March 21, 2006

Drink? … Smoke? … Screwed!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 9:59 pm

It’s no secret. The Garden State’s finances are in the toilet. The state is looking at a shortfall in the billions of dollars. The voters knew this going into the most recent election for governor. Nevertheless, as history will record, Jon Corzine won the race.

Today, Governor Corzine announced his proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2007.

Let me preface this by saying that I am not an economist, nor am I particularly facile with figures. However, I do speak English, I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck, and I manage to pay my bills every month. Therefore, I tend to believe that if you are in a financial hole, the way to get out of the hole is to be sure that the amount of your “outgo” is less than less than the amount of the “outgo” that got you into the hole in the first place. In English, that means that you have to spend less than you have been spending until you are out of the red ink.

Which makes if difficult to understand why this year’s budget calls for spending increases over last year’s in the amount of 9.2 per cent.

The Governor explained this increase as being largely the result of “already legislated, mandated, negotiated and inflated costs.” The budget also includes some proposed reductions in spending, however, as Ken Adams pointed out in big, red letters, only in the world of politics do reductions in anticipated increases in spending equal “cuts”.

Not surprisingly, Enlighten New Jersey has provided considerable detail much better than I could have, and I suggest you head over there and check it out. I do, however, have a couple observations.

The Governor proposes that the state’s sales tax be raised from six percent to seven per cent. The government (and the press) characterize this as a “one percent increase” in the sales tax. That’s very clever, but even a math-challenged guy like Yours Truly knows that it is not a one percent increase, but rather it is an almost seventeen percent increase in sales tax. (Math 101, folks – 1/6 = 16.66). If you still can’t see it, it means that if a purchase normally would have cost you $100 in sales tax, the same purchase, under the Governor’s plan, would cost $116.66 in sales tax.

The Governor’s plan also nails the politically easy targets — smokers and drinkers. The taxes on cigarettes, wine, booze and beer are to be increased. I have to wonder whether sufficient thought was given to the collective effect that an increased cigarette tax will have on: (a) people deciding that they can no longer afford to smoke (healthier Garden Staters, but less revenue for the state), (b) increased cigarette sales in nearby states such as Pennsylvania and Delaware (less revenue for the state), and (c) increased internet cigarette purchases (less revenue for the state). I’m just sayin’.

Oh, and before the teetotalers out there get all giddy, did I mention that the Governor’s plan will also tax tap water. Yes, I said tap water. Talk about a “dry state”!

Although the budget and the state’s finances are complicated (and beyond the scope of this post), a couple things about the proposed budget seem clear at this juncture:

Republicans, not surprisingly, hate it.

Many democrats (who have a stake in the status quo) also hate it.

And, if the Star Ledger Readers’ Forum is any indication of public opinion, the citizens of New Jersey really hate it.

The next few weeks ought to be quite something to watch as the rogues politicians and lobbyists savage one another to protect their respective interests. Of course, while they wrestle in the muck that is the Jersey Political Swamp, people and businesses will quietly go elsewhere.

In typical Jersey fashion, no one will notice until its too late.

Update: DynamoBuzz has more here, here and here.


Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 2:33 am

First, Leann reappears, and now this!

Maybe it’s the change of seasons.

Leann Redux.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 2:16 am


She’s back!

March 20, 2006

He Threw What?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 8:37 pm

OK, say you’re a 33 year old guy in Chicago who is distraught over problems with your girlfriend back in Poland.

What to do?

Seems pretty straightforward to me. You smash a bunch of car windows and then break into a house near the smashed cars.

Ooops! Someone must have called the police, because at least a half-dozen of them have taken up positions outside the house.

What to do?

Sheesh, it’s a no-brainer:

You proceed to the kitchen.

You remove all your clothing.

You gather up some kitchen knives to throw at the cops.

You slice off your sharona.

You run outside.

You throw the knives at the cops.

You throw your sharona at the cops.

You run inside to get more knives.

Read the whole thing.

NOTE: My German-speaking readers might get a kick out of the pronunciation (ignore the spelling) of the sharona flinger’s name.

Thanks to my friend Brian, the Air Force Vet

From the Ol’ Mailbag.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 7:35 pm

Like everyone, I loathe e-mail spam. I delete probably 99% of it without opening it. Occasionally, I will receive a few that are not obviously spam, and I will open them to see if they are legit. Ninety-nine percent of those turn to have been spam, which, in turn, gets them deleted with something just shy of the speed of light.

Occasionally, however, I open one that is so patently ridiculous it makes me laugh. I have to wonder if anyone brighter than a toilet bowel brush would respond to its pitch. Check this one out.

Good day sir,

You are approved for re feyenance

We provide high-quality professional re finaance for residential and comme= rcial assets.

Our flexible aleending standards let us look at you as an individual, with= out the rigid formulas.

Get aapp roval in minutes. No hidden ale ander afees. App ly now.

U S $ 250 ,000 aL0 aANS are avai lable for only $225 / month=

I definitely gotta get me some of that free MOaNEY.

March 18, 2006

The Wedding From Hell.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 6:32 pm

Bride Groom.jpgI played drums and sang in a band for years in nightclubs saloons. However, due in no small part to competition from D.J.s, who were cheaper for the saloon owner to hire, the demand for live Friday and Saturday night music shrunk.

So, we cleaned up, bought a bunch of tuxedos and switched to playing weddings, and we played a shitload of them (parties too). We were not the typical “wedding band”. Rather we were a polished saloon act that “did” weddings, and, as I said, we played a lot of them, most of which are a blur to me now – except for one.

That would be The Wedding from Hell. Here’s the story.

Background on the Catering Hall
The Wedding from Hell took place in a venue where I would have least expected it. The Catering Hall was first-class. It was owned and operated by two brothers, who were anal retentive about cleanliness, orderliness, and running a tight ship. The kitchen was as clean as a surgical suite, drinking of alcoholic beverages was “on the house” for the band, as was dinner. In exchange, you followed the Owners’ Rules. For example, no alcoholic beverages on stages, no smoking on stage (always bad form anyway), and don’t even think about leaning a piece of equipment against the wall.

Their penchant for maintaining order was evidenced by the omnipresence of a uniformed off-duty police officer during all events.

The point being that this was not a Bucket of Blood type joint.

The Bridal Party is Late.
It is not all that unusual for the Bridal Party to be a few minutes late, almost always because of delays resulting from having photographs taken offsite. However, on this evening, the Bridal Party was already almost an hour late, and they had not stopped for pictures. We knew this because the photographer was at the hall. He explained that they did not plan to go anywhere to take photos, as he would meet the Bridal Party at the hall immediately following the ceremony to shoot pictures at the hall.

At the request of the Bride’s family, we began at the appointed time, with the understanding that we would take a short break when the Bridal Party arrived so that I would be able to speak with the members of the Bridal Party about the logistics surrounding their entry into the hall.

The Bridal Party Finally Arrives.
I was advised that the Bridal Party had finally arrived and that they were in a downstairs room. I headed downstairs to do my thing, which included explaining how the next ten minutes or so was to go and making absolutely sure that I would pronounce everyone’s name exactly right (a very big deal). Under the best of circumstances, it can be a bit difficult to get everyone’s undivided attention, because it is, after all, a party.

This time it was damned near impossible to get anyone’s attention, because between the church and the hall, they had stopped at a bar and done some power drinking. They were all shitfaced. To make matters worse, I walked into the room just as they were all snorting prodigious amounts of coke (the powdery kind).

It took me a while, but I finally got everyone’s names and formed them up to enter the room, which they managed to do in a raucous booze and coke-driven manner. The Bride and Groom even got through their first dance, although I could see that the Bride was beginning to fade.

Flying Food.
The party was wild from the get-go. At one point a waitress carrying a huge tray of salads was knocked on her ass by revelers, causing a salad explosion. The Owner in charge for that evening was not at all happy.

The dinner was finally served, and we were playing appropriate music. The keyboard guy was to my left (the other three band members were in front of us), and we were on a stage that was elevated approximately two and a half feet. There were two tables set up on the floor to the keyboard player’s left.

The keyboard guy looked in my direction and said, “Holy shit! Did you see that? I responded, “See what?” He answered, “The broad in the blue dress at the first table just blew her fucking nose in the tablecloth!” Incredulous, I looked at the woman, and she did it again, followed by the usual nasal wipage. Gross.

The wedding was getting weirder by the moment.

A Dollar a Dance.
The Bride’s sister (who despite the booze and coke was ambulatory) explained that she wanted us to play a slow tune so that the men in the room, for a dollar, could each take a turn dancing with the Bride. This must have been some kind family tradition.

I said to the sister, “We can do that, but I’m not sure that your sister (the Bride) is going to be very interested in participating.” I just couldn’t muster up the nerve to say, “Are your crazy? Your sister is absolutely crocked and can hardly stand up.” She said that she would “have a word” with her sister, the Bride.

The “word” turned into a loud exchange of words, which resulted in the Bride having a world-class crying jag. Nevertheless, the Bride agreed to do the Dollar a Dance thing (while still sobbing), but fell flat on her ass during the first partner switch. The woman was legless. The crying jag returned with a vengeance.

The Bride’s “friends” took her crying ass downstairs to try to sober her up. Their efforts consisted of holding the Bride’s head under a faucet. The Bride was pretty much out of the picture for the balance of the night.

Special Delivery!
I believe that it was about 10:00 p.m. when we learned that several trucks had pulled up to the Catering Hall and delivered forty pizzas! Pizzas!! Forty of them! They came from a local pizza joint. I thought the Owner would shit a pickle at the prospect of a hundred-fifty raucous drunks (some heavily coked up) slobbering pizza all over his carpets.

A bad scene.

Forty farookin’ pizzas! I still can’t get over it.

Dancing on the Tables.
You had to know that it would get down to this. A half dozen or so first-class Vulgarians hopped up on the tables and started dancing and, in the process, knocked stuff all over the Owner’s carpets. At this point, the Owner interceded with the cop and actually blew a loud whistle. He explained that, if the table dancing didn’t stop immediately, the reception was over.

Here Comes the Bride.
We managed to finish the night, and as we were packing up (just about everyone had left), I saw the Bride walking in our direction. Her hair was dripping wet, and she was wearing a pair of brown Nike sneakers with her wedding gown. With one hand, she was eating a downward-drooping slice of cold pizza, and she had a lit cigarette in the other hand. She had a pack of Marlboros stuck between her tits.

She walked up to me and said, ”You guys were fuckin’ great.”

I was speechless.

We loaded the truck and headed for home, when, after a few minutes, I remembered that I had left my tux in the hall. We swung back so that I could pick it up. I entered the darkened and now-empty hall.

The Owner was standing on his head in the middle of the dance floor. I quietly picked up my tux and vacated the premises.

It’s true.

March 17, 2006


Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 8:43 pm

How said is this?

This is one gifted woman. She’s been outta here for a while — long enough to be removed from Mr. Blogroll.

I just can’t do it just now.

I’ll give her another month to think about coming back.

Happy St. Patty’s Day!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 8:20 pm

Green Beer.jpg

From one who is Irish three-hundred-sixty-five days per year, a Happy St. Pat’s Day to to the rest o’ ya..

March 16, 2006

Hot Licks, Memorable Licks, and Unusual Licks.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 9:56 pm

G Clef.jpgAt the outset, I would like to unequivocally state that this post has nothing to do with tongues. It does have everything to do with musical licks, which are snippets of songs that are: 1. ”Hot” because of their musical complexity and difficulty to play, 2. Memorable because of their innovation or effect they had on music in general at the time they appeared, or 3. Unusual, because one would ordinarily not expect to hear them in a rock and roll tune.

I got to thinking about what Licks have caught my attention over the years. Mind you, I didn’t spend a good deal of time mulling over this list. These just popped into my cruller, so I thought I would share. The categories and picks are mine alone (doubtless many can think of better examples), and they are in no particular order.

Outstanding Bass Guitar Lick: It’s the two or three bar bass lick in the middle of “Call Me Al” by Paul Simon. That is some ass-kickin’ bass playing.

Two Guitar Solo: No question. It’s the two-guitar solo in the Eagles’ “Hotel California”. Gives me chills every time I hear it.

Piano Lick: Probably a zillion that could qualify, but the one that comes to mind is the piano playing at machine gun speed in the beginning of Billy Joel’s “Angry Young Man”.

Ass-Kicking Song Beginning: Is there a better instrumental beginning of tune than the beginning of “China Grove” by the Doobie Brothers? That grabs you by the guts and won’t let go.

Guitar Hook that Runs Through the Entire Tune: It’s Mark Knopfler’s guitar lick in “Money for Nothing”. Honorable mention to Keith Richards’ guitar lick in “The Last Time”.

Drums: It is the very basic four bar “solo” in the Venture’s “Walk Don’t Run”. This is a classic example of a lick that is not notable for its difficulty. On a scale of difficulty from one to ten, this is about a 0.1, but it caught everyone’s attention at the time and was probably responsible for Slingerland, Rogers and Ludwig selling thousands of drum sets.

Guitar Lick with Distortion: Gotta be the guitar lick in the Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction”. I remember when the record first appeared, no one could figure out exactly what instrument was playing the now-famous guitar part. However, it didn’t take long before music stores were selling “fuzz boxes” like hotcakes.

Outstanding use of a Wah-Wah Pedal: For me, it is the beginning of Isaac Hayes’ “Theme form Shaft”. Every time I hear that, I consider it a Master Lesson in the proper use of a Wah-Wah pedal.

Best Bassoon in a Tune: Small category, this, but ya gotta love the bassoon part in Simon and Garfunkel’s “Feeling Groovy” (a/k/a the “59th Street Bridge Song”) as performed by Harper’s Bazaar. Those four-note licks are absolutely perfect.

Best Recorder: This is another very small category. In fact, the only tune I know of that uses a recorder is the Rolling Stones’ “Ruby Tuesday”. I believe the now-dead Brian Jones played it. No, it is not a flute; it is a recorder.

Best Theremin: This a microscopic category. However, you can hear it played well by Rob Schwimmer in Simon and Garfunkel’s recent live concert recording. of “The Boxer”.

Best Kazoo: No question about it. It’s Denny, the Grouchy Old Cripple’s live version of “Rocky Raccoon”. This has never been recorded, but it damned well should be.

March 15, 2006

More Life 101.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 11:51 pm

Yep. I did more than my fair share of Life 101 today. It was capped off by a few Bombay Sapphire gin martinis.

‘Nuf said.

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