Requiem For A Slurpee

Today I did something I haven’t done in years.  I went to a local 7-Eleven and bought a cherry Slurpee.

When I went to Anona Elementary School on the southwest part of Largo, Florida back in the 1970’s and early 1980’s, there was a 7-Eleven within a short walk from the school.  It’s no longer there, having been replaced by a restaurant a couple of decades ago.  But on Mondays after school let out, my mom would pick me up and would give me the buck or so to get a Slurpee.  Just a little reward for getting through the longest day of the week.  Today’s large Slurpee set me back $1.92, and the cashiers were shooting me looks as if I get one of these every day, thanks to my size.  If only they knew the truth.

Why I chose today to do it I have no idea in retrospect.  It was in the upper 40’s here in Pinellas County this late March morning.  And with the high humidity rates in Florida, you tend feel the chill much more than you do up north.  People break out winter jackets around here when it gets below 70.  I’m serious.  It’s just one of those things about Florida you have to feel to totally understand, I suppose.

So I have to go to the Bank of America ATM to make my monthly deposit of funds to pay the bills.  As I’m walking over, I’m sipping my Slurpee, and as I get my wallet out, my hands feel as if they’ve been encased in blocks on ice!  The cold Slurpee drink has moved around inside of my limbs, and I had to move around a bit before heading home to get my blood recirculated.  Never hurts to exercise…well maybe your muscles, but generally it’s a healthy idea.

Good For You, FGCU


Like many of you, I have never heard of Florida Gulf Coast University until Friday night.  I sat down that evening to watch FGCU play Georgetown wondering how long this second round game of the NCAA tournament would be competitive.  Five minutes?  Ten minutes?  A half?

Boy, was I wrong.  Not only were they competitive, but they stunned the heavily favored Hoyas of Georgetown 78-68 to advance to the round of 32 teams on the weekend.  And as many of you now know, they have also knocked San Diego State out of the tournament with a 81-71 win.

So at 10:07 pm or so on Friday night at the massive Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, the FGCU Eagles face the Florida Gators in the round of 16.  Usually the round of 16 is when the clock strikes twelve for most Cinderellas, but you never know when the opportunity to dance a few more times will arise.  Ask George Mason University back in 2006, or VCU more recently in 2011.  It can happen.

The Ugliness Of Bullying

whaleboyI often wish we lived in a world without bullying.  Bullying took place back in my day, although I tend to think we didn’t have a name for it back then.  And I was a frequent target of bullies when I attended Anona Elementary, Largo Middle, and Largo High schools.  I think it may have been one of the reasons I never went to college.  I wanted to learn, but I got tired of all the crap I had to take from other people.

Bullying takes on many forms.  It isn’t just “macho boy” trying to prove his worth against slower and weaker prey.  There’s also sexual bullying between girls and boys.  An example of which in my travels in middle school would involve post-pubescent girls promising to do R-rated things to me.  Of course, I was wise to the schemes to a degree.  The promises of “putting out” never materialize of course, as it’s usually a set up to get put in a compromising position.

There’s also the byproduct of the bullied attempting to become the bully, sometimes with absolutely disastrous results.  This one kid I went to middle school with just wouldn’t stop razzing me, so I decided to use my size and height advantage and beat his ass.  This happened a few more times over the next few weeks, and I started to get a false confidence.  The kid started razzing me again, but this time I felt I didn’t have anything to prove, so my 11 year-old tells the kid something rhyming with truck off, if you get my drift.

Well the next thing I know, I’m seeing the fist of his friend, a girl who was a bit of a tomboy, coming at me.  I’m tired from putting in an honest day in school, so when I see this fist coming at me, I froze the split second long enough to where the blow makes contact with my right eye.  WHAP!

I instantly put my hand over my right eye, I knew I had been socked good.  Sure enough, I’m sporting a shiner.  Long story short, my family goes to the tomboy’s family for a sitdown, and the issue isn’t that the boy in question wouldn’t be respectful to me, it’s that I used profanity to defend myself.  Oh, we can’t have that, can we?  I thought it was all BS, really, but I made my peace for the good of everyone involved.

After that and a couple of more incidents, I just really didn’t care about who bullied me.  I just laughed at it.  When I was a senior in high school, these freshmen girls picked me out as a target, and this one chubby girl on my bus route kept writing these erotic suggestions at me.  So one day, she hands me a note, I’m reading it, and I bust out laughing.  She spelled the word “pussy” with an e before the y!

So much for our public education system, I suppose.


The Tao Of Pauly

So I came to a conclusion this weekend.  I was writing about the cheating scandal that had taken place up on the Canadian version of Big Brother.  The show is pretty much ran with the rules as the show of the same name here in the United States.  But I noted that because everyone watching in Canada and later on YouTube could see the cheating take place, the byproduct of it was that the feeds were cut off from viewers most of Friday.  If no one had said anything on social media, the viewers would have seen more.

In effect, the more the viewers tried the control the situation, the more the situation controlled them.

And I thought as I typed this yesterday: isn’t this true in real life as well?

Our government, whether or not you are Republican or Democrat and what side of the coin you choose to believe, seems to know this as well.  Especially in the events that have taken place since 9/11.  On top of controlling those who engaged in the acts, something else happened.  Security at airports has been beefed up ever since.

In effect, because the government lost control, it sought control after those who did nothing wrong.

Recently, we had the spectacle up in New York City with mayor Michael Bloomberg trying to ban soft drinks of more than 16 ounces.  He had a point that he was looking out for the best interests of his citizens, who were getting sicker sooner from diabetes and other ailments, but he didn’t really take great care to point out that why this wasn’t the power grab everyone thought it was.  So last week, the courts of New York state shut the idea down.

In effect, because government seized control in a vague way, those who had control refused to give that control away.

You don’t have to start up a cult religion like those people up in downtown Clearwater with their faux naval outfits to figure these things out.  But these kind of controls are becoming the way of life in the 21st century.  And I’m just pointing all of this out on my little ol’ blog.

Rocks, Honey, And Weeds

It was one of those weeks where a lot of good things came together in a short period of time.

On Monday, I got to hear Bonnie Tyler’s latest album, Rocks and Honey, which is her first studio album in eight years and her first album overall in seven since her first and only live album was released back in 2006.  With such a long layoff, I thought the music would go in a different direction from the music Bonnie usually belted out, and sure enough this album had a country feel to it.

Early in her career, Bonnie sung the songs produced for her from British promoter Ronnie Scott and his partner Steve Wolfe, who basically wanted her to be a pop/country hybrid kind of singer, much like Kim Carnes or Juice Newton were here in the US.  Now here she is embracing the same pop/country market three decades later.  She even sings a duet with Vince Gill on the album called “What You Need From Me.

Do I think she’ll be a hit over here in the US?  Probably not.  After two unsuccessful follow up albums to Faster Than The Speed Of Night, only one album called Free Spirit was released in this country in 1996.  It would take something extraordinary to get her noticed in the US ever again, because she is thought of as a three-hit wonder over here.  She’s signed up to represent the UK in the Eurovision Song Contest later on the year (think of it as popular music meeting the Olympics with only European countries), so maybe a high placing in that event could increase her portfolio.

The other good news is that Season 8 of Weeds is now on Netflix.  Odd that a non-pot smoker like me would be interested in a show about a widow who turns to selling marijuana to pay the bills.  But I heard the buzz about it on Facebook and had some friends that got me interested in it, so when I discovered Netflix when I got the new computer in December, it was one of the first shows I watched.  Lots of nudity and swearing in it, but hey…it is a dark comedy after all.

It doesn’t hurt either that Mary-Louise Parker is so darn good looking in her late 40’s.  How does she do it?

Race For The Papacy

Like many of you this week, I’m watching the events from the Vatican with great interest.  For just the fourth time in my 41 year and change of a lifetime, a conclave has gathered there to elect a new pope.

Will the Pope be American?  North American?  From either American continent?  African?

So many possibilities and probabilities.

This morning, I researched the number of ballots it has taken for the two-thirds majority to be found in recent years.  It took four ballots to find the recently retired Pope Benedict XVI and Pope John Paul I.  Eight ballots were needed to find Pope John Paul II.

Since 1900, the longest conclave took 14 ballots to find Pope Pius XI in 1922, a conclave that last five days.  So the announcement of “Habemus Papum!” should not take very long.

White Smoke from the Sistine Chapel, 2:06pm EDT, March 13, 2013.
White Smoke from the Sistine Chapel, 2:06pm EDT, March 13, 2013.

UPDATE, 3:21pm EDT: White smoke emerged from the Sistine Chapel a little past 2pm here on the US East Coast.

Jorge Bergoglio, your new pope.  He takes the name of Pope Francis I.
Jorge Bergoglio, your new pope. He takes the name of Pope Francis I.

And for the first time, the papacy heads to the new world.  Jorge Bergoglio becomes the 266th pope, and has taken the name of Pope Francis I.  Interesting that the Catholic church went with a 76 year old Pope to replace an 86 year old retiring pope, but hey, it wasn’t my decision.

Congratulations to the former Cardinal Bergoglio, our new Pope, and the nation of Argentina.


Down Again

The Internet at the house was at it again last night, going down at 9:30pm and not returning until sometime this morning.  It was shades of an incident that took place last November when our ‘net went out for 29 hours.

Verizon used to have a pretty good DSL service.  I don’t know if they still do, or if these two major outages were just dumb luck to have happened so close together.  Four months ago, I didn’t have Netflix or an XBOX 360 to play around with, either.  And with all these gadgets to play around with, if you lose the connection, it hits you in more places.

It does make me wonder whether or not we are too dependent on the Internet for every little thing.  And, what if that control ever got into the wrong hands?


The Filibuster

I’m almost ready to go to bed tonight, but the filibuster going on tonight on the floor of the United States Senate by Kentucky senator Rand Paul is intriguing me.

For those of you who don’t know what a filibuster is, it is essentially a tactic to delay a vote or a proposal, usually done for strategic purpose to rally opinion among the governing body around what the filibustering speaker has to say.  The most famous example of this was the Jimmy Stewart movie, “Mr. Smith Goes To Washington” released back in 1939.  Go watch that movie sometime, it’s out on DVD.  The issues in the movie are fictional, but the story is a great one, and it shows the power just one United States Senator has.

As I mentioned six days ago, I really don’t see a discernible difference anymore between Democrats and Republicans.  In fact, find a tape of what any Democrat said back when George W. Bush was president.  Then look at the complaints of the Republican party during the Obama administration the past few years to the present day.

Ask yourselves all this very important question: aren’t the complaints made by Bush-era Democrats and Obama-era Republicans almost exactly the same?

And for God’s sake, why aren’t we all seeing this total political dysfunction?

Please give it thought, for I feel our great country is a patient at a hospital, laying flat on a bed.  It’s heartbeat being measured, life support systems standing at the ready.

The Garbage Can Lid

Today is Wednesday morning…or at least it was when I typed this.

On Wednesdays and Saturdays, the local Waste Management team comes by in the morning and collects our garbage.  And this was the case again this morning.

I was munching on my Honey Nut Cheerios breakfast when they came by today. So I thought, let me finish up the food, then I’ll go out and bring the plastic garbage can in.

Only one thing was wrong, the caps to our garbage containers were missing.  Not just mine, but everyone else’s as well.  Had some ragamuffins come by over night and stolen our caps?  Were there shenanigans and chicanery to report?

Well, not so lucky.  While I slept last night, a cold front had come through the peninsula of Florida, leaving us a very stiff northwest wind.  My garbage can cap, left on the ground and not on or nearby the can, had already flown one house down to my south in the five minutes between collection and my retrieval.

The moral of the story: you can think what you want, but do a little investigating before accusations are made.

A Pilgrimage To The Church Of Hulkamania

In the first weekend of March in 1989, I was a senior at Largo High School.  My grades and studies there weren’t the best, and I wallowed through that time in my life a bit unmotivated.  With a little help from some family members, who lit the proper fire under my ass, that part of my life was turning around, and I had made the Honor Roll soon after the second half of the year started.

So my mother arranges for her co-workers who had families of their own to take me to the WWF matches at the USF Sun Dome the first Saturday of the month.  All the Saturday evenings I had spent watching the rasslin’ on TV, I had never attended a card, nor visited USF.  To give you an idea of how much wrestling I watched back then, I could usually spot a good guy about to turn bad or vice versa well before it happened.

For example, the main story back then was the breakup of the “Megapowers” team of Terry Bollea (Hulk Hogan) and Randy Poffo (Randy “Macho Man” Savage).  Randy was managed by real-life wife Elizabeth Hulette (with the stage name dropping her last name and throwing a “Miss” in front of her first name, even though she was really a Mrs.), but his WWF character was such an egomaniac that I’m thinking that there’s no way the duo could last long without a clash of personalities and temperament taking place.  And sure enough, they have a series of tag team bouts on TV and PPV with that storyline, introducing the premise that these two can’t trust each other, culminating with a prime time bout on NBC where Savage eventually betrays the Hulkster.

The card I went to in Tampa had a “steel cage” match (designed to favor the good guys, but the bad guys were always able to figure out chicanery of their own) between Hulk Hogan and Ray Traylor, better known at that time as The Big Boss Man, a deranged prison guard from Georgia, or so he portrayed.  Hogan won the match in short order, and was flexing his biceps and bending his shoulders as we left to beat the traffic out to I-275 and head back home.

Now, I wasn’t a naive kid growing up.  I knew that there was some stagecraft involved with these matches.  If they realistically beat the poo out of each other as they appeared to, their medical bills would go through the roof.  So the night after the matches, my mother lets me in on a secret: the very same matches that we just saw in Tampa would be taking place in Ft. Lauderdale the following night.  With that, I showed her the roster of matches on the card, and pointed her to the small print on the bottom that said that these matches were exhibitions.

A few months later, the two same men had a cage match on Saturday Night’s Main Event, the late night NBC show that aired in lieu of Saturday Night Live on occasion back then.  It had the exact same moves as the match I had seen in Tampa a few months prior, with a few different spots thrown in to give the resemblance of authenticity to it.  A few weeks after the match I had seen in Tampa, another near duplicate of the match I had seen in Tampa took place in Boston.

But I have nothing against wrestling.  Wrestling was like a church for the nonreligious.  A place you could believe in your favorite good guys, at root against those satanic villains.  I’ve been to two other wrestling cards in my lifetime, one in Jacksonville, another at a used car lot in Largo, of all places.  Every time I went, I had fun.  And if you have fun, you’re living right.

Thoughts From A Political Athiest

The older I get, the more surprised I am that there aren’t more people in the United States that have grown disillusioned by the political process.  The same people that took George W. Bush to task a decade ago try to paint you as a racist if you make the same points about Barack Obama.  And the same people who bitch about President Obama thought W. did no wrong.

I’m sick of all the political hypocrisy.  It seems to me that in days gone by, what you stood for you stood for, no matter who was President, no matter how they chose to lead the country.  Now a days, the rancor and rheoteric in Washington, DC is just a level or two above name calling and a bunch of children disguised as adults yelling at each other.

“Nuh uh!”

“Did not!”

“Did too!”

I’ve never smoked pot in my life, but Bob Marley was way ahead of the curb when he wrote that song “Top Rankin'” years ago.  And I too often wonder if the political climate created by our leaders on BOTH sides is done so to keep us divided so we can be conquered.