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Friday, December 31, 2010

A HUMBLE WISH LIST FOR 2011 ( ADD YOUR OWN WISHES IN CASE THE HOOEY GODS ARE READING THIS EVENING!)


           Everywhere I look these days I keep coming upon list after list compiled to help sum up the year 2010, and it hit me that no one has put together a list of Most Heartfelt Wishes for the Coming Year.  Other than the personal faves (to lose weight, animosity, and hate, while gaining wisdom, patience, and if possible, a little wealth...) I've come up with a few I think we can all agree on:

1) I wish those who have the power to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan would bring our kids home, ASAP.  What becomes of those places without our blood and treasure concerns me less than the guilt of what we've done there.
2) I wish the meek would truly inherit a little bit of the world in my lifetime.  What I've seen so far suggests nothing of the sort is in the cards for the "have nots" as long as the "haves" run things.
3) I wish the followers of organized religions would begin to actually follow the tenets and teachings of those religions, with an eye on the "do unto others" credo, and spend less time fomenting the kinds of bigotry, hatred, intolerance, violence, and greed that no religion espouses.  This wish might be a little far-fetched, and I apologize for suggesting its possibility.
4) I wish our children would learn less from our darker natures and more from that which we all shared in our own youth.
5) I wish the planet Earth all the best, despite our ongoing efforts to kill her with all due haste.
6) I wish politicians the moral fortitude to do what's best for this country's least advantaged, while shunning those whose wealth compels them to do only for themselves.
7) I wish upon us all the universal ability to see beauty in those who have long forgotten they have it within them.

          Had hoped to round this off at ten, but will leave the rest to anyone who has a worthy suggestion.
          
           Happy New Year to all, and may your own wishes come true!

WONDER SOURCE OF FUTURE MATERIAL FOR BLOGGERS

http://www.dickipedia.org/dick.php?title=Main_Page

        The next time you're trying to dig up dirt on one of your favorite political or cultural blowhards, give this site a try.
        "Dickipedia" is great... it even has your mom listed!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

COWBOY GOVERNOR TAKES STATE OF TEXAS TO WAR WITH THE EPA ( and we wonder why their politicians behave as if something toxic is in their water supply...)

          There's been a states' rights battle brewing between the Lone Star State and the Environmental Protection Agency for years, but recently it's escalated to the point that the state is refusing to force industries to comply with new federal pollution regulations.  The EPA, in retaliation, has begun issuing compliance permits directly to the industries involved, bypassing the legislature and courts of Texas completely.  The battle is getting more and more political, and the results will be anything but good for Texas or the people who live there.
           Governor Rick Perry seems to see himself as a cowboy who needs a much bigger horse than the state of Texas has to offer.  If you've seen this cocky bastard preening and posing on any of the cable news shows, you know his ambitions don't stop at the border.  One way for him to flaunt his anti-Washington chops is to make a lot of noise about federal intervention in a state's right to control its own industries, water supplies, and air quality.  He and his administration's spokespeople are quick to point out that Obama and D.C. should be focused on job creation, not throttling the industries that produce the jobs in Texas.
            The EPA, on the other hand, is charged with protecting the environment and the people who suffer when it's abused.  If heavy industries in the state of Texas are somehow exempt from federal pollution guidelines, then what's to keep industries in other states from exerting pressure on their 'bought and paid for' legislatures to do the same for them?  Nothing at all, and that's the reason those of us who don't live in Texas (thank you Jebus!) need to pull for the Feds in this case.
             If or when Texas is allowed to set its own standards for water and air toxins exceeding the levels permitted by the federal government, the corporate whores and their elected lackeys will be quick to follow suit in every other state willing to poison the Earth in exchange for industrial development and the tax revenues that would follow.  This is one "rebellion" that needs to be swatted down, and quickly.
              Personally, I'm sick of the state of Texas dictating to the rest of us, not only in matters of pollution control and environmental safety, or immigration control, but in the much more insidious matter of "revised" textbooks for our schools.  Publishers have yielded to the demands of the mouth-breathing, knuckle-draggers of the Texas state legislature to amend history and science textbooks to more closely follow their deluded views on revisionist history and creationism biology, and because Texas is the largest consumer of textbooks nationwide, most publishers will make those changes universal in the books they print.  It's just easier to print one version of history than it is to print one that is factually correct and another for teabagging yahoos and shitkickers in Texas.  We all lose when stupid becomes the national standard.
              And we all lose when Texas wants more heavy metals in the air and water than healthy folks, plants, and animals have any business ingesting.  Governor Perry is prancing toward the national spotlight with his cowboy hand swinging around overhead, but the potential for this clown to do damage on a national scale isn't waiting for his move to Washington... it's here and now.

ON THE MERITS OF THE COEN BROTHERS' VERSION OF "TRUE GRIT" ( and no offense to those who prefer the Duke to the Dude... )

        Mrs. Squatlo and I don't go to the movies very often.  She probably would, if I could get past the ten or fifteen things about public theaters that make me crazy, but I can't, so we don't.  Two nights ago we went across town to see the Coen brothers' remake of True Grit, and thought it was brilliant.

         I've heard and read a dozen conflicting reviews of the movie, most of them respectful of the obvious artistry that went into making the new film, but some bashing it for somehow blaspheming the memory of John Wayne's Rooster Cogburn portrayal.  It's as if some folks decided before buying a ticket to watch the thing, then bitch because The Duke wasn't in the new film.  Panned before previewed, in mind if not fact.
           To those who have seen both films and truly prefer the original, all I can say is: maybe you need to rent a copy of that old "classic" and watch it again, this time without the John Wayne groupie thing in play.  The old movie was (how do I break this to you?) crap.  Yep.  Crap.  Wayne's performance won him an Oscar, true enough.  But you have to remember it was at the end of his long, illustrious career, and Hollywood was itching to hand him one of those horrid little statuettes, and probably would have given him one if he'd been filmed reading the phone book.
           Kim Darby's performance in the original was (again, how does one say something nice about something horrible?) pedestrian... good enough to pass for "acting", but hardly worthy of the book's main character.  And don't even think about praising Glen Campbell's part in the first film, because if you do, you automatically get the trap door/gong/hook/delete button/finger... and are hereby banned forever from this site.

            No, Jeff Bridges will probably never have the adoring fan base John Wayne commands.  But there are a lot of us who think highly of The Dude, and rightfully so.  The guy's an incredible actor, capable of more than one "character" (what a concept!), and doesn't walk like he has a pencil up his ass... unless the part calls for it, and if he keeps making movies for Joel and Ethan one just might.
            The new True Grit is a wonderful film.  It was worth the fifteen bucks it cost us to get in, worth the semi-sticky floors, the popcorn eating audience, the soundtrack-at-the-threshold-of-pain audio levels, the twenty-six movie previews, and even worth the trip across town in holiday traffic.
And as an added bonus, no one's cell phone went off during the film, and as far as I could tell, no one was texting or filming the movie with their little hand held devices.
             If you're wondering whether it's worth your time and cash to go see this one, I would recommend it.  It'll play just as well on DVD, actually, but I'm glad we made the effort to see it and support it at the theater.  This is the kind of film we ought to put our money toward: no computer generated special effects, no lasers, no mind-bending graphics and software-centric performances by blue animated characters, no flying dragons or invisible force fields or gratuitous sex or ninja sword fights or anachronistic wrist watches on the cowboys...
              Go see it, and take a kid.  They don't know what "westerns" are these days...

IN RESPONSE TO THE SLOWEST NEWS WEEK EVER, PILFERED GUANO! (no need to thank me, really...)








Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A MUSICAL INTERLUDE: DAVID GILMOUR "HIGH HOPES" (live performance)



        One of the best guitarists ever, David Gilmour on a solo tour, accompanied by fellow Pink Floyd-er Richard Wright on keyboards.  This performance is one of the best of the latter Floyd tunes (post Roger Waters) and has an incredible ending.

OLBERMANN TWEETS THAT FAUX NEWS IS "100% BULLSHIT" ( and someone somewhere finds that troubling? Oh, calm down, O'Reilly...)

           Mediaite is reporting that Keith Olbermann has taken criticism of his friendly relationship with The Daily Kos and used it to blast Faux News as "100% bullshit" in a Tweet.  Now there are folks debating whether or not that might have been less than accurate, because once or twice in the past decade Fox News has reported something correctly and without a rightward spin.
            Perhaps Olbermann can be excused for the hyperbole this one time... after all, Olbermann being wrong happens about as often as Faux News getting it right.  It's a rare deal, worthy of note when it happens.
            Here's a typical example for you to consider.  I'm not great with numbers, but aren't they supposed to add up to 100% when you total them up?
           

THE NEW ADVENTURES OF OLD CHRISTINE MIGHT INCLUDE PRISON... (O'Donnell investigated by FBI for misusing campaign funds)

          I miss Christine O'Donnell, the failed GOP teabagger from Delaware who lost in the general election in November, mainly because she seemed slightly less evil than most of the teabagger candidates, even if she was batshit crazy.
          Apparently, the FBI has an interest in her campaign's finances, because they've announced an investigation into the possibility that she used campaign funds for her personal expenses.  What they won't tell us is that O'Donnell was merely trying to have her campaign's primary air travel source repaired, and getting magic brooms fixed ain't cheap.
           The FBI would have wrapped up the investigation weeks ago, but two of the agents assigned to the case have mysteriously been turned into masturbating newts.
            I say if she weighs the same as a duck, we ought to burn 'er at the stake!  If not, Faux News ought to hire her and give her a chair next to Sarah's.  Hey, crazy times two might be just the ticket!  Hell, I'd tune in to watch that shit!
            You betcha...

UNIVERSITY COLLEGE OF LONDON STUDY SUGGESTS SIZE OF CERTAIN BRAIN PARTS DICTATES POLITICAL OPINIONS ( being conservative may not be a choice, but a birth defect! )

          This should come as a shock to those of us who just assume because a person clings to outdated, primitive, selfish, or narcissistic viewpoints on a range of political issues that person is a dickheaded conservative deserving of scorn and ridicule.  The results of a new study suggest that such self-centered viewpoints might well be due to certain abnormalities within that person's brain.  In other words, a person may be predisposed to asshole-ish behavior by the size of certain regions of his or her brain.  A birth defect, if you will...
           In a column by Susie Madrak in today's Crooks and Liars, she gives insight from a study conducted by the University College of London's Geraint Rees, the head of UCL's Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience.  That study found that when brain scans and MRIs were performed on 90 UCL students and two British parliamentarians, certain differences were noticed in particular areas of the brain that corresponded to political viewpoints of those examined.  The professor is quick to issue the disclaimer that the small test group consisted only of adults, which might throw into question whether political views affected the size of brain matter or the other way around.
          Here's a portion of Ms. Madrak's blog:
A study at University College London in the UK has found that conservatives' brains have larger amygdalas than the brains of liberals. Amygdalas are responsible for fear and other "primitive" emotions. At the same time, conservatives' brains were also found to have a smaller anterior cingulate -- the part of the brain responsible for courage and optimism.
          Now, if we can get them to study the human heart for discernible differences of the same nature we might have something.  I'm thinking liberals probably have a more human-like heart, while those who discount global warming, deny evolution, and think Sarah Palin would make a good Commander in Chief probably have heart tissue more closely resembling stone.
           Just a theory...






TUCKER CARLSON THINKS MICHAEL VICK SHOULD HAVE BEEN EXECUTED FOR KILLING DOGS ( yet opposes prosecution of Bush/Cheney war crimes? )



         First of all, nobody loves dogs more than I do.  I've cried over the deaths of my own dogs, and still think the pain suffered by the loss of a pet can be as severe as any known to man.  When Michael Vick's dogfighting story broke, I wanted his ass put away for his crimes.  I was happy when he was sent to prison, and think more of the same should be meted out to those who abuse and kill helpless animals.
          But I never thought Vick should have been given the death penalty for killing dogs...

           Tucker Carlson is a strange bird.  He can come across as funny, light-hearted, and intellectually aware, or as dense and partisan as anyone at Faux News, depending upon the political ramifications of the moment.  I've always found him to be more of a clown in the entertainment circus than a serious news correspondent, and pretty much disregard most of what he has to say.
            This is an example of why his kind of hyperbole warrants caution:  on a recent broadcast in which Carlson was standing in for Sean Hannity, Carlson said he thought Michael Vick should have been executed for killing dogs.  The death penalty for killing dogs.
           Just a reminder... this is the same Tucker Carlson who opposes any criminal prosecution of George W. Bush or Dick Cheney or Donald Rumsfeld for their part in misleading America into an immoral and illegal war or choice in Iraq that has resulted in the deaths of untold tens of thousands of innocent men, women, and children, as well as the displacement of millions of Iraqi refugees.
            Killing innocent Iraqis gets a pass in Tucker's World, but killing a pit bull deserves the death penalty.
             I think he's wearing his bow ties a little too tight...

THE CONTINUING MORAL INDICTMENT OF DR. HENRY KISSINGER (Dr. Strangelove's more evil twin makes headlines yet again...)

                                   Henry Kissinger (Nixon's right-hand Jew)

          I was but a teen when Richard Nixon became President, but remember quite clearly how his sneaky visage and paranoia served to form my current political opinions about the Cold Warriors and the Republican Party.  None of Nixon's cronies in that horrid administration was more loathsome, in my humble opinion, than Dr. Henry Kissinger.  From the first time I heard Kissinger's guttural voice, I was struck by the sense of foreboding and unease I felt about the man.
           Kissinger was Nixon's Secretary of State, and oversaw the most criminal foreign policy acts ever committed by an American administrationHis words and actions led to slaughters in Bangladesh, the secret carpet bombing campaign in Cambodia that led to the rise of Pol Pot and the murders of two million Cambodians, the overthrow of the democratically elected Salvador Allende in Chile, which led to the torture and murder of tens of thousands at the hands of his successor, Augusto Pinochet, as well as his support for the insurgency in Indonesia and East Timor, and the uprising of the Iraqi Kurds who were later abandoned and slaughtered by Hussein.
            Now Kissinger is back in the news... and as usual, in a bad light.  Recently released documents and tapes from the Nixon White House reveal that Kissinger was unmoved by the looming prospect of genocide against Soviet Jews after Israel's Golda Meir appealed to the Soviet leadership to allow Soviet Jews to emigrate to Israel.  He advised Nixon that "...emigration of Jews from the Soviet Union is not an objective of American foreign policy.  And if they put Jews into gas chambers in the Soviet Union, it is not an American concern.  Maybe a humanitarian concern."
                               Peter Sellers as Dr. Strangelove

           Currently there are warrants for Kissinger's arrest in Chile, Argentina, and France, and according to an article from Think Progress he's not returned to any of those three countries since being indicted there.
            My question is this:  Why do we not charge this man for the crimes he committed in our names in THIS country?  Why is he a revered public figure whose advice and counsel is sought out by current political leaders and pundits? 
             We have a strange habit in the country of honoring those who should be held in shackles for their crimes.  That odd 'forgiveness' of past sins makes us wholly unable to lecture foreign leaders for their own crimes and transgressions without the shame of hypocrisy so easily seen by the rest of the world.
               Kissinger should be standing trial for Crimes Against Humanity before the World Court at the Hague, alongside Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld.  The growing list of criminals we harbor and protect gives us no room to complain when other nations do the same thing.
            

A SQUATLO STORY: NUMBER TWENTY-THREE (The Scrabble Ledger... a withered parchment detailing one man's futility)

           Early on in my relationship with Mrs. Squatlo it became common knowledge that I couldn't beat her at the game of Scrabble, at least not often enough to suit my fragile ego.  We would play game after game, and despite my best efforts she would pound the living shit out of me, game after game.  Now, I don't think I have a bad vocabulary, and with any luck at all from the Hooey Gods who control the tiles pulled from the letter bag, I can usually hold my own with most mortals.  But this woman has "owned" my butt in the vast majority of our competitions, something I still have trouble dealing with and can't accept.
             At some point during our twenty year relationship I began to improve, and one night was having a particularly successful streak.  I think I had actually won four or five straight games, something that has occurred only once or twice in my favor in all those years of competition.  In boasting about my new found prowess, I made the mistake of saying we had reached a point of parity, that my game had reached the level of hers, and from now on the luck of the draw would probably be the deciding factor between victory and defeat.  She laughed and laughed...  I took her blatant disrespect as a challenge and suggested we begin a ledger to keep track of our wins and losses, a list we would mark after each game and refer to later for proof of my improvement. 
             Worst suggestion of my life... What began as a simple challenge to "keep score" of the outcomes of our games has since become a thing of ridicule for me, and I've been tempted to destroy the evidence on more than one occasion.  My wife, on the other hand, sees that ledger as documented proof of her superiority, and finds great pleasure in marking her wins with a flourish and appropriate commentary with every swipe of the pen.
             Our obsession with the game knows no bounds.  We once stopped on our way to a vacation chalet in the mountains, driving for hours on congested interstates, just to answer a challenge one of us had made in the car.  A rest area happened to be close by, and for about two hours we pounded away at one another on a picnic table alongside the freeway... arriving late to our chalet, where the competition began again in earnest (this time with B52's and shots of Crown).
              We've even carried a full-sized Scrabble board in our luggage on vacation to Costa Rica, where we spent hours of our trip safe from the rain under a tiki hut near an open bar, marking the ledger with each game's conclusion.  Tourists from half a dozen countries would stop by to watch, and before long others began to show up with their own Scrabble games, some of them in Spanish.
                As it turned out, escaping the rain at an all inclusive rain forest resort (in between two hurricanes) wasn't the worst thing that could happen to a vacation in Costa Rica.  In fact, the game introduced us to dear friends from Germany with whom we've stayed in touch and exchanged mail and gifts in the years since that trip.  Quite a few conversations were started with total strangers who were attracted to our competition, and who would often sit at our table to watch the fireworks that would follow my every defeat.

                I've become philosophical about my obvious lack of prowess at this silly game... I truly believe the Scrabble Gods poison the tile bag whenever it's my turn to reach inside for a draw.  My wife will invariably pull the "killer letters", the "X", the "Z", the "J", and the "Q", both of the blanks, and two or three of the four "S"s, leaving me to fight my way toward defeat with a tray that often looks like this: "C, V, V, I, I, E, I" or "K, V, I, C, G, I, U"...    I'd suggest a corresponding ledger to document this wealth disparity in the distribution of workable letters, but I fear it would prove as damning as the original ledger...

       

            Since starting the ledger many years ago, that small scrap of legal paper has become as tattered and fragile as an ancient parchment, and we've often said we should transpose the balance sheet to another, less worn document.  But still it's with us, on every day trip, or camping excursion, or vacation, growing ever more battered and tattered with every handling.
             Some traditions are painful to look at, but fun to remember...

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

OBAMA PRAISES EAGLES FOR GIVING MICHAEL VICK A SECOND CHANCE ( but doesn't offer "Bo" for a sleepover...)

          A day or two ago I read that President Obama had said he was glad the Philly Eagles had given Michael Vick a second chance in the NFL after his dog-fighting conviction and imprisonment... and I guess I agree with the notion of redemption and all that.
           Of course, there weren't any photos of the Obama kids kissing "Bo" the White House dog goodbye as he left to spend the weekend at Mike's.  Might be a little soon for sleepovers at the Vick house. 

          

SLEEPING SCREECH OWL ( totally oblivious to me and the camera...)

        My sister wrote an email from her home in Rockvale to say there was a screech owl sleeping in a tree near her house, so I drove over for the photo op...
        This bird has been there off and on for a couple of weeks, and doesn't seem to mind the shutter noise.  She has pictures of it with its eyes open, and it's right eye is obviously blue and blind from an injury.  While I was there this morning it didn't open its eyes, though.



A MUSICAL INTERLUDE: CROSBY, STILLS, AND NASH (Woodstock performance of Suite: Judy Blue Eyes)



        Not too shabby, considering it was their second public performance together. 

LITHIUM MIGHT BE MODERN BRAIN PANACEA, BUT BECAUSE THERE'S NO PROFIT FOR PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANIES, THERE'S NO RESEARCH AND DEVELOPEMENT (money talks, crazy folks walk)

        There's an interesting article over at discovermagazine.com concerning the use of the element lithium to treat a variety of mental disorders and brain damage, and a disturbing look at how cash makes the world go 'round.
         According to this article, lithium was the first drug used to treat mental illness more than 50 years ago, and no one even knows how it works or why it is so effective.  Studies have shown that lithium (the lightest of metals) causes a rebirth in damaged brain nerve cells, repairing the brain-shriveling effects of Huntington's and Alzheimer's Diseases, and calming manic or bi-polar mental patients.  These studies suggest lithium might even be a preventative for those diseases, as well as a great emergency room response for people who have had strokes due to a lack of blood and oxygen to the brain.  But we may never see these studies' findings implemented in general practice, because no one can patent an element.
           Because lithium's medicinal properties require a very delicate dosage amount (too little does nothing, and as little as 30% over dosage can cause severe problems, even death) further studies are needed to find the exact balance necessary to achieve positive results for each prospective disorder or disease treatment.  But because no one can claim a patent on the cure, pharmaceutical companies won't fund the necessary research.  In other words, instead of using a proven remedy, the money boys at the drug companies would rather spend billions on new research to develope drugs they can patent and profit from instead of something anyone could acquire and use without their help.  There's no profit in doing the costly research just anyone could exploit later.
           A study was conducted by a team from the University of California at San Diego, and they found certain counties in Texas had higher than normal concentrations of lithium in their drinking water.  Those counties, correspondingly, had lower mental health hospital admissions, lower crime rates, and  lower suicide rates.  I doubt that Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) or any of the other flaming wingnuts from the Lone Star State grew up drinking THAT water... But maybe they ought to consider putting it in their coffee before they leave town for D.C. next month.
           

Monday, December 27, 2010

TODAY'S QUOTE: FROM DENIS DIDEROT (1713-1784)

      I was surfing around the blogosphere earlier today looking for something of interest, when I came upon a blogger who had a Denis Diderot quote as the subtitle for his blog.  His quotation:

      "Man will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest."

       I recognized the line, but couldn't remember to whom it should be attributed, so I googled the search... and found this one, also from Diderot:

   



"In any country where talent and virtue produce no advancement, money will be the national god. Its inhabitants will either have to possess money or make others believe that they do. Wealth will be the highest virtue, poverty the greatest vice. Those who have money will display it in every imaginable way. If their ostentation does not exceed their fortune, all will be well. But if their ostentation does exceed their fortune they will ruin themselves. In such a country, the greatest fortunes will vanish in the twinkling of an eye. Those who don't have money will ruin themselves with vain efforts to conceal their poverty. That is one kind of affluence: the outward sign of wealth for a small number, the mask of poverty for the majority, and a source of corruption for all."


       If anyone can find a better description of our current foreclosure mess and the economic house of cards we all cling to for security, I'd love to read it.
      
                   Statue of Denis Diderot in Langres, France, his place of birth



ALVIN GREENE FILES CAMPAIGN ENTRY FEE FOR STATE HOUSE OF REPS IN SOUTH CAROLINA (ponders run for presidency...)

              FORMER SENATORIAL CANDIDATE ALVIN GREENE

         I guess the action figure toys of himself in his uniform and suit aren't paying the bills for Alvin Greene, the Democratic nominee for the Senate in South Carolina.  He's filed the $165 entry fee to join the race for the state House of Representatives, according to the Clarendon County Court Clerk's Office, and is pondering a run for the presidency in 2012.
         Think Progress has the story, but only up to a point.  The real story is how did an unemployed vet with no money in the bank ever land on the national radar as a major party's Senate nominee... and that's a mystery not likely to be solved any time soon.  South Carolina Senator Jim Demint is now among GOP power brokers mentioned for the Republican nomination for President in 2012, thanks, in part, to an easy reelection to the Senate due to Alvin's meager opposition. 
         Keep an eye on Alvin Greene... if he somehow lands on the Democratic ticket as a challenger to Barack Obama, I wouldn't bet on him losing the nomination.  There are powers at play here from the Palmetto State that defy explanation... especially if Senator Jim Demint is the Republican nominee.

WINNING CONTEMPORARY DEFINITION OF POLITICAL CORRECTNESS (from my sister via Texas A&M University)

        I got this from my sister in an email.  Apparently, Texas A&M University holds an annual contest to get contemporary definitions of common phrases.  This year's winner had the best definition of the term "Political Correctness"...

"Political Correctness" is a doctrine, fostered by a delusional, illogical minority, and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a piece of shit by the clean end.


        Well said, I have to admit!

BP GULF SPILL WAS LIKE PORN TO TEXAS REP. RALPH HALL (incoming House Science Chairman gets hard-on watching "bubbling" energy...)

          It was my intention to lighten up on the state of Texas and the morons they elect to office from the Lone Star State, but that's a hard pledge to keep when they insist upon speaking in public...
           Incoming House Science and Technology Committee Chairman Representative Ralph Hall (R-TX) perfectly illustrates the consequences of elections.  Hall has never met a fossil fuel he didn't love more than his mama, and intends to pursue a radically aggressive campaign to bring more of it bubbling to the surface when he takes over the Science and Tech Committee in January.  His wet dream is to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil exploration, and not even the spectacle of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster can dissuade his infatuation with all things oily.
           In an interview with the Dallas Morning News, Rep. Hall stated his intention to call climate scientists to testify about the "hoax" of man-made climate change, and reiterated his pro-drilling stance even in light of the Gulf disaster.  Speaking of the BP spill, Hall had this to say (from Think Progress):

As we saw that thing bubbling out, blossoming out – all that energy, every minute of every hour of every day of every week – that was tremendous to me. That we could deliver that kind of energy out there – even on an explosion.

           You wouldn't think anyone would be able to turn the Gulf oil spill disaster into a money-shot facial, but Hall doesn't fap to just any old stimuli.  Apparently, seeing that churning spew of mother-earth juice flowing non-stop for weeks left him as turgid as a lap dancer's pole, and he intends to bring that kind of petroleum ejaculation to every corner of the American empire.  I'm sure the cash cow of his election campaigns won't suffer much if he's successful in making oil exploration and drilling the centerpiece of America's energy policy for the next few years.
            A quick glance at Rep. Hall's contributors (from opensecrets.org) indicates that the oil and gas industry PACs ranked just above the Electric Utility PACs on his list of folks to take care of while in office. 
            I'm going to make a concerted effort to stop bashing Texas, I promise I am... But assholes like this guy make that a tough pledge to keep.  God knows we send our share of shitheads and morons to Washington from Tennessee, and I'd hate for the entire state to be judged by their words and deeds... But I'd understand if folks wanted to hold us accountable for their time in office.
             Maybe it's just that Texas sends so many people to D.C. that it makes it seem as if all of the loons and goons are from that state...

SET YOUR DVRs, HOUSE REPUBLICANS WILL READ THE CONSTITUTION TO OPEN NEXT SESSION OF CONGRESS (and after that, all will be legal and just in America)

       I love pointless political theater.  It's like having popcorn at the movies, or a hotdog at the ball park.  It may not taste as good as it smells, and god knows it isn't good for anyone, but damn! it's just the thing, sometimes...
       A blurb in the Washington Monthly (from an item in the Washington Times, that beacon of journalistic integrity) informs us that the incoming House Republicans intend to open the next session of Congress by reading aloud the entire Constitution of the United States.  After all, if you want to impress the folks back home that you're the party true to the intentions of the Founding Fathers (whose intentions were anything BUT unambiguous and contrary to one another's) then reading the Constitution should do the trick.
        Back when George H. W. Bush (the elected Bush) was running for reelection in 1992, his campaign advisors wanted to find a way to ensure the American public knew the Republican right was the only truly patriotic and American political party in the race, so they made a big production out of opening every rally, press conference, and photo op with a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.  Bush Sr. would put his right hand over his heart (we assume there was one in there) and begin the Pledge in that nasally, condescending tone we came to know and loathe... and the reporters in the room would either chant along dutifully or stand there with pens and pads in hand waiting for their chance to ask the President questions about current events or the campaign.  And we all know that simple exercise of reciting the Pledge of Allegiance did more to salvage American ideals than anything ever had!  Just the emphasis on the phrase "... under God..." was enough to show the world those treasonous Democrats and their atheistic secular vision of America was doomed.  Clinton won the election without much more than a lapel flag pin, but that's beside the point.
          Funny thing about political theater, though.  Later, when the bloom comes off the rose and those same Republicans in the House are proposing to restore the "original" 13th Amendment, or rewrite the 14th Amendment, or repeal the 16th Amendment, or completely scrap the 17th Amendment, the CSPAN coverage of their showy "Constitution Read-Along" will be replayed over and over on MSNBC and Jon Stewart's The Daily Show... and we'll all just laugh and laugh.
          So set your DVRs and be the first on your blog to have a copy of the original vid follies of the new year!

OLYMPIC DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKER BUD GREENSPAN DIES OF PARKINSON'S AT AGE 84

                SPORTS DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKER BUD GREENSPAN

           Bud Greenspan's films brought the world of Olympic athletes home to millions of us, and he'll be missed.  Greenspan's epic documentary "The Olympiad" was a monumental tribute to the athletic and personal struggles required of those who hoped to represent their counties in the Olympic Games, and served to ensure my love of Olympic sports forever.  The "Up Close and Personal" style Greenspan used has often been imitated since, but no one did it like this guy. 
           Bud Greenspan passed away yesterday from Parkinson's Disease at the age of 84.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

WRAPPING PAPER GUANO TIME! PILFERED ITEMS FOR YOUR CHRISTMAS HANGOVER...


        CLAY BENNETT CHATTANOOGA TIMES FREE PRESS!





COOPERS HAWK STOPS BY FOR LUNCH ( cowbirds, beware...)



            Whenever we find a pile of feathers near one of our bird feeders, we automatically assume this fellow had something to do with the mayhem.  This Coopers Hawk stops by about once a week to dine at our feeders... not from the feed we put in them, but from the customers the feeders attract.
            Death from above, and all that.
            Sorry these are a little soft, but they were shot through a dirty window pane and a driving snow this morning...

ARMY VICE CHIEF OF STAFF THINKS TROOPS NEED MORE TIME AT HOME BETWEEN DEPLOYMENTS ( gee, ya think? )

          In an interview with ABC's "This Week", U.S. Army Vice Chief of Staff Peter Chiarelli said he believes the troops would benefit from more time at home between repeat deployments.  I couldn't agree more.  My suggestion would be fifteen to twenty-five years between deployments, and they have to be in separate conflicts from the one already visited.  In other fucking words, if you've served in a combat mission and been allowed to come home in one piece, you're through with that shit. 
          Chiarelli admits problems with troops coming home with post traumatic stress disorders, substance abuse, climbing divorce rates, suicides, and a growing problem with homelessness.   Currently there are 9,000 vets from Iraq and Afghanistan listed as homeless in America, and the current rate of veteran women joining the ranks of the homeless is twice that of the men.
            If you want to put a cork in this drain on the national treasure, not to mention the loss of lives associated with serving in those third world hellholes, the simple answer is to STOP SENDING OUR KIDS OVER THERE IN THE FIRST PLACE.
             Bring 'em home, keep 'em home.  Take the cash we were going to piss away THERE and spend it housing the vets we have HERE... then take care of their minds and bodies and children.  We owe them that much, don't we?

Friday, December 24, 2010

HUNKERED DOWN, WAITING FOR THE SNOW AND SANTA~! MERRY CHRISTMAS TO EVERYONE FROM SQUATLO'S WORLD!!!

           Mrs. Squatlo and I made a huge batch of homemade barbeque last night and spent a couple of hours trying to deliver packages of it to deserving friends and relatives this afternoon... and since then we've come back to the house for an evening of Lynchburg Lemonades and a snow watch!  They're predicting the first White Christmas in Nashville in over 19 years, so there's no way in hell it'll happen...
            But, just in case, we've stocked up on the basics (beer, bread, barbeque buns, and Crown Royal...) and no matter what happens, we're ready for Christmas!

             To all who have made a stop by here in the past few months to check out the rants and ravings of this gnarly curmudgeon, I want to thank you for your kind words, your support, and your dedication to keeping things "left of center."

              Hope Santa takes good care of your every wish tonight!

              Merry Christmas!  (where's my drink, babe...?)

MOVE OVER BELMONT UNIVERSITY, KILGORE HIGH TAKES GAY BASHING TO A NEW LEVEL! (teen girl "outed" by softball coaches, kicked off team)

        A couple of weeks ago a small Christian college in Nashville made national headlines when it forced the school's women's soccer coach to resign after she had notified her team of her gay partner's pregnancy and the impending birth of their child.  Belmont denied forcing the coach to resign, saying she "resigned," but a shitstorm of controversy has erupted among Belmont alumni and the community of Nashville that continues today.  But Belmont has nothing on Kilgore High School in Texas...
        According to a story in The RawStory, a teen softball player at Kilgore was locked in a room by her two female softball coaches, forced to admit her homosexuality, physically menaced and threatened by the coaches who then called the girl's mother and notified her of her daughter's sexual preference, before kicking her off of the team.  The mother and daughter are suing the coaches, the school, and the Kilgore Independent School District, whose spokesman was quoted as having told them the school was "legally obligated to share this information with the parent."
         Now, that's a law I'd like to read.  A law that instructs school officials to out a kid to his parents if they confirm his or her homosexual preferences.
          Yet another reason to raise an eyebrow when "Texas" is mentioned... like we say up here in Tennessee, "If not for Tennessee there never would have been a Texas.  And we should never stop apologizing for that."

ACLU MAKES "TERRORISM MAP" IN TENNESSEE AFTER WARNING PUBLIC SCHOOLS TO KEEP CHRISTMAS CELEBRATIONS INCLUSIVE (Big Brother's got volunteers down here...)

         According to a story in the Chattanooga Times Free Press, the American Civil Liberties Union has managed to find itself listed among terror organizations for suspicious activities after warning Tennessee's public schools to keep their Christmas celebrations non-religious and inclusive.
          Something called the Tennessee Fusion Center, apparently founded in 2007 to coordinate local, state, and federal authorities with concerned citizens, has maintained a threat map detailing (with flashing icons) various crimes, threats, and suspicious activities that had been reported in the state of Tennessee.  After the ACLU issued its annual letter advising public school authorities to maintain all-inclusive, religion free Christmas celebrations, the Fusion Center's map suddenly had an icon near Nashville listing the ACLU as a terrorist threat.
          The map has since been "corrected", and all's well again here in the Volunteer State.  But when an organization devoted to protecting free speech rights for all of the state's residents is labeled a terrorism threat for reminding school systems to abide by federal laws, you have to wonder who's running the show at the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. 
           Something tells me this isn't quite over yet...
           Cue Bill O'Reilly to crank up his dusty old "War on Christmas" siren again...

Thursday, December 23, 2010

DRUNK DRIVER FOUND WITH 15 STOLEN SHEEP IN HIS MERCEDES... (must have been quite a party...)

         There's a blurb out of South Africa over at Huff'n'Puff Post concerning a gentleman found to be 32 times the legal limit for alcohol when stopped by police.  That alone would be noteworthy.  But not only had he consumed 32 times the legal limit in alcohol before driving off in his Mercedes-Benz Vito, but he also had a woman and five boys in the vehicle with him.  Six passengers along for a ride with a guy who'd had enough alcohol to kill a couple of people...
          They weren't alone, though.  Police also found 15 stolen sheep in the car with the driver and six passengers.  That party had to have rivaled the one in the movie "The Hangover"... minus the tiger.
          

A MUSICAL INTERLUDE WITH A CHRISTMAS CONNECTION: JOHN PRINE AND STEVE GOODMAN "SOUVENIRS" (live performance)



          Another one of my all-time singer/songwriter heroes... Prine and the late great Steve Goodman live on stage.   After "Souvenirs" Goodman plays a solo clip I'm not familiar with, but it's nice!

RUDY GUILIANI AND THREE OTHER PROMINENT REPUBS AUDITION FOR DIXIE CHICKS IN PARIS! ( political exile to follow... )

                         FORMER MAYOR RUDY GUILIANI
       There's a story available on ThinkProgress about a recent speaking engagement in Paris by former New York Mayor Rudy "9/11" Guiliani, former homeland security advisor Fran Townsend, former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, and former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, in which they spoke before the anti-Mullah Iranian exile group Mujaheddin-e Klalg (MEK).  Why is this news?  Because MEK is listed as a foreign terrorist organization by the United States, and to give them comfort, aid, or support is considered illegal in this country.
         Guiliani, Ridge, and the others were there to bemoan the fact that the MEK is still listed as a terrorist organization, and to bitch about the Obama Administration's foreign policy efforts toward reform in Iran.  According to the ThinkProgress article, the Supreme Court ruled in Holder v Humanitarian Law Project that the First Amendment does not protect humanitarian groups or others who advise foreign terrorist organizations.
          
           I've got a question:  When Natalie Maines took a meek little poke at George W. Bush while the Dixie Chicks were on stage overseas, the right went totally apeshit in this country.  "You can't criticize the President of the United States during a time of war on foreign soil!"  Boycotts of their music got them pulled from hundreds of radio stations around the country at a time when their popularity was at its peak, their concert dates were canceled, and they became pariahs to most of their fan base in America.  Churches organized CD burning parties, events that were trumpeted by Faux News as if Elvis had been spotted shopping at  Walmart in Peoria...  To this day, the Dixie Chicks can't get their music played on many country stations, and for all intents and purposes they've disbanded as a group.
            Guiliani did something far worse than Natalie Maines when she commented she was embarrassed to know that George W. Bush was from their home state of Texas.  Guiliani took to the podium on foreign soil and gave a speech critical of the Commander in Chief to a KNOWN TERRORIST ORGANIZATION.
             Someone explain to me why three very talented singers had to be burned at the stake, but Rudy gets a pass for this shit?  Whose words were more damaging to American interests abroad?  Whose words were "off the cuff" and whose were given in the course of a speaking engagement?
              I'd like the Justice Department to consider bringing charges of treason to those four, and let them have a taste of what the Dixie Chicks went through for having done far less.

                                        THE DIXIE CHICKS

PAT ROBERTSON THINKS IT'S TIME TO DECRIMINALIZE POT? (be still, my heart... I'm sure it's an April Fool's Joke from a guy who can't read a calendar)

      Okay, I've been watching the news for the past couple of weeks with fingers crossed and a silly smile on my face, hoping upon hope that Congress will do the right thing on half a dozen issues I consider important.  Maybe good karma is behind it, but a lot of those things have fallen into place, in a bizarre, Kafka-like way, and now I'm left to wonder if there are any other surprises the universe can offer before Christmas Day.
       Right on cue, Huff'n'PuffPost tosses one at me that's hard to believe: Pat Robertson thinks it might be time to decriminalize marijuana.  Yep, THAT Pat Robertson.  The presidential candidate.  The guy who blamed 9/11 on gays and the ACLU.  The same man who most recently attributed the earthquake in Haiti to that country's alleged "pact with Satan" back in Napoleon's reign of terror.
       Speaking on the subject of faith based rehab for incarcerated Americans, Robertson noted that too many of America's young people are going to prison for pot possession and coming out as hardened criminals, often committing much more serious crimes and returning to prison.
        Here's his quote from Mediaite:
        “I’m not exactly for the use of drugs, don’t get me wrong, but I just believe that criminalizing marijuana, criminalizing the possession of a few ounces of pot, that kinda thing it’s just, it’s costing us a fortune and it’s ruining young people. Young people go into prisons, they go in as youths and come out as hardened criminals. That’s not a good thing.”

          A day after Don't Ask, Don't Tell was repealed by the Senate, Pat fucking Robertson has advocated the decriminalization of marijuana.  Okay, I know I'm being "punked", and there's a camera watching as I type...
           What's next?  McCain is going to come out in support of gay marriage?  George W. Bush is going to tell us he ducked out of military service in Vietnam because he was having too much fun snorting coke?  Fred Phelps is coming out of the closet? Nah... don't be ridiculous!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

HAVE WE GONE THROUGH A WORMHOLE? LAURA INGRAHAM AND DICK MORRIS LAMENT REPUBLICAN CAPITULATIONS ON LAME DUCK LEGISLATION! (god, this is funny...)



         A week or two ago we could tune into MSNBC and watch progressive commentators wringing their hands and whining about horrible compromises and capitulations from the White House to the GOP, and it seemed as if any gains sane people had made with the election of Barack Obama had been squandered in the final weeks of the mid-term session.
          Tonight, on the Republican Party's wholly owned subsidiary and propaganda machine Faux News, two of the GOP's most strident conservatives were seen bitching about their party's collapse in the final hours of the lame duck session.  This was must-see TV, if there ever was such a thing!
           Laura Ingraham, the sanctimonious scold of right-wing radio, was interviewing Dick Morris, the ultimate political chameleon of our age, and they were basically holding one another's hands and crying on-air about the successes of the Obama Administration in the passage of several pressing legislative bills late in the lame duck session.  Ingraham might warrant a "suicide watch" from the sound of her whiny ass, while Morris decided to just make up his own Constitutional facts as he went along.
           Dick Morris was just as upset as Ingraham about Don't Ask, Don't Tell, the START Treaty, and several other legislative gems Obama squeezed out of the Republithugs, but he tried to make it sound as if everything the Democrats gained in the final hours of the session was illegitimate or illegal.  He said, "... a session in which 20% of the Congressmen and Senators were defeated, they're not supposed to be there, they were repudiated by the voters" and then "used the intervening gasps of breath to jam through legislation that a Congress of elected officials would never have supported."
             First of all, you fact-challenged gasbag, those ARE duly elected Congressmen and Senators who passed those various pieces of legislation.  They are supposed to be working until replaced by the incoming Congress, and anything they vote on COUNTS.   To say that nothing is legitimate unless voted upon by the officials who won the last elections is to disregard American law completely, and to render moot any legislative action taken between November 2nd, and January, when the new Congress takes their oaths of office.
            Not only is Morris all pissy about this last minute flood of legislative success by Obama, he even suggests that several of the Republicans who went along with the President (and the majority of the House and Senate) should face primary challenges for not staying in lockstep with the GOP leadership who wanted to stall START, deny health care coverage to first responders, or continue the policy of DADT.  Among Morris's list of Senators who need to face primary challenges, he listed Tennessee's own dynamic duo of Corker and Alexander, two of the most die-hard conservative jackboots in the Senate.
           To watch these two whine so publicly about Obama's late legislative successes was like a balm for my soul.  I hope they're just as "pissy" two years from now.
           Damn, this has been a fun week!  Merry Christmas, to one and all!

WHAT A DIFFERENCE TWO WEEKS CAN MAKE! ( naysayers beware, praise for Obama ahead... )

        Okay, I'll keep this brief... two weeks ago I found myself defending the President in the comments sections of blog after blog, and felt as if I was the only progressive left in his camp.
I tried (poorly) to say that the man had been dealt a particularly shitty hand by the last guy to hold the office, was fighting a unified obstructionist GOP, and was getting absolutely no backing from his own base to continue the fight, and yet was getting some things done no one thought possible.
         I won't list off accomplishments, but the past couple of weeks have been punctuated by setback after setback as the lame ducks quacked along toward their Christmas party recess.  Suddenly, though, the dam has burst and a lot (!!!) of things are happening that have to give heart to those of us on the left.  Getting DADT swept into the dustbin of history is huge, and so is winning the fight to get health care benefits for first responders.  The START Treaty looks like a done deal, and half a dozen other legislative 'biggies' have already fallen.
         Maybe it would be prudent for us to give the Democrats a little credit for getting good work done despite the obstacles placed in their way by the other side, and to hold off on some of the bellyaching that hits the web when things don't go exactly as we'd like them to go.  Not one of these bills was written the way we would have liked it, and some didn't go nearly far enough in their scope, but to accomplish what's been done in such a short time frame is remarkable.
          I'm proud of what they've done, and think we all should be.

DON'T ASK, DO TELL... (a holiday message from TruthDig)

MILITARY SUICIDE PREVENTION LEGISLATION SCUTTLED BY McCAIN ( why did we ever think this guy had our military's best interests at heart?)

          There's a story hidden away over on Huff'n'PuffPost about a piece of legislation Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) has been trying to shepherd through the House and get into law, designed to provide suicide prevention counseling to reservists who serve in Iraq or Afghanistan.  According to Holt, the reason his bill wasn't incorporated into the National Defense Authorization Act of 2011 is because of "pre-emptive objections from the Senate," and Rep. Holt points the finger at Senator John McCain (Crank-AZ) for stopping his bill.
           For his part, McCain's spokesmen say he had nothing to do with stopping the bill, and that it never got out of committee in the House.  But Rep. Holt says he heard from McCain directly that he didn't like the measure because it required periodic mental health counseling for reservists coming back from combat tours.   McCain's objections seem to focus on the fact that trained counselors would be in contact with returning servicemen on a regular basis as a procedural matter of their deployment.
            Maybe John McCain is sensitive because of his own mental issues after returning from his imprisonment at the hands of the North Vietnamese.  His recent behavior might suggest that such mental health counseling is not only needed, but imperative.
            

I LOVE THE SMELL OF GUANO IN THE MORNING!






TWO MORE CLAY BENNETT EDITORIAL CARTOONS (wish I'd thought of that!)

        Senator McCain as Oscar the Grouch?  PERFECT!

      http://timesfreepress.com/news/2010/dec/22/holiday-classic/?opinioncartoons

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

RACHEL MADDOW IN PRAISE OF FAUX NEWS' SHEP SMITH (and he deserves it!)



        Three or four times in the past couple of months I've been stunned to hear a Faux News personality stating the obvious, holding Republicans accountable, and actually saying things I would say if I had the chance to be heard.  Shep Smith might be working himself out of a job over there at Faux, because we all know this kind of clarity and insight isn't appreciated at that network.
        Rachel is giving the guy some props, and he deserves credit for raising hell about this first responders bill, unlike EVERY OTHER SWINGING DICK ON THAT FUCKED UP NETWORK!
         When your job is to serve as propaganda outlet for the Republican Party, it might not be wise to speak the truth too often.  Shep might be well advised to keep his resume up to date...

A COMIC INTERLUDE: LEWIS BLACK ON CREATIONISM, EVOLUTION, THE OLD TESTAMENT, FOSSILS, AND BATSHIT CRAZY PEOPLE



       I love to watch Lewis Black in full-blown rant... for this video he keeps his temper fairly well in check, but the zingers fly right and left, and he tends to take no prisoners.  Whenever I hear about the Creation Museum in Kentucky, or their new theme park where dinosaurs and humans will share Noah's Ark, I think of Lewis and this routine.

        

A SQUATLO STORY: NUMBER TWENTY-ONE "THE GRENADE" (my brush with death from World War II ordnance)

           Back when I was in my early teens, my father thought it would be a good idea if I spent my weekends mowing grass for everyone in Roane County, Tennessee.  He would have a few brews at the Roadside Cafe with his friends, and in the process find someone whose yard was desperately in need of my services on Saturday.  It didn't matter to dad if their yard hadn't been mowed since Reconstruction, or if I would have been better off bringing a bushhog than a mower to the job, as long as I wasn't sleeping in on Saturday morning or watching cartoons in front of a bowl of cereal.
It didn't even matter to him if they were willing to pay me for my work, as long as my ass was up and out of the house doing something constructive somewhere else.
           So every spring dad would either tune up our Toro push mower or help me purchase a new one with whatever money I'd managed to save from the previous summer's work.  I quickly realized that my work money would only be applied to my next lawn mower, so I learned to spend it as quickly and foolishly as possible before it could be so terribly misused.  On several occasions I left the mower in a customer's yard when I was done while I rode my bike into town with whatever pittance they'd offered as payment, just so I could buy something I wanted instead of spending it on another fucking mower the following spring.  I stayed broke, hoping to break this horrible  cycle.  It didn't work... either the mower was salvageable for another year's worth of odd jobs, or he'd just buy another one to keep me busy.  Summers sucked at my house.
           One day I was sent to mow an elderly woman's yard up the hill from our house, and found her backyard to be one of the rockiest, most unforgiving places I'd ever worked.  Every other step was either a jagged rock, a root, a stump, or a hole, all of them hidden by a foot of gnarly grass and weeds that hadn't been properly maintained since Eisenhower was in uniform.  There were garden hoses, rakes, old toys, ropes, wires, and all kinds of obstacles scattered under the grass, and trying to mow without doing a thorough clean up would have been futile.  So I spent the first hour of my day cleaning up the shit in this old woman's yard, tossing it up against her basement wall, pissed at my lot in life.  Other kids my age were either still asleep, or had gone fishing or were on their bikes... and I was sweating my ass off in lawn mower hell, just trying to get a yard cleared enough to make mowing possible.
           Once the junkyard has been tossed against the house I fired up the Toro (and the bastard never failed to start... I've hated the Toro company ever since for being so reliable) and started to mow.  About ten minutes into the ordeal the blade under the mower made the distinct sound of metal upon metal, and I pushed down quickly on the handlebars to raise the deck off of the offending object.  When I pulled the mower back to see what I had clipped, I noticed the very clear outline of the top third of a hand grenade showing above the dirt line. 
            Now, I'm no munitions expert, and certainly wasn't one at the age of fourteen or fifteen, but this had the fragmented sections of a hand grenade as clearly visible as anything, lying on its side, half buried in the dirt.
          I felt my pulse quicken just a little, but not because I'd come within millimeters of possibly blowing off my legs or (with help from the gods) possibly disabling the Toro... No, I was excited about the possibility of actually having my very own hand grenade.  I went back to the side of this woman's house and found a piece of an aluminum tent stake I'd tossed there earlier, then used it to dig around the grenade until it was almost completely uncovered.  I was careful not to touch the thing, having seen enough of "Combat" and "Rat Patrol" to know how to dig up a landmine... (the things we learned as kids in those days wouldn't be appropriate for today's kids... not enough lasers and photon blasters and morphoscopes to keep 'em entertained...)  Once I had it completely exposed, I had a choice to make:  Did I risk picking this thing up?  Or was notifying the authorities the proper thing to do?
           I didn't get the opportunity to make that call myself.  A neighbor of this woman had been watching me putzing around in the grass from his window, and I guess his curiosity got the better of him, because he came out to see what I was digging up.  As soon as he got close enough to see over my shoulder, he absolutely freaked out.  He took me by the shoulders and pulled me away from my treasure, and told me not to touch it while he went to call the police. 
            The police?  Cool!  Someone was going to check it out for me, and I wouldn't have to lose fingers messing with it.  Besides, how often does a kid get to claim credit for finding a live grenade in a suburban neighborhood?  I was stoked.  Town hero.  Maybe a story and picture in the paper.  "Local intrepid youth discovers dangerous ordnance, Dozens of Innocent Lives Saved!"
            Instead of getting my picture in the paper, what I got was Kingston, Tennessee's version of Barney Fife arriving on the scene in the town's only police car.  Ray Gullet was the only cop I knew in town, and he was none to happy to see what he'd been called to investigate.  His first words to me were (and I quote), "Why the hell'd you dig that sumbitch up?"
            Okay, not exactly the type of congratulations and laudatory praise I'd had in mind, but hey, now that you're here, what do we do with this grenade?  Officer Gullet did one of the bravest (and in retrospect, mind-numbingly stupid) things I've ever seen:  he reached down and very carefully picked up the grenade, gently wiped off some of the remaining dirt, and took it very slowly to his squad car.  A few seconds later he was gone, off to find someone who knew something about hand grenades, no doubt.  And I was left to look at a little hole I'd dug in the dirt beneath the grass in a yard I'd yet to mow.  Shit, summers suck...
             That afternoon when I got home I told my dad about the day's oddity, and he looked at me as if I was making shit up just to get a rise out of him.  
              "A hand grenade."  he said.  It wasn't a question, it was more like an accusation, as if he was giving me time to retract my statement and come up with something a little more believable.
              "Yep!  A green one.  Had some stuff written on it, but I couldn't read what it said with all the dirt on it.  Ray Gullet put it in his police car and drove off with it." I told him.  
               My dad looked at me as if I'd just told him about being abducted and probed by aliens.  The only reason he believed any of this was because I'd been foolish enough to mention someone by name that could be called to verify my bullshit story.  For some reason, I wasn't taken at my word very often as a child.  Could have been my penchant for lying my ass off about everything, no matter how trivial.  Hey, no one could ever say I didn't have an imagination!
               Dad made a phone call to the police station and in due time came to believe my story.  A couple of hours later Officer Gullet brought the grenade back to our house and handed it to me.  He said it turned out to be a dummy, probably used to train recruits for the Army.  Apparently, it had had it's explosives removed, and the pin mechanism at the top of the grenade had corroded and rusted away over the years in the ground.  Had it been a real grenade, he said, I probably would have been blown to hell in that old lady's back yard.
               Or at least the Toro would have been damaged.
               I kept that thing for about five years, before someone offered me ten dollars for it.  Hell, that was more than I'd made mowing the lady's yard the day I found it.  Sold!  I immediately took the ten bucks into town and spent it on a couple of albums... No point letting money pile up just to buy another damn mower...