Google+ Followers

Monday, December 28, 2009

Health reform observations

Those who thought Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska would hold his ground against the health care bill had to be dreaming. Did they really think the poor guy wasn’t going to be beat to a pulp by Reid and his buddies to get that 60th vote?

I told Middy the other day that Nelson’s interaction with his Dem friends had to be like a car salesman at 9:00 p.m. beating up a customer for his last sale of the day. That peddler would give away the doorknobs for that sale. You want free power steering? You got it! The desert package? You got it! Sign here!

It looks like Ben may have the last laugh though. He hung around long enough to use the law of supply and demand to increase the value of his vote. While Harry was trying to cram the power steering down his throat he managed to get many other concessions for his state. Ben was also shrewd about playing the pro-life card for a while as another reason to give his vote. He was insistent on that initially but eventually caved. I guess he couldn’t get the desert package for free after all.

Let’s not forget Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla) who got a deal of his own as reported by the AP this morning. Apparently, he worked a deal where his vote was worth "exempting roughly 800,000 seniors in Florida from potential cuts by private Medicare Advantage plans." I’m sure many seniors who live in other states under that plan are crying "What about me?" My answer to them would be to elect more aggressive politicians. After all, $450 billion will be taken from that plan to support other items.

Some are complaining about other special deals for states. Governor Terminator of California says "It is unfair." To him I would say, "Get up earlier in the morning and put in your bid. California is next to Reid’s Nevada and the highway is bumper to bumper on weekends with gamblers heading from L. A. to the silver state. Look at the money California is giving to Nevada!" Put on your selling shoes, Arnie!

If nothing else the health reform bill is giving us a good look at the smoke filled rooms of politics. These guys are on a gravy train and will do anything to stay there. I’m not singling out the Democrats since the Republicans would probably act the same under the circumstances. One of the exceptions this time is that the American public is very dissatisfied with both parties. A recent poll says that 41% of those polled consider themselves neither a Democrat or a Republican. 36% said they were Dems and 21% claimed to be Republicans. With those numbers, maybe the Whigs can make a comeback! Abe Lincoln was originally a Whig. Does anyone have his phone number?

To comment go to "Jim's azcentral Blog" in the right column under links.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Holiday grocery shopping tips

Sorry, kiddo, no caffeine for you.
This is the time of the year when most of us overeat which means it is the time of year we overspend at the grocery store. It’s hard not to overspend as the stores are pros at luring you into situations where you are vulnerable to either the sight or smell of a great holiday treat. That treat, by the way, is usually a high profit item and if it gets decent volume sales it can go a long way toward improving the 2% or so average gross profit of a supermarket.

I called on supermarkets for 20 years and I can tell you from experience, these guys are good. Here are a few tips about saving a buck that I have learned along the way: I’m old fashioned so I always keep a hand written grocery list at home that I add to as I get low or run out of standard items. It is a simple form of organization.

Always shop on "best food day" which in Phoenix is Wednesday; that’s when the ad comes in the newspaper. If you don’t take the paper, the store usually has a stack of ads at the entrance. Check the store’s website too as many times they will have coupons online along with the coupons in the ad. Be sure to have coupons that you may have clipped from various other publications too. Also, be sure you have the store’s "card" as that can mean savings when you swipe it at the register.

Private label (store brands) used to be junk. No more, I’ve found private label products to be as good if not better than many national brands. They are cheaper mainly because they have no advertising budget. Watch out for elaborately packaged items like bags of lettuce. That 3 or 4 color printed bag is part of your cost; check the cost difference of the bulk lettuce.

Watch out for the "peripheral" departments. Those are bakery, deli, nuts, floral, seafood, and many stores will have a Starbucks. Those departments make a lot of money for the store. If you want cheese, go to the dairy case. Deli? Go to the meat case. Bakery? Entenmann’s is cheaper but may be a step below the bakery. Seafood? It can be cheaper in the frozen case and tastes the same. If you feel Starbucks is worth its high price, go ahead and have a treat but understand you are paying for a product that yields a high profit to the store. Buy a bag of Starbucks in the coffee aisle instead.

Remember, peripheral departments usually mean higher price and profit. The areas like the soap aisle take up a lot of space and yield lower profits. It’s up to the peripherals to pick up the low profit stuff.

Two final tips: NEVER go grocery shopping when you are hungry! Everything will look good and you will buy the place out. Also, leave your cell phone at home so nobody can call you to add something to your list.

To leave a comment or read the other 54 comments posted, click "Jim's azcentral Blog" in the right column above the clock.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

"No God?...No problem!"


That is the slogan of the American Humanist Association this year and it will be plastered over public transit vehicles in five cities across the United States: Washington D.C., New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Chicago. Last year the only city targeted was Washington with their slogan for 2008 being "Why Believe in a God? Just be Good for Goodness Sake!"

According to Roy Speckhardt, the Director of the AHA, "Humanists have always understood that striving to make the world a better place is one of humanity's most important responsibilities. Religion does not have a monopoly on morality--millions of people are good without believing in God." Also, Speckhardt pointed to the false assumption held by many that not believing in God indicates a lack of morality as the reason for needing such advertising campaigns. "We want to change the way people think and talk about nontheists, and to pave the way for acceptance of humanism as a valid and positive philosophy of life."

"We understand our message may seem controversial to some, but it certainly isn't our purpose to offend anyone," concluded Speckhardt. "Of course, it's obvious that many people are also good with a belief in God, so I hope we can all find common ground."

Obviously, the message of the AHA will cause some controversy. We live in a country where the belief in some kind of heavenly being controlling our destiny dominates the lives of millions of people. Right or wrong, that is not a bad thing; there is nothing wrong with faith and it has guided many down the path of respect and dignity toward their familes and fellow citizens.

For others, they lead exemplary lives without the assistance of religion. Many leave the door ajar just in case they may be wrong. That’s probably not a bad idea but if there really is a judgment day they better have on their selling shoes when they go in front of the big guy.

I include myself in the second group. I think some religions have strange beliefs but I respect the members of those religions for their faith. I also feel that I live a lifestyle that any god would approve. I don’t break the law, I don’t cheat on my wife, and I never speed on the 101, especially on the West side. I did get kicked out of Sunday school once but I think if there is a HE, HE will give me a pass on that. It was a really boring subject that day and I was a little kid.

In summation, I have no problem with the Humanists. They are non violently subscribing to the belief that one does not need to worship a god to have a successful life. So what? It's a touchy subject but I say "To each his own and the decision to have religion or not have it is up to the individual"

To leave a comment or to read the 70 other comments, click "Jim's azcentral Blog" in the right column above the clock.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Christmas gifts then and now

The Slinky

Christmas is coming and many kids are anxiously awaiting their new cell phones, Xbox games, or whatever else may arrive on December 25th that will help them avoid physical exercise.

One present that offers plenty of activity is the Frisbee. The National Toy Hall of Fame lists it as an icon in the toy business and if you have ever thrown and chased one, you will get plenty of exercise. Although invented in 1950, I still see kids throwing Frisbees around occasionally and dogs love to chase them. It’s still a cheap and useful gift.

Another item that kids used to love is the Hula Hoop. My first memory of them is from about 1958. EVERYBODY had one as they sold 25 million of them in the first two months they were available. I still see kids occasionally spinning a Hula Hoop around their waists. In 1994 the Coen Brothers made a good movie about it with Paul Newman called The Hudsucker Proxy.

Do you remember the Slinky? It used to be a popular Christmas gift. It was basically a spring that would walk down a flight of stairs. It was accidently invented in 1945 when a guy dropped a spring on the ground and noticed it move across the floor on it’s own. It even had a catchy advertising jingle:

"What walks down stairs, alone or in pairs, And makes a slinkity sound?
A spring, a spring, a marvelous thing, Everyone knows it’s Slinky…
It's Slinky, it's Slinky, for fun it's a wonderful toy,
It's Slinky, it's Slinky, it's fun for a girl and a boy."


Kids used to love getting Crayola Crayons. My favorite color was "burnt sienna." I didn’t care about the color; I just thought it had a cool name. They also had a color called "flesh" which was changed in 1961 to "Peach" to satisfy the PC crowd. The same applied to "Indian Red" which became "Chestnut" in 1999.

Other gifts like kites, jacks, yo-yo’s, marbles, and checkers have come and gone in popularity but have been around in some form since ancient times. I think I still have a "cat’s eye" marble around here somewhere. Also, don't forget Lionel Electric Trains; they were the mother lode of presents.

Then, there is the skateboard. When I first saw those in the 60's, I thought they would be strictly a fad. It’s hard to be right all the time and I missed the boat on that one. I see kids on skateboards everywhere all these years later. I saw a kid of about 10 a couple of years ago going down the sidewalk on a skateboard while talking on a cell phone. Go figure, huh?

To leave a comment or to read other comments, click "Jim's azcentral Blg" in the right column above the clock.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Apple pie not American?

The bhut jolokia pepper

We have heard the expression "As American as apple pie" many times but theoretically, it is incorrect. Alexander the Great found apples in Asia Minor as early as 300 B.C. and they eventually worked their way to America in the 1600's with the colonists. While the apple came from elsewhere "it has been transformed into a distinctly American experience" according to John Lehndorff of the American Pie Council.

Do you know the three fruits that ARE native to North America.? They are cranberries, blueberries, and Concord grapes. As the Ocean Spray guys say: "Cranberries didn’t come over on the Mayflower, they were already here."

Then there are peppers. I love the taste of Jalapeno peppers although I can only eat them in bits because they are so hot that I go into hiccuping fits. Don’t ask why, it’s just the way they affect me. The scary thing is that the Jalapeno is one of the LEAST hot peppers as listed on the Scoville Unit scale which measures the hotness of chili peppers. Jalapenos have a Scoville rating of 8,000.

The hottest? It’s the "bhut jolokia" pepper with a Scoville rating of 1,000,000 which is 125 times hotter than a jalapeno! That makes it the hottest pepper in the world replacing the former hottest, the Red Savina. I now have total respect for the people of India as they eat these things either by themselves or as an ingredient in certain foods. There are warnings to not let these peppers or their seeds get into one’s eyes. That is, if you enjoy seeing.

Since I am such a wimp even with the lightweight Jalapeno, I’m sure the bhut jolokia would kill me instantly. That may be one reason it is nicknamed the "ghost pepper." It is even 10 times more powerful than the Habanero!

My favorite Mexican restaurants in Scottsdale are Jalapeno’s and Los Olivos. Los Olivos in particular has a great tradition in the area as the Corral family established it in downtown Scottsdale in the mid 1940s. As much as I like the place, I think that from now on I will make sure to tell them to "hold the ghost peppers." I’m sure they don’t use them, but it never hurts to be sure. Whew!

To add a comment or read the other 39 comments to this story, click "Jim's azcentral Blog" in the right column above the clock.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Wal-Mart musings

I never shop at Wal-Mart. OK, I did once a couple of years ago when I needed an electric razor in a hurry. But otherwise, no.
The merits and demerits of the place abound. One lady shopper thinks it’s a great place and although being "whit*e trash central," it has tons of stuff that is cheap and "the grocery department rocks."

Another shopper didn’t like the greeters and called them "door nazis."
Then, another shopper said: "I finally had to leave in a near panic attack. The crowds, the noise, the people, the screaming babies, phones ringing off the hook, no one ever answers the damn phones in electronics!!!" It sounds like she may also have seen some of the customers shown in photos on the internet about "people of Wal-Mart."

As far as Wal-Mart having cheap stuff, remember that they are a huge importer of products from China that are known for being cheap in price and quality. You get what you pay for in life; if you want bells and whistles be ready to fork over.

I’ve talked to people who think electronics at Wal-Mart are a bargain. Are they? The guy who used to run the Philips TV account with Wal-Mart says the pressure from Wal-Mart to lower prices got so severe that they had to take short cuts in quality to meet their requests. Cabinets became thinner, remotes were made more basic, etc.; anything to lower costs. Finally, Philips had to go to Asia to manufacture because the $1 to $2 per hour wages paid to Mexican workers in Juarez in the ‘90s made the sets too expensive for Wal-Mart.

Levis’ jeans are another example of the demands of Wal-Mart. It’s a story similar to Philips. In short, those cheap Levis you pick up at Wal-Mart now are not your daddy’s Levis.

Wal-Mart will always do well because there are those who have no choice but to shop there. There are also those who like cheap stuff whether they can afford better or not. I hear complaints from those who say, "They are running small retailers out of business!" A moment later they are headed to Wal-Mart to save a dime.

As far as I am concerned, Wal-Mart will never see me, especially during the madness of the holidays. Well, MAYBE if I am again in a hurry and need an electric razor.

To leave a comment or to read the other 73 comments, click "Jim's azcentral Blog" in the right column above the clock.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Coen brothers latest film and some flops

I saw the latest Coen Brothers’ film today. It’s called A Serious Man and is showing at the Camelview Theater in Scottsdale.

It’s a good movie but pay attention to the story at the beginning or you will not understand the ending. It takes place in 1967 and as usual I was looking for mistakes like a 1972 Ford Mustang driving by. It wasn’t until late in the film that I caught one and my rock buddies would easily have caught it too: The lead actor was complaining about receiving the Santana album "Abraxas" from the Columbia Record Club. I’m sure most of you have heard it, it is a great album like most of the work from Carlos Santana.

Unfortunately for the film, that album was released in September, 1970, a year after Woodstock and three years after 1967. Sorry Joel and Ethan, it’s in my 33 1/3 collection and I checked it.

The latest AARP Bulletin lists some famous flops. Here are a few of the significant ones. Remember these losers?

The Ford Edsel. I remember it well, a Tech Sergeant I worked for loaned me his once and I thought it was really a great car. I was wrong. Ford lost $350 million on it the couple years it was out. It must have been the push button gears in the steering wheel.

Then there was the Susan B. Anthony dollar from 1979-1981. They looked just like quarters and were mistaken for them by many.

"New" Coke: Why would a company who was number one in soft drink sales in 1985 change their formula? Dumb and double dumb. It quickly was changed back to the original.

DeLorean car of 1981-1982: Only 9,000 were made, it’s biggest claim to fame was being in the movie Back to the Future. Occasionally, one of these chrome beauties will be seen on the street.

Remember when Geraldo Rivera opened Al Capone’s vault on TV in 1986? We all tensed up at what might be in there as the door swung open. There was nothing but a couple of bottles. It was a disappointment but at least it was honest.

Michael Jordan’s baseball career: He found out quickly that hitting a baseball was harder than hitting a jump shot. It helped the Arizona Fall league though, as Mike drew 7,000 fans to a game that would ordinarily draw 150.

To leave a comment or to read the 26 comments already posted, click "Jim's azcentral Blog" in the right column above the clock.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Prayers and some lesser stuff

My prayers go to those affected by the unfortunate situation at Fort Hood last week. God bless and take care of our guys in uniform.

The White House is showing its inexperience by publicly denouncing Fox News. Anyone possessing political savvy knows that you never give ammunition to your adversaries. The White House has chosen the opposite tact and it is backfiring. Fox News has a strong following and their denouncement by Obama has only made them more popular.

NPR has been running a survey asking listeners whether they support the White House or Fox. As of this morning 86% favor Fox, 13% favor the President, and 1% is undecided.

Yesterday I stopped behind a painting contractor at a red light at Shea and the Beeline Highway in Fountain Hills. On the back of his trailer was written in foot high bold letters "PLEASE DON’T TELL OBAMA WHAT COMES AFTER A TRILLION." Even the most humorless Obama supporter has to enjoy that one. If not, get a life.

I thought that "Cash for Clunkers" was supposed to get buyers to trade in their gas guzzling heaps for economical cars. Some did but the 11-5 Republic front page story reveals that many of the new vehicles bought were also gas guzzlers that got only marginally better mileage than the trade-ins. Are we to believe that owners of old Ford F-150 guzzlers would actually buy a Prius? Not likely, somebody in Washington was lacking in common sense.

The government is investigating these reports and says that information was probably entered incorrectly by dealers and the fuel economy figures are probably outdated. Uh....... yeah.

From Columbus, Ohio.......Some residents are complaining that police officers are telling residents in crime infested neighborhoods that if they don’t like it, they can move. One City Councilwoman has received 20 complaints.

Whether it is correct behavior or not, I’m sure some officers eventually figure enough is enough in crime laden neighborhoods.

Geraldine Ferraro was surprisingly on Fox News last night and carried the title of "Fox News Contributor." Yes, it was the same liberal Geraldine who ran for VP with Mondale in 1984. I guess leopards do occasionally change trheir spots.

To leave a comment or read the 44 comments already posted, click "Jim's azcentral Blog" in the right column above the click.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Kid's Antics of the 1950's

I watched one of my favorite Depression era films recently called Wild Boys of the Road (1933). In that movie, homeless kids are forced into some unpleasant circumstances as they try to survive the hard financial times of those years.

Watching those kids brought back memories of some of the crazy things I saw and did as a kid with my friends. Fortunately, the Depression years were long gone by the time I was born so my friends and I had only to deal with the late 1940's and through much of the 1950's.

In conservative Cincinnati, Ohio during those times, a lot of people thought nothing of leaving their cars overnight in the driveway or in an open door, detached garage with the keys in the ignition. I had some buddies who knew where those cars were and they would sneak out of their homes during the night an go joy riding in their neighbor’s cars. Never mind they were bad drivers and had no licenses. I was gutless, I never went and I have never been sorry for it.

I knew a kid named Barney Clark who was born to get in trouble. He and I used to go to swimming lessons at the local high school during the summer of my 4th grade. Barney was a couple years older than I and not too swift. One Saturday morning as we were walking to the pool, he saw a car by the curb with a parking ticket on it. He thought it would be funny to tear up the ticket and at the time, it seemed pretty funny. That is, until a police officer pulled up in a ‘48 Ford after we had walked a couple blocks. I was scared to death but fortunately, a good citizen pointed out Barney as the culprit and away he went to the police station in that Ford coupe.

Another fun activity was to go to the local train yard and hop the freight trains as they pulled out of the yard. We would ride them for a few miles then jump off except for the times they were going too fast which meant a longer ride than planned. Sure, we could easily have been killed but kids don’t worry about such minor details.

We used to like to pitch a tent in one of the kid’s backyards and sleep out. Then, we would wander the streets until dawn looking for some way to get in trouble. I remember one time we were fooling with M-80 firecrackers which were quite powerful and loud. We were in a school yard at around dawn when we threw one in a sandbox. As soon as it hit the ground, I looked up and saw a police car coming around the corner. If he heard the M-80, we were cooked, so I stepped on the firecracker as hard as possible and put it out. I could have blown my foot off!

One of our biggest thrills was when a group of us went downtown to the Gayety Burlesque Theater to see the strippers. The headliner in those days was named Rose LaRose. They let us walk right in despite our underage status. What the hell, we had the admission cost. That was quite a night and a signpost on the road to adulthood.

Then, there were the games of spin the bottle with the neighborhood girls. Uh....... maybe I’ll save that one for a later date.

I’ll always remember those kids that I knew all those years ago but never saw again after we grew up. We fooled around for fun and were lucky to live in a less hectic era than the Wild Boys of the Road.

To leave a comment or read comments go to right column above the clock and click "Jim's azcentral Blog."

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Some financial thoughts

Did you know that approximately 32% of Americans have spent less money over the past few months and plan to continue to do so in the future? (Source: Gallup Poll, May 2009) That probably doesn’t include the fools sleeping on the floor at Scottsdale’s Fashion Square this past week to be the first into the new Microsoft store.

Almost 66% of consumers feel that advertising agencies are partially responsible for the current economic crisis because they persuaded consumers to make purchases beyond their means (Source: Harris Interactive Inc., April 2009). Please! This is a typical 21st century reaction from weak willed losers who always look for someone else to blame for their own mistakes. "Gee, I would never have bought that 50" flat screen TV if they didn’t make me. It’s not my fault!"

In a recent survey, the average 401(k) plan investor lost 28% of his/her balance in 2008. Approximately 63% said their confidence in their ability to retire had declined in the past year, and 15% said they were worried that they would never be able to retire. Participants believe the best way to recover losses is to save more or work longer (Source: Barclay’s Global Advisors, April, 2009). Sounds logical to me even though it is unfortunate.

A recent study reveals that today’s pre-retirees will need to postpone retirement by 4.2 years on average to make up for losses caused by the housing market and stock market. That is the first time in history that the retirement age has significantly increased in America (Source: Age Wave, 2009). I’ve see lots of old timers sacking groceries at Safeway. I’m sure they are not doing that because they enjoy that type of work.

To quote the late great actress Bette Davis from her film, All About Eve, (1950): "Fasten your seatbelts; it's going to be a bumpy ride."

To leave a comment or read other comments. click "Jim's azcentral Blog" in the right column above the clock.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Tiresome words and expressions

The 1960s had their share of expressions that a lot of kids today may not understand. For those of us who lived through that decade and were old enough to have an effective level of consciousness, we remember terms like "cool," a word that has lived on into the 21st century. Fortunately, "keen" died off.

Some others, like "going ape" and "all show and no go" are forgotten. The former meant getting excited over something and the latter described a car which was nice looking but a bit shallow in performance. The 1960s was the era of high performance cars and when the light turned green, you didn’t want that Pontiac GTO to leave your ‘57 DeSoto with typewriter drive "in the dust" as we used to say.

Probably the most irritating expression from that era was "We can put a man on the moon but we can’t (fill in whatever). Since we put a man on the moon in 1969, that was a popular expression to describe a feat that couldn’t be done on Earth. It got old quick.

Today we have some expressions that have become REALLY tiresome. For example, do you ever wish the word "dude" would be eliminated from the English language? How about when a teenage girl says "Ya know" or "like,"or "I mean" about ten times in one sentence and when she varies from those gems, replaces them with "um, uh, um" or "really." See Michelle Wie interviews for more.

Here are a few more I don’t need to ever hear again: "At the end of the day," or "Back in the day." "You go, girl" was cute for a while but enough is enough as with "Whassup?" I probably sound like I’m picking on the teenybopper girls but it wouldn’t bother me a bit if I never again heard them say "Whatever!" in their frustrated tone when they don’t get their way ("No, Erica, you can’t have the BMW tonight!")

A woman from Ohio tells me that an expression that really bugs her is "Children are a blessing from God." Her feeling is that if a woman is infertile she shouldn’t feel that she will miss being blessed by God just because she can’t have children. Then there are those who CAN have children and don’t have them. Should they be unblessed because of a lifestyle choice? I agree with the Ohio lady, it’s a silly expression.

Annoying words? How about "irregardless"? Try "regardless" instead. The "Pacific" is an ocean. Try "specific" when referring to a particular item. Finally, wouldn't it be great if no one ever said "these ones" again?

To leave a comment or read many other comments, click "Jim's azcentral Blog" in the right column above the clock.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The ACORN scandal

I’m not an expert on the political scene, and frankly most of it is boring to me, but I have enjoyed the recent exposure of ACORN by a couple who disguised themselves as a pimp and a prostitute to tape the comments of ACORN representatives advising them how set up cathouses and import children as prostitutes while cheating the IRS. This isn’t the first of problems for ACORN as they have also been investigated for voter registration fraud in 13 states among other scandals.

ACORN sounds like a fine bunch of people. Fortunately, the U. S. House and Senate have voted overwhelmingly to "de-fund" current federal allocations to ACORN and forbid it from receiving any of the $787 billion stimulus money according to the editorial in The Arizona Republic on 9-25.

Now, it appears that ACORN wants to sue the two young people who caught them with their "pants down" in a deliberate fraud scheme. ACORN leader Bertha Lewis is complaining that its reps were "entrapped." That’s funny, as they didn’t know they were being recorded on a candid camera and they were certainly being candid. This would have been a great show for Allen Funt.

ACORN receives federal funds to operate. In a recent interview on ABC’s This Week, President Obama was asked about the ACORN scandal which has been a big story on the airwaves. His response?

"Frankly, it’s not really something I’ve followed closely," Obama said. "I didn’t even know that ACORN was getting a whole lot of federal money."

One would think that he would know a little more than that based on his past relations with the organization. Maybe he is trying to avoid a bit of embarrassment by inserting his head in the sand a wee bit.

If anything involves politicians, don’t be surprised at what you may hear. As a guy told me once, "Anytime you get into a bad situation, deny everything."

To leave a comment or read any of the 54 other comments, click "Jim's azcentral Blog" in the right column above the clock.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Obama and humility

President Obama received a lesson in humility last week as the 2016 Olympic Committee in Copenhagen turned down Chicago’s bid for the Olympics in the Second City. To make matters worse, the Committee dumped Chi Town on the first ballot. It was quite a letdown as some windy city dwellers claim the city spent $48 million in promotional efforts to get the games.

I don’t think the good citizens of Chicago are complaining too much as a recent poll by the Chicago Tribune showed that those in favor of the games dropped from 61% to 47% since February. The city is also facing an estimated $500 million deficit next year while city employees are being laid off and taking unpaid furloughs (sound familiar?) Many don't feel the cost of setting up the Olympics is worth it compared to the return on investment.

After facing rebukes from Iran and Russia at the U. N., this was the last thing the prez needed. I’m sure he felt confident flying into Denmark with his entourage of Michelle, Oprah Winfrey, and Mayor Daley. It looked like a pushover meeting with the president in his Amani togs, Oprah in whatever depending on the progress of her latest diet, and his honor, the mayor.

Unfortunately, the Committee may have viewed it as overkill and another attempt by a new, inexperienced president to carve an international niche for himself. I would have loved to have been a mouse in the corner of Air Force One listening on the ride back to Washington: "How can they turn us down!! They gave the games to Atlanta, but not Chicago?" Maybe Atlanta showed a bit of southern hospitality, not overkill.

Personally, I don’t care much about the Olympics. I think too many times results are determined by politics. The U.S. was cheated in the ‘72 basketball finals, there were the killings in the dorms, we boycotted Moscow in ‘80, Russia boycotted L. A. In ‘84 and on and on.

Greece is where the Olympics originated so why not have them in Athens every year and stop the fighting over who gets to host them? It’s laughable to think that will ever happen; about as laughable as Air Force One playing a CD of Danny Kaye singing "Wonderful Copenhagen" on the ride back to Washington.

To leave a comment or read other comments, click "Jim's azcentral Blog" in the right column above the clock.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Baseball, teaching, and money

Letter writer Alan Farmer of Phoenix doesn’t understand the meaning of the law of supply and demand. In the 9-25 Arizona Republic, Mr. Farmer, who is a dissatisfied teacher, is upset that Diamondbacks’ baseball pitcher Brandon Webb is not willing to take a pay cut for 2010 on an $8.5 million option offered by the team. Webb missed the 2009 season because of a shoulder injury which was operated on recently.

Mr. Farmer complains about his 10 hour workdays and that Webb can make more money pitching 6 innings than Mr. Farmer makes in a year. He thinks that athletes should be grateful that they make so much money for the small amount of time they have to work. He goes on to whine some more about how much time teachers have to put in for little pay while athletes like Webb play a game and become millionaires.

I think Mr. Farmer would not see anything wrong with the shoe being on the other foot even though teachers don’t deserve $8.5 million per year any more than sports stars do. However, that is where the pesky law of supply and demand kicks in. No one will pay to see Mr. Farmer teach his classes, and no one will sponsor TV coverage of him doing the same. Webb has the advantage of being in a business that involves big bucks, plenty of TV money and exposure, sponsorships, rich owners, and a demand for players who are good at playing baseball. He also is in a business where his career may be over because of injury and if not, it will be over anyway when he reaches about 40.

Mr. Farmer gripes about players like Webb getting millions for working "a few hours a week." They may only play a few hours a week, but when guys like Webb are working they are applying an immense skill to their game. I wonder if Mr. Farmer could throw 9 innings of sinker balls and change up pitches to get out highly skilled major league batters like Webb has done for many years. How about throwing a 95 mile per hour fastball? Or, could he hit .300 batting against guys like Webb or perhaps Dan Haren (who make $11 million per year). Of course, he couldn’t do any of those things. Unfortunately for him, there is more demand for good ballplayers than good teachers which is a shame but whoever said life was fair.

To leave a comment, click "Jim's azcentral Blog" in the right column above the clock.

Monday, September 21, 2009

1914 Los Angeles to Phoenix auto race

By the early 1900's, automobiles were gaining in popularity. In 1905, the great Apache chief Geronimo was photographed hunting buffalo out the back of an early heap. At about that time the humorist Will Rogers commented that the "only trouble with them (autos) is that you get there quicker than you can think of a reason for going there."

By 1908, auto races were being held to influence the building of better roads. One of the most popular was the Los Angeles to Phoenix race which was held between 1908 and 1914. There were no interstates in those days or even two lane roads. The autos would race across cactus laden and rocky wagon trails for the first place prize money of $2,500. With no gas stations or garages existing, the drivers would carry extra parts and install an oversized gas tank.

One of the most exciting of the L. A.-Phoenix races was in 1914. It went from L. A. to Needles via Oatman Pass, then east to Ash Fork, south to Wickenburg, and into Phoenix.. It was 700 miles of potholes, sage, and arroyos combined with snow and sleet. Needless to say, the roads were a quagmire.

The drivers were racing against time, not each other, so there were a couple of overnight stops. The winner was a famous driver of the day, Barney Oldfield, in his Stutz-Bearcat. However, it wasn’t easy as he had to drive several miles on a tire rim after a blowout near Kingman and his car almost drowned before it was pulled out of New River by a team of mules.

One of the sponsors of the race was the Arizona Republican (today’s Republic) which called the race the "Cactus Derby." At a party after the race, many predicted that someday there would be all weather paved roads across the Southwest. They also predicted that automobiles would pass from being a plaything and would become part of American culture.

In 1914, Barney Oldfield also raced in the Indianapolis 500 where he finished 5th. He went on to many more races and even had a brief career on Broadway and in movies. He died in 1946 at age 68.

To leave a comment click "Jim's azcentral Blogs" in the right column above the clock.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Globe to Phoenix in 8 hours!!

In 1992, I could drive from Globe to north Scottsdale in my 1991 Chevy Cavalier 4 banger, in an hour and a half. Today, it would be faster with the addition of the 101 and the Superstition Freeway. I mention this because of an ad I saw in the archives of the Phoenix Gazette from 1913 where a company offered fast service from Globe to Phoenix in one of their "big Velie 40's."

The service was offered by the Globe-Kelvin Auto Stage Company which announced that "travelers can get from Globe to Phoenix in eight hours for $11.90." The Velies ran "every day from the O. K. stables" and made connection with the Arizona Eastern railroad at Kelvin for Ray, Hayden, Winkelman, Florence, Mesa, Tempe, and Phoenix.

The W. K. Rudolph Auto Stage Company also offered service of 8 ½ hours from the Adams Hotel in Phoenix to Globe for $15 one way and $25 round trip. They had a stop for lunch in addition to a stop at Roosevelt Dam in each direction.

"Auto stage" was an early name for automobiles that carried passengers and incidental luggage. I assume the "stage" was a carryover from the horse drawn stagecoaches previously used.

The Velie 40 was an automobile made by the Velie Carriage Company from 1909 until 1929 when Mr.Velie and his son both died. They were very successful and had good financial backing as the elder Mr. Velie’s mother was married to John Deere of agricultural implement fame.

The Velies were also successful in race car competition and during the 1920s were selling about 5,000 cars a year.

Today, you can drive to Las Vegas in about half the time it took to get to Globe in 1913 and you can do it in the comfort of your own car.

To read comments or make a comment click "Jim's azcentral Blogs" in the right column above the clock.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Remember ankle dog collars?

If you like some humorous comments on offbeat subjects, you should read Clay Thompson’s column in the Arizona Republic. For those of you who don’t want to spring for a hard copy, Clay’s column is also online.

One of Clay’s recent columns answered a question for me that I have been wondering about for years. I remember as a kid in the 50s how teenage girls had a style of wearing a dog collar around their ankle. I have asked people over time what that was about but always received a quizzical look. Recently, it was revealed in Clay’s column that when a girl wore the collar on her LEFT ankle, it indicated she was going steady. If it was on her RIGHT ankle, it meant she wasn’t going steady. Sound strange? Remember, it was an era of petticoats, sock hops, padded bras, girdles, and girls washing their hair with bath soap.

At this moment, if you are young enough, many of you are probably asking, "What the hell is ‘going steady?’" Going steady happened when a boy and girl THOUGHT they were in love as teenagers and made a pact that they wouldn’t date anyone else. Of course, the fickle nature of youth would eventually kick in and the couple would break up but, it was a pretty good deal for a while as it guaranteed both members a date on a Saturday night. Unfortunately, occasionally the couple would become a bit too serious and another baby boomer would enter the world courtesy of a hot night in the back seat of a ‘51 Ford.

Having never had kids of my own (I think), I’m not sure what teenagers do now other than what I see from a distance. For example, it doesn’t look like going steady or dating is a big deal anymore. In the ‘50s, a boy would nervously call a girl in the hopes of obtaining a precious date for a Saturday night. That few moments between nervously asking the big question and waiting for the answer was agony! What if she said "No!"? Even worse, what if she said, "Gee, I really like ya a lot but Ralph already asked me out." I think "I like ya a lot" was more devastating to hear than "No." It meant "Not in your wildest dreams are you ever going to touch me."

I’ve noticed in recent years that teenage boys and girls run in groups. I’ve seen mobs of them at places like Paradise Valley Mall and have noticed that several malls in recent years have imposed restrictions on having kids "hangin’ out." The girls dress sloppy like the boys and receive the same minimal respect from their peers. That’s a lot different from my teenage days when we put girls on a pedestal. Well, some girls anyway!

It’s more proof of how the world has changed. Today kids have iPods which never leave their ears, we had 45 rpm records. We had gas stations with attendants and "ding-ding" bells and restrooms that had a purple neon light under the toilet seat to give the illusion it was sanitizing. Today you pump your own at Circle K. We had girls with dog collars on their ankles, today they actually put collars on dogs. Imagine that!

To read comments or leave a comment, click "Jim's azcentral Blog" in the right column above the clock.

Friday, August 28, 2009

No Facebook or Twitter for me

I’ve had several people tell me I should have a page on Facebook or Twitter. A while back someone suggested MySpace. That was a funny one as I am probably forty years older than the average MySpace customer which means they would disapprove of my preaching to them the mistakes they are making getting their body parts pierced and tattooed. I can hear them now: "You are so OLD and out of it. Tattoos are cool." OK kid, see if you feel the same next year.

As far as Facebook and Twitter, I guess they are all right if you have enough friends that care enough about you to tune in to your page. Facebook can keep your biography up to date and you can post what you consider meaningful information and photos of yourself, your family, or whoever or whatever you think your friends or some guy in Scotland or Zaire may care about. That’s all right but I read recently that Facebook’s supposedly private information is available to many parties that could cause a member some embarrassment.

Last year reader CJ set up a Facebook page and invited some of us to view it. I checked it out but, much to my surprise, suddenly they had ME on Facebook. I must have hit the wrong button along the way because I had no desire for that to happen. Fortunately, I was able to delete it; not because I disliked Facebook, but because I have enough going without having to update it all the time.

The same applies to Twitter. The main point of it is to allow people to follow you. I can’t understand why anyone would want to follow me to the store for some booze or to the bathroom to read the sports page. Lately, pro athletes are getting into the Twitter rage and feel they have to tell everyone their business. Their coaches obviously don’t like it. Twitter has also had some transmission problems from the millions who use it. If you go online and see a big whale, you’ll know what I mean.

I prefer to be a blog and column writer. I enjoy coming up with thoughts that I think may be of interest to readers, then waiting for responses. I’m proud of the nice following I have since we cranked up azcentral in 2006 and, although you won’t find me on Facebook or Twitter, I’m always glad to see your comments on azcentral.

To leave a comment or read the 33 other comments, click "Jim's azcentral Blog" in the right column above the clock.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Regional and 60's cuisine

My wife’s cousin sent an email from her home in Cincinnati recently and talked about her boyfriend’s birthday dinner coming up. It will include bean soup and cornbread, two of his favorites. Bean soup and cornbread? Sounds OK but probably not everyone’s favorite.

We all have our favorite foods and those of you who have been around a while can remember when food choices and tastes were a lot different from what we have now. There are also regional tastes from around the USA that make some mouths water while making others wonder how anyone could eat that stuff.

Each region of the country has its particular cuisine. Here are a few samples: In Cincy, we had Skyline Chili which I considered outstanding and "goetta," which my wife loves but I have no interest. It is a weird combination of oatmeal, sausage, spices, and I don’t know what else. Cincy also has Graeter’s ice cream which is the best in the world. I’ve tried them all and no brand I have ever tried can compare and that includes Ben and Jerry’s.

If you are from the New Jersey-Pennsylvania area, you probably like cheese steak sandwiches, pizza, subs, and hot dogs. There is also a strange item called "scrapple" which looks like some kind of meat loaf. DG can tell us about that.

The South has brains and eggs with grits on the side, the Mid-West has meat and potatoes and Bar-B-Que, California is the home of burgers with chains like McDonald’s, Fat Burger, Bob’s Big Boy, Carl’s Jr., and In-‘n-Out originating there along with some Mexican chains. In Arizona, Mexican food rules with some regional items from other areas.

If you grew up in the 1960s you may remember the introduction of these items during that decade: Gatorade, Sprite, and Tab became popular drinks. It was also the time when Bugles, Cool Whip, and Doritos came along. McDonald’s Big Mac, Spaghetti O’s, and Taco Bell Restaurants also evolved in the 1960s. How lucky we were to enjoy those treats!

More 60s favorites: Fondue (I never saw the point of dipping a piece of bread in chocolate or cheese) Steak Diane (That was excellent and my wife still makes it), and salad bars (no, thanks!). The 60s was also the era of the 3 for 1 happy hour. You had to be tough to make it through those.

Any additions from your areas?

To leave a comment or read any of the current 36 comments, click "Jim's azcentral blog" in the right column above the clock.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Time for some Arizona summer golf

It’s summertime in Scottsdale which means one thing to me. It’s time to play a lot of low priced golf and if you are a golfer, you know what I mean. All those beautiful courses that we like to play in the winter are now available for a fraction of the winter cost. However, most of us weren’t born yesterday so we realize there is always a reason for a sale on any product. Usually it is because of adherence to the law of supply and demand.

Courses that would normally fill their daily tee times during the winter for $150-$175 a head will lower their rates to $25-$35 in the summer. It’s all about the weather as not many want to play in the 100 degree heat of a Scottsdale summer. Fortunately for me, I love the heat and take advantage of the deals every year.

Many say that we summer golfers are crazy and will drop dead in the heat. I suppose that has happened to some who didn’t arrive at the course prepared but I have never had a problem. I always have access to plenty of drinking water, wear light colored clothes and a white hat, and slather on plenty of sun block with a rating of 50 or higher. I also wear sunglasses and use a "Frogg Togg" which is like a chamois soaked in the ice water provided at most courses on the golf carts. When you put that around your neck, it is quite a nice cooling experience.

Since it means playing a faster round, I always tell the starter I want to go out as a single or a twosome, if I can sell my wife on the idea of playing with me. She is not as enthusiastic about Arizona summer golf as I am because of the heat and the occasional buzzards who circle us. However, I tell her that with their wingspan they provide precious shade and you can use all of that you can get. Usually telling her we will go to the casino and dinner afterwards has some influence too.

I enjoy playing the local courses, especially the north course at Talking Stick on the Salt River Reservation on Indian Bend Road. It’s a bit long but is mostly flat, wide, and in great condition. There is a lot of wildlife there including wild horses that still roam the reservation along with the requisite coyotes and roadrunners. My wife gave a roadrunner a cracker recently and he asked for a bottle of water too since he was too dry to swallow it.

Now that I have told you of the joys of summer golf, are you ready to play a round? The courses are wide open and waiting for you. Just be sure to stay hydrated, get a Frogg Togg, and use your sun block. Maybe I’ll see you out there; I just bought a new driver I am anxious to show off.

To leave a comment or read other comments, click "Jim's azcentral Blog" in the right column above the clock.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Remembering 1970's songs

What do The Shocking Blue, C. W. McCall, Stories, MFSB featuring The Three Degrees, Carl Douglas, Van McCoy and The Soul City Symphony, Wild Cherry, Rick Dees (and his cast of idiots), Walter Murphy and The Big Apple Band, and Anita Ward have in common?

Need a clue? If you know your pop music, you will recognize the names as groups or individual music acts from the 1970s. But, do you know what they had in common? Zzzzzzzzz!! Sorry, there is the buzzer, you’re too slow although I think I know one person who probably knows the answer: Gloria. Are you out there Glo?

The answer is: All those acts had a number one hit song on Billboard’s charts during the 1970s, then disappeared back to their jobs at the car wash, Denny’s, Circle K, or wherever. They all captured lightning in a bottle for a few weeks between those great music years of 1970-79 before the dream of being stars disappeared like an Arizona dust devil. They joined a large group from before them and after them as one hit wonders.

You have to give them credit. They squeezed in ahead of top acts like The Doobie Brothers, Boston, The Eagles, The Rolling Stones, Rod Stewart, and many other stars of the 70s for their moment of stardom. However, they only had enough gas in the tank for their one number one before it was time to board the bus home to Palookaville.

There was some good music here: The Shocking Blue did "Venus," C. W. McCall did "Convoy" to exploit the CB radio craze of the mid 70s, Stories had a good tune with "Brother Louie," MFSB did "TSOP" (The Sound of Philadelphia) and who can forget Carl Douglas with "Kung Fu Fighting" in 1974. Van McCoy did "The Hustle" in 1975 as disco started to rear its head, Wild Cherry had a biggie in ‘76 with "Play That Funky Music" (white boy), also in ‘76 was the regrettable "Disco Duck" by L.A. disc jockey Rick Dees. Walter Murphy did a semi disco "A Fifth of Beethoven" and in June of ‘79 Anita Ward hit number 1 for two weeks with "Ring My Bell."

It’s the nature of the pop music business to have one hit wonders. There are no more Bing Crosbys, Frank Sinatras, or Peggy Lees, artists who had staying power. But, the guys above were a lot of fun for their 15 minutes and bring back nice memories of the days we danced to their tunes with our girlfriends or boyfriends. Don’t mention them to your kids though. You may receive a quizzical look and a "Huh?"

To leave a comment or read 25 other comments, click "Jim's azcentral Blogs" in the right column above the clock. Thanks for reading!!

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Careful with computer curiosity

Calculators and computers have come a long way. I grew up in the era when we would add and subtract by writing on the back of a brown paper bag. Most kids can’t do that today. Then, Texas Instrument calculators came out in the 1970s, and they cost about $1,000. A couple years later companies stamped their names on them and gave them to customers as free premiums.

I can usually find my way around a computer and have learned to not indiscriminately open every off the wall email I receive or go to strange web sites; plus I always have my Norton Antivirus system on. That’s why it surprised me a few weeks ago that I got nailed with my first ever virus. Reader Don was also hit as were many others by the same virus that I hear was from Russia. Somehow, it got through Norton and cost me $140 to get rid of it. Don paid a couple hundred bucks

AARP reports that last September an email was circulating with a subject line that exclaimed "We have hijacked your baby. You must pay us $50,000. The details we will send later." The bait was to get people to click on to the final line of "We have attached photo of your family."

Those curiosity seekers who logged on were hit with a virus designed to steal vital information like passwords and ways to access bank accounts and other personal information.

Other examples used to con users are attachments to jokes, online greeting cards, and supposed news alerts claiming to be from CNN or other sources. Your best bet is to ignore any unsolicited attachments, however tempting they appear, and delete them immediately.

In 2007, malicious spam cost U.S. consumers about $7 billion and forced 850,000 people to have to replace their computers. From July to September 2007, one in every 416 emails sent had an attachment designed to infect the recipient’s computer.

Most of us know, or should know, you will be better off if you ignore the temptation to check out something that seems to good to be true; it usually is. Also, get in the habit of running some sort of antivirus program at least once a week.

To leave a comment or read 36 other comments, click "Jim's azcentral Blogs" in right column above the clock.

Friday, July 24, 2009

PC would not accept this today

Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) is buying a used car in an early scene from Psycho (1960). As she hesitates, the salesman sarcastically says, "Typical woman, can’t make up her mind." (OUCH!!!)

In Footlight Parade (1933), dancer-singer Ruby Keeler replies to someone who does her a favor with, "Thanks, that was ‘white’ of you." (Say, what?!!!)

In another movie the children of a black family are endearingly referred to as "pickaninnies." (Huh?!!)

Many black male actors in the Hollywood of the 1930s and 40s played ignorant or shiftless types and had names that reflected their roles. There was "Stepin Fetchit" (Lincoln Perry) of the movies and "Lightnin’" the janitor (Nick Stewart) from the Amos and Andy show. Black valets and butlers often had names like "Snowflake" or "Mantan". When a black character would be frightened, often they would make him turn white with fear. It took until the end of the 1940s before black male actors like James Edwards and Sidney Poitier began the reversal of that trend.

Eddie Anderson was a fine black actor who played comedian Jack Benny’s "man" Rochester on radio in the 1930s and 40s. In one scene Jack and Eddie are heading west on the train and when it stops in Albuquerque, Eddie says he thought he was in Harlem because he saw an Indian eating a pork chop. Benny asks what the big deal was since Indians were allowed to eat pork chops. Eddie replies: "I know, but he had it between two slices of watermelon." Try saying that to an audience today.

Gay people have received their share of abuse over the years too; a situation that would not be as overt now. Franklin Pangborn was a comic actor from the era of the 1930s and 40s and portrayed the gay stereotype to the hilt. In those days, gays were referred to as "lavender" or "musical." Pangborn and a few others made careers playing the roles with as limp a wrist as they could.

From 1975 to 1982, actor Jack DeLeon played a gay character named "Marty"on the popular Barney Miller series on ABC-TV. DeLeon was totally over the top in his gay portrayal from his clothes to his physical and vocal inflections. There must have been some complaints from the gay community since in later shows he toned it down a bit.

Times have changed. Political correctness has kicked in and it would be unusual to see any of the above happening today. In most cases that is probably good but I think it is a shame that a lot of people have forgotten the importance of loosening up a bit and being able to laugh a little at themselves.

To leave a comment or read comments, click "Jim's azcentral Blogs" in the right column above the clock.

Friday, July 17, 2009

My 1950's summer vacations

With July upon us, it brings back thoughts of past family vacations. As kids in Ohio, my brother and I usually finished school about the 10th of June. About a month later our family would pack our 1954 Buick Special and leave Cincinnati for a couple of weeks on the seashore in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The Atlantic City of the mid 1950s was nothing like the Atlantic City we see today with the myriad of casinos and high crime rates.

It was an exciting time as we would leave town at 3:00 a.m., stop at a local diner for breakfast, then head east on our 25 cent per gallon gas. The reason for the early departure was typical for those times. Since very few cars had air conditioning, most people would leave early to "beat the heat."

It usually took a couple of days to cover the 850 miles or so to Atlantic City since most of the driving was done on two lane roads. The Pennsylvania Turnpike was a little too modern for my dad although at the urging of my brother and me, we eventually got him to use it. He still muttered that we had to pay a toll just to drive on a wide highway.

Remember, this was a ‘50s vacation which meant that the dog came with us. There we were: Two adults, two teenagers, and a dog heading east in a Buick to the seashore for a summer vacation. It seemed like a story from the mind of Jean Shepherd right down to us sneaking the dog into an overnight cabin halfway there.

Atlantic City was great. As an inland kid, it was a joy to eat breakfast at a small outdoor diner on the Boardwalk and jump into the ocean afterwards (after the obligatory one hour wait after eating per my mother). We stayed in a house on North Carolina Avenue that was formerly a large mansion that was later converted to individual rooms for tourists. I think the cost was about $25 a week

I remember a restaurant on the Boardwalk by the Steel Pier called "Mammy’s" and their logo was a large black women who looked like Aunt Jemima or Hattie McDaniel. I wonder how Al Sharpton and Jessie would have reacted to that.

Eventually the years of the family vacation ended as my brother and I grew up, left home for our military service, and moved on with our own families. However, I still like to remember the days of the family taking a vacation together. It was pure Americana. Those years go by quickly and we have to enjoy them while we can.

To leave a comment or read other comments, go to the right column above the clock and click "Jim's azcentral Blogs."

Thursday, July 09, 2009

TV choices of a semi-modern man

Twilight Zone, one of my favorites.
I’m not a guy who needs a lot of television. I usually watch it in the evenings for 3 or 4 hours when I am home and that is about it. I also don’t need the multitude of minor channels that I was forced to take from Cox Cable when they switched Turner Classic Movies from channel 42 to 199, but I had no choice. I had to take their box and pay an extra $10 a month which is better than not having TCM at all. Now I have THREE remotes to play with, a far cry from the days of three channels and having to walk to the TV to change stations. I almost feel technical!

As far as programming, TCM is number one but I also watch the Food Network, the Golf Channel, and Fox Sports, so I can get my nightly laugh at the bumbling Diamondbacks, and ESPN to watch poker. A little PBS is nice to watch the History Detectives and those great looks of greed on the faces of people on Antiques Roadshow when they are told some piece of junk they had appraised is worth $20,000. They can’t wait to try to get that; good luck to them.

I still love reruns of some of the great old shows like Seinfeld and the Andy Griffith Show (Not that there’s anything wrong with that!). It’s fun to see Ron Howard as a kid with a thick head of hair and watch a young Jack Nicholson who was on Andy for a few episodes in the ‘60s before he went big time.

I don’t watch much on the news stations but when I do, I prefer Fox News. Even there, during discussions it seems like everyone is trying to get their 2 cents worth in at the same time and it becomes a flurry of white noise. I don’t need that.

One genre of TV that I will NOT watch is the so called "reality" shows. They are laughable in their phoniness. Do the networks really think that people act the same in front of a camera trailing them as they would if the camera was not there? For some reason, these shows do pretty well in the ratings. The only reality show that was really reality was Candid Camera from many years ago. The camera was hidden and they had a lot of terrific segments.

This is a sample of what I like and dislike on TV. I guess I am old fashioned or maybe a purist, but I still have a DVD recorder and will never have TIVO. I still watch a 15 year old TV and it is the only TV I own. If you think I am out of date with that stuff, I also have an old BellSouth answering machine on my phone. I’ve caught hell on that from reader Don who wonders why I don’t have voice mail.

Who has time to worry about that stuff? I have two other problems: I’m still trying to figure out why my garage door opens or closes every time I push that little button on my rear view mirror! I am also wondering who the "star" is between Brooke Burke and Derek Hough on "Dancing With the Stars." I never heard of either one of them.

To leave a comment or to read other comments, click "Jim's azcentral Blogs" in right column above the clock.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

I'm running for office

Vote for me!! I promise to lower taxes, have free health care, a chicken in every pot along with pot for every chicken, and I will never go to Argentina.
When I was a kid, most of my friends and I had girlfriends that we called "steadies." Of course, we fooled around on them every opportunity we had. We usually referred to the "fool around girls" as "side stuff."

I wonder if these political clowns we have in office now use that terminology anymore. I doubt it since we were kids of the ‘50s and they are supposedly mature guys of the 21st century. Are they that different though? Take Mark Sanford, the Governor of South Carolina, for example. The man is 49 years old, is a bible reading man, has four kids, is frugal with tax money, refused federal stimulus money, and even uses both sides of Post-It notes. He has been mentioned as a possible star of the Republican Party who might actually have a chance at the presidency.

The key words in my last sentence are "has been" because that is what he now is after the discovery of his "side stuff" in Argentina. What an amateur this guy is: he actually told his wife he was going hiking in the Appalachian Mountains while, in fact, he was seeing his honey in Argentina. When he returned this week, he gave the obligatory tearful apology to everyone and basically closed the door on any chance he may have had on the national political scene.

I have a hard time understanding guys like Sanford and the disgraced ex-governor of New York, Eliot Spitzer. We’ve even had a president, Bill Clinton, who not only messed around on his wife (OK, it was Hillary so we’ll give him a little slack) but lied about it. The Republicans aren’t innocent either in the presidency as Ike supposedly was a bit of a lover with his driver Kay Summersby during WWII. I know, war is hell.

Maybe with fame comes women and it is just too hard to turn and walk away from the opportunity. However, these guys aren’t horny young kids so they should know better and that is why I am running for office. Please send all contributions directly to me at my post office box in Argentina. So far, I have $1.98.

Somewhere, former US House Rep and Clinton Arkansas buddy Wilbur Mills is having a laugh. He was seriously considered as a candidate for president in 1972 before his liaison with stripper Fanne Foxe was discovered. Coincidentally, Foxe was from Argentina. Mills died in 1992 at 83. Some say he went down with a smile on his face. There is no word on whether he was buried in the pampas.

To read comments or leave a comment, click "Jim's azcentral Blogs" in the right column above the clock and scroll down.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

1966 Volvo: 2,700,000 miles!

New car dealers probably would shudder in fear if they heard the names Irv Gordon, Alvin Elam, Pete Biro, and Rebekah O’Connell. Those four own cars that have at least 231,000 miles on them and are four reasons why the car service centers mentioned in the previous blog are doing a great business during the recession.

Gordon’s story is the most impressive as he drives a 1966 Volvo that he bought new and so far has driven it an astounding 2,700,000 miles according to a recent story by William Jeanes, former publisher of Road and Track.. The car is currently in the shop getting its carburetors rebuilt which Gordon says is important to have done "every 900,000 miles whether they need it or not."

Elam, Biro, and O’Connell aren’t yet in Gordon’s league for getting maximum mileage out of their cars but Elam has coaxed 447,000 miles out of his 1992 Toyota Camry, Biro has 231,000 on his 1993 Jeep Grand Cherokee, and O’Connell has 307,000 on her 1997 Honda Civic.

They all agree on one thing: It is extremely important to read the owner’s manual of your car and follow all the instructions on maintenance. Gordon mentions that finding a good mechanic is also essential along with keeping your car clean. He says a good mechanic will take you more serious if your car is clean and well maintained than if it is dirty and filled with trash.

So, why keep a car so long and run up all those miles? If you look at the numbers, it can save you a lot of money over buying a new car. If you drive 22,500 miles per year (average is 15,000) you will cover 112,500 miles in 5 years. Normal maintenance cost during that time is about $3,500 or $700 per year. If you bought a new car for $20,000 and financed $18,000 of it at 7% for 48 months, your payments would be $5,160 a year plus maintenance costs.

When I look at those numbers, my old ‘98 with 116,000 miles looks pretty good. So far, I have taken good care of it so maybe I can get a few hundred thousand miles on it. In the current economy, I’m certainly not in the mood to be buying a new car.

To read comments or leave a comment, click "Jim's azcentral Blogs" in right column above the clock and scroll down.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Some businesses doing well

A recent AARP Bulletin mentions four businesses that are doing well in spite of the recession. They are car service centers, beauty schools, shoe repair shops, and thrift stores.

Beauty school sounds like an up to date version of the old barber colleges where a guy could get a haircut for free while a barber wannabe experimented on his head with what he learned in the latest chapter of his barbering textbook. Hmmmm, how about a flat top today, sir?

A beauty school in New York is packing them in with a $7.50 shampoo, cut, and blow dry. That’s a helluva deal as long as you don’t come out looking like Larry of The Three Stooges.

Shoe repair shops seem like a no-brainer to have increased business in hard times. During the Depression of the 1930s, there were 100,000 shoe repair shops in the US. Now, there are 7,000 and these guys are BUSY! One guy says his normal workload has gone from 200 pairs a week with a three day wait to 250 pairs and a 10 day wait. Repairing Gucci shoes used to be unheard of, now it is common.

Thrift shops are doing a land office business. Overpriced junk like Prada handbags that sell new for $700-$800 at Nordstrom’s, can be had for under $200 at the thrifts. The 99 cent stores also offer good deals on a lot of items that they buy up as overstocks or obsoletes.

There are not a lot of new cars flying out of the showrooms these days but the repair shops are doing great as many people are repairing the old heap in an effort to keep it rolling until better times. I called Sun Devil Auto yesterday for an appointment and was told they are booked until Monday. Another location had one appointment available for tomorrow which I quickly snatched. I wonder if I’ll meet the guy who wears the Gucci shoes while I’m there.

I don’t have any information on how the dental colleges are doing. They used to give free dental work and I imagine they are getting extra patients now but I don’t recommend they wait for my business. I have to draw the line somewhere; I don’t want amateurs mangling my molars!

To comment or see other comments click "Jim's azcentral blogs" above the clock in the right column.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The "Guerilla Queer Bar"

There is a gay organization in some cities like San Francisco, Boston, and Detroit, called the Guerilla Queer Bar. It is comprised of gays, lesbians, bisexual, and transgender people and their goal is to gather all their members, usually 100 to 200, and take over a traditionally straight bar in their city for one night every month.

The group is not confrontational and when they make their decision which popular straight bar they will visit, they always contact the bar owner and manager for his or her reaction. Usually straight friends accompany the group and there have been no reports of violence, so far. One male member stated that "A lot of people have never been around a lot of queer people before and they were fascinated." Really? About what? Is it that fascinating in the 21st century to see a man wearing a blue sequined dress? Is that any more fascinating than to see teen age boys punch holes the size of quarters in their ear lobes? That’s typical stuff these days.

I have nothing against these people if they want to take over a straight bar once a month in some large city. I’m sure the bars that are not doing much business are glad to have a couple hundred paying customers pack their place. Since being gay is still a stigma in many areas, I guess they just want to appear a bit more mainstream and encourage acceptance of their lifestyle within the straight community.

I haven’t heard of a Guerilla Queer Bar in the Phoenix-Scottsdale area but an incident a couple of years ago in Scottsdale resulted in Anderson’s Fifth Estate lounge going gay. As far as a couple hundred gay people taking over a straight bar for the night in Scottsdale, I would have concerns. With the bar scene being what it is in Scottsdale and the various outbreaks of violence over the years relating to gay customers, there could be some difficulty. On the other hand, nothing major has happened in other cities, so maybe that would be the case here. We may find out.

To comment on this column or read other comments, click "Jim's azcentral Blogs" in right column above the clock

Thursday, June 04, 2009

"LovRub" and Coke

That's Barb and me presenting the Passover Coke to Mary (left) at Randy's in Scottsdale.

JUST OBSERVING: I saw an ad on television last night that has to be close to the Cialis ads for humor. Most of you know the Cialis ads with the old guys and their gals "getting IT on" and relaxing at sunset in their seaside bathtubs. If you haven’t seen the ads, just tune in to the Golf Channel. They show them all day long and, although several of us on the blogs play golf together, I haven’t met anyone, male or female, who owns one of those bathtubs.

Anyway, last night I saw an ad for something called "LovRub." A good looking guy and gal are eyeing each other at a staff meeting of some company and as the voice over pitches us on the product benefits, we see the aforementioned couple emerging from behind a door labeled "supply room." The guy is tightening his belt and straightening his tie while the gal is tucking in her blouse. Whoa!

"LovRub" must be quite a product. The good news is I didn’t hear one word about side effects being blindness, heart attack, or death and the young couple looked happy as hell. The bad news is that I didn’t hear where I could buy the stuff!

MOVING ON: We discussed "Passover Coke" during April and I had mentioned that Safeway was carrying it. I based that on seeing the stuff at my local Safeway in north Scottsdale. I assumed that with the Jewish population in Scottsdale, and with Safeway being a chain, all the Safeways in the area would have the sucrose Coke but I was incorrect.

I found that out when reader "Mary" drove to several Safeways in search of the good stuff and couldn’t find it. Since I am a sympathetic guy and am fond of the lovely Mary, I offered to present her with a free two liter bottle of Passover Coke to at least partially compensate her for her trouble. Below is the presentation ceremony made at Randy’s Restaurant in Scottsdale. Notice the yellow bottle cap which ensures that the Coke is genuine Passover Coke.

That's Barb and me presenting the Passover Coke to Mary (left) at Randy's in Scottsdale.

(To comment or read comments go to "Jim's azcentral Blogs" in right column above the clock and click.)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Red Cross vital in WWII victory

With Memorial Day, it is appropriate to discuss the work of a group of women who contributed mightily to the United States’ war effort during World War II. I’m referring to the women of the Red Cross.
For the many women who stayed on the home front and did not work in industry, the Red Cross was a way to get involved with the war. Many Red Cross volunteers also went overseas and by the end of the war, 7,000 Red Cross "girls" had served in that capacity.

More than 3.5 million women joined the Red Cross in the U. S. pulling such duties as assisting medical personnel in hospitals and boosting the morale of patients. They also rolled millions of bandages for military hospitals at home and abroad, put together food packages for POWs, and produced care packages for soldiers. They were also vital in collecting blood and plasma and shipping it to hospitals to care for the wounded.

The 7,000 volunteers who went overseas staffed 1,800 clubs near wherever the troops were stationed. Some of the Red Cross women ran "clubmobiles" which were traveling kitchens from which they made coffee, doughnuts, and any other available refreshments. These vehicles followed the men to the front on all major campaigns and as a result, 29 Red Cross women were killed while on duty overseas.

The women of the Red Cross were unique compared to their counterparts in the military branches. To be a member of the Red Cross, they had to have a college degree and be at least 25 years old. Some thought that for women with such qualifications to be serving coffee and doughnuts and organizing dances was a waste of their skills. However, it was the 1940s and to join the Red Cross meant it was an opportunity for some adventure never before available to women. The Red Cross and the USO were the only organizations sent overseas that were not under the tight regulation of military discipline.

One Red Cross girl wrote home to her mother telling of the kick the soldiers got out of the "little red and white apron you made." "Just like home," they say. In some ways, that was the main mission of the Red Cross women. They were to bring the men a little bit of home.

Gysella Simon, a Red Cross club director in England, wrote to a friend back home on May 21,1944 about the changes she saw in herself since she joined the Red Cross. She seemed to speak for most of the women who served overseas during World War II.: "At last, here in this forgotten place, I have found myself....I have lived with men preparing for combat..... and wonder why I didn’t get into this sort of work sooner.....I am doing a real worthwhile thing and it makes me glow with satisfaction. I should like to share this feeling with every American girl back home."

(Some of the information in this column was obtained from "Our Mother's War" by Emily Yellin, 2004.

To read or leave responses click "Jim's azcentral Blogs" above the clock in the right column.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Sheriff Joe versus Wilcox

I love it when someone like County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox criticizes the food and cleanliness of Sheriff Joe’s prison kitchen. Montini reports today that the sheriff’s kitchen gets good reports while her restaurant is a dump. Her place “has been savaged by inspectors for everything from ‘toxic materials not properly labeled to food, drink, and/or ice not protected from cross contamination to sewage not properly disposed of.’ ” Why is this joint not being closed down by the county? I know, it’s a rhetorical question.

Wilcox doesn’t like Joe’s illegal immigration tactics either. How dare he obey immigration laws that he was elected to enforce! She also doesn’t like it that the prisoners in the sheriff’s jail are threatening a hunger strike because the food tastes bad. It may taste bad but a nutritionist has determined that it is healthy. That’s more than we can say about Wilcox’s kitchen.

I guess the bad guys miss their Big Macs and fries. Too bad, fellas. You should have considered that before you decided to break the law and land in Joe’s slammer. The good news for you is that the jail meals now cost 60 cents per day instead of the former 34 cents. Who said the sheriff has no compassion?

I wonder if the crooks even think about jail when they perform a crime. From some of the stories I read, these guys are not too smart which tells me they figure they can get away with anything. Hell, why work when you can steal? Imagine their surprise after they hold up some poor working guy trying to provide for his family or knock off a Circle K and in the process shoot some poor sap working there as a second job to pay his tuition. Suddenly, the big. black, sinister, Sheriff’s Ford arrives and they are hauled off to Durango muttering “Damn, Leroy! Where did we screw up!”

People like Wilcox and Montini love to criticize law enforcement but I never hear them support the VICTIMS of crime. They would rather complain about jail conditions for the crooks who ruined the victim’s lives. And we are supposed to worry about whether jail food “tastes bad? Give me a break! To paraphrase ex-president Clinton: “It’s jail, stupid!”

To leave a comment or to read comments by others, go to the right column above the clock and click "Jim's azcentral Blog."

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Recession? What Recession?

I love this time of year. As soon as the first 100 degree day hits, my Illinois neighbors and their yapping little dog point the hood ornament north and scurry home to the land of Lincoln. Green fees at the golf courses get lower as temperatures get higher and if you can bear the heat, that is a good deal. Just be sure you have plenty of ice. The restaurants are empty, as are the resorts, so they offer summer deals to entice you to visit them. Throw in recession deals and you can have a nice time in Scottsdale this summer if you have at least a few bucks.

Speaking of the recession, if watching activity in parts of Scottsdale and Fountain Hills is any indication, you wouldn’t notice much difference in lifestyles because of the economy, particularly with cars. There has always been the array of new Mercedes, BMW’s, Lexus’s and other boring, highly financed luxury cars. Now, I am seeing quite a few Bentley’s and Maserati’s driving around, especially in DC Ranch and Silverleaf. I can’t say how much equity is in those cars or whether they are leased, but they are there.

CityNorth is in Phoenix on the western edge of Scottsdale. In a recent review of the Ocean Prime restaurant there, Howard Seftel mentioned the place was crowded with people sipping $13 drinks, eating $15 tuna tartare, $31 salmon, and $43 steaks. No recession action there. They also don’t have to worry about ever seeing me; not my kind of place.

For those who don’t have the bucks for fancy cars and restaurants, the good news is you can still fire up the old heap and eat cheap in the Scottsdale area if you know where to go. I have been going to Randy’s at Chaparral and Hayden for 20 years and recommend it highly, especially for breakfast. Goldman’s Deli at Hayden and Indian Bend is also a good no frills place that serves all three meals. The Wandering Horse CafĂ© in the Casino AZ at Indian Bend and the 101 has reasonable prices and good specials on a varied menu. McDonald’s still has their $1.00 menu where you can get a doubleburger, fries, and a Coke for $3. As far as good happy hour places, our friends at Cien Agaves on 1st Avenue just east of Scottsdale Road have good deals on drinks and food.

The recession has hit some folks harder than others. As you can see above, there are ways for you to get out of the house for an evening if you look around. Now, if only we had those 12 cent White Castle burger joints I grew up with. Their slogan was "Buy ‘em by the sack." THOSE were a good deal.

To leave a comment or to read some of the other 72 comments, click "Jim's azcentral blog" in the right column above the clock and scroll down.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Hitchcock, PSYCHO, and Phoenix

ALFRED HITCHCOCK HOLDING THE CLAPPER BOARD DURING FILMING OF PSYCHO IN 1960
Alfred Hitchcock was a genius in the movie industry and television. Although he died in 1980 at age 80, many younger movie fans know him from his works being shown on TV and at film festivals. For those of us who saw his work in first release, we were able to see him gain stature in the entertainment business through the years.

To most movie fans, the most remembered films of Hitchcock are probably Vertigo (1958), North by Northwest (1959), and Psycho (1960). My personal favorite is Psycho because, not only is it a great movie with all the Hitchcock twists and turns, but it was done on a low budget, involved Phoenix, and contained some innovations that changed the style of how films were made and marketed in its era.

We know the opening scene where downtown Phoenix is panned but did you know that Janet Leigh’s character’s name had to be changed from Mary Crane to Marion Crane because there was a Mary Crane in the Phoenix phone book? Also, most of the highway scenes were done in California although when Leigh drives out of town, she is supposedly in downtown Phoenix although none of the actors or Hitchcock were ever here.

Psycho was a low budget film costing only $800,000 so Hitchcock had to let us know that the date in the movie was December 11 as Phoenix had Christmas decorations on the streets at that time and the cost to remove them by his crew for the film would have been too much.

Another innovation of Hitchcock’s was to have the star (Leigh) get eliminated early in the film. Because of that he insisted on having theaters not allow seating after the film began. By doing this it removed the complaints of those who showed up late to see Janet Leigh only to discover that her part in the movie was over.

In spite of several bad reviews, Psycho was a huge hit proving that word of mouth can overrule the critics in most cases. The combination of Hitchcock’s direction, a fine cast including great character actors of the day getting a chance to shine, Phoenix locations, and Bernard Herrmann’s eerie musical score, made Psycho a film as enjoyable today as when it was released in 1960.

To leave a comment or to read previous comments, click "Jim's azcentral Blog" in the right column above the clock and scroll down.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Summer golf in Phoenix

This guy's shirt was one color before his round of Golf in Phoenix during the summer.
Summer is around the corner and with it comes some great rates for golfers in Arizona. If you play golf and are new to the Phoenix area, don’t get your hopes up yet. Do you remember that 100 degree day we had last week? If you thought that heat was a killer, summer golf in Phoenix may not be for you because that was a template for what you can expect almost every day from mid May through about mid September.

Playing golf in Phoenix during the summer is not for the faint of heart. If you hate the heat and have experienced illness because of it, drop me a note and I will give you a list of air conditioned bowling alleys to satisfy your need for summer recreation. If you can tolerate spending four to five hours cursing because of your inability to hit a little white ball in 110 degree heat without a cloud in sight, please read on.

We all know about golf in Phoenix in the winter. There are the lush, green, over seeded fairways, the 72 degree temperatures, minimal wind, and the joy of always having a good lie on the perfect grass. Who couldn’t play great golf with those conditions? Oh, yeah, in order to enjoy that situation, be prepared to pay about $150.

The real golfers make their appearance in the summer. Those $150 green fees are suddenly in the $30 to $40 range and many courses will throw in a free lunch. The courses are well watered so they are still relatively lush and the beer cart girls are much lovelier in their summer outfits than when they are bundled up during the winter season.

Always drink plenty of fluids and slather on lots of #50 sun block and you may just make it through 18 holes. You may even feel good enough to gulp down the free lunch and guzzle a few beers in celebration of your still being alive. Always keep in mind the mantra of the Chamber of Commerce: "But, it’s a dry heat." Uh...., yeah, right!

If you play golf this summer, check out the "Golf Now" website for some good deals. Usually, the longer you wait to book a tee time, the better the deal. Some courses are in financial straits so they should have good deals. Those include Sun Ridge Canyon and Sanctuary in Fountain Hills and Scottsdale. The Biltmore courses and the Wigwam are in foreclosure so they will also be glad to see you. The Wigwam is already at $35, a good deal.

Desert Ghost, JD, Jennifer H. and I will be playing. Hope to see you this summer on the links.

To comment on this story or to read responses from others, click "Jim's azcentral Blog" above the clock in the right column and scroll down.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Farewell, Pontiac

1966 Pontiac GTO

Little GTO, you’re really lookin’ fine

Three deuces and a four speed, and a 389

Listen to her tachin’ up now, listen to her why-ee-eye-ine

C’mon and turn it on, wind it up, blow it out GTO.

Little G. T. O. Ronnie and the Daytonas, 1964 (2:39)

Enjoy the memories of that fabulous little car from the muscle car era of the 1960s as General Motors has announced that after 83 years they will stop the production of Pontiacs. The Bonnevilles, Catalinas, Firebirds, and Trans Ams will be memories of an era when General Motors ruled the car business in the U. S. A popular saying many years ago was "If it’s good enough for General Motors, it’s good enough for me." That is an echo of the past now.

They pretty much have themselves to blame as they were the fat cats of the U.S. car business and allowed complacency to kick in as the Japanese and others were making serious inroads into their business. Now, they are broke and begging for government money to survive. It’s a sad state of affairs.

"Little GTO" made it to number 4 on Billboard’s top 40 hit list in August, 1964. It was summer and Pontiac had taken their little Tempest model (originally LeMans) and put a 389 inch V8 under the hood to produce the G.T.O., the first of the real "muscle cars." Fully loaded it sold for $4,500, pretty steep in those days but who cared? That baby would really go!

In 1969, the Pontiac GTO "Judge" was introduced. At that time "Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In" was a big hit on ABC television and one of the catch phrases of that show was "Here Comes the Judge." The Pontiac Judge was a take-off of that line and was the ultimate in the GTO Series with wider tires, decals, rear spoiler, and a fancier engine.

Although Pontiacs will no longer be produced, we can still enjoy their performance on reruns of shows like "The Rockford Files" as James Garner outruns many a lumbering, ugly, mid 70s car in his sleek Pontiac Firebird Trans Am.

First it was the Oldsmobile, now the Pontiac. Buick will probably be next to join the extinct list along with DeSoto, Plymouth, Hudson, Nash, and others that used to be common on the roads of America.

To leave a response or to read responses, click "Jim's azcentral blog" in the right column above the clock and scroll down.

Monday, April 20, 2009

"Hey, kids! What time is it?"

The year is 1949. It is a cold, dark, December afternoon and it is almost 5:30. I’m running full speed on my eight year old legs to Carol Whetsel’s house a block up the street from my home in Cincinnati. Carol’s house was the place to be on Monday through Friday afternoons in those salad days of youth because 5:30 pm meant only one thing: Buffalo Bob asking the kids in the peanut gallery: "Hey, kids! What time is it?" Their reply? "It’s Howdy Doody Time!"

Carol Whetsel sure had nice parents. Since they had the only TV in the area, they had to tolerate having every kid in the neighborhood pack their living room with its own peanut gallery to sit in front of their 12 inch, black and white, table model Admiral television to watch Howdy Doody. I’m sure that scene was repeated in Phoenix and about every city in the country on a daily basis. I wonder who sold the most TV sets in those days: Howdy or Milton Berle. Both were extremely popular in 1949.

It was an exciting era for kids who were old enough to have listened to kid’s programming on the radio following the exploits of Superman, Red Ryder, Tarzan, and Terry and the Pirates. When TV came along in the late ‘40s, it was magical to think of seeing those characters on TV. Howdy Doody was an example of that magic as it lasted on TV from 1947 until 1960.

Children loved the Doodyville marionettes which included Howdy, the mayor Phineas T. Bluster, the naive Dilly Dally, and Flub-a dub, a mixture of eight animals. Live characters included Clarabelle the Clown, played by future Captain Kangaroo, Bob Keeshan, Chief Thunderthud, and Princess Summerfall Winterspring played by cute Judy Tyler, who went on to star with Elvis in Jailhouse Rock in 1957. Sadly, on July 4 of that year she was killed in an auto accident in Wyoming. She was 24.

The Howdy Doody Show was great for kids and was not only funny but educational as when they got a lesson in government when Howdy ran for President of the kids of America in 1948. Unfortunately, by 1960 Howdy’s early evening time slot was being coveted for older viewers and the show was moved to Saturday mornings. After a short run, it was canceled after 2,543 episodes.

If you are of a certain age, you probably remember Howdy Doody and other good kid’s shows of the time like Smilin’ Ed, Fury, Kukla, Fran, and Ollie, and any of the many local kid’s shows around the country like Wallace and Ladmo. It was a nice era for kids and TV, today’s kids missed some good shows.

"Buffalo Bob" Smith and Howdy Doody
To read responses to this blog or to leave a response, click "Jim's azcentral blog" in right column above the clock and scroll down to blog.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

"NO" TO DREAM ACT

I have a few comments about the April 9 editorial in the Republic supporting the DREAM Act which would allow illegal alien children the opportunity to stay in the US under certain conditions. The editorial is supporting special privileges for illegal kids because they were unknowingly brought into the US as babies by their illegal parents. Whoever wrote the editorial (sounds like Linda V.) gives the impression that we owe these kids something simply because they happen to be here illegally and have gotten away with it.

The DREAM Act would give permanent legal residency to these kids if they completed two years of college or two years in our military within six years. After that, they would be on a pathway to citizenship. The Republic is supporting letting these kids jump in line ahead of people who have been waiting years to become citizens, simply because their parents broke the law when they were babies. That is a ridiculous proposition plus what about the kids who have no interest in the DREAM Act? Are they allowed to stay here and continue leading their illegal lives or are they rounded up and deported? From the tone of the editorial, I think the Republic would support the former. Why not give all of them the key to the city of Washington while we are at it?

This is another example of slapping the faces of Americans and legal immigrants who became citizens by going through normal channels. It’s like letting a murderer off the hook because he said he was sorry he did his crime. What about the parents of these kids who have enjoyed leading their illegal lives all these years while their kids were growing up? Will they be deported since we will know of their location? If so, why can’t their kids follow them home and live their lives in Mexico? Either that or they can get in line like everyone else who wants to come here.

In 2006, there was a bill voted on (Prop 300) to give the illegal kids in-state tuition for college. In other words, if you were from any other state but AZ and a US citizen, you would have paid out of state tuition but if you lived in AZ and were an illegal alien, you could have paid in-state tuition. Luckily, the citizens of AZ voted that down in large numbers.

I’m sorry but I can’t agree with the provisions of the DREAM Act. Illegal immigration is costing this country billions each year so I don’t care how exemplary the lives of these kids have been. They are illegal, their parents are illegal, and they should both be dealt with accordingly. We brag about being a nation of laws and we have a border patrol for a reason. Unfortunately, there are ulterior motives for wanting the DREAM Act and it will probably pass. If it does, we may as well tear down any obstructions at the border and forget about immigration laws.

As for the aliens who worked hard and patiently waited to become citizens, you can put away your little American flags that you tearfully waved with pride when you raised your hands to take the oath of citizenship. Their will be no more pride in this country and the certificate you received will be worth nothing.

TO READ RESPONSES GO TO http://www.azcentral.com/members/Blog/Jim8413/50538