Thursday, April 24, 2008

Six Word Memoir: A Meme

Always On Watch tagged me with this meme, "Six Word Memoir" and I thought about it for awhile. I prefer to think that my blogging friends are tagging me out of friendship rather than some desire to punish me. Besides, most memes are rather fun, silly, and creative. So why not?

Here are the rules:
The Rules:

1. Write your own six word memoir.
2. Post it on your blog and include a visual illustration if you want.
3. Link to the person that tagged you in your post and to the original post if possible so we can track it as travels across the blogosphere.
4. Tag at least five more blogs with links.
5. Leave a comment on the tagged blogs with an invitation to play.

So here's my own Six Word Memoir:

Seeking creative outlets, I discovered writing.

And the image, of course, is for my own published novel. Why not, eh?

Now, before you start to panic, I'm not going to tag anybody else. If you'd like to try it out, go ahead! It's a thought-provoker, and it probably won't be easy. Compressing your life into six words is tough. But go on and give it a try.

I double-dog dare you!

Golden Memories: Leave Them In The Past

Lincoln LogsReliving the past is not nearly as satisfying as we think it should be. You can't recapture your youth, not to mention your childhood, no matter how golden those days seem to you. It's just your memory playing tricks on you. The things that were so important to you in your youth are no longer important, things you enjoyed then are boring now, events you were afraid to miss then seem pointless today.

And that's normal, of course. In childhood, and even in our teens, everything is new, exciting, to be experienced before they disappear. We had to stay up and watch television - all the other kids were allowed to, so why couldn't we? It was important! We didn't want to miss it! And we certainly missed a lot of things, didn't we? At the time they were very important to us. But as the years go on we realize, if we think about it at all, that they were nothing to worry about. We really missed nothing. There would always be another cake or Christmas cookies, summer re-runs of television shows would allow us to see what we may have missed the first time around, the Ice Cream truck would show up again when summer did, and we should have learned that we missed darned little. But we, as children, don't seem to realize that. And that's natural, I think, for the young human.

an ice cream coneAs we grow older we remember all those things we may have missed out on as bigger, grander, more exciting than they really were. We get nostalgic about our childhood and seek to recapture it by experiencing the familiar things of our past. And re-experiencing those things so often leads to disappointment. Why? Because we have matured - I hope! - and moved on to adult things. Peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches give way to Hoagies, applesauce gives way to salads, Saturday morning cartoons are pushed aside by the News, blocks and Lincoln Logs are replaced by cars and computers. And yet, we still want to go back to the simpler pleasures of the ice cream cone from the Ice Cream truck, the Huckleberry Hound cartoons with a bowl of Cocoa Puffs while we wear our jammies. We felt safer then, and our memories are softened by the difficulties of living as adults.

But we still try to go back.

The Jetsons

In September 1962, ABC aired The Jetsons for the first time. This was Prime Time, folks, the Family television viewing part of the day, and the cartoon was intended to be enjoyed by adults. The Flintstones had pioneered the Prime Time cartoon idea in 1960. I remember, vaguely, the Flintstones airing in the evening, but since I was still six-years-old when The Jetsons premiered, I recall them a bit better. But, as is usual with memory, my memories of The Jetsons is different from reality. I have matured since I first saw The Jetsons in late 1962.

Trying to recapture some of the fun of my childhood, I recently watched the very first episode of The Jetsons. I expected to get a few chuckles from it. What I got were a few smiles and a lot of head-shaking. I now understand why the show lasted for only one season. (A second season would not occur until 1985.) Based on the formula for adult sitcoms of the day, including a laugh track, the cartoon simply isn't funny. What I remember as very funny turns out to be fairly tame stuff devoid of even the laughter that The Flintstones would generate. I was disappointed, to say the least.

After all, the Warner Brothers cartoons I still enjoy - Daffy Duck, Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd, Porky Pig - remain funny to this day. Created for adults, the Looney Toons rarely were less than full of laughs. But Hanna-Barbera somehow missed the boat with The Jetsons. Of course, this is borne out by the show not being picked up for a second season after March of 1963, while The Flintstones were still going strong (still being produced in 1966.) One was funny and kept its audience, the other was not and did not. So why did I remember it as funny?

Rosie the Robot MaidBecause I was a little boy. The funny flying cars, the robot maid - Rosie, who appeared in only two episodes - the push-button world that The Jetsons inhabited, were all things of wonder and delight for a little boy. As an adult the cartoon is such tame stuff that it surprised me I recalled it so positively. That's the difference, I suppose, between our childhood memories and our adult experiences. My memory of summers as a child are nearly uniformly shaded in golden hues. In my mind summers were almost always early evening with the sun reaching for the horizon, the heat of the day becoming a cooling breeze, the trees all in full, green splendor, the games of baseball finished, an ice cream cone in my hand, and so on. I have to think hard to remember the scary things of those days.

The Three Stooges

Not all of my childhood memories are like The Jetsons, of course. I still laugh out loud watching the Three Stooges, old comic books can keep me interested just as they did in the old days, I still like macaroni-and-cheese, and my M&Ms mania has never abated. But I had to learn all over again that what I remember from my childhood was colored by my own innocence, inexperience, and fresh eyes. Better to leave those memories where they are, and enjoy them at a distance, rather than seek them out to relive them. You can't relive them.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Not A Lot Of Cussin' Here

Following Bookworm's lead I subjected my blog to the analysis of the "Cuss-O-Meter" which resides at One Plus You. This meter rates your blog or website on the percentage of pages that contain cusses - foul language. As they say:
First we count the number of pages on your blog or website that contain cuss words and compare it to the total number of pages. The result tells us approximately what percentage of pages on your website contains cuss words. We then compare that percentage to all the other websites who have used the Cuss-O-Meter, giving you an idea of how foul-mouthed you are when compared to the rest of the web.

When the meter had analyzed my blog, atop the page was this:
Around 4.5% of the pages on your website contain cussing.

This is 50% LESS than other websites who took this test.
The Blog-O-Cuss Meter - Do you cuss a lot in your blog or website?
Created by OnePlusYou

As you can see on the meter my blog barely rises above the "Darnit" level of naughty language. Now that's not bad for someone who can slip into "F-Bomb" mode easily when in the company of other "F-Bombers". I don't take any particular pride in being able to sink to the level of a drunken sailor in using vulgar language. But I do know that I can indeed speak at the same level as others when called to do so.

But I remember being told once - actually I heard it said to someone who routinely used vulgarities in her everyday speech - "People tend to use foul language because they have a poor vocabulary. Try to expand yours and stop sounding like trash." I took that to heart.

After all, how does it sound to your parents to intersperse your speech with foul language when there's no need? Does your mother really want to hear her beloved child using the "F" word, "S" word, and other curses when you speak with her? How 'bout your Father? Would your grandparents chuckle at your precocious ways? No. They would be embarrassed with you, for you, and wonder when you're going to grow up.

Yes, there are times when a good solid vulgarity is perfect as punctuation. But all too often we use foul language all the time. I can't tell you the number of times I hear parents simply blathering on, every other word an ugly curse, while they are with their children. Children hear more than we think they do. And they emulate their parents. It's ugly to hear, ugly to see.

English has so many words, as do most languages, that there is little reason to slip into cursing and vulgarity in every conversation. Frankly, if you cannot find a better word to use then you do need to work on your vocabulary. Heck, we all do.

And in that vein - nice use of vocabulary, eh? - here's a site that promotes vocabulary in a fun way. It's called Free Rice. The premise is to donate some of your online time to feed the hungry. And it doesn't cost you a single cent. What you do is play a simple word game. For every correct answer the site donates 20 grains of rice to feed the hungry ( through the UN World Food Program). The rules are very simple:
Click on the answer that best defines the word.

If you get it right, you get a harder word. If wrong, you get an easier word.

For each word you get right, we donate 20 grains of rice to the United Nations World Food Program.

WARNING: This game may make you smarter. It may improve your speaking, writing, thinking, grades, job performance... (more)

clerihew = humorous verse (I got this one wrong. And now I know!)

I've played this three times and donated a few thousand grains of rice. Clicking on the "Options" tab allows you to save your game totals. This way you can pick up where you left off. There a lot of levels to this. The best I managed to reach was a vocabulary level of 53. Didn't last long, and now I'm at level 45. Yeah it gets tougher as you play. But you will learn a lot of new words. Some you'll never see or use again. But some you might find slipping into your conversations.

Help end world hungerSince this is affiliated with the UN one can legitimately wonder whether it is on the up-and-up. I choose to believe it is and act accordingly. As they say on their FAQ page:
Who pays for the donated rice?
The rice is paid for by the advertisers whose names you see on the bottom of your vocabulary screen. This is regular advertising for these companies, but it is also something more. Through their advertising at FreeRice, these companies support both learning (free vocabulary for everyone) and reducing hunger (free rice for the hungry). We commend these companies for their participation at FreeRice.

So click on the advertising banners while you're at it. Can't go wrong just visiting an advertiser. Also:
If FreeRice has the rice to give, why not give it all away right now?
FreeRice is not sitting on a pile of rice―you are earning it 20 grains at a time. Here is how it works. When you play the game, advertisements appear on the bottom of your screen. The money generated by these advertisements is then used to buy the rice. So by playing, you generate the money that pays for the rice donated to hungry people.
Does FreeRice make any money from this?
No, it does not. FreeRice runs the site at no profit.

vair = squirrel fur ( I had no idea, but I guessed and was correct! LOL)

There are images you can use on your blog or website to use as links, a running total of rice donation totals, and so on.

firth = estuary (I knew this one. Easy.)

So why not learn to stretch your vocabulary and leave most of the foul language behind? You can speak better, you can improve your vocabulary, you can rise above the level of trash when you speak. And you can do all this and donate food as well!

redact = edit (I guessed right. *whew!*)

Give it a try!

Help end world hunger

Note: One of Bookworm's commenters - suek - reminded me that there is a Blog Readability test, too. You can find it here. And here's my graph showing the Writing Pad's 'readability'.

blog readability test

Movie Reviews

peruke = wig (dunno why but I did know this one!)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Memories: Wicked Game

Funny how you hear a song and it seems like it was just yesterday you first heard it. In some cases I know I am kinda astonished to realize just how many years have fled since I first heard a tune. To me the songs of the Beatles remain fresh as the day they first reverberated from the radio. The same is true of a lot of bands and singers. And that includes singers I did not hear of until they had been active in the music scene for quite some time.

The first time I can recall hearing "Wicked Game" by Chris Isaak was barely over ten years ago. At the time I was working in the Seminole Casino, over in Tampa, and the sound system played some station all night long while we cleaned the place. "Wicked Game" was one of the tunes that I heard and remembered. But to me, hearing it then was it's first incarnation. What a surprise to learn that it had been released as far back as 1989. Folks, that's nearly twenty years ago!

My ex used to have a bit of a thing for Chris Isaak. But the name meant nothing to me. Though I had heard "Wicked Game" I had no idea who the artist was. So when she would ask me to buy her a Chris Isaak album - she lived in Wyoming, or Texas, at the time - I would find one and buy it for her. I never put the name and the song together.

A few months ago I was watching some sort of concert on TV. It may have been a PBS offering, but I don't recall. Anyway the artist was Chris Isaak and Silvertone. And he performed "Wicked Game". I think, aside from finally putting two-and-two together, what I really enjoyed most about the performance - and I do like this song immensely - was that Isaak didn't add lots of flourishes and crap to the performance.

I know some people like the concert versions of their favorite bands. They get a kick out of the free-form some bands take to the music they perform live as opposed to the studio version. But I prefer the studio versions of most music. After all, that's the way the band or artist originally wanted to present the song to the public. I could care less about a drum solo added or a guitar riff that lasts five minutes. Give me what was first recorded. That's what I paid for in the first place.

As for Chris Isaak, he's considered in some circles a Rock musician, in others as a Country musician. Me, I think he's managed an interesting mixture of the two. Isaak has his own unique musical sound as well as a compelling voice.

Here is one version of "Wicked Game" for you to enjoy. This is a music video with the studio version of the song. Click here for YouTube's unembeddable video: the version I saw on TV. Live with Silvertone. I think you'll enjoy both. And if you don't recognize the title of the song or the name Chris Isaak, I'm betting you'll recognize what you are hearing.

"Wicked Game" may be 20-years-old, but I think it's as fresh as ever.

"Wicked Game"
by Chris Isaak (1989)

The world was on fire and no one could save me but you.
It's strange what desire will make foolish people do.
I never dreamed that I'd meet somebody like you.
And I never dreamed that I'd lose somebody like you.

No, I don't want to fall in love (This world is only gonna break your heart)
No, I don't want to fall in love (This world is only gonna break your heart)
With you (This world is only gonna break your heart)

What a wicked game to play, to make me feel this way.
What a wicked thing to do, to let me dream of you.
What a wicked thing to say, you never felt this way.
What a wicked thing to do, to make me dream of you and,

I want to fall in love (This world is only gonna break your heart)
No, I want to fall in love (This world is only gonna break your heart)
With you.

The world was on fire and no one could save me but you.
It's strange what desire will make foolish people do.
I never dreamed that I'd love somebody like you.
And I never dreamed that I'd lose somebody like you,

No, I want to fall in love (This world is only gonna break your heart)
No, I want to fall in love (This world is only gonna break your heart)
With you (This world is only gonna break your heart)
No, I... (This world is only gonna break your heart)
(This world is only gonna break your heart)

Nobody loves no one.

Chris Isaak - Ladies' Hearthrob

Okay, he's a good-looking guy. I get why my ex had a 'thing' for him.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Another V.P. Choice For McCain: J.C.Watts

"...they [ Jesse Jackson, et al.] said that I had sold out and Uncle Tom. And I said well, they deserve to have that view. But I have my thoughts. And I think they're race-hustling poverty pimps." J.C.Watts, on declining to join the Congressional Black Caucus. Hannity & Colmes (1997)

J.C.WattsIn 2002, the last Black Republican in the US House of Representatives retired, saying he wanted to spend more time with his family. He had been elected to the House four times from Oklahoma's 4th Congressional District. Originally saying he would serve only two terms, Watts ran for re-election and won his third and fourth terms. He served the people of Oklahoma in the US Congress from 1995 to 2002.

The Republican Party thought so highly of him that he was then selected to head GOPAC, the Republican Party's action committee, founded by Delaware Governor Pierre S. du Pont in 1978 in "an effort to build a farm team of Republican officeholders who could then run for congress or higher state offices later". Watts headed GOPAC until he was succeeded in February, 2007 by Maryland's former Lt. Governor Michael S. Steele. His return to the private sector, while a boon to him and his family, was a big loss to the Republican Party. So who is J.C.Watts? And why am I blogging about him?

Watts in action at OklahomaA native of Eufala, Oklahoma, Julius Caesar Watts (he tells people the J.C. stands for nothing, but that he would say it was for 'Julius Caesar' as a joke. The Congressional Biographical Directory lists Watts' official name as "Julius Caesar Watts, Jr.".) was reared in the Baptist Church, graduated from High School in 1976, and was recruited by the University of Oklahoma for the football team. From Wiki:
Chosen to play the quarterback position, Watts led the OU Sooners college football team to consecutive Big Eight Conference titles and Orange Bowl championships under the leadership of head coach Barry Switzer. Twice, in 1980 and 1981, Watts quarterbacked the Sooners to Orange Bowl victories over the Florida State Seminoles and knocked the Seminoles out of contention for the national championship. He earned MVP honors in both games. He graduated in 1981 with a BA degree in journalism.

Between 1981 to 1986, Watts played professional football in the Canadian Football League for the Ottawa Rough Riders, receiving the Grey Cup Most Valuable Player award during his rookie season in a Grey Cup loss to Warren Moon and the Edmonton Eskimos. Watts continued to play the quarterback position (which had brought him success at OU). By the end of his football career, Watts had played against such quarterbacks as Damon Allen, Warren Moon, Matt Dunigan, Tom Clements, Condredge Holloway, Dieter Brock, Joe Paopao, Danny Barrett, and Vince Ferragamo during his sojourn in the CFL.

J.C was a football star. Probably not quite good enough to make it to the NFL (He was a running quarterback at a time the NFL wasn't much interested in running quarterbacks), Watts nevertheless was a professional athlete of some renown. When he retired from football he returned to Oklahoma and became a youth pastor for the Baptist Church in Del, Oklahoma. He served in this position from 1987 until 1994. During this time he was approached by some prominent Oklahoma Republicans who asked him to consider running for the Oklahoma Corporation Commission. Watts defeated his Republican Primary opponents and took the election in November, 1990. J.C.Watts became the first Black elected to state-wide office in Oklahoma history. Then, Wiki notes:
Four years later, Watts was again approached by prominent Oklahoma Republican leaders and asked to consider running for an open seat for Congress (Oklahoma's 4th Congressional district, being vacated by Congressman Dave McCurdy. Watts agreed and in November, 1994, was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. He was the first black member of Congress not to join the Congressional Black Caucus. [emphasis mine!]

Watts served in the US House, as I noted above, for four terms, retired to private life and began the J.C.Watts Companies, of which he is the chairman. A consulting firm for business, the company's Mission Statement says:
"Create a world-class business bringing diverse people together in profitable, sustainable relationships across multiple industries.
Offer turn-key solutions for the emerging marketplace at the nexus of business and government, economics and culture. Utilize government and corporate strategies, business ownership, partnerships and alliances.
Provide unparalleled market value to our customers, clients and business partners. Unleash the power of teamwork to accomplish exceptional results."
I especially like that last sentence: "Unleash the power of teamwork to accomplish exceptional results." Something the Republican Party needs to do. As do the American people.

So why am I touting this Oklahoma Republican at all? What's the point? Until he retired from pulbic office, J.C.Watts was one of the rising stars of the Party. He was someone to be reckoned with and part of the Party's future. A powerful voice for Conservativism with the fearlessness to speak out that he probably honed on the football field. He never had a problem with describing his belittlers in a scathing, and dead-on, way.

Watts: They've turned race and poverty into an industry. They say Republican policies have hurt poor people. Point to them. Look at the major cities where you have black leadership. You have black mayors, black city officials. But you often have the highest crime rate, the highest unemployment. Maybe it's time we look at different [policies] for dealing with old problems.


Watts: The Democratic Party has taken the black community for granted and said, "This is the most loyal constituency we have. They're not going anywhere." But the Republican Party has said, "That's the most loyal constituency Democrats have. They're not going anywhere. We've got to win without them."

On legalism in Politics:
Legalists think their burden should be your obligation. For the legalists, you can never be black enough, conservative enough, liberal enough. If you don't hew totally to their line, your purity is questioned. You are to say and do exactly as they want you to say and do. Do what the group does and think what the group thinks. Don't be an individual with your own convictions.

or to simply tell it like it is to a national audience.
"You see character does count. For too long we have gotten by in a society that says the only thing right is to get by and the only thing wrong is to get caught. Character is doing what's right when nobody is looking."

Nor was he afraid to tell the Republican Party it was diddling when it should have been fighting harder.
"Republicans want to say we reach out. But what we do instead is 60 days before an election, we'll spend some money on black radio and TV or buy an ad in Ebony and Jet, and that's our outreach. People read through that."

Where Wattts stands

From "On The Issues"

Watts is a perfect example of what Americans can do with their own GOD-given talents, hard work, and determination. He's risen above his own youthful stupidity and indiscretions, gotten involved, become a success. Watts has been a professional athlete, a Youth Minister, a state-wide elected official, a US Representative, and a successful businessman. At no point has he curbed his tongue to "get along" with the "powers-that-be", shrunk from taking on the Leftist Democrats and their Socialist schemes, or hesitated from calling out his racial brethren when they've surrendered to the "race pimps" rather than fight for a life of excellence and accomplishment. At the end J.C.Watts is a proven winner - in athletics, in politics, in business. And his wife, Frankie, and four children would probably agree. He's a fine man with a lot of potential ahead of him, still.

So perhaps he's another choice that John McCain can look at for a Vice Presidential Running Mate. I would definitely get behind J.C.Watts on the Republican ticket. Patrick, at Born Again Redneck, posted that Watts told Sean Hannity that he is not interested in the VP nomination. I wonder what he'll say if the McCain people come calling. So I'm not ruling him out at all.


"What Color Is A Conservative?"

J.C.Watts' speech to the NRA, May 20, 2000.

"J.C. WATTS: The politics of personal destruction" August, 2006

J.C. Watts on why Heritage matters - June, 2007 - video

Thursday, April 03, 2008

What Dems Say Before The Elections Roll Around: Iraq WMDs

This video was created by the Republican National Committee, and it came to me via email. My uncle, a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the US Army, sent it to family and friends. And I am posting it here as a reminder that what the Democrats say and do depends entirely on their political agendas, not on what is real, or what is good for this country, never mind the rest of the world.

If you want to simply download the video here's the address m Uncle linked to: and here's my LiveLeak link for the same video: LiveLeak WMD video

Watch it! Remember it. The Dems will froth at the mouth as they Kerry-ize ("I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it." October, 2003) what they said before and what they have said since.