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Archive for August, 2011

This morning as I was driving to McDonald’s for breakfast, I started fooling around with the radio dial, wondering if the airwaves might by some miracle be 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, your ears can burn, 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 one of the original Texas Outlaws, 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.

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 long past but romance is alive and well year round.

p.s. I’ve always thought that Elvis is a better male singer of romantic ballads than anyone I’ve listened to. But for sheer fire, you need to listen to Kiss of Fire by Georgia Gibbs.

Note: This a rewrite of a post from one of my many blogs. Today is the date on which my wife and I were married, and I thought about some of our favorite songs.

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Some people say that the recent earthquake in Washington D.C. was a sign that God is displeased with Barack Obama.

I spoke to God the other day and he told me that these people are partially but not entirely right.

He said, “I’ma tell you a secret. Bobby Boy. I’m God and I don’t diddle around with things of no consequence like Barry who, by the way, is a good guy but totally irrelevant in my scheme for mankind.”

That’s when I first learned that God is from the South. Nobody says I’ma except some cracker from Georgia. Don’t get me wrong, though. God is smart, smarter than any voice I ever heard.

“No, siree. I’ve got big plans. I mean big ones, boy. This is how it’s gonna work, see. I’ma punish the whole damn flock.”

That’s when I knew God was a regular guy, talking to me and saying regular things like damn.

“I’ma start little, with a earthquake see, get everyone thinking. Get ‘em scared. That’s how I work. Then I hit ‘em with something a little bigger, a hurricane, I’m thinking.”

“Wow. That’s smart, God.”

“Yeah, I’m a thinker. Always figuring how to scare people out of their pants. Keep ‘em guessing. Like those boys at Guantanamo.”

“What next, God.”

Well, I haven’t quite figured that one out, boy. I’ve tried just about everything under the sun. Even destroyed a few cities. Even floods. Worked for awhile but then, they fell right back to their old habits.”

“Could I ask a question, God?”

Sure, boy. And you don’t have to call me God. Just call me Sid. Everyone else does.”

“Well, Sid, I wonder if the problem has anything to do with sex.”

“Sex? What’s that?”

“It’s like when you said go forth and multiply.”

“Oh yeah. I vaguely remember that.”

“Well, I’m just thinking, Sid. You made multiplying so pleasurable that people practically do it in the streets. They even do it in schools and in the restrooms. People are multiplying everywhere.”

“I did not know that.”

“Nobody gives a damn about an earthquake or a hurricane. I mean, they don’t even slow down.”

“I think I’m getting your point. Go on.”

“Well, this might be the time to make multiplying not quite so pleasant.”

“I get it. I can threaten those politicians with a sex holiday or something like that.”

That’s it, Babe, er, Sid.”

“How would you like to sit at my right hand, Bobby Baby?”

“Love it. Let’s talk later. Right now, there’s a few things to think about.”

“What’s that? I thought I knew everything. I am God, you know.”

“Well, you’ve been busy, Sid. Natural for a girl in your position.”

“Is that a double entendre?”

“Not at all. You’re God, Sid. You can be anything you want, boy, girl, horse, computer, you name it.”

“Okay, go on.”

“Well, here’s my plan. Remember when you dispatched all the male children?”

“Vaguely.”

“Well, this time, you render the women in D.C. repulsive.”

“So?”

“It’ll drive the Democrats nuts.”

“What about the Republicans.”

“Their women are repulsive anyway. Save your energy.”

“So what’s your point, Bobby.”

“Well, Sid, the real problem in D.C. isn’t Obama, it’s the Republicans. They’ve got the Democrats running so scared I think we have a new species evolving, the spineless Democrat.”

“Hey, don’t use spineless in my presence. I’m the Intelligent Designer. I decide who and what evolves.”

“True, Sid, but the manufacturing process went awry someplace.”

“I see your point. What do I do?”

“Well, here’s how I see it. Feel free to chip in anytime. We’ll pull a reverse switcherroo on ’em. Instead of leaving Repub women repulsive, we’ll make ’em enticing.”

“You’re a good guy. I’m beginning to like this. Fire away.”

“Well, remember the lamb’s blood on the door of believers?”

“It’s coming back to me.”

“Well, this time, believers use the blood of a virgin and write R on their door. When you pass over, you touch all women within and, voila, they become irresistible reproducing machines.”

“Oh, Lord, I love it.”

“Here’s the kicker, Sid. The Republicans will become so tired from multiplying, they’ll call in sick every day and the Democrats can finally pass their own agenda. No more gridlock. Prayers will taper off and you can go fishing again.”

“God, you’re a genius.”

“Well, I try.”

“No, I meant me. I’m a genius. I’m assigning you to my staff immediately. Angel in Charge of Devious and Evil Ideas.”

“There is one hitch, Sid.”

“What’s that Angel?”

“The Republicans will probably spend so much time multiplying they won’t have time to worship you.”

“That’s okay, Bob. It’s time those uptight assholes relaxed, anyway.”

See, I told you God is a regular guy.

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A few days ago, Rick Perry, the Governor of Texas, announced his candidacy for President. He immediately became the darling of Red States and almost like a rocket, he pushed other Republican candidates below the fold or off of the front pages entirely.

Only Michele Bachman stood with him at the peak of Republican hopes. Her claim to fame? She won the Iowa straw poll, once a barometer of nationwide trends but now largely a field of dreams for redundant wannabes.

So what is it about Rick Perry that so enthralls Republicans?

To begin with, he is their version of the quintessential All-American Boy. Born on a farm in Paint Creek Texas, he became a real Air Force pilot and married his high school sweetheart. He’s a staunch church-goer and a firm believer in the interrelationship of church and state.

More than these, the man looks right. His handsome, youthful, energetic good looks set him apart from older candidates who seem shopworn and listless in comparison. Right Wing Republicans perceive him as the perfect counter to a vacillating and ineffective Barack Obama.

On the political front, Perry has been the Governor of Texas for 10 years, handily dispatching opponents such as Kay Bailey Hutchinson, a respected moderate Republican of the old school. Perry’s assault on her as a Washington insider effectively overrode her moderation.

He has consistently and sometimes insistently called for Texas to secede from the union, a battle cry that rings true throughout the old Confederate States of America and often in the hearts of red staters elsewhere who ought to understand the consequences of an actual secession from a look at American history but who are blind to the half million dead Americans in the last actual attempt at secession.

Perry has also awed the entire Republican political establishment with his by-the-book recitation of an ideologically driven conservative economic record. As he and his powerful Texas high roller supporters tell it, Texas has enjoyed a level of economic success far and above the level of other states, with a booming job market, a low or in some case no taxes, and an unemployment record that is the envy of the Republican Nation.

That these claims are largely hot air seems to have escaped attention. The Texas economy is based almost entirely on oil, a condition that has existed since 1903 when oil was discovered at the Spindletop Hill in Beaumont. Today, those wells are dry as are most productive wells in the state. Almost all Texas oil economic activity and employment now is based on refining oil from overseas sources such as the Middle East. The ports of Houston and Port Arthur are two of the busiest ports in the nation. Moreover, these ports are ringed with refineries that operate twenty-four seven.

Despite the extent of refining activity, many small towns around the refineries have suffered and continue to suffer severe economic woes. The City of Port Arthur, for example, with a population of about 50,000, is a mere shadow of the boomtown it was early in its history and through World War II. The entire central portion of the town is nothing but the empty and gutted hulks of buildings that once were exclusive hotels, federal buildings, and businesses. Oddly, however, central Port Arthur is the location of City Hall, the police department, and Lamar University Port Arthur. The contrast between these two Port Arthurs is striking and inexplicable in the midst of the highly-touted Texas economy.

But oil is not the only source of economic activity and employment. Texas also has economic segments devoted to farming and ranching and technology, but the only other money maker that might approach oil is federal expenditures in the state. The number of military bases in Texas is large and the military population spends a great deal of money every payday. Moreover, military commands negotiate with Texas businesses for a plethora of goods and services in support of those bases. As in the case of oil, this source of economic activity existed long before Perry was born.

But Perry’s policies and actions in the area of social indicators and social conditions are perhaps the most telling signs of the reality of his governorship. In his zeal to attract corporations to Texas, he has virtually eliminated corporate taxes. To offset this lack of revenue, he has decimated the educational structure. As a result, corporations and businesses have had to rely on technical and professional employees from states such as California and New York, both with top-flight educational systems engaged in producing skilled graduates. Moreover, most of the increase in employment cited by Perry consists predominantly of foreign laborers who are hired into low wage jobs.

Perhaps even more abominable, the portion of Texans covered by health insurance has sunk well below the midpoint of the population because of breaks Perry has given to big businesses.

One wonders when and if the Democrats will expose Perry’s shell game, a game stacked in favor of the rich at the expense of the poor, a game that has created an empty economic shell. If Texas is the model of a conservative economic structure at work, then we will eventually see a flight of jobs to other states. I’m choosing Nevada. Maybe I could find a post-retirement position as a rodeo cowboy. Reno has fine weather in the springtime and an exciting rodeo.

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“… of course they are. Everything corporations earn ultimately goes to the people. Where do you think it goes? Whose pockets? Whose pockets? People’s pockets. Human beings my friend.”

So says Mitt Romney.

You may take issue with him, but he has a point.

The money corporations earn winds up in the pockets of politicians who need a few million for their reelection.

It also winds up in the hands of corporate executives who spend it on necessities such as private jets, baronial estates, country clubs, yachts, penthouses in exclusive hotels, the latest Paris fashions, and corporate pension plans that extend these benefits until death do them part and perhaps longer.

A few Missouri mills may wind up in the hands of peons in foreign countries where corporations have moved their manufacturing facilities.

Occasionally, a few pesos may dribble down into the hands of maids, butlers, and chauffeurs.

So, you can see clearly that Mitt knows what he is talking about.

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Once upon a time, the Republican Party declared the strength of the American economy a vital national interest. In those days, vital national interest meant an interest the U.S. would go to war to protect.

Now, the modern repugnant party counts the economy as a having the approximate value of a Missouri mill.

Just as repugnant, the Democratic Party has permitted this devaluation of the once proud United States of America by its lack of a spine.

Why haven’t the individual Americans among us who retain a modicum of common sense decided to secede and let the loonies have their own country?

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…is a Television show I stumbled across on the Style Channel. It’s actually all about a troupe of faux-blond, overly mascara-ed Texas women who live high on the hog so to speak. I’ve only seen one or two episodes, but based on my limited exposure to it, the program seems to be patterned after The Real Housewives of New York City only bigger and brassier. That’s just the way Texas is.

I’m probably deranged, but I like to watch these shows. I think it all started with Bravo Network’s the Real Housewives of Orange County followed in no particular order by the Real Housewives of New York and then the Real Housewives of New Jersey. Somewhere along the line, the Real Housewives of Atlanta crept in.

They all run to a pattern, big rich beautiful (depending on your tastes) generally blond women who seem to be in a dither over something. I’ve never quite figured out why they are constantly in some kind of verbal brouhaha. In fact, I don’t even know what their arguments are all about.

Occasionally, they’ll have a party and we get a chance to see their husbands, boyfriends, or significant others. These men are all dressed alike, usually in jeans and a white dress shirt untucked and unbuttoned to a point just above the navel.

The men are usually freshly shaven and neatly trimen around the ears. They stand quietly drink in hand near their women and do their utmost to exude confidence, the kind that requires years of acculturation to achieve.

Occasionally, they may look at one another quizzically as if to ask, “Why are these women arguing? Why don’t they just draw and shoot like us manly guys?”

As you might expect based on the show’s title, signs and symbols of conspicuous consumption are all around: upscale shopping, tennis lessons, golf courses, gated communities, cocktail parties, gatherings at intimate lounges, all of the things that make the rest of us wonder why they whine and whine and snivel when a misguided politician wants to raise taxes on the rich.

But are these people really rich? Or do they live from paycheck to paycheck? Have the show’s creators and producers managed to locate a bunch of good looking poor Texas women and trained them in the arts of pretense, which probably isn’t too difficult given the American tendency to embellish our lives.

I don’t know about the Texas beauties but a couple of Orange County wives have been reduced to finding work after a divorce. One of them even moved out of her upscale digs into a more modest residence. But that’s America in the 21st Century. You just can’t trust the politicians to pressure their corporate buddies into bringing a few jobs back to the good old U.S. of A.

I think I’ve listed all of the Housewives of…Genre. If I’ve missed one or more, let me know. And if you have some ideas for similar shows, let me know about them. I have my own ideas. For example, I’d dearly love one about the Housemaids of the Terminator.

That’s my take on life in the idle lane. You may like these kinds of reality shows. To me, they are examples of shows I can’t not watch.

Addendum: You’ll note the following sentence in which two adjectives may seem discordant. “The men are usually freshly shaven and neatly trimen…”  Ordinarily, I would write “shaved and trimmed,” but I decided to slip in an Olde English construction to demonstrate the infinite possibilities for expression in the English language. Another example, “Get your friggin hands offa me you uncouth vermin,” is a form of expression descended from Frisian. Or, “Fuck you, Jack,” a greeting widely used among members of the U.S. Congress, a manner of speaking which is also known to be a regular utterance of Vice Presidents. English is a very adaptable language.

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