Monday, April 30, 2007

46 pounds of phone messages

Deborah Jean Palfrey, the alleged D. C. madam, has turned over 46 pounds of phone messages to A.B.C. News, in hopes that they will scare up some witnesses for her in her criminal case. 46 pounds. I can't begin to imagine how many sheets of paper that is, I assume that it is thousands of phone messages, each with its own colorful prediliction. Already, Randall Tobias, a top State Department official has had to resign from his job, stating that "gals" were sent over to give him massages, but no sex took place. This would corroborate Palfrey's story that she ran a fantasy service that did not include sex. Right, let's see if any of the hookers, eh, fantasy suppliers, toe the line on that defense when they are offered immunity from any of several charges the prosecutors are holding over their heads. I will represent Palfrey for free if that defense holds up for more than another week.

I volunteer to represent Palfrey because she is trying to fire her legal aid lawyer with whom she claims to have "irreconcilable differences". Probably over the defense that she sold only fantasy in her business. She asked the Judge in her case for $150,000 to get her counsel. That will happen when hell freezes over. But in case it does, I am available to come to D.C. and handle the defense for $150,000. I can't wait to get my hands on those 46 pounds of phone messages and start making calls. A.B.C. intimates that there are some pretty important characters among the "johns", eh, fantasy seekers. Probably make some intersting witness interviews.

My defense would be somewhat different than the one Palfrey is using. I would use the traditional D.C. defense in these matters, the "greater screwing defense". You know the one, someone trots it out every time D.C. has a sex scandal. How can you indict this woman for getting merely thousands screwed when President Bush is screwing 300 million ? It is a tried and true defense. I am sure that we will hear about it even if I am not selected as new defense counsel.

Wouldn't it
be great if Bill Clinton was on the list ? I mean here he has behaved himself for the past 8 or 9 years, and just when his wife is running for president, this could come out. I'm not saying I want to hurt Hillary. I just think that the country could REALLY use a good laugh right now, and I can't think of anything that would be funnier. Plus, it would probably help Hillary. Remember how sorry everyone felt for her during Monicagate ?She could use the boost in sympathy right now.Plus, I could cross examine Bill on the stand, the greatest challange any trial lawyer could face. The most slippery witness of all time. Can't you just hear him say, "Mr. Porter, I guess that depends on what your definition of "fantasy" is. All that fun and $150,000 too. Sign me up.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Check Engine

This morning's headlines say that Dr Ruth believes that Muslims need more sex, that a kidney broker was caught down in Mexico and that Hugh Grant was arrested for assault with a tub of baked beans.But all I care about is that my check engine light went on. Few things short of a debilitating or terminal illness are more upsetting than the "check engine light". They may as well turn the "check engine light" into a "give me a $160 sucker" light, because that is all the damn thing is. My car is four years old, and this is the third time that the check engine light has gone on.

If you read your owners manual you will find that when the light goes on, you are supposed to stop everything you are doing and head for your dealership. God only knows what will happen to that engine if it is not "checked". In reality, all that they ever do for you is turn off the light, and charge you for it. Sometimes they lecture you about puting too much gas in your tank, sometimes they ask you if you have driven without a gas cap, there are a few other items that they say can cause it. But the bottom line is, I bet you could drive forever with a check engine light on if you did not get so damn sick of seeing it flash at you when you started your car every morning.

I admit that this problem seems to get to me more than others. Once when I was in a service station getting gas, I restarted my engine and the light came on. I started cursing a blue streakat the very top of my lungs and pounding on my steering wheel, only to notice that all of my dashboard lights were on and the car had simply failed to turn over. I looked around and noticed that several folks quietly pumping gas into their own cars were looking at me as if I would break loose and attack them at any moment. That's what that light does to me.And that's why the light is there. The car manufacturers know that their are a certain percentage of us who will pay, about once a year, to have the light turned off. Even years after we find out that it is a farce, we will pay to have it turned off because we go crazy from looking at it, or when some passenger says, "hey, I noticed that your check engine light was on, better get that looked at."

Why other industries have not come up with the equivalent of the check engine light is beyond me. You could have them installed on any home appliance, cell phone, computer, hell, you could even have one installed in a house. Every year or two you'd walk into the bath room and the damned "check toilet" light would be on again. You'd call the American Standard Company and they'd send someone over to turn off the light, and maybe ask some semi-serious questions about your bowel habits or the type of toilet paper that you use, and then they'd give you a bill for $160.00. And no matter how often you paid it, you'd always call them out again because it would drive you crazy when some friend walked out of your bathroom drying his hands, saying., "hey, I noticed that your check toilet light is on in there, better get that looked at."

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

But it's a camel story

It is hard to ignore a headline that says "Camel at petting zoo, sits on, kills owner". I mean that sounds like a hell of a story. But my wife is still down on me for writing up stories from the weirder side of the news. Actually, she thinks I should stay away from the news all together. Her second complaint about what I write , after "news of the weird", is that I should not write about "popular news stories". So once we have eliminated weird stories and popular stories, all we have left is mundane, boring stories. I don't want to write about those. What are we talking about ? weather reports ? stock market quotes ? baseball scores ? That would not be much of a blog.What does she like ? She liked the story I wrote about her not liking my stories. She said that she was "mildly amused" by the story of Sheba, the dog who stays at our law office. But that's about it.

I can't write about her all the time. I'm bound to eventually say something that would upset her. I can't write any more Sheba the dog stories. The dog is just too dull. She is a sweet dog but her world revolves around walking from one office to another, silently pleading for a lawyer to pet her. My secretary thinks that Sheba hates women, but I don't have enough on that to write a blog.Maybe she will eventually bite someone and or do something of general public interest. But I doubt it.

There is always the chance that my wife is wrong. That my stories are uproarously funny and she just does not have that great of a sense of humor. I think that most people, given the choice, would rather read about this camel that smothered her owner than about something happening in my family. The only interesting thing that has happened in my family of late was when my daughter won $100 at an MTV concert last weekend. How many words can I get out of that ?She has not even spent the money on something stupid yet. But maybe she will and I can write about that. The camel will just have to wait for another day. Wonder what it's name is ?

Monday, April 23, 2007

The Vanishing Bee

There have been plenty of atrocities to keep the world horrifed over the last few months. We have not lacked for discussion topics in any way. Perhaps that is why I have just become aware of the mysterious case of the vanishing honey bee.

It seems that beginning late last year, the honey bee rental agencies (did you know about those ?) were setting their honey bee hives as usual, near fruit fields to allow for easier pollination. When they returned to check up on them in a few days, all the worker bees had vanished. Not died, vanished. No bodies have been found. Nothing left but the Queen and a lot of immature larvae. This did not just happen in one spot, like say Roswell, Newe Mexico, but has happened all over the country. It is also being reported on other continents. We are talking billions and billions of bees. This is not just some interesting mystery here. This is a major disruption to the produce industry. It also is probably really pissing the Queen off.

Now no one is going to starve without honey bees, but plenty will suffer. As has been pointed out by bee experts, you will still have all the oatmeal that you want, just no fruit to put on it. So what we are talking about here is basically a boredom factor for the world. I like blueberries on my cereal. I like strawberries on it to when I can get them. The idea of eating crunchy granolla for the rest of my life, without seeing the colorful berries on top, depresses me no end. I know what you are thinking, I have taken a world wide tragedy to the bee and made it all about me. Well why not ? Until I see at least one bee carcass, I have no reason at all to believe that these bees are dead. Indeed, this bee disappearing act has happened before, back in the 1880s. I think it's one of two things, a social revolution against the Queen, or just a general strike on the part of a self pitying "downtrodden" insect who is tired of spending each day "busy as a ...."

It is clear to me that this "attack of the slacker bees" is something up with which we should not have to put.There's lot's of times that I get tired of practicing law. I don't just vanish. Our whole firm does not just disappear one day, without a trace, leaving clients holding the bag. These bees need to wake up and sniff the pollen, and gather it too while they are at it. If this is just the first act in a horrifying event where our farm animals just "disappear" we are all in for it. No only will I have no berries on my granola, but no milk either. My hope is that this is just an political problem, internal to the bee species and that things will soon work out. I'm sure that it is frustrating to be stuck in what is really an antiquated fuedal system all of your short, busy life. Perhaps it is time that the Queen was presented with, and made to sign some form of Bee Magna Carta, giving a few more rights, and a little vacation time to the drones. I am willing to give up two weeks of berries on my cereal each year if it will get every bee back to work. I'd throw in the bank holidays too, if they'd sign a ten year no strike contract. I don't think we should be unreasonable about any of this.Believe it or not, June 24-30 is National Pollinator week. Let's shoot for a ceremonial signing then, on the White House lawn. Bush would look perfect in one of those beekeeper hats. It may just bee his highest and best use. That's the buzz anyway.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

let's Limbo some more

Pope Benedict has announced via the internet (I gues he is a blogger too) that aborted and unbaptized babies "may" get to heaven. This is not quite the same as the uniform amnesty all those babies in limbo were hopeing for, but it is better than nothing. I am not quite sure why Benedict is so recalcitrant on this. The International Panel on which he is basing the semi-ruling has said on the subject that there "is hope, but not certainty" on the subject. Why is it any tougher to rule that all babies go to heaven than it is to rule that the Virgin Mary ascended bodily into heaven. Something a Pope ruled in the 19th century. There is no sense being infalliable if you don't go out on a limb sometimes. I mean, any one could have said that there was "hope". Why do we need a Pope to give us hope ? We need a Pope to make rulings. See the last few Popes have gotten us into a corner from a heaven/hell perspective. First Pope Paul VI rules it sinful to use birth control. That means that more babies will be born. But all the Pop[es agree that you can't abort them. If you did, you'd think that a Pope would want to give the fetus a break and send it on up to heaven. But no, that fetus was never baptized. Now the Pope is punishing the victim. Think about it this way, you are an aborted fetus. You had no chance to go to heaven. But, if you escaped the abortion doctor, grew up, and killed a few people for fun one night, then recanted, your soul can be saved. Does that seem fair to you ? So backed into this theological corner, Benedict the Decisive (as he is known in Limbo) says, "well, maybe..." Does that make any sense to you ?

Friday, April 20, 2007

The ass in the courtroom

Buddy the donkey was brought into a court in Dallas yesterday, not as a witness, as the news is describing him,but as an exhibit. Two Dallas millionaires are suing each other for assault, in a dispute that originated over one guy building a structure too near the other guy's property line. I have the names of both parties, but I see no reason to highlight their idiocy. They are, after all fellow Texans. apparently, after the two duked it out on one of the front porches, the neighbor who had built too close, went out and bought himself a donkey, the afore mentioned Buddy Allegedly so that it would bray all night and keep the offended millionaire from getting any sleep. A lawsuit was brought against the owner of Buddy to have him declared a nuisance. Buddy's owner brought Buddy into court to try to prove that he was not a nuisance.

Now it is true that this is a tale of two jerks with too much money on their hands. But I like the idea of buying a donkey to get even with a neighbor who has smacked you around. One of my partners used to live next door to a family who owned a constantly barking dog which prevented him from sleeping (my partner, not the dog, although apparently the dog did not sleep much either). In order to give the neighbor an idea of what he was going through, he had a machine that emitted a high pitch sound, that only a dog could hear, installed by his side door. Then he turned it on, and all the way up. He did this as he was leaving for two weeks in London. While mildly amusing, I suppose that that was cruel to the dog. This buying a donkey does not strike me as cruel. The guy had a big back yard with lots of grass. I doubt that he made the donkey carry things around for him. All in all a pretty nice life for a jack ass. I don't know how Buddy's owner ,himself ,slept during the braying, but sometimes anger wells up so much inside you that you will take any abuse if the other guy suffers.

Kind of like the story of the two shop keepers in ancient Jerusalem. They felt toward each other like these two Dallas pricks did. All they wanted to do was see the other suffer and ruined. One day an Angel of the Lord came to one of them and said that God had decided to grant him anything, anything in the world. The only catch was that whatever he wished for, his enemy would get double ! The man agonized and thought of all of the things he could use to make his life wonderful. Then he thought of his enemy being twice as happy. So he turned to the angel and said, "I wish to be struck blind in one eye". That's an issue that we all have to face up to in life. So to all of you,this blessing, as you ascend the mountain of sucess, may your friends not already be on the mountain top to greet you. Hee-Haw and Merry Christmas

Thursday, April 19, 2007

When the world was black and white

Kitty Carlisle died yesterday. she was 96. Kitty was the last of the New York social group that dominated much of television in the early years. Back in the 1950s, game shows were often treated with more respect that they are today. The better ones, What's My Line and To Tell the Truth came on in prime time and had panels of New York socialites to play the games. Kitty was often on a panel with Bennet Cerf, a fellow who was in the publishing business and Dorothy Killgallin, a newspaper columnist. Even the pure entertainers, such as Steve Allen or Orson Bean, were really just society figures in disguise. You had the feeling that when the dapper John Charles Daily dismissed each episode of "What's My Line", the cast would repair to Sardi's or perhaps 21 for drinks and dinner, and that the reveling would go on, in a sophisticated manner, into the early hours of the morning. About on par with an Algonquin Round Tale discussion.

Kitty was not so much beautiful as she was glamarous, in that New York society way. Her late husband was Moss Hart, a famous playwrite and producer.She has known and loved Cole Porter, George Gershwin, Jerome Kern and everyone that had counted for anything in the New York theatre since the 1930s.This was in a time when New York was the last word on sophistication in the world. Even bigger than Paris. If you watched Jack Parr or Steve Allen or even Ed Sullivan, chances were that the guest was someone on stage in New York, or someone who had just written a book. The transfer of talent from New York to Los Angeles, which was completed by the late 60's, changed the nature of what we came to know as sophistication. I dare say that if television had stayed in Manhattan, we probably would not have had the likes of Anna Nicloe Smith as a major star. Kitty simply would not have allowed it. The best way to put it is that Hollywood vulgarized the television industry, which in turn vulgarized the country. Oh, most of us were vulgar already, but we knew enough to be ashamed of it and to try to hide it.And when Kitty or someone from that gang was on the air, we could forget who we were, and for a moment we would be swirled into a glorious cocktail party in a beautiful apartment building on Park Avenue.

I will never think of Kitty without seeing her in black and white. I am sure that I saw her plenty of times in color over the years, but when you saw someone the first 1500 times you ever saw them, in black and white, the memory is imprinted forver. The whole world was black and white then. I was watching a movie when my daughter was small when she asked me if the world had any color when I was a boy. She was unsure as to when color came into thje world. I explained to her about black and white movies and pictures, but the more I thought about it, the more I thought that she was right. My childhood was in black and white. And, it was in New York, a place I had never really been. But that's where Dave Garroway was, and Bud Collier, and Chet Huntley and Captain Kangaroo and many of the people I saw every day.All of them gone now. In the words of the old song,"some are up in G".

Now they are all gone. The glory and glamour of New York in the 1950s is recounted only in celluloid and in books. We will never again see the likes of Kitty Carlise, wearing a personalized black mask (glasses stems instead of string) asking the mystery guest if he, or she, is currently appearing in any Broadway plays. I loved Kitty Carlisle, I loved what she stood for, which was taste and the arts. I loved the way she looked, the way she spoke and the refinement with which she always carried herself. She was the last of her kind. Sardi's must feel very empty by now.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Glock

I have been learning a lot about the Glock this morning. The glock is a semi-automatic pistol that is manufactured in Austria. It has a standard clip of 17, so the owner can be sure that a great many college students can be killed before he has to reload. Apparently it is no problem to murder over thirty people in a short period of time with this weapon.

There are a great many people in the is country who believe that the Second Amendment is an unrestricted right for anyone in America to bear any type of arm they wish, without any possible government intervention or regulation. That is not true. This is not a place to argue the amendment's tying of the right to bear arms to the militia, that is for another day. Let's short circuit the argument. If the right to bear arms was unrestricted, then you and I could manufacture and store plutonium grade weapons in our garage. Folks, we can't do that. That would endanger the lives of millions of people. So where do we draw the line ? Well, we know that legally we don't draw it at dozens of people. A Glock can be sold to any troubled young college studnet, perhaps at a gun show in Virginia, and his use of the weapon is limited only by his skill and imagination. It will be a matter of weeks or months before the United States Army's new casualties in Iraq approach what happened in Blacksburg yesterday. Is that really the type of weapon that we want sold to anyone ? This is a gun that is standard issue to the F.B.I. and about 65% of law enforcement people in the country. Do we sell them at gun shows so that our fire fight with the cops can be more fair ?

One of the great things about having a Glock lying around the house is that it has an internal safety device. In other words, you unlock the gun when you touch the trigger ! That's handy. No muss, no fuss, bang, bang, you're dead ! Or in the case of the Glock, bang,bang,bang,bang,bang, bang,bang,bang,bang,bang,bang,bang,bang,bang,bang,bang,bang, you 17 are dead. That's how Chou song-huei did it yesterday. Then he reloaded.................Yes, he pulled the trigger, but you know what ? Even if this country allowed guns with only six rounds in a clip, there would be a lot more kids alive today, so don't tell me that guns don't kill people, that people kill people. Even if we limited semi-automatic clips to 12 rounds, there would be more kids still here today. Who in the fuck needs a semi-automatic pistol with 17 rounds in a clip to protect rhemselves against a burglary in the home ? when was the last time a dozen people broke into your home at the same time ? Good old Mitt Romeny has spent the last few weeks kissing up to the gun lobby. a real candidate would have told them, I don't need your votes., all you people that think that you need a semi-autoimatic pistol to carry around for protection, I'll just go ahead and concede your votes.If this really is a country where the majority of people think that gun shows should sell these types of weapons, then it is too late for any effective leadership anyway. We have already surrendered to madness.

Monday, April 16, 2007

and regular professional care

Many things bind a nation together. In this country, it is consumer items. There is hardly a tooth in the United States that has not been brushed with Crest tootpaste at one time or another. I was reminded of that this morning when I saw a commercial for yet another Crest product. This one is a whitening wash aimed specifically at coffee drinkers. American products have undergone an amazing amount of fragmentation. I guess the concept works, or the manufacturers would not do it. There are about half a dozen types of M&Ms now. In the old days, they would have just given the candy a different name. But today they take full advantage of the brand. Crest made its first mark in the 1950s when it became the first toothpaste with fluorride to get the American Dental association' Seal of Approval. I have not read the statement in many years, but I heard it several times a day in my childhood on T.V. ads so I still recall most of it. "Crest has been shown to be an effective decay preventing dentifrice when used in combination with a conscientiously applied program of oral hygeine and regular professional care" That was a mouthful, and I'm sure was stated between gritted teeth by the spokesman for the A.D.A. the first time he said it.

Fluoride had been introduced into tootpaste in the 30s. Hoewever, in a time when the dentist's bread and butter was filling one to two cavaties every visit, it was denounced as dangerous by the A.D.A. And it was dangerous, dangerous to the business of the dentist. So the fluoride toothpastes went away. It took about 20 years, and the advent of television, for fluoride to make a comeback. Crest was the first to do it it, and made the biggest splash. The dentists settled by only endorsing Crest if it was used in conjunction with regular professional care. That way, you may not have any cavaties to fill, but the dentist sees you and x-rays for them twice a year anyway. The dentists were needlessly worried. Vey few Americans are capable of undertaking a conscientiously applied program of oral hygeine.Without that, the Crest may as well sit on the shelf. As it expect that it does for millions of americans each day.

But back to fragmentation. Once you had fluoride, there was not a lot you could do to reinvigorate toothpaste sales. Or so they thought. Then came"mint flavored crest". I have always suspected that mint flavored Crest was dreamed up by the same ad agency that convinced the tobacco industry to start making menthol cigarettes. A lot of people don't like mint, so other companies came up with their own programs.In the 1960s "Stripes" toothpaste gave you the impression that there was something helpful placed in the stripe they put in their tootpaste, and if food coloring is helpful to anyone, there is. But it is just since the 90s that I have noticed the tremendous explosion in tootpastes aimed at at different audiences. Believe it or not, Crest has over 50 different types of teethcleaning products. They have seven different kinds of whiteners and multiple of types of cavity protection in both the child and adult markets. Tartar protection, sensitive teeth, ten different flavors, stripes and multicare (multicare is for those consumers like myself that always buy cross training sneakers because we are so overwhelmed with the variety of types of tennis shoes once we get to the running store). And there are guys today down in the lab working on new products as we speak. Does the world really need that many kinds of toothpaste ? I don't know, does it need six kinds of M&Ms ? We got along with plain and peanut for most of my life.

The dentists don't care anymore. Hell, there's fluoride in water now. They have moved on to gums. When was the last time a dentist told you you were not brushing well ? It's been a long time. But they get indignant over your flossing. And no one has invented a way to wire around that yet. Open wide please.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Abstinence makes the heart grow fonder

The Federal Government has been spending $179 million a year for abstinence programs, trying to discourage teen agers from having sex. It will gratify you to know that the money has been completely wasted. A just released study shows that teens who take an abstinence program are exactly as likely to have sex as those who don't take them. and they have their first sexual experience at the same age, 14.9 years on the average (that's on the average !). It did not say what the median age was. I don't know how many eleven year olds it took to balance out the 16 year olds to get to 14.9. It makes you shudder. But did anyone really believe that spending $179 million dollars a year was going to dent the number of teens having sex. I don't think a billion dollars a year would do anything. Nothing short of locking children between the ages of 12 and 17, away in solitary confinement for the duration of their puberty is going to stop them from having sex.

So since we know that abstinence training does not work, do you think that there's a chane that we might spend that $179 million on other things that will at least prevent teen pegnancies or std ? What are the odds of that actually happening ? My guess is that the government will choose to spend even more money on abstinence programs. Even liberal Democrats support them, because to not do so makes you look immoral. So, for political cover, these things will go on and on. No one will have the nerve to stand up and say, why we should throw $179 million down a rat hole year after year ?Why shouldn't we spend the money on something that might actually have some effect on disease and unwanted pregnancy ? Because the polititians don't give a shit if the program works. It's not their money, it's ours they are spending. They just want to feel good when the spend it. It is like cities that sign up with a private recycling program that does not guarantee that they will recycle materials. A bunch of them have done that over the years. It costs each citizen more of their tax dollars to collect the garbage, and it might well make no difference in the amount of solid wate disposed of, but damn does it make you feel good if you are an environmentalist.Looks good when you run for office.

The only difference in the two parties in this country is the types of things that make them feel good when they spend your money. They are never going to stop no matter how inefective these programs prove to be. What the country really needs is some abstinence courses for Congressmen and women to teach them to abstain from funding bullshit programs. They could start with the damned war.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

If a tree falls in the forest with no one around

I mentioned something humorous to my wife last night that I had said in a blog earlier in the week . I assumed that I would get a sympathetic chuckle from it. Or at least a flicker of recognition. Flicker came there none, much less chuckle. She told me that she had not read the piece. When I questioned why, she admitted, "I really don't read your blog, there are too many pieces where you take some weird news story off of CNN and make fun of it. I don't like that." "But", I stammered," that's what I do, that is the blog." "Yeah. I just don't like it." When a blogger loses a spouse from his audience, in most cases he has lost his entire audience.Unless his parents have a computer. Mine don't. Why keep blogging ? If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around, does it make a sound ? If a blogger launches words into the eyther and no one reads them, are they really there ?Actually, that reminds me of a cartoon that was on the wall of a place in San Francisco where I used to rent and return cars. It was a picture of a tree, having fallen down in the forest with no one around. The tree is lying on its side muttering "shit". That's my blog for the day.

"Shit"

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Come Back Little Sheba

There's probably not one in a hundred who will recognize the title to this piece. The title itself has caused me to temporarily divert from what I had planned to write about. I hope I can find my way back to the theme after awhile. Come Back Little Sheeba was a movie starring Shirley Booth. Sheba was the Booth character's dog who had run away some years before the time of the movie setting. I have never been able to watch the movie, even though Shirley Booth won an Academy Award for her role. I just have a hard time looking at Shirley Booth, and a harder time listening to her whine "come back little Sheba". When I was growing up, Booth was the star of a television show called Hazel. Hazel was a maid. A white maid, because no TV stars were allowed to be black back then. This, despite the fact that almost all maids were black in those days. Blacks could play maids on T.V. they just could not have any lines. Today the majority of maids are hispanic and, a good number are undocumented aliens. There is still no T.V. show featuring an undocumented alien maid, but I don't think T.V. would shy away from that anymore. If they could get that woman from Desperate Housewives who plays Gabriella. At any rate. Hazel was an awful show and Hazel was a disgusting character. She spent the entire five or six years of the series run butting into other people's business, screwing up something big time by doing it, and then getting out of the mess in a heartwarming way that made the previously violated characters love her even more. My brother and I watched the show religiously. At the moment Hazel started on the inevitable downward slope in the episode, we would both bellow "butt out Hazel". This would be accompanied by disgusted noises, rolled eyeballs and occasionally rolled up socks being thrown at the television screen.

But come back to my Sheba. My partner, who spends a good portion of his time thinking about how he can be made to look more eccentric, has taken to bringing a huge Great Pyreneese Dog to work. The dog's name is Sheba. Sheba looks less like a dog than a polar bear, and not that cute polar bear cub on the Christmas Coke commercial. More like the mom and dad polar bear. She has mounds of beautiful white hair and probably weighs about 100 pounds. She is a very shy dog. She is also very well behaved. But she is none the less quite distracting. She gets boored in my partners office and wanders the halls dropping in on one lawyer or another. You will be working on something and turn around to find yourself face to face with a polar bear. Often she will slink in (she moves very quietly for a bear sized dog) and the first clue that you have that she is in your office is when she sticks her nose under your dangling had and tries to get you to pet her. If you wanted to, you could pet her for the rest of the work day and she would never move.But eventually you have to take a phone call and she gives you one more sad look and then wanders on to the next office.

My partner's eccentiricities always end at some point. There is a pool among the lawyers to guess the last date we will see Sheba. One good poop on a rug would move that date up to "immediatly" but, so far, Sheba has proven to be very disciplined. So the betting is that when things get hot here in Austin, which could happen any minute , my partner will leave the dog at home to avoid the daily walks to the capitol. I suppose that's OK, but it means that the dog will probably come back next November.It would probably behoove the rest of us to stage a "tragedy" at the office, smuggle in some outside dog poop, or just tell my partner that the dog had problems in his absence and that we could not tolerate cleaning it up any more.It would never cross our minds to just question the collective professional demanor of a downtown law office in which a polar bear circles the floor for 10 hours every day.We are not a very direct bunch.

I will say that I will miss the dog. I see now why they keep pets around senior living facilities. They do brighten your day. This dog is a little laid back for me though. I may have to bring my dog to work. Amber would run down the hall at break neck speed and jump up on everyone that came in the office. Amber is the kind of dog who would ruin the office gig for all other dogs. She is probably just what we need around here right now.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Hos of Hymie town and the nature of hypocrisy

Don Imus was handed a two week suspension. This is well short of what I would have handed him if I had been his boss, but I guess I really did not expect to see his head on a platter. As I stated yesterday, no employer should put up with the stement made by Imus. This, however, does not cure the hypocrisy that has been running around the country. The Rev. Jessie Jackson lead a very small protest of Mr Imus yesterday, 50 persons or less, and then showed up on NBC News to criticize Mr Imus this morning. Yes, the same Jessie Jackson who reffered to New York City as "Hymie town" when he ran for President in 1984. Jeez, did he really think that people would forget that ? Or is he so insensitive in his thinking that he believes that a slur against a religious minority who has been persucted for about 2,000 years is not as vile as a racial epithet ? At least Imus has an African American as his executive producer, how many Jews were running the Jackson campaign in 1984 ?

None of this is to excuse Imus. There is no excuse for him. There is forgiveness, which Rev Jackson and Rev Sharpton seem to have forgotten they are in the business of handing out, but that does not mean that Imus should keep his job. I am reminded of the escaped convict who is baptised in the movie "Brother Where Art Thou" and, upon being told by the preacher that he is forgiven, feels that his prison sentence has been commuted. As George Clooney observed to him in that movie, "You may be O.K. with the Lord, but the state of Mississippi still has a few things to say about you."My point is (I guess) that any criticism of anyone on this particular front is bound to be tinged with hypocrisy. The great defense lawyer, Clarence Darrow once said in a final argument, " I'm not going to stand here and tell you that I don't think you are prejudiced, that's all we humans are is just one big bundle of prejudices."

The first time I recall hearing the term "HO" in a humorous context was when the black comedian/actor Eddie Murphy used to play a book selling pimp on the Saturday Night Live show more than twenty years ago. The character's name was "Velvet Jones" and, as I recall, he had written a book called "How to be a Ho". I am going to check today and see if it is on Youtube. At any rate, Murphy used a very exagerated dialect for this character. Not all that different from the dialect used by the actor who played "Kingfish" on the old Amos & Andy show (an aside here ) "If all the women in Texas was as ugly as Saphire momma, the Lone Ranger gonna be lonely for a long time." That's an old Kingfish joke,it is not very funny in print. It only takes on humor when the character uses his dialect. "How to be a Whore" Is not as funny as "How to be a Ho". If Murphy had used his own speaking voice and called his character "Velvet Jones" instead of exagerating the voice and calling the character "VeVEt Jones'. No one would have laughed.I see no difference in the two comedy styles, except that Murphy's is rawer. Yet, Amos & Andy is banned from television and Eddie Murphy was recently nominated for an Academy Award (for which he was robbed by members of the Academy by a sentimental vote for a old Jewish actor). Did any member of the Academy vote against Murphy because he was black ? My guess is yes. Did anyone vote for Arkin because he was Jewish ? That's not impossible to imagine. Does the fact that I thought that Murphy did a better job than Arkin prove that I'm anti-semetic ? Does the fact that I mentioned that he is Jewish make me anti-semetic ? I hope not.But those issues are always near the surface. I mention them here because my statement about an "old Jewish actor" should have sent a shiver up your spine. It just sounds ugly.it sounds like I have an ax to grind.

So can Eddie Murphy call a woman a "Ho" and give us permission to laugh ? Right now that's the way American Society is set up. As long as Eddie Murhy capitalizes on white prejudice to make money, no one should be shocked when a white commedian slides into tying to get laughs that way also.Again, that does not excuse Imus, it just means that there is a hell of a lot more guilt to go around, that all of us are taineted with hypocisy on this issue, and that we need to reexplore what passes for humor amongst us. And we might start with the fact that only women are called Hos.

Monday, April 09, 2007

nappy headed hos

I have never listened to this guy Don Imus on the radio. I have whisked by his T.V. show, which I think is his radio show on T.V. (for those who do not have a radio ,I guess) but I have never stopped to watch it. I assume that he has some kind of a degenerative condition which makes him look so thin and stooped over, but I don't know. Whenever I have seen him he is wearing a cowboy hat.I think that his show come out of New York, but I don't know that for sure either.

So I have not got much invested in Me Imus, either way, and did not know what to make of it when he refered to the Rutgers Women's basketball team as some "nappy headed hos". It took me a minute to believe that someone had actually said that.Then I read the transcript, and damned if he did not say it. Nappy is an unusual word, although it is a legitimate word. However, it has been so associated with the hair of people of African descent, that it has quite often, actually, almost always, strayed into the racial epithet that Mr Imus undoubtldly intended for it in this usage. Nappy, means "nap like". Nap is the down or hairy surface of cloth, formed by short hair or fibers, especially when artificially raised by brushing. So nappy hair is describing hair that looks like the nap of cloth. Bet you did not know that.

Ho is a different matter. Ho is short for whore and it is pronounced in a way that african americans are said to pronounce whore. It is a despicable word that has gained universal acceptance across racial and gender lines as has "bitch" or the more contepmporary statement "biatch". Ho, like biatch is used constantly by white people and even used in the exagerated form by black people, not only in real life, mostly among youth, but also on commercial television on a more or less nightly basis. The fact of the matter is that no woman should ever be called a whore or a ho and the fact that the words have entered the language with such frequency has given them an air of legitimacy that was bound to trap someone like Mr Imus eventually. You can call a sitcom character a "ho" but it is not funny or legitimate to call a college basketball player a "ho" in our society. But allowing the sitcom character to be called a "ho" started us on this slippery slope. Why women don't object to the use of the word with more frequency or fervor is beyond me. The infamous word "cunt" or as it is now carefully called when describing it, "the c word" has a place in our society second only to the term "nigger" in its ability to raise revulsion. Why "ho" does not fit in those categories I will never know. Maybe now it will.

Back to nappy headed. That slur is the real key here. "Ho" would have gotten Imus criticized, but specifically tying it to nappy headed may well end his career. And frankly, it should. He knew exactly what he was saying and why he was saying it when he used the description. He was saying that not only are these college athletes whores, but they are black whores. It would no more cross my mind, or anyone I knows mind to use that term, than it would to use the n word or the c word. It simply is not done and has not been tolerated for many, many years except among the most ignorant of our society. Don Imus knows that. If he does not, then he is the only one out of three hundred million Americans who does not know it. And if he is that insensitive, who would want to listen to the bore anyway ? So, either way, he should be out on his keyster. It's too bad that thirty years has to end this way for him, but no company should put up with one of their employees using that term. He has a greater duty, to keep from insulting people over the public airways. He failed. Sorry. Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out Mr Imus.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

um um um um ummmm !

The big news out of Chicago this morning, where it is still 29 degrees, is that a coyote walked into a Quiznos sub shop downtown on East Adams and settled on a case of Diet Pepsi in he refrigarated section.While the Senior Coyote correspondent for the Sun-Times (my personal midwest paper of record) Shamus Toomey (what a great name !) made the coyote stop seem like a big deal, Chicago animal control personel say that they have to haul off ten to fifteen coyotes every year from the City of the big shoulders. I frankly would have doubted that. That's about one coyote a month seized inside the loop. That's a lot of coyotes for a big city outside of New Mexico or Arizona where the roadrunner population keeps things hoping over at the Acme Company.

Having eaten at Quiznos, I can tell you that what is much more likely is that finding a coyote in the refrigiration section of the store explains why Quiznos can charge so little for those "beef" sandwiches.Adams is smack dab in the middle of downtown Chicago. The coyote would have had to walk miles of sidewalk and past tens of thousands of people before strolling into Quiznos at 2:00 p.m. No way the coyotye would not have been captured long before. Or at least we would have had reports of fleeing pedestrians. Did it take the train into town ? No, that coyote was headed for the Quiznos menu, pure and simple. I am reasonably sure that if Chicago is seeing 10-15 coyote's a year, that there are hundreds of Pecos Bill's relatives in the meat lockers at the various Quiznos around town, lying on Diet Pepsi cases, waiting to be sent to the land where the road runner is just one step slower, it's aim just a little off, and Acme is in bankruptcy. And seldom is heard the discouraging word of "beep-beep".

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The weariness of the long distance blogger

I used to think that it would be a chore finding something to write about on a regular basis. Events have overtaken that fear. Most days I have a hadrd time choosing absurdity to discuss. Today I considered writing about that Army recruiter who had advised a gay black man that he "needed to go back to Africa and do his voodo dance half naked in the jungle." or words very close to that. But as despicable as that was, I could not resist commenting on the story out of England wherein Keith Richards, Rolling Stone guitar player, said that he had once ground up some ashes of his father and mixed in in with some cocaine to snort. I don't know anything about British law, so I don't know if snorting your father is legal over there. I guess there is not much difference in snorting or eating a person, but I don't know if eating the remains of a cremated human is considered cannibalism. I would think that it should be. Why should we discriminate against against those cannibals who like their human served a little rare, and reward those who prefer it charred ? And what difference should it make to the law which orifice dad goes down ?

When I started blogging, it never hit me that I would be writing about rock stars snorting their fathers. It never hit me that anyone would think of doing something like that. I have given up my hopes of world rationality. As a police character on a sitcom once said, " That kind of stuff used to surprise me, but now I know that there's nothing in the Sears and Roebuck Catalouge that someone does not want to sleep with." I am sure that these incidents have happened for years, but with the whole world writing blogs and videoing off of telephones, we just know about all of it now. Lucky us.

But the FAA did us a real favor yesterday by keeping the ban on cell phone use on airplanes. Can you imagine flying for three and a half hours while some idiot yells over his cell phone and some other idiot there on the ground ? The best thing about these kids using instant messaging is that it is blissfully silent. But my idea of hell would be the middle seat on an airplane, caught between two loud cell phone users. I can't believe that I'm saying this, but God bless the FAA.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

'Twas on a Holy Tuesday

There is plenty to write about this morning. The religious right is in an uproar over an artist's depiction of an anatomically correct Jesus, hanging on a cross, made of chocolate (Jesus and the cross are both chocolate). Mr Universe was wrestled to the ground and subdued by the Redlands, California Police at the concession stand of a movie theatre, and a French train set a new speed record by going over 350 mph.But far and away the most important news is that I won my office's NCAA tournament pool. In a sad note, most of the money was stolen out of the drawer of a young associate last week, along with the young man's watch, so my reward is small, but my happiness is unbounded.I am not upset at losing the money because when I was in charge of putting together last December's Bowl Pool, I took the $120 and went drinking with it one afternoon.This is karma, or perhaps payback by those I robbed.I last won the NCAA pool in 1989. There is no way to win the pool, other than play it every year and, statistically, it is sometimes just your turn to win. I expect my next win to be when I am about 75 or so.

But what of the chocolate Jesus ? What about him. ?It is the final blending of the original Easter and the modern Easter.We have turned the savior into a piece of candy that the Easter Bunny might have left. The fact that the Jesus displays a chocolate penis is perhaps a bit over the top, but they laughed at Picasso too.The only question is, what is inside of the chocolate Jesus ? Nugget perhaps ? Making the new eucharist the chocolate and nugget of Jesus, rather than the body and blood. Although, I don't know if you can eat nugget on it's own. I have only seen it inside of candy bars, never as a solo desert. All of this may lead to more modern translations of the Bible. Everyone's favorite verse, "Jesus wept" can be replaced by "Jesus melted". Well, enough of that, it is Holy Tuesday. But remember, this body of Jesus melts in your mouth, not in your hands !

The fact that Mr Universe was subdued by a bunch of cops in California is interesting. You would have thought, with it being Mr Universe and all, they would have had to use one of those dart guns they use on Rhinos. But no, after Mr Universe went into a "fighting stance" the cops were able to subdue him with little trouble. They had come to arrest him for being drunk at a movie. Turns out he was on some new diabetic medication which made him light headed and slur his words. It also made him weak and is probably the reason why they were able to take him down so fast. Despite the unfortunate drug reaction, the City of Redlands still plans on prosecuting him for assault and resisting arrest. I hope that at his trial he will show up in a suit, but midway through it rip it off to reveal the loin cloth that Johnny Weissmuller wore in the court scene of Tarzan's New York Adventure. The greatest Tarzan movie AND the greatest law movie ever made." Tarzan try your justice, it not work, now get Boy. " What a great film.

As far as the French inventing a train that can go over 350 mph, does that surprise anyone ? They have to make the cars big enough to seat the entire French Army so that their battlefield retreats can be made with the utmost dispatch.I hear that the French are upset with the chocolate Jesus though, they believe that a true Jesus would be made with daker chocolate and contain liquer. Se la vis.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Return of the Mini Bike

The papers say that 81,000 people witnessed Donald Trump's victory and over and subsequest scalping (if that is a P.C. term) of Vince McMahon. Since that was the most easily predicted victory since Hitler beat Poland, we will pass on to other things.

My personal paper of record, The New York Daily News reports that Bello the clown has had his mini bike returned to him. Intact. Now this is no ordinary mini bike, but Bello is no ordinary clown. He has been called, by Time Magazine (which has had more clowns on it's covers than any circus magazine ever could) America's greatest clown. He is a seventh generation circus performer. According to his difficult to use web site, which must have been put together by some clown, Bello Nock is a seventh generation circus performer. Reading between the lines, it looks like old Bello started out on the high wire but as the "clown of the family" moved into clowning. I understand Bello, the same thing happened to me on my way to Harvard. Different strokes as they say. But there is apparently no arguing with Bello's success in the clown biz. Indeed, when the present near tragedy happened, Bello, along with two other undescribed clowns, was doing some street performing(shilling for his big show the "Bellobration")over on 9th Ave at 47th streeet in midtown Manhattan. Bello had parked his custom made bike over to the side. I can't tell from the pictures whether the bike has a kick stand or not. Anyway, this bike was custom made in Mexico for Bello by a guy identified only as "Roberto" and is irreplacable. At least this side of the Rio Grande.

My first thought would have been to look for very tiny people as suspects, but that only shows why I am not a private detective. Turns out that this homeless fellow, 54 year old Ricky Robinson picked it up and carried it off. As Ricky said, "I normally collect things" so he collected it. Then later he saw a picture in the Daily News (Ricky is the Daily News prototype reader) and saw "two little wheels" and said to himself " I've got two little wheels". Here the story gets fuzzy, as most Daily News stories do. Somehow, Ricky met Bello and gave him back his bike after Ricky approached a Security Guard at Madison Square Garden. If any interesting questions were asked by the press,when clown was reunited with bike, they were not recorded. One that comes to mind is " Mr Rivers, as you were walking down 47th street and saw a tiny bike a few feet away from three performing clowns, did it ever cross your mind that it might be part of the act ?" But as far a Bello was concerned, it was a "no questions asked" kind of deal. Mr River's got $1,000 and tickets to the Bellobration, and for some unexplained reason, tickets to a Knicks game. Toys are us also gave him an 18 speed bike from which , I guess, he can scalp his Knick's tickets.Presumably, he retains his "collectors license" and we may hear from here in the future. He foolishly allowed his picture to be taken by the Daily News, with Bello, which may make it more difficult to continue "collecting".But maybe not, people have a short memory, and these are Daily News readers we are talking about.

So Bello is reunited with his bike. Ricky has got cash in his pocket, and the Daily News readers have yet another heartwarming story to share at their breakfast table, this one about the kidnapping and ultimate ransom of the world's smallest bike. All's well that ends well.