Friday, July 31, 2009

Interview with an Intern

Tennessee State Senator Paul Stanley, Republican from Germantown, has been in the news lately because of an affair with an intern. Her father, grandparents, and other family members live in the town where I live. They own an insurance company and do well financially. Her parents were divorced after her mother had an affair with another married teacher. They got married, moved to Florida, and are now divorced. McKensie lived with her mother but goes to college nearby. Her brother has lived with his father for quite a while. He plays football (quarterback maybe) and is a good student. Their father seems to be a better influence and parent.

The local NBC affiliate WSMV had an interview with her tonight on the news. If you follow this link, you can see McKensie Morrison speak for herself and can read an article about all this.

Germantown, where Stanley is from, is a nouveau riche section of Memphis. According to some reports, he's a habitual adulterer and wife beater (divorce decree from first marriage). He also has the same name as one of the members of KISS. Just wanted to throw that in. He looks like a dork. (got to use that word)

And her boyfriend looks like a sleaze.

In an article asking if the legislature should do a better job screening interns, they make it sound as if the interns are predatory vixens. I taught school long enough to know that can be the case with those "mean girls" who thrive on drama of all kinds. Many young women turn down advances of married men and don't fall for their crap. When someone in power professes family values and supports abstinence-only plans and then has an affair with someone much younger in a subordinate job, that hypocrisy makes it all much worse and is a Class C felony under state law (sexual battery by an authority figure).

The Nashville Scene is definitely worth checking out! It's an alternative newspaper I usually read. Here's a sample from the blog "pith in the wind," but the page has some interesting links HERE along with unflattering articles about Fred Thompson and Lamar Alexander. The comments are great, too! See, I'm not alone here!
While we're waiting for Paul Stanley's resignation, we're scratching our heads over the latest revelations about McKensie Morrison. Here's a high school student body president, Latin club officer, and National Honor Society member who, in only a matter of months, is doing crack , living like a homeless person in central Florida, and watching her young husband attack a 75-year-old man with a hammer.

Then with her husband doing prison time, she moves to Tennessee, where her father lives, and starts making straight A's at Austin Peay. Her life is back on track. But her psyche remains fragile and she is susceptible to temptation, right? Hello Paul Stanley, the lech.

That's one way to look at it. The other way doubtlessly will appear shortly on conservative blogs across the state. McKensie Morrison's low-down past proves what some Republicans have been suggesting from the beginning: She's a Mata Hari who used her feminine wiles to lure the innocent senator into sin and ruination. Maybe Stanley should consider himself lucky. At least he wasn't whacked upside the head with a hammer.

Which is it? Who knows? We report, you decide. Here in the Legislative Plaza this morning, observers can't make up their minds who to blame anymore. How about both of them? It could have been a case of two pirate ships passing in the night. One thing is certain (as the TV reporters are fond of saying when they can't come up with a catchy way to end their reports) Stanley is toast either way. Where's that resignation letter anyway?

Update: In case you were wondering, Morrison isn't under TBI investigation in the Stanley blackmailing. "No, she is not under investigation at this time unless new information comes to light. During the course of the investigation, she was questioned and not charged," TBI spokeswoman Kristin Helm says.

This article by Jeff Woods in The Scene really goes into Stanley's backgroud, voting record, and hypocrisy in more depth. It's titled "A Sex Scandal Exposes Sen. Paul Stanley's Less-than-Godly Ways." Here are quotes from that article:
Until his name became synonymous with hypocrite a week ago, Sen. Paul Stanley was a proud champion of traditional family values. A Sunday school teacher with a wife and two young children, he often spoke piously of the ideal home environment that only a loving married couple can provide—and of the importance of his own evangelical upbringing in molding his strict views.

His website displayed heavenly scenes of sun and sky while the words "reliable, honorable and conservative" flashed across the screen. He relentlessly pushed legislation to ban gay couples from adopting, though it would have meant hundreds of unwanted children remaining as orphans in state custody.

Rep. Stacey Campfield, lending rich new meaning to the term jackass, also stood behind Stanley in his time of crisis:

"I have never heard any conservative Republican say they were perfect," he wrote on his blog. "Never one. Not on any issue. We try to do what is right, but we are not, by any stretch of the word, perfect."

Campfield also posted this as his Quote of the Day from an unidentified legislator: "Well, I guess this is just more proof: Republicans are clearly irresistible to females."

Thursday, July 30, 2009


Brian and Melissa are going to see the new Harry Potter movie Saturday night and are celebrating their 14th wedding anniversary tomorrow night, so Brendan will visit me this weekend. Their anniversary was a few weeks ago, but Brian's appendectomy and other events postponed it until now. You probably won't hear from me until Sunday. Hope all of you have a great weekend! I'll catch up with you after the Beamish Grandboy's visit.


William Shatner has certainly had a charmed career, hasn't he?

Ms. Moon

Ms. Moon's post "Cuttin' Out the Middle Man" on her blog Bless Our Hearts is eloquent and precise about religion and her beliefs. They echo mine exactly as well as some of yours. It's a long post but worthwhile to read. I'm directing you to it instead of my blog today. If I could write that well, I could have written it except for the personal stuff from her childhood and later years. My childhood was idyllic (really), I didn't do drugs, and I went to the Methodist Church. The belief part is right on target though. We just got there through different experiences and the same thought processes.

Lest my nephews focus on one line, she totally believes in civil rights. Read what she writes about love.

If you read it and have a comment to share, let me know! :-)

Speechless Trivia

Lee Harvey Oswald’s cadaver tag sold at an auction for $6,600 in 1992.

Monty Python Channel

I was looking for the "Penguin on the Television" sketch and found out that Monty Python has a channel on YouTube. Here's what they wrote on it:
For 3 years you YouTubers have been ripping us off, taking tens of thousands of our videos and putting them on YouTube. Now the tables are turned. It's time for us to take matters into our own hands.

We know who you are, we know where you live and we could come after you in ways too horrible to tell. But being the extraordinarily nice chaps we are, we've figured a better way to get our own back: We've launched our own Monty Python channel on YouTube.

No more of those crap quality videos you've been posting. We're giving you the real thing - HQ videos delivered straight from our vault.

What's more, we're taking our most viewed clips and uploading brand new HQ versions. And what's even more, we're letting you see absolutely everything for free. So there!

But we want something in return.

None of your driveling, mindless comments. Instead, we want you to click on the links, buy our movies & TV shows and soften our pain and disgust at being ripped off all these years.
Apparently it's working because Monty Python’s DVDs climbed to No. 2 on Amazon’s Movies & TV bestsellers list, with increased sales of 23,000%.

Btw, they have been around as long as my son has and celebrate their 40th reunion this year. He'll be 40 in September, and we memorized the Penguin/TV sketch when he was a teenager and can still perform it. Be warned! Aha! Now we need to teach it and others to Brendan!

In 1969, Monty Python debuted on BBC with six members: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin.


As most of you know, my grandson Brendan has Asperger's, which is on the autism spectrum. You can google it or check this site HERE. I've written about it on here, so you can use the search function if you'd like, too. Basically, some of the characteristics are stereotypical "nerd" and "geek" qualities that Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory is the poster boy for. I just discovered that a movie has a main character with Asperger syndrome and copied the description of it and a trailer for it. I'm going to see it and hope it's good.

A lonely, brilliant young man named Adam (Hugh Dancy), who has Asperger syndrome, develops an awkward relationship with his upstairs neighbor, the brainy yet beautiful writer Beth (Rose Byrne). Adam is both written and directed by Max Mayer. This movie premiered at the Sundance Film Festival , which won the Alfred P. Sloan prize for a feature film with science as a theme. Searchlight is bringing Adam to limited theaters starting on July 29th this summer.

ADAM: Movie Trailer - The funniest videos are a click away

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Ohio Trivia

1970 – four students at Kent University were killed and eleven wounded by National Guard troops at a campus demonstration protesting the escalation of the Vietnam War. Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young electrified the nation with "Ohio" which the incident inspired Neil Young to compose. Slightly less electrifying is the fact that "Hang On Sloopy" is the official rock song of the state of Ohio.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Blog Suggestion

Some of you who not just like but avidly follow comic books, House, TV, and medicine will like Polite Dissent. My son and daughter-in-law told me about it, and I went there and explored. Good reading! Check it out HERE. I'm thinking Wonder Man, Tina, and Eric Arvin for sure will like it. Who else?

I'm No Dead Quitty Fish

If you haven't already, please go to Nutwood Junction and read Beth's excellent post HERE. In Sarah Palin's resignation speech, she said Alaskans eat therefore they hunt. They don't eat wolves.

This makes me so sad I almost can't breathe.

Accident Trivia

Laptop computers falling from the overhead bins onto passengers’ heads are among the most common accidents aboard airplanes.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Had to Check This Out Trivia

Owls have asymmetrical ears: one is directed downward, the other upward.

You might notice that we can't see their ears. They are located at the sides of the head, behind the eyes, and are covered by the feathers of the facial disc. The "Ear Tufts" visible on some are not ears at all, but simply display feathers.

More HERE if you'd like to read interesting information about owls. Thank you, Google! That's it for now from Cliffie!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Four-Way Stops

I don't know if this happens where you live, but around here most people don't know what to do at a four-way stop. Defensive driving takes on a whole new meaning there. The practice that gets to me the most is from courteous males who even though they arrived at their stop before I did making it their turn will wave their hand to signal me to go on in a "Ladies first" gesture. I nod at them to thank them and go on. I appreciate politeness but am trying to follow the rules. It's never a good idea to assert your right-of-way and assume other drivers know what they're doing, drive safely, are paying attention, and are sober and alert. I just wonder if this happens where you live, too.

The rules from an interesting blog HERE:
When you pull up to a four-way stop the first person to arrive at the intersection gets to go first. But what if two, or even three, cars pull up at the same time? Well, I'm glad you asked because I'm convinced that only fifteen or twenty percent of the driving population knows the answer. (In fact, in a pamphlet for European drivers learning new road rules for North America, it states that most U.S. drivers do not understand how to use a four-way stop.)

The car to the right goes first. No, it doesn't matter who's going straight, who's turning right, or who's turning left. The car to the right always goes first. Always. I'll provide a diagram for you if there's still any question about how this works (car C goes first):

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Family on C Street

D.C.’s ‘invisible army’ for Christ

The Family, a little-known religious group, has been getting some unwanted publicity. What do they believe?

Source: The Week HERE.

D.C.’s ‘invisible army’ for Christ

Mark Sanford: Answers to a higher authority (Corbis)

What is the Family?

It’s the most well-connected religious organization that no one talks about. Formed in 1935 by an itinerant preacher, Norwegian immigrant Abraham Vereide, the Family has grown into “a veritable underground of Christ’s men all through government,” in the words of Family member and evangelical minister Charles Colson, the convicted Watergate conspirator. The Washington-based group counts many prominent politicians, mostly conservative Republicans, among its flock, and several members of Congress pay $600 a month to rent rooms in the group’s townhouse on C Street, near the U.S. Capitol. There are Family “prayer cells” in many federal agencies, including the Pentagon and the Justice Department. The Family tries to maintain a low profile (see below), but was thrust into the headlines in recent weeks when it emerged that three politicians embroiled in sex scandals—South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, Nevada Sen. John Ensign, and former Mississippi Rep. Chip Pickering—are longtime members. Pickering, in fact, last week was accused in court papers of having trysts with his mistress in the C Street house.

Are all members politicians?

No. While members include Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley, former Secretary of State James Baker, and former Attorney General Edwin Meese, many business leaders and military officers are also involved. “We work with power where we can,” Doug Coe, 81, the group’s leader since 1969, said in a rare interview in 2002, “and build power where we can’t.” The Family’s only high-profile endeavor is the National Prayer Breakfast, at which world leaders gather each year in Washington for a morning of nondenominational worship; but the Family always stays in the background, and many participants have no idea that the group is even involved.

What does the Family believe?

Its theology is vague, elastic, and focused on power. The basic precepts came to Vereide in a vision in 1935, according to the group’s literature. Living in Seattle, he came to believe that union organizing in the city was communist-inspired. Jesus appeared to him in the form of the president of U.S. Steel, who told him to gather “key men”—prominent businessmen and political leaders—to beat back the unions in His name. Vereide’s recruiting efforts spread eastward, and in 1941 he arrived in Washington, where he began cultivating friendships with powerful people and setting up prayer groups. By then, Vereide was convinced that conventional Christianity had it backwards: Instead of ministering to the down-and-out, Jesus wanted believers to tend to the “up-and-out”—members of America’s elite who lacked intimacy with Jesus. In Vereide’s worldview, free-market capitalism is divinely ordained, and unions and regulations are a form of blasphemy.

What about personal morality?

It’s not the most important consideration. “The people involved in this association are the worst and the best,” Coe says. “Some are total despots, some are totally religious.” The mere fact that they are powerful means they have God’s favor, argues Coe, citing a line from St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans: “The powers that be are ordained of God.” Scholar Jeff Sharlet, author of the authoritative book The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power, explains the theology this way: As long as the powerful develop a close relationship with Jesus, “then they will dispense blessings to those underneath them. It’s a sort of trickle-down fundamentalism.” The theology stems from Vereide’s belief than only “key men” can change the world, and only with Jesus’ guidance will they change it for the better. The Family believes in a “total Jesus,” who pervades every thought and action.

Does the Family excuse adultery and other sins?

Not exactly, but it considers the powerful to be accountable only to God and their peers, not to their constituents or the Constitution. Coe speaks often of the biblical King David, who slept with another man’s wife, then ordered the cuckolded husband into battle, effectively sentencing him to death. Yet despite his personal failings, David was one of God’s chosen, and his reign was a blessing to the Israelites. When Gov. Sanford invoked King David to explain why he wouldn’t resign over his adulterous relationship with an Argentine woman, “you could almost hear Doug’s voice,” says Sharlet, who considers the Family’s disregard for conventional morality “potentially very dangerous,” because it “leads you away from accountability to the public.”

Is the Family a threat?

Few in Washington seem too worried. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has taken part in Family activities despite her liberal politics, and has called Coe “a genuinely loving spiritual mentor and guide to anyone who wants to deepen his or her relationship with God.” The first President Bush called Coe an “ambassador of faith.” Supporters also note that Family members helped convince President Jimmy Carter, Anwar Sadat, and Menachem Begin to call for a worldwide day of prayer to usher in the Camp David Peace Accords. And members helped broker a 2001 peace agreement between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda. Such successes, Family members say, demonstrate the group’s good intentions. “There’s nothing sinister here, no dark secrets,” says former Rep. Tony Hall of Ohio. “It’s the exact opposite of what Washington is about.”

Secrecy by design

Family members quickly learn that the first rule of the Family is not to talk about it. In 1966, Vereide, who referred to his following as an “invisible army,” decreed that the Family should “submerge the institutional image” of the group—a policy maintained by Coe. As Coe once said in a sermon, “the Family functions invisibly like the Mafia. The more you can make your organization invisible, the more influence it will have.” Family members organize themselves into small “cells” that are, in the group’s own words, “publicly invisible and privately identifiable.” Coe has expressed admiration for the way such leaders as Adolf Hitler, Ho Chi Minh, and Osama bin Laden organized followers into small groups that shared a “covenant.” With a covenant, he says, “two or three people can do anything.” Where those leaders went wrong, he says, was in not making their covenants in Jesus’ name.

(This is not Christianity as I learned it. I know this is a long post, but I couldn't decide what to leave out.)

Erection Trivia

A. C. Gilbert, the inventor of the Erector set, won an Olympic gold medal in 1908 for the pole vault.

More information HERE.

Ha! Thought that title would get your attention! (sorry - no, not really)

Good to Know Trivia

According to the official rules of baseball, no umpire may be replaced during a game unless he is injured or becomes ill. He may also be replaced if he drops dead.

Prison Joke

Friday, July 24, 2009

Einstein Quote

No problem can be solved from the same consciousness that created it.

More Kangaroo Trivia

The typical kangaroo is 40 percent brighter than the smartest dog or cat.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

No Kidding Trivia!

"Television is the first truly democratic culture—the first culture available to everyone and entirely governed by what the people want. The most terrifying thing is what people do want,"—Clive Barnes

For ....

For Several of you

For Frogponder

World Hunger

While searching for a quote, I was led to this disturbing site about hunger. Look at some alarming statistics HERE. Click map to be able to read it.


  • Hunger and poverty claim 25,000 lives every day
    Source: FAO & The State of Food Insecurity in the World, 2006
  • 854 million people do not have enough to eat - more than the populations of USA, Canada and the European Union
    Source: FAO & The State of Food Insecurity in the World, 2006
  • 820 million people in developing countries alone are hungry - one in four lives in sub-Saharan Africa
    Source: FAO & The State of Food Insecurity in the World, 2006
  • In the 1990s, global poverty dropped by 20 percent. The number of hungry people increased by 18 million
    Source: Food as Aid: Trends, Needs and Challenges in the 21st Century
  • 524 million of the world's hungry live in South Asia - more than the populations of Australia and USA
    Source: FAO & The State of Food Insecurity in the World, 2006
  • More than 60 percent of chronically hungry people are women
    Source: FAO & The State of Food Insecurity in the World, 2006
  • The number of chronically hungry people worldwide is growing by an average of four million per year at current trends
    Source: FAO & The State of Food Insecurity in the World, 2006

Ike Trivia (no not that one)

The parents of Dwight D. Eisenhower—commander of Allied Forces, who rose to become one of the few five-star generals in U.S. history—were pacifists.

But he also said this:

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children . . . Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron."

President Dwight D. Eisenhower
April 16, 1953


I'm getting ready to begin my research for an HDTV. What do some of you have that you'd recommend? I haven't let myself buy one until I got the den decluttered and organized. It's one of the few times my own behavior modification has worked on me. It will be a while before I can get it because I'm just now beginning on the den, and several of you would pass out if you saw it. Trust me on this. It's bad. I'm not even sure I can show you "before" pictures so you can tell the miraculous difference when I do it. David saw my before and after pictures of the living/dining room, but he's a kindred spirit in this. I think I sent them to Charlie, too, but he loves me anyway.

So, I'm thinking LCD instead of plasma. The new LED's are way expensive from what I can tell but should I go with one of those? From what I've read, I need to go look at them in the store and compare to see which looks best to me. I'd planned to do that anyway. What about resolution? I know that matters but don't know about those numbers. I watch a lot of TV and DVDs and will enjoy one. I think my TV looks good until I go to my mother's and see her HDTV. Big difference!

Any suggestions?

Update: Are LED's the same as plasmas? I thought they were different. I had planned to get an LCD. That's what my mother and cousin have. Thanks for the comments. Mostly I wanted to know what you have and how you like it and what you might not do again or something. Thanks again.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Proud Aunt

The blog Tina, Jackie, and I began years ago is taking off again, and I'm so happy about it! The title is Observations from the Knee-Deep South, and I have it linked on my blog list. Jackie just posted on it, and Tina has written several. Some of you have been there, checked it out, commented, and followed. Thanks!

I've known them for over 30 years when they were in high school speech and drama competitions with the National Forensics League, which I coached. Ha! I was an NFL coach! We all learned together and forged ahead for them to win trophies and awards. We bonded during those years and have remained friends. Our friendship has that comfort that comes from knowing each other so long and through so many experiences. A few years ago I mentioned that I was really young then and didn't realize it. Tina said, "We did!"

Tina won the first first-place state trophy for our newish central high school in poetry interpretation ("Tommy" by Rudyard Kipling in a great Cockney accent). She was valedictorian of her class and silver medalist. Her graduation speech was a poem. I wish she'd post it on the blog. After earning her degree in the honors program at UT, Tina was accepted to the prestigious Iowa Writers Workshop for graduate school but got married instead and brought up two cool sons. We all have those crossroad decisions we make that lead to might-have-been and what-if thoughts. She's had her moments with those. When I retired, Tina replaced me with part of my schedule and in my classroom. I literally passed my podium on to her. She's been Teacher of the Year twice in the four years she's been teaching there. It is good to know that I left my job in more capable hands and that it would continue better than it was when I had it.

Jackie and I met when I was scouting play auditions for potential NFL members. As I sat in the back of the auditorium, I watched a young black gifted teenager get turned down for a role she did a better job with than others who were chosen. It was a comedy where couples were eventually together. The drama director isn't racist but probably didn't want to rock any community boats in the early 70's and had enough white students to choose from. After hearing who was selected, Jackie rushed up the aisle in disappointment fighting back tears. I followed her out and told her my name and who I was. I said that she probably didn't want to hear this now but if she were interested in speech and drama competitions to let me know because I'd love to have her in it. She said I was right and that she didn't want to hear it. Later on, though, she showed up at my room and asked about forensics.

Jackie (Jacqueline on the blog) went on to win awards for dramatic interpretation and solo acting. Her last one was as Antigone because she wanted to stretch herself. She was also vice president and then president of NFL, and I depended on her to write introductions for other competitors because she was that good. After a degree in psychology from Memphis State, a brief stint at Vanderbilt where she met her husband, and an MBA from Loyola, she had a career in writing software and teaching computer courses and was a professional dancer and is still a professional storyteller. Several years ago, Jackie went back to school to become a teacher and plans to move back to Tennessee in a few years. Their daughter is my goddaughter and will be going to Howard University this fall.

Middle Passage, her one-woman show Jackie wrote and performs, is incredible! I hope she brings it back here again. Read about it HERE. This article was written by another former Niffleonian (as we said) or my name would not have been in the article and really had no reason to be. I wish you could all see her performance! The first half features African drummers. Jackie performs African dances and tells stories from there. The second half has a church choir who sings spirituals, and Jackie tells slave stories she adapted as well as some original stories she wrote. The show is inspirational, thought-provoking, and wonderful. I cried both times because it is so moving.

Both of these amazing, talented women are my friends! How great is that? Now that I've introduced you, you can get to know them when you read the blog.

Tangled Web Trivia

Scientists at NASA tested the effects of certain human drugs on a spider’s ability to spin webs. A spider on marijuana tried to make a web, but gave up when it was only half-done. Spiders on Benzedrine, or speed, spun webs quickly, but left huge holes in them, making odd patterns. Spiders on caffeine only spun some random threads, while those on sleeping pills never bothered to start making a web.

New Post

Tina has a new poem "Child of the South" on our blog HERE that I think some of you will like and identify with.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Sting Trivia

The popular band the Police was originally known as Strontium 90.


David Hasselhoff is a tool. Just saying.

On The View this morning he said Obama needs to be more entertaining because he's boring when he makes speeches. Excuse me? The Hoff did this rap song about health care that he said Obama should perform to get people interested in it. Talk about being out of touch! One of the things President Obama is known for is his speaking talent. Sorry Knight Rider doesn't agree. Besides, it's not a requirement for me to have an entertaining president. Enough said about that.

Then Hasselhoff said since Obama's press conference about health care was on after America's Got Talent, they were a lead-in and as the number one rated show would bring in a larger audience for him. Thinks highly of himself, doesn't he?


When we were at the movie yesterday and sat down with our drinks and popcorn, Paige said it was hard to juggle all of that because she wasn't used to carrying her own since Carl took care of all that for her. I laughed and said for her not to complain to me about it! Later when we went to see Linda and told her about it, she said, "Boo Hoo!" Then we told her she'd been spoiled and needed to let Carl know how much she appreciates him.

So I've been thinking about this and how I've done things for myself so long that I'm not used to anyone doing them for me. When my son was here a few weekends ago and we were on the patio watching Brendan in the little pool, I told him I needed to go inside and get my water. He said he'd do it and did. I felt overly grateful and probably thanked him too enthusiastically. It felt good. I remember the first time he took the bag of groceries for me at the store to the car. He wasn't a teenager yet and just did it.

Kindness and generosity are gifts and so is appreciation. Let those in your lives who are there for you however you need them know how much it means to you. My high school senior English teacher used to say, "Give me my flowers while I'm living."

Here are some flowers for my blog friends who are there for support, encouragement, entertainment, laughs, tears, inspiration, and much more! Love you! Love your blogs!

Rolling Stone Trivia

The cover of the very first issue of Rolling Stone magazine featured John Lennon.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Paige and I saw the new Harry Potter movie this afternoon. It was darker than the others and leads to the conclusion with dread. I remember it in shades of gray and black. The Death Eaters were as ominous as I visualized them to be.

The casting is excellent, isn't it? All of them! Alan Rickman could not play Snape any better than he does. His voice, facial expression, pauses, and body language are perfect! Knowing what happens from reading all the novels fills in some blanks and makes everything foreshadowing. I hated for the books to end and look forward to the next movies and dread having it all to be over. It's been long enough that I can read them again. I'd like to have the British versions and can order them from the Canadian Amazon.

Here's some of what Roger Ebert wrote in his review.
In one of the opening scenes, we find Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) late at night in a cafe of the London Underground, reading a copy of the Daily Prophet which poses the question: Is Harry Potter the Chosen One? By the film's end, he acknowledges that he has, indeed, been chosen to face down Voldemort (whose name should properly rhyme with the French word for "death," mort; also, since their word vol can have meanings such as "thief" and "steal," Lord Voldemort is most ominously named).

There are really two story strands here. One involves the close working relationship of Dumbledore and Harry on the trail of Voldemort. The other involves everything else: romance and flirtation, Quidditch, a roll call of familiar characters (Hagrid, Snape, McGonagall, Wormtail, Lupin, Filch, Flitwick and Malfoy, whose name could be French for "bad faith"). With names like that, how do they get through Commencement without snickering?

Some of these characters are reprised just as reminders. The giant Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane), for example, turns up primarily to allow us to observe, look who's turned up! Snape, as played by Alan Rickman, is given much more dialogue, primarily I suspect because he invests it with such macabre pauses. Radcliffe's Potter is sturdy and boring, as always; it's not easy being the hero with a supporting cast like this. Michael Gambon steals the show as Dumbledore, who for a man his age certainly has some new tricks, so to speak, up his sleeve.

I admired this Harry Potter. It opens and closes well, and has wondrous art design and cinematography as always, only more so. "I'm just beginning to realize how beautiful this place is," Harry sighs from a high turret. The middle passages spin their wheels somewhat, hurrying about to establish events and places not absolutely essential. But those scenes may be especially valued by devoted students of the Potter saga. They may also be the only ones who fully understand them; ordinary viewers may be excused for feeling baffled some of the time.

Sad Trivia

Through analyzing Beethoven’s hair, historian Russell Martin concluded, "His deafness, illness, and death were almost certainly the result of lead poisoning. Martin further speculates that this may have resulted from lead pencils—on which Ludwig was munching while composing music.

Say What? Trivia

It may be possible to attend your own funeral. The human brain continues sending out electrical wave signals for up to 37 hours following death.

Insectual Trivia

Termite queens are fertilized regularly by the same mate for life, unlike bee and ant queens, whose male partners die after the first and only mating. They live up to 50 years.

Einstein Quote

Laws alone can not secure freedom of expression; in order that every man present his views without penalty there must be spirit of tolerance in the entire population.

Hmm Trivia

A cat keeps purring whether it is inhaling or exhaling—a baffling accomplishment.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Another RIP

Oh no! Frank McCourt died today! He's the Pulitzer Prize winning author of memoirs Angela's Ashes, 'Tis, and Teacher Man. I read them all and was inspired by his teaching and writing and am sad that he's gone. He was 78.

Walter Cronkite died earlier this week on July 17 at 92. I grew up hearing the news from him and David Brinkley and Chet Huntley. If Walter Cronkite said something, I believed it. He was one of a kind.

Every week at least one more well-known person dies!

Narrows of the Harpeth

The photo up there is near where I live called the Narrows of the Harpeth. There are bluffs on the Harpeth River, and I've been right there on that one. You can see the humidity hanging in the air and why it's so lush and green in TN. We have lots of hills and hollows around here. For those who complimented it, I'm glad you like that photograph. I didn't shoot it but did choose it.


Bob is right - it is the Cathedral of NPR, not just a church. I also listen to the NPR on AM radio when opera and classical music come on. Yes, Ms. Moon, A Prairie Home Companion! Also I like Fresh Air, All Things Considered, The Splendid Table (which I think is hosted by Lynn Rosette O'Casper because that's the way I hear her name even though I know it's Lynn Rosetto Casper), Thistle & Shamrock, and sometimes Car Talk. Yes, I do contribute and have the t-shirts and mugs to prove it!

Sunday Morning Worship Services

As I've mentioned before, I worship at the church of NPR on Sunday mornings with my favorite show ever wait wait ... don't tell me! and Says You! and Studio 360 all from 9 - 12. Family and friends know not to call me from 11 -12 when wait wait is on unless it's an emergency. When I go to Chicago again, I'm going to the Chase Auditorium and watch them broadcast a show. I hope my favorites Roy Blount, Jr., Paula Poundstone, and either Adam Felber, Mo Rocca, or Tom Bodett will be there. I LOVE that show! It's a humorous look at current events. You can listen to it on your NPR station or podcasts of it. I promise that other liberal political junkies and those who keep up with what's going on will love it. Let me know if you already listen to it and thank me for turning you on to it if you learn about it and like it.

Paige, Tina, and I are going to TPAC next month to see Says You and are looking forward to it.

Today on Studio 360, Kurt Anderson was at the Aspen Ideas Festival where they were looking at ways to use the economic crisis to our advantage. I cannot urge you strongly enough to listen to a podcast of this show. You can access it from their webpage HERE or listen to it on this page. I listened to it on the radio and don't know if the whole program is on there or not.

Trust me, you'll be glad you listened. Kurt's "Forever Young" piece about the attitude of the Boomers explains quite a bit and is accurate along with how the generation my parents' age coped after going through the Depression and WWII. My parents were babies during the Depression, and I was born during WWII. Check it out when you have time and let me know what you think. I'm going to blog about it soon.

Description from website:

Studio 360 comes to us from the Aspen Ideas Festival, where Kurt and his guests are looking for ways to use the economic crisis to our advantage: think of it as the Great American Reset. Writer Susan Orlean remembers the optimism of her late father, who came of age during the Depression. The band They Might Be Giants has a warning about dangerous fads. And inventor Saul Griffith explains how to get kids excited about the future again.

Spanish Car Trivia

Why isn’t the Chevy Nova sold in South America? No va means "it doesn’t go" in Spanish!


Tina has a new post on our collaborative blog we have with Jackie. It's called Observations from the Knee-Deep South. Thanks to David for following it and commenting and being supportive. Thanks to Nutwood Beth and Charlie for commenting and to Brian for following. If any of you care to click HERE to check it out and follow us, we'd appreciate it. Thanks! Besides, Tina and Jackie are cool people!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

House Blend Dinner

This probably seems to be an inappropriate post after the previous one, but it really isn't. Today is Melissa's birthday, so they came down for the July Farmer's Market Dinner at House Blend. I checked my blood glucose a while after I got home, and it was OK. The dinner was absolutely delicious! I had the shrimp and grits which were as good as those at Anson Restaurant in Charleston, SC, and that's saying something! Both dishes were quite similar and so incredibly scrumptious! Next time I'll get a picture of Holly for the blog. We talked with her a while after dinner, but I didn't think about it. I also didn't get any photos of the desserts this time. If you click the menu, it will embiggen.

Melissa and Brendan

Melissa's Birthday Party with Brian, Me, Paige, and Carl

Jeremy, co-owner with his wife Holly the most excellent chef

Brian, Paige, Carl, and Brendan got the Polenta Fries with Balsamic-Tomato "Ketchup"

Melissa and I had the Grilled Peaches

Heirloom Tomatoes that Carl, Brian, Brendan, and I enjoyed

Salad with Blueberries for Paige and Melissa

Brian and Carl ordered the Chicken Caprese

Brendan had the Turkey Meatloaf

Paige, Melissa, and I had the Shrimp & Grits

You might notice that we didn't have flowers and candles on our table like the others did. Because the shrimp and grits were so absolutely incredible and they were really busy, I decided not to make a big deal of it here on the blog. I'm sure they are grateful even though presentation is important. I watch Top Chef and Top Chef Masters and have learned what to look for! Close call this time! :-) (they read this)

We all had such a good time. Carl is Brian's godfather (our cousin Sally is his godmother), and we've been friends with Paige and Carl for almost 40 years. I love them! Brendan was so good and such a fun dinner companion. He likes to try all kinds of food and isn't a picky eater but a discriminating one.

Looking Back and Berating

The last few months have been hard on me, and it's all my fault. Because my A1c and other numbers were not high enough, Healthspring, my Medicare plan, kicked me off of Januvia around six months ago, which left me all on my own to control my type 2 diabetes with diet and exercise. Well, I haven't done it.

My numbers have crept up and were the highest they've ever been during the last month. I've felt like crap. Then all this becomes a Catch-22 conundrum of dysfunction. I'd feel better if I were more active. I don't feel good enough to get out and move around. And on it goes.

During my appointment with my internist last week, he gave me samples of Januvia and wrote another prescription. I told the pharmacist that we were trying again but didn't think they'd approve it. She checked on the computer and amazingly they did! Thank goodness! I was at the point of researching how to get the script filled in Canada.

For the first time ever, my reading got over 300 after a meal several times. It had been over 200 some which is bad enough but that scared the fool out of me. My A1c has always been in the 5's and below. (over 6 is considered diabetic) This time it was 6.6 - highest ever! What really flew all over me was my doctor's saying this is the first time I've been classified as having "uncontrolled diabetes." No, no, no, no no! I will not be called uncontrolled! That motivated me and the pills enabled me to find the track or wagon to get back on. I don't want to have a heart attack, liver damage, or be on insulin. Exercise is not an option. I have to do it. Activity is the most important factor in this equation.

So eating properly, exercising, and losing weight are vital. What's with me for being self-destructive? I must be completely nuts. I'm pretty sure I need to see a therapist. I walked around the lake today and have been cooking and planning. Now I'm confessing to people I know read my blog and all those lurkers I don't know are reading it. I hear from various sources that some relatives, friends, and others do but have no clue who all does or not. Anyway, I'm making a public confession and am accountable.


Comedian/actor Billy Crystal portrayed Jodie Dallas, the first openly gay main character on network television, on ABC’s Soap, which aired from 1977 to 1981. Various church groups protested the seeming "acceptance" of homosexuality.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

More Bat Trivia

An anticoagulant from vampire bat saliva may soon be used to treat human heart patients.

As long as it's not a Twilight vampire bat, I'll be OK. Do any of you know how much I hate those books?

Einstein Quote

It is almost a miracle that modern teaching methods have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry; for what this delicate little plant needs more than anything, besides stimulation, is freedom.

A Break

I'm running hither and yon! Busy! Busy! Just saying hello! So here's a cartoon to entertain you while I'm gone.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Transported Beyond the Moon

Ms Moon writes so well it takes my breath away. Every time I read her blog, I get so many thoughts and images that I want to respond to and write about. I might quote some of her words and use them for writing prompts when I'm so inspired I can't keep it to myself.

The first part of her poem (not featured here) describes the humidity of Southern summers you can see in some of those pictures I posted from Tennessee.

Please go to Bless Our Hearts and read her July 14 poem. You'll be glad you did. Here is a bit of it. See what I mean?
This morning I walked down to the creek
The No Trespassing Sign has disappeared which was sign enough for me to go
Down that path and into the woods where I always think
They'd never find me if I disappeared here by snake or crazy person or wild cat or bear
Or allergic reaction.
Never. And then I think,
Oh well.

The creek is running slowly and is small in its sandy banks right now
And as brown and clear as iced tea
And indeed it is a tea, leaves brewed in its water as it flows.
Oaks and pines and cedars hang over it, grow beside it
And I thought to myself that if I lived by a real river of majesty and wonder
I couldn't bear the beauty
This small creek almost does me in
As it runs all by itself, no one to see it but me.

Life as I Know It

Things are getting back to abnormal. Brian feels better but will be off work the rest of the week. I took Brendan home this afternoon and visited with Brian and Melissa for a while. I'm so proud of their relationship with each other and with Brendan. They've been together 16 years (married 14) and are so in love and are best friends, too.

My mother has had shingles for over a month and doesn't feel much better. She's had two rounds of drugs and pain pills for it and now has begun those patches to help with the pain. Her 89th birthday was Sunday, and she's always been healthy and active. This has slowed her down and is the worst thing she's ever experienced. I hope this goes away soon and that she can enjoy her life again.

This is Easter in her back yard with Brendan.
Click to enlarge the photo.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Dirty Money Trivia

A study of American coins and currency revealed the presence of bacteria, including staphylococcus and E. coli on 18 percent of the coins and 7 percent of the bills.


Some of you asked about that photo at the top of my blog. It's of the Columbia River in Oregon. I'm planning to change the pictures periodically and thought I'd show you some of Tennessee. The state is geographically divided into East, Middle, and West Tennessee, which are capitalized because they are the official names of the grand divisions and are represented by the three stars in the state flag. I really don't know why I'm writing about this but for some reason got into it when I was searching for TN photos. Maybe I need to focus on the pretty parts of my state right now.

East Tennessee is known for the Smoky Mountains. The Appalachian Trail goes through them. (smirk) Knoxville is the largest city, home of the University of Tennessee, and on the Tennessee River.

Middle Tennessee
, where I live, has rolling hills and Nashville, the capital, which is on the Cumberland River. That's where Vanderbilt and Fisk University are located as well as about ten other colleges and universities and gave Nashville the nickname "Athens of the South" along with "Music City, USA" because of the Grand Ole Opry and music business. That's why one of the most accurate replicas of the Parthenon was built here and is in Centennial Park. My friend Linda works at the Parthenon. Her blog is Wings Unfolding.

Statue of Athena which was commissioned several years ago.

The Narrows of the Harpeth is near where I live.

General Jackson, a riverboat on the Cumberland River.

West Tennessee is flat and grows cotton. We have corn and tobacco around here. Memphis is the largest city in the state and home of Beale Street where the blues is played, B.B. King has a restaurant, and Graceland is located. I went to college in Martin, which is in the upper left corner of the state opposite Memphis which is almost in Mississippi and Arkansas on the Mississippi River. There's a joke that Memphis is the 3rd largest city in Mississippi - the other two are Mobile and New Orleans. The Pyramid is a sports and events arena and was built because Memphis, Egypt, is a sister city.

Reelfoot Lake on the New Madrid Fault was formed by an earthquake.