Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Behind the Blogger: 2015 New Year's Resolutions

New Year's resolutions are a silly tradition. For the most part, we never get started on them. Occasionally, we commit to them. For a week. Maybe two. If you keep it up for three weeks, you've got maybe a 50% chance of going past a month, and if you make it to a month, I'm betting you're in rare company.

That said, in 2011, I gave up smoking as a New Year's resolution. Other than the fact that I picked January 3 as my start date (since that was a Monday that year), it took. I have had zero ciggies since January 2, 2011. Truth be told, I could have given them up on Dec. 31, since I think I rationed out my last pack over two days, and ended up giving the rest to The Other Half (who is still occasionally puffing, by the way). Other resolutions have not been nearly so successful, though I often do make it through long past when others drop out.

Usually, it's lose weight, get in shape. I've done that many times. I rarely ever stop exercising completely, so that one is usually stepping up my exercise. But I often fall off the diet. I'm a yo-yo dieter with a really long yo. I can go 18 months at a good weight, then life gets in the way, and boom, chubbo again. Doggone it. Some people think it's as easy as simple math, calories in, calories out. This doesn't take into account differing metabolisms, differing types of food that either stick or pass on thru, and other factors. And it doesn't take into account that Atkins really works, and you don't have to count calories to do it. It's just bloody boring after a while. But...

My resolutions for 2015:

- Lose weight, 20 pounds or above, keep net 20 off for the year. If I lose 25, and end up with just the 20, I'll take it.
- Keep up and ramp up the exercise.
- No smoking (this one is easy)!
- Keep blogging, even though it's mostly for me. Everyone needs a hobby.
- Grow my business/get a job. One or the other or both will be necessary after quitting my job, and moving cross-country with The Other Half.
- Save political arguments for the blog and online shouting matches. No need to start unnecessary arguments with politically incompatible family members!
- Enjoy the changes the move will bring, don't panic, don't overthink, enjoy.

The Best of Rocky Mountain Mike (2014)

I often feature the works of Rocky Mountain Mike on the blog, not because I have anything to do with making them--I don't--but because I'm a huge fan, and Mike posts handy-dandy embedding links! Also, I'm a huge fan of The Stephanie Miller Show, which is how I came to find Mike in the first place.

Through the year, as in previous ones, he's produced quite a few masterful song parodies, some Stephanie Miller in-joke specific, some brilliantly spot-on takedowns of whatever happens to be driving the news cycle, from Sarah Palin's latest drunken family brawl, to the Bundy Ranch, to the evil that is Dick Cheney. Here's a taste of several of them in this year end medly.

For more the complete tunes, go here. And buy his album, Politically Incoherent on Amazon!


What Happens in Vegas: Will It Snow, Will It Snow, Will It Snow?

Well, it's almost time to retire my What Happens in Vegas feature, along with the year of 2014. In a month or so, I'll officially be a Buckeye again, after a lapse of 20 years. Time will tell if I develop a Useless Nut feature when Greenlee Gazette takes up root back in Ohio.

For now, my soon-to-be abandoned adoptive state and city look to be giving me a going away present: snow on New Year's Eve. It's never happened, at least with anything resembling accumulation, since people have been keeping track of such things. I've been here for a handful of  Las Vegas' very few recorded snow storms, and I'm very much looking forward to this one! If it happens. I know I'll quickly have my fill of snow when I get back to Ohio, but there's something different about it when it happens here. Probably the palm trees.

Yeah, yeah. You've promised this before.
Image from source,
Still, the tourists from out of town have got to be cursing my enthusiasm. Some years you don't even need much beyond long sleeves on the strip for NYE. This year, you'll freeze your (by now, pointless) 2015 novelty glasses off.


It’s gonna snow! Probably.

People celebrating the eve of the New Year in Las Vegas may be seeing more than confetti falling from the sky. The best chance for snow — it’s a 60 percent chance — will come late Wednesday afternoon and early in the evening, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Chris Stachelski. Even though the storm system is carrying less moisture than was forecast Saturday, Las Vegas will likely see between a half-inch to an inch of snow and record low temperatures, Stachelski said. . .

Read more at: Las Vegas Review-Journal

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Michigan to Test Welfare Recipients for Drug Use

Michigan Governor Snyder. Ain't he a peach?
Image from source, Think Progress
There are reasons why Republicans have a reputation for being both tight-asses and just flat mean. Here's one, in fairly bold letters. There is no particular evidence that welfare recipients are larger than average drug users as a population (in fact some studies show the opposite). So, what is the point of this kind of legislation, exactly? Shaming? And hey, where are all of the conservative "values" people when the children of those found to be using drugs are denied food and medicine? What about the children?

And of course, I'd like to know if any government assistance should require drug testing of recipients? Corporate welfare, perhaps? Why not?


Michigan Governor Signs Bill Requiring Drug Testing Of Welfare Recipients
Welfare recipients in some Michigan counties will soon be tested if they’re suspected of using drugs, under a set of bills signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder this week. The Senate and House bills, which were signed into law Friday, will create a yearlong pilot program in three counties that will screen welfare recipients and applicants to determine whether or not they’re suspected of using drugs. If they are, the applicants or recipients must submit to a drug test. If the test comes back positive, they will be referred to a treatment program, and if they choose not to enter the program, they will lose their welfare benefits. Applicants and recipients will also lose their eligibility for welfare benefits for six months. . .

Read more at: Think Progress

New GOP Congress Off to Bang Up Start

Wow! See, America, this is what happens when you don't pay attention, fall for truthiness, decide it's the other side's "turn" or just don't vote because you think "they're all the same." The new team--yet to even be sworn it--already has a prominent member guilty of a felony (and resigning after saying he wouldn't). And now a guy third from the top in the House of Representatives who gives speeches for white supremacists. And didn't realize it. He's also kind of a nutbar. Is this what you bargained for?


House Majority Whip Scalise confirms he spoke to white nationalists in 2002

Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), the House majority whip, acknowledged Monday that he spoke at a gathering hosted by white-supremacist leaders while serving as a state representative in 2002, thrusting a racial controversy into House Republican ranks days before the party assumes control of both congressional chambers . . .

Read more at: Washington Post

Monday, December 29, 2014

Blast from the Past: New & Improved!

I was stuck for an idea for the year's first Blast from the Past. And then I thought, new year. New and improved (we hope) year! Remember how all the products on TV in the seventies were constantly new & improved? We never really figured out what was so different, but they sure made a big deal of it. So, here are some of those old pop culture nuggets.

1. Tide detergent - Probably the most improved item in commercials was detergent. By now, you'd think they'd have it perfect!
3. Zest soap - Soap was always being improved too. And how many times did they go through the, "Wait a minute, it's not new." "No, it's new and improved!" bit?
3. Quake & Quisp cereal - How improved could they be? Did you ever even eat either of them in the first place?
4. Secret deodorant - Yeah, apparently, they couldn't get this one right the first time either.
5. Diet Pepsi - This one was novel for its time, inspiring countless spoofs, including a classic Saturday Night Live "General Dynamics" clip.
6. Pringles Potato Chips - Now, with RIDGES!
7. Hunts Tomato Ketchup - Roy Clark of Hee-Haw explains why Hunts is now better than Heinz.
8. Windex window cleaner - I'm betting your life just wasn't complete until they improved Windex with lemon.

That's it for this week. I'm sure there are many, many more. But the YouTube search engine doesn't make it easy! Happy Monday!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Behind the Blogger: Leaving Las Vegas, Back to Ohio

[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]

It's the end of a personal era. It all began in 1994. Rather, it didn't begin there, but things that were already in motion took off there. I'd been in the amusement industry for about six years, and in 1994 Las Vegas was experiencing an amusement ride boom. Along with several other principal members of the company I'd worked with in Ohio, I made the decision to journey across America, a 2,000 mile trek to the desert. I landed here almost exactly 20 years ago, plus a couple of weeks.

This year's Christmas card (with apologies to Berkeley Breathed)
The first two years were exciting and new. I'd never lived so far away from my family. Prior to this, I was still a 30-minute drive away, and sometimes went weeks without seeing any of them, but it was possible to get together on a moments' notice, or for holidays, birthdays, gatherings or lunch. Now, I was alone, except for my four other fellow travelers.

Initially, we spent a whole lot of our time together, and didn't much wander out of our own little group, especially me. I was the fifth wheel, the perpetual single to the two couples. More than that, I was the gay one, to their straight-married normalcy. And I was also shy and didn't date. So, we spent way too much time at The Rio, The Hard Rock Hotel, and other "new-to-us" gambling meccas. Eventually, I tired of being alone, and dipped a toe into the dating waters. After a few tries, I started dating a guy of considerable charm, but with a dark side.

We dated for six weeks. After escalating just-short-of-violent behavior (and other sketchy behavior), I dumped him. He spent a week winning me back. We dated for six more weeks, his sketchy behavior picked back up, moved to the actually violent, and I dumped him again. All the while, I funded his favorite activity, namely: video poker and pool. I did this--stupidly--to my own financial detriment. But, in a very wise move, I dumped him again. Unfortunately, because we traveled in the same circles, I knew I could not avoid him. So, though we no longer dated, I maintained a distant but not hostile "friendship" with him. Every so often, I'd watch him play pool, though I no longer gave him a dime.

My favorite vehicle, a '98 Jeep Wrangler, owned for 9 years, entirely
here in Las Vegas, now gone for five years.
I had no dimes! They were spent, along with future dimes! And the timing couldn't have been worse. Unbeknownst to me, my (at the time) high paying job was quickly coming to a close, due to malfeasance by a principal member. I had a crucially bad combination of factors: 1) exhausted savings, 2) growing personal debt, 3) an already scheduled Christmas vacation, 4) naiveté about just how bad the work situation was, and how quickly a financial crisis can snowball. I continued to work for no pay, continued to incur expenses, and didn't know enough to drop the job as quickly as I'd dropped the boyfriend.

I married The Other Half in '08, during
the brief window it was legal in California
that year. Now it's legal in Nevada, and in
most of the country. . .but not Ohio!
The new job paid half what the old one did. I inherited a sibling (also down on his luck). And my finances were a shambles. During this time, I pretty much withdrew into my own life and troubles, and my group of friends and I had a lengthy period of separation. Fortunately, we all came back together. But one set had started a family, and remained in a slightly removed orbit for most of the rest of this story (still love 'em, still see 'em, just not as often). I spun off the sibling into his own story, dated a little more, and my job grew into a career.

The story greatly improved the following year, when I met The Other Half. We had a fast courtship, a brief separation, and then a solid relationship and cohabitation, all in just over a year. We've been together ever since, with a relatively consistently improving or steady time of it all along the way. Debt problems are in the distant rear view (where I hope they stay). Two cats have come and gone. A couple of cars, though far fewer than most people. I gathered some friends with the relationship, and for the most part, the two circles have remained steady, and tend to overlap on special occasions.

But there is the pull of family, and of something less tangible. After having been here twenty years (and The Other Half nearly as long), we could both see that both of our very long careers would likely end before too many more years. Our nieces and nephews are growing up fast (some have grown entirely from infancy in this time). Our remaining parents are getting older, siblings too. Family health problems are beginning to crop up with alarming regularity. So, the 2,000-mile buffer has become more abrasive lately then comforting. It's time for a change.

Jinx the Cat came and went, but managed 14 years
here in Las Vegas, 12 of them with us.
It was somewhere about year 13 when I took up hobbyist blogging. It's difficult to believe, but when I moved here, Bill Clinton was still in the first half of his first term in office. In the early days of my relationship, we had The Lewinsky Affair and the impeachment. Next was the 2000 election nightmare, followed by the Bush/Cheney night terror that wouldn't end. It wasn't until Dubya was three-quarters of the way wrecking things when I just was so damned sick of it, that I started this blog as an outlet for my frustrations.

I'd been a keyboard commando since the days of bulletin board services. I can't claim to have gotten too into it until the age of Prodigy, and early AOL though. I'm an early adopter, but not that early. Still, my political arguing skills have been honed online for all of my 20 years here in Vegas. And it occurs to me that pretty much the entire internet age for most people has happened within those same years. When I left Ohio, I had a modem, but it had seen only sporadic use!

The blog started slowly, grew quickly, consumed tons of my time in the first and second years, and then waned on an almost imperceptibly slow decline ever since. I've never gone more than a week without a post, and rarely longer than a weekend. But a quick look at my posting history will reveal that my output here has nearly crashed this year. Life, finally, has gotten in the way lately.

One of several things that didn't exist 20 years ago:
Flat-panel TVs and monitors.
I imagine I'll keep the blog going as long as Blogger is a "thing." I see no reason to kill it off, or make some big declaration ending it. It is rare that a week goes by when I don't have something I want to write. I still enjoy sharing things, and regularly cross post on Facebook and Twitter. But I can't deny that a daily routine is becoming a drag. There's a reason I've almost eliminated blogging late Friday-to-Sunday evenings, and reduced or non-existent posting over holidays. I no longer panic and seed time-released posts when I know I won't be around. If I don't get a post up for the night, sometimes I explain why, sometimes I just don't worry about it. [Story continues below]
BETWEEN 1994 AND 2014

- Flat panel TVs and monitors didn't exist, outside of portables or laptops, and they were extremely small and expensive. They are now ubiquitous. Our household has at least seven. We have no glass tube screens, and used to have at least 5.
- Cell phones were rare, expensive, huge and heavy. They are now ubiquitous, and smarter than any PC from 1994.
- FOX "News" and MSNBC didn't exist until 1996, and the 24-hour news cycle wasn't really a thing yet. CNN was unique.
- We had no idea who Barack Obama, Sarah Palin, Sean Hannity, Ted Cruz, Rachel Maddow, Adam Levine, Ryan Seacrest or Simon Cowell were. Or what a Kardashian is.
- We went from VHS to DVD (mostly skipping LaserDisc), and on to Blu-Ray along with instant, streaming high definition, sometimes 3D video. Often over wireless wifi, which would have been indistinguishable from magic twenty years ago.
- Speaking of wifi, our connected world would all seem like magic to a computer user with a 14.4 dialup modem with CompuServe, in 1994. The internet and the many ways we connect to it should amaze us more than it does.
- Google and other search engines have rendered trivial knowledge a useless talent.
- In 1994, Justin Bieber was an infant. So was Ariana Grande. Miley Cyrus was 2. One Direction's entire lineup was 0-3 years old, with an average of less than 1.

And that's probably how the future will go. As we move back to the Buckeye state later this winter, the blog will mostly remain static unless something really interesting/exciting happens. When I arrive at my destination, I'll undoubtedly pick it back up. In fact, at first, I'll probably have the time, and want to post things. But hobbies are a time-available thing, and our time will be in demand, both with the practicalities of moving, and with visiting our newly-close-by families. We'll be looking for jobs (though maybe not right away), and a house. There are going to be other things to do.

So, if you've made it this far, thank you for reading, thanks for stopping by. If you enjoy this blog, know that it isn't going away. Just maybe check in less often, or just expect that I might not have anything new that day. If I ever do decide to end the blog all together, there will be a final post saying so. But I can almost guarantee that there will still be new posts after that! I just can't imagine that I won't want an outlet sometimes.


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Holiday Cheer: American Dad! Christmas

I've been fruitlessly searching for just one more post for the night, and have been coming up empty. Then I thought about the fact that I've only got a couple of more days left for "Holiday Cheer" posts. And one of my favorite Christmas-themed TV episodes was available on Hulu. So here you go, American Dad's "Most Adequate Christmas Ever."

How The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report Kept Liberals Sane in 2014

I have a problem with virtually everything that emanates from Right Wing World these days, but there is one thing they are excellent at: messaging. It's their super power. Unfortunately, they are more on the Legion of Doom side of things, preferring to put their powers to evil use. But they--for all of the malarkey you hear about a "liberal media"--control the message, the narrative and the news cycle, by-and-large. Check out Meet the Press, Face the Nation, FOX "News" Sunday, This Week or any of the other political shows, and check out the ratio of conservatives to progressives. And check out the way they're unbound by worries about the truth. Truthiness is key.

And that's where Comedy Central's potent twosome of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert came in. From completely different perspectives, they point out the cracks, flaws and falsiness behind the truthiness. While Stewart is still going strong (for now), Colbert has left for more networky (and less political) pastures, leaving us with the untested Larry Wilmore's The Nightly Show instead. Wilmore has some huge shoes to fill. And he'll have to decide if he's himself or a character! Because, while Stewart is a version of himself, Colbert's faux conservative persona went places that skewered the right in ways that are otherwise hard to reach.

I still hope that Col-bert doesn't completely kill off Col-bear. Hopefully, we'll still get glimpses, or even complete segments featuring Colbert the character, even if we don't get them right away. In any event, 2014 sure needed these guys.

These Daily Show And Colbert Report Segments Helped Cure A Year Of Right-Wing Lies

Nothing captures the absurdity and insincerity of conservative media quite like Comedy Central's The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. Media Matters takes a look back at Stewart and Colbert's best takedowns of 2014. . .

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

In Case You Missed It: Dr. Evil Schools North Korea's Kim Jong-Un on How to be Evil (Saturday Night Live)

I forgot this. As far as I know, this is the first time that Mike Myers has shown up on SNL unannounced, unlike say, Andy Samberg or Kristin Wiig, who are liable to turn up any given week. And funny too that the character of Dr. Evil started as Myers' impression of SNL producer Lorne Michaels!

Holiday Cheer: "Christmas Wrapping" by The Waitresses

I know that many people aren't fond of "contemporary" Christmas tunes, which can mean anything from about 1969 forward. But Christmas Wrapping by The Waitresses has been a favorite of mine since I first heard it on The Dr. Demento Show when it first came out in the eighties. For a punk rock/new wave band, the lyrics of this song are quite poignant and engaging. I think this one will remain a favorite of mine into my dotage.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Right Wing World: WTF is Wrong with White, Conservative America?

I've voiced my discomfort and displeasure for the level of discourse in political discussion over the last few weeks. There is a far more strident, far more knee-jerk, hair-trigger defensiveness and offensiveness. It isn't confined to the extreme right-wing--or maybe even entirely on the right--but it is pretty much confined to white people. The same folks who are extremely defensive about being accused of racism (indeed, if they are, they'll claim the accuser is playing "the race card") seem to be eager to be openly racially antagonistic.

Image from source, NewsCorpse
After a series of high profile cases of black men killed by police officers being turned loose without so much as a slap on the wrist, many people--not just black people--have been very upset about what seems to be a pattern. Various forms of protest have sprung up, to keep attention focused on the problem. Though several of these cases can be murky to wade through, and often the victim is not as pure as the driven snow, the fact remains: if a cop kills a minority, regardless of his offense (and sometimes the "offense" isn't even a crime), it is rare for him to even be indicted, let alone tried for a crime.

Somehow, this has become a partisan issue, largely right-against-left. It's even been conflated with the torture report, with exactly the same battle lines, mostly right wingers in favor of wide latitude for torture and police use of force, versus the left against torture, and for more stringent review of police methods. Ironically, the right is usually against strong government power, apparently making an exception when it is used against people the right doesn't like. But here's where it gets really weird.

White people pointing guns at law enforcement at the Bundy Ranch.
Image from
Two police officers were brutally shot to death in New York City this weekend. And instantly Right Wing World turned it into a political firestorm. The killer (dead himself from a self-inflicted gunshot) is apparently absolved of the crime. Instead, it is the fault of President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder and Al Sharpton. I have no idea why. And it's frankly disgusting.

If this were merely some anonymous internet chatter, or in the hobbyist blogosphere, that would be one thing. But it's prominent voices on the right, media personalities, elected officials. What the hell is going on here? Why is the right so anxious to turn the deaths of fellow Americans into some bizarre counter-point to a protest movement? No serious figure on the left has advocated violence against the police, and if they have, they would be instantaneously denounced (seriously, if there have been any, I hereby denounce them this instant).

I know that Right Wing World has been racially on edge for a long time, and that for 6 years they've desperately wanted to use the N-word openly. I'm honestly very surprised it hasn't popped out on FOX "News" or talk radio by now. But this is nuts. And it overlooks a very, very important fact: Two Tea Party following, Bundy Ranch protestors left that protest, went to Las Vegas, and killed two cops. How many on the right blamed themselves and their own leaders for that? >crickets<


NAUSEATING: Fox News Absolves Cop Killer Of Responsibility For Murders
Conservatives have long portrayed themselves as the voices of personal responsibility. They insist that the traditional values encompassed by patriotism and faith demand that individuals be accountable for their actions. But when it comes to the brutal assassination of two New York police officers, Fox News exploits the tragedy to lay the blame on innocent people that they regard as political adversaries. . .

Read more at: NewsCorpse

Thursday, December 18, 2014

President Obama Normalizes Relations with Cuba

Image from source, CNN

Now here, dear reader, is a subject on which I have very little personal stake. I've always thought the Cuban embargo was odd after all this time. But I think I'm a little too young to have any kind of ego stake in what happens there. But the fact that folks like Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz have their strange hairdos all ruffled over it, I can safely say where I'll likely come down on it. Good thing. Must be.


Historic thaw in U.S., Cuba standoff

A political standoff that spanned five decades and 10 presidents began to crumble Wednesday with President Barack Obama's move to normalize relations with Cuba. The announcement was the product of a year of clandestine back-channelling between the U.S. and Cuba, facilitated by the Canadians and the Vatican and with personal involvement from the Pope. . .

Read more at: CNN

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Negotiating with Terrorists: Sony Scraps The Interview

James Franco and the movie's Kim Jong-un
This movie, frankly, looks stupid. Harmless. Like any of a dozen other Seth Rogan, Judd Apatow-esque movies, destined to run on Comedy Central in perpetuity. It is also hardly the first time North Korea has been directly lampooned in Western media (Team America: World Police comes immediately to mind, as well as 30 Rock). So, why--even if the subject of the assassination of Kim Jong-un sounds dire--would such a fluff of a movie even register beyond a chuckle? I know Jong-un has a reputation as a complete nutbar, but this kind of puts him in "Dandy" from American Horror Story: Freak Show territory, doesn't it? A spoiled rotten sociopath with a dramatically out-of-scale reaction to a perceived slight. I guess that actually sounds about right.

Still, I'm a bit disheartened that it appears to have worked. Sony looks to be dumping the movie entirely. It can't be a great loss. But it's going to become a black market, highly sought-after item, and it is bound to get out. Once an unofficial version does get out (it will) there will be no stopping its distribution. It will very likely attract more viewers than it could have ever hoped to, had this whole flap never happened.


It’s Official: Sony Scraps ‘The Interview’

Sony Pictures has made official what has been painfully obvious to everybody since yesterday morning, when hackers threatened to blow up movie theaters if The Interview was released next week. The studio has officially scrapped its release plans. Sony had little choice here, after the major theater chains announced earlier today they would not display the film given the threatening circumstances. . .

Read more at: Deadline Hollywood

Anatomy of The Christmas Shoes, Revisited (Yet Again, Still)

This is the eighth Christmas season for Greenlee Gazette, amazing as that seems to me. And though this year I haven't heard it yet--or last year either, oddly enough--every other year, I couldn't escape the worst Christmas song in history.  It isn't possible to inflict enough derision upon the now possibly fading The Christmas Shoes. It's abysmal. It's horrific. It deserves far more crap flung at it than has ever been flung. So here is my effort, from the early days of the blog, to put this lame-ass song in its place. This post has appeared on the blog each of the last seven years. This year, I present it again, with a few additions and changes. . .

As you head into your holidays, you are probably going to be assaulted by Christmas carols somewhere. And if you're like me, you will very possibly overhear The Christmas Shoes by NewSong, one of the worst songs of all time.

I was inspired to write my own dissection of the song after reading "The Annotated Christmas Shoes," on the (sadly now gone) Diary of a Blood Ray (aka The B Pryde Machine) blog years ago. The first time I heard the song, my reaction was much the same as Blood Ray's. I wasn’t moved to tears. I didn’t find the song precious or heartwarming. The song actually kind of pissed me off.

The more I thought about it, the more convinced I was that this song was brainstormed (if you can call it that) to be as manipulative of people’s emotions as possible. I can envisioned the writers sitting down to write a sappy Christmas song, trying to pluck the heartstrings until they frayed. Now that the season is upon us, this hideous song has already started to play. And play. And play. And I just can't take it.

So, taking a page from Blood Ray (whose post I truly miss, and so wish I had saved), here is my own version, which I call "Anatomy of The Christmas Shoes." Because I'm dissecting this hideous beast. Put on your glasses, I'm shrinking the font because of length.

Image from Blood Ray's original post.
Anatomy of "The Christmas Shoes" by NewSong

It was almost Christmas time, there I stood in another line
OK, It sets the scene, and it’s not so bad yet. It does manage to telegraph what’s coming though.

Tryin' to buy that last gift or two, not really in the Christmas mood
Still setting the scene, but there’s the country-fried tryin’ as though "trying" wouldn’t be heartwarming enough.

Standing right in front of me was a little boy waiting anxiously Here’s where my cynic antennae start going up. I’m thinking the writers picked a boy, because a girl would just naturally do something nice for her mom. So, yeah, let’s make it a boy, to make it more poignant.

Pacing 'round like little boys do Filler. You can’t really pace in a line, and little boys don’t do it more than anyone else, do they? Did he have to pee?

Unplanned Work Night, Blogging Again Wednesday Night

Not only did I have the Tuesday Day from Hell­™, featuring a surprise RootKit attack that I can not seem to expunge, I also had  got to stay late! And then? I had to work at home too! Wheee!!!

No blogging for you! Back at a later time.


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Ted Cruz Showboating Gives Lame Duck Dems a Christmas Gift

That unctuous, creepy, smarmy toad Ted Cruz shot himself and his party in their collective feet. Captain Ego kept the Senate in session for an ultimately pointless "point," and allowed the lame duck Democrats time enough to pass a bunch of appointments that would have gone unfilled! Good job, senator dumbass!

Rachel Maddow uses an excellent football story to take us to the glory that is Cruz's epic fumble. You still digging this guy, tea baggers?

Monday, December 15, 2014

So, It Looks Like Jeb Bush is Running for President

Image from source, Talking Points Memo
Really? We want to go to this well again, do we? Actually, I can't imagine that we do. Jeb Bush would have been a decent candidate in 2000, I suspect. But after George H.W. Bush (a middling president) and George W. Bush (a horrible disaster of a president), I just can't imagine there's a clamor for Jebbie. I'm sure the Karl Roves and Koch Brothers of the world would like it, mostly because he's not crazy on first blush. But the tea baggers won't like him for several reasons, including that he's not crazy enough.

What about the rest of America? There's a contingent that is put off by the idea of a latter-day Bush v. Clinton election, and they have a point. That's two dynasties right there. And though Hillary Clinton has not thrown her pantsuit into the ring just yet, she does have some baggage. Still, her husband was an above-average president, and even made Big Business some bucks. It would be a historical anomaly to be sure, if we had four presidencies from two families in the space of five office holders. It would be stranger still if we had three from one family in the last five. Particularly when the first two were no great shakes. Are we supposed to believe that "third time's the charm?"

I vote no. And though I will vote for Clinton should she run, in my heart of hearts it would be President Elizabeth Warren.


Jeb Bush To Release 250K Emails

Jeb Bush says he's releasing roughly 250,000 emails from his years as Florida's governor. The possible Republican presidential candidate also says he's working on an electronic book. He told a Florida television station during a Saturday interview that he'll release the emails ahead of the e-book next year. . .

Read more at: Talking Points Memo

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Blast from the Past: Christmas Special Songs!

I haven't had much holiday cheer up yet. So, what better time than now? Some of these songs have left the realm of old holiday specials, and joined the regularly played Christmas tunes. Which is cool.

1. You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch - From the Dr. Seuss classic, How The Grinch Stole Christmas.
2. The Who Song (Welcome Christmas) - This one is on the Christmas stations all the time, also from How The Grinch Stole Christmas
3. Christmastime is Here - From A Charlie Brown Christmas.
4. We're a Couple of Misfits - Rudolph and Hermey the gay dentist elf, from Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.
5. Frosty the Snowman - From the cartoon of the same name, by Jimmy Durante.
6. Heat Miser/Snow Miser Song - From The Year Without a Santa Claus, one of the Christmas specials that filled enough of the logic gaps in the Santa story to keep me believing for a couple more years.
7. One Foot in Front of The Other - From Santa Claus is Coming to Town, with Mickey Rooney and Keenan Wynn
8. Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus - Liar!

That's it for this week. More holiday cheer to come. Happy Monday!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Sen. Elizabeth Warren's Electrifying Anti-Citibank Speech

I love Elizabeth Warren, and haven't been shy about saying so. Since the first time I saw her--probably on Real Time with Bill Maher some years ago--I was smitten. I was thrilled when I heard she was running for Senate, and even happier when she beat Scott Brown (and hell, I'm gay, and he's a looker*). I'm an unapologetic Warrenite.

So, naturally, I knew I'd get around to watching her speech before the Senate about the fairly stupid, greedy amendment shoved into the federal spending bill, which was effectively written by Citibank. The amendment returns the burden of a potential bailout of the banks to taxpayers, should they once again gamble with our money and lose it. And they will, particularly when you realize that the Republican Congress loves to deregulate, and hates any restriction on big business. And Democrats can be as bad sometimes.

That's why I love Warren. She may be a Democrat, but she is dedicated to consumers and citizens, not to corporations, and she doesn't appear to have been corrupted (please don't fall under their spell, Lizzie!). She is unafraid to call out Citi, and is heedless of the fact that other Democrats are not on board with her. She's blazing a trail, and she's making some waves. So, I queued up the video, and noticed it was almost 10 minutes long. I figured I'd watch a little, maybe skip ahead. . .but I watched it all, and it went down easy. She's tremendous. Watch for yourself.

And I'll say this: if Right Wing World can only throw slurs like "Fauxcahontas" at her, over her claim that she has some Native American ancestry? I've got to wonder what in the world they're smoking, and point out, they've got nothing. And they've got no one like Elizabeth Warren.


Elizabeth Warren Rips Citigroup For Weaseling Wall Street Giveaway Into Government Spending Bill

[NOTE: This clip is from Hardball. The un-embeddable stand-alone clip is available at the link below.]

As promised, Elizabeth Warren has left blood and teeth on the floor. During the final debate over the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, before Warren was a senator, she was asked about an attempt to defang the unborn agency. "My first choice is a strong consumer agency. My second choice is no agency at all and plenty of blood and teeth left on the floor,” she said at the time, comments that were unsuccessfully used against her in her subsequent campaign. . .

Read more at: Huffington Post

*A little joke, lest anyone wonder. Not the good looking part, the notion that it would matter!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Republicans Risk Shutdown Over Poison Pills in Budget Deal

Image from source, Think Progress
You know, with all of the talk about torture in the news, the old 24 ticking time bomb clock has been on my mind. But, instead of the no-win scenario that can only be stopped by illegally torturing a suspect, we've got a no-win scenario that can only be stopped by Republicans dropping their bizarre quest to undo financial system protections, or by Democrats giving into them. It's always something. Whenever there is a budged deadline, we are either right down to the wire, or we go past it, and get an expensive government shutdown.

Shutdown is--for reasons unknown to me--orgasmic for many base conservatives. Right wing talk radio, and even many (formerly extremists, now apparently mainstream) elected GOP officials wax rhapsodically about it. They rarely express exactly what it proves, what it accomplishes, or what it's supposed to lead to. It's a lustful, needful thing, that's all. A political fetish. But while they want it oh so bad, and don't care who knows it, they simultaneously want to blame it on Democrats.

Recently, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal clumsily tried to pre-emptively say the President would cause a shutdown!  And now, even after there was a deal seemingly reached, Republicans have thrown those poison pills in there, so that they can both get their delicious shutdown, and say it's the Democrats' fault. My question is, who is fooled by this? And what is accomplished?

Anyone know?


35 Hours Before Deadline, Agreement To Keep Government Open Breaks Down

Last night, Congressional negotiators reached an agreement that most assumed would keep the government open until September. But with just 35 hours before funding for the federal government runs out, that agreement is in serious Jeopardy. . .

Read more at: Think Progress

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Blogging, White Guy, Racial Tension Blues

White vs. Black
(Seriously, don't google these terms)
Being a blogger has been challenging lately. I've got a lot going on in my life, big changes afoot. Lots to do, and lots to ponder. So, it puts blogging--a hobby, after all--kind of in the background of my brain. But there's a lot going on, so I want to come on here and opine, share and participate.

But dammit, can it get frustrating and depressing. The racial tension which has been stirred up by Ferguson and other similar cases has been hard to talk about. I'm a white guy, and though I'm gay and an atheist and thus something of an outsider, I'm aware that "white privilege" is a thing. Particularly since I fit the visual mold well enough to read as: non-threatening WASP male. I do not have to deal with the kind of crap other minorities do, and I'm aware of it. Plus, the cases are murky in places, with the victim generally less than a pillar of society, and the facts on the ground less than clear.

But beyond the deaths, and the looting and rioting, and the general feeling of tension, it's the angry white guy response that gets me down. I'm amazed how quick people are to call the victim a "thug." To imply that any bad behavior, petty crime, or even just less-than-respectful response to authority means the guy deserved to die. There's a desire to blame the victims for their own deaths. And the veiled (and unveiled) racially-tinged language just turns my stomach.
Seriously, my images may not be a terrific fit,
but if you search for it, put your filters on!

I believe that--as they say--everyone's a little bit racist. But, we should try not to be. We recognize irrational prejudice, do our best to tamp it down and/or hold it up to the light and get past it. It's the element that seems eager to drop all pretense and plunge straight ahead into full-on racism that is just depressing to me. Go read the comments section in virtually any newspaper or blog on the Ferguson or Staten Island cases (or any of a series of others), and read the Us vs. Them commentary. It stuff I thought we got past long ago, and it's not helpful in any way.

I guess it's too much to hope for that something in this country not boil down to right vs. left, black vs. white.


Police Killings Reveal Chasms Between Races

In the decade that Ashley Bernaugh, who is white, has been with her black husband, her family in Indiana has been so smitten with him that she teases them that they love him more than her. . .

Read more at: The New York Times


The View's Nicolle Wallace on Torture: “I Don’t Care What We Did”

Image from Salon
Torture's back, as I noted in my last post. The currently and briefly Democratic Senate has released their Torture Report after six years of study. It pretty much lays out that yes we tortured people, and that no, it wasn't a useful tactic, though it was illegal. War crimes. The reaction from the left is, "Yep, we knew that. Arrest them!" The reaction from most in the middle (or your average non-voter from this last election) is a shrug. "Whatever. Where's my iPad?" And from the right?

Predictably, many on the right are in denial. It wasn't torture. If it was, it wasn't that bad. Our Navy Seals are subjected to worse in training. Besides, they're terrorists, and they'd do worse to us. Hey, at least we aren't beheading them! And then there's the "Whatever it takes to keep us safe, all bets are off, just DO it."

That seems to be the position of Republican strategist and The View co-host Nicolle Wallace. I like her, or rather, I have in most appearances of her that I've caught. She's a conservative, but she's bright, articulate, funny and wry. She's sparred with Rachel Maddow several times, and they always come away laughing. But lately, she seems to be prone to outrageous statements, possibly because of her new gig? Though I wouldn't have expected her to say this.

“I don’t care what we did”: What Nicolle Wallace’s rant reveals about America’s torture problem

After years of excuses and delays, Americans finally have a chance on Tuesday to read the Senate Intelligence Committee’s so-called torture report (or at least most of its executive summary which, as the Intercept’s Dan Froomkin has noted, constitutes less than 20 percent of the whole report). And while it’s likely that most of the summary will focus on information we basically knew already, there have been hints of new and significant revelations, too. If it’s true that the CIA misled President Bush about the effectiveness of the torture program, for example, then the intelligence agency, which has already been caught spying on Congress, is even more of a threat to American democracy than we feared. Either way, the story of how the United States came to embrace “interrogation” techniques pioneered by . . .

Read more at: Salon

Should President Obama Pardon Bush/Cheney for War Crimes?

Image found at TrueActivist
Every so often, in politics, there is a really interesting play on the table. Something you didn't expect. Something that may accomplish part of a long-held goal, but possibly in a roundabout way. That's happening right now, though the odds are long that it would ever happen.

Just about everybody agrees that the George W. Bush-Dick Cheney administration authorized "enhanced interrogation techniques" in the years following September 11, 2001, and that they were. . .extra-legal. Most people agree that these techniques went over the line, and I'd be willing to guess that a majority consider them outright torture. Where a partisan divide appears is in whether or not we care that we tortured people.

One could argue that a patriot should care. The United States of America is not supposed to commit war crimes with impunity, torture with no oversight, or imprison without due process. Especially at times when we're burning for vengeance, or just plain scared. Those are the times when our laws, our treaties, our moral compasses, our humanity and our Constitution need to be vigorously defended and adhered to. If not, exactly what are we defending?

Image from the (hopefully ironically titled)
So, while we quibble about how much over the line GWB & Co. went, we know they crossed it. Many of us think of them as outright war criminals. But we're also aware that--even though the other side can impeach a sitting president for lying about a trifle--there is no political stomach for trying and convicting any of those involved for said crimes. Which gives zero incentive for future presidents to follow even the most serious of laws. And the clock is running. Can we really expect the next president, or the next, to act on something so far in the rear view?

And act how? No way there's a trial or trials. It's just not going to happen. But someone has come up with a novel solution: Have President Obama pardon them all. It's a radical solution. It lets everyone off the hook. There might even be international blowback just for that. But it also brands them all as war criminals. Exonerated, but criminals, nonetheless. It's an asterisk that will be in every history book. And it would potentially act as a deterrent from a future president from crossing that line. Every person who wants to be president has an outsized ego. They do not want to be branded a war criminal, no matter how power-hungry they are.

All of that said, I think there's close to a zero chance that Obama would do it. I think personally, he'd love to. But I'm not sure the political will of the party apparatus is even there for that. Which is a pity. But think about this: should the GOP follow through with their "Operation: Kill Obama's Legacy" plan in the next two years, this could be in his back pocket.

Maddow: Pardon Bush for Torture To "Make It Clear Crimes Were Committed"

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: Tonight, the head of the national ACLU has just published this op-ed in the New York Times. It calls for President Obama to issue a pardon to former President George W. Bush and former Vice President Dick Cheney and other senior Bush administration officials for overseeing torture as the U.S. policy for years. . .

Read more at: Real Clear Politics

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

President Obama Sits in for Stephen Colbert on The Colbert Report

Image from source, Mediaite
Very funny, and impossible to imagine George W. Bush doing. Hilarious that the segment was "The Decree" rather than "The Word," and that it wasn't half-assed, but a full-fledged segment. Way to commit to a bit, sir!


President Obama: ‘I, Stephen Colbert, Have Never Cared for Our President’
Stephen Colbert brought his show to D.C. tonight, but it got hijacked by President Obama, who delivered his “DECREE” in place of Colbert’s “WORD” segment. And just to give you some idea how it played out, Obama opened by saying, “I, Stephen Colbert, have never cared for our president. . .”

Read more at: Mediaite

Jon Stewart Rips FOX & Friends' Brian Kilmeade

Image from source, Raw Story
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart's fans--me included--love it when the host sinks his teeth into the people at FOX "News." But it's even better when he's doing it with righteous indignation. And the fact that the target of his ire is "the dumb one," Brian Kilmeade from the (oddly named) FOX & Friends? Icing on the cake.


Jon Stewart pounds Fox News ‘jackass’ Brian Kilmeade: ‘F*ck you!’

As upset as he was over an “unforced error” on Monday, Daily Show host Jon Stewart saved the most anger for Fox & Friends host Brian Kilmeade for invoking the 9/11 attacks to paint Stewart as being anti-police. “By the way, jackass, you can truly grieve for every officer who’s been lost in the line of duty in this country, and still be troubled by cases of police overreach,” Stewart said. “Those two ideas are not mutually exclusive. You can have great regard for law enforcement and still want them to be held to high standards. . .”

Read more at: Raw Story

Florida Court Hearing Case That Could Make "Stand Your Ground" Even Easier

Image from source, Think Progress
Because Florida. Ugh.


The Florida Supreme Court Is Hearing A Case That Could Make Stand Your Ground Even Worse
Since Trayvon Martin was gunned down in 2012, there’s been a lot of attention to Stand Your Ground laws that authorize vast use of deadly force in self-defense, but not a lot of reform away from the laws. Not a single state has successfully repealed or even contracted its Stand Your Ground law. Alaska passed a new one. And Florida and Georgia expanded theirs to allow even more defendants to be exempted from criminal charges for gun violence. . .

Read more at: Think Progress

Monday, December 8, 2014

SNL Scores Strong Episode with James Franco (Dec. 6, 2014)

I'll level with you, the weekend, the week, the month and the whole time frame around me has been too full to blog. Sorry about that. But I have to say, when I had time to check out this weekend's James Franco edition of Saturday Night Live, I was surprised to find that the episode was very strong, with surprisingly funny bits through most of the episode. The best of the season so far, bar none. Enjoy.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Jon Stewart on Garner "Chokehold" Case

Image from source, Raw Story
Because, I just can't. But even Stewart is all, "I can't even. . ."


Jon Stewart goes off on serious Garner case rant: ‘We’re definitely not living in a post-racial society’
Even Daily Show host Jon Stewart found it hard to come up with anything funny to say on Wednesday in the wake of a Staten Island grand jury’s decision not to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo in connection with the death of Eric Garner. “I don’t know,” Stewart confessed. “I honestly don’t know what to say. If comedy is tragedy plus time, I need more f*cking time. But I would really settle for less f*cking tragedy, to be honest with you. . .”

Read more at: Raw Story

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Back to Ohio: Changes Afoot at Greenlee Gazette

See, here's the thing, kids. Mommy and Daddy aren't breaking up, and it's not your fault. But we are moving. We're Leaving Las Vegas, and moving on. After 20 years in the desert, and about 17 since the original experiment almost uprooted me, I've decided that the Mojave has given me all it's going to. I'll miss friends made here, and those who made the initial journey with me. There is no doubt of that. But there comes a time when "home" shifts. And "home" is now moving eastward.

I will always have a soft spot for Lost Wages. And as long as my adopted family members here in the valley remain, I'll always want to come visit. But when they've gone as well? I doubt that Vegas will hold much interest for me. I quit gambling accidentally when I quit smoking at the end of 2010. Most of the tourist traps never got me. I avoid those areas like the plague already. But I do cross Las Vegas Boulevard almost every single day. I can see Mandalay Bay and Luxor from my office window. I came here when Luxor was birthed, and helped with the delivery, along with that of Stratosphere, New York-New York and more. Las Vegas will be in my blood for a long time.

But 2,000 miles eastward lies the Buckeye State, the land of my origins. My bio- and step- parental units reside there (when they're not sunning in very separate sites in Florida), as do my siblings and one of The Other Half's sisters. How weird is that? Couple that with the facts that a) all of the rest of the family is within a day's drive of central Ohio, and b) that the remaining nieces and nephews are growing up so fast, we almost can't keep up? No brainer. Since we found ourselves in a position where we can afford to go? We're going.

I'm going to have to start at least pretending that
this means something to me.
However, dear reader, the fact of the matter is, all of these changes makes daily blogging a challenge! Not only are we preparing for a total upheaval in our lives (beyond the unfortunate termination of a beloved family pet), we're also running out the remaining days of both long-term careers, jostling the holidays (our last set), and trying mightily to squeeze in every last gathering we can with beloved friends. The period between now--early December, 2014--and the end of the first month of 2015, are going to be packed solid.

I will continue blogging throughout. I'll likely track our journey, our eventual arrival, and everything along the way and after. Greenlee Gazette will survive, and continue, becoming an Ohio-based blog. I'd be foolish to think this concerns more than a handful of people, if that. Though I have a small following, it's unlikely very many people care where I am. And I suppose that really says it all. My career is likely to become almost completely location irrelevant. Why shouldn't the blog?

One thing that will go by the wayside is the What Happens in Vegas feature. But I suppose it wasn't appointment viewing in the first place. I might come up with a Useless Nut feature for my new Buckeye status. But largely, things will remain the same. I'm leaving this post up, may update it, and may future-date it, just so that people realize that there is a transition going on. But I'll be both back. . .and never really leave. I'm just moving! Come with me? We've got eight or ten weeks to get there. Thanks!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Jon Stewart Returns, Addresses FOX "News" Response to Ferguson

Image from source, Raw Story
It's interesting how often an impactful event happens during a hiatus of The Daily Show, but it sure does. Fortunately, Jon Stewart is back, and he's in fine form.


Jon Stewart skewers Fox News for dismissing anger over Ferguson as ‘race arson’

Daily Show host Jon Stewart returned on Monday night by dissecting Fox News’ insistence that protests against police violence in Ferguson, Missouri were incited by liberal “race arsonists.” “I don’t know if I’m supposed to overthrow the government or get one of those panic rooms,” Stewart said. “It almost makes you think that the crime that they’re really upset about over there isn’t race-pimping or race arson — it’s race plagiarism. . .”

Read more at: Raw Story

Monday, December 1, 2014

Greed is Killing "Black Friday" Golden Goose

Image from source, Huffington Post
I saw this coming, and have commented upon it before, probably in this space: Greed is killing the golden goose. "Black Friday" and "Cyber Monday"--both greed created quasi-events--are becoming so diluted by greed, they will likely either have to be overhauled or transmogrified into something new.

Presently, stocks are having a bit of a sour tummy after gotten the news that Black Friday is in decline. But it's no surprise. Black Friday itself--originally a "doorbuster" event that started before dawn the day after Thanksgiving--has crept backward to the point where many businesses were open Thursday evening, and some even early Thursday morning. Beyond that, many businesses had offers all week, which renders the day-specific name rather pointless. In addition, the brand has been attached to month-long or even season-long campaigns, not to mention scads of spam emails.

The same has happened to Cyber Monday--a day-specific online sale event, originally--even worse, if that is possible. Amazon and other retail outlets push special deals all season-long, right up to moments before Christmas (and likely after). Neither day is "special" anymore. There is no reason to plan to plunk down the bulk of your shopping wad on either day, when other deals are being dangled for days and weeks. What's the point?

So, I hereby predict: there will be changes to this whole concept. We'll have a special "this is really it" new mega-deals day one year. Black Friday and Cyber Monday will still be a thing. Sort of. But there'll be something new. Or the on-going, every-day specials will have a new name. Trust me on this. But greed will wreck that too.


Black Friday Weekend Slows Down As Allure Fades
Black Friday fatigue is setting in. Early discounting, more online shopping and a mixed economy meant fewer people shopped over Thanksgiving weekend, the National Retail Federation said Sunday. Overall, 133.7 million people shopped in stores and online over the four-day weekend, down 5.2 percent from last year, according to a survey of 4,631 people conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics for the trade group. . .

Read more at: Huffington Post
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