Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Miley Cyrus's Crotch: Take Two

File this under, you can run but you can't hide. Take note, teens, tweens, and the like: If you put it on the Internet, it's there forever.

About three years ago I blogged right here on ABM about a picture of Miley Cyrus's crotch that was making the rounds on the Internet. I was writing for at the time, a joyless, ridiculous gig that was set in a hamster wheel and fueled by SEO and Google hits. And I wrote that the people who were writing the Entertainment sections were getting huge hits, while the News and Politics writers like myself, in comparison, were getting pittance in the hit department. That meant if you were blogging about Miley Cyrus and her crotch, your family was getting fed, and if you were writing about the BP oil spill or the economy, you were starving. Such was the whims of the American public.

And just because I didn't want anyone to feel cheated, I included the picture of Miley Cyrus's crotch.

So this week, I pull up the analytics for old Action Bob, and what do I see? A huge spike. I figure it's some bot in India trying to hack into my account, which is usually what that means. But further investigation showed that all the activity came from people Googling some derivative of "miley cyrus's crotch."

Mostly, my analytics will tell me the ISP of the visitor, but sometimes it tells me the organization. Included in this round were the European Patent Office and, whoo-boy, the United States Homeland Security. So either there's someone on the first line of defense for our nation's security surfing for porn while on duty, or else I'm being watched for my un-American ways.

Anyway, I still think the whole thing--her crotch three years ago, or what she did the other night at the VMAs--is ridiculous. Poor little Miley (you read that right) was simply a sacrificial lamb for some corporation. People are criticizing and yelling at and about Miley, without realizing that that entire show the other night was given the green light by some pretty powerful MTV execs. Do people honestly think they said to Miley, Hey, just get up there and do what you want? No! That entire production was orchestrated. MTV could have pulled Miley and her handlers aside and said, Uh, we really don't think this is a very good idea.

My friend Jennifer Pierce, who is really smart and says some really smart things, yesterday said to me over Facebook, "The ancient practice of sending children and virgins into volcanoes is alive and well. Somewhere, in the back of our minds we believe that we need to feed the money machine innocence in order to keep the prosperity coming.  The beast must be fed or the wealth of the land dries up, you see."

Doesn't that seem to be the case? Starting with Britney Spears and then Amy Winehouse and who knows who else I'm missing because I really don't follow this stuff, our society seems to thirst for grand displays of public humiliation and degradation by young women in the entertainment field. Is this to make ourselves feel better about ourselves? If it it, I certainly don't. I get thoroughly depressed. 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Mickey Mouse in Vietnam

Short and sweet. But not produced by Uncle Walt.

No, this interesting piece of copyright infringement is brought to you by Lee Savage and Milton Glaser.

You can see it here. (For some reason Blogger and YouTube are playing nice today, and I can't post it directly to this here blog.)

It aired one time for The Angry Arts Festival (Google it; I can't do everything for you), and then the Sarejevo Arts Festival.

More Mickey Goes to War can be seen here.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Divided Loyalties with Arts Fwd: Howlround and Kennedy Heights Arts Center

Whoa, it's weird when worlds collide. Or when they merge in places you never in your life suspected.

Innocent me: Today I logged on to Facebook. I've been keeping away from Facebook for about a week now. The noise, noise, noise, noise was getting to me. But then I saw this post from HowlRound, about voting for them:

HowlRound is a semi-finalist for the ArtsFwd Business Unusual National Challenge! it read. Our idea, Culture Coin, aims to put the equity back into sweat equity! Vote and read more here!

I'm behind HowlRound's work, so sure I'll vote for them, I thought. So I follow the link to here, and I see this link to another organization, Kennedy Heights Arts Center. Whaaat? It can't be the same Kennedy Heights, next to where I grew up? But yep, click on the link, and it's an arts center on Montgomery Road, in Kennedy Heights.

I grew up in Pleasant Ridge. P-Ridge. The Heights is just one neighborhood north, right up Montgomery Road. I went to school for a year at Schroder Junior High. I know none of this is important to anyone else, but lately I've been having strange little things like this tear me from today and put me way back there, maybe not necessarily Pleasant Ridge and Kennedy Heights, but way in my past.

There was that dream I had about one of my best friends in high school, and then I learned he had died about a month before. I found a tape my father sent me, making it about thirty years since I had heard his voice. Thanks to social media and the Internet, in the past year I've had three people from long ago contact me. It's always jarring at first, because it's so unexpected. But it always does bring a little smile to my face, just like this did today.

Who to vote for? HowlRound, who is doing some ground-breaking research and work in the American theater? Or Kennedy Heights Arts Center?

You can vote everyday until May 31. If you're reading this blog and have some roots back in Cincinnati, I'm giving you a heads up about the arts center. Good things are happening back there.

Friday, May 3, 2013

2013 48-Hour Boston Film Project

Starting tonight, we're going to make a movie.

I've never made a movie before. Or, maybe it's a film we're making, not a movie. I'm not sure if there's a difference. I imagine there are lots of people who could fight the live-long day about the difference between a movie and a film, just like in theater people fight about the spellings, theatre vs. theater.

When I was an undergrad studying photography we had to say we were making images. We couldn't say we were taking pictures.

Making images.

Making film.

Lots of people in theater say they're making theatre. I know I do.

I guess maybe it's all about intent? Is it? Film, theatre, images is about intending to make something, oh, I don't know, something lofty. Something...more?

But I've never done this before, though as a playwright I have worked on a couple of 24-hour theater events. In 24 hours, we--the playwright, director, and cast--met, and in 24 hours we wrote, rehearsed, and performed a new play.

As you can imagine, it's scary stuff for the writer, because it all starts with the writer. You have to make something--a script, a screenplay--out of nothing. Well, not really nothing, because there is a whole lot of somethings that writers pull from. You just have to remember that.

And I'm not in this alone. There's a whole crew of people, and just like with a good bunch of theater artists, you work together. Wendy, the person on my team (we're Red Dirt Productions, just so you know, named for the production company that we're with) and I met on a 24-hour play fest, with me as the playwright and she was the director. At our initial meeting, I was in that state of shock where I was wondering, what did I get myself into? What am I going to write? And all Wendy said was, you know, the characters don't have to be people. From that, I wrote A Meating of the Mind, from about 11:00 that night to 2:30 a.m. So, I'm sure we're going to do a bit of brain-storming tonight before we all go our separate ways for the night and I camp out on my couch with a pot of coffee and a bowl of popcorn, because for some reason I like to snack while I write.

The first time I did a 24-hour play fest I tried to think of scenarios, things to put in my pocket. That doesn't work. You just have to give yourself up to the process. The best thing I've learned to do is view the things that inspire me, no matter what it is. Things when I look at them or read them or experience them in some way, make me go/say/think, damn, I wish I had done that.

I've been looking at a few short films, just to get my head around it.

And when it comes to intent, what I'd love to do is make a film that has maybe one line of dialogue, and is filled with visuals that tell the story, and a soundtrack that supplements the telling of the story. Sometimes the clink of a coffee cup in silence conveys so much, you know what I mean?

That's where I stand now, about five and a half hours before we do our kickoff meeting.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Blue Eyes

Gram Parsons. Uncle Tupelo.

This is how I feel the majority of the time. The world, most of the time, is just too complicated. Too noisy. Too hard to figure out.

Sometimes, all I want to do is ditch everything except Sue, Vida, and that old pickup that's just about on its last legs. I wish we had a cabin somewhere and a long, tree-shaded dirt lane that led up to it. A garden out back. A big old barn. A few animals. Definitely a dog, or two. Aussies. And chickens. Maybe a couple of goats. A horse for Sue.

Gram Parsons wrote it. Uncle Tupelo sang it later. Because they realized what a great song it is.

Blue Eyes by Uncle Tupelo

G                                                    D
Sometimes I get upset when people treat me bad
C                                                      G
I don't have time to think and so I get real mad
And I pull my hair and find somewhere where I can be alone
D                                                                                         G
And when I do I think of you and head myself back home

C                                        D   G
Where I got chores to keep me busy, a clock to keep my time
C                                          G                                                     D
A pretty girl to love me, with the same last name as mine
C                                                                                           G
When the flowers wilt, a big old quilt to keep us warm
I got the sun to see your blue eyes, and tonight you're in my

G                                                D
Sometimes I get unwound when fancy cars drive past
C                                                G
Money don't get me down, I can't make it last
And I bite my nails and if that fails I go get myself stoned
D                                                                                         G
And when I do I think of you and head myself back home


| G | G | D | D |

| D | C | C | G |




Thursday, April 25, 2013

Crazy Thoughts Brought on by a Crazy World

Yesterday was the first day I was in Boston after the bombing. A beautiful day. I had to return a ton of library books we had that were overdue. Yesterday was the first day the library was open after the bombing.

The stack of books measured about two feet high, and the fine was only thirty cents since they didn't charge for the time the library was closed.

I got off a Park since it was such a nice day, and walked through the Common and Public Gardens, then up Boylston. I saw it as quietly taking back my city. My home now, after living here for more than thirty years, longer than I've ever lived anywhere else. So yes, Boston is my home, unless I move tomorrow and live to be ninety or so.

I had all the books in a backpack. It made me nervous, made me feel like I was standing out, being watched, walking through the city with a backpack, which is ridiculous because so many people carry backpacks. But I couldn't help but wonder if I looked suspicious, a lone man carrying a backpack. I was wearing a straw fedora, and thought to myself, I'd stand out in the surveillance cameras. No terrorist would wear such a gaudy hat, I thought.

There were ceremonies on Copley Square, and the two bomb sites on Boylston as I made my way to the library. Standing in line in the library, I opened the top of the backpack for all the world to see that all I had were books. I was careful to always keep it near me.

I don't know if guilt is the right word. I didn't want to be responsible for anyone feeling scared or anxious. Some people were traumatized by what happened, and I wanted those people to know there were only books--not bombs--in my backpack.

Crazy thought, I know, brought on by a crazy world.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Emmylou Harris: Red Dirt Girl

Me and my best friend Lillian 
And her blue tick hound dog Gideon,
Sittin on the front porch cooling in the shade
Singin every song the radio played
Waitin for the Alabama sun to go down
Two red dirt girls in a red dirt town 
Me and Lillian
Just across the line and a little southeast of Meridian.

She loved her brother I remember back when 
He was fixin up a '49 Indian
He told her 'Little sister, gonna ride the wind
Up around the moon and back again"
He never got farther than Vietnam,
I was standin there with her when the telegram come
For Lillian.
Now he's lyin somewhere about a million miles from Meridian.

She said there's not much hope for a red dirt girl 
Somewhere out there is a great big world
Thats where I'm bound
And the stars might fall on Alabama
But one of these days I'm gonna swing 
My hammer down
Away from this red dirt town
I'm gonna make a joyful sound

She grew up tall and she grew up thin
Buried that old dog Gideon
By a crepe myrtle bush in the back of the yard,
Her daddy turned mean and her mama leaned hard
Got in trouble with a boy from town
Figured that she might as well settle down
So she dug right in
Across a red dirt line just a little south east from Meridian

She tried hard to love him but it never did take
It was just another way for the heart to break
So she learned to bend
But one thing they don't tell you about the blues
When you got em
You keep on falling cause there ain't no bottom
There ain't know end. 
At least not for Lillian

Nobody knows when she started her skid,
She was only 27 and she had five kids.
Coulda' been the whiskey,
Coulda been the pills, 
Coulda been the dream she was trying to kill.
But there won't be a mention in the news of the world 
About the life and the death of a red dirt girl
Names Lillian
Who never got any farther across the line than Meridian.

Now the stars still fall on Alabama
Tonight she finally laid 
That hammer down
Without a sound
In the red dirt ground

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Boston, Post Marathon Attack, Warning: Graphic Pics and Video

I was on a bus bound for New York to go to a rehearsal of a play I wrote when I got a call from my daughter, Allison, who was at work in Manhattan: Call Kathryn; there were explosions at the Boston Marathon.  So began an intense few hours when I tried with limited internet access to figure out what was going on, and if my loved ones were safe. 

I knew Sue and Allison were safe. Sue had the day off and was home in Wollaston, and of course Al was in New York. But Kathryn, our youngest? A student in Boston raised on the Marathon by her runner father, it was very likely she was on Boylston Street with her friends. As a little one, she and her sister would be so excited every time a passing runner would grab a slice of orange out of their hands as they stood and cheered along the course. The problem was her phone kept kicking over to voice mail, a problem we later learned came from overloaded circuits, and not from the cell companies shutting the network down to prevent more bomb detonations. Just one of the many rumors we, as a scattered little family, would deal with.

As it turns out, she was in the library, but not the Boston Public Library, where the explosion took place, but in her school library. I had to smile. Good old, Kathryn. Always studious, Montessori, the Honor student. Safe. 

The next couple of hours I spent trying to deal with very limited wifi on a Peter Pan bus. Life goes from good to bad back to good again, and I've learned to deal. Sue said when I learned the play I was working on in New York was being done there, she couldn't tell the difference between my reaction from when a play gets rejected. In the past decade, I've tried to behave according to Kipling's poem, If:

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same

While it did go through my head that Peter Pan advertises wifi so they should provide reliable wifi, I knew that getting upset at that particular moment over the bus company's failure to provide a steady signal wasn't going to help one bit. I just forced myself to stay calm, and think and focus. 

The overriding feeling I had for the rest of the trip was that something even bigger was going to happen in Boston or across the country, and we--Sue, Allison, Kathryn, and I--were going to be separated and out of communication. I tried to convince Kathryn to take a cab and spend the night with Sue, just to get her out of the city. She lives in a touristy section of Boston, and I was worried that section of the city may have been targeted, too. In the end, she took a cab to her apartment. 

So I'd succeed in logging on to Facebook for maybe fifteen or twenty seconds, and quickly scroll through the posts of people saying they were fine. That helped calm me down a lot. There were posts from people who I didn't know were in Boston, who were visiting for the Marathon. Again, it was nice to learn this, and that they were okay. 

Through all the status updates one stood out: Realize that what Boston is experiencing is what some people experience every day, sometimes because of the actions of my government. Yes, U.S. drones fall out of the sky. Roadside bombs explode because of unstable governments caused by U.S. military invasion. Yes, correct. But the timing was all wrong. That's a discussion for another day. Two days later, though, the Guardian, a news outlet that I replaced NPR with long ago as a source of what I consider mildly progressive news and thought, ran what I felt was a pretty spot-on article. Maybe now we know what lives are like around the world, and think about the role our government--and therefore all of us--play. Empathy is a powerful emotion.

I was in Manhattan--two hours later--before I could log on long enough to tell people that all of us were fine. And now I'll say it: Peter Pan/Greyhound: get your shit together when it comes to your wifi. I don't know if your on-board server only allows for two or three users or what, but it should allow every passenger to log on. 

Sometimes the wifi hung in there long enough for me to skim a local news report, but the reports were sketchy and contradictory. Was the fire at the JFK museum related to the Marathon bombing? How many unexploded devices were found, if any?

When I got off the bus at Port Authority, I went upstairs and saw police conducting random searches. Here we go, I thought. Knee-jerk response to a crisis. I never understood random searches in the subway. I mean, wouldn't a terrorist--or anyone with something to hide--see the search station and just turn around and go the other way? Or dump what they had and come back for it later, when the search station is taken down? Once again, idiotic responses by our government, intended to simply assuage people's fears and that only limit freedom, and has nothing to do with catching criminals and terrorists. 

Rehearsal was hard. I was working with four truly enthusiastic, dedicated theater artists who weren't connected with Boston or the bombing. To them, it was something that happened far away. And funny, I felt guilty about being upset, since these people had experienced 9/11 and everything that changed in New York. I didn't feel that this disaster matched up to what they experienced so I had no right to feel the way I did. Weird, huh? Still, I had to give it my best. Again, we should never allow acts of terrorism to stop our lives, and there's the adage in theater that the show must go on.

That night, on Al's couch in Brooklyn, I was able to sort out the events, send some messages, see the grisly pictures of victims with their legs blown off, bones exposed. I think we need to see that. I think we need to see more of it: the real effects of these events on people. I just wanted to get home, where I belonged.

If you're up for it, here are some images and video. Close-hand video near the blast. And very graphic images here. 

And crazy thought number two, but I remembered I had some overdue library books, and wondered when Copley Square would be open again so I could return them.

In New York, everything was normal. I wanted people to know I was from Boston. There was a part of me that wanted sympathy. I wondered what they'd say? Should I have been wearing a Sox cap? A Boston t-shirt. Then again, no. I hate calling attention to myself, and worse, I hate American jingoism in all its forms. Flag waving. Nationalism in all the hideous forms it takes in the United States. From traveling abroad, I know if you can't tell I'm from the United States just by looking at me, you're blind. And I wanted to be around my family and friends. Not people who couldn't relate. 

Yesterday, I was so glad to be back in Boston. On the bus ride up (again, crappy wifi) I didn't know what to expect. I wondered if I'd see squads of cami-wearing National Guardsmen in South Station. No, I didn't. I saw two, though I did see two stationed outside Port Authority in New York, one carrying an assault rifle. 

Boston is a tough town, and there were a lot of posts on Facebook talking about how the terrorists (do we even know if the bomber(s) was/were actually terrorist(s), which in my mind brings up a real political agenda, or was this the work of some whack job with a good working knowledge of demolitions?) picked on the wrong city. I saw an image of all the Boston sports teams' logos together, looking tough. I think that's all brave posturing. If it helps you get through this, fine. Just like I don't understand the posts on Facebook like, "hugs." And "sending good thoughts." Again, anything that helps a person get through this is fine by me. I try post news reports and what I consider intelligent analysis. And always humor. Good intelligent humor is what I need. Like this from Stephen Colbert.

When I got to the gate at Port Authority there were two middle-aged women standing in front of me, waiting in line. Besides the fact that the bus was leaving for Boston, you could just tell they were Bostonians. The accents. White, tough-looking, overweight old broads who looked like they'd as soon spit on you as say hello. Two more showed up, and never said excuse me or explained why they were pushing ahead in line to meet with their friends. They just did it. When we boarded the bus, again, two pushed ahead and when I let the other two ahead of me, neither one said excuse me or thank you. That, as much as anything, is Boston.

And I know some readers are thinking: He's going to segue into saying, but they're my fellow Bostonians and I love them anyway. No. That's not it at all. What I'm saying is, after 32 years of living in that city, whether I like it or not, wishing it was one way but accepting it for what it really is, it's my home. When something like this happens, it's where I want to be. 

Thursday, April 11, 2013


"In subjugating primitive worlds, they only imposed on them, with the force of cannons, their own confusion and their own alienation." --Thomas Merton, The Wisdom of the Desert, writing about the conquistadors.

That might explain a lot of wars. The author was trying to explain the Spanish wandering around in what later became the American Southwest. In all their metal armor. In a foreign landscape, so harsh and inhospitable to the likes of them. After weeks and months, I can only imagine they wanted what was their version of the Golden Arches.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Groupon CEO Andrew Mason Honest Memo to Employees

Andrew Mason. Photo courtesy of
The Huffington Post. 
"After four and a half intense and wonderful years as CEO of  Groupon, I've decided that I'd like to spend more time with my family. Just kidding - I was fired today. If you're wondering why... you haven't been paying attention."

So starts the letter Andrew Mason wrote to the employees of Groupon, upon the occasion of his dismissal as CEO of Groupon. 

The rest isn't as funny, but it is just as heart-felt. If you want, you can read it here

Over the course of my, for lack of a better word, corporate writing career, my experience has been that the higher you go up into the organization, usually the nicer and brighter the individual. 

The back-biting takes place down in the lower ranks, where people are still trying to claw their way to the top.  

Drift, a film by Tim Sesler

When I fly I prefer the window seat. I know a lot of people think it's cramped sitting there, and if you have to go to the bathroom or stretch your legs you have to climb over everyone sitting in your aisle. Sometimes people get really annoyed, and even show it, but you want to ask them, I have to go to bathroom, what would you do about it?

But I like to look out the window. I'll stare out the window sometimes for almost an entire transcontinental flight.

Filmmaker Tim Sessler made a film out of what it is that you see out the window of a plane. How beautiful it is.

The first time I was ever on a plane I was 18 years old and was leaving by myself for a open-ended trip to Europe. I ended up staying for three months. I had never been on a plane and I had to fly from Cincinnati to New York where I got on another plane that stopped in Iceland where the runway begins where the sea ends.

Since then I've been on countless flights, and never tire of looking out the window, at the beautiful, peaceful organic patterns nature carves on the surface of the earth. The natural way rivers flow, versus the way humans just blast a road through anything that stands in their way. The patterns and forms and shapes that nature makes on a mountain, valleys and crevices and alluvial fans, are the same ones it makes on a pile of sand in a vacant lot. The path a river takes through the flat open prairie is the same one a droplet of water takes down a pane of glass.

For me, it all makes sense at 35,000 feet. It's when I'm on the ground when it gets a little wonky.

Saying, I Love You

I'm not on the phone much. 

I have a cell phone and AT&T is my provider. They give rollover minutes--minutes you can keep for a couple of months if you don't use them--and I always have a big pile of them, that's how little I talk on the phone.

Mostly I talk to Sue and my two kids. So, when we hang up, we always say, Love you, and, Love you, too.  We do that when we leave messages, too. It's a wonderful thing to have in your life--the ability to say, Love you, to someone, or say it back after it's been said to you.

But when I'm on the phone with a client, or I'm leaving a message with one, I always get this hitch in me that I'm going to end the conversation or message with, Love you. That would be very weird. I haven't done it yet, but...

I also sign all of my email and Facebook messages to Sue and the girls, with, Love...I always sign the messages to the girls with Love, Dad. I know I'm lucky to be able to sign off like that, and I want to do it as often as I can. I know in life that all things come to an end. Someday I might not be able to sign off that way. So I take advantage while I can. I don't like to think about the time when I won't be able to say, Love, to them.

I have a friend, Debby, and when we talk on the phone (which isn't often enough) or when we see each other, when we're hanging up or leaving we say, Love you, to each other. We started doing that when she was going out with this guy, and she told me he wouldn't say he loved her, or didn't want to hear it from her. I thought that was the oddest thing, so I started saying it to her, so she could hear it once and a while.

I heard once a story about the author, John Irving. Since he writes so much about the loss of a child, someone thought he actually did lose a child. His answer was no, it's his greatest fear; that's why he writes about it.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Jennifer Lawrence's 2013 Oscar Press Conference A Moment of Truth

I didn't watch or even follow the Oscars last night online. I saw on Facebook that people were posting right and left, but all the status lines made my eyes glaze over. 

I heard Argos won a lot of awards last night. It was one of the few movies I actually did see, but I fell asleep during it. Since that event--what was called the Iran Crisis; I guess it's the original Iran Crisis--was such a huge moment in my life (my college roommates and I would watch Ted Koppel's Nightline, every night, and just a bit of trivia, Nightline began with the hostage situation then continued on for many years as a very intelligent late night news program.) I thought the Hollywood treatment of the events were, well, the typical Hollywood treatment.

I also tend to agree with the author of this article in Slate that says it was the worst best picture, because it does not address the real issues behind the events. Of course, neither does Davy Crockett at the Alamo, so there you go. I mean, really, what do you expect out of Hollywood? 

Anyway, just this weekend Sue and I were looking for something to do and looked at all the movies offered at the Boston Common cinema, one of the megascreen places that serve up 19 movies at a whack, and not one of them looked interesting to us.

Even Silver Linings Playbook.

Which brings me to the reason for this post. Not a fan of those feel-good happy ending kind of movies, especially ones where one of the characters with some form of mental illness is given the old emotional Hollywood treatment (see Argos above.)

But Jennifer Lawrence's answers to "journalist's" questions during her post-Oscar press conference were so true, so funny, so honest--everything a movie or a play or a book or any work of art should be--it should be watched over and over again by writers who need to know what the truth looks like. 

All I can say is, what a wonderful personality. Check it out.

Friday, February 8, 2013


Nemo, courtesy of NOAA
There's a storm whipping up out there. Sue's office is closed, as are most places--yesterday in anticipation of Nemo business, schools, governments announced closings. The T shuts down at 3:00 today.

We just came in from a walk. It's great to put on all your foul weather gear and get out in the storm. It's not that bad. So far. The wind is strengthening though, and there's a underlying whine of the wind blowing through the branches of the trees, that rises and falls. Occassionally you hear a rumble, a heavy bear's cough, where the wind is shaking something extra hard.

It's actually warm out. The computer tells me it's 33 degrees F, though how snow can come down when it's above freezing is beyond me. That means the snow will be heavy though, which means more tree branches and therefore power lines will come down. We have a gas stove and heat, but the furnace and water heater are dependent upon an electric spark to heat, and the refrigerator is electric. You make due. Put your food in a snow drift on the porch. Heat water for sponge baths. It's the loss of power that's the worst thing from a storm, because it takes the utility days to bring it back up. We are so dependent on the grid, and the established infrastructure. I would love nothing more than right now being squirreled away in a little log cabin somewhere, with plenty of wood and a good stockpile of food.

What is always remarkable to me is how animals know the weather. They haven't been bombarded with all the weather updates that humans have, yet this morning a fat squirrel that lives in a hole in a tree in our neighbor's yard was racing up and down the tree, each time with a mouthful of leaves.

And Sue and I passed bush loaded with sparrows, all loudly (and it sounded frantically) battening down the hatches for the storm. They don't have nests now. I guess they just fluff up their feathers, tuck their heads under their wings, and wait it out. I mentioned that it's after the storm that we should put out some food--bread and seeds for them--because their food sources will be covered in snow. Sue noted though, that some of them won't survive this storm. This is life or death for them.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

A Year Ago We Put Our Best Dog To Sleep

Bob, about a year before he died.
I can't let this day go by without remembering that we put Bob to sleep a year ago.

I still can't believe he's gone, though I have gotten over stepping over empty spaces where he used to lay. I still do, though, find stray patches of his fur in odd places around the apartment, like under the couch when we moved it to clean behind it, and it's a nice way to be reminded of him. He was a presence in our house for so long, and pretty much went with me wherever I went.

And I still can't believe that I had the strength to do it.

He was old, about fourteen and a half years. He was pretty much blind and deaf and arthritic in his hind quarters. He couldn't get up stairs, so I had to grab his hindquarters and walk him up stairs like he was a wheelbarrow. He always got a kick out of this, and most times at the top of the stairs would turn and laugh at me.

Yes, dogs look you in the face and laugh and smile and sometimes cry. Just like people. Just like dogs, I should say.

He was so old. In the last two months he couldn't hold his bowels, and he would mess the apartment sometimes five times a day. Yes. And we cleaned up after him and most times we were patient but sometimes I wasn't and those are the times I remember. I hate myself that I was even sharp with him once or twice for doing something he couldn't help, because he was always wanted to please his master--me.

Over the last couple of years of his life it was a slow decline. Bob taught me how to die. For most of us it will be a slow decline, and now, thanks to Bob, I know what to expect.

On this last day he couldn't get down the stairs, and I had to carry him down. I remember thinking this is one more, and his last, step of a slow decline.

I made his last day as special as I could. It was a gorgeous day, thanks to global warming. It was springlike. We got up and I made his favorite breakfast from when he was young: French toast with bacon slathered in maple syrup. For most of his life, Bob ate pretty much what I ate. If I made pork chops, I made an extra one for Bob. He loved spaghetti with red sauce sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.

Then we took a ride in the truck. Bob loved the truck. Bob knew about twenty-five words, including truck, leash, and walk. We had to spell when he was around if we didn't want him too excited. If he and I were going on a camping trip and I'd start to get the gear out, he was excited for days before we went. He knew that the equipment meant.

That day we drove to all his favorite place, including the field at Ashland Reservoir where other dogs romped. He was so happy. He knew every place. But he was so old, and couldn't keep up with the other dogs. It made me sad. He had been a powerful Alpha male in his time, and now lesser dogs who nonetheless were in their prime outran him. One dog rushed him and knocked him over, and Bob looked embarrassed. I stepped in and helped him up. Bob and I always were good partners. We helped each other. When I lived alone I'd wake in the middle of the night, and him lying next to my bed on floor, breathing, was such a solace for me. I hate being alone.

Bob, looking real good.
We went to the lake where he used to swim, and hiked around the woods. Finally it was time for his appointment at the vet. Back in the truck. I helped him up into the back seat where he liked to be. Just like he knew the fields and lake and woods, he knew the vet. I doubt if he knew what was in store for him. I imagine he thought he was going to get a thermometer stuck up his butt like usual. But no. The doctor who had taken care of him for years shaved a little spot on his hind leg. I held Bob's head. When the vet injected the needle, Bob jerked. I gently turned his head around and in about ten seconds his head dropped into my hands and he was dead.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Find the Stoned Musician In This Video

I got such a kick out of watching this. I stumbled on it while just poking around on YouTube, which, along with Google, is probably one of my favorite sites on the Internet. Both sites were tailor-made for me and the way I think. I love just following one link after the other. I guess the algorithms in my head coincide nicely with Google, which is kind of a scary thought.

Anyway, the song is great, and the video is highly entertaining.

I guess I should comment though. I mean, I should add value to the content. That's what we do in the blogsphere. Right? We view, we add our little bit of "value", and pass it on?

Everything about Johnny Depp makes me laugh. He is so totally cool, down to the way he dresses, his totally hip glasses, his tats, the way his hair flops just perfectly...I mean he is so perfectly hip, isn't he? Please make sure you're picking up on my sarcasm here.

I mean, even the way he holds his guitar, slung way low, which actually, is so the totally wrong way to hold your instrument. (Check out Eddie Vedder for the correct way.)

I mean, when I look at Depp holding his guitar that way, this is what I think. This image came with the caption, Hey man, I think your diaper's full.

Anyway, it's kind of sad, isn't it? Depp is such a talent. But from this point of view, it looks like he's just another of the pretty people, hellbent on self-destruction. What's also cool about this video is the comparison between Depp and Eddie Vedder. Pearl Jam actually pulled back on promoting itself and its music so they could continue pursuing their own art.

And that is very cool.

Two-Minute Commercial vs. Two-Hour Movie

This two-minute ad ran in the Super Bowl yesterday and the Huffington Post reports that it cost Samsung $15 million.

Go ahead and watch it. It is entertaining. Oh, and I have no idea who these people are. This is the result of not owning a television and trying to stay as far out of the mainstream as I can.

So, was that worth $15 million? I think the bigger point to pursue is that Samsung thought it was worth it.

And that a  major international corporation is willing to spend that kind of money to influence people answers the question of whether or not the media--movies, talk shows, video games--affects us. Of course they do. Because companies like Samsung--and Coke and Go Daddy and Budweiser and every other corporation you saw advertisng yesterday does not spend those kinds of dollars without a lot of research. Shareholders won't allow it either.

So, that pretty much answers the question, Do violent movies and video games influence people, making them do things that they otherwise may not have thought of themselves?

You got to ask yourself, if a company is willing to spend that kind of money for two minutes of influence to sell a phone, what the heck is a two-hour Hollywood violent bombfest capable of doing?

We've all heard the "experts." Violent video games give outlets to violence, they don't cause it. The same with movies.

But you know, parents long ago knew that sugar caused hyperactivity in children, and finally all the experts came to the same conclusion.

This is what's great about being a person. You really don't need the experts to tell you what's going, although most people have long ago relinquished their right to their own opinions based in their own intelligence. They wait for some "expert" to tell them what's what. People can't cook a turkey on Thanksgiving anymore without consulting Martha Stewart and all those nimrods on the weekday morning shows.

Thursday, January 31, 2013


I had one of these when I was a child and it was my favorite toy. It's a Dennis the Menace doll, in case you didn't recognize the character.

When I was too old to play with it, it sat at the end of my bed with my teddy bear named, Bo-Bo, and a stuffed dog named Fluffy.

When I got to be a teen, I'm not sure what happened to it. My mother probably put it in a plastic bag (which is something she did with a lot of thing; used dry cleaning bags--the really dangerous ones that come with a warning not to let small children play with them) with Bo-Bo and Fluffy, and then put it on a shelf in a closet.

I imagine when I went away to college she threw it away. She did that with a lot of my stuff. (Don't worry, Mom. If you can somehow read this, I was never upset when you did that.)

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Buddy Miller: I Worry Too Much

Yup. Can't help myself. I'm a worrier. 

If Sue walks to yoga, I worry about her getting mugged. 

If she drives, I worry about some crazy drunk broadsiding her. If I have a headache, I swear it's a brain tumor. If Sue catches a cold, I'm convinced it's the end. 

I worry about money. About not enough, and crazy: about too much and it will run out. 

And I've actually gotten better over the years, but I'm still an insomniac, which I've been since I was a teenager. I remember so many late nights/early mornings sitting up in my bedroom on Lester Road, sitting on the edge of my bed looking out the window. I would spend a lot of those nights reading and writing.

Yep, I worry too much. 

Sing it, Buddy. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Two Artists Doing Neil Young Songs

Not better. Just different.

How artists can put their own twists and bends. How they can put their own personal mark on a song.

It's a big topic in theater. Playwrights hand over their work, and Lord knows what could happen to it.

The Timmins family, and Gillian and David are some of the most talented musicians today. So, what do you do when your work falls into the hands of "artists" (ahem) less talented?

Honestly? I think I actually like the Junkies version of Powderfinger much better. It's more controlled. Crazy Horse does it like a ride down the Colorado River rapids. Which is their style. But Margo Timmins? She reminds me of something I once heard about James Taylor. She could sing the phone book and make it sound good.

(If you don't know what a phone book is, I can't help you. I guess you could Google it.)

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