03 March 2009
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The Statue of Autocracy

The Supreme Court of the United States made a unanimous ruling last week.  Depending on how you look at these things, it's obviously correct and momentous, or obviously wrong and not all that significant.  The case involved the Summum sect's desire to donate a monolith depicting the "Seven Aphorisms" for display in a state park in Utah that already has a monument to the Ten Commandments.  The way I see it, stripped of ideological baggage and religious overtones, is as an opportunity to discard another newspaper clipping.   I saved the clipping only because of a sentence in Justice Alito's opinion, which he wrote for the Court:

Justice Alito said the U.S. acceptance of the Statue of Liberty from France in 1877 conveyed no obligation to install a "Statue of Autocracy" in New York Harbor "if one had been offered by, say, the German Empire or Imperial Russia."

I sort of like the idea of a "Statue of Autocracy."  And, although I'm only familiar with the Summum sect's existence first, from the Court's ruling, and then from reading the linked Wikipedia article, I have to admit that a sect whose founder goes by the nickname "Corky" can't be all bad.

All Bad, but Inevitable

I was very sad to hear on the radio a few nights ago that Paul Harvey, veteran newscaster, had died at the age of 90.  I listened to him whenever I could for many years, although finding those spare minutes at exactly noon was often a challenge.  I worked in radio for several years, and have had the pleasure of meeting many of my radio heroes.  Paul Harvey wasn't among those I met and I shall leave the remembrances to those with memories more personal.  You can find them at PaulHarvey.com.

Me and Tom Were Singing

Tom would be Tom Petty.  He's a more famous singer than I am, but we do have something in common:  Del Shannon.  Although I haven't sung Runaway recently, I do occasionally try to vocalize Little Town Flirt or Keep Searchin', inevitably to disastrous effect.  I mention this only because I recently heard the reference in Petty's Running Down a Dream, "Me and Del were singing, Little Runaway"...  A further nod to Del appears in The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway.  The song In the Cage has my favorite synthesizer riff and a Runaway throwaway at the end of a verse, complete with adopted melody.  Del Shannon, dead almost 20 years, never had a revival so far as I know.  Runaway, of course is a classic.  It was followed by Hats Off to Larry, which got a bit of airplay, and a further string of remarkable songs, most enhanced with Del's trademark falsetto but favored with low or no position on "the charts."  I wonder if Tom remembers any of the others.

Valuable Waterbed Safety Tip

If you have a waterbed and live in an apartment with downstairs neighbors, this bit of wisdom may save you embarrassment and thousands of dollars.*  You can empty a leaking waterbed quickly and safely in the following manner:

  • Remove all the covers and use a sharp knife to cut a large hole in the top surface of the plastic.

  • Grab the largest pot you have, or, even better, a plastic garbage can.

  • Use it to literally bail out the waterbed. 

I mention this because when a waterbed starts to leak, the owner isn't necessarily thinking clearly and it doesn't occur to him to cut a big hole in something already spewing water on the floor (or worse).

Yet another reason you keep me around.

*Zeugma alert.  It's been quite a while.

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NP:  "Stranger in Town" - Del Shannon

Richard Factor

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