Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Eagle Has Landed. With a Thud.

The Boss there at TheCompanyIWorkFor meets with an advertising guy every once in a while. He works for the communications network that owns several of the radio stations here in town.

Last time he called, I threw in a suggestion. "When he comes in, could you please ask him for me why The Eagle sucks so much?" She declined.

The Eagle is the "Freedom Rock" radio station in our town. And possibly in your town, too. See, that's the first thing about The Eagle. It's one of those generic, never mention the call letters, never say anything about a town, never get too personal, stations. I have a feeling The Eagle is an office somewhere in Middle America with one machine in it, and a tape loop spouting out its stuff around the globe.

And you know, in the days of huge-market radio and internet radio, I don't consider that any great sin. It's just not "my thing."

There is a sin, though. Oh, there's a sin.

The thing about The Eagle is that it sucks. (As mentioned above.) And for a while, I thought I knew why, but then I started to get itchy and hinky and wonder about it.

I mean, on the surface, it's as plain as the nose on one's face. The Eagle sucks because it has three decades of music to glean from (the 60s, 70s, and 80s), and they play the same damn songs over and over again until you want to puke.

I mean, I'm telling you. Think about those three decades of music, and the gold in there. And yet, in the couple of years I've been listening to The Eagle, with gritted teeth and a very hard grip on my steering wheel, I've heard the same songs over and over.

"Flirtin' With Disaster." "Comfortably Numb." "Baba O'Reilly." (and "Who Are You," for that matter.) "Rag Doll," by Aerosmith. I mean, they have three decades of Aerosmith and play "Rag Doll" three times a week? "Bohemian Rhapsody" and "Fat Bottomed Girls." Over, and over, and over.

But then, there are songs that are like "Number One With a Bullet" at The Eagle. I swear to The Holy Lord Himself they play "Behind Blue Eyes" every single fucking day. They play "Aqualung" so much I now know the words to it, for which I think I have hefty right for a lawsuit. Hell, they once played "Aqualung" at 2:00, then 3:50 on the same day! We always hear "Life in the Fast Lane," which is by the Eagles, and they also play other Eagles songs, I guess because we're supposed to equate the Eagles with The Eagle.

I swear to you, the Dear Nephew plays in a Southern Rock band, and is proud to do so, and on the night I saw them they did more songs in one night than The Eagle plays in a month.

Now, I've mentioned it here before, for many years in my driving life in both Podmobiles, the NPR station out of Roanoke was my only radio. I liked the music, and I liked All Things Considered.

Then two things happened. One odd, and one horrible. I started absolutely hating to listen to news, especially political news, and my NPR buddy Sethie passed away.

And though another buddy took over for Sethie, and some of the stuff he plays is good, it's just, well, it's not Seth. And there's no gentle, low voice anymore. And so I go to The Eagle more and more.

And roll my eyes over and over again.

But then something else has been happening. Lately, I'm not rolling my eyes, I'm getting angry.

When I hit the button for The Eagle and they're playing "Behind Blue Eyes," I curse a string of oaths that would make sailors blush.

Tuesday night I had to run a few errands after work that entailed going to the far end of town and back. And during the trip home, I hit The Eagle and they were playing one of their "go-tos." I think it was "Can't You See," by the Marshall Tucker Band.

And all of a sudden, I had an epiphany. I know why The Eagle sucks!

See, with extremely few exceptions (I mean, one day they played Bowie's "Suffragette City" and I screamed and pumped my fist - and never heard it again), The Eagle has a rotating stable of about 30 songs they play over and over, some more than others. So it's basically a Top 30 radio station.

And there are Top 30 radio stations out there right now, polluting the airwaves of Our Great Land.

But the difference is - with the other Top 30 radio stations, you have 30 songs. And they're probably crap, but I don't like today's pop music.


However!

However, with other Top 30 stations, you know that soon enough, those current Top 30 songs are going to die out, and 30 new songs are going to be released, and you're going to have a changing of the guards. Sure, the new 30 songs on the charts may well be crap too, but there might be one good one in there.

There's always hope.

With The Eagle, there is no hope.

They have 30 songs they've been playing since I've been listening, and they play oldies, so nothing new's ever going to come out. Until Kingdom Come, these are the 30 Golden Songs.

And let's be honest, some of those songs are not crap, just like in today. Hey, sometimes it's fun to speed down the highway to "Flirtin' With Disaster," or try and harmonize with Queen. It's just that that's all there is. They refuse to change it up.

I have a buddy, Sal, who does an internet radio show once a week. He has about the same time frame to work from, and sure, he's not a "Freedom Rock" guy, he's a "These Three Decades" guy, but, man. He plays such a wide spectrum of stuff from our past, sometimes it blows my mind. And often makes sing. And always makes me smile.

Sal, why don't you do a hostile takeover of The Eagle?

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Thursday, March 01, 2012

The Week That Was

Hello, my blogees. Boy, it's been a while, ain't it?

I've been limping along lately, working at work, working at home, and trying to keep things in Betland together. (No rusted rides, no poisonous concessions, etc.)

But you know, my birthday was Sunday. That would be your Sunday, Feb 26th. I was ready to celebrate and forget about things in "real life" for a while. Hell, if I have to become a bitter old crone, why not celebrate it?

It started on Friday, February 24th. Friday, yes! The weekend was coming, and I had weekend plans! And they started with leaving work Friday, picking up Paw, and heading to Lowe's to pick out my birthday present, the one I specifically asked for from Paw and Granny.

A new storm door.

Yes, how romantic, and what a fun gift. But it's exactly what I wanted, and, well, needed. I have a new storm door at the front of the Pod, but the one at the dennette door, the one I use 99% of the time, is just about shot. And realize, I have a Milo in my life, so a working storm door with a good latch and a good lock is a must.

We went and picked out my door, set it all up for installation, and I was feeling pretty good. I could hang with Stennie that night doing the podcast, then I was to head to Mr M's the next day for dinner and movie. I was happy.

I got up early Saturday morning to take Milo out, and there was a small dusting of snow on the grass. "A mere trifle," I said, and brought Milo back in and lazed around in the Comfy Chair.

A couple of hours later, the phone rang. It was Paw. "Have you not left?" he asked. I said, well, no, and he asked me to look out the window. It was snowing like a mother.

"Oh, shit! Why does God hate me so?" I exclaimed, and of course my dad chastised me for that, but I got him off the phone and started running around, pulling on clothes and stuffing things in the overnight bag, without benefit of shower or anything else except a toothbrushing.

I hit the road, and the bad snow ended pretty quickly, though it did snow on me almost the whole way to B'burg. The wind, though. My Lord, the wind was blowing me this way and that, and I was fighting to keep the car on the road.

But I made it there, and then things were OK. (Well, except for a couple of skirmishes between Mr M and me.) We had a great dinner out with The DeepFatFriar, then went to see our movie. The next morning, I got to laze around and Mr M made me pecan waffles. I so didn't want to go home.

But home it was, because it was a Paw Duty weekend. And you know, it was OK. Me and Paw giggled and joked our way through the whole grocery, then I got home to prepare for the "fun stuff."

See, the Oscars were on Sunday, my birthday (thank you Oscar People), and we have a little TheCompanyIWorkFor codicil that says we get our birthdays off. Since mine was on a Sunday, I announced I wouldn't be at work Monday.

So I was excited to watch the Oscars, stay up late, play Stennie's Oscar Drinking Game, and not have to worry about going to work the next day.

So I got everything in place, hit the internet, watched the Oscars by myself on TV, and with my friends online, and had a blast. When it was done, I went to bed and prepared to snooze while my TV was on, tuned to all the after-parties.

That didn't go so well.

I climbed into bed and turned on the TeeVee, and it was all funny. The picture had lines, and buzzes and pops through the speakers, and I couldn't tell who anyone was. I muttered, "Stupid cable," turned over and fell asleep.

I slept in Monday. Yes, I slept in an astounding 15 minutes. Then Milo barked and I got up and leashed him and went out. When we did, there was a line of traffic in front of my house. Because the trash truck was running, at the building one house south of me.

I had missed Trash Duty Monday by one house.

I called Paw and told him I was bringing a bag of trash to his house. And here, folks, is how old people are. He hemmed and hawed, and basically said he didn't want it. Apparently he has three trash cans, and one more bag of trash there would totally set the earth off its axis, because it might not fit in the cans. I told him I was bringing it anyway, and I did.

Also on Monday, the guy from Lowe's called me and said he'd be there Tuesday to install my new door. Wooooo!

However, Monday contained something else. While the cable in my bedroom was still lining and popping and cracking, I found out the two other TVs in my house got cable just fine. Oh, crap. Not the cable. My 9-year old TV in the bedroom had gone, I said to myself, and schlepped out to the Wally World (Wal-Mart) to get a new one. (I can't be without TV in the bedroom.)

$278 and a lot of lifting later, the nice new TV was in my house. Then my cousin Jacob came down, loved on Milo, we hung out, then went out to dinner. It was great.

When we got back from dinner, she was kind enough to come in and help me put the new TV up. It went fairly smoothly, and we got everything in place. We hooked it up and turned it on. It did the same damn thing the old one did. Pops and cracks and lines. "Hey, I spent $278 for nothing!" I exclaimed.

I knew a call to the Comcast Bastards was in my future.

However, the next day was Tuesday, Storm Door Day! I came home for lunch, and the Lowe's guy arrived shortly after. Milo was a nutcase and whined and ran around everywhere, and I apologized, but he said that was fine.

He took off the old door, I watched him through the side window of the Pod, then I heard, "Ms B? Ms B?" I walked to the opening of the dennette and leaned over the gate (which I couldn't open because Milo was Mr Batshit Crazy), and said, "Yes?"

Then Mr Installer informed me that I seem to have a "non-standard-sized' door. Width can vary, he said, but height is standard. 81 inches. My opening was 82 inches.

I shouldn't have been surprised. Not only was my house built in the 50's, and all fixtures I've had to replace don't match with ones made today, but the dennette was an addition to the house, and apparently whoever addended it didn't care about door size.

I had two choices, I was told. Get a special ordered door at 82 inches for $200 more than we'd already paid, or have Mr Installer work on the door facing and build it down and inch. Which sounded complicated, but I found out today that would cost about $70. Guess which one I chose.

Now, the cable box.

Since a new ($278) TeeVee didn't solve my problem on Monday, I decided while Mr Installer was there I'd take the bedroom cable box and schlep (I seem to be schlepping a lot) it to the living room to hook it up there. By the way, I hate this kind of stuff. I hate playing with hook-ups and wires and connections like the plague. But I did it.

I hooked that box into the living room TV, and it played just fine. And that lead me to what we call The Worst Case Scenario.

That the problem wasn't a TeeVee or cable box, but the cable coming into the bedroom. Which is, might I add, coming into the bedroom behind my (very) full and heavy chest of drawers. (Or Chester Drawers, if you live here.)

I took the box back and hooked it up in the bedroom, and well, it's been spotty. It was working for a while right after the TV started, then went wonky. Last night? It worked perfectly all night long.

The Comcast folk are coming tomorrow morning. I need to move approximately 15,000 things in my bedroom away from that chest to give the guy the best chance he has to get at the cable. AND - if the box is still working perfectly, what do I say?

"That box is a liar! It's bad!" Umm, because that's what Comcast taught it, right?

I don't know.

All I know is that tomorrow is Friday. I like Fridays.

Betland's Olympic Update:
- Never do these anymore, but yesterday we got the news that Davy Jones of the Monkees died. So sad. I feel like another huge chunk of my youth is gone.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

(because of circumstances you might understand, I never wrote a blog about my friend Seth Williamson. I'm still not over it, I try, but I don't think any of us who loved him will be over it. I hope this does you some justice, my buddy.)


I'm Still Bereft


The first week of October, I lost a friend.

And the way I lost him, well, I just can't fathom.

I had to go pick Granny up from her eye appointment. It was a Friday, I didn't mind, I got a few minutes out of work, I'd pick Granny up, deposit her home, then head back to work with the weekend ahead of me.

I went out to the parking lot and got in my car. I revved it up. My radio, as always,
was tuned to the NPR station out of R'noke, the only one I listen to. It was pledge week. A downer to be sure, more talk and less music, but that was OK by me. My buddy Steve B from the Community Band (the afternoon guy) was talking away, trying to get people to give to the cause.

But as I was backing out of my parking spot, something happened. He said something I wasn't sure about.

"I know he would have wanted us to carry on and reach our goal."

My blood ran cold.

See, I knew, from Facebook that my SKB buddy and dear friend Seth - the normal 'morning guy' on the NPR station - was in the hospital. His daughter reported that he had to be taken to the local hospital to have gall bladder surgery. Gall bladder surgery? It's relatively simple. Hell, I had it some 18 years ago, and I came out just fine.

But something just didn't feel right.

I continued backing out of my spot and heading out to meet Granny. Then it came.

Steve Brown announced that Sethie had suddenly died the night before, after his surgery.

I can't explain it. Suddenly, in a way, my world ended that morning. Still trying to go through the parking lot to head out to meet Granny, tears making it nigh-on impossible to drive.

In my life I've lost a grandfather, two grandmothers I loved dearly, an uncle and an aunt. Thank God I still have both parents with me, and all my immediate family.

I swear to God, nothing has hit me as hard as this.

Seth Williamson was my friend. But he was so much more.

I first knew him from Community Band, a euphonium player who seemed larger than life, with a big booming voice, always ready with a hilarious quip to throw out to the band. He did the narration for every July 4th concert the band played, and I swear, some of the rehearsals with his narration were so great (with outtakes and asides), I kind of fell in love with him.

Then about 8 years ago, I got my dream. To join the Sauerkraut Band. I'd wanted to for some 10 years, and (thanks, Mr M) I was asked to come along for the ride. Seth played euphonium in the Sauerkraut Band.

And that's when I realized that falling in love with Seth was, well, par for the course.

He was wonderful. So kind. So funny. So talented. The kind of person who made a girl coming into a new group feel welcome, like she was "one of the gang."

I sat right behind him all those years up the mountain at Oktoberfest. And I have to tell you, when things got rough, or boring, or beyond tolerating, he could always turn around and say something to me that would crack me up and keep me going.

Mr M and Sethie became great friends. They charged emails back and forth between them, arguing over politics and religion, the two things people should never talk about. But they were so close, they had to.

I can remember many a time when it came intermission at Oktoberfest, when Seth would go outside on the patio and grab a chair to sit. Mr M and I, and always other SKB members, would go over to where he was to talk and laugh.

Besides being a fine musician and singer, Seth was the king of the one-liners. He'd often shout something out during Ed's repeated schtick that would crack up the entire band, and half the audience.

In the early days of SKB, Seth always called me "Elizabetta," which I loved, and treasure to this day.

And so time passed, and we were all now ensconced as friends. But over the past two years, Sethie found Susan. A new SKB member. She's a lovely person, and they seemed to be a perfect match. They were so happy together.

So now - I didn't have to wait till Oktoberfest to see Seth (or Susan)! They came over to Mr M's for dinner, or movies, or just to hang out. It was fantastic, and oh, the stories I heard from Seth.

The summer before he died, they came over and we watched the movie "The Wild Wonderful Whites of West Virginia." Oh, my Lord, the comments that came from him. I'd seen the movie before, and had laughed, but he made me laugh even more.

Seth, from the beginning, accepted me so willingly, with whatever horrible character and physical flaws I have, or may have thought I had. He welcomed me into his fold and called me his friend.

He was larger than life to me. And that's (whether it's grammatically correct) literally and figuratively. He was a large man. Tall and big, with a huge booming voice (perfect for radio). He was just a large presence.

But he was also bigger than life because he was so knowledgeable. He knew every bird in the sky. He would hike up mountains to see hawks fly above the Virginia sky. He'd read thousands of books. He knew all music, from classical to lowly band music, to bluegrass, to old-time mountain music. Every time I went up the mountain to Oktoberfest I'd see him sitting on the back of his Forester, reading at least one book.

And he had stories. Like the time he used to sing jingles for money in Charlotte, NC. One of my favorites.

And another thing I'll always treasure. The time I brought Granny and Paw up to the mountain for Oktoberfest, Seth sat and talked to my dad forever about bluegrass music, and artists, and who was the best at this instrument or that. My dad remembers it to this day, and grieved over his passing, too.

So - here it is in the New Year, 2012.

When I went to Seth's memorial, it was beautiful, with lots of pictures of his life, but there were no pictures of birds.

That's how I think of Sethie now. As a hawk flying over the mountains, over us all, looking down on us and telling us to get on with our lives.

I'm trying, Seth. But I swear, I miss you.

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Monday, December 26, 2011

DFF's Answers!

OK, so when last I left you, my buddy the DeepFat Friar had posted his Christmas Quiz. Only one brave soul chimed in with answers.

So now here are the answers, and I'm telling you right now, these are all the DFF's answers, so get ready.

1. The shepherds were watching their flocks in the hills. The sheep would not have been grazing in the hills in December in that part of the world.

2. The Saturnalia. (BTW, *I* knew this from "The Big Bang Theory.")

3. The holding of a census. There is nothing in any known Roman historical records about it.

4. The Little Drummer Boy, because of the chorus lines, "TAAAAAAAAAAAAAH rum ba bum bum, rum ba bum bum BUMMMM." (Hum the Dragnet them music to those lyrics.)

5. Caribou can't fly.

6. Rudolph. The song "Santa Claus is Coming", refers to "Rudy toot-toot." (This may be the fuel that powers his nose, as well.)

7. Eight maids a milking seven swans (they don't give milk); six geese a laying five gold rings (as everyone knows, they lay golden eggs, not gold rings).

8. Contrary to popular opinion, it has nothing to do with the virgin birth. It is the doctrine that Mary was born without original sin.

9. The virginity of Mary. The text from Isaiah misquoted in the gospel refers to "a virgin shall be with child." The Hebrew word in Isaiah actually means "young woman". Hebrew had a different word to signify a virgin.

10. Unknown. Their names are not given.


Oooooh. How did you do?

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Guest Christmas Blogger!

Ho, ho, ho, and Merry Christmas to all.

Our friend the DeepFatFriar has asked to be a guest blogger tonight. A sort of Santa for you all.

Because...

He has composed a Christmas Quiz!

Not sure how we're going to do this, I was just thinking we'd put up the questions tonight, and if you want to chime in with some answers via comments, be our guest. Then tomorrow I'll post the answers. And be warned - there's some tricky stuff in here!

So take it away, DeepFatFriar!

1. There is evidence in the gospels that Jesus was actually born in the summer. What is this evidence?

2. What major Roman feast is the date of Christmas close to?

3. What is the most significant "historical" event in the christmas gospel stories for which external evidence should certainly exist, but for which there is none in the historical record?

4. What is the favorite Christmas song of Jack Webb (of the old Dragnet tv show)?

5. What is the difference between caribou and reindeer?

6. Which of Santa's reindeer was famous for farting?

7. Name two physical impossibilities in the Twelve Days of Christmas song (there may be more).

8. What, exactly, is referred to by the phrase "Immaculate Conception"?

9. What christian doctrine is based the gospel mistranslating a Hebrew word in the Old Testament, and what was the word?

10. According to the gospels, what were the names of the so-called wise men?


So there you go. The night's winding down, so get wound back up and take the quiz!

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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Picture Sunday

Hello, blogees.

Well, after last week's blog, I felt like I owed it to my tens of readers to get my buns out and get some pictures of the big nativity scene in the town. And today I did just that.

Today was cold but sunny, and I got a few snaps.

Here's one of the whole shebang.

















Hey, have some hay there, Mr Donkey.

























(The picture doesn't do it much justice, but up close, that is one real-looking donkey. And he has one of those eyes that follow you while you walk around.)

Sadly, my sister isn't on his back, but here's the camel, flanked by a rather large sheep. Hell, they're all large.

























Here's the manger, and I'm telling you that wise man to the left is one tall fellow. Way over six feet.























And here, yes, here is our little buddy, right in the middle of it all.





















And pardon me for being so bold, but that is a d-o-g dog.

























And one intense little pooch, too. No one's escaping from this nativity scene anytime soon.

Oh. maybe that's it. He's a watchdog. No thefts, no vandalism at the manger this year!

Good boy.

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Tuesday, December 06, 2011

A (Divine) Boy and His Dog

Hello, my friends. This is a Christmas blog, my first of the season. Maybe the last, maybe not. We shall not know.

It all started way too early, of course, the weekend before Thanksgiving. Because Christmas decorations are always put up too early nowadays. Poor Thanksgiving, the forgotten holiday. No one cares about it. They're too busy thinking of Christmas.

But it's been quite the talk of the town in our little burg here.

For years, we've had the same nativity scene in our town square. And yes, I know, but this is not what this blog is about. I'm from Mayberry, USA, remember - the fact that we put a nativity scene in the town square is a non-event. Even the non-religious among us don't care enough to cause a fuss, because we all like Christmas, and so no one's calling the ACLU anytime soon.

So let's not even go there, OK?

So, this is what the thing is. For all those years of having the same nativity scene in the town square, well, as you might imagine, it's gotten some wear and tear. Joseph's and Mary's noses have broken off, the sheep's a little wobbly because one of his hooves is too worn, and Joseph and Mary don't need to rock the cradle, because it only has three legs.

And so, this year, someone decided to spend some bucks.

Apparently, an anonymous benefactor has gifted the town with a brand new nativity scene to put in the town square.

And let me tell you, it's something else.

First of all, besides being new and shiny, it's life-sized. Humans, animals, everything. Life-sized.

My sister thinks this is the greatest thing ever. She's made me promise that before the holiday ends I'll go with her to the town square and take a picture of her with the giant camel. Maybe with her sitting on it.

And yes, it's a very nice nativity scene, built to scale, and no broken noses or wobbly hooves.

However.

Well, wait. First of all, an aside. (You all know how I love a good aside.)

My dear old dad came into the office the other day, he rode the bus into town to get a haircut, and he was telling me that the new scene was all the talk at the barber shop.

One of the barbers announced, and I can't denounce it, because Lord knows I don't know my Biblical scripture, and Dad couldn't either - but this barber said the wise men were placed wrong at that scene, way too close in, because apparently they didn't reach, and meet, well, Himself, until he was about two years old.

And I was so happy to make my dad laugh when I said to him, "Well, if that's true, they need to place the wise men round about my house (about 1/2 mile away)."

Har de har.

But that's not where we're going here in the blog about the big fancy nativity scene.

Everyone in our office has driven by this scene, there in the town square, a few times a day, since before Thanksgiving. And it didn't take long for us to start discussing it.

OK.

So you have the life-sized figures, the life-sized Joseph and Mary and Baby Gee, and the camel and sheep and lamb and ox and ass.

And there, sitting, drawing a bead on the Baby Gee, is ... a dog.

Well, it has to be a dog. I looked really closely. I wondered if it was a wolf, or a jackal. It's not. It's a dog.

He's in the basic "sitting dog" position, with his head pitched forward. He's about 6 feet away from Baby Gee, looking right at him, as if to say, "Hello!"

None of us has ever heard of a dog at the nativity. I've researched it. I mean, it might make sense, if there were sheep there, there might have been a sheepdog there.

But this dog isn't made like a sheepdog. It's just a smooth-coated black dog.

We have, there in the office, discussed this to no end. Way more than why a town can put up a nativity scene and no one cares.

So, was there a dog at the nativity?

I'd sure like to think so. I mean, dog is man's best friend, right? And every boy (or should I say, Boy) needs a dog in his (or His) life.

You know, years ago, I read a little blurb that said "Dog is God spelled backwards." And I believe it.

So welcome to the nativity, Mr Arf-Arf. I like you there. (And so does Milo.)

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