Sunday, December 30, 2018

Adam Lambert Doing Cher's "Believe" Was Something To Behold

Adam Lambert's version of Cher's "Believe" was stunning and moved
many to tears, including Cher at this past month's Kennedy
Center Honors. Strip down that song, and it can be pretty amazing.
A 14-year-old Britain's Got Talent contestant had the same idea
two years ago, to magnificent effect. 
Earlier, this month, the annual Kennedy Center honors went to Wayne Shorter, Reba McEntire, Philip Glass, the creators of "Hamilton" and Cher.

There's always a gala televised thing for these honorees and of course, the highlight was people performing songs by Cher.

For some reason, I've never been a huge fan of Adam Lambert. Nothing against the guy; he just never wowed me. Until now.

One of Cher's biggest hits was "Believe" a sort of dance club, Auto-Tuned but catchy hit from 1998.  Hidden in that dance tune is some heartbreaking, great lyrics and Lambert took full advantage of them.

The result was a great rendition that moved Cher and many others to tears.

Below are two videos. I'm doing that because Lambert wasn't the first person to strip down and slow down "Believe." In 2016, a contestant on "Britain's Got Talent," Jasmine Elcock, who was only 14 years old at the time, did an even more outstanding job with "Believe" than Lambert, if you can believe that.

First video is Lambert's, second is Elcock's. Which one do you like better?


Friday, December 28, 2018

Giant Middle Finger Greets Visitors To Westford, Vermont

Ted Pelkey's middle finger lights up the
skyline of Westford, Vermont 
Vermonters by and large have a reputation for civility. We might not be the warmest people on the planet- we're New Englanders, after all. But we tend to shy away from big public confrontations here in the Green Mountain State.

For the most part, anyway. One exception is in Westford, Vermont, where a giant wooden middle finger on a 16-foot pole greets travelers passing through this pleasant northwestern Vermont town.

As Boston.com and numerous other media outlets have noted, the middle finger along Route 128 in Westford is not meant for you. Unless you are on the town's Selectboard or Development Review Board or a few of the other town's leaders.

The owner of the property with the middle finger, Ted Pelkey, says he put up the 700-pound wooden middle finger because he's fought a ten-year battle to get permits so he can build a garage on his property. He wants to move his truck repair and monofilament recycling business from Swanton to his Westford property.

The town says no. He can't do that.  Westford officials say he hasn't give them enough detail on what he plans to do with the garage, how big it will be, and other details. Pelkey says some town officials have a vendetta against him. He apparently has a pretty negative history with at least one member of Westford's Development Review Board.

"I've been put through the wringer by all these people, and it's just not right....I haven't been treated fairly at all,"  Pelkey said.

Fed up, Pelkey and his wife commiserated in a bar one night. He said, "Hey, I want to get a statue made of a middle finger, and I'm going to put it up on the lawn," he told Boston.com

And so he did. The whole thing cost Pelkey about $4,000, but he thinks it's worth it.

There's not much anyone can legally do to make Pelkey take the middle finger down. There's a strict billboard law in Vermont, which seeks to get rid of visual clutter along highways by banning businesses from putting up billboards along highways to advertise their services.

But Pelkey's middle finger is not advertising a business, which means it does not fall under the billboard law.  Towns like Westford can enact sign laws more stringent than state law, but Westford has nothing like that. On top of all that, Pelkey's middle finger is political speech, which falls under First Amendment protections.

So the big middle finger remains up in Westford, glowing in the nighttime floodlights along Route 128.

If you ever drive through Westford, just remember it's notbing personal toward you. It's just somebody in town really has an axe to grind.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Entitled Woman Turns Into Snowflake When Told Not To Touch Service Dog

This woman was dubbed "Service Dog Sally" for being upset that
her toddler was not allowed to pet a service dog. She said the people
with the service dog were rude when they said no. 
I just love picking on self-important, entitled people. Their antics very often go viral, so it makes it convenient to do so.

So I'm picking on somebody today. Who of course went viral.

In this case, a woman in a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania mall asked another woman if her toddler could pet her service dog. The answer was no.

As pretty much everybody on the planet knows, you don't touch a service dog. They're working. They don't need distractions. Get your own damn dog.

The mother of the toddler goes totally off - angry and bewildered and insulted that she and her kid was told "No." Like we all have to bow to this queen of snowflakes or whatever the hell she is.

In her self defense, the woman in the video says she had accepted the "No" answer, but somebody in the group used profanity, so she confronted the group with the service dogs.  That naturally made everything worse, because she just couldn't ignore this alleged profanity.

Watch the video at the bottom of this post to make your eyes roll.

First, here are the rules, for the tiny percentage of people out there who don't get it:

1. You must ask permission first if you want to touch a service dog, or any dog, or any pet, or any person.

2. If you are told that you cannot touch said animal or person, that ends the discussion. There is no negotiation. Move on.

3. If you do put up a fight over this and are filmed in a public place, there's nothing you can do about it. The idiot woman in the video begs to differ, but this is all very settled First Amendment case law. If you are in a public place and being video'd and you don't like it, too bad. Just get out of camera range if it bothers you.

4. If you are told you can't touch a service dog, any pet or any person, and you object to being filmed, you are free to threaten to contact your lawyer. Again, First Amendment case law says you can say this. Just don't expect any lawyer with even a smidgeon of common sense to take your case.

Anyway, here's the video. It's kind of cathartic to want to slap the offending women, although literally slapping her would be illegal. So just do it in your mind:

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

The Yearly Darlene Love Christmas Tune..

Darlene Love does it again, performing in 2018 my favorite holiday song
"Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)"
My long standing tradition has been to feature the seemingly immortal Darlene Love doing her holiday hit "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)", which is my favorite song of the season.

The song is bittersweet, which is a vacation from the cloying claptrap we usually have to put up with this time of year. Yeah, I'm a Grinch, but deal with it.

The bittersweet song matches my mixed emotions this time of year. I know Christmas demands that I be deliriously happy, but no, I'm not going to do that. I really don't mean to be negative, and I don't want to take away from the joy that many people experience this time of year.  But still. Bah-Humbug!

Yes, I know I'm one of the lucky ones. There's been no tragedies in my life around the Christmas season, knock on wood. Life is good, no complaints. Happiness abounds.

Still, this is a season of contrasts. People get giddy with joy, but there's an undercurrent of sadness for many people, even sometimes among us "lucky ones." It's just that nobody dares admit it. It's against the "rules."

So we express through the  sentimentality of such treacly tunes as "I'll Be Home For Christmas."

That's not good enough, dammit. This holiday demands that everybody's life be perfect. I guess the holiday advertisers are the ones that expect this of us. It's a way to make money, and I get it. However, they hold too much sway over most of us, and I think that's awful.  It's time to break those chains.

Nobody's life is perfect. This seasonal expectation that insists everything must be ideal makes people who are feeling less than perfect feel worse. Which is a cruel joke. Shame on those Hallmark Christmas Specials types. If I were a worse person, I'd wish heartache for them on Christmas.

But I can't bring myself to do that.

Which is why I love "Christmas (Baby Pleas Come Home)" so much. She wants to be with her lover, her ex-lover, or whoever it is, and can't. The song brings us to church, which should make us feel exultant, but at the same time brings us down to a sad reality.

Which is life for pretty much all of us. In a world of fake news, let's deal with reality, folks.

As usual, my, husband and I must be apart this Christmas. Me in Vermont with family, Jeff in South Dakota with family. It's just circumstance that causes this. Work schedules, life in general. No biggie. I want him to be home with me, or I want to be with him in South Dakota.

We can't, but we work it out. Which is why for me, Christmas is bittersweet, and the song fits the mood. Hey, if relating to a song makes you feel better, why not, right?

Jeff will be with me soon enough, and all will be well. I just wish I could spend time today with family, simultaneously in West Rutland, Vermont and Yankton, South Dakota. We'll do Facetime, which is nice, but not perfect.

Hallmark will be mad at me for not being perfect with this, but screw 'em. It's time for all of us to enjoy our strangely wonderful, gloriously imperfect lives.

Love always performed "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)"  on the David Letterman show, until he retired. Then, "The View" picked it up.

I think this year "The View" diluted Love a bit by having her duet with Bryan Adams.(Gosh, I haven't thought of him in years.) But it's a blessing we still have Darlene Love to uphold the tradition in this blog. After all, aren't we supposed to be all traditional this time of year?

So what if my tradition is being imperfect at a time we're all "supposed" to be flawless?  I'm rebelling, and I hope you'll join me.

Here's to sloppy Christmas decorations, gifts falling short, less than impeccable holiday clothing choices, and anything else that violates all those supposed Christmas standards.

Let's enjoy "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" if only because it celebrates our imperfect but good lives:

Sunday, December 23, 2018

No Platinum Mines In This Needed Feminist Update of "Santa, Baby" by Miley Cyrus

One of my least favorite Christmas season songs is the 1953 Eartha Kitt classic, "Santa, Baby."

In the song, Kitt purrs her way through a gift list she wants from Santa when he "comes down the chimney tonight. "

In the long list of expensive things she wants is  a car, specifically a nice 1954 convertible, light blue. Also, holiday decorations from Tiffany's, a sable (who wears real fur coats anymore?). big checks with lots of zeros after a first integer, a duplex (why a duplex, why not just a house?) and of all things, a platinum mine.

Who the hell would even think of asking for a platinum mine for Christmas? Who the hell would want one?

That old gold digging song needed a serious update. Most women I know don't pine for all that weird stuff anymore.  They especially don't wish for a platinum mine. Some women might want to shove a bad, lousy ex into a platinum mine, but that's another story.

Miley Cyrus recently appeared on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. There she was in a cute green and red Christmas outfit, lounged out on a couch. With an earnest smile that is apparently required whenever you sing a holiday song, she belts out "Santa, Baby."

But this Miley version is seriously updated.  Sables, checks, cars and platinum mines are out.  Cyrus's "Santa, Baby" now has a refreshing feminist twist. Sample lyric:

"Santa, baby, I've got a baller car of my own, no loan. I bought it all by myself, Santa baby, with zero help from Elf on the Shelf."

The rest of the song is definitely worth a watch and listen. Especially when she gets to what Santa and other men can do with their chimneys:

Here ya go!

Thursday, December 20, 2018

George Bush's Service Dog Gets Second Career; Making People Cry Happy Tears

Sully, who was George H.W. Bush's service dog, sleeps and stands guard
 in front of his casket in early December. Because of a directive from
Bush, Sully has a new job helping veterans at the Walter Reed Military
Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. 
One of the most heartrending photos I saw after former President George H.W. Bush died on November 30 was an Instagram image of his service dog, Sully.

There, Sully was sleeping, but still on guard in front of Bush's casket. The caption on Instagram read "Mission Accomplished."

Thanks to Bush, though, Sully's life of service is not over. Bush said that upon his death, he wished that Sully would be rehired to assist with physical and occupational therapy for wounded soldiers and active duty personnel during their recovery at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

There have been disturbing news reports lately that in various ways, veterans have not been getting the respect and help they obviously deserve. That Sully will help veterans is just touching good news all around. It is also an indication that Bush 41 knew that if there was something good in this world, like Sully, he had to be put to good use.

Sully, a two-year-old Labrador retriever, was paired with and specifically trained to help Bush 41 with his daily tasks. As noted, that job was completely successfully. Talented and smart Sully has more to give.

Former President George W. Bush - Bush 41's son - said, "As much as our family is going to miss this dog, we're comforted to know he'll bring the same joy to his new home, Walter Reed, that he brought to 41."

I was never a fan of George 41's politics. I voted against him. But I knew that as imperfect as he was, he always wanted to do right for the nation and his fellow humans.  Seems like that trait is in woefully short supply these days.

In a current world where we find too many humans acting especially unhelpful, it's great to see a dog step up to the plate in such a noble fashion. And do so at the behest of someone who could teach us sometbing about common decency. .

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Worst First Name Ever For Kid Causes Family Strife

An expectant mother wants to give her son the first name "Squire
Sebastian  Senator" with no shortened nicknames, please. Ugh! 
I so wish this story, gleaned from the unreliable Internet wasn't true. But since some pretty responsible news outlets have picked up on this, so I  suspect the following stupidity is true.

An unidentified woman says she wants to name her son Squire Sebastian Senator.  

If you think that seems pretentious, you're right. Even worse, this woman says those three names are really just his first name.  

According to Newsweek and many other new sources, The woman in question says this is her son's first name and "he will not be allowed to have a nickname."

Most of us address our friends by their reasonable first name: "Bob" "Jane." Somewhat unusual first names are OK, too.  Hi, Maverick! Hi, Harmony! It's all good. Many parents name their kids according to their ancestry, race, personal interests, references to Greek or Roman or other gods and it's all cool.

Usually, all these names are easy to say. Even if they aren't, it's usually for a good reason. The kid is named after a beloved living or deceased relative, or somebody who made history, or named in a way that shows pride in the famiy's heritage. Within reason.

But when this kid is born, do you really always want to refer to him as "Squire Sebastian Senator?" When anybody addresses a kid with two or three names, it means they're in trouble for some reason. I still shudder rememberingwhen my mother yelled, JOHN MATTHEW!!!!! Do we really want this kid to think he's always in trouble?

Apparently, we do, or at least mom does.. As she explained on Facebook: "We come from a long lasting family of both squires and senators. If you look back in our family tree, the survival of the clan is literally rooted in squiredom. We are all related to senators, too....This name conveys power. It conveys wealth. It conveys success."

It also conveys the fact that this kid will be mercilessly bullied.  And ultimately messed up. Think about it. Would you like to address this kid like that? Never bully a kid, or anybody for that matter. But you know quite a few people will take the bait and abuse this kid. Not his fault. But it will be mom's fault.

Mom plows on in her Facebook post:

"Squire Sebastian Senator will live a powerful, wholesome life. His confidence will not diminish simply because his name is out of the ordinary. Instead, he will become extraordinary."

Extraordinary is one way to put it.

This name mom wants to give to this poor boy is just an exercise in his parents' ego, and nothing more, which is sad. You can tell by the mom's social media post in which she cancels a planned baby shower.

"It brings me pain to have to tell you this, but I am cancelling this event....Why am I doing this? Because y'all have been talking shit about my unborn baby. AN UNBORN CHILD. How can you judge an unborn child?? What is wrong with you?

Talk about not getting it!! As is obvious to everyone except to mom, nobody is judging the kid. To spell it out, he hasn't been born yet. Nobody's met him yet. How can you judge a person who have not met?

What people are really judging is the mom, which is totally fair. She's the one playing this tragi-comic name game with the unborn son.  For most parents, it's all or mostly about the kid. For this mom, it's all about her. Not a good omen.

This mom goes on relentlessly in her Facebook post: "My baby's name WILL be a revolution.....It will push people to question everything."

Well, it does push me to question some things. Like should this woman actually be a mother? Is there a way we can help this poor kid? Would it violate the First Amendment to force parents to change a kid's name if it is unsuitable? What does this woman mean by "revolution?"

 On Reddit, where this whole thing went viral, the reviews are understandably pretty negative:

"This could be the first child ever to run away from home before he's born," one person commented.

Another person said, "He's the first kid ever to come from school with the nickname 'Stinky' an be happy abou it."

I just pray that when this kid is born and people get to know him, they won't fault this stupid name game on the kid.

And I hope this is the first and last time this mom saddles her kid with something stupid, born from her own ego.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Ex-NASA Engineer Exacts High Tech, Glittery, Grand Revenge On Porch Pirates

Engineer Mark Rober designed an elaborate revenge package that turns
porch pirates' lives into a glittery, stinky mess 
Tis the season for porch pirates.

You know, they are the legions of creeps and idiots out there who see packages delivered to porches, doorsteps and whatnot and help themselves to them.

It's a huge problem, and everybody who has victimized has revenge fantasies against the porch pirates.

Who doesn't love that surveillance camera footage of a porch pirate running off with a package, slipping on the home's muddy lawn, and painfully falling and breaking her leg. 

I'm guessing none of these revenge fantasies is extensive as the one a guy named Mark Rober had.

He's a former NASA engineer who worked on the Curiosity rover, which explored Mars a few years back. So Rober knows how to design stuff.

Rober took design to a whole new level to combat porch pirates. Or at least make them pay.

He spent six months designing a package that, when opened by thieves, causes a big explosion of very fine glitter that gets all over and into everything.  The glitter is so extensive that it will make a permanent part of the porch pirates' home or car, wherever they opened the package

Rober's bait package also emits repeated mists of fart spray. Really!
A view of Rober's glitter bomb exploding. 

Plus, it's designed with cameras that start recording when the package is stolen, and captures the reaction of the thieves in all their glitter-covered glory.  The viral video you'll see below is a bit long and involved, but it's certainly worth watching the whole thing.

There is a segment in the middle of the video that shows a slow motion view of when the glitter explodes. It's really quite pretty. I don't know what the porch pirates are complaining about in the video.

It's interesting to watch all the contigencies and design elements he put into this package, which gives you a window into how smart engineers work. Then, toward the end, we see the glitter explosions after the porch pirates have stolen these boxes.

I wonder if it will make these people rethink their line of work. I don't know that it will, but it certainly makes their "job" more complicated. Here's the video:

Friday, December 14, 2018

Nine Year Old Activists Overturns Anti-Snowball Fight Ordinance

In front of a packed Severerance, Colorado Town Board meeting, Dane
Best, 9, lobbies comuunity leaders to overturn a ban on snowball
fights. Photo by Sara Knuth/Greely Tribune 
I love it when kids re-enact the plot in the fictional movie "Footloose," in which a teenager gets a town to overturn a ban on dancing.

The situation I'm about to describe isn't exactly dancing, but it's still nice to see somebody overturning a stupid local ordinance.

The town of Severance, Colorado has long banned snowball fights. C'mon! Colorado in the winter? You gotta have snowball fights!

Enter Severance resident Dane Best, 9, who decided he CAN fight City Hall. And, spoiler: He won.

According to the Greeley Colorado Tribune, Best gave this simple but perfect argument before the Severance Town Board:

"The children of Severance want the opportunity to have a snowball fight like the rest of the world....The law was created many years ago. Today's kids need a reason to play outside."

BOOM!

You can't get a more persuasive argument than that. Why not let the kids of Severance experience the joys of children everywhere. At least in places where it snows And in this age of kids staying inside playing video games to the detriment to their physical health, wouldn't you want children to go outside and be active?

The anti-snow ball ordinance was part of an otherwise perfectly reasonable law that banned throwing missiles or stones at people or property. It's still illegal in Severance to throw stones and missiles, as it is in most if not all of America. Best didn't want the town to overturn that part of the law, and he promised never to throw a snowball with a rock inside.

But the snowball piece of the Severance ordinance is now officially off the books. After the Town Board meeting, the Greeley Tribune said Best and his little brother Dax, 4, went outside into Severance's snowy streets and threw the first legal snow balls in the town's history.

Severance Mayor Don McLeod also got into the act and tossed a snow ball or two.

This whole thing leads to a larger lesson for Best and any kid out there. Yes, you can change an injustice, but only if you put some effort into it.

Bottom line: The kids are alright.




Thursday, December 13, 2018

UPS Delivery Guy Gets Fun Assist From A Squirrel

In this still from a security camera video, a squirrel leaps onto the
shoulder of a UPS driver delivering a package to a homeowner.
Nice to see the squirrel trying to be helpful. 
In the viral video in this post, a delivery guy gets a happy assist during his workday.

It's Christmas season, so people are getting packages at their home left and right. In this case, a UPS driver delivers a Zappos box to a customer.

It's all festive. As the security camera shows, there's a nice seasonal wreath, and the bearded delivery guy taps a little tune on the box. He's in a good mood. It even helps that you can see a Christmas wreath on the door. All is well.

While he's waiting for the homeowner to open the door to accept the package, a squirrel decides to be helpful. Said squirrel jumps on the UPS driver's shoulder and head, and he's delighted.

The squirrel is gone by the time the homeowner opens the door, and the video cuts out at that point. I would have loved to hear what the conversation was like between UPS guy and the homeowner.

But at least it's a nice, happy alternative to the porch pirate thefts we usually see this time of year

Here's the video:

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Christmas Gifts Only The Weirdest Could Love

I'm sure all of your friends would just LOVE a nose
warmer that looks like a spider! 
The Huffington Post recently put up an article that is sure to bring joy, or pain to every holiday shopper out there.

It's a comprehensive list of some of the more, um, novel Christmas gifts you can share this year.

I'll let you read the whole story, but I will cherry pick some of my favorites from this list.

One of these special Christmas gifts is a Trump bottle opener, which has the sound of Trump ranting. One of the messages spouts off about fake news when you use it. Frankly, I hope my nice cold bottle of beer is not fake news when I open it, so I'll pass on this one.

Ugly Christmas sweaters are all the rage in recent years, and I think I found the worst yet. It depicts Santa, sitting on a chimney, pants down, taking a dump down the chimney into somebody's fireplace. I think that qualifies as worse than getting a lump of coal in your stocking.

Here's the sales pitch from the company that sells this thing. "Ugly Christmas sweater has a whole new meaning when you rock up wearing something that literally takes a dump all over the Christmas season. He delivers to every boy and girl in one night, folks - when you gotta go, you gotta go."

I don't think this sweater is turning into a hit. At last check it was on sale - meaning they're trying to unload this, um, mess. The price keeps going down. It started at $84.95, went down to $78.95 and at last check was a low, low $59.95.

Still too pricy for me. Even so, you might want to continue on with this shitty Christmas idea. You can combine the above gift with the book "We Wish You A Poopy Christmas."

Honestly, the sales pitch for this book is even worse than the one for the poopy Christmas sweater:

The worst possible ugly
Christmas sweater.
"Curl up by the fire with some steaming hot chocolate and listen to Fudgy the Poopman offer his unique take on your favorite Christmas tales. You're probably familiar with Rudolph and his red nose, but in this book, you hear how Christmas was saved by Rupert, whose case of IBS has left him with shining red spot on the opposite end of the reindeer body."

I'm not sure why our nation's recent infantile obsession with poop is so rampant, but this Christmas stuff proves it's jumped the shark and must end now.

Moving on, the Christmas season is often chilly, especially for us northerners. We wear coats, hats, mittens, and even ear muffs. But what if your nose gets cold?  Well, of course there's a Christmas gift solution!

Keep your schnoz warm with a Spider Nose Warmer. I just love how the marketers of this thing in their sales pitch have absolutely no command of the English language. I'll quote it verbatim, with no editorial corrections:

"Nose warmer pom pom Christmast gadget. Funny nose gift nose heath Vegan friendly, Nose cozy winter heater. Your noise never been worn, it's made just for you....A unique practical way to keep your nose warm. Sure to be a hit with all. Fun and useful, great for everyone. Loops on each side of the Nose Warmer hook behind the ears, stretchy easy and comfortable to wear. And feets all."

Feets all? I thought it was a nose warmer. No thanks, I'll pass. They say a cold nose is a sign your dog is healthy. I'll just assume that if my nose is cold, I'm healthy.

I haven't finished my holiday shopping yet. I'm a last-minute kinda guy. But rest assured, family and friends! You're not getting any of the items listed above. If that disappoints you, buy 'em yourself!

Sunday, December 9, 2018

PETA's Animal Cliche Suggestions Are Basically Beating A Dead Horse

PETA doesn't want us to use cliches that seem mean to animals.
Their alternative suggestions need work, though. 
There's an amazing number of cliches out there that involve animals.

That's the elephant in the room. There's more than one way to skin a cat. That dog don't hunt. Don't let the cat out of the bag. One trick pony. The lion's share. Pig headed. The cat's meow. Dog days of summer.  

Well, PETA, the strident animal rights group, thinks we ought to change some of our animal cliches to not celebrate cruelty to animals. Never mind that people who use these cliches generally don't want to abuse animals.

But never mind.

PETA decrees that we must change the following cliches to the some non-cruel alternatives. So here we go:

"Kill two birds with one stone" must now be "Feed two birds with one scone." (I had no idea birds like scones. Go figure.)

"Be a guinea pig" should become "Be the test tube."

"Beat a dead horse." should turn into "Feed a fed horse."  If the horse has been fed, it's not hungry. Why would you want to force food this poor creature? That seems cruel, but whatever. Plus, the fed horse thing makes no sense.

"Bring home the bacon" needs to change to "Bring home the bagels."

"Take the bull by the horns" should  become "Take the flower by the thorns." Um, most flowers don't have thorns. And even if they do, why should anyone punish themselves by poking themselves wityh thorns. You CAN be careful.

Now, like most people, I'm really, really not into torturing animals. But as usual, don't you think PETA is taking things just a wee bit too far?

As you'd expect the Twttersphere is not having it.

@tryzick put in a dig in by saying: "Raising awareness and teaching us new phrases? That's killing two birds with one stone right there."

Another wag, Nick Wing, a reporter at Huffington Post, @nickpwing added this: "We should also addressthe 800-pound gorilla in the room who is the  perfect weight because we don't body shame here."

Wing also observed this truthism: "Few things unite the right and left like an opportunity to dunk on PETA." 

At least the organization is one of those great uniters, huh?

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Randy Rainbow's Latest: A Few Of Trump's Favorite Things

Randy Rainbow goes all "Sound of Music" on us in his
latest parody video. Spoiler: It's mean to Donald Trump. 
I guess I'm going to post every new Randy Rainbow video that comes out, and a new one popped up this week.

This one has sort of a holiday feel, as Randy goes over a few of Donald Trump's Favorite Things.  This, of course, is a parody of "A Few Of My Favorite Things" from "The Sound Of Music."

I wonder what Julie Andrews thinks of this Randy Rainbow video.

Anyway, as usual with Randy Rainbow,  I kinda think this video is NSFW. A little off-color. And plus it's not good office etiquette to trigger co-workers who might be fans of Trump.

Also as usual, this video is brilliant. Sample lyric:

"Burying Tax Returns After You File 'em/Tear Gassing migrants for seeking asylum"

I'll do no more spoilers. Here's the video:

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Huge Teddy Bear Storm Disrupts Hockey Game In Best Possible Way

A blizzard of teddy bears rains down on a Hershey, Pennsylvania
hockey rink on Sunday for a very good reason. 
A minor league hockey game between the Hershey, Pennsylvania Bears and Binghamton Devils came to a long, grinding halt Sunday because, of all things, a blizzard of teddy bears.

There's a tradition in minor league hockey for something called the teddy bear toss, and the one Sunday at the Hershey game was one for the record books.

In the toss, when the home team scores the first goal of the season, fans toss teddy bears onto the ice.

Midway through the first period on Sunday, the Hershey Bears scored their first goal of the game. Everybody expected teddy bears to rain down on the ice, but nobody expected this. Watch the awesome video at the bottom of this post to see how this went down. It was beautifu

For nearly 10 minutes teddy bears flew from the stands in a blinding stuffed animal blizzard. When all was said and done, 34,798 stuffed animals had landed on the ice.

All the toys go to charity. Most of them go to local organizations like food banks, churches and the Lions Club. Some of them go to the Children's Miracle Network and the American Cancer Society.

All of the 34,798 stuffed animals make kids' Christmas all the better.  Sunday's teddy bear toss set a new record in minor league hockey.  The previous record was set by the Calgary Hitmen in 2015.

The teddy bear toss at the Hershey Bears game Sunday forced a long delay in the game, but nobody complained. I think it would have been especially fun being in the lower seats above the upper decks. After you throw your teddy bear onto the ice, more rain down from above, so you'd grab those and fling them onto the rink as well.

Here's the video:

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Worst Gender-Reveal Party Ever Caused $8 Million Brush Fire

Gender reveal: It's a boy! But the explosion set off all that tinder-dry
brush you see, causing an $8 million wildfire. 
Dennis Dickey wanted to throw a nice, explosive gender reveal party, as he and his wife were expecting a baby.

He had what he thought was a great plan.

As NPR and numerous other news outlets explained, Dickey placed Tannerite, a very explosive substance inside a target, which he would shoo with a high-velocity firearm bullet.

Tannerite makes an explosie powder that produces some water vapor and a thunderous boom. Not to mention flames and what not. You can get Tannerite powder that sprays in pink or blue for a gender reveal party.

I don't know what Dickey,  a Border Patrol agent, was thinking when he pulled this stunt for his friends. As you can see from the video, below, everything around on that hot Arizona April day looked super, super tinder dry. Just thinking about a lighted match would start a fire, you might imagine.

The big fire caused by a gender reveal party burns along an
Arizona ridgeline in 2017.
At the time, the area was under a Red Flag Warning, which means there's a high risk of wildfires. Winds at the time were gusting to 40 mph.

But Dickey fires his gun. A big spray of blue. It's a boy!! But immediate, the tinder dry vegetation goes up in flames. What else would you expect?

The resulting fire would soon consume 47,000 acres and cause $8 million in damage. I guess Dickey had an $8 million baby, huh?  

On the bright side, although residents of many homes were evacuated, firefighters prevented those homes from burning down.

To be fair, Dickey did report the fire right away, but it was still too late. The fire quickly spread out of control. He has agreed to pay restitution, but I don't know where he's going to come up with $8 million.

He's already ponied up $100,000 and will pay monthly installments of $500 over the next two decades, but that won't cover it. And so much for the baby boy's college fund.

He'll also be on five years of probation and appear in a public service announcement for the U.S. Forest Service.






Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Apple, John Lewis/Elton John Christmas Ads Are Actually Pretty Awesome

A new Christmas ad from Apple is one of the better ones this year. 
Most everyone who knows me understands that I'm not all that into Christmas.

I'm especially not into the constant onslaught of holiday ads, most of which are stupid, a waste of time, and just harangue you to buy, buy, buy.

The unmistakable message in these ads is you are a horrible person if you don't buy the perfect material gift. If you don't make Christmas memorable and perfect for everybody, you're a failure.

Some ads are better. At least they try to give an uplifting message. Like this year's offerings from Apple and John Lewis, the British retailer.  Yes, the purpose of the ads is to get you to buy Apple products and merchandise from John Lewis. Bur they do seem to go beyond the consumerist intent and remind us there are other things to think about.

First, I'll tackle the Apple ad, then get into John Lewis/Elton John, which I have more mixed feelings about.

In the Apple ad, I nice Pixar-like production called "Share Your Gifts," a young woman is seen in her apartment with her dog, writing or creating art on her Apple laptop, printing the work out, then being bitterly disappointed in her talent and stuffing the papers into a box.

The young woman is obviously creative and bright, but fears sharing her talent with anybody. Maybe they won't like it. Maybe they'll think her talent is stupid or something.

The dog finally takes matters into his own hands, pushing the apartment window open and sending the papers from the box flying out into the gusty, snowy city where they live.

The woman frantically runs outside trying to collect the papers, but to her horror,  they blow onto the clothes and into the hand of passersby. Those passersby look at what's on the papers, and their reactions are completely different from what she expected.

The soundtrack makes the ad complete. It's the marvelous song "Come Out and Play" by Billie Ellish.

Here's the ad



Every year, John Lewis, the British retailer, releases an elaborate Christmas season ad meant to touch everybody who sees it.

Some bah-humbugs usually hate them. I'm personally not fond of the Christmas season, so I skew to the bah-humbug crowd. Still, a good ad is a good ad, so I do get all verklempt if the ad touches all the right emotional buttons.
Elton John is the subject of this year's John Lewis Christmas ad.

Usually, John Lewis comes through. This year, I have mixed emotions. The ad this year is certainly touching. And it involves Elton John. I've always been a big fan of his. Ever since I was a little kid.

This year's ad shows Elton John, this year, sitting at a little piano in a modest living room lit up with a Christmas tree.

The piano, we think, is probably one he got as a young kid. It shows him playing three notes, then launching into the familiar chords of "Your Song." He's been through a lot, and at age 71, the ad does not mask the time that has passed.

The ad then journeys backwards through Sir Elton John's life. It goes through recent concerts, his wild days as the ultimate international star in the 1970s, back to when he recorded that beautiful love tune "Your Song," which basically launched his career. Then we see him in small clubs, wowing people with his talent.

It goes back further, with a very young Elton performing at an elementary school recital, with his confident, encouraging mom in the audience. Then it goes back further, on Christmas morning, when he unwraps the piano his mother gave him.

As a toddler, Elton looks at the piano, and plays three simple notes. Then we go back to present-day Elton, and he plays those same three notes, looking wistful and emotional, wistful and grateful.

The reason I have mixed emotions over this ad, is I just hate how companies these days stretch to find "synergy" with current pop moments, with the cooperation with current pop stars. Elton John is on his big farewell tour currently.

It looks like John Lewis is hanging its pitch on this current pop moment, and Elton John is promoting his tour by hooking up with some big retailer.

Still, the ad is touching and to be honest,  it does have a great message. The tagline at the end of the ad says, "Some gifts are more than just a gift."

No pressure here.  It looks like John Lewis expects you to buy your loved ones something as life-changing as that piano Elton John got as a little kid.

But still. I can think of numerous things that kind people have done for me over the years. On the surface, those nice gestures were no big deal. It might have been a thoughtful compliment, a supportive word when I was down, a joke when I needed it

The people who did these things for me probably don't even remember them. But they had a profound influence on my life. Maybe not as big as Elton John's piano, but significant enough. I'll always cherish and remember those giving, warm moments people gave me.

I'm sure we've all had the benefit of these random moments people gave is that helped us so much. I also hope that I've done things that, however subtlely, changed the direction of someone's life. I bet you hope that, too.

I hate the Christmas season because of the manufactured pressure to give the perfect gift, decorate just perfectly, and just be shallow consumers.

The John Lewis ad does expects us to engage in that superficial buying to create some commercial idea of a "perfect" holiday.  The part of our modern Christmas culture that I hate.

But I hope the ad, intentionally or not, also encourages us to dig deep, or maybe not so deep. Perhaps just a kind word. A compliment to somebody who thinks they don't deserve it. Or even just a smile in the long, boisterous line at the big box store.

You never know what just a mellow, friendly, brief gesture can do to a person. That person's life.

Anyway, you be the judge. Here's that John Lewis/Elton John ad. Tell me what you think:


Wednesday, November 21, 2018

How To Combine Mismatched Passions Into Something Awesome

Some of the mood captured in the Pecos Hank song/video
"Drive Under The Moon."
The other day, in my sister blog, "Matt's Weather Rapport," I featured a guy named Pecos Hank.

Pecos Hank is a storm chaser, the kind of guy weather geeks like me love. He spends days, weeks, maybe months out in the Great Plains, chasing after tornadoes and other severe weather.

Unlike many storm chasers, Pecos Hank emphasizes creativity and art over the usual yelling and screaming and shaky images of tornadoes that most storm chasers embrace.  Pecos Hank's storm videos, which he narrates, are moody, beautiful, beguiling.

I think his creativity with the storm videos comes from his other job, his other passion. Pecos Hank is a musician.

Pecos Hank last year was wise enough to combine one passion, storm chasing, with the other, music, to create a haunting music video that I just can't resist.

OK, I'm a fanboy of this guy. So sue me.

The song is called "Drive Under The Moon." It liberally uses outtakes of his storm footage to create a dark, mysterious, almost morbid music video. I like songs that have a darkness, so this appeals to me wonderfully. Pecos Hank's deep voice, combined with his sort of Tex-Mex sound, is just perfect. And the 1950s styles in the video add to the retro, brooding mood.

Is the creepy guy driving the car the Grim Reaper? Is the glamorous woman adventurous and oblivious to her fate, or is she a willing participant in this tornadic, deadly story? You decide.

You have to see this. Watch:




Tuesday, November 20, 2018

You've Never Heard "Bohemian Rhapsody" In These Ways

Check out this guy doing "Bohemian Rhapsody" in 42 musical styles.
Now that the movie "Bohemian Rhapsody" the biopic of Freddie Mercury is in theaters, we might as well celebrate the song the movie references.

To do so, here's a guy who performs the song in the voices of 42 artists. Now you can hear how parts of the Queen classic in a way that artists including Frank Sinatra, Ozzy Osbourne, Abba, Prince, Johnny Cash and others would have done.

Anthony Vincent is the genius behind this video. It's something you never knew you had to listen to, but you really must listen

Here's the video:


Thursday, November 15, 2018

Florida Man Outdoes Florida Man

This Florida man broke into a restaurant, got naked
ate a meal he brought with him, and played the
bongos. He won't be criminally charged because
he didn't rob or damage the restaurant, and
put everything away neatly when he was finished.
You know Florida crime weirdness is bad, when cops there investigating one weird crime find something even more odd.  

But this is Florida, after all. It's the land of Florida Man. You know the headlines see all the time. It's every day "Florida Man Does (Insert Very Weird And Novel Thing Here)"

So it was that a St. Petersburg, Florida was reviewing surveillance video because he was investigating a burglary at The Chattaway restaurant in which the intruder broke in, ate a plate of chicken wings, ad grabbed a beer to enjoy.

By Florida standards, this kind of thing is pretty routine, for sure.

But then, the police officer found something unrelated, but much more interesting in the surveillance footage.

I'll let TampaBay.com pick it up from here:

"The video shows a man riding his bike up to the restaurant at 358 22nd Ave. S, pedaling around the parking lot for 10 minutes, then slipping in through the back gate. After wandering around a bit, he opens the door to a shed for storing odds and ends, and removes them one by one. 

Then the man gains access to a restaurant bathroom. And exits without his clothes." 

Well, I guess a little nudist burglary is a thing. Who knew?

TampaBay.com continues:

"He proceeds to sit naked at one of the restaurant's picnic tables and digs into a meal he brought with him - Maruchan Instant Lunch ramen."

I've got to hand it to the TampaBay.com reporter, McKenna Oxenden, who was able to get such detail on what the guy was eating. As if that was the most important part. Then again, it's good Naked Florida Man didn't steal the food from the restaurant.

The video also shows the man, still naked, playing bongo drums. Not sure what the neighbors thought of that.

The money quote comes from Chattaway waiter Chad Pearson: "He came in with pants on but he rode off on the bike without pants....I'm not sure if he took his pants with him, but we didn't find them. We still don't know where his pants are."

Maybe the other guy who broke in and ate chicken and drank the beer stole the pants. It's a theory, anyway.

Police figured out who the naked guy is, but did not release his name. The restaurant isn't pressing charges, because Naked Florida Guy caused no harm, and even put everything back neatly when he was finished.

The (presumably) clothed guy the cops were initially looking for has not yet been caught. Authorities and the restaurant DO want to press charges against the Florida Chicken Eater Burglar because he stole cash tips, a laptop, a tablet and a grocery bag full of beer, all collectively worth more than $500.

The Florida Chicken Eater Burglar also tried unsuccessfully to break into a safe.

I bet the cops want to review Chattaway surveillance video every day, just to see what they'd find next.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

SNL's Pete Davidson Apologies For Cruel, Awful Joke With Target's Cooperation

Congressman-elect Dan Crenshaw, left, accepts an apology from
Pete Davidson,  who made an inappropriate joke about Crenshaw's
war injury. The apology on SNL last Saturday is one road map
to counter President Trump's negativity and divisiveness. 
More than a week ago, comedian Pete Davidson on "Saturday Night Live" told a really stupid, bad cruel joke.

It was just before the midterm elections, and Davidson was riffing out jokes about several Republican political candidates when he got to Dan Crenshaw, who was running for Congress from a Texas district.

SNL showed a photo of Crenshaw, a former military guy who wears an eye patch because of a war injury and said. "You may be surprised to hear he's a congressional candidate for Texas and not a hit man in a porno movie."

I, along with many, many other people thought that went too far. Joking about Crenshaw's political positions is totally fair game. This was just cruel and unnecessary.

The bad joke caused a bit of a firestorm. On November 6, just three days after the SNL "joke" Crenshaw won the election and is now a Congressman-elect.

This whole incident could have been another salvo in the political hate wars that seem to be gripping all of us in the USA.

But then, as you might have seen or read on the news, SNL invited Crenshaw onto the show the following week - last Saturday. Yes, this was PR, to atone for such a bad, unfunny joke. But it was the best way possible to fix this mess. The video is at the bottom of this post.

Davidson, in his pink hoodie and bleached white hair, apologized in the "Weekend Update" segment.

He said: "In what must be a huge shock for people who know me, I made a poor choice last week. "I made a joke about Lt. Com. Dan Crenshaw on behalf of myself and the show. I apologize... I mean this from the bottom of my heart, it was a poor choice of words. The man is a war hero and he deserves all the respect in the world. 

"If any good came of this, maybe it was for one day, the left and the right finally came to agree on something: That I'm a dick."

With that, Crenshaw appeared on the set and said, "Ya think?" and then sat down next to Davidson.

Then there were some more jokes, including Crenshaw having his cell phone go off, with the ring tone being an Ariana Grande song. Grande and Davidson had been engaged, but the whole thing was called off.  "Do you know her?" Crenshaw asked "innocently."

Zing!

The nice thing about this is it turned into a good moment of unity in a time when we're tearing each other apart.

Crenshaw said: "I want us to get away from this culture where we demand an apology every time someone misspeaks."

Crenshaw went on: "There's a lot of lessons to learn here. Not just that the left and right can still are on some things. But also, this: Americans can forgive one another."

The congressman-elect then went on - this was Veteran's Day weekend - to remind people of the sacrifices of our veterans. He also went out of his way to honor the people "we lost on 9/11, heroes like Pete's father.

Davidson's dad was a firefighter who lost his life in the 9/11 terrorist attack.

This whole thing was great because, as an opinion piece on CNN noted, "rather than trying to one up each other or score political points with their respective audiences, they made a sincere attempt to connect in a respectful and playful manner."

I have to say, our divisiveness is to a great extent Donald Trump's fault. Whenever things go badly for him - and he's such a fuck up that that happens frequently - he starts blaming groups and people, designating enemies and making up conspiracy theories out of nothing, just to cause hate.

Who knows which side will win? Will it be the hate and blame and lies from Trump and his minions and his ardent supporters? Or will we once again learn to deal with our differences.

There are other glimmers of hope. There was an extremely close race for U.S. Senate in Arizona. Republican Martha McSally seemed to be ahead at first, but as ballots continued to be counted, Democrat Kyrsten Sinema got ahead as more votes were counted.

Trump and his GOP minions started claiming fraud and crime in the vote counting, just to undermine faith in the electoral process and try to advance the Republican, no matter what.

But when it became clear that Sinema squeaked out a victor, McSally gave an incredibly gracious concession message, with the help of her goofy dog.

Sure, McSally didn't want to look like a jerk, so that if she runs for office again, people won't bring that up. But the concession was sincere, and far different from Trump's continued attempts to yell about voter fraud against Republicans with absolutely no evidence to back him up.

Trump continues as of today to spout off about fictional voter fraud. Yes, all election officials need to be monitored so that there's no funny business. Yes, voter fraud, though very rare, needs to be squelched.

But more important is our faith in elections, our faith in each other. We're going to have to deal with Donald Trump for the forseeable future. But Davidson, Crenshaw and McSally do give us a model on how to deal with Trump's dark, anti-democratic, ignorant mentality.

Here's the Davidson/Crenshaw video. Between the jokes, it's actually a little inspiring:

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Randy Rainbow Is Here To Tell Why You Need To Vote Today

Randy Rainbow (right) wants you to vote today.  I'm not sure
if Trump wants you to. go with Randy's advice and vote.
I admit, as I have before, this has turned into the Randy Rainbow channel, but I just CANNOT resist.

Speaking of resistance, today is Election Day! Want to give Donald Trump heartburn? Wreck the GOP agenda and turn the government over back it well, us where it belongs?

The first step is to vote today, unless you've already voted early.

Voting today won't solve all our problems, but it will be a nice start.

Viral video sensation Randy Rainbow, who matches songs, often from Broadway to the current political zietgeist, has hit upon another one. This time, he's wisely urging us to vote.

He's taking a page from the song "What Is This Feeling" from Wicked to tell us to get to the polls. Funny how fitting it is that he's taking a song from something called "Wicked" to get his point across.

So watch the video, then, go out, as Randy tells us, and put on some makeup and get your ass in line and vote, or else Randy will hate you. We wouldn't want that!

Here's your inspiration video from Randy to vote:

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Cats Belong On Fashion Catwalks, A Cat Announces

We're sorry you missed the recent Esmod International Fashion Show in Istanbul, Turkey.
You can see Random Cat on a Istanbul fashion show
catwalk does NOT like this piece of fashion. 

No big deal, I hear you saying. You're not that into fashion anyway.

But this was the best fashion show ever, thanks to a random cat.

According to The Dodo, this cat decided that if there's a catwalk, the cat should be on said catwalk, duh!

As human models strutted down the catwalk at the fashion show to dreary, plodding electronic music,  Random Cat decided to mess up that mood and inject a little humor.

Nobody knows where Random Cat came from but she was a natural on said catwalk.

Random Cat showed who's boss, attacking some of the fashions that she didn't care much for, then strutted down to the end of the catwalk like the diva she is.

I saw one Tweet describing what the Random Cat was thinking at that moment: "No, no, no dahling. THIS is how you walk."

I sometimes watch the show "Project Runway," in which contestants design clothes for sometimes ridiculous situations using ridiculous material. The show is on hiatus until 2019, but when it returns, I think there should be a cat episode of "Project Runway."

Here's the video from Istanbul:

Sunday, October 28, 2018

You Will Love Or Be Perplexed By This Strange Russian Band Called Little Big

Just one of many bizarre scenes from the viral Little Big
video and dance craze "Skibidi"
Apparently, the latest dance craze is something called the Skibidi.

There's a viral video out there by a Russian rave band called Little Big. (They actually have several viral videos, but this one is the latest, and biggest hit yet.)

The bizarre video that I can't stop watching is at the bottom of this post. The Skibidi mostly involves walking with legs out, doing high steps, while punching your fists crossways in front of your chest.

There's a few intermittent hip thrusts, wobbles and hand motions as well, but you get the idea.

The lead protagonist in this video is a very stern, determined, rather creepy blonde man with a mustache. He's a bit like a scarier version of Borat. In the video, he hooks up with another member of the band, who vaguely resembles a highly maniacal version of Debra Messing.

There's also a potential street fight, which devolves into a Skibidi battle  The song itself is all electronic, with random dog barks and other sound effects. Other creatures get into the song, including a dog, city highrises and a Godzilla-like monster.

In other words, this video is so stupid, so tacky, so tasteless, so absurd, so weird that it's absolutely fantastic and mesmerizing.

Other Little Big videos are hits, too, like Faradenza, in which our blond mustached guy seems to attract the babushka type women. Another tune, called LollyBomb, appears to show North Korean leader Kim Jung-un having a torrid love affair with a nuclear bomb.

They're worth watching, for laughs and giggles.

But really, you have to watch Skibidi. And learn the dance, too. And always do the dance while walking down the street. Just because.  Everybody else has. People are being challenged worldwide to do the Skibidi. On Twitter #skibidichallenge is trending.

The Skibidi video had more than 42 million clicks as of Sunday. You can watch it too, if you haven't already:

Friday, October 26, 2018

Nebraska's Boring Tourist Pitch Might Just Work

Are you a tourist heading to Nebraska? Unlikely, but if you go, hop into
 a livestock tank and float down a river. They do that there, apparently. 
I've been to Nebraska, and frankly, I don't find it all that exciting. A lot of people don't.

Oh, in Nebraska, there's nice places, things to do, and the people are wonderful. (The previous Nebraska tourism campaign was called "Nebraska Nice.")  Still, the parts of Nebraska I've seen, it's a little bit of a yawn.

But every state wants to draw tourists, and Nebraska is no exception. The state has a new tourism campaign that's a bit counter intuitive, but it might just work. Or not. We'll see.

"Honestly, it's not for everyone," is the Nebraska tourism tagline.

The campaign has an uphill battle. Nebraska consistently ranks as the "least likely state" tourists want to visit, according to the Omaha World-Herald.

Certainly, Nebraska has its unique qualities.

One print ad in the new tourism campaign goes like this, according to the Omaha World-Herald:

"Lucky for you, there's nothing to do here," is the headline on one print advertisement that displays a smiling band of partygoers, floating down a Sand Hills stream in livestock tanks in the Nebraska-invented sport of 'tanking.'"

I have to admit, tanking sounds so bizarre I'd like to try it. At least once.

The landscape that I've seen in Nebraska is very flat and featureless. But I've obviously not been to every corner of the state. One of the new Nebraska tourism ads is headlined "Famous for our flat, boring landscape. The photo shows a couple jumping around an interesting, rocky landscape in Nebraska's Toadstool Geologic Park.

Another part of the new tourism campaign is headlined "Festivals for everything from mud to testicles."  That refers to the Nebraska's Roumd The Bend Steakhouse, which features deep fried sheep (!!!) and beef testicles.

Before you roll your eyes at that, do remember we here in Vermont have festivals like the Black Fly Festival in Adamant, which celebrates those clouds of tiny, biting insects that ruin any attempt to go outdoors in the otherwise lovely month of May.

We in Vermont can also enjoy the annual Burdock Festival in Benson, which is supposed to have us enjoy those extremely annoying weeds with those spiky burs that cling to our clothing if we even get close to that plant.

Of course Vermont is a much more of a tourist mecca than Nebraska. Vermont is just completing its High Holy Season, in which easily more than 3 million  tourists descend on the Green Mountain State to watch leaves die in the autumn. OK, they're gorgeous, colorful deaths, but still.

Stephen Colbert recently noticed the Nebraska tourism pitch, and he added lots of suggestions for other states to use.

North Dakota; "You can't visit all 50 states without visiting North Dakota."

I go to South Dakota fairly frequently, because I have relatives there. The state's OK in terms of interest, but Colbert has this tourism slogan idea: "South Dakota: When North Dakota's full."

Colbert even had a suggestion for Vermont: "Not gonna win an award for best state or nothin' but have you seen New Hampshire?"

Yep, the rivalry between 802 and 603 is alive and well.

He had a few more suggestions. Here's the Colbert tourism clip:

Here's the Colbert clip:

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Two Viral Reasons Why I'm A Proud Green Mountain Boy

Madelyn Linsenmeir, shown here with her son Ayden, died
of an opiod overdose recently. The obituary her sister wrote
has gone viral. 
Two incidents originating in Vermont went viral in the past week, and both cases make me incredibly proud to be a Vermonter.

This is true even though one of the incidents involved a tragedy, the other basically focused on a national crisis

MADELYN ELLEN LINSENMEIR'S OBITUARY

The more viral of the two incidents regarded the death of Madelyn Ellen Linsenmeir, 30, whose obituary described how her addiction to OxyContin affected her and her family, and ultimately killed Linsenmeir.

Part of the blunt, loving and heartbreaking obituary read as follows:

"It is impossible to capture a person in an obituary, and especially someone whose adult life was largely defined by drug addiction. To some, Maddie was just a junkie - when they saw her addiction, they stopped seeing her. And what a loss for them. Because Maddie was hilarious, and warm, and fearless, and resilient. She could and would talk to anyone, and when you were in her company you wanted to stay.

In a system that seems to have hardened itself against addicts and is failing them every day, she befriended and delighed cops, social workers, public defenders and doctors, who advocated for and believed in her 'til the end."

The obit also said that using drugs "is not a choice or a weakness. And chances are good that someone you know is struggling with it, and that person needs and deserves your empathy and support." 

It now seems that practically everyone across the nation has read that obit. It asked for donations to the Turning Point Center, which helps addicts in Vermont. The Turning Point Center is now being swamped by donations and messages.

Adding more to all this was a Facebook post by Burlington, Vermont Police Chief Brandon del Pozo.

He said he had a "problem" with the Linsenmeir obituary and here's why, as del Pozo wrote on Facebook:

"A family member with a talent for expression wrote her the honest and moving obituary she truly deserved. It went viral. It's being read across the country. It's in People, the Globe, HuffPost, and the Daily News. My problem with it is that it's a much better obituary than the rest of us deserve."

"Why did it take a grieving relative with a good literary sense to get people to pay attention for a moment and shed a tear when nearly a quarter of a million people have already died in the same way as Maddie as this epidemic grew?

Did readers think this was the first time a beautiful young, beloved mother from a pastoral state got addicted to Oxy and died from the descent it wrought? And what about the rest of the victims, who weren't as beautiful and lived in downtrodden cities or the rust belt? They too had mothers who cried for them and blamed themselves."

The entire Facebook post by del Pozo, is a must readjust as Linsenmeir's obit is.

Vermont has been hit hard by the opiod epidemic.  In 2017, 107 people died of opiod-related causes, the vast majority of them being overdoses, says the Vermont Health Department.

There's plenty of blame to go around for the opiod deaths in Vermont and the rest of the nation. There are some real efforts to combat this. But it's not enough. The Linsenmeir obit, and to a somewhat lesser degree del Pozo's Facebook post, has got the whole nation talking about and confronting the opiod epidemic. At least everybody is tweeting about it, if nothing else.

The obituary was written by Linsenmeir's sister, Kate O'Neill, who told NPR: "Our hope also now lies with policymakers and politicians and the people who can make the change necessary so that these deaths stop happening. Let's put our money where our tweets are."

Once again, Vermont leads. Compassionately.

LAMOILLE COUNTY, VERMONT'S MUSICAL CAMPAIGN DEBATE

Vermont House candidates Zac Mayo amd Lucy Rogers are competing
against each other. But they ended a recent debate by
performing a duet with each other. 
Up in Lamoille County, Democrat Lucy Rogers and Republican Zac Mayo are aggressively competing against each other for a seat in the Vermont House.

Recently, Rogers and Mayo had a debate at the local library. The back and forth was reportedly respectful, and both candidates seemed to have the smarts and the goods to be decent legislators

But what happened at the end of the debate shocked locals. And that event was so shocking, it's now nicely jarring people across the nation. This, too, has gone viral.

Both candidates asked the moderator for a bit of additional time at the end of the debate. They didn't say why they wanted it, but the moderator basically shrugged and said OK.

Rogers and Mayo then began moving tables off to the side. She brought out her cello, he brought out his guitar, and the two candidates from opposing parties performed a duet in very nice harmony.

The song they chose was "Society" by Eddie Vedder. The lyrics challenge materialism and greed and excess competitiveness.

CBS Evening News picked up on this story and broadcast it to the nation in their "On The Road" segment. CBS reported there wasn't enough tissue to go around in that library for the teary-eyed audience when the candidates did their performace.

That's because politics is getting worse and worse. Lord knows it's all noise and bitterness and attack ads and hate and vitriol. Rogers and Mayo gave us, and the nation a needed political salve, a needed other way.

I don't live in Lamoille County, so I can't vote for either one of them. I'm not sure which one has political opinions most closely match my own. But whoever wins, Vermont will be well-served.

Or, as CBS said, the election has already been decided. It was a landslide victory for civility.

Here's the video of the CBS report: