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Monday, March 29, 2010

RIP Robert Culp

I'm not much for worrying about what happens in Hollywood, but wanted to note the passing of another of the old guard of actors (Culp was a writer, too).

I Spy was way ahead of its time - a great show and a great example. Isn't it amazing how they were able to make an entertaining show without resorting to F-bombs everywhere?

So long, Mr. Robinson...

Friday, March 26, 2010

Life is crazy busy...

...but there is still time to stop and find the peace that passes all understanding. And it doesn't hurt that you can have a chuckle while you're doing it!

For those who remember the old (and blush-inducing) Sir Mix-a-Lot tune, this one is better!!

What do you think?


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

There goes my tan line

I read in this CNN article how Obamacare will impose a 10% tax on indoor tanning beds. Score one for the home team! Of course, with every seemingly positive piece of legislation, there is always one group of folks that is disgruntled. In this case, it's the lofty-sounding Indoor Tanning Association. Indoor tanning must be bigger than I thought - maybe that's why their industry association is cheesed-off about their members having to pay a 10% tax - which of course means indoor tanners will have to pay an extra 10% to get that golden glow without the annoyance of getting sand in their drawers. I don't see any impact on the indoor tanning industry - I think they're whining because customers who can barely afford indoor tanning today will have to give it up.

I guess that means the doctors who treat skin cancer will have less work, too. Hang Obamacare! It's ruining the economy.

The CNN article also mentions another option that was considered: putting a tax on elective cosmetic surgery. With all of the Botox parties and whatnot, I would've thought that idea to be a slam-dunk.

Apparently Congress disagreed and instead slapped those Huns over at the Indoor Tanning Association with the 10% levy. I suppose all the beautiful people over at the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery have a little more stroke on Capitol Hill.

What do you think?


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Ray of hope for US Soccer

The last year has been hard on the US Men's Soccer team in terms of injury. Davies, Onyewu, Dempsey, Holden...I've probably missed some more, but the first three are key players for the national team ahead of this summer's World Cup.

Today, I'm breathing a little bit easier. Clint Dempsey who has recovered from his knee injury and is working his way back into the first team at Fulham in the Barclay's Premiere League scored a sick goal to overcome a 3-1 deficit and seal the Cottagers advance into the quarter-finals of the Europa Cup - Europe's second-tier club competition.

A picture is worth a thousand words...

It may have been an attempted pass; it may have been blind luck, although many pundits are assigning glowing adjectives to Dempsey's strike.

Whatever the case, with Clint rounding back into form, things are looking up...

What do you think?


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Erin Go Bragh!

It's that time of year again; when all the wanna-be Irish erupt into a frenzy of green and proclaim their Irishness. I blogged a bit about Ireland yesterday without even really thinking that today was the day everyone get's all het up about.

Thanks to, I learned that the first St. Patrick's Day parade did not take place in Ireland but in the United States. Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched through New York City on March 17, 1762. Along with their music, the parade helped the soldiers reconnect with their Irish roots, as well as fellow Irishmen serving in the English army.

But who among today's revelers knows the origins of St. Patrick? The son of wealthy English parents, St. Patrick was reputedly taken captive by Irish bandits, who also plundered his parent's estate. During the ensuing six years of captivity, St. Patrick turned to Christ for comfort. According to writings, God came to him in a dream and said it was time to leave, after which St. Patrick escaped and returned to England.

However, in another dream, an angel came to St. Patrick and told him that he must return to Ireland for missionary work. After fifteen years of study St. Patrick did so, ministering to Christians and converting the Pagans. Many believe that St. Patrick is responsible for bringing Christianity to Ireland.

So, far from the green beer and raucous parades, today should be a day spent in prayer and thanksgiving. Perhaps the party atmosphere comes from the original celebrations of St. Patrick by the Irish, which included church services in the morning and then feasting in the afternoon.

Although much about St. Patrick is clouded by the mists of time, it's clear that he was used in a great way by God to help spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a beautiful land.

What say ye?


Thanks to Joan Schroeder and her article on Helium for background on St. Patrick.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Mysteries from the past...

I am, perhaps oddly, drawn to Irish things. My grandfather, the late Dermot Peter Paul Patrick Joseph Dunne, came over on the boat from the Emerald Isle - so perhaps it's not so odd after all.

I have yearned to return to Ireland ever since spending time there when I was in secondary school in Cirencester. Alas, opportunity has not opened the door. But now, I have something new to hope for: a chance to visit the burial mound at Newgrange...

This article from National Geographic describes the popularity of the oldest known burial site in Ireland - older than the Great Pyramid at Giza as well as Stonehenge.

What makes Newgrange, and other mounds scattered around the River Boyne, so intriguing is their alignment with the sun during various times of the year. At Newgrange, the winter solstice sun shines through a tiny window above the door at dawn, illuminating the floor of the the burial chamber at the end of a sixty-foot passageway.

For about seventeen minutes, twenty people a year are drawn at random and descend the passage to witness this amazing feat of ancient engineering. Although I'm not sure if it's the saints that go marching in, I would like to one day be in that number.

Why was the tomb aligned with the Winter Solstice? How did the builders design and construct such a precise structural alignment? Was it simply to honor their dead kings? Were they celebrating the rebirth of the sun? I don't know, but I'd like to go and have a look anyway.

Wouldn't you?


Monday, March 15, 2010

US Soccer continues missteps...

Well, I was wrong. Way back in January I sort-of predicted that Landon Donovan would extend his loan spell at Everton after a great start with the Toffees.

The BBC has reported that his loan spell has officially ended on schedule.

I still believe this is a bad move.

This is a world cup year; we've had some significant injuries to top US players and despite Dempsey's return to action with Fulham last week, and the positive reports regarding Charlie Davies and Oguchi Onyewu recoveries, I believe the US national team's form heading into the most important summer in US Soccer history is a concern.

If I were Bruce Arena (I should be so lucky), there is no doubt I would be taking the hard line to get Landon back to the Galaxy ahead of the MLS season - especially with news of Beckham's Achilles injury. No matter what folks think, Becks makes an impact for the Galaxy and without him on the pitch until mid-summer, it's even more crucial to get Donovan back.

But that's short sighted. MLS exists to grow the sport in this country. This year, that means the best showing possible in South Africa. With Donovan's stellar form - surprising to some - in the Premier League, the Galaxy should be looking at the longer view.

Congrats on your success overseas Landon - it was long overdue. I hope you get the chance to return to the Blues. You deserve it. The Everton fans want it. And US Soccer needs it.

What do you think?


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

My name is Xanthorpe and ...

... I watched the Oscars.

For the first time in I don't know how long, I watched the annual I love myself fest that Hollywood foists on us. First off, I respect the ability it takes for people to memorize large chunks of information and then imbue the recitation of said chunks with the gamut of human emotion. Heck, to cry on cue?

But lately, the Oscars have just gotten way out of hand. Gift baskets that cost more than the annual household income in most non-developed countries; political and social diatribes that go way beyond Thank You. And a steady parade of hosts whose primary goal seems to be outdoing their predecessors.

What I liked about the 2010 Oscars:
  1. Coming away with the knowledge that there are movies out there that I need to watch - namely Blind Side and Up
  2. Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin making fun of George Clooney
  3. Sandra Bullock winning for Blind Side (and her acceptance speech)
  4. James Taylor
  5. Finding out Matt Damon won an Oscar for co-writing the screenplay for Good Will Hunting
  6. Tim Robbins talking about Morgan Freeman
I'm sure there were other entertaining moments, but...

What I did not like about the 2010 Oscars:
  1. The pre-game show known as Red Carpet something-or-other. Never have I seen a more nauseatingly obsequious bunch of kiss-kiss in my life.
  2. Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin as co-hosts. I really liked Steve Martin early in his career. Now? Not so much. Alec Baldwin? Dean Martin was smooth - Alec Baldwin is slimy.
  3. Actresses who feel the need to reveal. Enough said.
  4. Miley Cyrus' dress - besides being totally unflattering and unsuitable for a young lady of her vintage, she looked very uncomfortable in it.
  5. Constantly panning to James Cameron as his ex-wife won all the major awards for Hurt Locker. Good for her but dang! Let's leave off trying to stir the pot already.
Overall, I suppose it was adequate but I just can't help missing the Oscar telecasts I grew up with. Stars were stars - think Bogart, Cagney, Wayne, Stewart, Fonda, Newman, and on the lady's side, Davis, Redgrave, Hepburn, Crawford, Gardner, Garland, Welch. And many more.

As for the hosts, I don't think you could top Bob Hope and Johnny Carson. Billy Crystal was okay, but it hasn't been the same. When Hope and Carson put on a tux and walked out on stage, they owned the house. I don't think you can say that about Martin and Baldwin - they were just accessories. 

I'm not promising to watch the 2011 Oscars...I may be cleaning the bathroom.

I'll leave you with a classic clip and you can let me know what you think of this year's telecast - and what your favorites are from years past.

What do you think?


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Ones and Zeroes vs. Tangible Assets

As a conservative, I'm a failure.

Not in an I'm gonna be Al Gore's buddy now or I can't wait to get a poster of Mike Papantonio on my wall kind of way. No, it's more insidious than that: I'm a huge fan of NPR.

Oh, I've still got my core values intact, but I do get a large majority of my news and views on the world from Steve Inskeep and Renee Montagne in the morning and Melissa Block, Robert Siegel, and Michele Norris in the afternoon. Every once and awhile, I catch Fresh Air with Terry Gross - that one really hurts, because I just know she's really a liberal.

Less damning perhaps is my affinity for weekend fare such as Car Talk, Wait Wait Don't Tell Me, and my personal favorite: Whad'Ya know? with Michael Feldman. I swear, I'm going to Wisconsin one day - just to try and get on that show.

This morning, I heard a segment entitled Tina Brown's Must Reads. I have no idea who Tina Brown is or why her opinion should shape my reading habits, but I listened anyway. Amongst the chatter about books and articles I would expect NPR to promote, Ms. Brown highlighted a NY Times article Publishing: The Revolutionary Future by Jason Epstein.

Mr. Epstein discusses a variety of angles on a topic that is getting a lot of traction as electronic publishing seeks to supplant the traditional tomes of yesteryear.

I found his article interesting reading, not just from the standpoint that at some time in the (hopefully) not-too-distant future I'll be seeking a publisher for my own novels; but also because moving from the printed word to an ephemeral world of digitized works is a philosophical and social issue as well as a business and marketing one.

Let's say that 100 years from now printed works are all but gone - decayed on shelves, tossed in the dustbin...forgotten. All the great literary works and non-fiction texts have been converted to online libraries.

And then the lights go out.

Catastrophe or opportunity? The loss would be catastrophic for sure. But future writers would be assured of continuing relevance in our increasingly sterile and digital world.

What do you think?