Sunday, February 03, 2013

I'm back to blogging


It has been a long time since I blogged.  This is a bad thing.  I have lots of excuses: work, moving, old age, distractions, football, reading, quality television, laundry, blah, blah, blah.  But in truth it has come down to only one thing—I am a lazy SOB who would rather push the buttons on the remote control than the keys on my keyboard.  So, blogging has taken a back seat to Homeland, the NFL, the MLB network and various and sundry shows which I am too embarrassed to list.  (Susan knows what they are but she is sworn to secrecy.
            Part of the reason I have not blogged is now that I am back to work I am somewhat constrained.  Not by the office, no one there has ever told me what I can blog about (with the exception of pending cases, of course), but I feel that now that I am, again, a deputy district attorney, I should not comment on aspects of criminal law that might be related to my work.  I do not speak for the office on any subject, so I think that I should perhaps leave alone issues directly pertaining to criminal law, and I should be circumspect (use of this word is a shout out to Pete, in writing about areas connected to criminal law.  So I feel I should no longer comment on the Holmes case or the Trayvon Martin killing, and I should be careful when writing about larger issues like gun control and the legalization of marijuana.
            What does that leave?  A lot, really, but often it seems like since I work so much, I don’t think about much else.  There is politics, which is always a ripe subject, especially because our system has become so dysfunctional that it is easy to take shots at our politicians.  However, aren’t we all so sick of politics that no one wants to read that?
            Sports is a subject that I am well familiar with, very interested in, and have experience writing about.  (Did you know I was a journalism major in college and was sports editor of the school newspaper?  Did you know I won an award in high school for best sports story in the nation? Do you care?  I didn’t think so.)  The only problem with writing about sports is that for any of us who like sports there is a deluge of inept journalism and illiterate blogging about the subject.  I doubt most of my blog readers (if there are any left) care to read my take on why the Rockies will lose 100 games or whether professional football has become to dangerous for its own good.
            I do love movies, and I would love to blog about movies, but there are no movies I want to see.  Really.  I mean can I handle the intense drama of The Impossible, the graphic depiction of torture in Zero Dark Thirty, or the less-than-stellar singing in the drawn out Les Miserables.  I have not wanted to answer those questions, so I have not gone to a movie in a while.  I can hardly wait for summer when I can sit back watch some smart-mouthed super hero engage in some big screen special effects.
            There are other issues which grab my interest from time to time.  For example, I read the other day that some bus driver left a local elementary school his life savings in his will, $34,000.  Now in the greater scheme of a school budge $34,000 is not a huge amount of money, but, still, you would think this could buy new computers, textbooks, part time teachers aides, field trips, even help for the school lunch program.  But no, what they actually did was buy a $20,000 sign.  I mean, really?  I can understand a few grand on a new sign, but $20,000?  This is why I am skeptical of spending more and more money on education.  It is not the money that is a problem, it is the educators.  (No, not all. Every time I criticize education I hear about some heroic teacher who does great work. I am sure there are thousands, but I think in general the problem is not sufficient funding.)
            What most of my loyal followers want are more funny blogs.  It seems that there is not enough humor in the world and when I can actually pull off one that makes people laugh those are the most well-received.  I will try to be funnier.  It is hard to be funny on demand, but I will give it a shot regularly.
            If there is anyone still reading, thanks for doing so.  I will try to keep writing regularly.  

Monday, December 17, 2012

Another horrific crime


            Now we turn the page.  The images of the massacre in Connecticut sear our emotions and plague our memories.  As least as much as we can stand.  Too many pictures, too many stories, too many journalists, cameras and talking heads.  At some point we all turn off the television, shake our heads and wonder how this can happen.  Then, soon, we turn the page. 

The memory of Newtown, Connecticut blurs into the images from Virginia Tech, or the Amish school, or Columbine.  Our initial shock folds into our outrage then finally into an uncomfortable resignation.  We live, apparently, in a violent society where thousands of people every year are killed with guns.  To keep ourselves sane we tell ourselves it can’t happen to me, to my family, to my friends.  We know, of course, that the people in Newtown probably thought the same thing.

But what else can we think?  Should we home school our children?  Avoid movie theaters?  Stay away from the mall?  We can’t and we won’t.  Life must go on.  I live perhaps equidistant from Columbine on the west and Aurora on the east.  Virtually all of us in Jeffco knew someone connected to Columbine.  I was privileged the other night to offer words of encouragement to the man who is inheriting the prosecution of the movie theater murders.  These events touch me.  I know it can happen here; it already has.

And yet, I, too will turn the page.  One might think that based on my job I am inured to horrific acts of violence, that my emotions are subsumed by my dedication to my job.  Perhaps in some ways they are.  But something like this, something so viscerally painful, wounds deep even to those whose career it is to seek justice.  Yes, we move on, too, but perhaps with a renewed sense of devotion to work that, just maybe, might prevent someone from being hurt.

It will be up to others to examine the causes of these tragedies.  Hopefully some national examination of these mass murders can come up with, if not answers, at least insight.  I fear, however, that will not be the case.  I don’t know whether solutions can be found in gun control, mental illness treatment resources, or enhanced security.  What I would hope is that those on every side of these issues will make a critical examination of all aspects and be willing to compromise.  Unfortunately, it seems compromise has become vilified as weakness.  Too many believe they carry the right answer, and acknowledgement that contrary opinions might possess some validity is incomprehensible.  So nothing is done.

Because nothing is done, nothing can change.  Which means the next mass murderer is out there.  He will have access to guns.  He will certainly be mentally ill.  He will plan his crimes in secret, then burst out in ways no one can imagine.  We will hear interviews of his friends, family, neighbors, coworkers.  They will tell us he was strange, not quite right, perhaps even creepy, but that no one suspected he was a killer.  No one ever does. For a time we again will feel the pain of the innocents victims and their loved ones. 

And then, once again, we will turn the page.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Back to normal


A lot has happened since I last blogged.  I have driven across the country from St. Augustine to Denver, by way of Milwaukee; a total of 2300 miles.  I would like to tell you it was fun, but driving nine hours a day is not my idea of a good time.
  
I did see a lot of very interesting parts of this country.  There were many times I wished I had the ability to snap a picture.  Georgia has some beautiful lakes and rivers; the hillsides of Kentucky were a riot of colors; the ground fog outside Milwaukee was fascinating, and the Mississippi River is imposing in its width.  I saw baseball in Tampa, modern dance in Milwaukee, and played pai gow poker in Council Bluffs, Iowa.  I drove on a highway full of trucks in Georgia, hit rush hour in Omaha, and spent long stretches in eastern Colorado seeing barely a car.
 
Fortunately, I had good weather most of the time.  I came to love my Garmin GPS and began feel like I can’t live without Sirius XM satellite radio.  I was thankful every time my car started, but the old Lexus (12 years old, 131,000 miles) was reliable.  I saw rest areas in 10 states on this last trip and have been in 20 states in the past 12 months.  I saw lots of road construction, RVs, and Romney bumper stickers.  I even went to another country (The Bahamas). 

During my year off, which we will call my sabbatical, I lived a life very different from what was normal before.  I saw lots of Broadway shows, New York Philharmonic concerts, and Megan dance twice.  I went to art museums, halls of fame, and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.   I walked barefoot on the beach and through Grand Central during rush hour.  I went up to the Top of the Rock and the New York Transit Museum in an old subway station.  I lived in Connecticut where the people are rude and stayed in Florida where a lot of them are old.  I ate many different kinds of fish and searched for good barbeque. 

I did manage to write some, but not enough.  I failed to accomplish many of my goals, but I learned some valuable lessons.  I missed my friends (no surprise) and life in Colorado (very surprising). 

All in all I am not sorry I left, but I am glad to be back.  Tomorrow I return to the Jeffco DA’s office for my fourth stint.  Yes, this will be a record, and I fully expect that I will receive many comments about this unusual work history.  I need to develop a snappy answer.  I have been using “I am going to set a record that no one will ever break” which is certainly true, but not especially clever.  

I still need to find a place to live.  I have been imposing on the wonderful couple of Rob Buchan and Michele Wagner, but they are preparing for a more permanent roommate and don’t need me imposing on their hospitality.  I have been shocked at the rental prices.  I guess no one can get a mortgage so everyone is renting.  I do plan to buy a place sometime soon.

Anyway, life is going back to normal.  I am going to have to wake up early, shave every day, and actually do some work every day whether I want to or not.  No more long walks along the beach.  I plan to get this picture blown up and put in my office as a reminder of my sabbatical.  It was a nice break, but time to go back to doing what I do.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Museums




I stumbled across a website for the Jerry Lewis museum and I was surprised.  An entire museum for this guy?  In America?  (I might understand it in France.)  I know he has a fanbase and his movies are seen as comic masterpieces by some, by a whole museum for Jerry Lewis?  Sure he has raised a lot of money to cure muscular dystrophy (and really, why haven’t they cured that yet?), but a museum?

It turns out there is no physical museum, but merely a website devoted to Jerry Lewis.  That does not surprise me as there are websites devoted to all kinds of things and people.  Museums should be reserved for only the most important people of all time. Presidents, for example, all have their own presidential library and museums. (At least recent presidents do, even Gerald Ford.  The old guys didn’t have the benefit of legislation encouraging these sorts of things.  So Carter, Nixon, Clinton, all these guys have them, Teddy Roosevel just has his home preserved but no library.)

Babe Ruth has a museum dedicated to him, which is fitting for the greatest baseball player of all time, as does Yogi Berra.  Yogi is a hall of famer but not on the same level as the Babe, but he gets one for being the most quoted athlete, and perhaps the most quoted person, of the 20th century.  (Which of you has not said “it ain’t over till it’s over” or “déjà vu all over again.”  I mean presidents say that stuff.)

There is a Thomas Edison museum, and a Henry Ford museum, and one for Ray Charles.  Elvis, of course, has Graceland, but, strangely, there is a Beatles story museum in Liverpool. That is all fitting.

These sorts of things tend to be given more to entertainers than other contributors.  So there is a Buddy Holly Center, but no Jonas Salk museum.  I did find a Sigmund Freud museum in London, but also one for Glenn Miller.  Equivalent contributions?  It does seem to help if the person died an early and tragic death (see, Buddy Holly, above).  There is a Patsy Cline museum but not one, alas, for the Beach Boys (two of them did die young so they should get some credit for that).  The standards for these things is pretty low, as the Three Stooges have a museum dedicated to them called The Stoogeum.  (Really.)  I did notice that a few years ago they were trying to collect enough money to create a Marx Brother museum, but I guess they didn’t.  Too bad.

Margaret Mitchell has a museum dedicated to her and her masterpiece, Gone With The Wind.  Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, and F. Scott Fitzgerald all have museums, but not Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett or Agatha Christie.

More and more of these things will probably crop up in the future.  Not only will future presidents get these things in their honor, but as society gets more trivial lesser and lesser figures with have them, along the lines of the Three Stooges.  I have no doubt there will be a Madonna museum, a J. K. Rowling library, and a John Belushi Animal House.



Wednesday, October 10, 2012

More presidential questions


Pizza Hut wants someone at the next presidential debate, which will feature a “town hall?” format allowing audience members to ask the candidates questions, to ask the candidates to answer the following question: “Pepperoni or sausage.”  Should someone actually do that, the pizza chain will give them free pizza for life.

Many are criticizing this offer as trivializing a serious event, for which there is not really enough time for legitimate questions concerning the economy, foreign affairs, the role of the federal government, and tax policy.  Others, however, harken back to a question posed to Bill Clinton about what type of underwear he fancies, and respond that even in weighty matters there is room for light questioning.

As anyone who reads this blog recalls I have many questions for the candidates, particularly for Mitt Romney.   However, I am perfectly ok with Pizza Hut’s attempt to inject some levity.  After all, we are giving the winner access to an arsenal of weapons lethal enough to destroy the world many times over.  I can see why people would want to know if that finger is connected to boxers or briefs; or whether, after launching nuclear-armed missiles, the American leader will send out for pepperoni or sausage (or perhaps vegetarian).

Along those lines I would like to suggest a few more questions for these candidates so we can get an idea of what kind of men they are:

·      Star Wars or Star Trek?  Hopefully they are fans of one or the other.  If they say neither, I believe we will be in serious trouble.  Old-time tv watchers love Star Trek, while Star Wars is more of an afficianado’s domain.  Star Trek is seen as light entertainment, while Star Wars is true devotion.  Depending on their answer we should delve deeper.  Star Trek lovers need to disclose which series is their favorite (if it is Deep Space Nine it reflects a very dark personality) while Star Wars lovers must opine which trilogy is better and how they feel about Jar Jar Binks.
·      Ginger or Mary Ann?  Perhaps neither can answer this one.  Obama is probably too young and Mitt may not have been allowed to watch television.  But for those of us at a certain age, the answer to this one provides great insight.  Girl-next-door Mary Ann was comfortably cute, while Ginger was the hot, sultry movie star.  Preference for the first reflects a real homebody-type conservative, while Ginger reflects the desire for excitement.
·      Baseball or football?  I think we know Obama is a big baseball fan, but I have never heard Mitt’s preference.  Should he favor football it might reflect a desire to get our military involved more often. Along those same lines, what are their positions on the designated hitter?
·      Mac or PC?  Not what the government provides, but if they had to choose which would they pick.
·      What is their position on the starting time of Monday Night Football?  I think sporting events start way too late, and I would like the next president to do something about it.
·      Marvel comics or DC?  Again, this is not such a big deal now, but when I was a kid there was a definite divide in my neighborhood.  DC was the old-fashioned boring brand, while Marvel was cool. 
·      Coke or Pepsi? Huge, corporate conglomerate with quality product or huge, corporate conglomerate trying to sell itself as being young and hip?
·      Conan or Letterman?  60 Minutes or Dateline?  Brian Willams, Diane Sawyer, or whoever is on CBS?  Good Morning America or the Today Show?  Bob Costas or Chris Berman? 
·      Which Marx Brother was the funniest?  Which Stooge?  Which Saturday Night Live performer?  Which Rocky was the best?  Which Rush Hour, Transformers, Indiana Jones, and Die Hard?  Who is their favorite of the X-Men, Spider Man villain, and Batman.
·      Finally, if elected (or re-elected) would they be a president like Henry Fonda in Fail Safe, Morgan Freeman in Deep Impact, Kevin Kline in Dave, Michael Douglas in The American President, Martin Sheen in The West Wing, Dennis Haysbert in 24, Gene Hackman in Absolute Power, or Peter Sellers in Dr. Strangelove?

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