29 July 2008


Where were you when the plane hit the tallest building in New York?

If you are like me, you were not yet born, for it was 63 years ago Monday when the 79th floor of the Empire State Building was struck by a B-25 that got lost in heavy fog. The crash (pictured) left 14 dead and shocked the nation. Lawsuits that followed were precedent setting.

Please listen to an outstanding report which aired on NPR Monday.

Thanks to Matt for bringing this fascinating story to my attention.

27 July 2008

Birthday Bugs

For a reason I was never able to fully understand I had this insatiable interest in Bugs Bunny when I was a child. Back then (the 1960s) I had the benefit of Bugs every Saturday morning in the form of the Warner Brothers television show featuring his old cartoons. I never really warmed to Daffy Duck, and the rest of the characters left me cold. They might have been funny, but none of them were Bugs.

Fast forward about 30 years to a Warner Brothers store in some mall in Scottsdale. Matt wanted to go in and mill around and so I went to be cooperative. (I am no fan of malls and even less a fan of milling around in stores that shill garbage).

Desperately resisting the urge to slit my wrists, I wandered over to a collection of Bugs Bunny crap merchandise. I noticed a pair of dog tags with Bugs' image on it. I was appalled. When I picked them up and looked at the second tag I got the shock of my life: it said right there that Bugs' birthday was 7/27/40 -- the same month and day as me!

Well, of course, this explained everything. Bugs was a smart aleck, so was I; he was clever and witty just like me; he engaged in bright repartee just like I did. We were so much alike! (We part ways when it comes to cross dressing.)

Knowing that Bugs and I share a birthday has always been special to me. I share a birthday with a lot of famous people -- including Alexandre Dumas, Leo Durocher, Peggy Fleming, Alex Rodriguez, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers; but none of them hold such a special place in my heart as Bugs Bunny.

[And to be clear, the Bugs I like is the earlier incarnation (pictured) with the elongated head, yellow gloves and slight paunch. THIS was Bugs as he was meant to be. He was fun when he was rough and unpolished, but became little more than a common boor as he got cleaned up and "refined." Yet another example of tampering with perfection.]

You can read more about the famous rabbit here.

23 July 2008

When Good Mascots Go Wrong

I just love to hear how big corporate or government entities screw around with art to "improve" it. When will they ever learn to just leave the artist alone?

I don't know about you, but I think the Chinese Olympics mascots (pictured) are so so very bad. I may not be an artist, but I know what I don't like.

You can read about the poor artist who designed the mascots and how his work was fucked up

17 July 2008

Document THIS!


A web site that hosts documentaries and lets you watch them FREE! Is this the coolest idea since the invention of the machine that takes whole loaves of bread and carves them into smaller pieces? It certainly is!

Please visit the SnagFilm site here.

You may read more about the site here.

12 July 2008

The Sporting Life

I'm not big on getting my entertainment via the web. I find it difficult to sit and watch the computer. It's not like watching television.

However, I just found out about this really neat (what do you call it?) internet series called "In The Moment." Basically a look at a bunch of gay men living in the same apartment complex in Los Angeles, it's produced (or presented) by WeHoLife. According to their web site, they are "dedicated to providing information and opportunities for individuals to learn, support and encourage healthy living with an emphasis on HIV prevention."

Anyway, so far, they have had two five-minute webisodes (what a cute word) that have been oddly compelling, focusing on some gay couples and some singles. The plot has not developed much so far (it's only been ten minutes) but I am intrigued.

Of course, there are plenty of naked and semi-naked hot guys, so that helps. (What? I'm married, I'm not dead.)

Episode one is here.

Episode two is here.

More about WeHoLife will be found here.

11 July 2008

You Know It's Summer When...

Last month I wrote a little post about the start of the monsoon season in Phoenix.

Well, last night it arrived -- not so much dust as usual, but LOTS of rain. Officially, 2.17 inches -- which is a huge amount compared to our normal rainfall -- but unofficially, rain gauges in our neighborhood registered more than 3.5 inches. An even greater amount than usual. There was no major damage and things are fine, thank you.

However, there is yet another sign that summer has started: the emergence of the queen termites.

I love entomology, but I don't know a lot about these termites. In most of the Phoenix metropolitan area we have these tiny termites in the soil. They are not the same as the really bad termites that damage houses, but they will work their way through a fair amount of wood given a chance. The houses in our historic district are built on concrete rims (not solid foundations, I don't know what that's called) and our house is several inches above the ground to thwart the little buggers. But, the soil is full of them.

Right after our first big rain of the season last night, the winged termites emerged. I think they are queens. They are bigger then the little termites.

Today, after work, we went to take our trash to the alley and we saw some just start to emerge from the soil. I made Matt run back into the house to get his camera (that I gave him for xmas, thank you) and take a pic and some video of them emerging. You can see the video below. In the pic (click to enlarge), you can see two beige long things with wings (pointed at by the left and right arrows). Those are they. You can also see the regular little pink termite (the middle arrow).

Isn't nature neat?

08 July 2008

When Spell Checker is Not Enough

Sure, we all make spelling and grammar errors.

But when you are MGM-UA -- the descendant of what had been one of the greatest movie studios of the 20th century -- you should hire people whose ability to write properly extends beyond the use of Spell Checker, which will not catch words spelled correctly but used incorrectly. I mean, really.
(Click image to enlarge.)

07 July 2008

Can Opened, Worms Everywhere

I've been a journalist for more than 30 years. Two things I have mastered in all those years are the parameters of copyright law and rights of free speech. With that, I have to admit I was totally surprised when I read an Associated Press article about how those two things do not necessarily exist on the internet.

Wow! Sites can and do take down content without any regard to what we consider regular free speech rights? They can and do edit otherwise copyright protected material without any notice?

I have long felt that the internet was one of the greatest inventions in the history of mankind. It has many values, but the most important is that it makes information available to everyone. EVERYONE.

After years of having a charter membership to various city libraries and being on first-name basis with librarians in them, I now go first to the internet. After years of eye strain scanning decades worth of newspapers on microfilm, I now go to the internet. After decades of getting up to find a word in the dictionary, I now go to the internet.

Thanks to the internet, there is no barrier to knowledge like that created by church leaders who encouraged their members to NOT learn how to read (that way they could not do any research on their own and question what the religious leaders said), or that created by rich and powerful rulers who wanted to control printing presses (same reason), there is no (outright) censorship of contrary thought. In fact, contrary thought seems to have flourished online for everyone to read and embrace or discard as they see fit. THIS is what real democracy is all about: information for the masses.

But now, clandestine censorship by the NEW information controllers: internet service providers.

Just when I thought we had come so far, it appears we have only come full circle.

You can read the article here.

01 July 2008

The Giraffes Are Loose!

I would have loved to see this!

I can just imagine the lead giraffe holding open the bars and hustling the other animals out crying "Freedom!" What a hoot!