Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy New Year to Police, Fire and EMS

I want to wish a special Happy New Year to all the police officers and their support people, the fire department and the EMS people.  Without your efforts we would not have civilization.  Thank you for your time and hard work.

I'm wishing a very special, high priority Happy New Year along with a tip of the old fedora and a hoist of my champagne glass to all the police, fire and EMS people who have to work on New Year's Eve.  I know you have other things you'd rather do, and I know about amateur hour.  Thank you for your time and effort.

Happy New Year!

It's going to be 2012 soon.  A time to reflect on our accomplishments and rehash the happy times of years past, mark the progress we've made on our five year plan and celebrate with careful moderation the arrival  of a new year with new opportunities and challenges...

Pardon me while I refill my glass.

My Blog: I Still Do Not Understand

Back in September I started getting comments from a misguided zealot calling himself covnitkepr1, who insisted that I start following his blog.  Now I've attracted another one who calls himself Steve Finnell and purports to be from the Hoosier State (Indiana).  I've read both blogs and found the same egregious error on each one.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

I'm taking time off for good behavior.  I'll be back around the first part of next year, 2012.  In the meantime:

Merry Christmas!
Happy Chanukah!
Happy Kwanza!
Happy Birthday!
Happy  Daze!
Happy Hour!
Last call for alcohol!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Air Travel - Losing My Luggage and My Mind

I've been out of town for a funeral; my Uncle Ballbat passed away and so Mom, Uncle Parsimonious, Aunt Annie and I headed for the mile high city in the great frozen State of Colorado via Delta Airlines and the Detroit Metropolitan Airport, conveniently located a few miles West of downtown Detroit, Michigan.  The fun started right after we loaded all our gear into Unc's car and headed North, and I'm right here to tell you that if I have any more fun I just won't be able to stand it.

Casualties of Time and Effort

It takes time and effort to write, even if you write poorly.  Most bloggers write for their own amusement, self-publishing their Pulitzer quality works at little or no cost and wondering if anyone is reading their literary contributions to the overall quality of civilization as we think it should be.  Eventually the author quits, possibly because he's tired of writing or has gone on the wagon and sobered up, thus wondering just what the hell it was he'd actually be doing all this time.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Censorship!

The other day I was wandering around the video store in search of something to rent that would appeal to Main Lady and that I could manage to sit through.  Main Lady's tastes run to Out of Africa (1985)A Passage To India and Rabbit-Proof Fence.  I enjoy The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), The Shining and A Clockwork Orange.  Is there any wonder why it takes me so long to find a suitable DVD?

As I wandered about in my futile quest for the Holy Grail I noted a boy of about 10 pestering his father over film selection.  The precocious little snot wanted to rent an R rated film that incorporated gratuitous sex and violence in conjunction with some poor schmuck in a rubber monster suit.  Dad wasn't buying his offspring's arguments, finally stating that no means no.  I applauded old Dad for his diligence.  Here was one young fellow that was unlikely to clutter the rear seat of a squad car in six years or so. 

Being bored, it occurred to me to wonder just why R rated films were displayed within easy reach of someone who was not allowed to watch them, which is easy: Money, that's why.  Then I wondered just where a patron would go to find a G or PG rated film, how many there were and even if there were any at all.  Back when I was a precocious little snot of ten unbelievably fortunate years we didn't have R rated films, we had the Motion Picture Production Code. We didn't even have DVDs; we had books, some of which could get pretty racy.  I remember this one time when I showed Mom something I found on the book rack...

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

My Life: RIP Uncle Ballbat

It must be something in the water.  Just when everything seems to be running along smoothly and my cigarette boat is headed for port with a lucrative cargo - Wham!  The howler monkey at the helm tears out the bottom on a derelict that everyone knew was there, but which obstacle that very same everyone had forgotten about.

I had two uncles; Uncle Sardonicus, who I have written about in the past, and a second maternal uncle, Uncle Ballbat, who up until recently lived out in Colorado with his wife, Aunt Quakerlife.  Uncle Ballbat passed away last Friday.  He was a good man and I saw him a whole lot less than I'd have liked, but Denver, Colorado is 1,200 miles West and one mile up, and that tends to make a difference.  Added to that is Uncle Ballbat's health, which precluded any extended travel.  Of course now that he's gone I wish I'd made the effort to spend a little more time in Colorado.

The funeral and services will be held in Colorado, so some of the family will be traveling.  In a flurry of contradictory orders from a few of my familial Elders and in the face of adversity, I skipped my afternoon bourbon and as a result my common sense departed in a snit.  Timing being everything in this world (except money) that's just exactly when Auntie Annie applied her size 13 to the posterior of Uncle Sardonicus and announced to all and sundry that they would be handling all travel arrangements.  It was only then that I began to wonder if Xanax, Percocet and bourbon would have any life threatening side effects on my mother's favorite son, and if so, how certain and how severe.

Rant: Neighborhood Thugs

I haven't written lately mainly because I'm pissed off and am very likely leading an interesting life, which I will rant about later on.  My rant here has to do with neighborhood thugs, petty thieves and career criminals who have burglarized Chatelaine's home yet again.  This is the second time in three months - I wrote about the first occurrence here (My Life: RFI from LEO) and here (My Life: RFI from LEO - Updates).  Since then a few decisions have been made.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Death Penalty and Our Screwed Up Justice System

In the immortal words of Richard Milhouse Nixon, “Let me make this crystal clear...”

I am not opposed to the death penalty.  There are people in this world that, by their own actions, have proven themselves to be sufficiently evil to warrant being taken to a convenient location and, with all due ceremony, shot to death.  Their remains should be cremated and the ashes disposed of in a secret location so as to help prevent some twisted form of hero worship or equally despicable martyrdom.  What I object to is the current process, from beginning to end.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

My Mother's Next Quilt

As some of you may know and others can discover, my own dear mother made a quilt for my younger brother, Shotgun Bob.  Having stifled the inevitable whines of the younger sibling (and any of you that has one knows exactly what I'm talking about) mom made his first, then made another quilt for her favorite son, Mad Jack.  You can read all about and see the photos here: On Mothers and Quilts.  That finished, mom made another quilt for Shotgun Bob's wife, The Girl.  Finished with that Herculean effort she's now tackling another quilt, this time for Main Lady.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Film Review: Immortals (2011)

Immortals (2011)
Rated: R
Running Time: 109 Minutes
Genre(s): Action, Drama, Fantasy

Cast overview, first billed only:
Henry Cavill as Theseus (Our Hero!)
Mickey Rourke as King Hyperion (Our Villain!)
Stephen Dorff as Stavros (Another Villain)
Freida Pinto as Phaedra (Our Virginal Crystal Ball)
Luke Evans as Zeus (Need you ask?)
John Hurt as Old Man (Zeus in Disguise)
Joseph Morgan as Lysander (Our Traitorous Villain)
Anne Day-Jones as Aethra (Hottie)
Greg Bryk as The Monk (Minor Ally to Our Hero!)
Alan Van Sprang as Dareios (Wimp)
Peter Stebbings as Helios (Greek God of Something)
Daniel Sharman as Aries (Actor paid to wear a funny hat that won't stay on)
Isabel Lucas as Athena (Hottie and Goddess)
Kellan Lutz as Poseidon (Divine Water Boy)
Steve Byers as Heracles (or Hercules. Divine Manual Laborer, infamous for completing the following contracts on schedule and arguably under budget:
1) Kill the Nemean Lion
2) Kill the Hydra
3) Capture the Cerynean Stag
4) Cage the Erymanthian Boar
5) Clean the Augean Stables
6) Kill the Stymphalian Birds
7) Claim the Mares of Diomedes
8) Pen the Cretan Bull
9) Seize the girdle of the Amazon Hippolyte
10) Take Geryon's cattle
11) Fetch the golden apples of the Hesperides
12) Impound Cerberus, the hound of hell)

I went to see Immortals late last night. I was restive and the film sounded promising, but so does a genuine $25,000 Rolex watch that you can buy anywhere in New York city for only $20.  I was disappointed, and here's why without spoilers.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Triple Natural Weekend: Part 2

I spent most of the triple natural weekend in Columbus visiting my brother Big Mike.  During a round of sporting clays I discovered that I am an unrepentant white oppressor and that, as such, Moonbats have stopped inviting me to wine and cheese parties.  Well, I don't mind.  I'll have another manhattan and assuage my guilt that way.

Next on the agenda was a hockey game followed by dinner and drinking.  Prior to last weekend I'd never been to a hockey game and I found this one very informative.  By contrast, I've been out drinking before so there weren't any surprises there - surprising no one.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Triple Natural Weekend: Part 1

My original plan was to put my car under me and point my nose Southbound early Friday afternoon.  Sadly, that plan did not work out.  About the time I started packing Mom needed me to go to the store for something or other, then Main Lady called and asked for some help with Centenarian.  One of us had to Centenarian-sit while the other ran errands... I elected to run errands, and before anyone gets all sentimental and misty eyed about my mother's favorite son and how helpful, chivalrous and beneficent I am, I encourage you to think again and remember what happens when a woman walks into a store.  Women shop, men buy stuff.  There's a four hour difference between the two.  So I ran the errands, took care of Excellent Rachmaninoff, fed the cats and then waited around for an hour and a half for a stupid, inconsiderate M.D. to call back with a prescription.  Which, by the way, the M.D. did not do - the prescription got canceled after due consideration.  Finally I got underway, and although I arrived at Big Mike's house later than expected, it was much better late than never.

I got to tour Big Mike's new home, have some excellent Mexican food, drink copious amounts of liquor and go shooting the next day where we shot sporting clays and, at long last, I found out just what I am.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Happy Triple Natural!

For those of you living in a cave without a Gregorian calendar, connection to the Internet or access to commercial media, you'll never know that today is Triple Natural Day - 11/11/11.  See?  The odds of throwing an eleven with two six sided dice is 2 in 36, which is something of a long shot.  I thought about looking up the odds of living to see the triple natural, presuming a person was born sometime on or before 11/11/11, but then if I went back to year 1 things begin to look a little bleak.

I'm celebrating by heading South to Columbus to visit Big Mike in his new home.  Our R&R plan involves food, liquor, firearms and a hockey game.  I expect we'll take a slight rest between events; neither of us is as young as we used to be.  Certainly I'm not.

My plan is to return home Sunday afternoon, and finish out the evening by watching Masterpiece Theater with Main Lady and Excellent Rachmaninoff.  A man could do a whole lot worse than to spend Sunday evening with his woman and his dog.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Cast of Characters

I've been considering this post for some time. I write about people and provide no easy reference as to their relationships or character, such as it might be. Here's my latest attempt at a comprehensive list.

Update: Times change.  I've revised this entry to reflect the state of the cast.  Those no longer with us, those that are still on the sunny side of the lawn, and those that in more interesting times, would be a doorstop.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

November Election Results and Ruminations

It's all over.  There's nothing left but the whistle and the steam, and thankfully the ingredients for a perfect manhattan to settle my nerves.

I'm talking about the recent election in Ohio, where I did not get the results I'd hoped for.  Well, why should I be surprised?  Most people watch TV, go to the gym regularly and carry as much credit card debt as they can afford interest payments for.  Just keep paying that vig, and I can carry you for another month.

Well, let's look at the damages.  Here are the elections and issues that I care about, along with my usual insightful commentary:

Friday, November 4, 2011

R.I.P.

The title seems kind of crude and unfeeling, but I can't think of anything else.

A good friend of mine passed away today (Friday, the Fourth day of November in the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand and Eleven, around 5:45 Ante Meridiem).  Rick Cooper played the keyboard at Angelo's Northwood Villa where Main Lady and I went dancing on a fairly regular basis.  Two weeks ago I learned that Rick had been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer about one month prior and decided to fight it.  The first round of chemotherapy caused Rick to go into dementia, which he very slowly shook off.  His nights were worse than his days, and when he was lucid too much visual stimulation or excitement would send him into fantasy land.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Film Review: In Time

In Time (2011)
Rated: PG 13
Running Time: 109 min
Geners: Action | Sci-Fi | Thriller

Cast
Justin Timberlake as Will Salas (Our Hero!)
Olivia Wilde as Rachel Salas (Our Hero's Mother!)
Shyloh Oostwald as Maya
Johnny Galecki as Borel
Colin McGurk as Citizen
Will Harris as Ulysse
Michael William Freeman as Nardin
Jesse Lee Soffer as Webb
Aaron Perilo as Bell
Nick Lashaway as Ekman
William Peltz as Pierre
Ray Santiago as Victa
Matt Bomer as Henry Hamilton
Zuleyka Silver as Pasha
Laura Ashley Samuels as Sagita
Amanda Seyfried as Sylvia Weis (Our Heroine!)
Vincent Kartheiser as Philippe Weis (Our Evil Villain)
Cillian Murphy as The Timekeeper (Our Corrupt Villain)
and a host of others, all of whom are out of time.

I enjoy science fiction, both reading and in film.  What I don't like is bad sci-fi, and while In Time doesn't really qualify as bad, it comes pretty close to the bottom in places and I'm not sure it completely decompresses when it starts to surface.  Here's why, without spoilers.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Shameless Plug for Dr. Grumpy

I started reading Doctor Grumpy in the House.  The man purports to be a real medical doctor, which he may well be, but either way the stories he tells are hilarious.  Here's an example:
It is never good when the chart begins: "Patient suffered a head injury with intracranial bleeding when a fight broke out at his Bible study group."
Sounds like an elder's meeting at a Southern Baptist church.  If you want a few good laughs, here the link: Doctor Grumpy in the House

Hope you enjoy him as much as I do.

Halloween, a Time of Garden Hose Baptism

Well, they're at it again.  This happens every single year and I'm tired of it.  The Good People of the First Self-Righteous Church decry Halloween as a Pagan celebration that is seeking to corrupt the morals of our young people, especially young men, by exposing them to the worldliness of the world, which is all they'll allude to.  I suspect it's all they can allude to without giving themselves a collective apoplexy, which is what generally happens when you can't see the freight train because of your blind spot.

I'll spare everyone the righteous rant from the pulpit of Pastor Pissfire Pallbox.  If you're really all that curious, you can tune in to any television ministry on Sunday and get treated to a first class version.  I actually listened to about twenty minutes from one of these ministers and I thought I was watching a re-run of Saturday Night Live.  I couldn't believe anyone would take this guy seriously - I think it might have been Jerry Falwell, but I'm a long way from surety here.  Anyway, at some point after WWII and before yesterday, the Good Christian People of the U.S. of A. discovered that Halloween gave them something safe to hate and that they could criticize the people who celebrate Halloween without fear of reprisal.

Then, in spite of the separation of Church and State, they took their silly prejudice to the Bored of Education.  Now another holiday is being eliminated.

Cat and Mouse, The Sequel

Back in October cute little Ebony caught herself a snack, which I wrote about here: My Life: Playing Cat and Mouse. The long and short of this is that while Main Lady and Cottontail were over at Centenarian's house caring for her - she isn't doing well, but at 103 years old I'm not surprised - I saw Ebony, the little black cat, carry a mouse from the TV room to a clear area in the foyer where she could play with her new toy to her heart's content.  Which she did.  Last weekend Mopsy came to town to celebrate the completion of her board examinations (Mopsy is a physical therapist) and help Main Lady with Centenarian.  When Mopsy went over to take Excellent Rachmaninoff for a canine constitutional, she found something interesting.

Friday, October 28, 2011

November Election

The up and coming election is providing bloggers and blowhards everywhere with more fodder, grist and cow pie targets then they've seen in four years, so I thought I might just as well throw a few bricks of my own.  Here in the gravel pit that is Toledo, Ohio a red hot topic that's certain to start flame wars everywhere is the infamous Senate Bill 5, a carefully crafted document certain to drive Ohio back into the stone age... where some of us would be a lot happier, or rescue Ohio from guaranteed destruction, proving conclusively that there is, indeed, a fate worse than death.

I'm undecided about SB 5, which is an unusual state for me.  My inclination is to vote against it, but I haven't really made up my mind as yet.  Here's why.
Warning! The following discourse is lengthy, inflammatory and somewhat seditious.  Moreover, I present an interminable situation likely to dishearten even the most seasoned drinker. 

Blast From The Past

I haven't written in a while, mainly because I've been busy with problems that I'll be amused to bore everyone with later on.  Meanwhile, to assuage everyone's impatience, here are a few photos I found in a long abandoned dresser drawer.  These photos have been digitized from 35mm slides that haven't degenerated too much to use.  None were taken by your poor host (just check the framing for Heaven's sake), but I think all of these were taken prior to 1955.  I suppose there's a certain historical significance to be found somewhere here.  I hope you enjoy them.

Monday, October 17, 2011

My Life: Playing Cat and Mouse

Since Centenarian is feeling a little under the weather these days, Main Lady is spending time tending to her every whim needs, and at 103 August years the old freighter needs a whole lot less maintenance than most.  Certainly a lot less than I would require should Divinity intervene and cause me to attain such a Noble age.  Not that I want to, you understand.  By the time I turn 103 Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Welfare, Workfare, this-ain't-fair and No Child Left Behind will have been combined into one giant fuck up factory and the Republick of the North American Continent will be desperately hawking the very last section of the highway system to whatever Chinese conglomerate they can find that's bored enough to listen to them - well, they have to make payroll somehow, don't they?

As interesting as this rant may sound, none of it came up in a telephone conversation I had with Main Lady the other night.  You see, Cottontail came in for the weekend, so last Saturday night Main Lady, Cottontail and Centenarian were all over at Centenarian's home playing a word game that does not involve conquering territory or destroying enemy tokens, and which I therefore (wisely) declined to play.  They left me at Main Lady's home to entertain myself as best I could.  I had a couple DVDs, a bottle of good whiskey and Excellent Rachmaninoff for company.  What more could I ask for?  Then I got a surprise.

Friday, October 14, 2011

My Life: Moonbat Central

There I was, right in the middle of Moonbat Central.  Moonbats to the left of me, Moonbats to the right of me, Moonbats sneaking up behind me with all the stealth of a Canadian hockey team headed for their favorite watering hole just after the defeat of a long time rival.  I was outnumbered 30 to 1.  What could I do?  Clearly, fortification was needed.  Looking around in desperation I spotted the bar.  It was hidden away in a small room in the back, the entrance to which was obscured and effectively blocked by a pack of hoary Moonbats engaged in mutual self-abuse self-admiration.

Maybe I better back up and explain just what I was doing in Moonbat Central and how I came to acquire Big Mike's birthday present.  Mike turned 110 last Wednesday, so naturally I had to get him something special.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

My Life: Happy Birthday

Today is my birthday.  I am over 50.

I think I'll celebrate quietly by going out and having a few drinks with dinner, then retiring quietly and either reading or watching a DVD.   The idea of tearing around town and doing a bar crawl on my birthday does not appeal to me as it did when I was 12.  These days it's quality, not quantity that make life enjoyable.

Tomorrow I'll begin my physical exercise regimen.  It's as good a time to begin as any.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Rant: Self Defense

I'd have thought this article would have come from the local bird cage liner, but it seems I was a bit too quick on the trigger.  WTOL News 11, Toledo's self-proclaimed news leader advocates we all surrender meekly to villains, burglars and thieves in the hope that the criminals will let us alone.  Here's a link to the article: Violent crimes in Toledo rising, police say residents need plan

I have a plan, thank you so much for your consideration.  Here's the part that causes my blood pressure to rise.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

My Life: More Foster Kids

As some of you know and others don't, my brother Shotgun Bob and his wife The Girl decided that they would become foster parents. The reasons behind this decision are known only to Divinity, and that includes Shotgun Bob and The Girl. Their first foster child, Flounder, has been returned to the system for being too aggressive with The Girl. I don't know the particulars and no one is talking, but I'm guessing that Flounder threatened physical violence while in the midst of a temper tantrum. Flounder was thrown out of the local YMCA over this kind of behavior, so I'm not all that surprised.

Foster care soon offered a replacement. Two boys and a girl, all related, between the ages of 10 and 15 needed a home. After Shotgun Bob played 20 questions with the social worker, he still had more questions than answers. The current foster parents were contacted via telephone and the three had a conference call. Here's an approximation of the interesting part:

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Happy Birthday!

Well, it's that time of year again.  I wrote about the entire business last year - here's the link to Happy Birthday 2010.  Centenarian is one hundred and three years old - that's right, 103.  Yes, it's amazing.  The next question invariably concerns her well-being, which is fair.  Up until a couple months ago, Centenarian was living by herself with regular visits from Main Lady and irregular visits from yours truly, Mad Jack.  That has changed.

Film Review: Killer Elite (2011)

Killer Elite (2011)
Rated: R
Running Time: 105 min
Genres: Action | Thriller

Cast
Jason Statham as Danny (Our Hero)
Clive Owen as Spike (Primary Villian)
Robert De Niro as Hunter (Our Hero's Hero)
Dominic Purcell as Davies
Aden Young as Meier
Yvonne Strahovski as Anne
Ben Mendelsohn as Martin
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Agent
David Whiteley as MI6 Man
Matthew Nable as Pennock
Lachy Hulme as Harris
Firass Dirani as Bakhait
Nick Tate as Commander B
Bille Brown as Colonel Fitz
Stewart Morritt as Campbell
and a host of others who are generally inimical to Our Hero and his Friends.

I wanted to see this action film because I was in the mood for something that did not require a lot of thinking, that had things blowing up with a nice, loud bang and might have naked women in it. This film satisfies the parameters pretty well, but there's an added attraction that made me glad I went to see it; It's based on a true story. Just how true is up for debate, but after reading about the author I'm inclined to read the book and decide for myself.  Here's a film review without spoilers.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Film Review: Contagion (2011)

Film Review: Contagion (2011)
Contagion (2011)
Rated: PG-13
Running Time: 106 min
Genres: Drama | Sci-Fi | Thriller

Cast
Gwyneth Paltrow as Beth Emhoff (who dies early)
Tien You Chui as Li Fai (this is the same Tien You Chui who played Officer James Shum in La lingerie and who also played Goh Keung in The Haunted School. Who knew?)
Josie Ho as Li Fai's Sister (Josie Ho! Need I write more?)
Daria Strokous as Irina
Matt Damon as Mitch Emhoff
Monique Gabriela Curnen as Lorraine Vasquez
Griffin Kane as Clark Morrow
Yoshiaki Kobayashi as Japanese Bus Man (finally, after years of directing and abusing actors in the name of art, it is now Yoshiaki's turn in the barrel)
Laurence Fishburne as Dr. Ellis Cheever
John Hawkes as Roger
Jude Law as Alan Krumwiede
Teri McEvoy as School Nurse
Sue Redman as ER Nurse #1
Teri Campbell as ER Nurse #2
Stef Tovar as Dr. Arrington
and a host of others, most of whom die off during the film.

I saw Contagion a few days ago and since then I've gone through three bottles of hand sanitizer and invested in one gross of Latex surgical gloves. If you are interested in developing a good case of mysophobia and a high probability of moving on up to full blown obbsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), then I can highly reccommend this film as a good beginning. Here's why, without spoilers.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

John Coble for Judge

A good friend of mine, John Coble, is running for office.  You can check out his website here, at John Coble for Judge.  John is running for Judge at Toledo Municipal Court.  He's endorsed by the following organizations:

  • Lucas County Democratic Party
  • Teamsters Local 20
  • Ohio and Vicinity Council of Carpenters
  • Northwestern Ohio Building and Construction Trades Council
  • Plumbers, Steamfitters and Service Mechanics Local 50
  • Carpenters Local 1138

and John is also endorsed by yours truly, Mad Jack.  John's a good man.  He's fair minded and equitable, he's got a lot of experience with the justice system and he's so honest I'd shoot dice with him over the phone.  I believe that John will be an outstanding judge and a real credit to the community.

The current incumbent, Robert Christiansen, has not endorsed John as yet but I'm sure he'll come around.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

My Blog: Things I Don't Understand

I've been getting short, commercialized comments from someone calling himself covnitkepr1, which I suppose translates into something like Covenant Keeper One.  The man purports to being a born again Christian and writes one essay a month.  His blog is AccordingToTheBook and his one line comments always end with:
I have added myself to follow your blog. You are more than welcome to visit my blog and become a follower as well.
I checked out his blog and found a critical error on page 1.  Ain't is always the way?

Hold the Onions, Please...

Back in February I wrote about Steve Hartsel, the city manager of Hudson, Michigan and his head on collision with the Hudson Machine.  You can read about the particulars here:If You Don't Stop It, You'll Go Blind!, but the long and short of it (pun intended) is that a spiteful, lying bitch on a stick accused Steve of pulling his pud in public.  The case finally went to trial and on September 15, the jury returned a verdict.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Restaurant Review: Maumee Bay Brewing Company

Maumee Bay Brewing Company
Maumee Bay Brewing Company

The Oliver House
27 Broadway; Toledo, Ohio 43604
(419) 243-1302
Mon – Thurs 3 PM - 10 PM
Fri - Sat 3 PM - 11 PM
Closed Sunday
Maumee Bay Brewing Company

Although I've eaten many times at Maumee Bay Brewing I've never given it a review, mainly because I'm lazy.  Big Mike and I customarily eat a late lunch at Maumee Bay after shooting at The Bullet Stop, there being few things that go together as nicely as lunch after shooting.  In short, Maumee Bay is a micro brewery, producing two products and offering a third that both of us enjoy.  So generally, there isn't much of an argument about where we go after we finish shooting.  Note that I said generally, because recently things got bad enough that I considered mounting a serious objection to Maumee Bay.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Rant: TSA Thugs

In all reasonable probability most people have read the account of Shoshana Hebshi, a Toledo, Ohio area blogger who was seized by The Anointed One's fascist thugs because someone said that she'd been behaving suspiciously on a flight from Denver, Colorado to Detroit, Michigan.  Since We the People retain a limited version of the first amendment, Ms. Hebshi wrote about her account; Some Real Shock and Awe - Racially Profiled and Cuffed In Detroit.  Forbes magazine summarized the event: Woman shocked by being taken from plane in Detroit.  At this point the real question is, What are our elected officials in Washington D.C. going to do about it?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

My Life: Dogs and Sunflowers

I'm posting this for my own amusement and to elicit a response from History Mike, a blogger of some local renown who is own hiatus due (he claims) to a self-imposed work load.  You see, History Mike has a fondness for sunflowers and grows his own with some success - that is, when he can keep the puggles out of them long enough.  I photographed this while walking Excellent Rachmaninoff through Lincoln Woods.

But first a paid political announcement.

Restaurant Review: Criteria

Having written a few restaurant reviews and planning to continue to do so, I though I might write a brief explanation of what I'm looking for when I review a restaurant.  Generally speaking, here's what I look for.

Friday, September 9, 2011

My Life: RFI from LEO - Updates

This is an update of my post RFI from LEO. If you haven't done so, I suggest you read the original post before trying to decipher this one.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

My Life: RFI from LEO

Request For Information from Law Enforcement Officers

Contrary to popular belief, Big Mike was not assembled from used up people by a Mad Scientist working in a remote laboratory somewhere in Austrian mountains (like this unfortunate).  He's the right size, but the resemblance stops there.  I support my affirmation with the existence of Big Mike's mother, a kind and goodhearted lady that it has been my privilege to know for almost as long as I've known Mike.  In the past I've referred to Mike's mom as Chatelaine and Mrs. Martini as memory and the situation dictated; here I will refer to her as The Victim.  You see, someone or several someones broke into Chatelaine's home and burglarized it.  The scumbags didn't get away with much since Chatelaine keeps her valuables in a safety deposit box, but they did break in and they did steal.

This crime was committed during the day, in the afternoon.  The criminals were forced to use the window since Big Mike had secured the doors with deadbolt locks.  The back window was smashed out and the window frame ruined.  Loose change was stolen along with a one gallon whiskey bottle filled with pennies - go figure that one out.  They didn't take the TV or any electronics.

The chief clue is a message left on the answering machine.  A girl called Chatelaine's house when Chatelaine wasn't home, allowed the machine to answer the call, play its message and begin recording.  Then we can hear a female say "Okay, she's not home." with two or more males in the background and the phone goes dead.

Chatelaine called the police when the crime was discovered, filled out all the forms that the police and insurance company requested and the crime has been turned over to a Toledo Police detective.  Here's the problem: The detective refuses to work the case.

All I know about police detective work I've learned by reading the paper and watching TV, but it seems to me that if a clearly suspicious phone call was made, some sort of record of that call would be available to officialdom - like a police detective, for instance.  But maybe I'm wrong about that.

Anyway, getting around to the point here, I know that a certain number of people who read this site are law enforcement officers or affiliated with law enforcement one way or another.  So my question is this:

How do we get the police detective to work on this particular case?

If the answer is 'you don't', I'll accept that and move along.  Nothing more to see, right?  However, all of the people involved are open to suggestions.  If anyone isn't comfortable posting, by all means send me some email.  We'd all appreciate any help or suggestions you can give us.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

My Life: Range Report.

Last Saturday was range day, and as usual Big Mike got hold of me earlier in the week, interrupting my afternoon siesta with the news he was coming into town for an unscheduled visit and felt inclined to put a few holes in paper.  When Big Mike asked me to choose between Cleland's and The Bullet Stop, I naturally chose the closer of the two - Cleland's.  Big Mike objected.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Film Review: Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (2011)

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (2011)
Rated: R
Running Time: 99 min
Genres: Horror | Thriller

Cast
Bruce Gleeson as Buggy Driver (Our Buggy Driver)
Edwina Ritchard as Housekeeper (Our Helpful Extra)
Garry McDonald as Blackwood (No Good Local Crazy, Deceased)
Bailee Madison as Sally (Our Heroine)
Katie Holmes as Kim (Our Hero's New Girlfriend/Wife)
Guy Pearce as Alex (Our Hero)
Carolyn Shakespeare-Allen as Airport Cart Driver
Jack Thompson as HarrisJulia Blake as Mrs. Underhill
David Tocci as Workman
Lance Drisdale as Policeman
Nicholas Bell as Psychiatrist
Libby Gott as Nurse
James Mackay as Librarian
Emelia Burns as Caterer
...and a host of others, all of whom should have been killed off but none of whom were.

This is one of the good old straightforward horror movies, no more, no less.  People do stupid stuff like split up and investigate on their own, the monsters are good performers and the grand finale is fairly predictable.  That doesn't make for a bad film; it just doesn't make a new, innovative and interesting film. Still, the film has some good scenes, it manages to build suspense in all the right places and the pacing is good. Here's the good and the bad, without spoilers.

Congratulations!

My congratulations along with a tip of the old fedora and a hoist of my afternoon bourbon glass to Stephanie M. Lorée over at Scribbler to Scribe. Stephanie is officially a published author as of today (Thursday, September 1, 2011). You can read about it at Officially Published.

Good job, Stephanie.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Rant: Government and Mandatory Evacuation

I've been reading about the mandatory evacuations ordered by our iron fisted government officials who are ostensibly concerned about public safety, and whose Draconian orders are carried out by enthusiastic police who are concerned about making the sheeple obey orders for their own good.  Having lived in Florida and been through a few hurricanes and the inevitable mandatory evacuation orders, I decided to sound off.

Monday, August 29, 2011

When Lawyers Go Bad

A long time ago when I was a noisome, recalcitrant little snot nose my parents sent me to school.  They said it was the law that made them do it.  I had a few other ideas about just why they were so happy to see school start every year.  Anyway, back then there was an area of Sylvania Township (Ohio) known locally as Dogpatch.  The area was defined geographically as being North of Alexis Road and West of Whiteford Road.  The residents were mainly Appalachian immigrants who came up North for the good jobs in the automobile factories.  Living in the Township, which is outside the city and the city's laws, agreed with them.  They could work all week and cut loose on Friday night, when the whole family would get full of whiskey and play with their gun collection, get into fights, get the police involved, maybe get thrown in the hoosegow (or not) and then get out and get sober enough to go to work Monday morning.  Dogpatch was a right lively place, and being in Sylvania the children of these families went to the same school I did, which provided me with broader horizons and a colorful vocabulary that was sharply curtailed by my Mother.


Not all of these folks were bad or even overtly morally corrupt, although you wouldn't catch many of them singing in the Sunday choir.  Many of their children grew up to be very successful people, and generally dropped their old manners and customs like a live grenade.  One of this moonshine to middle class group is (was?) Linda S. Cook, whom I used to know and who proved that you can take the girl out of the hood but you can't take the hood out of the girl.  Linda became an attorney and now faces over a year in the Big House.  I do not recommend any leniency in this case.  Continue reading to find out why.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Restaurant Review: Kabob It

Kabob It!

Kabob It
Westfield Franklin Park Mall Food Court
5001 Monroe Street
Toledo OH 43623
Level 1, Store FC3
Phone: (419) 720-7899
No Web Site Found

The user Zach_baroudi over on Toledo Talk (a local forum based site) started a thread about his father's restaurant, Kabob It, which (according to Zach_baroudi) has everything – incredibly low prices, the best Lebanese food in town, friendly service and grape leaves to die for.  How could I resist?  I went to see a movie this afternoon and had lunch afterward.  Consider this before you read my review: The phrase shish kabob is defined as “A dish consisting of pieces of seasoned meat and sometimes vegetables roasted on skewers and served with condiments.”  The word kabob meaning cooked, or burnt lamb (or meat) and shish meaning skewer. As usual, the people in the United States got hold of it and screwed it up royally, switching the meanings of the two words so as to create such authentic Mediterranean dishes as chicken kabobs, turkey kabobs and veggie kabobs. Somewhere there's a Bedouin turning over in his grave.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Worthy Reads: Scribbler to Scribe Book Review

Stephanie Lorie over at Scribbler to Scribe has written a review of The Left Hand of God By Paul Hoffman:
Genre: Fantasy (dark, epic, primary-world)
Series: Thomas Cale / Left Hand of God Trilogy
Publication: Dutton Adult (2010), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 384 pages
ISBN # 10/13: 0525951318 / 9780525951315

I haven't read the book, but I read Stephanie's review and she does a good job without resorting to spoilers. Plus she's offering a chance at winning a free copy - how can you beat that?  The link to Stephanie's site is below.

Stephanie M. Loree - Scribbler to Scribe: Book Review: Left Hand of God by Paul Hoffman

Monday, August 22, 2011

Film Review: The Help (2011)

The Help (2011)
Rated: PG-13
Running Time: 146 min
Genres: Drama

Starring:
Emma Stone as Eugenia 'Skeeter' Phelan (Our Main Heroine)
Viola Davis as Aibileen Clark (Heroine)
Bryce Dallas Howard as Hilly Holbrook
Octavia Spencer as Minny Jackson (Heroine)
Jessica Chastain as Celia Foote (Another Heroine, but Red Hot and Drunk)
Ahna O'Reilly as Elizabeth Leefolt
Allison Janney as Charlotte Phelan
Anna Camp as Jolene French
Eleanor Henry as Mae Mobley
Emma Henry as Mae Mobley
Chris Lowell as Stuart Whitworth
Cicely Tyson as Constantine Jefferson
Mike Vogel as Johnny Foote
Sissy Spacek as Missus Walters
Brian Kerwin as Robert Phelan

I took Mom and Main Lady out to see The Help last Saturday night, and it was the smartest money I'll spend on a film this year. As usual, Roger Ebert disagrees with me, but I think his discomfort is due to some preternatural sense of guilt over his being a white, wealthy celebrity whose feelings are catalyzed by a dysfunctional digestive tract.  How do you like that, Roger?  (I'm thinking of retitling my film reviews as Roger 'n Me, but I'm afraid of lawsuits.)  Enough.  Here's my opinion, without spoilers.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Worthy Reads: Fantasy and Science Fiction

Bayou Renaissance Man points to a post on Mostly Cajun who notes that National Public Radio (NPR) has published a reader selected list of the Top 100 Science-Fiction, Fantasy Books.  Although I'm a prolific reader I haven't read them all, nor have the other two notables.  However, here is the list of Cajun's Top 100 indicating the books he's actually read, and the Renaissance Man's follows suite with his own list - How Many Have You Read?

Clicked all that?

Here's my own list with the books I've read highlighted.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Film Review: Conan the Barbarian (2011)


Conan the Barbarian (2011)

Rated: R
Running Time: 112 min
Genres: Action | Adventure | Fantasy

Starring:
Jason Momoa as Conan (Our Hero)
Stephen Lang as Khalar Zym (Our Villain)
Rachel Nichols as Tamara (Our Heroine)
Ron Perlman as Corin (Our Hero's Father)
Rose McGowan as Marique (Our Villainess)
Leo Howard as Young Conan (Our Hero as a Boy)
and a host of others.

I watched both Conan and Fright Night the same day, and I saw Conan first.  Like Fright Night, I was undecided as to whether or not I should spend my money to put up with the rude commercials and ruder audience found in any theater these days just to watch a multimillion dollar turkey, but it was a week day matinee and besides, Roger Ebert gave it a bad review.  I was glad I went, and here's why (without spoilers).

Friday, August 19, 2011

Film Review: Fright Night (2011)

Fright Night (2011)

Rated: R
Running Time: 106 min
Genres: Comedy | Horror

Starring:
Anton Yelchin as Charley Brewster (Our Hero)
Colin Farrell as Jerry (The Villian)
Toni Collette as Jane Brewster (Our Hero's Mom)
David Tennant as Peter Vincent (Our Hero's Reluctant Sidekick)
Imogen Poots as Amy (Our Heroine and The Girl)
Christopher Mintz-Plasse as Ed (An Unfortunate Casualty)
along with Dave Franco, Reid Ewing, Will Denton, Sandra Vergara, Emily Montague, Chris Sarandon, Grace Phipps, Chelsea Tavares and a bunch of other people who are easily interchangeable for unknown actors who would give three years off the back of their life for the part, but who were passed over in favor of these people.

I saw the original Fright Night back in 1985 and liked it, so I was reluctant to see this one.  I was bored today and so decided to watch and write a review.  Here's my own not so humble opinion in several hundred words or less without spoilers.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

My Life: Writer's Block

I am suffering a bad case of writer's block. I have several stories I'm working on (fiction) and I cannot for the life of me get any of them to progress. Drat! Tonight I'm going to try a perfect manhattan and see if that helps. It may.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Worthy Reads

Idly sipping my morning snort while I peruse the latest news via the Internet, I've found a few things worth reading.  Maggie Thurber provided a link to an article that give some insight into the London riots written by someone who knows what he's talking about and can actually write.  A second link that Maggie passed along deals with small business regulations, such as the pet ambulance service started in Louisville, Kentucky.  And, well, there's more.  See for yourself.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Cleland's Outdoor World: Range Report

As I promised, Big Mike and I went over to Cleland's last weekend to check out the new pistol range and see if there was anything under the chicken wire that we couldn't live without.  As it turned out, the new store is very nice in many respects and could use a little work in others.  Here's the latest news.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Law and Disorder

I wonder just where the hell our society is these days. We fail to persecute the right people and when we do find some moral leper, we spend over half a million dead presidents making sure he's guilty and trying to find a way not to kill him. Take Anthony Sowell, for instance.

Likely at the behest of his attorney, Sowell made an attempt at an appology. Give me a break. I don't believe that Sowell has ever felt so much as a twinge of remorse or guilt in his entire twisted life. Those in law enforcement know this as fact, and that includes the lawyers and the judge. Still the trial drags on, and on, and on...

Anthony Sowell offers apology to victims' families
Sowell, 51, was convicted in July of killing 11 women and leaving them in and around his Imperial Avenue home. He was arrested on Oct. 31, 2009.
Anthony Sowell trial: Day 15 morning update
Testimony began on June 27. On Tuesday, after more than $600,000 of taxpayer money had been spent on Anthony Sowell's defense team, the accused serial killer's lawyers rested their case without presenting a single witness.
The taxpayers, that would be the Great Unwashed, spent over six hundred grand and the defense failed to present a case.  Where did the money go?

Here's a timeline for the Sowell case which is pretty good.  I listed a few of the events below.  My comments are in italics.

Anthony Sowell timeline

Aug. 19, 1959: Sowell is born.  He is a poster child for State funded abortion and mandatory testing of parents for fitness to raise a child.

May 27, 1988: Rosalind Garner is found strangled in her home...  The killing begins.

Feb. 27, 1989: Carmella Prater is found dead

March, 28, 1989: Mary Thomas is found strangled

July 28, 1989: A woman tells police that Sowell took her into his home on Page Avenue, bound and gagged her and raped her.

The whole thing could have been stopped right here, but it wasn't.

June 24, 1990: A Cleveland woman tells police that Sowell choked and raped her inside her home
Another opportunity to stop a serial killer passes by.

June 20, 2005: Sowell... is released from prison. He registers with the Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Office as a sex offender and is required to check in with them once a year.
So now we can see just how effective the registered sex offender law really is. People in the area supposedly know there is a sex offender in their neighborhood, but do any of these sheep alter their behavior? Do you think Bishop Law alters the ceremony for Mass just because Father Gerald Robinson is in the congregation?

June 29, 2007: A woman who lives across the street from Sowell calls City Hall to complain about a foul odor in the neighborhood, which she said smells like a dead person or animal.
And there we have it. I'm a member in good standing of the Great Unwashed and know very little of police work, but don't the police have cadaver dogs that track foul odors like this? Why isn't officialdom nosing around a little?  You know what I really think?  I think that most all cops who write police blogs wouldn't have missed this.  My reasoning goes to detail and a history of busting people.  You cops can sound off or not as you like, but did you ever find someone that you knew was dirty as hell and kept an eye on him or her until they either moved away, straightened up or got busted - maybe by you?  What the hell happened here?

Dec. 8, 2008: A bleeding woman runs up to a police car at East 116th Street and Kinsman. She tells police that Anthony Sowell asked her if she wanted to drink beer with him. When she said no, he punched her, choked her and tried to rip off her clothes. Police went to Sowell's home, went to the third floor and arrested him. Police later said no charges were filed because the woman did not want to talk to detectives.
Didn't police notice a stench in the house? Why wasn't the house searched?

Oct. 31, 2009: Sowell is arrested walking down Mount Auburn Avenue, about one mile from his home.
Okay, now police have Sowell safely tucked away in jail.

August 9, 2011: The State has spent about $600,000 on Sowell's trial.

This money is used to prosecute Sowell as well as defend him. There is no end to the spending in sight. What I cannot understand is why, with all the resources at the State's disposal, the State can't ascertain that Sowell is:
1. Legally sane, meaning that even though Sowell is mentally screwed up Sowell knew the difference between right and wrong at the time of the crime.
2. Able to assist in his own defense, meaning Sowell is not mentally retarded.

Because if the State in its infinite wisdom can assertain these two facts are absolutely true beyond the shadow of a reasonable doubt (or whatever legal jargon should go in here) then take the son of a bitch out back and shoot him.  A firing squad is quick, easy and cheap.  In this case I don't think the State will have trouble finding volunteers.

Then down in Fort Lauderdale we have a 79 year old man shooting a 12 year old boy. Sounds kind of open and shut, until you read about it.

Police: Man, 79, Opens Fire On Boy, 12

Police: Man, 79, Who Shot Boy Was Trying To Scare Him

From the article: Jasmine Louis, Neal's [TJ Neal, the boy who was shot] cousin, said she wished McIvery had tried talking to the children's families before resorting to violence.
"If he had a problem he should have came to somebody's residence and said, 'Your children is knocking on my door,'" she said.

Oh yeah, that's really going to work out well. Take a look at the family on one of the film clips and just imagine what their reaction would be to a polite request to control their chimpanzees children. Beat and Release coined the term Shaniqua Theater for a reason.

79-year-old suspect in boy's shooting wants to go home

The kids were pestering and harassing the old man all day and he finally snapped. Here's a quote from his neighbor:
"That man has never bothered anyone," said Sara Dees, who lives next door. "I am not saying what he did was right, but those kids were bothering him all day."
His public defender asked for his release but the judge refused saying that he, the judge, has no choice but to keep the old guy incarcerated. This is bull fucking shit. The judge can do what ever he wants.  Who will gainsay the judge?  Besides, by the time the Reverend Al Sharpton and Jessee Jackson get wind of this and head into Fort Lauderdale to offer support for the victim's family, James McIvery will already be home.  Oh, but wait!  It seems that since McIvery is Black, that may present a problem for Sharpton and Company.  After all, if Whitey isn't involved, how can we successfully persecute anyone?  Of course McIvery did work all his life and continues to work as the primary care giver for his disabled daughter, so he's clearly a member of the capitalist pigs who are oppressing the underprivileged minority.  Any bets on Sharpton?

Moving right along, here's a nice road rage shooting.

Two teens shot in apparent act of road rage

Two teens shot and lightly wounded in a road rage incident. The story doesn't mention much about the events that lead up to the shooting, which is not unusual. Want to bet the kids in the Mitsubishi started a fracas they couldn't finish?  I could see this happening after a chorus of fuck you's, one finger salutes and threats with one car against the other.  And then, in a complete and final 'fuck you with a bucket of sand' one shot is fired at the car.  I hope the shooter gets away with it.

Here's one in my State, Ohio.  Seems some screwball got off his meds and went on a rampage, killing seven before he was stopped by an armed civilian.

Ex-cop says acting to stop Ohio gunman was natural From the article:
A former police officer credited with helping stop a gunman who police say killed seven people described feeling terrified but said he reacted the way he was trained.
"It just comes down to part of my DNA," Michael Lavery said in an interview Monday with WKYC-TV of Cleveland. He lives in the suburban Akron neighborhood where police said Michael Hance stalked people — including an 11-year-old boy — and gunned them down late Sunday morning. The rampage ended in a shootout with Lavery and police in which Hance, who had no previous criminal record before the outburst, was killed.
Pardon me. This does not involve an armed civilian - he's actually a former police officer. Note that the paper emphasizes the training, while Lavery says it's in his DNA.  Read the story and tell me if you think the description of the events may have been altered a little to protect Michael Lavery.  I agree with this, by the way, and I'd cheerfully buy Michael Lavery a drink and a dinner to go along with it.  What gets under my skin is the reference to his being a former police officer and not just an armed civilian who takes his civic duty seriously.

I hate commercial media.

If I haven't mentioned it, in my estimation:
Sowell should be taken out and ceremoniously executed, providing that he is adjudged legally sane and competent to stand trial (not retarded).
James McIvery should have his pistol returned to him and be sent home with a can of pepper spray - the large economy size can, good for crowd control and bar room brawls.  He should have to attend a CCW class that covers Florida law concerning when you can shoot and when you cannot.  At the same time, the Judge should tell Neal's family he was lucky this time, and to stay away from McIvery's house in the future or they can all go to jail for child neglect and the kids can get picked up by animal control.
Lean on the kids in the Mitsubishi until they come clean, then tell them they were lucky and to stop screwing around with people.  The next guy might have a shorter fuse and a better aim.  If the other driver can be found, tell him not to shoot at people without good reason.
Give Michael Lavery blanket immunity from persecution along with a gift certificate to a good restaurant for him and his family.

And that's my own opinion.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Cleland's Outdoor World

Sometime in July, 2010 Cleland's Outdoor World was destroyed by fire, thus eliminating one of the few handgun ranges in the area.  I suspect the fire was deliberately set by The Brady Bunch, but so far the evidence is inconclusive.  Cleland's is a proprietorship and rather than throw in the towel they decided to rebuild in the same location.  Cleland's is currently having their grand re-opening, and the new store is nice.

I want to thank Maggie Thurber at Thurber's Thoughts for writing about Cleland's, Union Labor and Hypocrites.  I read Maggie Thurger's blog on a regular basis but rarely leave comments as I agree with almost everything she writes about and I have little or nothing meaningful to add.  The short of it is that the Cleland family gave the construction job for their new building to a relative who is in the construction business, but who uses non-union labor.  This caused the local labor unions to picket Cleland's new store, but I'm told they gave it up - possibly because the picketers felt it might be hazardous to their health to continue marching and blocking the driveway.  Did I mention that Cleland's is a gun store with an indoor pistol range?

Anyway, when I read the story on Maggie's blog I didn't see any way out of taking a run over to Cleland's and buying something, and I encourage everyone else to do the same.  These people are entrepreneurs (which the economy needs) and operate against political correctness every single day.  Please do what you can to support them.

Cleland's Outdoor World
In defiance of local labor unions and in the name of good clean fun, I think it's likely Big Mike and I will shoot at Cleland's this weekend.  I'll write a range report on the new facilities, which look very nice from the outside.  

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Legislature Averts Mistake

I was surfing around the web in an attempt to located a few old skeletons and found this gem hidden in the back pages somewhere: Florida Lawmakers Move to Repeal Buyer Protections. From the article:
They targeted ballroom dance instructors who preyed on lonely widows, a car repair industry that topped the state's consumer complaint list and sketchy movers holding possessions hostage for higher fees.
Ballroom dance instructors? Really? I'm incredulous.
With deregulation fever sweeping the state Capitol, movers, dance studios and car mechanics are among more than a dozen professions — many with checkered histories — included in a controversial bill reducing business licensing requirements.
Checkered history my grandmother's venochie. Let me tell you a little about that 'checkered' history.

I was 21 when I started in the dance business (teaching ballroom dancing) and I went to work for the Arthur Murray Dance Studio in Toledo, Ohio.  After about ten months I was fired, mainly because I wasn't a homosexual and would not be converted by the staff and manager, all of whom were more than a little light in the loafers.  I went to work down the street for a rival franchise, Fred Astaire Dance Studio and the one thing they wanted to know was did I have a girlfriend.  I did, in fact, have three at the time.  They hired me and I stayed for a year or so before I got the itch to travel.  I headed to Florida for a few months where I met James R. Banta, President of Arthur Murray, Inc. and owner of about 30 dance studios across the country.  He and his wife Leona invited me and my girlfriend Migraine One over to their mansion in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where I learned that Jim and Leona had the Arthur Murray logo engraved on their doors, that they had two artificial hills in their front yard and that they were self-proclaimed good and honest people.  Jim Banta was a small man, about 5'10" or so, maybe 135 with rocks in his pockets.  He was affable and easy going.  Jim offered us a job at a studio he owned in Colorado Springs, Colorado and we accepted.  This is the same studio that is mentioned in his obituary (here's the obituary):
The last of the Bantas` dance studio franchises was sold in Colorado Springs, Colo., last year, [Jim's son] Bradford Banta said.
Indeed, and I know why it was the last to go.

I was about 24 years old when I headed West to Colorado Springs with Migraine One riding shotgun.  Once I arrived and started work at the Arthur Murray Dance Studio in Colorado Springs I damned near got more than I bargained for.  For openers the studio was on the second floor in a building at the edge of the downtown area.  There was a greasy spoon on the first floor and a four star restaurant across the street.  Physically, the studio looked a little strange to me.  You walked up the stairs and into the ballroom, which was normal, but then there were a dozen small rooms all around the perimeter of the ballroom, each having a door with a lock on it.  One of the rooms had a shower in it, but since the shower leaked into the kitchen of the restaurant it couldn't be used.  I worked there about a month before it dawned on me just exactly what had been here before: a massage parlor.  Colorado Springs is a military town, and I was working in what used to be a whore house.  Wonderful.  Now, I didn't know much about business back then, but even I could understand that having a dance studio in a closed up whore house was not going to be good for business.  And, by the way, Jim Banta knew about this situation and let it continue.

The students at Arthur Murray's were mainly women with an average age of about 70 and somewhere between 1000 and 3000 hours of instruction remaining.  That's right, I had a dozen or so old ladies, each with well over 1000 hours left to service out.  When I asked about this situation I was told that the previous owner of the franchise (whose name I don't remember) sold a bunch of lessons all in one year, maxed out his credit all over town - and by that I mean all over town, Arthur Murray's couldn't get credit anywhere and the existing debts remained unpaid - and then this entrepreneur packed his dance shoes and stole away quietly into the night.  Contractually, Arthur Murray, Inc. in Miami, Florida was liable to service out the lessons, but it took them two years and a credible threat from the attorney general of Colorado to get them to reopen the studio, which they finally did but in a new location - the deserted brothel.  The amount of liability in untaught lessons was staggering.  Even if a student took three hours a week in private lessons, that's over six years of lessons for 1000 hours of instruction remaining.  Most took one or two hours per week, and so were not likely to live long enough to actually use all the lessons they bought.  As president of Arthur Murray, Inc. Jim Banta either knew this situation was going on and approved of it, or should have known it was going on and was remiss in his duty to prevent it.


Then there was the current manager who was personally interviewed and hired by Jim Banta.  Dave Calle had been in the dance business for over twenty years and had a personal history that went back to the bad old days.  He knew several people from that era, including Mister San Diego who, coincidentally, I knew pretty well.  One afternoon I made a phone call on the Q.T. and asked San Diego about Calle and his history.  Uncharacteristically San Diego hedged around a little, which was not like him at all.  I continued to press for information.  Finally he told me that "There's nothing really wrong with hiring a guy like that, but you have to keep an eye on him."

"Keep an eye on him?  What do you mean, keep an eye on him?"

"Well, you just gotta keep an eye on him, that's all.  Hey, what the fuck, right?  Keep an eye on him."

I thanked him and hung up the phone.  I pondered this for a few days, then I nosed around a little, aided and abetted by Migraine One who loves to discover dirty laundry.  I'm not kidding about this, either.  She really gets off on it.  Anyway, I discovered that Calle was selling stock in a corporation named Acme One to the students in the studio.  Since I didn't know anything about stock I made another phone call, this time to my attorney Art Cline, the main attorney of what was then Cline, Bishoff and Cook, Attorneys at Law.  I spoke with Art for twenty minutes or so and learned that all corporations have to be registered to be legitimate, and I also learned who to call in Denver, Colorado to find out if the corporation in question was actually legitimate or not.  Surprise, surprise - Acme One turned out to be a figment of someone's imagination, which made the sale of stock in Acme One fraud.  That's a crime, by the way.  Then I called James Banta in Florida and told him what was going on. 

James complemented me on my probity and intestinal fortitude, and told me that he'd be sending his son Brad down to handle the problem.  He did, too, as Brad arrived the next day and fired poor Dave Calle without warning.  Then the county prosecutor's office got involved, and after talking to Calle for several hours the prosecutor stated that, "I deal with this kind of person every day, and after talking to David Calle for four hours I couldn't believe he'd actually done anything wrong.  He's good."  However, hard evidence is hard evidence.  The prosecutor did a basic background check on Calle and discovered, much to his surprised, that there were four outstanding warrants out for David Calle's arrest in Houston, Texas.  The charge?  Fraud.  It seems that this was not the first time Calle ever pulled a stunt like this one and got caught at it.


This kind of crime is much rarer today than it used to be, but the people are not.  Confidence men still exist, and although the law won't stop them before the fact it will make arrest and prosecution possible after the fact.  Any legislator who wants to remove buyer protections doesn't know what the hell he's talking about, or doesn't care.  Either way you look at it, that is one legislator that should be replaced as soon as possible.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

My Life: Mad Jack's Sunday Morning Service

I am a great fan of T.S. Elliot (Thomas Stearns for anyone who is idly curious) and my favorite poems feature Elliot's character Apeneck Sweeney, truly a man's man. I still occasionally read Mr. Elliot’s Sunday Morning Service. It cheers me up and helps me along my way. If you are serious about reading it I recommend a copy of the Oxford English Dictionary, patience and time to think about the poem and what Elliot might have been driving at. Never mind what the critics say he meant – likely he didn't, and all critics are envious of Elliot anyway, mainly due to his vocabulary and complete disregard for anything someone who couldn't write thought about what he, Elliot, had written.

When I lived in Jacksonville my Saturday night was set aside for bacchanalias, and I was accompanied on my soirée dansante by two women I met in a Chinese laundry while I was in search of a unicycle. We'd finish the evening when the last club closed down, then we'd have breakfast and go swimming to cool off, as the nights can be quite warm in Jax. I'd sleep for a while and then get up an hour before dawn and drive to the beach where I'd watch the sun rise, and if you've never seen the sun rise over the ocean on a clear morning, it is truly worth seeing. I'd walk the beach a little, then I'd head down to the Sea Turtle Inn, a hotel on Jax beach. You see, the Sea Turtle had an outdoor veranda where you could enjoy your breakfast in the shade and be kept cool by a steady breeze from the ceiling fans. I could usually steal a Sunday paper from the stack carefully positioned for hotel guests as I made my way to the veranda, and the hotel had a breakfast bar that was in the process of being set up. I didn't mind; I'd get coffee and wait for Wilbur to get his omelet station assembled, and for Rob-Oh to get the side dishes laid out. They were good men, and Wilbur made the best omelets in Jacksonville. Marie would wait on me. She was a good waitress and good company. Marie's husband was retired military and they had lived in the Bahamas while he was in the service. They raised miniature pinschers, and Marie liked to search through the advertisements of my paper looking for dog food coupons and other deals.

Breakfast and my paper would occupy my time and energies until around 9:00 AM, when the Church people would arrive. Mr. and Mrs. Church and the 2.5 little Churches would invade en masse. The kids would arrive scrubbed within an inch of their young lives, and the little girls would all have their hair curled into fifty pound springs, light colored frilly dresses and patent leather mary jane shoes. The cute little boys would wear ill-fitting suits with white shirts containing enough starch to let the shirt double as aluminum siding and a tie that had been surreptitiously loosened all through Church service and was now resting askew under their collar. All the kids had been rousted out early and fed candy and caffeine all through service, then forced to sit still under penalty of extreme death. Serves them right, the nasty little animals.

The Church families were always surprised to see each other. “Oh, we didn't know you were going to be here!” and “Oh, you'll have to come and sit with us!” What's the surprise? They just left the same Church, they know the other family usually comes here, so what's the deal? By the time the second family decides to sit outside, I collect my things and head for the men's room where I change into my swim suit and swap my beach towel for my Levis, shirt and shoes. Sometimes the men's room is closed to keep the bums out and I have to get it opened. Other times the janitor is pretending to clean it – I threw him out on one occasion. I use sun screen with an SPF of 2500 and plenty of it, and I'm still careful of the Florida sun. I've seen some nasty burns and being in the shade does not always help.

Some days I would rent two beach chairs and an umbrella from the hotel, and other days I'd just set up my own chair on the beach. Either way I'd settle back with a nice book and some water and alternate reading with people watching. Young girls would walk along the water's edge, eying the life guards and trying not to be self-conscious about the new bikini they hadn't had the courage to wear until today. Usually the bottom didn't quite fit correctly, so they'd reach back and pull it down over the buns every dozen strides or so, and spend a lot of time looking behind them as if they were expecting to see someone who never quite materialized. Others would try talking to the life guards, but when it was discovered that the life guards were serious about having some quick, recreational sex, they'd back off and keep walking down the beach. Older girls would either wear bikinis that fit or the girls knew the bikini didn't fit and was fine with that. Occasionally the life guard would radio the police about a bathing beauty exposing too much skin for the Florida law. Bastards.

I'd take a swim every hour or so and reapply the sun screen. Around 1:00 PM I'd start getting too warm and so would ambulate up to the hotel cabana and have a beer at the Tiki bar. The bartender was a good guy and there were sometimes women around the pool who could be induced to come over and socialize. I was generally mildly interested, but the bartender was a real hound and needed a wing man. After one or two beers, I'd head out and drive back to Jax, stopping at my favorite marina along the way, Harbor Lights. The live aboards would be up and have accomplished whatever they were going to do for the day and so would congregate at the Tiki bar outside. These people were interesting to talk to. One man I met was gearing up for a trip to China, and another had been sailing most of his adult life. He'd been around the world several times and didn't mind talking about it. I have a drink and some food and stay a couple hours, then finally head home and take a nap.

These days my Saturday night ends earlier, about 11:00 or so. I don't get up as early in the morning, I don't see the sun rise. I sometimes go to adult Sunday School with Mom, and I almost always go to Church with her. Mom likes that, and making Mom happy is important to me. That said, I wonder if I'm better off with my current routine. I kind of think I'm not.

Along the garden-wall the bees
With hairy bellies pass between
The staminate and pistilate,
Blest office of the epicene.

Sweeney shifts from ham to ham
Stirring the water in his bath.
The masters of the subtle schools
Are controversial, polymath.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Range Report: Sporting Clays at Black Wing

Last week I received the following email from my brother Big Mike:
I just found out that Blackwing shooting center has a SPORTING CLAYS course. I went shooting this evening (pistol, that is) and got a tour of the clays course. I NEED to shoot the course. My plan is to do so next weekend (the 30th/31st). You want to come down and join me?
What could I do? When your brother needs to shoot a sporting clays course, you cannot in all good conscience allow him to face this challenge alone and unobserved.  So on Saturday morning I threw all my gear along with a change of clothing into the trunk, put my jalopy under me and headed South for a shotgun holiday.

I've written about Black Wing before as a notable part of a Columbus Road Trip, but the sporting clays section is brand new to Black Wing, and the course is impressive.  The Black Wing sporting clays course is fifty shots over ten stands, with each stand displaying a very well thought out scenario.  Every stand features between four to six birds launched in report pairs or natural pairs.  For those not familiar with the terms, a report pair means that a single clay pigeon is launched and as soon as the shooter discharges his firearm the second target is launched.  A natural pair is when both clay pigeons are launched simultaneously.  If you're up to it you can run the course in reverse once you reach station 10 and turn it into a 100 shot course.

Black Wing Sporting Clays Course as Seen From the Parking Lot
I admit that I doubted that Black Wing could construct a decent sporting clays course, but I should have known better.  Black Wing has received a five star rating from the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) and clearly they are not going to do anything to drop that rating to four or even three stars by putting together a poor quality range.  The photo above is taken from the parking lot.  The two cars are about twenty feet from me.  In the middle ground are the skeet fields.  Beyond the skeet fields is an open field, and in the background you will see a line of trees.  The sporting clays course is in that tree line.

Here is a typical shooting stand.  Range rules dictate that you load your musket once you're in the stand and not before.  Before you leave the stand you must unload your musket, one way or another.

Typical Stand
Stand Electronics
You must get a card at the shooting store before you can shoot the range.  You put the card in the reader (shown here with the card inserted in the reader, just under the LCD) and the equipment counts the birds to the card.  Interestingly if the catapult malfunctions and doesn't throw a bird, no bird is counted.  There must be some sort of sensing device on the catapult, although we didn't examine the equipment closely nor did we pester the staff with a lot of questions.  We only had two instances of a malfunction in the hundred shots.

Station Directions
Every station has a set of directions as to what to expect, which is nice.  You also get to see one bird from each catapult before you have to humiliate yourself shooting at them.  Hey, no sense in not postponing the inevitable, right?  I remember station six because it was difficult and I shot a little better than I expected.

Station 8 - Four Easy Shots
Station 8 is two report pairs flying overhead and out into the field - and safety.  This particular shot is an inevitable scenario on any sporting clays field, and I was glad to find it here.  Any shot-gunner can learn to hit this one in a few tries, as the birds are flying high, directly away from you.  All you need to do is aim under them and remember to keep your barrel moving while you shoot.  I got two out of four, I think.

Bad Luck Station
I wasn't going to include this station, but Big Mike made a disparaging comment about Excellent Rachmaninoff's behavior and ancestry, so here it is.  Big Mike didn't get any of the birds on this particular stand - missed 'em all.  If he'd learn to be nicer to Excellent Rachmaninoff he'd likely have hit a few.

Trap and skeet shooters who are any good at all will have a very humbling experience on this course, particularly trap shooters (who are an anti-social bunch anyway, but what do you expect?).  I shot 33 out of 50, which is a very respectable score.  I think if I had the energy to shoot the course again I'd do better, but not a lot better.  This is an enjoyable course to shoot and combines easy shots with hard ones in a nicely balanced course.  Every experienced shot-gunner who shoots this course should get something - maybe not everything, but something.

Shooting this sporting clays course comes with a few caveats.  First of all, more than half the course is in full sunlight, and this time of year that translates into heat.  I was wearing light clothing, SPF 48 sunscreen and a light hat with a full brim and I still felt the heat.  By the time we hit station 10 I was soaked and Big Mike was feeling the heat.  I suggest you dress to protect yourself from the sun.  Secondly, although there is water located along the course, you should bring your own potables in the form of Gatorade or something similar and have a drink at each station.  Finally, the path connecting the shooting stations is made of rough cut stone, which is no problem if you're wearing hard soled hiking boots (like Mike) but is a major pain in the feet if you're wearing tennis shoes, like I did.  By the the time I got to station 10 I was truly regretting the thought of walking back to the car, parked on the far side of station 1.  Walking that path was painful.

Speaking of the car, when you drive out to the course and park, be sure to park closer to the highway than to the sporting clays course.  Although it is very unlikely, bird shot can reach the parking lot from the course and you'll want your car parked away from the falling shot.

All in all, this is a great sporting clays course.  Even if Big Mike didn't live in Dublin, Ohio I'd make the drive down to Delaware in order to play the course.  I'd just plan for an early start and a long day.

Friday, July 29, 2011

My Life: Dog Problems

Here's a picture of Excellent Rachmaninoff. Main Lady calls him Rocky but I have always maintained that he is much too important and sophisticated to be a mere Rocky. I don't know what his preferences are, as he's having trouble learning to speak coherently.  Certain vowels are a real challenge for him.

Excellent Rachmaninoff

The thing is, I think Rachmaninoff has a screw loose somewhere.  Main Lady took him to the veterinarian's office this morning for his annual check up, and he got all the dogs in the waiting room stirred up by trying to play, then he crapped on the rug and finished up by trying to bite the vet, Doctor Tryharder.  He was perfectly okay with the receptionist behind the barricade and he seemed okay with the technicians who got his blood sample, but as soon as Doctor Tryharder came within range it was bite now, growl later.  Main Lady and the technician put a muzzle on him which Doctor Tryharder had a childlike faith in, and he damned near nailed her again.  If it wasn't for the vet's quick reactions Rachmaninoff would have scored.  They had to get a different muzzle for him which he did not like in the slightest.  The only positive things that came out of this visit occurred when the vet asked for a stool sample and Main Lady gave her a nice fresh one, and again when the results of all the tests came back okay, proving that Main Lady has a disgustingly healthy dog.

I can't find a rhyme or reason to his people preferences.  Main Lady boards him at Karnik Pet Lodge and they all think he's wonderful.  He likes all the handlers at Karnik no matter their sex, size, race, religious persuasion, sexual orientation or immigration status.  He hates Main Lady's neighbors Machine Shop Sam and his Sam's wife Ethel, both of whom have tried and failed to make friends with him on numerous occasions.  He loves Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail.  He also loves Centenarian.  He tolerates Que Bee One, but he doesn't like Ding Bat at all.  I'll give him a pass on Ding Bat - trust me on this one.  You see, Ding Bat loves cats, and I don't just mean that she likes them in the same way I like my cat Dante.  I mean that she's nuts about cats.  Cat pictures, cat jewelry, cat clothing, cat furniture, cat wallpaper, cat clocks - you name it.  All her greeting cards have the feline theme to them.  One time when she was looking for a job I, without thinking, suggested she try a cat house.   Main Lady wouldn't speak to me for about three hours, then I discovered I was getting the silent treatment.  Well, how was I to know?  It isn't like this kind of thing is announced.


Anyway, I haven't found a good dog whisperer anywhere in the Toledo, Ohio area, but even without a dog whisperer Excellent Rachmaninoff is getting better.  I was walking him the other day and he saw a nice pride of human kids and he didn't try to run the slowest one down and savage it.  That's real progress.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Baseball: Mud Hens vs. Tides

I like baseball.  I especially like baseball at Fifth-Third Field, which is one of the nicest ball fields I've ever been to.  Last night I watched the Toledo Mud Hens try to pound the snot out of the Norfolk Tides. The Mud Hens lost, but they could have won this one.  Uncle Sardonicus got the tickets and as usual scored some really good seats.  I hate trying to watch a game from the nose bleed section.

Bases Loaded
 At the bottom of the fourth the Hens loaded the bases, mainly due to the Tides pitcher royally screwing the pooch.  The Hens had three men on base and no outs, making the Tides pitcher wonder just what it was he'd done to piss off the Almighty.

Thorman Up to Bat
I had some real hope that Thorman would put one over the Budweiser sign.  He had the right attitude and a good average - hey, if you don't like .234 then let me ask you: when was the last time anyone asked you to play triple-A ball?
Over the fence!  Over the fence!
Sadly, this was not to be.  Thorman fouled two pitches off, one of which went into the parking lot behind the stadium.  He had plenty of power behind the swing, but the Tides pitcher found some kind of second wind.

Dishing it Up
Mitch Atkins pitched most of the game, and although he'd managed to get himself into this position (bases loaded, no outs) I'll give the man credit.  He got himself out - three times.  I think Thorman should have given up on the grand slam and just tried for a hot grounder.  The Tides would likely get Thorman out at first base but the Hens would have gotten another run in.  Besides that, with the bases loaded they might have tried to get the ball back to their catcher instead of trying to get Thorman out at first, and I don't think they were up to a play like that.  Atkins struck out two more batters and I decided to get some ice cream.

Ice Cream Stand
This is Toft’s Dairy, staffed by mentally challenged senior citizens in front and disorganized soccer moms in back.  I waited for five minutes and the line didn't move, nor was anyone leaving with ice cream.  I would have left except that I promised myself I'd bring Mom a hot fudge sundae and surprise her, so I stayed.  And stayed.  And then stayed some more, patiently waiting for the staff to stop tripping over each other and get organized, which they failed to do.  What a bunch of clowns.

By the time I ordered the place had run out of vanilla, so I asked for chocolate instead.  I don't know what they put in my sundae, but it wasn't regular chocolate ice cream.  It was some sort of concoction that tasted like Nestle's Quick combined with a ground up sponge.  The portion was small and it was over priced.  This is the only vendor I've found at Fifth Third Field that I will stay away from in the future.

I returned in time to catch Muddy and some other blue thing cavorting around on the field.  I have no idea what the blue thing is or what it's supposed to be.  All I can say is that the usual entertainment games were not up to the usual standards.

Mysterious Blue Thing
The Public Address (P.A.) system was turned up too loud.  Imagine that you're sitting back, pleasantly relaxing over your second beer and watching the game.  You lean over to tell Uncle Sardonicus to stop tormenting his wife (who is sitting in front of us by now) and the stupid announcer drowns out all conversation, background music and coherent thought as he blasts some stupid trivia at you.  Message to announcer: Shut up.   What an ass.

If the Mud Hens would just listen to Uncle Sardonicus, we'd have a brief assault and battery incident.  Okay, wait... they'd win the game.  But they won't, likely because Uncle Sardonicus is being drowned out by the announcer.  Maybe it's just as well.

In spite of my bad experience at Toft’s Dairy (which gets a zero in customer service and a zero in food quality) I had a great time at the ball game.  If you haven't been to Fifth Third Field, I suggest you call in sick at work and go see the Mud Hens play.