Friday, June 29, 2007

Insane in the Membrane

If the definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over again but expecting different results, I nominate our recently-high-school-graduated part-time clerk for the cuckoo's nest.

He literally stood at the copier for 15 minutes late yesterday trying in vain to feed the same sheet of paper through the automatic feeder. Now, one would think if the feeder doesn't take the paper perhaps changing the paper direction might do the trick? Or maybe one could open the feeder sleeve to investigate whether there is some interference in there such as a staple or torn paper? Wait. I know. How about lifting the cover and just putting your troublesome document directly on the glass?


He stood there and fed the sheet the same way over and over again as I watched from the other room. And it jammed over and over again in that it wouldn't take the paper to be copied. The red light flashed and the machine produced a blank sheet. Said clerk promptly muttered "Jesus Christ", loudly crumpled the blank sheet, opened the cover to reset the red light and tried again.

And again.

And again.

And again.

When I could no longer stand it, I went over without saying a thing, opened the feeder sleeve, twiddled with the rollers, closed it and sent his document through.

He seemed appreciative.

I wonder if I could get him involuntarily committed for insanity. On the other hand, though, I wish I had his patience.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Stairway to Rip Off

I've heard a lot in the last few months on the radio about how much music Lep Zeppelin ripped off in their time. I'm by no means a Zep Head but I am a fan of their hits and cool riffs. I even like Stairway to Heaven which at some point became uncool to like.

As a consequence, I did some online googling and I must say I will never quite hear them the same from now on. All my references herein are probably hearsay and I'm sure there are rebuttals. Having said that, potential offenses include:

Babe I'm Gonna Leave You - A really nice song that's been covered over and over since Zep originally did it. "This song is a Folk standard. Led Zeppelin thought it was a traditional song, meaning no one could claim they wrote it, but later found out it was written by a Folk singer named Anne Briggs. She was a very influential singer, but stopped recording in 1971 at age 27, and has not recorded since. She was not credited for this until 1990, when her son brought it to the attention of the band" (reference).

Black Dog - I've heard the following many times but this guy put it pretty well. "Zep, like many other English bands of the period, ripped off old bluesmen shamelessly. Muddy Waters and Howling Wolf use the same riff, albeit slower, in several songs; Robert Johnson is the source of the lyrics for this song, although Plant makes a few cosmetic changes" (reference).

Whole Lotta Love - Despite the unabashed misogyny of the lyric, "Shake for me girl, I wanna be your back door man...." it once again appears that Led Zeppelin "borrowed" another song, that may have been borrowed already. "After Led Zeppelin's Whole Lotta Love came out in 1969, Brit-rock connoisseurs noted its striking resemblance musically and especially lyrically to an album track by mid sixties teen idols the Small Faces, You Need Loving. Then blues aficionados waded in, pointing out that far from being ripped off by Zep, the Small Faces were appropriating a Muddy Waters classic called You Need Love, written by blues composer supreme Willie Dixon. (Zeppelin may have proceeded straight from that source, too, although the vocal similarities between Whole Lotta Love and the Small Faces track are striking.)

In the end, Dixon received a settlement and a co-writer's credit from Zeppelin" (reference).

Stairway to Heaven - If you haven't heard the intro to Taurus by Spirit find it and check it out. I was blown away at how identical it sounded to the intro to Stairway which so many regard as a Page masterpiece and is consistently nominated greatest rock song of all time. Well, it is great, no doubt. Shame its not so original. To wit --

"The opening chord progression and verse in "Stairway to Heaven" are nearly identical to the 1968 instrumental "Taurus" by the group Spirit. In the liner notes to the reissue of Spirit's 1968 eponymous debut, songwriter Randy California mentions the fact that Jimmy Page took special interest in "Taurus". Prior to his death in 1997, Randy California was often asked about it in interviews, to which he typically responded that he did not consider the "Stairway" intro to be a rip-off, but simply a "reworking" of his song.

"Led Zeppelin was the opening act for Spirit's 1968 tour. While nobody in Led Zeppelin has ever cited influence from the track, the band was known to incorporate bits of Spirit song Fresh Garbage into their early concert medleys, and Jimmy Page has said that his use of a theremin was inspired by seeing Randy California use one" (reference).

I'm sure there are plenty of others and I'm sure many, many other bands can get held up to this type of scrutiny. However, it does seem that time and again I'm hearing how Zeppelin was "influenced" by such-and-such for this song or that. I've also heard over and over how often they've been sued and about ensuing album credits including songwriters who were not originally listed.

Interesting stuff. STILL a great band. But somewhat tainted in my view.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

X-Rays, Castles, Ferrys and Water Falls

I didn't mention that a week ago Friday I banged my knee really good playing softball. I dove for a ball in centerfield and landed on it but good! I even felt myself going into a bit of shock as it swelled nearly instantly.

It killed me for a few days but there didn't seem to be any stability issues so I figured it would subside after a time. My concern actually was that I cracked or chipped the patella but it wasn't terribly sensitive to the pain so I went on with it.

On Saturday, after review of its purple passion hue, my buddy told me he knew a guy who dislocated his kneecap and needed surgery after surgery. That caused me some concern. I hadn't really thought of that angle but thought that was a possibility.

Then, later that evening, I banged it ever so gently and thought I would throw up. I was very nauseous and in major agony.

I awoke Sunday morning determined to get it checked out even though I had plans for a nice family day. I went to the nearby walk-in center but they weren't going to be open for a few more hours and not wanting to waste the whole day, I went to the emergency room. I was VERY impressed with how streamlined and organized the whole process was at Manchester Memorial Hospital and kudos to their staff for getting me in, x-rayed, checked out and released in 1 hour exactly.

It turns out I irritated the Bursa Sack at the knee which caused the swelling and pain. Basically, time and ice and elevation (all of which I was doing) was the remedy so I left with peace of mind that it wasn't anything terribly serious despite the pain I was in.

After getting home and going out for a lunch in which the three of us absolutely gorged ourselves we took the 45 mile trip to Gillette Castle. I had visited as a kid but Mrs. Blogger and The Little One had never been. We did the interior tour which was pretty cool. It was owned and built by actor, playwright, director William Gillette for about 1 million dollars back around 1914 or so. Gillette is most famous for playing Sherlock Holmes in numerous plays. Amazingly, he was earning about $315,000 tax-free dollars at the time. Anyway, its a fascinating place with terrific views of the beautiful Connecticut River.

My picture of the castle

The view from the Castle

Next we boarded the nearby ferry to cross the river. There are two ferries across the Connecticut river and this one has been in service for over two hundred years. I was surprised it was only $3 too!

Didn't have to wait long at all

View looking up at the Castle from the Ferry

Then we were off to Kent Falls. Not a short drive at all, but its the highest waterfall in Connecticut and, again, I had gone as a kid, but Mrs. B. and the Little One had never been. We got there around 7pm and enjoyed hiking around (sorta enjoyed as I'm on a gimpy knee) until dusk. The Little One even got to play in the water for a bit.

Another cell phone snapped pic

Just an all around terrific day spent with the family, and except for gas, it was really inexpensive.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Dinosaurs vs. God

Do you think that anti-evolution devotees forbid their small children from wearing dinosaur shirts, watching Land Before Time or playing with dinosaur figurines?

Friday, June 22, 2007

Rapper's Delight

Yesterday evening while running some pool errands (skimmer, floaties, thermeter - I don't think it will ever end), I was listening to Super Shuffle on Sirius satellite radio. Its a cool station in that you can hear everything from 80's Ozzy to today's Hinder to Country to Rapper's Delight by the Sugar Hill Gang. If you're unfamiliar with that song, its the one the the old lady sings at her anniversary during The Wedding Singer (she nailed it). To wit --

i said a hip hop the hippie the hippie
to the hip hip hop, a you dont stop
the rock it to the bang bang boogie say up jumped the boogie
to the rhythm of the boogie, the beat.....

Anyway, while I'm sure there were many predecessors, I remember it being the first rap song that I ever really heard.

The scene was 10th grade Algebra II, 1982, and my teacher was an absolute music nut. We used to see her (probably then 40) at all the concerts we went to, such as Ozzy, Krokus, Aerosmith, Billy Squier, etc. etc. She had also seen the Beatles and Stones live which we thought was the coolest thing.

In this class, there was a very tall, gangly kid who was white, if it matters. For the most part he was pretty quiet and bored with the class but when he spoke up it was usually something hysterical that was said. He sat in the back and one day was quietly singing Rapper's Delight to his buddy as class was filing in before it actually began.

The teacher heard him and was intrigued. I remember the quick staccato style and beat box delivery and thinking how strange, yet cool, it sounded. Apparently, she did too. So she asked him, knowing he was a ham, to come up front and belt it out. He did without hesitation and it was pretty cool. He was VERY good.

Anyway, upon hearing the song yesterday in its entirety, its seems to me rap hasn't changed all that much. Its sampled over Chic's Good Times which I knew was an existing song, but googling it taught me the name of it and the band. It also featured, which is still prevalent in today's rap, tons of talk in the first person (amazing how many songs are in the second person - is that pretty much the only genre in the second person?), word spelling, copious beat and lots of self glorification (check it out here). I can't remember if there was scratching, though.

It was interesting to hear it again and I truly like the song as well as many other rap songs, albeit the pop-friendly ones. There's something about creatively sampling songs, or even covering them, that I find really cool. While I can't get too into the gangster stuff or degrading of women songs I certainly don't mind a listen when a good one comes on.

Give it a listen if you haven't heard it in a long time. I think you, too, may see how much it has influenced today's rap/pop music.

This concludes today's history lesson. Class dismissed.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Rose By Any Other Name

My recent travels around the state for business took me by a pet cemetery which reminded me of a story ---

When I did time as a teenager working fast food I met a woman named Rose. Rose was a short, plump elderly lady who may have been as old as 70 and worked "specialty boards" which entailed their "non-hamburger" sandwiches. A widow, she drove a big, clunky, old, dirty yellow station wagon full of knick knacks and newspapers. She claimed the newspapers were due to the fact that she was studying the Jai Alai trends. I was sort of into Jai Alai at the time so we talked frequently about it, but she never actually went. Never.

It was unclear to me whether she worked out of necessity or boredom but I imagine it was a bit of both. Through her perpetually fingerprinted glasses she would tell tales of how great a man her late husband was and about her two dogs; one living, one recently deceased.

A cool thing about Rose was that every day she brought me cupcakes or Charleston Chews or Chocodiles or Snowballs or other crap foods that kids love.. It occurred to me at the time that she probably couldn't afford it but it made her happy and I got some free junk food for being nice to her. She always sought me out at the beginning of each shift with a cheerful "hello" and gave me my treat. As a consequence, I became protective of her when other employees would tease her or disparage her on the side. Although, everyone liked her.

This was a time, the early '80's, when most fast food staff were regular kids working to make a buck, so an elderly woman working there really stood out. I'm not sure it would be so today. It seems now, at least up here, its more older people and parents, many of whom from outside our country, trying to get by by making a living at it. I was merely trying to earn a few bucks for the movies, beer, gas and sometimes save money for college. I can't imagine trying to get by on fast food wages today.

One day, Rose asked me for a favor. Well, actually, she offered to pay me $10 to drive her out to her late dog's grave. The kennel/cemetery was about 15 miles out on back roads and I think Rose either was uncomfortable driving there or didn't trust her car or was bad with directions or just wanted company.

I thought about declining the request or at the very least, the payment, but I didn't. I agreed to take her for what amounted to more than three hours pay.

The trip entailed more conversation about her late husband, who was deceased for years and years and talk of her late dog, Blackie. Much of which I had already heard before. Today it is so painfully obvious how terribly lonely this poor woman must have been. I'm not sure I saw it so clearly at seventeen though.

The grave was beautiful. Set in a town of affluence, it no doubt is an indulgence for the better off as they bury and visit their lost pets. The area was and is complete with professional landscaping and smallish black marble headstones. I can only imagine it must have cost way beyond Rose's means but then this dog was obviously something special.

Rose cried. Standing at the tasteful grave, still in her Burger King uniform, she explained to me with a choked voice. how great a dog Blackie yet again and how much I would have liked him.

I stood there. Uncomfortable. Waiting for it to be over.

I remember the drive back we listened to some Elton John on the tape player. Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word merely elicited more tears from Rose yet she remarked what a beautiful song it was. When we got back to the restaurant she tried to pay me $15, but I would only take $10. I guess she wanted to tip me but a deal is a deal I said. I might even have had a tinge of guilt for accepting the money but I took it.

The next day I relayed the story to my best friend at work. Of course, he knew Rose. I told him about Rose crying at the grave.

His response? "Did you embrace?" Funny guy.

I DID think of hugging her or putting a hand on her shoulder while she knelt and tidied up at the grave . But I didn't. I wonder what I'd do if it were today.

Rose stayed and worked at the restaurant for many years after I left. I'd see her from time to time as a customer and chat for a minute or two. Then it all faded away. Of course, I'm sure she's long gone now. I don't remember her talking much about family or children or anything along those lines. I really hope she didn't pass away as lonely as she appeared.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Weekend Project

On Friday, Mrs. Blogger purchased a 13 foot inflatable pool, complete with pump. So, this past weekend, I set it up behind the garage of my house. I've never been able to grow any grass there anyway and I had some extra fencing, so I fenced in the neighbor's side, set it up on some stonedust and filled in the area that shows with decorative stone.

What do you think?

Little One's been in a bunch, but its still way too cold for me. I'm wimpy when it comes to cold water.

Friday, June 15, 2007

TPC Sights

A few snaps of the course's signature holes, 16 and 17. None of those guys are me.

Had a wonderful day at the TPC River Highlands yesterday. Shot 89 which is very respectable on such a difficult course. Throw in the fact it was cool and quite breezy and the course was getting all tricked up for the Traveler's professional golf tournament and I'm quite pleased with the results.

Props to the company that treated us. I think a round of golf at the TPC, assuming you know a member, runs around $175. On top of that they bought us lunch, snacks on the course a dozen top line golf balls (about $48/doz) plus drinks afterwards.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Blaze of Golfer

(To the tune of Bon Jovi's Blaze of Glory)

I wake up in the morning
And I raise my buzzing head
I got a cat nap for a night's rest
But that bar was far from dead

I don't know why I'm going
Where are my spikey shoes
I'm a golfer on the run
A birdie lover

But I'd much rather snooze

When you walk up on the tee
They say you're bound to win
Well at least I'm bound for something
But did I have to hit it thin

Well I tell you that ball's wanted
Yeah wanted really bad
I'm way off the course
I can't play any worse
Mister find it if you can

I'm going down as a blazing golfer
Take me left or take me right
I'm going down as a blazing golfer
Shit I never shanked first
But I drew it O.B.
I'm just no good
Call me The Hack

You ask about my putting
And I ask from you some tips
You ask If I'll ever get better
Well I ask if you'll grow old
You ask me why I'm hostile
But I'm really tired of this shit
I've seen this game go well
And I've seen it shot down
I've seen it played in vain

Shot down as a blazing golfer
Take me now I'm seven over
'Cause I'm going down as a blazing golfer
Should I even try to play
The back side today
I'm sucking wind
Call me the Hack

Each day I hit the range
I pray the Lord my game to keep
No I ain't looking for salvation
But before I'm six foot deep
Lord, I got to ask a favor
And I'll hope you like my face
'Cause I've practiced to the fullest
Let the boy make his first ace

Staring down the fairway
Let me make my final swing

Shot down as a blazing golfer
Take me now cause I hit that drive
I'm going out as a blazing golfer
Lord I smacked the next one
It flew that bunker
As we watched it go
Into that hole

(breakdown and fade)

I'm off to the TPC River Highlands now and its cool and breezy out. I'll have fun whether I suck or not, but throw me some luck if you can.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Tiger Cage

What?!?!?! Now she's back in jail? Ri-goddamn-diculous!

Friday, June 8, 2007

Tour Ready?

Note to the public:

Please be advised I will not be blogging on Thursday, June 14, 2007 because I will be playing golf at the TPC River Highlands (I don't know who this guy is but his pictures came up on a google search.) The TPC is the golf course that formerly hosted the Greater Hartford Open and this month will host what is now known as the Traveler's Championship.

There is something way cool about playing a golf course that you see on television every year and have even played in a video game. Plus, the course will be hard as hell the week before the big tourney with fast greens and ridiculously deep rough.

I've played it twice before, but since I can't afford a $13,000 a year membership I have to rely on others to get me on.

I'll be sure to take my own pictures.

Wish me luck.

Also, Happy Birthday Mrs. Blogger! Love You!

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Free Paris Hilton

Your voice has been heard America --

This blatant and unjust persecution of dumb, rich blonds is finally coming to a head. We will no longer bear witness as our citizens who are famous for being born to rich people are held accountable for their actions. The civil unrest and near rioting that must have occurred in Beverly Hills was probably only rivaled by the L.A. riots of the '90s or the civil rights marches of the '60s.

Imagine the view of hundreds of 500-Series Mercedes and 7-series BMW's in unison as they delivered their soaped window messages of unjust and inequality. Protesters no doubt clogged Rodeo Drive and their diamond-encrusted fist pumping left an indelible mark that our government, as it has in the past, was WRONG!

As a nation, we simply cannot condone the inhumane atrocities of expecting spoiled rich kids to abide by the laws of decent society, to not drink and drive and to not create shitty pop songs. Furthermore, we can't continue to turn a blind eye as our imprisoned socialites eat sandwiches for lunch and pasta sauce for dinner. And 45 days?!?!? Talk about punishment not equaling the crime! I heard that the prison officials even demand that she wear panties with a skirt!! Egad!

Its my further understanding that upon entering her cell, she was even relieved of her cell phone! What are we, one step from stoning and caning? This is America! Not China or Thailand. In America we stand up for all that is right. We have a voice and it is free and allowed to be heard even when it differs from that of our government wishes.

Our voice was heard today, America. Loud and clear. Paris Hilton is free! Three days into a 45 day sentence, we came to our senses and realized the bad precedent we are setting for our youth.

Paris Hilton is free! God Bless America!

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

So then, what the hell time IS it???

Minijonb had an amusing post where he showed pictures of "clocks of the world". Only they weren't all at the same time relative to each other. Funny that nobody at the place of business noticed. It would drive me nuts to work there.

Anyway, it reminded me of another pet peeve of mine: people setting their clocks ahead. No, not the daylight savings thing, but purposefully setting a clock ahead 20 minutes so that they are not late for work or whatever.

I understand this might work for one or two days. You could forget and cruise through your morning routine and then remember and bask in the extra time you created. Doing what? I don't know; but you could enjoy a nice bask. Or arrive at work early and look like the earnest employee you pretend to be. THAT day you'd be sure to poke your head into the boss's office with a hearty "good morning" though, right?

It would seem, though, soon thereafter you would just start doing "clock math" and say to yourself, "Let's see. It's six-twenty? Ummmm....hmmmm...*yawn*, that's minus 20, carry the one, then if I don't iron and skip breakfast.....hell, I have another 45 minutes." Next thing you know, your boss is staring at your late-ass in your wrinkled clothes and grumbling stomach wondering how quickly he can train someone for your job.

It doesn't make ANY sense to me.

My wife did it for a while. Had the bedroom alarm clock set 20 minutes ahead. But since she is the absolute queen of the snooze button to the point where all her mornings become frenzied stress buckets, I would have to say it didn't work. Plus, she friggin' KNEW it was fast. Not like it was a surprise. Again, clock math. Its not that hard. Perhaps if I set it ahead and didn't tell her, she'd reach her desired results.

Of course, I'm the type who can estimate how long things will take and, barring something truly unforeseen (like a crash or her running late), arrive at my destination exactly on time. I hate being early to nearly anything, but I really don't like being late.

Recently, I noticed my sister-in-law had her CAR set 20 minutes fast. I would think by the time you are already en route to your destination you know whether you are late or not. What's the point by then? To fuck with your passengers? Sure fucked with me.

Or, if traffic is the issue, how the hell would a fast clock help you? What? You noticed how late it was and made 42 illegal maneuvers to make up for it? As the cop handed you the ticket and you noticed the infraction time and "I coulda had a V-8" slapped your forehead, chuckled and said, " clock was FAST the whole time!!!!" But now you're even more late anyway, because he sat in his car for 45 minutes running "warrants" and giggling at how much of your time he's killing? Phew, that fast clock really paid off.

I don't know. Like I said, I don't get it.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Miss Piggy

I just ran across a last name at work that reminded me of someone from high school. She was a shy, quiet girl who was not all-together unpopular, but definitely not one of the more popular ones. A studious sort who everyone probably knew by name, but for nothing else. A plain Jane if you will.

Well, she got popular, but not for the right reasons.

You see, she had a nickname of "Miss Piggy". I have to admit there was a resemblance and I'm sure that amongst my friends I was a jerk enough to refer to her by that rather than her real name. I would NEVER say it in front of her and to my knowledge nobody else did or whether she knew people called her that.

Thinking back, though, she had to know, didn't she? Somewhere, somehow she must have either overheard it, or a friend told her or whatever. It seems more obvious as time passes how cruel kids were to each other. I certainly could be as well.

But that alone is not enough to sustain this post.

After our Junior year, my school's version of Jake Ryan from Sixteen Candles had a bash. It was a huge ordeal except that we all respected him too much to put pizza on the turntable, T.P. his house or put laundry detergent in the air ducts. He was in every way the epitome of Jake in that he was rich (dad was a doctor), good looking, popular (football team captain - class president) and had the best car by far ('67 Mustang Fastback all souped up). I think I had a man-crush on him even or at the least, killer amounts of envy. Plus, he wasn't pretentious and was a genuinely nice guy to everyone.

Anyway, it seemed every kid in school was at this party, including Miss Piggy. Of course, there was heavy binge-type drinking along with quarters (universal drinking game?). Stories differ about how we got to the next part. I won't go into the conjecture, since it doesn't matter, but let's just say that our heroine ended up standing on the sofa yelling, "Miss Piggy? You think I'm Missy Piggy? I'll show you Miss Piggy." With that, she lifted her shirt to show an extremely transparent bra and all that was underneath it. Woah! I think the Billy Idol record screeched to a halt.

Now, most high school juniors would kill to see anything close to that. Many laughed but most I think merely cringed. Myself included. All I could think of was how this poor thing ruined the rest of her high school years. I have no idea what her point was, or how she "showed us" but I'm sure she was drunk. Maybe she was on other stuff too. Shame what an apparent spur of the moment thing can do to someone.

Quickly, a friend grabbed her, pulled her shirt down and escorted her from the party. I'm not sure if I saw her again that year or if we had more class or not. She returned for her senior year which I'm sure couldn't get over fast enough.

I'd love to say there was John Hughes movie-type redemption of "plain girl gets popular guy" or that she got a supportive slow clap type scene or made Senior Prom Queen. But it didn't happen that way. Does it ever in real life? Instead, she probably heard whispers and felt strange whenever she walked by a group. I remember individuals going out of their way to say a friendly "hello" but no doubt the level of discomfort was inescapable.

I'm not sure how the rest of us could have handled it differently. To my knowledge nobody ever really confronted her, or teased her about it and I was pretty much in the social pipeline at school. Perhaps at the time, though, we were all caught up in our own insecurities and not mature enough to see past our own level of "popularity" to make things easier for her. Assuming we could have.

That poor, poor girl. I sincerely hope everything has turned out all right for her and that she's gone on to success and kids and is able to put that all behind her. I wonder though.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Full Time Employment

My wife works a hectic job. Its full of stress and long hours not to mention evening budget meetings, union stuff and assorted other reasons she needs to "be there". That's why its always good when she can get away with me, even if its only for a trip to Fenway.

To that end, though, I am frequently left on my own at times with the Little One. Its perfectly ok and we will do cool things together like go to a playscape, the movies or out to eat among other things. For instance, tonight I took her to the driving range and to Wendy's when Mrs. Blogger's assistance was needed at work after hours.

I wonder, though, if when people see me out with her, like tonight at Wendy's, on a Friday night that they think I'm a divorced dad. You know? Gee, that's nice. He has his daughter for the weekend. Or whatever. Don't get me wrong. I LOVE spending alone time with her. Even when she's a pain in the ass. It's our Daddy/daughter time and its special to me. We both wish Mrs. B could be there more often, but her important job calls all-too-frequently.

I still wonder though. Does it appear that a guy out with his 4 and a half year old on a weekend night "has her for the weekend?" I get a weird vibe at times. Doesn't really matter to me, but.......anyway, I'm so very glad that's not the case. Anything less than full-time dad would be devastating.