Saturday, July 30, 2005

Explosion in my PANTS!

I escaped, but I think it was close. Too close.

Hey, what were you thinking? THAT kind of explosion? No. Dream on.

Here's the story. IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU. I have a guy-toy thing, a geeky-guy-toy thing that measures sound pressure level. Why I have it is so I can match levels. You always think the louder sound is better, so it helps, when evaluating equipment, to match levels.

Okay. So it needed a new 9v battery. One of those rectangular types. I bought a two-pack and took one out. Put it into my pocket, as I was distracted.


The other day while we were out, Jessie, our Cocker Spaniel, carpet bombed our office rug. Bullseye dead center. So we've become hyper-sensitive about taking her out. I had just showered, changed, pocketed the battery and thought I saw THE LOOK, so took her out.

I then came back in, and went to listen to some music.

Reached into my pocket and found the battery - almost too hot to touch!

It had landed face down in 37 cents of change. Shorted out! The handkerchief also there - or the lint - must have protected my leg from the rising heat. I tell ya, it was going critical!

I could have had fried privates.

Don't let this happen to you! Smokey the Gonad says Only You Can Prevent Pant Fires!

Friday, July 29, 2005


The older I get, the more bad I see. It's a loss of innocence rather than vile bile backing up inside me. I see it in politics, government (not the same thing - at least it's not SUPPOSED to be,) religion, and the corporate world.

I think the older you are, the more you see behind the curtain.

Suspicions are aroused. Scandals are viagra for arousing suspicion. And it's hard to get it down once up.

Locally, the big phone company is trying to get into the cable business. the cable operators don't want anyone to slice their pie. It's back and forth, back and forth, with issue advertising to an intensity that requires an spf 18 or higher if you watch tv or read the paper.

Austin is the State Capital of Texas. I should point that out.

Also that there's been an effort to reduce property taxes (which are mighty high, pardner) and somehow fund schooling properly. The legislators can't get the job done. The session expires. The governor forces them back. They can't get the job done again.

Meanwhile, the cable company puts full page ads in the paper suggesting that the greedy phone company, by virtue (ha - funny word) of the fact that THEIR bill is up for consideration, is draining attention from the plight of the children.

The thread that dangles that logic is thin and transparent.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Crossed fingers and prayers

This from Yahoo:

"The U.S. space agency said flying debris captured on video at Discovery's launch on Tuesday was too similar to what brought down shuttle Columbia on Feb. 1, 2003, and showed that the debris problem was not fixed after 2 1/2 years of work and more than $1 billion in safety improvements."

I don't get it. To the list of so many other things I don't get, this climbs the list to the top.
Wasn't that the first thing they'd have fixed? For a BILLION dollars?

"NASA officials believe Discovery is unharmed and will be able to come home on Aug. 7, but they do not know when shuttles will fly again. Atlantis was scheduled to launch in September.
Images showed chunks of foam missing from at least three places on Discovery's external fuel tank, including one almost as big as the piece that struck Columbia. There are also nicks in the protective tiles on Discovery's belly."

The nation will sigh a great big collective sigh of relief when this brave crew lands successfully.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

SILT, the Dirty Enemy

We just received the go-ahead to have our SILT FENCE taken down.

Our weeds have grown to the size where they will hold back New Mexico if it comes sliding this way.

Silt, as you remember from grade school, is what messes up the Mississippi River delta. Here in Texas, where Environmental Issues Stand Proudly except in most of Houston, we concern ourselves with runoff silt. The builder is required to keep runoff in its place.

Clarification: Sally-Dee-Anne can runoff from the tralier park with Bucyrus. Silt stays put.

The upside is we get to lose that black stripe that runs across our lower acre and down the driveway.

The downside is that now people will know we have completed construction and 'this is as good as it gets' and that our weed crop is in.

On that front, our lanscaper sent the hydromulcher back to respray areas where the grass hasn't grown. This means he sprayed grass seed on weed. The genetics of the thing just makes me warble.

But, as a warbler, I may qualify for federal protection.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Pool Chem 102

Imagine Ryan Stiles (very very funny but somewhat gawky geeky guy on Drew Carey's "Whose Line Is It" show) behind the counter at the local Pool Yourself Warehouse and Chemical Dump. Now take away the funny. Add a touch of a young Jimmy Stewart. (I know - strange mix.) THAT'S the guy who analyzed our pool chemistry the other day.

You take a water sample at arm's depth and race it down to the lab/shop before it "expires."

Gawk then plays with test tubes (only they are square, like him) and reagents and beakers and test strips and the props of a Young Frankenstein Make Your Own Movie Set kit. He then declares you need some of THIS and THAT, maybe TWO of these, as we walk the aisles of common chemicals renamed and sold at high markups.

PH Fluff is really goat pee.

PH Droop is really bull drool.

Salt Stabilizer is really salt. The "lizer" is the money part.

Following instructions, I put enough baking soda into the pool yesterday to nuke a Pillsbury Bakeoff. Now I have to neutralize it with acid. "Why not," you might ask intelligently, " just skip BOTH, since one counteracts the other?" Very good question. No answer I've received makes sense to me.

But then I have to stabilize the PH after I've added and subtracted. They say the whole process acts like a shock absorber. I could have used one of those at the checkout. This stuff is so expensive it could be sold as Holy Water - no offense to the religious.

And then to that I must add calcium. Milk? No, more expensive stuff: CALCIUM WATER HARDENER. We had water hardener free in Minnesota, but it was 5 months long and we called it winter.

Sunday, July 24, 2005


I was thinking about how slowly and how fast some things move. Our new neighbors wrote that they expected to have their new house done in 8 weeks. I wrote back that, after forever, tacking on 8 weeks couldn't be bad. I then mentioned what I called the "speed of impatience."

That got some cells rubbing under my lack of hair.

Let's say the speed of light is the fastest. What would the ranking then BE? Hmmmmm.

The speed of light
The speed of dream
The speed of prayer
The speed of lightning
The speed of ego
The speed of rocket
The speed of greed
The speed of jet
The speed of teed golf ball
The speed of sound
The speed of radar gun shot by motorcycle cop hiding behind bushes
The speed of eyeblink
The speed of NYC cab
The speed of hail
The speed of rain
The speed of snow
The speed of flirt
The speed of fiduciary responsibility
The speed of tv series cancellation
The speed of rumor
The speed of stink
The speed of perfume
The speed of McDonald's drive thru window
The speed of dog on fallen crumb
The speed of justice
The speed of constipation
The speed of snow
The speed of seed
The speed of maturity
The speed of bald
The speed of impatience

This could go on and on at the speed of idea. Have fun.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Who AM I?

Wow. have you ever looked yourself up in GOOGLE?

Under Bob Wood I found:

...Harley Carbs and Cams that are a trade mark of Bob Wood. They yield Very High torque and horsepower numbers, not matched by any other cams at this time...

Robert L. Wood, currently business vice president, Polyurethanes, will have responsibility as business president for Polyurethanes,

Robert E. Wood Professor of Sociology and Chair Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Criminal Justice Rutgers University, Camden ...

Volunteer Expert:, Bob Wood. Expertise:, I can help in MAC networking and problems. No PC expierence, but can guide you to useful info on networking Macs ...

Bob Wood, Executive Vice President, Customer Care Operations, Accenture Business Services for Utilities.

Bob's Wood Specialties - Cabinets and Countertops.

Bob Wood, now retired, had a 43-year-long career as an aerospace engineer, which was later to become Boeing. Over those four decades, Bob worked on ...

Bob Wood batting, fielding and pitching major league baseball lifetime statistics for each season and his career, and a list of any post-season awards he ...

The teacher on the video is Dr. Bob Wood, a BJU faculty member specializing in "training ... The video is of Dr. Bob Wood teaching a class at BJU. ...

Bob Wood is the name of two former Canadian politicians, who were contemporaries of each other but were associated with different political parties and ...

Bob Wood has been chair since our inception in 1998. As Managing Director of a local York business, he has a valuable perspective on the participation and ...

To view or download an Adobe Acrobat pdf file of Bob Wood's current resume (only ... Bob Wood is awarded the E. Quint Carr Award for Engineering Excellence ...

48 year-old Bob Wood of North Salt Lake City, Utah has been USATF's Men's Long Distance Running ... Bob Wood (resigned), men's long distance running chair ...

Robert C. Wood, a former professor of political science at MIT, died Friday at his Boston home of stomach cancer. He was 81.

Bob Wood's career hockey statistics. ... Bob Wood. Regular Season, Playoffs. Season, Team,

Bob Wood Folk Singer.

Recognizing and commending Bob Wood; and for other purposes. WHEREAS, Mr. Bob Wood is an outstanding community leader in Gwinnett County; and ...

Bob Wood Engineering Manager - WUFT-TV. Office: 1010 Weimer Phone: (352) 392-5551 x1130 E-mail:. Home. About the College. Academic Programs. Admissions ...

I have to assume the really bad Bobs don't get high Google positioning. But HOLY MOLY! I guess I can't blame my slacker status on my name. I actually did find myself on page 7 of the Google search engine, as somebody actually has a website for radio ghosts and my name haunts a slot there in the mausoleum.

THERE'D be an interesting grave marker: Bob Wood, the one at Entry 66 on Google Search.

My folks didn't even call me BOB till I was about 16, when they decided the name they used (which I won't reveal - I am still conflicted) (no, it wasn't "asshole") was too juvenile. They switched to a stilted Bob which came out in several syllables with quotes around it, in italics (embarrassing me even more.) "Bawwww-aaah--aaaa--aaahB!"

I had a first grade teacher who called me Bobby, but since then only one of my friends calls me that. I don't mind. I like him a lot so he gets a pass.

I was Bob-O for a whole large family of a school mate, and they were a happy, rolling crowd, with hangers on and extended family members at the edges. I felt I was one of those and enjoyed their company and presence. Theirs was a family at 180 degrees from mine. I miss their contact.

One boss called me Robert. Then that morphed into Robert-Bob. Not sure why, but I liked him too. He'd stick his face into my office door and say, "Robert-Bob, I got you something!" I'd look up. He'd give me the finger. Funny.

As a voice actor in Southern California I felt I need a gimmick and had an artist do up the Hollywood sign as Bobbywood which I had as a logo.

I hate being called Mister Wood. That was my dad. I'll bet this is a common reponse of men everywhere. As a boss, I hated it as I felt more like a co-conspirator (though clearly certain others didn't see that.)

As a Disc Jockey, I found myself working at a station from 7-Midnight... after a Bob Woody. They wouldn't let me use my name. I became Christopher Sky for two years. I liked the name and the rhythm of the words. I also was flying small airplanes at the time, thus the Sky.

I nicknamed myself The Woodburger and it stuck for some. The way that came about, I was doing record hops and dances which branched out into Bar Mitzvah parties. I joked that I needed an honorary Jewish name. My ex-wife got me a plaque, and I would refer to myself as The Woodburger sometimes on the air.

I also called myself The Great Hypno when I was learning hypnosis.

I think if I had been named after my father, I would have been the 4th, but he never used the 3rd and I never met his parents as he either was thrown out or just left home for good as a teen.

His middle name was Horner.

I guess I came this close to officially being Horny.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Courtney takes a ride.

This just in...

Thursday, July 21

Rock singer Courtney Love was taken by ambulance to a Los Angeles hospital on Wednesday night after complaining of feeling faint, but she was discharged soon after, her spokeswoman said on Thursday.

Love, 41, was attending an entertainment industry gathering at the landmark Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel when she felt ill.

She was at a party, felt faint, went out for air, a friend called for a $1500 ambulance ride as a precaution. They took her to the hospital and she was released after treatment for a serious lipstick smear.

New Theory

Okay, here's my theory: THE EASY STUFF IS HARD. THE HARD STUFF IS EASY. Not sure why this is, it may be part of the Chaos Theory, which, as you remember from high school physics, states, "Everything is all screwed up."

But y'know - you start out with one simple goal, yet, in the process, you are forced to part B then part 3 then part D.

Easy stuff is hard. Fixing the chipped paint leads to sanding the wall which reveals termite damage which shows foundation trouble which leads to your house being condemned as unfit for occupancy which leads to hitting the inspector which leads to the ride in the police car which leads to the judge which leads to Hairy Eddie, your new swingin' meth addict cellmate and... you get the idea.

Hard Stuff is easy, though. This is counter-intuitive. Marrying Hairy Eddie. Hard, but easy. You don't need a ceremony.


"When humans visit Mars, they'll have to watch out for towering electrified dust devils".

...a NASA news release, dated July 14, 2005

The NASA release described a typical dust devil on Mars as a "monster column towering kilometers high and hundreds of meters wide, 10 times larger than any tornado on Earth". With "red-brown sand and dust whipping around faster than 30 meters per second (70 miles per hour)" in zero visibility. And incessant crackling and flashing of miniature lightning.

6 Flags Over Texas will no doubt announce this as their newest thrill ride. Storm chaser-goobers will race to be first, their baseball-size hail-dented 4x4s lined up in row after row of parking lot machismo.

Somehow, with the problems Disney has been having with its ride riders, I can't imagine their opening ToweringElectrifiedDustDevilTornadoGonadShockerLand.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Growing up?

When I was little, standing on the curb watching the Memorial Day parade would have been my definition of patriotic. The thrill of a marching band, with those deep hits on the bass drum, the sparkle of the trumpets as they passed... the bright lights and sirens of the fire trucks... the soldiers in sharp uniforms with colorful medals, carrying the American Flag, brightly lit in the warm sun. I felt safe, happy, and inspired by something big and strong and true. Later I'd be on my bike with red white and blue crepe paper woven through the spokes.

I was a child in the 50s. Prosperity reigned and I think America felt good about itself. For those born after the war, there was an innocense that today's youth lack.

It faded in the 60s with Viet Nam, the assassinations, then Nixon, then, as Paul Simon wrote about something else, "incidents and allegations." Riots. Scandal. Terrorism. More war.

Now I wonder what holds meaning. So much is marketing. So much is empty artiface. Spin. So much is emphemeral. Is this realization the curse of maturity, a wisdom born of reality's scars?

Tuesday, July 19, 2005


I had a sociology teacher in college who was very cool. I'm sure he was experiencing the late 60s counterculture in full splendor.

One day while his class sat waiting, and waiting, and waiting, we began to wonder if it was part of a sociology experiment to see how we would behave; if there would emerge a leader or leaders, if anarchy would reign, if we'd just leave (and perhaps get a 'cut' - and you only got so many cuts, you couldn't afford to squander them. I know I couldn't.)

Finally, after what I remember to be a worthy wait, he sauntered in and without a word wrote "NO MILK TODAY" on the blackboard and walked out.

I have been caught up in the flotsam of life, with little time to devote to the Blog; I am crunching my other website work to try to get it up and in order in the next week or so. Turns out there's more work to it than I had estimated.

How sad that I am so uncool that I have to reach way back to find a way to say I haven't got anything for the blog!

Friday, July 15, 2005

The Ghost of Otis Redding performs in San Antonio

" got to /got to/ got to/ got to/ try a little ten -der-ness......"

The View from $199 a night

San Antonio - just like Venice, but without gondollas and Italians.

He's steering with his, um...

The Bridge where J Lo Stopped Time.

Jenny from the hood stood and kissed. And the legend grows: to this day, it is said she could pass under the bridge on her stomach.

Is There Life on Earth?

Is there life on Earth?

Some think so. But INTELLIGENT life? Some evidence seems to point to the contrary, though I suppose it all depends on your point of view.

Terri and I just spent a few days in San Antonio. This (The Alamo) is where Davey Crockett was a hero before Walt Disney starred Fess Parker as King of The Wild Frontier. (And before Alamo became a car rental name.) By the way, Fess Parker has hundreds of acres in California where he's got a winery, country inn and spa. Yup. And every bottle is filtered through a coon skin cap!

San Antonio is also where Jennifer Lopez kissed on a bridge in some movie I never saw and never will, unless it shows on Hell Cablevision. I heard about that kiss every ten minutes or so during dinner, as the RiverWalk tour boat guides pointed at the bridge beside the outdoor table we had. As far as I can tell, the bridge suffered no structural damage from Ms. Lopez.

San Antonio downtown reminded me some of New Orleans (interesting architecture and high humidity, with a party atmosphere along RiverWalk - think Bourbon Street without the nude bars and smell... wait, then it's not like Bourbon Street at all... it's more like a Disneyland ride. That's it.) And it also just might be the Crap T-Shirt Capital of North America. Sorry, Niagara Falls. There's a whole marketplace dedicated to a glorification of tacky. If you want to decorate your mobile home in ersatz glitz, HERE'S your one-stop-shop!

But we had a romantic time, and that more than makes up for the drivers who can't get it through their heads that the left lane is for passing. MOVE! MOVE Fing over!!! Or the hotel fire alarm that The King of The Tequilla Shot pulled at 2AM! Or the herd of hippos in the hotel pool. Or the overnight $25 parking fee. Or the $40 visitor tax.

No, we enjoyed each other's company. That's not bad after almost 20 years of marriage.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Shades of gray?

Color me naive.

I think I always have been, and as if waking from a dream, I am seeing things as they really are. Or I am now crusted with cynicism. I'll admit that possibility.

Somewhere along the line, my value system was built:

Work hard = do well.
Right is right.
Honesty wins.
Those in authority know best.
Do what you are told.

I suspect that the older you get, the more life experience you've had makes you see shades of gray which taint some of the idealistic view you developed much earlier. Could it be that real life is so complicated that there ARE no precepts which can hold together?

What is this ROVE nonsense?
Why DID we go after Iraq?
How did the CIA and FBI get so screwed up?
What ABOUT mad cow disease?
Why DOES the price of gas change so often while oil companies enjoy record profits?
What is being done about pollution?
What will happen to old nuclear power plants? And radioactive waste?
Why does the US pay such high prices for prescription drugs?
Why is tobacco subsidized and marijuana illegal?
What progress has been made on the 'war on drugs?'
Why does congress seem so polar and self-serving?
What does Jessie Jackson DO besides look for publicity? (Sorry if that's a cheap shot.)
Are there UFOs from other worlds?
Why do we pay teachers so little?
Where are the heroes?

...and would we want to know the answers?

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Holding back fall.

When I was growing up, we'd go to Ocean City, New Jersey, for about half the summer. Ocean City was THE best part of my childhood. Sand, sun, fishing, swimming, riding waves, boat rides, riding rides on the boardwalk, the pre-girl innocent fun of youth.

If we went away for the first 6 weeks, the back 6 slid downhill - accelerating to school in an out-of-control skid. I didn't like school, so it was a sour end to vacation.

If we went away for the last 6 weeks, mid July to September 1, or whenever Labor Day hit, it was like living in a better reality, detached from the one you couldn't see approaching at high speed, obscured by the beach, the waves, and play all day.

I think fall always meant school. Like Sunday nights always meant school Monday, and likely, homework to complete. I still flinch on Sunday evening. I flinch from accumulated shirk.

Here in Texas it has been in the high 90s, with a few 104s thrown in. I have to say, this is what I like. We didn't choose Austin casually - we researched climate and a host of other variables before The Decision.

What I can't figure out is why I feel like fall is just around the corner.

The days are growing shorter - true... but what is it exactly that signals the change, I wonder? Cool nights? None here. Changing leaves? None here. The angle of the sun? Could be.

The sun is up by the time I am, and down by the time I go to sleep. So I don't know about shorter days.

Maybe the grade school nuns did it somehow. I blame them for a lot of my world view.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

The future is tomorrow!

Tomorrow is some kind of important day as I begin to construct my website - not this one, another more purposeful one - into the form it'll take when "up." I will use a program that translates text to HTML, but who knows what buggy things lie in wait in the cyber-shadows? When it is up I will announce it for the half dozen or so who read this self-indulgent blog. The text is ready to roll. It has been a long haul!

The next step is to try to make money with the site. That's done by selling ad space and also generating click throughs to purchases elsewhere. I am one step farther along a long road. This should be interesting. It IS the future of relationship-based-selling, and it's fun to be a part of it.

(The new site is actually up, but only with a registered domain name and one paragraph, and is now the 2,444,000th rung on the ladder of website rankings.)

Also on the future-is-now subject, tomorrow I will audition for a commercial for my local agent. The kick is - I'll do this from home, then Mp3 it to her, where it'll be put into the collection of other voice talents trying for the same thing. (I have a studio rig at home to allow this.)

Friday I auditioned for a voice-only part of an "independent film" and that was a first. I thought I had done everything in the years I've developed that part of my business, but never a 'film' - way cool.

The casting director was either enjoying my 'take' or was laughing at me at the end. Which is, I suppose, the insecurity that links me with so many of my Screen Actors Guild brothers and sisters.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Ramblin' Man

Discount me
So the Automobile Bigs finally found the right phrase: "Employee Discount." Oh, they could hemorrhage till anemic with rebates and deep discounts before this, but those discounts became part of the landscape, a.k.a "meaningless." Then the "Employee Discount." Sales zoom. Now everybody will pile on. More blood on the floor (but look at the sales figures!) "Employee Discount" is to selling cars what "War On Terror" is to politics.

By the way, the new Mustang perfectly captured what the 'new' and now cancelled T-bird didn't.
They even tuned the exhaust to mimic Steve McQueen's Mustang in the movie Bullitt (1968). Real life imitates illusion.

Jack off
Since I spent, oh, something like 30 years in radio, I feel compelled to comment on the stations that now say "We Play What We Want." - Even though some are highly successful, it can't be because of that slogan, which is dumb and meaningless, AND from the wrong point of view. Is there a single listener who didn't think that's what they did ANYWAY? Is there a single disaffected listener who didn't think that? Where's the benefit?

Maybe some consultant said "this is a real statement." O-tay. Genius.

Reality TV
You want real, watch Rescue Me. Gritty. No false moves. Great script and acting.

Real Reality
Today I listened to the BBC (British Broadcating Company) reports on the terrorist attacks in London, on my computer in Texas, tuned to a streaming radio station in Toronto, Canada. Wired? Yes.

Scary Reality
Martha Stewart says she has a crush on Jon Stewart. That burns my nose hairs on a sharp snort.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

A strange Top Ten list

Top Ten Things the Aliens in War Of The Worlds Aren't

10- Donald Rumsfeld

9- Bowling ball hole drillers

8- Leggy supermodels

7- Gawky teenage aliens

6- The American Hose Company demo team

5- Flatulant beer drinkers

4- The Apprentice

3- TV trays

2- Radio shack antennae

1- milk stools for BIG intergalactic cows

War of the Worlds

I just saw War Of The Worlds aka Two Hours of Tom Cruise closeups. And I'm scared. Not of Tom, but of the aliens. Because I am pretty sure I've killed some of their tiny babies here in central Texas. If they looked like Tom, then the threshold would be raised.

BTW: "Dakota Fanning" should be the name of a pitcher in the American League, not a darn good child actress.

Movie magic is alive and well. What effects! What sounds!

Incidentally, here's a social note for guys - if you have to pass gas, wait till the tripod thingies show up - they give a blast like a flatulent cruise ship - it's long enough to hide the beaniest boompah.

On another matter, once again I outsmarted myself. If only I could get a job doing this! But then I'd probably convince myself to work for peanuts with long hours. This time, I figured, if the fireworks stands were offering 11free for 1bought BEFORE the 4th of July, imagine what I could get AFTER! But no, Bob, the fireworks have been packed away till late December. Darn!

But business obviously was good - we saw more fireworks EVERYWHERE than anywhere we've been till now. Last night we visited some friends, and as we left, there were little kids setting off things my parents would have grounded me for, for life!

As we drove away the ashes swept over the windshield, like snow.

On another another matter, for no reason I can understand, in a nostalgic fit, I went looking for old acquaintances from my days in Montreal and found three of them via internet. Here's the amazing part: when we worked together we were all the same age AND STILL ARE. Every one of us said I CAN'T BELIEVE WE ARE THIS OLD. Age is something I've noted over the years. It's like dew in the morning. There, but soon forgotten. I recently met a new homeowner here, I'd estimate his age in the 30s. I said something like, "good to meet you - can't wait till you move in, I need someone to get into trouble with..." and he was taken aback. Kids!

Sunday, July 03, 2005

A look behind the sunshine

The argument continued.

"I tell you, we just ought to lay low for a while, let it blow over," said James.

"No no, that's exactly what we should NOT do, " countered Al, "that would be a terrible mistake. You've got to confront these things head on."

"Any publicity is good publicity," added Morrie, who sat on the fence.

"No it's NOT," argued James. We have the whole damn WORLD looking at us, and the image they have is wrong, wrong, wrong. We have statistics on our side..."

"Nobody knows from statistics," interrupted Al, "we have to get to work on this thing or it'll get out of control - we already took countermeasures once and then - bang! - another incident, so now we have to make an even bigger splash, if you'll excuse the word."

"Not funny," moaned James. "Not funny."

"I wasn't trying to be a wiseass. Sorry if you took it that way. Look, what's the name of that modeling agency? Ajax? Some thing with an A. We should get them to send us some headshots. We need to put together a typical happy American family. We need them having a good time. That's the message to get out. That's the picture people should get when they think..."

"Listen to Al," said Morrie, "he's been right before."

"But we did that last week and the picture ran and then - three more attacks this week," sniped James.

Al continued, raising his voice: "I tell you what - we need a whole beauty pageant - all the contestants or 'delegates' or whatever you call them - in swim suits - in the water. THAT would get noticed. Papers would run that."

"Where are we going to get a pageant on no notice?"

"How about a competition then? I know, a TRIATHALON. Both for men AND women. It would end in the ocean. What? An 11 mile swim? I don't know... long enough for helicopter shots and the whole thing."

James and Morrie nodded. They had to admit, Al was good.

"Ginger, get me the modeling agency with an A!" shouted Al, as the chamber of commerce men vowed to win back the good name of Florida from the sharks.

Friday, July 01, 2005


Fireworks were, for me, the Original Sin.

Illegal in Pennsylvania, a firecracker was a Special Thing. A Cherry Bomb was a Very Very Very Special Thing.

I've always been crazy for fireworks. Or I was. Till they became work. I'll explain, but first, fireworks through the years:

I have a very early memory of being in a car with other neighborhood kids and some adults, and after a drive to what seemed like a far away place, watching a fireworks display through the rear window. I remember thinking it was fan-tas-tic. I was just a little kid, maybe 5? I saw into heaven.

I remember sitting in the sand watching men take amazing thing after amazing thing out of a huge paper bag and watching this special fireworks display in the alley just off 35th street by the beach in Ocean City, New Jersey. Maybe I was 8.

Not really fireworks but on or about one 4th of July I remember my dad and uncle - after a few drinks - shooting a .45 my dad brought back from the army at the moon hanging over the ocean.

I remember buying firecrackers - for a quarter each - from a kid I knew. I remember just having them gave me a thrill. They were Black Cats... 1 1/2 inchers! I eventually blew up a model airplane or an ant hill.

I remember the kid up the street with M80s (said to be quarter sticks of dynamite and I wouldn't argue the point) - set around the neigborhood with cigarette fuses on each (the cigarette burns down then lights the fuse... more time to get away.) Well, after one blast, a neighbor came running out of his house REALLY mad and was yelling at M80 kid when the bomb that was on the cigarette delay in the bushes at the angry man's front porch went off with perfect timing. NOW he was BEYOND mad!

I remember finding sparklers for sale in a bicycle shop - like finding treasure!

I remember being in Military Summer Camp, figuring military = patriotic = fireworks! But there weren't any. I can still see myself on my bunk in the dark, trying to get an angle on the window, to see if fireworks from somewhere would appear in the distance, behind the trees. Nothing.

In high school I remember helping my friend Jim set off his stash of Cherry Bombs - I think we blew apart a Life Guard stand - certainly did it damage. He also had a sling shot. I'd light and he'd let 'em rip... hundreds of feet into the air, and maybe back down - very niiiice. I remember catching sand sharks off his pier and stuffing waterproof cherry bombs into their mouths and letting them go. Pause. Whomp! Shark pieces. I know, horrible. But that's what young teens DO before girls.

I remember making our own fireworks.

Setting a field on fire.

Burning myself making flares.

I remember going to a fireworks display in the 70s, very stoned. IT WAS THE 70s. We arrived late. There was no good place to park but somehow we managed to be right under the display. I was standing at first, but the display brought me to my KNEES. I saw heaven again. (C'mon, lighten up - it was the 70s.)

Years later, working in radio, we'd get involved with fireworks displays and tell everyone to "Bring Your Radio" as the fireworks would be synced to the audio soundtrack we broadcast. A pain, frankly, and in all the years we did it, I don't think I saw more than a handful of radios, combined. We'd put up PA systems and sure enough, some family would set up right THERE and then complain about the loud music. And if you COULD hear it, but weren't on top of it, it wasn't synchronized anyway because the speed of sound is a lot slower than the speed of light. I think that's when the magic went away.

I sure hope it isn't due to maturity.

Now here in Texas you can buy certain fireworks (no Cherry Bombs) in roadside stands - the best deal so far has been BUY1 get 11 FREE. Due to extreme drought, though, there's a fire ban and no doubt many people will burn many things this weekend. I know if I go into a stand I will buy the place out. I will try to not do that.

We've been invited by new friends to watch the local fireworks from their place. We've accepted. I hope I see heaven.