Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Will bygones be bygones for the Democratic party?

Understand that, for me, this question is merely one of curiosity since I’m not a democrat and don’t plan to vote for the Donkeys in November. Still, since it’s something I find fascinating.

As of this writing, it’s looking more and more like Barack Obama will get the Democratic nomination, I wonder if he and Hillary will be able to patch up their differences and move forward. Can the two let bygones be bygones or will they continue to quarrel? Any olive branch offered will likely show signs of wear and tear, especially when you consider how ugly things have been getting in the Texas primary.

Will Hillary ultimately endorse Obama? I suspect she will, especially if she sees that that is the most expedient path for her political future. Don’t expect too much gushing on her part, but rather the quick, curt endorsement Bill Bradley gave Al Gore in the 2000 presidential race. In that race, we remember, Bradley famously speculated in a primary debate, “Why should the American people believe Al Gore will tell the truth as president, if he doesn’t do it as a candidate?”

Second question: will Obama ask Hillary to be his running mate? With as ugly as things have gotten in the campaign, I doubt it. Besides, the Democrats have had a very anemic showing in the southern states for the past two elections, so it’s more likely that Obama will look for someone below the Mason-Dixon line.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Extraterrestrial life

“Are we alone in the universe?” is a question that’s been asked long before I was born in 1973, and it’ll be asked long after I’m dead. Millions of dollars have been spent in the private, non-profit Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) program, which is designed to “listen” to sounds in deep space. The hope is that some of those sounds might come from an intelligent source, thus proving that there is, indeed, intelligent life out there. (Some say that we are desperate to find extraterrestrial intelligent life since virtually no intelligent life exists on earth).

One of my sons told me that since there are many planets outside our solar system and, doubtlessly, billions upon billions of other planets yet to be discovered, there has to be intelligent life in the universe. If you’d asked me 20 years ago, my answer would’ve been an emphatic no. Now, it’s not something I can answer with a yes or no; my answer is more likely to be somewhere between It’s possible and I don’t know. Sometimes I tell people it’s possible, while other times I simply say that only God knows for sure.

Years ago, while a student at a Christian college, I posed this question to a man who, today, is a spiritual mentor and the older brother I never had. “Do you think there’s intelligent life out there?” I asked him.

“That’s an irrelevant question,” he replied.


“Because, if God had thought it was something important enough for us to know, he would’ve mentioned it to us in the Bible. Scripture is silent on the issue.”

I suppose this is a question we’ll get answered someday. For now, we focus on life here on earth.

In a way, I find the search to be dangerous. As we’ve seen from science-fiction films like Alien, what if we do find extraterrestrial life and learn that it’s hostile and bent on destroying us?

Barack said, Hillary said

Barack Obama calls it a smear tactic while Hillary Clinton insists she had nothing to do with it. I’m talking, of course, of the photo of Obama dressed in attire from Kenya (where, coincidentally, he has ancestry). Obama, who’s pulling away from Clinton in the Democratic presidential nomination race, gave his thoughts on the photo and its recent origins on San Antonio’s News Radio 1200 WOAI: “Everybody knows that whether it’s me or Sen. Clinton or Bill Clinton, that when you travel to other countries, oftentimes they ask you to try on traditional garb that you have been given as a gift.”

Clinton denied on Channel 8 WFAA in Dallas that the photo came from her campaign, pointing out that when traveling to foreign countries, it’s a sign of respect to wear their outfits.

The real issue, Clinton added, is whether or not Obama has the experience to serve as president.

“This is one more attempt by my opponent’s campaign to change the subject,” she told the television station. She added: “You know, this is one more attempt by my opponent’s campaign to change the subject from his health care plan that won’t cover everybody, from an economic plan that won’t produce jobs and from, you know, a record that’s pretty thin when it comes to national security and standing up for our country around the world…You’ve got to ask yourself who do you want answering that phone at 3 a.m. in the White House when some crisis breaks out somewhere in the world. And if I think people ask themselves that question, I’m going to do well in Texas.”

The Texas primary is rapidly approaching, and if Senator Clinton doesn’t win Texas after having lost many states to Obama, many think her campaign will be over.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Oscar is a dud

No, I didn’t watch the 80th annual Academy Awards last night. Was too busy counting the number of fibers in our living room carpet. Three basic reasons I didn’t watch: the movies nominated this year looked like duds, it’s a glorified popularity contest and the incredibly unfunny “comedian” Jon Stewart hosted.

Last time Stewart hosted was a few years ago. He was horrible then and I didn’t want my time wasted again.

Apparently, few others watched also. One AP report says that preliminary ratings show this year’s event was watched by about 14 percent less viewers than the lowest-rated broadcast of 2003, when only 33 million tuned in.

The only thing good last night was that fake-umentarian Michael Moore didn’t win Best Documentary for his film Sicko. There is an unusual report regarding Moore apparently moving to Cuba. Check it out here.

Hillary desperate

Hillary Clinton, at one thought to be the shoo-in for the 2008 Democratic presidential nominee, now seems to be in desperation mode.

Matt Drudge reported that Clinton’s staffers have circulated a photo that shows Barack Obama dressed as a Somali Elder during his 2006 visit to Kenya. Ostensibly, the Clinton campaign wants to depict Obama as a Muslim. They must be hoping that such a photo of Obama would be as devastating as the infamous "tank photo" was to 1988 Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis.

The Drudge link also shows a picture of Hillary Clinton that, frankly, if the Obama campaign really wanted to, they could try to use to their advantage as well.

Clinton talks constantly about the “politics of personal destruction,” but it seems more often than not that she’s the chief proprietor of it.

Next week are the Texas and Ohio primaries, and Clinton can ill afford to lose either.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Barack versus Hillary

The Austin debate between Democratic presidential hopefuls Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton took a nasty turn. Obama prides himself as a candidate for “change” (I’m pretty sure he’s not talking about coins). Renewing her accusations that Obama plagiarizes some of the things he says, Clinton said this at the debate: “Lifting whole passages is not change you can believe in, it’s change you can Xerox.” The crowd booed.

And now, there are reports that Obama has lifted lines from the movie Malcolm X and is using them in his campaign. For more info, go to this Debbie Schlussel blog posting.

The mysteries within Jupiter

Ever wonder what’s inside the planet Jupiter? One astronomy book I read while in junior high back in 1986 speculated that it was a terrestrial world filled with mountain ranges. We now know this is pure fantasy as Jupiter, underneath its clouds, is an enigmatic world of two giant “oceans”—a liquid hydrogen ocean atop a liquid metallic hydrogen ocean. That is, liquid hydrogen under so much atmospheric pressure that it becomes metallic. Nothing like it exists on earth.

Jupiter is also said to have a solid core; some, such as Arthur C. Clarke in 2010: Odyssey Two, speculate that it is an earth-sized diamond.

The pictures above are artists’ conceptions of what Jupiter’s interior looks like.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A funny thing happened on the way to work…

This morning at around 1 a.m., just south of the village of Millington, Michigan, I could see deer crossing the road. I slowed, hoping to avoid any others. No such luck. I heard a loud CLUNK!, stopped my car and checked the damage. Nothing. No noticeable dents or anything. No blood, no guts, no deer DNA. Grissom from CSI won't be looking for me anytime soon. I was actually thrilled, since I was in a hurry to get to work and the roads are still a little icy and snowy.

Can’t wait until I tell my father-in-law about this. There’s a running joke in the family about me and deer. Will explain it in a future post.

Am on hiatus from work right now. There are a few supplies I needed to get my work done, but they haven’t come in yet. So I’m at home on standby.

Michelle Obama is a tough person to please

The 44 year-old wife of Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Hussein Obama, she said recently that, for the first time in her adult lifetime, she is proud of her country.

Her comments came at a recent campaign rally for her husband in Madison, Wisc. Mrs. O told the crowd: “…But what we’ve learned over this year is that hope is making a comeback. It is making a comeback let me tell you something, for the first time in my adult lifetime, I’m really proud of my country. And not just because Barack has done well but because I think people are hungry for change, and I’ve been desperate to see our country moving in that direction. And just not feeling so alone in my frustration and disappointment. I’ve seen people hungry to be unified around some basic common issues and it’s made me proud…”

Mrs. O turned 18 on January 17, 1982, and just now she’s become proud of her country as an adult?

President Ronald Reagan admonishing former Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall” back in 1987 at West Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate didn’t make her proud?

The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 didn’t make her proud?

The U.S.’s dominance at the 1984 Summer Olympics didn’t make her proud?

The U.S. Women’s soccer team’s World Cup victory in 1999 didn’t make her proud?

The liberation of Grenada from communist forces in 1983 didn’t make her proud?

The election of the “First Black President” in 1992 didn’t make her proud? Well, maybe not. After all, it was Bill Clinton, the husband of Barack’s chief rival now.

Call me sensitive, but Mrs. O’s comment comes across as extremely selfish and self-serving. One caller on yesterday's Laura Ingraham show described himself as a Naval Academy graduate who hates Republican presidential nominee-to-be John McCain, but said that Mrs. O's comments have made him now want to vote for McCain.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Learning guitar

I’m currently trying to learn the guitar. A fun challenge since I'm left-handed. Fortunately, I found a site that shows the chords for lefties. For starters I’m beginning with three chords: G, D and E. Other chords seem almost impossible to do with my small hands. We’ll see what happens.

The Oscars

Every year, I promise myself I won’t watch the Academy Awards and, every year, I end up breaking that promise. Not sure why, since it’s little more than a glorified popularity contest. Not this year. None of the movies up for nomination interest me, and it’s being hosted by the overrated comedian Jon Stewart. Last time he hosted the Oscars, I almost fell asleep. I wish they’d get Frank Caliendo to host the Oscars.

VHS memories

Remember when those were in vogue? My Dad used to work with a guy, whom everybody affectionately called Big Joe, who purchased a VHS (video home system) back in the late seventies. Said it cost him about $1,000. I can still remember the first movie I saw on VHS: Alien. Then it was Psycho 2. I thought our family was moving up when my Dad bought a top-loader video cassette recorder. He’d even take it with him on business trips and tape movies off of cable; my favorites were Beastmaster and the very underrated suspense film Raw Courage.

And now, to think you can easily get a VCR for less than $50 these days with the proliferation of digital video disk players.

Writer’s Strike

It’s over, that’s the good news for those who need their fix of shows like 24 (a favorite in the Zowie household). Bad news: for some shows, the strike will further delay when they can be seen by their fans. Word is that the new season of 24 won’t begin until January 2009! I can almost hear Jack Bauer saying, “D***-it!”

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Hey, Tom Scholz...

The city of Boston wants you to quit using its name to sell records.

As for your beef with Mike Huckabee, be relieved that someone out there still listens to your music.

So, if Eminem ever decides to spoof you in a video of his, will you tell him to lay off also?

Friday, February 15, 2008

Spielberg’s ‘stand’ against Red China’s injustices

Filmmaker Steven Spielberg has stepped down from his advisory position for the 2008 summer Olympic games in Beijing, China. His reasoning: China hasn’t done enough economically in the Sudan to halt the genocide in Darfur.

Silly me, I would’ve thought that Spielberg (a former Eagle Scout who famously stepped down from his Boy Scout advisory position to protest the organization’s stance against homosexuality) would’ve stepped down to protest China’s human rights violations. They are very numerous: the persecution of Christians (and other religious faiths who choose to attend secretive, non-registered churches), the treatment of dissidents like Wei Jingsheng, Han Dongfang, Wang Dan, et al. The infamous Bamboo Gulags. I remember reading about one dissident who was beaten so badly that his testicles were crushed.

Same old, same old

I heard a commercial on the radio where Barack Obama tells you why you should vote for him. I stand for change, and America needs change. We need a return to common-sense government.

Call me cruel, but I find this woefully-underexperienced junior Illinois senator to be all talk. His comments, as exciting as they may be to Oprah Nation, are more recycled than aluminum.

I find B.O.'s position on gun control laughable. Talking today in Milwaukee about the recent shootings at Northern Illinois University, Obama first says that he supports individuals' rights to bear arms but then talks about "commonsense" gun laws and says he supports Washington D.C.'s ban on gun ownership. He says in the article: "The notion that somehow local jurisdictions can't initiate gun safety laws to deal with gang bangers and random shootings on the street isn't born out by our Constitution."

What is the point of a gun control law that's targeted at someone who breaks the law? For years, D.C. has been the murder capital of America--despite having some of the nation's strictest gun control laws.

Just a good ol’ boy…

Barack Obama may be closer to locking up the Democratic nomination for president, but will that be enough to vault him into the White House and into history?

I suspect that there will be many people in America who will vote against Obama because they feel—for whatever reason—that America isn’t ready for a black president. Or perhaps because they are simply racist. I guess you could call this The Good Ol’ Boy Crowd.

I spoke a few years ago with a black lady who was an Air Force service member. She was from Alabama. Does racism still exist in the rural areas of Alabama? I asked her.

Her response: absolutely.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Below-the-belt humor

Last night I watched a show that counted down the Top 100 most outrageous moments on television. Mostly “funny” stuff, with the Number One moment being a moment from The Newlywed Game that was erroneously thought to be an urban legend. I was disturbed, though, by the segments that showed men getting injured by getting hit in the crotch. One man was hit there with a batted ball. One man landed on a fence. One man was hit by an errant swing. And, of course, crotch hits seem common on those “Funniest Home Video” shows.

I am beginning to believe that such programs are produced by women who hate men. What on earth is so funny about seeing a man writhe in agony after his testicles take a bruising? It’s happened to me, and I can tell you, it’s excruciating.

Latest on 10,000-meter 2008 presidential races

Mitt Romney, that Republican who managed to serve as governor of the very-liberal Massachusetts (or “Tax-achusetts”, as some prefer to call it) has dropped out of the GOP presidential nomination race. This all but guarantees that Arizona senator John McCain will get the 2008 nomination and finally get his shot at the White House. Still in the race is former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, whom I voted for in the Michigan primary. At this point one wonders what Huck can get out of it since there’s statistically no chance of him winning.

Romney has publicly called on Huckabee to step out of the race so that the GOP can rally behind McCain and increase its chances of retaining the White House in November. Huckabee’s attitude seems to be that McCain isn’t really conservative and, therefore, is unfit to serve.

On the Democratic side, things are still very close between New York Senator Hillary Clinton and Illinois Senator Barack Obama. At one point, Clinton seemed well on her way to securing the nomination. However, Obama has made serious ground, winning many states, obtaining the endorsement of Her Majesty Oprah and getting the endorsement of Democratic icons like the Kennedy family.


This last week we watched the movie Cujo on DVD. Always an interesting film to watch considering that I used to have a Heinz-57 dog named Cujo (my oldest sister said that when she went to pick him up, he ran after her while she was still in her car).

Movie scared me when I was a kid. As an adult, it’s a different story. I wonder if a rabid dog can really still be able to rage about even after a) having been hit hard several times in the head with a baseball bat and b) having been stabbed with the not-so-short stub of a baseball bat. Maybe the dog’s demon possessed, I don’t know. But then, it is based on a Stephen King novel.* A quick check of some online references reveal that, no surprise, the movie is very much different from the novel. For instance, the novel implies that the dog is indeed possessed by some unnatural spirit. Some portions of the book even are told from the dog’s perspective. Cujo is doing these things and has a hard time understanding why he is. It really makes me think the movie should be remade someday since the original gives the bland impression of a dog with garden-variety rabies doing these things. A dog with a supernatural kick would indeed be far more terrifying and would explain the a and b I listed above.

If I ever do read it the novel, I’ll probably tread light. I remember once that my sixth-grade homeroom teacher, Mrs. Saenz said that she read through it and was repelled by some of the book. The movie has a few brief scenes that deal with Donna Trenton’s infidelity, whereas the book gets far more graphic.

I do remember from the movie that the character of Tad Trenton (played in the movie by Who’s the Boss? co-star Danny Pintauro) died in the book but miraculously lives in the movie. Hollywood does seem to love the sappy, happy ending.

*In his book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, King writes about how he was stooped in alcoholism while writing Cujo and, to this day, barely remembers writing any of it. Maybe this explains why the dog just kept on going and going and going and going and going…

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Dr. James Dobson endorses Mike Huckabee for president

So, Focus on the Family’s Dr. James Dobson has endorsed Mike Huckabee for president? Wow, a little late now, isn’t it? John McCain (whom the good doctor has said he will not vote for) has all but sealed up the nomination. I wonder why Dr. Dobson didn’t do this months ago.

Dr. D made it clear that his endorsement was as a private citizen and not as the head of a non-profit organization.

Who says vegetarian meals are bland?

Today at work I got a free lunch since my birthday was recent. Had a Mediterranean Veg-Out sandwich, which consisted of tomatoes, cucumbers, onions and green bell peppers with cream cheese on a sesame seed bagel twist. Delicious. Though I’m not a vegetarian, I have really come to believe that eating meatless meals every so often never hurt anybody. If you would like more information on vegetarianism, check out the San Antonio Vegetarian Society.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

The Joys of Freelance Writing, Part 1

Turned down what I had hoped would be a good writing assignment. The impression I got over the phone was that the pay would be based on how well the articles were written. I then learn that they wanted 2-4 articles weekly. In return, I would receive a byline for the articles written and “good exposure”. When I asked about pay rates, I was told they didn’t pay for the articles.

Well, I’ve been a professional writer for almost eight years. If I write for you, I expect to be paid. Period. My only exceptions now are inspirational writing, and even then it’s pretty much confined to the My Two Shekels column that I write. Exposure and bylines are nice, but I expect to be paid. Sounds like another company wanting skilled writing work done but yet not wanting to pay to have it done. Can you imagine needing the transmission in your car replaced and telling the mechanic, “I won’t pay you, but I’ll tell all my friends how good a job you did”? The mechanic, naturally, will tell you to take your business elsewhere.

Exposure is nice, but here’s what a friend (a successful journalist) has told me: if a well-known, reputable company wants you to write for them, they will pay you.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Whom to vote for in Election Year 2008

Right now, and this may change, I have come to a partial decision as to whom I’ll vote for in 2008.

If Mitt Romney gets the Republican nomination, I will most likely vote for him. However, if it becomes very clear that he will win the election easily over his opponent (whether Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama), then I will entertain voting third party. Never thought I’d do this, but this election particularly showcases no clear GOP conservatives. In the Michigan primary, I voted for Mike Huckabee, whose chances of getting the nomination are just about zero.

If John McCain gets the GOP nomination, I’ll have some serious pondering to do. I respect that Senator McCain is a former POW (one former POW I have interviewed knew of McCain in Vietnam and spoke very highly of him), but I’m not convinced that he’s really a conservative. I understand his opposition to Bush’s tax cuts (McCain felt that the tax cuts should be done alongside spending cuts), but there are so many areas of McCain’s platform that bother me: campaign finance, immigration, social issues. In short, I suspect that he’s more of a RINO (Republican In Name Only).

If I feel that Clinton or Obama could do grave damage as presidents, I will vote for McCain.

If I feel that McCain will win easily, I may go third party.

If I feel that McCain is no better than his Democratic opponent, then I would go third party.

Finally, if I find that I simply can’t stomach another Clinton presidency or a candidate backed by Oprah Winfrey, then I’ll vote for McCain.

35 years! Wow.

My wife, Jennifer and three sons each made me a birthday card! It was very nice of them. One card made fun of my age (which I thought was hilarious) and two other cards had the Dallas Cowboys logo on front and ducks on the front. Jenn also gave me a $10 gift card for Barnes and Noble.

Wow, hard to believe I’m 35 (or, as I prefer to call it, the sixth anniversary of my 29th birthday).

Lots and lots of snow up here today. Skidded into a ditch this morning. Roads are really bad.

Monday, February 4, 2008

The Hoody in Red

Bill Belichick has always been the frumpy, humorless type, so not seeing him smile as the New England Patriots tried unsuccessfully to make NFL history didn’t surprise me. What did surprise me was his choice in attire.

Not the short-sleeved, hooded sweatshirt, but the color: red.

Back in the early nineties, the New England Patriots underwent a radical uniform change. Gone was the Pat Patriot logo (which resembled a patriot playing center) and here was Elvis Patriot. Silver was added as a third color (touted as “the color of the nineties”) and the red jerseys gave way to royal blue (later a darker nautical blue) as red became a permanent secondary color. Even today’s alternate jerseys are silver, and not red.

Why did they switch from red to blue jerseys? If I remember correctly, then-Patriots owner James Orthwein had this to say: It was the BRITISH soldiers in the Revolutionary War who wore red, not the Patriots.

Makes me think, jestingly of course, that The Hoody jinxed his team.

Though a lifelong Dallas Cowboys fan, I’m happy. Always great to see a classy team (the Giants) win. Wonder how Tiki Barber will spin this.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Bill Belichick's departure from the game

The Hoody left the game with :01 left on the clock and went into the locker room. Maybe he thought the game was over, or maybe he's just a sore loser. Hard to tell.

Congratulations, New York Giants!

Final score in Super Bowl 42 (I hate roman numerals):

New York Giants 17
New England Patriots 14

Eli Manning stepped up, much to Tiki Barber's likely disappointment and showed that he can win Super Bowls also. Now, he and older brother Peyton will have Super Bowl rings to show off.

As for the New England Patsies, no Super Bowl victory for you! Have fun waiting until the second round of the NFL draft to finally pick somebody.

Justice prevails. Smug Tom Brady and Bill Belichick and Randy "I take plays off and only play hard on winning teams" Moss are denied a Super Bowl championship.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Lost season premier

A day or so ago, I saw the season premier of Lost. Wow. Each time they answer a question, another one or two unanswered ones popped up.

CAUTION: this blog posting will contain episode spoilers. Do not continue reading if you haven’t seen the episode yet.

We have learned some interesting things from the episode:

Jack, Hurley and Kate are three members of “The Oceanic 6”, meaning that only three other Lost members return. Who are the other three? Time will reveal. I’d love to see it be Jin and his wife Sun and Desmond.

About 20 minutes went by in the premier before Hurley said the word “dude”. He is really slipping.

Apparently the “help” that was on its way at the end of Season 3 isn’t what it’s cut out to be. Arriving at the end is a bearded guy who looked very familiar to me. And he should. He’s actor Jeremy Davies, who played Corporal Timothy Upham in Saving Private Ryan.

Hurley, after leading the police on a high-speed police chase, winds up in a mental hospital. He sees an apparition of the deceased-Charlie, who wants to give him secrets of some kind. Of course, Hurley ruins it by making the apparition disappear before he can reveal too much. All we really know is that the note that Charlie wrote on his hand when he died suggested that the rescue boat coming wasn’t exactly a rescue boat. Ben insists everyone will die if they go to the boat but neglects to give specifics on why. (Ben is played by the brilliant actor Michael Emerson; how has an actor this brilliant flown under the acting radar for so long?).

The flash forwards take place before last season’s flash forwards showing a bearded, despondent Jack pleading with Kate that they needed to go back to the island.

Why does Jack want to go back? Don’t know yet. All I know is that I don’t like his ex-wife.

Hurley originally chooses to join the group (which James “Sawyer” Ford”) also joins to stay with Locke on the island. Hurley then tells Jack he made a mistake in doing so.

The question that’s really bugging my family: who on earth is the bodyless voice named Jacob?

We’ll find out more next week. Eighteen episodes this season, no repeats. One down, 47 to go until the series finale.

Lost is well on its way to becoming a cult classic.

Heath Ledger video...should it or should it not be shown?

Internet Movie Database is reporting that Sarah Jessica Parker, Josh Brolin and Natalie Portman are among the celebrities trying to get Entertainment Tonight to not show a 1996 video showing the recently-deceased Heath Ledger drinking and using drugs at a party. In an open letter, Ledger’s representative Mara Buxbaum said: “This is not journalism, it is sensationalism. It is a shameful exploitation of the lowest kind.”

Is it really?

Let’s see…John Belushi…River Phoenix…Chris Farley…Brad Renfro, and now Ledger. Maybe the only way to save more talented entertainers dying prematurely from booze and alcohol abuse is to show the ugly side. Maybe showing the video of Ledger would open the eyes of some out there who are traveling the same path and help them to get the help they need. With all due respect to Ledger, we as a society glamorize—far too much—celebrities who get high or who can hold large quantities of alcohol. That’s not real life, though. Maybe the video can help people to see how tragic things can get if you let substance abuse take over.

A sci-fi movie I’d love to see

It’s been a while since I’ve seen a really great sci-fi film. Event Horizon wasn’t too bad. Independence Day was absolutely horrible and predictable. The Terminator was pretty good, and two of my favorite sci-fi flicks were both made by the incomparable Ridley Scott: Alien and Blade Runner.

Years ago, I read this Frederick Pohl novel called Starburst. It’s about a dying earth where they are desperate for new technology to keep the planet and the human species going. So, they recruit eight people—all brilliant in the areas of science and mathematics—and send them on a 20-year round-trip mission to our closest galactic neighbor, the star Alpha Centauri. This star is about 4.3 light years away from us and, in the book, it has a planet (called Alpha-Aleph) orbiting it. Their mission: to see if this planet is hospitable for human life and to spend the voyage there trying to make new discoveries in math and science that will benefit earth.

But as they get closer, they realize something horrible: there is no planet. The photos showing Alpha-Aleph were doctored. They were sent out in a bizarre, desperate experiment to study and transmit their findings back to earth.

But the more they study, the more they learn. Soon, they are countless generations ahead of earth in terms of intellect and knowledge. And as they revert to Plan B, they plot their revenge…

My new favorite pen

I love writing utensils, and my favorite brand is Paper Mate. A year or so ago, one of my kids bought me a Parker ink pen for Christmas. No worries: Parker and Paper Mate are both owned by the same parent company, Sanford. As for my current favorite type of Paper Mate, that would be the Pro-Fit. It is absolutely wonderful. Nice grip with bright, bold ink.

I’m getting old…

Here’s incontrovertible proof. I grew up in the eighties (I’ll be 35 on February 6) and many of the big hits of the eighties are being played in Saginaw-based 96.1 WHNN. This, by the way, is an oldies station. When I was a kid, oldies stations played music from the fifties (when my parents were teenagers).

As for me now, I still have a full head of hair but a few gray strands here and there.

Wesley Snipes acquitted of tax fraud

Actor Wesley Snipes of Blade and White Men Can’t Jump fame has been acquitted of federal tax fraud charges. He was convicted of some misdemeanor counts of failing to file tax returns and could spend time in jail. Pretty encouraging still, considering his legal team was so convinced that the prosecution didn’t prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt that they didn’t even call any witnesses of their own. Snipes should consider himself very lucky: Pete Rose spent time in prison for income tax evasion. Redd Foxx and Sammy Davis Jr. both died broke because of failure to keep up with their income taxes. Willie Nelson, back a decade or so ago, had to sell off a lot of his property and possessions to settle his IRS debts.