Monthly Archives: November 2008

Barry Unusual Punishment

No, not that Barry.  Not Barack.  I mean, Barry, “Copacabana” Manilow.  Ok, I know I had a list of things to write about, but things change, news happens.

Get this:

Speaking of old and boring…and Barry Manilow, again…the adult-contemporary crooner’s mellow music is now the unexpected cornerstone of a bizarre but apparently effective new plan of justice masterminded by Colorado judge Paul Sacco. Judge Sacco is punishing people who land in court for noise violations (blasting their stereos, rehearsing with bands, hosting raging parties) by sentencing then to an hour-long, high-volume Barry Manilow listening session. Of course, for some Barry fans the prospect of 60 minutes of “Mandy” or “Weekend In New England” might sound absolutely delightful, but for most violators who wind up in Sacco’s courtroom, it’s a cruel and unusual punishment indeed. And just in case any of the offenders emerge from this experience with a new appreciation for Manilow, it seems law officials take surveys after each punishing session. That way, if any of the lawbreakers actually dig a particular Barry song (like, say, “Copacabana”), that ditty is removed from the court-ordered playlist.

I have been waiting so long for something like this to happen!  (For the record, I used to rock out to Copacabana, and still think it’s a cool, albeit cheesy song. Really, it’s eery and creepy, all while being Vegasy and smarmy.  Whenever I think about or hear the words, “Her name was Lola!  She was a show-girl,”  I think of a dimly lit old style western bar.  Hey, man, I was a young kid when this came out, raised on Bonanza, The Big Valley, and The Rifleman!  I didn’t know how things were in Cuba, much less what a show-girl wore, unless you have Miss Kitty from Gunsmoke to use as a reference.  So, that being said, I saw Lola as a Gunsmoke-esque aging barmaid type woman who lives in a ghost town alone and pines for a man she lost long ago.  It’s a creepy song.  I used to get shivers down my spine listening to it, but it’s got an infectious beat.  I love it, it’s so morbidly juicy and the ghostly backup singers who almost whisper, “Copacabaaaaaanaaaaa!”  Seriously, this song wins the Cheese Award hands down.

Now I’ve got that out of the way, I can now give my opinion about this punishment.  I love it.  The punishment fits the crime.  If you’re found guilty of creating a public disturbance through annoying noise, partying, loud music, what better way to mete out punishment than by forcing the offender to listen to Barry Manilow?  Unless the offender is a gay cross-dressing male who idolizes the velvet-swathed crooner (And I know a few), I can imagine this punishment will be just absolute torture.  But why stop at an hour?  Why stop at Manilow?  I can think of a few other “musical entertainers” who may prove to be an even more effective punishment.  Here now, is my Top Ten List of Musicians From Hell. I think I’ll send in my list to Judge Sacco.  It’s the least I can do to help.

  • 10.  Celine Dion – My Heart Will Go On. Please, Celine, go on.  In fact, why don’t you just go and leave us normal people alone?  Not only is her music worse than fingernails on a black board (that actually never bothered me), but she’s an annoyingly self-important person.  For such a bony toothpick, she sure is full of herself.  Vegas can keep her.
  • 9.  Starship – We Built This City. I was in high school when this monstrosity came out and let me tell you, it was complete torture.  I honestly, to this day, believe that Grace Slick was either hopped up on drugs, or hell-bent on punishing the world through this song.  Radio Stations blasted it every few minutes and each time it came on, I flipped the channel.  For years I thought it was a man singing!  I guess it’s one good thing about losing my hearing.  I now never have to listen to that annoying song again.
  • 8.  Pat Boone – Anthing he plays.  Do I really need to elaborate?
  • 7.  Billy Ray Cyrus – Achy Breaky Heart. The twang! The tenor! The tight jeans! (ok, he has a nice butt) The mullet! The only person I knew who thought this song was great was a black man called “Freak.”  Really.  That’s what all of his friends called him.  Small wonder.  I must admit, though, I enjoy listening to Weird Al’s parody, Achy Breaky Song.
  • 6.  Gipsy Kings – Esto Mundo. If George H.W. Bush loves ’em, there must be something wrong with them.
  • 5.  Whitney Houston – How Will I Know & The Greatest Love of All. Both songs are equally obnoxious and both songs were thrust upon me in high school.  Granted, Whitney has a great voice, but honestly, how many warbled vowels can you inject into a one-syllable word before you start looking like a fool?
  • 4.  New Kids on the Block – Hangin’ Tough. I actually had college friends who loved these guys.  I thought they were all stupid, gay, and ugly.  Not to mention talentless. I hated everything they did as a group.  And yet, I’ve heard that they’ve reunited and will have an album out.  Dear Lord baby Jesus, lyin’ there in your ghost manger, please help us!
  • 3.  Michael Bolton – When A Man Loves a Woman. Michael Bolton is the male version of Whitney Houston, complicating the simplest of songs.  He ruined his share of classics by infusing them with unnecessary musical fluff.  The originals of every song he’s remade were better.
  • 2.  William Hung – She Bangs. Even Ricky Martin has to agree that this mutilation of an already annoying song is just criminal.  The unfortunately named Mr. Hung has no talent, no matter how sweet he is.
  • 1.  And the number one musical entertainer from hell is (drum roll, please…)  Yoko Ono. Seriously, ’nuff said.

Bring them all together and we have the means to conquer the world!  Hey, if Indian Love Call worked for those pesky, murderous Martians, then think of the power we could wield against terrorists with these annoying troubadours!

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The List

Over the last few days I have been mulling over what to post.  So many things to discuss, so little time.  After all, I have gifts to sew, meals to cook, places to go…gotta give the cat attention, the husband the smoochin’, and have time to sleep.  

Because I know I have a tendency towards long-winded ramblings, I’ve decided to keep this post as succinct and to the point as possible.  There’s too many things to post about and not enough time for me to adequately cover them.  So I’m making a list of all topics I plan to touch on in the coming days.  I want and need to do at least two hours of writing per day.  Whether it’s here or somewhere else.  And so I give you my List of things I need to blog about:

  1. My weird-ass dreams – they are always incredibly vivid.  For example, this morning I woke up after dreaming that the snot coming out of my nose looked like a gelatinized metallic gold paint.  Golden goo.  I was going, WTF is wrong with me?  My husband said if that were really the case, if my snot really was made of gold, we’d never have to work again…and he’d need to remember to always treat me well. Imagine that, the girl who blew the golden snot! 
  2. The Tragedies of Black Tuesday (Wal-Mart in New York, and Toys R Us in CA) – Is it really worth it to risk your life (literally) for a bargain?  What happened at Wal-Mart is just one of the glaring examples of why I hate Wal-Mart and will never, ever shop there.  Since I don’t have kids, I can’t really say either way about Toys R Us.  What happened is also a very good reason I never, ever, ever go shopping at major outlets the day after Thanksgiving.  
  3. Chicago and Texas.  I just can’t seem to find the words to describe the differences, there are so many.  My original rant touched on a number of subjects that deserve separate posts, and I intend to do just that…eventually. 
  4. Rush Limbaugh and his ridiculously fallacious pontifications are too much for me to ignore any longer.  I’ve been reading transcripts from his radio show.  Clearly, this man is delusional, as are his devotees. 
  5. Michael Moore – he used to stand for something.  I need to figure out if he still does. 
  6. Waverli Rainey – the 16-year-old girl from the Mat-Su Valley who wrote a letter to the editor of the local newspaper.  This girl’s got balls and a bright future.
  7. I was going to do Sarah Palin, but you know something?  Helen Philpot has said more than enough for me.  What I’d love to say, she says it better  (if you love Palin, be prepared to no like it.) 
  8. Obama is a Muslim and all other ridiculous Republican rants.  But I think I could do that also under the Rush Limbaugh entry.  
  9. AIG paying managers bonuses as “retention pay.”  Did these buttwipes learn nothing?  I need to investigate this more…

Well, this is where I end my post.

I think I’ll go and blow my nose. Hopefully, I’ll find a bonus in there somewhere.

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The Naked Bird

Anyone who is a fan of the iconic comedy series, Friends, will understand what I mean when I say, gimme some grilled cheese. I’ve never looked at the bird in quite the same way since I saw the episode where Monica and Joey get their heads stuck in a naked, plucked turkey.  Seriously.  

That is not to say I don’t eat turkey.  I’m just kinda, sorta, all turkeyed-out.  I ate so much turkey last night and today that I have a desire for something different.  I have a yen, a hankering, if you will, for a hunk of cheese.  Guernsey, cheese curds, Provolone, Swiss.  And Chedder.  Oh, and Brie.  I gotta get me some Brie; that beautiful French spreadable cheese eaten with sweet fruit!  

Admittedly, I’m hungry right now.  I had pumpkin bread with home made whipped cream for a pre-breakfast snack at 6:00am.  Twice.  Then, around 9 I had some turkey, gravy and stuffing.  Around 11-ish, I had a slice of banana nut bread slathered with butter (not margarine!)  It’s past 4 and I feel as though I haven’t eaten a thing yet today. And I’ll probably eat turkey.  And more pumpkin bread.  And more of the spinach salad with cranberries and mandarin oranges.  And more gravy.  Oh, and the brown sugar cookies my husband made…or is it just the uncooked dough?  Whichever, It’ll probably end up in my mouth one way or another.  

Oh man, I gotta go eat now.


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Dusk at the Shores of Lake Michigan

I rode my trusty Schwinn Breeze to the shores of Lake Michigan this afternoon.  I’d spent most of the day glued to the computer, creating my profile for an online freelance writer’s group.  At times I became frustrated by the lack of options, the verification process, the inability to figure out where the HELL I build a portfolio?   Then my husband came home from class and I discovered that I am experiencing the first stirrings of PMS.  His mere presence was irritating.  I decided that, before I contracted a full-blown case of Prehistoric Monster Syndrome, I should take a ride down to the lake and cool off.  

Not surprisingly, it was just a wee bit cooler than cool.  It was frigid, with a sharp north wind blowing.  I hit the bike path after crossing a busy street, dodging opening car doors and the Number 92 bus.  Soon, though, I was rewarded for my efforts. The lake’s horizon emerged: hundreds of white caps erupted in confetti as they collided with the seawall.  It was beautiful.  

I whipped out my ancient HP735 and started snapping as many photos as I could.  I had to hurry.  Not only was it cold, the sun was at a perfectly orange angle for late afternoon photos.  Plus, this dinosaur sucks the juice out of batteries faster than LeStat de Lioncourt could suck a body dry.  

So without further ado, I give you, the shores of Lake Michigan.


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Kaossilator & Mini Kaos

I have just fallen in love:

The Kaossilator here

And the mini-Kaos touchpads effects processor here.

Oh! How I want one of each! They make me drool with desire! Maybe just one of one will do, but, they’re a little out of my price range ($200) so for now, I’ll have to satisfy myself with other peoples’ cool youtube videos and sound bites.

Apparently, our Mac Mini has something like this already on it (so my husband says). Now, if only I could find it and figure out how to use it!

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Scenes From Andersonville

I took a walk today.  I decided I’d better get out there before the sun went down around 5-ish.  I took some pictures, mostly of cute shop window displays, the vibrant leaves, and other cool things. You know what?  I’ll just let the pictures speak for themselves…

I love Autumn in Andersonville!


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I’m Just a Texan in Chicago…Part I, The Rant

I have blue blood. I just know it. I’m part French, from the Sollee lineage. I suspect that’s an American bastardization of the French word, “Soleil,” meaning Sun. So with that in mind, it stands to reason I am, without a doubt, descended from Louis XIV. After all, dear old Louie was known as The Sun King! And my English side is descended from noblemen who attended Oxford…about three centuries ago.  I dare anyone to scrub the inside of my cheek with a Q-Tip and send it in to National Geographic as part of their DNA genetics thing they had going on. Well, the study may be over, but gosh darn, it all, that’s not really the reason I’m blogging right now!

You see, I really meant I am the only registered Democrat in my family. My family hails from Texas and many parts of the South. The French ancestors settled in South Carolina, then Colorado. The British ancestors settled in Virginia before moving on to the Rocky Mountain state, as well. Hell, my family of families have been here in the states for well over three centuries, but amazingly, I know little about my own family history. Just that we’ve all been here so long, I could qualify for membership in the Daughters of the Revolution!  Ok, dammit, I digress, yet again.

I am a liberal by Texas standards. I am a traitor to my state’s Red Elephantine Republican tradition. And so imagine my sense of wonder when I moved 975 miles north and east to the Windy City! Here, in the midst of the two mighty O’s! Oprah! Obama! Hallelujuah!

Granted, the city’s public transportation infrastructure is aging, but even in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, if you don’t own a car, you’re pretty much S.O.L., unless you live in downtown Dallas, Fort Worth, or within walking distance of a bus/train stop.

I lived in downtown Fort Worth for a while. I loved it despite the fact that the public transportation left much to be desired. There were buses…during the day until evening. Want to go out at night? Either hoof it or drive. According to The T’s web site, “Regular city bus hours of service are from 4:19 a.m. to 12:08 a.m. Monday through Friday. Saturday service from 4:21 a.m. to 11:50 p.m. Sunday service is available from 4:40 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Man, that just sucks. The routes are pretty limited, too. You can thank voters and lack of funds for that. Seems people in the D/FW area just don’t really like to use public transportation. You know, it attracts the “bad element.”  Dallas has DART, which is better, but even that has its drawbacks.  They shut down at night, too, for the most part.  

And don’t even get me started on the city of Arlington!  This gem is home to  Texas Rangers (who are they?), and will soon be home to the Dallas Cowboys!  Why am I even mentioning Arlington?  This sprawling city of nearly 400,000 does not have any public transportation to speak of.  None! Why?  Because, again, the voters didn’t want it.  They don’t want the higher taxes, they don’t want the gangs coming into their area.  Blah, blah, blah.  Seriously, the gangs are already there, and chances are, they’re driving and packing their pistols, not using the buses!  

How can a city that is host to two major sports teams, a nationally renowned amusement park, a huge water park, throngs of shopping and hotels…how can it not have public transportation????  It’s simply ridiculous.  And now, the traffic in that area has become so congested (duh) that Tarrant County has called for a special bond meeting to address the growing problems.  Any takers in the bet that Arlington residents kill yet another public transportation initiative?  

Live in the D/FW Metroplex?  No car, no travel, my friend! 

So, now you have a better idea of where I’m coming from in terms of getting around Chicago.  Before I moved here, I got rid of my car.  I loved my car.  It was a PT Cruiser.  Black.  It had attitude.  It reeked of nostalgia and ZZ Top.  It also ate gas.  The payments were drowning me, and my insurance payments were just another expense sinking me further into debt.  I lived in Frisco, a fancy suburb of Dallas.  I paid $14 per day driving to and from work.  That adds up.  

I worked in Downtown Dallas.  I could have taken the train to work, but that would have involved driving thirty minutes to the nearest park and ride stop and then traveling another hour to work by train and then bus.  I wouldn’t have saved much gas going that route.  In fact, doing so would have caused me to drive about ten miles out of my way just to take advantage of the park and ride!  I could have walked thirty minutes to the nearest bus stop and travel yet another hour to work. You see where I’m going here?

Public transportation is a bitch in D/FW.   

And so again, I heard angels sing when I disembarked from the plane to the El Train to my new home in the cozy little Chicago neighborhood of Andersonville.  

How is Chicago different than Texas?  Obviously, attitudes are much different here about things.  Imagine my surprise and quiet pleasure from seeing two men walking down Clark Street openly holding hands, or two women doing the same, for that matter.  Interracial couples are the norm here, whereas in Texas they’re still quite a novelty.  What happened in Arlington when Jerry Jones decided he wanted a large parcel of land for the new Cowboys stadium would never have succeeded here.  Homeowners in Arlington were basically told, “We don’t care how long you’ve lived here, you’re selling.”  I remember one home owner continued to hold out, forcing construction workers to begin working around his home.  Finally, he had no choice but to sell his home at a reduced price.  Chicagoans wouldn’t have stood for that.  According to my husband, they would have revolted! 

It’s funny how Texans like to brag about how independent they are, how stubborn they are, and yet, when big business comes knocking, don’t expect a fight to the death.  I like Texas, don’t get me wrong, it’s just that some things about it just disgust me.  The mixing of religion and politics, the way people say, “I don’t want to share my wealth with anyone!”  It’s that “go it alone” attitude that has gotten Texas in trouble so often.  (It’s not surprising though, after all, Texas is commonly known as “The Lone Star State.”) I’ll illustrate my point about this.  In an email exchange between me and my older brother, we were discussing health care.  I believe healthcare is a right.  Anyone who lives here and pays taxes and is a citizen should have an automatic right to basic healthcare.  My brother believes it is a responsibility, and that people should pay for their own.  Here’s an excerpt of his email to me:

The government does not exist to support people with housing, healthcare, eductation,(sic) a car, etc. [for] those who are either too lazy or too incompetent to earn these things themselves.  For those who believe otherwise, there are plenty of socialist countries out there willing to give you a home (one room apartment), transportation (a train ride), and healthcare (you get what they give you).

What should the federal government really do?  I can tell you – it’s not to give people houses, tell companies what they should pay or what benefits they should provide.

I was shocked when I read that.  Too lazy?  Too incompetent?  What happened to the cool brother I used know and admire?   Did he mean to include the mentally disabled when he said that?  The physically disabled?  I, myself, have a disability, and so I was shocked to read these words from what I thought was an enlightened individual.  The government doesn’t exist to take care of people?  The government doesn’t exist to protect rights? Then what’s the point of it?  I guess we could scrap it all and have anarchy.  Deregulate everything.  We’ve already seen where that got us in the financial industry.  Chaos.  A foundering economy. Massive lay-offs, and growing joblessness.  

But you see, my brother has worked for the same company for over twenty years.  He hasn’t a clue about what it is to feel frustrated in a job search, to wonder where your next meal is coming from, to send out hundreds of resume’s without a nibble.  He doesn’t understand the enormous amount of pride swallowing that goes into standing in line for the local food bank because you can’t afford to feed your family otherwise. I’ve been there.  I know people who live their lives at the mercy of those benevolent souls who continue to make donations to programs they depend on.  I have helped people try to find ways to get off government assistance, only to have the door shut in their faces time and time again.  So…incompetent?  Lazy?  I know how it feels to go without because you don’t want to ask your family for a handout…until the problem is so big you’ve exhausted all other options and have no choice.  And they say, “We’re getting to the point where we don’t want to help you anymore.”  Walk a mile in my shoes, bro.  Or better yet, walk a mile in the shoes of the many people I’ve worked with.  I’m sure, if he could truly understand what it is to feel trapped in a never-ending cycle of need and debt, he would  be singin’ a different tune.  I asked him about the disabled.  I asked him about those who’ve lost jobs through no fault of their own.  He never responded.  I guess some things are best left ignored.  

I’m also a proponent of gay marriage, which is a very controversial subject.  

My brother also wrote that “God intended MAN and WOMAN to marry with the purpose of having children.  Two men or two woman can’t do that.  I’m OK with gay and lesbians – but how can they get married?”  

He misses the point completely.  Historically, marriage was a merging of two families in order to create an alliance.  It was a business transaction. Children begotten out of these alliances were considered assurance the family’s legacy would continue.  His point comes (supposedly) directly from the Bible, making it a religious reference.  The passing of California’s Proposition 8 originated with the Mormon Church and was supported by a number of religious institutions.  I’m not a legal expert, but wouldn’t that be crossing the line between church and state?  Wouldn’t this incident mean that the Mormon Church, officially, has ceased being a church only, and crossed over into political lobbying? After all, the Mormon Church actively lobbied, for this proposition, and donated a large amount of money to the cause.   My brother’s assertion that because gays and lesbians can not procreate with each other, and should therefore, be denied the benefits of marriage, is a canard.  Wouldn’t it be easier to abolish the legal definition of marriage all around and create business unions? Then we could let our own churches take care of the religious bonding aspect of it. Because, when you think about it, marriage is, essentially, a business partnership: a melding of two incomes and financial responsibility.  

I love my brother, but he is a microcosm of Texas attitude at its worse.  He’d probably have a heart attack if he saw two men holding hands all lovey-dovey here in Chi-Town.  In all fairness, though, he’d probably be ok with watching two women kissing, but don’t quote me on that.  

I thought I’d be done by now, but this entry has taken on a life of its own.  I meant to talk about my neighborhood, but I ended up talking about my brother!  I wanted to talk about the cool places I’ve seen and fun things I’ve done, but I ended up ranting about the crap public transportation in D/FW!  

And so, “I’m just a Texan in Chicago” will continue…

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