Saturday, December 15, 2012

Muted Emotions

Sandy Hook School in Newtown, CT

I woke up this morning and the emotional enormity of what happened in Newtown, Connecticut finally hit me - 24 hours after the event.

President Barack Obama wipes tears
from his eyes while addressing the
nation following the Newtown, CT
school shooting on December 14, 2012.
Despite having watched a great deal of the coverage and watching President Barack Obama deliver emotional remarks from the White House while wiping tears from his eyes and fighting to control his emotions, my emotions didn't fully manifest themselves until this morning.  This morning, when I turned on follow-up coverage and listened to the latest information and saw many of the same photos from the day before and found myself doing, a day later, what the president of the United States did at the White House. I wiped quiet tears from my eyes.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Titus Young Just Doesn't Get It

Detroit Lions WR Titus Young.
Detroit Lions wide receiver Titus Young spoke with reporters today following practice.  It was the first time since he has talked publicly since his most recent exile from the team for disciplinary reasons.  Head coach Jim Schwartz deactivated Young for the Lions' Thanksgiving Day game agains the Houston Texans and sent him home for the week to, basically, get his head straight.  Judging by this session with media, I'm not certain he got the message. But, I'm not in the Lions locker room, team meetings or the practice field with the guy.  What do you think?


I'm so glad that the reporters didn't ask Young questions about anything but his situation.  Nothing else he has to say matters until he addresses his behavior and its effects on the team.

Friday, November 16, 2012

It's Twilight for Twinkies

If your kids love Hostess Twinkies, Ding Dongs, and Ho Ho's or Little Debbie's Banana Flips or peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches made on Wonder Bread, you had better stock up, NOW, if you can still find the products on store shelves.  Hostess Brands, which owns and has produced the iconic snacks and bread, announced on Friday morning that it is shutting down. According to the statements issued by Hostess Brands officials, the company is unable to continue operations and emerge from Chapter 11 Bankruptcy due to an ongoing Bakers Union strike.  Here is the letter to customers posted on the Hostess website:

Dear Loyal Customer,

I must regretfully inform you that Hostess Brands has shut down all operations and will be pursuing   the sale process of all of our brands and Company assets. Many people have worked incredibly long and hard to keep this from happening, but now Hostess Brands has no other alternative than to begin the process of winding down and preparing for the sale of our iconic brands.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Tyrann Mathieu's Phantom Menace

One week after I received and read the Sports Illustrated cover story on Tyrann Mathieu and his attempts to redeem himself for a possible return to the LSU Tigers football team, he faces drug (marijuana) related charges in Baton Rouge.

Several questions are now (in my best Herman Cain voice) "twirling around in my head" concerning Mathieu:

1. Is Mathieu destined to be just like his biological father, Darrin Hayes- also a talented football phenom in his day, but now serving a life sentence for second degree murder- with whom Mathieu has virtually no relationship?

2. Even if convicted, simple possession of marijuana is not going to earn Mathieu a life sentence in prison, but is this the next step down a path to a life sentence from football and, more importantly, productive adult life?

3. Are these things hereditary? Does Mathieu's family history wreak havoc on his psyche and prevent him from realizing he does not have to repeat his father's mistakes? 

4. And, considering Tyrann's demonstrated troubles to date, was it prudent for him to only spend a month, or so, in John Lucas' rehab program in Houston and then return to Baton Rouge and LSU with no real, on-site support structure to keep him strong in moments of weakness?

The whole thing almost plays out like Star Wars, to me.  The character comparisons are very clear.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A "Killer" Project to Support

"Seven years ago, I wandered into a musty blues bar on the outskirts of Tampa, Florida to hear a friend play a gig on his Hammond Organ. While I was familiar with the Hammond sound, I really hadn't paid much attention to it. There was my buddy Shawn Brown at the helm of this bulky two-layered keyboard, but he had morphed into this OCTOPUS -- pouring every once of his energy into his music. He was gliding over the keys, sliding levers, stepping on pedals, flipping switches with both hands. If this wasn't enough, he was singing too. Wow! I was simply floored," writes journalist Murv Seymour.

Seymour is a Southern University classmate and longtime friend of mine.  He recently told me about his "Killer B3" project that he has been working on with videographer Joe Bamford.  It's a project that has taken the pair on a seven year journey across America talking to fabulous musicians, young and old, about "a bulky 78-year old fluke invention that changed music forever."

Seymour and Bamford have listed their documentary project on Kickstarter, a website that helps creative people and entrepreneurs raise capital to take their original ideas from dreams to realities.  I checked out their page, played the introductory video-- which includes preview clips from the documentary-- and I was immediately sold!  There is truly something magical about music played on a Hammond B3, whether you hear it in a church, a jazz club or, for me, on the Every Woman's House/Club Remix of Whitney Houston's "I'm Every Woman."  It really does stir the soul.

"That night, I learned the Hammond Organ creates one of the most widespread sounds in music," writes Seymour on the Kickstarter page.  He also learned that, while commonly used,  "the Hammond Organ is one of the hardest instruments to conquer. Those (who) do devote their lifetime to it," Seymour added.

"Shawn told me each year, more and more of these "Old School" players are dying, Seymour writes.  "That was the trigger. I immediately knew the Hammond Organ would make for one hell of a story."  I agree.

I'm proud of my classmate and impressed by the preview of "Killer B3."  I encourage you to check out the Kickstarter page.  Read the background information.  Then, click on a link and contribute whatever you can to help make this documentary available to everyone.  Finally, pass this information on to people within your social network.

Oh, Good Evening!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Please pass the Pepto!

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) accepts GOP nomination for vice president at
2012 Republican National Convention. Photo:

As much as I like the drama and intrigue of politics, it really makes my blood boil when politicians twist the words of rivals.  They don't put words into each others' mouths, they conveniently disregard words that actually come out.

Last night, during his address to the Republican National Convention, vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan all but blamed President Obama for the closing of the General Motors assembly plant in his hometown of Janesville, Wisconsin.

“Right there at that plant, candidate Obama said: ‘I believe that if our government is there to support you … this plant will be here for another hundred years.’ That’s what he said in 2008. Well, as it turned out, that plant didn’t last another year. It is locked up and empty to this day,” said Ryan in his speech.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Random Generosity

While at Office Depot this afternoon, I encountered a kindergarten teacher who was buying notebooks for her class. She was getting 10 standard composition books and having them cut in half for her young students. As she was getting ready to pay, I said, "I will take care of it." The joyful surprise on her face was all the thanks I needed.

Teachers are under-appreciated, underpaid and under-supported, in my opinion. My late father was an educator and in his honor, I was happy to pick up this teacher's tab. I encourage others to do the same.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Chik-fil-A and The Bible

I found a link to this commentary on my Facebook news feed.  When I watched it, all I could do was say… Oh, Good Evening!!!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Idol Fills One Judging Vacancy

Filling one of the vacancies created when Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez quit, American Idol has announced the signing of Grammy winner Mariah Carey as a judge for next season.  After the news broke, Carey tweeted:

It's gonna be so much fun working on @AmericanIdol. As a singer-songwriter, I'm excited to help find and nurture new talent. LYM! --MC
7/23/12 3:11 PM

I'm probably in the minority, but the addition of Carey to American Idol doesn't move me.  Suffice it to say that Idol producers need to find a judge who will knock my socks off to keep my interest because as of right now, they have two judges that just don't excite me in Mariah and veteran Randy Jackson.

Oh, Good Evening!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Two Vacancies on American Idol's "Supreme Court"

The powers-that-be running American Idol are once again scratching their beds trying to figure out who can fill two vacancies on the popular show's judging panel in time to stay on schedule with auditions and production for Season 12.  Last week, Jennifer Lopez hinted that she might leave the show after two seasons.  Within days, Steven Tyler didn't just hint, he announced that he's done, leaving his "mistress," Idol, to focus on his main love, rock 'n roll.  Translated, his band Aerosmith is #1 in his heart.  Then a day later, JLo came back with a firm, "I'm leaving, too."

The question, now, is -- who should replace them?   

American Idol judges (l-r) Steven Tyler,
Jennifer Lopez and Randy Jackson.
Photo: FOX
I'm really sorry to see Lopez depart.  In terms of legitimate judging, she has been #1 among all the women who have occupied permanent seats on the panel and, I would rank her #2 all-time behind former judge Simon Cowell.  I think her departure hurts and I can't really think of who I would want as her replacement.  Suffice it to say, I'm not impressed by the names that have been floating around. (Mariah Carey, Miley Cyrus, etc.)

I also am sorry to see Tyler leave.  Yes, he is a crazy character but, I like the humor he brought to the show while still giving some decent critiques to the contestants based his passion for music and vast experience fronting a legendary band.  I will miss Tyler (if I return as a viewer next season) but could see his seat being filled by likes of Gene Simmons or Usher, maybe.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Team USA Olympic Uniforms

Team USA Opening Ceremony Uniforms for 2012 London Olympics.
Photo: Ralph Lauren

I will be the first to admit that I wouldn't be caught dead in the Ralph Lauren designed Team USA opening ceremony uniforms to be worn at the 2012 Olympics in London.  Just not my style and I thought we were Team USA, not Team Britannia!  (Don't they look better suited for the UK athletes?)

I'm a bit put off by all the political heavyweights bitching and moaning about the uniforms, not because they look whack, but because they were manufactured in China.  Listen to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's indignation.

Yes, Chinese-made uniforms for Team USA also seems a bit odd to me considering the Olympics is all about national pride and athletic superiority.  But, don't you have more important things to groan about, Sen. Reid?  Don't get me wrong.  I agree that there are unemployed textile workers in this country who would love to have made the uniforms.  But, they would also like to have jobs BEYOND just making a set of uniforms!!!  Why throw your political weight behind groaning about the outsourcing that sent Ralph Lauren's manufacturing operations to China in the first place?!?!?  And, to be fair, the same criticism goes to House Speaker John Boehner, House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and any other politicos who shared their indignation over the uniforms.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

"Venus Is Too Close…"

The words in the title of this post were spoken by one of my favorite all-time television characters portrayed by the late Carroll O'Connor-- Chief William O. "Bill" Gillespie on "In The Heat of the Night."  At the end of the episode "Bounty Hunter," the Gillespie was telling one of his officers that weird things happen when Venus comes too close to Earth.

Venus (black dot, lower right) transits
in front of the Sun on June 5, 2012.
Click photo for larger view.
This isn't weird, but is pretty darn cool.  As I write this posting, Venus is passing in front of the Sun, visible to us here on Earth.  Venus is the big black dot you see on the lower right of the Sun.  I'm watching a live stream of the event provided by the University of South Carolina's Melton Memorial Observatory as seen through the specially filtered lens of a telescope.  Folks, this won't happen again for 105 years!  If I live to see the next Venus transit, as the event is called, I will be 152 years old.  Now, that would truly be weird!

Oh, Good Evening!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

American Idol 11: And, The Winner Is...

Another American Idol season has come to an end. CONGRATS to Phillip Phillips on winning the title! It was, truly, the best possible result for both he and Jessica.

Phillip Phillips
Photo: FOX
The final competition show was, as I expected, very BORING. Phillip was his usual steady self, which is my way of saying he was good, but VERY safe. It seemed the song choices for him were designed to present him at his best. Interestingly, I felt the song choices for Jessica did just the opposite. Instead of playing to her season-long strengths, she sang songs that amplified her vocal flaws and you could hear her young nerves as well. Setup? Arsenio Hall would say, "Hmmm…." 

But, not winning is really the best thing for Jessica Sanchez. Now, it will be up to the recording execs to do what Randy Jackson suggested-- make sure they play to her strengths when picking songs, recording them and mastering the tracks. They need to let Jessica be Jessica and stop trying to turn her into the next Beyonce or Rihanna.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Do NOT try this at home!

After watching WIS News Saturday Morning for an update on local news, I turned on CBS This Morning Saturday just in time to see co-host Rebecca Jarvis doing a segment about unusual uses for vodka with guest Alex Bandon who is the online editor for This Old House. Bandon says you can use vodka for things like:

-Deodorizing shoes/boots
-Cleaning hard water stains on chrome
-Deodorizing laundry
-Cleaning rusty screws
-Cleaning tile grout

See more uses here.

During the segment, one bottle, each, of Smirnoff and Absolut was on the counter.  WHY would I use GOOD VODKA for these purposes?!?!?!?  Why would I use ANY vodka for these purposes?!?!?

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Deflated Tire, Inflated Faith!

My new year got of to a shaky start after I rocked into 2012 with 20,000 other folks who attended the first-ever Famously Hot New Year celebration in Downtown Columbia featuring Dr. Funkenstien, himself, George Clinton and his P-Funk All-Stars.  Following the party, I joined several friends as we gathered at the home of one of our "crew" members for breakfast.  We had a great time preparing and eating the scrambled eggs, sausage (patties, links and veggie links), biscuits, juice and various "other" (translated: "adult") beverages.

As we all departed to head home at 4am, I get in my car and proceed to head to SC-277 for the drive to Northeast Columbia.  Shortly after entering the highway at Sunset Road, I hear a big "bump" while changing lanes.  A few moments later, my car isn't acting right. It's vibrating and not steering correctly.  I make my way off the freeway and get to a nearby car dealership with a well-lit lot.  I get out and discover what I feared-- a flat tire!

I get the tire off, hoping that whatever caused the flat is something that can be repaired.  However, upon inspection, I see that the tire will have to be replaced.  (You may now insert EVERY appropriate cuss word in the English vocabulary and a few from other languages that you may know!) I put the spare tire on and get home okay.

After a few hours of sleep, I wake up and stew over my situation while watching my beloved, playoff bound Detroit Lions lose their regular season finale to the Green Bay Packers, wondering where I am going to come up $300+ for a new tire.  Well, this morning, I go to my tire place near Downtown Columbia.  They install a new tire and fix another tire in which they found a nail.  When I go to pay them, the bill was a whopping $41.28!!!!  It seems that the road hazard warranty I purchased with the original tire took care of the replacement.  Because the original was less than a year old, with fewer than 10,000 miles on it and plenty of good tread left, I only had to pay for labor, disposal fees and new hazard warranty!!!

PRAISE GOD!!!  I really needed that blessing and am most thankful to have received it!!!

Oh, Good Evening!