Thursday, June 26, 2008

Supreme Court Jesters, Hell's Kitchen, and the Bush Economy

NEWS FLASH is basically news or thoughts that may be changing over time - an update or an evolution of thought that covers a multiple of topics. It is what makes a blogger tick and it is the reason why we read. So, with that in mind, I came up with NEWS FLASH as an acronym that stands for what is going on in life:



News (or current events)
Entertainment (movies, TV, celebrity, etc.)
Writing (thoughts on the blog(s) or other writing projects)
Spirit (thoughts on God and/or the supernatural)
Family (or friends)
Love
Anxiety (a rant or a trouble)
Sports (also considered should be contests, reality TV, recreation, cards, games), and
Home (house, yard, or even another family type of thought.
___________________________________________________________________

NEWS - So much I could talk about . . . The Supreme Court is 0-2 this week in common sense rulings. First, the Court decides that the death penalty cannot be used in sentencing for people who rape children. Personally, I am not in favor of the death penalty at all, playing a vengeful God in the age of Grace is not something that I think is a good idea. However, if the death penalty is going to exist, I see no reason that the states cannot decide to use it for such a heinous crime such as this. The Supreme Court decided that capital punishment, in this instance, is cruel and unusual. Uhm . . . okay. So what did the Court do for an encore? It decided that a thirty-plus year law that banned handguns in Washington D.C. is unconstitutional. Back in March, I told Psycho Land (my pet name for those of you who read this mess) that we could look for the Supreme Court to rule on the gun control issue. For a refresher course, please read my post: Second (2nd) Amendment Right or Myth - particularly the comment section. In that post, I predicted the Supreme Court would take the view they did. I asked then and would like to ask the five justices that decided to strike down this law (it was a narrow 5-4 decision), "Why does the Second Amendment include the precursor, 'A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State'" As I prepare this post, I am hearing Bill O'Reilly on his show on Fox News make fun of the dissenters because, and I quote him, "There are no militias!" My point exactly, Bill, you pin head!"

ENTERTAINMENT - Somehow, I got into this whole Hell's Kitchen show. If someone described the show to me, I would say that I would never watch it. It is a group of people competing to be head chef for a "Bobby Knight-type" chef celebrity. Somehow, it fascinates me. I guess wherever there are nice people competing against hateful people for something special, I will end up watching it. The finale is next week and it is comprised of two good people. Who says nice guys finish last? So far the most recent Big Brother and now Hell's Kitchen, the good guys are finally winning. By the way, Big Brother 10 will premier July 13, on CBS. Try watching it this time!

WRITING - This section was once the "WORK" section. Ironically, my work is stopping me from writing. Notice how late this post is. There is a lot of discriminating going on out there today. I guess I will always have job security.

SPIRIT - I have been getting a lot of "signs" lately. I am not a big believer in signs, really though. I think any real evil forces can be in disguise while authoring these good and uncanny things we interpret as signs. This could push one in a particularly harmful direction as easily as God show them blessings. Not many of us can discern the difference. Dangerous.

FAMILY - Things are getting straightened out with my family. My sister is just a few short weeks of having an income for the first time in years with her Social Security Disability getting ready to kick in. My other sister (with MS) is getting out of the nursing home and getting back into her own apartment. She will probably be getting into an assisted living facility in the near future, but it is a nice place and a huge step above the nursing home she has been in for the past number of weeks. My wife told someone in my presence how blown away she is about the family she married into. Everyone helps everyone else and was so welcoming to her the first minute she met them. She admitted that it would not have been the case in her family. She gets these brief "insights" to my family, but she hasn't internalized them yet. I am not sure she is ready to "give" in that manner yet, although she has graciously received.

LOVE - Things are pretty level. I have been apologizing a lot to her lately and she has been receptive. It makes me realize a few things about our relationship. One thing that I have gleaned, and I am risking the appearance of arrogance here, is that I have been on the right side of issues for the most part in our troubles. I didn't know for sure, because it is hard to analyze self pride. We always want to be right, don't we? Being wrong points out personal flaws and self examination, which is too painful for most folks. With that in mind, I always entertained the idea that I may be mostly at fault with our past problems. However, I have had no problem analyzing my own actions lately and realizing that I will admit when I fall short. I guess it really doesn't matter what has happened in the past - with assigning blame and such. We are building the future.

ANXIETY - The economy is the thing that is stressing me out the most. Gas prices are through the roof and it is causing everything else to inflate because it is all tied to transportation. In addition, Bush's War has bankrupted us to the point we are weaker country in every way imaginable because of it.

What magnifies my concerns even more is that my wife and I are trying to buy a home. It is going to be tight no matter what the state the economy is in, but I am afraid it is going to be too much to handle if it gets worse - and I think that it Will get worse. Unemployment, one of the Bush administrations most recent "bragging points" - and I use the term loosely, has been on the rise. Consumer confidence is down also. Even though I think the next administration will be more capable than the eight years of hell we have just endured, I still think the economy may be too bad to be saved - especially in the short term. Really, all that can be done is to raise interest rates or continue to lower them short of a total overhaul. If they raise interest rates, it would slow the economy down, cause less demand for production and further increase unemployment. It would also hurt those in debt - which is nearly all of us. If they lower interest rates further, than the dollar loses even more value and prices continue to climb. It is a lose - lose situation. What a great time to be in the oil business or have oil interests, eh Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney?

SPORTS - Who really cares at this point, no? Sports interests are in a drought now that basketball is over and football is yet to start. Baseball season lasts so long that anything that happens at any given time is not very significant.

HOME - As I mentioned earlier, I am trying to buy a home. I have already been approved for the mortgage, but that doesn't mean I should accept it. Of course, my wife has a hard time letting the financial drawbacks influence her desire to have this house we have found. It is quite a nice house, I must say. Had my wife not quit her full-time job, it would be much easier to swing it. BUT SHE DID. I have two other houses that must be sold, too, which will not be easy in this economy. If it works out, it works out. If it doesn't, being single may not be all that bad.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Inaugural Wittie Awards

Welcome to the opening installment of Psychosomatic Wit's 40 years of music. Think of it as the TV Land Awards for music. I will give an award (probably weekly) for one song for each of the past 40 years. To qualify, a song must be on the charts at any time during the year in question. A song cannot win a Wittie for two consecutive years - even if their presence on the charts overlap two years.

The award is the Psychosomatic Wit Award of TMF (Tickle My Fancy) - heretofore known as the Wittie! This award will be given for any piece of art (song, movie, blog, etc.) that just does something for me.

In this particular case, it will be a music Wittie. Be on the look-out for Witties in other categories. Some accomplished bloggers reading this may even get a blogger Wittie of their own someday to display on their blog mantle piece.

Now is time for the first Wittie given for the TMF song of 1968. The Wittie goes to . . .

Elenore by The Turtles

This song was written and performed for the purpose to upset the record label, White Whale Records, who wanted the band to do another sappy love song ala Happy Together from the year before. Irritated, the band strung together some sickening lyrics like, "Gee I think you're swell" and even gave it an obligatory sounding "You're my pride and joy, etcetera."

However, the public went bonkers for the song, anyway, so their little scheme backfired. I guess the tune was just too catchy. For all these reasons, Elenore tickled my fancy and earned a Wittie for Song of 1968. Give it a listen:







Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Life, Lessons, and Loss

Someone close to me died this past week. I met with him every week and got to know him better than I thought I would. He was a smart guy and took his job and his family seriously, but he was a lot of fun.

I wouldn't have thought that the death of Tim Russert would get to me as much as it has. Every week I would watch Meet the Press and see who Russert was going to interview. His interviews made news every week. Everyone that has talked about being on the show the past couple of days has said the same thing: "Tim was tough but fair." I think it is an accurate statement. I never knew Russert's personal politics. I just found a couple of days ago that he had worked for some Democrats before he turned to journalism. You wouldn't have known it by watching his interviews. I could never tell, and I am an independent.

However, what struck me was the enthusiasm he had for, not only his work, but for his family - particularly his dad, "Big Russ" and his son, Luke. Months ago I bought Big Russ and Me at a book sale. I hadn't gotten around to reading it yet. I bet I read it soon.

PICTURED: Tim and Big Russ

I heard a story from a tape of Tim being interviewed by Tom Brokaw. He talked about the time that his wife had discovered a tattoo on his son while Luke was trying on a shirt he had recently got for Christmas (it was Christmas day).

When his wife brought it to his intention, Tim approached young Luke. Luke, admittedly had just read Tim's manuscript for Big Russ and Me, when Tim started on him about the tattoo, "Look, son, we talked about this and had an understanding . . ." Luke lifted up his arm and displayed the inked "TJR" on his ribs. He told his dad that after reading the manuscript, he wanted his dad and his grand dad (both Tim and Big Russ had the same initials) at his side forever. Tim melted and obviously made an exception to their "understanding".

It is odd still, that a the passing of a TV personality in the news game would cause me so much sorrow. Russert made me appreciate politics and take an interest in the way this country was being run unlike before. He also made me more excited about fatherhood - gave me a new appreciation for the joy it will bring.

Like I said, I hadn't read Big Russ and Me yet. In a way, I am glad that I hadn't. It gives me a little more time with someone I didn't know I cared about so much.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Obama, the surest thing since Big Brown


NEWS FLASH is basically news or thoughts that may be changing over time - an update or an evolution of thought that covers a multiple of topics. It is what makes a blogger tick and it is the reason why we read. So, with that in mind, I came up with NEWS FLASH as an acronym that stands for what is going on in life:



News (or current events)
Entertainment (movies, TV, celebrity, etc.)
Writing (thoughts on the blog(s) or other writing projects)
Spirit (thoughts on God and/or the supernatural)
Family (or friends)
Love
Anxiety (a rant or a trouble)
Sports (also considered should be contests, reality TV, recreation, cards, games), and
Home (house, yard, or even another family type of thought.
___________________________________________________________________
NEWS - It looks like it is the "Barack Obama Show" That will work for me. I endorsed Hillary (but predicted it would be Obama). I think Obama will be just fine. I think the thought of it being ANYONE other than "W" is just as exciting as can be. I know the polls are close now between McCain and Obama, I think by October, it will be a foregone conclusion that Obama will have it wrapped up. The reason I say this is summed up perfectly by a person I know that is a bit of a racist. I said to him, "So, I suppose you are going to vote for McCain now that Obama got the nomination."
He replied, "Nah, I am going to vote for Obama," he went on to say, "If there is anything scarier than a black man leading my country, it is another Republican. We can't afford no more of that! And I have never voted Democrat in my life!"

Language and PC aside, the simple message is that McCain has absolutely no chance.

ENTERTAINMENT - Last night, my wife and I visited my nephew and his wife. While there, I was enticed to join with them to play a Xbox 360 game called Rock Band. In a nutshell, the people in your group play an instrument or sing to pre-existing songs already contained in the game - kind of like karaoke, except with fake instruments. The choices include lead guitar, bass guitar, drums, and vocals. I started off on drums, but wasn't very good. Then I moved to guitar where I was a star. The game is addicting, I must say.

WORK - I have yet another business adventure in the works in addition to my other ones. I don't want to get into details yet, but suffice to say, that if I go through with it, I will have even less time than I do now. Still, it is kind of an old dream of mind. Stay tuned.

SPIRIT - I am trying to stay away from the "little picture" thing. Sometimes, in a way, I can't see the forest for the trees. It is just that sometimes the trees are big and require lots of work - trimming and the like. Yet, God sees the big picture. He understands why hardship "x" exists; He sees the finished product. It is a matter of trust and abandonining the self.

FAMILY - Praise God! My sister finally received the "all clear" for Social Security Disability. If anyone is entitled to it, it is my sister. She worked for years on very tough and physically taxing jobs - paid into the system. Finally, she can stop worrying about how to keep on her utilities on and other necessities that most of us take for granted. It will take about three months, but I think we can wait.

LOVE - My wife has been battling daily migraines for a week now. It is really debilitating for her. She tried to call her doctor AGAIN (she just saw the doctor two weeks ago), but the doc is out of town. She is desperate for help and I feel helpless. Anyone have any good migraine remedies? She has tried caffeine, and several pain relievers and prescription migraine medicines. None have worked so far.

ANXIETY - I mentioned above that my wife and I visited my nephews this past weekend. He lives about 35 miles away. There is a parkway that connects his city with the city I work in. Once you get on it, you are stuck till you reach the next city. I noticed as soon as we got on it (at 10:30 at night, by the way) that the "low fuel" light popped on. Oh no! I couldn't turn around, I just had to hope that I could make it all the way to the next town (28 miles away). Our Jeep is a gas guzzler so it isn't a sure thing by any stretch. My wife had a headache, so I didn't want to bother her about it. I saw the warning light and snapped my head to look at her. Fortunately, she was fiddling with her Zune (an Ipod competitor) and didn't see the warning.

The speed limit on this parkway is 70 mph (113 km/h). I lowered my speed to 50 (80), then to 45 (72). She somehow didn't notice all the traffic passing us as if we were standing still. I also switched the air conditioner off and just used the vent. She liked that because she is always cold. I sat and drove in my own sweaty filth for 25 miles.

As we eased in front of the fuel pump at the first station I saw at the end of the parkway, I said audibly, "Thank God." My wife looked puzzled and inquired about the gas. I told her, "Babe, for the past half an hour we were cruising on fumes and fond memories." SIXTY-FOUR dollars of fuel later, we zipped the final 12 miles to our home at the speed limit and with the AC a blazing!


SPORTS - It was a sad day this past Saturday when Big Brown failed to capture the Triple Crown of Horse Racing. He was the closest thing to sure thing that we have had. Even his competition was scratched so it was all open. Yet, Big Brown failed to run.

His trainer can't figure it out. He should ask me. Big Brown has been on steroids all his racing life. For the Belmont Stakes, he was NOT on it. What is the mystery?

HOME - I am still at an impass with my renter, although he did pay me rent. No one I have talked to can believe his position. I will keep my vision off the trees on this one for sure.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Evansville and Bad Presidents

After Further Review . . .

I decided not to apply for the editorial board for the local newspaper this year. I blame you guys because not one of you suggested any of my posts for submission as writing samples. I just assumed that it wasn't worthy. Nah, just kidding. Actually, I tried to edit down some of my better posts to the 450 word requirement and it really butchered the "art" out of it - and I use that word loosely. If I would have had more time, I may have been able to figure it out, but other things in life demanded too much of my time and energy to muck with it any farther than I did. There is always next year.

* * *

My worst president poll shows some interesting results. So far, 19 of you voted and "W" is running away with it as expected. However, coming in a not-so-distant second is FDR. He was certainly a polarizing figure. Most people my mother's age and older that I have talked to would vote for him as the BEST president ever. These folks praise FDR for bringing them out of the Great Depression. His "New Deal" program put folks back to work and put food back on their plates.

Others, usually those that did not live through the Great Depression, despise him. They blame him for the "welfare state", big government, and starting the country down the road of debt.

My personal belief is that FDR and his policies were appropriate for the time. All history now is revisionist so it is hard to get an accurate picture. Whether the "New Deal" helped to end the depression is open to question. However, it did inspire hope and that is sometimes enough. I believe that he also managed WWII well, and should be praised for that. On the flip side, he did usurp the power of the presidency in a way that cleared the way for future abuse (read: Bush, George W). I guess no one's perfect.

* * *

I am getting more surfers from my hometown now. This is a result of my membership with VerveEarth. This is a site where you can find blogs that "represent" your area. Because of this, I am going to make my blog a little more Evansville, IN (and tri-state area) relevent. However, it will be just a little more locally relevent. It will not lose the flavor it has always had.

* * *

I am going to reveal Psychosomatic Wit's favorite song for each year for the past 40 years. The first year will be 1968 and will be included in the next post. If anyone knows where there is a site that anyone can listen to a song that I can either imbed or provide a link to, let me know. People should, at least, get a chance to hear it.

* * *

Why is it that some people think that they must back into their driveways or in parking spots at businesses. This practice bothers me to no end. I mean, I do know there is times when it is necessary or overly convenient. For instance, I back in my mother's drive when I am taking her with me. It shortens the distance that she has to travel from the door to the car (she is disabled). However, some folks just do it all the time for no apparent reason almost like think it is "cool" or something. One could argue that it is easier to leave, etc., but I think the ease of leaving doesn't make up for the trouble of arriving. Plus, usually someone has to wait for the yahoo to stop and back into the drive. It just drives me nuts!







Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Read Any Good Books Lately?

I have been tagged by someone (I am sorry, I can't find who it was) to do a book meme. It involves a book I am currently reading.

Here are the rules:

1. Grab the nearest book. If you are currently reading something, that'll be fine too.

2. Open the book to page 123.

3. Find the fifth sentence.

4. Post the text of the next 4 sentences on your Blog along with these instructions.

5. Don't you dare dig for that "cool" or "intellectual" book in your closet I know that is what you were thinking!

6. Tag 5 people.

Here is the passage:

"I don't know when I have ever been so tired in my life. I can't even imagine how Gran holds up because I can barely move. All of us look as though we have been endlessly ill. Even little Alex is dragging."

This passage is from Go Ask Alice, by Anonymous. The book is interesting, but the story behind the book is probably more interesting. Back in the early 1970's, when it was published, it was classified as a work of nonfiction - a diary account of a 15-year-old girl's account of life and drug abuse. However, there has been some controversy whether or not this is accurate. Since then, it is considered a work of fiction.

Beatrice Sparks is the editor (and many think the author) of the book. She is a psychologist and youth counselor who supposedly constructed the diary from a patient of her's. She admits to adding some things that were not in the original patient's diary, but were based on the patient's counseling sessions. No one, but Sparks, really knows the truth. Sparks has published subsequent diaries with similar subject matter attributed to anonmymous patients of hers. At any rate, it is a quick and interesting read. Despite the controversy, or perhaps because of it, it continues to be a best seller.
Okay, before I tag folks, I want to, with hat in hand, ask which one of you tagged me with this. I am so ashamed. If you are the one, and you can put the link to your page where the tag lies, I will edit this and give your blog a plug. So please ???
I am going to tag . . . (watch me tag the person who tagged me like a dork):
Meg at Confessions of an Impulsive Liar (although I don't expect her to respond very soon because she is getting married this weekend - Congratulations Meg! My invitation must have been lost in the mail, by the way ;) ), Mother Hen, Brian at The Office (blog), Charles at Am I Thinking That?, and Chris at Inane Thoughts.
Okay, if any of you have done this before, but it has been a while, DO IT AGAIN! I did once before back in November of '06. Surely you are on another book by now! ;)