Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Dodging a bullet

I don't know if I mentioned this...

A few months ago, I received a phone call from a man whom I'd e-mailed my resume and had called numerous times about writing for his newspaper. He wanted to interview me and possibly offer me a job. Well, I'd read a few issues, talked it over with my wife and decided to pass. Tough decision, since I was in need of work.

Now, it looks like a brilliant choice on my part. One man I know at work knows this would've-been boss and tells me the boss has a habit of bouncing checks and not paying his employees.
Whew.

Obama tries to clarify lipstick statement

I've always thought it interesting that the Chinese word for "lipstick", kou hong, translates into English literally as "mouth red". But I digress...

...Fresh off accusations that he insulted Republican VP candidate Sarah Palin by talking about pigs and lipstick, Barack Obama went on the over-the-hill David Letterman's show to clarify his comments. Nobama said that he was talking about John McCain's policies being a pig and that, even with lipstick, they would still be like President Bush's.

That's understandable, I suppose. It must be nice to have an audience like that to be able to clarify one's comments. I wonder if Letterman ever allowed Dan Quayle time to go on his show and explain his side of the "potato" incident.

Kwame Kilpatrick's future

Former mayor of Detroit Kwame Kilpatrick has said he may run for office again someday when his probation is over in about five years.

Sadly, there are people out there stupid enough to vote for that clown.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Random blog postings

...Haven't seen Prison Break and quit watching halfway through last season. I liked the concept, although a friend who's a prison guard said it was very unrealistic. They should've ended it after the second season...

...Mr. Drudge reports that the Democrats have dispatched lots of people to Alaska to try to dig up dirt on Sarah Palin. What is this? Panic mode, perhaps. Americans must be thinking that an underexperienced vice president is far better than an underexperienced president...

...No, the racists in America are not the whites like me who won't vote for Barack Obama (my reasons for not voting for Nobama has nothing to do with his skin color). The racists are those who are voting for Obama because he's black...

...So, Oprah has decided that she won't have Sarah Palin on her show until after the election. I would love to see Palin tell the Wannabe Kingmaker that she's not doing her show. Ever. Sorry, but over the years I've grown to detest Oprah...

...Ahhh, writing again for a living. Bliss...

...The other night, my wife and I watched a movie called Waitress. Brilliant, absolutely wonderful film. Could've done without the affair. Otherwise, a hilarious movie that reminded me of one of my indie favorites, Searching for Wooden Watermelons. Sadly, the director Adrienne Shelly has since died. In the meantime, we're stuck with useless, overrated directors like Kevin Smith is still around?
Don't like my take on Kevin Smith? Feel free to go to another blog...

...I'm a skeptic when it comes to polls, so I'm wondering if I should be too excited about the polls that show that John McCain is starting to take a decent lead over Barack Obama...

...In the past year or so that I've been relying more on freelance writing income, I have developed a limited client base of those for which I write for free. Limited. Among them are a Christian client and a blog about my favorite team, the Dallas Cowboys. In the meantime, I operate on this principle: I have bills to pay and a living to earn. If you want a writer but don't want to/can't pay them, please look elsewhere and brace yourself for substandard work...

Britney Spears and the VMA

No, I didn't watch the Video Music Awards. We don't have MTV and, frankly, we have no desire to get it. Call it Mundane Television.

I am glad to see that Britney Spears is getting her life back together.

As for that loser who hosted the VMA, please face reality and realize that you're as funny as a migraine. I won't post your name here, because you don't deserve it. But I will say this: as a comedian you're beyond pathetic. You make Pauly Shore seem like Bill Cosby. If you don't like America, you're more than happy to stay in England. Preferably in a landfill.

That is all.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Palin's speech

Alas, I didn't get to watch it last night. My wife and I were watching a movie and every time we took a break (which was every 20 minutes), no channels that came in seemed to be carrying it. I was disappointed, since NBC saw fit to ignore a Fred Thompson speech so that windbag Tom Brokaw could bloviate. Oh well.

The comments I've heard have been pretty good so far. The soundbytes sounded articulate and impressive. Foxnews (for what it's worth) reported that when her teleprompter quit working, Palin never skipped a beat and kept going. Here's the speech in its entirety.

Here's one segment of her speech I really liked (the ... represent breaks between applause):

"Well, I'm not a member of the permanent political establishment. And…I've learned quickly these last few days that, if you're not a member in good standing of the Washington elite, then some in the media consider a candidate unqualified for that reason alone..(AUDIENCE BOOS)..But — now, here's a little newsflash. Here's a little newsflash for those reporters and commentators: I'm not going to Washington to seek their good opinion. I'm going to Washington to serve the people of this great country...Americans expect us to go to Washington for the right reason and not just to mingle with the right people. Politics isn't just a game of clashing parties and competing interests. The right reason is to challenge the status quo, to serve the common good, and to leave this nation better than we found it...No one expects us all to agree on everything, but we are expected to govern with integrity, and goodwill, and clear convictions, and a servant's heart. And I pledge to all Americans that I will carry myself in this spirit as vice president of the United States."

BTW, if you or someone you know is familiar with a videoblogger on CNN who kissed his hands like he'd just eaten a tasty meal and spoke of how Palin will get killed in the debate by Joseph Biden, please have him e-mail me. I'd like to be able to chat with him after the debate. I get this feeling that the gent is in for a big surprise.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Hey, People Magazine...

...what's with the endless articles on Barack Obama and all the celebrities who are endorsing him? Are you assuming that all your readers are voting for Nobama? Would it kill you to run a story about John McCain once in a while? Please?

And, please, can we have one issue that doesn't feature pages devoted to Brangelina, Suri Cruise? Please?

Democrats throw temper tantrum over Joe Lieberman's support of John McCain

Spare me, New Mexico governor Bill Richardson. Spare me, Senate Majority Leader (for now) Harry Reid. The two aren't very happy with former Democratic 2000 running mate and current independent Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman's Republican National Convention speech supporting John McCain for the White House.

Remember? When Lieberman ran again for his senate seat, the Democratic party cut him off and endorsed his opponent. Their way of saying, "You're too conservative and you support the War on Terror. Get lost."

Lieberman ran as an indie candidate and won that race. Isn't he entitled to support whom he chooses?

Excerpts of what Sarah Palin will be saying tonight

As posted by Matt Drudge:

Excerpts: Remarks by Alaska Governor Sarah Palin Vice Presidential Nominee to Address the 2008 Republican National Convention

Wed Sep 03 2008 19:12:27 ET

SAINT PAUL, Minn. - This evening Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the Republican Party’s vice presidential nominee, will address the 2008 Republican National Convention. Excerpts from the governor’s remarks:

On her experience as a public servant: "I had the privilege of living most of my life in a small town. I was just your average hockey mom, and signed up for the PTA because I wanted to make my kids’ public education better. When I ran for city council, I didn’t need focus groups and voter profiles because I knew those voters, and knew their families, too. Before I became governor of the great state of Alaska, I was mayor of my hometown. And since our opponents in this presidential election seem to look down on that experience, let me explain to them what the job involves. I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a ‘community organizer,’ except that you have actual responsibilities."

On why she is going to Washington, D.C.: "I’m not a member of the permanent political establishment. And I’ve learned quickly, these past few days, that if you’re not a member in good standing of the Washington elite, then some in the media consider a candidate unqualified for that reason alone. But here’s a little news flash for all those reporters and commentators: I’m not going to Washington to seek their good opinion - I’m going to Washington to serve the people of this country."

On energy policies that the McCain-Palin administration will implement: "Our opponents say, again and again, that drilling will not solve all of America’s energy problems - as if we all didn’t know that already. But the fact that drilling won’t solve every problem is no excuse to do nothing at all. Starting in January, in a McCain-Palin administration, we’re going to lay more pipelines...build more nuclear plants...create jobs with clean coal...and move forward on solar, wind, geothermal, and other alternative sources. We need American energy resources, brought to you by American ingenuity, and produced by American workers."

On John McCain: "Here’s how I look at the choice Americans face in this election. In politics, there are some candidates who use change to promote their careers. And then there are those, like John McCain, who use their careers to promote change."

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Radio host Mancow says a mouthful

Radio host Mancow (real name: Matthew Erich Muller) really said a mouthful on his show today. I enjoy listening to him even though he's a libertarian going third party and I don't agree with libertarians on several issues. (I think the whole logic behind drug legalization is absolutely insane and would open a goliath of a Pandora's Box). Be that as it may, Mancow was talking about how the church he attends is mostly black. Many of them are very conservative: limited government, low taxes, pro-life, pro-Baby Born Alive Act (the one that prohibits doctors from finishing the job on an aborted baby that survives), pro-military, pro-War on Terror.

Yet, they tell Mancow that they plan to vote for Barack Obama?

Why?

"Because he's black."

Forgive me for asking, but how is this not racist?

Anybody care to try to explain this nonsense to me?

I'd really like to see how this mentality is really any better than the KKK guys who plan to vote for McCain because McCain's white and Obama's black (even though Obama has a "typical white person" grandmother).

Obama versus Palin in terms of experience

While listening today to one of my favorite talk shows, the Laura Ingraham Show, Laura played a soundbyte of Barack Obama questioning Sarah Palin's experience. Palin had a budget of $12 million a year while an Alaskan mayor, Obama said, saying that his campaign spends several times that each month.

As I listened, I thought two things. First, ....and your point is what, Nobama? Second, Why are you bragging about how much money you spend?

I suppose it could be argued that Obama's merely talking about his responsibility of overseeing a large sum of money, but it just came across to me as elitist. To be honest, I think both could have more experience. But when push comes to shove, I'd much rather have an underexperienced vice president than an underexperienced president. After all, didn't Obama's now-running mate Joe Biden say that the Oval Office is not the place for on-the-job training?

Besides, I'm trying to understand how running a presidential campaign qualifies you more for the presidency than Palin's experience as mayor, governor and commissioner qualifies her to serve as vice president.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Excerpt of my latest column, sent to the Beeville Bee-Picayune

Richard’s Ramblings

McCain’s gamble on Palin just might pay off

By Richard Zowie

Just a few weeks ago, I thought for certain that Republican John McCain would pick Mitt Romney as his running mate as he pursues the White House. After all, Romney was a good fit. He was born in Michigan and served as governor of Massachusetts. Both have been democratic strongholds in the past few elections. Romney is also considered to be a good businessman credited for his handling of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. Yes, some conservatives were leery of Romney because he’s a Mormon. I ended up asking a family member, a former Mormon, what they thought. Their response: as long as he’s right on the moral issues, they would support him.

So, while perusing the news on the web, I started to get suspicious when they reported that Alaska governor Sarah Palin had boarded a flight for Ohio (where Senator McCain was to announce his running mate).

“Who’s Sarah Palin?” I asked myself as I googled her when her running mate status was confirmed. Republican. Very fiscally conservative. Pro-life. Pro-family. Pro-drilling in Alaska. In her nearly-two years as Alaska’s governor, she became extremely popular for her cutting of wasteful government spending, including getting rid of the former governor’s state-purchased jet that she felt was unnecessary........

Van Halen not happy with John McCain's use of their song

Van Halen is the latest band to tell GOP presidential nominee-to-be John McCain to not use their song in his campaign. McCain had used the Sammy Hagar-era song "Right Now".

I was worried that Van Halen, like Jackson Browne, John Mellencamp, Bruce Springsteen and Rage Against the Machine, was another one of those mindless liberal bands. Turns out, Van Halen is not endorsing either candidate and simply prefers their music not to be used for political purposes.

I know from her book Losin' It that Eddie Van Halen's ex-wife Valerie Bertinelli learns to the left. Her name also appears as a Nobama contributor, unfortunately. However, former frontman Hagar is heavily rumored to be a Republican due to his contributions to GOP candidates--including President George W. Bush in 2004. Then there's one-time frontman Gary Cherone who's outspokenly pro-life and even wrote two public letters to Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder criticizing his abortion stance.

How reliable are polls?

As of Labor Day, two polls have McCain up by two while another has Obama up by 7.

I was once on Zogby’s site and he has this section where he is asked how a sampling of hundreds to a few thousands can accurately portray what millions and millions of voters say. His response:

“It’s pure probability and statistics. The same theory is involved as when you take a blood test and the clinician draws only a small sample rather than draining all the blood out of your body.”

Considering how different opinions can vary in even the same state, it makes me wonder if this is really an accurate analogy. Makes me think if there was a mathematical formula in probability that was this effective, all the polls would be accurate. Or do the varying polls show that polling isn’t an exact science?

Just asking.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

John McCain's running mate--Alaskan GOP governor Sarah Palin

Wow.

Going into John McCain’s announcement, I was expecting him to select Michigan native and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney as his running mate. Then I heard speculation about the female governor of Alaska. Had to look up her name. Sarah Palin.

Then came the news that McCain had chosen Palin as his running mate.

What’s there to like? She’s smart, articulate, tough, a “hockey mom” whose youngest child has Down’s Syndrome but is loved and adored. They say she also, during her tenure as Alaskan governor, cut wasteful spending and cleaned up corruption. Sounds like she has lots of moxie and street smarts, the kind of woman who’s not easily intimidated. To win the Republican nomination for governor, she had to beat out the GOP incumbent in the primary. She’s also an outdoors woman who fishes, hunts and is a member of the NRA. She’s also very pro-life and supports drilling for oil in Alaska.

Some conservative friends of mine are calling this a slam-dunk pick, one that will awaken the conservative base that sat out 1996, 2000 and 2004 and perhaps even women out there. My gut tells me that in November McCain will defeat Barack Obama 60-40.

What’s there not to like? She has served less than two years and, before that, she served as mayor of a town of about 6,000 people. I understand her bachelor’s degree is in communications. Not exactly a detailed political résumé.

Yes, she’s running for vice president and not president. But keep in mind that with McCain’s age (72) and health, it’s possible she could end up having to take over. I like to think that she’ll fare well in her debate against Joe Biden, but we’ll have to see. Biden has served for many years as a U.S. senator.

I did find it amusing how Obama at first derided her for her perceived lack of experience. He has since backed off it. I guess he figured he didn’t have much more, and he’s running for the big prize.

It’s hard to say how this selection will go, but my gut tells me that historians will look up on this as an absolutely brilliant move by McCain. We’ll see. All I know is this: I had been telling myself that I’d consider third party if a pro-abortion running mate had been chosen by McCain. Now, I know for certain in November I will vote for McCain.

Either way, this will be a historical election: we'll either have our first female vice president or our first black president. I hope it's the former.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Controversy: Madonna's hail mary for relevance

We know what a hail mary pass is in football. You send your receivers into the end zone, toss the ball high in the air and hope one of them comes down with the catch.

Well, right now I'd say Madonna is performing a hail mary of sorts in her concerts.

In her "Sticky and Sweet" tour (something I probably would've thought was cool 25 years ago when I thought Madonna was hot), she flashed images comparing John McCain to Adolf Hitler.
Specifically, a video during her concert showed images of destruction, so-called man-made global warming, Hitler and McCain. Then, on the happy side the images showed John Lennon, Al Gore, Mahatma Gandhi and Barack Obama.

It reminded me of that classic line from Animal Farm: Four legs (Obama) good, two legs (McCain) bad!

McCain blasted the ad, but he really should've ignored it. After all, Madonna is doing what she's always done--use controversy to draw attention to herself. I suspect she's in hail mary mode when you consider all the pretty female pop stars out there (Avril Lavigne, Celine Dion, Kelly Clarkson, et al).

I find it amusing that Madonna would have such a strong opinion...hasn't she spent much of the past few years (until the last several months) living abroad in England?

Disappointed with National Treasure 2

I loved the first movie, but the second one sucked and was far too formula driven. Here's a rapid synopsis:

Cage and his girlfriend break up, and he moves out of the giant mansion. His friend's sports car gets towed. So much for all the money they made. They now set out on a new adventure: to prove that Cage's character's ancestor didn't conspire to assassinate Abraham Lincoln.

The "evidence" is a fragment of a single piece of paper, listing Gates with other conspirators. Truly underwhelming evidence, but nevertheless evidence. In the course of getting to the truth, they prove the ancestor's innocence, get filthy rich again, Cage's character and girlfriend reconcile, the assistant gets a girlfriend, and even Cage's parents (played by Jon Voigt and Helen Mirren) reconcile after a bitter 30 years of being happily divorced. Once again, the man is the thoughtless pig that ruins the relationship.

See this movie only if you're a big fan of Mirren (which I am) or if you like the cool riddles they have to solve.

2008 Democratic National Convention thoughts

Haven't been watching it, don't plan on it. Mostly because I am no longer a full-time freelance writer and now work full-time at a newspaper. My time is limited, and I don't have the inclination to listen to Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama bloviate. I'm not voting for Obama.

Want a summary of what's being said in Denver at the convention? Here's an idea:

(Bush is trying to send a message to Muslim extremists: don't screw with America) Bush lied, people died...let's (make it even harder for businesses to thrive) end tax cuts to the wealthy...We need (to regurgitate the same, tired old message) change in this country...We need to (become an international yes-man to Europe and the rest of the world, never mind that we often get called up on when some conflict arises) undue all the foreign policy disasters that Bush has done...Get the troops out of Iraq...Let's (naively suck up to Iran) try to have dialogue with Iran...

The items in parentheses, of course, represent what they really mean.

Will I watch the Republican National Convention? Don't know. I will be paying close attention to whom John McCain chooses as his running mate. If he picks a pro-abortion running mate, it will bother me enough to where I will consider third party. The idea, of course, is that the GOP is continually ignoring its conservative base to where it's starting to show no noticeable difference from the Democrats. Sad.

My boss at work, a Reagan Republican, is going third party.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Post-olympic thoughts

The Olympics are gone. I must admit, curiosity led me to watch some, but I chose not to blog about it. Just my protest, I suppose. Next Olympics will be the winter 2010 in Vancouver and the summer 2012 in London. Chicago is in the running to get the 2016 games.

Getting a chance to speak Chinese

I’ve met a few people in Oxford who speak Chinese. One’s a teacher for Oxford schools (she teaches Mandarin Chinese). Then there are the Canton province-born restaurant owners who also speak Mandarin. Am told another Chinese restaurant in town has an owner who doesn’t speak English. This is actually great news and will provide me opportunities down there to practice my Pu Tong Hua (Mandarin Chinese).

Sakartvelo, Sakaaaaartvelo...

We call the country Georgia. Russia calls it Грузия (Gruziya). The Georgians call their country Sakartvelo. Odd, isn’t it? Funny how country names change. What we call China the Chinese call Zhong Guo. What we call Finland the Finnish call Suomi. What we call Germany the Germans call Deutschland. In return, the Chinese call America Mei Guo, the Koreans call it Mei Gook and the Arabs (if I remember right), call our country Umrika (when not referring to us as “The Great Satan”).

Who will be John McCain's running mate? Colin Powell? Mitt Romney?

I’ve seen reports online that John McCain may choose retired Army general and former secretary of state Colin Powell as his running mate. Would almost be a reversal of what Barack Obama is doing with Senator Joe Biden. Would it work? I know that Powell supports abortion and affirmative action. Hmmm…I still prefer Mitt Romney, but perhaps McCain might feel that an African-American running mate would be perfect for his ticket. Obama’s chances in November are starting to look more and more nebulous, so why not make things interesting by potentially having the first black vice president?

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Wow, I was right about Obama's pick

I had suspected Barack Obama would choose Delaware senator Joe Biden as his running mate, and indeed he did. Biden is said to have lots of foreign policy experience.

Now, I wonder if Obama made a pick that will destroy his chances in November.

Remember, this is the same Biden who has spoken glowingly of John McCain and who in a debate questioned Obama's leadership, saying that the presidency is not the place for on-the-job training.

Hillary Clinton may end up really loving this pick, since it possibly will open things up for her to run again in 2012.

Some speculation is that Obama is counting on blacks in the south to help him win southern states, but I wonder if that's truly enough. Some rappers talk about how Obama's not black enough, and I think there are too many conservatives in the south who won't vote for Obama and too many racists who simply can't stomach a black president.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Richard's Ramblings and news about another blog where I post...

...Sometime in the next few days, I'll be submitting my next version of Richard's Ramblings. Probably will be a random ramblings one. Lately haven't had much time to write it. My newspaper job is one of those where I tend to put in long hours right now, part of which spent learning the way things are done and making the right connections...

...Have been informed that http://www.americasteam.info/, where I blog exclusively about the Dallas Cowboys, will be up by Monday or so. Looking forward to blogging about the Cowboys again!

Big story coming up this next week

Well, I think it's big. Could be wrong. All I'll say is that it has to do with law enforcement. Stay tuned.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Memories of Santo Gold

Perhaps you remember those cheesy commercials from the 1980s where a man with longish dark brown hair, eyes impossible to see because of the mirror or dark-tinted aviator glasses ice cream-white suit and and flashy gold jewelry that made him look like a Mr. T wannabe. The commercials sought to promote a jewelry line and a wrestling movie. The movie was Blood Circus. Always got a kick out of the commercials since Santo Gold (real name: Santo Rigatuso and has been known to go by Bob Harris) had this curious east coast accent. He pronounced "gold" as goh-d, as if he couldn't pronounce the letter L. He also pronounced "wrestling" as rassling. And, of course, the word "genuine" as gen-you-wine. The whole thing seemed to me like an extremely bizarre dream.

His movie was reportedly awful, so much that film editors who worked on it declared it unwatchable. His jewelry business tanked and Rigatuso/Harris was arrested and spent time in prison for fraud. Apparently, the "money back guarantee" was anything but a guarantee. There was one rumor that he was arrested for his crimes right as he was about to flee the country.

Now, he has a website where you can order an hour-long copy of The Making of Blood Circus. You can also submit demos to him to showcase your talent. If he likes what he sees, he'll work with you--for a fee. Who does this guy think he is? Simon Cowell? Star Search?

Some computer techs say the site is unprotected, meaning you're taking a risk if you put up your financial information.

I wonder if Harris is one of those guys who is deliberately doing what he can to get sent away again. Fishy...

Reawakening my interest in Mandarin Chinese

On Tuesday night, I had very short conversations in Mandarin Chinese (or, as it's said in Chinese, Pu Tong Hua) with the Chinese-born owners of an Oxford, Mich. restaurant. They were able to understand me; turned out, the Guang Dong province-born owners speak both Mandarin and Cantonese.

Then, today while at Oxford High School, I met a lady who's from Beijing and is now teaching Chinese. Again, short conversations and she said she understood me just fine. I even understood some of the things she said. Hao ji le!

Funny how once the pressure to study is removed, the language becomes much easier to learn. I've often thought that eight months of my life spent studying Mandarin at the Army's Defense Language Institute is too much time to waste. So, with that I'm working to brush up on both my Chinese and Russian skills. Spanish too, perhaps.

Teacher, whom I'd rather not identify, has even encouraged me to stop by sometime and chat with her. How cool is that?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Richard Zowie, restaurant reviewer

It was quite, surreal, actually. At work, I was told to go write a short review of a local restaurant for the monthly business magazine the newspaper puts out.

Me, a restaurant reviewer? Sure, I love to eat and enjoy food that's well-prepared and spicy, but I've never really thought of myself as someone to sit at a restaurant, sample some of the fare and write about it. But I was willing and it was easy: try their signature dishes and write what you liked about it.

"Which restaurant?" I asked the assistant publisher.

"Any of them," he replied.

My first choice was the local Thai restaurant since I've always wanted to try out Thai food. Unfortunately, the manager and I had a miscommunication and it didn't work out for this month. So, I tried the local Chinese restaurants. One of them fell through: the owner wasn't in to authorize it, and he didn't speak English. My Mandarin Chinese consists of a few phrases and a number of words and very rusty overall, so that was a no-go.

So, I tried out the other one in town.

Wow.

The owners couldn't have been nicer, and I even conversed a few times--howbeit briefly--with them in Mandarin (they're from China's Canton Province and speak Cantonese primarily). Food was very wonderful. I dislike mushrooms and detest peas, but you know the food is good when the mushrooms and snowpeas (peas harvested when they're in the baby stage) taste great.

I was telling Dan, who works with me, that I'll have to go there a few times for lunch as a way of saying thank you for the free food they served for the review. Heck, not only did I get to take the Hunan Beef, Thai Chicken and General Tso's Chicken home, they also cooked up a quart of cashew chicken for my family to enjoy.

Wow. Hao ji le!

Few of the things I said to them in Chinese:

Li Xiao Long shi zai Jiu Jin Shan sheng de (Bruce Lee was born in San Francisco).

Suiran wo hen xi huan ya, ke shi wo bu xi huan chi ya! (Although I like ducks, I don't like to eat ducks).

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

My hunch on Barack Obama's running mate: Joe Biden

Tomorrow, Barack Obama announces through an e-mail whom he will be selecting as his running mate. My guess is that it will be Delaware senator Joe Biden. Biden is said to be strong on defense issues, as strong as a Democrat can be.

A smart choice? Not so sure. Granted, Obama is in way over his head and is woefully short on experience, but wouldn’t it be better to pick a popular Democrat from the South? Except for Maryland, I don’t think the Democrats have won a southern state since the 1996 elections. Remember: in 2000 Al Gore became the first presidential candidate since George McGovern in 1972 to lose his home state (Tennessee); in 2004, John Kerry lost North Carolina despite having Tarheel State Senator John Edwards as his running mate.

Honestly, it doesn’t really matter. Unless John McCain picks a pro-abortion running mate, I’m 100% certain I’ll vote for McCain. Then, I’d have to do some serious thinking.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Covering the police beat

Today at work, when pursuing some leads on possible crime stories, I was reminded of just how important it is as a journalist to be 100% cooperative with the police. If they ask you to hold off on a story due to a person not being formally charged, do it. If they ask for something to be kept off the record, do it. I know we all want to get the big scoop, but fewer things can be more crippling to the journalist than an alienated police department that won't provide them any information on stories.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Rough cut done!

Got the rough cut done on a 3,000-ish word freelance article that pays well. Hard part's over. Woo-hoo!

Writing contest thoughts

I was a little discouraged to lose out on a writing contest. When I saw the winner of one magazine's latest contest, it really made me think of something. Theme has to do with going into a bar. As I read the winner's story, I kept thinking, "What was the point of this story?" Read it over again and kept concluding the same thing.

From this, one can come to two conclusions: either I'm so far behind as a writer that I can't recognize good writing or that this winning entry really, really sucks and that I can have some success if I work hard and keep submitting.

There was a previous contest where I submitted what I thought was a good story, saw what won and wondered why such a mediocre piece of writing would win. Maybe I'm whining, or maybe the magazine's judges just have really bizarre standards.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Church tomorrow

Ahhh. Very nice to be going to church tomorrow. I've really missed it. That's one of the reasons I've always hated jobs that require work on Sunday. Get me out of church for a few weeks and my spiritual equilibrium seems to be out of whack.

New design on blog

In my never-ending quest to find a look that's perfect, I have gone with a different template for this blog. Most of the templates Blogger offers didn't impress me, but I kinda like this one. I may tweak with the colors down the road.

Just asking

I spent much of the last year trying to get full-time employment. One ad I kept running into talked about a very successful company needing people to work as "registration agents". $25 an hour. Sounds great, right?

Well, twice I applied for work there, went to fill out the applications, submit my resume and sit through a 20-minute presentation that could've easily been done in about five minutes. They never really told us what it was that we'd be doing, instead talking about this growing company and how successful it is and how we'd be working long hours.

On the surface, that sounded great. Working 12-hour days five days a week, this comes to $78,000 a year (before taxes, but still not too shabby).

When I went in for the private interview, they asked a few questions. Both times, the men said, "I really like your resume and your answers. You're on my short list. We'll be in touch."

Nothing came of it. But this company is constantly advertising needing new registration agents.

Is it possible that the job's far from what's advertised and that it's another one of those worthless commission only jobs where you have to drive your own vehicle and use your own gas when you go out and try to get people signed up?

Unemployment is very humbling and can suck away your dignity, but be very cautious of what you see in the job ads.

Very cautious.

Writer's Digest and The Writer magazines

My favorite time of the month, no doubt, is when Writer's Digest and The Writer magazine arrive in my mailbox. Always gives me hope and encouragement, like that Stephen King book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft (which is boxed up somewhere in our garage, darn it). This month they were talking about websites and blogging and how both are important to writers. So, I think what I'll do is keep posting to this and two other free blogs to get an idea of which I like the best. If you're reading this, tell me what you like about my blog here as well as this blog server. Especially if you're a writer.

Olympics

A few times, I've watched stuff out of curiosity, but no blogs are coming. Sorry. I don't like the choice of China as a host.

For those who like my blogs and wanted to see Olympic coverage, eat your heart out until Vancouver in 2010 and London in 2012.

John Edwards' career over?

It's been revealed that he was seeing another woman while his wife had cancer, and now there's becoming a possibility that this child is his. Is Edwards' political career one that a fork could be stuck into?

I suspect he and Detroit "mayor" Kwame Kilpatrick will be kept as far from Denver as possible.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Some dirty looks

Last night, I covered a township board of trustees meeting. A few people there gave me odd looks; one trustee member who's on her way out gave me an icy stare that reminded me of my mother when she was in a bad mood. Another gent at work, who looks a lot like me, had written a critical column about them, and apparently they thought I was him.

Ha.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Big day at work tomorrow

That's the day we start getting ready to lay out the Wednesday edition. I'll also be going out to interview a new business owner and see if that'll make this week's paper. Lots of stuff regarding after-primary stories.

Have met some very interesting people, so far. I'm curious to see how many of the people I have tried in vain to contact via telephone will complain, come Wednesday, that they weren't included in the articles. Well, I might be able to do many things in life, but making people return phone calls isn't one of them.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Bernie Mac

I'm very saddened to learn of the premature passing of Bernie Mac. He was only 50. My family and I enjoyed watching his show The Bernie Mac Show, in syndication. I'll miss his rantings as he addresses the viewers as "America."

R.I.P., Mr. McCullough.

Almost getting to interview Rip Torn


So, at the newspaper I was given this press release. Rip Torn took a tour of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. Article mentions that he's from Lakeville, which is a community near Oxford, Michigan (where I work).

Wow! I thought. Rip Torn! I remember him very well. He played an evil high priest in the 1982 film The Beastmaster and was in a few other movies. What's interesting is that he and I have a few things in common: both of us grew up in Texas, both of us are left-handed and both of us share a birthday (February 6).

How to get in touch with him? Knowing it would probably be a dead end, I looked him up online to see if he had an address in Lakeville, using his real first name--Elmore.

Nope.

No listing in Michigan, either, for an Elmore Torn (his real first name).

Then I looked at the press release and noticed it was datelined New London, Connecticut, where the academy is at. Is it possible there's a Lakeville, Connecticut? I thought.

Sure enough, there was.

Bummer. I was looking forward to meeting him and talking with him. The only nearby celebrity we have is Kid Rock, who has a home in nearby-Ortonville.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

R.I.P., Gospodin Solzhenitsyn. Do svidaniya.

Working at the paper

I've tried driving down to Oxford through Davison and Lapeer and find both to be about the same length. I prefer Davison since it has fewer stoplights and less traffic.

One of my work colleagues has been there, done that. Lots of great stories to tell. Used to work at the Detroit News. Tells me that only about 10% of Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's corruption has gone public.

According to this colleague, being related to Kilpatrick has its advantages. One of Kwame's relatives, according to this reporter, makes around $70,000 a year working only an hour per week. Basically, sitting in on meetings. That's about $1,346.15 per hour. If a person were working a 40-hour week at that hourly rate, they'd be earning $2.8 million per year.

Once again, I find myself hardly waiting to get to work and keeping my eyes peeled for a story that might be huge. We'll see what happens.

Camping this last weekend

We went up to Alpena (up north, as Michiganders like to call it) to a camp. Spent time canoeing on Thunder Bay River, which flows into Lake Winyah (which eventually flows into Lake Huron.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Working at the paper

Work is going pretty good so far. It's great to be a full-timer. At this point, I'd rather not say the name of the newspaper, but it's a weekly in Michigan. For the first time in my writing career, I'm writing using WordPerfect instead of Microsoft Word (although the two are fairly similar). When loading articles, briefs, columns and other word texts onto the server, we put them into Pagemaker. Interesting.

It's sooooooooo nice to be in a newsroom and smell the faint, pleasant odors of the ink from the print shop.

Today, I filed a tragic story. Mother was sleeping with her infant and accidentally rolled over onto the baby in the middle of the night. Police are ruling it an accident. A very tragic accident that, no doubt, will haunt the lady for a long time.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

NEW JOB!!!!!

I'm so excited! A week ago, I interviewed for a newspaper job and last night I received a phone call from the editor. Can I start Thursday morning? Yep!

There's some nervousness about it...it's a little of a drive, and I'm on for a 45-day trial basis. Lord willing, with a little hard work and a little confidence I can make this work.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Getting back to my true love--fiction

The past few days, as far as writing goes, have been split. A big chunk of time is spent on getting freelance assignments completed while I'm also working on some fiction projects. One is a novel, working title The Game Show, in which I'm about 2/3 completed on the rough draft. There are also short story ideas I'm getting some ground work laid down on. One looks to be a combination of two ideas.

I'd rather not divulge too much details, but I do like the Twilight Zone-style suspense and twists. Often, I ask myself, "What if?" and start writing.

Slight change again

The orange-on-royal blue didn't work as well as I wanted. For now, I'm trying a yellow-on-royal blue. Normally, I don't like the darker colors, but I've really liked using the dark blue as a background color since it provides great contrast. We'll see what happens.

Royal blue and yellow is one of my all-time favorite color schemes, along with royal blue and light blue and then kelly green and gold. But for this blog, I'm looking for schemes that provide great contrast--making it easier to read--while allowing some aesthetic appeal also.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Experimenting with colors




Have decided, for the time being, to move away from the light blue-on-dark blue that I had been using and experiment with orange-on-royal blue. Am curious to see how it works.

I have a love/hate relationship with orange. Aesthetically, I don't really like it. It was my high school color. Burnt orange I hate, but I have grown to see bright orange as a pragmatic and not-too-ugly color. Besides, blue and orange are the original colors of my favorite baseball team the Houston Astros. I'd like to seem them return to those colors and ditch the hideous black, brick red and sand they currently have.
Don't know how long this color scheme will last...might be changing it again as the blog evolves. We'll see.

The Zowie family's origins


The Zowie family got its start in America around 1899 when my great-grandfather, Sebastian Zahnweh, immigrated to America from Mötzing, a little Bavarian village in southeastern Germany. Mötzing is located about 33.9 kilometers (or about 21 miles) southeast of Regensburg and about 154 kilometers (or about 95 miles) northeast of Munich.

Here is a link to show you where Mötzing is on the map. According to a census done two years ago, it has just under 1,500 people in it.

Richard Zowie, animal rescuer

One of our neighbor's ducks got out of her pen the other day, and the way she was walking around and quacking, I could tell she wanted back in. So, I went over there, was able to catch her (she probably thought I was going to make her my Sunday dinner) and got her back in. It was a very nice, tender moment. I thought of trying to quack to her to calm her down and reassure her I wouldn't hurt her, but that seemed too bizarre even for me.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Decline of American Comedy: Kevin Smith

Back in 1996 while stationed in the Army at the Presidio of Monterey, Calif.'s Defense Language Institute, I got my first taste of the tasteless filmmaker Kevin Smith. A friend had rented Clerks. It's a brilliant film about a convenience store worker, I was told.

Fifteen minutes later, I got up and left. The movie was incredibly boring and had enough profanity and vulgarity to fill several films.

A month or so later, I sat down and watched about half an hour of Mallrats. Same result: boring, disgusting film.

I haven't seen Clerks II or Dogma, since I feel you don't have to repeatedly whiff a pile of garbage to know it smells bad. So, it goes without saying that I won't be seeing his new film, either.

Smith, according to the AP, recently--at a comic book convention--featured a clip of his new film Zack and Miri Make a Porno. (The movie stars Seth Rogen of Knocked Up, which tells me this movie will be utterly unwatchable). Smith also mentions having a hearing to get the film an R rating: currently, the Motion Picture Association of America has rated it NC-17 despite Smith's numerous edits.

No worries, Kevin: just make it R-rated and then feature your cut on the DVD.

I love to laugh, don't get me wrong, but why does the world insist on trying to get humor from smut instead of getting humor from irony, off-the-wall scenarios and great timing?

Ahhh, the joys of writing satire

A few months ago, I posted an article about a famous rock star on my satirical blog.

The website, again, is 100% satire.

Nevertheless, I have received four angry e-mails from that blog from angry readers. One threatened me with physical harm.

The fictitious, tongue-in-cheek article merely pokes fun at the musician's entrepreneurial ways. Nothing more. I actually have a lot of respect for him, but apparently these readers didn't bother to read the "This is satire" disclaimer at the top of the page.

Friday, July 25, 2008

News for today

Will make this quick since I'm very tired and want to watch an episode of Northern Exposure before going to sleep.

Job interview today went very well. It's for a reporter position for a northern Oakland County (Michigan) newspaper. Editor liked my resume and writing samples. Said he'd call in about a week. We'll see what happens.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Will be meeting a Detroit Tiger tomorrow

Lefthanded pitcher Bobby Seay, who will be making an appearance at the Davison, Mich., Kroger. Am a little nervous. Will have to make sure my camera batteries are good to go.

Ahhh, the fun finances of writing

In my ventures as a freelance writer, I've run into these scenarios quite a bit:

1) Website tells you that for a fee of x dollars per month, they'll give you access to thousands of freelance jobs. One site that I subscribed to for a month gave me access to maybe 20 jobs in a month. Talk about a tax write-off. There are legit sites out there, but this one wasn't one of them.

2) Other sites will give you work, but to get the work, you must pay a service fee per month. I pass on these and if ask, I'd say, "No, you don't understand: I don't pay you to work. You pay me."

John McCain's running mate...who will it be?

We know it won't be Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal. He has ruled it out and says he wants to focus on Louisiana's problems. (As someone who was born and spent the first year of their life in The Pelican State, I can respect that).

Some say that Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty has the inside track. Mitt Romney, of course, is still a strong possibility.

Hurricane Dolly hits South Texas

This is a concern for me, since I'm from South Texas. Looks like it'll miss my family (which lives inland and further up the Coastal Bend in Beeville while my mother-in-law and her husband and son (they live near McAllen) might have to be more careful.

Around 15 inches of rain with winds around 85 mph. Hopefully that'll be the worse of Hurricane Dolly.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Who will be Barack Obama's running mate?

Will John Edwards once again serve as a potential brides' maid? Will Georgia's Sam Nunn serve? Will it be Hillary Clinton?

Doesn't really matter to me, since I won't be voting for B.O.

I will say this: IF Obama does get elected, expect him to blame all his mistakes or problems on the Bush Administration.

Paying to work

If ever my life settles down, I would love to busy myself--when not writing--by acting in local productions. There's always been the thrill of getting on a stage and pretending to be someone you're not. I remember taking a theater arts class my senior year in high school and regretting not taking it my freshman year.

Sometimes, I'll see ads for movies being made near my area. Had a chance to go to a casting call for a horror film about an ominous town, but due to the gasoline money and the subject matter, I decided not to go. Other sites offer an opportunity for anyone to work as an extra. Sounds great, right?

One problem: you have to pay a nominal fee for their services.

A friend from college who has worked as an actor tells me that no reputable company connected in the entertainment industry will make you pay for the opportunity to gain access to possible jobs. The only payment a true agent would do is a commission after you've already secured work.

In the meantime, a few actors I've spoken to say the best way to get in is to get training, work in local productions and go from there. One actor said this to me: if fame is your goal, don't even start.

Short fiction story: Capturing the idea

I submitted this to Writer's Digest last year. Didn't make the cut, so I thought I'd post it here to give viewers an idea of what my fiction looks like. This went through about six edits before I finally got it to where I wanted it.

Capturing the idea

By Richard Zowie

Becky stopped, her blue eyes bulging, as if lost in a trance of excited concentration. She and Mike had been about to walk out the door of their home with their three daughters for a quick trip to the grocery store when she stopped on the carpet, right where it met the linoleum of the kitchen. Their girls were already out the door and were probably already getting into their seats in the car.

The glassy gaze remained on her face.

“Honey, what is it?” he asked, watching her reach with her left hand into her purse and produce a small purple notebook. After transferring the notebook to her right hand, her left hand then furiously fished for something else inside the purse.

“Becky, what is it?” he asked again, but she still ignored him, her eyes intensely concentrating on what they could see in the purse.

“Rebecca—” Mike began, knowing that when Becky was focused on a task like this, she completely ignored the world around her.

“I’m looking for my pen,” she finally said as her hand moved even more frantically, almost as if wrestling something inside the purse. “It’s in here, isn’t it?”

Becky’s disorganized ways, which he had long given up on trying to reform, didn’t surprise him as she always seemed to be losing something. But this time, things seemed urgent. It was as if the checking account was overdrawn and she was trying desperately to search the purse for any debit receipts she’d forgotten to have him ledger.

“I think so, why?”

Her hand moved faster still, as if about to tear a hole in the purse. Anger joined the excitement and scared look on her face. “I can’t find it, Michael! Where is it?” She only called him Michael (he detested his too-formal given name) when she was either angry or excited.

“I thought I saw you put it into your purse an hour ago.” He paused. “You had written some thoughts about that short story. Why?”

“So, the pen’s in my purse?”

“Probably.”

“But I can’t find it!” her voice, a fevered shriek, was growing more frantic.

“But it should be in there, Rebecca.” She, like him, didn’t care for her given name but was far too consumed with finding the pen to notice him using it.

Ignoring his calmness and still unable to find her pen, Becky turned her purse upside down and shook it as hard as she could. Always one to hate clutter, Mike cringed as countless items cascaded onto the floor and plopped muffled onto the carpet: keys, compact, lipstick, a black day planner that she almost never used, change, cell phone and her wallet.

But no pen.

Exasperated and almost crying, Becky reached up to brush back a lock of curly black hair that had somehow come out of the ponytail on the back of her head. When she did, her left hand brushed up against her ear and hit something hard. Her brow twitched in confusion as she reached up to see what odd object was there.

Tucked behind her left ear was a blue Paper Mate Flexgrip Ultra.

Mike laughed as Becky snatched the pen, clicked it open, opened the notebook, sat quickly and started scribbling down words, so fast that only she would be able to read them. It took 30 seconds, but at the end, she felt relaxed. Her blue eyes sparkled as a wide smile crept across her face.

“Honey, are you ok?” Mike asked, his laughter subsiding as he started to help her gather the items to be put back into her purse.

“Better than ok,” Becky replied, oblivious to his laughter. They put the items back into her purse, including the pen and notebook. “I think I just came up with an idea for the next Great American Novel. You know that story about the woman who buys that old telephone?”

“Yeah.”

“I just thought of how to make it work.”

“Are you sure?” Mike asked.

Becky smiled again. “I’m as sure as I am that I love you.”

Mike shrugged, and Becky kept smiling. He wasn’t a writer and would never understand. Sometimes, these ideas come once in a lifetime. For a brief blip in time. Once they’re gone, they’re gone forever. And fleeting ideas don’t care if you couldn’t find a pen in time. Or that you had to empty your purse.

© 2007 richardzowie.blogspot.com. May not be reproduced without the author’s permission.

Joined some writers sites

One is for Michigan writers and another focuses primarily on fiction. Am looking to really delve--in my spare time--into my first love of fiction. We'll see what happens.

I like to carry a reporter-sized notebook with me and jot down fiction story ideas as they come to me. So far, I'm up to 20. And then there are the scores of other ideas I have on my computer. To me, it's exciting to create new worlds and new characters and see where the story goes. I may just post something I submitted to a Writer's Digest contest.

Dallas Cowboys blog on hiatus

I had been blogging about the Dallas Cowboys at www.americasteam.info, but they are currently having problems at the site and are working on them. Will keep you updated.

Ads on my blog

I saw today that there's an ad from PETA on my blog. At the risk of offending advertisers and losing money, I'd advise against clicking on it unless you suffer from terminal morbid curiosity. I'm not a vegetarian, but I am tolerant of those who go meatless. My problem with PETA is that they base their arguments on extremely limited research. It's always a kick to see how they take Bible verses out of context (such as Jesus overthrowing the tables of the merchants in the temple because they were selling animals, when what He was really doing was because they were turning it into an unscrupulous marketplace).

Monday, July 21, 2008

New blog photo of me

I've been considering tinkering around with this blog's look and have decided, for the time being, to keep it as it is. Perhaps it's part of my restless nature to constantly try to retool things. I did, however, post a new photo.

Think it seems odd for a 35 year-old man to be holding a rubber ducky? Let me explain: I love ducks. When I was 15, my Aunt Juanita (one of my Mom's four sisters) gave me a baby duck as a gift. I fell in love with it instantly and from there developed what's turned into a 20-year love for ducks. Since then, I have amassed a collection of duck pictures, figurines and even items of clothing (including a University of Oregon t-shirt and mousepad). I also have a couple of rubber duckies.

My wife got me this blue one in the photo recently, so I decided to take a photo of myself with it. Photo looked cheery and less psychotic than my previous one I had here, back when I was in the hippie stage of my hair touching my ears.

I showed the rubber ducky to the neighbor's ducks, but they seemed disinterested. (Yes, I know it's silly, but it's part of my way of keeping myself entertained in this dreadful Seinfeld Era where the pointless mundane often passes for humor).

Enjoy.

Upcoming feature story about a soccer player

Today I took photos and completed an assignment for the Davison Index regarding a young soccer player. Nate and I got to chat briefly about soccer and its failure to catch on as a popular sport in America. When you look at Europe, Central and South America and Asia, soccer tends to be extremely popular. Why not here?

I don't understand, for instance, how sports talk show host Jim Rome* can talk about the "exciting" sports of golf and auto racing but talk about how boring soccer is. Soccer and golf both take great skill, but a minute is about all I can take of watching golf.

*Don't get me wrong about Romey--I love his show and think he's funny and witty. But I happen to disagree with him about the golf/soccer issue.

John McCain set to choose his running mate soon

Possible candidates include former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, current Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal, former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani and Florida governor Charlie Crist.

I suspect it'll be Romney, with my second guess being Crist.

Seeking domain hosting services

I'm looking to get my own Website, one where I can post a professionally-done photo of myself along with my resume, writing clips and even a blog. Anyone know of any good hosting services?

I'm hoping to spend about $45 to buy and maintain the site for a year. I was once with iPowerWeb, but their prices seem to have gone up.

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Dark Knight--is it worth it?

Many have already crowned Heath Ledger as the upcoming Best Supporting Actor Academy Award winner due to his performance as the Joker in The Dark Knight. Recently, I saw a two-minute segment of a scene with Ledger. I don't mean to trample on Ledger's grave, but I didn't see what the big deal was. Seemed very so-so. When I think of what the Joker's supposed to be in this movie, it makes me think they could've done better with a lesser-known actor. Kevin Gage would've been a great choice.

It makes me wonder if Ledger is today's version of River Phoenix: a so-so actor whose death by drug overdose will immortalize him.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

My thoughts on Tony Snow's untimely passing

I've always thought of Tony Snow as a man of class. When hosting Rush Limbaugh's program, Tony couldn't have been nicer to people who called in to disagree. On television, he always seemed calm and gentle.

As I reflect on the passing of this fellow Christian and wonder why God would take home such a godly man at such a relatively young age of 53, I am reminded of what actor Christopher Lee said regarding the death of his close friend Peter Cushing: some people are just too good for this world.

To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. That's where Tony is right now.

Conflicts of interest

For one of my freelance clients, I encountered a story idea regarding a new business opening up. Editor liked it. But since I currently work part-time for a competitor, I had to pass on it and let her assign it to somebody else.

Reminds me how, a few years ago, I told another client about how my wife's Aunt C and her husband Uncle K fix up old cars and show them at car shows. One car in particular was the same type of car used by the infamous criminals Bonnie and Clyde. Editor loved it, but, since they're family through marriage, I passed on writing it.

Sleep...

Didn't get any last night. Too much to do. Still, it's one of those things I've learned you have to make time for it--especially if you have to drive.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Who's the greatest Russian?

Apparently, whoever is participating in the poll for the Greatest Russian needs to brush up on their history.

The state-sponsored Rossiya television is running the poll. So far, it's Nicolas II (the last czar) leads with 267,000 of the 2.4 million votes cast. Joseph Stalin is second with 263,000 while Vladimir Lenin is third with 187,000. Also receiving votes are Vladimir Putin and the late musician Vladimir Vysotsky. Multiple votes are being counted.

For those who voted for Stalin, please keep aware of this little fact:

Stalin WASN'T Russian!

Stalin's real name was Iosef Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili. He was born in Gori, Georgia in 1878; granted, Georgia was at the time a Russian colony and eventually became a republic within the Soviet Union, but at the time the USSR did not exist. Besides, Stalin was said to speak Russian with a very strong Georgian accent. It could be argued that, being born in a Russian-controlled territory that Stalin could be considered Russian, but ethnically he was not Russian.

Great interviews

Earlier today, I did a phone interview of one of the relatives of The Big Three (Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens) for my series of February 2009 columns about the 50th anniversary of the Day the Music Died. Would rather not say yet whom I interviewed, but it was a very good one.

Also interviewed a lady yesterday in the fitness equipment industry for an article I'm doing for a recreation magazine. Again, lots of good stuff.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Seinfeld stinks

Going through some old e-mails, I uncovered one written to me by a very angry Seinfeld fan. He took grave exception to my Internet Movie Database comments saying how I hated the show, thought it was unfunny and overrated. His piece of hate mail looked like the illiterate X-rated rantings of a man who can't believe that someone out there didn't like the show. I guess he's intolerant of opinions that differ from his own.

Sorry, Seinfeld fans, but I've seen several episodes and didn't laugh once. I love to laugh, mind you, but I just didn't find anything funny. Good for you if you did, but to me, Jerry Seinfeld has killed American comedy. These days, the stupid and mundane now pass for humor. In short, Seinfeld was exactly what it was depicted as--a show about nothing.

If you want to see something funny, check out comedian Frank Caliendo.

Another misleading Barack Obama ad

Last night, my wife and I saw a political ad of Barack Obama's attacking John McCain. When the background music is a piano in the minor keys, you know it'll be a negative one. In the ad, Obama talks of how McCain supports drilling for oil in Alaska and how it would take seven years for us to see the first barrels of oil from there.

Of course it'll take seven years, thanks to all the bureaucracy government levies on people wanting to drill for oil and gas. And besides, Senator Obama, if your party hadn't spent the past decade or so fighting tooth and nail against more drilling in America, we would've long sense started receiving that oil. We might also be paying $1.25 per gallon for gasoline instead of $4.15.

Sheesh, what on earth doe people see in this buffoon? In his four years as Illinois senator, he has essentially done two things: promote his book Audacity of Hope and run for president. I find his talk of "change" to be old, tired, recycled arguments. One wonders if he plucked it from some book, published in the eighties, from a 5-for-$1 bin at a flea market.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Stephen King's class versus Simon Cowell's, Piers Morgan's, et al's classlessness

Yes, oh yes, I've heard it all before: Simon Cowell tells it like it is when he gives musical wannabes a vicious tongue lashing. So what if aspiring young singers have left his presence in tears, further humiliated in front of millions on television? They need a stiff reality check to remind themselves that while they either enjoy singing or simply wish to use a singing career to achieve fame and fortune, they should definitely not quit their day job.

Of course, Piers Morgan is the same way on Cowell's show America's Got Talent. This last season (I don't watch this show anymore and have only seen American Idol in previews and short clips), one insulted performer went as far as to call Morgan a "Simon Cowell wannabe".

For this reason, I've never liked Morgan and especially don't like Cowell. As celebrity judges, that is: Cowell is said to be a much friendlier man in his private life. I simply believe that it's unacceptable to humiliate people on television for the sake of ratings--especially when they've been led to believe they have something worth showing.

I am reminded how, several years ago, author Stephen King held a writing contest through his semi-autobiographical work On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. He presents a scenario and encourages aspiring writers to send him their stories. King published the top stories and had this to say about the entries. Keep special attention to the italicized, bold-print remarks below in the text:

On Writing contest winners from StephenKing.com:

Dear Constant Reader:

I think a lot of people harbor the secret dream of being a fiction writer. Why not? You don't need any special tools, brushes, or even classes. All you've got to do is power up your laptop and you are ready to go. So when I suggested that fans of my work and/or readers of my writing book submit a writing exercise to my website I wasn't surprised to get over 1,000 responses. Not many of them were good, but that didn't surprise me either. What did surprise me--a little--was how many could have been good if the people who wrote them had tried just a little harder, or had brushed up their skills a little bit before trying their hands at what I think of as the Dick and Jane story. I should add that quite a few were, frankly, abysmal. I am not posting any samples of these. I have always believed that it's very bad form (not to mention unsporting), to shoot cripples. [Emphasis mine] But here are 3 "good" stories and one which is close to brilliant. Read and enjoy. Better yet, get in touch with these people and tell them what you think about their work or what you didn't. Like the human beings who create it, writing does not exist in a vacuum.

Best wishes,
Stephen King

Very proud of myself!

Today my wife sent me to the dollar store to get some supplies she needed for her job. While there, I picked her up a belated anniversary gift. Yes, it was inexpensive, but it's something that she really, really liked.

While at the office supplies aisle to get her some manila envelopes, I saw a package of Papermate Flexigrip Elite pens. Two black pens for $2. Very cheap. I could use some more, since I have only a blue, red, black and purple one with no backups. When it comes to acquiring another Papermate (again, my favorite), I go by these guidelines:

Round 1:
1. If you don't have the expendable income, absolutely not.
2. If you do, proceed to the next round

Round 2:
1. Are these a new style of Papermate pens OR a type of Papermate pen that I don't have?
2. Is this a type of Papermate that I already have but don't have any "backups"?

If the answer to either is yes, then I proceed to the next and final round.

Round 3:
1. Do I really, really, really need it?

If yes, I buy. If no, I don't.

I decided I didn't really need it, so I passed.

Buyer beware

In the past few months, I've noticed an ad on my blog for a certain type of writing service. Because I make money when people click the ads, I won't say when it's posted or what it is. I did, however, at one time try it services. Signed up for a $2.95 7-day trial and then for a month at around $25. It turned out to be a waste of money and time. The thousands of jobs they promised I could apply for turned out to be a tiny trickle. I'd apply, submit my bid and never hear from them again.

If you're a writer looking for work, beware as you pitch your services. Some are legit while others are not. I've also learned, while writing a press release for one gentleman, that you have to be upfront and be absolutely clear about the services to be paid. Basically, I ended up spending about five total hours of my time writing a $100 press release for free. You live and you learn.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Survey

Saw this on the WCRZ (a Flint radio station) website and thought I'd fill in info on myself:

Richard's List

Worst habit is: Speaking/Doing before thinking.

Pet Peeve: People who major on the minors

Turn Ons: Feeding ducks, spending quality time with my wife.

Turn Offs: Any episode of Seinfeld. People who insist on the nonsensical way of doing things. Reality show hosts (a la Simon Cowell) who find sport in shooting cripples...if they sing that badly, how on earth did they ever make it onto the show to begin with?

I may look innocent but: [Richard chooses to plead the fifth amendment on this question]

If I could be anyone other than myself I’d be: King Solomon. Must've been fun writing Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon.

If I was good enough to play professional sports I’d play: Baseball (with football running a close second).

Get us a list of your favorite beers: I hate beer and think it smells and tastes disgusting.

How about your favorite magazines: The Writer, Writer's Digest, Christianity Today, Reader's Digest.

Thought of the moment: Tired, but too much to do.

Would you rather live in a country run by super models or football players? Whichever one decides to govern through pragmatic conservatism.

Would you rather be considered annoying or dull? To be honest, neither. Besides, life's too short to sweat what others think of you.

If you were in prison for five years how would you pass the time? Reading and writing.

What mail-order catalog would you most likely be a model for? Hmmmm....dunno.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Devil Wears Prada


Movie was actually pretty good, and Meryl Streep showed that she's still the best actress out there. As wonderful as Anne Hathaway, Stanley Tucci and Emily Blunt were and as wonderful as the storyline was, it still soured me on the fashion industry.
Hathaway, who already looks like she's a nice size for a girl, talks about how happy she is because she's down from a size 6 to a size 4. Seemed barely 10 years ago that a woman who was a size 6 was considered to be very, very hot. There was also Blunt's character, talking about how she starved herself in her diet and that whenever she felt like she'd faint, she allotted herself a cube of cheese.

Then there was Streep's Miranda Priestly character, who had one divorce (and soon two) to her credit that we know of, all because she's absolutely consumed with her career. Makes you wonder if she's really indeed happy.

This film reminds me of a lot of the needless flak Jennifer Love Hewitt got when she was seen in her bathing suit and perceived to be fat. Sheesh, what kind of society are we becoming when women with a little meat on their bones are thought of as fat? Sorry, but model-skinny is as far from appealing as Pluto is from the sun.

Papermate Clearpoint


Have been using it a lot lately and like it a lot. Currently I only see it in black but am hoping to find it in blue and red and, possibly, even purple and green. Great grip, great boldness. Only thing I don't like is that the ink often has to be "primed": it seems to not put anything out and you have to scribble elsewhere to get it going again.

The Writer magazine

Just got it in the mail yesterday, and got the newest Writer's Digest recently as well. Ahhh, wonderful magazines to read.

Playing with Spreadsheets

Have been playing around with Microsoft Spreadsheets, a cousin of Microsoft Excel, as I try to learn how to use spreadsheets. I've told my wife that for freelance writing work and for our budget, spreadsheets would come in very handy. So, armed with a "how-to" book on Excel and just trying out things, I hope to become proficient at it soon. We have worksheets from Crown Financial to use for our day-to-day expenses and sheets for budgeting, and I hope to be able to implement them into the spreadsheets.

Minor change to blog; thoughts on the future

I decided to remove the big, smiley picture of myself from the top of the blog. I was worried that it would give children nightmares. Besides, it really makes me think that "less is more".

My efforts to get back into newspaper journalism continue. Some trepidation. Received an e-mail from a very popular columnist. He's a funny guy who tells me he's concerned about the future of newspapers and, believe it or not, his own job.

Perhaps online internet news sources are the future. Or perhaps the now. Or perhaps soon they'll be the past as we advance towards something even bigger.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Happiness is...

...a balanced checkbook.

I'm not rich, but I know exactly how much I have. And my wife and I are starting to implement Crown Financial's worksheet for keeping track of our expenses. We'll soon be working on a budget and praying for God's strength, wisdom and guidance as we learn to become good stewards with the money He has given us.

Job search continues

I withdrew my name from consideration from a company that publishes an array of weekly newspapers in Michigan. Risky move, considering that the strong nibble I'd been getting at another promising job is starting to look like I'll have to reel in the line, put more bait on the hook and cast it out again. I'm at peace with it, and my wife is also. Basically, I just didn't feel it was a good fit. I perused a few issues and saw several things that were bright red flags. I'll leave it at that.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Mitch Albom’s ‘Guns for America’ column

How nice it would be to live in columnist Mitch Albom’s world, where you have the millions to have your house alarmed with the most expensive security systems, where the police can be at your house at a moment’s notice at the drop of the strangest sound that worries you.

Albom, whose column is syndicated by Tribune Media Services, was complaining in his column about how catastrophic America will be now that the Second Amendment has been affirmed. He erroneously stated—you know, there are far too many erroneous statements in his column, and it would take all afternoon to detail them all.

I do wish Mitch could spend a week or two living in a bad neighborhood where, all too often, the only people with guns are the criminals and the police with agonizingly-slow response times. He might then understand why so many Americans feel the urgent need to possess firearms. BTW, Mitch, the Second Amendment was not solely intended to arm the military, but rather to make sure citizens could privately arm themselves when needed. The amendment doesn’t mean that every American will have a gun (the ruling won’t affect laws prohibiting convicted felons from being able to legally have firearms). Also, if you’d done your research, you’d find the amendment wasn’t even created until after the Revolutionary War.

If we ever leave Michigan, Albom’s columns will definitely be one thing I won’t miss.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

This election...

…is like a game of Scrabble where you’re stumped on your options. In Scrabble, if you can’t make a word, you just simply toss your tiles into the pile, take out seven new ones and take a pass.

That’s what I wish I could do in November 2008.

When I look at Senator John McCain, I see a man who perhaps, at best, could be described as a minimal conservative. His views on campaign finance bother me, and I don’t like his views on abortion. However, I am encouraged by his views on foreign policy and feel that he is right when it comes to taxes: besides cutting taxes, we also need to corral wasteful spending.

As far as Senator Barack Obama, he’s a good public speaker who’s great at telling people what they want to hear. That’s about all I find appealing about him. For a man who claims to be a Christian (and only the senator and God know for sure), he certainly supports some very godless agendas. Abortion, ad nauseum. And then there’s affirmative action, and more taxes. There’s also this idea that Obama has to tear off his suit, revealing his superhero costume and go out and repair eight years of Bush Foreign Policy Debacle. Please. Sometimes doing what’s right means doing what’s not popular. I thank God that Obama was not president in the eighties when President Ronald Reagan had the Soviet Union to deal with. I am getting the creeping feeling that Obama has no clue just how complicated this job is. When I hear him speak, he’s always dreadfully short on details. Well, anybody can talk about change. Besides, isn’t that the same tired thing we heard from Walter Mondale in 1984, Michael Dukakis in 1988, Bill Clinton in 1992 and John Kerry in 2004?

As of now, July 2, 2008, if the election were today, I would plug my nose and vote for McCain.

Happy Anniversary!

Monday was the 11th anniversary for me and my wife, Jennifer. I’m still planning on getting her something nice that involves the 11th-year theme of steel, and she took some sturdy leather rope and used it to make a cross necklace for me. A manly necklace. I might post a picture sometime soon. We’ll see.

Working and writing

Still trying to nail down a full-time job while I work on freelance assignments. One of my freelance clients, an Illinois magazine, has been an absolute godsend. I can’t count the number of times (including just recently) where a freelance check from that client has allowed me to get rent paid, bills taken care and food put on the table. I think one check even helped me to take care of a desperately-needed car repair.

When it comes to writing, I’ve found these four P’s work well. They’ve appeared in a blog posting of mine before, but they’re worth repeating:

Be persistent when it comes to looking for work
When you have work, these other three P’s are very beneficial:
Be professional
Be polite
Be to the point

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

“Badges?! Badges?! I don’t have no stinkin’ badges!”

That’s probably what Phoenix Suns center Shaquille O’Neal is saying right now. Shaq, who’s made no secret of his law enforcement aspirations and who previously served as a reserve police officer during his stint with the Miami Heat, has had to give up his badge. Seems that Maricopa (Ariz.) County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, for whom Shaq has served as a special deputy (mostly ceremonial), has told O’Neal that he has to turn in his badge.

Seems that Sheriff Arpaio was upset at O’Neal’s use of profanity and racial slurs during a “free style” rap in which he makes fun of former Lakers teammate Kobe Bryant. Shaq insisted that he was merely having fun and that since it was freestyling, it was nothing serious.

The sheriff disagreed, saying that his deputies would be fired for engaging in such racial conduct.

Yes, Arpaio’s the same sheriff who makes his inmates wear pink underwear, work in chain gangs and have access to only the Disney and Weather Channels on cable.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Day the Music Died

Currently, I'm working on what I hope to be 2 columns for publication in February 2009 to mark the 50th anniversary of The Day the Music Died. On February 3, 1959, in Clear Lake, Iowa, a plane crashed shortly after takeoff, killing these three musicians:

Charles "Buddy Holly" Holley, 22, frontman for Buddy Holly and the Crickets
Richard "Ritchie Valens" Valenzuela, 17, solo artist known for his songs "Come On, Let's Go", "La Bamba" and "Oh, Donna"
J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson, 28, disc jockey, songwriter and singer known perhaps best for his hit "Chantilly Lace."

Originally scheduled to be on that plane was a young man who'd go on to become one of the leaders of country music's infamous Outlaw Movement: Waylon Jennings. However, Richardson was feeling under the weather and wanted to get to their next gig early to visit a doctor, so Jennings gave up his seat on the plane.

George Carlin's passing

He wasn't one of my favorite comics, but I'm saddened to hear of the passing of George Carlin. My prayers are with his family.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Giving writing advice

I got to do this recently to someone who's relative new to the freelance field. Among the things I told her:

1) Be persistent. You will likely get rejected for most of what you apply for.
2) If someone wants to work with you, make absolutely certain there is no ambiguity in the payment. I did this once and ended up doing a $100 press release for free. That stunk.
3) Did I mention persistent?
4) For paying sites, look at how much they charge and the services offered and ask yourself if it is a worthwhile investment. If it's not, then you could keep the receipt and write it off at tax time.
5) Don't shy away from free sites like www.freelancewritinggigs.com. One absolutely wonderful, lucrative freelance relationship came from that site.

Here's something else I picked up while doing one of my all-time favorite freelance jobs of sports gathering at the San Antonio Express-News. The guy next to me was phonr interviewing a coach or player for an upcoming story. As he spoke, I learned three important things to do while interviewing somebody:

1) Be professional. Keep it business--especially if the person you're interviewing is a complete stranger.
2) Be polite.
3) Be to the point. Don't rabbit trail, and don't get into discussions that have nothing to do with the interview--unless it's a brief discussion that could possibly uncover a future story idea.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Great day at work

After finishing my day job, I got home and was able to conditionally complete a writing assignment (I sent in a pending final version to the editor and will send her the official final version by mid next week). Got to submit the invoice. Woo-hoo! Praise the Lord for publications that pay on acceptance rather than publication. Also got off to a great start on the next one. Looking forward to doing interviews tomorrow for this next assignment.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Busy busy day today

Worked on deadlines for three different articles,including one that will get us caught up on rent and help us get caught up on a few utilities. Funny thing: while interviewing an Arizona State athletic official, one of the kittens in our house climbed up my shirt and started licking the inside of my ear. Put it on the floor, and the little stinker climbed back up. Thankfully, the gentleman I spoke to didn't hear the meowing and ask aloud, "What the heck..."

Interview tomorrow for what would be a full-time writing job.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Actor Gary Dourdan gets slap on the wrist in drug arrest

First, there was sportscaster Marv "YESSSSSSSS!" Albert getting his wrist slapped years ago; after being arrested on sexual assault charges, Albert plea bargained his way into a sweetheart deal that expunged the charges from his criminal record if he kept his nose clean and didn't arrested within a year.

Now, it's CSI star Gary Dourdan's turn.

Remember? He was arrested last month outside Palm Springs when police reportedly found heroin, cocaine and ecstasy in his car. All three are felonies.

Dourdan pled guilty to two of the three counts. Not only will he not go to prison (he could've served more than three years), but after completing 30 hours of a diversion program, his case will be dismissed completely.

Makes me sick. When John Q. Public gets arrested on drug charges, most likely he will have to figure out how to avoid becoming a girlfriend of one of the prison's most feared inmates. All Dourdan has to wonder now is whether or not he'll be returning to CSI for its ninth season (his character was shot in the season finale).

Some justice.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

$4.09 per gallon

That's how much I paid today at the Simon's Citgo gas station in Arbela Township (about five miles west of the village of Millington), Michigan.

It's cold in them there hills!

It got into the upper thirties last night up here in Michigan. Chilly at around 55 degrees.

And to think June's almost here.

My mother, who lives in South Texas, told me that a few days ago it was 101 degrees there.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Memorial Day thoughts

I had posted a blog of actress Jessica Lange's scathing comments about President Bush and the war during her daughter's college commencement address. After some thought, I've removed the posting for a few reasons. One, it's Memorial Day. Two, Lange is entitled to her opinion and I've grown tired of constantly addressing celebrities' thoughts on war and peace. Three, frankly, I found her comments to simply not be worthy of dignification.

I think Ms. Lange is a great actress and, yes, 20 years ago, I had a huge crush on her. I'll leave it at that.

I wish everyone a very happy Memorial Day.

Tomorrow is Memorial Day

I'll be thinking about Specialist Larry Dahl, father of an Army buddy. Spc Dahl posthumously won the Medal of Honor in Vietnam by throwing himself onto a grenade to save the lives of his comrades.

Wow.

There's more thoughts I have on the day, but this thought deserves its own blog post.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

My newest column preview--new Dirty Harry movie

Just sent out my latest column "Will Dirty Harry follow Indiana Jones’ in his walker-aided footsteps?" to my hometown newspaper, the Beeville Bee-Picayune. When Clint Eastwood announced there would not be another Dirty Harry film while the latest Indiana Jones has been released, I just couldn't resist.

Below is an excerpt. If you don't get the Bee-Pic and would like to read the rest, or if you're interested in syndicating my column Richard's Ramblings, feel free to drop me a line at richardzowie@gmail.com:

Among the scenes:

1) A TV reporter (played by Eastwood’s real-life wife, former reporter Dina Eastwood decides to interview Harry to get into his sensitive side.

Reporter: Inspector Callahan, your adoring female fans that haven’t died yet from natural causes have a question for you: Boxers or briefs?

Harry: Depends.

Reporter: Depends on the situation? Such as briefs for cold days but boxers for—

Harry: No, Depends as in Depends Undergarments!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

McCain rejects Hagee's endorsement


Republican presidential candidate John McCain has rejected the endorsement of San Antonio megapastor John Hagee.

Hagee, pastor of the Alamo City's Cornerstone Church, endorsed McCain three months ago, sparking a controversy among Christians who view the Arizona senator as a RINO (Republican In Name Only).

McCain was said to have formally rejected Hagee's endorsement due to Hagee's controversial comments on the Catholic Church and on the state of Israel. His rejection reminds me of Democratic frontrunner Barack Obama finally getting around to rejecting the controversial statements made by his pastor Jeremiah Wright.

According to the Huffington Post, McCain's decision stemmed from a controversial statement Hagee once made about God allegedly using Adolf Hitler to usher in the State of Israel. Hagee, according to HP, has claimed his comments have been taken out of context. Maybe so, but it really illustrates for me that ALL pastors--from the staunchest conservative to the most ardent liberal--should focus on three things: preaching the Gospel, encouraging believers in their growth and teaching what the Bible says.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A very interesting tombstone


I saw this recently while writing a story about changes in store for Clio, Michigan's Woodlawn Memorial Cemetery. It's one of those pictures I take because there's something very, very unusual about it. Can anyone tell me what's so unusual about this tombstone?

Voting in 2008--go third party?

My brother-in-law Jason, like me, is politically conservative. Like me, he's not very impressed with John McCain.

Jason told me recently that he will likely vote third party for these reasons: he doesn't see much of a difference between McCain and Hillary Clinton/Barack Obama and he'd rather vote for a candidate that better reflects his own views.

At present, I am still leaning towards McCain. However, it would be that lesser-of-two-evils thing. I keep thinking that in the future I could certainly go third party. Perhaps I'll do it if I see a truly viable candidate, or I might do it to show my disgust at the GOP continuing to ignore their conservative base.

Interesting note: Michael Reagan, the son of Ronald Reagan, bills himself on his radio show as "The very independent Michael Reagan." Mike (one of the very best talk show hosts in terms of content) said he left the GOP because it's no longer the party of his father.

As for my wife, the lovely Jennifer, I've told her that if she's voting for the candidate she feels is the best one, she has nothing to be ashamed about--as long as it's not Barack or Hillary (or, as Jay Leno calls them, The Pleaser and The Freezer).

Writing jobs

Am in hot pursuit of a writing job. I don't want to jinx anything, but one in particular looks very promising. We'll see what happens.

Ahhh, is there anything better in life to get paid to do what you love?

Monday, May 19, 2008

Enjoyed a mini-vacation

Spent Saturday with my wife, her brother and his wife. We got into a car and drove to Western Michigan...first, up to Muskegon for a few hours visiting with Jenn's maternal grandfather. Then, down to Holland (Michigan, not the country) where we attended Jenn's grandparents' 60th-anniversary wedding party. It was a very nice time spent with Grandma and Grandpa Dalman (the parents of Jenn's stepdad, Clif). My gosh, looking at Clif's brothers I could definitely see the resemblance!

Part of the dinner included onion rings. Though I like onions, I've never really been a big onion ring fan. These, however, were very delicious. Must be something in the water.

Didn't get a lot of sleep that evening before work, but it was worth it.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

In a perfect world...

...myself and others would realized that Sean Penn is just a chain-smoking buffoon desperate for excessive attention and ignore him. He spoke recently in France. You know, the usual: Bush lied, troops died, I'm gonna smoke no matter how many innocent lungs my smoke invades.

Very tired today

Due to things I had to get done, I didn't get any sleep yesterday evening before going into work. Too much to do. Almost fell asleep while working, if you can believe that. When I went home, I intended to take a three-hour nap and then get busy. Those three hours turned into seven. Tomorrow will be my work day to get stuff done.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Latest on Chip

Chip was discharged this weekend and is on solid foods. Woo-hoo!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Latest on Chip

Chip's still in the hospital and is slowly recovering. Docs have told him he can have ice chips and popsicles. They gave him the option of transferring back to Lapeer Regional Medical Center from Flint's Hurley Hospital, but he and my wife both wisely told the medical officials "no." Hurley is more advanced in some ways, Chip's developing a good rapport with the doctors and nurses and we didn't see any rationalization for going through the trouble of transferring him to Lapeer again. Chip likes this place much better and, with all due respect to the folks in Lapeer, Chip being happy will be helpful in his recovering quickly.

I made him laugh the other day, when describing to Jennifer my trip to the cafeteria as a scene from The Shining. Can't wait for him to get home since I miss both of them. House seems very empty right now.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Taking the day off for a medical issue

No blogs yesterday. One of my sons is hospitalized; he underwent an appendectomy. Hopefully he'll be recovering soon.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Who's really Mr. Irrelevant?

Conventional thinking would say Idaho outside linebacker David Vobora, taken by the St. Louis Rams in the very last pick of the 2008 NFL draft.

I beg to differ. To me, the real Mr. Irrelevant are the college athletes who didn't get drafted. Some notable undraftees:

Sete Aulai, Center, BYU. Aulai weighs 300 pounds, but at just under 6’1” he’s very short. By today’s physical standards, too short.
Michael Butterworth, Offensive Tackle, Slippery Rock. At 6’7” and 334 pounds, Butterworth was one of the biggest people in the draft. I’m sure his 40 time of 5.719 was unimpressive; makes me wonder if a calendar was used to time him instead of a stopwatch. On the flip side, Butterworth was a multi-sport athlete in high school (including track and field) and in college earned academic awards.
Brady Leaf, Quarterback, Oregon. He stands just under 6’5” and runs a 4.889 40. But he’s also the younger brother of one of the biggest busts in NFL history. Yep—you guessed it—Ryan “Cryin’” Leaf.
Brad Roach, Quarterback, 6’6”, 249, Catawba. Slightly shorter than the draft’s tallest quarterback (Joe Flacco, whom the Baltimore Ravens drafted in the first round as a not-so-subtle lack of confidence gesture in Kyle Boller), Roach’s 40 time of 5.2 versus Flacco’s 4.86 screams lack of mobility. Having a surname like Roach would ensure that opposing fans will likely wear Orkin uniforms and scream “RAID!” whenever he walks onto the field. Roach’s biggest liability might be that question: where in the world is Catawba?
Weston Dressler, Wide Receiver, North Dakota. At just under 5’7”, Dressler was the shortest receiver in the class. His 4.5 40 doesn’t sound impressive when you consider he weighs only 160. He makes diminutive 5’10” cornerbacks seem very tall, which is probably why nobody drafted him.
Evan Moore, Wide Receiver, Stanford. Yes, his 6’6”, 233 pound frame makes him the biggest receiver in the draft, and his 4.74 time, considering his size, isn’t bad. However, he had injuries at college—including a dislocated hip that caused him to miss most of a season.

These and other undrafted players will now have to hope for a training camp invite to make an NFL squad. No worries: Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo was undrafted.

Post-Smackoff thoughts

Alas, my favorite Jim Rome clone, Terence from Sierra Madre, didn't win the Smack-off. Again. Chin up, Terence: you're still my favorite. Go get 'em next year.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Regarding tomorrow's Smack-Off on The Jim Rome Show

Friday, April 25, is the Annual Smack-Off on The Jim Rome Show. I wanted to give a quick shoutout to my favorite clone who, sadly enough, has never won this contest despite his brilliant takes:

GO TERRENCE FROM SIERRA MADRE!

Even if he doesn't win again, Terrence could easily win another contest: An M. Emmet Walsh Sound-a-Like Contest.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Today's gas prices

$3.58 for regular unleaded in Arbela Township, Tuscola County, Michigan.

It makes me cringe to think of the hundreds of millions--if not billions--of barrels that are uncollected in Alaska, Utah, off-shore in American waters, etc.

BREAKING NEWS: Miami Dolphins sign Michigan OT Jake Long

University of Michigan product Jake Long has signed a contract with the Miami Dolphins and will be the first overall pick in Saturday's NFL Draft.

Long attended Lapeer East High School (about 25 miles east of Flint).