Thursday, June 22, 2006

Taking a Break

Time for me to take a blogging break. I'll be back in a week or so. I'm heading down to my basement with 25 gallons of water, some nutrition bars, books, and my gun. I don't want to see anyone. I need a break.

Just some thoughts though.

Why am I hearing about the World Cup? Who cares? I'm no sports nut, but who really wants to watch a bunch of Euro-weanies and Third Worlders kick each other in the shins?

Nothing makes me question democracy more than the fact that Larry the Cable Guy is popular. He's not funny. Come over to my house and I'll let you pull my finger. Now give me $75 and put me in a Pixar movie.

I'm reading The Last Full Measure, a historical Civil War novel. I've also read The Killer Angels and Gods and Generals. Man, it must have sucked to be at Gettysburg.

Something really cool business wise and personal wise may be happening soon. Can't write about it here...but it's cool!

There's certain people we should all know about; here's one. And another.

I caught Seabiscuit again on the eliptical (sp?) at the gym. They intersperse photos of the depression to parrellel the narrative. Not thinking anything in particular or feeling anyway in particular I noticed something funny. All the poor people in soup lines were thin. Skinny. gaunt looking. I know plenty of people on public assistance in my neighborhood. Almost without exception they are fat...and smokers.

I was prodded by the above observation by a Indian friend of mine in his school. I asked why his physician father decided to come to the states. many reasons but one was the father read about the rising epidemic (this would have been the mid-70s) of obesity among the poor in the U.S. His father thought 'what a great country - the poor people are fat!'

I've always loved that story.

I have a mail box. I paid for it. Why can't the UPS man put something in it? Didn't I pay for it? We give up little things too easily. Frog in a frying pan.

Stay You.
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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Censorship in the Bluegrass

Just for the liberals...

Censorship in the Bluegrass (h/t Pat Crowley).

OK, I have nothing to offer here but a couple links for my 10 hits per day. Admittedly, I don't follow Kentucky politics like I should, but how did this Republican governor get things so out of hand?

Stay You.
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Saturday, June 17, 2006

Long Day Saturday

It's Saturday morning and I feel like getting alot of work done this weekend. The Divine Mrs. M. has some kids stuff to do at our church all day and I've got a briefcase full of work so no time to nothing of much interest going on in my brain.

Today's Enquirer printed this story I did on Danielle Hart a recent Gateway Community and Technical College Grad. The Enquirer has asked me to help cover Gateway and Thomas More College in addition to the work I've been doing on Northern Kentucky University.

I have started working for another publication. A few months ago hung over in a hotel room on a Sunday morning after the wine festival, I was flipping through the program and began to wonder who writes this stuff? I should be writing for it. Maybe I could make a buck and get some backstage access to wine festival events. I called the guy listed as the editor of the program. I told him I'm a writer and wine fan and he thought that was wonderful because the people writing for the program aren't wine nuts. Since the next wine festival was a year off he did have some other jobs for me. He runs special sections for the Community Press.

The Community Press runs these little community weekly papers around town. They're owned by the same megaconglomerate that owns the Enquirer, but their focus is local, local, local - down to the block. This is apparently what people want to read about.

Anyway, I started writing for a monthly advertising insert they do. It's in magazine format full of ads to sort of sound like news stories. The editor of this pub sends me some material on the business who bought the ad, I put a story together, work with the purchaser (they change my beautiful writing), then submit it. Here's this months westside edition where I not only wrote the Kayak piece on page 11 but took the photos of the garden center on the front page and page 5.

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Friday, June 16, 2006

Play Guitar

You got your eye on the cheerleader queen
you're walkin' her home from school
You know that she's only seventeen
She's gonna make you a fool
You know you can't touch this stuff
Without money or a brand new car
Let me give you some good advice young man
You better learn to play guitar
That's the second stanza from John Mellencamp's 1985 album Uh-Huh. That was a big album in Indiana and I had it on vinyl and tape...for my walkman...when I mowed the grass. I was 15.

That cheerleader queen line really got me. So I bought a guitar. I've never learned how to play properly. I could do chords pretty well and eventually even learned how to bar chords, but I never had the stick-to-it-tiveness to actually learn a song with lyrics and perfect it. Sorta describes my entire teen years.

Then something else struck in my head. I watched Tom Cruise in Top Gun. The girls we were with went nuts for that scene where Tom Cruise & crew lip synch a Righteous Brothers Song.

I thought, "well that's stupid." The whole point of courtship is to embarrass, humiliate, and annoy the guy. That's the function flowers, candy, and jewelry serve. "Hey babe, here's some flowers that cost me $55 bucks and will be dead next week. Oh, and here's some candy to make your ass fat and here's a ring that serves absolutely now purpose. Maybe if you like them enough, I'll get to stand up at a church and profess my love for you in front of my drunk and stoned buddies." What guy wants that? But it proves your love. The civilized version of slaying a dragon, I guess.

Anyway, in this scene, the guys are humiliating the woman. I thought, I've got that beat. I'll sing songs. And it works. I didn't really need to know songs. I knew 10 chords or so and a few licks and - thanks to my Chevy Nova that only had an AM radio - I had an encyclopedic knowledge of lyrics to songs that came out in that characterless desert of music that occurred between the time Elvis was inducted into the Army and the Beatles appeared on Ed Sullivan I could make up songs on the fly.

The panties didn't exactly fly off for me. I always screwed up the deal somehow. But it was amazing how impressed these women (girls) were with some skinny frizzy haired guy who mumbled Pat Boone lyrics at them.

I was emboldened even more when I saw John Cusak Say Anything (click to see poster). In the most famous scene Cusack blares a boom box out at a girl with a song. He doesn't even put on decent clothes or comb his hair! Your eyes, umhumsn pelte; Your eyes, oiadsflkdplete. Just learn the song buddy.

Eventually the guitar was put away. A month ago I dug it out of storage and started playing again. Why? Because my oldest daughter asked about it...and because I don't want either daughter to be impressed with some dork with a six string. It'll most likely be some dork with a turntable, but these guys are going to have to work a little harder to impress the McEwen girls, goddamn it.

He's got to be 6'6" with a football scholarship to Harvard and at least three sonnets memorized to get in my door.

Stay You.
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Thursday, June 15, 2006

Thomas More College Jamaica Trip

I submitted a story to the Enquirer earlier this week that came back all marked with with question marks. No. Not the one I blogged about earlier. A different one. So I was feeling a bit like a loser. Being both negative and creative I had thoughts of them not returning my calls or e-mails ever again. "Howard? Oh, that guy," I could hear them sneer in the future. "What a disaster he is? He's the one that made a type in '06 and he submitted one substandard story."

So it felt good today when they ran this story on a college class in Jamaica almost word for word. I think there's alot going on with editors. Much like the Bandit, they have alot of work to do and a short time to get it done so my goal is to never ever EVER cause them a hassle. I want them to see my name and think - oh, this will be easy. That's how I want my investment clients to think of me also.

I'm feeling better.

Stay You.
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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Ohio River Run

It seems like forever since I had an article in the paper - about 8 days. But here's what they've printed. An article on a 2-week research program done each year down the length of the Mighty Ohio River.

I have an inventory in of some other stories and a few I need to get done before I have to take a week off for vacation. I'm in a race against the clock on this. I can' do any work the last week of June and quarterly taxes are due July 15. I'd love for my June work to make (at least do the heavy lifting) on that mid-year payment to the man.

It was also a story in which I messed up - I guess. For some reason Iwrote July instead of August near the end of the story. That would be a boneheaded mistake. the big honcho editor at the Enquirer left me a message while I was at the gym. Then I mowed the grass. then I did some paperwork and noticed the light flashing on the machine. It was 9:45.

I called the night editor. Not only had I messed up the months, but 1) Miriam Steinholz Kannan hyphenates her name - everywhere except on the signature of the e-mails she sent me. What motivated the editors to check this I have no idea.

2) I had lengthed the Ohio River by 2 miles. Again, this is what the prof told me. I didn't think it any big deal, but it is. A very big deal! You see, if the Ohio River is two miles longer than previously thought it totally misses the Ol' Missisip. It drains into south east Missouri and trickles down into Arkansas. Once there that trickles turns into a deluge which floods Texas and Oklahoma. Sure it will empty out in Houston - but who wants to go to Houston?

Stay You.
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Monday, June 12, 2006

Good Morning America

A show I've never seen will be broadcasting from the Purple People Bridge tomorrow morning. Go ahead and watch, I'll wave on my way to work.

Stay You.
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Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Abortion Post

When I read or watch anything with the abortion debate it usually sounds like Charlie Brown's teacher to me. Nothing new is ever said. Same arguments I heard in college are the same as now.
Then something pierces the cloud of boredom (hate to get all metaphory on you) light a bolt of lightening and jolts me. This piece has been going around a bit.

Here's my initial comments on Nobrainer's blog. I reviewed it to see if I would change my inital reaction...and I wouldn't.

Hate to sound mean…but here I go.

While dating-long ago-I always chose to use two - one, two - forms of birth control. Not once did I miss. Never even came close - even drunk.

I didn’t find it that much of a problem. Also, I’m 36. Only when I was in my early 20s did you not have to ask the pharmacists for a rubber as we called them then. Now you can get them at my corner gas station-next to the candy bars.

How hard is it for kids - or 42 year old broads - not to get knocked up?

Abortion is not going to go away. As this attorney proves, we're a nation of Homer Simpsons. I'm paraphrasing here:

Apu: Homer, when you and Marge decided to have children....
Homer: Decided? You don't decide to have kids. They just DUIs.
Abortion is here to stay because we just can't be bothered to get contraceptives.

KLo at NRO has a follow up here.

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Leaning on Lileks

I'm leaning on today.

I was told by a cop once that people don't get mugged as much because people don't carry cash as much. In many cases, a crook wants to grab some cash and be done with it.

I spent way too much time reading this this morning. Good story. I love - don't know what a sidekick is - technology. If I was ever tempted to keep something I found, I am now cured of that.

Driving up to the west side this morning (yes, you do drive up to the west side. the long east-west line is uphill all the way) I was behind a car with a bumper sticker that said Bush=Fascism. There was also one that said Give Peace a Chance, Celebrate Diversity, Work for Peace and Justice, and that old chestnut Free Tibet (ok, how?). Has a bumper sticker ever changed anyone's mind? Anyway, lileks had some snaps from a 1930's musical. Check out the flag display. Ummm, now that's good fascism. No. Not really. Fascism is an iron grip on society's cultural and economic activity. Not - as it's become - a shorthand for something you don't like. Facism often leads to mass graves - though not as many as the commies - not a conversational trump card to end arguments.

I've just finished reading The Killer Angels and Gods and Generals. I'm just starting The Last Full Measure. I think the charged political climate of today has nothing to do with Florida/2000 or the war. I think it's a paucity of historical perspective. Even educated people don't know history - much less step outside of themselves and see it from their perspective.

53,000 men died at Gettysburg in 3 days. 58,148 were killed during all of Vietnam. I'm just saying.

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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

06/06/(0)6 Part 2

I should have kept my mouth shut about today's date - 666. Locusts filled the sky in the western hills of Cincinnati this morning. the sky turned what I thought was blood red - but then I realized blood red was the color seeping from the walls here in the office. The sky is more of a bright amber.

As for me, my side hurts. My palms and tops of my feet have two two growing bruises. I'm also having back spasms and I swear with each spasm I hear laughing latin.

Otherwise my day is fine - except for this sombitch grim reaper dude taking swipes at me!

Sickle of death my ass! I got work to do. Death, go take a holiday.

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Monday, June 05, 2006


Here's something that needs to be said: If you believe black cats, broken mirrors, walking under ladders and not throwing salt brings bad luck; if you believe the military is covering up UFOs, there was a man standing on the grassy knoll, the Catholic Church is hiding Jesus, Jr.; if you believe knocking on wood prevents spoken ills from happening; if you believe the stars have any say whatsover on your life; if you rub a rabbit's foot or hang a horseshoe over your door; if you believe that saying bless you stops a person's spirit from escaping or a flash on light on a photo is a ghost or a creak of a floor board is a ghost and not a cat; if you've ever seen the Blessed Virgin in a tortilla or on the side of a building; and finally, Finally, FINALLY: If you have any fear of Friday the 13th or the stilly trick of the calender that - almosts - makes out the number of the beast...GROW THE HELL UP. It's the 21st Century.

It's thinking like these that dunks witches in rivers, makes physicians into voodoo practioners, and sends planes into World Trade Centers.

Man and his mind has turned back the night, overcame gravity, split the atom, fended off most diseases, and put TIVO in my living room!

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Call Your Insurance Agent

Here's a boring article but it pays the bills and keeps the peoples informed. It's about insurance agent continuing education - hey, WAKE UP. I'm typing here!

They did change my lede. I have a feeling it's because of the gender specific pronoun I used. Which one would you have preferred? The one used or mine which was:
If you’re having a hard time getting a hold of your insurance agent over the next month, chances are she’s in class.
Just in case you're still with me. I am a licensing insurance agent. "Really?" you ask. Really, I answer. I don't use it much any more. Don't sell many annuities and little life insurance, but I need it for when the occassion arises and to keep getting paid on things I sold before.

Here's my continuing education listing on the department's website.

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Saturday, June 03, 2006

A Evening of SOS's

SOS was an e-mail that popped up in my inbox at 5:05 yesterday. The Kentucky newsroom was having e-mail problems and my editor didn't have access to three articles I did. There were three holes in the paper where they should be. I shot him a quick e-mail, called and confirmed he got it. Problem solved. He e-mailed back:

I say this with total confidence in my heterosexuality: I love you.

I plan on using that as a reference. Two of the stories ran today. They are here and here. Nice variety in my work.

So I met the family at the gym and they had their own SOS. They daycare people didn't show. I did about 15 minutes on the elytical and then left The Divine Mrs. M to her sweat it out.

I brought the girls back and let them play with the Martinez girls girls down the street. About 8:00 I called them in. Harper didn't bring her shoes back I sent her back up the street. Checked on her a few minutes later and an ambulance was in front of the Martinez's house.

Lump in gut - saw the youngest Martinez and Harper running back to my house. "My aunt said to stay with you," said Selena. No problem. The Divine came walking up the street having been blocked by the ambulance. She watched the girls while I investigated. Her anglo grandma had had a heart attack. The paramedics worked on her. The only other adult was the "aunt" - tia - whose English was only slighly better than my Spanish. I muttered out some pigeon Spanish. Necissito ayuda? Selena es en mi casa. Es vale? And later. Selena dorme en mi casa? Si, yes, ok

Selena spent the night. I just handed her off to dad at 2.

Selena is six or seven. Seems like a happy kid. Doesn't speak much Spanish herself so no help there.

One of the sadiest thing I'd heard: Selena nodded to the ambulance and got an uncharacteristically harsh look on her face. She said, "They took my mom to the hospital in one of those and wouldn't let me see her. Then she was dead."

Mom had died a couple years ago.

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Thursday, June 01, 2006

Where's All the Mexicans Gone?

I don't know if they were Mexicans or not. We have alot of Hondurans on this side of town.

There's a deluxe car was three doors down from my office and for the past 6 years these little 5 and half foot tall brown men were drying the cars. They worked fast and furious. They looked to be in their twenties or older.

Now it's nothing but a bunch of white kids drying the cars. Their taller butslightly over weight and have that slack jawed yokelness that says they're going to some tech school but will be dropping out with the first tough class and will be unskilled labor the rest of their lives. They don't work fast.

I want to ask but am afraid to be rude: "Where'd all the Mexicans Gone?"

Most like to better things.

Here's a post via Michelle Malkin about a man making a stand against his customers ordering in Spanish. His old Italian neighborhood is going Spanish and he gets pissed when customer's can't order clearly in English. As a small business man, my response is simple. "Hey dick, You're in a major city. You sell sloppy sandwiches. If someone hands you money for one you say 'Gracias'." I can't wait until my business is so successful I can offend major portions of my client base.

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