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I Must Have Been Absent That Day

July 22, 2009

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Gee, when did the word “passed” replace “died”?    Is “passed away” or “passed on”to be perceived as an easier phrase for the bereaved to digest?

I don’t get it.  

Why then do we not hear the Media say, “Seven U.S. soliders “passed away” after their tank struck an IED on a Baghdad freeway?”

We never hear that ’107 passengers on an Aero Flot DC-10 “passed away” when the plane crashed near Minsk’.   Back when I spent hours behind a microphone, ‘passed away’ was never the term du jour.  Someone was either (and most emphatically) dead or had died.  

Has actor and former Brat Packer Judd Nelson’s career “perished”?  

No, I feel certain his career DIED in the 90′s.

Earlier today, legendary 80′s teen angst film director, John Hughes died of a massive heart attack in New York.   He was in the park and  just collapsed.  He died;  was ‘passing’ involved here as much as a complete and total and damned near immediate shutdown?

Does anyone know how and when this phrase of passing become vogue?   Seriously, I’d like to know because I’m completely in the dark in terms of the differention here.

 

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We’re Moving…Again

July 23, 2009

bekins truck

I know.    My apologies.

You must think me flakier than anything that little Pop-N-Fresh bastard could create, but I’m going back into the workforce soon and will have no time to maintain two blogs…not that I did anything remotely akin to maintaining two blogs. 

But that’s not important right now.

Since my original blog is already well established and still active,  I’m going back to it and will start posting there immediately.

I’ve already called the Priest and he will be performing extreme unction on this blog August 3rd.    In lieu of flowers, please donate to  the Seniors Who Blog Retirement Fund.

Amen.

Join me at my original blog , won’t you?

http://lauriekendrick.wordpress.com

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From South Texas To The Moon

July 20, 2009

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The moon.  

Moon quarter

Shakespeare wrote about it.  He penned the following for Juliet to say in her balcony scene with Romeo.    When the young lad attempts to promise love’s allegiance to her by swearing by the moon, Juliet chides him:

Swear not by the moon!  The inconstant moon?  That monthly changes in her circled orb?  Lest that thy love prove likewise variable.

Here, Juliet accuses the moon of being “fickle” because it changes shape all the time.  ‘Twas not the case, as we now know.    The moon’s inconstant shape  exists ONLY because of the Earth’s inconstant shadow, courtesy of the sun.

There have been jokes about the wonders of the light and dark comparisons of night and day.   Here in Texas, the Aggies of Texas A&M University are the butt of many jokes.    One states that the school’s Engineering and Astronomy Departments joined forces to  build a spacecraft themselves and will blast off with the hopes of reaching the moon, but in order to beat the blazing heat from the sun, they plan on launching at night.

I’ve looked at the moon many times in my life and many times since  July 20, 1969.     I was ten years old that day;  that incredibly auspicious day.   It was summer and in the small South Texas berg where I had been born and raised, mothers were making their kids do the exact same thing my mother did.  She made me stay in that summer night.   Usually my mother was concerned about my incessant TV habits in the evening, but this time she was encouraging my viewing.   For that night, history would be made:   Neil Armstrong was going to be the first man in history to walk on the lunar surface.

Yes, it was exciting.   This was indeed a first.  But I was well aware of science fact.   Oh sure,  I’d seen the 50′s era, schlocky science fiction movies about landing the moon; the scary, evil aliens who lived there and the green cheese surface on which they dwelled.    But my reasoned and contemporary view of space exploration (even my sophomoric view) still difference from that of my parents.  My mother and father  both in their early 40′s on that date,  were in sheer awe of what TV images the night would bring.   But unlike my parents, I completely believed it was possible that a man walk on the moon.    A lunar landing was hardly improbable.  

I was raised smack dab in the middle of the space race.   The Russian’s had Sputnik and Yuri Gregorian; the United States had John Glenn and the Mercury,  Gemini and Apollo programs.    I knew as much about NASA as I did the characters on “Jonny Quest” and “George of The Jungle”, my favorite Saturday morning cartoons.      My life had been unduly influenced by NASA and the space program.    Why, that very morning after I woke up,  I breafasted on bacon, eggs and a cold glass of Tang.

Four days earlier, a massive Saturn 5 rocket with three men poised in a small module in its nose cone.   Thirty miles up, the rocket separated and Apollo 11 started  hurdling through the  234-thousand miles it would take it reach it’s destnation.

The moon.

But on July 20, 1969, we watched TV  as a family that night, gathered around the hearth-like hutch which contained a 20-inch Zenith color TV.   Daddy turned off the lights in  our maple panelled den to further the effect.   I remember my mother admonishing him because  he’d switch channels from Walter Cronkite on CBS to Jules Bergman, Science Editor for ABC News, hoping to get the best picture possible. 

apollo_lmThe landing of the Lunar Module or LM  also known as the Eagle, though  NASA afffectionately called it the LEM,  was a slow painstaking process,  but considering the historical nature of the even, even the most impatient man garnered every ounce of forebearance he could. 

At about 3pm Texas time, we heard those magic words transmitted over a squeaky microphone .    

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 “Houston, Tranquility Base here.  The Eagle has landed.”

Houston was the very first word uttered from the moon.   Take that, Dallas!!!!!!!

And that word and those that followed,  ushered in a new era of space exploration.   I remember my father saying, “Mars is next!” as he toasted the grainy TV image with a Scotch and water. 

Then, the two astronauts inside the LEM, prepared to make history again by walking on the moon.   I can’t imagine what Niel Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin must have felt when the looked out the craft’s tiny windown.   Michael Collins, was forced to stay in the command module or Columbia as NASA referred to it.   He would orbit the moon a few times while his astro-collegues walked on the moon.      

Shortly after the LEM landed, Buzz Aldren grabbed the mike and said this:

Shortly after landing, before preparations began for the EVA (extra hvehicular activity), Aldrin broadcast the following:

This is the LEM pilot. I’d like to take this opportunity to ask every person listening in, whoever and wherever they may be, to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours and to give thanks in his or her own way.

He then preformed Holy Communion privately.   This was never made public and with good reason.  At the time, noted Atheist,  Madalyn Murray O’Hare  had brought a  lawsuit brought had filed suit against NASA because  the crew of Apolla 8 read from the Book of Genesis.  Asa result, NASA demanded that their astronauts refrain from any kind of religious activities while in space.  Aldrin told no one about his plan for Communion–he didn’t even mention it to his wife and it was years before his actions were made public.   Aldrin was an elder at Webster Presbyterian Church in Webster (the Houston suburb which serves as home to the Johnson Space Center).  His communion kit was prepared by his church’s pastor, the Rev. Dean Woodruff.     In fact, the  Webster Presbyterian Churc still has the chalice Aldrin used on the moon, and commemorates the special Lunar Communion each year on the Sunday closest to July 20th.

There was a five hour time lapse between the LEM’s landing the moon walk.   The plan was for the astronauts to sleep.   As you can imagine, that was the last thing on their minds and instead, they elected to prep for the moon walk. 

And shortly before 1o pm (CST), Armstrong began his very long descent down a very short ladder.    He had some trouble getting his life-support system held in that huge pack on his back, but managed to squeeze through.   Onced situated atop the ladder, he tugged at a D-Ring beside the ladder and  out popped a stowed TV camera attached to one of the LEM’s tripodic legs.  

Everything he did from that point on was televised.

Then, Buzz Aldrin exited the craft and became the second man to walk  on the moon’s surface.   He and Armstrong  plantedApollo Flag on Moon a flag and  attached a plaque to it  which read,  “”Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the Moon July 1969, A.D. We came in peace for all mankind.”   Then, the pair frollicked in the moon’s gravity…1/6 that of the Earth’s.  They also collected some lunar soil samples and picked up a few rocks.    

Afterwards, they climbed up the ladder and back into the LEM and prepared to jettison off the moon’s surface to rendezvous with the Command Module  orbiting overhead. 

 Next stop:   Earth.

Apollo_11_crew_in_quarantineI don’t remember much after Armstrong and Aldrin re-entered the LEM.  I do remember the three astronauts were quarantined for health reasons aboard a Naval war ship which helped retrieve them after splash down.   

But do I remember almost everything that happened the night the Eagle landed.      Shortly after Aldrin closed the hatch that night, I walked outside to join my father.  He was in the backyard staring up at the moon.     He didn’t say anything;  he just put his arm around me and continued his upward gaze.   I looked up, too.  

I wondered if the two Men On the Moon were looking back at me.   I had the urge to wave, but didn’t when I remembered that earlier, Walter Cronkite had informed us that we were watching the lunar events unfold along with more than 600-million  around the globe.  In the grand scheme of things and as much as my ten year old mind could comprehend, I felt very, very small in a vast sea of humanity that I would never see and would never, ever know.  

 The Earth felt so huge that night and the moon seemed so very tiny.

And then another rare event happened that night;  the child in me took over and out went mature logic and reason.   There in the darkness in my backyard, under my father’s gentle caress,  I no longer looked at the moon as an orbiting satellite of discovery and exploration.   It  had magically, suddenly reverted back to being simply the moon;  the greyish, white round thing up in the night sky that a nursery rhyme taught me a cow had jumped over.   And the Man In It, smiled at me just as he always  had, but on the  evening of July 20, 1969,  he seemed a bit happier.    

I instinctively knew it was because he finally had some company over for the very first time.

Apollo11-moon-footprint

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Walter Cronkite 1916-2009

July 18, 2009

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Ninety-two years.   

That’s a tremendous lifespan for anyone; it’s especially long for a journalist.   My people aren’t known for their healthy lifestyles.

Walter was born in Missouri, but his family moved to Houston where he wascronkite raised.  He had the good sense to attend the University of Texas where he persued a Journalism degree.  He’d gotten a job at a small Austin radio station as a sports anchor.   He was fired by a boss who told him he’d never make it in the biz.    So very often, this declarative by a station manager precedes some of the most successful careers and Walter Cronkite had one for the record books.

Upon hearing news of Cronkite’s death Friday night, I was asked if  he had had any influence on my decision to venture into the crazy world of broadcasting.   I didn’t know the answer to that question, but later realized there was no way he could have not  influenced me.

I was raised with Walter Cronkite.  From him,  I learned about the latest anti-war protests on some college campus.    He informed me about the number of B-52′s that were downed in Vietnam that day; he told me about the latest firefight on some jungle hilltop and I knew the number of body bags that would soon be returning to the States.

My earliest memory of  this iconic figure was at four years of age.   Few believe  I can remember anything about the Kennedy assassination on November 22, 1963  but I’ve recited  certain facts of the day that my mother verifies.   Cronkite is part of that memory.  

My mother was rocking me after lunch in an attempt to get me to take my nap and she was doing so while watching her favorite soap opera, “As The World Turns”.   I remember the screen went black and suddenly Cronkite’s voice  broke the silence and announced that JKF had been shot while riding in a motorcade through downtown Dallas.   He came back a few minutes later to announce that Kennedy had died.    My mother, then a card carrying Democrat, started to cry and  so did Cronkite.

That day he did something no other network newsman had ever done before.   He let his emotions show.

He didn’t sob; he didn’t wail, there was no gnashing of teeth.  It was brief and polite and all things considered, it was appropriate.  Nevertheless,  I think this demonstration stunned some people.     America wasn’t used to seeing their stoic, stone-faced network news anchors in overtly humanistic roles.    

But Cronkite changed that.

And years later, he didn’t hide his boyish enthusiasm when Neil Armstrong landed the lunar module on the surface of the moon.      I was ten on July 20, 1969.   I had been raised with the space program.  By that time, it bore a degree of  mundanity  for me, but  for my parents, their contemporaries, Cronkite and  others who were raised in a world of limitations,  improbabilites and Flash Gordon, landing on the moon and the journey it took to get there, was colossal.

While my TV relationship  with Walter Cronkite started waning in the mid- 70′s,  my appreciation for his style, his efforts and his professionalism never ceased.   As network news anchors go, Huntley and Brinkley did it first, but Walter did it better.

He was called, ‘the most trusted man in America” and we believed it…perhaps for reasons we still don’t know.   You just had a sense with  daily ministrations of Cronkite’s baritone and often monotone delivery, you were getting nothing but the facts; the real story.   He would have never made the very news he was reporting.

He would never have called President Bush (41) a wimp;  he would never have launched a smear campaign against a sitting president (Bush 43) by publically maligning and bending reality regarding his military history.

Cronkite would never have done half the things that so many newscasters do today.

It’s odd, you know.  Odd when you reach a certain age and you start to look at things differently.   Life and death and the fine line which separates them, while not foremost on your mind, becomes more of a concern.   I’ve been thinking about Cronkite’s life.   It spanned 92 years.  He saw war,  death and violence and he saw wrongs that were never made right.   He reported on good things too I suppose, but those so rarely get any press.

I made it a point to watch Cronkite’s last newscast in 1983 and I remember doing so with a slight lump in my throat.   Not because I was some ardent fan and not because I was in Journalism school at the time and there because I had been inspired by his 19 year reign as America’s premier newsman.   It watched because goodbyes are often historic and this one was.    His departure also represented the end of an era and sadly, the beginning of a new one.

I firmly believe network news changed after Cronkite left the anchor desk and it’s only gotten worse since news programming has become so ubiquitous in recent years.    News people are now TV stars more than anything else.  Beauty has replaced ability.    Ken dolls anchor while Barbie is out in the field reporting on day ten of  the death of Michael Jackson’s allegedly mottled penis and how it once owned a set of Ghandi’s gilded steak knives.

When Cronkite left, so did network news quality.  

Nuetrality died.

And sadly, that’s the way it is.

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The Congresswoman

July 17, 2009

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I wrote a post a few weeks ago about Michael Jackson’s funeral and briefly mentioned that Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D., Texas)  had made an appearance on stage to display a plaque regarding a possible congressional resolution naming Jackson The World’s Ultimate Entertainer and Philanthropist or something to that affect. By the way, the resolution was shot down by Speaker of the House and fellow Democratina, Nancy Pelosi.

A little bit about the Gentlewoman from Texas.

She’s from Houston, by waysheila jackson lee of New York originally. She’s actually quite accomplished;  her resume is indeed an impressive one.

Jackson-Lee graduated from Jamaica High School in Queens. From there she went to Yale and earned a B.A. in political science. She followed that up with a stint in law school.  She got her J.D. from the University of Virginia Law School in 1975.   

Jackson-Lee moved to Houston after her husband, Dr. Elwyn C. Lee, took a job at the University of Houston. Her husband now holds a dual position of Vice Chancellor and Vice President for Student Affairs of the University of Houston System and the University of Houston, respectively.

Her political roots began at the municipal level.  IN the early 90′s,  she was a long standing member of the Houston City Council and that’s how I first met her.

I want to preface this post by saying that the Congresswoman has always been kind, gracious and quite accessible to my needs as a Reporter, Producer and as a News Director. She has learned over the years to speak in soundbites–for the most part, that’s a verbal paragraph lasting no longer than 30 seconds, which is every TV and radio reporters’ dream. You know–less editing that way.

But there are two things I noticed about Jackson-Lee right off the bat. First of all, she used the word “dialog” interchangeably as both a verb and a noun, sometimes in the same sentence.  Admittedly, that made me a little crazy.

The second thing I noticed, even all those years ago, was her overt willingness to be accessible.   She’s still that way.  Some may see this as her willingness to appear as though she’s staying busy and on top of things in Washington, thus proving to her constituency back home that’s she’s doing her job.   I can understand that, but others may see this  in-your-face consistency as grandstanding. Unfortunately for the Congresswoman’s PR staff and reputation, I do believe  the latter view is probably the majority one.

There is absolutely no denying that she likes being in the public eye….a lot. She appeared at Jackson’s funeral hawking an unapproved resolution.   I can’t question her motives and what was in her heart, but I would suspect that she made an appearance there just to be seen and most definitely to let people know she had authored it.   No one applauded when she walked on stage because no one but Southeast Texans watching knew who she was.    Frankly, I was a little embarrassed for her.

She seemingly lives for photo ops and is remarkably rarely ever NOT next to a particular news maker, providing he or she is a Democrat and working on her pet issues, which are  minority rights and immigration, mostly.

But even so, she refuses to limit herself. She was also in the front row during that incredible post 9/11 Kumbaya moment when Congress and the Senate convened on the steps of the Capitol to hold hands and sing “My County Tis Of Thee” or one of major patriotic songs.

Now I have no idea if the next thing I type is true or not, but it’s in Jackson-Lee’s Wikipedia article.  According to the author(s)..whoever they might be..it is claimed that  several years ago, Jackson-Lee served on the House Science Committee and on the Subcommittee that oversees space exploration,  House policy and NASA.  It is said that she once asked, during a visit to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory,  whether the Mars Pathfinder had taken a photo of the flag planted on Mars in 1969 by Neil Armstrong.

True?  False?   Utter crap?   Hilarious public blunder?   I have no idea.

But pundits pick on Sheila Jackson-Lee for a number of reasons…mostly because of Jackson-Lee herself.  

While perusing the Intraweb looking for photos of the Congresswoman, I happened upon a funny,  semi tongue-in-cheek article written by David Benzion for LoneStarTimes.com back in April of 2006. It’s entitled, “How Desperate Is Sheila Jackson-Lee” which focuses on the very topic I discuss in this blog post–the Congresswoman’s unyielding  need to be seen as uniquitous.

I’ve pilfered the photos and the captions here (plus, I’ve added a few of my own) and will allow you the opportunity to read the original aritcle in it’s entirety, courtesy of a link at the end of this post.

Here goes:

“How Desperate Is Sheila Jackson Lee……” 

Is there anyone she wouldn’t stand next to for free publicity?

Apparently not.

Is she desperate enough to stand next to Cynthia McKinney?  (But I have to admit that at first glance, I thought that was actually Tempest Bledsoe, TV’s “Vanessa” from The Cosby Show ).  

SJL 1

Or what about Monica Lewinsky’s boyfriend?

SJL 2

Is she desperate enough to barely share a stage with the corpulent Michael Moore?   (Yep, seems that way.   See Jackson Lee here clinging to the inch and half of an increasingly bowing stage, thanks to Moore’s extreme girth due in part to an ardent love of carbs and misplaced ego)

SJL 3

Contributing to racial awkwardness  by sharing the stage with a very frightened young white child and his blondish mom with dark roots only Alex Haley could love

SJL 4

Her appearance here made history.  She still holds the title of being the only African American EVER to attend a Howard Dean for President rally

SJL 5

She’s seen here desperately trying to ignore Nancy Pelosi’s wide-eyed  impersonation of Dakota Fanning on crack.

SJL 6

But according to the Lone Star Times, there’s an evil side to Sheila Jackson Lee.  She’s seen here  addressing….gasp….CAIR!!!!

SJL 7

and lastly….

SJL 8

You say this cat Osama’s a bad muthuh…..

Shut yo mouth!!

But I’m talking about bin Laden!

Then you can dig it!!!

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Can I hear an oy vey, people!!!!!

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Read the full article here.

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For My Texas Readers

July 15, 2009

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Believe me when I tell you that I HATE excluding  my readers who aren’t from the Lone Star State, but the subject matter of this post only pertains to Texans right now and frankly,  only Texans who live in areas in which electricity provision is deregulated.   In other words, areas which allow you John and Jane Q. Public to pick and choose which provider you’d like to use.

For example:  if you live in San Antonio and Alamo Light and Power (or whatever it’s called ) is the ONLY electrical game in town, then you’re out of luck.   I think the same might apply to the Dallas and Austin metro areas as well as Beaumont and points up and down the Texas/Louisiana border.  

At least living in Houston, you get an option….and Wednesday afternoon I excercised mine.

I signed up for Star Tex Power.    Now, please don’t misunderstand the reason for this post.  I’m not a shill for Star Texas Power.   I’m not getting one red cent for this, nor am I getting any additional discounts on my electricity.  Nope,  I get the same rate you’ll get if you sign on.    I don’t know about you but I signed on because I rather like the idea of saving 25-percent on my electricty bill each month.

Don’t believe me?  Well, believe Alan Lammey, then. 

He’s a Houston-based energy analyst who has this uncanny sixth sense when it comes to the petro chemical industry.   Alan was our on-air “go-to” guy at the last radio station where I worked.  In fact, we called him “Petrodamus” for his spot on prediction of oil and gas futures.     He still does that and he’s also selling energy via Star Tex Power on the side.

I signed up for Star Tex Power Wednesday afternoon and as a result, I’m going to be saving anywhere from 35 to 40  bucks per month!!!!    Texas is broiling under a very relentless summer sun this year.  Personally, I’m convinced that Al Gore has hired the Star Wars defense system to hold gigantic hand held hair dryers   on us to further line his pockets, er..uh, I mean prove his point that Global Warming is a harsh and bitter reality. 

The debate over climatic change be damned, but we ALL know for a fact that times are very tough right now and economically,  we’re all hurting.    We have to save where we can and again, for you Texans who live in deregulated  parts of the state, why not save as much as you can as far as your entergy provider is concerned?

Star Tex Power can help.    I’ll let Alan take over.  Here’s a copy of an email he sent to me.

Hi Laurie and of the blogosphere’s many Lauridians:

I appreciate you signing up with StarTex Power, LK. Compared to the rate you were paying with Reliant Energy (Houston’s principle carrier), you’re now saving about 25% per month! Plus, now you’re not even paying that pesky $5 per month service charge either!   How good is that!!!
 
Now is  absolutely is a perfect  time to switch to a lower electricity rate because rates are so low. I think rates will only remain this low between now and September. In fact, I believe that around Sept, it will be the bottom of the natgas and electricity market — and then we’re off to the races again on electricity rates.  Up they’ll creep.
 
I’d love for you to help me spread the word to your friends and readers.    The word is  natural gas prices are currently eight year lows;  the cost of electricity is at multi-year lows as well. I’d be signing up for at least 2 to 3 years at this point, and get yourself locked-in, because we probably won’t see these low rates again for several more years. 
 
As you now know, one of the lowest cost, highest quality, most reputable providers in the State of Texas is StarTex Power. If any of your friends or blog readers are interested in saving money on their electricity, please tell them to take a look at StarTex Power, located at http://www.startexpower.com
 
Please choose “Radio” as the referral — and that’s because I do their radio ad’s for them.   Also, place “radio” in the space for promotions code.  
 
Here’s StarTex Power’s fixed rates.  Check it out:
12 months – 10.8 cents per KWH
24 months – 11.7 cents per KWH
36 months – 12.4 cents per KWH
 
StarTex really has some of the lowest rates in the market. Plus, out of 51 electricity providers in Texas, they’re one of only three to get the Better Business Bureau’s  Satisfactory/Excellence rating.   Let me tell you something LK,   THAT’Sj who you want to be doing business with!
 
Hey, readers of LK”s blog, if  any of you have questions, please feel free to email or call me anytime.    Just a reminder, if you sign up, please make sure you select ‘Radio’ as the referral.
 
Many regards and happy lower energy rates!!
Alan Lammey
The Texas Energy Analyst
Energy Analyst and Consultant
Host of ‘Energy Week’ on 950 AM KPRC
Ph: 281-658-0395
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Well, there you go.    I think it would be well worth your while to check out Star Tex Power.   And for those of you NOT living in Texas, hopefully you all can just move here.   Hell, it might end up being cheaper in the long run!!!  
But I’d seriously re-think Dallas.
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Blog Noir: A Detective Story

July 14, 2009

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IMPORTANT:   FOR THOSE OF YOU ‘HOLDOVERS’ FROM THE OTHER BLOG, THIS IS A REPOST.   WHAT ARE YA GONNA DO ABOUT IT?   MOIDA ME???   NO, YOU’LL READ IT AGAIN, TOOTS BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT YOU DO, SEE.    

YOU LOVE OLD FILM NOIR LIKE I DO, SO YOU’LL READ THIS CUZ YOU KNOW YA WANNA.   SO, FOLLOW THESE INSTRUCTIONS AND NO ONE GETS HOIT.  

BUT ONE FALSE MOVE  AND THE DOG GETS IT!!!!!!!!!!

dog and gun

INSTRUCTIONS: START THE VIDEO FIRST, THEN ONCE THE MUSIC PLAYS, READ WITH THE VOLUME UP–ADJUST IT AS YOU SEE FIT.   IT’S IMPERATIVE THAT THE SOUNDTRACK   PLAY AS YOU READ IN ORDER TO FULLY GRASP THE MOOD AND ATTITUDE OF THIS POST!!!!! 

THANK YOU,

 THE MANAGEMENT OF THIS THEATER

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It was early Autumn and it was an unseasonably warm in Gotham.   Everyone walked fast…eager to escape the heat .   I looked at people  and watched ‘em sweat, like a hungry fat guy at a hot dog stand where there  are only two weenies left..and he’s  third in line.   I notice these things.  Why?   Because I’m paid to. That’s what I do.   The name is Sphincter….Bob Sphincter and I’m a Private Dectective.

 The crazy Concrete Jungle was radiating heat in every direction.  I could almost feel it pulsing through my Wing Tips.  My dogs were barkin’.  I wanted to get back to my office and sit by the fan.  I had things to do, people to see and when I walked in my small,  two room office at the corner of Chow and Main, I thought to myself, ‘could it get any hotter than this?’   

Little did I know it would…later….and I had no clue as to how hot.

An hour went by and my secretary, Della told me that my four o’clock  had arrived.    I lit another cigarette, eager to see what kind of desperate piece of trash would be the latest hard luck case to need my services.

Della showed him in.   He was well dressed; hair slicked back,  like a typical New York swell.    He sat down and I looked at him.  Tall, pale, thin, black pencil moustache over his upper lip.   He folded his arms and cocked his head to the right.  

I reached across my desk and picked up my pack of smokes.   I offered him one.

“Cigarette?”

To which he replied, “Yes, I can see that.”

Then he added, with a serious expression, like  a fat man in a theater who’d dropped his full box of Juju Bees somewhere on the darkened floor, “I’m not here for small talk, Sphincter.  I’ve got to handle a problem for a client.  I was hoping you could assist me with this.   Can you? ” 

“Don’t know the situation yet.”  I lit another cigarette and blew out the smoke slowly.   “Spill the goods, mack.  I need details, see.”

“My name is Frank Harper.  My client is Congressman Peter Lydell.  He  works with the Secretary of War and also chairs the White House Committee on Legal License Dispensing and Revocation..among other things.  Powerful man.   He has reason to believe his wife isn’t being faithful.”

“I’m listening”, I replied.

He cleared his throat.  ” I need a private dick to trail Congressman Lydell’s wife.   We need someone to look into her past and do a little digging”.  

He tossed a folder on my desk.    

“Here’s all the information you need.   And Sphincter, Lydell is a very important man.   You have three days to get me this information and I warn you, don’t louse this up!”   

“Why I oughta….”

“Yeah, Sphincter, you oughta keep your trap shut, see.  You’re a bum and a two bit private dick.  You got debts, debts I tell ya and your career needs this case and so do you!”

I felt the cold hard metal of my piece, my rod, my heater, my gun, press against my waist.   I wanted to use it, shoot him right between his eyes, but I didn’t.  Sure,  Harper was a schmuck , but he got one thing right…I needed this case.   I’d gotten involved in the numbers racket a year ago and I lost the shirt off my back.  I’d been hiding out, laying low,  not able to pay anything back to the  mob bosses.  Besides,  Harper was an important man.  He knew people, too so I agreed to take the case.  Besides, the last thing I needed was some dirty squeal pigeon stooling on me.   

 Wait, I think I said that wrong. 

I watched  him as he walked out of my office.  There was something about this guy I didn’t like and I could smell his no-goodnick  nature,  like I could smell  a fat man who was really into sheep…………..and garlic.

I took a minute, recomposed, then opened the file and out fell a picture of a dame so perfect, with a face to match and a pair of  gams  that could reach Bayonne.  Real looker, this broad.   It was  Lydell’s wife.    I grabbed my hat and told Della I was leaving for the  day.  I had a date with an angel-face named Sheila,  though she would never know it.  

Two days flew by and New York was still hot;  hotter than a fat guy eatin’  hot Chinese mustard you see on tables at , “Fuk So Yung’s Grill, Tap Room and Juke Joint”.   

I tracked down Shiela Lydell…upper eastside.  Nice apartment building, a doorman.   Watched her leave;  followed her to Macy’s to Gimble’s and up and down Park Avenue.    She spread dough around like a fat man in a mix- master at a donut shop in Queens.  

This doll liked action, too.  She was out every night with the same man.   He even left L ydell’s house with her.   He was another swell.   He looked important; like he knew things.  Looked shifty, too, like he took money under the table, then would spit in your eye and call you Hazel.  I’d say most likely a G-Man,  involved in law or politics,  maybe.  Whatever he was, he looked like he was knee deep into no good.    

I popped several shots of them with my camera.

Other than having an affair with this shifty character, I found nothing in her background.   This dame’s rap sheet was pristine…unlike a fat man who’d been fooled by mean neighborhood kids who’d given him a  torte topped with Chocolate Ganache, flavored with Ex-Lax.

The next morning, Harper arrived at my office like clockwork.   I’d prepared my final report, put it in a large envelop and as he sat down, I skimmed it across my desk.

He opened the folder and started reading.  

Mrs. Lydell’s  past is spotless.   Her family comes from blue bloods,  real respectable like.  No one has anything bad to say about her, but to answer to your inital question, yes, she is having an affair.  She’s been seen recently with a a man…maybe a  politician who’s obviously got a dubious reputation.”

Harper then removed the picture, took one look and his face reddened, like a fat guy in a….never mind.

He stood up and shouted, “Sphincter, you idiot!!  That man IS Congressman Lydell!!” 

I lit up a smoke and calmy replied, “Then you have your answer.  Where’s my dough, Harper?”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It was early winter and  it was an unseasonably cold in Gotham.   Everyone walked fast; eager to escape the the chill.  I looked at reddened faces and watched ‘em grimmace in the sleet, like  a naked fat man, caught eatin’ a side of raw beef  while hiding in  kosher butcher’s meat locker.   I still notice these things.  Why?   Because I used to be paid to.   That’s what I used to do.   The name is Sphincter….Bob Sphincter and I’m an ex-Private Dectective..

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                                                                      …    . .THE END

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