Sunday, June 30, 2019

My Favorite Pride Month Song Is "Sinful"

A scene from the rather dark song and video which is actually
my favorite Pride Month anthem.
It's Pride Month, and it's a big tadoo for the LGBTQ community, of which I'm a part.

Everything in life seems to have a soundtrack and this is no different. Lots of songs and anthems and hits fit.  Click on the hyperlinks to all these examples to enjoy the music videos. It's worth it.

There's many dozens of diverse examples of great Pride anthems in all kinds of genres. Awesome ones include the sad, haunting "Smalltown Boy," the 1984 hit by the Bronski Beat. There's the joyous, boisterous 2011 anthem "Born This Way," by Lady Gaga.

"Follow Your Arrow," the country hit by the amazing songwriter Kasey Musgraves doesn't get too explicit about gay pride, but the message is crystal clear in this terrific song. "When the straight and narrow gets a little too straight."

You of course CAN NOT  skip Madonna's "Vogue" or Cyndi Lauper's "True Colors."  And just because it's Cher, you can pick something like "Believe."

You'd think this gay weather geek blogger's favorite Pride Month anthem would be the goofy, fun and exhilarating "It's Raining Men," by The Weather Girls. Close, but not quite.

I have to agree with the Joe.My.God blog guy that the best Pride anthem, at least in my opinion is "It's A Sin" by the Pet Shop Boys. It's a lot darker than a lot of songs I've listed, but I like the dark side of music.

Now, I'm not bashing the Catholic religion, but I was raised in that church and guilt is a big part of it. And also my impression was you could not necessarily be who you are and still adhere to the conservative church.

The protagonist in "It's A Sin" goes over everything he supposed to be ashamed about himself over, but the song makes it clear that he has nothing to be ashamed about, but perhaps others do. I also love the imagery in the music video.

Here's the "It's A Sin" video. Enjoy it and Pride Month:

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

German Town Goes On Beer Buying Spree To Annoy Neo-Nazis

Residents of Ostritz, Germany are seen here buying up all the beer
at the town's supermarket so an influx of Nazis at a right-wing
festival wouldn't be able to buy any. 
The area around Ostritz in the Saxony area of Germany is dealing with the Shield and Sword rock music festival, a favored gathering for neo-Nazis and other like-minded creeps.

The only thing worse than a Nazi is a drunk Nazi, so people in Ostritz had that in mind when they came up with an "evil" plan.

A court had earlier ruled that booze would be banned inside the event, so Ostritz residents figured the Nazis would buy their beer in town on the way to the festival.

So, residents raided the local supermarket and bought every last bit of beer in there before the festival-going right wing assholes couldn't get any.

Double bonus: Townspeople could down a nice cold one or two while holding their own peaceful demonstration agains the Neo-Nazis. It's a win-win.

No word from the Nazi creeps if they were unduly thirsty during the festival. Poor babies.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Tanya Tucker Teams Up With Brandi Carlile; Results Are Magical

The awesome Tanya Tucker will drop her first album in 17 years
 coming August 23. The first single from the album is out, and
it really bodes well for the rest of the album
The great Tanya Tucker made a big splash at the recent CMT awards show when she and Brandi Carlile teamed up to perform the iconic Tucker song "Delta Dawn."

It's terrific seeing Tanya Tucker on stage again. And she rocks that pink hair look!

There had to be an ulterior motive for her appearance at the CMT's. And there was. Tucker is promoting her first album since 2002.

The new album is produced by Carlile and Shooter Jennings.

Carlile is the best songwriter in the world today, at least in my opinion and that of so many other people, so that bodes well for the rest of the new Tucker album.

Shooter Jennings is also a top-rate songwriter with a great pedigree - he's the son of Waylon Jennings and Jessi Colter.

The new Tucker album, "While I'm Livin'" is due to drop on August 23. The first single from the album, called "The Wheels of Laredo" is out now.

The song was written by Carlile and Tim and Phil Hanseroth. (The Hanseroth twin brothers are the two tall, talented bald guys you see in Carlile's band.)

The video, which is a work of art on its own, was directed by Myriam Santos.

Here's the song and video of Tanya Tucker's "The Wheels of Laredo". You're going to love it.

Monday, June 10, 2019

"Love Calls Back" Ad During Tonys Telecast Has People Weeping

A scene from the Verizon/Pflag ad "Love Call Back."
Last night, during the Tony Awards on television, Verizon, the telecommunications giant, and Pflag, a advocacy group for the LGBTQ community, aired an ad that had many weeping, including me.

The ad, calls "Up To Speed," or "Love Calls Back," featured young LGBTQ people who were estranged from parents or other loved ones.

The conversations when these youths came out of the closet to their families went badly, so there was little or no communication after that.  

Everybody hurt because of these situations, obviously.

In the ad, Verizon and Pflag arranged do-overs for these initial conversations. Parents, brothers and others who initially had reacted badly to their kids' orientation since the first bad conversation had time to think about it, and had come to realize there really wasn't anything wrong with their LGBTQ kids, and that they still loved them.

The ad is a nice bit of hope for people who are estranged, and I hope it encourages more do-over calls to reunite people.  The whole thing, of course, is timed to coincide with June, which is Pride Month.

I fully realize that not all families have such happy endings. Some LGBTQ youth and adults remain estranged from stubborn, ignorant parents forever, which is sad to say the least.

I was lucky when I came out. My father immediately supported me. My mother reacted extremely harshly and negatively, but eventually came around. It took a little work, but she did it.

The video is below.  The first 1:40 of the video explains what it does. After that Kleenex alert!  It is a weeper, but worth watching:

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Big Pharma Gouging Gets Even More Infuriating With New Site "Correction."

Mallinkrodt CEO Mark Trudeau. Getting rich off by endangering
infants by price gouging anti-seizure meds. Nice. 
Gizmodo, a news, technology and science website, recently ran an incredibly infuriating article about a company called Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals.

This outfit bought another pharmaceutical company called Questcor in 2014.

Anyway, Gizmodo reported that Questcor and Mallinkrodt increased the price for a drug called Acthar from "just $40 in 2000 to over $40,000 today, despite the fact that Acthar has been o the market since 1952."

Acthar is a medication that helps prevent seizures, especially in infants, so it's kind of an important drug.  Mallinckrodt rakes in about $1 billion annually from the now overpriced Acthar, said Gizmodo, citing a CNN report.

When I read that, I thought that can't be true. That's just a ridiculous price increase that nobody would dare try.

It turned out the article wasn't entirely true. Mallinckrodt sent Gizmodo an email, demanding a retraction to an error in the story. Gizmodo obliged. Here's the mea culpa that Gizmodo ran:

"Correction: This article originally stated that the price of Acthar had gone 'from just $40 in 2000 to over $40,000 today.' A spokesperson for Mallinckrodt emailed to request a correction that Acthar actually costs $38,892 today. Gizmodo regrets the error. We also regret that every last one of these guys isn't in prison yet."

Yep, Mallinckrodt was upset, not that they increased the price of a necessary drug by nearly 100,000 percent within two decades. It's that Gizmodo ever so slightly exaggerated the cost of the drug.

As if bilking people to to the tune of $40,000 is beyond the pale but doing the same for a mere $38,892 is not.  No wonder the Gizmodo correction was so snarky.

Drug companies executives do deserve to rot in jail. The Gizmodo article accurately pointed out this:

"Curiously, there's a drug called Synacthen that's identical to Acthar and sells for just $33 in Canada. So why isn't Synacthen available in the U.S.? Because Mallinckrodt bought the U.S.rights to Synacthen and simply doesn't make it available to American consumers."

Because Mallinckrodt figures infants who are injured or die from seizures because medicines are too expensive are definitely worth the profits.

The Gizmodo article explained the Mallinckridt expects to pay a $15.4 million settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice because of allegations that Quester bribed doctors and their staff to prescribe the super expensive medication.

Yeah, to you and me, $15.4 million seems like a lot of money to you and me. But remember, Mallinckrodt makes $1 billion a year from Acthar alone. It's comparable to the "pain" I would experience if I got a $5 parking ticket.

If this whole thing was just one isolated incident to piss you off, that would be one thing. But the news has been filled with news of Big Pharma boosting prices to sky high levels for fun and especially profit.

It doesn't matter that these new sky high prices are literally killing people. You've heard the stories. Insulin prices have soared, for example. Type 1 diabetics were paying an average of $5,705 in 2016, almost twice as much as just four years earlier. Insulin prices have spiraled in the three years since.

According to USA Today, the Senate Finance Committe told insulin makers to detail their price increases. One vial of Eli Lilly's Humalog went from $35 in 2001 to $234 in 2015. Between 2013 and this year, Nordisk's insulin went from $289 to $540.

The price got so high that diabetics started to ration their insulin. That killed many of them.  These deaths are worth if for the millions these pharma executives are raking in, apparently.  I guess they found a way to literally get away with murder.

The Pharma industry has guaranteed their profits through blocking competition, herculean efforts to confuse patients so they don't understand how much drugs really cost, notes a U.S. News and World Report.

All in the name of profits. We've gotten so dystopian that we just accept this as normal, when people should be marching in front of these evil Big Pharma companies with pitchforks and torches.

I hope there's a special place in hell for these pharma and insurance executives who think it's OK to literally kill people so they can suck up even more millions of dollars.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Florida Weirdness Continues As Usual. Alligators And People Uphold The State's Reputation.

Florida is famous for its weird news, of couse.  Half of the time, the weirdness involves alligators.

I've got three examples. I'm sure there are dozens of examples, but three is all I have the energy for.

So let's go: Even routine traffic stops are practically never routine.'

Take one case last month in which a car blew through a stop sign in Punta Gorda, Florida.

One of the standard questions the police ask you during traffic stops is whether you have anything else on you. The cop wants to make sure there aren't any dangerous guns or other weapons in case things go south during the traffic stop.  

The Charlotte County Sheriff's Office said Ariel Machan-Le Quire, 25, answered that she did. Ariel told police she and her companion had been collecting snakes and frogs beneath a nearby overpass. OK. Then she pulled a live, foot-long alligator out of her yoga pants.

The pair were warned against blowing through stop signs, and the state Fish and Wildlife agency was called in to investigate. Possibly in that order. In Florida, hiding alligators in yoga pants could well be as common as people blowing through stop signs.

She and her companion were cited for violating the bag limit on reptile collecting, which is regulated.

The alligator and all the other animals the couple found were released back into the wild.

The next alligator crisis came last month when police in Clearwater, Florida responded to a report of a home break-in.

Homeowner Mary Wischhusen heard a crash in her kitchen around 3:30 a.m. one morning and discovered the burglar in her kitchen. She retreated to a bedroom and called 911.

When police got there, they found the home had indeed been broken into, and the perp was still there. It was a ten-foot-long alligator, and it had broken into the house through a low window.

Ten police officers and two trappers spent two hours trying to coax the alligator out of Wischhusen's kitchen. Her only regret is the alligator toppled a wine case, smashing all the bottles of red wine inside. It was the good stuff, she said.

Nobody is sure why the alligator targeted Wischhusen's house. My theory is it likes red wine.

Finally, this week, a Gainsville, Florida couple decided it would be a nice idea to have a picnic on the shores of a lake.

Then an alligator decided to join the party. The couple wisely retreated, so the alligator came up and helped itself to a block of cheese, salami, half a watermelon and an entire bowl of guacamole. 

Luckily, the alligator was full after that, so instead of eating the picnicking couple, the little monster went back down to the lake.

For now, anyway.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Bad Spring For Vermont Covered Bridges And Stupid Truck Drivers

The extensively damaged covered bridge in Lyndon, Vermont.
An oversized truck barreled through the bridge in May. 
This spring was not good for Vermont's famed covered bridges. Two idiotic truckers made sure that was the case.

Back on May 16, a moronic truck driver blasted through the Millers Run bridge, built in 1878 in Lyndonville, breaking angled roof supports, damaging two main vertical beams and shattering parts of the bridge's north side.  

Police said the driver told them she was making a delivery and GPS directions said to go across the covered bridge.

As if GPS were God and she couldn't tell the truck was bigger than the bridge.

As a side note, I guess that's why truckers continually get stuck on the narrow winding Smugglers Notch pass on Route 108 in Vermont. Numerous signs tell trucks not to go up, but GPS says go, so they go. Human-created warnings be damned.

Engineering studies are going on now to figure out how to fix the bridge. The trucking company whose driver is responsible for the damage looks like they will pay for the damage.

As you can see by the video at the bottom of this post, the truck driver cruised on through, wrecking the bridge and then kept right on going, as if that was the normal thing to do.  The truck driver, Jolene Godfrey, 43, of White River Junction, was on a delivery run for Upper Valley Produce.

Just a day or two after the bridge in Lyndon was trashed another truck driver trashed another Vermont covered bridge, this one in West Woodstock. 

The truck, with a trailer carrying equipment exceed the bridge's height limit and damaged the interior of it. At least this time, the truck driver owned up to it, stopped immediately and cooperated with police.

All this is nothing new.

Last summer, another trucker damaged the Cornish-Windsor Covered Bridge over the Connecticut River on the Vermont-New Hampshire border.

Once again, it was GPS. Nizeyimana Silas, 31 at the time of Nashua, New Hampshire, drove through the bridge, which has a posted nine foot, two inch clearance, according to the Valley News. The truck is three feet taller than that.

Cornish Police Chief Doug Hackett had to tell the Valley News the obvious: "Following your GPS doesn't mean you don't have to follow posted signs. You can't use the GPS as an excuse.... At some point, you have to look at the road, look at the signs, look at what's going on around you."

Please, folks. Stop relying on your GPS. It lies to you.

Here's the video of the Lyndon bridge being damaged by the oblivious trucker:

Monday, June 3, 2019

I'm Not A Cat Guy, But I'm Still Really Mourning Grumpy Cat

Grumpy Cat died last month at the age of 7. 
The big, sad news of the past month is that Grumpy Cat passed away back in mid-May at the age of 7.

She was a celebrity, and word of her passing was all over the news, seemingly almost to the level of press coverage at the deaths of Michael Jackson and Princess Di.

And no wonder. Grumpy Cat was the ultimate internet celebrity, becoming one of the most popular memes out there.

She went to the SXSW festival in 2013 and people lined up around the block to take selfies with Grumpy Cat. She was probably the hottest celebrity at the star-studded event.

Grumpy Cat did have a thrilling life, making appearances on television shows and ball games. She went to Broadway to visit the cast of "Cats," --- obviously!

Grumpy Cat also "wrote" a bestselling book called "Grumpy Cat: A Grumpy Book."

As NPR reported:

"The Grumpy Cat book promised to 'put any bad mood in perspective' - and that seems to be a main source of the mourning and tributes that were triggered by the unexpected and unwelcome news that one of the worlds most adorable grouches is no longer with us. 

'I loved the cat,' one fan wrote, 'I find the absolute pleasure of meeting her once and I will never forget it. I will never forget the first time I saw her face! I learned much from her an deeply saddened and devastated to hear of her passing.'"

This fame was all because Grumpy Cat was a relatable meme. I'm not really into internet memes, but this one fit my occasional moods perfectly. Same with everybody else. Grumpy Cat made it OK to not be relentlessly cheerful all the time, as long as you didn't let the grumpiness harden into hate or deep gloom.

Even President Obama, during a speech, did an imitation of Grumpy Cat while mocking some negative acting Republicans.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Vermont City Marathon Scenes

Runners make their way up "Heartbreak Hill,"
which to most of us is Battery Street
in Burlington. The  Taiko Drummers helped
push people up the hill
I briefly had time to check in last Sunday - yes a week ago - for the Vermont City Marathon in Burlington, Vermont.

There's always a few scenes and moments that are pretty cool.

Any one person will miss most of the quirky momets, but everybody will catch at least some. This post has just a few photos of the scenes, just for fun.

Dude with a huge
beard runs in
the marathon.

Runners make their way down Pine Street
in Burlington Sunday during the
Vermont City Marathon
Dude caught running the marathon barefoot 
A spectator and his dog watch the marathon
proceedings in Burlington this past