Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sunday Song, I Need a Lover

Remembering Mr. Kraus

Rain - Hi 71 Lo 63 for Baghdad, Iraq
Sunny - Hi 85 Lo 50 for Qandahar, Afghanistan
Sunny - Hi 65 Lo 36 for Northern KY, USA

Song of the week: I Need a Lover, Johnny Cougar
Before John Mellencamp was John Mellencamp, he was Johnny Cougar and then later John Cougar. This name was a record company decision and not his... Eventually he was able to be John Mellencamp. I like John Cougar and even some of the John Cougar Mellencamp stuff. . His breakout album of course was 1982's American Fool album-- the one that had Jack and Diane, Hurt So Good and my favorite from that album Have a Hand to Hold On To. The year I graduated was the year of "little pink houses"... Oh Gawd... yuck. But it also had the song Play Guitar which is simply fun. I like his older stuff... the Sunday Song is funny... there is a sense of humor to the lyrics and the composition of the song pulls you in and builds to a crescendo- an exclamation of needing someone that won't make him crazy! Along the way and over the years John became angry. He takes himself way too seriously. He also picked up the paint brush and has done some interesting art work. Like his present day persona, it is dark, thick, unattractive and angry. I'm not sure why the small town boy became so angry... maybe he has forgotten... something... I hope he can find his happiness. Life is too short.

As a kid, I was incredibly fortunate to have a great deal of stand out teachers. My Kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Reed held my hand and introduced me to other kids in the class... being painfully shy... she took a great deal of time to make sure I was OK.

Mrs. Sleichter was about 102 years old when I had her as my 2nd grade teacher... Gawd she was mean. But for whatever reason, I really liked her. I remember there was this kid that was always throwing up in class, so the janitor would always have to come in and throw that kitty litter stuff down... I remember she was forever sending him to the corner because the kid got sick all the time. She insisted we were all old enough to realize when we weren't feeling well and should ask to be excused. She was a strict disciplinarian... and did not tolerate fidgety 7 and 8 year olds. Mrs. Sleichter was the only teacher to impose corporal punishment upon my behind...why? Because she had issued a dictate... "The next person to drop their pencil will go out in the hallway for a swat." Ya... you guessed it... I dropped my pencil...

My 4th grade teacher was Mrs. Carroll and I loved her... all the kids did... She was beautiful and smart and kind and generous and young. She read Ramona to us... This particular grade school was in a town that was supported by GM and the plant had closed... it was predominantly blue collar, unemployed, and single parent homes. My neighborhood was gross... I digress. Anyway the two 4th grade teachers took a great deal of time with the kids... We were pushed in reading and math and history. We were studying Japan and Mrs. Carroll asked if I would teach the rest of the students how to use chop sticks... That was disastrous... buttons and chopsticks everywhere... Because so many kids came from broken homes, Mrs. Carroll took time with each of her students. She was engaged and an active participant in our formative years. She called home and spoke to my mom on a regular basis. She knew our situation and how late my mom worked. Mrs. Carroll would often stay late at school with me to help ease some of the monetary woes my mom had and this helped a great deal with the cost of a sitter. Anyway, toward the end of the school year Mrs. Carroll indicated to the class that she was moving away and wouldn't be back. She was 24 and was moving with her husband to support him while he finished obtaining his Master's degree. We all cried. It was horrible. She promised to write all of us, but in turn we would have to write her. I kept in contact with Mrs. Carroll up through high school. She was a source of advice and friendship. She was a wonderful and kind person and I wish I had stayed in touch. I had heard that after she put her husband through several years of school and a number of affairs, he divorced her. Terrible.

Then in 8th grade I had Mr. Benton... my uncles and father had this man as a teacher... This man walked to the beat of his own drum and did not apologize for it. He was a large robust man with a large booming voice with a Kentucky accent. He had the same buzz haircut in the 70's as he did in the 50's. He wore black horn rimmed glasses, navy blue work pants and suspenders every day. He was the first history teacher I had that expected us to pay attention and to pay attention to what was happening in the world today. He loved our country and what it stood for. It was the first time I remember recognizing that sort of pride in someone outside my own family. He would make proclamations about organized religion and that if he wanted to go out in the front of the school yard and worship under the tree, he could do that. Why? Because this was America! A staunch conservative and a little crazy? Perhaps.

Mrs. Zando was our English Lit teacher and she introduced me to Shakespeare and the Greek and Roman gods and goddesses and all the wonderful mythological stories. She loved Shakespeare and it is because of her, that I have such an appreciation. At that time, my grandmother had given me a charm bracelet and each birthday and holiday she would add to it. Mrs. Zando asked if she could contribute to my bracelet. She gave me a delightful little silver Dutch shoe from when she had visited Holland... It is still on my charm bracelet. To this day, I love reading mythology.

High school brought a handful of teachers that made a difference in my life... Mrs. Brough, Mr. Wolfe, Mr. Enders--- he loved Dolly Parton, and Mr. Kraus.

Mr. Kraus is the reason for this week's post. Jimi, an old friend brought to my attention that Mr. Kraus had tragically died this past May. The news hit me like a ton of bricks. NO. This was not possible. Mr. Kraus was the only teacher I had all four years of high school. So, he literally watched me grow up.

He was one of my art teachers- being art class-- there was considerably less structure, the radio was usually playing in the background, kids talked and joked during class-- creativity was not inspired by a module of time but by life, so if one wasn't creative during the class... well, one had to be creative at home or before or after school. I never do well without structure. It is my nature to become lazy. Mr. Kraus was a good teacher. He encouraged me in my first couple of years of high school. He obviously realized my shy nature and worked to help me express through art. He pushed me to enter a couple of competitions and I did OK receiving recognition for my work. As a junior I was coming into my own, but at the same time I was more interested in being social and was not disciplined in maintaining my school work and it was easy to keep things from my mom. Besides, my creativity was in my head... actually putting brush to canvas or pencil to paper did not come naturally for me. I had to really focus... and practice... There were so many other kids that had this incredible gift... Jimi and Rodney. In any event the classroom was always loose and free spirited. I remember always laughing and having fun in his class. Mr. Kraus loved music. He was a huge fan of John Cougar. Jimi reminded me that Mr. Kraus had seen the Stray Cats and Jimi, Gary and I were so jealous. He also saw Men at Work and brought back a pin for me... I still have it. We talked about music and art and stuff...

The other thing... Mr. Kraus could not spell... he was horrible... another friend, Scott would mercilessly make fun of him. It was always in good spirit and fun.

Mr. Kraus was around for every single boy I dated during high school. He teased me about some of my selections...from a competing school. One day late in my junior year Mr. Kraus pulled me aside and asked me what I was going to do- what my plans were- he was disappointed because I had not really worked on pulling together a portfolio to get into art school. In fact, I had not even applied. He expressed his concern that although I had an eye for composition and perspective and story, I had not applied myself to learn fundamentals. He expressed his concern for my lack of discipline and he did not want to see me waste any of my talent. At the time I had picked up photography and was into that, but it was more of a means of documenting my teenage life and not an artistic outlet. His message was loud and clear and a pill I chose not to swallow. My senior year was filled with more of the same- fun and frolicking. Mr. Kraus was part of our lives and we enjoyed our time in his class. He pulled me aside one more time and asked me what I was going to do about college.

I told him I needed to work for at least a year before heading off to college. Grants and scholarships were not going to cover it and I wasn't about to ask my mom for assistance. He made me promise that I would never give up on art and asked that I keep in touch. I graduated and my life went on... it took a different direction than I expected, but one that I am quite happy with.

Over the years I have often thought of Mr. Kraus. I had promised Mr. Kraus I would come by and visit him but never did. He was good to me- he wasn't just a teacher, he was a friend and he wanted the best for us. He was honest with me and thought I was wasting my talent. When Jimi's sister died, I wanted to contact him. When Rodney committed suicide, I wanted to contact him. I never did. I wanted to invite him to my wedding but for whatever goofy reason, I changed my mind. So, this past week, Jimi told me about Mr. Kraus. He had Parkinson's Disease, was confined to a wheelchair, living in a nursing home... divorced with 2 kids... 20 and 16 years old. He had gone to see a band--- still passionate about live music. On his way home, he was hit by a car. Those on the scene performed CPR in an attempt to save his life, but it was too late. He was only 56 years old.

How cruel life can be... a man who used his hands and fingers to create- stricken with a disease that steals that gift from him.
I never had the chance to thank him. He was the first person in my life to offer me real constructive criticism... he was right... I did lack self discipline. I need structure, I know that about myself now... and I move through life accordingly.
Upon reading the news about Mr. Kraus, I wrote Jimi, "...despite his life situation, I hope and pray he was happy--proud of his kids-- still listening to music, appreciating art and finding that talented young soul-- that diamond in the rough. There were so many talented kids that went through his class. I pray even though he was alone that night, he wasn't alone in spirit and that he was loved. "

Teachers are amazing and wonderful creatures. You don't realize the lives you touch and to what extent. Mr. Kraus was only in my life for four short years, but the mark he left will remain with me always.

Although I never went back to visit Mr. Kraus, I did keep my other promise. I never gave up on art. It is still just as important to me today as it was 25 years ago. It is a rare day that I pick up my sketch pad, but I always stop and see the art. Thank you, Mr. Kraus.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sunday Song, Reach Out (I'll Be There)

Palin // Wurzelbacher 2012

Sunny - Hi 89 Lo 69 for Baghdad, Iraq
Sunny - Hi 87 Lo 34 for Qandahar, Afghanistan
Sunny - Hi 62 Lo 39 for Northern KY, USA

Song of the week: Reach Out (I'll Be There), The Four Tops

I love Motown. The first time I remember hearing this song was in the movie, Cooley High. Mom for the first time could afford to take us to see a movie-- I must have been about 10 years old, she hadn't bought our house yet. So, since she trusted me and her English was still not great, I grabbed the newspaper and saw the ad for Cooley High...Sounded good... it was about high school kids growing up in Chicago. There were high school kids in our neighborhood at the time... I admired them... wanted to hang out with them.. So, my mom agreed and off we three went to the drive in. Oops. Not really intended for 10 year olds... Too funny. No permanent damage, I didn't get most of the movie... my brother fell asleep and my mom laughed at the situation and covered my eyes for a few scenes. It wasn't until I saw the movie again when I was about 15 or 16 did I get it. It's a really good movie with a great soundtrack. The music is what carried you from scene to scene... it's a dark look at growing up... the urban version of American Graffiti? No... it's not...

The lead vocalist of The Four Tops is now forever silent, may he rest in peace. We will always have the music...


So, this week we have all met Joe the Plumber. Is it just me or does anyone else see the resemblance between Joe and Sci Fi's Ghost Hunter Plumber Jason Hawes? I digress.

So much has been written about Joe Wurzelbacher. The guy is normal... raising a son... working, paying his taxes and living his life. He is an undecided voter who went to an Obama rally to find some answers. He asked a simple question. He was doing the right thing.. the American thing... He was taking this election seriously and collecting information so he could make an informed decision and cast his vote accordingly. Watch the complete exchange:

Go here to see his comments on CBS' The Early Show. Joe explains why it is important to get the facts and not rely on others to develop your own opinion.

Here is another clip... sense of entitlement??

and on MSNBC... I'm not Matt Damon and I'm not sorry we're in Iraq!

and on Good Morning America... That's a Socialist view

then you have this dumb@$$... Joe Biden... LISTEN to the exchange between The Oracle and Joe Wurzelbacher... not what he said...

So, because Joe asked a question... the liberal media, hippies, kool aid drinkers and other foul mouthed lefties are trying to trash this guy...trying to ruin him. Why? He just asked a question...

interview with Mike Huckabee-- When you can't ask a question of your leaders anymore... that's scary...

Look, Joe asked a question. His voice resonated with middle America... just like Sarah Palin. We are tired of politicians.... we are tired of the lies... we are tired of seeing our country slowly slipping away... we are tired of seeing our freedoms and liberties being taken from us... we are tired of those who feel they are entitled to our stuff... we are tired of the liberals apologizing for our country... In every interview... Joe has spoken for me... He is proud of our troops and what they have done and continue to do... He doesn't apologize for pursuing the American dream...

The only thing I feel bad for him is he is a Cincinnati Bengals fan... I'm so sorry Joe.. but even that... that makes me appreciate him too.

I got into it with someone earlier this week... He said that if Republicans are so concerned about getting folks registered to vote and having them vote Dem, we should be doing the same... HELLOOOO!!! Conservatives are busy working... making a living... paying GD taxes... We aren't hippy dippy lefties that are living off government grants and other government giveaways... we are busy supporting our families and other deadbeats like you...

McCain & Palin 2008.

Sarah & Joe in 2012.

Have a great week everyone!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Sunday Song, Strange Days

Jim's Morrison's Advice to Cathy: Take It As It Comes

Mostly Sunny - Hi 100 Lo 77 for Baghdad, Iraq
Sunny - Hi 95 Lo 58 for Qandahar, Afghanistan
Sunny - Hi 83 Lo 55 for Northern KY, USA

Song of the week: Strange Days,
The Doors

click on the link to go to The Doors official website--- great music playing if you enjoy their music.

I remember purchasing my first Doors album as a kid- 14- I do believe... Jim Morrison... wow... that baritone voice... the lyrics and music... weird and psychedelic and nonsensical and dark and foreboding... I remember listening to the album over and over and over... in the dark... (except for my ultra cool black light) in my basement bedroom... definite moments of narcissism... ahh good times...

Nowadays, I listen to The Doors when I am out of sorts... when things don't make sense... so rather than fight it... I just give in and relent to the situation... if you ever hear me playing their song, The End... forget it... game over.


So Saturday morning I wake up to radio news reports about John McCain speaking at another Townhall meeting...

John McCain on Friday moved to calm rising anger among his supporters at rival Barack Obama, calling him a decent man and at one point taking the microphone away from a woman who had called Obama an Arab.

Their anger apparently still at flash point, McCain's supporters then booed him for his conciliatory words about Obama.
Read the rest of the article at the Miami Herald.

The sound bite I heard can be seen here:

It's not the kook broad at the end of the clip that can't pronounce Arab... she needed to be shut down and shut up... good gawd... freaking moron.. No doubt she listens to George Noory's Coast to Coast and is well versed in chem trails, werewolves, and shadow people... Stick to the stuff that matters...

The question from the obviously nervous guy had my attention...the question... NOT his lead in to the question... Senator McCain paid attention to the lead in and responded to that and said Senator Obama "is a decent person and a person that you do not have to be scared as President of the United States."

Why did he say that? Why did he give the media the opportunity for this sound bite? Why didn't he just answer the guy's question about selecting Supreme Court Justices? OK... so now we have Senator McCain's endorsement for Barack Obama for President... good times!

Now where the hell is my Door's album? I need to listen to The End...

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Sunday Song, Time to Change

Hey Buddy, Can You Spare Me the Change?

Sunny - Hi 95 Lo 75 for Baghdad, Iraq
Sunny - Hi 94 Lo 59 for Qandahar, Afghanistan
Mostly Sunny - Hi 79 Lo 55 for Northern KY, USA

Song of the week: Time To Change, The Brady Kids

I discovered during Michelle Obama's speech at the Democrat National Convention that she and I have something in common. It is an embarrassing malady that I don't like to discuss much, but like Michelle, I can pretty much recite nearly every episode of the Brady Bunch by heart. Knowing this reminded me of the episode in which the Peter's voice was changing...


How long has the election campaign been going? Two years? Well, thankfully we are down to one more month of this...

I thought I would compile a list of Presidential Campaign Slogans.

1976 Jimmy Carter: A Leader, For Change
1980 Jimmy Carter: ??
1984 Walter Mondale: America Needs a Change
1988 Michael Dukakis: Competence Not Ideology
1992: Bill Clinton: It's Time to Change America, he also used For People, for a Change
1996 Bill Clinton: Building a bridge to the 21st Century
2000 Al Gore: Prosperity and Progress or Prosperity for America's families
2004 John Kerry: Change Starts Here or Let America be America again
2008 Barack Obama: Change We Can Believe In

Let me contrast those with Republican Presidential Campaign Slogans:

1976 Gerald Ford: He's Making Us Proud Again
1980 Ronald Reagan: Morning In America
1984: Ronald Reagan: It's Morning Again in America
1988 George Bush: Kinder Gentler Nation
1996 Bob Dole: A Better Man for a Better America
2000: George W. Bush: Compassionate Conservatism
2004: George W. Bush: Yes, America Can!
2008 John McCain: Country First

One point of observation is the contrast in attitude-- There is an optimism, a can do attitude in the Republican slogans whereas the Democrat slogans are.... not.

Back in 1964 Ronald Reagan understood intrinsically the importance of this country and the importance of her people and what we must do as a nation. "You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We will preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we will sentence them to take the first step into a thousand years of darkness. If we fail, at least let our children and our children's children say of us we justified our brief moment here. We did all that could be done."

And in his second inaugural address, Ronald Reagan explained quite nicely, "We are creating a nation once again vibrant, robust, and alive. There are many mountains yet to climb. We will not rest until every American enjoys the fullness of freedom, dignity, and opportunity as our birthright. It is our birthright as citizens of this great republic."

Ronald Reagan never spoke of handouts and redistribution of wealth cloaked in the word change. Instead he described a place where we worked to enjoy the freedoms and the countless opportunities this country has to offer. In the work, we find the satisfaction and appreciation for all that we have and in the work we realize what other opportunities are out there.

So... Just a suggestion to any and all Democrat Presidential Nominee Wannabees of the Future... Please, I beg you... try super duper hard to refrain from using the word, "CHANGE". Y'all have been trying to change for a real long long time. Quite frankly, change for the sake of change doesn't mean anything. Really. It doesn't.

Have a great week everyone!

Who are you quoting-- Sarah or Tina?

Maybe you can help explain the point of this article in The Times.

The headline reads Hillary Clinton praises Sarah Palin. There are 3 short paragraphs reporting the Clinton's have offered compliments about Sarah. Bill Clinton said, “I come from Arkansas, I get why she’s hot out there.” The remaining 7 paragraphs are about Tina Fey's portrayal of Sarah Palin and the many one liner zingers performed on Saturday Night Live. Now I can tell you I have laughed at these... but can we have a little substance? Please? What was the point of the 3 lousy paragraphs at the introduction of the article?

From The Sunday Times, UK Edition
October 5, 2008

Hillary Clinton praises Sarah Palin
Sarah Baxter

HILLARY CLINTON, Barack Obama’s defeated opponent in the Democratic primary, has infuriated his supporters by praising Sarah Palin, the Republican vice-presidential candidate, for her performance in last week’s television debate.

“It is amazing, you know, she’s been thrust in the spotlight with very little national preparation and I think, all things considered, you saw a very composed and effective debater,” Clinton said.

Her husband Bill recently issued some compliments of his own. “I come from Arkansas, I get why she’s hot out there,” he said.

Her husband’s lukewarm endorsement of Obama was parodied on Saturday Night Live, the satirical show that has become must-see television after the deadly accurate portrayals of Palin by Tina Fey, the comedian.

During her debate with Joe Biden, her Democratic rival, Palin had provided perfect new material for Fey by winking at the audience and using colloquialisms such as “doggone it” and “you betcha!” Fey, 38, creator and star of 30 Rock, the comedy show, mocked the Alaska governor’s descent into gibberish when interviewed by Katie Couric, the CBS newscaster.

The comedian scored again last night with her parody of Palin's debate performance, using some of the Alaska governor's exact words. "Can I call you Joe?" Fey-as-Palin asked Biden. "Because I've practised a couple of zingers where I call you Joe."

She went on to say, "May I say, up close, your hair plugs don't look nearly as bad as people said?" Asked if she would like to answer a specific question, she said, "No thank you, but I would like to talk about being an outsider."

She gave a "shout-out" to the third graders of Gladys Wood Elementary "who were so helpful to me in my debate prep," and said, "We don't know if this climate change - whoosie, whatsit - is man made or if it is just a natural part of the end of days." Asked to give a closing statement, she pulled out a flute and said, "Are we not going to do the talent portion?"

Asked about visiting the United Nations, Fey-as-Palin said she was disheartened to find that so many interesting people there were foreigners. How had things gone? “They embraced me figuratively and a couple of them Pakistani guys literally.” She then referred to Bono, the U2 singer and activist, as the King of Ireland.

Challenged to explain how Alaska’s proximity to Russia gives her foreign policy experience, she replied: “Every morning, when Alaskans wake up, one of the first things they do is look outside to see if there are any Russians hanging around. If there are, you gotta ask, ‘What are you doing here?’ and if you can’t give them a good reason, it’s our responsibility to say, you know, ‘Shoo! Get back over there!’”

Go see for yourself...