Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The boy was goot....real real goot...

Patrice O'Neal..

This is starting to get a little maudlin with all these "I see you just passed on tributes, let me say a few words" type posts...

But Patrice O'Neal was sneaky funny. He deserves a few words. He was character just standing there, funny in a not telling jokes kinda way but funny just talking around kinda way. One could imagine if he was a friend of yours he'd have been the fun guy, the guy who just cracked on people because the room had gotten too quiet. But he'd also be the guy you call at 3am if you were broken down on the side of the road and were too broke to call a tow truck. He just seemed like that kinda guy.

He popped up all over, an appearance here, an appearance there, but never really seemed to get his big shot. Not even a Robin Harris style shot. Watching his standup you wonder what they were waiting for, because he had the potential to be scary funny. I liked him and remember watching something a little longer than I meant to because he was on.

Worse, I only found out today that he was younger than me. Which is like...what?

He wasn't legendary. But he should have been.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Things I meant to comment on

Ramblings Post #168
Sometimes you get busy. It happens. You don't see it coming, but you turn around and you've been up for 36 hours and haven't eaten since that chicken wing and egg roll special when you watched the games two days ago. It happens. All you can do is stop, take a deep breath, and keep it moving.
That's not me, that's Snoopy from Peanuts. But you knew that. 
I've checked, and other than groceries, the library or to turn in my paper & bar application, I don't actually have to leave the house for the month of December. Really. I don't have the 9 to 5, and people really aren't hiring this time of year except for holiday temp work. But then again, I might make a snazzy black elf. You never know.

I been hard at this paper, finally figured out a scheme that works so I had to start over...again. Fifth time. But on the upside it's not really starting over this time, but more a re-arranging stuff I already wrote only this time with nearly every single sentence footnoted and properly sourced.

Yes, that was written properly. EVERY. SINGLE. SENTENCE.

Okay, I don't have to source the titles, or the part where I explain what the paper is about, but everything else. Yeah. Even the basic common sense stuff. All of it. I keep looking at the example he told us we should use as a guide and I'm trying to figure out if the author slept at all.

But because I have to stop every so often to let my brain actually helps with the writing...I'll pop on and make sure the US hasn't been invaded by tribbles or something. And I realize I need to comment on a few things.

Occupy Wall Street

I've noticed that a lot of the folks who disparge the movement have no idea what the issue is. It is classic misdirection on the part of the media who either can't get a decent soundbite or catchphrase so that the whole thing is dumbed down enough OR really just want those smelly people to go away. The OWS people want if I remember correctly 1) They want accountability for the banks that took their money and 2) they want to end corporate control of government. That's pretty much it. They don't want government handouts, or anybody's stuff, what they want is the government to do its job. The idea that they have no message, when the pictures of people holding signs with their message litter the internet is pretty funny.

But then when there are new signs everyday, I guess it gets kinda confusing. I guess reading isn't fundamental.

Republican candidates for President. (except Herman Cain)

Come'on son.

The various campaigns linger on because a) there are so many of them nobody can gain any traction and b) their mistakes only last in the public eye until the next guy's pratfall. So like a week or two.

I'm not sure if they realize that the debates are being recorded - well, I'm fairly certain Hermain Cain does now - but I wonder if they realize what they means. Because some of the less palatable things said to garner the attention of the dyed in the wool GOP supporters will be used again in the general election. And since a great deal of the country tends to support the OWS protesters, telling them go take a bath and get a job may just get it's own 15 second spot.

Wait, does this mean there ARE jobs?

Republican candidates for President (who are Herman Cain)

Really? Again? Geez, even I'm starting to believe some of them can't be true simply because an educated person, of which I'm certain Cain is one, had to know all this would come out at some point if it were true. I mean he just had to. And if the one claiming the affair has pictures? I think Jon Stewart will simply explode.

The true stroke of madness was the statement about the matter that is his camp put out which included the phrasing : No individual, whether a private citizen, a candidate for public office or a public official, should be questioned about his or her private sexual life. The public's right to know and the media's right to report has boundaries and most certainly those boundaries end outside of one's bedroom door. Since when did this rule come into effect? Somebody call Weiner! Somebody call Clinton! Somebody call Gary Hart!

And people want to call Obama an amateur.

Law School

Well, here we are. Again. Finals time. And working in the two finals I have with paper that I have increasingly become obsessed over....well, not quite obsessed, but really interested in doing well, has suddenly become an issue.  You know how it goes, you want to do well, but then you suddenly want to do spectacular. Then suddenly you want to do better than awesomely spectacular. Then you want even better than that.

I'm sill at wanting to do it well. I'm little scared spectacular is around the corner. I need to email my prof.  Get some guidance.

My Folk

Well, let's see.
My text conversations with Sporty leave me feeling warm inside.
Slim has left the country temporarily. Teaching overseas, she is not "on the lam".
Schmoopy is still on the bodybuilder fitness model deal, which means no brunches. Boooo.
Spanky is starting to actually worry me, because I think she really doesn't understand we're getting old.  If she busts out in a Nicki Minaj wig next time I see her, I may have to break out the tranquilizer gun.

Due to my schedule for finals, that's about it. It's only because I slipped by Spanky's for Thanksgiving did I even see her.

Oh yeah, spent Thanksgiving in the ATL. My brother somehow ended up in Hawaii, don't ask, so I rolled through Spanky's and then my Aunt. So I had Thanksgiving dinner twice. I had to leave my Aunt's early, because for some reason they don't watch football at her house. So even though I got there late, when everyone else started for the door I got up and joined them.

Thanksgiving with family. That's how it's supposed to be.

New Year's Eve

If I can't get a hotel room and sleep there, then I probably ain't going. I'm getting to old and too wise to wandering the streets of Atlanta during such "festive" occasions. Find a spot, hunker down.

I guess that's it for this update. I got to finish this paper, or least get a lot farther through it, then start prepping for the finals in earnest. Promises to be fun.

Barkeep. I'm gonna need a thick vanilla milkshake. Trust me, it's brain food.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

How about 'dem Cowboys?

Ramblings Post #167
This year has been an odd one for the field of sport. There might not be a basketball season, the Colts haven't won a game, the undefeated keep getting defeated in college football, and Tiger has lost his mojo. But then that's why you play the game...or in the case of the NBA, you don't...because sport is last of the Western world's arenas of survival of the fittest. I say the Western world, because in many parts of the world, the plain old world is the survival of the fittest. Put that in perspective.

Tony Romo, just don't do nothing stupid. Okay? 
I've noticed that I don't really post a whole lot about sports. That's interesting considering that I love sports and have and will  watch football, basketball, will suffer through a baseball game, can stomach swimming and diving, attended track meets, can sit still while them cars take left turns if I'm really bored, enjoy rugby, Australian rules football, golf, formula one, cricket, curling, skiing, skating, soccer, gymnastics, horse racing, boxing and if I'm really really desperate and of a broad opinion, will even pay attention wrestling...if I can't find the remote. And even so I consider myself just a casual follower of most sport.

This year my team, the Dallas Cowboys, appear to be able to play at the top end of the spectrum...for about three quarters. At best about fifty five minutes. Unless the opposing teams quarterback is Rex Grossman.

Yet despite this, in the next three weeks the Cowboys could be leading the division. Their next three games are against potential walkovers, but then the erratic way they have been playing I'm not getting my hopes up. By contrast the Giants are playing the powerhouse schedule - and should Philly decide to man up and go at them, they could be losers in their next three. And since the rest of the division is made up of teams playing under their potential..unless your quarterback is Rex Grossman... the 'Boys could be sitting pretty in a matter weeks.

Oh joy.

But then over the next three weeks I'm probably only going to get to see the Thanksgiving game, as I have a paper and two finals to get ready for. And one of the professors was nice enough to give us the entire two weeks of finals to work on his. Did I say nice enough? I mean diabolical. I wonder how many re-writes I'll do before I send him the finished product. Whatevers.

How about them Cowboys?

Barkeep, I'll need a tall Texas beer, in a tall Texas glass.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Very Mis-informed Christmas

This is a political post
Oh Christmas Tree....

A "friend"....okay, a guy I went to college with who I reconnected with on FB, posts a link. He's upset and hot. But then, I'm fairly confident he's got a end of the Obama Administration countdown app on his iphone so, there's that. It seems the USDA has decided to place a 15 cent tax on Christmas trees to fund the Christmas Tree promotion board. The article, at the conservative site I read it on, blames it on Obama ( because obviously the President has nothing better to do) and uses this as more proof the administration is "out of control" and attacking "real" American values. 

I thought at first...really? But then you read down further and see it's only 15 cents per tree, not 15 the article's supposition is this increase will be swept under the rug by the mainstream media. Then I look at it a little closer, and something doesn't look right. There is no link to the actual law or regulation so I put the cite in Google and the only place it pops up, are in articles that mention this "new tax".

So I look at cite again - 7 CFR 1214. But that cite isn't for the Federal Register, that's the cite for Code of Federal Regulations. Okay, a little skeptical now, but  I figured maybe the government has had a rule change, so lets look at the original rule. Only 7 CFR 1214 deals with Kiwi fruit...not Christmas Trees. So now I'm a little confused. 

So I check the Federal Register at There, you can look up things by all kinds of ways, so I check the cite again, and nothing. No hits. So I look up the word "tree", and turns out the actual cite is 76 FR 69094. So wait, this true? Could the conservatives be right? So why not cite it properly so people could find it, since it is actually here. Hmmm.  

So I start reading. The Christmas Tree Promotion Board is made up of 12 members - 11 producers and one importer. So, now I'm even more confused...this is an industry board, made up of members of the private sector.  Next it goes through all the legal authority and justifications, processes, explaining notice and comment, etc, then to the history.

Now, the original article had started out with how outraged we should all be at this insult to Christmas, and how the Christmas tree industry doesn't need any help. I wonder if the person that wrote that actually read the background section, because the people they think it will injure - i.e., the Christmas Tree industry - are the proponents of the plan. The Christmas Tree producers are the ones who asked for this!

It turns out sales in the "live" Christmas Tree industry have been on the decline for thirty years while "artificial" Christmas trees sales are on the rise. The "live" section of the industry is asking the government to enforce a tax on them, so they can organize to improve their sales.

Voluntary taxation? Unthinkable.

Then I got to page 9 of the lovely PDF that happens with the correct cite, and there I found some odd language. Just so you know, the process of making a rule involves notice - the government notifying people they're going to change the rule in say, the Federal Register - and a period of comment - where people can tell the government their views and suggest changes and even ask questions. Page 9 is where they finally got to answering the objections, and someone already questioned the constitutionality of the "tax".  There the government answered with a succinct " However, the assessment provided for in this type of program is not a tax nor does it yield revenue for the Federal government. These producer and importers funds raised by producers and importers are for the benefit of producers and importers."

So it's not a tax. By definition. Says so right there in the document.

Nor does this unfairly promote the live tree industry.  It also doesn't violate the establishment clause. They even take a moment to remind Texas they're one of the 50 states.

So what was the point? Why the outrage? Why the screaming?

Then I realize where this originally came from, and then who it's targeted at. It's just to rile up people who already don't like the President. But then when you don't like someone, everything they do is offensive.

Today I read that the tax has been "scrapped" due to outcry. Outcry from who? The only people affected would have been the producers...who wanted the "tax" in the first place. Of course the judicious use of the word tax out in front of all the comments probably didn't help.

When did actual reading and gathering your own facts become unfashionable?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I Got Nothing But Love For You, Baby...

I really liked Heavy D. He was officially one of the legends in the rap game, having moved from the mic and the stage to the board room, with occasional - successful - forays into acting. He had started back when rap was fun and bright, before everything was how hard you are, or how gangsta you could be. Back when you could switch between suits and jams, be bright and colorful or dark, depending on how you wanted to play it, not just what the audience was expecting. He performed back when you actually had to have a stage show, not just a gathering of your friends and hangers-on wandering around the stage screaming. Back before there was a "gangsta formula" for rap success.

He was conscious before conscious was cool, and had songs about subjects in terms that aren't heard today in modern rap. 

My favorite song of his was "Nuttin but Love", where he showed a deftness of lyrical skill not heard much anymore. I still use that phrase from time to time. And I thought he was the business along with Omar Epps in the badly timed and thus horribly underrated "Big Trouble" (2002) where he played FBI agent Pat Greer out to stop a nuclear bomb during one crazy night in Miami. He doesn't show up until about halfway through, but he and Omar make the movie. 

The Overweight lover. That was how he had billed himself, from "money earning Mt. Vernon".  True he had slimmed down a little, we all have, but he was still Heavy.

Heavy in thought. Heavy in soul. Heavy in style.

And the world is a little less bright.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Smoking. Joe. Frazier.

The night Joe took down Ali 
To be a true champion, you need a nemesis, and opposite number...a villain. They have to rise the stature of the champion, be his equal, match him, at times defeat him, to make the eventual triumph of the champion all the more sweet. In a true test one has to grudgingly respect them for their mettle, if not the skill in which he's faced his foe. And because the world is as it is, it is possible that this villain might even transform in the collective conscious into the hero, given time or the proper mindset.

Such was Joe Frazier.

In the annals of sport, the greats always have the one who tests them, and as Magic & Bird and McEnroe & Bjorg have been linked forever, so too have Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali. Champions both who waged pugilistic battles unimaginable today. Unfortunately, the circumstances worked out that Frazier gained the heavyweight championship belt in a less than auspicious way : after then Champion Ali was stripped of the title for his objection to serving in Vietnam.

Joe supported Ali's religious objection to Active duty, even going so far as seeking out a license to for Ali so the man could get back in the ring and giving his competitor money. Joe actually cared about his foe. True, Joe's motives weren't completely pure - he needed to beat Ali to give legitimacy to his title. To be the man, you have to beat the man. But Joe was a good person first, a sportsman second.

Yet, after his suspension ended, Ali turned on Joe. They were the original "beef", with the taunts getting personal, and at times racial. They turned into boxing's Batman v. the Joker, with less articulate Joe cast in the role of villain to Ali's mouthy superhero. Their battles became epic feats of manhood, boxing artistry and personal fortitude. But Batman needs the Joker. Without him, Batman just a guy in a funny suit, with a snazzy car and a really bad case of insomnia. And equally Ali needed Frazier. The only way Ali could be great is if Frazier was as well. And so they have equal billing in the pantheon of sport.

Together, they were the main event. One could only imagine the spectacle that the "Thrilla in Manila" would be with today's media machines. This was a fight that put a war on hold.

As much as we admire Ali, to get to the idea of Ali we need Joe Frazier.

He was a simple guy, born of poor circumstances who ascended to greatness, only to find himself cast in a role less than desirable for someone of his talents. He was champion, one of the best boxers ever, who history sadly remembers as a foil.

And for that history is lacking.