Tuesday, February 28, 2006

In Remembrance of a Friend Long Gone

I'm almost afraid to read the entertainment news after this weekend. What TV icon of my youth will have died now? Barney Fife, McCloud, Kolchak...all gone. Who's next, Lord? Who's next?
The first death that I remember truly emotionally affecting me was that of Wally Cox. It was 1973 and I was seven.
By the early 70's, the former Mr. Peepers and voice of Underdog had gone where stars at the end of their careers went in those days; he'd become a regular on Hollywood Squares. Squares had developed by that time a more or less permanent roster of semi-retired actors which included center square Paul Lynde, Rose Marie, Charlie Weaver (a.k.a. Cliff Arquette) and Cox.
I watched Squares whenever I was home during the day (I did have school after all) and Cox and the others were almost always there. They entertained me, made me laugh, and their day in, day out presence in my life provided a certain sense of stability. I felt closer to Wally Cox than to many people with whom I actually interacted on a daily basis, including most of my family.
Then he was gone. I was shaken, stunned. It was the first time in my life I truly understood the nature and dread finality of death. He was the first person I ever mourned for. I eventually came to understand something else about death, that, despite it, life goes on, just as the original Hollywood Squares would go on for nine years after Cox died.
Sometimes, like right now, I still miss Wally Cox...and Paul Lynde and Charlie Weaver and the old Hollywood Squares.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Dennis Weaver (1924-2006)

God! This week is turning out to be a total bummer.

Before I update the blog every day, I usually take a look at the headlines on the Columbus Dispatch's homepage to see if there's anything going on that I might want to comment sagely on. Well, today I see that Dennis Weaver died on Friday, his death coming on the same day as the passings of Don Knotts and Darren McGavin, which hit the news yesterday.
I see that all the obits have headlines identifying Weaver as a star of Gunsmoke, on which he starred as Chester, a deputy of James Arness' Matt Dillon, which is probably how people of my mother's generation will always remember him. For me, and I would suspect most people my age (I'm 40, by the way), he is best known as fish out of water lawman Sam McCloud, a New Mexico Marshall on "special duty" in New York City. The image that sticks in my mind is of McCloud on horseback weaving in and out of the congested New York traffic. A scene like that occurred in every episode and neatly visualized the clash of cultures that was the core of the show's premise and, I suspect, it's appeal to viewers.
In McCloud, Weaver created one of the few truly unique characters in the annals of TV detectives, and even if he hadn't also contributed to the success of TV's longest running primetime drama, that would be enough to earn him a place in TV heaven.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Don Knotts Dies

For most of us, childhood doesn't end suddenly, but by degrees, and today another piece of my childhood slipped away when I heard that Don Knotts, who perfected the character of the nerdy guy who tries to act cooler or tougher than he really is in the TV series The Andy Griffith Show and Three's Company and in films such as The Incredible Mr. Limpet and The Apple Dumpling Gang, died Friday.
Stuck, for the most part, in supporting roles, Knotts transcended his second banana status on The Andy Griffith Show and Three's Company to overshadow those shows' stars and provide some of the very few genuinely funny moments either show could boast. The Incredible Mr. Limpet, a mix of live action and animation which cast Knotts as a man who escapes his unfulfilling life by turning into a fish and going on to aid the Allies in winning World War II, remains, to this day, one of my favorite movies.
A Comic Genius? I wouldn't go that far, but Don Knotts made the most of the gifts he was given to bring smiles to millions and he will be missed.
Another passing of note: TV's original Night Stalker and star of A Christmas Story, Darren McGavin.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Wonder Woman Cancelled Again

In the wake of their latest universe shattering cosmic crossover series, Infinite Crisis, DC Comics is ending both the Flash and Wonder Woman titles, just as they discontinued these heroes' first series two decades ago in the aftermath of the landmark series Crisis On Infinite Earths. I'll probably pick up the final issues, just as I did back in '85. In anticipation, I've been been boning up on my Wonder Woman lore by checking out several trade paperback collections from the Columbus Library. One positive effect of all that reading is that I knew the correct response to a Jeopardy clue that asked for the Greek goddess of "war and wisdom (I wonder why the ancient Greeks ever thought those two things go together.), Athena.
Another thing I have gleened from reviewing these books is that, over the course of this second series, Wonder Woman has been DC's "writer/artist" book, with most of the writers on the title illustrating most if not all of their run. Among the Wonder Woman collections I've recently read are volumes written and illustrated by George Perez, John Byrne and Phil Jimenez. William Messner-Loebs, while he did not illustrate the Wonder Woman stories he wrote, is a talented cartoonist who began his comics career writng and drawing the frontier fable Journey.
Of course, it's pretty much a foregone conclusion that the adventures of these two heroes will continue in new series, most likely launching by the end of the year. You can definitely count on Wonder Woman reappearing, as with a new movie in the works, DC would be foolish not to have a comic on the market to capitalize on it.

Stray Thoughts--Topic: Superman Returns

Upon viewing the teaser trailer for the new Superman flick, one thought, actually a quote from Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, leapt to mind: "This is getting needlessly Messianic."

Friday, February 24, 2006

Now That's Trivia No.3--You Can't Be Cereal

Yes, true believers and seekers of arcane and useless knowledge, it is trivia time once again. (And there was much rejoicing!!) I thought of a great trivia question while I was at work a couple of days ago, but unfortunately forgot to write it down and thus forgot it. Fortunately, however, I have a several months supply of pop culture brain teasers stored in a spiral notebook that never leaves my side.
Today's question is a real headscratcher and you're bound to ask yourself where I ever came across such an obscure bit of information:
Q: What is Cap'n Crunch's full name?
The answer, and the answer to just how I know this, is at, of course, The Answer Blog.

My Last Word On The Cartoon Thing

Now that I've actually seen the cartoons that have caused all the kerfluffle around the world, I want to refine, though not change, my views on the matter. Maybe next time I'll get the whole story before sharing my half-baked opinions with the whole planet, but I doubt it.
I disagree with the American editors and news directors who opted not to show the 'toons, maintaining that simply describing them was enough. Unfortunately, I came away with a number of misconceptions based solely on verbal descriptions, including the false idea that the cartoons were the work of a single artist, when the twelve images are the work of a dozen different sets of hands. (I wonder if the Muslim cleric who put a $ 1 million on the cartoonists heads realizes this. Is it $1 million for the death of all twelve, or $1 million each? And just where is a "cleric" getting $1 million, let alone twelve?) That's why I decided to go ahead and post the "bomb turban" 'toon and a link to the whole set of drawings for the education and enlightenment of my dedicated readers.
I'd also said that the incendiary nature of these cartoons was obscuring their message, but I now realize that that was the message. The Danish editors were attempting to strike a blow for free speech. I still question the wisdom of such a move, and believe they failed to consider the possible consequences when they launched their little experiment.
Furthermore, now that I've seen the things, I'm really not impressed.
Anyway, that's the last I'm gooing to say about the subject at least unless some new and bizarre twist occurs that just begs to be commented on after, of course, I've gotten all the facts.
From now on I'll stick to "Cartoon Controversies" that I'm qualified to comment on, such as: Who would win in a fight between Speedball of Marvel's New Warriors and Cheeks the Toy Wonder?
Now back to the important stuff, like this week's trivia question.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Dreaded Cartoons

In my previous posts on the so-called "Cartoon Controversy," I was venturing my opinion without ever having seen the offending cartoons. Well, I finally decided to Google "Mohammed Cartoons" and see if I could find them, and find them I did. Furthermore, in a move that is either brave and principled or utterly and completely boneheaded, I have decided to not only link to them, but slap one up right here on The Word From On High. At right is the one most often cited-the "bomb in the turban" cartoon- and The Mohammed Image Archive has the others, plus links to sites with more info and background.

Jeff Stahler and the "Power of Cartoons"

"I'VE GOT A CARTOON & I'M NOT AFRAID TO USE IT!" ironically proclaims Jeff Stahler's cartoon of February 10th in The Columbus Dispatch. Okay, perhaps when I say "ironically" I mean "falsely", but either way the point is that Stahler often does seem afraid, or at least very, very reluctant to truly wield the power he possesses as a nationally syndicated staff editorial cartoonist for big city newspaper.
Now, I like Stahler's art and find of his jokes quite amusing, which is fine for the comics page, where Stahler does a daily panel called Moderately Confused, but I expect a bit more from a cartoon appearing on the editorial page. To me, the important part of the phrase "editorial cartoon" is the word "editorial". The cartoon's purpose is to express an opinion or point of view, to make the reader think, and everything else, the art and the joke, if one is appropriate, is secondary to that purpose.
Stahler's cartoons are rarely thought provoking and hardly ever does he express a point of view or appear to have any opinion of the news event that is his subject that day other than that he can get a few chuckles out of it. He is really little more than a glorified gag cartoonist, sort of the print equivalent of David Letterman or Jay Leno, making jokes about current events and people in the news, all the while carefully avoiding taking a stance on the issues, and being to try not to offend readers, editors, his subjects, or, most importantly, advertisers. As I said, I get enough of that crap from today's mostly bland crop of comic strips and expect a little editorializing on the editorial page.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Live From Nowhere

Ever since the technology to broadcast live remotes became widely available to local TV news operations, news directors have felt they have to justify the expense of all this fancy-schmancy equipment by "going live" with almost every single story, no matter whether or not anything is actually happening at the remote location, which many times, such as "team storm coverage", is just outside the studio in the parking lot. This is not a new phenomenon; it's been going on since the 80's, but apparently there are still depths of ridiculousness to be mined in the exploitation of TV technology.
Take, for example, a particularly silly little report which aired yesterday on the WBNS-TV (Channel 10 in Columbus,OH) morning news. The story was about the search for the as yet missing purchaser of a winning lottery ticket worth about $300 million or so in one of those multi-state jackpots. The reporter was live at the Lincoln, Nebraska gas station/convenience store where the ticket was sold where the winner had not yet shown up to claim his or her loot and, as you would expect, especially at 6:00 in the a.m., absolutely nothing newsworthy was going on. However, the reporter decided to take advantage of the location by doing some shopping and spent the rest of her time showing Chuck and Heather back in the studio what she'd bought, which included an oversized travel coffee mug, a bag of popcorn and a can of Spam.
Yes, this kind of crap takes up precious airtime on local news while the rampant corruption in our state government goes virtually unreported and unchallenged.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

More Cartoonish Thoughts

You know, when I set out to comment on the "Cartoon Controversy" last week, I quickly realized that, as Nadim Shehadi, identified as "a Middle East analyst at Chatham House in London", said in the February 6 Christian Science Monitor:
"This is not about the cartoons themselves. There was a lot of tension between the West and Muslims because of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Patestine. This is just the spark that set it off."
Of course, even though I've followed this story pretty closely, that by no means makes me an expert on Middle East affairs or Islam, but I do consider my self somewhat of an expert on cartoons, so that is why my comments centered on the cartoons themselves and may have seemed, at least they did to me, a bit shallow. Concerning the deeper issues involved, I feel the readers who left comments on that post, Jack Bertram and Eric Clark, had more insightful things to say than I did.
I certainly don't think that the cartoonist bares sole responsibility for this mess, as I may have seemed to imply. He could not, after all, have anticipated the reaction, though he, and his publishers, must have known there'd be some negative reaction. I mean, isn't Salmon Rushdie still in hiding? Now, this guy's got a price on his head, as I heard recently that a Muslim cleric has offered a $1,000,000 for his death.
The most bizarre development of last week was an Iranian newspaper soliciting cartoons about the Holocaust in response to the Danish cartoons, and one of the first entries received was attributed a famous Australian cartoonist who denied that the cartoon is his work and calls it an effort to discredit him. Or maybe it's the Italian government minister who was forced to resign after parading around in a T-Shirt with one of the cartoons on it. No, that's not bizarre, it's just stupid. Free speech is one thing, but that's incitement.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Stray Thoughts: Topic: President's Day

Do you suppose that there is any significance to the fact that we honor the past and present holders of nation's highest office and underground-dwelling rodents in the same month?

We Can Put This Behind Us...But Don't Turn Your Back On Dick

After posting every day for the past two weeks, I finally took yesterday off. Likewise, Dick Cheney took a well deserved rest this weekend. Shooting your friends in the face and then dodging the press and American people who think they have some sort of "right to know" or some such B.S. takes a lot out of anyone, especially a guy with a bad heart. Now that his erstwhile hunting partner is out of the hospital and apparently not inclined to sue, Dick can get back to the important business of planning the invasion of Iran, authorizing the release of classified information and searching for that secret plan to repeal the Bill of Rights and cancel the Presidential elections that Spiro Agnew was rumored to have back in the days before he resigned in disgrace.
I think Mark Shields hit it on the head when he said, on the Newshour on Friday, that this incident, while its news value is over, will live on in "Cheney Lore." I'm sure the next time a political rival criticizes the Veep, one of the late night talk show hosts will quip that Cheney has "invited him on a hunting trip."
Y'know, when I first heard about this "hunting accident," I remembered hearing earlier that Cheney sometimes went "hunting" with Supreme Court Justice Scalia and I wondered if Dick was just warming up to give his boy W another shot..er..chance to put a conservative on the Court.
Also, I hear they were hunting quail--or was it "Quayle"? Has anyone heard from Danny-Boy lately, or is his head stuffed, mounted and hung in a place of honor above the fireplace in one of Cheney's "undisclosed locations"? After all, W's presidency has been all about settling Daddy's old scores, and Dan the Potatoe Man was a huge albatross around Papa's scrawny neck.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Thank you For Not Caring

I would like to thank the people of America for their indifference, and for, through said indifference, proving that I was right in my post of last Sunday which contended that nobody, at least in America, really gives half a crap about the Olympics anymore.
An article on the front page of Thursday's
USA Today Life section reveals that the Olympics are losing the ratings race to a contest people really care about, American Idol, and that NBC's ratings for these games are the lowest of any Olympiad since 1988.
The article contends that part of the problem may be that "this year's Olympics lack a compelling story...", which goes along with the point I was making. After all, compelling stories need good villains and the Soviet Union was the second greatest villain of the 20th century. the top villain of the 21st century (and you know who you are, Osama) doesn't field an Olympic team, though if he did, I bet they'd be a shoo-in for gold in the 500 Meter Suicide Relay, in which, after passing the baton to the next runner, you blow yourself up.

Several Million Great Big Dollars

The old adage that there's no such thing as bad publicity seems to be holding true for author James Frey.
Despite all the
controversy and criticism concerning the blending of fact and fiction in his so-called "memoir" A Million Little Pieces which led to a very public denunciation and dressing down by no less a personage than The Big O, Oprah Winfrey, herself, the book remains high on USA Today's list of Best Selling Books, clocking in at No. 6 on this week's tally.
Yes, brothers and sisters, it is a great country where anyone can lie, cheat and swindle his or her way to fame, fortune or high political office.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Now That's Trivia No. 2--Marvel Math

This week's question isn't exactly a "trick" question but it's somewhat tricky.

Q: If the Silver Age Marvel Comics Super-Villain teams the Frightful Four (from Fantastic Four) and the Sinister Six (from The Amazing Spider-Man) teamed up, how many villains would that be?

The answer is over at The Answer Blog.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

The Most Dangerous Veep

Okay, now I could not have been the only sentient being in this country who, upon hearing of the so-called "hunting accident" involving Vice President Dick Cheney, a vicious little prick who has no compunctions about hurling the "F-Word" around the hallowed halls of Congress and would probably just as soon kill you as look at you, immediately thought, "Accident my ass!"
I read that if the man Cheney shot had died, the VP could have been charged with negligent homicide. I can just imagine the Veep being hustled out of White House in handcuffs by the D.C. cops, head held high and defiantly shouting obscenities at the top of lungs to the cops, press corps, and assorted onlookers, then, when asked for a plea at his arraignment, declaring proudly, "One hundred percent not f***ing guilty!"
Ironically, it may have been the Veep's own poor health that saved his hapless victim's life. It seems that Cheney always travels with a full medical team in case his black little heart should give out.
The wretched criminal bastard got lucky this time.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Hold'em Raid Update

Finally, got a reply to my post on Meet-Up.com about the raid on Conti's Pub & Club last Monday. Here's a bit of it:

...there (are) allegations that money had been bet 'under the table', and if that is so, then this would have been the cause of the bust.

Well, that changes things. If laws were broken, then laws were broken--no matter how you may feel about said laws. (Personally, I think it's hypocritical for state governments to ban poker yet sponsor a lottery.)

Of course, if the Big Cheeses of the Rat Pack are convinced their league is perfectly legal, why postpone it? If you ain't doing nothing wrong, you ain't got nothing to fear. At least that's the way it's supposed to work in this country.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Vast Valentine's Day Conspiracy

This might strike you as--what's the word I'm looking for? Oh, yea--completely freakin' nuts, but I have long thought that Valentine's Day is a conspiracy against me, designed to make me more depressed than I, by nature, usually am by reminding that I am, always have been and always will be unloved and utterly alone in the world. The conspiracy is run by the Hallmark corporation which, I have concluded, is headed by a cabal of my ex-girlfriends and other women from my past led by a particularly evil wench from my college days who I shall refer to here only by her initials: C.K. (but if you're reading this, "C.K.", you know who you are and now you know that I'm onto you and your nefarious scheme!)
Crazy? No more crazy than believing that a "lone gunman" with a "magic bullet" killed JFK.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Must..Stay..Awake...Need...Gilmore Girls

I certainly hope that the recently announced merger of the UPN and WB mini-networks means that Gilmore Girls will finally be on at a decent hour here in Columbus, OH.
You see, the same local station, channel 53, airs both networks, but, being owned by UPN's parent company, Viacom, they're primarily a UPN outlet and the WB shows get pushed off to odd hours on the weekends and late evenings.
Gilmore Girls, for example, airs at 11 p.m. Tuesday nights, and as I work very, very early in the mornings, that's just a little too late for me to stay up most nights. So, as much as I love the show, I don't get to see it as much as I'd like.
Last I saw, Luke had just agreed to Lorelei's suggestion to postpone the wedding, which was so obviously a mistake, since it was pretty clear to even a clueless male like me that she didn't really mean it.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

The (YAWN!!) Olympics

So, the Winter Olympics started on Friday.
To quote a certain painfully unfunny, lasagna eating comic strip cat: "Big fat, hairy deal!"
As far as I'm concerned, the Olympics are just a two week interruption in some of my favorite shows. And don't you think it's kind of a cheap trick for NBC to air an episode of Will & Grace ending with "To Be Continued..." then leave you hanging for two weeks while they waste airtime on something nobody cares about.
Truth is, nobody here in America does give half a crap about the Olympics anymore, except maybe the athletes, and they haven't since the end of the Cold War. That was the real point of the whole thing for Americans. The "Miracle On Ice" of 198o's Winter Games wouldn't have been such a miracle if it had been the Canadian hockey team we beat for the Gold medal. The athletic competition stood in for the war that we were afraid to get into with the Soviet Union lest the conflict go nuclear and devastate the whole planet. But with the USSR gone, there's really no reason to give a damn anymore. Beating the Jamaican bobsled team just doesn't give you the same rush, y'know

Fallen For "Idol"

this is an audio post - click to play

Yes, as ashamed as I am to admit it, I've been watching American Idol, but I can rationalize it. After all, if I'm to be a semi-professional commentator on Pop Culture, how can I continue to ignore the biggest Pop Culture phenomenon of the nascent century.

I like being a cartoonist, because people recognize that not everyone can do it and that I have a special talent and skill. But apparently everyone thinks they can sing, and sing well enough to be the next winner of American Idol. How else do you explain people who sing worse than me (I refer you to the audio portion of this post for my rendering--or maybe rending is more appropriate--of Home On The Range) showing up in droves for the first round of auditions and getting indignant when told, and not even insultingly most of the time, by Simon Cowell that they might not have what it takes to be a professional singer?

Of course, some of it is just about getting on TV. Is it even possible that some of these people know they suck and are even being delibarately bad just to have a shot at getting on the show, even if getting their five minutes of fame means being verbally abused by Simon and the other two stooges? Being on TV does seem to be the ultimate goal in our society these days. It's this overwhelming need of people to see themselves on the boob tube that has made things like The Jerry Springer Show and its ilk and the whole so-called "reality" TV genre possible, making TV sometimes seem like a race to see how low people are willing to go just to be able to call up Aunt Myrtle and say, "Ya gotta watch Fear Factor t'night! I'm gonna be on it!"

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Cartoon Controversy Comment

Y’know as a cartoonist and a newly self-appointed commentator on current events, I feel it incumbent upon me to write something about the so-called “Cartoon Controversy” that has inspired demonstrations across the planet. Keep in mind that I have not seen the cartoons in question and am basing my ravings on what I’ve heard on TV and radio.

“I’ve got a cartoon & I’m not afraid to use it” declares the caption of Jeff Stahler’s Friday cartoon in the Columbus Dispatch.

As usual, Stahler’s undeservedly self-congratulatory cartoon misses the point. While I truly believe that editorial cartoons, when done right, can be a truly powerful medium, that isn’t what this is about.
While I consider myself a purist on free speech issues— when the First Amendment says “Congress shall make no law…,” dammit, it means Congress shall make no freaking law—but each individual must occasionally ask himself if the fact that he can say something means that he should.
In this case, whatever point the cartoonist was trying to make has been lost in the controversy over the way he chose to make it. In editorial cartooning, the message is primary. The art, imagery and joke, if there is one, should all be in service to that message. If they obscure or overwhelm that message, then the cartoon is a failure, and by that accounting, these cartoons seem to have failed.

More on this issue from PBS' Newshour w/ Jim Lehrer:

Tom Willis "Moves On Up"

From the AP via the Columbus Dispatch:

‘Jeffersons’ actor Franklin Cover dies at 77

Friday, February 10, 2006

Now That's Trivia No. 1

To keep things fun for my readers and to keep them coming back to this blog, I'm going to post a trivia questions here every Friday beginning today. The answers will appear in a separate blog called, appropriately, The Answer Blog .
Alright, let's get right to it.

This is a 2-part question:

Part One
On Gilligan's Island, what was The Professor's real name?
  1. Ralph Hinckley
  2. Roy Hinckley
  3. Ralph Hanley

Part Two

Ok, if one of those three choices is Gilligan's Island's Professor, who are the other two?

Answer at The Answer Blog.

Going to Extremes.

I'm not quite finished with the whole subject of the raid on Conti's Hold'Em game on Monday night. Yesterday, I showed this quote from the 10tv.com story:
"There's a little known law in Columbus that prohibits bars and restaurants that serve alcohol from allowing patrons or employees from playing games of chance on the premises."
And I asked:
So, is not merely "gambling", by which I mean the actual wagering of US cash money on the outcome, but the game of poker itself which is prohibited by the statute?
If it is the games and not "gambling", or the wagering of cash money, that is outlawed, therein lies the trouble for the Rat Pack Poker League, and the path along which the law, if enforcement is taken to its logical extreme, becomes ridiculous.
Many games not traditionally associated with gambling could be called "games of chance". Backgammon, for instance, involves an element of chance in that your choices in moving your pieces are dictated by the laws of probability as they affect the fall of the dice. In fact, backgammon is the only other game I can think of that combines skill and luck to almost the degree that poker itself does. No coincidence, then, that many top poker pros, most notably Gus Hanson, are also world class backgammon champs.
Hell, just about any game played with dice is a "game of chance", including Monopoly and Trivial Pursuit. And any card game where the distribution of the cards is randomized by the act of shuffling the deck (i.e. any card game) is a "game of chance", including Go Fish and Old Maid. True, your highly unlikely to see most of the games I've mentioned being played in bars, but if they were, the players would be flagrantry flaunting the law.
And don't even think of flipping a coin. Say you see a hot redhead across the room and can't decide whether to go talk to her or jsut give up on women altogether and go crawling back to lthe Catholic church so you can become a monk. So, you pull out your lucky Kennedy Half Dollar to help you make up your mind and your ass is busted by Elliot Ness.
Keep in mind that I have not read the actual text of the statute, but am basing all this ranting on that sentence I quoted above. If anyone knows where I can find that law on the web, let me know.
For now, however, I probably will move on to other subjects until there are any further developments.

Where is everybody?

Still no buzz on the Poker Meet Up message boards about the raid of Conti's on Monday night....I was hopin' to stir up a little mess o' trouble here in Cyber-Land.
Thanks to Eric Clark for his comments and for bringing the outrage that I was looking for.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Something To Talk About

When I checked back at the Meetup.com message boards, there was still no discussion of the Conti's Hold'Em bust, so I started one, complete with links to the story on 10tv.com and my original post. Hopefully, this'll start some ripples in the online Columbus poker community.
Oddly enough, I did come across a thread about the raid on a Yahoo group called Virtual Society, a singles group to which I admit with some embarassment that I belong. Apparently, the members of this group have had some bad experience with Conti's Pub & Club and some seem to feel the owner's getting what he deserves. I can't say. I'd never been there--though if I'd known they were playin' Hold' Em, I might've dropped in. Anyway, I'll link you to Virtual Society, but you have to be a member to see the message boards.
One other thing I'm wondering about. According to the 10tv story:

"There's a little known law in Columbus that prohibits bars and restaurants that serve alcohol from allowing patrons or employees from playing games of chance on the premises."
So, is not merely "gambling", by which I mean the actual wagering of US cash money on the outcome, but the game of poker itself which is prohibited by the statute?
I'm running out of time, but I'll have more on this soon.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

About Today's Posts..

I'm experimenting a little with formatting today's entries by manipulating the time stamp to put them up in reverse order, thus allowing me to break up a rather lengthy essay into more managable chunks which can still be read in order by simply scrolling down the page.

Joe Laughed...

My "friend", or so I had, perhaps naively and apparently in error, believed, chuckled derisively every time I spoke the word "blog", more specifically, the phrase "my blog", and said something like "You must be kidding" when I tried to give him the slip of paper on which I had written the URL so that he might sample the latest of my rantings herein contained.
I felt a bit hurt by his refusal to give my work a look simply because of the venue in which I was pretty much forced, mostly-as explained in a previous post-by financial necessity, to publish it. It would be as if I had refused to even discuss his current writing project by dismissing it with "Are you joking? Print is so over. The novel is a dying art form and nobody reads books anymore." Frankly, I expected more respect from a fellow artist.

The Trap of Perception

Joe seems to under the impression that the blogosphere is populated solely by "get-a-life" type losers who, for some inexplicable reason, feel compelled to share the mundane details of their achingly average lives with the world at large, as if anybody besides themselves actually cared, with a typical entry reading something like this:
Called in sick to work today, then went back to bed and slept until 2 pm. Woke up. Ate a bowl of Lucky Charms. Milk smelled funny, but used it anyway. Masturbated to Oprah Winfrey show, then smoked a joint and watched 9 straight hours of VH-1 and fell asleep with the TV on. Probably gonna call of tomorrow, too. My job sucks and I work with idiots.
My girlfriend, Sara, dumped me. She said I was an "unmotivated loser."
Where's she getting that from?
To be sure, there are plenty of those types of blogs out there. Hit the "Next Blog" button up top and you like as not be taken straight to one.


Halftime, folks. Just to break up the monotony of this extended rant, here's a picture of a cute baby. That there is my niece Tamara about seven years ago when she was a year or so old.

My Life As A Blog?

That's not what we're about here at The Word From On High. No "unmotivated loser" am I. Rather I am a highly motivated loser, yet I remain aware that the minutiae of my life is of no interest to anyone else besides me, and sometimes even I'm not that interested. I made this point a couple of years ago in a comic book story called "Why I Don't Do Auto-Biographical Comix" which consisted of panel after panel of me sitting on my couch in front of the TV, watching Gilligan's Island and talking to my cat.
While my outer life can by no stretch of the imagination of even the most excitement starved nerd be considered remotely interesting, I hope that my "inner life"-my thoughts, opinions, and, occasionally, emotions--are.

In A World...

The particular fiefdom that I wish to carve out for The Word From On High--the domain of which I seek to declare myself master, if you will--is identified by the somewhat nebulous descriptive "Pop Culture." But as I have said before, in print essays off-line and verbally to anyone who happens to be in earshot, to me, "Pop Culture" covers a hell lot of territory.
At the rosy-fingered dawn of the Third Millenium, in a world where a fair percentage of young people get their news from The Daily Show; where actors become politicians and politicians become actors and announce their candidacies on The Tonight Show; where opera singers and classical musicians market themselves like rock stars and rock stars are crowned by an obnoxious Brit, a washed up former cheerleader and some fat guy no one had ever heard of before he got the Idol gig; where celebrities as well as ordinary people are more than eager to open their homes to camera crews and spill there deepest and darkest secrets to ostentatiously sympatahetic talk show hosts on national TV; in a world of the Internet and 24 hour cable news and entertainment where the lines between "high" and "low" art are not blurred but utterly obliterated all culture is "Pop Culture"

Conti's Raid

A little background here. From October through the end of January, I participated in something known as the Rat Pack Poker League at Skully's on Tuesday Nights. The Rat Pack is a local organization for serious poker players. The League consists of two freeroll (no buy-in) mini Texas Hold'em Tourneys each night, with the winner getting a prize (usually a Gift Certificate good for food at Skully's), but what you're really playing for is points. The top five finishers got between 12 and 20 points and everyone got 5 points just for playing in each game. At the end of the season, the top 30 point-earners were invited to the final tournament, which offered serious prizes, such as poker chips, plastic playing cards and poker table tops for the winners.
I'm proud to report that I earned a spot in the finals and made it to the final table, finishing in 8th place and taking home a set of Copag brand plastic playing cards ($30 value, according to the All In magazine Holiday Gift Guide).
I enjoy the Rat Pack League not only because I like to play poker, but because it actually gets me out of the house and interacting with other human beings rather than sitting around watching TV and moping about how crappy my life is.
That's why this story on the Channel 10 early news grabbed my attention. The police raid on the Texas Hold'Em night at Conti's Pub & Club does not bode well for the future of the Rat Pack Bar League. Even though the tournament director has gone to great lengths to enforce a policy of "No cash on the gaming tables" designed to avoid even the appearance of the dreaded spectre of "gambling", and there is, as I stated, no buy-in or entry fee, that apparently cuts no water with The Man. From what I gather, the Conti's event was similar to the Pack League, nonetheless fines were issued by the police to the players.
One man interviewed in the televised report opined that the police should have better things to do than raid bars and harass card players (how about those smoking ban violators, for instance. Now there's a threat to National Security for you), and I agree.
The other thing that surprises me about this is that the message board of the Internet poker group sponsored by the Rat Pack is so far silent about this. Given the above stated implications for the Bar League's future, I'd think the baords would be a burnin' and a buzzin'.
Of course, I saw this report at 5:30 a.m., and as I write this, it's just after 6 p.m., so maybe once peolpe see the evening news (if the report is repeated), then the reaction will roll in. I sure hope the Pack ain't gonna just roll over and take this lying down.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

It's Baaaack!!!!

Damn that Groundhog! Punxatawny Phil or Buckeye Chuck or Who-the-bloody-hell-ever pops his big fat head out of his dank little hole and sees his freakin' shadow and BOOM! there goes the spring weather and 50 degree temps we'd been groovin' on and winter is once again upon us for a minimum of six long and dreary weeks. But, Summer shall come, Pilgrims. Say AMEN! Can I get a "Hallelujah!" from the congregation? HALLELuJAH, BABY!
Anyway, here a couple of pics from last summer to remind you why it's worth the wait--these are from the Columbus Arts Festival and the Summer Concert Series at Whetstone Park of Roses. I'll post some more of this inspiring artwork from time to time during the next few weeks.
By the way, I'm particularly proud of the top pic--the one from the Park of Roses concert--I think it's one of the best I've ever taken.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Meet The New Blog; Same As The Old Blog

I am back in the blog-o-sphere, world.
Except for the fact that I've changed the look, the title, even the URL and removed any reference to The Atomic Tomorrow, this is the same blog that I began last March as an extension of TAT's Atomic Pop section, which I was then editing.
After breaking w/ TAT (the reasons for which I will most likely get around to enumerating herein--as soon as I get it all sorted out in me own 'ead.), I quit posting here, I've recently been overcome with the powerful urge to share my insights and opinions w/ the world via the wonderful technology of the Internet, so I revamped my blog to finalize the break w/ the past at TAT.
Well, I'd actually prefer to share my wisdom and wit in print, but since I left TAT, I'd have to self-publish and that costs money, which I am pitiably short of these days.
Not only is a Blogger account free, but the potential audience for my ranting and raving is much wider--world wide, in fact--than it would be in a 'zine which I might only be able to afford to print a couple of hundred copies of.
I've got a lot of pent up raving to do from the months that I've sat around my apartment moping, so I should be able to provide updates here every couple of days.
If you're a returning reader, welcome back--and if you've surfed here (probably by accident) for the first time....I hope you dig the ride, and take a sec to dig through the archives and revel in the deathless wisdom I have previously dispensed.