August 31, 2003

Rained On, but Not Rained Out.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 5:56 pm

Yesterday was the annual Labor Day Weekend Bash at Ken and Kathy’s house. It was not unlike numerous previous gatherings all summer long, only for Labor Day, the food is ramped up a bit from the usual hot dogs and burgers, and the booze is even more plentiful (if that’s possible). Everyone brings something to eat and drink, and for Labor Day, we chip in to buy filet mignon, which along with baked potatoes, and several terrific vegetables and salads was the day’s fare. Appetizers consisted of a couple loaves of freshly made sausage bread from a local Italian Deli, and a couple grilled kielbasas made by a local German Butcher. There was also a dizzying display of desserts. Excellent.

Unfortunately, the weather was lousy. I rained on and off all day. This makes it two in a row, as I recall that last year we partied through a veritable monsoon. Most of the deck is covered by a tent-like structure, which is large enough to permit everyone to stay pretty dry. In addition, the rain did not keep people out of the pool (with their cocktails, of course) between the showers. (Ken, the “Anal Cruise Director” had made sure the water was heated to just shy of ninety degrees).

The rain also did not stop the non-stop sixties music, along with much of the usual needling:

“I can’t believe that you actually like the Four Seasons!”

“You gotta be shittin’ me. They’re great. Whatsa matter with you? They’re local guys, fer chrissake.”

“Take that crap off and put on some Dion.”

“Dion? No way. I wanna hear the Doors.”

“No!! The Beatles. Put the goddamn Beatles on!”

“I never really liked the Beatles. You couldn’t dance to most of their shit. Put on some Motown. Where’s the friggin’ Motown?”

…and so it goes.

The music choices really don’t matter, because damned near everyone knows damned near all the songs, and no one is shy about singing along, particularly as the levels in the vodka bottles go down.

The rain did, however, prevent the continuation of the never-ending horseshoe competition. However, it did not stop the back and forth between the two rival teams. Ken, the Anal Cruise Director, and I regularly play against Jeff and Artie, two guys who are sufficiently delusional to continue to insist that that they actually are ahead in the tournament that has now spanned a couple years.

Sorry asses.

Cigar smoking is also big at these events, and this year was no exception. However, this year was even better in the cigar-smoking department, as Bill, the newest addition to the Usual Suspects, brought along some truly primo CAOs and some absolutely excellent torpedoes, aged for five years (the name of which escapes me at the moment).

So, we had plenty of food, copious amounts of booze, lots of ice, great music, excellent cigars, terrific conversation and the company of good friends.

Screw the rain.

August 30, 2003

The Comments are Up.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 1:27 pm

Thanks to TJ for the help and unending patience.

Update: Yesterday, I managed to get the comment feature up and running just before I had to run out the door to the annual Labor Day Shindig with the Usual Suspects. As such, I did not have then, nor do I have now any real feel for the available features. Over the next few days, I plan on trying to learn more about how to get the most from the feature. Truth is, right now, I really don’t know a damned thing about it, except how read and leave comments. Then again, those are the most important things, no?

Thanks to all those who took the time to leave a comment or two.

More on Comments.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 1:02 am

I promise this will be brief. TJ has found a new comment feature to replace the one she had been using, which was down as often as was working. I think I will give it a go. However, I think I had better wait until I am Finlandia free before I monkey around with my template.


Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 12:27 am

I had to attend a wake after work. When I returned to the House by the Parkway I had something to eat and a couple three Finlandia cranberry vodkas straight from the freezer. I decided to sit down to watch a “couple minutes” of tube before firing up the computer to do a bit of blogging. Ha!

I just woke up. Love that Finlandia.

August 28, 2003

This is REALLY Weird.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 9:47 pm

While sitting at your desk make clockwise circles with your right foot. While doing this, draw the number “6” in the air with your right hand.

What direction is your foot going now?

This has been driving me nuts. It’s quite different, if you use your left foot.

Thanks to my friend Brian, an Air Force Vet.

Clown Alert!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 8:59 pm

As many of you know, I farookin’ hate clowns. I’m not afraid of them; I just hate them. However, I will make an exception for Buffo the World’s Strongest Clown. He scares me.

Via The Presurfer.

August 27, 2003

My Comments on “Comments”.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 11:09 pm

Beware: Not counting the title and this sentence, the word “comment” (or variations of the word) appears 33 times in this post. No comment.

On several occasions, readers have commented (either in other blogs or in e-mails) on the lack of a comment feature on this site. Indeed, the absence of such a feature here was recently a source of frustration to Buffy at Arrrgh! (a blog most fittingly named, given these circumstances), who wanted very much to comment on a recent post. For Tiger, a comments section is an absolute must for success in the blogosphere, although he most kindly identified this site as representing one of the exceptions to the rule.

When I began all this, I never gave much, if any, thought to comments for several reasons, one of which being that a comment feature was not and is not an option on BlogSpot. In addition, my plan was simply to write stuff and sail it into cyberspace, not thinking that anyone, with possible exception of TJ and Cousin Jack, would take the time to read it, let alone take the additional time to write a comment. However, I have now been at this for approximately the gestation period of a human, and I have happily learned that some people really do read this stuff – probably a sufficient number to fill up three or four buses, should we ever get together for a road trip. (Compare that to Instapundit, whose daily readers could fill all the seats Yankee Stadium and still leave about 20,000 people waiting outside on line).

I also have learned that I enjoy leaving comments on other people’s blogs as well as reading the comments left by other readers. With all that said, here are, for me, the pros and cons of adding comments to this site.

Reasons why I should add comments:
1. Now that I know that people do read this stuff, it would be interesting to learn a bit more about them and to hear what they have to say. I get a handful of e-mails per week, and I am always happy to receive them and get a feel for who is out there. The good news is that the people who take the time to write to me (about an even split between bloggers and non-bloggers) have been, without exception, very nice. I think a comment section would allow me to “meet” even more readers.

2. I think that a comment feature might also attract a bit more traffic. If nothing else, it might cause people who left comments to return to see if any other comments were made, and, if so, whether they acknowledged their original comment. Let’s face it. We all like to be noticed, and I believe that most folks who say that they don’t care about traffic are, to be kind, being less than completely candid. If they didn’t care whether anyone read their stuff, they could simply type daily entries and file them away.

3. Comments could also provide a source of ideas for future posts.

4. Comments are generally fun to read, because they are almost always short, to the point, and are often written on the fly. As such, they are a bit more spontaneous than carefully crafted posts.

5. Finally, as noted above, several good people have expressed an interest in my adding the feature. Good “customer relations” would, therefore, seem to militate in favor of adding comments.

Reasons why I should not add comments:
1. Because they are not available on BlogSpot, it means finding a third-party source for a comment feature.

2. A comment feature will mean another opportunity for me to confirm my techno-stupidity and get completely flummoxed trying to figure out how to get it running. Hell, my logo would still be sitting on my C Drive (I know some of the lingo), if Kathy from On the Third Hand hadn’t kindly volunteered to show me how to get it onto the blog.

3. A comment feature is just another thing that can crater and, as such, is another potential source of major annoyance.

4. A comment feature might well screw up the rest of the page. I know that some comment features dramatically increase the time it takes for a page to load – another source of annoyance, not just for me, but also for the readers.

5. I don’t tolerate fools very well. I think I would have a difficult time not responding to a commenter who made a stupid statement. And one thing I do NOT want is to have a comment section become a forum for a verbal brawl, with me being one of the participants. I do this for fun and for a release from the real-life brawls.

6. Finally, there are the trolls. I would like to think that I would not attract any, but that would be like sitting outside on a hot summer night in Jersey and thinking that the mosquitoes will bite everyone else but me. I notice that the more seasoned bloggers seem to be good at ignoring trolls, or even publicly savoring their stupidity. However, I think they would bother me.

So, What’s the deal, Jimbo?
On balance, after considering both sides of the issue, I think I will look into adding a comment feature. I see that some folks such as Desiree use Haloscan, and the comments seem to work well and do not noticeably slow down the page loading. I think I will check that out first. If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know (Sorry. E-mail is the only way other than smoke signals.).

As for the fools and the trolls, I will just have to see how I well I deal with it. I believe that all comment features have a “delete” function. And, if it doesn’t work out, I can always scrap the comment feature, knowing that I tried it and didn’t like it.

I’ll keep you posted.

Note: There is no need to tell me to move from BlogSpot to software that contains a built-in comments feature. I know that, and I have been working myself up to critical mass to move over to Movable Type. However, it just seems like such a time-intensive and frustrating process, when pretty much all my time is spoken for, and frustration is something I need about as much as I need an ingrown asshole.

August 26, 2003

Harmony Redux.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 10:10 pm

I got a lucky today when, for a while, Acidman was uncharacteristically having difficulty thinking of something to write about. So, he referred to yesterday’s post about harmony and shared his thoughts on the subject.

His self-described, uncanny ability to harmonize perfectly and almost instinctively with his brother is consistent with my observation (hardly an original one) that family members are often perfectly built for harmony. I have no siblings, but TJ and I have been known to sing some pretty kickass harmony. Hell, we sang harmony at her wedding.

Acidman also made some excellent additions to my list: From his list, I am familiar with the following singers, all of whom he is right about belonging on the list.

Linda Rondstat, Dolly Parton and Emmy Lou Harris when they sang together (the “Trio” album – and they may have done another)
Fleetwood Mac (I always thought that Christine McVie packed more musical gear than did Stevie Nicks, but the harmony is excellent.)

Simon and Garfunkle
The Beatles (How could I have forgotten these guys?)
The Statler Brothers
The Doobie Brothers

I think I would also add the Oak Ridge Boys and the Bachelors.

Jay Solo also linked to the post, noting that he seemed to remember a group other than the Chordettes singing “Mr. Sandman” in the movie “Back to the Future.” He is quite right. The movie featured the “Four Aces” doing the song. I do not know the date of the Four Aces’ version of the song, but the Chordettes 1954 version was the big hit.

Speaking of the Four Aces, they also qualify for the list, having sung Tell Me Why, Three Coins in the Fountain and Love is a Many Splendored Thing (the best of the three, in my view).

Finally, Cousin Jack weighed in an e-mail reminding me of Crosby, Stills and Nash (and Young) and suggested that I listen to a group called the Thorns. Finally, TJ’s husband (i.e. my son-in-law) suggested that I give a listen to the Roches.

I have to stop before I keep adding more to the list.

All this talk of music and harmony makes me want to grab the Gibson Dreadnaught and head down to the Jawja Cracker Box for some pickin’, drinkin’ and harmonizin’. Musicians know that once you get to pickin’ drinkin’ and harmonizin’ even a Jersey Yankee and a Jawja Cracker are instantly on the same wavelength.

August 25, 2003


Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 10:29 pm

Lately I have been thinking about how much I love the sound of well-sung harmony. When it is done right, it is often difficult to pick out the individual parts, and when it is sung by close relatives with similar vocal chords and other hereditary singing “equipment,” it is even better. In my life I have been lucky enough to have played in bands and actually have gotten plenty of opportunities to sing in harmony. For me, there are few things greater than getting it just right.

I wonder if people who are not particularly musical appreciate good harmony. I suspect they do not, if my discussions with some of my relatively non-musical friends are any indication. I have found that, if while a tune containing harmony is playing, I ask my friends how they like the harmony, they will often respond with a quizzical look and a “Who cares about harmony? I like/don’t like the song.”

Even though there are many who don’t appreciate good harmony, I am quite confidant that most people, except for the rare few who are truly tone deaf, are able to recognize bad harmony (which, after all, is really non-harmony or dissonance). They might not know exactly what is wrong, but they can recognize that something is terribly wrong if one of the singers is hitting a clinker.

Anyway, for what little it’s worth, here are the groups that I think sing first-class harmony. They are in no particular order, and the list is anything but exhaustive. These are just the ones that come to me as I sit here:

The Everly Brothers
The Bee Gees
The Mills Brothers

The Andrews Sisters
Note: The above four illustrate the point about close relatives doing the best harmony. The Brothers Gibb are probably the only people on the planet with the characteristic “Bee Gees” voice.
The Beach Boys
Manhattan Transfer
The Association
The Eagles

The Chordettes (Anyone remember them? “Mr. Sandman”)
The Dixie Chicks (Bad politics, great harmony)
Boyz II Men (Don’t care for their material, but they can sing great harmony)
NSYNC (Really don’t care for their material, but they too can sing great harmony)

I know that as soon as I post this I will think of a half dozen more that I should have mentioned.


Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 9:26 pm

The other day I noted that the author of Born that Way had mentioned having only three readers. I had hoped that my post would create a “Parkwaylanche” that would double his readership. As of this moment, the site has received 15 visitors today, a bunch of whom came from this site.

From three to a good piece of fifteen. I am absolutely drunk with power.

Joking aside, I find it to be a good read.

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