Tuesday, August 30, 2005


Bugs Bunny is getting a makeover... Japanamation style. Warner Bros. Cartoons are creating a cartoon for "today's kids". Loonaticks is set 700 years in the future and Buzz Bunny is a direct descendant of Bugs. Who the f**k thought up this happy horsecrap?

A spokesperson for WB said "[I] see no conflict" due to the fact that these are not the same characters. "Older fans... Should lighten up" he went on, these characters are "for kids" where as the older ones were "Made more for adults... [and] moviegoers".

There is a reason that these cartoons have been popular since 1938, and that travesty of a movie "Spacejam" ain't it.

It's because those cartoon shorts were smart, and funny, and multileveled. Things today's cartoons don't even try to be. I know that kids nowadays wouldn't understand, but how many years did kids and adults alike laugh at the mock Italian sign on the bridge "Ducka you head- Lola Brigida"?

Now it's all Pokemon and Yugio. Stiff humorless flash with little substance. Warner Bros, rather than take the fight to the enemy has instead followed their lead by making a cartoon "for kids"... In other words, dumbing them down... Doing away with subtle humor... With quick witicisms...

I never really liked Tiny Toons- the first Loony Toon spin off, but it followed the style nicely. Perhaps not as sharp, but well done. Animaniacs, and Pinky and the Brain did the same. Double entendre, puns, and unexpected comebacks were a standard.

The new characters are supposed to look "raw" and "edgy"... Exactly what kids today need... Raw and edgy... Not enough of that on TV is there?

I have a mind to hop on my ACME Rocket Sled, go out to Hollywood and drop an anvil on someone's head.

Update: I actually watched this crap this saturday morning. Someone should be beaten repeatedly, with breaks only for electro-shock. To quote Bart Simpson "This defies the laws of physics: It both sucks and blows at the same time." This is spitting on the memory of Chuck Jones, Fritz Frieling, Mel Blanc and Tex Avery and I hope the network execs who came up with this get food poisoning and almost die... for a long, long time... over and over. Before, I was bugged. Now I'm pissed.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Walmarting America

Trading What's Right for What's Right Now.

I work for a small company. Retail sales, nothing outlandish or overly impressive. Just a few locations scattered around this part of Texas, family owned.
Before this I worked for an even smaller company. One store. Retail sales, family owned.

I like small companies. I like having a say in what happens. Sure, I work weekends and sometimes 70-80 hours a week, but I make a difference in the way this place performs. I don't have a cubicle. I know and chat with the man who signs my checks as well as the customer who provides them. Sometimes I get blasted by the owner and the customer in the same day, sometimes I get smiles from both in the same minute.

Customer service. Look a person in the eye and treat them like, well... a person. That's really all it takes. Every customer is called by name. My delivery guys say yes sir/yes ma'am. Mistake? "What can we do to make this right?"
Still, I have to fight with big corporate conglomerates because the customer can save $10 on a $1500 purchase. Doesn't matter that they are no more than a computer printout. Doesn't matter that no one cares. Ten bucks is ten bucks.

How many of you would be as concerned about the price of gas if the guy came out to your car and cleaned your windshield, checked your air,oil, antifreeze, and washer fluid... then filled what was low. Suddenly $2.50 a gallon doesn't seem to be so much, does it.
Too bad, you traded that for cheap cigarette lighters that light up and a kid behind the counter that's too busy talking to the beer guy in the cooler to give you a price on your bag of Dorritos and then gets confused because it was $22.79 and you gave him $23 at first then took back a dollar and gave him 80 cents.

Anybody but me remember when Walmart's slogan was "We buy American"? How about their policy of "if there are more than three people in every open line, we'll open up another one" (they really used to do that, Why do you think every walmart has 27 lanes.) Now tell me why they have 27 lanes, two have cashiers, and 5 are self serve. Oh, Yeah, those self serve lanes save time. Ever been behind an old couple trying to figure one of these out? It's one of the reasons I no longer carry a gun. Sam Walton's coffin must look like a gyroscope.

My bank charges me five dollars a shot if I go to a teller more than three times a month. I can, however use the ATM twenty times a day if I want to, no charge. (as long as it's my bank's ATM) Forget trying to talk to a banker on the phone. Now you don't even have to punch numbers, you can talk to the computer... Not a person mind you, a computer.

All because you wanted to save a nickle a gallon. So you could save a dollar on an electric can opener. And they have free checking.


Protect & Serve II

Just as a side note, my CD player was stolen out of my Jeep this weekend. It was parked on 5th st. by San Jacinto in downtown Austin, not in my parking space at my apartment , and it was Saturday between 5:30 and 8:30pm, not at 1:00 in the morning. All they took was the player. Not the adaptor to the cassette player, not the cigarette lighter adaptor. (They unplugged both and left them on the front seat. What nice theives) Everything else is still there, even the camera.

I should send officer helpful a thank-you note, because thanks to him I was prepared for this... Unless it was the same two officers, they saw my Jeep, ran the plates, realized it was me, and stole the player out of spite... Nah, even I'm not so jaded as to think that. Besides, they would have taken the camera too.

If my youngest sister is reading this, my Jack Williams disk was in the player, so I need a new copy... Oh, and thanks for the Cold Mountain soundtrack- it never leaves the player in the house right now.


Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Mother Mary

Happy Birthday Ma!

My Mother was born before the Depression, and married my dad after he came back from the South Pacific and WWII. She raised five pretty good kids of her own, and God only knows how many of other peoples. My house was where everyone ended up. Some of my earliest memories were of an overflowing dinner table. My youngest brother's friends, my youngest sister's friends, my friends... and my oldest brother and sister had already moved out before I was born.
A voracious reader, and a plethora of knowledge, I got my love of books from her. She was a Sunday School teacher for a lot of years, so she taught and is loved by several generations of our small community.
She turned 45 on the day she brought me home from the hospital, a time when most moms were getting done raising kids she had me. She already had one grandson and added a wild child of her own.
I have to say I was probably pretty rough on her, not being much for looking before leaping and I am by far the family leader in scrapes, scars, bruises, and general mayhem.

So, Happy Birthday Ma, I hope it's a good one. Thank you for taking me to see Star Wars in the theater. Thank you for letting me do what I had to do without too many I told you sos. Thanks for letting me come home whenever my world fell apart... even when it was my fault. Thank you for being understanding, even when you didn't understand. Thank you for remembering all my good traits without going on too much about all my bad ones. Thank you and Happy Birthday. I love and miss you.


Friday, August 19, 2005

Dog Years

It's my birthday. I never really celebrated my birthday much. I have even gone so far as to spend the anniversary of my birth in hiding. Four years ago I was drinking straight bourbon in the bar of a Holiday Inn in Vicksburg Miss., just me and the bartender.

Sometimes bad things happen, My Dad died two days after my 22nd birthday.

Sometimes good things happen, I spent my 21st birthday at a John Prine concert in Charlotte, NC with my youngest sister and my good friend Jody. Jody gave me my first CD ever, The Black Crows - Shake Your Money Maker... Now I have over 400 disks.

I've only had a few B-day Parties in my life. When I was 25 my roommates threw one against my wishes, but 6 or 7 of us spent the night standing around a keg of beer singing Jimmy Buffet songs. (surprisingly more fun than a lot of you would think)

I realize I've led a fairly strange existence as I complete three and a half decades. I've lived in 5 cities, 3 states and 2 countries, just since I was 20. I've been flat broke, and made lots of money... Sometimes simultaneously. I've been in love, and I've been in jail- tough to say which is worse, both were pretty brief.

Now, though,I have kind of a tradition I started three years ago, and it seems to have worked out pretty well so far.
I spend the morning doing something good for my soul. (Two years ago it was the Bob Bullock Museum, last year I spent all morning lying on a rock in the middle of the Perdenales river)
The evening I spend in
B D Riley's Pub letting my friends buy me pints. There are actually a lot of August birthday's among the regulars, so it has become a group thing. Loads of fun.
Finally, I spend the night at
The Driskill Hotel, and have steak & eggs brought to my room the next morning.
If you happen to be in ATX, stop by & have a pint with me & the other August celebrants. If not, heft one where ever you are.

And so, as the Sun rises behind him, having completed another year, our hero walks off into the west to new and exciting adventures. Tune in next time as our saga continues


Monday, August 15, 2005

Red My Mind

Suddenly I'm not all that homesick. Click the Pic.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Two Cents

I've been listening to a lot of old country music lately, Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson &ct. Whenever I do I think about back home.
I grew up outside of a little town in northeastern North Carolina. All the boys my age had dirtbikes... And we rode like maniacs. (I could hold mine up on 1 wheel for a quarter mile) I still wear the scars of some of our crazier days. I kept a bike longer than most of my friends. As they got their licenses and cars they quit riding, but I enjoyed the freedom of an open field or a country path under the big oaks and tall pines.
My Dad's first cousin, John, lived in an 1800's plantation house back in the fields. I could get to his house without ever seeing a paved road. He was probably in his 60's back then and I was 15 or so, but I spent a lot of time at his place. The stable behind his house was where my great grandfather bought the horse he rode during the war between the states. I still have a set of lead knuckles that were probably carried by John's grandfather in that same war I found in there. When I was a kid that barn was full af all kinds of cool stuff. The original pews and front doors from our church built in 1886. Farm implements of all types and eras. the flack jacket John's son Eddie wore in Vietnam. Studebaker hubcaps and so much more. John also had the great shop, and his radio was always tuned to the country station. He loved to woodwork, and could fix most anything he wanted to, so whenever I needed something fixed on my bike I'd show up to use his tools.
One afternoon the bolts holding the seat on my bike rattled loose, so on one jump over a ditch or something, it slid right out from under me. So, I put it back on and headed to John's house. I found a couple of bolts threaded right, and started to install them, when he said "Wait, you need washers on those things". He reached in his pocket and pulled out two pennies drilled through.
"What the hell is this?" was all I could think to say.
He said, and I quote "Er-uh, It'd cost me 5cents to buy washers that size at the hardware store, plus the gas to drive to town to go get 'em" (gas was almost up to a dollar a gallon back then)
I just laughed and put them on.
I'm not sure what made me think of that, god knows it was at least 20 years ago, but believe it or not, those pennies were still there when I sold that motorcycle.


Friday, August 12, 2005

Balls to the Wall

On the night of Aug 12th 1961 the communist government in East Berlin began stringing barbed wire and posting sentries along all points of entry into West Berlin. Within weeks they escalated to towers, minefields, and the beginning of a concrete wall. Soon the two sides of the city were completely sealed off from one another. The Soviets claimed it was necessary to keep out immoral/decadent western culture and capitalism.
The construction of the wall caused a mini-crisis in US-Soviet relations. The West Germans demanded action, but as US troops approached the wall with bulldozers, the soviets did the same on the other side with tanks and armored units.
President Kennedy decided that "a wall is a hell of a lot better than a war" and so despite West German anger at the inaction the wall stood. In 1963 JFK made the trip to West Berlin to show solidarity by announcing "Ich bin ein Berliner" which when translated means "I am a jelly doughnut".
The wall had gone through four generations of construction, starting with square blocks and concrete, with a second wall built in 1962 to prevent escapes westward. The first two were replaced around 1965 by a third generation of concrete slabs between steel girder and concrete posts. After 1975 the fourth generation used concrete that was easy to build up and was resistant to breakthroughs and environmental polutions.
By the late 80's the Wall had a concrete segment wall 11.81 ft high / 66 mi long, 20 bunkers and 302 watchtowers. Close to 200 people had been killed on the Berlin Wall over the 28 years the wall stood and the wall itself had come to symbolize the Cold War. However, around that same time, President Reagan had forced the Soviets into an escalating arms race, Communist governments were collapsing all across Europe and so the Wall was destined to the same fate. In 1989 the wall was opened, and in 1990 was a wall no more.


Sunday, August 07, 2005

To Protect & Serve

12:56am Sunday morning, I've been in bed asleep for almost two hours and there's a thump on my front door. I figure it's the girl next door with one of her "guess what happened to me" stories, because that happens every so often.
So, I climb out of bed throw a towel around me and go to the door... through the peephole I see two uniformed Austin Police officers. WTF?
Open the door and had a flashlight shined on me briefly (the apartment was dark- as I was asleep- and god knows what a man in a towel might be concealing) and had the following conversation.

Officer Helpful: Are you (knine)?
me: Yes, yes I am.
OH: You own the grey Jeep downstairs? (this means they had to run my plates to identify the car and get my apartment number)
me (wairily): Yeah...
OH: Did you know you have some items in your vehicle that might be stolen?
me: Wha... Huh? What are you talking about?

-I live in a gated community in a nice section of north Austin, my Jeep was parked in my covered, (but open) well lit parking space in front of my building... where I have lived for four years and parked the Jeep for the year since I bought it.

OH: We were patroling the area and noticed your top was down and there is a CD player laying right out in the open. (between the seats, not visible from another car... they had to get out and walk over to see it)
me (a little testily): It's a $39 Wal-mart CD player.
OH: There's some other stuff in there too, like a camera. (a $20 kodak pocket camera... in my passenger side door pocket)

-Now, there's a rod and reel strapped to the roll bar that they never mentioned, which means they were more interested in the interior of my Jeep. This bothers me a little, now that I've had time to think about it.

me: Grunt... (rubbing my eyes) What is this about?
OH: Leaving items in the open like that makes you a target for thieves. (and apparently APD officers)
me: Huh? Yeah... I guess.
OH: Well, if you don't care if they get stolen... Have a good night.

And they walk off into the night, with me staring after them, for the first time ever not knowing what to say.

So, now I'm awake. I pull on a pair of jeans and walk down to my Jeep. No police, nobody around, one car pulling in to the other end of the lot from, I guess, a night out. Everything's still in there. What the Hell...

So I call 311 (the non-emergency number) at 1:30am to find out what's going on. The person on the other end of the line was very nice, I can't say that I was, but he told me that there was no activity in my area. (whatever that means)

I called my complex today to see if they requested a drive through. Nope. Not standard policy.

This ever happen to anyone else out there? Ever? Please let me know. I do have to say both officers were very polite, considering my sleep addled responses, and it's good to see my tax dollars at work in a nice quiet gated community in a good part of town.