Friday, December 12, 2008

Unbelievable Times

-We may not remember 2008...particularly the last quarter of it...with much fondness. But one thing's for sure. We will remember it. To wit--The first non-white man in history to gain the nomination of a major political party ran for President of the United States and actually won. The year will be remembered forever simply for that. But look at what else we have--
  • The Governors of two of the nation's most populous states become embroiled in mind-boggling, incredibly-stupid scandals. One resigns. The other??

Directly from Wikipedia-

Eliot Laurence Spitzer (born June 10, 1959) is an American lawyer and former politician of the Democratic Party. He served as Governor of New York from January 2007 until his resignation on March 17, 2008 in the wake of his involvement in a high-priced prostitution ring. Prior to being elected governor, Spitzer served as New York State Attorney General. On March 10, 2008, The New York Times reported that Spitzer was a client of a prostitution ring under investigation by the federal government. Two days later, he announced his resignation as governor of New York, effective March 17, citing "private failings."

Milorad "Rod" R. Blagojevich , born December 10, 1956) is an American politician from the state of Illinois. A Democrat, Blagojevich currently serves as governor of Illinois and previously represented parts of Chicago in the U.S. Congress. He is the second Serbian American to be elected governor of any state of the United States, after George Voinovich of Ohio. On December 9, 2008, Blagojevich was arrested by FBI agents and charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud as well as solicitation of bribery. The Justice Department complaint alleges that the governor conspired to commit several "pay to play" schemes, including attempting to sell President-elect Barack Obama's vacated United States Senate seat to the highest bidder. As a result of the arrest, Blagojevich has faced calls for his resignation or impeachment and removal from office.

No matter What you think of these two guys, you have to be fascinated with the Why and the Who of them. Why do they think they can do these things and get away with them. And Who the hell do they think they are? I'm no psychologist, but it seems that these two guys must have been so drunk with power, and assured of their own superiority, that they thought they could get away with anything.

Speaking of that unfathomable mindset here's the poster boy-

Orenthel James "O. J." Simpson (born July 9, 1947, also known as The Juice) is a retired American football player, actor, spokesman, and convicted felon. He originally attained fame in sport as a running back at the collegiate and professional levels, and was the first NFL player to rush for more than 2,000 yards in a season, a mark he set during the 1973 season. In 1995, Simpson was acquitted of the murder of Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman after a lengthy, highly publicized criminal trial. A 1997 judgment against Simpson for their wrongful deaths was awarded in civil court by a jury, but to date he has paid little of the $33.5 million judgment. In September 2007, Simpson was arrested in Las Vegas, Nevada and charged with numerous felonies, including robbery with a deadly weapon, burglary with a firearm, assault with a deadly weapon, first-degree kidnapping with use of a deadly weapon, coercion with use of a deadly weapon, conspiracy to commit robbery, conspiracy to commit kidnapping, and conspiracy to commit a crime. A jury found Simpson guilty of all charges on October 3, 2008; and he was sentenced on December 5 to at least nine years in prison.

Is it possible that some high-profile personalities need so much to be the center of the universe that they act irrationally and without fear of failure? Must be...Because these clowns will be the prime examples of narcissism for college Psych 101 for as long as they teach it.

Other '08 memories--(and I'm beating the late December news shows to the punch here)

-Stock market goes bust amid mortgage crisis etc. etc. etc. We've heard enough.

-Michael Phelps

-Sarah Palin...and to some degree John McCain

-Tina Fey does Sarah Palin.

-Bailout becomes the word of the year

-W gets all-time low approval rating

-Pirates (not Johnny Depp) rule the sea

-Terrorism strikes again (Mumbai)

-Gas falls to below $2-a-gallon

-California (of all places) votes to outlaw same-sex marriage

And, in my humble opinion, the biggest story that went under-reported-Researchers Decode the Genome of a Cancer Patient: Scientists at the Genome Sequencing Center at Washington University report that they have sequenced all the DNA from the cancer cells of woman who died of leukemia and compared it to her healthy cells. In doing so, the experts found mutations in the cancer cells that may have either caused the cancer or helped it to progress. It is the first time scientists have completed such research. They're getting close to figuring it out. And how big, and positive, would that be?

Yep, Twenty-oh-Eight will stick with us for a while and we're not done yet.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Tinseltown Update!

-Still smarting today from yesterday's passing of our girl Liza... but its with excitement that I write today. Ohhh...the emotional roller coaster.

-Son Stewart has taken another significant step toward the acting success he is seeking in Hollywood. And we're jumping up and down here at the ol' Millstadt ranch. And this time we can share his work with you! Since it's video, and it's on the internet, anyone reading this, with a fairly high-speed connection, can watch. I'll give you a link a little later on.

Stewart landed a role with the producers of the webisodes found on For the unititiated, this is essentially a website that produces television shows for viewing only on the internet. So, the show that Stew is in can only be seen by people at the computer...not on any of the traditional broadcast or cable TV networks. But, having said that, is gaining a large following and you may notice, if you spend any time on the computer, that they do a significant amount of national, heck international, advertising on various websites. I've seen the ads on and several others. You'll see the ad (right) frequently on the net these days.

The series in which Stew appears is In2ition. I can't claim to know exactly how the show is set up, or the basic premise. I do know that certain people have super powers...similar to the show Heroes on NBC. The young lady pictured at right...Emily Pennington...plays the central character Hope Fox. There's a fair amount of intrigue/espionage going on. I haven't gone back to the show's beginnings yet to get the full picture. But what's obvious is that this show is very well done. The technical quality and production values are quite good...which you will see if you look for yourself.

What also makes these internet shows interesting is that viewers are invited to suggest story lines, character introduction and development. So each webisode is sort of co-written by the suggestions of someone who views it. Apparently, a young man suggested the introduction of the character that Stewart portrays in his webisode.

So Stewart W. Calhoun plays a fellow named Seth in webisode #7 titled Bring Them Home Safe. He apparently is brought in by one of the show's lead characters..Mrs. Fox (Emily's Mom).. to interogate someone by using his super ability to "get into the head" of others. He takes on a real "Keanu Reaves--The Matrix" look in this part. Or at least he does to ol' dad. By the way, the young man in the show who plays the part of Alex is actually Alex Schemmer who played opposite Stewart in the musical Thrill Me--The Leopold and Loeb Story back in the early part of the year. Alex apparently recommended Stew for this part. That's kind of how things work in "the biz". Thanks Alex!! from Stew's parents back in the Heartland.

This webisode, as are most of them you'll find on this website, is very short...around 2 minutes. So, you won't spend a lot of time downloading...or viewing. Here's the link. Just click on the icon to the right.

Feel free to post a comment on what you think of the show and our guy in Hollywood.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Good Bye Liza-Loo

There was absolutely nothing special about the dog.

That's what I thought when I first saw her. In a moment of weakness in 2001 I consented to "board" her for a short time while "Outdoors Dan" Young found a home for her with some people who had a farm in Iowa. Dan and I were working together at KTRS at the time, and he said a client of his had this black lab puppy that was wandering around their place of business in downtown St. Louis and getting into the trash. He said it was a good dog and he would make arrangements for it long-term if we could take it short-term. I made the mistake of asking Barb if she wanted a boarder for a few days. Of course, once the dog came home with me that day and jumped out of the box in the backseat to huddle up close to me, the deal was done. Dan was off the hook.

But, there was nothing special about the dog.

I kept thinking...What are we doing taking in a lab/who-knows-what mix when we already have a nice Springer Spaniel? We don't need another dog...especially one that is nothing to get excited about like this one. This dog was no prize winner. It was no guard dog. It was terribly undersized for a lab...even a lab mixed with border collie...or whatever. It wasn't a proud dog. It was always afraid of something. It would cower in the corner, or somewhere, during storms. It wouldn't even protect it's own food from the other dog. What a wimpy mutt. What did I do...bringing this thing home?

What did I do? Well, we better come up with a name... How 'bout Liza...y'know like Liza Doolittle from My Fair Lady. A girl from the streets...with no fancy breeding or that needs to be taught the ways of the world. OK...yeah Liza. That sounds about right.

So over these past seven-plus years the dog proved itself pretty smart and learned a lot.

She learned to enjoy running. Not like on the mean streets downtown. But running like crazy after squirrels in our woods...looking skyward as they jumped from tree-to-tree and she barked. She loved to run. If she wasn't chasing the squirrels, it would be a romp through the woods with the occasional dip in the creek, a bark at an owl, or a growl at a deer.

She learned to love that ride in the back of the pick-up as I drove down to the end of the driveway to get the mail or paper. That ride in the front with that nose stuck out the window wasn't too bad either...especially when we stop at the bank drive-up. Because dogs get treats there. She knew when we were pulling in to get excited.

She learned that the place to be in a storm is the basement. And she might have saved our lives one day in '03 when a small tornado slammed into our woods. The weather guys on TV were way behind on that one. But Liza was on duty barking and asking to go downstairs seconds before the trees started blowing around and down. Had there been any damage to the main level...and potential injury...she would have been the hero of the day.

By this time, obviously, my opinion of her had begun to change. We now sometimes referred to her as "The Black". It solidified her position in our household as not just the other dog. She was "the black one".

About a year-and-a-half ago, about the same time we were putting down our old Springer Fergie, we began to notice a growth on the back of Liza's right hind leg. We didn't think much of it at first. But when it started to grow rather rapidly, we decided it was time to see the vet. We were told that it was a growth that should come off and be biopsied. The biopsy indicated, as the vet had feared, that it was a cancerous tumor known as a hemangiopericytoma which you can read all about by clicking the link. It's not an uncommon thing for larger dogs and it's definitely not a good thing.

We had surgery done to remove the tumor twice. We were told that it was likely to come back more aggressively each time. So when the tumor re-appeared after this summer's surgery, we knew we would have a problem keeping her much longer. The options we had were to have the leg amputated and/or undergo very expensive radiation treatment or keep her as long as possible and then have her put down. I couldn't bring myself to agree to an amputation. This dog lived for running in the woods and playing with the critters outside. She was always on guard, and ready to spring into action, as in the photo above (taken this morning). She wasn't going to be a frustrated three-legged dog on our watch.

Recently the tumor was approaching baseball size. And it was obvious the skin on her leg couldn't contain it much longer. Yesterday it didn't. Barb and I looked at each other knowing the time had come to face the fact that pet owners always fear. Our beloved pets aren't forever. She was still a healthy dog...or so it appeared. But that damned tumor...why won't it go away and let her live? So I took her back to Doctor Mike Harres this morning...and stopped at the bank drive-up on the way. (She seemed to enjoy the milk bone more today.) Having the vet tell me this morning that I was doing the right thing because her life would be miserable very soon didn't make it any easier to watch her draw her last breath.

As I sit here now writing with tears streaming down my face...I say...with tremendous respect for the mutt in all of us...Liza, you will always be proof that first impressions aren't nearly always correct. You were a very special dog. We will love and miss you forever.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

30-Second Timeout

-Some random thoughts this time on the world of sports...or at least the region of sports.

-Poor Jim Haslett. Did he anticipate it could be this bad? Now, even though Scott Linehan started the season, Haslett's name is now more closely associated with this debacle of a season as head coach. I can't imagine he's getting much sleep. And, I can't imagine him getting the two wins that he supposedly needs to stay on as coach. He may be better off career-wise if he doesn't.

-It appears the Blues have something of a "Who's number one?" goaltending contoversy brewing. Manny Legace has served the team well during his tenure. But Chris Mason has suddenly become the more reliable guy over the last few weeks. It will be interesting to watch how Andy Murray handles this juggling act going forward. If Mason starts to clearly separate himself as the top dog, it would seem logical that Legace would become trade bait by the 3/4/09 deadline.

-Jeff Cooper's WPS club that will start play at Korte Stadium at SIU-E in April will be called Athletica. They say the name was sort of made up... which was verified by Cooper at the press conference announcing the moniker.-- "People ask, 'Is that even a word? Well, it is now." Sounds sort of "soccery" to me.

-I have nothing against Marc Bulger the person. He seems to be a decent fellow. But Marc Bulger the quarterback has sunk to the level of...dare I say, Tony Banks, Mark Rypien, or Jim Everett... during the Rams current mess. The one-time Pro-Bowl player is now among the worst QB's in the matter what numbers to which you refer. To be sure, it's not all his fault. But a great quarterback, which most of us thought he was, or would become, would win a game or two during the season all by himself. It doesn't look like he's nearly capable of that given his borderline-pathetic play lately. I suppose most of us would get shell-shocked too if we were constantly harassed by enormous defensive linemen the way he's been. But, even so, the money that management has invested in Bulger...some 65 million dollars in the current contract...seems like a colossal misjudgment as of now.

-The next few weeks should prove interesting for Cardinals fans. With the Winter baseball meetings getting underway next week, and much on the wish list for GM John Mozeliak, we should get a pretty clear picture soon of how aggressively the 'Birds ownership will approach things. Aggression has never been a word associated with our team's spending noone should expect a major upgrade in payroll. And there seems to be more intent to build from within the the expected future of certain minor-leaguers will likely be a major part of the thinking process too. If we get to the end of '08 with the lefty reliever and middle infield situation clarified for the better, I'll be pretty happy. After that, anything else deemed exciting will be a bonus.

-The Davids...Backes and Perron. Difference makers...sometimes. When they know their way around the league a little better, they'll be much fun to watch.