Saturday, March 30, 2024

These are the Cars I've Owned (1982 - 2024)

[Every so often, I use this site as a personal confessional. That's kind of what "blogs" originally were: 
personal web logs. Since I haven't written in a while, I thought I'd do one of these, to explain what I've been up to, and where I've been]

Wow! I haven't been here in a long, long time! This is a zombie blog. I haven't posted in years. But I thought I'd update an old blog post I did (a few times) about cars I've owned. And it's a bit of a conceit, because the first couple I didn't really "own." My parents just let me drive them.

#1 - 1975 Toyota Corolla [1982]
 - Mine was yellow, had a good deal of rust, a black vinyl interior, no air conditioning, automatic transmission and an AM radio. It was one of Mom & Dad's "fixer-uppers," bought on the cheap for runabout use and then resale. It was loaned to me instead of the blue VW Beetle that had been promised to me--which was sold before I turned 16. Dad & I pulled a FM radio from the junkyard and installed it. . .but it only had 1 dash speaker! I did learn that songs meant for stereo (Monday Monday, Twist & Shout) are kind of hilarious out of one speaker.

As Original As It Gets: 1980 Datsun 210 | Datsun 210, Datsun ...

#2 - 1980 Datsun 210 [1982 - 1984]
 - Red 2-door with a nice comfy black vinyl interior, FM stereo, air conditioning and a stick shift. Which meant I had to learn to drive stick--a challenge for uncoordinated little me. Mom & Dad loaned me this one too, an identical situation to #1. But this one was only 2 years old at the time and had square headlights! How cool! I managed to trash the right side of the car, and had to have it fixed before Dad got home from a trip. Pulled that off, and then the neighbor creamed the left side!

#3 - 1978? Dodge Colt Station Wagon [1984-1985]
 - My graduation gift was a bit of a step back, two years older (plus two years later), and it was a silver station wagon. I made the best of it. I removed the AM radio, installed an under dash AM/FM/Cassette player, and speakers in the doors. I blacked out all the chrome, and rocker panels. It was certainly not cool, but I got by. This was my only 4-speed manual transmission. Blew the engine, 'cause I was a reluctant oil-changer. Oops. I have since come to believe this was a 1977 model, but the years are a little hazy, upon research. Name: Melba.

#4 - 1980 Toyota Celica GT Liftback [1985-1988]
 - This is the first car I purchased myself, with my own loan. I loved this car, even if it did have a large discolored spot on one side, and so much rust underneath that Dad was amazed I didn't fall through the floor. It was silver, a 5-speed, had cloth interior, air conditioning, but only an AM/FM radio. I blacked out the chrome and rocker panels again, but this time it looked cool. It was the first car I ever bought and paid for myself (although, with a co-sign from Dad!). It had a broken gas gauge, so I had to use the trip-odometer to calculate fill-up time! Name: Melba II.

#5 - 1986 Chevrolet Cavalier RS [1988-1991]
 - My first car that seemed like a grown-up's car. Not a dream car, but only two years old, and an excellent deal bought at auction. And this was the first model that took the stodgy Cavalier, and made it semi-cool. It was red, had a nifty dash, a cool luggage rack on the trunk, and no chrome. It was a 5-speed manual, but a dog going up hills. Nice red cloth interior and upgraded dash were eye-catching though. Oh, and only an AM/FM radio again. My sister got this car after me, and drove it into the ground! Name: Melba III.


#6 - 1988 Nissan Pulsar NX SE [1991-1994]
 - Back to a sporty red number, with T-tops, a cockpit interior, and an allegedly removable hatch back. This was a two-seater, very sporty with dual over-head cam 16 valve engine, 5-speed transmission, and--yep--AM/FM stereo--no tapes or CDs. This car was a maintenance nightmare. And it leaked. And it eventually became little more than a sculpture after its timing belt broke. But it looked cool. Oh, and I forgot, I had a run-in with a ditch in the winter (might have been around the time of the photo), and had another car land on TOP of it. This is another car, where the year is suspect. I think it's possible it was an '87. Name: Melba IV.

#7 - 1972(?) Mercedes Diesel Sedan [1991]
 - The first and only time I had two cars. Mom gave me this car, which she had purchased from a little old lady who only drove it on Sundays--literally. It was dark green, and looked very cool. But the car had been sitting outside in Ohio for years, with no maintenance. I drove it to my house, and it promptly lost its timing chain. I gave it to a coworker for free, and he eventually had to pay somebody to take it. A real lost opportunity. No name.

MAZDA 626 (Mk.3) Hatchback Specs & Photos - 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991 -  autoevolution

#8 - 1989 Mazda 626 Turbo [1994-2000]
 - Beautiful car, it looked very similar to the Audis of its day. And with the turbo, it was amazingly zippy. It was back to the automatic transmission, but had a gorgeous interior, and was quite a ride. My only complaint was the driver's arm rest, which was torture. Oh, and the air conditioning absolutely could not keep up with Nevada heat. And the fact that once it started to wear out (at 190,000+ miles), it really decided to wear out. Two, two, TWO transmission replacements! It had a tape deck, but it ate tapes. Can't believe I can't find a photo of mine to post. . .mine was cooler, with cast aluminum wheels. Name: Melba, the Mazda.

#9 - 1998 Jeep Wrangler Sport [2000-2010]
 - This was always my dream vehicle. I loved it, warts, rough ride and all. It was red, with a removable hard top, with full doors, custom bumpers and side steps, and a (worn, and covered by fake tiger-skin!) leather interior. It was my first (and only) 6-cylinder, with a 5-speed transmission, and get this--no air conditioner. Which even in Las Vegas is no big whoop, since I took the doors and top off every summer. It came with a Mopar tape-eating AM/FM player, but I replaced it with a CD-player. The 4-wheel drive honestly didn't get much use, but was great in the rain. It was very pricey in its final years, with a series of fixes and maintenance issues. I'll miss it, but I won't miss the cost and hassle of repairs. With only 52,000 miles on it, you'd think it would have had better reliability. Name: Jack.

No photo description available.

#10 - 2009 Mitsubishi Galant ES [2010-2018]
 Finally, a car made in this century! With the Jeep facing even more repairs, we finally bit the bullet and bought a new (well, slightly used) car. It is a rust-red (redder in person) 4-door sedan, but has a slightly forward stance, and a nicely updated nose and tail from earlier models. It is at once unassuming and different. Non-car people will not know what it is (largely because it has no identifying badging outside of the Mitsubishi 3-diamond logos), and you don't see them all over the place like Camrys or Accords. Many reviews will tell you that the Galant is an also-ran in the midsize car segment, but after driving a rugged, creaky, bouncy Jeep for nine years? Smooth as silk and an upgrade in all areas. In retrospect, this car, reliable as it was, became something of a bore. I had it a long time, eight years. And I had my eye on the next one long before I actually GOT it. Name: Rusty.

No photo description available.

#11 - 2017 Jeep Renegade - [2018-2023]
  I'd wanted a Jeep Renegade from the moment they were announced. About the same size as the classic Jeep Cherokee, something about the Renegade just spoke to me. I wanted one. I sat in one at the 2014 auto show in Los Angeles. But then we decided to move 2000 miles across the country, and buy a new house (without new jobs). That threw a wrench in. But after we'd established ourselves in our new locale, the game was on again. I bought my first brand new vehicle in my life, in the 2017 Jeep Renegade. It was a model year behind by the time I bought it, but the discount was impressive. No problems with it ever. Still a favorite. Name: Quark.

No photo description available. 

#12 - 2020 Jeep Compass - [2023-?] I had no intention of buying a new car. But the climate in 2023 for trade-ins was absurdly good, and too good to pass up. And at the time I'd bought my Renegade, I'd been torn between it, and the relatively new (then) Compass. I always said, if something happened to the Renegade, I'd buy a Compass. Instead, the opportunity just came along to trade it in. And I did! And so far, I love it. Ironically, I despised the previous generation of Compass. It always looked to me like you asked an eight-year-old to draw a Jeep from memory. Name: Uhura.

Honerable Mentions - The Other Half's cars, 1991 Mazda 626, 2000 VW GTI, 2003 VW Golf (pictured with my Jeep Wrangler above), two different 2012 Scion xBs, a 2016 Nissan Murano and his current 2021 Subaru Forester.

That's it! For now, until the next dream vehicle catches my eye.

*Photos culled from all over the internet, and my own photos where I had them. I've lost the attributions, and hope that nobody minds. If I've used one of your photos, and you'd like it attributed (or removed), please contact me at the email address at the upper left of the page. Thanks.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Product Placement: New Diet Coke Flavors, A Review

This review will be incomplete, since I didn't buy the new Ginger Lime Diet Coke, and they didn't have any Feisty Cherry. But, then again, since I haven't blogged in months, that hardly matters since nobody will read this! Anyway, what this is is a review of two new Diet Coke flavors I'd been eager to check out.

I'm a diet soda fan from way back. All the way back to when my youthful metabolism shifted into middle-age sluggishness, and I just couldn't drink sugary soda anymore. When I made that transition, I usually stuck to Diet Mountain Dew or other "sweeter" diet sodas, since the colas always tasted off to me. I guess since diet cola was invented so long ago--when sweeteners were more synthetic tasting--people got used to them just plain tasting different from sugary colas. With Diet Mountain Dew or Diet Orange Crush or Diet 7-Up, the difference was much less apparent. The flavor was close enough, sometimes enough to become a preferred taste to the original.

Not so with diet colas for me. I'd drink just about anything diet, but for me, Diet Coke took last place in line, followed shortly by Diet Rite Cola and Diet Pepsi. It took me years, and the invention of flavored diet colas (adding lime, vanilla, cherry) to get me used them. But they still were at the bottom of the list. Then came Coke Zero and Pepsi Max (Zero Sugar). They finally started to try to make a diet cola taste like the real thing. Now, Coke Zero Sugar is in my top three.

But, whenever a new flavor comes out, I do get excited to try it. I saw recently that Diet Coke was releasing all of these new flavors in fancy, skinny cans, and I was intrigued. I finally saw some on display in Kroger today, and my anticipation turned to skepticism. Yes, the new products were on sale, but come on, Coca-Cola! You're selling these in smaller eight-packs, and even on sale they're more expensive than the 12-packs of your regular sodas? Really?

Grumble, grumble. I picked up two anyway, of the three new flavors they had, not counting the little boxes of ordinary Diet Coke in the new packaging. Anyone who pays extra for the skinny can and same soda must be mental. I got them home, put some on ice and. . .

It's a mixed review for me. The Twisted Mango Diet Coke is delicious. Really, truly good. The mango flavor is seemingly genuine, very fruity. The cola tastes like cola, rather than a diet substitute. It is quite good, and would go in my "favorites" category if sold in ordinary packaging. The Zesty Blood Orange Diet Coke was just "okay" for me. Very much along the lines of Diet Coke with Lime, a decent but not terrific soda. The fruit flavor is more synthetic, or maybe just doesn't mix as well with a cola taste. I'd buy it, along with other flavors for variety's sake, but wouldn't put it at the top of my list.

But it really sticks in my craw that Coke is sticking it to us with the packaging and pricing. The skinny cans stand out, and the packaging is attractive. But unless they're just looking to be a niche product, these things are not going to catch on with ordinary soda drinkers. They'll be an occasional purchase, only if on sale. But before I finish my two (little) boxes, I intend to find out how well they mix with alcohol! I'm thinking the mango one would be great with rum.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Continuing Disaster that is Donald Trump

The Embarrassment-in-Chief
Image from source, Mediaite
As is evidenced by my large gaps between posts, I've let the blog sit idle most of this year. The reasons are many, and not important at the moment. But I'm feeling moved to blog again this evening, even after three weeks of 60-hour work weeks.

Today's Donald Trump outrage--and let's face it, there's at least one nearly every day--on the surface, seems nearly trivial. Not the subject matter, mind you, that is deadly serious. But the actual thing that sparks the outrage: the cloddishness of President Trump himself. It's not news that he's a clod. He's evidenced this for decades now. It's one of the reasons that his detractors are still baffled by his supporters. What draws people to this detestable man? Again, a subject for another day.

This particular story regards a personal phone call from Trump to a grieving war widow, and his botched attempt to handle it extemporaneously. He reportedly didn't know the deceased's name, and other details of who he was. And he is alleged to have said, “He knew what he signed up for …but when it happens it hurts anyway.” The statement, if actually uttered, is oddly enough, true. But it is of course, not a comforting thing to say. In fact, it's rather crass. And utterly believable.

Now, I don't know if the conversation really went down that way. According to Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, it did. According to the family, it did. But it's almost beside the point, in this case. Because what we do know is how Donald Trump responded to the allegation (by the Congresswoman, by the way, not "The Media"). He attacked. He accused the Congresswoman of fabricating the whole thing. The White House considers it to be a media plot. And it's of course turned into the "Thing" du-jour.

Because Donald Trump is a crass clod. A monstrously ego maniacal dolt. And dotard, can't forget that. Any other president, from Obama, to Bush to Clinton would have come out with a statement, reiterating their condolences, and imploring the widow to forgive them if they came off poorly in the initial conversation. If Trump had done that, my assessment of him would have actually budged upward (the only way it can go, frankly), slightly. But Trump can't do that.

He can never apologize, never admit either defeat nor mistake. It's only part of what makes him unfit for office. More to come. Maybe slowly, but it will come.


Trump Calls Grieving Widow of Soldier Killed in Niger: ‘He Knew What He Signed Up For’

Earlier this week, President Donald Trump was confronted during a press conference for not publicly speaking about the four soldiers who were killed in Niger earlier this month. Trump took that opportunity to not only defend his actions but to claim that Barack Obama and other presidents hadn’t called the families of slain soldiers in the past. . .

Read more at: Mediaite

Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Crisis of Our Era: Coke Zero Replaced by Coke Zero Sugar

So, it wasn't the crisis in Korea that spurred me to interrupt my vacation/retirement from blogging. It wasn't any other Trump insanity (after all, it's a challenge to find just one thing to bitch about there on any given day). No, it's the crisis of my tastebuds, and the willingness of big corporations, notably Coca-Cola, to screw around with them.

We went through this with NEW Coke! back in the 1980s, and it was a bad idea then. But Coke Zero, the company's alternative "more like real Coke" diet beverage was never the institution that the flagship brand, or even Diet Coke is. It's the difference between doing a remake of Friday the 13th vs. Gone With the Wind. With Coke Zero, you're not messing with a literal classic.

But, then again, people get wedded to their favorite beverages. I was always a Pepsi-Cola guy, dating way back. Even now, I prefer old Pepsi stuff to collectible Coke stuff. But when my youthful metabolism crashed into a tree, I had to switch to diet soda, if I was going to stay soda at all. And as a big soft drink drinker, I was.  But which one?

Growing up, there weren't many choices at all for my parents, facing a similar dilemma. You had basically, diet cola, or diet lemon-lime, whatever brand of each you preferred. That was about it. And they always tasted weird, not at all like the real thing, especially the colas. Diet Rite (the RC Cola derivative) was the cheap one and tasted like it. Diet Pepsi was the go-to diet soda, with some competition from Tab (the Coke variety), and there was the odd Fresca drinker, I suppose. All of them, to me, tasted like--as Bloom County once put it--like malted battery acid.

In the early 1980s, Diet Coke was released, and a whole new addiction swept America. I never really understood this, as it had all the flaws of the other diet colas. In fact, if forced, I'd choose Diet Pepsi over it. But they all just had that hollow feel, empty of something, with a strange aftertaste, almost metallic. I'd reach for literally any other diet beverage. Luckily for me, they were in the wings. Diet Mountain Dew was released, and was actually good. Better than the real deal, as far as I was concerned, which is sickeningly sweet. Diet Dr. Pepper was not bad, though trended more toward the colas with its ineffable emptiness. But there started to be more variety, and avoiding diet colas while getting diet soda wasn't difficult.

Then came the alternative colas. Pepsi One, Pepsi MAX, and Coke Zero. Coke Zero was it for me. By far the best diet cola on the market. To me, it was almost indistinguishable from full-sugar Coca-Cola, except that it didn't feel like you put little fuzzy sugar-socks on your teeth afterward. None of the tinniness, and thinness of taste at all. No particular aftertaste. I've loved Coke Zero ever since, and it holds a tie for number two in my list with Diet Mountain Dew. Code Red Diet Mountain Dew holds the number one spot, but it's hard to find.

Anyway, that's a long way to go to get to the meat of this story. I found out a week or two ago that Coke was discontinuing Coca-Cola Zero in favor of something new called Coca-Cola Zero Sugar. Which in and of itself is kind of odd, given that Pepsi replaced Pepsi MAX with Pepsi Zero Sugar some time ago. So, it's strange that they'd have virtually the same name, but whatever. Point was, one of my truly favorite drinks was going away, and being replaced by an unknown quantity.
So, I saw some today, and picked it up for a taste test.

I poured both over ice, got some nice strong cheese to nibble in between, and here are my findings...

Coke Zero: Full-bodied, with a bit of a bite. Sweet but not too sweet. No syrupy feel afterward, but no particular aftertaste. An excellent "Coke" flavor, without the stickiness, I still love it.

Coke Zero Sugar: Less full-bodied, less bite. Still sweet, but less robust. Maybe a slightly closer feel to having sugary soda in your mouth, so I think maybe an even better disguising of artificial sweetener. Seems less carbonated, so by contrast, flatter. Still miles ahead of Diet Coke.

Conclusion: As Dom DeLuise said as Caesar in History of the World, Part I,

"Nice. Nice. Not thrilling, but nice."

I can't say it's an improvement overall. It's sort of a lateral move, with a possible half-step back. Given the choice (which I'm not going to have), I'd take the original Coke Zero. As it stands, I'm sure I'll buy the new version if Coke is on sale as a brand, just like I do with the current version. But I can't say I'd reach for it as quickly, if that makes any sense. I might grab a Fresca or a Diet Barq's carton just as fast. I think it's fallen out of my top two. So, Coca-Cola Corporation, if you're listening? I prefer the old version. And I'm hoping the caffeine free one stays around a little while, because it's just as good!

Long story short (I know, too late), it's not the disaster that NEW Coke was. But it will make some people a little sad.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Blast in Manchester England at Ariana Grande Concert

Terrorism strikes again, though as of this writing, there was no clear affiliation to a terrorist group, that's still what it is. Be it a crazy guy, or connected to ISIS, the result is the same. And it stinks, that it was at a venue sure to be teeming with underage kids.

The story has overtaken the news, as these stories often do, which can be frustrating. Two things we know (and that was articulated by Rachel Maddow on her program, which was entirely devoted to the story), facts are constantly shifting in  the newness of this kind of story--so, it's unreliable information--and there isn't much to do but speculate. Which creates a dilemma for happening now news: they have to cover it, but there really isn't much to say. I wish they'd get a handle on the way to segue in and out of these major stories, instead of dwelling on them exclusively.

But sadly, no. We see the same looped, shaky, usually vertically* framed cell phone video, interspersed with almost as shaky location footage of the building, with not much going on. It's not riveting television, even though what they're covering is both important and dire. No easy way to do it I suppose.

And on a purely superficial note: if you ever find yourself in the middle of a breaking news event, and have the presence of mind to start recording video, turn the phone sideways. Thank you.


Explosion, Panic and Death at Ariana Grande Concert in England

An explosion that may have been a suicide bombing killed at least 19 people on Monday night and wounded dozens at an Ariana Grande concert filled with adoring adolescent fans in what the police were treating as a terrorist attack. . .

Read more (with video) at: New York Times

MSNBC #1, FOX "News" #3: Role Reversal!

Rachel Maddow, from source, Variety
I know I hardly blog anymore, but I knew when I saw this headline, I had to post it. In what has seemed inevitable for months, MSNBC has finally overtaken FOX "News" as the number one cable news station. I say "cable news" as a category, because FOX has of course never really been news, having practically invented "fake news" twenty years ago.

Now, I know, there are several factors here that make this possibly a temporary--and maybe even hollow--victory. The channel that used to call itself "The Place for Politics," and said "Lean Forward," has been seemingly morphing slowly into sort of a FOX lite, at least in certain areas. The guy pulling all the wheels and pullies behind the scenes, Andy Lack, seems hell-bent on tipping the focus to a blend of "straight news," and a tip rightward. He's been thwarted by Rachel Maddow's dynamo ratings, and also to the surges by the rest of the prime time lineup. He couldn't very well fire his new ratings champions.

Or could he? The channel's second highest rated host, Lawrence O'Donnell, has a contract renewal looming, and nobody seems to know if it's going to go through. His fans are planning a march, but as often happens in these sorts of things, we don't get to hear the details. Even tonight, as the world is dealing with another terrorist act in Manchester, England (as I write this, responsible parties unknown), Lawrence is not hosting his program, and is being pre-empted by Brian Williams.

It would be foolhardy for Lack to terminate O'Donnell--who has made it clear that he wants to stay--in the midst of a ratings bonanza. It would almost instantly damage the ratings they have just started to really reap, because a huge segment of the their audience would abandon MSNBC. But I've seen this happen before. Radio channels running Randi Rhodes or Stephanie Miller when they're performing well, and replacing them with radio formats that get microscopic ratings. Sometimes ideology trumps money. Strange but true.

Of course the ratings wave also came amidst a crash at FOX, where they've been rocked by scandal, schedule shakeups, and a complete lack of focus after the departure (and now death) of Roger Ailes. I'd like nothing better than to see one of two things happen: a) FOX "News" slides to irrelevancy, with FOX Business Channel-level ratings; or b) FOX itself morphs into a more straight-news channel, free of rightward slant. But what we don't need is MSNBC basically taking their place as the new leader in "fake news."

Meanwhile, congratulations to Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O'Donnell, Chris Hayes and the roster of regulars that has performed a mighty feat, seemingly in the face of their own leadership.


MSNBC Reaches No. 1 for First Time in Weekly Primetime Ratings, Fox News Drops to Third

For the first time in its history, MSNBC ranked number one in both total viewers and the key adults 25-54 demographic during primetime for a full week among the big three cable news networks, according to Nielsen data. . .

Read more at: Variety

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Comey Firing: Key Day in History?

I remember how Right Wing World used to pick on
Hillary Clinton's looks. Now they ignore Donnie's.
Funny that.
The firing by (shudder) President Donald Trump of FBI Director James Comey could be a key day in history.

Why am I, runner of a half-abandoned hobbyist blog, qualified to say such a thing? I'm not. But call it a hunch. It simply feels momentous, this day. The left sees it as the move of a desperate man, but with the horrifying possibility of actually working. The right is overjoyed, seemingly unable to see Trump in anything but the most forgiving light. I mistakenly thought this was a very temporary effect of both winning an unexpected win, and of making liberals unhappy.

But Trump is very, very good at making liberals unhappy. And, if you haven't figured it out by now, conservatives like little more than "liberal tears." It's becoming very clear, that is largely what the whole Trump thing is about. He can hire people wholly unqualified for their jobs, to the point of opposing the very agencies they're put in charge of. He can use worse English than Sarah Palin hopped up on goofers. He can embarrass us on a world stage, show the most rudimentary of knowledge on civics. Doesn't matter how oafish, cartoonish, buffoonish and asinine he displays himself to be, they love him, because he pisses off the correct people.

For everyone not under that thrall, the experience is quite different. This is a presidency off the rails. An absolute train wreck that just gets worse as the days go by. And the suspicion of corruption, and even collusion with the Russians seems far more plausible. It's feeling more and more like an unfolding Watergate-type scandal, and the Comey firing feels like a key moment.

Depending on how much focus this story holds on the news cycle, and whether it grows, or peters out, it's still key. Because if Trump survives it, and we move on to the next outrage. If nothing comes of the Russia investigations, and in two months the story is on Trump insulting another ally, then that key moment will be, he got away with it.

And that will make a lot of people wonder, what on earth would or could be his undoing, if he can skate by after probably colluding with a hostile foreign government (not to mention the many and varied conflicts of interest, nepotism and the rest).

But, if this is the moment when some of the saner conservatives (they are out there, they've gotta be. . .right?) begin to peel off, and get on board the anti-Trump train. Or at least start demanding some real answers. I guess we'll see which way it unfolds together. Maybe I'll try to poke my head in here a bit more often as we find out.


Trump's love-hate relationship with James Comey

The same day FBI Director James Comey announced he was recommending that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton not be charged in connection with her use of a private email server, then-candidate Donald Trump walked onto a stage in Raleigh, North Carolina, and proclaimed: "Our system is absolutely, totally rigged. . ."

Read more at: CNN

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Erin Moran, Joanie from Happy Days, Dead at 56

Image from source, Washington Post
Poor Erin Moran. She was undersung and overlooked on Happy Days. When the "big dogs" of the show left for greener pastures, it was "Joanie's" turn to shine. But, they shunted her off to the terrible Joanie Loves Chachi, and brought in Ted McGinley to replace her? The show crashed and burned, she was able to return, and then they ended the show, and made her marry Chachi (Scott Baio) as the last episode. It wasn't much of an ending. Then the roles dried up, producers ripped her off, her life took a sad turn, and she died way too young. To top it all off, she's being referred to as "Scott Baio's love interest on Happy Days," in her obituary.

The truth is, after a rather nondescript start on the show, she developed rapidly into a scene stealer, and a fairly good sense of comic timing. Being just a few years younger, I really liked her as an actress, particularly in those few episodes where Joanie was essentially the central figure. I always thought she resembled and ought to be paired with Adrianne Barbeau, but no producer ever seemed to see that possibility. So, it's a sad, slow ending for Erin Moran. And it's not one that likely surprised very many. But it's really too bad. RIP, Ms. Moran.

From a "Separated at Birth" post
from the early days of this blog.


Erin Moran, actress from ‘Happy Days’ TV show, dies at 56

Erin Moran, a former child star who played Joanie Cunningham in the sitcoms “Happy Days” and “Joanie Loves Chachi,” was found dead April 22 in Harrison County, Ind. She was 56.

Emergency responders found her unresponsive at a trailer park after the sheriff’s department received a 911 call, the department said. An autopsy is pending to determine the cause of death. . .

Read more at: Washington Post

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Behind the Blogger: More Blogging Excuses, From that Twilighty Zone

I know. I've been gone a while. I'm a bit surprised HOW long, to be honest, but time flies in Trump's America, doesn't it? And simultaneously crawls. It's like that twilighty show about that zone. Nothing feels real. I'm still not utterly convinced that we haven't sidestepped into the wrong reality somehow.

Trump fans (god knows how or why they exist) can pretend that all of this is normal, somehow. They can insist that, hey, they made it through eight years of Obama. We'll make it through this. Which is a) a bad comparison for reasons I will articulate and b) not even a foregone conclusion. Given the insanity that goes on with our toddler president, we might not make it through this.

But let's get back to the bad comparison. Barack Obama was, to my way of thinking, an exceptional man and a fine president. I'm quite clear that other people didn't think so. That's fine. What can't be argued is that he was in some way unusual, or atypical from any other mainstream politician. He was black, and say what you will, I'm never going to believe that his race wasn't responsible for a large chunk of the outright hatred directed at him. But he was a smart, educated, contemplative, capable man. He understood the scope of the job, more than basic civics, how government works. Whether you liked him or not, it's hard to conclude that he wasn't capable of doing the job.

Donald Trump is different. Not just a little different. He's not different in the way he's most often presented, as in "not a politician." Even the most fervent Trumpster has to admit the man is uniquely and profoundly odd. For a while longer, perhaps, they can tout this oddness as a virtue. But more and more, the wheels seem to be coming off, lug nuts shooting willy nilly. It is very clear that Trump is at best winging it. The whole thing. He clearly has no "doctrine," no core belief system beyond "winning," something he's actually done very little of since the election. And even that very well may have been rigged after all. For him.

I want to write about this stuff. In years gone by, I very certainly would have, and very prolifically. I may actually revive that part of myself. But I'm at a bit of a crossroads here. More engagement in social media, more of a workload both at my official job and at my home business, and other factors have conspired to change the way I use my time. Couple this with the difficulty in concisely putting into words the insanity that's swirling around us, and blogging is just a different beast to me than it once was.

Still not ready to give the blog up though! I'm still here. And I'll keep coming back. Just hopefully more often than every two weeks.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Keith Olbermann: Could Trump Pass a Sanity Test?

I personally doubt it. I really do. I think he has multiple personality disorders, possibly coupled with some sort of pathology.

In Case You Missed It:Over Time with Bill Maher, March 24, 2017

Bridgegate Claims Two: Chris Christie Allies Sentenced

Image from source, Huffington Post
Wow, has it been two weeks since I've posted anything? Scandal! Where have I been? I know, I know, excuses, excuses, by bother, let's move on.

If you are one of those people who wish Rachel Maddow would just move on already from the whole Russian/Trump stuff, you should make note of this. The whole Chris Christie Bridgegate scandal was Maddow's baby. Sure, there were beat reporters, and other people who kept the story alive, moved it along, and were invaluable to this resolution. But Maddow was tenacious on this, and kept the story in the public eye. Often against some fairly withering criticism.  She kept at it, and kept at it. And, I'm sure you've noticed, there is no President or Vice President Christie today.

That's not to say that we might not be in a better world if he won over the current President Crazypants we have right now. But in point of fact, his administration was a criminal enterprise, and in the long run, having him as President would've also been, you can pretty much count on it. I just wonder how long Christie--even with his White House connections--will manage to stay removed from this. Meanwhile, keep at it Rachel, keep doing what you do!

Former Chris Christie Aides Sentenced In Bridgegate As Governor Meets With Trump At White House

A judge sentenced two of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s (R) former aides Wednesday for their role in the Bridgegate scandal in 2013.

In November, a federal jury found Bill Baroni, who served as Christie’s top official at the Port Authority of New York, and Bridget Anne Kelly, who was the governor’s deputy chief of staff, guilty on charges of conspiracy and fraud.. .

Read more at: Huffington Post

Monday, March 13, 2017

SNL: Trump vs. Aliens

This weekend's edition of Saturday Night Live had some great moments, and Scarlett Johansson is awesome, as always. But I can't help being a little disappointed by this and last weeks' episodes. With so very much material to choose from, they just came up a little light, in my opinion. And by giving us Melissa McCarthy not once but twice as Press Secretary Sean Spicer, they set our hopes too high.

Still, there were choice bits. Such as this fairly spot-on critique of Donald Trump (Alec Baldwin), if he had to face a real crisis. It would go pretty much exactly like this.

Breaking: Trump White House Trolls for "Obamacare Disaster Stories"

I've gotten a lot of emails from The White House. The Obama White House, mostly. But apparently, Cheetolini must've inherited the mailing list. And just minutes ago, he used it to push out the most hyper-partisan, push-poll-feeling email I've ever gotten from that source.

"Share Your Obamacare Disaster Story"

That's the subject line. Isn't that nice? It assumes that you have such a story. Or, that if you have an Obamacare story, it must be a disaster. Or, more likely, that they only want stories from people who consider it a disaster. And here, ladies and germs, is a primo example of how the Trump White House differs from Obama's.

Firstly, the Obama version wouldn't have been so ham-handed and obvious about the desire to get only one sort of response. But secondly, the Obama team would have wanted examples of all types. They'd want to know if you have had good experiences or bad experiences. They did so. They helped people who were having difficulties and obstacles with that plan, and other issues. Not Trump! Tell me how awful it is!

In truth, clearly, this is about bolstering the need for (Please Don't Call It) TrumpCare. Trump's claims that it would cover everyone regardless of income, and that it would be cheaper and better are. Not. True. But in Trumpland, that's a minor detail. His followers have been remarkably willing to give him massive latitude on the exact wording of his promises. They will on this as well. And if you give them a few juicy stories to repeat ad nauseam for the next 8 years? Even better.

The letter:

Obamacare has been a complete failure since the beginning, and things are only getting worse.

Today, President Donald J. Trump held a listening session to hear directly from Americans who have experienced significant hardship as a result of Obamacare's poor coverage and rising prices.

President Trump wants to hear from hard-working Americans like you. How has Obamacare affected you? Share your Obamacare disaster story.

During the meeting, one woman revealed that she had her health insurance cancelled three times since Obamacare became law. Another attendee had her insurance jump from $17,000 a year to a devastating $52,500 a year for her struggling family, while yet another said her health insurance now costs more than her mortgage.

Obamacare came packaged as the healthcare solution for all Americans. Instead, the country was given hundreds of pages of broken promises.

Millions of hard-working Americans have been impaired by soaring costs, cancelled plans, and overbearing mandates. As one of those innocent Americans, President Trump wants to hear your story about how this disastrous law has affected you and your family.

Share Your Story

So, I propose we share all kinds of stories! Who's with me?

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