Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Your wish is my command...

...at least if you are Anne, who prefers whining and cats to politics!


And while this picture has nothing to do with cats, obviously, it still fits in here. At least because I say it fits in here...

I can safely predict there will be more moaning, complaining and whining here soon. It's been that kind of day. Also that kind of week. Also that kind of month.

And, for that matter, that kind of year....

Monday, October 30, 2006

The World's Smallest Political Quiz!

Since I absolutely do not want to write about my day or how I'm feeling right now, I think I'll distract you, as I did myself, by suggesting you go here and take this quiz.

In my case, I think it was remarkably accurate...

I'd like to know how all y'all place on the chart, too!

It beats the heck out of reading more miserable, whiny stuff from me, which I am all too ready to inflict on you....

Sunday, October 29, 2006

The light dies early

There are very few things in this world I can honestly say I hate. This time of year is one of them.

Darkness falls earlier each day and will continue to do so until January, a stark, unpleasant reminder that another year is coming to an end. I can't help but wonder if I will see another year reach this stage. I can't help but wonder if I want to.

Looking up into the night sky, I see an aircraft that seems to be heading for the Moon. I envy those on it, people who have places to go, things to do...

Today was an ordinary day. I completed some work, went for a walk. But the work was, as is all too common these days, a painful experience. There have been communication problems with the editor who asked for it; the ensuing unpleasant discussions robbed the article of what little pleasure writing it held for me. Each word was torn out of my mind; the words that came out were stitched together into a whole that leaves me cold.

This joyless, bitter life is new to me. I know the causes all too well. No day goes by that I am not reminded of them.

Of course those involved in bringing on this deepening sadness -- except for the face I see each day in the mirror, who knows my failings all too well -- would deny any complicity in it. I know for certain one would, and has, disclaimed responsibility, even though said person was the catalyst for the downward spiral.

Lifting myself up for my own benefit alone hardly seems worth the effort. I have needs that I cannot meet. Everyone does. Maybe not everyone; I have met self-sufficient people, and yet I wonder if, in the endless night hours, they wish for companionship as I do, wish for the validation that comes only from other people....

Say what you will. I know who I am, know what I am. I know what I see correctly, known when my vision is flawed.

I mistrust the inviting charms of the night. I know that, too soon, darkness will be all that surrounds me.

I haven not achieved my most cherished goals, have not lived my greatest dreams. And now it seems I never will. So I hate the darkness, and all it implies.


No, I'm not going to add a Gratuitous Duck of the week feature!

After all, there seem to be only two living in the neighborhood, though it's possible there are a few ducklings as well.

The second one was using the pool this morning...


Another "twofer" this week, as two new cats found their way in front of the camera.

First, this guy. You can't tell from this picture, but he's missing his right eye. It doesn't seem to bother either him or the nice people he lives with....

And this one, beautiful but shy...

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Turning back the clock

First, your public-service message: at 0200 tomorrow, be sure to turn your clocks back one hour. Daylight Savings Time is over until next March.

I bet you all knew that, anyway...

When I cheated and set most of my clocks back this evening, it struck me that I wished I could keep spinning those hands back, back to a time when I was happy, when I actually believed that today was good and tomorrow would be even better.

But how far back would I have to go?

Would I have to turn the hands nine month's-worth, back to the days when I knew the joy of having a lovely, talented woman whom I loved and adored committed to me, with her love offered to me in perpetuity? If I went back that far, could I do anything to keep her from changing her mind two months later and setting her sights on someone else?

Would I have to turn the hands back a total of five years, to a time when I let another woman slip away, a different but oh-so-loving lady who, unlike the most recent, never betrayed my trust even as she was leaving?

Would I have to turn it back to a time before I was offered a chance to create a new magazine -- the pinnacle of my own little professional world -- by people who let the whole thing collapse in a sorry mess of unpaid debts and hard feelings?

Just how far back would I have to go?

Tonight my failures seem tied to the inexorable forward motion of the clock's hands. So many mistakes, so many instances when I trusted those who are untrustworthy, when I let my emotions lead me down paths that ended in sadness, when my own weaknesses kept me from reaching my goals.

Perhaps I should try to force the clock's hands back to a time when my primary objective in everything I did was taking what I wanted, when I was capable of false emotions to get my way, when my sole purpose was self-gratification. There was a time when my own pleasure was all that mattered.

But if I went back that far, I would have to somehow have to erase the disgust today's "me" feels for that long-ago ancestor.

Over the years, I transformed myself (to be very blunt) from a "fucker" into a "lover," from a "taker" to a genuine friend. It wasn't always easy, and I haven't mastered all of it yet. But I did it.

And the payoff for becoming what I would consider a decent person? There is no payoff. I am alone.

If I was granted the power to turn back the clock in a way that could save me from the pointless years that lie ahead, I could pick several places for the backwards journey to stop. I think I know the one I'd choose, know the exact point at which I'd like to pick up my life and change the way I handled the days that came after.

But it doesn't matter, because I cannot do that.

All I can do, all any of us can do, is drop back one lousy hour.

Somehow, that doesn't seem fair.

NOT-REALLY-PARENTHETICAL THOUGHT: Once again, It's me and ol' Blue Eyes, sippin' Bourbon as he sings it:

It's a lonesome old town
when you're not around
I'm lonely as I can be.

I never knew how much I missed you
but now I can plainly see.

It's a lonesome old town
when you're not around
How I wish you'd come back to me.

I never knew how much I missed you
but now I can plainly see
It's a lonesome old town
when you're not around
How I wish you'd come back to me.

How I wish you'd come back to me.

(Written by Charles Kisco and Harry Tobias)

The usual morning walk...

...always has its moments of small interest Where The Ghetto Meets The Sea.

First this classic BMW coupe which, shall we say, "needs work..."

The crows were paying special attention to this telephone pole. If you look closely, you can see a squirrel (very much alive) atop the pole...

If I had to come up with a one-word caption for this picture, I'd probably call it "contentment..."

Okay. I've had my walk. Time for work....


...the air is warm, heavy, still, and tinted red-brown by the smoke from a massive fire burning, uncontrolled, some 75 miles or more to the south...

A friend called me tonight. She is driving cross-country; we talked from Texarkana, Texas until she was well into Arkansas and thinking about stopping for the night in Little Rock.

As always, we talked about many things. She is good at loosening my tongue; I feel no fear of saying anything to her. She suggested I should put some of the stories I told her here. Some, I may, but most I will not, because they cannot be told in a way that would make them as inoffensive to some readers as they are to me.

I'm a strange person, I admit. It takes a lot to offend me. You might say as a white, middle-class male it should take a lot to offend me; I haven't suffered all that much from stereotyping or discrimination. From my safe white-male perch, I find humor in places others would not but, in my opinion, should. So I consider it a service to the community to keep some of it to myself.

And some of the stories from my life -- the ones I haven't shared with anyone -- should only be told to a woman lying in my arms on a warm, dark night....

Why am I rambling on about this? Because it keeps me from thinking -- and writing -- about some realizations our long, long conversation left me with.

She is one sharp lady. At one point, she said "Even though I love them, when I see cat pictures in your journal, I know you've had a bad day." True enough. I find solace in cats; they seem to like me, and have never betrayed me. I feed them, or at a minimum give them affection and attention, and they respond in their way. Some people have done much less though given much more.

I admire this woman for her talents and sense of adventure. I'm a bit jealous, too; her 3000-mile trip is taking her to the place where she feels she belongs. She has lived in many places, and lived around many different kinds of people, and now she is going Home.

I would give a great deal to be able to set out in such an odyssey. But in my case, I'd be running from and not running to. That saddens me. As the days and years go by, I find there is no place where I want to be, where I feel I would be wanted or really understood.

She still looks to the future. I am more and more consumed by the past.

This is a relatively new thing for me. I can even pinpoint the time when I switched over from forward-looking optimism to backward-looking nostalgia. It happened just over seven months ago on a day I will, unfortunately, never forget.

But, thanks to my kind friend I can still, for a brief time, enjoy looking at the world through the eyes of someone who believes, rightly I think, that she has a place in the world and will be able to find and fill that place.

Her road through the dark night leads to the promise of creativity, happiness, fulfillment.

Mine leads deeper into darkness.

Through her talents, she is going to entertain -- and enlighten -- the world one day, though she doesn't yet know it.

Wherever I am, I'll be cheering her on.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Attention, WallyMart shoppers...

...the store shelves will be full of your favorite goodies from China, Malaysia and other slave-labor nations in time for Christmas...

An acquaintance who works on the docks tells me people are being laid off. It's not that there is a shortage of incoming cargo to unload -- damn little outgoing -- but a certain group of people that George W. Bush is so enamored of are apparently coming in to work certain jobs for much lower wages....


...is building. Along with anger (no, it's closer to rage than mere anger), frustration and similar unhelpful feelings.

Often, I try to post amusing pictures to distract myself, but that doesn't seem to be working today...

It would be pointless to go into detail about all the things that are contributing to my dangerous mood.

PARENTHETICAL THOUGHT: Dangerous? Yes, I'm using that word intentionally and precisely. When life gets to this point, I begin to fear my reactions to the next thing that comes along. I try not to react at all. I try not to get involved with anything that might let the negative genie all the way out of the bottle. If it was possible -- which it isn't -- I'd just hide for a month or six.

Let's just say that no single element of my life or environment is giving me any break from what seems like an avalanche of bad stuff. Mr personal and professional lives have both deteriorated noticeably -- though that hardly seems possible -- and, since most of you hear the same news from the rest of the world I do, you already know there's damn little to cheer about there.

The world's woes do not keep me awake at night. My own do, though.

Six or so people are involved directly in the situations that have brought me to the brink of explosion. Any one of them -- and one in particular -- could, by simply doing right, could ease the tension sufficiently to let me think I might still manage to crawl out of this hole.

A lot of people maintain that we are solely responsible for our own situations/happiness/success or failure. Would that it were so.

But as long as humans need love, food, a roof over their heads, clothing and -- depending on the profession they choose -- a certain amount of outside affirmation and attention -- they are at the mercy of others.

I certainly am.

And "others" are taking advantage of that. Or have taken advantage of it in scar-producing ways that still affect me.

Add in my painful awareness of my own limitations and failures, and you have a recipe for meltdown.

Even cute pictures aren't going to get me past that, I'm afraid.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Letting sleeping cats...

...sleep. What else?

I sometimes wonder what little kittycat dreams are going through his head as he snoozes. Tonight, I'd like to believe he's thinking about Anne, and her feline pals, Frank and Buck. I know I am....

The disgrace continues...

For the latest on the disgusting persecution of Border Patrol agents Jose Compean and Ignacio Ramos, please read this story. Undoubtedly acting on orders from above -- and we all know what ultra-high-level individual has sold his soul to illegal Mexican immigrants and the crooked Mexican government -- officials of the so-called "Department of Homeland Security" (itself one of the biggest governmental boondoggles in modern history) feel free to lie to members of congress who are trying to get to the bottom of this sorry mess.

If the smarmy allegations of the DHS brass had any validity, you can be damn certain they would have been brought out in the agents' trial. Somehow, they were not mentioned.

I find it fascinating that the trial hinged on the "sworn" testimony of the drug-toting illegal himself. There can be only one reason for that, and it has nothing to do with the truth.

A little hint of where the real blame lies came at a White House press briefing last week. Bush's mouthpiece, Tony Snow, was obviously caught off-guard when a reporter asked if George Bush would pardon Compean and Ramos, and responded (if you can call it that) in a negative, hostile way that attacked the reporter and did not (of course) answer the question at all. Obviously, American citizens are putting some pressure on Bush to reverse his current course and, for once, do the right thing. The pressure must be getting to Bush's P.R. pimp, too.

While I'm adding people to the s*** list on this issue, I can't leave out Bill O'Reilly. Once, I liked him, thought he was, if nothing else, intellectually honest. Then he turned his major efforts to plugging his books and whining about how he's a target of so much abuse.

Well, here's a little more abuse for you, Mr "No Spin." A caller to O'Reilly's radio show wanted to talk about Compean and Ramos. O'Reilly (of course) knows everything about the case and, since "the folks" (a term I have come to despise after hearing him use it incessantly) convicted the two agents, he's sure they're guilty.

What if "the folks" convicted them on perjured testimony and lies offered up by the prosecutors, Bill? Couldn't you stop being a cheap hustler and blowhard for a moment and do some serious investigating?

Naaah. It's so much easier to spend your time babbling about "secular progressives" and "culture wars," isn't it?

Doesn't matter to me. I wasn't ever what you'd call a consistent listener/viewer, but after this bit of total idiocy, I won't bother with this particular slimy hack again at all.

There is an ever-lengthening list of people who should pay with their jobs (and, perhaps, their very liberty) for having tossed Compean and Ramos over the side to appease Mexico and the open-borders crowd. From the president and his Attorney General right down to a tinhorn local prosecutor willing to do their bidding, there is plenty of blame to go around.

It is time to hold all of these "folks" accountable.

You never know...

...who (or in this case, what) you'll meet on the streets Where The Ghetto Meets The Sea!

If anyone ever tells you this place isn't all it's quacked up to be, here's proof they're wrong....

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

"The Court thanks you...

...and excuses you from further service." Sweet, sweet words!

I made it into the Long Beach Superior court building at 0745, as ordered and, after a security search more intense than you'd go through at an airport, made it up to the jury room, from which the hapless conscripts were sent off in groups of 30 to courtrooms after a none-too-brief "orientation" program..

The only building I'd rate lower on the depression scale would be the old County Hospital, specifically the morgue facilities. Gad, what a miserable place. Everything painted in various shades of Death Row Brown, and people wandering around whose appearance and facial expressions make it clear they'll soon be heading to Big Max for 25-to-life or, worse, the big LWOP.

I will say the judge seemed a good sort. Since we ended up in the Civil Division, he probably enjoys jury selection more than the trials themselves.

My first "oh, bleep" moment: the judge said those who made the cut would be deciding a personal injury case. Damn. The old "slip-and-fall" gag.

The "voir dire" process began with the judge asking questions and getting personal information. By the time he'd gotten through the first dozen, I'd picked out ten I wouldn't let on a jury if they were the last ten people on earth. People whose grasp of English was, shall we say, tenuous, a woman who felt the system had treated her (and her family) badly in five accidents they'd been involved in in the past few years, a guy who had been to law school and fancied himself another Perry Mason, and a couple who simply didn't seem to be inhabiting their own bodies.

For various reasons, court broke early for lunch and restarted late. This is, I'm told, typical. None of the food items available in the building looked as if its sell-by date was from this century, so I went outside and grabbed a Hebrew National dog and Snapple off a cart on Ocean Boulevard.

Fortified, I got back in and it was time for the attorneys -- three, one for the plaintiff and two for the two companies he was suing -- to take over the questioning. The plaintiff's lawyer seemed reasonably sharp, one of the defense lawyers acted like a graduate of some mail-order law school ("If you can draw this dog, you too can be a Famous Lawyer!"), and the other didn't appear to have a detectable pulse.

By this time I was getting damn nervous. They were booting humans off the jury panel, and keeping the zombies. And, worst of all, I was getting ever closer to taking a seat in that box. I was certain one of the three shysters would dump me; after all, what little we had been told about the case meant that my, well, "professional expertise" might be an issue. And I asked the judge a question about the introduction of videotaped testimony (which supposedly was going to be part of the trial) that made the no-pulse attorney wince. It was the only sign of life I saw from her.

Suddenly, all three attorneys accepted the twelve (plus two alternates) they had. I was next in line.

A narrow escape!

Being on the panel with those people would have been sheer hell. I can see the jury deliberations taking weeks after a two-day trial.

But that's them. I trotted back to the jury room, handed in my badge, grabbed my fill-in-your-name-here certificate of Good Citizenship and beat feet back into The World....

I have to admit it: I was secretly hoping I might get roped into being among the jurors in the next Trial of the Century. I could use a good book deal!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

My luck has run out...

...and I have to report, at 0745 tomorrow morning, to the Long Beach Superior court for a day of fun & frolic as a potential juror.

Damn. I was hoping I wouldn't get called.

All things considered, that means leaving the house at 0630 or thereabouts, to make sure I can find parking and drag my ass into the right area to be processed, get my stylish little badge stuck into a plastic holder...

And then sit around all day waiting to be picked for a jury.

I can't believe any lawyer will be dumb enough to let me become one of Twelve Angry (or Bored, or Tired) People sitting in judgment on anyone, but stupider things have happened.

In fact, I'll tell you right now: the defendant, whoever he or she might be, is already guilty as far as I'm concerned.

So that's all from here until further notice. Which I hope will be tomorrow.

Being the first on my block...

...to switch over to Firefox 2.0!

I've only had it up and running for maybe 20 minutes, but I dig it. Some of the new features are quite nice (particularly the automatic spell checker, which has already been flashing those wavy red "error" lines at me), and it looks attractive on my screen.

The price is very right, too!

Another thorn in Blll Gates's ass!

I don't want to vote...

...but in two weeks I, along with millions of Americans who are sure to be as disgusted with the state of our government as I am, will be dragging our reluctant butts to the nearest polling place.

For months, the liberal-lapdog media has been hammering away relentlessly at Republican "scandals" and "failures" while predicting that the Democrats will sweep into power with ease.

In a way, that would be fine with me. I dislike George Bush intensely, have no patience with his apologists, and am angered by the attempts of the right-wing wackos to jam a narrow-minded, mean-spirited agenda down the throats of Americans.

I am equally disgusted with the way the so-called "war on terror" is being handled, and incensed at the pro-illegal-alien stance of our so-called "lawmakers." They have forgotten that human beings die in wars, that human beings who are, moreover, legal citizens of this country, are losing jobs and footing the bill for the uncontrolled flood of illegals.

That should make me the perfect voter in the Democrats' eyes.

But it does not.

If I was not turned off completely by the shrill, sanctimonious, vengeful, childish tone adopted by Democrat wanna-be congressional leaders such as Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and John Conyers, all of whom seem to have as their only goals hounding Bush in his last two years in office and wasting time and money exploring "Republican scandals," I would be totally disenchanted by both their socialistic welfare-state ideas and their determination to jam their narrow-minded, mean-spirited agenda down the throats of Americans.

And what vision do they offer? "We wouldn't have done this or that if we had known," "we have new ideas," "we won't do things the way the Republicans do." They just haven't bothered to mention any specifics....

I have no doubt at all that their calls to "open a dialogue" with North Korea, their determination to bail out of Iraq, their willingness to kowtow to the United Nations and try to "negotiate" with Iran will make the international situation worse than it is now, inconceivable as that might seem.

And it is obvious to anyone who hasn't fallen for the work of the lefty propaganda machine headed by the New York Times and CNN that the Democrats can go toe-to-toe with the Republicans, scandal-wise. Think Harry Reid. Think Rep. William Jefferson. Look back in his history and think Alcee Hastings. And of course think of Teddy Kennedy: murderer, alcoholic and "moral authority." You want sex scandals? The Democrats have got that covered, too -- think Barney Frank and the late Gerry Studds -- though they are far better at worming out of responsibility for them.

In short, my prediction for the upcoming elections is this: no matter which side emerges holding power in Washington, we lose.

With that in mind, my prime reason for voting is to help to defeat ten California bond and tax measures that will create hundreds of billions of dollars in new debt for the state and its citizens. Of course that makes me anti-roads, anti-schools, anti-health and anti-"new energy sources," but I can live with that, since no one has yet come up with an honest answer to one simple question: what is the government doing with the billions in taxes and bond money it has already taken in for these purposes?

Democracy at work? More like knaves and fools at work, if you ask me.

Monday, October 23, 2006

The sun also sets...

...which, though somehow not quite as poetic as the similar title used by the late, great Ernie the H., is at least accurate.

Today is finished, and the finish looked pretty nice...

And the shoes-on-a-wire, which always remind me of my adored adopted daughter, with whom I have not spoken in far too long, survived another day...

I survived, too. It could have been worse.

And I have once again escaped jury duty! What a relief!

This just in...

...courtesy of a friend....

LogoThere are:
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

I'm so tired...

...and it's only midafternoon.

It's been a beautiful day here, even if I had to listen for a while to the (loud) noise of the Coast Guard chopper conducting a "fishing" expedition...

Fortunately, it was apparently a drill. Haven't heard anything about any "floater" reports today.

Had to gear my mind up to have a long talk with a publisher this morning. I made a proposal to him last week (via email) that he seemed to receive favorably, but recent experience has left me wary of anyone who promises a positive result, whether professional or personal.

So by the time he called this morning, I was tied up in knots inside and worried about saying something that would turn him off of the project. This isn't just another article, by the way -- those aren't all that hard to come up with -- but something more important and far-reaching.

The discussion went well. He had no idea that my innards were churning, that I felt something akin to fear as we talked. In fact, he was incredibly appreciative of the work I've been doing for him, agreed with every facet of my proposition and volunteered -- without even a suggestion from me -- to take on more of the work of making it happen than I would have dared ask for.

Nothing is final or even really under way as of now, of course. But I feel a strange sensation flickering deep in the recesses of my mind.

I guess some people would call it hope.

I'm not ready to go that far yet.

But I am ready for about 12 hours of sleep.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

A Classic!

Want proof? It says so, right on the badge...

Said badge is attached to a 1963 Rambler Cross Country wagon...

A very cool ride, and virtually unbreakable...

And if the Rambler doesn't rise to the level of "classic" to you, I submit this neat Chevrolet...

It's a '61 Impala convertible, complete with fender skirts, four-on-the-floor and a V8 under the hood...


I have to wonder about this week's Gratuitous Cat...

Did he have a guilty conscience or was he merely taken by surprise?

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Still another Saturday night...

...like too many Saturday nights, filled with unbearable loneliness.

The streets are unusually quiet tonight...

And the harbor is calm...

The local market is open...

But my favorite local diner is closed...

And a raccoon forages for dinner...

A wonderful night to share. But I am alone.

Up in the air...

...and not at all happy about it.

Next week is my week to be available for jury duty, something I have managed to avoid until a recent change in the rules, a small tweak that closed a loophole used by people like me who work for themselves and have to be always available to clients.

Okay, so they caught me. According to the instructions, I have to be "on call" for service for the whole week. Moreover, I was directed to call in this weekend to see if I'd be needed on Monday.

So I did. After signifying my preference for instructions in English and punching in my "Juror I.D. Number" and PIN, the automated system told me I won't be needed on Monday.

Rats. I wanted to be done with this.

Not that I expect to be picked for a jury. My prehistoric attitudes would make me the bane of any halfway attentive defense lawyer. Only the much-missed Judge Roy Bean would put me on a jory. But once you've been called in and have sat around for one day, you're off the hook.

Instead, I have to call the automated system again on Monday night (after 7:00 p.m.) to see if they want me there on Tuesday.

I have to conduct an interview for an article this week. I mean, it has to be done this week. I can't commit to go to the guy's place until I know I'll be available that day.

Fortunately, an important phone conversation with a publisher can go on as scheduled Monday. I warned him I might not be available; now I will be.

Oh, well. Only four days to go.

With my luck, I'll get called in on Friday and chosen for a trial that goes on for months and months.

Civic Duty my butt. Call me back when you're ready to offer me $200 a day, suckers.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Ordinarily, I don't pass emails along...

...but this one was too good not to share!

Everyone knows that if you are going to operate a business in today's world you need a domain name. It is advisable to look at the domain name selected as others see it and not just as you think it looks. Failure to do this may result in situations such as the following (legitimate) companies who deal in everyday humdrum products and services but clearly didn't give their domain names enough consideration:

1. A site called 'Who Represents' where you can find the name of the agent that represents a celebrity. Their domain name is...


2. Experts Exchange, a knowledge base where programmers can exchange advice and views at

3. Looking for a pen? Look no further than Pen Island at...

4. Need a therapist? Try Therapist Finder at...

5. Then of course, there's the Italian Power Generator company...

6. And now, we have the Mole Station Native Nursery, based in New South Wales (that's in Australia)...

7. If you're looking for computer software, there's always...

8. Welcome to the First Cumming Methodist Church. Their website is...

9. Then, of course, there's these brainless art designers, and their wacky website...

10. Want to holiday in Lake Tahoe? Try their brochure website at...

All this reminds me of a radio commercial for water conservation I've been hearing. It features two smartass couples getting together socially and talking about how one couple wastes water. Most of it is just your basic stupid written-for-commercials banter, but the first line, when the male member of one couple welcomes the other couple into his home, is classic:

"You're just in time for Betty's Tunnel of Fudge!"

I'm a sick puppy. I know it.

But so are you. You laughed, didn't you?

I'm at a loss for words...

...so I'll just finish off the day with a couple of irrelevant photos taken this morning....


..."Killer" wants to go inside, and his people aren't paying any attention....

Color in black and white

Extreme glare from the midday sun on the ocean burned all the color out of this image. It is unmodified, just as it appeared to the camera.

For some reason, I like it....

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Justice? NOT!

Today in El Paso, Texas, Jose Compeann and Ignacio Ramos, two Border Patrol agents who were put on trial for attempting to capture an illegal alien smuggling a van-full of marijuana (743 pounds) across the border (and, in the process, putting a bullet in the smuggler's butt when one of them thought he was pulling a weapon), were sentenced for their "crimes."

Last week in New York, a judge appointed by one Bill Clinton sentenced Lynne Stewart, an attorney who was convicted of passing messages from Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman (in prison for masterminding the first attack on the World Trade Center) to his terrorist associates.

Compean got 12 years in prison, and Ramos got 11.

Stewart got 28 months.

Stewart's judge said, among other idiotic things, that there was no direct proof that anyone died as a direct result of Stewart's treasonous behavior, and that her past exploits defending various terrorists and left-wing hate groups made him feel she deserved a minimal sentence.

The prosecutor in the Compean/Ramos case said, among other lies, that the illegal-alien drug-runner was "just trying to get back to Mexico" when the agents tried to take him down.

All three sentences need to be overturned. None of them will be, I'm sure.

If Bill Clinton bears some of the blame for appointing a zoned-out leftist judge in the person of John Koeltl, George Bush and his minions bear direct blame for the Compean/Ramos debacle. Many people believe -- and I'm one of them -- that the zeal of the prosecutors and the treatment of the drug-smuggler (he was granted full immunity for testifying against them, was give free medical care for his "thigh wound" in a U.S. hospital, and is currently suing for $5,000,000) was a result of White House intervention and pressure.

After all, Bush has proven, to the satisfaction of all but his most rabid apologists, that he is much more concerned with the rights and welfare of Mexicans than he is the citizens who were dumb enough to elect him.

I will be sending -- and urge others to send -- an email to Bush and my two worthless Senators insisting that steps be taken immediately to issue full pardons to Compien and Ramos, before they spend as much as five minutes in prison.

As for Lynne Stewart: in all likelihood, she won't spend a day in lockup. She's a "hero" to the insane left. Hell, she'll probably be invited by Nancy Pelosi to address Congress.

It is time for a major realignment of our so-called "justice" system and, for that matter, of the lunatic mindsets that produce travesties such as these sentences. Since I'm not entirely sure where the blame lies for the attitudes that have screwed up our national sense of "values," it seems to me the best thing to do is get both the wacko leftists and the nutball rightists the hell out of power before they can do any more damage.

If it isn't too late already.

More cat on serape...

...doing what he does best. Well, second-best, anyway; he's still pretty good at eating...

The serape has been stuck away in a drawer for almost 10 years. I decided to drag it out to brighten up the place a bit after my insane bout of scrubbery during the last few days. When Hobbes saw it, he went rushing over to settle on it. He rarely picked that spot to stretch out in pre-serape days.

Must be a really good childhood (kittenhood?) memory in there somewhere....

This morning's walk...

...in random photos that need no words....

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

My best friend...

...relaxing after a hard day spent sleeping, eating, and looking out the window...

Since today is not going well...

...and since I have decided not to complain about the things that are bugging me today (a long, repetitive list, and what would be the point?), I've decided instead to drop in a couple of pics I took while on my morning walk....

If seeing birds on a wire...

...and a shaggy dog...

...have been the best moments of the day, you can imagine the rest.

I take it back. You can't imagine. At least I hope not, for your sake.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

More Barbara!

Barbara Dennerlein, that is....

YouTuba and blogger aren't being cooperative these days, so I can't download the direct image link here. Fooey.

But if you want to watch her perform -- and it's the fastest 2:44 I've ever watched! -- all you have to do is click here and enjoy!

I can't get enough of this. A beautiful woman making incredible music is my idea of what heaven must be like....


Years of hanging out with one of the greatest musicians to ever lay fingers on the keys and feet on the pedals of a Hammond organ has made me a little bit of a snob. There are lots of players out there who have fine chops but nothing to say; they mistake quantity (that is, a constant shower of notes) for quality. I can take a couple of minutes of them and then tune out.

Today, I found someone who can capital-P Play the ol' B3. I listened, heard overtones of my friend, of Fats Waller and a couple of other past greats...but most of all, I heard someone who has a unique style that just flat swings in a traditional yet trail-blazing way.

Anyone who loves jazz needs to listen to Barbara Dennerlein. She's absolutely fearless, giving the Hammond a workout as no one else can; on a pipe organ, she's dynamite. Though still young, she's already at the top of her game, confident and assertive.

Having some technical knowledge of this particular instrument, I'm especially impressed with her solo work. She can carry a tune without sidemen, and there's nothing lacking. She's equally adept at blending seamlessly with drummers, reed players and other instrumentalists. Her "rides" are sure and clean, and her original tunes are as listenable as any standards.

Few women seem to gravitate to performing jazz, and I would bet the total number of German women who do is one.

PARENTHETICAL THOUGHT: Snobbishly, I will say I've heard only a handful of Europeans who can really get deeply into playing jazz. They can appreciate it just fine, but as listeners, not performers. This seems particularly true of the French, who are so deeply into analyzing the music that they don't feel it.

I couldn't help but notice that Ms Dennerlein is quite easy on the eyes, as well.

After listening to the samples on her site, I felt like taking a chainsaw to my fingers. I never have played, and never will play, with a fraction of the skill, enthusiasm and feeling she puts into her music.

But I knew I'd need my fingers to order a bunch of her recordings, so they're still firmly attached to my hands.

This is marvelous stuff.

Give her a listen.

Monday, October 16, 2006

The lion sleeps tonight...

...on his chair in my office...

He's most pleased that the carpet is dry and he has the run of the place again. You can tell how excited he is!

Me, I'm beat....

Strange Interlude

While I'm still trying to get my housecleaning chores done -- and am getting farther behind schedule by the second -- let me suggest you go here for some kickin' blues.

This is a long-distance collaboration by two guys who have never met each other. Harp O'Fly is a major-league harp player who has been the toast of any number of low dives in that great Blues city, Memphis. Netmale knows how to lay down some solid guitar, even if he does live someplace in Eastern Canada.

Somehow, they managed to take the good things they recorded separately and make one teriffic thing, full of solid riffs and dandy lyrics.

So stop reading and go listen, already!.

I'll be back later.

Blind man

Yes, I got the damn blinds clean. Most of them, anyway; I have a few left to do. They are made of some cheap plastic that just grabs on to dirt and, because they are held up by flimsy little clips, it is impossible to clean them in place. So I yanked 'em down and soaked them in a bleach/laundry soap mix in the tub. That, plus some scrubbing, did the trick.

All that contortionism did nasty things to my back. Thank goodness today's cleaning work can be done while standing more-or-less upright. I may actually get it all finished today. Or not.

I'm not in the mood for this stuff. For once, my online horoscope got it more-or-less right:

Aries Mar 21 - Apr 19
It's time to stand up and speak. You've got some mighty powerful sentiments in your heart, and they're just clamoring to get out. If there's one sign that knows how to get things off the ground, it's yours.

Now all I have to do is get up the nerve to "stand up and speak." The fear that no one will listen is strong.

Of course I won't let all of my "powerful sentiments" out, for reasons I will leave you to guess....

Oh, well. Time to shampoo the carpets.

Sunday, October 15, 2006


Here are three Gratuitous Cats for your enjoyment this week....

Two have been here before. This is one...

This one's a stranger...

I was curious about what this guy (on his second appearance here) found so fascinating that he paid no attention to me. Turned out he was staring through the fence at last week's GCotW, "Killer...."