Thursday, May 31, 2007

I visited Hollywood a few years ago. Saw the stars in the sidewalk on Hollywood Boulevard and Grauman’s Chinese Theater as well as the famous sign on the hill that says Hollywood. We even ate lunch at the Beverley Hills Hotel but never saw a movie star even though we were looking very hard. Drove down Sunset Boulevard and crossed famous streets like Rodeo Drive and Vine. Fortunately, we were not run over by a drunken, drug-crazed star like Lindsay Lohan , Paris Hilton or Mel Gibson. Movie stars have always been wild and crazy but this behavior seems even more prevalent today. It’s not just alcohol but drugs and a mixture of both that cause much of the wild behavior.
Lindsay Lohan is a beautiful girl. I’ve never seen her movies and probably never will. The pictures of her on the internet are a knockout. I can’t tell if she is a blond or brunette. She wears her low cut dresses below the level of her breast so that everything is exposed. The paleness of her areolar tissue would suggest she may be blond but you would never know from the varying color of her hair. Whatever she may really look like, she seems very voluptuous with her umbilical ornamentation. With all of these fine physical attributes she recently wreaked her Mercedes while driving erratically on Sunset Boulevard. Turns out she was stoned out of her mind and is hooked on OxyContin.
When we were in Hollywood we even drove around looking for some of the homes where the stars live. There is not much to see and certainly you are not going to see a star out mowing their yard. Now days most of the stars live in Rehab centers. They check in and out of the centers on a daily basis going to buy more drugs and alcohol. They probably meet their publicist at hidden locations to pick up a new supply. The only other times they come out are to support a Democratic candidate for president, to espouse their liberal philosophy, and also to walk down the red carpet, partially nude, at the Academy Awards. During periods of relative sobriety they love to protest whatever war is going on or fly to a third world country to adopt a child.
Lindsay Lohan can look forward to spending a good portion of her young life in rehab between her periods of drunkenness. The next portion of her life will be an attempt to restore the youthfulness of her body through plastic surgery until she looks like a hide bound skeleton like Joan Rivers or Carol Burnett.
It’s all a sad situation that is the price of fame and beauty. It’s another reason for me to stay home, safely away from sunset Boulevard, and watch Dale Evans and Roy Rogers movies.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

I was reminded again this week of one of the thousands of reasons I no longer fly. I’m not afraid of flying itself, just the people. The news has been filled with the story of a man with a very resistant strain of tuberculosis flying on an International flight from Paris to the US. He potentially infected everyone on the flight. Although the possibility of contracting tuberculosis from this individual is low, it is not zero. The man is now in quarantine in a hospital in Atlanta.
Virtually every time I fly, I develop a URI that incapacitates me for a couple of weeks. I figure I am exposed to one of the millions of cold viruses from another part of the world for which I have no immunity. I can count of being sick after a trip when I use the airlines as the mode of travel. The airplanes are giant petri dishes and we are all seated uncomfortably in a big culture media with thousands of microbes floating around and recirculating to make sure we are infected.
Even the AIDS epidemic in the US can be traced back to the airlines. It wasn’t spread by the respiratory route, but by a promiscuous homosexual airline attendant with multiple partners. Infectious diseases have accounted for more deaths than all the wars. The Anglo settlers who came to this continent brought every germ possible to the new world and decimated the Indian population. There was estimated to be between 20 and 30 millions Indians on the North American continent when the pilgrims landed and by the mid 1800’s there was less than a million. Most of them died not from gunshot wounds but from things like smallpox, measles and other infectious diseases. The only thing that the Indians gave the Europeans and Spanish was syphilis. Syphilis was here waiting for the settlers and was the real Montezuma’s revenge. With the airlines, we can now transport these infectious agents much more rapidly than our ancestors and have the opportunity to reduce the population to nothing in a matter of days.
Besides the potential of infection there are a million other reasons I no longer fly. At the top of the list is inconvenience. As an ostomy patient I even have trouble taking my little kit of supplies on board because it contains a wash solution. Every time I board a plane I am reminded of the Jews being loaded on the box-cars in route to a death camp. After aboard, the seating is uncomfortable and someone in front always reclines their chair into my lap. If you are unlucky enough to get a window or middle seat you must crawl over someone to take a restroom break. Fighting for an overhead storage bin is another challenge and you are fortunate if you don’t get knocked in the head by swinging luggage.
Years ago folks dressed nicely to fly. It was almost like going to church used to be. Even church has now deteriorated with the dress code. On the airline people are wearing muscles shirts, ragged jeans and sneakers. They smell as bad as their clothes look.
The airlines, at one time, severed a fairly delicious meal. This changed to food with the appearance and taste of plastic. I felt like I was eating my grandkids toy food they love to serve when playing house. The food no longer exist, thank God for that.
To top it off, the luggage problem is worth writing a book about. I once had a piece of luggage, with some nice cloths, lost forever on a flight to San Diego. That’s when I started packing less valuable and unattractive clothes. I would mark my suitcase all over to aid in identification. My luggage still rarely arrived on time and would fly around the world before reaching home. One time, I found the bags had gone through customs and someone had plundered through everything. I could always count on a luggage problem if I had to change flights. I started taking only direct flights, which limited my travel possibilities.
9/11 finally finished me off. Half the people on the plane look like terrorist and many probably are and just looking for the right opportunity to blow everyone up. Grandmothers are stopped for a strip search while Osama bin Laden marches on through with Jesse Jackson protected by the immunity of racial profiling. The pain of going through security is enough to dissuade even the most stouthearted.
From now on I’m content to stay home in my comfortable recliner and watch Smart Travel on HDTV. That’s really better than being in the dirty places anyway. HD really brightens and cleans everything up and I avoid getting tuberculosis or even a bad URI and dismemberment from an explosion in midair.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day is a time for us to reflect about those who have died in the service of our country and to think about things American, like the flag. We have always treated the flag with great respect because it is the main symbol of our country. More and more we tend to desecrate the flag and many other things American as we continue to chip away at our culture. This weekend, American flags, around a park in Boston, were torn down, thrown into the garbage and set on fire by some vandal wishing to spoil Memorial Day for all of us.
All of us in America are immigrants, but in times past most became Americans and adapted to the new culture. Now with the influx of millions of immigrants the American culture is being severely threatened and the cultures of the immigrants playing a more dominant role,
We are losing our identity. Even the religion that was the basis for our way of government and founding documents is being challenged and deemphasized. The people who now inhabit our country are demonstrating less respect for authority and certainly no respect for many of the things we hold most sacred, such as the flag.
When I was in Jr. High I was honored, along with a classmate, to be the caretaker for our school’s American flag. Every morning we raised the flag on the pole in front of the school and brought it down when school ended for the day. We were taught that it was disrespectable and improper to fly the flag at night. We carefully folded the flag according to protocol and never allowed it to touch the ground. If there was even a hint of rain we were out the door to take down our precious flag. I loved for it to rain. It was a very important job and one that I took very seriously.
Now people use the flag for a tablecloth, as part of clothing, and a million other disrespectable things. They let it stay out in the rain and drag it on the ground. Burning the flag is now in vogue as a way to show disrespect.
I long for those days when John Wayne was our hero, we attended church on Sundays and respected our flag. You didn’t expect a handout but were proud to work and be a citizen. What old fashioned and outdated thoughts, I’m surprised that I am typing them on a computer rather than scribing them on parchment

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Just finished reading The Road, the Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Cormac McCarthy. Dark, heavy words must be used to describe this disturbing read. Words like, oppressive, despair, hopelessness. It’s the story of the journey of a father and son in a world which has been destroyed. Only a few desperate starving people are left, roaming the desolate land looking for food and willing to kill to get it. The man and his son are constantly scavenging for what remains in their hopeless trek to the coast. They have only a pistol to defend themselves and travel on foot with a cart containing their meager possessions in a world that is always cold with freezing rain and gray snow. They encounter one horror after another and the only thing that sustains them is their love for one another and the will to survive.
The book is a quick read, thank God. I read it as fast as possible and actually dreaded coming back following my breaks. I only came back to it because it was touted to be such a great book and the writing is beautiful. It sure didn’t make me feel good, as a matter of fact I have felt terrible since reading it. I dread to think of such a world, which is entirely possible with a nuclear holocaust.
I have read other McCarthy books such as All the Pretty Horses. He writes beautifully but he doesn’t make you feel good or entertained. I need to take a vacation, get out in the sun or take an antidepressant after reading his works.
I wouldn’t read The Road unless you have a healthy state of mind, otherwise you might become suicidal after experiencing Cormac McCarthy’s world of despair. Right now I am searching for something light, warm, funny and uplifting. The war in Iraq might even fit the bill after reading The Road. If you must read this disturbing story save your money and borrow it from a friend like I did.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Just finished my first Staggerford book. This is a series of books by Jon Hassler. The first one was simply called Staggerford. These are stories that take place in the small Minnesota town of Staggerford and are filled with interesting characters and small town life. Small towns seemed to be filled with interesting eccentric people doing weird things. I’m sure these same people live in large cities but they just don’t stand out and as a result are not as interesting.
The Staggerford Murders is really two novelias. The first is The Staggerford Murders and the second is The Life and Death of Nancy Clancy’s Nephew. Both are a delight and very insightful into the human personality.
In the first story, three residents of the rundown Ransford Hotel in Staggerford solve an old murder case and the mysterious disappearance of the murder victim’s wife. The primary characters involved in the story are the manager of the hotel and his two permanent tenants, a retired garbage man and a part time preacher, who mispronounces the names of the books of the Bible. The reader is more caught up with the characters than the murder itself. The story is amusing to read and stimulates the appetite for more of Staggerford.
The second story is that of a very ordinary man who seems to live an almost meaningless existence made more dull by the disappearance of his only son and the death of his wife following Alzheimers. He finds a little happiness and purpose when he befriends a young boy who is a regular visitor to the library. He is spending his final days on the farm with his daughter and her husband who give him more grief than joy. As an old man he finally visits his aunt who is 100 years old and finds the peace he has been searching for. It’s a very insightful story into the life and frustrations of an ordinary man.
The book now has me hooked on Staggerford and the excellent writing of Jon Hassler.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

In the beginning of the great book Huckleberry Finn, Huck talks about living with the Widow Douglas and how she tried to civilize him. He couldn’t stand it no longer so he lit out. The Widow wouldn’t let him smoke, she said it was a mean practice and wasn’t clean. Huck said she took snuff too; of course that was all right, because she done it herself.
I think about that phrase everyday when I encounter rude people. Their misbehavior is all right because they done themselves. Everyone tends to rationalize their behavior, no matter how bad it may be. They excuse themselves for being a jerk. It’s the all too prevalent attitude of “me first”, with a total disregard for the feelings and opinions of others.
Nowhere is this more apparent than with driving. The road is filled with me first jerks who think what they do is okay because, “they done it them self.”
It’s okay for them to tailgate with the message to move out of the way, the road belongs to me. They then rush around, cut in front and arrive at the red light or their destination 10 seconds earlier while putting others lives in jeopardy. It’s the same attitude that prevails when shopping, getting in line, and most everything we do which involves other people.
What happened to kindness, consideration and politeness? My daughter, who belongs to a mega-church in Dallas tells me she has seen people rushing out of the parking lot at the conclusion of a service, give the policeman in attendance the high sign and speed around everyone else.
What a nice world it would be if we stopped to consider the feelings and opinions of others. I suspect gun sales would go down and we might use nuclear energy for power rather than bombs. Maybe this is the world of the afterlife. In the mean time I am like Huck.” I can’t stand it now longer”. I’m ready to lite out but I’m afraid there is now where else to go.

Friday, May 04, 2007

A few days ago European astronomers announced that they have discovered a planet that is very similar to earth. Conditions on the planet are very much like those on earth and the temperatures range from 32 to 104 degrees, which means that liquid water may exist. Water is the essential ingredient to support live, as we know it.
Other planets have been detected in the universe but most of these are big fireballs of poisonous gases which would reduce us to a cinder in seconds. The new planet is called Gliese 581c and is about half as big as earth and five times heavier. It’s about 20.5 light-years away and located in the constellation Libra. To get an idea of really how far that is, one light-year is about 5.9 trillion miles. In other words it’s about 121 trillion miles away. The distance might be a problem for all of us to consider moving there when we have finished destroying our planet with global warming. The new planet also rotates around it’s sun much more often than does earth. A year on Gliese 581c is only 13 days, which means I would be over 1,900 years old The only good thing about the time factor is that politicians wouldn’t be able to stay in office more than about 4 months if we restricted them to two four year terms.
I have always loved astronomy and enjoy studying the night sky. It’s hard not to be a believer in a Supreme Being when you study the stars. I get the same feeling when I study the human body. It’s too much there for it to have just happened. Studying the stars can cause some confusion when you start thinking about time and the creation of the earth in 6 days. I have always thought that time is another dimension and can vary. We already know that a clock ticks slower when it is in motion. From what I understand about heaven it may be that there is no time, so God may not even recognize it as we do with our little finite minds. The song Amazing Grace sums up the time question in its lyrics. “When we’ve been there ten thousand years bright shining as the sun, we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise than when we first begun.”
Even Huck Finn and Jim contemplated the stars as they floated down the Mississippi on their raft. They would discuss if the stars were made or only just happened. Huck said, “I judged it would have took too long to make so many. Jim said the moon could a laid them; well, that looked kind of reasonable, so I didn’t say nothing against it, because I’ve seen a frog lay most as many, so of course it could be done. We used to watch the stars that fell, too, and see them streak down. Jim allowed they’d got spoiled and was hove out of the nest.”
Who am I to disagree with my heroes Huck and Jim. Jim probably had it right. The stars could have been made if a frog could lay almost as many eggs. Surely, God could create as many stars and time doesn’t mean anything to him like it does to us poor simple minded humans who are limited in our thought process by a stationary clock.
I’m ready to move to Gliese 581c, the taxes and gasoline are too high on earth and there is no intelligent life down here. I need to start packing because the trip may take awhile.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

We go to Big Cedar Lodge, near Branson, at least once a year and sometimes twice. We have seen most of the shows in Branson and some we have seen more than once. We don’t go for the shows anymore but for the serenity and quiet we enjoy at Big Cedar. This is a wonderful resort on the shores of Table Rock Lake in the Ozarks. Branson itself is a slice of Middle America. People who visit there are, for the most part, senior citizens who are retired and the average folks who have made America what it is today. They have been hard working people, who are morally sound and responsible individuals. At many of the shows, veterans in the audience are ask to stand and be recognized. Almost every male in the audience stands. I will let the reader guess what religion they might be affiliated with and how they may have voted in the last election. One thing I am pretty sure about, and that is, there is not a terrorist in the group. It’s probably the last place in the world a terrorist would want to go.
Anyway, we attended only one show during this visit. It probably seems rather corny to some of my pseudo-intellectual friends , but I wanted to relive the memories of my childhood. We went to visit the Roy Rogers Museum and stayed for the show, which featured Roy “Dusty” Rogers Jr. and the Highriders. The Highriders are another version of the Sons of the Pioneers. The museum and show were both fantastic. I also had the privilege of speaking with Dusty at the end of the show. Told him how much his dad meant to me. We talked about Trigger who lived to be 33.
The museum is like stepping back into the Golden Age of the movies and the Westerns which were a delightful and important part of my childhood. I used to spend Saturday afternoons in the movie theater for 9 cents admission and buy a bag of popcorn for a nickel. My heros were Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Hopalong Cassidy, Johnny Mack Brown and Wild Bill Elliott and their sidekick Gabby Hayes and Smiley Burnette. The plots were simple without all the blood and gore and explicit sex scenes. They didn’t even kiss the girls, just sang them a song. It was too sissy for the hero to kiss.
The Highriders sang many of the cowboy ballads that were songs you could hum along with rather than the blaring noise and smoke which the rock musicians now use to deafen us. The words of the songs were crisp and distinct, clearly audible for even the oldest ear, as opposed to the rap profanity which, thank goodness, is barely discernible with the most sensitive hearing.
Oh, how I long for the good old days. The Western Movies are now only part of my fading memory but I’m very thankful for places like the Roy Rogers Museum which helps keep them alive for all us old codgers who remain the heart and soul of our deteriorating America.