Monday, November 29, 2010

Haiti elections a shambles!!

This is not a Sports post, nor is it a humorous one.  This one is a tragedy.  Grab some tissues.....

I'm not sure how many of you have been following the news about the problems that the people of Haiti have tried to endure since that devasting earthquake.  Outbreaks of Cholera, riots in the streets and half of the population homeless.  It's been a horrible situation for this already impoversed island nation.  Elections were attempted recently to try to bring some order there but it did NOT go well.

Voters say they can't find their names at polling centers as allegations of ballot stuffing and other fraud abound. Twelve of 18 presidential candidates call for the elections to be canceled.



Voters like 23-year-old Etianne Petit Frere, above, who fell on hard times, saw in the elections a glimmer of hope for a better day. But voter roll difficulties leave many disillusioned.
 
She drifted amid throngs of screaming men, looking for her name on list after list. In a land of faint hopes, she clung to one of the faintest: that an election might release the grip of this terrible year.


Etianne Petit Frere, a 23-year-old mother, was thin as a stick, emaciated by grief. During the January earthquake, her 7-month-old daughter was crushed by a falling cinderblock as she slept in her crib. Her boyfriend disappeared soon after, leaving her to raise their two boys alone. She lost her job sewing spandex pants for $5 a day. She couldn't afford to keep the boys in school, and neighbors mocked her as a bad mother.

Now she lives in the smallest tent in a bedraggled, lawless encampment where women are constantly raped. She barely sleeps, in perpetual fear.

Holding on to the lowest rung of subsistence, she hoped that a female president could change that.


Yet six hours after she arrived at the polling center, she still had not voted. Instead, she was getting shoved around as young men fought, cursed and made threats. No one could seem to find their name on voter lists. Poll workers didn't seem to know what they were doing.

This was fast looking like the U.N.-staged farce many Haitians had predicted it would be. As the day wore on, thousands of would-be voters had been frustrated by the chaos and a majority of the presidential candidates were urging them to reject the results.

Petit Frere had woken up at 3 a.m. to vote in the elections for president and parliament. She sent her boys, 7 and 2, down the street to sleep at her mother's house because she was worried about election day violence. Her neighborhood, the Cite Soleil slum, is one of the most dangerous in Haiti.

She combed her hair and pushed it back with a lace headband. She put a drop of bleach in her water before brushing her teeth to protect her from the cholera ravaging the country.

When she saw shadows moving to the polls about 4 a.m., she put all of her possessions — a few pots and clothes — in a laundry basket and trudged down the broken cobble alleys to her mother's house, knowing thieves would take anything she left behind. She didn't even have a door to her tent, just a cast-off Cleveland Browns blanket hanging from a stick.

As she set out, she felt a glimmer of anticipation she hadn't felt in months. It was not just the elections she liked, but one of the candidates, a woman.

Mirlande Manigat, 70, a professor who was briefly first lady, had been leading in the polls. She had a calm, studious demeanor, wore wire-rimmed glasses and pulled her graying hair back in a bun.

And she was a mother.

A mother would understand what she went through. A mother would understand how hard it is for all Haitian mothers. A mother couldn't leave her children behind like her cowardly boyfriend.

Her mind never drifted far from what her life had become.

Petit Frere didn't even have enough money to bury her little girl, Milda, properly. She put her in a cardboard box and paid some men to dig a hole in the swampy field nearby. She doesn't even know where she's buried.

This is why she can't eat, why she is only 75 pounds — this, and seeing her boys linger listlessly around the tent while other children go to school in their little uniforms.

She hoped that, as a professor, Manigat would start a system of free schools.

Petit Frere arrived at the voting center in the courtyard of a school. U.N. peacekeepers and Haitian police stood guard at the gate. When it opened at 6, she went from door to door scanning the lists for her name, getting pushed back by aggressive men. All she could find were names that started with letters from A to F.

After a few hours, she was getting light-headed. She needed to eat. She stood against a wall and talked to friends waiting to wade into the chaos again.

She showed her voting card to a supervisor; her picture didn't look like her — her face was so full then. She asked the woman whether she knew where the names starting with P were. The supervisor shrugged and told her she couldn't even find her own name.


Her friends pointed out where she could cast a provisional ballot without her name being on the list. She stood in line behind a young man with dreadlocks and glassy eyes.

Another man was arguing that he should be able to vote without his voting card. A group of men surged forward screaming obscenities at the man at the desk.

"This … isn't right! Get out of there, you idiot. You got missing teeth!"


"I'm not moving! I'm not scared of you."

Petit Frere just looked off, bouncing among them like a leaf in a storm, deep in thought in her own world.

A few U.N. soldiers came to try to resolve the situation, but realized they couldn't and walked away.

Finally, Petit Frere showed the person at the desk her card and asked whether she could have a ballot. Without even looking, the man said her name was not on the list. She said she had heard she could cast a provisional ballot. He muttered something and grudgingly handed her the ballot.

She sat at a desk with a bent piece of cardboard for privacy. In no particular hurry, in the screaming chaos, she wrote an X under Manigat's name, and then picked two candidates for parliament in the same party. She gently folded the three papers and dropped each one in a separate box.

When she got outside, she realized a man had stepped on her plastic flip-flop and broken the strap. These were her only shoes. She walked back to her tent on the broken cobble with a bare foot and fading hopes.

No one knows what will become of Petit Frere and the other poor souls in Haiti but Please pray for them. They need help, hope... anything! 
By the way, their Cholera epidemic was caused by the same U.N Peacekeepers who were sent there to save them.

Pray people ...........

Friday, November 26, 2010

For a hockey 'enforcer,' it pays to be brutal

**** Warning!!  This is a Sports post! ****

George Parros of the Anaheim Ducks is an Ivy League grad whose skills as a young player didn't quite translate to the NHL. Then he discovered he could brawl, and a career was born.



Ducks defenseman George Parros squares off with the Wild's Brad Staubitz during a game earlier this month at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn.


There might be blood.


At the very least, there will be violence — George Parros can picture it in his mind.

The veteran hockey player goes looking for trouble, chasing down an opponent, then letting his gloves fall to the ice. It is an invitation to fight.

From there, the strategy is simple: Grab hold of the guy's jersey with one hand and throw punches with the other, rapid-fire, aiming for the head.


Parros is the designated "enforcer" for the Anaheim Ducks. Most NHL teams keep one on the roster, a player responsible for intimidating the other side with bare knuckles.

The game's folklore holds a special place for goons — Stu "The Grim Reaper" Grimson, Dave "Tiger" Williams, the Broad Street Bullies — men of brute force if not always a full set of teeth. Parros has joined their ranks with 111 fights in his first six seasons.

This distinct skill set earns him $875,000 a year, not to mention a cult of fans who attend games at the Honda Center eager for a scuffle.

"Georgie's been around," teammate Ryan Getzlaf says. "He can handle the physical stuff."

Parros certainly looks the part — 6-foot-5 and broad-shouldered with a villain's black mustache — but anyone who considers him a mere thug would be mistaken.

With an Ivy League degree in economics, he might otherwise be working on Wall Street. His wife describes him as a homebody, a 30-year-old man who spends free time doing crossword puzzles and watching reality TV shows.

Parros says: "I'm not really that aggressive off the ice."

As his wife, Tiffany, likes to joke: "I knew George when he was a goal scorer."


They met as teenagers, Parros playing alongside her brother.

"He was that kid who always did what he was supposed to do," she recalls. "Always in a good mood."

Parros' outlook on hockey changed after four years at Princeton in the early 2000s. Though he ranked among the team's best offensive players, his skills were not strong enough for the NHL, and any hopes of reaching the big time would require an alternate strategy.

At a pro development camp, he fought with a fellow prospect and held his own.

"It got me thinking," he says. "Maybe I should add this to my tool belt."

YouTube offered plenty of fights to study. He gathered tips from established enforcers, then supplemented his training with work in the boxing ring.

"It helps to get used to having punches come at your head," he says. "It makes you less skittish."

Hostility became a career move.


For all the hockey fights that erupt spontaneously, sparked by passions in a contact sport, there are just as many waged for tactical reasons.


"It's one of those things you have to learn," Parros says. "The ins and outs."

Sometimes, the need for force is obvious — if the other guys rough up one of his team's stars, the goon must exact revenge. Other situations are less clear-cut.

If the enforcer's team is playing sluggishly, he might try to swing momentum by waking up the crowd. Same thing if the opposition pulls too far ahead. A hard check might suffice, or something more might be required.

Consider a game this season when the Ducks fell behind early against the Atlanta Thrashers and Parros began playing rough with one of the opposing stars, Dustin Byfuglien. Though Byfuglien is large, he stepped aside for teammate Chris Thorburn, a fledgling enforcer, to pick up the action. A fight ensued.

Parros and Thorburn grabbed hold of each other, tugging and pushing, throwing a few ineffective punches. They ultimately tumbled to the ice as officials moved in.

"Thorburn had my arms tied up pretty good," Parros says. "I'm not sure how interested he was in fighting."

Critics don't like the idea of players squaring off in hockey. The very service Parros provides would get him ejected or even suspended if he were in the NBA or NFL.

But in the NHL, where grown men race around an enclosed space, constantly smacking into one another, some people consider fighting inevitable. They see enforcers as a deterrent; smaller skill players won't get picked on if opponents know there is a price to pay.

That tussle between Parros and Thorburn was indicative — most fights end with the combatants merely untangling and skating off to serve their five-minute penalties.


But there is always the chance that someone will land a knockout blow, causing serious injury.

"I probably went into every fight I had scared to death," says Grimson, who retired in 2002 after more than 200 brawls.

"The other part is humiliation," he says. "When you do something in front of 20,000 screaming fans, that last thing you want is to get your tail kicked, according to http://www.hockeyfights.com/.

As Parros learned boxing moves and tactics, he also dealt with the emotional aspect of his job. Imagine arriving at work each day, knowing there is a 50-50 chance you will be trading punches.


During his early years in the pros, fighting proved easier if an opponent checked him hard or delivered a cheap shot. It was more difficult to manufacture anger when strategy dictated a confrontation.

"If there's a time in the game where a fight is coming up and you have to think about it, obviously a lot of thoughts go through your mind," he says. "That's always tough."

There was at least one way to ease the tension.

"I liked to get the fight out of the way early in the game," he says. "So I didn't have to think about it."

With each 82-game season, the right winger grew more comfortable in his role, getting six or seven minutes on the ice a night. He enjoyed the roar of the crowd and his teammates on the bench banging their sticks in approval after each scrap.


"Sometimes it can be cathartic," he says. "It's certainly thrilling if you have a good fight and the fans appreciate it."

The Ducks were playing at Philadelphia in the winter of 2008 when Parros squared off against the Flyers' enforcer, Riley Cote, unleashing an uppercut that put Cote flat on his back.

The knockout became an Internet favorite and boosted Parros' reputation. Still, he would rather not talk about it.

"You have respect for the other guy," he says.

This respect translates into an unwritten code of behavior.

Before the gloves drop, a subtle communication takes place — a tap on the shoulder, a few words — the instigator asking for a fight. The other player is free to decline. Most enforcers hate to say "no" but must consider the circumstances. Parros recalls a night in Detroit when he accepted an invitation and did not fare so well.

"That got their team going," he says. "We ended up losing the game."

Once a tussle starts, etiquette frowns upon hitting a man who is down. Gloating after a victory is similarly discouraged. Such decorum helps nurture an unexpected camaraderie among enforcers.

Two months ago, Parros and Kevin Westgarth of the Kings fought during a preseason game at Staples Center. The Princeton grads — Westgarth came along after Parros graduated — met for dinner with friends the next evening.

You see yourself in the other guy," he says. "You're in the same boat."


Sometimes Parros thinks about his college classmates and imagines a different sort of life. Working behind a desk. Crunching numbers. Getting his hockey fix at the local rink on Sunday afternoons.


"If I were playing in a men's league," he muses, "I wouldn't be fighting."

After so many confrontations, so many clenched fists, he has learned the nuances of this odd livelihood. Aggression comes more naturally.


"What kind of fighter am I?" he asks. "Willing. Eager."

The kind who no longer feels so anxious before games. The kind who knows there will be grabbing and scuffling and punches.

Maybe even blood.

Last night there was a brawl at the Anaheim Pond, and then a hockey game broke out....


As a side note, George Parros also writes children's books during his off time and also cuts his long hair every year and donates it to cancer patients who have undergone chemotherapy. I met him once and he is surprisingly soft-spoken.  

Some of the information for this post came courtesy of hockeyfights.com and David Wharton of the Los Angeles Times.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A time to feast on family football

My favorite columnist's annual Thanksgiving story.  Offbeat as usual but that's just him!







Chris Erskine
Los Angeles Times

Love makes misfits of us all, and so it is with football.


And to all those staging family turkey bowls today, I'd like to congratulate you in advance, while you're still alive. May I suggest stretching thoroughly and gobbling the Excedrin ahead of time. Why wait to medicate? This is America, after all.

May I also suggest running at least one flea flicker and one triple reverse during your backyard games. To those unfamiliar with such ballet moves, a flea flicker involves flipping the ball back to the quarterback for a surprise pass, which, by tradition, is always intercepted.


Meanwhile, there are many variations on a triple reverse, but they usually involve one bloody nose and at least two dropped handoffs. One of the glories of the game is that a football never bounces the same way twice, and neither should you. When you fall to the ground to recover a fumble this holiday weekend, treat it like a bank robbery. Hit the floor and pray.

"Dear Lord, please help me through this pileup. I'll never make fun of Notre Dame again."

How prevalent is the family turkey bowl? In the sporting goods store the other day, they had an entire TURKEY BOWL display, with footballs, cones, flags. No Excedrin or elastic bandages, but I figure some clever clerk will eventually add those too.

A turkey bowl is a remarkable thing — as American as embezzlement, as healthy as a car wreck. It is best played in the rain, on fields as soft as you are. The ideal turkey bowl would be played on two feet of Mississippi cotton. Or a cumulus cloud.

Still, your Uncle Mike would probably break a wishbone.

Like Uncle Mike, I have no business being out there. I'm so old, I once drove a Plymouth Rock. It had two speeds: stop and explode. When you turned on the windshield washer, rust would pour out of the radio. It had more holes than the 49ers secondary.

On Thanksgiving weekends, back in the days when "You turkey!" was still a term of endearment, I'd fill it with college friends, and we'd push the car to the high school, where we'd beat each other senseless.

We played tackle, of course. To this day, probably the most American thing you can do is tackle someone. To pulverize an opponent on a football field will remain the ultimate act of male bonding.

They were pretty simple, those games. The sidelines were 10 jackets dropped in a row. The end zone was "somewhere over there." When it finally ended, you were lucky if you still had a functioning gall bladder.

As I grew older, and life began to make even less sense, I'd self-medicate with football. I covered Shula and Schnellenberger in Miami, but mostly I preferred to play the game, not watch it.

To this day, I run around every Sunday with a bunch of so-called friends. Lawyers on the one side, reporters on the other. It's the touch football equivalent of the Indians versus the Pilgrims. Sure enough, some of the guys are built like Bibles: sort of square with the wrath of God deep within.

Actually, that's me.

In one game last month — at "Little Lambeau," the scruffy schoolyard where we play — it rained the entire time. And the game still lasted a full two hours.

"We play rain or shine," my organizing e-mails insist. "But especially rain."

In our league, we used to huddle between plays, but that proved counterproductive. So we instituted the hurry-up offense since adopted by the University of Oregon. Do we get credit for this? Quack, no.

Eddie Cochems may or may not have invented the forward pass. But we definitely invented the forward fumble. Probably the only thing more fun to watch than one of our fumbles is a Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction. Or puppies being born.

Men like us are pretty hopeless. We should come with air nozzles that say "do not overinflate." Our skin should be pebbled. Our living room carpets should be lined.

You may know football misfits like us. Currently in this country, there are only about 100 million.

So please know that you're in good company this Thanksgiving as you head out to your own Little Lambeau. Muscles will scream. Tempers will flare. The brother-in-law nobody really likes will prove once again why he's the brother-in-law nobody really likes.

When it is over, folks will say, "Never again. I retire."

And next year, folks will do it all again anyway.



Happy Thanksgiving, you turkeys !  Seriously, I hope each and every one of you, my friends, have a Wonderful and Blessed Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Shopping for Thanksgiving... OH!, the JOY!!!

I have just returned from my annual 'Pre-Thanksgiving Dinner- Grocery Store Shopping- Trip', from Hell!!!!

Two hours, two shopping carts full of 'stuff' and $170 later, I hit the checkout line and suddenly realize..... I FORGOT MY WALLET!!!!!!  They were nice enough to guard my carts(s) while I went home and retreived said wallet.  Some of the items on 'The List' I had never heard of before but I managed to find everything.  Almost!

The one missing ingredient was Kern's Pear Nectar, which I KNOW I have seen there before.  And don't even ask what it was to be used for....  No clue.  But probably some sort of fancy-smancy cocktail thing.

Soooo, back to the store I got to buy pears.  They HAVE to be ripe.  Now, has anyone tried to buy ripe pears in a supermarket??  Billiard balls are softer than those things are!!  But after squeezing 247 of them I managed to come up with 6 semi-ripe ones.  Now the fun part!!  Making homemade pear nectar!!  I brought in the juicer but it's up to Becky now.

As for the complete menu, she lost me at Turkey.  But I'm sure it will be great.  My wife IS a wonderful cook! 

I just wish the ingredients were easier to find.  And Oh yeah!!  I DID find those dried Crimini mushrooms. I'm so proud!!

I wish all of you a Wonderful Thanksgiving!

And Never, EVER forget your wallet!!


New song-of-the-week today.  Check it out!  Love it!!!  And be sure to click on 'video' for the words.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Facebook! PFFFFT!!!

Myself and two other friends were 'warned' along with the threat of having our accounts deleted tonight.  Why??  Because we had commented too many times and the warning  said we were 'Typing Too Fast'!  HUH????  How sad is that?  I have seen language on there that would make a sailor blush and facebook has no problem with that.

I guess I'll have to 'hunt and peck' a little slower now.  Or maybe it was because I said 'Dagnabbit'!! LOL!!

Whatever.....!  Just venting here.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Turning The Big 5-0-ish

Not me... I hit that milestone long ago. But yet again, I read this column from my (yours too??) favorite writer and I definitely related to it. So listen up all of you Whippersnappers and tell me that you can't relate too! Dagnabbit!!!!






Chris Erskine
L.A.Times

So I turned 50 the other day, and I've never felt better, though I seem to be driving over street curbs more and more, and once in a while I forget the turn signal is still on.

"Dad, your turn signal," the little girl will say.

"What?"

"YOUR TURN SIGNAL!!!"

"Thank you for your patience," I say.

Yeah, I'm 50 in a town full of people notorious for fibbing about their ages. Actually, I'm 54, but when you hit 50, it's all pretty much the same. Age 4 is way different from age 8. Sixteen may be significantly different from 20. But the glorious 50s are sort of the same sitcom over and over.


At 54, you're not young and you're not old — well, you are kind of old. I spend significant parts of my days swearing at software upgrades or at teenage drivers who are too busy texting to bother steering.


Me, I once tried texting behind the wheel and wound up attempting a left turn from a very tall bridge in Long Beach. My final words were almost bubbles.


So, yeah, I'll confess: I'm 54.


You know you're getting up there when they quit putting the appropriate number of candles on your cake. Do you have any idea what 54 candles would look like? A welding torch. A solar flare. In minutes, the Earth would crisp and the three remaining polar bears would shed their coats and retire to Miami.


What I'm saying is that nine candles are fine when you're 54, in some sort of representational, marching band configuration — five on one side and four on the other. Or one of those big wax numerals that shouts 54. Or a single sparkler.


I'm 54, and my favorite actor is still Huckleberry Hound; my favorite vegetable is still ketchup. Remember when you were young and you thought you'd have things mastered by middle age? Well, I'm here to tell you that you mostly won't, though you will learn what's worth worrying about and what's not. You'll learn that true love turns you into the other person. You'll learn that a good work ethic is the second most valuable gift in the world — right behind kids, which are the No. 1 most valuable gifts in the world, or at least the most expensive.


"If you have kids, you have everything," my old man used to say, and now I know what he was talking about — migraines, bills, bad dreams, bankruptcies. ...


I'm 54, and I honor my late father by roaming from room to room turning off unnecessary lights. Depression-era babies, both my parents, proud of their fretful ways. Now I'm raising Depression-era babies. I've been bookended by Depressions.


Wanna buy an apple? No? What about a bank?


On Facebook the other day, I got a big dose of birthday wishes, often from people nearly as old as I am, the remaining few who are still with us.


"Happy birthday, Grandpa," Kelly wrote.


"Good luck, you dinosaur," joked my wife.


Judging by this outpouring of kindness, there should probably be a birthday website completely devoted to sarcasm and snark, and there probably is, though I'm too old to know about it.


So, yeah, I miss the clack-clack-clack of typewriters and phones that actually ring and TVs where the only issue was the vertical hold.


I miss corner bookstores and drive-in theaters. Where do kids learn about sex anymore without drive-in theaters? Somehow they manage. I fear not for the quantity of humankind, just the octane.


I'm 54 and I miss car radios with five buttons (and way better music). Know what a car radio looks like now? It looks like the soundboard at a Pink Floyd concert. My own car radio has a hundred settings, and I can't get it to lock onto a station from one day to the next. Embedded deep within — unfixable — is a super chip that zigs when it should zag.


Know how I handle stuff like that? I just laugh. Hey, at 54, I've earned it.


At lunch the other day, my buddy Tom — also in his 50s — tells me he looks forward to the day when a doctor says to a patient: "You have cancer. Let me write you a prescription."


Fine thought, that. At 54, this is what your hopes and dreams become: sensible, selfless, profound.


So maybe the world shouldn't dread middle age quite so much. Maybe it should embrace it: Honor thy father, switch off a light.


chris.erskine@latimes.com


**********************************************************************************

Rainy and cold here this weekend. Beef stew in the crock pot, fireplace going and lots on TV.  I'm SO settled in!
Oh! Dell surprised me today by coming on my computer with updates... For EVERYTHING!!!  Drivers, BIOS, Audio, Video, the works!  And then they scanned everything and pronounced my laptop '100% healthy'!  It was weird, letting Dell take over, but it was very interesting. There was this little animated guy walking around inside of my machine and checking things out.  Pretty funny!!


I'm thinking about reposting some blogs from my old WLS space. We'll see how that goes.  I hope everyone is having a perfect weekend because I don't know about you, but next week will be spent here cleaning the house for Thanksgiving.  Yuck!!


Have a good one!!!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Roll Players

I had no idea that this 'sport' still existed.  I thought that Roller Derby was something from the 50's and 60's and was about as legit as Pro Wrestling. Then today, I read this in the sports page.

Anyone who's ever witnessed a Lakers game or an Ultimate Fighting Championship would vouch for the comic book excesses of today's athletic endeavors. Probably began with Babe Ruth. And devolved into Chad Ochocinco.
 
But never mind that right now, for we have found something purer, perhaps, near downtown, at a banked-track roller derby league known as L.A. Derby Dolls. Once, sometimes twice a month, some 2,000 people turn out to watch these tough puppies fly around the rink in unstaged athletic competition that is twice as ornery as any hockey game. You think the NFL bleeds violence? Ladies and gentledudes, meet the Derby Dolls.


Roller derby? Really? Yeah, that's been going on right under your radar at this converted warehouse in Echo Park. Beginning in 2001, the sport's organizers contend, roller derby abandoned most of its canned-ham shtick in exchange for actual athletic competition in which one woman, known as "the jammer," tries to whipsaw-fly-bounce-jounce-somersault-squeeze-elbow-scrape-scratch-claw-cuss her way through the opposing team, gaining a point for every player she passes. Raquel Welch did this once in the movies, as did Ellen Page more recently. "CSI: Miami" is here this week to film some of the mayhem for an upcoming episode.


Is roller derby reborn? Maybe. Today, it is a rapidly growing and affordable alternative to the average sports experience. Is roller derby legitimate? Lay down your 20 bucks and decide.


Listen, all I know is that if flying bodies were whisky, modern roller derby would be Charlie Sheen.


Tonight's center of attention is one Judy Gloom. Librarian by day, roller derby diva by night. She's one of those jammers, which means she flings herself through the scrum about 20 times a night. Hell on wheels, this little Glendale librarian.


Tonight's center of attention is one Judy Gloom. Librarian by day, roller derby diva by night. She's one of those jammers, which means she flings herself through the scrum about 20 times a night. Hell on wheels, this little Glendale librarian.


"Go, Judy, go!" the public address announcer intones, and the crowd gobbles up the chant.


Judy's going, all right ... past an opposing skater, the wicked Long Island Lolita, and right into another, Fleetwood Smack. Obviously, some cheeseball remnants of the sport's early days remain.


Gloom herself is uncomfortable by all the extra attention at this, her going-away party. She is, after all, a librarian in real life, not some chest-thumping NFL pork chop with self-esteem issues.


Since 2004, she has trained three times a week and led the Flight Crew, one of five teams in the year-round L.A. league. She has spun around the track a million times, done duty as the league's PR person, all for what? Nada. The skaters do this for free, as do a lot of the support staff.


"I'm doing this for the sport, for the competition," she explains, as if that's any reason to perform athletically.


For Gloom, 31, roller derby was also a way to connect with people in L.A. when she moved here from Phoenix. She'd always skated — "a rink rat," as a kid — so when she spotted the Craigslist ad for roller derby skaters, she'd found instant family.


It also helped her grow up a little, she confesses, to become more sure of herself and well-rounded. While she skated a lot as a kid, she'd never competed in sports, content instead to lose herself in books.


Soon, the left brain was feeding the right brain, the vegetarian was becoming a carnivore, and the librarian was becoming someone not to mess with.


"I'm kind of an aggressive librarian," she says of her double life. "But as skaters go, I'm kind of shy."


Hers is the story within the story of the Derby Dolls, a decidedly unglamorous but endearing sport that packs the plywood bleachers with folks in search of something different on a Saturday night.


The "bouts" are broken into four 15-minute quarters. Before the game, there are craft booths to browse and a live band to enjoy. At halftime, more music, pizza and Tecate beer. This is minimalist sports, a crazy roadhouse atmosphere with mostly 25- to 35-year-olds but many spectators twice as old.


It's sort of the anti-L.A. scene, the polar-opposite of blingy Staples. There's a guy in a lobster suit, for example, leading cheers. Neither the teams, nor the league, has any sort of seafood connection, but the regular mascot didn't show one day a couple of years ago, so the guy in the lobster suit got the gig. He's been around ever since.


That's the Derby Dolls.


"There's not one type of people here," says fan Joel Mandelkorn, who likes to bring out-of-town guests to this warehouse on Temple Street. "It's one of those things that, once you know about it, you're always telling people."


Consider yourself told.


You can follow this link to see a short video, http://framework.latimes.com/2010/11/17/derbydolls/

Ladies?  Lace up your skates!!!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Hardwood Floors and......

My Crazy Neighbor....!  But more about her later.

Ok, going back to a few days ago, I made an appointment for someone from SONY to come here to do some maintenance on my TV.  As I looked around I suddenly realized that the place looked like crap!  And who wants a SONY guy in your home when it's really messy.  So I did what every red-blooded man would do!!  I put on the wife's apron and began dusting, vacuuming, mopping and my favorite... Cleaning the bathrooms!  When I THOUGHT I was finished, I looked at the small area of hardwood flooring and remembered that I have an eight year old dog who is STILL NOT HOUSE-TRAINED!!!  My little Dachshund, Baxter.

Here is Baxter, the culprit:









Yeah, he's cute now, but he still thinks the floors are his personal 'place to go'. 

Anyway, I decided it was time to refinish the floor.  Why I was doing this for the SONY guy, I have no idea, but away I went.  I especially worked on the spots that Baxter called 'home'.  You know.... Where the finish curls up like a sailor's beard. 

Then the SONY guy called and confirmed for Tuesday between 1:00 and 5:00 to do his thing.  But he never showed!!!  GRRRRRR!!!!!   However, the floor looks great, even though the other two dogs just LOVED running over them before they had dried.  I purchased some stuff called 'Everyday Floor Cleaner' and my first thought was, EVERYDAY?????  Don't think so.  Maybe every year, right??

Now for my crazy neighbor.  Her nickname is 'Crazy Lazy' thanks to my wife.  Becky had just had her car washed when Charlotte (crazy lady) approached with a hose splattering mud on the car and Becky said, 'Be careful, Crazy Lady'!!  The name stuck.

Well, yesterday as we got out of the car, Charlotte approached us and told us that we had to get OUR junk out of HER house.  What???  She showed us stuff that she had had for decades and claimed it was ours.  I saw the look on Becky's face and immediately thought of dropping and covering (I did)!  But instead, my wife offered to call the local waste dump to have it hauled away.  How nice of her!!  (I got up and brushed myself off). A pick-up was scheduled for today.  This morning we knocked on her door to remind her and her son answered.  He had cancelled it because he wanted to use it for firewood.  FIREWOOD???  Talking about a water heater and drywall here!!

I feel sorry for Charlotte.  She is old and definitely showing signs of Alzheimer's and her sons do nothing for her.  I try to help, like turning her water off when her floors are flooding, calling a locksmith when she locks herself out (with her key hanging around her neck!), but that's another story.  I do keep an eye on her and I only joke because I like her... and she's such an easy target!!!  Bless her heart!!

I will be calling the SONY guy back tomorrow using my 'mean' voice!  Or better yet, I'll have Becky call.  I can hear it now!  'Crazy SONY Guy'!!!!!  LOL!!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Novemberfest and Fashion Pointers

HAHAHA!!!  He's back again!!  No, not me silly!!  That crazy writer from the L.A.Times.  This guy always kills me with his wit and wisdom.......  OK, forget the wisdom part!  But since I am not actually writing this, keep this in mind. I'm only 'borrowing'.... and I'm lazy today!!






Chris Erskine
Los Angeles Times

With Novemberfest now upon us, I'd like to remind you that you cannot bring food into our house without someone lunging for it: a sandwich, a blintz, a side of pork. What usually happens is you'll be sitting there reading the paper — contentedly mumbling to yourself the way semi-sane people do — and someone will stroll by and just take a huge bite of whatever you're eating.


Particularly vulnerable are the Bay Cities sandwiches (on Lincoln in Santa Monica). Los Angeles is not really a great sandwich town, so when the lovely and patient older daughter brings by a gloppy Bay Cities sub, it's like the first day of deer season in Duluth.


Seriously, I've seen fistfights.


With that warning in mind, we barrel head-on toward Thanksgiving, the gloppiest holiday of the year.


At our house, we celebrate the Armenian Thanksgiving, which comes a little later than the traditional Thanksgiving — 12 days or so — or maybe I'm thinking of Christmas. My wife dresses up as Cher for both occasions, which always throws people off. She also dresses like Cher for Mother's Day at church, which has doubled attendance among her fellow Presbyterians.


Cher and Cher alike, I always say.


In any case, it's a festive time, this Novemberfest. There are turkeys in the supermarket, and Armstrong Nursery already has trees strung with holiday lights. Thanks to all the rain, it's been a particularly lush fall — the hillsides poker-table green and the trees all ruddy in the cheeks.


Inspired by all of this, the little guy and I have been running through his lines for the Pilgrim pageant, which takes place soon. His teacher, Mrs. Norris, is considered sort of the Spielberg of second-grade plays. I wouldn't be surprised if she gets a deal with HBO soon, maybe to develop the next "Sopranos." The tag line: "The mob may be scary, but second grade is scarier."


So, anyway, everybody is expecting joy and insight from the second-grade Thanksgiving Pageant. It's our little suburb's version of a Lakers game.


This year's performance is titled "Popcorn! Popcorn! Popcorn!" You might guess that it involves popcorn, but there is so much more — allegory, deft characterization, subtext, surprise.


As I understand it, the play involves a bunch of Pilgrim kids going off to the multiplex, which gives them the opportunity to talk about popcorn.


"Mmmm! This popcorn is so tasty!" the little guy's character says. "It's crunchy and munchy too! And best of all, popcorn is good for you!"


You should hear the 7-year-old rehearsing the line. He's physical in that same way Brando was, tossing things and clenching his fists, and you're never quite sure what he's going to say next. Usually, it's "Um, Dad, I forgot the next line," at which point I remind him of his next line, and off he goes again.


At one point, the little guy has to say: "The Incas used popcorn for jewelry. Scientists found corn in a cave in New Mexico. The scientists think the corn is about 4,000 years old. Even the Indians who first saw Christopher Columbus ate popcorn."


I don't know how historically accurate this is, but I have often given popcorn as jewelry. My wife wears it with a little black dress on those nights when she really wants to feel good about herself and get people talking.


"Maybe you should try hanging a slice of salami from your ears," I've suggested in the past.


"That would be overkill," she sniffs.


What a prude.


Seriously, can you imagine going in for a little nuzzle and seeing a nice slice of Milanese salami dangling like an earring? Or maybe a nice Catalan fuet? I think I'm speaking for every husband when I say that women's fashion really should incorporate more junk food.


Ladies, dangle a nice cheese blintz around your neck, then see if your love life doesn't just take off.


After all, it's all about appearing good enough to eat, and who really has time for three meals a day anyway? At our house, we pretty much just chow down spontaneously on anything within range (see Bay Cities above).


In "Popcorn! Popcorn! Popcorn!" they don't really explore this food-as-fashion issue in as much depth as you'd like in a holiday classic. The play is more focused than that, which is why (I think) it might be up for a Pulitzer.


"Wow! Popcorn is so interesting," one of the kids says toward the end.


It really depends how you wear it.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Veterans Day

Heroes
By Jared Jenkins

In war, there are lives risked and lives taken
men and women giving their best to defend what they love

They defend their country
Their honor
Their people

Some call them soldiers
Others call them heroes
Our veterans have risked their lives for us
They have lived through hell and fought with honor

Many have killed
And regret doing so
For every life, there is a soul
For every soul, there is a life

For those who have died, we show great appreciation and remembrance
For those who live, along with them live the horrific memories of battle
Some, memories of defeat
Some, memories of victory

Our veterans were more than soldiers
They were, and still are heroes



Although I served two tours of duty in Vietnam, the true heroes were the men and women who served during World War I and World War II.  Without their bravery, imagine where we all would be today.  So if you see an old man selling poppies and proudly wearing his military garb, please do not only buy one from him but also shake his hand and thank him.  Pin that poppy on too, to show you care.
 
Here is an old photo of my dad, who served in the Pacific at Guam and my uncle John, who survived Omaha Beach.
 


Veterans day is tomorrow and this day always floods my mind with thoughts of friends lost and lives sacrificed in the name of freedom. It also makes me look around and see so many people who don't have a clue or just don't care.  As for me, I will continue to have the nightmares and the questions I ask myself.  But I was proud to serve, as were all of the Vets who returned to try to pick up their lives where they left off and moved forward into a new and uncertain world....
Please fly your flag tomorrow and thank a Vet because you are able to.
 


Manic Motherhood... and Feet

That's the title of a blog that I have been following lately and this woman is hilarious!!  Her name is Laurie Sontag and she writes and blogs for various publications. 

Anyway, here is her blog address http://lauriesontag.com/, so take a tour and tell me what you think. I'm pretty sure she will give you a good chuckle.

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As some of you know, about four months ago I was diagnosed with a Staph infection on the sole of my foot due to a small blister and within days it grew out of control.  At one point, my doctors considered amputation but as a last resort, performed surgery and it was successful. Here is what my foot looked like at it's worst:





As you can see, I had already lost the big toe from that foot.  The infection is long gone after months of homecare and various IVs. At this point it's only a matter of working to heal the wound that was left behind which measured 1.5" in diameter by .75" deep.  I have been caring for it for the past two months with the use of saline solution to clean it, antibiotic ointment, gauze pads, gauze wraps and elastic bandages. I change these twice a day. I also wear a post-op boot and have been using a cane to keep pressure off of it. Could it have been in a worse spot?

However, my Podiatrist recently had me begin using Collagen pads under the bandages and they have worked wonders.  They work like an artificial skin graft.  The past week I have noticed a vast improvement and in fact, it is now very close to being fully healed.  The cane is now gone and I can take showers without wrapping my foot in plastic. UGH!!!

I'm not sure why I revealed all of this except that after months of dealing with this mess, it seems to finally be coming to an end.  I thought for awhile that my tombstone would read, "He Said His Feet Were Killing Him".

**********************************************************************************

The weather here on the left coast has been very pleasant lately.... warm days and cool nights with just a trace of morning showers but I know from experience that we will have a terrible heatwave right before Christmas.  Just the thing to get us in the Holiday spirit.

That's all I have for today but I hope you will take the time to read that blog I suggested.  And for goodness sake, take care of your feet!!!




Sunday, November 07, 2010

Don't Mess With Grammy!!!

It was BAD!!  I really tried to play this down ( I tried NOT to tell anyone!!) but, here it is......

I packed Grandma away with the Halloween decorations the other day. Honest mistake. You know how it goes; you get a little rhythm going and pretty soon you're just throwing everything in the box, boom-boom-boom. Fortunately, my wife heard Grandma yelling from the box in the basement later in the day. Seriously, she couldn't have been down there more than a few hours.


"What's that?" Becky asked.

"Just my stomach," I said

So, we unpacked the old heirloom and plopped her on a stool near the kitchen TV. Nobody was really to blame, of course, yet Becky seemed a little frosted over the whole episode. I explained to her that there was no real danger, for Grandma's perfume would've eventually set off the carbon monoxide alarms near the furnace.

And Grandma could not have been more understanding. She said it was a little uncomfortable in the box, but still better than going through LAX. To reward her for her patience, I made her one of those giant vodka tonics she slurps up like tap water. In a few minutes, she was hydrated and everything was right with the world.

That's right, Grandma is visiting, always a joyous occasion. Estimates on her departure range from a few weeks to never ever.

I can't get a straight answer out of Becky. She always gets a little sassy when her mother is around. "What are you two doing today?" I'll ask, or, "Could you please keep down the cackling?" and she'll just stick out her tongue or some other major extremity in a gesture of disrespect.

Honestly, if Becky keeps up this attitude, I'm returning the Louis Vuitton baseball glove I ordered her for Christmas.

I don't know what it is about visiting grandmas. They add another level of tension to an already-tense relationship. Plus, Grandma's blow-dryer is loud as a leaf blower and twice as powerful. Once took all the wallpaper off the bathroom wall.

This current visit got off to a bad start when I grabbed a fistful of Grandma's meds off the kitchen counter, mistaking them for candy corn and almonds.

"Good trail mix," I noted while choking down 50 pills.

Suffice to say that, after pounding down Grandma's meds, my cholesterol has never been better and I've had no pain in my joints for almost three days. Thank you, Medicare. Thank you, Pfizer.

"Hope you never leave, Grandma," I say.

"How about another vodka, Sport?" she says.

On Monday, I discovered I was supposed to entertain her while Becky went off to work. There I was, spooning in bed with our 300-pound terrier, cupping one of her breasts, when Becky knocked on my skull in an effort to gain my attention.

"Time to get up, buttercup," she said.

See? Sassy.

Becky told me that she would be gone several hours (actually, seven) and that I was to take Grandma out somewhere to show her the town, such that it is — full of movie stars and mansions, none of them really worth seeing.

"Maybe you can introduce her to that Rex Harrison," Becky suggested.

"He's dead," I told her.

"Don't start with the excuses," she said.

Grandma's visit comes on the heels of the Cub Scout Halloween party we hosted, an elegant affair, plastic pumpkins everywhere. I set up a small but effective haunted house in the storage area where I usually keep the grill. The main feature was the Aquarium of Death, filled with red Jell-O and gelatin body parts. Scouts are into dismemberment — it should almost be a badge.

"Boys, there is an aura in there that even I cannot explain," I warn the scouts before letting them enter the haunted house. "The spirits are very restless tonight."

Their Cub Scout eyes got really big — you know, the way Gary Coleman's used to when he got really mad at Conrad Bain — and a couple of the scouts vomited a little. Then we all marched into the haunted house, brave as we could be under the circumstances.

I am proud to report there were no casualties. They spun around in the fake spider web and nearly choked to death on their own laughter. Just the usual.

In the end, the boys seemed sort of underwhelmed, because there was no actual dismemberment taking place and the spider presence was a little subdued. Little boys like spiders because there is no stigma attached when they brutally massacre them.

I made some notes. Next year, I plan to add a few more attractions to the haunted house, including real zombies. From what I've read, zombies are much more effective than ghosts, or even poltergeists.

I'll put up signs well in advance. "Wanted: Zombies. No experience necessary. Must work well with grandmas and scouts."

I'm totally exhausted !  Thanks Gramma...We love you!!  I just hope you never read this!!!!  And if you do.. Wasn't that trip to the nuclear waste dump exciting??  My idea!!!

Life!!  Ain't it Great???? 

Bless you Grammy!!  Just Kidding with you!!

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Dreamers

I posted this video on Facebook but I'm not sure if anyone actually took the time to watch it.  It's pretty simple really.... Just some pretty F-15 jets flying around over Afghanistan with a song by Jack Savoretti playing in the background. They are not fighting..... Just enjoying their time and freedom in the sky!

It gets to me every time!!!  I wanna DO this!!  Or at least go along for the ride.

Turn your sound on and if you have headphones, this is the time to use them.

I hope you enjoy this as much as I do.  

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0dgNc5S8cLI


 

Dreamers / Jack Savoretti

The weirdest Halloween laws in the country

This is my last Halloween post...  I Promise!

Halloween is a time to be thankful... that you don't live in Walnut, California.

Trick-or-treaters in that town need a permit to wear a mask. The code strictly states: "No person shall wear a mask or disguise on a public street without a permit from the sheriff," according to Idiot Laws. So before you can even plan a costume, you have to plan a visit to the police precinct.

In Belleville, Illinois, you can't even trick-or-treat if you're in high school. The mayor of the county signed an ordinance banning kids past eight grade from asking for candy. "We were hearing more and more about bigger kids knocking on doors after 9 at night, and the people who lived in the homes were scared," the Mayor told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "We believe that Halloween is for little children."

Several townships in Virginia agree, banning kids over 12 from participating in the sweet-treat soliciting.

In several towns in Oklahoma, celebrating Halloween on October 30, is encouraged this year.

Oklahoma City, Edmond, Midwest City and Yukon are all making the official day this Saturday, instead of Sunday, a school night. "We felt it was more convenient for families to do it on Saturday, and it only meant moving it one day earlier," one local Sheriff told The Oklahoman.

In Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, Sundays are off limits for trick-or-treaters too. "If October 31 shall be a Sunday, such going from door to door and house to house for treats shall take place on the evening of October 30 between the hours of 6:00 p.m., prevailing time, and 8:00 p.m., prevailing time." That last part, the 6 to 8 window of trick-or-treating, however, is upheld every year. After 8pm, the candy-thon stops, by law.

Halloween celebrations during school hours was banned in a Seattle suburb in 2004 as well as in Los Altos, California in 1995. Both grew out of religious sensitivity. In California, it was out of respect for Christian Fundamentalists. In Washington, it was on behalf of Wiccans who were tired of the negative portrayal of witches.

Don't expect to see any Grim Reaper or Blues Brothers costumes in Dublin, Georgia. It's against the law to wear hoods or sunglasses. A law states: "It shall be unlawful for any person to be and appear on any of the public streets of the city or in any of the public places of the city wearing a mask, hood or other apparel or regalia in such manner as to conceal his identity, or in such manner that his face is not fully visible, or in such manner that he may not be recognized." Thankfully, kids under 16 aren't subject to the rule.

And Marie Antoinette is off the table in Merryville, Missouri, where women are banned from wearing corsets. The age old law is designed to prevent women from denying men "the privilege of admiring the curvaceous, unencumbered body of a young woman should not be denied to the normal, red-blooded American male." But men are subject to some laws too. Like no goofy mustaches that make people laugh in Alabama churches. And male staff-members of the Nevada Legislature are banned from wearing penis costumes while the legislature is in session. There's got to be a back-story behind that one!

*******************************************************************************

It was 98F here today (a record??) so I went to the beach where it wasn't alot cooler.  60's by Friday.  Typical for So Cal this time of the year.  Yoyo weather.  Hopefully some rain soon.

Does anyone miss the political ads??  I think not!  Have a great rest of the week.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Halloween 2010

WOW!!  Another one has come and gone and I'm exhausted.  Don't get me wrong, Halloween is my favorite holiday...  Always fun and usually there remains lots of leftover candy, except for this year.  We had almost 200 kiddies (197 to be exact) and you-know-who handled the front door.  We eneded up with barely a handful of candy.  If we had run out, the next thing they would have gotten would have been canned goods!  "Look Mommy!!  That man gave me a can of green beans!!" LOL.  Luckily it didn't come to that.  But close!!

We had some cute little ones and there were some great costumes. Also, for some reason most of the trick or treaters were very polite which somehow made me suspicious! But aside from the lawn being trampled and some candy wrappers strewn about, everything was good. 

Anyhow, for the second year in a row I took photos of some of them.  When I told then that they would be Internet stars they struck their best poses.... Or their worst!!

Here they are:




 






Not a whole lotta smiles there!!  Except for me!
I think next year I'm gonna make them dance, sing or juggle before they get a treat.  Should make for some really fun photos!!










New song this week.  Jamie Johnson - In Color.
Give a listen and click on the video.  I think you'll like it.