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Archive for April, 2010

I’ve always admired and respected noted genius and astrophysisicist Stephen Hawkings. I’ve even read a couple of his books, although my 90 IQ brain can’t resuscitate their titles or any of their details. But they were certainly exciting.

Now, Hawkings has excited me even more. In a recent documentary on the Discovery Channel, Mr. Hawkings revealed himself to be a visionary on the subject of alien life forms and the potential those life forms may hold for humans should contact occur.

Is my memory really really really super-dooper bad, or didn’t Hollywood stumble across those dangers eons ago? I’m thinking of Invasion of the Body Snatchers and The Day the Earth Stood Still. When these movies were released, they were viewed merely as entertainment or, in some quarters, as metaphorical depictions of the danger of the communist menace threatening America.

Now, Hawkings has added scientific and authoritative legitimacy to the perpetual American fear of aliens and all things distant. If I were a conspiracy theorist, I might believe that Hawkings, a British citizen, deliberately concocted his alien paradigm for the explicit purpose of driving American extremists nuts.

I could even conclude that Hawkings has offered proof for the existence of the alien body in Area 51, except that I’ve seen the pictures. The body looks like my granddad. Besides, I know for a fact that Area 51 is a top secret resort for generals and admirals.

And if I wanted to stretch matters even further, I could easily visualize a drunk staggering into a bar in Roswell and proclaiming loudly, “I’m from another planet, boys. Gimme a drink and I’ll show you my spaceship.”

But I am not a conspiracy theorist. I am a realist. I trust Hawkings’ analysis and accept implicitly his picture of giant spaceships as large as planets roaming the universe in search of real planets with the resources necessary for continued existence. Somehow, as Hawkings proffered his paradigm, I had a vision of the Goldman and Sachs building plastered with loosely flapping derivatives blasting off for another planet.

It isn’t my intent to trivialize Hawkings’ theory. But Americans can be easily spooked. Certain segments seem to operate on the edge of night, always alert for proof that Obama was born in Kenya or Thailand. Now, they have the words of a respected astrophysicist to bolster their feelings that Obama is not one of us.

He has been placed here by an alien civilization in an invisible spaceship as large as Mars for the sole purpose of preparing America for alien occupation.

Now, that would make a helluva a plot for a Hollywood movie.

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This is one of those zany Marx Brothers’ films that defy description. The story has something to do with winning a football game, but you’d be hard-pressed to follow the plot through the maze of non-stop jokes and gags the Marx Brothers are noted for. Some of the adjectives reviewers have used to summarize the movie include “wackiest, corniest, dumbest, most outrageous, and craziest.”

Now, 78 years later, we have Chicken Feathers, a living human comedy playing out in the State of Nevada. Democratic Senator Harry Reid’s opponent in the 2010 midterm election, Republican Senate candidate Sue Lowden, has proposed a barter system individuals can use to pay their medical bills.

In Ms Lowden’s plan, a patient could offer to paint a doctor’s house or tender a chicken, plucked and cooked I imagine, in return, say, for a Botox treatment or an erectile dysfunction consultation. The universe of barter is virtually unlimited.

Needless to say (but I’ll say it anyway), the Democrats have leaped on this with a vengeance, opening a website called Chickens for Checkups, satirizing Ms Lowden’s suggestion.

But when you stop to think about it, her proposal makes sense, at least in a rural state like Nevada. Most of the state’s population is concentrated in two areas, Las Vegas and Reno. The balance is scattered over about 110,567 square miles in which the primary means of earning a living is mining, ranching, or farming.

Salaries and wages in rural counties aren’t the highest in the state, and given the vagaries of farming and ranching, cash is often hard to come by until the crops are harvested or the cows gathered. Rendering payment in the form of a steer, a chicken, a snowflake of hay, or a gold nugget thus makes perfect sense.

However, in the metropolitan areas, the barter system may be less desirable. Patients forced to seek treatment in a major hospital may be too embarrassed to drive a truck load of clucking chickens the length of Las Vegas Boulevard.

That doesn’t mean all occupations in Vegas or Reno aren’t candidates for the barter system. Call girls have a desirable commodity to offer straight male MD’s. And crooked blackjack dealers can easily dole out a series of Blackjacks to the physician across the table.

And how about comp tickets to top dinner shows followed by five scorpion bowls for each table. True, these aren’t chickens, but physicians are just like ordinary people. Some like chickens, others prefer horse feathers

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This morning as I was driving to McDonald’s for breakfast, I started fooling around with the radio dial, wondering if the airwaves might be by some miracle carrying an easy listening station or two since I am usually not in the mood for screech and yowl music too early in the day.

Imagine my surprise when I came across the voice of Frank Sinatra crooning something, That Old Black Magic or Jeepers Creepers. I don’t remember at the moment. As a general rule, Frank is not one of my preferred balladeers. About the only song of his that I like enough to tolerate more than once is Once Upon a Time.

But this morning he seemed to strike a chord with me—in a quirky sort of roundabout way. Let me explain. Last night I tuned in to Larry King’s show for the specific purpose of watching Willie Nelson. During one of the breaks, Willie’s version of Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain filled some air time. I immediately thought of another cut on the same album, Remember Me When the Candlelight is Gleaming. That was one of my mother’s favorite songs and she hummed it incessant.

Then at the program’s end, Larry and Willie launched into a croaking duet of Stardust. This made for quite a mix. When Willie reaches for a high note, the result can often be a little ear-burn on the part of a listener, especially if his voice is amped up a little. Larry, on the other hand, can out basso any bull frog I’ve ever heard.  The result was actually quite pleasant.

So, here we have a guy, Larry, a New Yorker who as far as I know, isn’t a singer, paired with the original Texas Outlaw, Willie, crooning one of the most romantic songs ever.  And they did justice to it in an oddly masculine, beer drinking, campfire hugging male bonding event that only men can appreciate. Men are romantic after all.

At any rate, within this tangled skein of blood and tissue we call brain, I began to wonder about romantic songs in the various musical genres. There are all kinds and sorts of music—Classical,  Traditional,  Popular,  Blues, Country, Western, Heavy metal, Hip hop, Jazz,  Reggae, Rock, and probably some I’ve never heard of. Can we find a romantic song in each of these?  Which genre or genres is regarded as the most romantic?

I have my own ideas, but those ideas will spring from my cultural background and fail to include thoughts about genres I am vaguely familiar with. Probably the most obvious example from my perspective is Rap. I have little if any knowledge about this genre. On the other side, the proponents of Rap will undoubtedly identify one or perhaps many  rap tunes as romantic and omit tunes from the generation of Frank Sinatra.

What are your ideas and thoughts on this subject? What is your favorite romantic genre? Yes, Valentine’s Day is past but romance is alive and well year round.

p.s. I am not of Frankie’s generation. I’m a little further into the 20th Century. From my point of view, Elvis is a better male singer of romantic ballads than anyone I’ve listened to. But for sheer hotness, you need to listen to Kiss of Fire by Georgia Gibbs. Are hotness and romance the same? Hmmm.

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When Spirit Airlines announced that it will begin charging passengers for carry-on luggage at the rate of $30 per bag if paid in advance and $45 per bag if paid at check in, the company took the first step in a never-ending search for additional fees to enhance the bottom line of the entire airline industry. I can just imagine some of the fees and innovative money-making adjustments that may begin to appear in company income ledgers worldwide.

  1. Coin-operated toilets
  2. Required contributions to flight crew retirement funds.
  3. Cabin crew Karma jars.
  4. Surcharge for membership in the Mile High Club. Extra charges apply if passengers wish proof in the form of a tape or an official Captain’s Mile High Certificate.
  5. Per foot aircraft taxi rates from gate to lift off and from touchdown to gate.
  6. Incentive charges to insure pilot attentiveness (TIPA) to flight duties while in flight.
  7. Bring your own booze (BYOB) surcharge.
  8. Condom dispensing machines fore and aft and amidships.
  9. Penalty add-ons per decibel for parents with yowling babies.
  10. Gag Factor Fees for unwashed passengers.

These are merely a few potential charges. You may have some in mind yourself. Feel free to contribute.

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I’ve just watched the Tiger Woods interview while folding clothes at the same time. The assembled newsmen and woman appeared to be friends of Tiger or at least acquaintances. They lobbed a few high-pitched softballs in his direction, which he promptly hit out of the park. Where was the erotic stuff, guys and gal? That’s what people want to know about. If I had been a member of the media elite selected to fill the interview room, I would have asked tough questions, like these ten.

  1. Tiger, did you keep track of your women with a spreadsheet?
  2. Did you ever run into John Ensign or Eliot Spitzer going into or out of the rooms of any of your inamoratas?
  3. If you had to rate the hotness of your women, which one would you say was Number One?
  4. Did you ever don a disguise for any of your liaisons?
  5. What was your preferred brand of birth control, if any?
  6. Did you photographically document your liaisons for the time you decide to produce a movie of your life?
  7. Which Hollywood actresses would you choose to portray your sweethearts in the movie?
  8. Have you ever had sex on a golf course in a rainstorm?
  9. Did you ever miss a critical putt because the image of one of your ladies suddenly intruded into your consciousness?
  10. If you had to do it all over again, would you choose the same partners?

These are the matter of great importance to the American People. Tiger’s unerring ability to sink a 30-foot putt on the 18th hole to win the Masters is totally irrelevant in 21st Century America.

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