Saturday, March 29, 2008

What a few Davison, Mich. residents say about local boy Michael Moore…

It’s amazing what you learn when you work in Michael Moore’s hometown of Davison, Mich. (Moore was born in Flint but grew up 10 miles east of Flint in Davison). “Stella”, a lady at work said that Moore’s wife comes in to the shop every so often. Very nice lady, I’m told.

Apparently, contrary to what many would lead you to believe, local sentiments toward Moore don’t seem to be very favorable. Efforts to get Moore inducted into Davison High School’s hall of fame, for example, have stalled.

Stella also told me that a friend of her family once served on the local school board with Moore. Their impression of the fake-umentarian? Negative.

Furthermore, I was told, Moore’s also not very popular in Flint, where his documentary Roger and Me is considered more to have hurt the city than helped it. (There is also a rumor that Moore did interview then-GM CEO Roger B. Smith but deleted the interview from the documentary’s final cut--an accusation Moore vehemently denies). I told Stella that one of my in-laws, a 30-plus year GM employee and longtime United Auto Worker, refers to Moore by an unprintable expletive (I’ll give you a hint: it’s also the title of rock star Gene Simmons’ 2004 solo album).

I also know of this retired DHS teacher who once taught Moore. “Jake” tells me that even then Moore was the iconoclast who loved to play devil’s advocate.

Such negative feelings make me wonder if this is why Moore now lives up north in Traverse City.

As the stomach turns: latest installment of Election 2008

First it was Hillary Clinton’s race to win, then Barack Obama’s, now we don’t really know. We’re just over six months from Election Day, and nobody knows who the democratic candidate will be.

To me, it makes very little difference. I will be voting for John McCain. Not because he’s Ronald Reagan resurrected (granted, Mrs. Nancy Reagan is endorsing Senator McCain), but because I can’t stomach Hillary and feel Barack is all talk and no experience.

Paging Darrell Swanson…

I worked for you at the now-closed Golden Corral in Beeville, Texas from 1995-1996. You were married and had five kids. Oldest child was a teenaged son whose first name began with an M. If I remember right, you were about 5’8”, very stocky and had a moustache. Despite your dark hair and medium complexion, you were of Swedish descent. Last I heard, you had moved to Georgia.

There’s a very important question I need to ask you, regarding a bizarre story you once told me. If you’re reading this, drop me a line at so that I can validate that you’re the same Mr. Swanson I used to work for.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Looking for more friends I knew while growing up

I’m just a very sentimental person who loves to keep in touch with people I used to know. If you’re one of these people, feel free to drop me a line at, or simply drop a comment on this blog.

From the time I lived in Colby, Kan., from 1975-ish to 1981 and attended kindergarten through second grade: Matt Christiansen, Jennifer Commerford, Mrs. Peterson and Mrs. Fullwider

From the time I lived in Alvin, Texas, from 1981-1983 and attended second through fourth grade: Suzy Goad (who might actually be a distant cousin of mine), Marty, Joe Sanders, Martin Anguiano, Meredity Briscoe, Michelle McLeod, and, of course, my best friend from that time, Lance Boyd

From the time I lived in Beeville, Texas from 1983-1991 and finished high school: Ben Wilson, Patricia Bartlett, Valkena West, Mrs. Saenz, Dr. McTee, Rosgil Gutierrez, Matt Nicholson

Sometimes, eating Chinese food can be hen bu hao*

A few weeks ago, my family and I went to eat at a Chinese buffet restaurant in Flint. This restaurant had received a good review in the Flint Journal and also featured seafood (my wife and kids love crab legs).

When we went, we couldn’t find a sign for the restaurant. What gives? we thought.

Finally, we were able to pin down a location to a vacant-looking unit in a shopping complex. I got out and read the sign posted on the door: “Closed by order of the Genesee County Health Department.”


We went to another Chinese restaurant that night and had a decent time. I suppose the next time we want to eat Chinese, we’ll head up to Frankenmuth, Mich.’s Panda King Buffett.

*In case anyone's wondering, "hen bu hao" is Mandarin Chinese for "not very good"; literally, "very no good".

Is John McCain legally barred from being president?

Paul Bannister thinks so. He wrote the article "McCain presidency would be illegal" in the March 17 issue of Globe Magazine. Yes, it's a tabloid, but when you're in the checkout line of Wal-Mart, what else is there to do?

Bannister noted that since McCain was born on a U.S. military base in the Panama Canal zone in 1936 and not in an American state like Arizona, Texas or New York, he’s ineligible to serve. Bannister added that 1964 Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater would’ve been ineligible to serve, since he was born in 1908 in the Arizona Territory in 1909—three years before it became a U.S. state. It was, though, an American territory.

What does the U.S. Constitution say? Banister neglects to mention what it says on the matter. Here is Article II, Section 1:

“No person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty-five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.”

The idea is that those eligible for the presidency were those who were natural born citizens or those who were U.S. citizens at the time the constitution was written. Today, this would apply only to those who are natural-born citizens.

To me, “natural-born” citizen would apply to three people: those who were born in America (like me; I was born in Louisiana in 1973); those who, though not born in America, were born in American territories (such as my cousin, Brad, who was born on a military base in Wiesbaden, West Germany or actor Kelsey Grammer, who was born in the U.S. Virgin Islands (a U.S. territory); or those who weren’t born in America but who have parents who are American citizens (such as the people I’ve known who were born in foreign countries where their American parents were serving as missionaries).

Mexico is upset with America, and it has to do with an execution

Today, the Supreme Court ruled that President Bush should not have ordered a Texas court to hold a new hearing for a Mexican national who’s on Texas death row for rape and murder. Jose Ernesto Medellin contends that he was prevented from police from talking with Mexican diplomats, something ordered by international treaties.

According to one ruling by an international court in 2004, the U.S. was found to have fiolated the 1963 Vienna Convention. This convention states that people arrested in a foreign country must have access to their native country’s consular officials. Furthermore, the Internatinoal Court of Justice ruled that Mexican prisoners are entitled to have new court hearings to see whether or not their rights have been violated.

The Supreme Court disagreed in a 6-3 ruling. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in his majority opinion that states should not be compelled to comply with international court decisions. He added that a president cannot “…establish binding rules of decision that pre-empt contrary state law.”

I don’t know much about the Medellin case, but the moral of this story is that if you’re a citizen in a foreign country, be on your best behavior. Among some it’s likely the sympathy for Medellin is minimal when you consider the American murders Mexico has refused to extradite: Mexico, unlike many U.S. states, does not have the death penalty.

Will Adam ‘Pacman’ Jones don the blue star?

Some Dallas Cowboy fans are vehemently opposed to the possibility of the ’Boys acquiring troubled Tennessee Titans cornerback Adam ‘Pacman’ Jones. The con is that Jones is a potential con—having had numerous skirmishes with the law. Jones currently is serving a yearlong NFL suspension. Some say the Cowboys shouldn’t bring him in and take the risk that he’ll end up imploding.

Then, there are those who feel the Cowboys have very little to lose.

A source tells me that if the Cowboys can get Pacman to restructure his contract and take an incentive-laden deal, they should do it. Something that’s low-risk, high-reward. Cowboys fans are acutely aware of how dreadfully thin the team is at corner back, and it’s possible they’ll get thinner since Terence Newman has a year left on his deal. One of the things last year that absolutely killed Dallas was a lack of pass coverage.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Gary Cole, the Undisputed King of Underrated Actors

I’ve seen many movies and shows that Gary Cole has been in. I thought he was hilarious in his caricature performance of Mike Brady in the Brady Bunch movies. I’ve never seen the short-lived CBS mid-nineties thriller American Gothic, but I remember how terrifying Cole looked in the commercials. He also, some time earlier, played a tormented late night talk show host on Midnight Caller. Then, there was his performance of a Green Beret Army officer accused of murdering his wife and children in Fatal Vision.

I also remember Cole as the comically aloof Bill Lumbergh in the cult classic Office Space.

So, how many awards has Gary Cole received in his brilliant acting career?

Zero. Not even a nomination.

Wow. Something’s definitely wrong with that.

Detroit’s should-be ex-mayor charged with multiple felonies

It’s looking more and more like you can stick a fork into the once-rising political career of Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. Today he was charged with multiple felonies, including perjury, obstruction of justice and misconduct in office.

The charges stem from Kilpatrick’s role in a whistleblower scandal, in which he denied under oath having anything to do with the firing of the whistleblower. He also denied having a sexual relationship with his former Chief of Staff, Christine Beatty.

The 37 year-old Kilpatrick was charged by Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy.

The charges rose from text messages that contained sexually-explicit messages sent back and forth from the mayor and Beatty. The mayor is said to have also acknowledged in the messages his role in the firing of the whistleblower.

Why Kilpatrick and Beatty would engage in incriminating activity on cell phones that could easily be reproduced is absolutely beyond me.

Kilpatrick faces 12 total counts. If convicted of perjury, he could get up to 15 years in prison and, obviously, be forced to resign his office.

For more information on the background of the Kilpatrick controversy, check out this blog by Debbie Schlussel.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Houston Astros upcoming season

No, I’m not optimistic. Except for Roy Oswalt, the pitching has been getting lit up this spring for an ERA of 6. Houston has suffered from a chronic lack of clutch hitting, and the team tends to be especially terrible when they have no pitching.

I could be completely wrong, but I’m guessing Houston will go 70-92 this season.

Chatting with the famous

One of my favorite pastimes is to send e-mails to actors and musicians and see if they respond. Over the years, I’ve had the privilege of chatting over e-mail with a few notables: Tom Wilson from Back to the Future, country singer Tanya Tucker, Harrison Page from the cult classic TV show Sledge Hammer!, columnist Cal Thomas and author Judy Blume.

Add to that list actor Gary Kent.

Kent has worked as an actor, production manager, writer, director and producer and has worked with Jack Nicholson, Penny Marshall, James Caan and Peter Bogdanovich. Kent starred in a seventies horror flick called Let’s Play Dead, which I saw when I was about 15. Not the scariest movie I’ve ever seen, but it had some creepy moments. As far as horror films go, it was also a dark comedy in some way. I e-mailed Mr. Kent, who was gracious enough to reply and couldn’t have been nicer. One thing he said in his reply that I really liked was that despite the nature of the film, he, his male co-star and female co-stars got along fine off the set. It really shows that in the acting world, there is a world of difference between what happens on and off camera.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Belated Ode to Leap Year 2008

Once again it’s time
For February 29
You come only every four years
And cause a lot of strange fears
As people have to wait an extra day
To receive their next two week’s worth of pay
A person born on leap year
Ages one year for every four normal years
Leaplings include cop-turned actor Dennis Farina
Who spend non-leap years in a dilemma:
“Do I blow out my birthday candles February 28 or March 1?

Attention, Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, message for you, sir!

Mr. Mayor, you are an embarrassment to the State of Michigan. Please salvage whatever dignity you still have left and resign. Now. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200.

Schindler’s List

For the first time in my life (and 15 years after it came out) I finally saw this movie last night. Wow. You know a movie’s really, really good when you find yourself wanting to watch it several more times to take it all in. A few times I almost cried, such as the time the educated female Jewess Reiter (played by Romanian-born Elina Löwensohn) is shot for telling her Nazi superiors what they didn’t want to admit: that their construction project was structurally unsound. In short, a truly amazing film.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Bin Laden's latest "message"

In his latest message, Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden voices his displeasure with the European Union over Danish cartoons said to be offensive to Islam.

Of course, never mind that anti-semitic cartoons caricaturizing Jews as having hook noses are common in the world of radical Islam. And, never mind that bin Laden was the mastermind behind the death of 3,000 people at the 9-11 World Trade Center bombings.

Bin Laden apparently also has major issues with Pope Benedict XVI.

Why is it that Christians (and other faiths) are expected to suck it up when we see pictures or television shows of Jesus being ridiculed (such as South Park or Family Guy), or movies where He is depicted as a sinful man (such as The Last Temptation of Christ), but yet the world thinks we should kowtow to the crazies in Islam?

Maybe it's because the world, deep down, knows who the real extremists are and is scared to death of them.

Got a new cell phone!

Just call me Jack Bauer. A few days ago, I purchased a pre-paid Net-10 cell phone. This makes it easier for my wife to reach me when I'm at work. It's a flip phone, so sometimes I pretend like I'm Bauer. Ha ha.

The other day, I turned it off to conserve power and told one of my sons to tell my wife I was going "dark", as they say on the show 24. She just rolled her eyes.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Houston DisAstros...

Opening Day 2008 is a few weeks away, and I understand that the Houston Astros' earned run average for this spring is over 6. Yes, it's spring training, but it strikes me as an ominous sign of things to come.

Houston is said to have an anemic farm system, and there's the owner who--with the exception of guys like Carlos Lee--seems leery to spend money to get the talent Houston so desperately needs. Maybe it's because of the infamous Carlos Beltran incident (Beltran's agent Scott Boras supposedly held out for a no-trade clause after Houston offered Beltran the richest contract in the team's history; word is that Boras never had any intentions of his client signing with Houston).

Brief hiatus

Sorry I haven't blogged in the past few days. Work has been hectic as we were putting in 10-hour days. Couldn't get much sleep due to errands that couldn't wait, and I was also under the weather. But now, I'm back and blogging.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Election 2008 thoughts

Call Hillary Clinton the cat with nine lives. For now, her campaign lives on. She has in the past day or so won three primaries (including barely scraping by in Texas) over Barack Obama. She has even hinted that, if she wins the nomination, she would consider having Obama on her ticket.

That’s assuming, of course, that Obama would accept such an offer. Whether he would ask Hillary to be his running mate remains to be seen. Objectively speaking, I still think the Democrats would be better off getting someone from the South on the ticket. Perhaps Florida.

On the Republican side, John McCain has emerged as the GOP’s 2008 presidential nominee. A few months ago, my wife Jennifer and I pored over the issues and voted for Mike Huckabee in the Michigan primary. Right now, as it stands, though I can’t speak for Jenn, I will likely vote for McCain in November.

I had considered voting Third Party, but two things have swayed me: one, though McCain is far from what I perceive as a Reagan Republican (granted, Nancy Reagan supports him), I simply can’t stomach another Clinton presidency. Two, Barack Obama comes across as a dreadfully-inexperienced candidate who has little idea just how complicated the office of president would be.

As far as McCain’s war record…years ago, I interviewed a retired Air Force colonel who spent about seven years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. Col. B, who lives north of San Antonio, Texas, knew of McCain and had extremely positive things to say about him. I forget the colonel’s exact words, but he said that despite the unspeakable torture McCain endured, the colonel felt that McCain conducted himself well.

Whom will the Arizona senator carry on his ticket? Expect someone from the South or, perhaps, a powerful GOP mover and shaker from a Democratic stronghold like California, New York or Massachusetts.

My guess as to who will be McCain’s running mate: Michigan-born former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Brett Favre retires

I'm sorry to see that one of the all-time greats in the NFL, Brett Favre, has called it a career. He leaves the league leader in many categories and one Super Bowl ring but has this dubious distinction: the first and final passes of his NFL career were both intercepted.

It was always interesting typing his name in a Microsoft Word file, simply because the spellchecker would scream whenever I typed Favre. (For those who don't follow football and aren't familiar with French-American surnames, Favre rhymes with "carve"). Read it with the r before the v, and you have me made. There, that wasn't hadr at all, huh? Now, time to go out and sovle other problems in life.