Friday, August 31, 2012

Panthers at Steelers preseason, RNC Night #3

Last night we took in the final preseason game at Heinz Field.  An absolutely beautiful night, a full moon with weather in the low 80's, high 70's.  We parked in the hood and made our way to the gate.  Despite the fact that attendance was an abysmal 50,122 out 65,500, finding freebies took a little longer than it should have.  A guy and his wife eventually coughed up some extras around 6:30 pm.

In a prior blog, I discussed the conceptual theme for the 2012 ticket stubs.  It's a look at the variety of fans that comprise Steeler Nation.  Well, I don't personally know this guy from Johnstown, PA.  His name is Steve Harrison so obviously he's a fan of James Harrison (#92).  Yeah... I get the coincidental creativity.  But seriously, what's up with the closet full of officially licensed NFL jerseys.  I counted 27 total hangers in that closet plus the one he's wearing.  Is that what makes for a real Steelers fan these days?  The abnormal compulsion to purchase a wardrobe of nearly identical jerseys.  Each one surely costs well over $100.  This type of twisted, overzealous American piggish capitalism makes me sick to my stomach.  So of course he's properly rewarded with his 15 minutes of fame as the ultimate Steelers fan.   Ohhh, he's the greatest fan in the world.  He went online and bought as much crap as is humanly possible.   And of course he will be extolled and lavished with praise from the trained minions that constitute most of American society these days.  Enough.

Game time was for 7pm so we walked through the Rib Fest.  Lots of people, gnawing on lots of bones, with lots of sauce on their faces.  After careful consideration, we opted to split a half slab dinner for $15.00 from the Columbus, Ohio outfit.  The ribs were outstanding, a fine allotment of swine.  But the side containers of coleslaw and potato salad were really small.  And it should have come with a slice of bread to sop up some of the sauce (which was excellent by the way, although I rarely enjoy invoking the word "tang" or "tangy").  You'd think they'd overload you on slaw, potatoes and beans because it would make the overall container look fuller.

So we sat on our bench and made small talk with this 72 year old black guy who grew up in Hoboken/Jersey City, NJ.  Very pleasant, youthful looking man who claimed to have "hung out" and often "shined the shoes" of Frank Sinatra back in the day.  He had since relocated to Cleveland and travels extensively.  It was his first visit to Heinz Field.  We asked him if he tried any of the ribs and he replied that he rarely indulges in "carnival food."  We share this same trait, but fuck it, we were hungry and the ribs was gooood.  During this atheist Jew's engulfment of pork, I muttered lines made famous by the esteemed telemarketer "Anna Ashby, Anna Grubler, German shot-put artist":

Leave me alone, I'm eatin'
You know you want it, cuz it's gooood

So we went in for the first half and made our loop around the stadium.  Gig found about 7 ticket stubs for the downstairs bathroom wall.  Way to go.  Glancing around the stadium, it was really embarrassing.  Yes, I realize it's a school night and it's the final preseason game where they don't wish to overplay the first string.  But what the hell???  Where was the crowd???  The tickets have already been paid for.  And there are over 15,000 no shows?  I just don't quite get it.  I think a lot of the problem is the hefty cost of parking near the stadium.  Very discouraging factor.  They should really reconsider that plan to add an additional 3,000 seats, especially at the expense of eliminating the general admission Steel Pit area.  I suppose it could be worse, you could be at a University of Pitt game... or showering with Jerry Sandusky... or watching Clint Eastwood perform a comedy skit at the Republican National Convention (don't worry, I'll get there).

After the first half, while exiting the stadium, Gig stumbled upon some kind of "$10 promotional gaming ticket" for the 3 Rivers Casino.  I suggested the piece of paper was worthless.   But she was adamant, "Eric this thing is worth 10 bucks."  Still skeptical, I wanted proof.  I just wasn't willing to acknowledge that it could be transformed into tangible paper money.  So we went over to the casino.  Not really knowing how to get started, we looked like idiots.  We finally made our way to the customer service desk and they "hooked us up."  A woman transformed the ticket into some kind of casino credit card.  We made our way to possibly the most boring looking vidiot machine in the entire place.  Gig still had to insert a dollar.  Then another dollar.  It was a rocky ride, but she ended up on the plus side.  I believe our winnings totaled $7.95 minus the initial 2 one dollar bills... giving us a grand profit of $5.95.  Here it is, the morning after, and I still am shocked that the casino receipt yielded actual cash of any amount.  Maybe I need to get out more often.

And we also found a coffee stained "Allegheny Technologies" ball cap and a pink terrible towel.

Do not worry.  I didn't try on the hat until after it had been properly cleansed.  Turns out - it's a near perfect fit.  But the stain is still present.  We may have to call on Mr. Clorox.

So we made it back home just before 10 pm.  Perfect timing to witness the introduction of the iconic legend Clint Eastwood at the RNC.  We watched in what I'd term a "mildly annoyed state of disbelief" as his fragmented, stammering comedy routine droned into oblivion.  Obviously, the reviews weren't favorable.  You really felt the unease within the crowd.  There was this capitulation of polite applause even though nobody could discern what the fuck he was talking about.  Just really uncomfortable and borderline pathetic.  I feel kind of bad for Mitt.  I truly doubt this was his idea.  And all that will be remembered in the aftermath of the 2012 RNC... yep, the onset of Clint Eastwood's dementia and his sudden fall from grace.  Honestly, I was never much of a fan in the first place.

So I'd rank Marco Rubio's introductory speech as slightly above average.  Not horrible.  But not really inspiring either.  Then, Mitt comes out on this extended trip to the podium.  Seemed like he was wandering through a 5K walk.  He shook hands with everyone imaginable.  And they all had one thing in common.  They were all white, older men and women.  Every delegate and well wisher was 100% honky.  

If the Republican party is going to ever withstand being marginalized into obscurity, they must present a less "honkified" presence.  Difficult with Senator Mitch McConnell leading the charge.  A man who makes Tom Willis look like a modern day version of Eminem.  However, I should mention that there were a slew of black men and women in the arena.  They were the paid gospel singers who sang a rousing rendition of "America the Beautiful."  It felt like I was being transported back in time to a pre-Civil war plantation in Southern Georgia.  Atta boy, Mitt!  Way to bridge the racial divide, my Mormon homeslice! 

So what did I think of Mitt's speech.  Pretty damn weak.  Especially following the powerful speeches from the previous night.  No real substantive policy.  Not much vision either.  Unless you got taken in by the powerful imagery of a church picnic and your daughter's soccer game in rural America.  As you may have surmised, I'm not the type to get suckered.  What's funny is that I really look forward to the conventions.  I enjoy the speeches.  Last night just left me feeling kind of sad.  If the Republicans were looking for a way to close the "empathy" gap, I think they nailed it with Clint Eastwood.  Just make the television audience sympathize and feel sorry for your party.

What's even crazier... I still think Mitt wins it this year.  If it's not the stampedes, it will be something else.  Mark my words, we're going to see a profoundly changed dynamic sometime before the election.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Night #2 of the RNC

I'm trying to come up with a decent analogy to explain the difference between the first and second nights of the Republican National Convention.

The first night is to the second night as Jerry Sandusky is to Ron Jeremy.
The first night is to the second night as the Wheeling Intelligencer is to the New York Times.
The first night is to the second night as Yeungling can is to Guinness bottle.

I think you get the point. 

John McCain - I thought the content was atrocious, but he did give a good speech.  Seriously, does the American public really have the appetite for additional wars and occupations in places like Syria, Libya, Yemen, Iran, etc.  McCain is so relentlessly hawkish, I'm surprised he didn't call for the "reunification" of Canada and Mexico.  I guess if you're going to call Obama "weak" on foreign policy, you need to amp up the rhetoric. 

Susana Martinez - Fantastic speaker.  Came across as humble and neighborly.  These are qualities desperately needed in the Republican party elite.  She knew how to connect.  Mitch McConnell?  Well, he can connect too.  Maybe to an aging Romulan in a nursing home.

Mike Huckabee - I'm not a fan of the pastor, but he does give these solid speeches.  His delivery is always spot-on.  I thought the low-blow comment about Debbie Wasserman Shultz sounded kind of bizarre, but all in all, Huckabee always seems comfortable and relates well to the crowd and the television audience.  I forgot he won 8 states in the 2008 Republican primary.  Scary... isn't it?  Well, maybe not "scary."  Let's go with "alarmingly terrifying."

Condi Rice - Obviously, she was the star of the night.  The only one who didn't use a teleprompter.  She speaks from the heart.  Lots of high-minded platitudes and soaring rhetoric.  Coming off the heels of that speech, Romney really needs to leak her name for a high level cabinet position.  She hit a grand slam.

Paul Ryan - I thought he came across as calm and collected, focused, determined and resolute.  For someone with minimal national exposure, he reaffirmed his credibility for the Vice Presidential slot.  Very important coming off the Palin fiasco of 2008.  He made the Republican party appear very mainstream, almost centrist.  This is critical for Romney.  

All in all, it was a very strong night for the Republicans.  They managed to silence Ron Paul and his supporters and for the most part, not come across as "crazy right wing."  Even though 90% of the crowd should likely be committed to what's left of the Roney's Point mental asylum out rt. 40.

I know that Marco Rubio and obviously Romney are speaking tonight.  I wonder if Jeb Bush is speaking.  He usually sets a decent tone of moderation.  Maybe they should consider having someone speak who isn't a politician.  No, not Joe the Plumber.  Just someone relatively well-known from outside the political spectrum. 

The overall tone of the convention improved markedly.  If last night was any indication, Romney is doing a great job of distancing himself from that primary of lunatics and basket cases.  Makes you forget all about Herman "999" Cain and Michele Bachmann.  Pawlenty... well, he was forgotten about long ago. 

Hearing a Mitt Romney speech is kind of like watching a "thrilling preseason" NFL game.  Perfect for tonight because Carolina is at Pittsburgh.  I'm guessing that Mitt will deliver a "fine" speech that "meets" everyones expectations.  Kind of like the review for the 5th grade play in the school auditorium. The headline will read...


Someone should do a "Twelve Days of Christmas" parody for the Republican National Convention.

On the 1st day of the RNC, Chris Chirstie gave to me... 1 supersized McDonalds French Fry.
On the 2nd day of the RNC, Donald Trump gave to me... 2 Obama fake birth certificates.
On the 3rd day of the RNC, Mike Huckabee gave to me... 3 Gideon bibles.

I'd also use 4 American flags a waving, 5 Smith and Wessons, 6 bombs for abortion clinics blowing upping, 7 rape and incestuous fetuses a growing, 8 downsizing and shipping jobs overseas occurring, 9 tax returns you'll never be seeing, 10 Caribbean bank accounts offshoring, 11 missionaries proselytizing, 12 domestic programs a cutting...

I would encourage someone, other than myself, to write this song.  It has good potential for viral social media.  What the hell, maybe I'll give it a shot during the Steelers game tonight.  The emotional backdrop of the final preseason game could provide that zing of inspirational fervor.  

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Mitt Romney RNC speech: advice, thoughts and predictions

I watched parts of the RNC rollout last night. 

Rick Santorum - too grandiose.  Tried to be awe-inspiring but came off as a little bit loopy.  His grandfather's hands seemed so large as he laid in the casket.  I'd rather hear about Jerry Sandusky's swingin' hands in the swing state of Pennsylvania.

Nikki Haley - kind of a stilted delivery.  Didn't seem comfortable on stage. 

John Boehner and Scott Walker - didn't catch their speeches. Surprised they didn't give Boehner a more prominent role. 

Ann Romney - Great content, but had a quick, awkward delivery.  Had difficulty navigating through the applause lines.  She's far more convincing in the personal interview setting.  Nonetheless, she closed strong so that's all that really matters.  I liked all the spontaneously phony "We  ❤ ❥ ♡ ♥ Ann" signs.  Nice touch. 

Chris Christie - I thought it was wise to finish on an aggressive note but he seemed like he was in a race to finish.

All in all, I thought most of the speakers came across as rushed and overly rehearsed. Though, I did like the stage, the backdrops and flashy tv screens. 


In past blogs, conversations and routine matters of existence, I've often expressed contempt for the far-right wing of the Republican party.  So I thought I'd go Bizarro-Saffy and give Mitt Romney a template for his Thursday night speech at the RNC.

Divide it into 3 main categories:

Health Care

* Health care is obviously your weakest point.  Don't run away from it.  Get it out of the way first.  Blast "Obamacare" a bunch of times and use the standard "European socialist agenda" lines.  Focus on how the issue should be addressed at the state level, not the federal level.  Close with a personal story that nobody has ever heard regarding your wife's battle with multiple sclerosis - how the family was directly impacted.  Show them sitting in the audience and focus on their expressions.

* Point to the Republican history of a strong national defense.  I'd specifically invoke Reagan a few times here.  I'd make a conscious effort to mention how the U.S. will stand "side by side, locked arm in arm" with Israel.  Try to secure that Jew vote.  It could be a game changer if Israel flexes its muscle right before the election.  I'd do the usual blathering about American exceptionalism and how Obama is an apologist who bows to foreign leaders, but for the love of god, don't mention any of the birther crap.  Play off the crowd, but don't alienate the national audience.  Remember that Obama is considered pretty hawkish, mainstream on defense.  Don't try to outflank him on the right. 

* Finally, finish on jobs and the economy.  Your sub issues are likely energy, taxes and the debt.  "Mortgaging our children's future" is always a good line.

Talk about being a Republican leader in a very blue state.  Reaching across the aisle to get things done rather than playing the politics of division.  Play to your strengths as a leader and businessman, unlike our current leader.

I might try an unusual refrain.  Considering that Republicans are the pragmatists and won't shy away from the difficult issues, how about closing with something like this...

Listen, we all know that throughout the course of history, all great civilizations have crumbled.  And someday the United States will falter... BUT NOT YET.  NOT THE United States.  Not the U.S.  NOT us.  NOT ON MY WATCH.  (crowd chants U.S.A, U.S.A).  This could be worded better, but you get the drift.  Raise the stakes to the highest point possible - the downfall of the empire.  This material makes "dumb people feel smart" - look ma, he's telling you the truth.  Romney will tell you the plain, cold truth.  He ain't afraid.

From a general perspective, always keep trivializing Obama's negative campaign ads.  Sound as if you're flabbergasted.  How can people vote for "this guy?"  Don't assign him the respect of the presidential title.  Mention that the mainstream media is in "cahoots" with Obama, their savior-in-chief.  Well, let me tell you something...  "This guy is not my savior and I have a strong hunch he's not your savior either."  The more condescending the better.  Mock the fuck out of Obama.

Avoid the temptation to sing "America the Beautiful."  Steer clear of sounding super-patriotic because you've never served.  Try using a story about a female veteran who returned from Iraq/Afghanistan and wanted to start a small business but got mired in government red tape.  But she fought through the bureaucracy and made it work.  Crowd would go nuts.  Show glimpses of her and her family in the crowd.


Use a story about a spouse that started her own business while their husband or wife was serving abroad.  He/she came back without a limb and now they've taken on the new role of being the breadwinner.  Use an American success story that lambasts big government while focusing on entrepreneurism and innovation.  It's difficult to humanize Romney... so humanize someone else.  Show them sitting in the audience with their family.

Anything about how the private sector is the right source for jobs.  This is a CAPITALISTIC society.  We need less govt., not more.  And that's what I promise you, I'll bring back responsibility to the office of the presidency, not flash.  We just can't allow him another 4 years.  This election is about the future of our children.

I would also have a middle class, turned upper class "Joe the Plumber" type story... but it's a success, not  a downer.  Have a story about some blue collar, non union individual who climbed the ranks and achieved success.  This would be your opportunity to close on an uplifting note for the crowd.  Would make for decent tv fodder.  Romney still needs something positive to close on.  It can't all be an Obama hate fest.  You need to be positive for the national audience.  Gives people something to connect to.  Convincing for the swing states - midwest, OH, PA, WI. IA, etc. 

Try this line - "Some people say I'm boring.  Hey, wait a minute.  I'm gonna be the next president of the United States.  Doesn't sound boring to me!"

This is a strong because it's self deprecating at first but eventually plays off the crowd enthusiasm.

Try this line - "Seriously though, I'd rather be boring and responsible than exciting and reckless any day of the week.  And that's just what Barack Obama is... reckless and dangerous." 

Also make sure to mention your wife's battle with multiple sclerosis.  Make sure everyone in the arena knows that she's your "better half."  Mention how the Obama team is more interested in their Olympic horse than the problems with health care.  Those nimrods are making this election about Trafalca!!!  Talk about being out of touch!

Don't say a fucking word about abortion and hot button social issues.  Pro-lifers are already voting for you.  Maybe let Ryan handle that crap the night before. 

I also would start leaking a few key names for Dept. of Defense (Condi Rice) and maybe some potential ambassadors.  Do everything you can to keep Donald Trump muted as much as possible.  The Donald is not a team player.  If you can't figure that out, you don't deserve to be president of the local dog pound.  Give people some specific names.  Maybe Liz Cheney - Secretary of State.  Give some hints on what a Romney administration would look like.  Get people used to the idea of a transitioning process.

Remember this point.  This speech is for the country.  You've already got the right wing.  You need to convince the last 5-10% undecideds.  Keep the whole speech simple. 3 Broad themes.  And always make Obama and his campaign seem small, petty and only focused on tearing down the opposition.  Overly concerned with trivial nonsense.  Not willing to tackle the major issues. 

End with the standard...  Freedom, Liberty, blah, refrain.  Again and again.  God Bless You.  God Bless America.  God Bless This Great Country.  Again and again.  Wash, rinse, repeat. 


So there you go.  Now the fun part... seeing how much I got right.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Important dates #6

For the past year and a half, the prospect of the artificially generated stampede and the likelihood of the "cascade" effect have dominated my mind.  So I wrote a book about it, threw it on the internet and got it copyrighted.  Nothing happened.  Then, I initiated contact with the FBI and relayed my concerns.  Nothing happened.  Then, I mailed every NCAA Division I university president and chancellor in the country along with the leaders of the DHS, FCC and DOE.  I got one official response from the Dept. of Education and roughly 30 responses from leadership in higher education. 

So I sent them all a follow-up letter documenting the urgency of the situation and suggesting ways to prevent the A.G.S.  Then, I broadened my audience and submitted my concerns to all 32 NFL owners, commissioner Roger Goodell and 6 reps from NASCAR and Indy Racing.  No responses whatsoever.  In a last ditch effort, I notified the 7 directly elected politicians that represent me in the state of West Virginia.  I had conversations with 3 of them but Senator Joe Manchin was the only one to provide a written response and call for a written reply from the West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety.  And I sent a final letter to the 30 respondents, reviewing my concerns and encouraging them to act.  I intend to phone all 30 of them on August 29, 2012.  It's both a moral imperative and an achievable goal.

I have virtually no faith in the U.S. government addressing this matter until AFTER it occurs.  Asking them to take preventative action is unrealistic considering the generational warfare glitch, the fact that there's no money involved and it defies the current government models for doing business.  And there's also the fundamental notion that if you talk about it, you own it.  If it happens on your watch... your administration absorbs the blame.

I've also had several conversations with police chiefs and various officials around the country.   Some acknowledged similar concerns, perhaps not to the degree of my own.  But when pressed to do something about it, they didn't seem too concerned.  They willingly recognize the acute nature of the problem (that stadium evacuation protocol has been irreparably compromised) but seem disinterested in "rocking the boat."  My personal moral code of conduct does not allow me to remain silent.  My concerns are not political in nature.  I can only be concerned with the potential loss of human life.

I find all of this peculiar.  Because if my prognostications are accurate, it's going to alter the course of humanity.  If it's a college football Saturday, it could potentially effect 25-30+ stadiums.  If it's the NFL, it would be 9 stadiums (probably the East Coast/Midwest early games).  You can do the math, but historically speaking, most large stadium stampedes have seen a death toll of around 100 per.  For a rough injury count, multiply that number by 10.  I suspect a calamity within the NFL would be substantially worse because these stadiums have so much more to contend with.  Massive spiral rotunda, bolted immovable plastic seats and a much firmer emphasis on securing the main entrances and exits.  From this perspective, stadiums in the United States are incredibly dangerous because of the excessive "amenities."  Most college football stadiums trend wider and are less steep.  Still, some of the biggest schools have attendance figures hovering near the 100,000 mark.  So it's a mixed bag.  In every scenario, 911 call centers would be overloaded.

So if it all goes down, what exactly transpires in its aftermath.  I've given this a great deal of thought but have been reticent to document it in writing.  Until now.

First: I have a hunch it will be the NFL and possibly a racing facility, not the NCAA.  I'm not going to explain why.  I also believe the "viral blitzkrieg" would be the mode of delivery.  Again, I feel uneasy offering an explanation.

Second:  Based on my 42 years of existence, interest in politics and generational warfare and an understanding of stampede dynamics, I think the AGS is likely to occur BEFORE the 2012 presidential election.  If this is the case, I suspect an easy victory for Mitt Romney.  I cannot fathom ANY state that would support the current administration once the truth comes out.  They were warned about the AGS in a serious manner and decided to do NOTHING.  And considering the vast nature of the evidence trail (about 300 letters and cc'd responses all over the place), I suspect it would suddenly become the biggest issue in the campaign, easily trumping jobs, the debt and the economy.  I suspect you'd constantly hear the phrase, "Well, that's what you get when you elect a community organizer."  The sad truth is - human events shape elections.  And these events are usually negative or disastrous.

Third: I think the United States Congress would suspend ALL litigation with respect to the injury and loss of life directly related to the stampedes.  And I think this legendary action would be upheld by the Supreme Court.  It would be regarded as an unforeseen consequence that could never have been properly addressed. 

The catch-22 is pretty evident.  If you warn citizens about it and it happens on your watch, you get the blame.  So obviously, the "wiser" choice is to stay the course and just hope it never happens.  If it does happen, just hope it's a small scale, isolated event and then implement the inevitable prevention measures and awareness campaigns.  The AGS would suddenly become the basis for almost ALL political attack ads.  And it would likely be very effective.  The administration knew about it and did NOTHING.  Probably because "government experts" would have deemed the American public "incapable" of hearing about it.  The subject matter was too sensitive.  This will make for some fascinating debates in the future.  Unless of course, I'm the only person out of 6.8 billion people who has ever conjured up the possibility of the AGS.  We know this cannot be true because my letter writing campaign alone exposed the problem to thousands of people. Oh yeah, and the 100 or so people who've read my book or occasionally check my blog.

Fourth: If the AGS is full blown, I think it will be a watershed moment in history that signals one of the first key battles in technology vs. humanity.  I'd also expect the country to be gripped with an overwhelming sense of fear and paranoia for the foreseeable future as the "spirit" of most citizens would be greatly compromised.  Attendance at large venues would likely nosedive.  In the aftermath of 9/11, people rallied around the President and Congress as a wave of nationalism swept the country.  The AGS would have the exact opposite effect.  Complete distrust of leadership and skepticism with all 3 branches of government.  I also think you'd see an increased military presence at all major events as a meager attempt to pacify the general public.  If you believe that 9/11 fostered numerous, outlandish conspiracy theories, just witness the result of the AGS and the domino effect. 

Fifth: I believe that all the suggestions I have made for combating the AGS would likely become immediate policy. 

Sixth: There will inevitably have to be an enlightened debate about freedom of speech as it relates to killing people without weapons.  Are poeple even allowed to write about topics like the AGS, "flashmob forest fires" or "purposely timed attacks that coincide with major televised event in an effort ot steal the news cycle by holding networks morally accountable?"  Where do you draw the  line?  Wikileaks is a good example of the leaking of restricted speech.  There will inevitably be separate arguments for dangerous hypothetical speech.  With the internet in play, how does this issue resolve itself on a global scale.

A final note on all of this.  From a moral perspective, I truly believe the course of action I undertook a year and a half ago was the absolute RIGHT thing to do.  Unless you can convince me that the United States government is in the process of implementing a plan to combat the AGS.  All my accumulated research points to the exact opposite.  And at the heart of this endeavor there would have to be awareness campaigns.  As of this date, I have yet to see any.   Other than an absolute, all encompassing internet/telecommunications kill switch (which still wouldn't work in time), there is just simply no plan.  What truly worries me - the notion that some individuals have theorized of everything I have written and are already concocting vast, far-reaching contingency plans and operations.  I believe this is a reasonable assumption.  I guess we'll see how it all plays out.  Because if you comprehend the generational warfare glitch, you'll understand the AGS is an absolute certainty.  The only variables that remain are the specifics.  When and where, scope and magnitude.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Has anyone ever purposely gone to a CANCELED rock concert just to witness the disappointment of others?


This is the question I asked myself 10 minutes ago.  Some background.  Gig, her friend Derek and I were planning on hitting the Duran Duran show tonight at Stage AE.  So I get up to Pittsburgh around 4 pm.  At 4:24 pm I receive a text message from my friend Jean-Anne.  She was planning on attending.

Here are the texts verbatim...

JA text - Show is postponed, fyi.
Saf text - That sucks.  I just got up here.  Oh well.  They kind of suck anyway.
JA text - It wouldve be a fun night for me.  Nuts.

Odd that Jean-Anne wouldn't have hyphenated the word "wouldve" and didn't use the proper word "been" but that's not where I'm heading with this.

Here's a glance at our rockers back then...

And now.  Behold the ravages of time...

Actually, that's a pretty nice photo.  Although I would have preferred an even more decisively Asian backdrop.  Personally, I am a fan of Duran Duran.  I'll admit it.  Hell, many of us grew up on this shit.  Reflex, Rio, Save A Prayer...  many of these songs have showed up on my live sonofcd compilations.  I will neither be apologetic, nor will I feel shame.

Although my interest in the band has waned (I considered using the word deteriorated), they do have a rabid fan base.  Some of these parts are teeming with men in their mid-40's who eat, live and breathe the Double Durans.  Yes, I'm referring to the middle aged gay population that still frequents the Southside.  And I'd be willing to bet that some homos traveled vast distances to witness their heroes in action.  "Great distance" would likely mean anything less than 2.5 hours.  Canton/Akron area... yes, I'm lookin' right atcha.

So what will happen when these diehard, multiple Duranners show up and find out their evening of debauchery and fanciful night of enlightenment has been CANCELED?  Will their reaction be one of muted despondency?  Will they grow irate and demand refunds?  Will they rape (sodomize), pillage and plunder?  Will they weep uncontrollably?  Will they unleash a same sex, unified verbal tirade?  What exactly will they do?  That's the question.

In about an hour, I will unlock these mysteries.  Me and Gig are still heading down.  Weather-wise, it's simply too nice an evening to hang indoors.  She suggested some outdoor Smurf movie at Schenley Park.  I quickly nixed that.  Slightly worse than that option, Rusted Root (I call them Rusted Soot) is playing at the Allegheny County Fairgrounds.  For some reason, just knowing this makes me feel very agitated.

Sooooo.  For the first ever time in history, I will knowingly visit the grounds of a canceled concert for the sole purpose of witnessing the sadness and misery of others.  I will monitor their reactions and report accordingly.  I think this could prove interesting.  Some might find this whole experiment disturbing... but like I said, it's just too damn nice outside.


Well, it's the next day.  As I previously alluded to, we did indeed head down to the Stage AE parking lot.  Sure enough, there were stragglers here and there.  People were eating at the restaurants so the lot had about 100 cars in it, but one could easily surmise that something just wasn't right.  We went to the box office to get the official low-down and a young man (who might possibly be the owner of the black Jetta from the MMJ show) told us the show had been postponed.  We had 4 comp tickets so a refund wasn't an option.  But we did come away with this memento.

We brought chairs and set them up directly across the street from the box office.  This would prove a fine vantage point for eating our picnic dinner (deli sandwiches, Wavy Lays potato chips, stir fry vegetables and watermelon chunks) and observing the scene.  On the marquee it read "DURAN DURAN POSTPONED."  I was hoping for some human reactions akin to the five stages of death...

To be honest, most people just shrugged it off.  But a few would drive by the box office and their jaws would literally drop.  This was mildly amusing as we witnessed multiple "jaw drops."  And some wandered aimlessly in disbelief.  You know those videos of people returning to their homes after their domicile has burned to the ground.  Obviously, they have trouble coping with the grim reality.  It was kind of like a "watered-down" version of that. 

At one point, I suggested we hold lit candles and have a prayer vigil right next to the box office.  When people ask what we're doing, I would solemnly proclaim, "The Duran Duran tour bus was in a horrible accident on the turnpike.  The entire band is gone.  They perished amongst the twisted wreckage in a fiery crash."  Now that is one seriously fucking warped idea.  Back in the day, I would have considered this.  Nowadays, I mostly just observe.

We had a few conversations.  One guy told of us how he saw them out in California last year and paid $600 for an all access pass, meet and greet with the band, Duran Duran t-shirt, personalized coffee mug, etc.  I twitched and cringed, but somehow managed to hold my tongue.  A couple of ladies in their early 40's explained just how difficult it is to "get out for a night" with work, the kids and the hustle and bustle of day-to-day life.  Finally, 2 lot attendant cleaning guys hung out with us for about 20 minutes.  They regaled us with tales from the Kenny Chesney concert a few months ago.  Fans "shitting in 5 gallon buckets" and leaving behind mountains of trash.  "Those idiots were gross and disgusting."  This was easily the highlight for me.

By the way, the reason for the postponement - their keyboardist Nick Rhodes was ill.  Seriously, he's just the keyboard player.  Maybe you could get one of the roadie/tech guys to fill in.  Then again, it's Duran Duran - likely the most influential synthesizer band of all-time.  Even better than these weirdos.

You gotta admit one thing.  When you have a frank and honest discussion about 1980's high profile musical gingers, the conversation starts and ends with the guy in the middle...

10 years later it's the fucking reincarnation of Rick Astley.

That video never grows stale.  F'in timeless.  Now... witness the final result >>>

Happy Monday.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

My Morning Jacket - Pittsburgh, Stage AE, 8-21-12

I cruised up to Pittsburgh yesterday in an absolute, torrential downpour.  For 45 minutes, there were cars and flashing lights all over I-70.  By the time I hit Bridgeville, it was absolutely beautiful.  Crazy weather.

Gigi and I headed straight for the MMJ concert at Stage AE.  We took a brief detour to Nikki's Thai Kitchen for 3 appetizers.  I highly recommend this establishment.  We opted for the egg rolls, chicken Satay (skewers) and the spring rolls (thin noodles, fried tofu, lettuce, carrot, basil leaves wrapped with rice paper, served with brown sauce, crushed peanuts).  The description of the spring rolls really doesn't do them justice.  These things rock.  We're planning to dabble with some Thai experimentation tomorrow night.  Hopefully, it sets a long overdue standard.  I've always wanted to delve into simplistic Asian cuisine.

We dismissed our usual parking spot in the hood because we planned to meet up with Jenn and Justin.  Also, we were ticketless (go figure).  We made a loop around the amphitheater but had little luck.  However, we did find a set of car keys sitting on a concrete barrier.  We mentioned it to the attendant and he suggested we drop them off at the box office.  On the way back the car, Gig was testing the unlock button and we spotted the car (a black Jetta) inside the gated lot.  So the car's headlights flashed for a few seconds, but keep in mind, it's on the inside of the steel gates along with other employees' vehicles and the buses and tour rigs.

We met up with J&J and gobbled down the apps.  We began to concoct a somewhat misguided plan to gain free entrance to the show.  Our idea was pretty basic - hit the panic button.  When someone comes over, try to coerce them to let us enter the show in exchange for being such good samaritans.  We give you keys - you give us tickets.

Well, a guy quickly came over and we tried our best, but he was adamant that he couldn't get us in.  Then he disappeared for a second and came back with one ticket that he allegedly "found."  I was a bit skeptical because I figured it was a previously scanned ticket lying on the ground.  Sure enough, I'd be proven correct.  So we basically just ended up handing over the keys.  In retrospect, this was fine because it's not like we wanted to screw the guy.  We just thought we could parlay the opportunity into 2 freebies.

Then, an hour later, the guy (Steve) came outside and wanted to "know more background information about how and where we found the keys."  He was accompanied by a stringy, gothic bodyguard.  He made a few curious remarks about how they've been experiences problems with theft (amps, mics, etc.).  The security guy followed a few paces behind us almost as if to say... if you we find out that you guys are lying, we will come down on you with the wrath of god and exact "concert justice."  So we showed him where we found the keys and he just kind of nodded.  Again, we pressed for free entrance, but neither budged.  I think they thought we were part of some wider conspiracy.

So the opening band (Band of Horses) concluded and things weren't looking to good on the ticket front.  Then, Gig talked to this one guy who was leaving the concert.  He had an extra print-out which he dutifully gave up on the spot.  BLAM!  But I was still having trouble.  Sensing the band was about to go on, I was almost prepared to buy a ticket from the box office (Ouch).  Allow me to reiterate...

Suddenly, right at crunch time, this man came out of nowhere with an envelope.  He started passing out tickets to his friends so I asked him for an extra and he just GAVE IT UP!  He mentioned, "How's that for karma?"  I responded with, "Dude, that is completely bad ass.  I am very appreciative" or something to that affect.  Tix in hand, we bolted inside and the band went on within minutes.

As expected, a totally killer show.  Most of the tunes were up tempo.  You can judge for yourself because following the show, we went on a routine groundscore hunt (scavenging a record 17 ticket stubs for the downstairs bathroom wall) .  While tearing down the stage, Gigi saw "Stage AE stagehand Steve" (say that five times fast).  She yelled, "STEVE!  You owe us!" and asked for a set list.  He quickly reciprocated and handed her a guitar pic

and an original copy of the set list.

Very cool.  So it all came full circle.  And I got to hear the song I wanted... Xmas Curtain.  Provided a nice sense of continuity to an enjoyable evening.

I honestly believe that My Morning Jacket is the best rock'n'roll band currently touring.  I'd be hard pressed to think of a better band.  Tonight is Jane's Addiction.  I remember a time back in the early 90's when those guys were my heroes.  I'd still like to see 'em but I'm just not feeling it today.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Steelers vs. Colts preseason game: August 19, 2012

Saturday night, I had a brief discussion with a crickish brute.  I mentioned that me and the woman were going to the Steelers game tomorrow evening.  He replied, "That sounds like fun Saf.  So when do you think you'll leave the game?  I fired back, "Probably early in the 3rd period."  Turns out, we left late in the 2nd.

So.... Gigi and I hit up the Steelers home opener preseason game.  I've noticed a strange discrepancy in the crowds that show up for the first two meaningless games.  The fans just seem stranger, dumber... yinzer if you will.  Here's my theory - most of the "esteemed" season ticket holders have little interest in the preseason.  So they readily give away their tickets to their weirder friends and relatives.  Perhaps it's that neighbor down the street with a broken refrigerator that has sat on the porch for 8 months.  Or maybe it's the in-laws you don't really care for.  Or maybe it's that "diehard" homely fan who knows all the stats but has never been to the stadium.  He just doesn't "get out much."

I guess my point is this.   The preseason seems to bring out more of the freakshow element.  And of course, they have to purchase everything in sight.  Every t-shirt, every ball cap, every Polamalu wig, every Steely McBeam shot glass.   This is their Superbowl.  Each field goal, each extra point is celebrated with shrieks of joy and reckless towel-whipping enthusiasm.  As you might suspect this makes for good people watching.  Sensing the joy, I made a sign.

Do not fret.  I only made it as a joke.  Honestly, it never saw the light of day.  We parked in the hood and walked down to the stadium.  We did a half-loop around Heinz Field and asked a few people for freebies, but to no avail.  On the way back to our standing bench, Gigi saw a pleasant beancounter with a stack.  She asked for 2 and he immediately gave them up.  No questions asked.  POW!  With tickets secured, we hung out for a while and absorbed the influx of the fans.  Seriously, why do people take such pride in purchasing overpriced season tickets?  Shouldn't this be viewed as more an act of defeatism?  I'll never understand why people take such pride in giving their money to mega-millionaires.

Wouldn't it be cooler if the pre-game tailgating festivities were more of an open, "bizarre bazaar?"

Think in terms of Istanbul.  Chaotic haggling with a formidable level of confusion.

The ticket stubs have a different theme this year.

At first I thought they would be featuring a series of people with physical or mental handicaps.  But it was actually part of a contest called "My Pittsburgh Steelers."  It's simply Steeler Nation fans with a story... serving in the military abroad, breast cancer survivor, etc.  Geared toward anyone enduring some degree of hardship.  I like this better than the endless pics of overpaid football heroes and management.  They should consider an "all-inclusive Pittsburgh theme" for future tickets.  Pittsburgh symphony, the zoo, the Incline, orthodox Jewish synagogue in Squirrel Hill, University of Pitt students fleeing empty building, etc.

We mostly hung out in the pit and watched the game on the widescreen.  This gave me an idea.  What if a small group of exercise fanatics were to congregate for every game in the back left corner of the Steel Pit?  With my expertise in the signage industry, I would construct a lackluster banner.  We could call ourselves the "Steel Pit Runners" and watch the game on the monster tv.  The idea - a small group of people jogging in place for the entire duration of the game.  Allowing for a break at the half and in between each quarter seems reasonable.  As the Steelers earn their win, you basically just jogged a marathon.  I truly believe this has merit.

A.  It's a great way to keep the extremities warm during the cold weather part of the season.
B.  Cool promotion of "asymmetric fitness."
C.  You're close to the exit in case of a stampede.  If you sense a panic, you just run right out the exit.
D.  I think it would be a big hit.  Would make for a great ESPN story or local sports anecdote.
E.  I love how it smacks in the face of conventional norms.  Who the hell would pay all that money and not sit in their assigned seat like a normal, model Steelers fan?  

The downside - no room for recreational tailgating before the game. 

So yeah, we exited as the first half was winding down.  Earlier on, I had eyed me up some sealed bottles of Red Hot at one of those condiment stands in the Great Hall.  I just had to snag the Red Hot.  Everyone was counting on me.  Everything depended on it.  So I stuffed two bottles in my back jeans pockets.

Red Hot.  We Are Red Hot.  Oooooh, To The Top, We Are Red Hot!  Motley Crue really needs to call it quits. 

As you can see, one of the bottles is half full.  It's from Gigi's frig.  This picture was taken at her house the following morning.  She made an exquisite omelet with some kind of hen-dorsed, egg-flipping wafflesque contraption compliments of my favorite aunt... Aunt Esther.   Also, there was a side of somewhat mushified (but tasty) home fries.

So you're probably asking, "What the fuck Saf?  Why regale us with heroic stories of how you commandeered two bottles of Red Hot?  Where's the other fucking bottle, dude?"  Excellent query.

On our way back to the car, we encountered two young black teenagers who asked us when the bus was coming.  They wanted to get to Perrysville up the road.  Gigi thought the buses were done for the night, so we gave "Roman" and I forget the other kid's name a lift.  On the way, I bragged about the illegal Red Hot acquisition.  The kid pipes up, "Hey, that stuff is my favorite!"  So we gave him a bottle as a token gesture of goodwill.

Gigi also ground-scored 11 cents as we exited the stadium.

That put us up for the night... +.11.  Think of it as a monetary palindrome.  Nice.  Back to the Burgh for the MMJ show tonight.  I'm completely hooked on these guys.  This whole 2012 "curator" series, summer tour is beyond cool.  For those unaware with what a real rock concert is, fans can tweet their song suggestions and help design a new set list every night.  Their entire musical catalog is at your disposal.  Guess which atheist Jew wants to hear Xmas Curtain?  This guy.  But I don't do the twitter nonsense.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Mitt Romney bumper sticker ASSault

As the presidential campaign heats up, I have devised an "underground" strategy for those who strongly oppose the election of Mitt Romney.  It's dark, murky and it literally stinks to high heaven...

"Mitt IS Shit"  

This is not the silly, figurative interpretation that Bill Maher unveiled a few months ago (note the ball cap):

Hey, even though I like Maher, let's be honest.  Anyone can write up a comedy sketch.  Mitt is full of shit.  Don't be a Mitt-Wit.  I'm at my Mitt's end.  It's just too damn easy.  But there's a huge difference here.  His motto was "Mitt's the Shit."  My slogan - "Mitt IS Shit."  Less room for innuendo and misinterpretation.  Much more straightforward.

What I have in mind is a more dynamic, hardcore approach.  I want voters to get physically involved.  I want passion.  I want grassroots political activism.  As summer winds down, I want the swing states to spring alive this fall (Vivaldi).  So here's my idea - 

Anyone opposed to a Mitt Romney presidency should do the following:

1) Acquire an official "Believe in America" Romney bumper sticker from his website.

or better yet

Go to your local Republican campaign headquarters.  They'll be more than happy to give you a stack and it makes a lot more sense for what I'm about to propose.

2) Plaster those bumper stickers on every toilet, every port-a-jon, every urinal (in northern WV we call 'em pissers) - anything intrinsically related to Mitt Romney being associated with actual, verifiable urine and excrement.  Every hotel lobby restroom, every fast food bathroom, every port-a-jon at every god damn Steelers game.  I think you get the gist.  Think of it as kind of like a renegade Obamolympics.  And speaking of the recently concluded Olympics, check out Jamal stick the landing.

Rest assured, you will be judged based on the following:

A.  Creativity - points awarded for innovation.  Maybe you placed the "Rom" part of the bumper sticker on the outwardly exposed part of the toilet and the "Ney" part on the underside.  This could embolden people to stick their heads down the body of the toilet as a means of reaffirming their commitment to the right wing agenda.  

B.  Coverage - If you slap a single Romney bumper sticker on the outside of a port-a-jon, that's probably about a 2.  But if you coated the entire "Crapper Trapper" with over 100 bumper stickers in an all-out bumper blitzkrieg.  Well, that could earn you up to a 6.2 in the minds of the judges.  My point - the greater the Mitt, the greater the shit.  Mitt went bold with his Veep pick.  You can do the same.  Be strong.  Go bold.

C.  Intensity - How far are you willing to push the message?  Point blank - are you willing to submerge your hand in the urinary puddle and implant the sticker under the blessed urinal cake?  Are you willing to smear actual fecal matter on one of the stickers?  Will it be your own shit?  The shit of others?  Just how low can you go?

But here's the beauty of this idea (not that it's one filled with a great deal of aesthetic merit).  It would be exceptionally difficult to get caught in the act.  Because there's only one place in this entire country the government will not set up cameras and roll video... and that's the bathroom.  Although, I'm sure there's legislation pending somewhere in the bowels of the Department of Health and Human Services.

And there's another plus.  I don't think too many people would have a vested interest in removing the stickers.  Once they're stuck, they're probably not going anywhere, anytime soon.  The "Mitt IS Shit" legacy will be carried in perpetuity for future generations... inevitably, irrevocably, urinarilly, excrementally.

So Saf, what are you gonna do?  Will you step up?  I sometimes get the feeling that you're all talk and no action.  Yeah, that's right.  That's what I'm all about.  Well, guess what?  Look no further.  I just christened my downstairs toilet -

Also, in keeping with the spirit of this post, I'd like to be at the forefront of another trend.  Let us encourage any patchouli covered hippies, random filth-encrusted liberals and basically all homeless individuals to start using the bathrooms at every Chick-Fil-A restaurant.  Nothing sends a timely message of disapproval and disdain better than gallons of piss and piles of shit.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

the Janna Little (Boren) Ryan connection to Barack Obama

Mitt Romney just picked Paul Ryan as his VP running mate.  Bold pick.  Strong statement.  I think this race just got a helluva-lot more interesting.  I prefer the double "L" spelling in Helluva, instead of...

You'd think this cheese was manufactured in Wisconsin?  Wrong - Sodus, New York.    

Over the years, I've developed a fondness for elderly women who are afraid to invoke the word "HELL" in routine conversation.  They make a conscious effort to phrase the eternal damnation destination as "H - E - double hockey sticks."  Just who the hell comes up with these euphemisms?  I wish I had a say.  The world would be a markedly different place.  Even an imbecile like Gwen Stefani knows how to spell "Hella Good."  Makes you wanna holla back

Anyhoo, I just discovered an interesting bit of trivia.  Congressman Ryan's wife's name is Janna Boren Ryan.  She's the niece of David Boren.  Alright then, just who is this David Boren?  Well, David Boren isn't anyone too important.  Just the former Governor of Oklahoma (1975-1979) and a U.S. Senator (1979-1994).  Oh, and he has been the President of the University of Oklahoma for the past 18 years.  He also serves as the current Co-Chairman for the U.S. President's Intelligence Advisory Board under Barack Obama.  Sounds like a political heavyweight with some strong connections.  Oddly enough, he's a Democrat from a very red state who is known for reaching across the aisle. 

I mention all of this because I recently sent President Boren two letters, one dated March 1, 2012.  The other dated April 20, 2012.  He declined to respond to either of them.  His prerogative I suppose.
A good question might be... did he read either of them?  Based solely on a response rate of 29 out of 118, I think it's a strong possibility.  Although I have no proof, I imagine a far greater number of university presidents and chancellors read my letters, but opted not to respond because of fear mostly grounded in potential liability and litigation issues.

My point to all of this jibber jabber???  David Boren has a direct vocal connection to the President of the United States.  And although doubtful, I do believe it's conceivable that acting in his capacity on the Presidential Intelligence Advisory Board, he may have directly relayed my concerns regarding the artificially generated stampede to Barack Obama.

The irony here... I think the convoluted scenario I presented above has way more credibility than Obama learning about the A.G.S. from 3 of his immediate Cabinet members (Janet Napolitano, Julius Genachowski or Arne Duncan) whom I attempted to contact (but to no avail).  You'd think they'd at least offer me the courtesy of a written response.  Wrong again.  Perhaps the U.S. government lacks the fiscal strength and adequate administrative resources to furnish a response.  Maybe the U.S. government just isn't big enough.  Possibly.

Truth be told, I did get one written response from the government, an underling at the Department of Education - one of the most critical pieces in the inevitable chain of evidence.  And while all these government officials and university presidents are generally considered wise men and women, I'd still put my money on Jean-Luc Picard.

from The Next Generation "Clues" episode >

... clues were left behind that suggested a mystery.  And to many humans, a mystery is irresistible.  It must be solved.  Little pieces of evidence that suggested even more clues.

Call the Captain what you may... bald, arrogant, emotionally detached, etc.  But I'll tell you one thing, Jean-Luc was quite prophetic. 

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Logan's Roadhouse, 215 Cabela Drive, Triadelphia, WV 26059

One of those brand new, semi-affordable, country western themed steakhouses opened in the Highlands a week ago.  I'm generally not a big fan of something I refer to as the "kickin' atmosphere phenomenon."  Saf, how would you define what constitutes that which is "kickin?"  Well, did a 22 year old female hostess prop the main door open and greet you with...

"Howdy partner!  Ready to get your grub on?"

If this happened... well, that means it's kickin.'  Truthfully, I'm not a big fan of the wannabe cowboy movement.  Not only do I generally loathe all things Texas (with the notable exception of J.R. Ewing - he was the perfect, classic villain), I'm just not too hip on line dancing, rough and tumble Midwestern jargon and the whole rodeo circuit milieu.  But there is one problem I have that easily  supersedes all the other shit... the notion that throwing discarded peanut shells onto the floor is somehow a fun activity.  "Ohhh, not only do we git a bucket of free peanuts, ma.  We gits to throw 'em on the floor.  This is gonna be great!"  For many, this is an act of defiance and rebellion.  You see, under normal circumstances, throwing crap all over the floor is frowned upon.  But at Logan's Roadhouse??? 

Suffice to say, you don't have to play by the rules.  The second you enter the door, conventional norms just don't apply anymore.  You get to be a little different.  A little zanier.  Time to embrace your wild side I suppose.  And that's what makes their customers both cool and hip!

If one were to dissect all of America's problems (war, debt, entitlement society, complete lack of concern for the inevitable artificially generated stampedes, etc.), at the root of it all lies this bizarre, incessant desire to litter the floor with peanut shells.  Note: I truly believe this. 

So I met up with my buddies Mark and Dave and we went to Logan's for lunch.  I'd say it was crowded but not packed.  The place doesn't have a lunch menu, but it's not a big deal as most of the stuff is reasonably priced.  I surveyed the menu and it was mostly standard fare (burgers, steaks, salads and a mix of appetizers).  Rest assured, plenty of fixins' too.  I ordered something called "Hot Chicks."  This consisted of 3 narrowly carved, fried chicken tenders on slightly over-sized, yet still miniature, oxymoronic buns.  It came with shredded lettuce, tomato and a ramekin of spicy blue cheese dressing.  Sensing a confident, but measured jubilance, I decided to add "sweet potato fries" for an additional 99 cents.  As usual, I quenched my thirst with a water w/ lemon.  The seed of the aforementioned lemon... I threw it on the ground.

Dave and Mark both got burgers which they claimed tasted "frozen and/or processed."  They claimed the meal was mediocre at best.  My meal was slightly above average.  On a scale of 1-100, if 50 is average, I'd give my meal a 54.  The atmosphere was not entirely objectionable.  If you are able to consciously eliminate "peanut-on-the-floor funtimz," I'd give the ambiance a 42.  There seemed to be this annoying hum via the omnipresent, background music.  You couldn't discern the actual song.  It's sole purpose was just to make customers talk slightly louder than usual.  In the eyes of Logan's management, this probably helps with "getting the party started."  I call this phenomenon "Country Elevator music" better known as a "cunting-vator."   

All in all, I'd say the service was decent.  Cheerful and attentive.  Let's give it a 78.  At the conclusion of the meal, our waitress came over to pick up the checks.  My check total came to $9.10 and I left her $13.00.  This would make me a "generous jew fuck."  Not as generous as Sheldon Adelson though (he's the billionaire casino owner that gave 10 or 15 million to the failed 2012 Newt Gingrich campaign).

What Adelson lacked in vision, he makes up for in money I suppose.  Perhaps Newt could have used some of the funds for GRCS (gock reduction cosmetic surgery).  Gock (a combination of gut and cock) is the male equivalent of gunt (a mix of gut and cunt).

This also leads me to a great name for a pick-up rock band.  T.U.G., an acronym for Trampled Under Gunt.  Is that a bad ass name or what?  Assuming the stampedes hit, I imagine a few will perish via guntal asphyxiation.  I'm being serious here.  This observation is not intended as a joke. 

Now I think we can all agree - this represents a proud and noble, yet potentially smothering, life-threatening gunt.  It just has this disarming candor.  Saffy like.
And just for reference, if anyone out there has a fiduciary interest in any future gunting related endeavors, I checked godaddy and the domain name "" is currently available.  You could literally "snatch" it up for a mere pittance.  But I digress...  

Our waitress addressed us and said, "If you guys go online and complete this survey, just mention my name, and you'll get blah, blah, something."  I can't remember what she said exactly.   I think it was likely 10% off the next meal or a free appetizer or something comparable.

When I inquired, "How do we know what your name is?"  She pointed at the bill >>>  ECHO

I immediately thought of the scene in the movie JFK when two FBI agents are interrogating a woman who claimed to have heard additional gunshots.

These new people never identified themselves. They must a been watching the whole thing 'cause they knew everything Mary and me had been doing that day. I guess I wasn't too hard to find -- wearing that red raincoat.
How many shots you say you heard?
Four to six.
That's impossible. You heard echoes . . . echoes. We have three bullets and three shots which came from the Book Depository and that's all we're willing to say.

"I've never met anyone named Echo, I countered."  She briefly recanted a warning from her father.  Due to the unusual nature of her name, he cautioned her not to expect much in the way of monogrammed birthday presents.  Sensing an opportunity to spread love and joy, I zipped outside to my vehicle and snagged the precious silver-cubed letters to construct a personalized hemp key chain.  I figured I'd throw it in with the tip.  Fortunately, her name was not Amanda (I've been really low on "A"s for the past six months). 

I was finishing up the key chain just as she returned to the table.  She remarked, "Oh wow, that's so cool.  How'd you make it so fast?"  She seemed relatively pleased.   But here's where things took a personal nosedive for me.  Slightly distracted by the calm, but celebratory banter, I FUCKING FORGOT MY TO-GO BOX OF LEFTOVERS.  In it were 2 out of three god damn mother fucking chicken minis.  I was going to save them for later.  And I also had absconded with a generous helping of peanuts and just enough iceberg lettuce and diced tomato chunks to make a small salad.  I had 2 ill-shaped, tiny cucumbers from Gigi's garden.  They were waiting in stand-by mode in my frig at home.  The sole purpose for their existence was to augment this potentially bitchin' salad.

I still fucking cannot believe I fucking forget my god damn fucking leftovers.  For the love of fucking god, why was I betrayed by Logan's Roadhouse?  My mind wandered to that one moment in the movie Casino where Joe Pesci warns Deniro that without him, every wiseguy would take a piece of his fucking jew ass.

This is very similar to what I encountered.  Except it was a tri-combination of my forgetfulness, Echo and the staff at Logan's.  Also, my ass is more of a fucking jew, atheist ass.  I kind of like the sound of that.  Has a nice ring to it.

Question: "What the hell is Saf's problem?"
Answer: "He's a godless ass."  That's his problem."

Saturday, August 04, 2012

The inevitable split in the NRA

If there's one thing Americans love, it's their guns.  About 80 million Americans out of roughly 310 million own a firearm.  Those that do, tend to have about 4.  All in all, it's roughly the equivalent of 1 gun for every United States resident.  I don't think these numbers are in dispute.  Pretty straightforward. 

This blog isn't about the quantity of weapons in the U.S.  I think most people would agree, there seems to be enough.  What I want to focus on is the future growth of the weapons market.  With the advent of the internet (information age) and the continuing evolution of the DIY (do it yourself) movement, one thing is certain.  There will be tons of blueprints for those that wish to mass produce semi-sophisticated weaponry.  I'm not going to turn this into a "how to," but suffice to say, 3D manufacturing sites are popping up all over the place.  The information is readily available.  If you have access to metal fabrication, you can mass replicate guns at relatively low cost.  This is when things will get interesting.

You see, the National Rifle Association puts one statement front and center at any opportunity.

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

Whenever challenged, just invoke the same 'ol platitude espoused in the constitution.  Can't go wrong there.

Even though I never thought the founding fathers envisioned morons like this guy...

with access to ammo and weapons like this...

...but that's an argument for another day.

I'm much more interested to see what transpires when the NRA comes into direct conflict with a new breed of gun owners - those who manufacture their own weapons outside the scope and regulation of government.  It's my contention that many in the highest positions of the NRA aren't really motivated by abstract constitutional principles.  They're actually motivated by GREED.  Pure and simple.  And they are beholden to those corporate interests.  These are the same NRA leaders that love to yap about the 2nd Amendment, but in truth, they really don't give a fuck.  It's just lip service to gun owners, hunters and voters.  In all the swing states, gun rights is always one of the most polarizing issues... and it's usually a winner, along with abortion and the recent hullabaloo over gay marriage.  Don't kid yourself, that NRA endorsement is a big fuckin' deal and it won't go away anytime soon.

They proudly endorse my U.S. Senator (and for the love of god, he's a Democrat).

How about that?  He lacks the courage to respond to a letter I wrote him regarding the artificially generated stampede.  This guy can take shots with a rifle, but is fearful of mere words on a piece of paper.  Way to go... Joe.  And here's the real irony... I voted for him.  I'll begrudgingly admit it.

But what's going to happen when all these DIY gun enthusiasts start popping up?  They'll be manufacturing, selling and purchasing their own weapons.  Well, it doesn't take a genius to figure out that as the homemade, cheap gun market soars (it will), the cost of "legally" purchased firearms is going to nosedive (it will).  Hmmm.  When profits in the gun industry stagnate or drop, guess who the NRA will go crying to?  Yep, they'll go bitching and screaming to the U.S government and every lobbyist, senator and congressman who'll give them the time of day.  "Hey, you better crack down on all these black market weapons.  They're not safe.  That's what's responsible for the surge in gun violence.  Not us.  And we've heard those guns are very popular with anti-government militia groups.  You'd better take heed!" 

Anyone recall the "music downloading crisis" in the early days of the internet?   Remember when the big recording companies sued all those college kids in their dorm rooms?  Those renegade punks (at Harvard and Columbia) are stealing copyrighted music.  OMG, hot-to-trot69 posted a link to that crappy Brtiney Spears song on her myspace page.  For the love of God!  That's theft.  We must do everything in our capacity to destroy her.  After a few months, Sony and CBS realized it was a waste of their resources and moved on.  So then, they targeted the internet downloading sites.  Megaupload... oh how I loved thee, let me count the ways.  GONE, in a blink of an eye.  But others have stepped up.  Mediafire, hotfile, the list goes on.  In time, I'm sure they'll end up on the government hit list as well.

It's just like the pharmaceutical industry.  Throw the "illegal" drug users in jail.  Assess blame, fine and imprison them.  Then of course, sell them the "legal" and "safer" choices like oxycontin and marinol.  Just like the early days of alcohol prohibition.  It's all the same.  No surprise in a hyper-capitalistic society where money, greed and corruption rule the day.

But my point is this.  As the DIY gun movement takes form, a major rift will emerge within the NRA.  It will be divided into two different camps (very similar to the split in the mainstream Republican party - core/mainstream GOPers vs. Tea Party purists/activists)

Those who are self-proclaimed all-out, unabashed supporters of the 2nd Amendment.


Second Amend-a-holics (those who feign love for the constitution, but honestly couldn't give a fuck.  Newsflash: they're just in it for the money.)

And when all the hunters and miscellaneous gun rights advocates realize they've been paying homage (and their dues) to the NRA for all those years... and all of a sudden, they realize they've been taken advantage of and made fools of.  Well, these people are going to be pissed off.  And when people with lots of weapons get pissed off...  Well, let's just say, if you're a student of history... this ain't a tasty recipe for mutton.

It's a recipe for disaster.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

overly responsive birthday analysis

Two years ago, I blogged about an "objective facebook birthday analysis."  Facebook has changed quite a bit since then.  It used to be about getting up at the crack of dawn, tending to the crops in a mythical, agrarian subculture called Farmville.  Or maybe it was about sipping on an imaginary Long Island Iced Tea.  Or maybe someone posted a special birthday picture filled with balloons and confetti.  There were all kinds of festive ways to celebrate.

The facebook "birthday terrain" has evolved a bit.  And guess what?  Today's the big day.  Personally, I'm hoping someone will post a pic featuring legions of diseased, inbred, Wheeling Island cats wishing me the happiest of birthdays.  The caption below it reads... "It's your birthday.  Go forth.  Be fruitful and mutliply."

And yeah, I'm sure someone out there will step up their game with...



maybe a picture of Borat in a swimsuit offering me an all-expenses paid vacation to Kazakhstan.

But instead, I'll likely be on the receiving end of celebratory birthday wishes.   Most of these heartfelt posts will read verbatim...

"Happy Birthday, Saf"
"Happy Birthday, Saff" (technically incorrect)
"Happy Birthday, Eric"

or some other inspired combination of the four. 

And as yet another facebook birthday creeps to a close, one things is for certain.  You almost always see the obligatory post from the host.  I call this the "posteth with the mosteth."  It inevitably says the same thing.  "Thanks so much for the all the birthday wishes.  I feel so blessed to have such great friends and family."  You tend to get this closing statement from EVERYONE on facebook, regardless of whether they frequent the site.  It seems to be the social norm.  Yawn. 

Alright, newsflash.  This all seems a bit mundane.  So I've decided to kick it up a notch (Emeril Lagasse).

Does anyone remember his brief sitcom on NBC?  I think it aired twice... maybe three times tops.  Regardless, here's a tactical breakdown of my birthday well-wishers.

52 - birthday wishes out of 320 facebook friends.
29 - were from females
21 - were from males
2 - were couples or "entities"
0 - were from family or relatives (don't read into this, my family isn't too hip on the facebook subculture)
7 - live outside my hometown (greater than an hour)
1 - currently lives abroad (perhaps I'm not as "worldly" as I originally projected)
4 - I haven't spoken to in 10+ years
19 - I've never been inside their home
15 - they've never been in my home
0 - I have only the vaguest notion of who exactly you are (hoping for at least 1).

Saf, why do you have to be such a downer?  Well, I'm honestly not trying to rain on everyone's parade (unless maybe it's the annual street fair in McMechon).  In fact, I'm going to do the exact opposite this year!  For someone who rarely posts on facebook, I'm doing the UNTHINKABLE.  The UNIMAGINABLE! The UNBELIEVABLE! The UNPRECEDENTED.

I will be responding to each birthday wish on an individual basis.  This is something I'd be inclined to do... the exact opposite of what everyone else is doing.

And for your convenience, I have copied and pasted all my birthday facebook responses.  Enjoy.  Last names have been omitted for those who are obsessed with privacy concerns yet routinely advertise their existence.

Billie Jo H.
Agreed.  Lunch is long overdue.

William W.
I appreciate the "Erica" reference. There's only a select few who call me that. I have an outstanding 3rd grade class picture of our class. I might post it.

Eric J.
I prefer Bell-Dirty birthday.  Call me maybe.

Tracy DB
The extensive dots culminating in a smiley face is very heartening!

Larry C.
I also share a joyous birthday with the deceased Jerry Garcia.  And to a lesser extent... Dionne Warwick and Bette Midler

Robert S.
Paul McCartney should have wished everyone a "happy birthday" at the Olympics instead of that Hey Jude crapola!  They say it's you birthday.

Dean C.
Yesterday, your sister confronted me at Kroger!  I was left relatively unscathed.  Thank you for the birthday wishes. 

Warren M.
Thanks for listening to me that day at Bob Evans and en route to the airport.  You need to ask our mutual friends (the Chrisagii) to describe our recent encounter.  I'm sure their "take" would be a fascinating one.    

Carrie B.
Was it not just a few days ago we shared a backseat in a stationary vehicle?  I don't want to sound overly romantic but there was definitely fireworks.  FACT!  Thoughts go out to our chauffeur (OMP) and his recently removed appendix. 

Guy B.
Thank you for the heartfelt wishes.  You may end up being the only person with a one syllable first and last name that wishes me a happy birthday.  Also, thank you for "liking" so many things on facebook.  Ranging from the heartfelt to the fairly innocuous.  For example... "It's hotter outside than the Sahara desert !!!" Guy Brown likes this. 

Todd M.
Sometimes I reflect back on those Village days.  It often seemed like a mirage.  But with plentiful screaming children and even louder adults.

Lee n Brian
You had the vision to bestow me with the nickname "Papa" even though I don't have kids.  Metaphorically speaking, you are correct.  You are ALL my children.  I would be honored if you allow me to monitor the wedding for potential stampedes.  We should be safe, but with the Wheeling folk... you never know. 

Jenn D.
Your husband defeated me on the golf course by a mere stroke.  I consider it a "stroke" of good luck as I crumbled on the final hole.  Still, I would like to extend my appreciation for dinner last night (surf'n'turf mayhem) and the accompanying leftovers (I will retain the tupperware until further notice).  And for the duration of my life, I will choose to GRILL brussel sprouts.

Dan S.
You brought much honor to the foosball table during an era I've termed "the early years."  If you ever find yourself in Wheeling, gimme a heads up.  I will inflict a level of punishment that vastly exceeds the humiliation recently endured by the South Korean and Chinese badminton teams.

Shaunna H.
I think we should collaborate on a future lunch review.  How about, and I'm just throwing this out there, a "renegade wilding vegan lunch?"  We sneak into vegetable gardens throughout Woodsdale, Wheeling Park and Elm Grove and sample the produce.   For example... Ohh, that tomato on Paxton Avenue was ripe and juicy.  I added a dash of pepper and a modicum garlic salt.  It was bursting with country fresh flavor.

Marla K.
It has been awhile.  I miss your take on the East Ohio political scene.

Jon R.
I think you should have taken me up on that offer for a coffee table made entirely of milk crates.  Not only would it have cheaper (I was only going to charge you 20 bucks), it would have been a great conversation piece.  Kramer might have said, "It's a milk crate table all about milk."

Brent M.
What an insidious, cryptic birthday wish!  Next time I see you, remind me to grab you a handful of mix cds (those trending metal, of course).

Whitney K.
Whenever I see your name, I'm always reminded of the late Whitney Houston.  You're the only other Whitney I know of.  I would enjoy hearing you sing a rendition of the Star Spangled Banner.  Perhaps out the crick by the fahr.

Julie F.
I think the last time I saw you was roughly 25 years ago.  You'll be relatively mortified to know I have not changed in the slightest. 

Jodi W.
Remember my suggestion from the Mustang Fair?  Always eager to hear your feedback.  And I know this sounds crazy, but I like the idea of you owning a dog named "Lulu."

Kirsten R.
Whenever I see your name, I'm confronted by the ultimate irony.  I love reuben sandwiches but I detest Thousand Island dressing.  Through life, I've managed to cope.  Here's how.  I just use Frank's Red Hot and a ton of cracked pepper.

Michelle W.
In 1993, I rode shotgun in a car that went from Wheeling > Morgantown > Cleveland.  I've never been so completely terrified for about 5 hours straight.  It wasn't you that drove, but the person did share your last name.

Yvonne M.
Whenever I see your name, I immediately think of you in conjunction with Carmella.  Hair teased up into the heavens.  Now (since you live in California) I'm reminded of the East Coast/West Coast gang/thug turf wars of the 90's. 

Christie M.
I jog by your house about once every 2-3 weeks.  I always have fond memories of the neighbor who put a box in his driveway to prevent people from using it as a turnaround.  Do you remember the time I threatened to kick the box?

I'm not sure exactly what this says, but so far, it's my favorite birthday wish.

Gordon L.
Thank you Gordonathon.  I had a great idea for your NYC triathlon video but Gigi nixed it. 
Remember the Bordon milk crate I gave you.  The "B" was scratched out and I replaced it with a "G."  You could have used it in the video.  Just say something like, "There comes a time when you have to simply have to "step up" and "elevate" your game!"  The action shot would have been you stepping onto the milk crate.  Good luck to you and the other crazed superhumans.  FYI - from what I understand, the Hudson is relatively germ free.

Michelle T.
I enjoyed last month's abduction.  Hope I didn't freak you guys out with my doomsday prognostications.  Here's an official "hop across the pond London Olympic shout-out" straight from Wheel-town.

Amanda P.
My dear friend Amanda.  You're the closest I have to an actual protege.  Kind of terrifying if you think about it.

Steve N.
My strongest recollection is continually falling asleep in that summer Geology class at West Lib.  Odd that I'd remember it so clearly... as I was continually drifting in and out of consciousness.  Call me sometime if you wish to learn more about that one conversation we had last summer.  A lot of stuff has happened since then.

Scott T.
Without the painful whistling of Scottie, the disruptive noise factor at Heinz Field would be off by 23%.

Heather G.
You're always so pleasant.  Even when accusing me of something I didn't do.  :)

Stacy C.
Thanks so much for commenting on all my blog nonsense over the years.  Your input is always appreciated.

Jess W.
My friend with the sly grin who's always willing to listen to my unabashed rantings.  I still think there should be a Paint'n'Sip dedicated to drawing a Chesapeake Natural Gas Drilling platform.  It's a win-win.

Rob A.
I see your name and think of that band "Athari Teenage Riot."  To the best of my knowledge, I've never heard a single song of theirs.

Mike S.
You could possibly be the wisest hillbilly of them all with an unsurpassed comprehension of all things crick. 

Heather S.
Life without my friend Heather would be like... soccer without Liverpool, football without the Steelers, dome hockey without electricity and foosball without a foosball.

Stephanie W.
We both drive a Subaru.  If you ever want to do a straight-up trade, lemme know.

Rita W.
You make me immediately think of that ZZ Top song... Legs.

Lisa B.
I always think of the infamous, machine-gun laughter.  You have this uncanny ability to instantly elevate the mood, no matter what the circumstance.

Brittany T.
I think everyone should call you Britannica.  It's a compliment.  Totally suits you.

Christina C.
When a warlord uses food as a weapon (mass starvation), we call this "lovin' the famine."

Kerri C.
Congratulations on the engagement!  KC - you remind me of the term "sunshine band."  Always all smiles. 

Brad B.
Another one syllable, first and last name.  Thanks buddy.

Stacey C.
Catwoman,  It's gonna be a hot Saturday night.  We need to unify and run that race.

Sandy K.
Oh snap!  Rest assured, I'm working on big picture stuff.

Robert F.
You might be surprised to know... about a year ago, I wrote a book.

Rick C.
A reference to the Southern Aluminum Finishing ball cap.  Nice. 

Despite your encouragement to have a loud and rockin' birthday, it was actually quite pleasant and contemplative.

Annie M.
You bear no resemblance whatsoever to Little Orphan Annie.  Believe it or not, when I was a little kid, I saw this production on broadway.  " The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow" warmed our hearts.

Erikka S.
If you ever wanna talk about... what we talked about... gimme a ring.  Either way, thanks for listening.

Jay D.
May the enthusiasm level of my future birthdays fall somewhere between the projected "lows" of your golf game and the "highs" of your customer service calls.