Thursday, October 30, 2008

Sarah, You're No Pat Nixon!

No designer dresses for Pat.

It's funny, this big to-do about Sarah Palin and the $150,000 worth of clothing the Republican National Committee shelled out to pretty her up and make her acceptable to America (and there was another $25K or so of makeup and hair stylin' to finish the job).

The Obama campaign I don't think has gotten too riled up about it. . .that'd just be a drop in the bucket for HIS campaign war chest, which is about a half BILLION dollars right now; rather, it's strange how the GOP is falling all over itself defending such a purchase at the same time they've pulled McCain's campaign out of several close-to-call states because they don't have the money to advertise. Palin keeps reminding us that as soon as this darn ol' campaign is over, she'll go right back to her Target and Walmart threads she used to wear, by golly! Keep all that clothes? Heavens, no! It'll be donated to CHARITY (I'm guessing it'll instead be auctioned off to other rich Republicans to help settle the bills for the McCain campaign shortly after November 4th). Ya. You betcha.

The GOP has come a long way from 1952 and Richard Nixon's "Checkers Speech." The Vice Presidential nominee, Nixon was accused of accepting illegal campaign contributions. In an unprecedented national telecast, Nixon painstakingly detailed his financial history to try to clear his name, mentioning that wife Pat didn't wear fancy clothing--instead of furs, she wore a "respectable Republican cloth coat." Nixon made his case and stayed on the ticket. You can bet there's not one "respectable Republican cloth coat" on the Straight Talk Express.

I. is rooting for Obama, too. The sign comes inside at night, as a precaution against Texas Yahoo Republicans.

The Endorsement

We're five days from the election. Who am I voting for? Does it matter in Texas? This is among the reddest of the red states, but I'm actually looking forward to stepping into the booth this year and voting a straight Democratic ticket (in Texas, that means, besides the Presidential race, only around 4 or 5 other Democrats are even bothering to contest the established Republican political machine).

Who are you voting for? If you're STILL undecided at this point, I have to ask you: Where have you been the last year? Do you even READ about what's going on?

And if you're STILL leaning towards the McCain/Palin ticket, I have to ask you: Where have you been the last year? Do you even READ about what's going on?

I've got my reasons for supporting Obama, of course. But I've got just as many for NOT supporting McCain. Around 18 months ago, I seriously would've considered McCain for my vote. But that was when McCain WAS a Maverick, before he sold his soul to the Republican base and grovled for its support. Since then, he's done nothing but morphed from a moderate Republican who will bring the parties together (i.e. George W. Bush, 1999) to a win-at-all-costs-and-don't-disappoint-the-Right-Wing-Faction Republican (i.e., George W. Bush, 2004).

I could go on all night; but you get the idea. But don't take my word for it--read what a couple of old broads from Austin have to say about it. In their latest installment, Helen makes the case for Obama and against McCain better than I ever could. Read it, and ask yourself why a 70-something "blue hair in a red state" can understand this election better than the rest of us.

But I'll leave you with a few questions, and afterwards you can play connect the dots:

  • Who is the candidate who said he'd never put the nation's best interests ahead of his own political interests--then selected an unqualified two-year Governor from one of our least-populated states as a running mate?
  • Who is the candidate who has gotten more desparate to win as his polling numbers have fallen, telling outright lies, distorting truths, calling his opponent a "Socialist" and a friend of Terrorists, turning the other cheek while those attending his rallies call for violence against his opponent and insinuate that merely because the father he'd only seen for two days in his life was a Muslim he MUST be a terrorist operative for jihadists?
  • Who is the candidate who inspires his followers with a message of bipartisanship, hope, and working together to solve our nation's problems?
  • Who is the candidate whose rallies are cauldrons of hate, rage and finger-pointing?
  • Who is the candidate who paints his opponent as a "redistributor of wealth" while proposing tax cuts that will largely benefit only the rich?
  • Who is the candidate with the running mate who is quick to describe the other presidential candidate as a Socialist, while at the same time boasting that during her governorship she bequeathed her residents with thousands of dollars of the state's monies a year--itself a Socialistic act
  • Who is the candidate who repeatedly linked his opponent's passing acquaintance to a 60s anti-War radical, while employing as the head of his potential Presidential Transition team a man who was a lobbyist for Saddam Hussein in his attempt to lessen U.S.-led sanctions against Iraq days leading to the Iraq war?
  • Who is the candidate who voted for the current President over 90% of the time, but still won't own up to the support of a President who has nearly destroyed the country?
  • Who is the candidate who has earned an overwhelming majority of endorsements from newspapers in the country, including dozens that have supported the Republican candidate for many, many of the last elections?
No matter who you support, be sure to Vote next Thursday.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Forty Years of Bad National Anthems. . .

Burn Backstreet Boys CD's, not the flag (or the Anthem)!

Disrespectful, that "performance" by the Backstreet Boys of our National Anthem in Game One of the World Series. They might as well have come out and burned an American flag.

Now, I know there are probably dozens of big Backstreet Boys fans reading this blog, and while it's perfectly okay for you to like their musical stylings, desecrating The National Anthem in this manner is unacceptable. They took liberties with the song like a quartet of drunken sailors on shore leave with a five dollar whore.

Presenting The National Anthem before a crowd at a sporting event isn't the time to "stylize" the song. White the Francis Scott Keys' lyrics were put to perhaps the most un-singable tune ever written, to me The National Anthem represents the musical equivalent of the flag. As such, the song shouldn't be messed with. It isn't the appropriate time to "make it your own" any more than it would be appropriate for a color guard presenting the flag to come out with the Stars and Stripes creatively folded into clever hats.

That means you, too, Kat De Luna (who was nearly booed off the stage prior to a Cowboy's game earlier this year).

The National Anthem has a long history of being mangled in the past 40 years, either intentionally (see: Rosanne Barr) or otherwise (try any minor league baseball game where the owner's 12-year-old daughter feels she's a young Mariah Carey). It all started with Jose Feliciano 40 years ago, shocking viewers watching Game 5 of the 1968 World Series. Though his interpretation of the Anthem would now been seen as mild by comparison to how the song is usually abused, newspaper editors nationwide were deluged with angry letters, many of them expressing the sentiment of one writer: ""What screwball gave permission to have the national anthem desecrated by singing it in the jazzy, hippy manner that it was sung? It was disgraceful and I sincerely hope such a travesty will never be permitted again."

If only performers would honor the song as sensitively today as Jose did in 1968.

Mouse Update. . .

A week since the big kill, and no signs of the rodents since. The traps are still set, awaiting a second offensive.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Most Embarassing Sports Illustrated photo. . .ever


Gotta love that Sports Illustrated "Vault" that one can spend hours and hours of time at work reading instead of working. . . only drawback is that even though EVERY issue of SI from the 1950s is available to read, very few of the photographs are on-line.

Fortunately, this super-duper image of Larry Bird from the late 1970s is. . . sorta looks like some cheesey College-themed porno DVD cover or something. . .

Speaking of Embarassing. . .

Ladies and Gentlemen, the President of the United States. . .

Here's a light-hearted moment after the third and final Presidental Debate. Which candidate do YOU think has a more presidential demeanor? And which one seems to be acting more and more like crazy Uncle Johnny the Vietnam Vet at the family reunion?

Though there's no telling how the "real-Americans" will finally decide to vote at the last minute, you've got to think that the McCain camp are feeling pretty desparate in these last few weeks until the election.

I used to like the guy--entertained even considering him for my vote last year. No longer. When folks like Colin Powell, Christopher Hitchens and dozens of previously conservative-leaning newspapers have endorsed Barack Obama instead of the increasingly hateful and mean-spirited McCain campaign (news flash, all you conservatives: ALL taxation is redistribution of the wealth. And if that is socialism, then I'd guess that even Ronald Reagan was a flaming red Socialist), you've got to feel that any support for McCain that isn't rooted among the hard-core Christian Right, red-meat-eating, flyover-state base is eroding away.

But who knows how this will turn out. One should never underestimate the stupidity of the American public.

Cowboys 4-3? Wha' tha' hell?


Excuse me.


And, again.


There, I feel much better.

Yep, seven games into the NFL Season (i.e. The Season The Cowboys Would Win Another Super Bowl) and things are not going well at Valley Ranch. I'm sure Jerry Jones' head is about to explode with rage. And poor little Wade Phillips. Sure, Bossman says your job is safe through the end of the year. . .but would you believe anything he says?

And Tony Romo? What a pussy. TO once played with a broken leg, for chrissake. Romo's no Brett Farve--he should suck it up, get addicted to pain pills, and learn to play with that broken finger. Pinkie finger. Whatever. On the same hand as the finger that will never wear a Super Bowl Ring.

I'm gloating. I'm in heaven. How much better could this be? Looking at the next few weeks, it's likely the Cowboys will by a 4-6 team. It's very possible they'll finish below .500. How sweet could that be.

All the stars are lining up for the collapse of that slimy weasel Jerry Jones' empire. A losing season. No chance of a Super Bowl Champion to open that new Billion Dollar stadium carried on the backs of Arlington taxpayers. A cratering economy. Fewer corporate fat-cats willing to pay $100,000 for Personal Seat Licenses.

When I was a kid, the NFL was THE sport to follow. Real warriors. Players so tough they had names like "Chuck" and "Bubba" and "The Hammer." Now what do we have? Millionaire panty-waists who celebrate a tackle with their team trailing by 20 points and change their name to Ocho Sinco. Give me a break. And it's 10 times worse living in North Texas.

It's almost worth being a Cowboy Hater just for the honor of listening to the constant hang-wringing, finger-pointing and crying on the area's sports radio channels.

It's a great time to be alive.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Mouse Update

It's been three days since we've seen a mouse, the longest stretch since we've had our little visitors. No new poops, either. Maybe the traps and filling the gaps into the house have done their job? We'll keep crossing our fingers. . .

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Pumpkin Portraits

We dragged the kids--or did they drag us?--out to the Flower Mound Pumpkin patch for the annual gather of the gourds. We got our pumpkins, all right, but the overcast skies and bright pumpkin props all around were too good to resist for a portrait session. So, here's a few views of our handsome dudes.

Euuu, I was gettin' kinda' woozy. . .

Stuart Little Must Die!

Cute in a sweater behind a car wheel, a pain in the ass shitting all over your kitchen counter. . .

We've got mice.

More than just a couple of them. It started a few weeks ago when an occasional glimpse was caught of a little shadowy object scurrying across the living room floor in the wee hours of the morning. Then it became more than just an occasional glimpse. Their little droppings were found on the floor in the pantry; in E.'s dresser drawer; and on the kitchen counter. They got into a box of E.'s school papers, chewing them up and forcing M. to throw them all out.

Why are we getting mice? I'd guess with the home construction a couple of doors down. Why are they getting inside? I'm guessing it's because of the hole I cut in an upstairs wall while expanding the model railroad. Sure enough, a close look along the stud walls inside the upstairs utility space I'd accessed was showing plenty of little mouse turds.

It's not that our place is dirty, mind you, and attracting the cute, cuddly little vermin. It's just that they've apparently found a convienent way into the house. I started our defense of the casa with a few glue-sheets, a flat plastic tray with sticky stuff on it that mice could walk onto but not leave. This produced quick results within a couple of days. We also tried a "mouse hotel," a plastic box with bait (peanut butter) that a mouse can walk into but not leave. While it caught a mouse pretty quickly, M. didn't like the idea that the mouse just waited out his captors inside the box, alive. M. has been busy sanitizing places the mice have been (amazing how much they crap and piss), and has organized the pantry with all foodstuffs in plastic containers.

M. hasn't yet climbed up on a chair, but she's getting close. . .

Over the past week, the number of mouse sightings has increased. There's a reason something is said to "breed like mice." I'm close to calling exterminators. I did contact Orkin; they want to sign me up, of course, for a full year of bug and rodent treatment, more I want to spend. I just want to kill the damned mice, I can do much of what Orkin wants to do, namely, place traps around the house. As far as the "entry points" to the house, Orkin will point them out to me, but it's up to me to plug em up.

These kick ass. Batting .750 in the first 12 hours after their placement. . .

So, we've stepped up the offensive. I filled a couple of visible gaps in the utility space with expanding foam (apparently these little suckers can squeeze through a 1/4" opening!). And we distributed more glue trays where mice have been active. Last night, we headed over to Home Depot to add to our arsenal. They sell a variety of poisons, of course, as well as deadly electronic mouse tasers, electronic noise-makers that are like listening to nonstop Slim Whitman-for-mice, and a number of "humane" mouse traps. The hell with humane. I want to kill.

We left with more glue trays, a pack of D-Con "No View No Touch" mouse traps, and some packets of poison. The trap promises that once caught, you won't have to look at the dead mouse (for a contrarian view, here's a blogger equating these sterile killing machines with the Holocaust). Sort of a Mouse Hotel with a deadly check in. You stick some bait inside, and "lock and load" the trap by turning the case til it locks into place, then place it and wait. The mouse walks in, touches the trigger, and the can of whoop ass smotes him dead. We placed a four-pack of them last night; by this afternoon, we'd dispensed with three mice. (I couldn't resist opening them up to see if the mice were really inside, and really dead. And they were). And moments after disposing of those, I. discovered another mouse had just wandered onto the glue tray in the pantry. That's been a highly-productive afternoon: four mice no longer in the residence.

The poison packets will be our tactical nuclear devices, our last stand of ridding the vermin ourselves before calling in outside troops. Apparently, mice chew into these poison packets, which makes them extremely thirsty, causing them to stroll out into the open looking for water and (here's the best part) die.

I. thinks these little mice are cute, even when writhing and squealing and unable to move on a glue tray. Next stop: trash bin.

I'm also headed back to Home Depot for more plywood to seal up the unused portion of the utility space, filling gaps around the pipes with more expanding foam. That, hopefully, should close off what I think is their entry point.

If that doesn't work, I'll take a clue from Dick Cheney and institute waterboarding.

Poor Stuart Little. He'd best not fuck with me any more.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

End of Summer Catch-Up

The Dudes yuk it up at the Legends of the Game. . .

Jeez, looks like summer is done. . .and this blog has turned into Huffington Post! So, let's get back on track to what the family has been up to the last half of the summer. . .which is, mainly, not much.

To sum it up: Baseball. That's been much of our family focus, recreationally. The kids have pretty much forgotten about rockets and NASA and NASCAR and are completely absorbed by what was once our national pasttime. M. and I are trying to look at the good side to all this: there are many facets to being a baseball fan, and while I. embraces mainly the aspect of enjoying baseball by playing it--spraying wiffleballs around the living room, sliding across the carpet, making high-pitched umpire calls of "out"--E. has taken a more holistic approach, appreciating the statistical side of the game (a good way to beef up his mathematics, we figure) as well as artistic (reading about baseball park design through the years) and historical (ditto books on baseball facts and trivia). We took the boys to a few more Rangers game (more losses than wins), toured the Legends of the Game Museum and toured the Ballpark in Arlington, and we're starting fall with both E. and I. signed up for fall little league--I. is in "blast ball," which is a sort of pre-K t-ball. . .and he lives for Friday night practices and Saturday morning games.

E. and I. are ready for fall ball. . .

I. delivers the cheese. . .

Not to say it has all been baseball--I had two weeks of vacation the end of September, and we didn't really go anywhere outside of the metroplex. We visited the boys' grandpa Lou, went bowling with a couple of their school friends, and went to the American Airlines museum in Arlington.

E. is back to school now, second grade, and he's been accepted in his school district's Gifted and Talented program. I. is staying at home this year (so far), foregoing pre-K enrichment til maybe later in the year. M. is working on Thursday's out of the house as well as keeping busy with her website and Mary Kay marketing assistance work (preparing newsletters and mail-outs for various sales directors). I'm still working my midnight shift dispatching job and selling old railroad slides on the side, trying to raise enough money to take a train-chasing trip to Australia next spring.

The boys and friends O. and J. get ready for some smack-talkin' bowling. . .

I. is the drama king when bowling. . .

Farewell, summer!

It's Over
This is really the best of times of the year, and the worst of times. Used to be, when I was a single and fancy-free young man, October meant vacation season, a time to hit the road for some camping and railroad photography in the west, stalking trains in the high deserts and passing the time between photographs with the Major League playoffs on the radio. It just wasn't fall without the voice of Jack Buck or Vin Scully broadcasting the playoffs. . .and after many years of not really following the game, it's been nice in 2007 to get back into baseball. We followed the Rangers pretty closely the last 2/3rds of the year, jumping on the bandwagon just about the time the team started their early summer climb out of sub-.500 ball, stayed with em through the all-star break and the Josh Hamilton home run derby, and didn't give up--though we were discouraged--when injuries and a faltering pitching staff dropped the Rangers back out of contention in the homestretch of August.

And now the regular season is gone, and we're rapidly chewing through the playoffs. These are the most beautiful days of the year, fall in Texas, but it comes with the bittersweet knowledge that pretty soon the Bermudagrass will finally give up for the year and the winds will push south from the frozen North. It'll seem like forever until springtime, until the grass again greens up, and until spring training.

Hope springs eternal. And we're already counting down the days.

See ya next year, Temple of Baseball. . .