Sunday, September 30, 2007

Starting another great book by Bodie & Brock Thoene

I was saddened a few years ago to finish Bodie Thoene’s The Zion Chronicles series. You know a novel—or series of novels—is great when the characters seem real, when you can feel heartache at the adverse moments and joy at the triumphant ones. When I finished The Key to Zion (the last in the Chronicles series), I wanted to keep reading about Moshe, Rachel, Yacov, Ellie, David and so on.

And now, I’m reading Jerusalem Vigil, the first book in the Zion Legacy series. Woo-hoo! Oh vey! Am also reading two other books in my spare time: The Reagan Diaries and Dutch: A Memoir. Lots and lots of reading.

Good morning!

About to head to church, where my wife will reveal herself to her Secret Sister (who has the same birthday, same favorite flower and also loves the cartoon character Ziggy). I wonder if our church will now do something for the men, like Backalley Brothers.

Yesterday I started a handwritten journal entry--inspired by The Reagan Diaries. Hopefully it'll keep up. Longhand seems tedious, and though I love using pens, I may have to switch it to computer. The other night I spoke with my nephew, Caleb, who keeps a journal, and I told him about how frustrating longhand journals can be because it seems like my mind is usually at least three sentences ahead of my pen.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Gorgeous day

Temperature is in upper sixties, and it's sunny. Down in Texas, the temps have been in the nineties. Someday, if I ever can afford to a second home, I envision Texas as a winter home and Michigan as a summer home. Too hot to live in Texas during the summer.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Questions about God

I frequent a bulletin board where other Christians gather, and someone posted this question: “Why does God exist?” An interesting question, but it’s not one with an easy answer. For one thing, the question implies that God has to explain Himself to us. He doesn’t.

One person had a response I liked, where they speculated how God would reply to such a question: “I AM.”

The idea is that humans will always have a hard time trying—with their finite minds—to understand an infinite God. I would compare it to trying to explain calculus to a newborn child, and even is a loose comparison since the bridge between our and God’s intellect is far greater.

This question reminds me that there are just some question about God that will have to wait until I trade this imperfect mind for a glorified one.

Rumor about a horror film classic

There’s an interesting rumor out regarding Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 horror masterpiece The Shining, of which a special-edition DVD will be released on October 23. The DVD is said to have special features, and the rumor is that one special feature reportedly will be a deleted scene that many—including myself—have been dying to see.

SPOILER ALERT: if you’ve never seen The Shining but want to, please don’t read any further.

Final warning.

Ok. here it goes.

When the film was released (according to my mother-in-law, who first saw it when it came out in theaters) between the scene of Jack Nicholson’s character frozen to death and the slow zoom on the picture of him “always” being at the hotel, there was another scene. Wendy Torrance is in the hospital, and Overlook Hotel manager Mr. Ullman comes to visit her. He tells her that they’ve searched the hotel and maze thoroughly and could not find Jack’s body. He then leaves, laughs as he pats Danny’s head, and then something really creepy happens.

A ball rolls on the floor to where Danny is.

Yes, that same ball from earlier in the film.

Danny then starts to “shine” again as the scene ends.

One person I e-mailed once claimed to know the late filmmaker and said that the deleted footage is locked in a London vault. Maybe we’ll get to see it again.

One thing’s certain: I doubt Stephen King, who wrote the novel, will watch this film. King, whose dislike for Kubrick’s version is legendary, back in the late nineties made television version of his novel. Though closer to his novel...well, let's just say that though King is the better writer, Kubrick is by far the better filmmaker.

Chavez and Ahmadinejad: How long will the honeymoon last?

There’s a news report where Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez have further solidified their support for each other as they seek to fight “Yankee* imperialism”.

Chavez, like his buddy Fidel Castro, has in the past questioned President Bush’s intelligence. There’s a part of me that wonders just how smart Chavez is. After all, he’s in bed with Ahmadinejad, an Islamic extremist who wants Israel wiped off the map. Like other Islamic extremists, Ahmadinejad probably wants to eventually see a world where the international religion is Islam. Simply put, you either convert or die.

I wonder what Chavez would do if put into a “convert to Islam or die” situation.

This deal reminds a lot of Germany and Russia’s non-aggression pact they signed prior to World War II. Just a few years later, after the pact served its purpose, Germany invaded Russia.

* I always get a chuckle when foreigners call Americans “Yankees”. They apparently don’t know that this slur was used in the Civil War as a derogatory term for people from the northern United States and is still in use today. Back at college, a southern roommate of mine told me that his girlfriend (also from the south) had one strict dating policy: no Yankees.

If you’re not from America and are reading this, if you happen to be visiting southern America or happen to meet an American from a state like Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Florida, etc., don’t call them a Yankee. Not only will they likely find it insulting, but, well, depending on their disposition, they could construe it as grounds for a fight.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

No sympathy for Michael Vick

I am waiting to hear what the excuses are for Michael Vick's latest legal headache. The disgraced former Atlanta Falcons star has tested positive for marijuana. Keep in mind that not only is he awaiting sentencing in December on his guilty plea to federal dogfighting charges, but he also still faces state charges in Virginia as well. Prison time is all but certain, and Vick has probably played his last NFL game (or at least for the Falcons).

One blogger said that we should give Vick a break considering what all he's been through lately. Nonsense. Vick brought this all on himself; he may very well had an NFL career left to salvage had he not initially lied to the commissioner Roger Goodell and to Falcons owner Arthur Blank about his involvement.

Let's say Vick does two years in prison and then is done. Will he have a career in football? Even if the NFL allows teams to sign him, he'll have to get into shape. Two years layoff of not dropping back and reading defenses will require the shaking off of a lot of rust. Every year, young, strong arms come out of college. My guess is that Vick may wind up in the Arena Football League or maybe even the Canadian Football League.

If it's stress Vick needs to release, there are plenty of ways to do it without getting high.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Phil Spector jury trial ends in mistrial; retrial likely

The jury in Phil Spector's murder 2 trial was unable to reach a unanimous verdict, with 10 jurors reportedly voting for guilty but two for not guilty.

Spector's defense team will now have a chance to bone up on their case as a retrial seems certain.

Spencer is accused of killing actress Lana Clarkson by putting a gun into her mouth and making her pull the trigger; Spencer's attorneys argue that Clarkson's death was either accidental or suicidal. Clarkson's death was said to have come after a night of drinking.

Sheesh. When will this stubborn world realize that nothing good happens when you combine weapons and heay drinking?

GM, UAW reach tentative deal

The deal's supposed to last until 2011. Based on what I've heard talking to current and former GM workers, the automaker and union both have major problems that could've been averted years ago if they'd taken the time to consider the simple solutions. As the columnist Cal Thomas once brilliantly observed, when we ignore the simple solutions for too long, the simple problems become complex ones.

Busy day

I'll see if i can blog some more stuff later. Got work to do and then church tonight.

Another cool phrase in Hebrew

שלום! שמי רכרד

This means: "Hello! My name is Richard."

Well, it's actually Richard in the sense of the Hebrew equivalent, which would be Rikard. English consonants like J and the consonant dipthong of Ch (as in Richard) don't exist in Hebrew except for odd modifications of Hebrew letters. Haven't figured that out yet.

Hebrew word...does anyone know what this is?

One of the things I like to do in what little spare time I have is try to teach myself Hebrew. Very slow process, indeed. Here's a word I came across recently. Can anyone guess what this means?


(Two hints: I've already blogged about it and it's alive).

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Please read the fine print about Valtrex

Oh, how wonderful those commercials are. You know, the soft, optimistic music as couples smile, hug and get involved in activities together. One of them looks at the camera and says words like, “I have genital herpes, and I want to do everything I can to make sure I don’t give it to my partner. That’s why I take Valtrex.”

If you have herpes, that gift that keeps on giving, Valtrex wants you to know there’s hope. On Valtrex’s Website, we find out: “Only once-daily VALTREX is proven to reduce risk of transmission of genital herpes*…Based on a landmark study, VALTREX 500 mg once daily has been approved by the FDA to reduce the risk of transmission of genital herpes, along with safer sex practices.”

Notice the asterisk? That usually means there’s an important clarification. Scroll down the page toward the bottom and you see this:

* In immunocompetent (able to develop immune responses) heterosexual adults. Safer sex practices should be used with suppressive therapy with VALTREX.

Cutting through the crap: even if you take Valtrex, it is still possible to contract herpes; Valtrex reduces but does not remove the risk of spreading the disease.

Herpes, like other viruses, has no cure. So if you get it, just remember. Someday if you meet the girl or guy of your dreams, they’ll have to ask themselves one hard question: do they love you enough to have sexual intercourse with you and run the risk that they may very well someday get herpes from you?

I wish Valtrex would face more on the realities of herpes instead of trying to sugarcoat it.

From the rumors that have been circulating around, you’d be hard pressed to go into a Hollywood medicine cabinet and not find Valtrex or some equivalent.

Hollywood cultural imperialist actor Kevin Spacey meets with Venezuelan dictator…er, president Hugo Chavez

Same old, same old.

Actor Kevin Spacey met Monday with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Nothing was disclosed about what they spoke about in their almost three-hour encounter, but the actor was reported to have visited a $13 million film studio. The government established it as a way to support filmmakers in Venezuela.

Chavez has said that his country hopes to make films as an alternative to Hollywood’s “cultural imperialism.”

Now, I’m really confused. Most of the mainstream films made in Hollywood are by actors like Spacey, Sean Penn (who’s visited with Chavez), Danny Glover (ditto), Jack Nicholson, Brad Pitt and so on. All of these actors make no secret about their very liberal leanings. Very few actors in Hollywood are openly conservative. And as far as Christian filmmaking industry, it’s more along the lines of independent filmmaking.

All the above actors are very wealthy men, no doubt reaping the financial benefits of working in a culturally imperialistic profession.

I’ve never wondered why Hollywood celebrities whine so much about capitalism. Griping about a system that has allowed them to become insanely rich is the quintessential example of biting the hand that feeds you. A friend of mine suggested it’s guilt for making so much money for the work they do.

Hypocrisy at Columbia University

Let me get this straight: Columbia University won’t allow any military recruiters on campus because they don’t like the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, but they let Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speak on campus.

Yes, the same Ahmadinejad who, along questioning the Holocuast and saying Israel needs to be wiped off the world’s map, told a crowd at the university that “We don’t have homosexuals like in your country. We don't have that in our country. We don't have this phenomenon; I don't know who's told you we have it.”

Reportedly, homosexuality is a capital offense in Iran, a country ran by an Islamic form of government.

Be that as it may, Arsham Parsi begs to differ with Ahmadinejad.

Who is Parsi? He’s a homosexual Iranian who left the Persian country to escape persecution. He now is head of the Toronto-based Iranian Queer Organization. He says there are many documented cases of gay persecution in Iran. Or, as many gay rights supporters would say, “hate crimes.”

But if Ahmadinejad thinks Parsi is alone as a gay Iranian, think again. International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission spokesperson Hossein Alizadeh, an Iranian homosexual who now lives in America, said in a New York Sun article that in Iran, there is “a constant fear of execution and persecution and also social stigma associated with homosexuality.”

Alizadeh added that there are many cases of Iranians seeking asylum because of their sexual orientation.

But, again, here’s what I don’t understand: with all these accusations (and I suspect they are the tip of the Iranian iceberg, why did Columbia allow Ahmadinejad the chance to speak? Is he really any better than the U.S. military policy of telling homosexuals, lesbians and bi-sexuals that they can serve as long as they don’t disclose their sexuality?

Give me a break.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Thoughts on blogging

Funny how life is. Just a month ago, I practically had to look up the word blog in the dictionary to see exactly what it was. You know, kinda like the scene in Office Space where they decide to launder money from the evil business they work for--but first after they look up money launderig in the dictionary to see exactly what it means. Now, I really find myself enjoying doing this. Again, I view blogging as miniature columns. Lots of columns for "Richard's Ramblings" and "My Two Shekels" get discarded because they're far too short. Now, they have a place to be read and pondered.


60 Minutes interview with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Just heard the 60 Minutes interview with Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Was surprised by just how much 60 Minutes grilled Ahmadinejad in the interview—especially after witnessing Dan Rather practically lobbing tennis balls at the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein a few years ago. It was respectful, but Ahmadinejad was on the defensive. Very smart man; though I disagree with a lot of what he stands for and felt he lied through his teeth on a lot, he articulated himself very well. I’ll give him this: he’s a heck of a better public speaker than President Bush.

The interview itself is something I’d compare to a chess match. Each side took its fair share of opponent's pieces, but at the end, the game ended in a draw when neither side realized it could convincingly prevail.

New chess set for my collection

(I just can’t do a post about chess without including a picture of the master himself, Garry Kasparov. Здравствуйте, Господин Каспаров!)

My father-in-law, who has a knack for finding really cool stuff at yard sales, bought me a chess set. It's one of those that, when not in use, folds into a solid rectangle. Needs work done to it, including varnishing, replacing the squares, new hinges, handle and hasp. Jennifer told me the inside should also be lined with velvet to prevent the pieces from scratching. Still, not bad considering it was being sold for $1 and Dad paid 50 cents for it. Not bad at all.

Looking it over, I toyed with the idea of royal blue and white squares since I love chessboards with contrast. Decided against it, felt that the squares should match the black and beige wooden pieces. Someday I’d love to get a chessboard and pieces that are royal blue and white. Perhaps from a place like Israel.

If there's anyone out there who loves playing chess, let me know. My sons like to play against me, but maybe I could engage you in playing over the Internet.

Adieu, Marcel Marceau; R.I.P. Bip

Famed French pantomimist Marcel Marceau has died at the age of 84.

What an amazing life. I never knew that Marceau, whose real surname was Mangel, was Jewish and had fought in the French resistence in World War II and worked to save Jewish children from being sent to the death camps. Unfortunately, his father wasn't so lucky and died in Auschwitz.

Marceau, of course, had the only speaking line in Mel Brooks' Silent Movie. Asked if he wanted to be in Hollywood's first silent movie in decades, Marceau had only this to say: "Non!"

I also remember that in the filming of Braveheart, director/actor Mel Gibson told cast members that his female co-star, French actress Sophie Marceau, was the pantomimist's daughter. Asked about this, Marceau said that not only was she not related to him, she had never even met him.

R.I.P., Bip.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

My "To Do" list

Things I’d love to do if only I had the time:

Over time, I may add to this list. As a Christian, getting to know the Bible inside and out goes without saying, as does furthering my relationship with my wife and sons and expanding my professional career as a writer. Here are a few things I’d love to accomplish in what little time I might have left on earth***:

* Brush up on my Spanish, Russian and the miniscule I remember from Mandarin Chinese
* Learn Hebrew (I’d love to visit Israel someday; I also feel Hebrew will be the official language * of heaven and is, if you will, God’s “first language”)
* Learn German (the language of my great-grandfather
* Develop my hobbies of cooking and photography
* Travel around the world, particularly Europe, the Middle East and Far East
* Watch how a movie is made
* Meet Robert DeNiro, Michael Mann, Ted Levine, Wes Studi, Diane Venora and Kevin Gage and tell them how much I loved the film Heat.
* Learn how to play the guitar and even a little of the drums
* Spend a few nights in a German castle (such as the one in Neuschwanstein)
* Visit Germany and spend time with distant cousins of mine
* Visit Russia, and buy a chess set made there
* Meet Garry Kasparov and Boris Spassky (I’d probably have to go to France to meet Monsieur Spassky)
* Make my own chess board and pieces
* Further my chess collection with a set made from metal, marble and a heavy wood (I already have a glass one)
* Become the spokesman for Papermate ink pens
* Have a Culligan or Glacier water machine installed in my future home so I can always have excellent iced tea freshly-brewed

***James 4:14

Castro's final days may FINALLY be here

Interesting developments regarding Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. According to Matt Drudge, who has this nasty habit of breaking big stories, a new book about Castro is to be released soon. Written by Ann Louise Bardach (whom Drudge describes as “one of the preeminent authorities on Cuban and Miami politics”, the title is Without Fidel: The Death of Castro and Other Tales.

The book, Drudge reports, confirms two things about Fidel.

One, he is terminally ill and dying.

Two, he is determined to outlive the Bush presidency, which will be on January 20, 2009. As of this writing, he has 485 days to go.

Well, his bad health withstanding, that’s not too difficult a task when you head a brutal regime that holds no open elections. The one thing about Castro I’ll always remember are all the countless Cubans who have risked their lives on makeshift boats to float the 90 or so miles from Cuba to the Florida and freedom. It astonishes me how many knuckleheaded celebrities like Jack Nicholson, Danny Glover, Oliver Stone, et al., inexplicably think of Castro as a great man. Such is Hollywood’s continued love affair with communist dictators.

I can’t say I hate Castro (but I do despise what he has done to Cuba), but I find myself almost amused at the nonsense of how he keeps a hectic schedule even at this age, working 18-20 hours a day, sleeping only five hours a day and how his schedule would tire a much-younger man. I’d only get five hours of sleep a day if I knew that my brutal regime made lots of enemies and that the more I slept, the more opportunity I was giving for the plots to materialize.

Glad I don’t live in Cuba. Castro has been known for his multi-hour speeches. As they say in Spanish, ¡Muy aburrido! (Very boring!) I can’t even sit through a one-hour state-of-the-union speech of President Bush’s, whom I voted for twice.

Note: in the picture, Castro holds the recent book of former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan that criticizes President Bush and praises former President Bill Clinton.

A little humor now and then

My stars! Who in blazes let THIS weirdo put his picture on my blog?

This was me taken from a few months ago. I think I took it, but it may have been my wife, Jennifer.

Wow, look at the size of that schnoz. Michael Jackson, please tell your cosmetic surgeon to STOP CALLING ME!!! My nose is not for sale!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Want to know how much 'street cred' Richard Zowie has?

If my bank account were dependent on how much “street cred” I had, I would be overdrawn.

I became curious about the subject of street cred after reading the latest legal escapades of Cordozar Calvin Broadus, Jr. (a.k.a. Snoop Dogg). The Urban Dictionary defines street cred in several ways:

* Your “coolness” factor
* Imaginary “points” you get when you do something cool
* Commanding a level of respect in an urban environment due to experience in or knowledge of issues affecting those environments
* Respect from urban communities. Usually something essential for making it big in the rap world.

The Urban Dictionary has a series of points to measure how much street cred you’d have within the 12-30 year age group in the African-American community. The more points, the more respect you’ll have. Being born black and in a single-parent home combined is worth 10 points. Born poor is 10 points. 75 points are for being shot multiple times and surviving, while you get 70 for being a member of the Crips or Bloods. If you’ve been to prison, that’s 65 points and if you are “16 years old and have a baby mama” you get 20.

Then there are the negative points. Minus five for being born white (such as Marshall Bruce Mathers III). Minus 100 for no criminal record. Minus 35 for smiling when someone takes your photo. Minus 2000 points for being born in the following states: Utah, Maine, New Hampshire, Montana or Arizona. I guess that means that horror novelist Stephen King (born in Maine) is out of luck.

I took up the test and tallied up my results. On the street cred scale, I scored a minus 340. I don’t count smiling in pictures (which would give me -375) since I only smile when the picture taker tells me to.

And as for being shot and surviving, I’m guessing immunization shots don’t count.

In short, like “Weird Al” Yankovic, I’m too “White and Nerdy” to be a gangsta. Oh well.

Kathy Griffin's comments draw ire

Kathy Griffin, who recently won an Emmy for her Bravo reality show My Life on the D-List, got into some hot water when accepting the award. We’re used to entertainers who thank “God” for their award, and I remember St. Louis Rams quarterback Kurt Warner screaming “THANK YOU, JESUS!” when his team won the Super Bowl a few years ago. Griffin had this to say: “…a lot of people come up here and thank Jesus for this award. I want you to know that no one had less to do with this award than Jesus.”

After making an off-color comment about Jesus, she then said, “This award is my god now!”

Griffin drew criticism from the Catholic League, a group that battles anti-defmation. They called on the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences to “…denounce Griffin's obscene and blasphemous comment.” (Good luck). A rebroadcast of the ceremony featured Griffin’s comments edited out.

Known for her caustic sense of humor, Griffin said her comments were meant as a joke and had this to say about the criticism: “Am I the only Catholic left with a sense of humor?”

Griffin, of course, is assuming a lot—namely, that she has a sense of humor.

I have never seen Griffin’s show, but I have seen her commercials. Funny isn’t the right word. Annoying is much better. She is a stark reminder to me of just how low the threshold for humor has evolved in America.

If Griffin really wanted to be funny, why attack the tired punching bag of Christianity? Don’t enough comedians already practically make careers out of trashing Christians? Why not make jokes about Islam? Perhaps, “I practically had to sleep with Allah to get this award!” Or she could say, “Thank God I’m not in Afghanistan. If I were, the Taliban would take this trophy, forge it into a knife and slash my throat with it!” Or, perhaps this: “I’m SO glad I won! If I hadn’t, I would’ve gone out, strapped dynamite to my waste and blown up this building!”

Perhaps because Griffin and her defenders know the truth: Christians are easy targets because unlike Islamic extremists, they don’t commit homicide (a.k.a. suicide) bombings. They don’t do forced conversions. They don’t arm children with explosives and send them after soldiers. They don’t storm into houses, killing the men and raping the women and girls. They don’t take hostages and demand the release of criminals. And when Christians commit horrific crimes like blowing up abortion clinics, mainstream Christian leaders are quick to condemn the actions and show no support for them. Christians may verbally condemn Griffin’s actions while other groups resort to violence. Just ask the European cartoonists who practically had to into hiding after drawing cartoons that radical Muslims thought insulted their faith. People died during the spreads of violence, just as they did when Islamofascists protested Pope Benedict XVI’s speech, where he merely quoted a medieval ruler’s critical views on Islam.

Only in America can you trash Christians all you want, but don’t you dare make fun of Muslims, homosexuals or religious minority groups.

BTW, for those Christians offended by Griffin’s comments, lay off her looks. Frankly, I don’t think she’s bad looking.

If you want to get away with anything, become a gangsta rapper

I read a story about prisoners once in the book Twice Pardoned that really tore my heart out. This prisoner, later nicknamed “Sheephead” due to the skull injuries from a fight that never healed right, was sent to prison as a young man for the horrific crime of breaking into a store to steal crackers and Pepsi. Authorities gave him a one-year sentence to the Georgia State Penitentiary, which, according to the book is a place where Georgia sent its dangerous criminals and where no rational, first-time offender inmate would want to go. But Sheephead went there anyway. In his first day at GSP, he was raped. He eventually became a homosexual and drug addict while in prison, and a short while before he was to be released, he was coerced into an aborted prison break. The other prisoners backed out, and in a panic Sheephead shot and killed one prison guard and permanently injured another.

He knew his life was over. This prisoner eventually earned a reputation as one of the most feared inmates and eventually died in prison.

Seeing how this young man’s life was ruined really boils my blood, especially when you consider the yet further light sentence Cordozar Calvin Broadus Jr., a.k.a. Snoop Dogg, received after pleading guilty to felony charge of possession of a dangerous weapon.

Broadus (I refuse to call him by his rap name) had initially maintained his innocence. He was sentenced to 160 hours of community service and three years’ probation. Broadus initially had been arrested last year after police discovered a collapsible baton in his bag while at a California airport. He insisted it was a prop for a video he was filming while police said it was a dangerous weapon.

Donald Etra, Broadus’ attorney, said that his client’s felony conviction would be reduced to a misdemeanor if the gangsta rapper can stay out of legal trouble for a year.

That might be asking too much for Broadus, considering that…

…over the years he has made no secret about his marijuana habit. I read somewhere once that Broadus even paid one man to roll his blunts for him…

…this arrest was actually his second that year. He was arrested at the same airport almost two months later for suspicion of transporting marijuana. Authorities also found a gun at his home…

…this last April, Broadus plead no contest to felony gun and marijuana charges and was sentenced to five years probation and 800 hours of community service.

…he also was denied entry into England a year or so ago after his entourage got into a scuffle with authorities there…

…and in 1990, Broadus was convicted of cocaine possession. Then in 1993, he was charged with gun possession after a traffic stop. In 1997, pled guilty and was given three years probation and agreed to make public service announcements against violence…

…Broadus was acquitted in 1996 of a murder charge.

Etra had this amusing thought about his client: “We are very pleased with the outcome,” he told the Associated Press. “[Broadus’] goal is to make music, not make court appearances.”

You’d never know that from his criminal record. Who knows, maybe Broadus simply did all these crimes to develop “street cred.”

Broadus, according to the article, also was ordered to make a $10,000 charitable donation. Let’s see…Broadus strikes me as a smart businessman, so he’s probably worth tens of millions—perhaps more than a hundred million. Why not give him a fine that really puts a dent in his pocketbook?

Better yet, why isn’t he in prison? How many times does he get the luxury of plea bargaining on drug and weapons charges before he’s sent to prison?

This disgusting tale really goes to show that if you have money in America, you can get away with almost anything. What a despicable shame.

Etra added that Broadus wanted to get on with his life. Yeah, so did Sheephead. Only because Sheephead came from a poor Georgia family and wasn’t a gangsta rapper with money, that was a luxury denied to him.

Do I have anything against Broadus? No. I’ve never even met him. And from what I’ve seen of him in Starsky and Hutch, he seems like a decent actor. I just wish he actually had to answer for his crimes instead of consistently getting slapped on the wrist.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Hilarious story from work

Today I interviewed a lady who runs a fitness center. I asked her why she did and she mentioned being a customer who really liked the business. When it came up for sale, she felt the time was right and did it.

This of course reminds me of that classic Victor Kiam Remington commercial. You know, "I tried Remington razors. I liked them so much, I bought the company!"

So, I imagined the lady saying, "I liked this business so much, I bought the company!"

Yes, I'm weird.

Sports betting 'guaranteed' picks aren't always guaranteed

Beware of sports betting businesses and Websites that tell you they have a guaranteed lock. A few years ago, curiosity got the better of me and I called to ask what the guaranteed pick was for the 2002-2003 NFC championship game between the Bucs and the Philadelphia Eagles. Was told by the man there the Eagles were going to win by at least 10 points.

Yeah, right. Tampa Bay went on to beat the Eagles 27-10 and then easily defeated the Oakland Raiders 48-21 in Super Bowl XXXVII.

I’m not a gambler and called the number out of sheer curiosity, and all I ended up doing was getting a bunch of unwanted follow-up phone calls, asking if I wanted to lay bets (No, thank you) and one time where the caller was extremely unprofessional with me.

The latest turn in the Phil Spector trial

It’s looking like all or nothing for Phil Spector.

The music producer, accused of murdering actress Lana Clarkson, is on trial for second-degree murder. The prosecutors say Spector killed Clarkson while Spector said Clarkson killed herself (whether accidentally or intentionally).

The jury, earlier this week, was locked up at 7-5. Is it 7 for guilty and 5 for innocent or 7 for innocent and five for guilty? Don’t know. The jury’s not saying. They told the judge they were deadlocked.

Judge Larry Paul Fidler, who’s presiding over the case, rejected Spector’s attorney’s request for a mistrial and said on Tuesday that they could consider a lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter.

Now, the judge has said he will withdraw this instruction because, as BBC News reported, “…it misreads US law.”

Now, according to the story, jurors now “…no longer have to conclude that Mr. Spector held a gun to Lana Clarkson’s mouth before the weapon fired to find him guilty.”

Which way will the jury go? Not a clue. If there’s a hung jury and a mistrial, my limited understanding of law tells me that Spector can either be retried or he will go free. Sometimes, a mistrial is just as good as an acquittal. There are exceptions; John Gotti Jr. was tried thrice on racketeering charges. After three hung juries, prosecutors finally decided not to retry Junior.

There are two things I speculate will happen in this case. One, if Spector is convicted, he will appeal. With this crazy turn of events, that’s automatic now. Two, if Spector is acquitted, Clarkson’s family will almost certainly sue him for wrongful death. And again, because Spector is probably worth several hundreds of millions of dollars, it’s probably something he can live with. Clarkson wasn’t an A-List actress, so it probably won’t dent Spector’s pocketbook too much.

(Photo of Judge Fidler courtesy of AP)

Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares

Last night, after my family and I returned home from church, we watched Gordon Ramsay’s show Kitchen Nightmares. Loved it. Always have been a sucker for cooking shows. It was really amazing to see him go to restaurants, diagnose their problems and show them how they could be fixed. In last night’s episode, which focused on Peter’s Italian Restaurant in Babylon, N.Y. (which, I understand, is on Long Island). Amazing how a man’s hot temper and ego (Peter’s, not Ramsay’s) can almost result in a restaurant going under. The episode also showed how the restaurant’s money was being mismanaged—not in a criminal way, but in things like giving away too much free stuff, eating too much of the food to be served, spending money on wants (teeth bleaching) rather than on needs (a leaky walk-in refrigerator and a kitchen that needs to be remodeled).

All the food in the refrigerator that was moldy and had to be condemned…wow. The restaurant is very fortunate they weren’t closed down by the health inspector. They were able to pull it together and be not only successful, but also a mainstay in the community.

I was amazed by how profane Peter got with creditors. Seems like being profane and threatening violence will take a big problem and turn into the Titanic.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Misleading headline about Pope Benedict XVI, Condoleeza Rice

There’s a story on that really exemplifies how the art of headline writing can truly be used to mislead. The recent story on Breitbart came with this headline: Pope refuses to meet Rice.

When I first saw that, I wondered if Pope Benedict XVI had some issue with America and was refusing to meet U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as a way of protesting. Or perhaps they had some type of religious disagreement. Or perhaps it was simply to protest things about America the Vatican disagrees with: abortion, the death penalty, contraception.

So, why did the pope refuse to meet with Ms. Rice?

Believe it or not, the reason is harmless: he’s on vacation and, according to Breitbart, had spent all of August (the time when Rice wanted to have an audience with him) refusing to meet with any political leaders. The news agency also reports that diplomatic relations between the United States and the Vatican are great.

But, of course, you have to read the article to find these things out, and deeper to realize just how harmless the Pope’s refusal was. Still, Rice is said to have wanted to meet with him as she attempted to bolster her diplomatic credibility before traveling to the Middle East.

This story reminds me loosely of an article I read last year in a Michigan newspaper. The headline spoke of how animals in labs were showing homosexual behavior. Only when you read deep into the article (which few people probably did, I suppose) do you learn that the behavior occurs primarily under controlled conditions and when the animals are injected with certain chemicals.

Sounds like what we need are a few good headline writers.

(Photo of Pope Benedict XVI courtesy of

Barry Manilow vs. The View, Part 2: Is Manilow just causing controversy to promote his new album?

It’s a typical case of “He said, they said.”

Barry Manilow announced recently on his Website that he had boycotted his recent proposed appearance on The View because he disagreed with conservative Elisabeth Hasselbeck and didn’t want her to be the one interviewing him. Or even on the panel, for that matter.

Access Hollywood notes that Manilow is a longtime friend of recently-departed View member Rosie O’Donnell, and that his friendship with the former “Queen of Nice” may also have been a factor in his decision.

Manilow posted this on his Website on Monday, September 17: “…I wanted to let you know that I will no longer be on The View tomorrow as scheduled. I had made a request that I be interviewed by Joy [Behar], Barbara [Walters] or Whoopi [Goldberg], but not Elisabeth Hasselback [sic]. Unfortunately, the show was not willing to accommodate this simple request so I bowed out.

“It’s really too bad because I've always been a big supporter of the show, but I cannot compromise my beliefs. The good news is that I will be on a whole slew of other shows promoting the new album so I hope you can catch me on those…”

Access Hollywood further reports that the folks at The View have a different story. They claim that it was the show, and not Manilow, that decided to cancel the booking because they would not allow the singer to decide who would interview him. As you can see from the picture above, Manilow has been on the show in the past with Hasselbeck there. Why the problem now? AH also reports something fascinating, saying that, ‘The sources suggest Manilow is causing a stir in order to create a buzz as his new album, Greatest Songs of the Seventies, is getting ready to debut.

Considering that Manilow reportedly recorded an unused duet with O’Donnell for the album, perhaps he’s trying to further get on her good side by trying to stick it to Hasselbeck.

Or perhaps Manilow is simply living by the code: controversy sells.

Most people remember Janet Jackson’s infamous “Wardrobe Malfunction”, but I wonder how many remember that she had a new album due out soon. Though the album didn’t fare well commercially, the idea is to promote your album by creating as much attention as possible.
(Photo courtesy of Access Hollywood)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Hung jury in Phil Spector case

If you love suspense, then you have to love what’s going on in the Phil Spector trial.

Jury deliberations have reached a temporary stalemate. Spector, who created that weird thing called “The Wall of Sound” (I’m not musically inclined so I have little idea what exactly it is), is accused of murdering 40 year-old actress Lana Clarkson in the early morning hours of February 3, 2003. Spector contends Clark shot herself. He faces 15 years to life in prison if convicted of the second-degree murder.

KNBC in Los Angeles is reporting the jury is split 7-5 and that nothing can be done to break the deadlock. The judge then announced he might give the jury the option of convicting Spector of the lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter. If so, Spector should count himself lucky; on involuntary manslaughter, he might not even have to do any jail time. True, there will be the wrongful death lawsuit to deal with, but Spector—who’s probably worth hundreds of millions, can just quietly settle out of court.

It’s hard to believe a beautiful actress like Clarkson could be at a standstill in her career, but that’s the way it goes, I suppose.

Exactly what happened is hard to tell. Clarkson is dead. Spector, assuming he did commit murder, surely won’t admit to it. Supposedly, Spector admitted to his chauffer that he had shot Clarkson, but the defense pointed out that Spector’s chauffer is Brazilian (his first language is Portuguese) and doesn’t have a strong grasp of English.

My thoughts go out to Clarkson, and my prayers go out to her family. I don’t know what her spiritual condition was like, but, as a Christian, I pray she had a relationship with God.

I need you to grow up, Barry Manilow*

Whenever Barry Manilow releases his next album, he should consider this for the title: "I say the things that make the world roll its eyes."

That's because Manilow, according to, has told producers of the ABC gabfest The View that he will not appear on there any more unless conservative co-host Elizabeth Hasselbeck is not on there.

In a statement to TMZ, Manilow said: "I strongly disagree with [Hasselbeck's] views. I think she's dangerous and offensive. I will not be on the same stage as her."
Grow up, Barry. So much for liberals being tolerant and open-minded. If anything, Manilow is being very childish.
I wonder what would happen if rock singer and brief Van Halen frontman Gary Cherone refused to be on The View. Cherone, an outspoken prolifer who once wrote open letters to pro-abortion Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder criticizing his support for abortion, would probably make many mad if he refused to be on The View alongside co-host Whoopi Goldberg, who supports abortion.
Some may be a little surprised by Manilow's childish demands, considering his recent campaign contribution to Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul. However, Paul is very outspokenly anti-war, and when you consider Manilow's other contributions to Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John Edwards and Joe Biden (all democrats), perhaps Manilow's views aren't that surprising.
Manilow is also reportedly an atheist. Atheists pride themselves as being open-minded and free-thinkers. Manilow's demands sound extremely close-minded to me.
(Manilow photo courtesy of Reuters Mario Anzuoni)
*Title of this blog is a spoof of a Ray Stevens song, "I Need Your Help, Barry Manilow"

Monday, September 17, 2007

President Bush to nominate Michael Mukasey as next attorney general

Word out is that President Bush will nominate former federal judge Michael Mukasey as his next attorney general, to replace Alberto Gonzales. Mukasey is said to probably face an easy confirmation in the Democratic-controlled Senate. Ted Olson, Bush's other reported choice, faced a much steeper climb.

I suspect Bush feels that with less than two years to go before his presidency is over, there's no sense in getting into a heated confirmation battle. Especially with the war and other things going on.

A note about this blog

There are two areas where I like to record my thoughts: this blog and my journal. This blog is for my general thoughts on life while the journal is for my private thoughts. If you came here hoping to have a reading experience similar to Live Journal, then I'm afraid I'll disappoint you. The older I get, the more private I become. Sometimes I think the Robert DeNiro approach of never talking about his private life is preferable to the Geraldo Rivera approach of writing a book called Exposing Myself and detailing his trysts with various famous women people (which some of them have publicly denied). Some, I suppose, consider public, tell-all journals a cathartic experience. More power to them. Whenever I blog, I ask myself a question: will the information shared be a future source of regret or embarrassment? If there's any doubt, then I don't blog.

Otherwise, I hope you enjoy reading. Feel free to leave comments.

Richard Zowie
Arbela Township, Michigan

My love for ducks

These are my friends from next door. I love ducks, whether they're the beautiful white Pekins or the Mallards or the other exotic breeds, Whenever I can, I take scraps of bread next door and feed the ducks. Some are so eager to eat they'll even nibble at your hand. They also like to eat weeds and cut-up fruit. Whenever they see me, they tend to quack loudly. It's reflexive, I suppose, but I like to think that they see me as their "friend". As the ducks age, some are getting green heads, indicating they are drakes that are maturing.

I'm enjoying the company of these beautiful creatures for as long as I can, since our neighbor has said that they eventually will be butchered.

For me, being an ardent duck lover, it's sad. I hope someday to own property with a large pond and create a "duck sanctuary". I've even told my sons that there would be three simple rules regarding my future property:

1. Absolutely, positively, no duck hunting.
2. If you get the proper license, you may hunt ducks elsewhere on someone else's property, but not on my property.
3. There are no exceptions to rules 1 or 2.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Dallas Cowboys win. Yea!

My favorite team, the Dallas Cowboys, won today, beating the Miami Dolphins 37-20. Woo-hoo! Dallas is now 2-0. They face a tough test next week against Chicago. Bad news: the Bears have a great defense and may give Tony Romo and the running game problems. Good news: Rex Grossman stinks as a quarterback, and if Dallas can rattle him, they have a great shot of winning the game.

In today's 20-10 win over the abysmal Kansas City Chiefs, Grossman completed 20 of 34 passes for only 160 yards, 1 TD and 2 interceptions.

Here's a link to a sports site that i blog at:

Beautiful day!

It's a beautiful day up here in Michigan! Clear, sunny skies with the temperature being in the upper sixties to lower seventies.

I saw that the weather today in San Antonio (where we used to live from 1998-2004) was 87 degrees for a high. You can have it. I love being able to wear jeans and not feel like my legs are baking.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Watching the film The Queen

Last night, my wife and I watched the movie The Queen, which stars the wonderful British actress Helen Mirren. Prior to this film, I'd seen Ms. Mirren in her mini-series Prime Suspect. Fascinating film, and I'm very thrilled that Ms. Mirren won an Academy Award for her performance. The Academy Awards, IMHO, often is otherwise too much like a popularity contest; how extremely-overrated Julia Roberts has an Oscar is absolutely beyond me.

There's a line in the film that British prime minister Tony Blair's character utters that got my attention. He talks about how Queen Elizabeth II never wanted the job of monarch and how she'd watched it kill her father. Assuming Blair really said this, it's perhaps fitting since it's a fluke--if you will--that Her Majesty became queen: her uncle, King Edward VIII, abdicated the throne in 1936 in order to marry his divorced American wife.* His brother and Queen Elizabeth's father, King George VI, then became king. Her Majesty, being the firstborn in a family of two daughters but no sons, then became Queen after her father's death on February 6, 1952 (exactly 21 years before I was born).
Besides Ms. Mirren, I also enjoyed the performance of James Cromwell, a good American actor who played Prince Philip.

As I watched the movie, though, I could see the Queen's love for her grandsons, but an overall coldness in the family for Princess Diana. Even Charles seemed very saddened by the death of his ex-wife. I told Jennifer that I really hope the British monarchy moves forward into the 21st century as Princes William and Harry eventually marry: the aggravation that could've been averted if they would simply let the royal family members marry out of love. It's clear Prince Charles wanted to marry Camilla in the first place. It's little things like this that make me wonder if, should the Lord tarry, the British monarchy will still exist 500 years from now.

*If my British history serves me correctly, King Edward VIII (later known as the Duke of Windsor), was the only monarch to willingly abdicate the throne.

Goodbye, summer

We're still in September up here in Michigan, and already we're having to run the heater a night. Soon we'll take the A.C. out of the window and put it away until May. For someone who absolutely abhors heat, it's a very welcome time of the year. I'm one of those types who feels that if it's more than 85, it's too hot.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Is the price of oil about to go down?

Good news, for all of you who commute long distances to work or who drive vehicles that get 2 miles to the gallon. A news report from suggests that OPEC feels that $80 per barrel is too much to pay for oil and that the prices is about to go down.

OPEC grand poobah Abdalla Salem El-Badri said today that current price, according to the news story, "[does] not reflect fundamentals and was unlikey to last long."

OPEC has increased production, and El-Badri said he hopes to have a "Country Time" prices. Just as the lemonade famously promotes itself as "not too tart, not too sweet", El-Badri hopes the prices gets to a level where it's not too high or too low.

I know a tiny bit about the oil business, and I know there are lots of factors that go into the prices of crude oil, natural gas and gasoline. For one thing, it's been more than two decades since a new refinery was built in America. Demand, meanwhile, has absolutely skyrocketed. When demand far exceeds supply, high prices ensue. There's also the strength of the dollar, the often-expensive process of exploring for and extracting oil/natural gas from the ground.

I really wish America would take more initiative to become 100% independent of foreign oil through drilling oil in hydrocarbon-rich areas of the country as well as developing alternate energy sources. Keep in mind that there's only so much oil in the ground, and though scientists reportedly have found ways to take large amounts of garbage and turn it into oil, I imagine it's far from a cheap process.

Princess Diana, 10 years later

Wow, has it really been 10 years since Princess Diana died?

We were at church on August 31, 2007 when our pastor made mention of it. It took my wife and I by total surprise, especially since, back in those days, we didn't have Internet access and had no way of finding out in advance of the print media. He showed us a copy of the San Jose Mercury News that had her untimely death splashed across the front page.

Overall, I thought of the princess as a nice lady who seemed to give far more than she received. It's strictly a lay opinion: I've never been to England, nor have I ever met anyone who knew her personally. I pitied her, because she seemed doomed in a marriage where Prince Charles, who was in love with Camilla Parker-Bowles, was compelled instead to marry a woman he didn't really love. As wonderful as Diana seemed, if you don't love a person, then you don't love a person. I hope the Royal Family keeps that in mind with Princes William and Harry, but I'm not the most optimistic: British kings have had mistresses for centuries, ostensibly because they were compelled to marry a woman that not only did they not fall in love with, but they never learned to love.

Years ago, sometime around 1995, I met an English immigrant in Texas who had a very low opinion of Diana. I guess the older generation of Britons are mixed on their feelings of her.

About a month after Diana's death, my wife and I went to a Blockbuster video store in Monterey, Calif. (where I was stationed at the time). The clerk was from England, and he absolutely adored Diana. "Of all places to die," he said, "why did she have to die in France?"
Looking at Diana's picture above, her smile reminds me a little of the Mona Lisa's. It's a smile that doesn't quite engulf, or even touch, her eyes. Makes you wonder if she was unhappy about her life even at the time this picture was taken.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Air Guitars, a study in absolute lameness

(Note: there are some ideas that start off as "Richard's Ramblings" or "My Two Shekels" columns but get discarded because they're too short or don't fit for whatever reason. Below is a good example.)

One of my regrets in life is that I’m not musically inclined. I hope one of these days, when I get the time, to take out that acoustic guitar (which I got from my oldest sister) I have in my closet somewhere and learn how to play it. One of my problems in learning to play is that I’m left-handed, and even after restringing the guitar, I find it hard to think backwards as I try to mimic guitar chords in an instructional book. And unlike Aerosmith’s lead guitarist Joe Perry (a natural left-hander who plays right-handed) I can’t play right-handed. I’m not looking to become a professional musician, but rather just being able to play it and make some music. Even if I were to discover a latent talent and become good, I doubt I’d ever quit my day job.

I enjoy listening to the guitar and watching others play. One of my favorite CDs at college was one of Armenian guitar music. During a fine arts series there was a classical guitarist named Sharon Isbin. And though I’m not a Van Halen fan, I find myself amazed at how easy Edward Van Halen makes it seem to play the guitar.

And then there are other “guitar” players.

I watched a guitar contest on Youtube and could only take about 29 seconds before I shut the screen off and felt like boiling my eyes. It was, so…words escape me. It reminds me of how Stephen King hosted a writer’s contest and talked about how there were some entries that were, “…frankly, abysmal.” They were so bad, that he didn’t post them because he felt it would be distasteful to shoot a cripple.

Such was the feeling for me as I watched this file of a man competing in the 2007 Air Guitar World Championship in Oulu, Finland, near the Arctic Circle. He jammed out on guitar—well, not really. He was pretending to play a guitar, his right holding an imaginary pick and his left hand holding down imaginary chords. Yes, he was the overall winner for the second year in a row, but seeing him play an imaginary guitar was just too much.

Irony of ironies, for the two-time winner, Japan’s Ochi Yosuke received a custom-made Flying Finn electric guitar worth more than $4,000. a man who wins a contest for pretending to play the guitar receives a real guitar. Of course, being in this contest and being able to dazzle the crowd with your air guitar capabilities doesn’t mean you can actually play the instrument: one of the reported favorites for the title was American Andrew “William Ocean” Litz, who can’t play the guitar. He finished 11th.
Believe it or not, there's even an organization called U.S. Air Guitar that even has its own, professionally-done logo. If only Robert Ripley were still alive, he'd probably devote a few columns to it.

Britney Spears' shaky comeback

Curiosity led me to check out a few moments of Britney Spears performing her new single from her upcoming album at the Video Music Awards. I am not posting pictures of Spears' performance on this blog, primarily because I'd rather not have PG-13 images here unless there is an overwhelming justification for them. I watched, and, well, it looked like Spears had quite a bit of rust to shake off.

Spears' performance was ridiculed by many. Some said her dance moves looked very, well, abysmal. Some complained about the lip-synching she did. Others gave Spears a hard time because of her weight. Apparently, they don't consider her svelte enough. After all, Spears has had two children, apparently delves into comfort food and reportedly had surgery to make her body look more voluptuous.

To me, Britney didn't look all that bad. But then, the entertainment world's definition of a woman at an acceptable weight usually means a woman who's bulimic or anorexic.

This story reminds me of all the fashion ads I've seen, along with that movie The Devil Wears Prada. A vast majority of these "models" look as though they could use a nice six-course dinner. Sorry, but a woman who looks like she's starving herself to death and is constantly throwing up meals in an effort to keep her weight down is hardly my idea of beauty.

Britney, if you just happen to be reading this, dietitians I've spoken with in my ventures as a journalist say that being in good physical condition consists of sensible food choices with exercise and, if you drink alcohol, either keep it in moderation or not at all. I suppose occasional "cheat days" don't hurt.

Better to be a little heavy than to starve yourself and become the next Karen Carpenter.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Ted Olson confirmation could be dogfight

Seems like only yesterday that Clinton-appointed attorney general Janet Reno had such an easy time receiving confirmation in the Senate, despite the many issues conservative republicans had with her. Now there's word that democrats in senate plan to try to block Bush's third appointment to attorney general. First it was John Ashcroft, then Alberto Gonzales and now Ted Olson.

Oh well. I hope the GOP keeps this in mind the next time a Democrat is in the White House...

Long day today at library

Put in a full day working at the local library from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; I'm on a semi-part time basis, meaning that I'm on call in case they need someone to fill in some extra hours. Day was fairly slow. Spent much of it making sure the teenagers who came in after school weren't misbehaving.

Speaking of libraries (one of my favorite place in the world to be), a few weeks ago I was on the campus of University of Michigan-Flint for a freelance assignment. Got a chance to stop by the library. It was as quiet as a mausoleum. I liked that. To me, libraries should be so quiet that you can hear the scratchings of a person writing notes onto a piece of paper.

And as far as writing notes goes, here's one of my favorite pens to write with:

The Weatherman movie

Just got through watching Nicolas Cage's film The Weatherman. Thought-provoking, although it had too much profanity. These are the cerebral types of films I enjoy watching. Somewhat bittersweet ending (I won't spoil it in case there's someone reading this who hasn't seen the film). One scene with some inappropriate content. Probably won't see it again, but a very fascinating story line all the same.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Ted Olson, possible new attorney general

Matt Drudge is reporting that sources have informed him that Ted Olson will be President Bush's nomination for U.S. Attorney General.

If confirmed by the senate, Olson would be Bush's third attorney general. John Ashcroft served in the first term while Alberto Gonzales (who has stepped down) has served in the second term.

I would be shocked if New York senator and likely Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton votes to confirm Olson. If his name familiar, it should. His wife, the late Barbara Olson, wrote two critical books about the Clintons: Hell to Pay: The Unfolding Story of Hillary Rodham Clinton (published in November 1999) and The Final Days: The Last, Desperate Abuses of Power by the Clinton White House (published posthumously in October 2001).

Mrs. Olson was on one of the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

An e-mail conversation with former major leaguer Rick Bosetti

One of my favorite pasttimes is to send e-mails to famous people with public e-mails and see if they respond. Among the many I've had the privilege of chatting with over e-mail are actors Keith Carradine, Tom Wilson (best known for playing Biff Tannen in the Back to the Future trilogy), Harrison Page (best known for playing Captain Trunk in the cult comedy show Sledge Hammer!), David Hess (who starred in Wes Craven's film Last House on the Left), country singer Tanya Tucker and, one of my heroes in the writing business, syndicated columnist Cal Thomas.

A few months ago, I noticed that former major league outfielder Rick Bosetti (seen above in a baseball card when he played for the Toronto Blue Jays) now lives and works in Northern California.

There was a book I read once that talked about a crazy prank Mr. Bosetti pulled during his career on several occasions. I'd rather not get into detail here about the prank he pulled except to say that, in fairness, baseball players are notorious for practical jokes. Mr. Bosetti, was kind enough to respond. While he acknowledged the prank, he pointed out that it was done on a dare. He also had some very fascinating thoughts that he shared in an e-mail. Among them:
Taking into consideration the actions of some of the players of today I would think my actions were a bit mild. I have raised four articulate, highly intelligent and beautiful children. They know the story well as it gets dragged out every time I am in the public eye. Thank you for the interest, you are correct I do prefer to look ahead.
Mr. Bosetti, to me, is a reminder that while we all do crazy things when we were younger, what counts is who we are now. Looks to me like he and his family are all well-adjusted.

Out for a bike ride

Earlier today, I borrowed my oldest son's bicycle and went for a ride of about 5.5 miles. Along the way, I stopped at my father-in-law's house and fed the dogs for them. It's been way too long since I've exercised, and I hope to get as much biking in as possible until the cold season hits. In Michigan, it normally starts to get cold later this month or, by the latest, in October. Not necessarily snow-cold, but cold enough to shut off the air conditioner, wear jeans and long-sleeved shirts without getting sweaty.

Some think I'm daft for saying so, but I honestly prefer the cold Michigan winters over the hot Texas summers.

September 11, 2007

September 11, 2001, started off like any normal day. Went to work at the newspaper. My nephew Caleb turned 10 that day. Had an early interview for an article, but when I returned to the office, I saw that everbody was huddled around the television. They all looked very disturbed.

Something bad must've happened, I thought.

Sure enough, it did. 9-11 has gone down as a new day in infamy. May we never forget, although it's becoming very clear that many already have.

Monday, September 10, 2007

All in a day's work

Spent this afternoon at the Clio Area Historical Society (Clio, for people not familiar with Michigan, is about 15 miles north of Flint). They have newspapers dating back to 1899, and they're trying to get them microfilmed since they're starting to fall apart. Lots of funny things happened over the years, and it's always amusing to see how newspapers back then handled slooooowwwww......newsssssss....days.

Getting paid

Ahhh, received a couple of modest freelance paychecks today. Time to get gasoline and head out for an assignment! Things are tight now, but I really do enjoy the freedom of freelancing. So much less bureaucracy than there is in a 9-5 job. The Lord may open the door for me to work full-time again, but for now, i'm learning to be content in all circumstances.


I'll have to fix that picture when I get a chance. I look stretchy. Bare with me on the look of the blog. It's a work in progress.

Good morning!

That's what a friend at college used to say to me all the time, regardless of the time. My first blog here. Hope you enjoy reading it. It's early morning and I'm beat, but i still have some things to take care of before bed. Good thing is, my favorite team, the Dallas Cowboys won their season opener 45-35 over the New York Giants. Felt sorry for Eli Manning and Jared Lorenzen. Maybe I'm just becoming a softie, i suppose.

When not blogging, I'm also a freelance writer and do two columns: Richard's Ramblings and My Two Shekels. More on those in future posts.

--Richard Z