, and get distracted by the woodstove or the internet, but it's not that I can't sleep. There's just something else to do.

Job title

Former morning show disc jockey, former record promotion executive, currently Public Defender.


Step-son and step-daughter, but their wonderful qualities are none of my doing. All credit to their mom. Each has a little girl, both of whom I tell to "question authority" at every opportunity. Since both are less than 2 years old, I don't think it's having much effect, but I'm in it for the long haul.

Living arrangements

We live on a hilltop in rural West Virginia, at the end of a gravel road. Yeah, it's pretty much as idyllic as you would expect. I've also lived in college towns, beach towns, and downtowns, and those were all nice in their own ways, too. I cannot recommend Amarillo, TX. To anyone. Under any circumstances.

Most admirable traits

I work for poor people, although that's not really a trait. Christ, I'm an annoying disc jockey, turned obnoxious record promoter, turned lawyer. If you're looking for admirable traits, may I suggest that you bark up another tree.

Number of sexual partners

I can't guess at the number, other than to say that it's not going to get any bigger.

Overnight hospital stays

Four, I think. Impacted bowel in 6th grade, car crash in high school, broke a collarbone playing softball sometime during the '80s, carotid endartectomy around the turn of the century.


None, really. I cop the odd bit of anxiety in crowds, but I don't fear them. I just avoid them.


"If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquillity of servitude than the animating contest of freedom--go from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen!" -- Samuel Adams

"If my answers frighten you, Vincent, then you should cease asking scary questions."
-- Jules in Pulp Fiction


Atheist. Although that's not so radical when you think of all the gods (Zeus, Venus, Poseidon, Lord Krsna, Ganesha, etc.), and realize that I only believe in one less god than most other people.


I have a brother, 16 months younger. We went a long time (15, 20 years)with no contact, not from any feud or animosity, just because I was running around being a hippie while he was being a solid citizen. Nothing in common (or so I thought). He turned out to be a brilliant guy, writer of novels, dreamer of dreams, thinker outside the box, one of my favorite humans. One small example of the way he thinks: Why isn't there a cooling, soothing hemorrhoid spray? Why, indeed? Not everyone enjoys jamming suppositories and ointments up there.

Time I wake up

4:00 a.m., no alarm clock. Best part of the day.

Unusual talent or skill

I've made a hole in one, and I've been a contestant on Jeopardy. Also, when my wife has computer problems, all I have to do is go into her office and stand next to her computer, and the problem seems to resolve itself. It's like voodoo.

Vegetable I love

Potatoes. It's that Irish thing. Really fresh sweet corn, with salt, pepper and butter. A nice homegrown tomato (yeah, I know they're technically fruits, but there is no favorite fruit category).


A nice collection of x-rays can be found here.

Yummy foods I make

Cioppino, which is an Italian seafood soup, with clams, mussels, shrimp, fish, tomatoes, peppers. When I lived in warmer climes, I always cooked the holiday turkey on my Weber kettle. I also make fantastic smoked chicken, with home-grown, hand whittled apple and/or cherry wood chips. I'll send you a bag and instructions upon request. (The chips, not the chicken.)

Zodiac sign

Pisces, the fish. And I don't think it's merely coincidence that I'm covered with scales and breathe through gills. That astrology stuff really, really works!

Your turn!