Saturday, October 27, 2007

Little Eddy #8 The nerve or some people.

Isn’t it wonderful the nerve some people have, and most particularly the nerve of our erstwhile leader. He sends his people to Congress to ask for another 46 billion dollars to pay for his wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (this brings up the total money requested to 196.4 billion dollars), after vetoing a bill to fund poor children’s health care which would would have cost a mere 15 billion over several years to fund. And when that Democratic California Democratic congressman joked that Bush would send children to fight in Iraq for his amusement providing they survived long enough without health care to come of age Republicans in their almighty shrillness demanded an apology. They even put forth a bill censuring the gentleman, a bill which happily failed to get a majority.

But I’m sorry to note that the congressman apologized anyway. I find myself agreeing with Natalie Maines, lead singer of the Dixie Chicks. She once apologized for criticizing Bush, but now doesn’t express regrets for her criticism, saying she doesn’t feel the president deserves an apology. I couldn’t agree with her more. However, if there really is a God lurking somewhere up there in the Great Above, and if he is taking any interest at all in guiding the destiny of our pack of woefully misguided leaders, please God, please my dear Lord, keep the Shrubby One healthy, and whatever happens please do not let him falter. Dear Benevolent Lord Deliver us from evil if you must, but deliver us not a Cheney presidency.
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I watch CNN every day from noon to seven in the evening. Ever notice how often that obnoxious commercial from the pharmaceutical industry, the one where an obsequious Montel Williams touts about how, "the American Pharmaceutical Industry wants to help," plays these days. You damn right the industry wants to help, help keep those outrageous profits rolling in while giving lip service to helping a few needy persons pay for their grossly overpriced drugs. “Call to see if you qualify . . .” “America’s Pharmaceutical Industry, on the road to helping you!”

Well you know when they run that commercial several times an hour all day long they are quaking in their diamond studded boots. They are paying good money for that air time, as well they should be, for that commercial is performing no public service. If is pure propaganda in the hope that we will swallow their bait and leave their unconscionable pricing system alone. If anyone can explain to me one good reason why Americans should have to go online and order their drugs from Canada because they are half as expensive as the same drugs bought in these United States, other than the fact that the drug companies need to make all the profit they can squeeze out of America’s ill and elderly so they can make their executives and their stockholders wealthy, then I would be more than happy to listen to it.

But the fact is, the drug industry, like every other part of our health care system, is completely out of whack. Like in Broken. Wheels without a speck of grease. So play on with your commercial, drug industry, and maybe all of that repetition will pay off for you in the end. Like it did in 1993 when the for profit drug, insurance, and health care industries all combined and managed to kill then first lady Hilary Clinton’s attempt to bring America a fair health care system. For god sake’s people, be alert this time. Please don’t let them buy you out again.

I discussed the sorry state of America’s healthcare in my blog #3 while reviewing Michael Moore’s remarkable film “Sicko.” I pointed out that if the United States is to truly have a health care system which covers all Americans it will have to be under a Democratic administration, for the repugnant Republicans only believe in privately managed health care, and a system that’s for profit will never be able deliver truly affordable and equal health care. Just like the private sector can’t manage a police department, a fire department, or public libraries. There’s no money in them. Of course that doesn’t stop those making a religion of ME as opposed to US from mouthing off against any attempt to amend the present system into one of fairness and equality.

What we have really lost through these many years of Repugnacant Rule of SELF and MEism has been our sense of community. Repugnacants believe in free enterprise, they believe in every man for himself, and the rich should rule because only they can afford buy their way. But there’s more to life than Repugnacantism. The extraordinary fires in California were likely fueled by Santa Anna winds no doubt exacerbated by the very global warming which our erstwhile Shrub of a president has refused to admit exists nor supports reducing. But in the flames of tragedy the people of California have discovered community. The firemen didn’t ask for a resident’s credit status before they try and save his house. They fought the fire as best they could, one house at a time. Rich or poor didn’t matter, even though most of those houses were undoubtedly owned by people who were well to do. One returned resident whose house had burned to the ground found framed family photographs which had been hanging on the walls of her house. They had been wrapped up in a blanket and were laying in her front yard. A firemen, possibly at the risk of his life, had evidently gone in and rescued those priceless momentoes of their lives from the burning dwelling, and then carefully wrapped them in a blanket for their owner to find. That’s not the Repugnacant way, that’s the community way. What a shame it is that it takes a tragedy like those fires to teach us how to be human beings and part of a community again?

America needs to return to the spirit of community before its too late and our war mongering leaders have bankrupted not only us but our children and their children. We need to start right now by taking care of our children’s health. They are our future. And the health of all of our children, not just those of parents that can afford insurance is important. Dedicated capitalists believe that people ought to pay their own way. But true public health experts know that all of the community’s health care needs must to be taken care of, lest the malady that being poor has left untreated spreads to us all. Remember the lessons of the Bubonic Plague in Europe, how the nobles locked themselves in their castles and partied until someone from the outside world broke into their refuge and infected them. The Canadians know enough to take care of their ill citizens, as do the British and the French. How can we in America, which used to be the world’s richest country before Republican rule brought us to our knees, how can we stand for anything less than what the French and English and Canadians do for their people? Demand an answer to that from your representatives. Just don’t call it “socialized medicine” for that raises a red flag. Instead let’s call it medicine for the people. People is not a dirty word as certain Repubnacants would have you believe. People means us. You and me. Pure and simple. And in the words of Nike, let’s just do it! And let our new motto ring loud and clear, Congress Persons need to put a moratorium on their own extravagant health care plans until they enact an equal health care plan for the rest of us. The American People should accept nothing less.

Let me close out these thoughts by repeating the words of Linda Peeno, the former medical reviewer for Humana whose hushed, tear choked voice told a Congressional Committee why a health care system for profit is doomed to fail (the following is from Michael Moore’s “Sicko” by way of C-Span) “I am here primarily today to make a public confession. In the spring of 1997 as a physician, I denied a man a necessary operation which would have saved his life, and thus caused his death. No person and no group has held me accountable for this, because in fact what I did, I saved the company a half a million dollars. And furthermore, this particular act secured my reputation as a good medical director and it insured my continued advancement in the health care field. I went from making $300 a week as a medical reviewer to an escalated six figure income as a physician consultant. And in all my work I had one primary duty, and that was to use my medical expertise for the financial benefit of the organization for which I worked. And I was told repeatedly that I was not denying care, I was denying payment. I know how managed care maims and kills patients, so I am here to tell you about the dirty work of managed care, and I’m haunted by the thousands of pieces of paper on which I had written that deadly word, denied.”
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Speaking of CNN Lou Dobbs is a very nice man and I’m sure a very well meaning man who has lots of good ideas about how the middle class is getting royally screwed by an administration gone more than slightly off its rocker, but his bitterest rants these days are leveled against illegal aliens, who he seems to credit with doing the lion’s share of the nation’s crime. Lou kinda goes ape, frequently teetering off the deep end as he ruminates on his favorite subject. It gets embarrassing sometimes when he talks about being illegal as if that was itself a violent crime punishable by permanent exile. Sure being illegal is a crime, so is fudging on your income tax which each and every one of us legals have probably done at one time or another. However I have a confession to make. I am currently housing not one but two illegal aliens. One of them, Roman Martinez, came to Houston from Mexico when he was fifteen years old. He could neither read nor write. (Mexico has no public education. That’s why Davy Crocket and those ragtags fought Santa Anna, for the right of their kids to have a public education. They lost at the Alamo, but Sam Houston defeated the Mexican Army as San Jacinto.) Think of this. Roman could speak no English. He had no money. He walked from Brownsville all the way to Houston. I have to tell you, I can’t help but admire a fifteen year old kid with that kind of will. I’m afraid I would have barely made it to the outskirts of Brownsville before I would have sat down on the curb and bawled like a baby.

Roman is tall, and obviously of Indian descent, American Indian, not the India kind. When my sister, the late Mary McCormick, saw him for the first time she had me return the key to her house, which I had so I could feed her animals when she was in the hospital. However, looks deceive. Roman is as gentle as a pussy cat and a lot less temperamental, plus he is a sweet human being and a good father to Claudia Martinez’s five children, two of whom he fathered. Roman fitted Mary’s television into a cabinet which the tv set did not want to initially fit into, and Mary eventually saw the fallacy of her initial impression and returned to me the key to her abode just in time for me to feed her animals during her next hospitalization. That was the thing about Mary. If there was one word I could use that would have summed up her personality it would have been Cautious. The one word which Mary would have used right back to sum up my personality would have been Foolish. We were both right.

Roman is in Mexico at the present time. His father died and he went there to attend his funeral and I’m sure to comfort his mother. His wife Claudia went with him, but she plans to be back on Sunday. She had to pull her children from school and leave them with one of her sisters, and she needs to get back so she can get her kids back to school come Monday morning. Roman has paid an attorney for paper work towards getting him a resident status and hopefully eventual citizenship, and I’m told his lawyer is preparing papers which should allow Roman to get back into this country. He needs to be with his children, and he needs to work for their support. He does not have a fake social security card, and he is not taking a job any Texan would want. He works for a man who does many odd jobs, and who pays him not a penny more than he has to and and then only whenever he feels like it. However, it is a living, and he needs to make it.

I felt the need to say this all of this in lieu of Mr. Dobbs nightly painting of the illegal alien community with the broadest of brushes, accusing them of every crime known to civilized man. If his mind wasn’t so closed I would suggest that Mr. Dobbs get to know one or two illegals himself. I’m sure he would find them just as human as are his many friends of a legal status. A person’s legal situation is no measure of his character, any more than is the color of his skin as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once reminded us. And furthermore when you are of age fifteen and with no money in your pocket, and you can neither read, write nor speak a word of English, and you walk on foot from Brownsville to Houston, now there you’re talking character.
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I would like to take a few moments to welcome the latest evolution of Apple’s Macintosh OS 10.5 Leopard, which came out of its virtual cocoon and into an Apple Store near you just yesterday. I have used Macs since 1990 when I bought a Mac Classic, and I have watched every evolution of the Mac OS since. I suppose Apple detractors would call me a fan boy. I don’t mind, I find it nice to be able to get excited about something in this bland world of little innovation. My latest computer is an iMac which I bought in January of this year. It has OS 10.4 Tiger on it, and I am well satisfied with it, and am in no rush to update it to Leopard. I will instead read all of the comments and reviews of Leopard.

But to anyone who can see clearly there’s no secret as to why Apple under the direction of Steven Paul Jobs has become the most respected and envied technology company in business today, with it’s stock prices dwarfing that of Microsoft at $186.35 a share to Microsoft's topping $36 a share on Thursday. The days of Apple as a counter culture phenomonon are long since past. The iPod’s virtual lock on the digital music player market plus the incredible introduction of the iPhone has placed Apple up in the stratosphere with IBM. Apple’s secret weapon is an obsession with simplicity. Make your products beautiful to look at, but primarily make the software work seamlessly with the hardware and make them both as user friendly as possible. It took a few years for this to sink in to the buying public, but it finally has. Apple’s share of the American computer market is 8%, up from 3%.

And what has been the final piece in Apple’s puzzle of the selling of it’s products, computers, music players, and now cellphones? Sell them in your own stores with experts who know your products backwards and forward to guide your customers. Gateway tried this several years ago but without the experts or the product, and they failed miserably and have since closed their stores. They forgot the primary rule for sales in the America of today: instant gratification. You could play with Gateway’s products all you wanted but you couldn’t walk out of the store with them. You had to order them for later delivery.

But in an Apple store you can not only play with the merchandise to your heart’s content, but when you have made up your mind you can hand them your credit or debit card, and walk out of the store with the machine of your choice. You don’t even have to go over to the counter. The sales representative swipes your card with a wireless, handheld gadget he or she holds in his or her hand, asks you if you want the sales slip printed or emailed (it is quicker to have it emailed) then hands you your purchase and you’re on your way. I found my last two Apple store purchases the easiest and most pleasant experience I ever had in parting company with my money. The only easier experience was on the iTunes online store. Evidently they had my debit card number when I downloaded a free Pixar 10 minute preview movie of Ratatouille which was free. So one night I got the urge to buy Perfect Timing (This Morning) by Orba Squara, the catchy tune that plays under the iPhone commercials. It cost 99 cents, I got an email to that effect, and when I went to my iTunes library there it was, appearing magically between Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Crazy Mary by Pearl Jam. By far the easiest 99 cents I ever dropped.

Here’s another characteristic of the stores. Anyone, and that includes children, can come in and play with any of the machines to their heart’s content with not a worry in the world that some store employee will run them off because just they’re obviously not going to buy anything. A few weeks ago I went to Apple’s Memorial City store in Houston to buy a set of external speakers for my iMac, and the salesperson took me to several machines which had speakers hooked to them to demonstrate the speakers. He apologized he could not demonstrate a pair of Klipsch speakers, they were connected to a machine a nine year old girl was playing games on, and he was didn’t want to interrupt her playing even for the few minutes it would have taken for the demonstration. That astounded me at the time though in a very pleased way.

I ended up buying a set of Bose speakers. Looking around there were a lot of children in that store. Don’t you know when they get a little bigger they are going to grow up being devoted fans of Apple. What an insurance policy? That’s the genius of Jobs. Make your store truly accessible to everybody. Even the children, for someday they too will grow up to and be your devoted customers. Pay close attention, Michael Dell. It’s a pity you don’t have the imagination to do anything but make clones of clones.

I would like to close out this section of the blog by reporting on one of the latest Mac programs I have installed. It is an automation program called iKey. It allows you to have your computer perform certain actions with the pressing of two keys, or if you like, at a certain time each day. I have control plus letter keys to open many of the applications I use frequently, and in some cases I have the machine perform two distinct actions with the pressing of the option key plus a letter key. And every morning I have my energy controls panel wake up my computer from sleep at 6 am and at 6:10 each morning iKey opens Camino which opens: Http://www.Chron.com so that when I get through with my morning routine I can go to my computer and there is the morning paper ready for me to read. Way cool, iKey.
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When I was a kid some wise joker said, “what the world needs these days is a good 5-cent cigar.” Well, a river of time has flowed by since those words were uttered and these days most rational people would amend that to say, “what the world certainly does NOT need today is a good 5-cent cigar.” I say that because I smoked for 30 years, from age 16 to age 46, and I was lucky to have quit before it was too late. Everyone I have known who didn’t quit smoking has died, most of them from lung cancer. I had the gumption to quit because I had the example of my father who had smoked for years, and one day he just up and quit. And so I knew that it could be done. I count myself as one of the lucky ones. Aside from some bronchitis I seem to be free from tobacco damage. However, it’s enough to make one consider the freedom to smoke very carefully. Should smokers be allowed to smoke in public places and so give nonsmokers the risk of developing lung cancer. Certainly not, and these days smokers are very rightly shown the door to the outside where a breeze can quickly dissipate the byproduct of their addiction. For tobacco is addictive. It is the most addictive substance I have ever used. And I remember pounding the walls in frustration during that fall that I finally broke the habit.

Yes, a person should have the freedom to smoke, suppression doesn’t accomplish anything except make the thing you suppress even more desirable and expensive, however if a person has the freedom to smoke tobacco, whose health effects are well known and notoriously lethal, why should he not have the freedom to smoke marijuana, whose health effects are not nearly so lethal as tobacco, though its use (either recreational or medicinal) is highly illegal? Not sure about marijuana? Why not research the health effects of heavy marijuana use by studying the Rastafarians, who use cannabis constantly as part of their life style? How are their lungs? Are they prone to lung cancer and heart disease as heavy tobacco users are? How is their behavior under the influence, are they wildly criminal (as portrayed in the film “Reefer Madness”) or are they sedate living their lives in peace and tranquility?

Interesting questions those, questions our health authorities don’t want to find answers to because they’re afraid of what they will find. Remember Lyndon Johnson’s marijuana study during the 60’s. After the report came out Johnson made his chief scientific officer denounce the study which had found out that during heavy marijuana use certain skills like driving an automobile were actually improved under the influence. Probably marijuana made heavy users better drivers when high because the weed seems to allow the brain to slow down time. I used to do a lot of reel to reel tape recording back in my marijuana smoking days. I could never stop the tape in time to keep it from running off the reel unless I was high. But when I was high I could stop the tape in time to keep it from running off the spool every single time. That’s when I realized just how full of it the American establishment is in regards to certain subjects like pot and sex.

There are lots of out and out lies about cannabis perpetuated by our so-called authorities. One of the primary ones is that marijuana is addictive. Nothing can be further from the truth. I pounded the walls of my Brooklyn apartment during my cold turkey withdrawal from tobacco. John Lennon made his escape from addiction, probably heroin, an unforgettable experience in song. But no one ever had withdrawal symptoms when quitting marijuana. No walls had ever been pounded on. No imaginary insects ever crawled over the skin of the abstainer. No addiction at all unless you’re addicted to the effects of freeing up your mind so that you can really enjoy such things as music, food, and sex.

But unfortunately marijuana will probably never get a clean bill of health from the feds, no matter how much truth comes out about it’s medicinal properties. And that is because politicians hate it because for some strange reason it makes one see right through the bullshit of the establishment politicians. That’s why it was the national drug of choice of the 1960’s. Coupled with the book “Catch 22” it gave those who cared to look a mirror through which to see our society’s absurdities. It’s practitioners saw right through Lyndon Johnson’s phony justifications for the Vietnam war, seeing it for what it really was, a senseless disaster in the making. A disaster that Richard Nixon stubbornly continued until his own failings began to catch up with him.

Let me close today’s blog by giving you the classic example of marijuana’s peaceful use. Picture if you will half a million young people gathered in a farmer’s field near Woodstock, N.Y., gathered for a weekend of listening to rock and roll music and getting themselves high on pot. 500,000 people, that’s no small community gathered in one field. There were two deaths that weekend, one fellow in a sleeping bag was run over by a tractor, I forget what caused the other death, it was likely a hard drug overdose. There were mosquitos galore, lots of rain, all kinds of discomforts, but no fights. Not a single one. Think about that for a minute. Remarkable. Imagine for another moment a gathering of half a million beer drinkers, not to mention hard liquor drinkers. Fighting would abound. The blood would have been flowing like rivers in springtime. And yet beer and alcohol and smoking tobacco are acceptable pastimes in this society of ours, albeit heavily taxed. Marijuana, truly a symbol of peace, is not. Is this society messed up or what? Back in World War II we had a word for it, SNAFU. It st0od for Situation Normal, All Fucked Up. Why must we continue living such SNAFU’d lives in our America of the 21st Century? You tell me.

The Real Little Eddy

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Little Eddy #7 – Mukasey, RIAA vs usenet, Maines vs Shrub

BULLETIN: On last night’s CNN News Republicans were overheard demanding an apology from Democrats who they claimed slandered our pathetic president. Methinks they are a wee bit confused as to just who needs to apologize to whom. Puggies, just keep talking loud enough and maybe someone will someday believe you.
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On the first day of Michael B. Mukasey’s testimony at his confirmation hearings in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee it seemed for awhile there that our erstwhile President Shrub (thanks for that name Molly Ivins, we miss you) had managed to appoint a non political human being to replace that torture justifying lackey who resigned a month or so ago. At least the first report of the Senate confirmation hearings gave us a tiny glimmer of hope.

However that glimmer of hope has dimmed somewhat under continued questioning. By Thursday the AG designate was beginning to embrace certain Shrub positions such as the president can ignore surveillance statutes in wartime, and Mukasey avoided classifying simulated drowning as torture. The panel's chairman, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), who had heaped praise on the former judge's qualifications and testimony on Wednesday, told him that, "on a number of your answers yesterday, there was a very bright line on the questions of torture and the ability of the executive or inability of an executive to ignore the law. That seems nowhere near as bright a line today." The full story may be found here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wpdyn/content/article/2007/10/18/AR2007101801120.html?hpid=topnews (For a musical spoof of waterboarding see Harry Shearer’s song “Waterboarding U.S.A.” below)
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A strange thing happened to cable subscribers in the Houston area earlier this year. Through absolutely no action on the part of we subscribers Time Warner Cable morphed into Comcast before our very eyes. All three of the services I subscribe to, cable television, internet access, and the telephone turned into this 90 lb. gorilla named Comcast whose main talent seemed to be in its ability to create obnoxious commercials touting its services. But what about its service? Their customer service kept one customer, Mona “The Hammer” Shaw waiting just a wee bit too long. Signing up for three tier service, the technician failed to show up at her h0use the first time. Upon complaining, they sent another service person who left the job half done (no phone). She and her husband went to the local Comcast office in Manassas and asked to speak with the manager. The clerk directed her to a seat outdoors, where the summer temperature was soaring. Two hours passed and the clerk poked her head out the door and informed her that the manager had left for the day, and thanked her for coming. Monday morning Ms Shaw grabbed her claw hammer and told her husband, "C'mon, honey, we're going to Comcast." From the Washington Post story: “Hammer time: Shaw storms in the company's office. BAM! She whacks the keyboard of the customer service rep. BAM! Down goes the monitor. BAM! She totals the telephone. People scatter, scream, cops show up and what does she do? POW! A parting shot to the phone!” And there you have it, a new hero in this age of customer service out sourced to India and companies otherwise ignoring its customers needs. This story in its hilarious entirety is lurking here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wpdyn/content/article/2007/10/17/AR2007101702359.html?hpid=artslot
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I am always amazed at how the country has changed as the years (make that eons) have drifted by. When I was a kid the neighborhood I grew up in was completely unregulated. Our backyard was a homegrown junk yard, with a dead Model T Ford, and an unbelievable amount of other litter covering up it’s grass. I had innumerable pets, including a spitz dog which we had to keep chained as it had a tendency to bite our neighbors (he even bit me one night when I made a playful attempt to take back his bowl as he was eating – no sense of humor, that dog), and a rooster and two hens. One of the hens laid eggs, the other did not, I never understood why that was so. The rooster was a cantankerous old feather duster, and one day I got furious with him and threw a bicycle siren at him, which sailed through the air singing its eerie song before finally striking the squawking, outraged rooster in the chest. He shrieked, jumped up and down, and even threatened to charge me, but fortunately he changed his mind and slitted off to his home in the garage and to the comfort of his two hens.

At one point I was given two ducks, a male and a female, which were allowed to roam the neighborhood freely as we had no fence in our yard. They were little tikes when first I got them, and I got to watch them grow into adult duckhood. One day after they had reached maturity they simply disappeared, and it was later that we found out they had been detained and eaten by one of our neighbors. A neighbor who must have known they were pets, but who obviously didn’t give a damn.

People had all kinds of unusual pets in those days. Two full grown geese chased and attacked my aunt Offie one day as she disembarked from the Mandell Trolley Car. Geese are nasty animals, and they gave my poor aunt fits, though she did manage to make it home with no more than a pinch or two on her rump. We never saw the geese again, and so I guess they ended up in someone’s Thanksgiving cooker. Our neighbors to the west had a baby armadillo, if you think adult armadillos are cute check out a baby, and my friend on the next street had a young cheetah, a barely pubescent animal who used to get real excited whenever his older sister was having her menses in his vicinity. A man on the corner vacant lot across from Woodrow Wilson school had a cow which he kept chained there and he would milk the cow once a day. As a kid I even had pet chameleons which I fed flies which were dead, of course, but which I would fool the chameleons into eating by sticking them on the end of a pin pretending to make them fly. Kids today are lucky if they have a dog or a cat. All in all, the Fairview street neighborhood I lived in back in those days looked like a cross between a junkyard and the Animal Channel.

Today my Houston neighborhood is a wee bit antiseptic, a neighborhood which allows no tradesmen nor stores within its boundary, in fact there’s nothing within walking distance other than a well manicured park with a swimming pool for those sweltering summer months. If you have no car you are S.O.L. And these days neighborhoods are watched over by eagle-eyed associations, organizations dedicated to keeping their neighborhood neat and its property values high. That is not all bad, but they can be a bit nazi-like at times. A few years back one neighborhood association in Houston auctioned off the house of a resident who was old and ill, and hadn’t paid her neighborhood association dues quite as promptly as they would have liked. The head of that association was a lawyer, and he thought like one. The association sold the lady’s six figure house out from under her for a pittance. When the newspapers got hold of the story the entire city was outraged, even the home owning members of that very Association were ashamed. The issue went to court and the Association ended up having to buy back the lady’s house at a figure many times what they had sold it to the man for, so that they could return it to the lady they had wronged.

I take note of this, because I thought perhaps you might be interested in learning how my experience with my own neighborhood association turned out. I wrote of it two weeks ago, reprinting the association’s letter to me, and my reply to it explaining why the remains of our brick mailbox was cluttering up the neighborhood. I am happy now to report that the wrecked brick mailbox has been broken up by sledge hammer, and much of it was put into a garbage can, and picked up at Friday’s garbage pickup.

And our resident who builds brick mailboxes built us a brand new regal looking mailbox, this one constructed of white bricks. I’m sure it is no more automobile proof than the other one was, however hopefully our neighbor from across the street has learned better than to leave his vehicle unattended when it is in neutral with the motor running. May our new mailbox last through out the ages. The lady at our association wrote me the following letter:

Dear Mr. Badeaux,
Thank you for your letter and for taking the time to communicate with us.

Your association will not continue sending you letters to repair or replace the mailbox provided it’s completed in a reasonable amount of time.

Again, thank you for your most enjoyable letter, what a refreshing response.
Sincerely,
Harriet Tunick
Association Management, Inc.

Postscript: The last of the bricks should see the light of the dump by next Friday’s garbage pickup, and as per usual all’s well that ends well.
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I don’t concur with the R.I.A.A. very often these days, as I think they are hopelessly poised to sound the death knell of the recording industry by their ill conceived persecution of the mostly young people who download their music from the web. The poor R.I.A.A., trying to picture itself as a David going against the Goliath of file sharers. Most of us see it the other way around. In their latest move they have turned their band of attorneys onto the newsgroups, bringing suit in federal court against usenet.com, an entity which dared boast in its advertising of having thousands of MP3 files there for the taking. And the newsgroups, unlike I.S.P.’s, keep no records the association could subpoena to track down violators.

Well, don’t you just know that that was enough to trip the salivary glands of the R.I.A.A. legal eagles into full drip mode. Obviously the R.I.A.A.’s spirits were buoyed by their recent crushing defeat of 30 year old Jammie Thomas who was prosecuted and lost in a recent court trial, Capitol Records vs. Thomas, so now let’s go after the newsgroups. Justice may be asleep in this country (along with a sense of decency and reason) but that road to the perdition that the R.I.A.A.’s president Cary Sherman is leading the R.I.A.A. down may well seal it’s doom once and for all. Finally leading that greedy bunch of clowns that pass themselves off as record company executives out to their final pasture. At least we can so dream, and pray for Ms. Thomas’ future exoneration in the Appeals Court, or at least for a sane, reasonable reduction of the amount of her fine. And if you hadn’t already thought of it I would suggest that everybody reading this take a moratorium on buying commercial cds. If you do this be sure to let your record dealer know why you’re doing it, let them know the R.I.A.A. is the reason for your action. If enough people would do this it might send those clowns back to the circus where they belong.

Just in time to welcome many students back from fall break, the Recording Industry Association of America on Thursday dispatched a new round of "prelitigation" letters to 19 U.S. universities from coast to coast, alleging that campus networks are being used to commit copyright infringement. For those keeping score at home, this marks the ninth time the RIAA has launched such an initiative. As usual, each of the 411 letters reveals that a student or employee of the school is about to be sued for copyright infringement. The letters also offer the opportunity for those targeted to settle out of court at a "discounted rate," touting a special Web site that allows targets to settle their claims online. More of this outrage at: http://www.news.com/8301-10784_3-9799840-7.html

However as I said before there was one decision recently that I can totally agree with the R.I.A.A. on. And that was the Grammy’s decision to give the Dixie Chicks, that extraordinary group of musician–performers, a win in the 2007 Grammys. Wikipedia: “At the 49th Grammy Awards Show in 2007, 'the Chicks' - as they are informally known - won all five categories for which they were nominated, including the coveted Song of the Year, Record of the Year, and Album of the Year, in a vote that Maines interpreted as being a show of public support for their advocacy of free speech.”

I have many reasons to treasure the memory of my late sister, Mary McCormick, who was eight years younger than I and who sadly died of breast cancer a while back. Among the minor things she did was to introduce me to the music of The Dixie Chicks. From Wikipedia: “The Dixie Chicks are a country/rock music trio from the United States comprising Emily Robison, Martie Maguire and Natalie Maines. They are the highest-selling female band in any musical genre, having sold 36 million albums as of June 2006.”

I have to admit I hadn’t paid much attention to the group, I thought their name a bit sexist. But Mary played their song “Top of the World” for me which was not only a favorite of hers, but also a favorite of her lovely granddaughter, Emma Nix. I will also admit to having first truly taken an appreciative notice of the group after I read of lead singer Natalie Maines’ comments at a show in England a few days before our Mighty Texas Shrub started his war in Iraq. She expressed regret that the man perpetrating this mischief was a fellow Texan. From Wikipedia: “It was nine days before the ill fated invasion of Iraq. Lead vocalist Natalie Maines publicly criticized U.S. President George W. Bush. The ensuing controversy cost the group half of their concert audience attendance in the United States as chronicled in the 2006 documentary Dixie Chicks: Shut Up and Sing.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dixie_Chicks will probably tell you more than you ever wanted to know about the Chicks, but the page makes for fascinating reading. And it is loaded with visual eye candy also as it reproduces the famous Entertainment Weekly magazine cover where the three posed nude, strategically covering their more functional parts, and with slogans such as "Traitors," "Saddam's Angels," "Dixie Sluts", "Proud Americans," "Hero," "Free Speech", and "Brave" printed on their bodies. Even our most Exalted Shrub was quoted on the Wikipedia page with his opinion of the Chicks.

In an interview with Tom Brokaw, our fearless, do-no-wrong leader said, “The Dixie Chicks are free to speak their mind. They can say what they want to say ... They shouldn't have their feelings hurt just because some people don't want to buy their records when they speak out ... Freedom is a two-way street ... I don't really care what the Dixie Chicks said. I want to do what I think is right for the American people, and if some singers or Hollywood stars feel like speaking out, that's fine. That's the great thing about America. It stands in stark contrast to Iraq ...” Ole Shrubbie certainly told it like it is when he remarked, “I don’t really care what the Dixie Chicks said . . .” You can make that read any American who doesn’t dance toe to toe with him. To some of us the great thing about being an American used to be celebrating those many worthwhile qualities our country used to stand for, like freedom, the right to privacy, helping the less fortunate, etc., before our exalted leader decided to trash the Geneva Conventions and make a mockery of the Common Rules of Privacy and Decency. Our president calls himself a compassionate conservative. It makes one wonder what an uncompassionate conservative would be like.

“In the May 29 issue of Time, Maguire said, "I'd rather have a smaller following of really cool people who get it, who will grow with us as we grow and are fans for life, than people that have us in their five-disc changer with Reba McEntire and Toby Keith. We don't want those kinds of fans. They limit what you can do." Maines also retracted her earlier apology to Bush, stating, "I apologized for disrespecting the office of the President, but I don't feel that way anymore. I don't feel he is owed any respect whatsoever." Hooray for Ms. Maines.

Looking back on it, it’s a shame that back when he was in school His Royal Shrubbiness evidently slept his way through all of those history and civics classes which might have taught him a thing or two about real American values. And I’m sorry to say I still haven’t heard a word from Kellogg Brown & Root concerning my suggestion last week about building an American style “Tiger Cage” for a White House full of losers. I wonder if I should keep my hopes up? I guess not.
– • –
Harry Shearer remains one of satire’s most prodigious creators. He has been around like forever, I read somewhere that he appeared on Jack Benny’s show at age six. His grownup accomplishments include the incomparable Firesign Theater, and appearances in Rob Reiner’s film “This is Spinal Tap,” and the Christopher Guest film “A Mighty Wind.” And he has been voicing several key character voices in television’s longest running cartoon show, The Simpsons. His columns may be found on the Huffington Post blog at: site:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/harry-shearer/whatever-it-takes-take_b_68760.html

But more to the point are his biting satires on mydamnchannel.com His first was a delightful spoof of our erstwhile vice president sitting his bulk on a grand piano in Club Undisclosed and sing songing a ditty about his ex-chief of staff, Scooter Libby, skating past the pokey. At one point the singer must be revived by Intrapericardial assist, and the song ends with the vice president putting out a lighted cigarette on the piano player’s right hand, thereby giving us a look into the true source of this administration’s power. http://www.mydamnchannel.com/channel.aspx?episode=47

There are other lovely Shearer moments, but I want to go into two which also rank high on my list of this life’s delightful absurdities. One features an aged Elvis sitting on a solid gold commode with a refrigerator full of prescription drugs and plates of high cholesterol food and drink in front of him. The song is called “All Backed Up”, it is hilarious, and it is here: http://www.mydamnchannel.com/channel.aspx?episode=119.

Last but certainly ranking right up there is Harry Shearer’s parody of the Beach Boys as he spoofs our present administration’s penchant for torture. The song is called “Waterboarding USA”. If Saturday Night Live was truly the satirical gem it once was it would have Shearer as its host, and the song “Waterboarding USA” would be a high point of the evening. However until that day comes you can always go here to listen to it and once here you can either laugh, cry or hang your head in shame. What you do is up to you: http://www.mydamnchannel.com/channel.aspx?episode=163
– • –
Below I reprint the first two paragraphs of my latest story which was posted Thursday on storiesonline. It is called Growing Up:

“My name is Charlie McClintock. I'm in my eighties, an age which I don't recommend very highly, although try as I might I have yet to find a suitable alternative? It's no damn fun being old, and so if anybody out there figures a way around it please let me know. Of course there’s always the ultimate escape, the alternative of leaving this life altogether. But on further consideration I’ve decided that's no damn good either, there are just too many unknowns connected with death. Including forever.

One of the worst things about being old are those little body parts which no longer work as intended. In my case it’s my prostate, that tiny strategically placed organ which for men everywhere is the one from whom all blessings flow. Several years ago I had what my urologist humorously referred to at the time as a “roto rooter,” which translates into a device entering my anal canal and “shaving” my poor defenseless little prostate. The procedure got my bladder back in working order, but gone were those blessed orgasms for which all of we males live. Now all I have left are memories.” And the story then goes on to share some of this fellow’s juicier memories with his readers. (“Growing Up,” http://storiesonline.net/auth/Uncle_Pan)

Sounds just like a little Eddy rant, don’t it? There, I did it. I just gave my secret away. I revealed the real reason I love to write erotic stories. When you can’t get yourself off any more, try getting the rest of the world off. It worked for Giacomo Casanova, maybe it’ll work for little Eddy. A funny thing happened to Americans on the way to gaining educated prosperity. The Grinch who stole Christmas also managed to label sex as dirty. Bad for our Moral and Physical health! And probably Fattening to Boot! Imagine? Sex, that scrumptious combination of nerves, chemicals, and creativity, that delightful coupling which creates life and makes the world go round and life worth living, is branded by some of our so-called moral leaders as being dirty. Unfit for human consumption except under certain controlled circumstances, and then only for the high purpose of procreation.

Why would they want to cast shame upon us, you might well ask? Well, the urge for the pleasure of sex is one of our most basic urges. If they (meaning ministers and politicians) could succeed in making us feel guilty about those basic urgings, there’s no telling how much power they could get over us. The ones who would control our lives and behavior would probably be happiest if they could ban sex altogether. They have pretty well succeeded in criminalizing it under many circumstances. However, short of being able to ban it altogether they try to isolate it from normal behavior and drive it off into a corner by itself, behind closed doors and hiding behind a curtain of shame, where they can label it as bad (the new word for “sin”), and where it can be barricaded from the rest of life and from the bulk of humanity.

But it is a free country, isn’t it? Well, yes and no. It’s free unless you break any of society’s rules, and as we speak politician’s by the drove are secretly writing new laws to further restrict that famous freedom we hear so much about. You can do pretty much as you please in your own bedroom, right? Maybe, providing you don’t break any relevant laws, and nobody knows what goes on in there. But hold your poker hand close to your chest. Meddlers abound who would poke their noses into your business, and if you aren’t careful, send you to the pokey. Freedom is a wonderful concept, but it doesn’t mean a damn thing if you fail to exercise it. That’s another reason I love to write erotica. To exercise my constitutional right of freedom of speech.

Why did I choose to write erotica? Certainly not for the money. There isn’t any. mrdouble used to pay a small amount based on your downloads until Visa and MasterCard refused to continue processing his membership. His membership then dropped to a point where he could no longer afford to pay. However his authors kept right on contributing. The prime reason I write is because I get satifaction out of trying use words to create a world more like the one I grew up in. And more like the one I would like to live out my life now in if only I could get my damned prostate to work again. And of course a prime reason all of us write is for the feedback of our audience, the mail that is generated when you publish your stories. Below you can read some of the email my stories currently posted on storiesonline have generated.

(Matt and Rosie) Thanks for writing such a small yet a very beautiful story. I loved it...please...keep posting... Thank You

(Matt and Rosie) VERY erotic story....had me on the edge of my seat. I really love stories of older men and underage girls, and this one surely didn't disappoint. Thanks!

(Matt and Rosie) Very nicely written. What a pleasant fantasy. Thank you for the escape. Ralph

(Matt and Rosie) Beautiful story, not rough or abusive but gentle and loving. Little girls should be loved and slowly taught what a love relationship with an older and more caring man can be like and how pleasurable it can be. Keep up the great work Uncle Pan David

(It’s Just Not Fair!) God you should keep this story going or make another edition Richard

(It’s Just Not Fair!) yes it's not fair !!! you didn't have to stop there...you even got my wife all excited...thanks for that by the way... esteban

(It’s Just Not Fair!) way too much detail. Anonymous

(It’s Just Not Fair!) Dear Uncle Pan, just a note to tell you how much Bill and I enjoyed your story. Bill's first sexual experience was when he was 13 with a girl who was 10 and your story really hit so many of his "hot spots" I really enjoyed seeing him get aroused as we read together and then I got him to tell me about his early experience. We had such hot sex because of your story...please keep up the good work....Mollie (and Bill)

(Clicking Away) that was awesome...well done and tasteful...even though it the subject matter may not be for all...one could relate to almost any age group...the way you wrote that that is...we thanks you...esteban

(Ross’ Extended Family) This was a great story to read. i enjoyed it very much thank you for sharing it . i hope to see a part 2. thank you, blade

(Ross’ Extended Family) I enjoyed the story! I was very sorry it ended
when it did. there were so many areas it could have continued into. Maybe you could add some another day thank you Ron

(Naomi’s Lessons) just wonderful, more please!!! Anonymous

(Laurie’s Dalliance with Cousin Mike) This was a great story, and that last thing is true. Whenever an adult hears that a child liked having sex with an adult, they automatically think that they are 'delinquent' and need 'straightened out'. Personally, I loved having sex with other people, adults, teenagers, etc. when I was a child, and I have the same attitude towards it that this girl does, though not about the 'don't encourage them to have sex' thing. CK1

(Whose boobies are prettier?) Very enjoyable fantasy. Mr. D could only have lost if he had chosen. Steve
– • –
And as someone more lucid than I once said, “what goes around, comes around.” And what has finally come around here is the end of this week’s post. Please join us again next week, same URL, for more.

The Real Little Eddy

Saturday, October 13, 2007

The Real Little Eddy #6 News and Music from the Dark Side

The Washington Post reported in it's Wednesday, 10/10 online edition, that private security guards had killed two Christian Iraqi women who were driving home from work when their automobile had the misfortune of getting too close to a convoy the security men were guarding. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wpdyn/content/article/2007/10/09/AR2007100900481.html?hpid=topnews

These weren't employees of the notorious Blackwater, although obviously they spring from the same trigger happy pigsty. From the Washington Post story, “Tuesday's shooting involved Unity Resources Group, a Dubai-based company founded by an Australian and registered in Singapore. The firm was employed by RTI International, a nonprofit organization that does governance work in Iraq on a contract for the U.S. Agency for International Development, according to David Snider, a USAID spokesman in Washington.”

What is happening to this country when we allow what amounts to hired mercenaries license to freely gun down innocent civilians going about their business in a country that was “liberated” by and is supposedly under the protection of U. S. and coalition armed forces? And let us drink a toast to George W. Bush whose daily pronouncements like “the United States does not torture” is turning LBJ’s famous “credibility gap” into a chasm of immeasurable dimensions. And to Albert Gore, who on Friday co-won the Nobel Peace Prize, seven years after being robbed of the presidency by Supreme Court fiat. Think about it for a moment. What would America be like now if Gore’s honest win of the popular vote hadn’t been overturned by that so-called august body? No war in Iraq. An honest attempt by the president to attempt to curb the excesses which are fueling global warming. And a continuation of Clinton’s policies of fiscal responsibility which had created surpluses, not the staggering debt the so-called fiscally responsible Republicans have mounted.

If you think little Eddy is critical of the White House’s war in Iraq listen to the words of one who knows, Retired Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the former top military commander in Iraq. Addressing an audience of journalists who cover the military, Sanchez said the armed force's mission to invade Iraq and overthrow Saddam Hussein was flawed from the start. National leaders, said Sanchez, "have unquestionably been derelict in the performance of their duty. In my profession, these types of leaders would immediately be relieved or court-martialed." Eric Rosenberg’s Hearst News Service account of the talk may be found here: http://chron.com/disp/story.mpl/front/5210980.html

Is there any point where we, the American people, will stand up and rail against what is daily going so dreadfully wrong? Both in Iraq, and here at home. At what point will the American people say “enough is enough?” Dare we wait until the elections of 2008? And my other question, when we have the instigators of this travesty unmasked will we have enough dunce caps to go around? And I wonder if Kellog Brown & Root would be interested in building an American style Tiger Cage for a White House full of losers?
– • –
Speaking of guns mowing down civilians, there was yet another school shooting this past week, this one in an elite high school in Cleveland, Ohio and it calls attention yet again to our trigger happy, gun toting society, and the relative ease in which these weapons of personal destruction may be obtained. Dr. Kevorkian who assisted desperate people in ending their misery was sent sent to prison for his trouble. But there seems to be no penalty assessed to the sellers of these weapons which can so easily be turned on teachers or classmates, not to mention neighbors. And this school incident followed a weekend in which a newly hired 20 year old sheriff’s deputy in Crandon, Wisconsin killed six of his high school mates and injured a seventh after he failed to obtain a reconciliation with his ex-girlfriend, and was called a “dirty pig” by the others. Upon reflection to us the label seems appropriate. The man was said to have later taken his own life after being confronted by a SWAT team. Have you ever noticed, some days it just doesn’t pay to go out of your house?
– • –
This week's edition of little Eddy's Blog is dedicated to the Darth Vader of the music industry, Cary Sherman. Call up his page in Wikipedia. Except for listing the man's educational achievements the page is BLANK. Which is as it should be. The man is the public spokesperson, ie stooge, for the major record labels. Whether the music industry's penchant for the prosecution (let that read persecution) of the lovers of its products is attributable to Sherman, or if it is from the collective creative minds of the businessmen who lead the companies who exploit music and the musicians who create music, is beside the point. Mister Sherman, as head of the Recording Industry Association of America gets either the credit or the blame for the policy, depending upon your point of view.

The British band Radiohead is dropping commercial distribution of its music, preferring to offer it’s music online to their fans, and letting them set their own price, whatever it is worth to them. See story here: http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20071009-record-label-defections-by-major-acts-a-troubling-sign-for-recording-industry.html The article also cites Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails as already declaring his band a free agent, and offering tracks of its music which fans can download and mix for themselves. Will the rest of the industry fall in line? Yet another article reporting on the defection of bands is here: http://techdirt.com/articles/20071008/154529.shtml

The music industry portends that it is the victim, but in truth their product has been notoriously overpriced for years. CD's have been going for from $14 to $16, whereas you can buy a DVD of a Hollywood movie for as little as $17. I'm sorry, the value of eight songs, no matter how good, does not compare with that of a full length Hollywood movie. And once people discovered that the technology to perfectly duplicate cd's was freely available to all who owned computers there was no way they were going to continue being led by the nose by the music industry's poor excuse for businessmen. Albums of music used to be things of value back when music was issued on 10” and 12” lps. Artists offered elaborate printed material to accompany their vinyl disks, the enclosed materials featured song lyrics, photographic albums of the artists, and other material of value. And prices for the albums were well under ten dollars. But when the album was shrunk to the size of a cd, the record companies got lazy and quit offering value. The only value in their fuzzy little business minds being the value to the sellers of the cd’s jacked up price.

The music industry has a long history of composers and musicians being screwed by businessmen, going all the way back to W. C. Handy and St. Louis Blues. We would express our hope for the success and well being of the courageous artists who are freeing themselves from continued commercial exploitation, and if you are a fan of their work we would urge you to support them with your business. Meantime, a juror in the infamous Capitol Records vs. Thomas trial which ended up awarding the plaintiffs a record $222,000 judgment discussed the verdict. He said two of the jurors, including the Funeral Home Director wanted to assign the maximum penalty of $150,000 per song, while two others wanted to go for the minimum ($750 a song). The $222,000 for making available 24 songs on Kazaa was a compromise he said. Some compromise we say. Also from the article, “Thomas and her attorney have announced they're appealing the verdict, in part to contest a jury instruction that said Thomas could be found liable solely for sharing the music over the Kazaa file-sharing network, "regardless of whether actual distribution has been shown."” http://blog.wired.com/27bstroke6/2007/10/riaa-juror-we-w.html

If there is truly any justice left in American Jurisprudence the appeals court will overturn that horrendous verdict. There is no justice in a verdict which assesses that amount of money without even a shred of proof as to actual harm having been done to plaintiffs. And the fact of human nature being what it is, the file sharers of the world aren't about to quake in fear, thereby giving up their “wicked ways.” They are pretty sure to continue on with their file sharing in direct defiance of the commercial music industry, as all good citizens should do in the face of such irrational persecution. (My thanks to Dwight Silverman and his TechBlog column in Chron.com for all of the above links.)

The N.Y. Times had a story on 10/10 about college students who are banding together to fight the off the wall penalties being extracted by R.I.A.A. A Brown student name Zachary McCune who ended up paying $3000 himself to the R.I.A.A. co-founded the Brown chapter of an organization called Students For a Free Culture, a national organization which is springing up on campuses all across the nation. We salute them and wish them all the luck in the world. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/10/education/10students.html?_r=1&ref=technology&oref=slogin

The death knell for the record industry surely became deafening last Wednesday when the venerable Madonna announced that she was the latest to circumvent the record labels and turn her management and the rights to distribute her studio albums and merchandise over to a concert promoting venue in Los Angeles called Live Nation.
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/10/10/and-the-walls-came-tumbling-down-madonna-dumps-record-industry/
– • –
Uncle Pan alert: a brand new story, Clicking Away, and two previously published stories, “It’s Just Not Fair! and Twelve Minus Six Equals . . . ? have been added to: http://storiesonline.net/auth/Uncle_Pan
– • –
I thought it would be fun this week to spend some time accentuating the positive by reminiscing about my very favorite medium of yesteryear, radio. What a great potential that medium had, with its ability to use words and sounds to create instantaneous pictures in your head that were far more immediate and vivid than anything television or motion picture images are able to do. That is because your own imagination rules. Radio had it’s striking moments, and I remember hearing more than a few of them as I was growing up.

One of the very first ones I really listened to happened when I was around seven. It was president Franklin Delano Roosevelt talking to the nation during what was probably the first of his many “fireside chats,” this one about his order closing the banks to allow them to get their houses in order before panicked runs on them shut them down for good. Roosevelt had a true orator’s voice, and his words rang out loud and clear: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself!” His vibrant tone steadied the nation, and the banks were able to reopen later after the government established the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation which helped stabilize the banking system.

Certainly one of the stunning pronouncements to come out of the ether and into the living room of our house at 1805 Fairview St., Houston, Texas, was the announcement on December 11, 1936 of Edward's abdication of the throne of England to marry the woman he loved, who happened to be a divorced American woman named Wallis Warfield Simpson. I was ten years old at the time and I’ll never forget that gravely voice with the stiff upper lip accent talking about forsaking his hereditary rights to England’s throne for the woman he loved. And what exactly would make the would-be king give up the throne of England for a woman caused me to wonder about just what qualities miss W.W. Simpson possessed that other women of the times did not. Or perhaps it was just a better fit. The BBC timeline of their courtship and subsequent marriage may be found here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/2701463.stm

Another high point in the history of serious radio was the narrative of the Hindenburg disaster as it unfolded in Lakehurst N.J. at 7 pm on May 6th, 1937 . As the mighty airship was landing at its docking station flames suddenly engulfed the gigantic balloon. Herbert Morrison's recorded, on-the-scene, eyewitness radio report from the landing field remains one of radio’s most vivid moments, and the phrase “Oh the humanity” has remained the signature comment of the event. An amalgamation of newsreel footage of the happening along with Mr. Morrison’s radio coverage is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F54rqDh2mWA

As we related in our blog #3, the most expressive exposition of the power of the medium of radio was demonstrated on October 30, 1938 by Orson Welles and his Mercury Theater on the Air’s Halloween Special, an adaptation of the H.G. Wells novel The War of the Worlds broadcast on CBS. Ironically Welles was said to have used Mr. Morrison’s Hindenburg disaster account as an example of the style he wanted his actors to use in the news accounts describing the invasion. Welles’ had changed the setting of the drama from England to Grover’s Mills, New Jersey. During the first half hour of the hour long drama the invasion was presented as a series of news bulletins interrupting the radio performance of a hotel orchestra, and the news bulletins had an air of authenticity as they continually interrupted the program of sedate music. The Wikipedia report including ramifications in its aftermath can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_War_of_the_Worlds_(radio)

Radio created some strange phenomonon, such as a ventriloquist whom radio listeners could not see, and a mind reader who held a nation’s attention for a time by doing feats of what was purported to be mind reading, though listeners could only hear the proceedings and had to take the mind reader’s word for the ultimate success of his mind reading attempts. The mind reader was named Dunninger. His Wikipedia page is here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Dunninger

However, in order not to err on the side of seriousness, I should point out two wonderful bits of radio which could have existed only in a medium which would depend solely on the individual imagination. Jack Benny’s mythical underground moat which led to his buried treasure was one such bit. Sounds of water as a boat was rowed to traverse the moat, and the forbidden, eerie, unearthly sounds of primeval creatures created a picture in your mind where a later visual depiction attempt to show the moat on television simply fell flat. And then there was Fibber McGee’s famous closet, which most every week he would forget and open the door to by mistake and many minutes later objects were still falling floor wise. Ever reminding us of the untidy cl0sets in our own lives. The Wikipedia report on both phenomenon follows: “None of the show's running gags was as memorable or enduring as The Closet --- McGee's frequently opening and cacophonous closet, bric-a-brac clattering down and out and, often enough, over McGee's or Molly's heads. "I gotta get that closet cleaned out one of these days" was the usual McGee observation once the racket subsided.

“Like many such trademarks, the clattering closet began as a one-time stunt --- with Molly the burial victim. But The Closet was developed carefully, not being overused (it rarely appeared in more than two consecutive installments, though it never disappeared for the same length, either, at the height of its identification, and it rarely collapsed at exactly the same time from show to show), and it became the best-known running sound gag in American radio's classic period. Jack Benny's basement vault alarm ran a distant second. Both of these classic sound effects were predominantly performed by Virgil Rhymer, a West Coast Hollywood based NBC staff Sound Effects performer/creator.

“Exactly what tumbled out of McGee's closet each time was never clear (except to the sound-effects man), but what signaled the end of the avalanche was always the same sound: a clear, tiny, household hand bell and McGee's inevitable postmortem. Naturally, "one of these days" never arrived. A good thing, too, in one famous instance: when burglars tied up McGee, he informed them cannily that the family valuables were in The Closet. Naturally, the burglars took the bait. And, naturally, they were buried in the inevitable avalanche, long enough for the police to come and cuff them and stuff them.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fibber_McGee_and_Molly

Robin Burns, who was also called Bob Burns, was a humorist from Arkansas who used a rustic homemade novelty instrument fashioned from stove pipes and a whiskey funnel which he call a Bazooka. World War II GIs nicknamed their handheld antitank rocket launchers Bazookas after its physical similarity to Burns' instrument. Functioning like a crude trombone, the musical bazooka had a narrow range and less-than-dulcet tone, but this was intentional, since Burns used the instrument as a prop while telling his comic hillbilly stories and jokes. The Wikipedia page on Burns contains an NBC reunion photo which also includes, Burns, Charlie McCarthy and Edgar Bergen, Rudy Vallee, and Joe “Wanna buy a duck?” Penner. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bob_Burns_%28comedian%29

And then there were the great feuds of radio. A major radio feud of the thirties was between the bandleader Ben Bernie (of Yowsa, yowsa fame) and then newspaper and radio gossip columnist Walter Winchell (“Hello, Mr. & Mrs North America and all the ships at sea. Let’s go to press. Flash!) Wikipedia’s report: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ben_Bernie and it’s report on Walter Winchell (who is also credited with inventing the gossip column) is here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walter_Winchell

And of course there was Edgar Bergen, the ventriloquist who radio listeners could not see but who warmed the hearts of uncounted Americans with his Charlie McCarthy characterization. From Wikipedia: “The popularity of a ventriloquist on radio, when one could see neither the dummies nor his skill, surprised and puzzled many critics, then and now. However, it was Bergen's skill as an entertainer and vocal performer, and especially his characterization of Charlie, that carried the show over. Luckily, many of the shows have survived and are available for audiences today to experience the phenomenon firsthand.” His full Wikipedia page is here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edgar_Bergen

This line given to Mae West in a sketch on the show broadcast December 12, 1937, resulted in her 15-year ban from broadcasting. "Charles, I remember our date and have the splinters to prove it."

No report on the famous feuds of radio would be complete with some words describing Edgar Bergen or rather his alter ego, Charlie McCarthy’s long running feud with that symbol of public inebriation, Mr. W. C. Fields. Charlie's feud with W. C. Fields was a regular feature of the show. I here reprint a few wisecracks from Edgar Bergen's Wikipedia listing.

W.C. Fields: "Well, Charlie McCarthy, the woodpecker's pinup boy."

W.C. Fields: "I love children. I can remember when, with my own little unsteady legs, I toddled from room to room."
Charlie: "When was that? Last night?"

W.C. Fields: "Quiet, Wormwood, or I'll whittle you down to a coathanger."

W.C. Fields: "Tell me, Charles, is it true that your father was a gate-leg table?"
Charlie: "If it is, your father was under it."

W.C. Fields: "Why, you stunted spruce, I'll throw a japanese beetle on you."
Charlie: "Why, you barfly you, I'll stick a wick in your mouth, and use you for an alcohol lamp!"

Charlie : "Pink elephants take aspirin to get rid of W. C. Fields."

W.C. Fields: "Step out of the sun Charles. You may come unglued.
Charlie: "Mind if I stand in the shade of your Nose?"

It was said that at W.C. Fields’ last appearance with Charlie McCarthy, the very ill Mr. Fields was forced to perform behind a curtain so that the live audience wouldn’t see him.

Jack Benny and Fred Allen were the two most notable feud mongers of the times. Fred Allen’s insults would fly staccato with the rapidity of a sub machine gun only to be met with sighs and groans from Benny who was the reigning master of the sigh and the groan. From Wikipedia: “Good friends in real life, Fred Allen and Jack Benny hatched a running gag in 1937, after child violinist Stewart Canin's very credible performance on the Allen show inspired Allen to deliver a wisecrack about "a certain alleged violinist" should hide in shame over his poor playing. Benny responded in kind, and they were off and running. The back-and-forth got good enough notice that the two went with it for over a decade, doing it so well that many fans of both shows believed the two really were blood enemies.” More Wikipedia:

“They toned the gag down after 1941, though they kept it going often enough as the years continued. The biggest climactic event of the feud was broadcast on Allen's show May 26, 1946. In a sketch called "King for a Day," satirizing big-money game shows, Benny pretended to be a contestant named Myron Proudfoot on Allen's new quiz show.
Allen: Tomorrow night, in your ermine robe, you will be whisked by bicycle to Orange, New Jersey, where you will be the judge in a chicken-cleaning contest.
Benny (rapturously): I'm KING for a Day!
[Allen proceeds to have Benny's clothes pressed:]
Allen: Upon our stage we have a Hoffman pressing machine.
Benny: Now wait a minute! Wait a minute!
Allen: An expert, operating the Hoffman pressing machine, will press your trousers.
Benny: NOW WAIT A MINUTE!!! (total audience hysteria laughter, as Benny's pants are literally removed).
Allen: Quiet, king!
Benny: Allen, this is a frame--- (starts laughing himself) Where are my pants?
Allen: Keep your shirt on, king.
Benny: You BET I'll keep my shirt on!
Allen: We're a little late, folks! Tune in next week---
Benny: Come on, Allen, where are my pants!
Allen: Benny, for 15 years I've been waiting to see you here like this!
Benny: Allen, you haven't seen the END of me!
Allen: It won't be long NOW!
Benny: I WANT MY PANTS!

In Benny's eventual co-memoir (his daughter added her own recollections and published it after his death), he revealed that the feud may have begun spontaneously, following the Stewart Canin incident, but that it went over big enough with listeners "that we decided to hold a summit meeting with my two writers and Allen's five writers and plan the strategy of our feud. It was all cold and calculated and the sky was the limit. Or rather, the mud was the limit." One little noted characteristic of the feud, the visiting one always got the better lines. The Allen-Benny feud was the longest-playing, best-remembered dialogue running gag in classic radio history.

Allen’s radio career was done in by the coming of television in the late 1940’s. He summed up the new medium as follows: "Television is a triumph of equipment over people," Allen observed, "and the minds that control it are so small that you could put them in the navel of a flea and still have enough room beside them for the heart of a network vice president." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fred_Allen
– • –
Ah, radio. How could we have possibly gotten along all of these years without it?

The Real Little Eddy

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Little Eddy’s Blog #5 Waging War the Corporate Way

Last week’s blog reminiscing about my experience in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II, plus this past week’s revelations about Blackwater, point out the dramatic differences between the way World War II was fought, and the way these modern so-called President’s Wars are fought. In World War II the entire country had to sacrifice to bring us to victory. Our enemies were clear cut, and if you did not serve in the military yourself you probably worked in war related industries, or at the very least you endured many kinds of rationing, and bought War Bonds to lend monetary support to the war effort.

In the post World War II wars, Korea, Viet Nam, or the present day Iraq conflict there was no united effort towards victory. These President’s Wars are so named because only the president and a small circle of his closest advisers truly supported them, and they were fought on the cheap with an all-volunteer army. Both Korea and Viet Nam played off of our (as it turned out) irrational fear and loathing of communism, and in Iraq the administration is playing off of our very real fears of militant Islamic Fundamentalism. However neither Harry Truman who oversaw Korea, nor Lyndon Johnson or Richard Nixon who oversaw Viet Nam, were willing to call on the nation to sacrifice for victory. As a result Korea ended at the same battle lines from whence it started, and in Viet Nam we lost and got the hell out. President Johnson was the one who gave this new style of warfare its label, “Guns and Butter,” ie having your cake while eating it. Of course in both cases the conflicts lessened the value of our currency. Before Viet Nam gold was around forty five dollars an ounce, after some six years of Viet Nam the price of gold was closer to four hundred and fifty dollars an ounce.

But the most outrageous thing about the game plan our present day Iraq affair is being played by is how much of the support of our troops is being handled (AT A PROFIT!) by private corporations, at prices which are out of this world as compared to what the same service used to cost when the military itself handled it. KP duty (stands for kitchen police), otherwise known as feeding the troops, used to be handled by the military. And the cooks and support personnel got salaries similar to those of the rest of us who served in the military. But that’s not the case in Iraq today. Today’s all volunteer military are stretched so thin that there is no way that they could feed themselves, and so a former branch of Halliburton called KBR (Kellogg Brown and Root) is feeding the troops among many other jobs they are doing for the military in Iraq. (The same company built the infamous Tiger Cages during the Viet Nam war.) And you can bet that the civilian workers operating in the Iraq war zone are getting many times over the salary that a gi (government issue, ie soldier) would have been getting for performing the same task.

Prominent in the news this week is the Blackwater Security Corp., a company few of us had ever heard of, which is presently under a contract with the State Department to provide security for its personnel, in lieu of United States Marines who in past wars had the job of safe guarding State Department and other civilian officials. Blackwater is a private security company whose trigger happy workers are accused of the recent deaths of 11 (now make that 17) Iraqi civilians, unprovoked according to Iraqi’s who witnessed the shootings and an assessment by the army itself. Blackwater swears their men were fired upon and were simply returning fire. The Justice Department has sent the FBI to investigate. It will be interesting to see what their look-see comes up with, but I certainly wouldn’t bet against a gigantic Whitewash for Blackwater.

And I have yet to read an accurate assessment 0f the staggering amount of money these war related jobs which have been very quietly transferred from the military to private corporations are going to cost the taxpayer in the long run. Will it break the country economically? Those of us who depend on Social Security surely hope it will not. But even if the country had the wherewithal to end such monumental spending today, it has surely grown into a tremendous debt which will have to be handed down to our grandchildren to pay. Is that fair? Shouldn’t there be serious questioning of the leaders who led us down this extremely disturbing path? You tell me? Or better still tell the Congress as we approach the election next year.

But I hear the nay sayers and the pro war crowd crying out, “How can we keep our elected officials from involving us in these adventures? It’s a free country isn’t it?” Well, it’s not a free country, not with taxes as high as they are. And as far as a deterrent goes we must insist that the Congress pass a Constitutional Amendment requiring all future interventions in outside conflicts be preceded by the institution of a National Draft. If the nation supports a war it WILL support a national draft, if it does NOT it WON’T! It’s as simple as that. And any future president proposing intervention without first instituting a draft should be made to go stand in the corner facing the wall. With a dunce cap on!

Footnote: At the height of the Watergate crisis H.R. Haldeman told Richard Nixon not to worry. No matter what comes out 33% of the nation would continue to believe in him. Polls at that time upheld Mr. Haldeman’s prediction. In a poll taken between Oct. 1st–3rd, the AP-Ipsos poll found George W. Bush’s approval rating had slipped to 31%.
– • –
Greetings,
The reason why I contacted you through this media is that there is an excess concealment of fund which I want you to assist my client secure into your company's account or private account for investment in your country. The sum is $120 million (Hundred and Twenty Million Dollars) and you will be gladly compensated with 15% after the deal is done. My client cannot deposit the fund in any account with his identity presently because of his political problems. This is urgent and I need your assistance. Right now, the money is in a secret account with a bank here in Nigeria. If you can secure the money for him; we make arrangement to move the money out through the bank affiliate in Spain. We will want you to be present in the bank in Spain through were the money will be channel to with the help of the bank director.
You will have meeting on our behalf with the bank officials as my client's business partner on the best way to move the money into your account in your country. We seek your confidence and with assurance that there is no illegality with the transaction.
Thank you and I am looking forward to seeing your reply for more understanding.
Sincerely yours
Barrister Akuson Afoma

Well, hello there Barrister Afoma, welcome to my gmail box. I can’t tell you how excited I am to finally be getting one of these African Scam letters for which the internet is so justly famous. I was beginning to feel left out, not quite a real person, having been consistently overlooked in matters of this nature. However, now I can finally feel fulfilled. I’m sorry I am not going to be able to be of any assistance to you in what I’m sure is an upstanding, worthwhile endeavor. You see I have neither money nor legal nor banking skills. However I do wish you the best of luck, and hope for your complete success in matters of this transfer. And if you could see fit to send me that fifteen percent anyway, all of us here at the Real Little Eddy’s Blog will be forever grateful. Love and kisses. TRLE
– • –
Re: Spring Meadows Property Owners
5295 Hollister St.
Houston, TX 77040-6205

Dear Mr. Badeaux:
You have chosen to live in an attractive and desirable community in which your Homeowner’s Association offers various amenities. In order to preserve this desired standard and home values it is important that all residents work together to maintain their property at the highest possible level.

During a recent review of the community it was noted that your mailbox is damaged and laying on the ground. Please take whatever action is necessary to ensure that it is repaired and kept in an upright position at all times. On behalf of your Homeowner’s Association we request that this be taken care of as soon as possible.

If the requested service has been completed please disregard this letter. In the event that a continuing violation is not corrected, all costs and expenses to enforce compliance of the Rules, Declaration, or By Laws will be charged to the owner.

Your cooperation is greatly appreciated.
Sincerely,
Harriet Tunick
Spring Meadows Property Owners.
____________________________________________________________________

Harriet Tunick,
Spring Meadows Property Owners
5295 Hollister St.
Houston, TX 77040-6205

Dear Ms Tunick,
I thank your for your communication of October 1st, and indeed no one is more ashamed than I of the formerly beautiful brick mailbox which has been knocked off of it’s original proud perch and now sits ignobly on the grass next to the place where it was built. Of course, this is not a situation of my doing. The last thing in this world I would ever do is interfere with my ability to receive United States mail.

It seems that the elderly Asian gentleman who lives across the street from me and who works at the nearby WalMart, started his car and leaving it in neutral for a reason known only to himself and his deity he got out of the vehicle with the motor still running. And as he watched with eyes wide open gravity took control of his vehicle and it rolled down his rather steep driveway propelling it across our street, where its progress was impeded by my formerly stately brick mailbox. Perhaps it was just as well, otherwise the car might have continued on up to my house.

I apologize to you and the Property Owners Association for fact that the remains of my mailbox have been a blight on this otherwise impeccable neighborhood. I had left it in place in case the gentlemen across the street would care to buy the bricks from which a new mailbox might be constructed as he alluded he might while first explaining the incident to me. However, since he seems to be taking no action in that direction I will replace the mailbox with a new one in due time.

I write a weekly blog at: http://littlleeddy.blogspot.com and I have taken the liberty of publishing your letter along with my reply on this coming Saturday’s post. I do this to share with my readers the shame I feel in having left the remains of my once proud mailbox in public view as a reminder of life’s tenuousness and the supremacy of the automobile over a structure of mere brick and mortar. And also in the hope that one or more of my generous readership might feel inclined to make a contribution towards getting little Eddy a brand new mailbox. Checks, money orders, or cash happily accepted at: Little Eddy, 12022 N. Fairhollow Ln., Houston, TX, 77043. Please make all checks, money orders payable to: Ed Badeaux
Yours very truly,
Ed Badeaux
– • –
Last week CNN brought to it’s waiting viewers a frightening story about an adult male who videotaped himself having sex with a four year old girl, and pictures of the little girl abounded in the media for several days as law enforcement desperately tried to find and rescue the child. Well, the plan worked. The little girl was found, she is now seven years old, and according to the same media that had speculated on her demise, she is a normal and perhaps even a happy seven year old. Doesn’t a story like that make you stop and think? Perhaps the media’s and the establishment’s constant labeling of any kind of sex with a minor as abuse is not quite accurate. I wish we could see an interview with the little girl today, so we could see for ourselves that she really is as happy and normal as the media reported, in spite of the dire accounts of the “ordeal” she evidently went through when she was four.

This is not to say I approve of what that guy did. Obviously I have not seen the tape and so I’m in no position to have a reliable opinion on the subject one way or the other. The police officers who are the only ones to have seen and publicly talk about the video are well known for having an unequivocal penchant for hyperbole and overkill, a characteristic which in law enforcement speak translates the word sex into words like abuse or rape or worse. I am simply suggesting that our society has an off the wall, and often completely wrong opinion of the effects of sexual experiences in childhood.

I have ordered a copy of Harmful to Minors, the Perils of Protecting Children from Sex, by Judith Levine. Because of its incendiary nature and content Ms Levine had difficulty finding a publisher for her book. Finally in 2002 an academic publisher, the University of Minnesota Press published it. It received national notoriety when it won the Los Angeles Times Book Award, and conservatives immediately began screaming about having it banned. Taking the stance that anything that is roundly condemned by the evangelical right must at least be of interest, I am looking forward to reading what appears at first glance to be a reasoned approach to a touchy subject, and when it arrives and I get a chance to read it I will bring a review of it to this blog.

I realize that most Americans have no use, and many are even offended by erotic material and especially that where relationships extend from adult to children. During the nineteen sixties, that all too brief a time when America and the world seemed to be genuinely open to new ideas, two northern European countries, Sweden and Denmark, threw off their long standing taboos on what could and could not be shown and published pictorially, even to the extent of allowing children to be portrayed and participate in photographic nude pictorials, and also going so far as to allow live sex shows to be performed on stage. There was quite naturally much tsk-tsking at the time on the part of moral leaders in this country, and throughout the so-called civilized world.

The powers that be were so sure that such a relaxation of traditional mores would lead to inevitable increases in sex crimes and become an impediment to law enforcement that our fearless leader, Lyndon Baines Johnson, ordered a Presidential Study to determine the effects this sudden relaxation of established morality might have had on the crime rates of their respective countries (he undoubtedly ordered the study in hopes of taking the country’s mind off Viet Nam which had become a quagmire). The ensuing study dutifully and carefully analyzed before and after crime statistics, and surprise, surprise, what it showed was that crime did not increase in that so recently freed environment, it actually DECREASED. Markedly so.

It is quite logical when you stop to think about it. Prurient interests are something most all of us are born with. If you can satisfy someone's prurient interests legally chances are they won't go out and commit a crime in an effort to gain their satisfaction. Why should they? Well, LBJ and the politicians of that day hemmed, hawed and hollered when the study decried their most sacred pre dispositions, and they subsequently did their most adroit footwork attempting to dance away from the scientific truth which the study illuminated. In a similar manner they distanced themselves from the marijuana study done at around the same time that found certain medicinal attributes to the weed and the actual enhancement of certain skills while under the influence. So much for the objectivity of scientific Presidential studies.

For much of the past four years I have been writing erotic stories which were posted on the web site: mrdouble.com under the pen name Uncle Pan. I don't consider those stories I wrote dirty. They are fantasies. They go a few steps beyond the Thorne Smith fantasies I grew up reading and enjoying as a young man, but then all things evolve. All of my stories are fictional tales, concocted out of pure imagination with text carefully woven to entertain. And not incidentally they are written to make the reader feel good about him or herself, and I was proud whenever I found that one of my stories had succeeded in that vein.

I bring this up because fans of Uncle Pan’s stories might be interested to learn that one new and two previously published tales have just been posted on the web site: http://storiesonline.net/auth/Uncle_Pan. The brand new story is called Naomi’s Lessons. Perry Mason's house is a refuge for Naomi Parsons, 11, who comes over one day to tell Perry how she and sister Maggie spied on their mother as she was giving their uncle Martin a brotherly oral event. Perry advises the girls to 'fess their spying up to their mother, which when they do sets up a strange series of events.

The two previously published stories date from 2003 and include Matt and Rosie, where Matt Rollins, divorced, befriends a 13 yo girl, Rosie O'Flannery who lives down the street and who spends the hours after school and before her parents come home from work shooting the breeze with Matt. Rosie was extremely curious about the facts of life and one thing led to another. In Ross’ Extended Family, Ross Bouchaleaux, 28, had been grad student teacher when his parents were killed in an auto accident. The resulting insurance set him up for life, but the house seemed empty, so he posted a note at his former college offering free board if candidate meets his qualifications. A former student of his saw the note, and called him. She brought her 4 yo daughter over, who in turn proceeded to adopt Ross on first sighting. Ross then is faced with a mighty challenge as he finds himself becoming a father in training.
– • –
As I have noted before, there really isn’t a hell of a lot good to recommend to you about growing old. But there is one quality which does distinguish you from the younger generation, you will have lived long enough to see and experience a great deal of change. For instance let me spend just a moment recalling the ancient times of my own childhood. It was a time before milk was homogenized and came in plastic cartons, it was a time even before either electric or gas refrigeration was in wide use.

When I was a child we had ice boxes, and the Iceman cometh around every morning to bring you a 50 lb block of ice which you used to keep your food from spoiling. (People in tropical climates season their food so highly to cover the taste of spoilage.) In those golden days you had one additional tradesman visiting each morning, the Milkman. Back then both the Ice and Milk men used horse drawn carriages for transportation, for automobiles though coming into style weren't as yet in as heavy a use as they would be later. The milkman brought you milk in glass bottles with a compartment up top where the cream rose. Coffee drinkers in those days used real cream in their coffee, there weren't these fake imitations so common today. And if the house had a coffee drinker or two in it the rest of the bottle of milk was more or less skim. Great for keeping the poundage down. The milkman also brought several other commodities, butter, pure cream, and fresh eggs. Your corner grocery store also carried these items, but it was a lot more convenient to have them delivered fresh to your door each morning.

Let me next describe the first real taste of culinary heaven I had. I was young, maybe five or six and my late, sweet aunt Ethel Forman (whose nickname Offie I explained in Blog #2) was the person who took care of me while my mother went off to work and it was she who subsequently introduced me to this exotic bit of culinary heaven on earth. It was so simple a concoction, really. But so divinely good. You take freshly churned butter at room temperature, add a sprinkle of table sugar and stir. That's all there is to it. But you can't imagine how heavenly the taste is. However, I attribute this delightful delicacy to have been a major contributor to the early demise of my teeth (the fact that I wouldn't drink milk back then might also have done its share of damage.) Looking back on it though all I can say is what a way to go.

At any rate, no discussion of my childhood would be complete without talking about my many trips to the family dentist. I was brought into this world by a Dr. Sidney Lister, who was our family doctor. His brother, Dr. John Lister, was our family dentist. And probably thanks partly to my addiction to the heavenly concoction of butter and sugar I spent much of my childhood in my dentist's office.

Now Dr. John Lister was a very special man. He had fought in Europe in World War I, and he had been gassed, which had given him a dreadful case of emphysema. The normal sound of his breathing would drown out the sound of a passing street car, and he could only work for short periods of time, and so he used what he euphemistically called "temporary fillings," little wads of some kind of gum-like material which used to inevitably come out while I was eating. He also didn't like to use anesthetics when he drilled, it was many years later that I found out that dentists could actually make drilling nearly painless with a well placed shot of novocaine.

Fortunately for me though he did use novocaine when he had to pull a tooth, and later on he would use it when I seemed especially nervous with the drill. Which after awhile was like most every time. When I went into the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1944 and went into air crew training the next year the dentists had a field day replacing my many fillings which would pop out in the decompression chamber I used to have to use while training as a B-24 gunner.

Incidentally I spent the first thirty-six years of my life looking like I was under eighteen years of age. When in my thirties I was refused service once trying to buy a beer in a bar with a bunch of Settlement Camp Counselors in Beacon, N.Y., and at age thirty-six the store manager of a River Oaks liquor store refused to sell me a bottle of Scotch Whisky I was trying to buy for my father, until the clerk who had gone to college with me at the U of H many years before and who looked his age, talked the manager into letting me buy it by assuring him the two of us had gone to college together. I had shown the man my Texas driver's license which of course had my date of birth on it, it had been to no avail until the clerk had verified our having gone to college together.

And so it was at age thirty six that I decided to grow a beard. And it came out gray in spots, and I never got refused liquor service again. You know how your parents, mainly your mother, gets a picture of you in her mind at a much earlier age than your actual one. My mother had me pegged at around fourteen, and I believe she never quite forgave me for growing that beard and ruining her mental age for me. Many years later, on the Mike Douglas tv talk show of all places, I was to learn that anesthetics like Novocaine, Procaine and related compounds are known to slow down the aging process. And so I finally found what I could blame for my youthful looks during the first thirty six years of my existence. I have often wondered if Michael J. Fox, of Family Ties and the Back to the Future movies had extensive dental work done when he was a kid?

In retrospect I would like to give a belated toast to The Beatles for pointing our way and allowing those of us mere mortals to do many personal and truly individual things, like growing a beard or growing our hair long. Let’s drink this toast first to John the Magical Beatle, then to Paul the Addictive Beatle, to George, Musician Extraordinaire, and finally to Ringo, Drummer and Mister Every Man. There had never been anything like them in music or entertainment, the group not only quadruple-handedly changed the terrain of popular music, but they also put their individual stamp on the realm of the human personality. If you are too young to have been there keep your eyes and ears open for the film “Across the Universe,” a 60’s style love story woven together with songs of The Beatles. The N.Y.Time’s review is at: http://movies.nytimes.com/2007/09/14/movies/14univ.html
And let us never forget John Lennon’s message, “All You Need Is Love.”
– • –
In a previous draft of today’s blog I lamented my decision to put a counter at the bottom of my page. If your name is Huffington or if your blog is the darling of silicon valley as is the Fake Steve Jobs then page counters are your friend. But if you’re TRLE your page hits can be embarrassingly small. In desperation we admit to initially bumping up our count (by refreshing the page) until it reached 100. But from there it has gone steadily upwards on its own, I think thanks to the fact that the nice folks at storiesonline.net put a link to it on my author page. I thank them, and I thank each of you for coming. At 7:30 C.S.T. Saturday morning the count is 414. It’s not in the stratosphere, but at least moving in an upwards direction. We wouldn’t object, however, if any of you who might get a chuckle or two from our ramblings e-mail our (woefully misspelled) link to any friends who might be interested. http://littlleeddy.blogspot.com/
And once again, thank you for coming.

The Real Little Eddy