Saturday, September 21, 2019

Resolution To Resolve

"We’ve got to get beyond this ‘impeachment is the answer to every problem.’ It’s not realistic. If that’s how we are identified in Congress, as the impeachment Congress, we run the risk that people will feel we’re ignoring the issues that mean a lot to them as families." This is how Sen. Dick Durbin, a Democrat from Illionois, the Number Two Senate Democrat responded to Rep. Ayanna Pressley, also a Democrat from Massachusetts who introduced an impeachment resolution against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
Well, Dick, impeachment isn't the answer to every problem, but I suspect that if there was a sitting Supreme Court Justice who was guilty of sexual abuse that impeachment would be a better answer than wringing our collective hands and doing nothing. All the sound and fury surrounding the most recent allegations of misconduct by Justice Kavanaugh should be enough to warrant some action. I confess that I threw up in my mouth a little when I typed the word "Justice" in front of Kavanaugh.  By contrast, I wonder if Mister Durbin would prefer to be identified as the hand-wringing Congress. The future of our country, constitutionally, is in the hands of those with a  dangerously narrow point of view. Reproductive rights, district gerrymandering, and dozens of other issues will pass before this group in their term, and as we all pray for the continued health of Justice Ginsburg, I note that there was no gag reflex as I typed her name after her title. 
Meanwhile, there are those who suggest that we aim a little higher with our impeachment resolutions. The House Judiciary Committee recently approved an "impeachment-themed" resolution, aimed at the White House, but with no particular urgency or momentum. The Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, had this to say about that resolution: “There’s nothing different from one day to the next. We’re still on our same path.”

The path of wringing hands. 

Friday, September 20, 2019

There Is A Season

Prior to his career as a prophet, Jesus was an itinerant meringue instructor.
This is the only way I can rationalize the current fervor behind two former White House employees and their attention to Dancing With The Stars. But before we get to that, I would like to discuss the American Broadcasting Company's rather broad definition of the word "star." Usually an object found in the heavens, or a celebrity of such a magnitude that they could be related to such an object in terms of brightness and the capacity to shine among others. Previous seasons have included such luminaries as Tatum O'Neal, George Hamilton, and Evander Holyfield. If some of those names don't show up on your Q ratings list, don't feel bad for not being familiar with Trista Sutter, Willa Ford and Albert Reed. The limits of "star" have been pressed, in part, to get enough contestants to participate in the competition that pairs "stars" with professional dancers in hopes of creating a spectacle worthy of the title.
Which is how the producers landed on Sean Spicer. The former White House Press Secretary who may have been best known prior to this outing as the guy who stood behind the hedges to avoid speaking to the press is now considered to be of a high enough caliber to bring in viewers. Or fans of shrubbery. Or former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, who tweeted this: "Wanna create an emotional meltdown in Hollyweird? Vote for @seanspicer to win "Dancing with the Stars" tonight and every night he's on. @seanspicer is a good guy and a brave sport to go on DWTS. Let's show him some love! " You may notice there is no ringing endorsement there for Sean's dancing skills, or even his effort. He is "a good guy and a brave sport."
How did Sean respond to this glowing tribute? How about, "Thank you @GovMikeHuckabee Clearly the judges aren’t going to be with me. Let’s send a message to #Hollywood that those of us who stand for #Christ won’t be discounted. May God bless you." Because we're all pretty sure that God is on the side of those who can tango. Not unlike our young friend Ren, who found verses in the Bible to embolden his need to dance.
Already the waves of power are being felt as rumors of super model Christie Brinkley breaking her own arm rather than appearing on the show. Hollyweird indeed. Christie's daughter, Sailor, will be appearing in her stead. One only hopes that this young waif (star?) can escape His Wrath.
You'll have to tell me about it. I'll be watching paint dry.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Just What I Needed

I bought the Cars' first album. It was one of the very few records that I played so very much that I had to buy a new one to replace it. In 1978, that was the sound of modern music. That was New Wave. That was rock and roll. With synthesizers. And guitars. And that voice.
The voice of Ric Ocasek.
Mister Ocasek was found dead in his Manhattan apartment this past Sunday. He was seventy-five. He was also one of the best pop songwriters of his generation. The reason I wore that first record out was because every one of the nine tracks was a hit. Eliot Easton, keyboardist for the band, used to refer to it as their "Greatest Hits Album." Their debut album.
Listening to those songs in 1978, I had no idea that I would ever relate to any of them. They all seemed so cool and detached. It was just two years later that I found myself playing a lead role in the real-life video for "My Best Friend's Girl." I was the best friend. The girl, in this scenario, became mine and I was the guy who took her away. I am pretty sure that time and the statute of  limitations would forgive me, but at the time it felt as if I were involved in something terribly grown up..."but she used to be mine."
This may still be true, but the fact that I ended up marrying another of that best friend's girlfriends may not speak too highly of me as anything but a model for pop song torment. Happy marriages have made the best of what may have been a more convoluted scenario. I feel the need to point that out because I never would have imagined myself playing the part of "the other man." And yet, here we are, forty years after the fact and everything seems to have worked out fine.
Which is the difference between life and a three minute pop song, I suppose. Ric Ocasek had plenty of life along with his cache of modern music. He even found himself a model girlfriend and a part in a John Waters movie. And along with his band, he created the sound of the 1980s. He stomped on the vinyl and the Terra, and he will be missed.
Aloha, Ric. You kept it goin' til the sun fell down.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

I Wasn't Listening

Last weekend, my wife and I were in the car and said, "Have you heard?"
I waited, then it became apparent with her faint gesture that I should be paying attention to what was coming out of the radio. It was sports-talk. Odd, since that's one of the formats my wife tends to eschew almost completely, but perhaps she was hoping to catch me up on some late-breaking sports news to which only she had been privy up until that moment. She was patient with my confusion, then she finally broke the news. It wasn't about sports, exactly. "It's KFOG."
The FM dial was on the frequency for World Class Rock, but the sounds were scratchy voices calling in to complain about the starting lineup. Where were the album-oriented sounds I had become accustomed to over the past twenty-six years?
KFOG was one of the balms to ease my longing for my home in Boulder. It was a radio station that sounded like home to me. On this blog you may have read about my love affair with this institution. Because that's what it was. For thirty-six years, it was the free-form source for music that sounded like someone was putting it together on the fly.
That's a compliment.
The disc jockeys, because they were still moving around vinyl and compact discs back in those days, were picking music and responding to what listeners wanted to hear. The inklings of what became a mass marketed phenomenon, "World Class Rock," had its roots in Boulder at KBCO and found its way much in the same way I did to the Bay Area. It sounded like someone was playing music for me. And my friends. It was the sound of my mornings. It was the sound of my weekends.
I resented any and all attempts to mess with the format of my friends playing music for me. I loved that I made a mild habit out of calling in to win tickets to concerts. And this wasn't the "lucky tenth caller" stuff either. This was the "can you answer this question about" deal.
And now all that music and fun is gone. Replaced by sports-talk radio. Because it's business. I know that every one of those attempts to bring in personalities and sounds that didn't exactly fit the mold was a business decision. Putting on a radio show isn't free. Advertising pays for those folks to sit and spin discs. When I drifted away from my morning ritual after some high-level tinkering with the morning show, I fell out of touch with KFOG. It was still a button on our car radio, where I could find some soothing tunes to make those trips across town a little less like trips across town and more like sitting in my living room.
Listening to CDs. Or Spotify. Or some other radio station that sounds like where I live.
My home doesn't sound like sports-talk. Most of the time.
Aloha, KFOG. Thanks for all that beautiful noise.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Chapter And Versus

We've talked about Stephen King here before.
Okay, we haven't talked so much as I've talked and you've listened. And it wasn't so much talking and  listening as it was writing and reading. Which is okay because that pretty much takes me to the place where I wanted to be in the first place: Writing and  reading.
And how nobody has asked to make a movie about  any of my blogs.
Not once.
Mister King, Master of the Macabre and King of the Movie Adaptations, is starting to lap himself. Recently it was announced that CBS's streaming service was going to produce a mini-series based on the Terror Meister's massive tome, The Stand. Interestingly, the Columbia Broadcasting System is referring to their production as "an original series." Interesting because the American Broadcasting Company had their own version twenty-five years ago. It was one of those TV events that existed before there was television in the clouds. Back in those days, if you wanted television, it came to you through a cable, as God intended it.
This announcement about a do-over on turning Stephen King's longest novel into a TV event, again, came about the same time that the second part of the film adaptation of another very long book by the same author was opening in theaters. It itself had been a TV miniseries nearly thirty years ago. With Tim Curry as the Evil Clown. How could you improve on that? Maybe by not asking a bunch of TV actors to play the grown-up versions of the kids terrorized by the previously mentioned Evil Clown. Always room for improvement.
Or another adaptation of one of the most celebrated if not published authors in American history. Since 1976, when Brian De Palma made the first in what would become a steady stream of Stephen King movies with Carrie, directors and stars have rushed to the master's work for source material. Averaging more than one a year since then, many of the stories have been made into more than one movie, and even some of the lesser works like short stories and comic books have become major motion pictures. Sequels have been generated that were never imagined by the author, thanks to some clever screenwriting and even more clever financing.
Previews for the film adaptation of a sequel that Stephen King did write to a book of his that has already been a TV event and a Stanley Kubrick movie have begun to show up before the box office receipts for the second chapter of the Evil Clown epic have cooled off. And the hits just keep coming.
Mind you, I'm not jealous. Perish the thought. But maybe someday someone will get the clever idea to scoop up my collected blogs referencing the King of Horror and turn them into a big time movie show. For the right  price, of course.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Money For Nothing

Eddie Money died.
Who?
I can hear you. Don't deny it. A lot of you are wondering who this fellow is. Was. A child of the seventies and eighties would tell  you that he was a pop star, a singer. He had a few hits, and if you are an habitual watcher of reality TV, the star of Real Money on AXSTV. He had announced on an episode of his show in late August that he was suffering from esophageal cancer. Another episode featured the news of a "minor heart valve" procedure. Eddie, at seventy, was kind of a mess.
Not to speak ill of the departed, necessarily, but I have maintained a beef with Mister Money for the past forty years, and I think it might be time to simply let bygones be bygones.
Except that somewhere in the dim recesses of my mind, it still burns. In the summer of 1978, Eddie Money scored his biggest hit, "Two Tickets To Paradise." In the fall of that year, high schools around the country chose this song as the theme for their Homecoming Dance. I attended one of those high schools. I was a junior at that time. So was the girl I asked to go to the dance with me. She was a cheerleader. I was in the marching band. What was I thinking? She said "Yes," probably because the year before we had both been in the marching band and at the time I felt that she found me amusing. At least that's what I took from the way she signed my sophomore yearbook.
I bought the tickets. I bought a corsage. A wrist corsage, as my older brother advised that this would keep me from having an awkward moment of pinning something anywhere near her chest. I bought dinner. I drove. We danced. A little. I took her home. On the doorstep, under the porch light, I made what could only be described as "my move." I leaned in, and she stopped me short: "I don't kiss on the first date." Which somehow made sense in the way the whole evening had spread out in front of me. I went home, dejected, but determined that there would be a second date, because that seemed like the way things worked.
There never was a second date. Other dances came and went. Other opportunities for socializing, but the chasm the divided our social strata was ever-widening. There was no going back.
And so, every now and then, the radio will play "Two Tickets To Paradise." I turn it off. Sorry, Eddie. I will miss a number of your other recordings and the story of your life. You stomped on the Terra, and you will be missed. But I won't miss that song.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

The Truth Is Out There

Did you have plans to Storm Area 51? If you were, along with one and a half million of your closest friends and conspiracy theorists, headed out to the desert on September 20 to rush the gates at the "secret" military installation of legend, please check your tickets.
The event, as originally planned, has been cancelled. Yes, the mob scene that was subtitled, "They can't stop us all" has been stopped. By the organizers. I use this term loosely because it suggests that there is a head lemming in charge of the rush off the cliff. A captain of anarchy, if you will. In this particular vision of chaos, that might be Matty Roberts. Mister Roberts came up with the idea of storming Area 51 lives in Bakersfield and came upon his plan at two in the morning sometime ten months ago "because he was bored." That spark was enough to incite millions to click on the Facebook page for the event. The details were stated thus: "We will all meet up in Rural Nevada and coordinate our parties. If we naruto run, we can move faster than their bullets. Lets see them aliens."
Can you believe that such a well-oiled machine such as this fell apart before it ever came to pass?
Instead of landing in Rachel, Nevada (population 54), the soiree will now be held in the Downtown Las Vegas Events Center. It will be sponsored by Bud Light. They have graciously offered free beer to any aliens who make it out of Area 51.
I don't know about you, but I smell a rat.
The appearance of "an official beer sponsor" should be enough to put anyone's sensors on high alert. Rachel is two hours away from downtown Las Vegas. If anyone got it into their head to rush the gates of what has historically been one of America's most closely guarded military installations, they would be a hundred fifty miles away and too drunk on all that light beer to get there. Not that the visits Matty Roberts received from the FBI and the Air Force had any impact on the eventual dissolution of the original event. It turned into a concert or a rave or something, but then there was trouble with the permits and they had to move the event. And the date.
All of which leads me to believe that if you really wanted to "see them aliens," you should show up on September 20 with clear heads and open eyes. And blame Matty Roberts if you get arrested.