Sunday, November 28, 2010

More "Overheard In New York"

Grandmother reading newspaper: Oh, it's grandparents' day tomorrow!
Grandfather: It can't be. That's in February, I think.
Grandmother: It says it right here.
Grandfather: But it has to be in winter, because he has to see his shadow!

Customer: Hey, you lost a lot of weight.
Barista: No, I gave birth two weeks ago.
Customer: To a baby?

Older lady: I slit my brother's throat one time.
Guy: Uhhh...
Older lady: Well, I didn't mean to... It was kind of an accident.
Guy: These things happen...

Receptionist: It's too hot. I think I might die.
Boss: You will not die. People have survived thousand of years without air conditioner.
Receptionist: And where are all those people now? Dead! That's where.

Office girl: My mom said she almost wrecked her car the other day because she was watching Elvis pick up trash on the side of the road. My mom said he was picking up trash in his jumpsuit, right there on the side of the road.
Office guy: Elvis was doing a little community service, was he?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

What Goes Around, In Three Days

I have heard it said, as reliably as anything you see on the Internet, that any joke, any visual sort of comic thing, makes it way around the net in three days. After that, it disappears. Or, to put it a different way, you will receive the same thing three times before it goes down the rat hole.

Currently, there is the Ms. TSA calendar for 2011, a series of twelve provocative positions of a lady in the scan booth. Only problem is, you can only see skeleton. Clever. The first time. “Delete meat" the second and third. I have nothing against the people who forward it, as they have the best of intentions, but it does fulfill the saying.

Having said that, I wonder how many times I have been the second or third person to pass on something which has been the object of instant death? I seldom forward, unless I think it’s really good, and then only to individuals who I think will like it. There are no group lists in my “Got to send this on” life.

What I really dislike, because I have to laugh at them, are jokes about my profession. It’s not that they are bad or anything, but I’ve heard them all before and many times. That’s why I never do that to anyone else; you can tell the punch like from the first word uttered. When someone says, “This is a new one,” I tell them, “I heard it.”

Speaking of forwards, I really don’t hate Jesus, but I don’t forward his messages, either. He understands I don’t do guilt trips.

Friday, November 26, 2010

A Death In The Area

Yet another soldier from this area lost his life in a far distant country. As usual, a young man who would have had a great place in our society as planned by his Creator, rather than stopping a bullet. The best and the brightest go down into the ground while the richest and the most powerful seem to keep their children safe from war.

Or so it seems.

If there is any consolation in this, at least the hate-filled folks from the Midwest family church did not make good on their promise to disgrace the soldier’s memory during his funeral and burial. I’d say it’s a good thing they didn’t and perhaps this time they did their homework.

For those reading this at a distance, Northeast Pennsylvania is where the Mafia chieftains live. They work in New York, but they live here among us. This “family,” that “family,” the next “family” – all neighbors, all loyal. You don’t have to fear them, you don’t have to agree with them; they know that.

But for a bunch of wandering hateful people who disrupt soldiers’ funerals, all bets are off. The local mobsters are dangerous people who care little about taking matters into their own hands. We secretly hoped this would happen just to teach a lesson.

The mis-named “Love Crusades” would turn into a “Retreat Disaster.”

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Friend Speaks Of Thanksgiving

Excerpt from a conversation explaining Thanksgiving Day to a non-American colleague:

FRIEND: "REALLY, so there are NO presents at all? You just have a big dinner, think and talk about all the things you are 'thankful' for and enjoy the company of family and friends?"
ME: "Yes, we do. And of course there is football and the many people who do special [non-paid, I had to specify non-paid to her] volunteer work serving and preparing Thanksgiving Dinners and helping out in other ways at Soup Kitchens, churches and charities on the day and the entire week before so that others that are less fortunate get a helping hand to have a Happy Thanksgiving."

FRIEND: "So Americans really have an entire holiday that is only about giving thanks for what they have and spending time with family and friends?"
ME: "Yes, we do. Giving thanks for what you have and helping other is very important."

FRIEND: "Wow, I never heard of a holiday like that. You mean there really aren't any presents??? You actually have an entire holiday that's about helping and very thankful?"
ME: "Yes."

FRIEND: "So, is it bigger or more important than Christmas?"
ME: "Well [after making my way through this conversation] Yes. I think it is bigger and more important to Christmas. For starters EVERYBODY celebrates it. It has no religious affiliation. It is the biggest Family Day, everyone goes to either family or friends and most people are involved in some kind of charity either on the day or in preparation for it. Everybody, no matter what religion they are, sit around their table and give thanks on that day. And yes, there are no presents. Because it's not about getting, it's about giving. All of this means it is both bigger and more important than Christmas."
(By my friend Daria Walsh)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

You Say Tomayto, I Say Tomahto

My brother was here over the weekend and left yesterday morning. That’s how I came to get behind on my blog entries in the past few days. He didn’t come all the way down here to watch me write “Things At King’s.” However, he did graciously appear on my radio show, so all was not lost.

I hear people complaining about their ex-spouse: “We had nothing in common.” Well, yeah, but what’s your point? Jim and I have nothing in common except our parents and we do very well together. And when we say “nothing in common,” we mean Nothing with a capital nothing. How to we handle it?

I know how I do it: living his interests through our daily e-mails, IMs at night, his written stories. I’d hate travelling around in a small camper, but it’s really nice to hear stories about what went on as he goes here and there. His fishing journeys would make me jump in the lake holding an anvil, but he writes well about them and I like that.

You don’t have to join in another person’s life to be compatible. You need to ask about it, get familiar with what your significant other likes and care enough to listen to the stories. You’d be surprised how interesting they can be if you don’t blow them off with “I’m not into that.”

I’m not into his travelling, but I’m sure into his stories about what happens, the people he meets. I’d hate to have anything in common with him; it’s more fun this way.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Red Light, Yellow Light, Green Light

Wilkes-Barre has a lot going for it, not the least of which is coming back to life after a long period of slow near-death. Our present mayor has had a big hand in it and I hope he sticks around for at least one more term.

Coal has left us, the garment industry is gone; in their place have come the medical industry (hospitals are industries for sure) and educational institutions, a bunch of them. The invisible taxes, parking meters and their tickets, also add to the city’s revenue stream.

But there are the curiosities which never cease to amaze me. The traffic lights are just one of them. When I came here, the lights (left/right) changed through the yellow. If you had the red, it went through yellow to green; if you had the green, it went through yellow to red, as customary.

Accident. “I had the yellow.” “No, *I* had the yellow.” One sped up to beat the red, the other jumped the approaching green.

Fire alarm. All the lights in that quadrant of the city went to flashing yellow. I guess if you couldn’t see the Big Red Firetruck, hear the siren or see the flashing lights, it might be a good idea. Maybe. Possibly. It’s also an invitation, presented on a silver platter, to have people with the best of intentions running into each other. Both concepts ended shortly after I arrived, much to my relief.

Monday, November 22, 2010

There's A Story Here

You know how cellars accumulate "stuff": things that get put there in no particular order. Occasionally, there is an unintentional storyline in how things get piled together and you don’t notice it until someone comes along and says, “Well! This corner sure says something about your sports life.” Only then do you realize the obvious.

My friend likes to ski and does it rather well. He never goes down the slopes, careful fellow, and avoids wiping out. You can see programs on tv where people start at the peak of a mountain and soon fall, rolling like snowballs for hundreds of feet. Not only that, but they set off an avalanche behind them and it’s not a pretty sight.

Not this guy. Coincidentally, he had an operation on some mobility part of his body. Maybe a leg, perhaps a hip; I forget. So for a while he needed a pair of crutches to get around and, when they were done, they were left in a closet for a while until they got in the way and ended up in the cellar. Next to the skis.

After the crutches, he only needed a cane to help him get around and, in due time, that also took up residence in the closet until the Better Half said, “This thing is doing nobody any good up here; now that you can walk, get rid of it. Stick it in the cellar.”

Down it went. Here’s the picture: a pair of skis, a pair of crutches and a cane. It looks for all the world as if the Downhill Skier went for a few jumps on the Mountain of Death, wiped out, lived on crutches, then a cane and hung up the skis for a while.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Big Bands, Little Bands

I’m a music columnist for a local newspaper and each Sunday (formerly Friday) I fill a prescribed number of inches with what I hope is deathless prose, award-winning thoughts, something which will survive wrapping tomorrow’s garbage in. It was an oral history of the big band era when an elderly friend shared his memories.

Ask ten people about the big bands; half will name the top three or four and the rest will say, “huh?” I write for both. Many people remember Glenn Miller’s Orchestra, now a “ghost” band on the road under the estate’s permission and (of course) financial gain. Fewer people will remember Anson Weeks, mostly a west coast operation.

There are the national groups, well-known everywhere, and the regionals. The latter may be just as good, but never strayed far from their base; content with good local bookings and maybe some radio hookups, they were happy staying clear of the road. Others played hotels and tv for years and never left home.

It’s amazing, given our propensity for going with the name bands, to see just how good the locals and regionals can be. I used to play recordings from a Boston regional and it was just as good as any of the bigs. Locally, here, one or two bands never moved out of the Valley and certainly could have.

If you don’t already know it, many of the big bands actually travel lean and depend on the locals to fill in the chairs. They are just as good.

Monday, November 01, 2010

More About Stairs

The stairs are one of the oldest buildings in architectural history; they have always played a central role in the history of humanity. Although it is difficult to tell exactly in which year they were born, it is believed its appearance was by the year 6000 before Christ.

The stairs seem to change shape with the change of architectural eras, reflecting the trends used in different ages and revealing the talent of those who designed them.

The first stairs in history were wood trunks fitted together; this kind was used to acquire strategic positions for survival. In a basic sense, the first use which was given to the stairs was to overcome the difficulties presented by the terrain. The goal was to be able to pass these difficulties as soon as possible: moving up often meant to a place of greater security which could have meant the difference between life and death.

Although they first emerged as a solution to a problem, in China the first granite staircase leading to the sacred mountain in Tai Shan indicated that one of the utilities given to the stairs was for religious purposes.

Confucius, in one of his stories, was said to have gone up this ladder to the top in the year 55 BC. Other examples of stairs built for religious purposes are: the biblical Jacob's ladder, the tower of Babel, the pyramids of Egypt that had stairs, the celestial ladder of Shantung in China, and the stairs in India --a peculiarity of them is they had also scientific utility. (Unknown source.)