Thursday, March 29, 2007

Funny guy

Regardless of your political opinion of President Bush (as an independent in the middle, I disagree with some of his policies but refuse to believe he's the devil incarnate or as ill-intentioned as left-wingers like to believe), you've got to give the guy credit for his self-depricating humor at the last two White House Press & Broadcast Correspondents dinners. You can find this year's speech at various Web sites with online video.

It's still not as good as last year's in which he worked side-by-side with a Bush impressionist who represented the president's inner monologue, a far funnier performance than Stephen Colbert's, although I'm a fan of "The Colbert Report." You should be able to find last year's hilarious performance on You Tube.

I know he doesn't write his own material, but he still delivers it well, unlike most of his serious speeches. Maybe he'd be better with his own talk show than the presidency. Still, it's my view that a guy with a good sense of humor can't be that bad or stupid.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

I'm a scalawag

This is like the coolest hate mail I've ever gotten, but only because the guy addressed me as "Scalawag." How could he have possibly known that was my middle name?


Dear Scalawag,

"But if you need to celebrate Confederate Heritage Month, go right ahead. You don't need me to celebrate with you. You don't need an official designation from the State of Georgia...."<<<

As I white man and an associate member of two Sons of Confederate Veterans' camps I'd have to agree with you, at least in part..... YOU DON'T NEED ME TO CELEBRATE:

Martin Luther King Day - I'm old enough to remember his less-than-stellar qualities and am aghast at the almost obligatory nation-wide hoopla that takes place each January. Funny thing - I never hear anyone comment on how, despite his so-called "non violence", that violence followed him around as surely as the plague follows the rat.

Black History Month - not because black Americans haven't contributed to this country, but because Afrocentrists, each February, mount their bully-pupits to lecture us about how Africa was the center of civilization before the white man ruined it with his slave trade... Have you ever heard of anything in Africa, either in the past or the present, that looks even remotely "civilized"?

I'm not going to celebrate either of these travesties, and a lot of white folks won't either. Nor is it mandated that anyone must join us in celebration of Confederate history month. Those who see no value in it can do as we do in January and February - simply ignore it. It is after all, a free country.

But, white folks who haven't sold out their past or their history (the way you have), live in Georgia too - and they have as much right to official proclamations of their past as anyone else does.

Here's an idea whose time has come - how about an official "National Thanks for Slavery Day", because, in spite of the fact that no one wants to come out and say so, 95% of American black folks wouldn't be here at all if one of their ancestors hadn't survived a trip across the Atlantic in the hole of a slave ship.

Bill Vallante
Commack NY
SCV Camp 3000 (Associate)
SCV Camp 1506 (Associate)


Funny, I don't recall saying anything about Black History Month or MLK in my latest column. I do recall saying that folks pressing for a slavery apology are living in the past, as are people who want to celebrate their Confederate heritage. I acknowledge my Confederate heritage, but I'm not proud of it. Yeah, they were fighting for something they believed in. So does al-Qaida, but it doesn't make it right or worth celebrating. The history, however, is worth preserving.

As for folks who insinuate slavery was a good thing because they managed to escape the horrors of Africa, are you kidding me? That's like saying, "Good thing they crucified Jesus or we might not have Christianity." Or, "good thing those Muslims attacked us and killed 3,000 people on Sept. 11 because it focused our attention on the war on terror." Or, "good thing that Hitler guy came along or there wouldn't be an Israel right now." That good springs from evil does not justify the evil.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Ya think????

This shocking story just in the from the Associated Press and all over television "news":

Playboy Playmate Anna Nicole Smith died of an accidental overdose of a sleeping medication and at least eight other prescription drugs, and she had recently had a bacterial infection from injecting drugs into her buttocks, authorities said Monday. Broward County Medical Examiner Joshua Perper said Smith died of‘‘combined drug intoxication’’ with the sleeping medication chloralhydrate as the major factor. She had been taking a lengthy list of medications, including methadone for pain and valium, he said.

I'm stunned! Too many prescription drugs?! Who'd have thunk it?! Thank God the weeks of wondering what could have possibly caused this dumb blonde's death are over?! Drugs on top of drugs. I had no idea. It took weeks of lab work, teams of scientists and hundreds of journalists to finally uncover this great mystery. As for "injecting drugs into her buttocks," well, at least we have official confirmation she was a pain in the butt.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Chicken or the egg?

I had a Chick-Fil-A breakfast platter this morning. It's a chicken filet and scrambled eggs and a biscuit. It's not on the menu. Maybe that's because it takes the ultimate noncommittal person to order chicken and eggs. C'mon, Chris! Make a decision: Grown up chickens or unborn chickens, not both!

I think I threw the lady off when she brought the platter to the counter when I asked: "Which did they put on there first, the chicken or the egg?" By her shrug of the shoulders, I couldn't tell whether she didn't get it or was just annoyed with me. My experience in dealing with people who are dealing with me, the answer is probably both.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


A bit of a downer this past weekend: I drove through my old stompin' grounds of Americus and saw the devastation from the tornado a few weeks ago. I turned onto Georgia 49 north of the city at one point and didn't recognize the road I must have driven round-trip on 600 times while commuting to Georgia Southwestern from Oglethorpe. It certainly put the Columbus tornado in perspective. You can see tons of photos here and here.

Past, present and future

I was watching a Ken Burns special Monday night about Mark Twain. I'd seen it before but didn't remember the part about Twain putting a gun to his head and nearly pulling the trigger when he was down and out in San Francisco after losing a newspaper job. I guess all writers are tortured souls indeed. Wow, I should be brilliant someday.

Anyway, it got me thinking about how one event can change everything about the future. What if the South had won the war? What if the Romans had said, "OK, Jesus, you can go?" What if I had done my homework anytime after fifth grade? What if I had entertained that job opportunity in Hawaii?

I'll touch on a little bit of the whole past-present-future deal in this Friday's webcast on the Ledger-Enquirer's home page. And I'll write about two history issues (a slavery apology and Confederate Heritage Month) facing Georgia in Sunday's column in the Sunday Living section of the paper. Here's a hint as to how I feel about those issues: My philosophy has always been to learn from the past and plan for the future, but live in the present. It's one hell of a good philosophy. I might even put it into practice someday myself.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Marcia Marcia Marcia

A few guys at the office were talking about the rescue of that missing Boy Scout in North Carolina, which naturally led to the equally serious situation when Bobby and Cindy Brady got lost in the Grand Canyon on "The Brady Bunch." Which, naturally, led us to the inevitable Jan-or-Marcia, Ginger-or-Mary Ann, Betty-or-Wilma discussion. Let me reiterate this was a bunch of guys talking, and this is the kind of serious stuff we menfolk talk about when you womenfolk are off doing silly woman things.

Anyway, there was a latecomer to the conversation who was asked "Jan or Marcia?" He had no idea who we were talking about. "You know, 'The Brady Bunch.' "

"I've never seen 'The Brady Bunch,' " he said, simply, as if that were some sort of OK thing. How could a man with 7 TVs say such a thing? Is there any culture left in today's society? And this guy wasn't 22 years old with an excuse. He's worked here about as long as I've been alive. He could have been in love with Marcia Brady in real time. I had to be in love with her in mere reruns.

Of course, a fellow columnist whose identity I shall protect, was asked the "Jan or Marcia" question as well. His answer was "Alice."

Anyway, the correct answer is Marcia, Marcia, Marcia. She was so groovy.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Phlocking to Atlanta

I'm sick, so I kinda missed out on the Buffett tickets frenzy that began at 10 a.m. But early this afternoon, when it finally hit me, I logged on to Ticketmaster for the heck of it and actually landed 2 tickets for just $38 each. Of course, they're behind the stage and so high that I'll actually have to be lowered into my seat by helicopter.

But as every Parrothead knows, Buffett shows aren't about the view (unless you're right at the stage with the dancing hula girls). Buffett shows are just a big party before, during and after the show. And since I'm the kind of guy who sort of hangs around in the back of a party anyway, it's no big deal to me. I'm just glad I'm going. I know some other folks from around here will be going, as well. Let me know if you're Buffett-bound.

And, if you can't make the April 25 show, you can always listen on Radio Margaritaville. All his concerts are broadcast for free on the Internet and Sirius.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Women: Rule No. 1,248

OK, ladies, here's the new rule for ordering at restaurants: We guys will order what we want and you can order what you want. And no more considering what you're gonna steal from our plates while placing some dinky order like, "I'll just have a salad." Weeds in a bowl as I call it.

I've just about got my wife trained on this one, but not quite. Last night, while eating at Willie T's, which is about the only place you can find a seat without waiting on a Friday night in Columbus, I ordered a super sampler. That's 2 cheese sticks, 2 grilled fingers, 2 fried fingers, 4 wings, fries and toast, all of which I'm sure is extremely healthy. Anyway, we get back to the table and my wife says, "You don't mind if I have just one of your cheesesticks, do you?"

Just one??!! You're talkin' 'bout 50 percent of my cheesestick inventory here! I wanted to say, "You did see the cheesesticks on the menu the first 100 times we ate here, right?" But I thought better of it, especially since our new love seat is only 67 percent as long and as good for sleeping as our old sofa.

Thursday, March 15, 2007


All week long, I've been working extra so that I could get off a little early for my son's coach-pitch baseball game tonight. So, of course, it rains it out after a 6-6 first inning. We get to do it all again tomorrow.

The umpire and coaches looked pretty weary after standing in the rain (except for me -- I coached the dugout, and since the dugout is an inanimate object, that leaves little to do except stay dry). The parents were mostly drenched, for even the ones with umbrellas were soaking up water from the bleachers with their backsides. About the only people who had no problem with this rain event were the kids themselves.

The boys wanted to go slide around in the mud. They were even willing to play in the pouring rain. Their younger siblings ran through puddles. The general consensus of the 8-and-under crowd was pretty much "okie dokie." Apparently kids handle Mother Nature the same way they do baseball -- which is to say just fine without adult interference (and there's a big difference between adult support and adult interference as you can read about in my last column.)

The kids take a natural event over which they have no control and accept it for what it is. We grown folks check radars, grumble about being wet and reschedule this and that. Maybe we should take a cue from the kids. Instead of life handing us lemons and our making lemonade, life hands us water and we add the lemons. Maybe we adults take little things like traffic, coffee and rain way too seriously. Maybe we adults need to go sliding belly-first in a rain-soaked infield. Then maybe we'll understand the kids' point of view.

And when we get through, maybe the kids can wash that red mud out of our clothes.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Fins up!

I hope my posting this doesn't mean someone scoops up tickets before me, but since I just started this blog, maybe too many folks won't catch on. Anyway, tickets for Jimmy Buffett's April 25 show in Atlanta go on sale this Monday, March 19, at 10 a.m.

I've gone through this ticket buying mess for Buffett shows several times, and it's a little like playing the slots. Every show sells out in about 10 minutes (must save a bundle on marketing), and each time I go to a Ticketmaster outlet, such as at a Publix, it's always different. There's always confusion, and the workers never hurry as they don't seem to see the urgency in this situtation. They also look at all the Parrotheads in the stores and look a little scared.
OK, maybe disturbed is a better word.
I'm gonna stay at home this time and hit reload 8 million times in 10 minutes. Maybe I'll get lucky again. If you do get lucky and snag tickets, and have never been to a Buffett concert before, you should know that the tailgating is really the show before the show. Actual working volcanoes, palm trees, a lot of margaritas, hula girls, hula guys, you name it. Doesn't exactly fit in the ATL, but oh well. Just thought I give a few folks a head's up on the fins up.


The last time I tried my hand at acting, I was a senior in high school. Our drama teacher worked up a new version of "Cinderella," and created a special part for me as an anarchist trying to overthrow the royal family. (Most teachers, co-workers and bosses I've had would not consider that role to be much of a stretch.) I wasn't much of an actor then, and I found out today little has changed. I'm still an anarchist and bad actor.

For my second -- and, I'm sure, eagerly awaited -- webcast, I created a skit that I and two female co-workers acted out in front of the newspaper. These are normally attractive women, but let's just say their appearance was hardly of any concern this afternoon. Fortunately, they're not shy or vain, and they're better actors than me. One's my boss, Pork Chop, who got to do something to me in the skit that she's been wanting to do for a long, long time.

And if our new videographer can make any sense out of my script and our acting with his video-editing skills, I think he deserves an Oscar. You can see for yourself on the webcast that begins running the afternoon of March 15 on the newspaper's home page.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Desperate for attention

When I was a kid, and Evel Knievel was a hero, I rather liked the idea of owning a motorcycle. I could picture myself cruising the highways of America, going where I wanted and answering to no one. I also pictured me sitting on top of a couple of books so I could reach the handlebars because I was about 9 years old the last time I had the urge.

But as I've gotten older, I've grown to prefer quieter and more peaceful pursuits. Bicycles over motorcycles. Kayaks over Jet Skis. Norah Jones over 2 Live Crew.

But, hey, to each his own ... or her own ... or its own. Unfortunately, a lot of folks who prefer loud over quiet like to thrust their preference upon you, especially with motorcycles these days. And Columbus is a motorcycle mecca. Most motorcyclists are decent folks, including friends and co-workers who might shove a kickstand in my eye if I said otherwise. But many others actually alter their bikes to make them louder, loud enough to rattle windows.

That's fine, too, but do that around the windows of your house on your 100 acres of private property so that it bothers no one else. In fact, save your 110-mph driving and wheelies for there instead of the J.R. Allen Parkway and my neighborhood ... even though it seems to be permitted behavior in this city. In 10 years, I've never seen a sincle motorcyclist pulled over. I guess they get the same free pass that cigarette butt litterers get.

But doing this stuff and rattling windows away from everyone is not what it's about, is it? It's about getting attention and rattling nerves. Like teens with booming car radios, you're desperate for attention. You're desperate to be noticed. Even my son has taken my lead and calls loud motorcycles "notice me bikes." These bikers should get bumper stickers that read "My mother didn't give me enough attention as a child; please give it to me now."

Consider yourself noticed by me, so please steer clear of me with your noise-cycles. I don't care if your mama didn't give you enough hugs as a child. But I do care about hearing myself think. It happens so rarely, I'd hate to miss it.