Saturday, July 25, 2009

One Small Step for Man

I meant to take a minute this week and blog on the anniversary of the Apollo moon landing, but this week has been crazy busy. I am taking a break from the project that has kept me so busy and I’ll take a minute now and put my thoughts down for posterity.

If you weren’t cognizant in the 1960’s (I was for the last few years) you cannot fathom the effect of the moon landing on the nation. It was, quite literally, a different nation then. A large segment of the population had been born before the Wright Brothers first flight. A larger percentage had been born before Lindberg’s flight. A majority had been born before jet aircraft, and a vast majority had been born before man first slipped the surly bonds of earth and entered outer space.

And yet, here we were; walking on the moon. Even to the eight year old me, it was surreal.

I don’t remember the lift-off of Apollo 11. I probably saw it, but rocketry was becoming fairly commonplace, and the lift off didn’t stick. But the moon landing; that stuck.

I was a hot July night, and I remember sitting on our front porch with my Dad. We had the black and white portable TV up on the wide brick porch rail and we sharing his porch lounger. And probably one of his beers. We used to watch TV on the porch a lot in the summer. I also remember watching Pete Rose knock Bob Fosse into the first row of seats at Riverfront Stadium on the same TV, on that same porch the next summer, just as we had watched the Democratic and Republican Conventions there the year before. But, I digress.

It still seems unreal, 40 years later, that we were watching a man step onto the surface of the moon. On LIVE TV. The idea that we could harness the industrial and scientific might of our country so that in less than a decade we could go from regularly having misfires on the launch pad to actual human space travel was mind boggling.

The United States has mobilized before, when we had to. The economy became a war machine pretty quickly in 1942. But this was for a peaceful purpose. And the moon race didn’t disrupt the entire economy. We still fought the war in Vietnam, still produced new cars and still consumed our normal production goods. And put a man on the moon.

40 years later my kids don’t seem as excited about space travel; probably because they will actually get to travel in space one day, and expect to. They’re all young, and they are starting to schedule space flights now for commercial travelers. In 20 years going into outer space for a vacation may be as common as a visit to Disneyland.

But 40 years ago, space was as unattainable as Heaven itself. Until Neil Armstrong took that one small step for man.

In later years we would drive cars and golf balls on the moon, and moon shots and space travel became routine. Instead of wall to wall coverage we had highlights at 6 o’clock. The first few space shuttle launches were special events, but by the time of the Challenger explosion they had become highlights on the news. On the slow news days.

But there was a time, 40 years ago, when the whole world watched as one man planted and saluted a flag. On the surface of the moon.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

This is The Weekend for Anniversaries it Seems

I was reminded by this post at Powerline that today marks the 40th anniversary of the Death of Mary Jo Kopechne at Chappaquiddick. Ted Kennedy was a Senator then. Ted Kennedy is a Senator now.

Any wonder why the country is going to Hell?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

What the Hell Do I Know?

I am seeing reports that the latest Harry Potter movie is on schedule to gross $140 million this weekend.

I wonder why that is? Maybe because the whole series has been well done? Maybe because these movies do what a movie is supposed to? Entertain you? No preachy garbage, no gratuitous sex or violence; they are just good stories, convincingly told.

What do you want from the entertainment industry? Me? I want to be ENTERTAINED!

I want to spend my money for a product that will allow me to lose myself in a pleasant place for awhile. A place where I know things will turn out well in the end. Where the bad guys get their comeuppance, and aren’t elected President.

Sorry, drifted a little off track there.

Seriously, have you ever looked at a list of the highest grossing movies of all time? Here’s one ( (just box office, no tape or DVD sales included) that I find interesting. I have maintained for years that since probably 1985 the Oscars have stopped being about the best movie and started being about the most politically correct picture. Not so much about the film people want to see, but the film Hollywood WANTS people to see.

You have to go back to 1997 to find a Best Picture winner on the list of moneymakers, and that was Titanic; the film that just couldn’t be ignored (even though I have managed to). Forrest Gump (1994) is on both lists and afterward they get few and far between. I couldn’t find what I wanted, a list of the highest grossing Oscar winners adjusted for inflation, but the top of that list would be Gone With the Wind. Which has a lot in common with Harry Potter; good story, convincingly told.

Of the top ten grossers I have seen 8, liked 4 well enough to see them multiple times. Of the top twenty I’ve seen 17; Top 40 I’ve seen 32. Of those 32 I have seen 13 in the theater, and the majority of those were Disney cartoons. And other than the Disney cartoons and the Star Wars series, I don’t believe I have more than 10 of the top 50 on tape or DVD. I wonder what that says about my taste in movies?

Back on topic, of the top 50 that I have seen, they all have one thing in common: -you guessed it- a good story, convincingly told, without preaching. Some of these movies I haven’t seen because I don’t like the genre (such as The Exorcist {although I have read the book}), or because I have heard things about the movie that turned me off (I never could stand the Godfather series), or because I perversely don’t like some things just because they are so flippin’ popular (Titanic and E.T. come to mind).

Apparently, based on where the money is spent a lot of movie goers agree with me. Take 2005 (my favorite year to hate the Oscars); none of the best picture nominees was in the top 20 grossers. Closest was Brokeback Mountain at 22nd. The winner (Crash, incase you forgot who won) was 49th. Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit was a higher grossing film than the Oscar winning best picture. What does that tell you about the Oscars?

Just for the record, Good Night and Good Luck didn’t break the top 100. The incredibly lousy Dukes of Hazzard movie did better at the box office than all of the Best Picture nominees, except Brokeback Mountain, and only lost to Brokeback Mountain by $3 million.

So here I am, some redneck from Kentucky who figured out what makes a movie put butts in the seats, which in my opinion is the vote that counts on how good a picture is, why can’t the ‘experts’ in Hollywood do the same?

I do believe that as the economy sinks lower you will see fewer and fewer films that don’t make money, and are done for ‘arts sake’, just because Hollywood won’t have the cash to make junk that don’t sell, only to ‘make a statement’. Whatever the Hell that means.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Cousin Throckmorton Has More to Say

Dear Cousin Red,

I have what we call a sit-U-A-shun I hope y’all can help with.

Y’all know my wife has 3 brothers. And all three of ‘em want new cars. Her brothers Jim Bob and George I ain’t got no problem with. Hell, I’ve lent ‘em money a’fore, and they paid it back, on time and to the dime.

The problem is her youngest brother, Willie Jeff. He wants a car too. Problem is he can’t afford the shoe leather ta walk, much less one a’ them hot new Mustangs. ‘Cause I lent Jim Bob and George the cash for their money down and co-signed for their notes, the wife insists that we gotta do the same for Willie Jeff.

But Cuz, that ain’t my problem. Y’all know when the boss says do, y’all do’s. Or face the music. Or more like, face the lack of music, if’n you know what I mean. So I lent Willie Jeff the money down and co-signed his note. An’ he bought a new Mustang.

But Cuz, that ain’t my problem either. See, I had this plan to make sure I weren’t the only one to lose my butt on Willie Jeff’s debt. I didn’t want to lend him the cash, but the boss said I had to. I know what’s gonna happen. That boy ain’t paid off’n a debt in his life. So what I did was tried to get the rest a’ her family to buy some of Willie Jeff’s debt from me, so’s all of us would lose a little, instead a one of us losin’ a lot. Hell I was even gonna give ‘em a break, and sell ‘em just the money I figured to lose and let ‘em share in the interest I was gonna make, if’n I ever saw a dime. And some of ‘em was fer it.

Until I mentioned it was Willie Jeff.

Then they kinda chilled on the idea. So, what I hada do was this. I cut the money I loaned Jim Bob and George inta shares and then cut the money I loaned Willie Jeff into half as many shares. Everybody who bought 2 shares of Jim Bob’s debt or George’s debt hada take a share of Willie Jeff’s. I figured I was bein’ smart. I hear tell that is just what them big New Yawk bankers was doin’ with all them bad loans the guvmint made them give out.

Well, you know Willie Jeff. He beat the eyes outta that car for two months and never even thought about makin’ a payment, to me or to the bank. Next thing y’all know the bank is dunnin’ me for the note I signed for Willie Jeff.

Now Cuz, that still ain’t the problem. Jim Bob and George are doin’ fine. Makin’ payments and takin’ care a’ their wheels. And every month I gotta send cash to all the folks who bought shares in their debt. And every month I gotta send a bit outta my own pocket the help pay off Willie Jeff’s bit, and pay the bank for the note I co-signed, ‘cause by the time they got that car back from Willie Jeff there weren’t much left. I figure that passenger seat and trunk lid they salvaged are gonna take me 10 years ta pay off.

But that still ain’t the problem Cuz. ‘Member how I got inta this mess ‘cause the wife said I had ta? Well, guess whose fault SHE says it is? She’s ridin’ me like a borrowed mule about payin’ all this cash to all these folks for a problem she caused, that she ain’t admittin’ too.

This here is the problem Cuz. A couple a years from now I’ll just start getting’ out a the hole this mess has put me inta and guess what worthless bum’ll come along lookin’ fer another loan? How in the name a’ John Deere do I tell the boss ‘NO’? That’s my problem. ‘Cause I gotta tell y’all Cousin Red, it ain’t worked out any better for me than it did them big New Yawk bankers.

Well, it did work out a little better for them. I’m bailin’ them out all the while I’m bailin out Willie Jeff. I tell y’all, Cuz; life just ain’t fair.

Best wishes from all of us in the Holler,

Throckmorton Q. Sheisseschnitter

Sunday, July 12, 2009

This isn't my fault- I was coerced!

So there I was; just surfin' the net, mindin' my own business, when out of nowhere I got hit by this website. oddee. (

Basically, it is a list of lists of... well, of damn near everything.

10 Strangest Bars; 15 Most Idiotic Tattoos; 12 Worst Parking Jobs.

I was hooked.

And worse; I had to share this new obsession.

If you ever want to see just how bad somebody can screw something up, check it out!

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Today would have been my Dad’s 76th birthday.

On Father’s day I tried to write something that adequately portrayed Dad, and didn’t feel I did him justice, so I’m going to try again.

The trouble is; I don’t know where to start.

Some topics are easy. They have a logical beginning and end, but people like my Dad are a little more complex.

He and I probably spent more hours together dirty than we did clean when we were both younger. We fixed cars, dug foundations by hand, remodeled the kitchen and added a wing onto the house. He was great believer in the phrase “the only way to get it done right is to do it yourself”; a credo I believe in as well. You may not get it done faster or cheaper, but it will be done your way, and that’s what makes it right.

I have a picture of me at about 12 with my shovel in the ground and me hanging on with a grin. We were starting on building our garage. We don’t have pictures of 12 year old, 5 foot tall, me at the bottom of a 24 inch wide, 4 foot deep trench as we finished the digging. He and my uncle and a couple of cousins laid all the block in the building, and I mixed all the mortar. Dad even built the windows; no sense buying what you can make.

He and I then spent many hours out there working on just about everything. Cars, lawnmowers and the old Gravely. We rebuilt motors, replaced transmissions and did everything we needed to do to keep things running. From him I got a great basic education in how things work. Not from a book or a TV show, but hands in the dirt. Find it broke, take it apart, understand what makes it tick, find out why it won’t, and replace the bad part.

He once bought an old double barrel shot gun, cheap, because only one barrel would fire. He found out the firing pin the broken barrel was worn out. So he took the pin that worked out of the gun and made a second one to match. That gun still hangs over the fireplace.

He would work on anything. After the TV repairman charged him $60 to fix the TV, he took a correspondence course in Color TV repair, and started fixing his own TVs. This was about a year before everything became solid state, and TV Repairmen basically disappeared.

He was good with his hands, and followed his mind where ever it took him. The urge would strike and he would drag out his guitar and play for hours, a skill he taught himself while riding an LST from San Diego to Japan and back. The cruise took 9 months, and stopped at Pearl Harbor and Hong Kong. I still have the silk ‘dress whites’ he had custom tailored in Hong Kong.

Or he would drag out the crayons or colored pencils and draw something, just because the urge had struck. Or carve wooden animals out of small blocks of scrap wood. I have on my desk a lamp Dad made for me; a windmill drives a cam that causes the little man at the other end to chop wood. I don’t know where he found plans, or if he just dreamt the works up himself. My guess is this was his own design. I also have a chess set he carved and painted for me, complete with a folding board to store and carry the set. All carved with a pocket knife.

He also worked his mind, with crossword puzzles. He was ecstatic when the local paper started publishing the Sunday New York Times puzzle. He would always finish it, sometimes taking ‘hints’ from the answer key the following week, or by asking those around him questions, especially on modern pop culture issues.

I guess in some respects he wasn’t too different from a lot of men in his generation, a lot of our fathers. A life long drinker of Weidemann beer, and Southern Comfort (for medicinal purposes, and to mix with a holiday egg nog). He even had a restaurant that kept a 6 pack of Weidemann on hand, just for him. I think I saw him cry once, at his mother’s funeral. There were things he did well and things he did… not so well. But that didn’t stop him from doing them, or at least trying. We shared a lot, argued some and, once I grew up, became friends.

Hey Dad! I’d hoist a Weidemann for you, if I could find one; I guess a Sam Adams will have to do. Thanks for all you did for me, all you taught me, and all you sacrificed for me. Happy Birthday!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

February 14, 1996- July 9, 2009

Writing is cathartic.

It helps to arrange your thoughts and emotions, and forces you to think both of them through.

I find it also helps with grief. I would write a little something (some nights quite a bit) almost every night after my Dad died.

I knew I had worked through my grief when the sessions became shorter and further apart.

What brings this up? Thursday I lost my dog.

We have had him since he was a pup. I helped him draw his first breath, and was there beside him when he drew his last. In between were 13 years of him being my best friend, always.

He was a true mutt. His mother (my dog also until her death 5 years ago) was an Australian Shepherd. His father was (if I remember correctly) a collie/shepherd/St. Bernard mix. His father was also a dog with a history. He too had been in the family since the day he was born, and was himself the son of a dog we had adopted when I was in high school.

It’s true what they say; dogs don’t judge. He didn’t care what I had (allegedly) done, or failed to do. He would sit beside me, where ever I was, and accept an ear scratch. Long nights when I was working in the basement he would be beside me, when everybody else was upstairs watching TV. He hated the table saw- the shop vac even worse- and would usually slink off to a corner while they ran, but otherwise he was under foot, and covered with sawdust.

If I was in the yard or the pasture he was with me. Eyes on the horizon, watching for a squirrel or a rabbit; then he was off. He was a big dog, as his breeds usually are, but he was fast and off the mark in an instant. He never caught a rabbit that I am aware of, but he sure gave several a run for their money.

He was also a great watchdog. I never worried about the house while I was gone; I knew he would defend my family to death. He sometimes protected it too well, from things he considered threats that may not have been. Like the meter readers, and the trash man.

I also swear he could talk; if you listened closely enough. I would ask “where do you want to go?” and he would answer “owtsyde”. Yeah, you had to listen closely, but he would say it. At least, I heard him say it. He also had one bad habit. He firmly believed that an ambulance was a karaoke machine, and the law required him to sing along. Long before I could hear the siren coming down the valley I would hear Junior start to howl, and he would continue until after the noise of the siren would have long faded away.

We named him Junior the day he was born, because he was the spitting image of his grandfather, so much so that in pictures of the two them it’s hard to tell which one is which. Two other things he inherited from Grandpa Champ; he hated baths and he couldn’t tolerate a car ride. He got car sick every time we put him in the car. It got to the point that the only time he got in the car was to go to the vet. So then he had a second reason to hate car rides.

The last few years I could tell he was getting older (he was 13 last Valentine’s Day). He would take a few extra seconds to get up from the cold basement floor, and he chased fewer rabbits, but he still greeted me every evening when I came home from work like the puppy he used to be. Barking and dancing in circles, he would lead me up the walk from my car to the back door. Yesterday I came home and he didn’t greet me. He was in the middle of the family, gathered by the front porch, where my wife had found him a couple of hours earlier.

We took him to the vet, and were told that based on his age, and as ill and wounded as he was that the best thing was euthanasia. It was a hard decision, and one I heartily disliked. His chances of a full recovery were slim, expensive and long term. The doctors were willing to try, but were not giving high odds.

We buried him on the hill beside his mother yesterday morning, in a spot I can see from the window beside my desk. He has his eternal rest, and I’ll probably miss him that long.

Monday, July 6, 2009

I am Sorry Somebody Died, but GIVE ME A BREAK

Okay, I have had it.



Alright; I’ll say it.


Right now I am so torqued that I can’t unclench my jaw.

The entire f’in’ country is coming apart at the seems; the government is printing money faster than Scott can make asswipe and Obama is signing away our national defense to the damn Russians, and WHAT has been the f’in’ lead story on the news for 10 DAMN DAYS?!?!?!?!

So over-hyped has-been from the ‘80’s dropped f’in’ dead.

Big hairy deal.

He was so ‘popular’ the last few years he couldn’t get arrested… okay maybe that is a stretch… but hellfire, now he leads every newscast? He must of owed every network in the country long green, and now they figured by hyping his demise they may be able to cash in on the estate.

Why else would 3/4s of the country give a rats’s hind quarters? I sure as hell don’t.

MSM sucks. Big Time.

Yeah, I need a bourbon. A big glass full.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

What Today Means to Me

I am trying to do a proper Fourth of July post.

I don’t know exactly where to start, or where it will end.

I guess the beginning is always a good place to start.

In the early summer of 1776 a band of men gathered in Philadelphia. They had determined that the cost of the government in England far outweighed the benefit of it. Some wanted to separate from England, others want to reconcile. None wanted to continue the way things were. A committee was formed to draft a declaration. Thomas Jefferson was a part of that committee, and wrote the essentials of the Declaration. Ben Franklin, another member of the committee, had a go at editing first, and then the entire Congress argued for days over ever line; every word; every comma.

During my research for this post I found a website dedicated solely to the Declaration of Independence (; a very fascinating site. It not only covers the document itself, but the men who signed it, and what it cost them personally for the Declaration and the ensuing war for Independence.

We all know the Declaration exists, and probably have a vague idea what it says. The first part is the explanation of why the colonists have standing to press for redress for their grievances, and the last part is the list of charges against King George III. Some of their grievances against the government were positively addressed when our constitution was written in 1789. Where the Declaration has its most relevant power is, I think, here:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

The question today is this: do we think that our current government has become “destructive of (our) ends” of life liberty and the pursuit of happiness? I think a fair number of us would holler “Hell YES!” as a response. But, I digress.

The Revolution was a long, hard fought, difficult war. Again we know the basics. Washington crossing the Delaware; Battle of Cowpens; Valley Forge; Yorktown. But our learning of the War is condensed to a couple of days every year in school, for the most part. The Battle of Concord was April 19th, 1775, the start of open hostilities. The Boston Tea Party was a year and a half earlier, in December of 1773. Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown on October 19, 1781, the recognized end of hostilities. But the Treaty of Paris wasn’t ratified until September 3, 1783, and the last British troops finally left New York in November of that same year.

For perspective, assume today is July 4, 1776. The Boston Tea Party was in 2006, and the Battle of Lexington was in 2007. Cornwallis won’t surrender until 2014.

And yet, those men were willing to take on the battle. We will have 3 elections for the complete House of Representatives; elections for all three classes of Senators and a Presidential election between now and then. And these men had no idea how what they had started would turn out. As the Declaration says:

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

Will we need to go that far? I hope not. What will our next revolution cost? Hopefully just time. And a little Money.

Time to educate ourselves, and then others. We need to proselytize liberty from tyranny. We need a door to door and person to person type of preaching about our loss of liberty with the fervor of the recently converted or newly ordained. Know the facts, and spread them. Find out what was in the ‘Stimulus Bill’; find out what is in the ‘Cap and Trade’.

Money to support the candidates who agree with us. I have always said we don’t need to throw all of the bums out. My guy is pretty good, just throw the OTHER bums out. But I bet even Henry Waxman’s and Barney Frank’s constituents say the same thing, God help ‘em. And my guy is not perfect, just better than the rest. Let’s throw ALL the bums out, including mine (sorry Geoff; but you’ve had 3 terms, now go find honest work). It will be easier to dump McConnell; he’s had 24 years to reform Washington; I am starting to believe Washington reformed him.

As I said before I think Sarah Palin may have fired the first shot of the new Revolution yesterday; who of us will rally to her call?

It may not seem that way, but I mean this post to honor the patriots who pledged their Lives Fortunes and sacred Honor to the cause of Liberty 233 years ago. What would be the better honor? Fly a few flags, drink some beer and shoot a few fireworks, or start to retake our country from a modern George III ethos? An over-reaching, over-controlling, over-taxing Federal government. Or are you being governed just as you wish?

A safe, happy and fun filled Fourth to you all!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Have We Seen the Last of Sarah Palin?

I just had to react to the news that not only is Sarah Palin not running for reelection as Governor of Alaska, but is also resigning as of July 25.

Obviously I don’t know the Governor personally, but based on the opinions of people who do, I can form an idea about what maybe a motivation and a reason.

As you know, Sarah Palin had such MASSIVE ‘support’ from the Republican establishment for her positions and strengths during last years campaign, and has seen the support of the Republican leadership for what amounts to Libertarian positions in the rank and file outside of Washington, that I believe she is not done with politics, but is done with the Republican Party.

It is a little over 3 years to the next Presidential election cycle. A long time in some respects, and a short time in others. Will it be enough time for her to establish the Libertarian party as a viable option for elective office?

Part of the problem with a third party option is political. There are just too many people who refuse to vote outside party lines. Usually. But right now things are not usual.

There is probably a significant portion of the Republican Party that would like to jump ship. Too many Republican candidates, like their last nominee, McCain, are not so much different than Democrats but just NOT Democrats. They don’t see government as the problem, like most of us do.

I also like to think there are a portion of the Democrats (Reagan Democrats) who would refuse to become a Republican, but MAY become a Libertarian, especially when Obama gets done with them.

The question is, does Sarah Palin have the charisma to launch the Libertarians into a viable national position?

She will certainly get the attention the parties positions need. And if Sarah Palin thinks the Democrat press was bad, I gar-run-damn-tee that the Republican talk radio machine would likewise be merciless. At least, at first.

The tale will be told by the 2010 elections. Will the libertarians be able to field viable candidates on a national scale for the House elections? Will they be able to get a percentage elected? What percentage? 2010, I think maybe 10-15% of the House. Say, 60 seats. Average of one and change per state.

Next would be having those folks PERFORM. Walk the small government walk, not just talk it. Present options for ending Social Security and Medicaid/Medicare and balancing the budget. Options to scale back the Federal involvement in the states. Options to get the Federal Government out of my life.

Will these bills be successful? Probably not. But between 2010 and 2012 the libertarians will be building a street cred, if you will, and showing that they are a viable option, and not a member of the miniscule also-rans.

How does all this tie into Sarah Palin’s announcement today? Everything I hear says she is a moral person. A dance with the one that brung ya sort of gal. I don’t believe she could, in good conscience, pull a Specter and switch parties while in office. Hence the resignation.

I could be wrong- Hell, I probably AM wrong.

I just hope I’m not.