7 posts categorized "Current Affairs"


Waiting to inhale

 Betty260Today's to-do list:

1.  Do some research to see why the dog is pooping in the house all of a sudden.

2.  Check to see if the swimming pool has sprung a slow leak.

3.  Save Betty's life.

Let's begin with No. 3, shall we?  The pool and dog poop can wait (but not for long!)

Of course I can't save Betty Coleman's life alone.  I need your help, and so does Betty, the wife of my good friend Charles Coleman.

It's a beautiful day in San Antonio and, hopefully, where you are.  The sun is out, the sky is bright blue and birds are soaring in the sky.

Makes you just want to take a deep breath and take it all in, doesn't it.

Betty can't do that.  She barely has 15 percent lung capacity and requires oxygen 24/7 just to make it through to another day.

The good news is that after months of exhaustive medical procedures, appointments and a brush with near-death, Betty is on the list for a lung transplant.

Now the bad news, as if what you just read above is not enough.  It appears that in today's tangled mess of medical care and, seemingly, care not, lung transplants and I'm sure plenty of other life-saving medical procedures, you better be wealthy or very well situated financially if you happen to get really sick.

Betty and others in her situation are informed along the arduous path to having a second chance at taking a deep breath with transplanted lungs that funds must be in place to cover anti-rejection medications and other expenses.  We're talking multiples of tens of thousands of dollars.

I've known Betty's husband Charlie, who's struggling with medical issues of his own, for 40 years and change and Betty for many years.  I have never heard either one of these proud, hard-working people ask for anything.  Now there is no choice but to reach out to family, friends and, yes, even strangers.

They are not the only ones with this kind of need, of course.  Others desperately need help as well.

But today, let's help Betty.  I saw her curled up in a fetal-position ball in a hospital bed six months or so ago.  Hospice care followed and the family gathered.  But Betty proved she has some more living to do.  She's up and around, in rehab and ready to get on with her life once she's not on a plastic leash attached to an oxygen tank. 

Here's an idea:  If we all passed on the outrageously priced coffee drinks ("A grande Toasted Marshmallow Latte, please.") for just a little while and sent that $20, $30, $50 or $100 to Betty's GoFundMe account, we could all breathe a little easier knowing that we helped save Betty's life.

Here's the link again:





I'm pretty sure Terrence Malick mows our yard


Our lawn guy, who I think is Terrence Malick, must have stepped away for a minute.   (Courtesy:  blingcheese.com)

Malpic250Oh he's a crafty one, that seriously reclusive Texas-based filmmaker Terrence Malick.

Malick's "The Tree of Life" took the Palme d'Or, a fancy way to say Best Picture, at the Cannes Film Festival in the South of France on Sunday (May 22).

The anti-prolific filmmaker didn't show himself along the sun-baked Croisette in Cannes to bask in the glory of a controversial press screening (a mixture of boos and praise), the gala screening or even Sunday night's awards ceremony.

I think I know the reason for that.  It wasn't near-terminal shyness at all.

I'm pretty sure that's because Malick was cutting and edging our lawn in Plano, TX early Saturday afternoon.  Did a fine job, too, and walked away with 30 bucks (including tip) for his hard work.

Malick hides his true identity well, that sly dog.

Terrence -- an overly formal name for a guy trailing along after a power mower -- calls himself Manuel in his landscaping persona.  I suppose that's an effort by the former Rhodes scholar to, you know, blend in.

He calls me Mr. Larry, and even blurs his true identity by wearing a floppy hat, which is eerily similar, plus or minus a sweat stain or two, to the one seen in Malick's rare photo shown here. 

Manuel -- or is it Terry? -- tries to further conceal his ID by speaking in broken-English via a thick Spanish accent.  I tell you, Malick could act in one of his movies.  His Spanish accent is that "bueno."

That means "good," for those of you who are single-lingual.

It took me a while, but I'm onto Terrence/Manuel now.

I mean, the guy has only cranked out five feature films in almost 40 years.  That gives the Harvard grad plenty of time to grow his landscaping business between gigs.

If you ask me, when Malick turned down the opportunity to direct "The Elephant Man" in 1980 it was because he had some serious mowing and edging to do.

Then there are the blatent landscaping hints in some of his movie titles:  Come one, "The Tree of Life"?

And isn't "The Thin Red Line" (1998), a World War II flick set in the jungles of Guadalcanal, just a metaphor for that thin ditch the edger channels between the sidewalk and the lawn?

I'm on to you, Mr. Terry.  Just know that your secret is safe with me.  In fact, I feel a little like a movie mogul, since we invest $30 in your cinematic projects every couple of weeks. 

I hate to bring this up, Terry, but we have yet to see any return on our investment, cinematically speaking.

Also, if you're not too busy hiding from the paparazzi after your big win at Cannes this week, the magnolia tree of life over by our squirrel feeder in the back yard could use a little trimming.

(Terrence Malick, or Manuel photo from some time in the past courtesy:  Hollywood.com.)


Loot, loot, loot for the home team?

Riot300 So how do we, the perennially beleaguered Texas Rangers fans, handle long-elusive success?

What's the protocol for celebration at a moment like this?

Sitting in my recliner tilted into full warrior mode as rookie Rangers closer Neftali Feliz, a fireballer, froze Yankee slugger and former Ranger Alex Rodriguez with an 83-mph slider Friday night, it suddenly occurred to me.  We, us formerly lowly Rangers fans, have never had to deal with the possibility of winning the really big one before. 

In case you haven't been counting, the fourth time -- not the proverbial third -- turned out to be the playoff charm for the Texas Rangers.  The franchise has endured much this year:  Player injuries, a manager admitting a noseful of cocaine, a management team willing to forgive if not forget, more injuries, pitchers that didn't deliver, another who arrived and did (Cliff Lee), bankruptcy, new owners and finally this, an American League Championship over none other than our old tradition heavy nemesis, those Yankees of New York.

But even before former Angels outcast DH Vladimir Guerrero took a flying leap onto the Rangers infield victory pile Friday night, my brother Lannie was already texting celebration plans:

"We're going to go outside and shoot our guns into the air, then we're going to turn some cars over," he slowly texted one thumb at a time.

Lannie was kidding.  There are no weapons in the house, except for sharp tongues which can be lethal and have been known to misfire.

And of course there were no real plans to roll cars or, as New Yorkers might expect of jubilation-drunk Texans, to tip over sleeping cows.

Championship celebrations have gotten ugly in the past, as the enclosed photo shows.  When the Detroit Tigers beat the San Diego Padres in the 1984 World Series, violence erupted outside Tiger Stadium, according to an article posted on the BleacherReport.com Web site.

That's an overturned burning Detroit Police car behind the giddy Tigers fan holding up the World Series pennant flag.

So here's what most of us are likely to do to celebrate the Rangers' American League pennant win as we prepare to brace for the next and deciding step; a seven game winner-take-all World Series against the impressive San Francisco Giants.

We'll head down to local department stores selling official Rangers Championship t-shirts and caps.  Or we might, due to tight economic times, see how the knockoff shirts and caps look at the discount stores.

That's about as wild as we plan to get.  With one possible exception.

If Tammy Nelson (click here for photo), the "Beach Blanket Babylon" singer who warbled "God Bless America" with the outrageous San Francisco skyline hat on during the game in S.F. last week, strolled through our neighborhood, I'd be awfully tempted to tip that monstrosity over, Golden Gate Bridge and all.

(Detroit World Series riot photo courtesy:  bleacherreport.com)


Desperate horsewives

Horse201 If anything, Monmouth Park (Oceanport, N.J.) track announcer Larry Collmus seemed a little bored Sunday (Aug. 22) as the horses filed into the starting gate for the seventh race.

The names of at least three of the entries perked him up some, though.  Especially when he mused that Little Miss Macho appeared a little slow out of the gate.  Two other steeds, however, made this call one for the party reel of all time.

You may have seen snippets of the finish of this showdown between ... sorry, I can't spoil it.  It works much better if you hang with the call all the way to the finish line.

There's only one thing that could have possibly made this afternoon at the track better:  If the race was called the Tiger Woods Sweepstakes.  After all, there's lots of high-dollar mudslinging.  And, just for the record, the Tiger/Elin divorce was finalized the next day.

Now, "And down the stretch they come!!!"


(Horse cartoon courtesy:  classichorse.com)


Ray Stevens to the immigration rescue

Immigration problem?  What immigration problem?

Ray Stevens, the great novelty song stylist, spells it out for us:




The end of civility? You lie!

This was going to be a rant against the end of order in the people's court.

You know, mocking tennis stars who threaten to cram tennis balls down a line judge's bleeping throat, berating a rap star who grabbed the mike -- but more importantly, the moment of glory -- from a teenage country music star and, of course, a u.s. congressman (the guy doesn't deserve capital letters) who breaks this country's age-old decorum by heckling a U.S. president speaking before a joint session of Congress.

If you have no problem with the incidents listed above, then please read no further.

If, on the other hand, you are as rankled as I am about the end of civility as we know it, I'm inviting you to join the fight to restore it. 

Instead of just whining about the problem, it's time we -- and that means all of us (except the wimps who bailed out a couple of paragraphs ago) -- do something about it.

Here's what we need to do; all we need to do:

Try a little tenderness

We're all busy and running around like crazy these days.  But that person -- old and disgruntled, or young and tattooed and chewing gum and thinking about a million other things and mumbling -- at the cash register has a life too.

They have problems and heartache and stomach aches and arguments at home before they go to work just like we do.

So from now on, instead of getting upset when that person doesn't thank me for spending a couple hundred dollars on over-priced items, I will thank them.  That's right, I will thank them for waiting on me.

And although this is a tough one, I will smile and move on without comment when they respond, "No problem."  The old me would think (and occasionally say), "I know it's not a problem.  It's your job, just like thanking the customer.  So do it."

But that was the old me.

Are you with me?  If so, I'll cut you some slack on the worst customer service infraction of all.  When you try to pay for an item and the cashier is yakking on a cell phone and not even making eye contact with you, the paying customer, here's what I recommend:

Grab the cell phone out of their hands, threaten to cram it down their bleeping throat, then scream at the top of your lungs, "YOU LIE!!!!!!!!" 


Why can't we all just get a loan?

You may be thinking, as I once did, that this bad economy mess we're in is complicated.

In reality, it's brutally simple.

Are you still holding on to a position in your chosen career field?

If you answered yes, the economy's good.

Rising gas prices might be a slight concern this time of year.  But hey, why not pack up the wife and kids and enjoy a getaway weekend at the beach to cheer you up? 

Or, better yet, gather up a handful of your steady paycheck stubs and fan yourself with them as you enjoy a golden sunset from the breezy deck of a lakeside condo.  It'll be hot this time of year, so be sure to pack plenty of cold Rolling Rock beer. 

Rolling Rock's not the cheapest brand of brewski, but, what the heck, you deserve a break from slaving away in your corporate cocoon all week.  (Or most of the week; remember that really long lunch you took on the company dime the other day?)

The good news is that finding vacation lodging shouldn't be a problem in this economy. 

You might want to head over to the stock market results to see how your hedge funds are doing.  And while you're there, gloat a little to yourself that your nest egg didn't go down the toilet in that unfortunate Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme.  Those losers should have probably seen it coming, right?

Have another Rolling Rock.  They're best when they're ice cold like this and you have to flick the little bits of ice off the bottle.

EDITOR'S NOTE:  If the above paragraphs apply to you, this would be a good time to skedaddle from this page.  It gets ugly after this. 

Still with me?  First off, my condolences for losing your job.  If you're like many -- tens of thousands, actually -- you may have also lost your career, your pride, your drive to succeed and ... How shall I say it? ... your energy to even get up in the morning.

How rough is the economy for the suddenly displaced?  In Dallas, tollway traffic is down 4.something percent.  So the powers that be are thinking of raising toll prices 32 percent.

It's so bad that the government is pouring billions of dollars into failing companies and banks.  Where's the money coming from?  I'm no financial genius, but it appears that the government is just simply printing more money when they need bail-out loan money.

If that works, why not spread it around to the millions -- many of whom are educated, hard-working professionals -- who have lost their jobs as a direct result of screw-ups of others (who overspent and over-extended)?

As long as the printing presses don't run out of paper and ink, why not bail out everyone in need instead of just the corporate fat cats?

It's time someone spoke up for the confidence-shattered out-of-work corporate stiffs.  So here goes:

If you're like some (probably a larger number than anyone is willing to admit), you were welcomed to your previous position with open arms and high spirits ("It's something we should have done long ago."), but jettisoned from the corporate ladder abruptly and without warning.

In today's impersonal society, chances are you weren't even called into the boss's office to get the devastating news.  You're just called ... on the telephone.

Oh they were sorry and apologetic.  The bosses want those just milliseconds away from unemployment and an uncertain future to know how hard they fought for that lost job.   They might even offer that the company won't be the same without you once you're gone.

Then they go to lunch and think, "Man, tough day at the office today."

They'll want the company laptop back, but not enough to let you ship it at company expense.  So you swallow your pride and take a friend up on an offer to drop it off for you.  Why not, he's going that 300 miles anyway.

And for those of you who won a statewide award for your company for doing what you do after you got the boot, you know they won't include you when touting other winners from the firm.  That might not look so good in the public eye.

Maybe, just maybe, your former firm will eventually think to send you your award (certificate or plaque or whatever). 

Or maybe someone at the firm has a friend going your way who can drop it off.  That way the corporation can save the four of five bucks to ship it.

After all, what's 300 miles among friends and concerned colleagues?