Tuesday, August 31, 2010


They offered instrumental music at the schools I attended from the 4th grade on. I was going to do it in the 4th grade but I ran my right middle finger through the band saw in our garage shop at home, so I started in the 5th grade instead. I chose the tenor saxophone. It was a good choice, I still love the sounds the tenor sax can make.

I was never a real musician, no more than a person that learns to type is a writer. If you are really a musician, you learn to identify musical notes with the sounds that they represent and with the fingering and omishure on the mouthpiece of your instrument that is required to produce the sound. If you're a real musician, if you hear a song in your head, you can either play it on your instrument or write it down in musical notation. I could never do that. I wish I could have. I played the saxophone like a typist copies a manuscript page.

I would have been better off learning to type.

I did learn to whistle pretty good. If I heard something or made a song up in my head I could whistle it. I didn't know what the notes were and couldn't write it down but it's better than a lot of people can do. It's true, there aren't that many competent whistlers. It's the same with singing. Everybody thinks they can sing but just listen to them sometime. It's not really happening for them.

Teaching music must be a profoundly frustrating experience. Every music teacher I've ever met was a drunk, if they were lucky, otherwise they were crazy, had anger management problems or sexual perversions. It's because they were people who had musical talent and spent their entire lives trying to communicate it to people who mostly don't. I'm sure it's Hellish.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Thank You Glen Beck.

There are some Americans who have become universal, societal icons. Fill in the blanks yourself. It doesn't always matter what it is they actually did or if what they did was important. What matters is that these people are admired by everybody. That acceptance helps to define who we are and give us cohesiveness.

There are other Americans who are loved by a large portion of society but ignored or even despised by another large portion. Fill in the blanks yourself. These figures of controversy illustrate to ourselves and the rest of the World, continuing discord among the American people.

Glen Beck has singlehandedly, over the last 18 months made Martin Luther King Jr., accepted as an American icon by Right Wing America. It doesn't matter how he did it or for what reason. He did it. It's a great thing. It will make a difference in who we are.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Is This New?

I was watching John McCain's live, primary election victory speech tonight. He beat JD Hayworth, who is an ignorant blowhard and hard core bigot. That's getting to be no mean feat in Arizona, which used to be a fiscally conservative but secular humanist, Western stronghold. This virtually ensures him another 6 years in the Senate.

He let go with a bit of rhetoric that I have not heard before but maybe I haven't been paying close enough attention. He said that the first order of business for the Republican Congress in 2011 will be to repeal and REPLACE ObamaCare.

What this tells us is that the Republicans have given up the struggle against universal, comprehensive health care coverage in America. Their goal now will be to bury the memory that the Republicans voted unanimously against health care reform and they are willing to provide Americans with an even better and probably more expensive package to do it. Hoo-Ray!

I'm all for that. It might be a real good thing for the Republicans to regain control of Congress.

The Best Thing For America

I'm starting to wonder about the likely shakeout after the mid term elections in November.

If the Republicans realize their fondest hopes, they will take back both the House and Senate. I'm not sure that will be enough. The Republicans have now split into two factions, Moderates and Tea Party Express. The real danger for the Republicans lies not in the potential strength of the Lefty vote but the Right.

If enough of the Tea Party candidates win legislative office in November, will the Republicans be able to hold their voting block together? Those moderate Republicans who win their seats, will be the ones able to do so not by resisting the onslaught of Democratic challengers but against Tea Party candidates from their own party. It may be the Right Wing that they feel more threatened by in future elections than the Left. Those Tea Party candidates who win will have taken their seats not from serious Democratic Party opponents but from more moderate Republicans.

If Barry O continues to support populist legislation and policies, the monolithic Republican block may be broken and that may be the best thing for America.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Thanks for the call, Lee

25% of my regular readership have contacted me regarding the paucity and shoddy quality of postings here recently. I am abashed.

I don't know what to say. It's not the World's fault. There's as much going on out there as ever. So it must be me.

As a sop, I have reworked a previously discarded draft in which I kick myself around a little. I had decided it was too whiny. It's still too whiny. I put it up anyway. Enjoy, who knows when there will be more. When my muse returns, so will the writing.

I'm still looking around for cheap tickets to the Seawolf crew reunion in Branson, Oct 7-11. I kind of want to go but only if I can do it really cheap. I found one R/T flight for $166 total on cheapo carrier, Alliegent, if I only take a carry on but it gets in to BKG late Friday night instead of early Thursday, so I would, in effect miss the first 2 days and then I have to stay over an extra night after it's over. My experience with these things tells me the big drinking night will be Friday and what's the point of even going if I miss that and the next cheapest flight is $325, so I'll keep looking for awhile. I still have some time.

I've been trolling fundamentalist Christian sites and leaving inflammatory comments, since I've already poured gasoline down all the ant hills in back of my house and lit them up. My favorite is a Righty Canadian Newspaper, The National Post. They have a real nice religion section. Their motto is, "Get Down On Your Knees And Blog". If you want to see, go here. I'm posting over there under one of my many online alias', JOHNNY VO. If you want to read my best comments, you have to check often because especially lately, they've been deleting them almost as fast as I can think them up. They haven't blocked my IP yet, like the rest of them though, God Bless'em.

That's it for now.

Seeya on down the pike, shipmates.

Jesus Says We're All Sinners. Who Am I to Argue?

I like to believe that I'm not a total scumbag, a liar, a thief or that I would fuck somebody else's wife, for example or even more bad stuff than that. I like to believe this because I'm judgemental and often look down upon others that do that kind of stuff. Unfortunately, a close look at my life, sober and in the clear light of day, quickly reveals that  I've done just about every bad thing a person can do. What's even worse, like most other people, I did almost all the really bad things to friends. Well, at least they were friends until I did the bad things to them. A lot of times they were still my friend after. They usually had their own shortcomings to bear. No body's perfect, right?

Did you ever deal drugs? Most people will say no but think about it for a minute. Maybe somebody needed a little grass or a pill or two and you let them have what they needed out of your own stash and of course they covered your costs. Maybe even a little more.

I knew a guy in high school that could deal more than the usual kiddie weight if he liked you well enough. Every once in a while a friend and I would buy a key of weed from him, if it was OK stuff and split it. It cost $80, $40 apiece. After a little cleaning, bagging and sampling, my share would come out to maybe 15 lids that I could sell for $10 each. Being who I was, I knew a lot of geeks and nerds who didn't always have a good source for marijuana, they were glad to get it, even if it was sometimes a little light. It was better than the even worse skank weed they usually had access to. I ended up with a hundred bucks for the college fund, forty toward the next kilo and an ounce for myself in the interim. I was still working pretty much full time at my crappy high schooler job, so I wasn't a real pusher, right? That's what I kept telling myself.

One of the worst sins you could commit in the old days didn't involve breaking the law or the ten commandments, it was being a narc. I had a friend that ever since he was a little kid, wanted to be an FBI agent. Somehow, somewhere along the way, he convinced himself that turning in a drug dealer would help him in the pursuit of this goal. He set up and turned in another guy I knew who, in truth, was not much more of a dealer than I was. My friend would have been smarter to set me up. I didn't have that much status in the local kid community. The guy he turned in did. He had been a varsity football player, was very popular with at least some of the ladies and a very sharp dresser. After the act, the narc ended up being considered a small time punk snitch by local law enforcement and a dead man walking by the kid culture. Total outcast. I'm pretty sure it ruined his life. Who the fuck can really say. Maybe he was just a pussy to start with. He never went to college, married into the Jehovah's Witnesses and ended up selling Amway products for a living. The guy he turned in ended up having a pretty bad life but not as bad as that.

A decade later, I was working at a large wholesale lumber yard, trying to learn the business and work my way up. I had been through a lot of slots there in a short time, out in the yard, dispatch, shipping and receiving, buying, inside sales and when housing starts and sales slumped, back to the yard.  It was a lot of hours, 50 to 60 of them most weeks. Some days I thought I was doing OK, some not. I was paying the bills and putting quite a bit away. It was 1980, a lot of guys weren't working at all.

About that time, a guy from my high school class shows up working there. He had some kind of connection to get the job, everybody did to get on there. He must have had a good one though 'cuz things were slow and they weren't doing much hiring, plus lots of guys who had been laid off would have been happy to get back on. Guy was pretty messed up. Came in late, loads he built were crappy, it involved me since I was the yard checker at that time and responsible to see that the customers got what they paid for.

You got to remember that this was one of the boom times in modern American history for substance abuse among the general population. There may have been segments of the working economy that maintained some working hours decorum about it but the lumber industry was not one of them. A lot of guys there, especially the younger ones drank alcoholically and used other substances as well, including me. Weed smokers, coke heads and  speed freaks abounded. As long as anybody showed up and did the work, they weren't going to get any grief.

So, at some point, the yard superintendent asked me what this guy's problem was. I said I didn't know. I hadn't seen him since high school but he had a reputation for hitting it pretty hard then and it seemed to me, given the quality of his work, he still might be. I never thought anything about saying that. The poor guy didn't work there much longer and there were witnesses to what I had said to the sup. That's how I got a rep for being a narc. I really couldn't say it wasn't true, could I? That's pretty hard to live with at a rough and tumble lumberyard.

Turns out I didn't work there very much longer either. There have only been two jobs I was ever fired from and that was one of them. Nobody likes a narc, it turns out.

Way of the World, I guess.

I can't say I'm not one to judge another person's faults. It's one of my many faults. So, if you ever hear me running somebody else down, just disregard it, chances are I'm only seeing a reflection of myself in another.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Deuce

The hot sauce I made a few days ago was so good that I decided to make more. I've been more or less exclusively subsisting on salsa and chips for the last few days. They had some nice small Jalapenos they were almost giving away so I bought more than I probably should have. They looked like they would be hot. Yaou-sah! I won't be eating this batch so fast.

I want to talk about one of my long time kitchen buddies, the Moulinex La Machine II. When I was young, if you wanted something chopped, you chopped it with a knife. If you wanted it minced, you chopped some more, a lot more.

Sometime around 1980, the French started shipping over food mills, which they apparently had been using for some time. The most popular was the Moulinex La Machine. They sold a bunch of them. I guess after awhile, they figured if they could offer a cheaper product, they would sell even more, so they introduced a smaller, but otherwise virtually identical model, La Machine II. It was a miscalculation. The American housewife loved the food mill so much that they were willing to pay a premium for bigger, more powerful machines with many bells and whistles. These were introduced soon after and they sold and still sell, like crazy. You can easily spend a couple hundred dollars on one of these behemoths and they come with every conceivable sort of attachment and control lever.

I was not that interested in buying a food processor but sometime in the early 80's I saw one of the lowly La Machine II's on a clearance table at a department store for just a few bucks. I figured what the fuck, I can throw it away if I don't like it and it will probably break pretty soon anyway. Little did I know.

I loved the Deuce. It worked like a charm. The problem immediately switched from not having things chopped fine enough to turning your ingredients into paste. No problem. Light touch. I can do that. It was super easy to clean, so if you are doing any serious chopping, it really saves a lot of time. Sauces, meat loafs, casseroles and lots of other stuff, just took minutes of preparation. I still chop and grate things the old fashioned way, if it's just a small amount but if it's a lot, I always set up the Deuce.

This thing is like the mouse in the Green Mile. It still works as good as the day I bought it. Got to be at least 25 years, maybe closer to 30. I used to kind of hope it would break, so that I could buy a fancier one. Not anymore. Maybe it will last forever. They can bury it with me like a tribal chieftain, with his favorite war club clasped to his breast.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Salsa and Chips

I took about twenty of my tomatoes, mostly culls, split, small, soft, worm holed or otherwise flawed, peeled them and made about a gallon of salsa. I added a handful of small, very hot Serranos, finely chopped, a couple onions and red bell peppers, vinegar and salt, a little lime juice.

It's a good way to get rid of these tomatoes. Very sweet, tasty, strong tomato flavor. Plenty hot enough but OK for people besides me to eat.

It's hot weather here. Fresh fried tortilla strips and salsa makes a good warm weather repast. Too bad I don't drink a lot of beer anymore.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Repeal 14

I have often wondered why the Right has not targeted the provision of the 14th amendment that gives citizenship to any child born on American soil for for deletion. Now it seems as if they might be coming around to that.

Two things to consider. It will take a major expenditure of time, money, political capital and manpower to accomplish, that could be spent on other things. The other, citizenship for American born children of illegals provides a demographic safety valve. Membership in the underclass of illegal immigrants, no matter how much it may continue to grow, can currently only last one generation. That may turn out to have been a very healthy thing and if it goes away a very unhealthy one.

Anyway. It will be fun to watch what the Wingnuts do with it.

Opening the Barn Door

The judge that invalidated Prop 8 in California last week, today declined to stay his decision until it can be appealed to a higher court, an action that could take years.

It seems to me that by the time this case reaches the Supreme Court for a final appeal, many more States may allow same sex marriage. By that time, there may be millions of same sex marriages in effect. It is very unlikely that in such a situation, the high court will uphold the Prop 8 ban on homosexual marriage. By that time, homosexual marriage will be an established practice.

Not saying this is right, wrong, good or bad, just what is.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Gay Marriage Is OK As Long As Only Gays Do It

A lot of people are all riled up about homo marriage here in California. I gotta say, I never thought it would be legal but if it becomes so, it doesn't bother me at all. More power to 'em, I say.

What always bothered me was how some people drum up a lot of fear about coercive homo rape in the military, prisons or other institutional communities. I am not unfamiliar with these types of environments and have observed some of this kind of activity and while it's not uncommon for homos to be targeted for abuse, I have never seen them instigate it. It's always guys that strongly proclaim their heterosexuality that end up with their wienie stuck up somebody else's asshole or down their throat. It's not uncommon for the corn holers to be sky pilots either.

I guess boys will be boys but they should quit blaming the homos for their own bad behavior. Most homos, if they seek someplace quiet to gather on a ship or cell block, read poetry, discuss literature and practice soulful looks.

Isn't a Nanny Some Kind of Goat?

A lot of people believe we live in a nanny state. I have a hard time with that.

Most people cheat on their taxes if they can, not a few live completely in the underground economy. Huge numbers of illegal aliens live and work here and the government is powerless to do anything about it. Most drugs that are any fun are either illegal or supposedly strictly controlled by prescription, yet any drugs a person can yearn for are available to anyone with money, 24-7. The only authority law enforcement have, they get through fear and intimidation. Can you really say you respect officers of the law or believe the courts are fair? The government is no longer able to enforce a military draft. They know if they tried, few would show up and if forced to serve, would do so grudgingly and ineffectually. Most people hate politicians and government that are reduced to pandering and bribery to get any support at all and government itself is only responsive to the pandering and bribery of moneyed special interests.

Maybe that whole nanny state thing has to do with unlimited free pornography on the web. I kind of get that.

Sunday, August 08, 2010


I like saunas. Once the dry heat gets hot enough to start you sweating copiously, the pores of your skin really get cleaned out. After a long sauna, you really feel relaxed and ready for a short nap. I've often thought if I was rich, I'd have a sauna at my house.

I read where the Finns were having some kind of World Championship of Sauna, the object being to see who could tolerate the hottest temperature for the longest time.

They were up to 100C which is 212F. That's a couple degrees above boiling. Crazy. A Russian contestant died from it.

I don't like saunas that much.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Won't Get Fooled Again Cuz Now I'm Too Dumb To Realize The Joke's On Me

The Republican Revolution of 1994 brought them more power than they had since the early 1950s. What did that power buy them? Deregulation of big business. Tax breaks for the rich. George Bush as President for two terms. The longest, most expensive war in American history and nobody knows what it's about.

Are the Republicans, with their Tea Party Express and Barrel O' Palins on the road to a new Revolution? Who the fuck knows? It's America. Anything is possible.

You gotta ask yourself, if they do come back, what do they really want? They say that fiscally responsible government is the goal. I may not know much but I know enough not to believe that will ever happen short of a complete breakdown of government, not merely reform. Many seem to yearn for some kind of "Painter of Light", country cottage filled fantasy America that inhabits their dreams as they lounge, under employed and proudly ignorant, in their dingy trailer homes, cramped yards littered with dog shit and empty aluminum cans that once contained the thin, sour, over carbonated beer that is their staff of life.

They don't know what they want. I'm no better. I don't either. Just happy to see another beautiful SoCal Sunrise.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Moving Day

The guy next door to me moved out yesterday. He bought the place a little less than 5 years ago. He ended up taking a quarter of a million dollar bath on it. That doesn't count the extensive renovations he made before he moved in, the brokerage fees he paid to buy the place, the property taxes he paid or the association dues. When you add up these costs and subtract what it would have cost him to rent something similar or even a good bit nicer, he's probably closer to $350,000 down the crapper.

So, what's he doing now? He bought a vacant lot at a trailer park down the street. That's right, this stupid fucker paid for the privilege of parking a new trailer on a postage stamp size space and paying rent on it. By the time he's through putting in all the customized features into his new "luxury" doublewide, he'll probably have spent more than he got out of the place next door to me and in 5 more years, I guarantee it will be worth no more than half of what he paid, if he can sell it at all.

What a fuckin' maroon. I'm only sorry that since this guy is so dead set on throwing his money away, there wasn't some way I could have gotten him to throw some of it at me.