Thursday, February 26, 2009

American Idol Top 36, Week 2

It's storming hard here, with rain pelting the windows. Here's hoping the basement doesn't flood.

On to silly things: Wasn't that just an awful AI last night? Geesh, you'd think with an extra day to prepare because of the President's speech, this week would have been one of the best. Instead I found myself fast forwarding through the latter half of many songs.

(Note how even in his scheduling Obama's considerate to others. To be in a position of power like that and still think of what's best for the AI contestants . . . why, it's enough to make Chris Matthews' leg tingle. :)

On to the contestants.



I liked Jasmine in earlier rounds, but she was off tonight. It was a sign of things to come.



Wow, Matt G. sucked. I had such high hopes for him and he remains a sentimental favorite in the Slapinions household, but it was painful, just painful. On the radio this morning a DJ and some callers picked him to move on, but they're on crack. Based on this performance, he goes home.



I thought her much bally-hooed legs were allright, but they seemed a little hairy didn't they? Personally, her lips were hotter . . but I digress. The judges were vicious, and good for them. She sucked. Bye bye.

Then came Nick Mitchell aka Norman Gentle



I laughed my ass off the whole way through and hands down he's the most entertaining artist of the evening. Is he the next American Idol? No. But enough from the judges about 'better showcases' for his talent - he can sing (certainly equal to the lame oil rigger chosen last week) and he keeps the audience happy. That alone might warrant a spot in the top 12.

Allison Iraheta rocked the house.



She's under 18 and so I would usually spare her the following, but I think her talent gives her a solid shot at the gold and so the gloves are off: great great voice, solid perfromance, but no personality to speak of and not terribly attractive (in a profession where looks matter a lot.) I hope voters overlook that and vote her through. Easily the best female of the night.

Kris Allen took a Michael Jackson song and held his own and then some.



I think he had the best male performance of the night - bring on the hate mail - but he'll lose out in large part because the cameras avoided him until this week. As I've said before, it's not an even playing field; some contenstants have to overcome the show's format from day one. He's got a good voice, he's good looking . . and unortunately he's gone.



Ah, Megan. The judges loved her. I found her voice inconsistent and no great shakes, her onstage actions awkward, and the wardrobe odd. On the other hand I found her strangely attractive - a pretty, innocent face coupled with a full sleeve of tats - and while it didn't entice me to dial the phone I'm sure she has a fan club of young males salivating and callling non-stop.



Matt was boring. I like the guy, blah blah, but he looked like me dancing up there and that alone should be a reason to pack his bags. A dull performance.



Jesse did allright, but was so calm and confident afterwards with the judges that it slipped from 'refreshing' to 'egotistical'. I guess she's the younger sister of a Grammy Award winner, which would explain it. It was good, but not great. She's going home.



Kai did fine but looked haggard and just seemed far too old for his years. A nice moment to tell the grandkids about, but he won't be moving on.



Mishavonna Henson did much better, in my opinion, than anyone is giving her credit for. But I've also heard her looks dismissed, which to me seems odd as she resembles the Mom from Gilmore girls. Given other people's reacion to her and her song, I say she's a goner.

And then there was Adam Lambert.



I am not a fan of this kid. I know, that makes me the odd man out in America, but I think he is too theatrical, I don't think his voice is stellar (although quite good) and his appearance just IRKS ME. Skinny '80's jeans, a lame Twilight haircut, and visible acne scars covered by makeup just don't scream 'sex god'. Maybe I'm getting too old to know or care, but I'm hoping his momentum eventually runs dry.

* * * *

So who do I think moves on? Adam for the 'boys', Allison for the 'girls'. The third slot should go to someone like Kris, Mishavonna, or Jesse, but I wouldn't cut out Nick Mitchell from the mix.

Who'd I vote for? Kris and Nick, knowing they were probably wasted votes.

* * * *

Some AI snark:

1. Notice the dark vertical line beneath Simon's right eye? Poor makeup and poor lighting - again.

2. What's with all this 'you're a good singer' commentary from the judges? As Lisa said to the screen "No shi*, really? I'm in the top 36 out of the 100,000 you had to chose from and you're telling me I can sing? Shouldn't that have been determined, uh, a long time ago?"

3. Paula is high. This is not an insult. It is a fact. It is either painkillers or pure booze, but she is not right.

4. Did you catch the harsh anti-Kara words from Paula in OK magazine? Oh, they weren't directed at her as a person, but rather in the form of a complaint that four judges 'slowed' down the show. Note to Paula: Your rambling diaglouges slow the show down, not the lucid lady sitting next to you.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ash Wednesday

Happy (?) Ash Wednesday to you all. On this holy day, I give you the act of a Good Samaritan:

After dance class last night Lisa went out shopping with my sister.

Around midnight (they'd set out at 10PM) Lisa phoned to say she had a flat tire and was stuck in the parking lot of a 24 hour grocery store. Luckily this was in a good neighborhood and relatively close to home.

Unfortunately, the Escort is still on ice and I was stuck at the house. Even if it was not, there was no safe means of waking up the kids and loading them all into the two-door Ford. Not with only me at the wheel, and certainly not with Lisa and my sister added in. She was on her own, and what's worse our jack had broke back on Inauguration Day.

Leave the van, I said, and I'll go and pick it up in the morning.

Now as it happens there was a fire truck in the lot, dealing with a drunk. My sister approached them and asked for help. They scoffed and literally shut the engine door in her face.

I know they're not required to help, and in fact probably prohibited from doing so, but a little tact would have been nice.

So it looked like they were going to have to hike it home. And then a stock boy approached and asked if they needed help. He went to his car and got his jack and tire iron and took off the tire, ruining his khaki's in the process. Then the jack slipped, crashing down on his jack and ruining it. Luckily no one was hurt.

This should have been the end of it. Most people, including possibly myself, would have said 'that's enough', apologized, and moved on.

Instead he got a jack from a friends car and finished the job. When they thanked him, he said it was no problem and joked that it was his good deed for Lent.

Once again, there are good people in this world. Sometimes you don't even need to seek them out - they find you.

Enjoy the Lenten season and all the fish fry's that come with it.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Drood - by Dan Simmons



I think I finally have validation (a rationale?) for my practice of recording every book I read.

When a list like mine is put on the printed page its easy to trace the thought processes of the reader. In the last month I read Matthew Pearl's The Dante Club. That led, inevitably, to explorations of both The Inferno and mid 19th century American poetry. From there I moved on to a brief survey of Poe (he is very briefly mentioned in The Dante Club) which led me back to Pearl and his The Poe Shadow. Likewise, my reading of Drood led directly to picking up a copy of Wilikie Collins' The Moonstone.

I like being able to look back and deduce what led me to move from one work to another. Knocking them out of order, as I've done this year (my reviews are scheduled to run willy-nilly throughout the year) robs me - and the many future historians who will study me - of the opportunity to see that organic thought process in action.

I'm not going to go back and reschedule many of the reviews I have set to run throughout 2009, but from now on I think I'm going to stick to a general 'print them as I read them' plan. :)

* * * *

I was very gung-ho for Dan Simmons' Drood, even going so far as to seek out, in vain, an advance reader's copy.

Drood tells the story of the last five years of Charles Dickens life, as told by his friend, the best-selling novelist Wilkie Collins. In June of 1865 Dickens was involved in a horrendous railroad accident when his train failed to stop for a bridge that was under construction. Of the passenger cars, only Dicken's failed to crash to the riverbed below, and even his literally balanced on the edge of the precipice.

In many ways he was never the same man. To historians, the shock and trauma of the event are easy sources of blame.

To Dan Simmons, it would have more to do with the sudden appearance of Drood, a ghastly apparition that contacts Dickens at the crash site and forever after drags the author into a seedy and violent battle with the black arts.

Drood - note the name later used in Dickens' unfinished final novel - is allegedly the king of London's crime world. He was once, we are told, the half Egyptian son of an English Lord, abandoned and taught the ways of the Pharaoh's gods. When he was inconveniently carved to pieces and murdered many decades ago he returned (sans eyelids, nose, etc) to lay claim for the murder of more than 300 people in London.

And now he seems to have added Dickens as an ally and with each day Collins grows increasingly surer of one thing: to save himself and London, he must murder the great Charles Dickens.

I found the novel engrossing, the characters well developed and believable, and the attention to historical detail impressive (although I'm the first to admit he could have lied about every date - and perhaps he did - and I wouldn't know the difference).

Unfortunately, all those historical details added up to 704 pages of reading, easily two or three hundred more than the story required. The plot, borrowing something from Dickens himself, seems to plod along without any real urgency. I fear on this point Simmons was trapped by his bookending dates; the railway accident on one hand and the author's death on the other. The action had to be made to fit within that time frame, a fact which seems to have required a fair bit of text in which nothing happens.

Simmons also plays hard and fast with the moral fiber of the characters, in particular the narrator Wilkie Collins. I'm afraid my own religious views might cloud this point, but I am not a fan of taking a historical figure and, simply for the sake of a story, turning him into a wife beater, a pedophile, an arsonist, etc. None of the above apply to the real or imagined Collins, but there are substantial breaks from known behavior that eat away at me . . .

Anyway. On length alone I cannot recommend this book 100%. Coupled with the other flaws I've listed, I'd say give it a go only if you are a fan of Dickens, Collins, or a serious aficionado of historical fiction set in the Victorian era.

Lost: '316' and some Oscar notes

I hope to put up an AI post before the Wednesday results show. I'd also like to do a post on a new reality show I've taken a shine to, but that might have to wait. In the meantime the standard Lost post . . well, the following will have to do:

I was pretty disappointed with episode '316', which brought the six back to the island. Cue a long and revoltingly juvenile explanation about the means of how to return: the Losties must play dress up and recreate as best as possible the circumstances and actions of the original flight. They must do this on board another jet which, presumably, will meet a predicted demise and carry the group back to the island.

Ok, what hooey. It reeks of 'Dork', and seems quite illogical. This isn't a one-time means of transport, this is the recommended way and means of travel to the island. You're telling me Ben did this each and every time he left the island? Please. And don't start waving the 'time jump' garbage at me. According to the same speech the island has always been moving around. So why the masqurade?

The only real mystery of the episode was the sudden and unexpected enlistment of many of the Oceanic Six. What spurred their sudden change of heart? Where is Aaron? What's with the guitar?

(my guess is that Aaron is now back with Ghost Claire, Charlie convinced Hurley, and Ben had Sayid arrested . . . but I still don't get why he's on his way to Guam)

What happened to the plane? The episode makes you think/hope that the plane survives and that the Six are merely 'picked' off the flight and tossed into the jungle. I'm not sure. That 'fake' flight 815 wreck had to come from somewhere, and it'd be a juicy if tragic twist to have the pilot (who's name escapes me) wind up as the very corpse that inspired him to seek the truth about the crash of 815.

A few loose ends:

1. Obviously the Jack/Kate/Hurley made the jump, but wound up far earlier in the islands time stream than expected, early enough to encounter the Dharma Initiative (and Jin). How will that play out? Are Ben/Sayid/Sun some other 'time' on the island?

2. I could care less if John blames Jack and killed himself over it (which I don't buy). Blah blah. I wouldn't have believed you either, ya kook.

3. Yeah, I get it. '316' is the name of the episode, the flight involved, and of course the famous biblical verse from the Book of John. Tie that in to the vein of faith/doubt that runs through it - and the outright reference to Thomas by Ben - and voila, you have the theme of the day. Leading us to the next point . .

4. Even if he isn't religious, or formally schooled in the Christian faith, Jack is a literate and educated man. Is it likely he wouldn't know of the story of Doubting Thomas, even if only from the cultural shorthand the incident inspires? There should have been a third, more naive person in the scene to shout out those nods to the obvious, not Jack.

* * * * *

Oscar notes:

1. What a bore. Pretentious and boring from start to finish, it was livened only by Heath Ledger's win (kudos) and Ben Stiller's hit (and miss) J. Phoenix imitation.

2. What an awful idea to have former winners announce the nominees! Could the Oscars work harder to present Hollywood as an obnoxious industry, populated with people with an exaggerated sense of self worth?

3. Not having seen the nominated films, I'm still comfortable making this prediction: twenty years from now - ten years from now - none of the 'big' films will be remembered or widely viewed. Instead, Wall-E and The Dark Knight will fill that bill.

4. All complaining aside, I'd rather win an Oscar than a Pulitzer any day.

Monday, February 23, 2009

14 years and counting

Yesterday was the 14th anniversary of the day Lisa and I met, an event documented in detail last year.

Lisa worked most of the day, but ~ 9 P.M. we went out for a quick bite to eat, leaving my sister to watch the (sleeping) kids. Not the grandest of celebrations, but at least it was something.

One honest and revealing anecdote: While Lisa was at work I watched the kids use the air popper to make a bowl of popcorn. Even Lump was hovering around, trying to join the festivites and fit in with her older siblings.

I loooked at them with fondness and thought "This is why we're together. If I'd never met Lisa none of these little people would be around."

A few hours later, once they'd worn down my nerves, I looked at the group of them again. The same words ran through my head, this time with an entirely different meaning and emphasis:

"Da--- it, If I'd never met Lisa none of these little people would be around."

:)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Here's the full article

I confess I'm a bit proud of my Journal-Sentinel column from a few days ago. Not the writing, since I have yet to read it start to finish in published form (Why? Because a part of me is afraid it sucks and was published out of pity. I'm a nutjob.)

Instead it's the reaction that brings a smile to my face. I've received nine emails that run the gamut of the profession: teachers, parents, a high school principal, and even a PHD from a Virginia based educational think-tank.

All the letters were positive and most were chock full of 'additional reading' suggestions, links to educational theories and articles, and full out discussions of possible solutions. If I had a mind to I could consume the better part of a week just skimming the information they provided, and maybe I better; two of the letters suggested I do a follow-up piece down the road.

I did take the Journal to task for chopping out one line critical of the School Board member in the piece. His comments about the citizens of my neighborhood are inflammatory and deserve a column-long rebuttal of their own. I also included some suggestions for improving the Community Columnist process.

In response I got a 572 word letter from the editor (yes I counted the words, which finish at 72 more than my own article). In it she explained the decision about the edit was not based on politics but on length, and went on to discuss a whole lot more. The highlight of the letter is her belief that the one year term for the job will be expanded to somewhere between a 14 to 16 month commitment and that the frequency of publication will increase.

Which is good news, no?

For posterity, here's the text of the column:

What's the problem at MPS?
By Daniel Slap----

Posted: Feb. 18, 2009

Recently, I heard a radio ad promoting the safety features on Milwaukee County buses. There are, said the commercial, four camera on each bus, a silent alarm, GPS tracking and rewards for information on anyone who assaults a passenger or driver.

It was an impressive, if frightening, list. While it's probably overkill, if it prevents crime, I doubt anyone will complain. What stuck with me, however, was the general idea that drove the message: that the world is harsher, people are more wicked than ever and Milwaukee has changed.

I don't necessarily agree. Like it or not, the world is what it's always been, if not marginally better, and if people were so grand in the good ol' days, our history books wouldn't have to discuss names like Josef Stalin and Jack the Ripper.

Either way, here's what I find odd. We're very quick to blame the city's status quo for problems such as assaults on buses and the crime rate in general, but we're unwilling to even consider it when it comes to our schools. No, for Milwaukee Public Schools, it's either the buildings, the educators, the superintendent, the curriculum, federal testing requirements or the kitchen sink - you name it.

I am not a liberal, but I'm starting to think that decades of tinkering with MPS just may be a smokescreen to ignore the real problems with the system: that in the end, our schools do nothing more than reflect the nature of the city itself.

We've spent generations pretending that isn't the case. I graduated from Pulaski High School just in time to have Howard Fuller present me my diploma. You remember Fuller, right? He was the man who was going to reinvigorate the "troubled" school system and bring hope to Milwaukee.

I walked across that stage in 1992. Exactly what has changed since then? Sure, it's not all bad. Some schools have high attendance, great parental participation and students who perform well.

But that just bolsters my point. If MPS as an entity was the problem, wouldn't all schools fail? Wouldn't all students have to exert an incredible amount of self-determination and willpower just to succeed academically?

Some people, such as School Board member Terry Falk, continue to believe that fiddling is best. Falk's latest theoretical fix? Potentially scrapping K-8 schools - themselves a recent idea - in favor of grades 6-12 facilities.

Enough already. The fault lines seem clear. MPS is operating in a city with dire problems, where some geographic areas continue to prosper while others operate in a climate of poverty and crime. School performance appears often to follow those socioeconomic trends.

For the record, I'm not excusing the poor performance of students who should realize that education is a path to greater prosperity. And I don't have any bright solutions either. Except one: If we're going to keep the questionable practice of throwing money at the problem, quit wasting it on the wrong problem.

Daniel Slap--- is a Milwaukee native and the father of four

Friday, February 20, 2009

Button, Button: Uncanny Stories by Richard Matheson



*Read in 2008*

Richard Matheson might just be the greatest writer you've never heard of. The author of I am Legend, Stir of Echoes, What Dreams May Come, The Incredible Shrinking Man, Hell House (a 2007 read of mine), numerous Twilight Zone episodes, etc, you'd think he'd be a household name. Instead, when he's spoken of at all it's often in relation to Stephen King, a man who names Matheson as one of his greatest inspirations.

Button, Button is a collection of pre-1970 stories by Matheson, headlined by the wonderful title piece. It's the tale of a woman who is offered $50,000 for each time she'd press a button, knowing that each time she pressed it a stranger would die. There's goofiness here too, such as 'The Creeping Terror', Matheson's take on the spreading influence of California, and Twilight Zone worthy pieces like 'No Such Thing as a Vampire', and the dated 'The Jazz Machine'.

There are great stories in the book and a small percentage of clunkers, but overall a fine collection and a solid introduction to the work of a master.

Recommended.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

A link to my column

Here's a link to the column I wrote for the Journal-Sentinel.

I'm not being coy when I say that I haven't read the piece today, nor do I remember the contents word for word. The link came via an email from a family member, but I was unable to open JS Online in my browser and review it. I know it's the Milwaukee Public Schools article that was 'under consideration' with the J/S. [the other two accepted pieces are 'evergreens' that can be published throughout the year]

Anyhow, it's off to work to pick up a few Journals they saved for me and take a gander at my picture.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

American Idol - Top 36 - Group 1

Ladies and gentelmen, we have our first confirmed Blogger screw-up! Last night I began an elaborate and beautiful American Idol post, complete with pictures every which way, stunning commentary, etc; you know, the typical Slapinions panache.

At 12:53 AM I hit 'publish post' and it did not. Instead it saved the post, but in doing so ignored all the 'autosaves' and reverted back to a version from 12:09.

Now in a way that's cool, because it's the title of a Joe Mac album (NKOTB holla!)** but I lost an hour of work, gave up, and went to bed.

Hmm. I guess Blogger learned a thing or two from AOL.


** actually, the album might be 11:09, the memory is fuzzy now. We'll stick with 12:09 or else lose the line, ya know?

* * * * * *

First up on the show was Jackie Little.

I know Jackie's built up a nice little fan base, but I don't get it. Her voice is fine but hardly earth shattering and what her fans generously describe as 'originality' is in truth mere flakiness. Her performance was captivating. It's a shame her vocals weren't.



Next up was Ricky Braddy, and here I must launch a strong objection to the show's format. Of course it's impossible for AI to showcase each and every one of the 36 contestants. But the lack of media exposure is a clear and substantial barrier to success. No matter how good someone is - and I'm not necessarily putting Braddy in that category - they will have to overcome the well established voting base the singers with 'face time' have already built.



Braddy did great and was one of only four performers I placed a '+' next to in my notes from the show. Sadly, I don't think he'll move on.

Then came Alexis Grace.



I underestimated this woman.

[note: I'm sorry, I can't STAND AI's insistence on calling the contestants 'boys and girls'. Some of them are near thirty years old, and many have children. They are most definitely not 'girls and boys'.]

I think I genuinely mistook her for the dreadlocked orphan that was dropped during Hollywood week, and for that I'm sorry. Her voice ROCKED. Powerful, controlled, mature, and vibrant. Were talent alone the indicator of sucess, she should easily advance.

Fourth up was the good looking and talented Brent Keith.



Most of the time when the judges use the term 'wrong song choice' it's simply a euphemism for 'your voice sucked', as we'll see later in the show. But this time it was spot on. What an awful and limiting song and it cost him dearly. Judging by the tears he was fighting back, I think he agrees.

Then it was time for Stevie Wright.



Stevie is 17 and the nerves got the better of her. I'll spare her any serious critique because of her age, but . . it was not good.

Anoop Desai is a puzzle.



You could easily picture listening to his voice on the radio, but he lacks the sex appeal and demeanor of a star. For Pete's sake, the guys got bigger eyebrows than me. On talent alone he should be a threat to move on, but I don't know if he'll get the votes to pull it off.

Casey Carlson was up next.



Let's be blunt: quite possibly the WORST non-audition performance in AI history. From the winks, the dorky dancing, the revolting vocals, to the song choice, it was BAD. If anyone other than friends and family voted for her I'd be shocked.

Michael Sarver is someone I was wishing well. He's got a great story and seems genuine.



With that said, I don't think he did all that well. I'd say he's cut now, but will be brought back for the wildcard show.

Ann Marie Boskovich is a beautiful and sexy woman with not a lot of confidence.



I think her vocals were good enough to have let her survive a standard 'final twelve' show, but with the restrictions imposed on this portion of AI she won't make the grade. In many ways it's a shame.

Stephen Fowler ticks me off.



So much talent, so many opportunities, and time and again he finds a way to fail. Ugh.

Now, a word about AI: bullsh** the singing order is random. You mean to tell me the two most popular singers just *happened* to close out the show?

Tatiana Del Toro looked sexy if subdued, and going into it I verbally denounced her attempt to tackle an iconic song.



I was wrong. I think the judges were a tad immature in their commentary and overlooked a grand vocal performance for this stage in the game. If I have any say, Tatiana stays.

Milwaukee's own Danny Gokey finished the show last night.



As is par 95% of the time, I second Simon. I thought it was a great performance but not a masterpiece and feel three of the judges oversold the vocals. I'm not buying the whole package . . .yet.

* * * * *

In the end we voted for Danny, Tatiana, Alexis, and Ricky Braddy. I expect Danny and Alexis to take the top two slots and Tatiana to take the third.

* * * * *

I bet heads were rolling after the show. Ricky Braddy's microphone wasn't working during Ryan's interview, the wrong video was cued for Brent, after Stephen's song the TV cut to shots of a floor, and on no less than three occasions Simon outed the band's arrangements and even their (keyboard) playing.

Yikes.

The wonders of live TV, eh?

Good News

As I sit here writing this and looking out my window at ten to one in the afternoon there is not a single flake of snow outside. Not one.

This is one of two reasons I've paid no attention to weather forecasts for a decade now. One, I can't do anything about it if nine inches of snow had decided to fall. Two, they're quacks. Panic, hysteria, paranoia and melodrama live and breathe inside the heart of every meteorologist. Why, if they were elected to office I'd wager they could ratchet up the fear so effectively that you'd actually thank them for passing a 700 billion dollar pork, er, stimilus bill. :)

Anyhow, more good news:

The Journal-Sentinel editor wrote me today to say that a piece I did on Milwaukee Public Schools will be running in tomorrows edition. I'll certainly post a link to it here, but if you live in Wisconsin or upper Illinois, kindly pick up a copy, raise their circulation, and inspire them to hire me on.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Snow on the Way

Depending on who you listen to Milwaukee is expecting somewhere between 3 and 9 inches of snow tonight. That's lousy if I was planning to drive, but with my Escort still down for repairs and Lisa and I both working tomorrow I'll probably have to take the bus anyway, so no harm no foul.

* while still not road worthy, the Escort is now starting and running, thanks to some tinkering I did under the hood. And, uh, just because it decided to co-operate.

I haven't felt much like blogging lately. I've been working, spending my spare time looking for a better, full time job, and dealing with the ins and outs of everyday life. Not much time for extracurricular writing I'm afraid. I hope to watch American Idol with Lisa tonight and if I consume enough caffeine I'd love to post about it. We'll see.

* * * * *

You may feel free to 'x' out of here now, because the rest of this post will be nothing more than a catch-up piece.

* In addition to Lump's ability to acquire bumps and bruises she continues to destroy my house every time she is freed from her cage (er, playpen). I might have mentioned this before, but as an example of how she spends her time: One day I lifted her out of her crib and onto the floor. This was a second-long maneuver that covered all of five feet. In that time she grabbed a blanket off the dresser with one hand, pulling it to the floor along with everything on top of it, and with the other hand grabbed a toy and threw it against the wall.

She's not unique of course. Today at work a toddler girl knocked down an entire display, sending it crashing to the ground. The Mom was embarrassed and looked crestfallen, something compounded by the rather unprofessional reaction of a co-worker of mine.

"Eighteen month old?" I asked the mom.

"Yes," she said. "How did you know?"

"I've got one at home," I said. "Mine would've done worse."

* Smiley can now call Lump by a nickname that's promoted by my sister and despised by Lisa. For the record, it's her first syllable followed by 'eee'. He also said 'no tank ooo mom-a' at the mall yesterday, which was super!

* I have to remember to schedule a doctor's appointment for my sinuses. To quote Lisa today: "You fiddle with your nose so much people are going to start thinking you've got a coke problem."

* I've become somewhat of a fan of college basketball, and of the local Bucks. Iv'e even started DVR'ing the games I'm not home to see. This is horrific news to Lisa. "You're attractivness has seriously fallen four points. I used to love that you hated sports. I would tell people 'he's not like other boys, he reads and writes and loves politics and doesn't waste his time screaming at a TV screen. Now you're just one of 'them'."

Well, that's a bit harsh. And untrue too. I have always loved baseball, and I was a casual but competitive fan of nearly all sports. May I bring up a Packers playoff victory in the '90's? It was a lovely come from behind affair. I was so excited with the result that I screamed, picked up Lisa, and tossed her in the air - ripping her $300 dress right down the back.

How quickly we forget.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Night of the Creeps - movie review



Happy Valentines Day folks!

I rented this from the free 'on demand' station on Time Warner Cable, and boy was I happy with the choice.

It's complete garbage of course. A little gray alien ejects an experiment gone wrong from his spacecraft as it nears Earth, despite the best efforts of his own people to stop him. This experiment is composed of little slugs that enter your mouth, kill you, lay eggs in your brain, operate you as a mindless zombie for a bit, then explode your head and spread more slugs around.

The experiment lands on Earth in 1959, just in time for the estranged girlfriend of a rookie cop to be hacked to death by a serial killer while her new beau is zombie-fied in a field and placed in cryogenic hibernation.

Cut to 1986, when our hapless dork protagonist mistakenly releases the frozen zombie onto the campus of his university as he embarks on a quest to win the heart of the sorority bombshell. With the help of his disabled smart-alecky roommate and that rookie cop from 1959, who's now a bitter detective, Dork and Beauty Queen attack the invasion head on when the sorority house is attacked by zombies.

Hee Hee.

You know why I liked this? Oh, it wasn't the mandatory-for-the-'80's pan shot of the showers in the women's locker room, although that was of course appreciated.

No, I liked it because in spite of the campy situation they played it relatively straight, and there were some bits of great dialogue. Not just the one-liners: "How bout that? Zombies, exploding heads, creepy crawlies, and a date for the Formal." but some fine character motivation and back-and-forth. I looked up the writer on IMDB.com and discovered he went on to write The Monster Squad and some episodes of Enterprise and the Stargate franchise; bits of his talent can be seen here.

Go rent it; you'll have a blast.

Friday, February 13, 2009

This Place is Death: Lost Season 5, Ep. 5

You may be asking why I didn't blog about last week's episode. The answer? What was there to write about? It was a boring example of filler, with only two items of note. The first point, the survival of Jin, is no surprise since the actor has been listed on the credits as a cast member all season, despite his character's 'death' last year.



The second, the introduction of Rousseau's group, added nothing to the show.

This week, however, for the first time all year I think Lost was back. This Place is Death was a great episode, full of action, plot twists, new mysteries, and some answers.

Let's start off the island. Sun crashes the reunion at the docks and the group scatters. Sun's rather easily convinced of Jin's health by Ben and she and Jack head off with him to see the proof.

Back to them them later. In 1988 one of Rousseau's group is picked off by the Smoke Monster and killed. Soon enough another is captured and dragged into an underground lair near an old temple. The group attempts to save him, but in the process only cause the monster to tear off his arm to take his prey.



Jin stops Danielle from joining the rest of the group on an ill-advised attempt to rescue their comrade, and then 'flashes' forward. He 'returns' a short time later (weeks/months? certainly not longer) and finds that Danielle has killed the members of her party and is facing down her baby's father at gunpoint.

Danielle is convinced he has been changed by the 'sickness', carried and transmitted by the Monster, but her beau dismisses this by saying it isn't a monster but simply a defense system set up to protect the temple. Just when she is convinced he raises his gun to kill her but it jams - her surprise looks too genuine for her to have tampered with it - and she kills him.

This part of the episode felt rushed, almost like the writers needed to answer Questions X and Y about Danielle and used this time travel crap to get it out of the way Barring further sightings of the lass, we are left with the impression Danielle was wrong about the illness. The Monster is almost certainly impersonating one or more of the men, or they've been let in on the island's secrets and switched allegiances. I don't think anything biological is involved.

Jin then manages to rejoin the remaining, pitifully small group of Losties. After a series of quick time flashes Charlotte is stricken down, returning to lucidity to proclaim a few dire prophesies - first and foremost, a warning to Jin not to bring Sun back to the island - and then tells Daniel the truth about her past. She grew up on the island and left with her mother, who ever after claimed it was a child's fantasy. She has spent her life searching for it, and now remembers something else: as a child Daniel himself warned her not to come back, because if she did she would die.

Ok. Well and good and all that, but you do see the problem, right? Charlotte dies and in an effort to prevent it he goes back in time and warns her. Obviously it fails, because the evidence of that failure is right in front of him, from her very mouth. Therefore there is no incentive for Daniel to have ever issued the warning, because he would know from the moment it became necessary that it would fall on deaf ears. Maybe he uttered it in the past out of sheer emotion, because logically there is no reason to speak the words.

Better for them both if he told the Mom to have Charlotte attend art school and avoid the skill set needed for her return; all Daniel's done is ensure her death.

So we get to the Orchid station but it vanishes in a literal flash. Cuing off one of Charlotte's statements John begins to climb down a well nearby. First though he must promise Jin that he will not bring Sun back, and takes his ring as 'proof' of death. As he descends the well a flash brings the group forward or backward in time far enough that the well is no more, and John is believed to have perished, encased in soil.

In truth Christian Shepard/Jacob finds John in a chilly tunnel. He says the cause of the time slips are on John's shoulders. "I said you had to move the island John," he said, referencing the fact that Ben is the one who did the deed. John stammers out an explanation but it is dismissed with a quick jab at Ben. John is instructed to restore the wheel onto its axis and a light engulfs him.

Back in the real world Ben uses Jin's ring to convince Sun that she must return to the island - a brilliant use of the ring to keep the promise and yet get a polar opposite result. Desmond comes out of the shadows and more or less proves what we've guessed for awhile; Eloise Hawking is Daniel Farraday's mother.



And the quest to return to the island begins in earnest . . .

Thursday, February 12, 2009

YaYa's Funky Hat

YaYa scooped this furry Mad Hatter design from her maternal Grandma's closet and has worn it almost every day for weeks now.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Quote of the Day

Smiley came downstairs this morning with blue nail polish on his cheeks, hands, and nails. Apparently he'd raided one of his sister's rooms after bedtime last night.

"Smiley you cannot wear nail polish!" Lisa said. "Are you a boy or a girl?"

"Ba-oyyy" Smiley said, using one of his newest words.

"Then you can't wear nail polish. Boys don't wear nail polish Smiley."

He shook his head and smiled like she was slow.

"Uh-uh mama," he said, content his actions were justifiable and manly. "It ba-ooo." [blue]

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Victory Will Be Mine!

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A few weeks ago, knowing my love of slippers, Lisa told me about a pair of Family Guy slippers on clearance at Target, in my size (13), for under three bucks. Naturally I ran out and got them!

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If Stewie really wanted to get rid of Lois he'd buy her a pair of these, as the big, oddshapen Stewie head on the toes tends to befuddle you while walking up the stairs (no, I wasn't wearing them when I fell).

It's odd that I love slippers so much - although I tend to stick to the sedate, black old man variety - since I was so adamently opposed to them as a child. Huh. Tastes change I guess, but whatever your age you have to admit: the Stewie slippers rock!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Phelps, Weed, the Journal, and Bisquick

I'm a little annoyed today, in large part because my kids are lazy mess-makers who won't eat a good meal their Mom prepares for them, and/or hackers with poor typing skills. You can also blame part of my mood on a cover story I saw today that chastised Michael Phelps for 'letting down his fans'.

Oh, for cripes sake. How???

First of all I don't buy the 'role model' argument. I wouldn't approve of my kids idolizing Manson, Hitler or Che for any reason, but when it comes to athletes and celebrities I'd stress their accomplishments and not their personal life. By my count most brand name actors, from Drew Barrymore to Sean Penn, are high school dropouts. Admire their resume and leave it at that.

Aside from that, I'm still stumped by how a society can condone and even celebrate booze, the maker of car accidents and bar brawls, while criminalizing marijuana - something that, at worst, encourages the consumption of Doritos.

Phelps shouldn't have broken the law, no matter how archaic it is, not unless the law is the Fugitive Slave Act or its equivalent. And he should have used some discrection. (If he wasn't going to smoke alone, at least use a more subtle and less photogenic one-hitter). All the same I default to something Saturday Night Live used in a skit last week.

To paraphrase: if you're at a party getting stoned with Michael Phelps, and you take and sell a picture of him instead of just thinking "Cool! I'm at a party getting stoned with Michael Phelps!" then you sir . . .are just a DICK.

* * * *

Bisquick wrote and apologized for the fly in the batter incident with a long winded letter. It explained the science behind how it could have happened (too much info)and included two six dollar coupons for General Mills products. I'll let you know how Bisquick's new 'Heart Smart' trans and saturated fat free mix tastes - and if there are any flies involved.

* * * *

I'm a little irked at the Journal. The 18th will mark two months since my first column was published and there have been none since. It isn't a matter of low production. I've submitted several pieces over the last month alone, bringing the number on file up to five.

Nor is lousy writing to blame. Of the five one has been published, one is being 'reviewed', two have been accepted for publication, and one has been rejected. That last one, believe it or not, is the real confidence booster. If they're willing to shoot one down, then I'm confident the ones they accept are solid and well done.

[a sixth piece, a book review, was rejected citing a company policy against accepting outside reviews]

In an email to me the editor wrote the delay off as nothing but mathematical, the result of a publishing schedule making room for everyone 'in their turn' and further interrupted by holidays and the inauguration.

Horsehockey. The same week I got that email the Journal sent a polite but pleading letter to all the writers asking for everyone to submit their second piece for consideration.

If you can't pull your weight, the heck with keeping your place in line. Let it go to someone who can produce copy, be it me or someone else.

(and by that, I mean to me and me alone, naturally)

* * * * * * *

Programming note: I have some 27 posts currently done and scheduled, with an equal number existing as 'drafts'. These are mainly book and movie reviews I've been sitting on in case of an extended hiatus from Slapinions. I need every spare moment I have for the job search, so you may see some of those make the grade in the upcoming days.

RE: the last post

YaYa, my seven year old, managed to hack into both my AOL and Blogger accounts via means unknown and post a request for email. I discovered it over dinner when Lisa's question of 'What was the best part of your day?" was met with "Breaking into Daddy's blog and creating a post."

Because of justified concerns for her privacy I have deleted her full email addy but left the post up for posterity. YaYa is confined to her room for the rest of the night, where I can only imagine she's working on tapping into the phone line in order to prank the Pentagon.
hi i'm still yaya wow iam good emal me!!!!!!! plese do it for the children here it is my email adrsee princes----.com

Saturday, February 7, 2009

ARoid

It was a beautiful day here, with temperatures in the 50's and our whole clan at a family birthday party in Butler.

Unfortunately all that good will was ruined tonight,by a casual comment I overheard in a parking lot. According to Sports Illustrated, and allegedly collaborated by four sources, Yankee Alex Rodriguez tested positive for performance enhancing chemicals in his 2003 MVP season.




Rationally, I am outraged by the leak. The 2003 tests were done under unconditional anonymity so MLB could assess the extent of the problem. For the results to be leaked wholesale to the public is a breach of contractual obligations and a clear violation of the civil rights of the players. Saying 'oh, well, it's out now' is bunk - it should never have seen the light of day, and whoever leaked it should face the appropriate penalties.

That's what my mind is saying. Meanwhile, my heart is broken.

ARod is my favorite current-era player. When Smiley was only a few months old I took him to see Rodriguez at Miller Parker, and he honored my boy by hitting his 399th and 400th home runs that day. I don't care if he is a flake, or emotionally fragile, if he likes masculine women or is a grand person or a bum; I admired his talent, his God given over abundance of talent.

To see his name on that list is devastating.

One, he didn't need steroids. He's been a prized hitter since he was a teen, and was named Baseball America's top something or another in high school. For him to resort to 'roids is just another sign of his emotional vulnerability, his yearning for acceptance and to be 'one of the boys'. It's sad. Pathetic even.

Two, the implications for MLB are monumental. Yes, the results were confidential, and presumably Arod has tested clean (and posted mammoth numbers) in the years since the test in question. But from this point on there can be no doubt - this entire era, from the early '90's until the midpoint of this decade, is an ethical quagmire. Sure, Bonds was the poster child for this issue, but did you ever truly doubt he was doped? I doubt it. Now, everyone is a suspect. Who's clean, and who just hasn't been caught? Who's numbers are 'real' and who's are inflated? What records are sacrosanct, and which are frauds?

We'll never know.

Oh, in time other issues in the sport will eclipse this, and perhaps steroids will be so commonplace or insignificant as to no longer warrant our attention. What's a little injection of growth hormone in 2030 when you can slide down to Tijuana and have your DNA beefed up to quicken your reflexes?

But for now, the sport is tainted. I don't want this to be pro-wrestling, where you look around constantly and wonder where the fix will come in.

Sadly I think that's what it's come down to today, and it's a lousy shame.

Back online for now

Let's start with two quotes I love.

"Outside of a dog, a book is your best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. " Groucho Marx

and

"Hearing nuns' confessions is like being stoned to death with popcorn."
Bishop Fulton J. Sheen


God Bless YaYa's Godfather. How grand it is to have a buddy who's an IT tech. The desktop is still presumed KIA but now our backup is up and online, due solely to a five minute phone conversation with the man. Thanks!

RE: my falls. The one at their school was out of my hands, solely the result of an ice patch under a dusting of snow. I took a step and did a banana-peel move. Ouch. I could sue, but crap it's Wisconsin. Good luck clearing out every patch of ice on a parking lot.

The fall at home goes back to 1892. You might recall that as the year our house was built, and up until the time we bought it in 2006 the second story was an unfinished attic. Now there's four bedrooms and a hallway up there, but we still have the same narrow steps with a sharp turn midway up and no landing. They weren't built for daily use, and they sure as heck weren't built for a size 13 shoe.

Come the theoretical 'someday', we'll get around to gutting and replacing them.

The kids stayed home from school today, LuLu with a fever and YaYa with a stomachache that was bad enough for her to come and wake me at 4:16 in the morning. After an hour of pain and tears, some Pepto, and a trip to the bathroom she was good to go, but with only a half day of school scheduled I played it safe and called them in.

That absence cost them both a free Bucks ticket for perfect attendance in February. It can't be helped, but the lousy part is the "yoo-rah-rah here's your incentive to come to school!" flyer wasn't sent home until the fourth of the month. Great planning.

We had planned to see the premiere of Coraline today, but that was scrapped by time constraints and the fact that a matinee was $9 a person. WTF????? I'm sorry, as a wannabe writer I'm all for intellectual property, but if you charge that for a noon showing you deserve to have some schmoe bootleg your movie.

Instead Lisa and I took the kids out for a cheap fish fry (ah, the joys of payday!). Suprisingly, they were well behaved. LuLu as usual paid meticuous attention to the coloring sheet they gave her and asked for my help, while YaYa and Lisa worked on a word find. Come to think of it, I don't think the kids called each other names or even swung a fist THE WHOLE MEAL!It was as miraculous as the Last Supper.

[I saw Marquette's loss tonight. Depressing]

That's it. There's really no reason for this rambling post, except that I sorely missed being online for the past 36 hours :)

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Just an update

My desktop crashed - I think for the last time - and so my online access is limited. We'll have to see.

Meanwhile, to answer some questions posted in the comments section:

Here's a link to those official coroner and government reports on the Holly crash. The gravestone shots are from the web; I haven't had a chance to visit them all, and of the bunch I'll probably only make the trip for Buddy, to be honest.

I am working. That seasonal job, to my great surprise, liked me and kept me on. The hours aren't great, given the economy, but it is a nice sign that while shifts are cut left and right I'm in the mix at all. A search for a job equal (in pay) to my old one continue with new daily vigor, but as you all know from 4+ years here I don't care to discuss my job online.

What else . . well I fell twice in recent days. Once on ice while picking LuLu up from school, and once down the stairs at the house. Mark my words, if we live here forty years those stairs will eventually seal my doom. And in case you're wondering, no matter how minor the fall, 350# does not defy gravity without paying a dire price, in this case some bruises and a cut across my butt.

I'm now DVR'ing this season of American Idol. Expect weekly posts about that, and remember to check out the TWO MILWAUKEE CONTESTANTS. Danny - the guy who lost his wife - and his buddy are both from this here town. Lisa thinks she knows Danny from somewhere, and said so before we even knew he was from Milwaukee. Who knows? Maye we know the next American Idol!

While we're talking TV, I mentioned this on Beth's site, but for the record: the episode of The Office that aired after the SuperBowl was hilarious, and I wet myself twice watching it. Classic.

And that SuperBowl MVP is B.S. Yeah, Holmes made that final catch. Whoo-hoo. It should have gone to Harrison for his 100 yard interception return. That's a minimum of a ten point swingaround (denying Arizona at least three points and gaining seven) in a game decided by four points. Hellllllooooo?

[Duke-Clemson was a slaughter. A 27 point loss for Coach K? Ugh. Sad to watch for this part-time, casual Blue Devil fan]

Ok, that's all for now. I hope to write again soon.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Buddy discusses the dangers of flying

In 1958 Buddy did a very short interview with Alan Freed. Freed was a huge name in rock at the time, a DJ who did more to promote the music than just about anyone else. His fame was cut short when he was implicated in the payola scandals of the late '50's (DJ's were accepting bribes to play a record and act as if it was aired as part of a normal rotation. This would make the record appear more popular then it was, building a false momentum on the charts which in theory fed real interest. They can legally accept money for such acts, but it must be disclosed to the public )

Dick Clark was nearly undone by Payola too, but survived by selling his stake in a record company and 'co-operating' with the authorites.

Freed and Holly appear to be on very friendly terms and discuss some misadventures they've had while flying to gigs and joke about the dangers involved. In retrospect it seems an eerie foretelling, but let's get real; you and I could joke today about the dangers of driving on the highway, but if you (not me Mister) die on I-70 tomorrow we were no more psychic than you were lucky.

Vancouver Interview - October 23, 1957

Some interesting points from this short interview in late 1957. One, Buddy is asked how long he thinks the genre of rock 'n roll will last. His answer? Only about six or seven more months. He is asked if he'd quit if that was the case or ride the next big thing, and he cheerfully responds that he'd change his style. As an explanation, he says he prefers quiter music anyway. He also states a preference for 'Oh Boy!' (about to be released at the time of the interview) over 'That'll Be the Day'.

Some people have said that Buddy misunderstood the question about rock 'n roll, but I disagree. The answer as it stands was consistent with the question and he doesn't seem confused. Maybe he was having a 'down' day, maybe he was in a bad mood, maybe he really feared for the future of rock 'n roll. Who knows?

As far as the preference for 'Oh Boy!', it may be true or it may just be a case of selling the latest release to the press.

I also think his preference for quieter music is not, necessarily, an indicator that Buddy would have abandoned rock had he lived.

My Autobiography by Buddy Holly

This is the complete text of an assignment Holly wrote for his sophomore English course in the spring of 1953. He was 17 (?) at the time, which seems a bit old for a sophomore. Then again he writes of starting school at age seven, which itself is a little long in the tooth for the here-and-now.

Note Buddy's snarkiness and self-deprecating humor. That fits in nicely in 2009 but I doubt they were standard or appreciated qualities in the 1950's.

I also love the last line "that's my life to the present date, and even though it may seem awful and full of calamities, I'd sure be in a bad shape without it"


* * * *

I was born one fall day, a certain particular one, because it was Sept. 7, 1936 and school for that year was starting. It also the first Monday of the month and Dollar Day, and also Labor Day, so you see, it was very eventful in more ways than one. Mr. and Mrs. L.O. Holley were the happy parents of this bouncing, baby boy, or so I'm told, because I was a little young then to be remembering it now.

My life has been what you might call an uneventful one, and it seems there is not much of interest to tell. I was born here in Lubbock and except for a year and a half when I moved to the Roosevelt School District, I have lived here all my life so far. I don't remember too much of this period of my life up until the time I started to go to school at Roscoe Wilson when I was seven. Since then I remember most of the more important events of my school days.

It was during the 4th grade that I moved to Roosevelt and continued to school there until I finished the 6th grade. I then moved back to the Lubbock School Dist. and started to Junior High School at J.T. HUTCHINSON. It was great to be back among my old grade school friends and everything clicked right off. It was really a joy to me to become a westerner of Lubbock Senior High School.

Little did I know what the last nine weeks of my sophomore year held in store for me. This will make the second time I have given my English theme for my test; I got kicked out of Plane Geometry class in the last week of school; I am behind with my Biology work and will probably fail every course I'm taking. At least that's the way I feel. But why quit there? I may as well go ahead and tell all. My father's out of town on a fishing trip, and he is really going to be proud of my latest accomplishments when he gets back.

As of now, I have these on the list.

When I was driving our pickup Sunday afternoon against a hard wind, the hood came unfastened and blew up and now it's bent so that it won't fasten down good. Before I got home, I stopped at a boy's house and he knocked a baseball in to the front glass, shattering it all over me. As if that wasn't enough, I had n appointment to apply for a job with a drafting firm yesterday afternoon and when my mother came after me, she let me drive on towards town. I had brought a picture of the choir and she was looking at it. She asked where I was, and I pointed to my picture. Just as I looked back up we hit the back of a Chrysler and tore the front end of our car up. So you see, I hope my father gets to catching so many fish that he will forget to come back for a little while.

Well, that's enough of bad things for a while. I have many hobbies. Some of these are hunting, fishing, leatherwork, reading, painting and playing western music. I have thought about making a carer out of western music if I am good enough but I will just have to wait to see how that turns out. I like drafting and have thought a lot about making it my life's owrk, but I guess everything will just have to wait and turn out for the best.

Well, that's my life to the present date, and even though it may seem awful and full of calamities, I'd sure be in a bad shape without it.

FINIS
FINALE
In other words,
THE END

Thanks to Lisa for typing in the copy!

A phone call from Feb 28th, 1957

Here's a grand piece of history. In 1956 The Crickets were signed by Decca Records. Buddy clashed with the producers, who wanted to pigeonhole the group into a country-western sound. Without any fanfare the company refused to renew their contract, and on the last day of February 1957 Buddy placed this call to Paul Cohen of Decca.

A few things to note while listening: Buddy's obviously being given the run-around here. But throughout the six minute call he buries his temper and keeps his cool. He displays a very civil and courteous attitude, even when Cohen tactlessly tells him that if another record company wants to 'waste their money' on him, that was their problem.

Later that year Buddy was signed to another label willing to 'waste their money' on him. The Crickets released 'That'll Be the Day' and he was on his way to superstardom.


'Two Timin' Woman' - by (a 13 year old) Buddy Holly

Here's a rare song by a twelve or thirteen year old Charles Hardin Holley, later better known as Buddy Holly. It was recorded in their family home at 3315 36th Street in Lubbock, Texas sometime in 1949. His voice at the time hadn't changed yet, and the vocals can be mistaken for those of a girl.

His guitar playing is far from childish though; check out the solo between 1:09 and 1:30 in the song.





(The video says he's 13 or 14 at the time, but I've double checked the recording date, and he was born 09/07/36, putting him at 12 or 13 here. )

Fair Warning: Today will be all Buddy Holly on Slapinions

At 1:05 in the morning today, a crowd of fans stood on the Holly crash site - still a working farm field - and sang American Pie.

At the same time in Milwaukee, in an equally corny move, yours truly put on my coat and stepped onto my front porch. I raised a drink to the northwest sky, took a pull, and then poured a little to the ground. I said a quick prayer, wished their spirits well, and darted inside.

Yes, it was silly. Sue me.

I watched some of the events online from the Surf Ballroom, and I was mighty nervous when word came that the rumor mill said Clapton, Springsteen, Dylan, or McCartney would show. It would've been hard to swallow missing them, but in the end it was just empty rumor. Plenty of name acts showed, but no upper-tier superstars.

If you have a mind to, check out the Des Moines Register's spectacular barrage of coverage of the anniversary. There are interviews with personalities related to the crash, video of the event, official documents related to the crash, dowloadable posters, music and more. It is MIGHTY impressive.

I learned several things I hadn't known. Plane owner Jerry Dwyer was sued for 1.5 million (a huge sum in 1959) by Ritchie Valens mom but won the case. In fear of future lawsuits he kept the wreckage, and he still has the plane in storage somewhere. My God what a coup for a museum if he'd ever release it!

Dwyer came off as a bit of a conspiracy nut in his interview. He wouldn't discuss some things, mentioned cryptic 'truths' he knows but won't tell, etc. I get the impression that even 50 years later he's still trying to absolve his conscience. I can only assume the 'truth' he hinted at is the ridiculous notion that the pilot was shot in a scuffle aboard the plane. It's been refuted a million times, but America loves a conspiracy.

Sadly the Big Bopper's son, who wasn't born until two months after the crash, bought into some of those rumours and had his father exhumed two years ago. There's a very thorough article on the Des Moines site by the forensic scientist who did the deed. The Bopper was not shot, nor did he try to crawl away to safety. His body structure was destroyed by the impact, a fact hidden by what the article's author called stunning work by the undertaker. His face and haircut were instantly recognizable even after 48 years in the ground - this despite the fact that there were no bones left to hold up the face. He was given a new casket and reburied.

Get this: despite the fact that the original coffin carried an odor so bad the funeral home would not allow it inside during the exhumation, the casket is being PUT UP FOR SALE ON EBAY by the Bopper's son. I . . don't understand the thought process behind that.

The coroner's reports on the bodies revealed some gruesome truths, including massive damage to Valen's head. I won't go into it here, but all the reports are fascinating reading.

They've finally gotten around to putting a maker at the crash site honoring the pilot. About time.

Something I did know but had forgotten: Waylong Jennings last words to Buddy after the concert was a mocking 'Well I hope your old plane crashes'. Those words, spoken innocently, would haunt Jennings for years and escalate his addictions.

Anyway, check out the site, and be prepared for a slew of music posts here today.

Rave on!

Remember

A long, long time ago...
I can still remember
How that music used to make me smile.
And I knew if I had my chance
That I could make those people dance
And, maybe, they'd be happy for a while.

But February made me shiver
With every paper I'd deliver.
Bad news on the doorstep;
I couldn't take one more step.

I can't remember if I cried
When I read about his widowed bride,
But something touched me deep inside
The day the music died

- American Pie by Don McLean.

At around 1:05 AM on the morning of February 3rd, 1959 - fifty years ago nearly to the moment - a plane carrying four men crashed in a dark Iowa cornfield. No one saw or heard the crash, and it did not make front page news in many cities. I doubt anyone at the time, even the families involved, realized that people fifty years later would mourn the losses of that day.


CHARLES HARDIN HOLLEY, AKA BUDDY HOLLY, AGE 22

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RICHARD STEVEN VALENZUELA AKA RITCHIE VALENS, AGE 17

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J.P. RICHARDSON, AKA THE BIG BOPPER, AGE 28

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(PILOT) ROGER PETERSON, AGE 21

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Rest in peace gentlemen. Your music lives on.

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Monday, February 2, 2009

50 Winters Later in Clear Lake Iowa




It was probably a bad time to pick a fight with Springsteen fans, coming as it does on the eve of a slew of Buddy Holly posts. I still say 'relevant today' is a vastly different beast than 'influential'.

Enough of that tho'. For what it's worth, I wouldn't choose (a living) Buddy to do the halftime show either, and Springsteen is a Holly fan, which means he has some good qualities ;) Says the Boss: "I play Buddy Holly every night before I go on. It keeps me honest!"

I should be in Iowa right now, preparing to celebrate the event with a massive tribute concert at the Surf Ballroom, where Ritchie Valens, the Big Bopper, and Buddy played their last concert.




I have tickets, rather pricy ones at that, but given my current financial climate I just couldn't pull the trigger on the trip. [My efforts to resell them fell short]. I'd been hoping for a bigger paycheck to make up the difference, but it came a week too late. There were many 'wounded in action' items after my lay-off; this is the first confirmed KIA.

Scheduled to appear at the concert:

Tommy Allsup
Big Bopper JR
The Crickets
Pat DiNizio of the Smithereens
Joe Ely
Wanda Jackson
Los Lobos
Los Lonely Boys
Delbert McClinton
Chris Montez
Cousin Brucie Morrow
Graham Nash
Peter & Gordon
Sir Tim Rice
Bobby Vee


I'm trying to look on the bright side. I'm not out a few hundred, I'm saving a few hundred by not tacking on the cost of the trip. Yeah, that's it. I'm saving money.

Besides, the Escort is down with an unknown engine problem, and with the van as our only vehicle I don't care to risk it on a 12 hour rountrip to Iowa in the middle of winter. What if it breaks down? What if it has a flat? I can't afford those repairs on top of the gas/wear and tear/food/lodging.

Fuggetaboutit.

So . . .a few tears, some Buddy playing on the computer, and some plans of a summer trip to Clear Lake brewing in my head.

[sidenote: right now I'm listening to the guitar solo on Buddy's version of Chuck Berry's Brown Eyed Handsome Man. It is a thing of beauty.]

Lost: Season 5, Episode 2: 'Jughead'

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A reader asked me this week if there's been a season or two of Lost that I didn't like. I have my favorites sure, but the answer is 'no'. Some seasons are more cerebral and mysterious, while some are action-oriented and designed to move the story arc forward. Overall, it's been a pleasant mix of the two.

As far as this season goes, I'm not overjoyed but for now, still thoroughly entertained. I will say this: I find it very awkward that the show has abandoned its trademark and highly effective format. You know what I'm talking about; the events of the 'present', intercut with flashbacks to the the character's past that explain their current actions and [hopefully]deepen our attachment to them. This season it's pgone. Oh, they still jump around in time, but now it's just a plain jane attempt to track the ridiculous 'time travel' storyline.

This week, in the real world, Desmond and Penny have a son. Three years later he 'remembers' Daniel's plea and sets out to find Farraday's mother. I have a theory on this: the memory did not exist until that moment, which I imagine coincides with Daniel venturing back in time to make the request. That's absolute bunk of course. If he changed the past then it immediately becomes part of Desmond's continuity, and he should have retained the memory through the whole shebang. Heck, it should also have a) proven to him that the 'plague' was a lie, since Daniel was seen sans hazmat suit and b) helped him retain his sanity as he knows there will be a time when he is off the island again.

Anyhow, he wanders around and finds Daniel's lab dismantled and Farraday held in contempt for his experiments, which have apparently incapacitated a woman (she actually appears to have the time travel sickness seen both last season and with Charlotte this year). Cue a meeting with Widmore and a parting shot where it's evident he and Penny are off to LA to find Daniel's mother. Uh, here's my two cents. Widmore gave you her address. Your wife is being hunted by Ben and his coherts, who have a reach wider than the Atlantic. Howsabout you skip the trip and just mail her a certified letter?

On the island it's revealed that 'here' in the early '50's a US Army expedition is exterminated. Their mission was to use the island for nuclear testing, and they left a bomb - the Jughead of the episode title - behind.




The Losties are mistaken for a US Army rescue party, and, skipping over a few things here, John gets his rather unproductive discussion with Richard Alpert.

A couple things of note: the US Army does not just willy-nilly land on an island and blow it up. Therefore, at that time the island was visible and accessible, long enough for the US to chart it, select it for use, and deploy a team to utilize it. Moreoever the Others aren't surprised, since they expect a follw-up attack.

So what changed? Did the bomb serve as the source for all the energy on the island? What gives?

We learn a few other things. Daniel loves Charlotte. Big surprise. The a-hole Other is none other than a young Charles Widmore. Slightly bigger surpise.


Ellie, the blonde Other who holds Daniel at gunpoint, and seems to be an antagonist to Widmore?



Well, my money is that it's Dan's mother (note how he joked that she looked familiar) and that she is the mysterious white haired woman who guided Desmond in the past and who Ben seems to fear.

So sometime in the last fifty years Widmore and the Others had a falling out, with both Widmore and White Haired Lady assuming control of competing interests.

That's pretty much it for this week. Anything else to add folks?