Sunday, November 23, 2008

Oh, come on!

Why waste time thinking about a Hobson's choice with the big 3 auto makers? Tax dollars & ratholes love each other; nothing in the long run will keep them apart. But not every millionaire is seeking favors. It's time to stop stereotyping the filthy rich. See, these lads are millionaires too. It's obvious they're quite frightening to small children. That's as opposed to other kinds of millionaires, who scare grownups.

These men don't want a taxpayer bailout. They only want justice. It's always these shy, introverted types whose rights get trampled. Well I've seen the tears on their painted faces, and I'll speak up for KISS.

In essence, would seem entry requirements for a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame should work like this:
1.) You play rock & roll.
B.) You're famous.

With that criteria, there's no earthly reason why KISS isn't in there! Hey, I don't like their music, but millions do. Nobody can say they aren't unique, or that their influence doesn't endure. I bet they can do a sold-out world tour anytime they want. In Japan alone they'd make a mint, and not just because of their Kabuki makeup. So why is KISS not in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame?

Is it cause the judges don't know what rock & roll is? I see they put James Taylor in their little Hall of Fame. Look, if there is one trait shared by all good rock & roll, it's....(drum roll please) it should be fun. Yep, rock & roll is music of rebellion. If you're at a rebellion and you're not having fun, you may be on the wrong side. KISS is fun, so they don't have to be deep and brooding. They've provided so much entertainment to their fans over the years. They should be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
Wait a minute! You don't think it's some kind of Pete Rose deal do you? Did KISS get caught betting on other bands?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Big as Ike

When my parents' generation passes I'll miss the rich texture of their language. In a recent phone call with Mom she used a phrase in passing. I didn't think about it until later, when I was driving to pay the electric bill. A truck pulled out in front of me (glad my brakes work!) and I exclaimed, "Now ain't you big as Ike?"

And I smiled, thinking where I'd heard the phrase last. It's an adverb I guess. Means something like, "with an air that implies assumption of inalienable right."

If I'm ever talking to Mom and she says, "That kid drove his four-wheeler across my back yard with an air that implied assumption of some inalienable right" I'm gonna look around for Rod Serling! But it's all just as well.

When Mom says, "Big as Ike" I know exactly what she means. I can't possibly catalog the hundreds of peculiar expressions I grew up hearing. But I feel the richness of that dialect in my bones. I'm not saying the english language will become a vast arid wasteland twenty years from now.

Right now, there's a woman somewhere with hands on hips, looking down at her little jug eared kid sitting in the middle of the bedroom he's been told to clean. She may be saying, "You're so lazy you could be a Sushi chef." In years to come it will resonate, in part because of its strange, pretty logic. In part because it comforts. The grown man who'll repeat it links with a time when Momma's disapproval was his only worry.

And many of the phrases of my parents' generation will go forward as well. They will go forward because they're so artful in summing up common human experiences. The most useful of the phrases will go forward until nobody even knows why they say them. But I will miss the people who said them to me.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Fry the sea kittens

In small doses I quite enjoy flakes and crackpots. So I drop by the PETA website now and then.

PETA has decided since they've done a great job getting folks to stop eating pork, beef and chicken, now the fish need a hand, or a fin, I dunno. Actually they've given them paws. Yeah PETA thinks people will be reluctant to eat fish if the name is changed to "sea kitten." I think they got the idea from a really good Danny O'Keefe song...

Catfish got whiskers and a cute little grin,
But you never can tell where a catfish has been...

Then again, do PETA folks have a breadth of knowledge that would include O'Keefe songs? Maybe just a lucky guess.

I suspect if everybody went vegetarian tomorrow, many tens of millions would starve to death in a year. It's probably impossible to grow enough protein to feed the billions of humans on this planet. Fish, well sea kittens, they eat protein humans can't digest. And they convert it to protein humans can digest. Now beef, one could argue it takes more acres to provide a pound of animal protein than it would a pound of plant protein, and that sounds swell, but it's not nearly all the truth. Many places cattle graze around this world, you can't grow wheat there. Grass is stubborn, it'll grow lots of places. Wheat is different. Humans can't digest grass. Cattle can digest grass. Humans can digest cattle. I'm sensing a plan here.

Who knows? Maybe one reason starvation rages in India is because it's a mostly vegetarian country. This planet probably can't sustain several billion vegetarians. Think I'll continue to consume sea kittens.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

My College Transcript

Got it in the mail last week, just opened it. Fairly interesting. And I say that honestly observing that me saying something is interesting is about as shocking as a three year old liking ice cream better than green beans. For Lord's sakes, I'd watch a three hour documentary on belly button lint! Actually I think I have, that Ken Burns does good work. So anything I say is interesting, take it with a grain of salt.
Wonder where that phrase came from? I'll have to research this "grain of salt" thing very soon.

That said, my transcript is revealing, illuminating, disconcerting. For instance, I only made a 2.0 in Abnormal Psych back in the 70's. I should've thought my family background alone would've helped me get a better grade there. I made the Dean's list in 1998. Of course, I bet I made a different Dean's list back in the 70's. Like maybe the list of freaks we got to get the HELL off this campus!

What's really odd though? I've long felt I don't actually belong in Engineering. I've been running on this internal narrative where I'm smart enough, dogged enough to play, but I don't really belong on the team. Actually I've long thought I'd be better suited sitting around the Harvard faculty lounge, having a heated debate over whether John Donne is the only English poet whose name actually rhymes. I can picture myself easily dispatching any rival who would posit otherwise.

Transcript says different. Chemistry, Physics, Electronics, I made 4.0 in all those classes. Even while working two jobs. American History, Literature, 3.0. Hey, even public speaking I made a 3.0! Daddy always said if the English language died of exhaustion, I'd be the one who killed it. Maybe I'm a techno-geek after all. I still think John Donne is a funny name.

Trick or Trick

Halloween isn't a holiday and I should stop calling it that. It's one part mish-mash of Celtic superstition, one part Mother Church tradition (which has been pretty superstitious at times too) and one part American orientation for our kiddos, wherein we teach them to pretend to be something they're not and expect stuff for free. So I won't call it a holiday when I can help it, I'll call it a happy day.

People like me (and I'm hardly unique) have some really precious memories associated with Halloween. When I was about seven, I was only supposed to go up and down my street. But I got hooked up with the Mexican kids up the block. Their Uncle loaded us in the back of his pickup, and we went ALL over the greater Los Angeles area! Got a LOT of candy! Got home around 11:30 and Mom wore out a flyswatter on my butt. So everybody had a good time. I think at least one of my root canals can be directly connected to that candy haul. Lots of fun memories like that I associate with Halloween. But not this year.

We laid off forty people yesterday. That's a third of the production workforce. Laid off four of my maintenance men too. Sure, of course, these people were the lowest performers, with a few noteable exceptions determined by very un-business decisions. But very few of them were certified losers. They were mostly folks doing the best they could, trying to earn a living.

The housing sector has excess inventory. Words are such wonderful things. You can take heart rending moments, apply the correct words, and ABRA-CADABRA! It's just an excess inventory problem is all. The whole thing becomes with proper words, about as bland as the directions on a TV dinner box, or even as bland as the contents thereof.

Trick or trick. Not an altogether happy Halloween for me, nor those forty employees. Considering it objectively, I'd rather have faced Momma in her prime, waiting up for me with a flyswatter.