The Good Old Days Of Pop

Cyndi Lauper and Bonnie Tyler ham it up after the 1984 Grammys.
Cyndi Lauper and Bonnie Tyler ham it up after the 1984 Grammys.

I heard thru the modern day Grapevine that is Facebook that Nicki Minaj and Miley Cyrus had an argument were dissing each other at last night’s Video Music Awards hosted by MTV.

Remember when the VMA’s used to be actually hip and trendy, and classy all at the same time?

Can’t say I totally detest the raunchiness. I was listening to Madonna debuting “Like A Virgin” on the 1984 VMA’s simulcasted over Q-105 here in Tampa. I remember thinking to myself, give this song a few weeks and it will go to the top of the Billboard charts, which it did by the end of the year.

Now a days, it seems like the music business is all about getting over other artists, by any means necessary. That’s why you see Miley Cyrus naked or semi-naked on the Internet every time you turn around. That’s why you see violence at some of these award shows.

I miss the days where everybody could just appreciate the artistry. Those days are long gone.

The Ways Of A Wednesday Walmart Warrior


If it’s Wednesday as of late, you will probably find me at the Pinellas Park Walmart in afternoon gathering food and whatnot for me and my little fella Harry the Cat, who stays at home while I’m on the hunt. Yesterday, with a tropical cyclone named Erika with strength and path to be determined later, I had to get a few more things which made the experience all the more memorable, and not in a good way.

We start at the front of the store and the all important task of cart selection. The Pinellas Park store that I go to, which opened way back in 2001, has shopping carts that worked well…in the Nixon administration. I pick out a cart that seems to maneuver well, until it carries some weight. One of my first stops is to the south end of the Supercenter to pick up cat litter for the little guy, and I get the $13 or so box that seems to weigh more than Roseanne Barr back in her heyday, which is a necessity because it has the odor control which doesn’t require me to throw in baking soda when I clean up Harry’s odd and even numbered waste.

Once I get the cat litter into the cart, you had to be Superstar Billy Graham back when he was WWF champ to turn the cart properly, and that’s when all the fun began.

I had the luck to visit Walmart the day when every young group of high school age and younger visits the store, and I run into about half a dozen of these groups that hog up the whole aisle, not allowing faster traffic to pass. I dart to the left and to the right to apply the proper psychology that they aren’t the only ones in the store, but they seem not to gather my attempts at telepathy. It’s not that the store was all that busy for around 6pm on hump day, it’s just everybody is everywhere I’m attempting to go. It seemed to me that there was this grandiose conspiracy that I’m unaware of. See the man in the white T-shirt and grey shorts in the moccasin shoes? Stay in his way everywhere he moves!

I then encounter one of these groups going the opposite way, with the mother of the group flanked by three elementary school aged kids, one of them sporting a cast on his left wrist. Fortunately, the kid evades my cart by inches as I pass by, and I’m relieved to have not unintentionally added to his woe. More on this group in a bit.

As I do when I go shopping, I gather things from the east end of the store, which contains water, Coke, and dairy products, and work my way west towards the front of the store. I’m driving the cart with great care, like a big rigger trying to negotiate heavy traffic in Los Angeles. I try to think happy thoughts, and I’m somewhat successful. I turn into one of the aisle, and this woman in a Walmart blue smock quickly says “excuse me” as I’m laboring to make a left turn.

What the Sam Hill is going on?!? Slow and non-single filed groups of kids I can understand. But Walmart employees getting in the way of shoppers as they run around their mouse maze to get the cheese at the end? This is just not my day, I reckoned. I’m trying to steer this cart, and these employees whose salaries I indirectly pay are messing me up as I attempt to steer their fossilized carts!

By the time I get to the end of my haul, I run into this group of kids with the mother who lacked control of her litter when I encountered them earlier. She tells the kids to watch where they’re going this time. I shoot the lady a dirty look. You could have said that to these kids when I nearly dinged the kid who had the cast!

At least there wasn’t a big line of people at the check-out, as often happens when I reach the end. After that, I head home, put away my haul, listen to the Rays game on Tunein (more about that in a future blog entry), put away Harry for the night, and I pass out quickly. Erika may pay us a visit, it may not, but it more than likely will treat me better than Wally World did yesterday, but all trips as a Walmart Warrior are random experiences of problem solving, applying logic, or the lack thereof.

Elena, Erika…Erika, Elena


It’s that time of year again. In late August of 2015, we have a system in the Atlantic called Erika.

Thirty years ago, it was a storm named Elena that sat in the Gulf, churning away in nearly neutral for some 36 hours that weekend, keeping the whole Gulf Coast wondering where would she eventually go before deciding on an area east of New Orleans right around Biloxi.

Elena’s track, 1985. The numbers represent where the center of the storm was each day. The higher numbers were August of 1985, the lower numbers represent September.

Two “E” storms, almost 30 years apart.

It’s too early to say what’s going to happen with Erika, which may fall apart like Danny did the past few days. Though as I usually do when the Tampa Bay area is in the cone of uncertainty (or on the verge of same), I read the Dr. Jeff Masters blog over at Weather Underground religiously, and keep track of Denis Phillips over on the local ABC station, who famously got as through the threat of Hurricane Charley with his sage counsel back in 2004.

Watching these hurricanes over the years, nothing has made more sense to me than his “Rule 7“: don’t freak out until the weather experts say so.

Today’s my shopping day in Walmart. Think I’ll be getting a little extra just in case we finally hit the hurricane lottery, a lottery I don’t want to win.

Cooney The Cockateil

A photo on Google of a cockatiel...not Cooney.
A photo on Google of a cockatiel…not Cooney.

Let me introduce you to another pet from my childhood.

In the summer of 1982, I was counting down the days (not really) before I entered Largo Middle School. One day during the summer, my dad asked me to accompany him down to near downtown St. Petersburg. He was going to buy a pet cockateil bird for our amusement. With the recent heavyweight fight between Larry Holmes and Gerry Cooney fresh in my father’s mind, he named the pet Cooney in the defeated boxer’s honor.

Soon afterward, Dad gets Cooney a companion whom we simply called Mama. He had a bigger goal in mind: breeding cockateils to sell them off. By the fall, Mama started having eggs, and those eggs began hatching. I was going to school by this point, and I had a new duty on top of my schoolwork: aiding in the feeding of these baby cockateils.

My mom insisted Dad curtail his breeding ambitions, and by 1983 we were back down to Cooney and Mama again. One morning that summer, Dad told me that Cooney had accidentally died, breaking his neck in the cage he and Mama shared, probably showing off for her. That pretty much was the beginning of the end of that hobby of his, with Mama sold off a few years later…or did she pass away in our care one day? Can’t seem to remember what happened to her.

As for me, I could see a time where I could get interested in cockateils once my duties with Harry The Cat conclude, which may be a long way off. Cooney was quite the character, though.

The R Word


The older I get, the more underwhelmed I am at those who use the word “retard” in a derogatory way.

Maybe that’s just me.

Like many of you, I have known retarded people in my life, some of whom function more efficiently than the rest of us in our daily lives. It is my hope that some day in the distant future that the “r-word” becomes the blight using the “n-word” has become, or words that are derogatory to various ethnicities.

Maybe it’s just me conceding to political correctness. But my thinking is if we’re going to reduce the acceptable range of words being used, let’s get rid of the r-word. I find it just as obscene as some of those other words we’re not supposed to be using.

The Hobo Fight

Eastern and Fremont Streets in Las Vegas, March 2000.
Eastern and Fremont Streets in Las Vegas, March 2000.

In the spring of 2000, I lived for about a month on Fremont Street in Las Vegas. It was not an experience I choose to remember fondly, because the trip was rushed and not thought out well on my behalf, though I had some unique adventures there.

One Saturday afternoon, I went to a nearby gas station to pick up a few things for the day, and I noticed that these two hobos were having a very spirited conversation. Words were exchanged of the four letter variety, then punches were thrown, then a wrestling match broke out complete with the use of a grocery cart as a weapon.

My brain knew not to get involved in such a fracas, but this fight was a train wreck I could not look away from. I did not know what they were fighting about, I just wondered why they were fighting to the death, or at least until one of them passes out. After a few moments of this, I didn’t want to draw attention to myself gawking at the fight, so I whistled softly and walked away from the scene without knowing the fight’s outcome. For all I knew, this could have been a setup of some kind, with myself as the live bait.

I do wonder what happened to those two men all these years later. I wonder if they’re still alive, or if they’re still hobos. It’s not like they left me their business cards or anything, so I can’t look them up the next time I go out there.

Flashback: “Heavy Action” by Johnny Pearson

With the passing of Frank Gifford this Sunday past, I thought this would make a nice tribute.

A trio together again...
A trio together again…

The original MNF theme wasn’t too bad, a catchy number called “SCORE” by Bob’s Band, which was briefly a hit in the early 1970’s. But the track I remember is called “Heavy Action,” one of those songs you remember from those few notes….

Bamp, bamp, bamp, BAAAAAMMMMPPPP, dah dah, dah dah.

Enjoy, and rest in peace Giffer…

The Sinking Ship

Roger Goodell, NFL commish.
Roger Goodell, NFL commish.

I made the comment on Facebook yesterday that the National Football League seems to be coming apart at the seams.

This new extra point rule: I don’t get it. It takes a lot of the element of surprise out of extra points. Say you have a team that wants to go for two points on a fake extra point. Now, they have to find a good fake extra point play that will gain 15 yards for the score as opposed to a play that could just gain a couple of yards. Yes, you’ll see a few more missed extra points as the season progresses, especially when they play in colder weather. However, I just think it’s one of the ways that Roger Goodell is ruining the National Football League.

And don’t get me started on Deflategate, and the sham that has become.

There was also the strange saga of Geno Smith. The New York Jets quarterback got punched in the jaw by one of his own players in training camp yesterday, breaking it. The offending player was quickly released from the squad, but the damage was done. Smith will now this somewhere between 6 to 10 weeks by damage inflicted by one of his own players!

Could you see this happening in any other era but the present? Whatever happened to being part of a team?

For me, it was just another sign that the National Football League is spiraling out of control with Roger Goodell as Commissioner. The game has become somewhat dysfunctional, and while Goodell did not throw that punch at Geno Smith yesterday, it’s just a sign that this season is going to be one of the craziest seasons we have ever seen in the NFL.

Perhaps that’s just the way the league wants it, no?

Gadgetry Addict

Welcome to Pauly's. May I take your order?
Welcome to Pauly’s. May I take your order?

Whenever I get a few bucks, I usually invest it in gadgets for the computer.

This spring, I purchased the Dragon software that takes what you say and dictates it. There was a problem with all this when I realized that the microphone and headset that came with the Dragon software really didn’t work all that well. So recently, I purchased a USB headset for it. Now, I can dictate what I say with much greater confidence, which will save time when I do these blogs.

Another problem I have recently solved is the purchase of a 64 GB USB flash drive that I found on Amazon for $15. Granted, the flash drive resembles the Iron Man character based on the movie, but I didn’t care. If it works, I don’t care what it looks like. I only care that it gets the job done. That will get here tomorrow.

You might say that I am an Amazon addict to some extent. But what they do they do well, and until somebody else comes along who can do it better, I’m sticking with them. Some people might hate them, some people might think their monopolistic, but I have never had a problem with Amazon.