Friday, February 28, 2014

What I Believe and Yoga Mat Sandwiches

The Blog's long promised Guns and Christianists post is imminent. I swear!

The gun story isn't going anywhere, anytime soon.

In fact, like so many of the issues that really get The PC's Batman Underoos in a twist,  with every passing day, more stories add to the topic, making sorting them all out that much more difficult.

But, it is coming.


Tonight, your Uncle PC would like to comment on a story that has gained traction over the last couple of days.

But first, to give it all context, let me catch you up on...

"What I Believe."

I believe that Global Climate Change is real, really bad and, mostly, manmade.

I believe that Wall Street knew that the economic collapse of 2008 was coming, and some Wall Street bankers should be in prison because of it.

I believe that the panic over GMO foods is overblown and GMO's have benefited us more than they have harmed us. That said...

I believe that Monsanto is evil and ingesting Roundup™ weed killer is killing us.

I believe that Barak Obama is not now, and has never been, the committed progressive that some of us wished he was. Nor is he the far-left, socialist that the right-wing believes that he is. That said...

I believe that Barak Obama is the best president that the U.S. has had in my lifetime.

I believe that "Two and a Half Men" still has one more season before it runs out of steam.

I believe that the 9/11 attack was not an inside job and the destruction of the WTC and Pentagon were caused by nothing but commercial airliners crashing into their walls. That said...

I believe that a very small number of high level members of the U.S. government were complicit in the success of the attacks and that much of the subsequent investigation was pure fiction.

I believe that the NSA has gone rogue and overstepped it's authority. I also believe that they have collected so many billions of bits of meta-data that they can't do anything practical with it.
In other words...

Sure, I am a conspiracy theorist.

But, I'm not an alarmist.

Which brings us to this week's revelation that Subway™ and countless other companies have been using a chemical in their products that is also used in the making of foam rubber products.

You can catch up with that story, here.

I believe that the fewer ingredients that we can't pronounce in our foods, the better.

But, when it comes to the hand wringing over azodicarbonamide (ADA), I just can't get too worked up over it.

ADA has been used to make bread products soft and fluffy for decades. You and I have ingested, literally, tons of the stuff over our lifetimes.

And yes, ADA is also used to make yoga mats, flip-flops and attic insulation soft and fluffy.

But, here is the important phrase in the article that the worriers overlook...

" is not known to be toxic to people in the concentration approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration."

Do you have any idea how many chemicals are known to be toxic to the FDA that you eat and drink on a regular basis, anyway?

*HINT*  Enjoy that aspartame sweetened diet soft drink that you are drinking as you read this, while I enjoy a couple of fingers of fermented grain alcohol and a couple of bowls of nicotine as I write this.

Don't let's even get started on FDA approved pharmaceuticals.  One example, just off the top of my head... Warfarin (brand name, "Coumadin,") is the blood thinner of choice in the modern medical world. It began it's existence as rat poison. The rat would eat the warfarin, then scratch itself or get into a fight, and bleed out because it's blood wouldn't coagulate. But, when used under medical supervision, warfarin saves lives.

Some bad shit that has it's good uses.

Azodicarbonamide is a scary sounding word. And it's non-edible uses makes it sound that much scarier.

But, let's consider a couple of other scary sounding ingredients.

Methyl cellulose is used in products like disposable diapers and incontinence pads because it is wicked absorbent.

Methyl cellulose is derived from wood fiber and is used as an absorbent. But, it is also a food thickener.

You will find it in ice cream, milk shakes, pudding and those "super healthy" smoothies you buy at the grocery store.

You have eaten it for, pretty much, your entire lives.

Propylene Glycol, aka: glycerine, is the main ingredient in anti-freeze.

It is also an excellent emollient, (Got dry elbows? Rub it in!) and a sweetener used in gummy bears and other candies.

Blackstrap Molasses is a major component of asphalt.

It's also a major ingredient in those molasses cookies your grandma used to make.

And, BTW...

Molasses is the substance that is left over after sugar has been refined into white poison. In other words, molasses contains all the stuff that makes unrefined sugar good for you.

Don't get me wrong...

I don't know if ADA is good for you or bad.

I'm not advocating for it's use.

Odds are that the bread your mom used to make from scratch, without ADA, is better for you, as well as tastier.

I'm just saying that just because a substance is used in non-edible products doesn't, automatically, mean that it's bad for you.

Don't panic.

Read the ingredients labels on everything you eat.

And, if you have questions about a specific ingredient, hop onto Google™ and do a little bit of research.

*Full Disclosure*

One of The PC's day jobs is an "informational, medical, television show."

Raising alarms about scary, maybe harmful, maybe not, food ingredients is one way to keep viewers interested.

This Blog is pleased to say that my show does a good job of sorting it all out.

Once we have gotten your attention.

But, if you have any doubts about the safety of a food ingredient, don't be passive. And don't believe anything you hear.

Do your homework.

There is never a downside to educating yourself.

That is all. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Obligatory Olympics™ Post: 2014

So the Olympics™ happened.

The Blog has nothing against the Olympics™. But, I can't say I'm a fan.

I watch. I enjoy.


                                                          Much like "The Millers..."

If the Olympics™ suddenly went away, I probably wouldn't notice.

But, as a blogger, I am required, by law, to weigh in on the topic.

So, here are a few, mandatory, thoughts...

In a country that has no shortage of seriously cold locations, why Sochi?

According to the internet my sources, Sochi is sub-tropical and enjoys a climate similar to Atlanta, Georgia.

Ironically, (and I am pretty sure that I am using that word correctly, for a change,) while Sochi's mild temperatures turned snow and ice into a thing called "water..."

Thanks to the Polar Vortex, Atlanta was suffering through a crippling snowstorm.

The festivities in the tropic of Russia got off to a good start...

With only a few more glitches than the preview weeks of...

                                                        "Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark."

Things didn't go so well for Shawn White.

No mystery, here.

Nothing robs a boarder of his mojo faster than the sudden realization that he doesn't, actually, have a death wish.

But, the Winter Games (I got tired of typing "™" after "Olympics™,") had everything a viewer could ask for.

                                                 Pretty girls wearing knives on their feet.

People doing really...



Insane things. 

                                                                     Creepy mascots.

And physics defying figure skaters.

Did I mention, "Knives on their feet?"

Speaking of figure skating...

Here are some bets that you will never lose...

Someone will skate to "Bolero."

Someone will skate to "Rhapsody in Blue."

Someone will skate to, "Phantom."

Here is a bet that I would have lost...

                                Someone will skate to the music from "The Addams Family."


Sochi, 2014. Tune in for the jingoistic nationalism. Stay for the homophobia.

The gold medal for the host county's biggest public relations misstep is a tie between arresting members of "Pussy Riot" and killing stray dogs.

Both should have worn knives on their feet.

Katarina Witt was not involved in this year's games.

But, that won't stop me from posting this photo.

                                                                     Just because.

Kat once saved The Blog's life.

True story. For another post.


It's probably because, deep down, I am still 12-years-old...

But, for this Blog, the high point of this year's games was that awkward moment...

When speed skater, Olga Graf, forgot that she was naked under her clothes.

Let the record show that The Premature Curmudgeon™ blog, in accordance with international blogger's requirements, has complied with the blogger mandate and commented on the 2014 Winter Olympics™ on this day, February 25, 2014.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Harold Ramis: 1944-2014

                                                                                    Image Credit: Peter Carsillo

Animal House


National Lampoon's Vacation





Groundhog Day

Analyze This


What else is there to say?

Church Signs

You know 'em. You love 'em. You know you love 'em.

"Funny" church signs.

Your PC has been kicking around the idea of doing a post about the wit and wisdom of church marquees for a while.

"Casa de Blog" is surrounded by churches over a five block radius that seem to compete with each other for who can be more clever, every week.

When the young bloggling was growing up in the '60s and '70s, churches didn't do overt funny.


Oh, the future PC knew several Reverends that were pretty talented stand-up comics, who got their ya-yas out in many an entertaining sermon, Christmas pageant and summer camp.
 *Favorite Reverend quip, when someone would sneeze...

"God bless your nose. The rest of you can go to Hell."

I quote that guy to this day*
But, The Blog didn't encounter his first "funny" church sign until about 30 years ago, when he had moved to SoCal.

                                                     For a while, the signs were funny.

But, as time moved on, the quips became trite and cliché.

The once funny signs started to feel forced and tin-eared.

Like a bi-polar fashion model or an Asperger's science genius, or a self-absorbed jock...

                                               Or, the Sochi Winter Olympics Committee

Who will attempt an occasional "joke" to show that, they, also too, can be human and funny.

                                                                    "Heh, heh. Heey."

It was as if there was a book somewhere, entitled, "The Reverend Whizbang's Big Book of Church Signs."

Many of the witticisms hijack popular culture in an attempt to seem relevant.

They start to resemble the dad who does "The Macarena" at his kid's party, to prove that he is "hep" and "with it."

In recent years, scattered among the lame, repetitive "humor," the "wit" became more and more sanctimonious and abrasive.

Here is a bit of festive "wit" for the Holiday Season, that has become an annual tradition among the churches in my neighborhood.

Offensive, yes. But not as offensive as the bumper sticker philosophy that some church signs have adopted to wrap bigotry in sanctimony.

So why, you ask, am I posting about this now?

I'm glad you asked.

Tonight, one of the funny Reverends that I mentioned earlier posted a link on "The Book of Faces" via "The Gospel According to HuffPost..."

A hilarious song parody that sums up the whole church sign thing, perfectly.

Please enjoy...


Sunday, February 23, 2014

R.I.P. Maria von Trapp: Just Not THAT Maria von Trapp

Trending on Facebook last night...
The passing of Maria von Trapp, "who inspired the musical 'The Sound of Music.'"
Sorry Facebook, but no.

Maria von Trapp, who was played by Mary Martin on Broadway and Julie Andrews in the film, bid the world "So long, farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, goodnight..." in 1987.

The Maria that passed yesterday was the Baron's youngest daughter with his first wife, known in the musical as "Louisa," presumably to prevent confusion.

From The Sound of Music's Facebook page...
"Known as Mitzi, Maria was the youngest of the original seven von Trapp Family Singers, who emigrated with their parents to America. Join us wishing her family well today as we celebrate her long and extraordinary life."
As a young bloggling, I met the senior Maria when I was eight-years-old. She gave a talk at my school. Fascinating lady. Boy did she have some stories!

Some of the fiction in the play/movie was written to make it more interesting.

Fiction: In the musical, the family escapes the Nazis by slipping out of a concert, followed by an epic Nazi chase scene.

Fact: The family did what they always did, every Sunday afternoon. They took a hike. The difference? This particular Sunday, they packed their backpacks with everything that fit. Then they hiked until they had hiked, safely, out of the country. They were in Switzerland before the Nazis knew they were gone.

Some was changed because no one would have believed the true story!

Fiction: The family's talent was discovered by a family friend.

Fact: The kids were singing in the yard when a passing talent agent happened to hear them.

See what I mean?

My favorite story...

The Baron always wore his Austrian military uniform. Grey flannel with gold buttons and epaulettes, a stripe down the side of the trousers. When they arrived in New York City for their first American concert tour, they were in the lobby of The Ritz when a tourist couple set their bags down at the Baron's feet. They had mistaken him for a bellhop. This must have horrified the proud military man. But, Maria thought it was the height of hilarity.

As of this writing, there is no evidence that NBC's production of "The Sound of Music: Live!" contributed to Mitzi's death.

I don't know. Too soon?

Attention America

This is what a protest looks like.

                                                               Yesterday in Venezuela.


                                                               Torrance, CA Tea Party

is just sad and pathetic.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

When the Hot Sauce Hit the Fan: Bonus Post

A couple of months ago, in the blood red, Orange County, city of Irwindale. CA...

Huy Fong Foods, the manufacturer of an Asian style hot sauce, made in the U.S.of A., came under fire from the local residents.

It seems that the manufacturer of the chile sauce known as Siracha™ was polluting the local air with the peppery by-products of their saucery.

The Republicans of Irwindale complained of watery eyes and burning sinuses.

Annoying, to be sure.

But, not toxic.

But, to hear the residents of Irwindale tell it, the annual, two months a year, irritation was as bad as... I don't know... a West Virginia coal company's dumping of corrosive chemicals into their water supply.

A judge ordered Huy Fong Foods to suspend production until the problem was fixed.

Blatant government intrusion into free market manufacturing.

The city of Philadelphia reached out to Huy Fong Foods, inviting them to move their plant to "The City of Brotherly Love."

Because, fuck their resident's sinuses.

But, miracle of miracles, Huy Fong Foods did the right thing.

They re-evaluaed their production procedures and upgraded their filtering systems.

Yesterday, Huy Fong Foods announced that the problem has been fixed. 

The "take home" is this...

Instead of acting like whiny victims of over-reaching government control...

Huy Fong Foods strapped on, fixed the problem and saved hundreds of SoCal jobs...

While enjoying a level of national publicity that their advertising budget could never buy.


Your Blog doesn't know if Huy Fong Foods is a publicly traded company.

But, if they are, I'm buying some stock. 

Friday, February 21, 2014

Better Off Red

Back in 1998, Your Blog spent several weeks in Moscow on business. A decade and a half or so after Ronald Reagan and the fall of the USSR, it was clear to me that capitalism had won. Moscow was a free market free-for-all. Reagan didn't end communism in Russia. McDonald's, Levi's, M&M/Mars and Dr. Pepper ended communism in Russia.

And even though I am not an economist... (and in 1998, I understood economics a lot less than I do today...) I recognized that the Russian economy was heading for disaster. Post commie Russia looked, to me, like a gemsbok calf, born in captivity, then released into the wild with no survival skills. Doomed to be eaten by the first predator to come along.

In Russia's case, that predator was unfettered Capitalism adopted by the Russian Mafia.

1998 Russia was Al Capone's Chicago and present day Tijuana blended into one big John Galt smoothie.

*Slight Digression*

The Blog's Mom, who grew up during WWII, educated the young Bloggling about the events in Germany that led up to Hitler's rise to power.

"The economy in Germany had gotten so bad," she used to say, "that you needed a wheelbarrow full of money to buy a loaf of bread."

For most of my young life, I thought that that had to be an exaggeration.

My brief time spent in Russia showed me that it was not.

Wheelbarrows were not used, but Russian paper currency sported an insane number of zeroes.

A rock slab in St. Peter's Square that was once the site of beheadings, (when it was known as "Red Square,") is now the Moscow equivalent of a wishing well. Piles of coins accumulate, tossed by tourists and unmolested by the locals. The coins are safe from theft, because, Russian coins, representing single and double digit values in rubles, were worth slightly less than sand.

I purchased some postcards and stamps from the lobby of the hotel I was staying at.

When the woman at the counter gave me a handful of coins of various values amounting to about 90 rubles, in change. I asked, (thinking myself witty...)

"So, what am I supposed to do with these?"

She replied, (read this in your best Natasha Fatale voice...)

"Tyake home to Amyerica as syouvenir."

*End Digression*
So... shit... What was I talking about?

Oh, right!

Fast forward to the year 2000/2001.

Russia suffered an economic disaster, the likes of which wouldn't be seen again, until George W. Bush's 2008 America.

That collapse opened the door to the return of Vladimir Putin and the Capitalist, fascist, tyrannical mess that is today's Russia.

Or, as "The Daily Show" puts it...

Russia's "Conservative Utopia."


I know, I know.

Guns and Christianists.

It's coming.

I promise.

Probably tomorrow night. 

Way To Go, Ohio

"Way to go, Ohio." -- Chrissy Hynde and The Pretenders

Yesterday, the Ohio GOP resurrected Jim Crow.

All hope is not lost for the state of my birth.

Ohio is a decidedly "purple" swing state.

Ohio Dems could still win this battle.

31 years ago today, after 23 years in Ohio, I arrived in Los Angeles, CA.

For 31 years, I have considered myself an Ohio ex-pat.

I love my Ohio family and friends.

But, I don't know my state, anymore.

Today, I proclaim that I am a Californian.

Ohio needs more Kucinich and less Kasich.

And a lot more Matt Lundy.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Random Sh!t: 02/19/14 Edition

Well, yes. It is "Humpday."

It's also the day before your Uncle Blog has to go into work early.

And that means to bed early.

(woot, woot.)

And that means, minimal effort will be put into tonight's post.

It's been a while since The Blog has posted a "Random Shit" edition.

Tonight is as good a night as any to do another one.

So, here we go....

First off, some fun stuff from the Book of Faces...

                                                               Fran Lebowitz nailed it.

                                                                             What if?

                                                        A tea-bagger's pants are on fire.

                                                       And here is the fire extinguisher.

All of my fellow freelancers who have ever worked "on spec" will love this...

Click to embiggen, or...

It's posted here.

The Guardian gets their facts right about 83% of the time.

(I totally pulled that statistic out of my ass.)

As U.K newspapers go, that makes The Guardian England's newspaper of record.

A couple of days ago, The Guardian mistakenly "outed" Patrick Stewart.

Sir Pat responded in the only way he knows how...



The Blog has mentioned, in the past, that as a result of some irresponsible, unprotected intercourse...

(Get your mind out of the gutter and look the word up. )

The PC's email inbox is hopelessly infected with right-wing propaganda.

The disease is still spreading and, a few weeks ago, I began regularly receiving emails from California's most embarrassing Congress-critter...

Rep. Darrel Issa.

Tonight's oozing chancre was extra entertaining.

I won't bore you with the whole thing. It's just the usual, "Government bad, liberals bad, Obama bad, lazy Welfare takers bad," elephant shit.

It was this first paragraph that made The Blog pass moderately priced scotch through his nose.

Rep. Issa's true believers will read that as, "Hey you black, brown and poor white trash takers! Quit your whining and pull yourselves up by your bootstraps. And, you Liberal elites, shut the fuck up!"

But, we know what he really means when he says,"...we don't believe that a person's past defines his or her future."

He means, "Republicans are willing to ignore the fact that I am a convicted car thief and alleged arsonist."

As Dr. Phil would say, "Past actions predict future results."

Finally, a quote of the day....

                                                    From Anais Nin, writer (1903-1977)
 "There are many ways to be free. One of them is to transcend reality by imagination, as I try to do."
Keep on transcending reality, my blogglitts.

Keep on imagining. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Forty Years Ago, Today

With the report of yet another Florida shooting that will likely be defended under the "White Guys Can Shoot Unarmed Black Kids, Just Because" "Stand Your Ground" law, your Uncle PC is putting off his pending "Christianist Gun Nuts" post for, at least, one more night.

Besides, The Blog is still under the influence of "The Lego Movie."

So, everything is still awesome.

                                                                   Best segue ever.

Instead, The blog will mark the 40th anniversary of the release of the first album by KISS.

Your PC loves KISS.

They aren't the greatest rock band, ever.

Musically, they may not even rank in The Blog's top 10.

But, I have rarely missed a KISS concert.

                                                                  Because, seriously.

KISS is everything that a hard rocking nerd loves.

Pyrotechnics. Comic book super hero costumes. Cranium crushing loudness and the occasional pretentious power ballad.

To honor this 40th anniversary, I could post a bunch of YouTube™ videos of past performances.

But, you can find them anywhere.

Instead, I'm going to point you in the direction of where a user named Christopher Armes put together 45 solid minutes of KISS front-man Paul Stanley's trademark stage banter.

If you actually have 45 minutes to listen to the whole thing, you should get out more, more power to you.

Even a diehard fan like The Blog realized, after the first few concerts he attended, that The Starchild's shtick was the weirdest part of a KISS concert. Paul was the original "hype man" before the rappers and DJs and hip-hoppers made it a thing.

And, as time went on, Paul's banter became as familiar and predictable as their playlists.
"I know... You like to take a taste of ALCOHOOOOOOOLLLLLLL!!!!!!" is Paul's very own "Freebird."
Which is especially weird when one understands that Paul and Gene are tea-totalers, whose intolerance for drug and alcohol abuse eventually led to the firing of original bandmates (and notorious substance abusers) Peter Criss and Ace Frehley. 

But, back to the SoundCloud file...

If you can actually make it through the whole thing, you might notice that it starts out funny and kitschy. But, as it goes on, thanks to repetition and the lack of musical context, it seems to devolve into a study of a dark, existential crisis.

But, do not cry for the aging rocker.

Forty years later, the band (in one form or another) is still going strong.

Which is more than you can say for The Beatles.

And the KISS™ brand keeps expanding.

                                                               From miniature golf...

                                                                      To restaurants...

                                            To the Los Angeles area's only football team...

KISS is rocking all the way to the bank.

And we fans love it.

Here's to 40 more years.