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Monday, October 31, 2011

Creepier than Halloween. . .

. . . and actually quite tragic.

from This Week In Texas
2009-02-04 / Local History
by Bartee Haile

". . . Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa in the dead of winter were a sub-zero ice box that took an awful toll on man and machine. On any given night, half of the stage talent and support staff were sick - "Goose" Bunch's feet actually froze! - and the tour bus gave up the ghost in the middle of nowhere.

By the time the road show reached Clear Lake, Iowa, on Feb. 3, Holly had had it with all-night rides on the latest mass transit - a converted school bus with a broken heater. He chartered a private airplane to fly him and two passengers to Fargo, N.D.

Ritchie Valens won one seat on a coin flip with Tommy Allsup, and Buddy assigned the other to his Panhandle pal. But soft-hearted Waylon gave his spot on the warm plane to Richardson, who had come down with the flu.

"You're not going with me tonight, huh?" Holly joked at Jennings' expense. "Did you chicken out?" Waylon explained fear had nothing to do with it, that he was just doing the Big Bopper a favor.

"Well," Buddy said in obvious jest, "I hope your damned bus freezes up again." Waylon answered in kind, "I hope your old plane crashes."

And that was what it did less than 10 minutes after take-off, killing all on-board.

"I just wanted to go home," Jennings recalled 37 years later, "but they wouldn't stop the tour." The grief-stricken guitarist had to wait until he collected his pay after the final performance to return to Lubbock.

Waylon Jennings made the most of the 43 years that an act of kindness on a cold Iowa night bought him. At his death in 2002, he was a full-fledged legend in his own right with more than 60 albums and 16 No. 1 country-music hits.

Buddy would have been proud. . . "




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Normal or not? . . .

. . . who's to say?

My brother-in-law came to the house last Sunday to watch a football game. He lives on the outskirts of the metropolitan area and is does not, as a result, have the games of our local NFL franchise available on his cable television broadcast schedule. Now this may sound like a very ordinary situation to you. Brother-in-law visits brother-in-law, the guys watch the game together with a few beers, maybe a pizza and pretzels, right?

Well most of it's right. The only wrong part of the picture is the 'guys' part, at least literally. You see, the two football fans that enjoyed the game together were my brother-in-law and my wife. My wife and my two younger sons are the only football fans in the family. Our eldest and myself would rather. . . be doing just about anything else. So as my wife and her brother were screaming at the television, I walked through the room. He said, "Ray, I guess you're not really interested in this game are you?" to which I responded, "You could tell, huh?" (not rudely, mind you.) To my brilliant remark he responded, "I guess you're the only normal one here."





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Saturday, October 29, 2011

The OWS protesters. . .

". . . are filling a large hole in America’s democracy. Congress, the president, the media, and even the think tanks were not reflecting the frustration, confusion and anger among Americans. They talked, they did not listen. I have witnessed these people several times now, talked to the group twice, talked to them in private—they listen. It is quite wonderful.

But what bugs me most is the widespread criticism of their ignorance of economics. What they know and what Wall Street and much of Washington do not is that the American model has been failing for decades. Look at income inequality. More important, look at average hourly earnings adjusted for inflation, now back to their 1969 level. Look at our crummy roads, our unequal education, our uniquely absurd healthcare system. Look even at relatively weak capital investment.

Then they are lectured by people like the Competitive Enterprise Institute that they do not understand how markets work. There have been no free markets by neo-classical or even Hayekian standards for decades on Wall Street. When there is no transparent pricing of derivatives, there is no free market. When five major banks control the entire market, there is oligopoly, not free markets. When enormous banks in every avenue of finance exchange information within their own companies, information asymmetries, not to mention potential for insider trading and front-running, are rife. When the conflicts of interest between ratings agencies and their clients are built into Wall Street, who can but laugh that this is real competition. And what about asymmetric financial incentives that made the bankers rich? They rewarded risk when you won, but did not penalize when you lost.

Don’t lecture the OWS movement about competitive markets. In league with Washington regulators, Wall Street learned how to rig those markets. And then they could misprice risk and lead to runway speculation that was bound to result in failure. One number always grabs me. Private financial firms wrote 18 percent of mortgages, which resulted in 42 percent of all serious defaults. There is the culprit. And then they didn’t have the capital to cover the losses. They drove the housing market sky high. Then they built debt on the bad mortgages.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that even had markets run on more competitive lines speculation and crisis would have been completely avoided. There is little in neo-classical theory that suggests mild corrections are all that is needed to set economic growth on its inevitably stable path. But people like Alan Greenspan, Larry Summers and Ben Bernanke stuffed the deep crises of 1982, 1987, 1989, 1994, 1997, 1998 and 2000 into that mild model. The great moderation was born.

Then wise guys who cannot help but champion Wall Street with little sense of history tell us that all the OWC criticism is unwarranted. Capitalism must be allowed to make mistakes. This is true.

But on balance, OWS is not against capitalism, it is against wild capitalism. And it is against injustice. Is Wall Street?"
(by: Jeff Madrick, TripleCrisis Op-Ed http://www.Truth-Out.org)




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Another one of those. . .

. . . pesky, health-related things that you have to do when you get old. Well, when you get OLDER. Well, maybe I should say when you have health-related issues that requires medication and monitoring NO MATTER HOW OLD YOU ARE. Well, maybe I'm just bitching because I have to go out EARLY on a miserable, rainy, cold, Saturday morning. And not only do I have to go out EARLY, I can't even have my morning coffee or absolutely ANYTHING to eat. Yes that's right. Since midnight, I haven't had a thing to EAT or DRINK, except water of course, because to produce accurate results, I have to FAST on days I do this.

Two common, health-related issues are present in this particular system of mine, high cholesterol and hypothyroidism.

"The term high cholesterol is a bit misleading, because there are two types of cholesterol. If you've been told you have high cholesterol, it usually means you have more of the bad type and less of the good type. This may put you at higher risk of having a heart attack or a stroke.
You won't notice if you have too much bad cholesterol, because you won't have any symptoms. The only way you can find out is to have a blood test."

"Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland does not make enough thyroid hormone. Symptoms: Early symptoms: Being more sensitive to cold; Constipation; Depression; Fatigue or feeling slowed down... " well YOU get the picture.

SO, here I am, EARLY Saturday morning. NO COFFEE, NOTHING TO EAT or DRINK, FASTING since midnight, terribly inconvenienced and just miserable about it just because I have to go have them draw my . . . BLOOD!




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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Ten reasons. . .

. . . only one of many situations that have led to the discontent of the general public.

(from Truthout.com)
". . . Here are ten reasons to take your money out of Bank of America - and park it at a credit union or community bank near you. (And yes, that may be near impossible if you have a mortgage with them, as refinancing away from any big bank nowadays is a nightmare.)

1. B of A rejects the right of customers to protest. When two Occupy Santa Cruz protesters in California marched into a local Bank of America to close their accounts, the response was, "You cannot be a protester and a customer at the same time," followed by a threat to call the police if the women didn't leave. (The attending officer later reiterated the bank manager's message.) Meanwhile, the fact that Bank of America charges a fee for closing an account prompted Rep. Brad Miller (D-North Carolina), who resides in Bank of America's headquarters state, to introduce a bill to protect customers from such fees.

2. To recoup ongoing losses from its stupendously dumb acquisitions of Countrywide Financial and Merrill Lynch, B of A pillages its customers. Thus, despite massive public outrage, the $5 debit usage fee for customers with less than a $5,000 balance and no mortgage with the bank will begin in 2012. B of A was the first large bank to confirm it would charge this fee, which is the highest in current discourse among the banks. Banks collect 24 cents from retailers for each customer swipe, much more than the median 8 cents it costs a bank to process the purchase. Senator Dick Durbin's (D-Illinois) response was to urge customers: "Vote with your feet. Get the heck out of that bank."

3. B of A's other fees are just as bad. According to its last annual report, the bank has 29.3 million active online subscribers who paid over $300 billion worth of bills in 2010. In May, B of A raised its checking account fees, which included e-banking, to $12, in line with JP Morgan Chase's decision to do the same, up from $8.95 per month. In June, it started a $35 overdraft fee, even on overdrafts of one cent. Next year, it will incorporate basic checking with a new "essentials'' account structure that makes monthly fees unavoidable, that will not include free bill pay, and that has a mandatory $6 minimum fee. Last Monday, Bank of America was charged (along with JP Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo) with colluding with the two major credit card companies, Visa and MasterCard, to keep ATM fees high; in other words, they were charged with "price-fixing," in direct opposition to antitrust laws. This is the third of three such suits filed recently, each seeking class action status.

4. Bank of America takes gross advantage of the military. It is the official bank of the US military and has branches by or on many bases, which provides the firm with another locus of extortion. B of A can entice military personnel to take out loans at usurious rates. Personal loans made to soldiers for a few thousand dollars can actually keep them indebted for the rest of their lives. Last May, Bank of America paid $22 million to settle charges of improperly foreclosing on active-duty troops. The firm spun these foreclosures as being Countrywide's fault for having started them before becoming part of B of A.

5. Bank of America is officially rated the biggest, scariest bank. Its stock price also fared the worst of the group of banks (which also included Citigroup and Wells Fargo) when Moody's Investors Service downgraded it on September 21. B of A's long-term holding company (parent bank) rating was chopped two notches to Baa1 from A2, and its retail bank rating was cut two notches from A2 to Aa3, placing B of A four notches below rival JP Morgan Chase and one below Citigroup, the third-largest US bank. Its bank holding company has the lowest rating among the top five banks with the largest derivatives positions. This caused great fear for investors involved in derivatives trades with the Merrill Lynch division, prompting them to request trades be moved to the part of the bank with the better rating - the retail part with the insured (peoples') deposits. That way, B of A doesn't have to pony up as much collateral to back the trades, as it would in a subsidiary with a lower rating.

6. B of A's derivatives position keeps rising. The total amount of derivatives in the FDIC-insured portion of B of A as of mid-year was $53.7 trillion, up 10 percent from $48.9 trillion the prior year, and up nearly 35 percent from its pre-fall crisis level of $40 trillion (the Merrill Lynch securities division holds $22 trillion in addition.) The bank has $5 trillion of credit derivatives, nearly double its $2.7 trillion pre-Merrill amount. In addition, because of its inherent zombie status and rating downgrades, the cost of insuring B of A against a possible default continues to rise in the credit derivatives market - a pattern that American International group (AIG) once followed.

7. Bank of America got the most AIG money of the big depositor banks. By virtue of having acquired Merrill Lynch's AIG-related portfolio, B of A got to keep approximately $12 billion worth of federal AIG backing, too. It also received more government subsidies than any other mega-bank except Citigroup. Its stimulus package included an initial Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) helping of $15 billion for the bank and $10 billion for Merrill, plus a second helping of $20 billion in January 2009 after it became clear that Merrill's losses had spiked to $15 billion - in order to ensure the takeover from hell went through and Fed chairman Ben Bernanke, then-Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, and then-Merrill Lynch executive John Thain could pat themselves on the back for saving the world. The government guaranteed $118 billion in assets, mostly Merrill's, in the new merged firm. With the benefit of the Fed's nearly 0 percent money policy, and a depositor base to plunder, B of A repaid that aid.

8. Bank of America leads the big bank fraud lawsuit settlement tally. So far, it has racked up the largest settlement, $8.5 billion in June, to settle claims related to $100 billion worth of Countrywide-spun mortgage securities backed by faulty loans, with bigwig investors like Pimco, BlackRock, and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
B of A is also being sued by state and federal regulators for questionable foreclosure practices and a union benefits plan for hiding foreclosure problems that impacted its share price. It is one of 17 major US financial institutions being sued by the Federal Housing Finance Agency for billions of dollars of mortgage-securities-related losses that may require B of A to potentially repurchase $50 billion worth of allegedly fraudulent securities.

9. Even after lawsuits, B of A would still rather please investors than customers. Investors that won money in the $8.5 billion settlement were upset that B of A was continuing to service loans, instead of foreclosing on them more quickly. Now, B of A had a nasty incentive to kick people out of homes faster, rather than work with them to refinance or restructure mortgages. Two months later, their foreclosure process has, in fact, sped up. Bank of America foreclosure notices are surging again following a slight robo-signing- related slowdown, meaning they are now sending out a greater increase in default notices (90-day overdue loans) than other banks. The bank has $30 billion in residential mortgage loans in default, which will become foreclosures for thousands of families.

10. Bank of America, despite having been buoyed up by the government, did not pay taxes, and, given its glorious ineptness, will be laying off 30,000 workers. Not only did the bank pay no federal taxes for 2010 (or 2009) by making use of its posted pre-tax loss of $5.4 billion, it actually cited a tax benefit of $1 billion. Meanwhile, it has announced plans to cut up to 30,000 jobs over the next few years as part of its plan to save $5 billion, ostensibly due to the settlements it's paying for engaging in upper-management-approved fraud. . ."





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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

We've tried to tell him. . .

. . . that the car is worth preserving. . . at least FOR NOW!!

For some reason, Russ is not as keen on preserving the automobile which was bestowed upon him upon graduation and his subsequent relocation to Los Angeles. (City of Angels, as that cowboy fella says)

Sure, it's old. 'Bout twelve years now. Sure, it's got lots of miles on it. Around 150,000. But it's a Toyota. Those suckers have been known to last 200 or more thousand miles if maintained.

And we've been encouraging the maintenance. And he's done it. As far as we know. But whenever an oxygen sensor or an electric window goes up he gets discouraged.

Not that we don't understand. After all, he's trying to develop a career in the movie industry. Motion pictures. Film. You know. So work isn't always regular, steady, stabile, conventional, lucrative. . . you get the picture. (Pun intended)

But STILL. It's a car. That runs. That was FREE. Yeah you have to put money into it. But not to purchase it. It's paid off. It's YOURS baby!

Be clear. I am not belittling his point of view. We love the guy. It's just a little frustrating to hear that the next time something other than an oil change is required to keep the car on the road, he may just throw his hands up and say. . .
THAT'S IT. And we're not really sure that's in his best interest at this particular time. That's all.




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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The beauty of the Falls. . .

. . . From Wikipedia:
Taughannock Falls is located in the Town of Ulysses in Tompkins County, New York in the USA. The park is northwest of Ithaca, New York near Trumansburg, New York. The name Taughannock comes from the Algonquian-speaking Lenni Lenape (Delaware) Indians, referring either to chief Taughannock or the word taghkanic (great fall in the woods).

The main cataract of the falls is a 215-foot drop (66 m), making it 33 feet (10 m) taller than Niagara Falls. It is one of the largest single-drop waterfalls east of the Rocky Mountains.[2] The water flows through a long gorge with cliffs up to 400 ft high (120 m), characteristic of the area's gorges that give rise to the common "Ithaca is Gorges" bumper stickers and t-shirts. The waterfall and gorge comprise an example of a hanging valley that developed in a very similar fashion to the one at nearby Watkins Glen State Park. None of the local gorges were "carved by glaciers." In fact all of the gorges are post-glacial valleys carved by the streams that still run through them. It is the valleys over which the waterfalls hang that were eroded (over-deepened) by the advance of the Pleistocene ice sheets.

Visitors can reach an excellent view of the waterfall by walking along a 3/4-mile-long trail (1.2 km). The gorge trail is open all year long, unlike the rim trails which are closed to the public in winter. Visitors in autumn can enjoy the picturesque colors of the surrounding trees. Swimming under the waterfall is hazardous and strictly forbidden.




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If my memory serves. . .

. . . my old band-members Jay (guitar/vocals), Jeff (drums), Greg (sax/vocals) and myself (keyboard/vocals) undertook a string of private affairs and wedding receptions. Soon we decided to dedicate ourselves to the pursuit of a regular engagement, most desirably at a nightclub. Our one weak point however in pursuit of this lofty goal was our repertoire. Our rehearsals were few and far between. In fact, I now cannot remember an actual rehearsal with this incarnation of Ful Treatment. To our chagrin, and self-deceiving disbelief, club owners actually wanted the bands they hired to play the current top-forty popular favorites to which the audience could dance. We, in our haughty laziness (or was it lazy haughtiness?) refused to do that. In fact we simply continued to play as much of our uptempo (and preferably 'newer') material instead of succumbing to the current trend of disco music brought about by the recent resurgent popularity of the Bee Gees thanks to the film Saturday Night Fever. In our defense, we did learn a new number or two, just simply not enough to market ourselves as a top-forty act. Another improvement that we opted not to pursue was the hiring of a fifth band member to play the bass guitar, a definite enhancement to a combo's authenticity when reproducing dance music (as well as rock music in general), and mainly for the reason that it would have resulted in another party with whom to share the money.




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Friday, October 21, 2011

Oh God. . .

". . . Prayer, I would later surmise, was something like an experience of ritual hypnosis. While everyone said the words, no one was expected to believe them. Religious rituals, I was beginning to learn, were defined as part of the human need to deny, to cope and to pretend that all of these techniques are useful when reality presents us with something that is beyond our ability to manage emotionally. At this point in my life, I simply could not separate the human need to pretend from the human search for truth. Organized religion would also forever fuzz over that distinction.
(from Eternal Life: A New Vision by John Shelby Spong © 2009 by John Shelby Spong)




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It's like the Hokey-Pokey. . .

. . . "That's what it's all about."

(from msnbc.com staff and news service reports Msnbc.com staff, KCCI.com, and the Times-Republican contributed to this report. updated 10/19/2011)
"An Iowa couple married for 72 years died holding hands in a Des Moines hospital within 70 minutes of each other last week after a car accident that also injured another couple.

"They're very old-fashioned. They believed in marriage 'til death do you part," Dennis Yeager, the son of Gordon and Norma Yeager, told KCCI.com. The accident that claimed Gordon, 94, and Norma Yeager, 90, happened Oct. 12, when the couple left their State Center home for a drive shortly after 8 a.m. At the intersection of Highway 30 and Jessup Avenue, just west of Marshalltown, Gordon pulled "away from the stop sign and failed to yield to a westbound vehicle," according to Sgt. Joel Ehler of the Iowa State Patrol. The driver of the other car, Charles Clapsaddle, 64, of Marshalltown, was unable to stop to avoid a collision, Ehler said.

Yeager was facing pending action by the Iowa Department of Transportation to have his license removed, but citing privacy concerns, said he could release no additional details on what prompted that action. The Yeagers' children told KCCI.com that their parents never liked being apart ever since Norma Stock married Gordon Yeager on May 26, 1939, in State Center. And they were relieved that the couple was able to spend their last moments together at the intensive care unit of the Marshalltown hospital.
"They brought them in the same room in intensive care and put them together — and they were holding hands in ICU. They were not really responsive," Dennis Yeager told KCCI.com.

Gordon died at 3:38 p.m. surrounded by their family and holding hands with Norma.
"It was really strange, they were holding hands, and dad stopped breathing but I couldn't figure out what was going on because the heart monitor was still going," said Dennis Yeager. "But we were like, he isn't breathing. How does he still have a heart beat? The nurse checked and said that's because they were holding hands and it's going through them. Her heart was beating through him and picking it up."

Norma died at 4:48 p.m., according to KCCI.com. "Neither one of them would've wanted to be without each other. I couldn't figure out how it was going to work," the Yeagers' daughter Donna Sheets told KCCI.com. "We were very blessed, honestly, that they went this way."

The Yeager’s children said the couple complemented each other. "Anybody come over — she was the hostess with the mostess. ... The more she did, the more she smiled," Dennis Yeager told KCCI.com. "Dad would be the center of attention, like, 'Wheee look at me,' and mom was like 'get him away from me!' You know we even got a picture like that." And even though they argued every now and them, "They just loved being together," he said. "He said 'I have to stick around. I can't go until she does because I have to stay here for her and she would say the same thing,'" he said.
The couple reportedly were holding hands Tuesday at their funeral in their casket. Their family said the plan was to cremate them together and mix their ashes."




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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Literally speaking. . .

. . . The execution squads would have to work overtime to keep up with the number of texts from the Bible that call for the death penalty. Violating the Sabbath (Exod. 35:2), cursing (Lev. 24:13-14) and blaspheming (Lev. 24:16) are among them. Such judgments would fall most heavily on athletic locker rooms used in preparation for Saturday or Sunday football games! But of course no one should be playing football anyway, for Leviticus also prohibits touching anything made of pigskin (Lev. 11:7-8)! Perhaps this great American fall sport should be played with rubber gloves! Even stubborn and rebellious children are at risk of capital punishment, according to the Bible. If children do not obey their parents, if they overseat or drink too much, they are to be stoned at the gates of the city (Deut. 21:18-21). That is a bit stricter than even right-wing biblical moralists and ideologues care to go. Yet if one wishes to search the scriptures sufficiently, this rather bizarre list of texts can be expanded almost endlessly. . . "

(from The Sins of the Scripture, by John Shelby Spong
©2005 John Shelby Spong)





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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Just watched. . .

. . . WAIT UNTIL DARK. You know, the suspense/thriller with Audrey Hepburn, Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., Jack Weston, Richard Crenna (remember Dr. Kildaire? What do you get when you combine Kildaire and Ben Casey? A Pair-a-docs! [Alan Sherman]) and the great Alan Arkin.

Wonderful film. Very suspenseful. Efrem Zimbalist's and Audrey Hepburn's characters are a couple, she who has recently become blind and he, a photographer who is going to great pains to help her adjust to her new, much darker (visually) world. In his efforts (which resemble those of parents attempting to lure their youngsters from moaning, pointing and shaking heads to speaking as a form of communication) to teach her to be independent by not jumping to assist, fetch or otherwise cater to her newly acquired handicap, he sounds as if he is training a dog. "You can do it. Over there. To your left. You can find it."

It's all well and good during the expositional sequences of the film. But after poor Audrey's character suffers the deceitful antics of the 'bad guys' pouring on the the insinuations of infidelity and dishonesty on the part of her dear (dog-trainer) Zimbalist, Arkin has a final, intense scene where he is out-done by the heroine. She ends up, upon the arrival of her heretofore, otherwise engaged-in-business husband, crouched, sniveling behind the open refrigerator door while her antagonist lay bleeding on the floor after her stabbing him after his final, desperate attempt to kill her. And when her 'dearest' arrives and at first thinks she has either fled the scene or is lying dead somewhere, unseen within the apartment, she emerges, ex-refrigerator, and he in his blessed relief and undying gratitude for her unexpected and miraculous safety, says something to the effect of, ". . . over here. You can do it. I'm over here. C'mon over here. I know you can." [paraphrasing, of course]

Somehow, the conclusion of this edge-of-your-seat suspense thriller was rendered comic to me as a result of Efrem Zimbalist's character being so narrowly dogged-cum-insensitive to what must have transpired during his absence, in his single-minded insistence to 'train' Audrey to cope with the world in her still-uncomfortable blindness instead of simply running to her IMMEDIATELY to comfort her and express his happiness for her deliverance from this horrible situation.

I laughed for half an hour! [My wife said, "I'm going to bed."]




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Monkey see . . .

. . . and monkey do
The little monkey looks an awful lot like you

Everybody's seen
The little monkeys in the zoo
And we've all been
In situations where we
Do what we know isn't right
So we follow
And try to do it their way
Can't risk our reputation
And in our heads
We hear our Mothers say

Monkey see and monkey do
The little monkey looks an awful lot like you

Every monkey knows
that what the other monkeys think
Matters the most
If we're not thirsty
We'll still drink
If they would tell us to
Run in circles
And jump through hoops of fire
We couldn't jump much higher
And there's a voice that's ringing
In our ears

Monkey see and monkey do
The little monkey looks an awful lot like you

Monkey is a social animal
Not a predator or cannibal
Wondrous thing is sociability
Life is so much more
Than just one great big cocktail party

Monkeys know the game
Just one good double-dare
Can redirect the blame
For anything that they may do
I can't just turn away
Something pulls me
In closer to the fire
I can't explain about it
They'd think there's
Something wrong if I would say

Monkey see and monkey do
The little monkey looks an awful lot like you

MONKEY SEE
©1996 Raymond M. Jozwiak


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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Here we go. . .

. . . again.

Is this the same ole same ole OR WHAT???!!!!

(from MSNBC)
. . . Perry said, "Mitt, while you were the governor of Massachusetts ... you were 47th in the nation in job creation," Perry said in a challenge to Romney's economic credentials. "What we need is somebody who can draw a bright line between themselves and President Obama, and let me tell you one thing: I will draw that bright contrast."

Romney responded by dredging up Perry's work as a young Texas politician in support of Al Gore's 1988 presidential campaign.

"With regard to track record and the past, governor, you were the chairman of Al Gore's campaign. And there was a fellow Texan named George Bush running," Romney said. "So if we're looking at the past, I think we know where you were."

(The non-partisan Politifact determined that Perry was not Gore's campaign chairman, but rather, simply a single supporter.)

The showdown between Romney and Perry was, in some respects, the one that political observers had hoped for since Perry entered the race in mid-August. The Texas governor overtook Romney, the campaign's putative frontrunner, in the polls, but has seen his numbers decline since then. . .




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Monday, October 17, 2011

That takes a lot of brass. . .

. . . and ALSO in October (11th, 1941), Joe's brother Lester was born in the historic village of Bartonsville in Frederick, Maryland, Bowie grew up in St Louis, Missouri. At the age of five he started studying the trumpet with his father, a professional musician. He played with blues musicians such as Little Milton and Albert King, and rhythm and blues stars such as Solomon Burke, Joe Tex, and Rufus Thomas. In 1965, he became Fontella Bass's musical director and husband. He was a co-founder of Black Artists Group (BAG) in St Louis.

In 1966, he moved to Chicago, where he worked as a studio musician, and met Muhal Richard Abrams and Roscoe Mitchell and became a member of the AACM. In 1968, he founded the Art Ensemble of Chicago with Mitchell, Joseph Jarman, and Malachi Favors. He remained a member of this group for the rest of his life, and was also a member of Jack DeJohnette's New Directions quartet. He lived and worked in Jamaica and Africa, and played and recorded with Fela Kuti. Bowie's onstage appearance, in a white lab coat, with his goatee waxed into two points, was an important part of the Art Ensemble's stage show.

In 1984, he formed Lester Bowie's Brass Fantasy, a brass nonet in which Bowie demonstrated jazz's links to other forms of popular music, a decidedly more populist approach than that of the Art Ensemble. With this group he recorded songs made popular by Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Marilyn Manson, and the Spice Girls, along with more "serious" material. His New York Organ Ensemble featured James Carter and Amina Claudine Myers. (from Wikipedia.com)




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Leaves also fall in October. . .

. . . but musically speaking, Joseph Bowie, the youngest member of the Bowie musician family, began is career in St. Louis, Missouri where he was born October 17, 1953 and raised by his father William Lester Bowie, Sr. & mother Earxie L. Bowie. Joseph’s father was a music teacher and he was greatly influenced by his older brothers Byron (saxophonist & arranger) and older brother Lester, internationally acclaimed jazz trumpeter.

Joe made his first international tour with B.A.G, in 1971 with Oliver Lake, Baikida Carroll, Bobo Shaw, Floyd Leflore & Julius Hemphill moved to Paris to begin his his first major tour with a jazz ensemble. During this time in Paris, Joe worked with other jazz notables; Alan Silva, Frank Wright, Bobby Few and others. He also worked with Dr. John in Montreaux in 1973.

In 1973, Joseph with drummer Charles Bobo Shaw moved to New York City and with the help of Ellen Stuart of La Mama Experimental Theater Group extablished the La Mama children’s theater on the lower east side of NYC. During this period 1973-76 Joe collaborated and performed with Cecil Taylor, Human Arts Ensemble,Leroy Jenkins, Stanley Cowell, Sam Rivers, Ornette Coleman & many more jazz personalities in New York at that time. Joseph became a notable member of the new jazz community in NY. In 1976 he moved briefly to Chicago where he became a Rhythm & Blues specialist, leading bands for Tyrone Davis and other R& B artists. Returning to NYC in 1978 Joseph began working with Punk/funk artist James Chance and soon became a fixture on the new wave scene in NY. Defunkt was born during that time. During the next 25 years, Defunkt has recorded 15 CD’s and Joseph has become a funk officianado throughout the world collaborating with funk entities such as Dave Doran, Sigi finkel, Wolf Wolf, Jean -Paul Bourelly. (from http://www.allaboutjazz.com)




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Saturday, October 15, 2011

This is why . . .

. . . I think the media fails us. . .


Originating with (who else?) the Wall Street Journal
and relayed courtesy of (who else?) MSNBC

"Wages have dropped and won't catch up until 2021
How's this for the New Normal?

Our income has fallen since the new millennium began and it isn't expected to catch up until 2021, according to a Wall Street Journal survey of economists' forecasts.

And in bad news for students, not even a college degree is going to help much, some of the 50 economists surveyed believe. Only people with advanced degrees will see any meaningful increase in their standard of living.

The current generation of college graduates will only see a higher standard of living if "they get graduate degrees and are willing to give up a lot of free time," Diane Swonk of Mesirow Financial told the Wall Street Journal. . . "

Sure. They attempted to portray a 'brighter side' at the end, some drivel about the next generation being wealthier than their parents. But I was already bummed once I finished the first part. Who gives a FF about this survey of these economists. (and back to the media) Our dear WSJ and MSNBC friends have already planted the seed irrespective of the lack of weight this one survey and these few economists wield.

Then, fueled by our fascination with the wealthy, beautiful, shallow glitterati (which was born of and is suckled by (guess who!) the MEDIA. . .

Courtesy again of MSNBC (of what would I bitch if not for them?!)
". . . The highest paid “bankster” is Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase, who comes in 12th at $42 million, while Larry Fink of BlackRock is 16th at $39.9 million. Goldman Sachs‘ Lloyd Blankfein is way down at $21.7 million.

Many other bank chiefs are also below the S&P 500 CEO average — which for 2010 was $12 million, down 20 percent from 2007 levels. Bank of America‘s Brian Moynihan and Citigroup‘s Vikram Pandit are barely worth agitating against at $2.3 million and $1.3 million, respectively.

ObamaCare could end up helping three of the top-10 improve their lot in years to come. The top spot goes to John Hammergren of McKesson, the largest distributor of both pharmaceuticals and health care I.T. systems. It’s thought to be in a good position to benefit from President Obama’s health care overhaul. With compensation of $131 million this year (most of it from exercising stock options), Hammergren won’t have to worry about waiting in line to see a doctor. Same goes for George Paz (fifth place at $51.5 million), who runs prescription drug distributor ExpressScripts as well as Stephen Hemsley (eighth place at $48.8) of UnitedHealth Group. . ."

I say, "Have at 'em, Occupy Wallstreeters!" Hopefully they (and we who care) will accomplish something. Just give me a call if I can help.

(Pardon me. I must be off to therapy now.)





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Friday, October 14, 2011

Ah, back when we were. . .

. . . all young and relatively carefree, and more frequently than was wise, a gig would turn into a party. . . for the band. Jay remarked more than thirty years later that the band consisted entirely of alcoholics, with the exception of me. In truth I had my moments, but never drank beyond reason during a paying gig, at least that's MY story. One such gig ended badly and practically in fisticuffs. A four-hour was broken-down into time increments as follows. We performed for about one hour, took a twenty-minute break, performed forty minutes repeating the last scheme for the remaining two hours. During this particular job we somehow, and I'm not sure if it began with the first break or later, we simply extended the breaks so that they exceeded, or practically exceeded the actual performance time. At the end, the gentleman with whom we contracted (our contracting was exclusively verbal) did not let our lapse of professionalism go unnoticed. In fact, he wanted to withhold our payment in its entirety. A first, and fortunately for us and future paying customers, a last. We somehow escaped the situation unharmed and if I'm not mistaken, still compensated. Another engagement involved continuous bickering between Greg (sax/vocals) and Jeff (drums) and numerous threats to resign from the organization, all due to excessive imbibing.

NIGHT TRAIN (written by Jimmy Forrest/performed by Ful Treatment circa 1976)



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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Talk about 'Gonzo'. . .

. . . sixty four years ago this month a little-known eccentric, introverted pianist walked into the young Blue Note record label's New York studios to make his first solo recordings.

Thelonious Monk may not have been officially or popularly described as 'Gonzo', but what better descriptive to convey the esoteric, cerebral, attractive and (some say) sexy music that he conceived and performed. Monk and Duke Ellington hold the distinction of being the 'most recorded' of jazz composers. Ellington's compositions numbered about 1,000. Monk wrote 70 tunes. Truly an original, even the beret and sunglasses of the beboppers' wardrobe were originated by Monk.

From Wikipedia. . . "At the time of his signing to Riverside, Monk was highly regarded by his peers and by some critics, but his records did not sell in significant numbers, and his music was still regarded as too "difficult" for mass-market acceptance. Indeed, with Monk's consent, Riverside had managed to buy out his previous Prestige contract for a mere $108.24. He willingly recorded two albums of jazz standards as a means of increasing his profile. The first of these, Thelonious Monk Plays the Music of Duke Ellington, featuring bass innovator Oscar Pettiford and drummer Kenny Clarke, included Ellington pieces "Caravan" and "It Don't Mean A Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)".

On the 1956 LP Brilliant Corners, Monk recorded his own music. The complex title track, which featured tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins, was so difficult to play that the final version had to be edited together from multiple takes. The album, however, was largely regarded as the first success for Monk; according to Orrin Keepnews, "It was the first that made a real splash.""

Monk was one of my original portals into bebop and jazz. The reason, I now think after many years of additional perspective, that his music compelled me so, was what I perceived to be its similarity to much of the progressive, 'art' rock in which I was so interested at the time, with it's unusual angles, unique accents, unbounded energy, incessant rhythm and sheer magnetism. Truly great music.




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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Or would you rather be. . .

. . . a giraffe?

(from mentalfloss.com)
"The male giraffe determines a female's fertility by tasting her urine. If it passes the taste test, the courtship continues."

Or would you rather be a mule?
A mule is an animal with long, funny ears
He kicks up at anything he hears
His back is brawny and his brain is weak
He's just plain stupid with a stubborn streak
And, by the way, if you hate to go to school
You may grow up to be a mule

Or would you like to swing on a star?
Carry moonbeams home in a jar?
And be better off than you are?
Or would you rather be a pig?

A pig is an animal with dirt on his face
His shoes are a terrible disgrace
He's got no manners when he eats his food
He's fat and lazy and extremely rude
But if you don't care a feather or a fig
You may grow up to be a pig

Or would you rather be a fish?
A fish won't do anything but swim in a brook
He can't write his name or read a book
To fool all the people is his only thought
Though he's slippery, he still gets caught
But then if that sort of life is what you wish
You may grow up to be a fish

And all the monkeys aren't in a zoo
Every day you meet quite a few
So you see, it's all up to you
You can be better than you are

You could be swingin' on a star

[by Johnny Burke and Jimmy Van Heusen,
controlled by Music Sales Group
and the Bourne company]

Read more: http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Is_the_song_Swinging_on_a_Star_copyright_free#ixzz1ad7tQi5c





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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

In your neighborhood right now. . .

. . . failed jobs bill; political posturing, hunger in Somalia, assassination plots, inaction in Congress, youth protesting Wall Street and the astronomically rich, debating dittoheads, domestic violence, bombings in Baghdad, hurricanes in Mexico, computer hacking, former European PMs going to jail, radical tax plan from a Republican, Tigers beating Texas. . .

How about a song?



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Rockin' circa 1975 . . .

Charisma must have run in Jeff and Jay's family, as Jay possessed possibly even more of it than his younger, drummer brother. Jay somehow was more in control of the charisma with a certain maturity added to it, along with additional self-confidence that may have been attributable to his age or possibly to a more balanced chemical composition. Similar as they would appear to be from my description here, they were actually quite different from each other in reality. But the musical combination radically changed the performances of Ful Treatment much for the better. Jay rocked. [And still does, by the way.] And following his lead, Ful Treatment rocked as well, at least on some of our repertoire, which at the time included 'You Really Got Me', 'Wild Thing', 'Needles and Pins' 'Twist and Shout', 'Hello It's Me' and 'Heat Wave'




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Sunday, October 9, 2011

Now's the time. . .

. . . for a smart and savvy politician to step up and say, "These Wall Street protesters are correct" - Simply because THEY ARE. I don't think many people would argue that the housing bubble-burst and the financial meltdown were the result of excessive GREED on the part of those in a position to exhibit increasingly large amounts of GREED - OOOORRRR - show some RESTRAINT with regards to their POCKETBOOKS and simply accept a SMALLER PROFIT (or at least remain satisfied to cover costs) IN THE BEST INTEREST OF THE NATION!!

from WBAL-TV, Baltimore...
"President Barack Obama discussed the growing movement, saying demonstrators "are giving voice to a more broad-based frustration about how our financial system works."

Speaking at a White House news conference, Obama also defended the country's financial sector, which has taken the brunt of protesters' criticism, focusing on Wall Street and its regulators' purported role in expanding economic disparities.

"We have to have a strong, effective financial sector in order for us to grow," the president said.

Still, Obama discussed a need to pursue action aimed at improving government oversight and blamed Republican lawmakers for obstructing financial reforms.

Friday marked the 21st day of the grass-roots Wall Street protests.

Demonstrations have erupted in more than a dozen cities throughout the week, ranging from thousands who marched in lower Manhattan Wednesday after receiving support from local unions, to the dozens of college students who staged walkouts at various college campuses.

The movement started in New York and some of the protests there have been marred by scuffles with police.

New York authorities set up at least one vehicle checkpoint as police appeared in larger numbers throughout the financial district Thursday and established a perimeter around Zuccotti Park, which is considered a rallying point for the largely leaderless movement in that city.

"We hope that our message continues to resonate with everyone who has felt disenfranchised by the current state of our country," said Tyler Combelic, a spokesman for the Occupy Wall Street group."




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Saturday, October 8, 2011

The nose may be pleasant. . .

. . . but if you still like it AFTER the finish, regardless of HOW long it lingers, then you will remember it fondly.

Hints of apricot, citrus, petrol, pears and apples on the nose. Crisp and bright; fruity and light with a long, lingering honey finish.

Or notes of blackberry, with cherry, leather and plum with a butterscotch finish.

All delightful, most of very high quality and many downright outstanding winning one prize or another. . .





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Friday, October 7, 2011

When it's all over. . .

. . . a dessert wine may be in order to accompany the final course. Lest there be confusion when considering wines of a "less dry" nature, please consider. . .

Merriam Webster.com says. . .
"Definition of APERITIF
: an alcoholic drink taken before a meal as an appetizer
See aperitif defined for English-language learners »
Examples of APERITIF

1. They served us champagne as an aperitif.

Origin of APERITIF
French apéritif aperient, aperitif, from Middle French aperitif, adjective, aperient, from Medieval Latin aperitivus, irregular from Latin aperire
First Known Use: 1894"

AND. . .

"des·sert
noun \di-ˈzərt\
Definition of DESSERT
1
: a usually sweet course or dish (as of pastry or ice cream) usually served at the end of a meal
2
British : a fresh fruit served after a sweet course"

DO NOT CONFUSE THE TWO!!!




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