« January 2005 | Main | March 2005 »

February 28, 2005

After the grunge

February was a tough month to get excited about for me, up until today.

I was virtually on my deathbed from the Dreaded Grunge, at the start of it. Hack, sniffle, wheeze, and the requisite buckets of phlegm, just to breathe at all. In comparison, my unblushing bride went through a similar but shorter ordeal, and (with a personal constitution I suspect is almost otherworldly) managed to not only get vertical but resume her keepin’ on keepin’ on. I in turn held on to my misery, turning it into Fate of the Nation stuff. They tell me all guys do that. Maybe so, maybe so.

Meanwhile, there was no justice in this life. The 19-year-old Plaguebearer didn’t so much as get the sniffles. Of course I wanted to murder him.

Winter came, winter went. Then it sneaked back in and slapped us around again, simply because it could. We saw three snowfalls, which I believe is a record for one month in our area, and a fourth is coming down outside now, as I write this. The small-engine-repair shop did manage to get our snowblower fixed and back to us just in time. She Who Must be Obeyed figured (accurately) she would just barely get it down to the basement storage area, and have to lug it back up again. I think I’ll turn that over to her son. Take that, you non-sniffler, you.

Amidst all this, a few other things. A night talking to and hearing Odessa Harris and the others. A relatively rare pair of drinks, which probably helped snap the back of the Grunge (or at least I’ll say it did, because I stopped the major hacking about that same time).

Then there was another trip down to Toledo, about 9 days ago or so. I was cured, I tell you. Cabin fever hit with a vengeance, and besides all that I was feeling fiendishly clever again, which always gets me in trouble and always costs me money. I was right on all counts.

“Let’s go down to Toledo,” quoth I to mine bride. “I want to buy you an early birthday gift, and I need your help in picking it out.”

Zang. She perked right up and started to get curious, and so I finished getting my Port Royal kit together and out the door we went. A meal and about an hour of travel-time later, we wandered into a Best Buy on Monroe Street, where we spent roughly an hour and a few hundred bucks, and then after that we headed over to the tobacconist’s, because by then I was severely Jonesing for want of anyone to talk politics and other stuff at. I am blessed that Port Royal also has good coffee, and doesn’t fling me out in the street to drink it.

The “kit” I mentioned was actually the final CD-R that I’d burned a few weeks ago, as part of a give-away to several of the A-Team who shine there. Political images, photographs, and a few cigar-related images which got on there because of where I gave them out. I had one such disk left, and I’d made up my mind I owed it to a guy, over a misunderstanding we’d had on the day Hanoi John Kerry stood up and conceded the election. (Yeah, I know. I am dreadfully slow at seeing my very few flaws for what they are.)

The political season had done that to me. Lawyers running around doing this, trying that. All the election-year craziness, the truths half-told, the lies half-heard. And the Morning Justice Prevailed, I’d gotten hinky in almost a Hunter S. Thompson kind of way, over a guy in the crowd who simply was not the poli junkie I fancied myself to be. He kept talking — while Kerry was conceding. I was, to summarize, about to Get Stern™.

So that one had festered a while, and I finally had decided enough of this crap, it was probably my fault, so give him the damn CD and let him use it for a coaster like I am sure all the others have done, since I inflicted it on them.

We’d been down there the night of the Odessa Harris Group's performance, and he’d been in there with a friend. And (churlish me) I wanted to apologize to him right then but hadn’t, because he got to talking about a new secretary who managed to infect two of his computers with spyware and a bunch of other stuff. Aha. Halfwit that I am, I delude myself into thinking I know this subject. I got sidetracked, telling him what little I know. And then it was time to go hear Odessa, and so I still owed him the apology.

Not so the night we went down to Best Buy. I stumbled in the door there and within minutes a goodly number of the regulars started trickling in as well. SWMBO finally had enough of staring out the window at a chocolate shop across the causeway, so she took off and I started pestering people. (I do that one fairly well.)

Finally, I showed the disk to Neil, the owner of Port Royal. And just as he got it locked into his laptop, in walked the intended owner of that disk, in as sweet a bit of farcical timing as anything I’ve seen in ages. Neil finally got the disk out, and I gave it to its new owner. And by then SWMBO got back with a bottle of cherry wine, a bookmark, a t-shirt from a shop somewhere in that row, and chocolate. She was pleased: something to wear, something to munch (and sip) on while she read, and something to mark her place when she put down the book.

We wound up eating at The Seafood, in Sylvania, a superb specialty restaurant we’ve enjoyed for about five years. I got my creamed herring and tried their perch, she got her shrimp appetizer and then scallops. And then we wandered back home.

Today was the nine days later, and two guys from Best Buy showed up, and soon uncrated the dishwasher my lady has talked about getting for the last seven years or so. Today, I felt pretty damn good with myself for hijacking her to go with me. I don’t tell her enough how much she means to me.

Especially now that neither one of us has to do dishes, as if I ever did myself.

Posted by Weaselteeth at 11:04 PM

February 25, 2005

Gadgets, guards, and more

Mobile PC Magazine has this countdown list of the top 100 gadgets of all time. Some of these are:

89. RUBIK'S CUBE, 1974
79. TASER X26, 2003
64. U.S. ARMY P-38 CAN OPENER, 1942
60. ABACUS, 190 A.D.
59. SEXTANT, 1731
50. ETCH-A-SKETCH, 1960
44. FUZZBUSTER, 1968
23. TELEPHONE, 1876
14. SONY CDP-101 CD PLAYER, 1983

The rest of it is also good, if you can get past their overt bias toward Apple computer stuff. (Hat tip: American Digest. Link under the subhead Nota Bene.)

Hindsight says that Jeff over at Beautiful Atrocities was being remarkably restrained in this photographic look at the female guards protecting Libyan strongman Gaddafi. Funny comments attend this item.
Over at Country Store, the Cracker Barrel Philosopher asks a pretty good question: now that he's been brought in to save the Dems from us heathen conservative masses — where's Howard Dean?
Finally, this one's for Walkstall....

Pecking Order

A farmer goes out one day and buys a brand new stud rooster for his
chicken coop.

The new rooster struts over to the old rooster and says, "OK old fart,time for you to retire."

The old rooster replies, "Come on, surely you cannot handle ALL of
these chickens. Look what it has done to me. Can't you just let me have the two old hens over in the corner?"

The young rooster says, "Beat it: You are washed up and I am taking over."

The old rooster says, "I tell you what, young stud. I will race you around the farmhouse. Whoever wins gets the exclusive domain over the entire chicken coop."

The young rooster laughs. "You know you don't stand a chance old man.
So, just to be fair I will give you a head start."

The old rooster takes off running. About 15 seconds later the young
rooster takes off running after him. They round the front porch of
the farmhouse and the young rooster has closed the gap. He is already
about 5 inches behind the old rooster and gaining fast. The old rooster looks over his shoulder, sees the youngster gaining on him, and really puts on some speed...

The farmer, meanwhile, is sitting in his usual spot on the front porch
when he sees the roosters running by. He grabs his shotgun and - BOOM - he blows the young rooster to bits. The farmer sadly shakes his head and says, "Dammit ... third gay rooster I bought this month."

Moral of this story ... Don't mess with the OLD FARTS - age and treachery will always overcome youth and skill!

(Hat tip: Delftsman)

Posted by Weaselteeth at 12:55 AM | Comments (1)

February 21, 2005

Neat security site

If you’re slightly geeky and are not afraid of fooling around in your Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player folders, here are some neat tricks you can pull on the bad guys, to make your computer a whole lot safer behind your digital moat.

The main site is here.

Over at the left is Spyware Removal Privacy Check. Click on that and see what your PC is telling about you to the internet.

But the killer page for starters here is here..

Now, fellow bloggers. This one is soooooo deliciously devious that I’ve added it to the main template here. The page describing it is here.

And (substituting carets for the following parentheses), here's the code you add to your main template, to literally send spammers into an endless loop.....

(A HREF="http://www.auditmypc.com/freescan/antispam.html")Anti-Spam(/A)

Posted by Weaselteeth at 10:41 PM | Comments (1)

It's a blogger thang

Anyone who's been reading this thing I'm doing here already knows how I admire the writing of La Shawn Barber and Michelle Malkin. They are among the best of the very best of the blogging world. And here they are together.

Posted by Weaselteeth at 01:05 AM

February 20, 2005

Odessa Harris, the lady with love

The truth of it was, we needed it. Craved it. And finally last night, we finally got it. A night up front and center at Manhatten’s in Toledo, listening to the Odessa Harris Group in an excellent four-hour escape into what went right about America.

Odessa’s quite the gal. At 68 she’s on the young side of middle-aged, with a sizzling jazz vocalist delivery that earned her a couple of years of road tours with B.B. King. Backing her, keyboardist Duncan McMillan, Keith Kaminsky simply superb on tenor sax, and the ubiquitous, indefatiguable Bob Rex on drums.

No surprise at all that Duncan was along. He’s the one who introduces Odessa as his adoptive mother, and helped her produce her long-overdue album, The Easy Life. Odessa in turn says she told Duncan’s real mother, Odessa may have Duncan as her adoptive son, but it’s okay if he visits the real mom once in a while. That’s when he's not out there on the road, at jazz places like Ann Arbor’s Firefly Club, or playing other venues in the Detroit/Toledo area. Or writing songs, three of which are on the CD.

Last night, another D.McM original, “One Hand on the Steering Wheel,” a showcase for drummer Robertus Rex. And love songs? You couldn’t count them all, from the lady who signed her CD last summer, “Love is forever!” And that right there was worth its weight in gold, in an age where all too many of these kids hammer away at negativity, in a world that’s a whole lot better than they think.

Maybe that's the appeal in the old standards, the American Songbook classics that helped shaped our musical world. Songs about love: people falling in love, out of love, wrapped up in love, suffering from it and then also consumed by it. A universal condition, told countless ways and by so many good performers — this time by a lady who says she once had to quit a temporary job because nobody could believe she was that positive. (She is.)

These are the moments which transcend mere background music. These are the good times, and four of the people who render them, standing up in front of strangers and performing because they must, it's the creative need to do so despite all setbacks. And when they succeed, as they did last night, they become the memories which sustain the soul.

Posted by Weaselteeth at 12:53 PM | Comments (2)

February 17, 2005

Ending Year 1

Today is a quasi-birthday for this site (though not all of it at this particular web location). I crawled out of the wreckage over at Bloghosts, around Christmas, and revived the site here at Mu.nu, and then almost immediately went into a series of individually minor setbacks and health problems, making this a much less spiffy birthday than I thought I’d have.

But that’s the luck of the blog, or whatever phrase the selfstyled old-timers use in these cases. Me, I just feel depleted. Tired way the hell beyond what I should be, sleeping in chunks and living in segments. Ground down, and not even a little kiss from the Fates to let me know it was all just a bad jest.

Posted by Weaselteeth at 01:39 AM | Comments (6)

February 12, 2005

Low moan from the Divan of Doom

Thus far, January and February have shown me there is a lot of truth in the phrase “sucked down to a lingering doom.” Here I’m in the fifth week of the year, have already been to the emergency room, and gone under the surgeon’s knife, and I’ve apparently lost all ambition in writing here.

Seasonal affective disorder, maybe. One gunmetal gray day too many, gazed upon from the turrets at Weasel Central. Or ennui. Or despair. Can’t overlook the despair. A slow decline in overall health, where I now no longer leap tall buildings (and you can keep the single bound). The red cape and blue tights went into the dry cleaner’s, and I haven’t even bothered trying to find the claim ticket, I’m too busy just trying to get out of bed.

The VA doctors kept trying to get me to take an influenza shot they offer every year, and I wasn’t having any of that. Here—have our Typhoid Mary Special. One jab and you’ll be sicker than you’ve ever been in your life. So I didn’t take it, and I still got sick, not the flu but something they called The Grunge, because they went to med school to learn all the names for these things, and I just went to my deathbed, convinced I would never be whole again.

Anger doesn’t help anything. I can rant and rail, froth and moan, but I still have no energy and precious little desire for anything else. Not even politics has stirred the juices, and, frankly, this has been a pretty good couple of weeks to get stirred.

Eason Jordan at CNN—gone. One anti-military claim too many, and the Pajamahadeen sitting there filing its teeth, ready to apply the Big Bite. Maybe not as sexy as bringing down Dan Blather, but hey, a news executive from CNN still beats bitch-smacking some little goon over at Demozombie Underbelly. And of course the same thing for the phony injun, Ward Churchill, who is systematically being boned, fileted, and lovingly gift-wrapped to send chunks of him to all the lying asshats who faked their own credentials to get the academic jobs they have.

Everything else? Sheer puffery. The Dems screamed that Social Security was in a shambles and had to be fixed—and then the GOP took it up and suddenly the Donks say we are just splendiferous in that area, don’t fix a freaking thing. Hmmm. I’m a tough sell in that department, watching how the S.S.I. program got added on for people that have paid nothing or nearly nothing into the system.

Everybody yelling about national debt, and the White House now offering a plan to hack away at a few of the surface trimmings, all to the tune of about one (that's a big numeral 1) per cent of the total. I am not an economist, but it seems odd they want to fix everything by switching from Godiva chocolate to say the next most expensive brand, and not just start axing the worst of it like Amtrak subsidies, and be done with it.

Me, I’m not shy about where to start. Shut down the departments of Energy, Commerce, Education, and the vast bulk of the EPA. You want to clean up brownfields, or finish the Yucca Mountain nuke repository? Fine. Get it done. But don’t waste our time and money saving animal or bird species at the expense of the people who can better use the land. You want alternative energy programs? Great. Then tell Ted Kennedy and John Treason Artist Kerry to stop blocking the windmill system that was supposed to go in to the Cape Cod area where they keep their mansions. Get education firmly back into the hands of the individual states, and if necessary break every finger Big Gummint has and get them the hell out out of screwing small businesses, where the majority of jobs are created.

Lying on my Divan of Doom this last month or so, I get really optimistic about such things. As in, ain’t gonna happen and I know it ain’t gonna happen, but for some reason it just does me good to do a few stray primal screams and get it out of my system.

Now where did I put the damn Kleenex?

Posted by Weaselteeth at 10:17 AM | Comments (5)

February 05, 2005

Musical heresy?

Some people say things that you just know aren’t right, you know it so deep in your bones that it could be part of your DNA — but you’d also be very hard-pressed to say just exactly why it’s wrong.

Case in point comes from the indisputably all-American genre of country music, in a passing remark within a longer story about the Muzik Mafia.

This is the Nashville-based group of friends who started out just wanting to hang out together and play music. They’re now in the running for best country performance by a duo or group, for Horse of a Different Color, and singer Gretchen Wilson is nominated for best new artist, best female country vocal performance, best country song for “Redneck Woman.” In all, they account for six nominations at the February 13 Grammy awards.

Big? You bet they’re big. Country Music Television has been running a 6-part weekly series on this group, and will repeat those episodes beginning February 22.

So where’s the musical heresy in all this? Muzik Mafia cofounder Big Kenny Alphin takes aim at the people who say he and the others are introducing rap music into country, as if it’s something new.

"What was Charlie Daniels doing in `The Devil Went Down to Georgia?' This stuff has been around forever."

Part of me wants to scream out loud, Charlie Daniels is NOT a rapper. And the other part of me says, now how can I show he isn’t?

I mean, what the hell is music, if it’s not fluid, constantly reinventing itself and finding new audiences?

Bob Dylan started out as a breakout artist from essentially a splinter genre called Folk — a type of music which gave us plenty of great lyrics and a lot of bad vocalists. But by the time Ian and Sylvia Tyson and Judy Collins and a few others gave us listenability again, Folk had morphed into Country and then back out again. And Dylan, acoustic to electric to transcendental, keeps plugging away now in the start of his fifth decade of road tours.

Zimmy’s going back on the road next month — and with him will be Merle Haggard and the Strangers, and Amos Lee.

Maybe not rappers. At least not when you think of Merle Haggard. But now thanks to the Muzik Mafia, I’m not sure I can ever quite think the same way about Dylan’s twin masterpieces, “Tangled Up in Blue” and “Blowin’ in the Wind.”

Posted by Weaselteeth at 09:40 AM

February 01, 2005

And yes, I did inhale

“I’m going to treat this like you do have pnuemonia,” said my sawbones. “We did two chest xrays, one just about ten days ago and then this one today. They both look good. But I’m still taking no chances, so you’re going on antibiotics. All right?”

At this point, you bet it was. I’d been lying there on an emergency room cot with a mist-applicator stuck in my mouth, enduring three long sessions of equal parts Albuterol and Atrovente. The aforementioned xray. Three different blood draws (and untypically for VA, very painful this time around). They'd wheeled me in there on a wheelchair and today I’d actually needed it, just like I’d needed an electric cart-ride the length of the building, just to get to the ER.

It was 0830 when I got to the ER, and by then I was already exhausted. Between 2200 the night before and 0600 Monday, I’d had maybe three and a half to four hours of sleep, none of it good, waking myself up with that hacking chest-gouging cough. I’m not entirely convinced I didn’t nod out here and there between events—and there were a few of them.

A lot of running-by-numbers in all this. Do the routine checklist stuff because this was the season for whatever-they-called-this, and evidently the A&A mist treatment had been done so often that they now offered it as a standard feature on the control panel for the hoses and dials, up behind the cot.

Plenty of remarks about getting home and getting somer sleep after this was over. Plenty more remarks directed not at me but to another patient, deeper in the same ER. A nursing home patient who'd been brought there but now wasn’t responding to verbal cues. A different tone of voice being used, trying to penetrate a different kind of fog.

Humbling experience in there. I may have been fighting for my next deep breath — and I was — but at least I was still conscious. That right there bumped me much further down in the priority list.

Posted by Weaselteeth at 12:10 AM | Comments (9)