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Monday, September 30, 2013

Your Own Viola . . .

Everybody's got one. . . 

(from Liberty by Garrison Keillor)
". . . And at the very next Committee meeting, Viola Tors lit into him and said, "Why did CNN not identify our town?  Nobody said 'Lake Wobegon.'  No name on the screen.  Who dropped the ball there?  And why did they not refer to Delivery Day?  And why was the four-minute silence completely overlooked?"

She looked straight at Clint as she said it.  He replied that he was not the TV director and that probably they didn't call it Delivery Day because It's take too long to explain about the bowling balls falling from the sky like artillery shells and in the end people wouldn't believe it anyway so what's the point?  She just harrumphed and said that he ought to listen to his own speech about taking care of details.  That was Viola. A killjoy.  She had a terrier who was just like her, a headache of a dog who liked to hector other dogs.  Every yard was Booji's territory and he bristled at the very existence of other dogs.  He was a barker from the word go.  Like him, Viola had discovered the usefulness of belligerence.  In this town, people tend to back down if you bristle at them.  They don't want to tussle.

She tapped a pencil on her big front teeth and shook her little curly head and rolled her blue eyes as if he were the dumbest boy in the third grade. . . "





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Sunday, September 29, 2013

Randomness. . .


Everyone has been, at one time or another, out in public in a place such as the mall, a concert or show, the grocery store, a public park or even (if you're so inclined) church, and have seen a person that so closely resembles someone you know, that you're tempted to walk directly over to them and inform them of this remarkable phenomenon.  But you don't.  An that's probably just as well.  Because for all the joy and amusement it brings to you to have had the keen observational skills to detect this wonderful resemblance, the act of sharing it with them actually brings them nothing. I don't, and I hope it's because I have never done it, recall ever having confronted a perceptive double with such edifying news.  But it just so happens that as I write, in a public eating area, a lady at another table has an uncanny resemblance to an aunt of mine, who by the way, has been deceased for several years now.  And maybe it's only her profile from the left but so much about her is all Aunt Helen. But, as I said, for all the joy and amusement it brings to you to have had the keen observational skills to detect this wonderful resemblance, the act of sharing it with them actually brings them nothing. It's a remarkable likeness.  Excuse me . . .


No!  I didn't actually go over to her.  Now there's another guy with  a librarian-type lady, spouting off about spiritual, spirituality, share, sharing. . . I keep hearing these words.  She looks enthralled though.


The local newspaper's weekend special section mentioned the Baltimore Orioles and how, just like the last two years, they will NOT win the world series.  Now I'm no sports fan for sure.  But I know how I feel about my efforts, dedication, fortune (or lack thereof) and if this reporter only considered the dismal condition of the Baltimore Orioles BEFORE THAT, he/she should well give credit to the current lineup/management for being contenders these past three seasons.  It's just so easy to criticize.  As they say, "Those who can do.  Those who can't become critics."





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Saturday, September 28, 2013

Wine. . .

'Intentional' winemaking can be traced back to the Neolithic period (8500-4000BCE) when communities of the ancient Near East and Egypt resulted from the domestication of plants and animals.  This meant the nomadic life was no longer a necessity.  A 'cuisine' emerged during this time and food processing techniques developed such as fermentation, soaking, heating and spicing.  Foods like bread, beer, meat dishes and grain entrees had their origins at this time. With new foods, new vessels for the preparation, storage and service made their appearance with clay being the material of choice from which to make them. Dating the 'origin' of wine to the period resulted from the discovery of a yellowish reside in a jar found at the site of Hajji Firuz Tepe in the northern Zagros Mountains of Iran in an earthen floor in a kitchen (of sorts) of a Neloithic mudbrick building dated about 5400-5000BCE.
(Source- http://www.penn.museum/sites/wine/wineneolithic.html)






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Friday, September 27, 2013

Well Put. . .


(from http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/oped/bs-ed-reich-free-market-20130924,0,4661170.story   Robert Reich, former U.S. Secretary of Labor, is professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley and the author of "Beyond Outrage," now available in paperback. His new film, "Inequality for All," will be out September 27. He blogs at http://www.robertreich.org)

". . . One of the most deceptive ideas continuously sounded by the right (and its fathomless think tanks and media outlets) is that the "free market" is natural and inevitable, existing outside and beyond government.

So whatever inequality or insecurity it generates is beyond our control. And whatever ways we might seek to reduce inequality or insecurity — to make the economy work for us — are unwarranted constraints on the market's freedom and will inevitably go wrong.

By this view, if some people aren't paid enough to live on, the market has determined they aren't worth enough. If others rake in billions, they must be worth it. If millions of Americans remain unemployed or their paychecks are shrinking or they work two or three part-time jobs with no idea what they'll earn next month or next week, that's too bad; it's just the outcome of the market.

According to this logic, government shouldn't intrude through minimum wages, high taxes on top earners, public spending to get people back to work, regulations on business, or anything else, because the "free market" knows best.

In reality, the "free market" is a bunch of rules about (1) what can be owned and traded (the genome? slaves? nuclear materials? babies? votes?); (2) on what terms (equal access to the Internet? the right to organize unions? corporate monopolies? the length of patent protections?); (3) under what conditions (poisonous drugs? unsafe foods? deceptive Ponzi schemes? uninsured derivatives? dangerous workplaces?); (4) what's private and what's public (police? roads? clean air and water? health care? good schools? parks and playgrounds?); (5) how to pay for what (taxes? user fees? individual pricing?). And so on.

These rules don't exist in nature; they are human creations. Governments don't "intrude" on free markets; governments organize and maintain them. Markets aren't "free" of rules; the rules define them. Without such rules, we're back to social Darwinism, where only the toughest and biggest survive.

The interesting question is what the rules should aim to achieve. They can be designed to maximize efficiency (given the current distribution of resources), or growth (depending on what we're willing to sacrifice to obtain that growth), or fairness (depending on our ideas about a decent society). Or some combination of all three — which aren't necessarily in competition with one another. Evidence suggests, for example, that if prosperity were more widely shared, we'd have faster growth.

The rules might even be designed to entrench and enhance the wealth of a few at the top, and keep almost everyone else comparatively poor and economically insecure.

Which brings us to the central political question: Who should decide on the rules and their major purpose? If our democracy were working as it should, presumably our elected representatives, agency heads and courts would be making the rules roughly according to what most of us want the rules to be. The economy would be working for us.

Instead, the rules are now made mostly by those with the power and resources to buy the politicians, regulatory heads and even the courts (and the lawyers who appear before them). As income and wealth have concentrated at the top, so has political clout. And the most important clout is determining the rules of the game.

Not incidentally, these are the same people who want you and most others to believe in the fiction of an immutable "free market."

As I emphasize in "Inequality for All" — a new film out this week in which I explain the savage inequalities and insecurities now undermining our economy and democracy — we can make the economy work for us rather than for only a few at the top. But in order to change the rules, we must exert the power that is supposed to be ours. . . "






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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Psychology. . .



. . . Madison Avenue. . .

        . . . and me. . .

As a TV-watching kid, I loved commercials.  At least SOME commercials.  Remember "I can't believe I ate the whole thing. . . You ate it Ralph!"?  Not so much as a 'hardly-watch-any-TV' adult.  In these days of cable television, Netflix and bluerays, not only do commercials turn me off, I refuse to even watch conventional, network (or local for that matter) television.

Do I want a  medal?  (Or just a chest on which to pin it?)  Naw! Just musing about how popular entertainment and I, myself have changed.

As I write, commercial AM radio (yes Virginia, there STILL is an AM radio) is chattering in the background.  One commercial, in particular, annoys me.  It's one for the newest casino in the area and runs no risk of enticing me to patronize them at all.  The the appeal to the base desire for attention, not to mention an easy fortune procured by gambling, is a fascinating psychological ploy.

"Everywhere you look there’s endless excitement and the kind of thrills you just don’t find anywhere else; like over 1,000 Vegas-style slot machines, the hottest Table Games around, dining that always gets two forks up and the kind of red carpet service you would expect in Hollywood."

I've been to Hollywood.  Believe me, I am not the kind of person that gets 'red carpet service' let alone 'cheap, throw-rug' service in Hollywood.  Just the regular-Joe-schmuck service that I (and most other regular people) get anywhere else.

It's good to dream.  It's certainly good to possess a certain self-esteem.  But don't confuse dreaming or self-esteem with crass commercialism.  I think the lesson here is, quite simply and obviously, 'don't think that you won't lose money gambling just because you're pretending that you're a movie star.'





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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

At The Risk. . .



. . . of repeating myself. . .

Countless books, websites, magazines, classes, seminars, clubs, associations, and organizations exist (Google provides about 15,100,000 results to a search for the word 'Songwriting' alone) to "assist" the struggling songwriter.

Should be easy to become instantly successful.  Right???

As one intimately involved in such creative endeavors as both a participant and a spectator, I have decided that I, too, will join the ranks of the faux academics and offer my services based upon the credentials earned in my vast  'professional' and my amateur experience.

What makes my assistance particularly valuable is the price.  It is being offered to you, RIGHT NOW, possibly for a limited time (that is, unless I decide to repeat myself yet AGAIN in the future) only. . . and that price is . . .

. . . NOTHING!  It is FREE!!!

OK.  Here goes.  When performing your original material, irrespective of audience size, disposition or demographics, venue, sound systems, backing band or lack thereof, compensation or lack thereof . . . irrespective of all of that. . .  Do NOT (I repeat) do not (no matter how funny, witty, clever or intelligent you are [or THINK you are], do not, (did I say DO NOT??). . .

Do Not talk too much!!! 






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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Company . . .


. . . man


I'm feeling dead on my feet
I've got the stubble on my chin
Spent half the night on the job
I'm gonna bring that new account in
There ain't no supper on the table
The lady knows just where I've been
I do the best that I am able
With the limited resources I have
In matters of the heart
And if it's coming down to minding my own business
It's just the business I've been minding
That I've been minding all the time
You gotta make up your mind

I only wanted to
Grow up shooting outlaws
While riding on the back of a horse
But that just wasn't a part of the plan
My mother told me to always be a good boy
But I'm a company man
I do the best that I can
My wife and children will
Have to wait in line for my time
Cause I'm a company man

This looking bad isn't good
The only answer is ignore it
A little pain here and there
You get some medicine and cure it
It's not that I can't take the pressure
The pot is boiling all the time
It's only that I'm being
Measured by the powers in the boardroom above
They're always watching me
And if I miss an opportunity to make another
To make a dollar they will find it
And it will certainly be missed
Another cheek to be kissed

I only wanted to
Grow up shooting outlaws
While riding on the back of a horse
But that just wasn't a part of the plan
My mother told me to always be a good boy
But I'm a company man
I do the best that I can
My wife and children will
Have to wait in line for my time
Cause I'm a company man

I was so young and idealistic then
Couldn't see the trees for the forest
Most of the time
Until I tasted all the choicest wines
Saving money up for that rainy day
Finding phony rendezvous getaways
Am I really fooling somebody
Or is it the pay

I was a child of the light
I always learned to do the right things
And though they said I was bright
There's still a fire inside me burning
For all the riches that I'm missing
For all the love I never found
I wonder who she might be
Kissing in the middle of a cold winter night
When left alone again
I wonder just what I would do if she would leave me
Pack up the kids and run away
Without a singular goodbye
Why in the world would she try

I only wanted to
Grow up shooting outlaws
While riding on the back of a horse
But that just wasn't a part of the plan
My mother told me to always be a good boy
But I'm a company man
I do the best that I can
My wife and children will
Have to wait in line for my time
Cause I'm a company man


Company Man
©1994 Raymond M. Jozwiak




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Monday, September 23, 2013

Twister. . .

. . . of a game

Pam and Harrison are the sports fans in the family and I would venture to say that their two favorite sports are baseball and football (the American one).  I can understand the former much better than the latter.  I would never go to sleep lulled by the mellifluous tones of the baseball broadcasters by choice but the other night. . . I did.  Pam fell asleep as the Orioles and Rays began their extra innings.   I slept fitfully but managed to make enough sense of the broadcast each time I awoke to know that it was still undecided.  About 2:05 and 18 innings since the game began, I heard the bad news (for Baltimore fans). . . the Os lost.


(from http://www.peterga.com/baseball/quotes/the_game.htm)
Mark Twain
Baseball is the very symbol, the outward and visible expression of the drive and push and rush and struggle of the raging, tearing, booming nineteenth century.

W.P. Kinsella
It is the same game that Moonlight Graham played in 1905. It is a living part of history, like calico dresses, stone crockery, and threshing crews eating at outdoor tables. It continually reminds us of what was, like an Indian-head penny in a handful of new coins.

Bernard Malamud:
The whole history of baseball has the quality of mythology.

John Cheever
The poet or storyteller who feels that he is competing with a superb double play in the World Series is a lost man. One would not want as a reader a man who did not appreciate the finesse of a double play.

Roger Angell, "Agincourt and After," Five Seasons:
It is foolish and childish, on the face of it, to affiliate ourselves with anything so insignificant and patently contrived and commercially exploitative as a professional sports team, and the amused superiority and icy scorn that the non-fan directs at the sports nut (I know this look -- I know it by heart) is understandable and almost unanswerable. Almost. What is left out of this calculation, it seems to me, is the business of caring -- caring deeply and passionately, really caring -- which is a capacity or an emotion that has almost gone out of our lives. And so it seems possible that we have come to a time when it no longer matters so much what the caring is about, how frail or foolish is the object of that concern, as long as the feeling itself can be saved. Naivete -- the infantile and ignoble joy that sends a grown man or woman to dancing and shouting with joy in the middle of the night over the haphazard flight of a distant ball -- seems a small price to pay for such a gift.

8 year-old Jewish boy, quoted in "The Children's God", (Psychology Today Dec. 1985)
I don't know if this is what you're asking. But I feel closest to God, like after I'm rounding second base after I hit a double.

James Thurber
The majority of American males put themselves to sleep by striking out the batting order of the New York Yankees.

Norman Cousins
At a Dodger baseball game in Los Angeles, I asked Will Durant if he was ninety-four or ninety-five. "Ninety-four," he said. "You don't think I'd be doing anything as foolish as this if I were ninety-five, do you?"




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