Monday, July 31, 2006

Cool science, bad news for germphobes

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Thousands of microbes in one gulp

You know that distinct briny taste you get in your mouth when you go to the beach, or go snorkeling? It's the taste of BACTERIA!!!!

It's in the mail. Keep your fingers crossed.

I just got done with the proposal I've been working on, and sent it off by email as I sealed a printed copy into an envelope to drop in the mail tomorrow morning. It's a proposal to provide training to a fairly large corporation's security officers, and is the biggest proposal I've done yet. Lord, I hope they go for it. Who would've thought, years ago when I was being thrown around like a crash test dummy and sprayed repeatedly with pepper spray to demonstrate its effects, that someday I'd get paid to teach people how to do this stuff?

I'm exhausted just thinking about it.

Monday. Troma Monday.


For some reason I feel disoriented and sluggish this morning. I don't have any big challenges or chores or anything, which is good, but it's almost like the lack of a big project to focus on has left me without direction. Coffee helps.

The focus-group screening of Poultrygeist went great. Without a doubt one of the most offensive things I've ever seen on screen, so I think Troma succeeded. The running time was about 1:49, and they want to cut it down close to 90 minutes, which is a good idea. When you're watching a non-stop series of scenes involving gorging on putrid fried chicken, projectile sh*tting, heads exploding, puking, eyeball-gouging and humans run through meat grinders, I think you want a zippy pace to keep things going.

The screening was held at Crossroads Cinema in Merrillville, Indiana. It was in some decrepit strip mall just off I-65. Who'da thought you'd find some hipster outpost there? But there it was, full of horror fans, punk rockers, pierced and tattooed freaks. My people. Although I smell better--I noticed the definite funk of cellar-dweller mildew and patchouli oil on many of the attendees. The guys who run the theater have their own indy horror movie, Dead at the Box Office. They screened it after Poultrygeist, but we finally had to leave around 11:30 so I could make the drive home safely, with my sad geezerly tiredness and all.

My eldest was radiant. She posed with Lloyd Kaufman and all kinds of fans. Stupid me, I didn't bring a camera, so I'm waiting for pics to show up on the Troma site. When she told Lloyd that her dad was there, he asked if "dad" actually knew what Troma did. She replied "of course, how do you think I found out about Troma?" Lloyd was relieved. I got approached a few times and greeted "hey, there's our newest Tromette's dad!" Ah, vicarious celebrity. Kind of like being the uncle of of an extra in a Warhol film. My girl also got a bidness card from a self-described "Director/Producer" who asked if she was an actress and said his "buddy" was working on a movie and needed a star. I'll be checking his background out reeeeal good before there's any contact there. He doesn't even know it, but he hopes it comes out ok, believe me.

Oh, and my girl also came in 5th place at the Flashback Weekend costume competetition. Waiting for those pics on the website as well.

I still have to work on a proposal and get that out by the end of today.

Time to get off my dead ass and accomplish something.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Jeebus built my hotrod

And we drove it to LAS VEGAS, BABY.

What a weekend

Well, let's see...where to start? First, it's all good. It's been a busy few days.

On Friday my department had a joint training exercise with our fire department: a school shooting/mass casualty exercise. The fire department wanted to test their mass casualty response, and we were practicing rapid deployment tactics to deal with active shooters. Both the girls, and three of their friends, helped out as role players. There were about 25 or 30 role players in all, set up as students, teachers and casualties. The temperature stayed around 94 all day, and parts of the building weren't air conditioned. We got there at 7:30am and left at 3:30. It was a long day, but a good time.

This week was Flashback Weekend in Rosemont, a 3-day horror film festival. Our eldest attended, and guess what? She got me a personalized autographed photo of Adrienne Barbeau!! It's the picture you see here from Escape From New York. And dig it, it's Ernest Borgnine!

We and Miz Bubs, girl dynamo, were out working on the pond Saturday afternoon, when our eldest called from the horror con. She said she had important news: turns out she met Lloyd Kaufman, founder of Troma Entertainment, producer of such screen gems as The Toxic Avenger. My first question for her was "did he make a pass at you?" No. He asked her to be a "Tromette", one of the cuties that he uses to promote movies and show up at Troma events!

It's brilliant business for Kaufman--he basically shows up at conventions, finds good-looking girls who are fans, and gets them to show up and generate publicity at Troma events, all for free. Judging from the Tromettes page, many of them seem to have budding alt-porn careers, but our girl assures us will definitely not be the case with her. Anyway, his new project is Poultrygeist. There's a focus group screening Sunday night in Merrillville, Indiana, and she's going to be there as part of the Troma team to create buzz around the event.

OH OH OH!!! I nearly forgot!

In all this hubbub, MizBubs, hardest working girl in the compound, just landed a full-time job at the library! Her patience paid off, and she starts officially September 5. What a lot of changes, huh?

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Girls Go Wild in Iowa

While driving through eastern Iowa looking for cornfed talent, the Girls Gone Wild tour bus ran over a cyclist. This story in the Iowa Press-Citizen doesn't say much, but they do quote some local ghoul who got plenty of pictures of the victim pinned under the bus:

“I saw the individual lying under the bus’ tire,” he said, adding that the man looked to be in his fifties. “He was not moving — I thought I was taking pictures of a dead man — but I kept taking pictures until my film ran out. I wanted to try to photo document the accident.”

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

'Zombies' arrested in downtown Minneapolis

'Zombies' arrested in downtown Minneapolis

OK, WTF?!? It's official: we now live in a country where you can get arrested for being in a f*cking costume. You'd think that cops in a "progressive" city like Minneapolis (especially any cop under the age of 35) would have some passing awareness of flash mobs, zombie dance parties and the like. For f*ck's sake, bars in Minneapolis are on their second annual zombie pub crawl already! I mean, come on. There have been something like a half dozen big-release zombie movies in the past few years, and zombies are damn near as popular as pirates. If Johnny Depp played a zombie pirate, he'd be more popular than Jesus.

Gimme some SKULL

Skulls Unlimited International

Anybody looking for a Mountain Beaver skull? Or the skull from a Maned Crested Rat? Or the skull from a...human being? Well, look no further than Skulls Unlimited. They even have a whole section on "skull cleaning."

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Give the lady a hand!

This item comes to the compound courtesy of Bawb the Revelator:

Meet Linda Kay.

According to this story in the New Jersey Star-Ledger, cellar-dwelling goth stripper Linda Kay kept an assortment of human skulls in her home, along with a severed human hand in a jar of formaldehyde. The cops were called there to investigate a report of an unknown man threatening to kill himself with a hammer. They didn't find any suicides, but they did find some parts. Linda's roommate claims that one of her fans, a medical student, gave the hand as a gift. We can only assume it was a specimen, and not the result of a Van Gogh style self-mutilation. Linda then named the hand "Freddy."

Here's another article that appeared in the Washington Post, and here's a link to the Smoking Gun article that ran this picture.

I don't know what kind of daddy issues she was trying to work out with the nude dancing and body parts and all, but I could see knocking back a couple glasses of absinthe with her.

Beer: Can globalization work for us?

How the World Works -

This little piece from references an article in the Wall Street Journal (I tried linking to it but those tight bastards at WSJ made the article subscriber-only) about the growing popularity of imported beers.

As much as the retrograde white-trash goon in me loves my PBR, Old Style or Busch, I'll take a real beer with real taste any day. Thankfully, there's plenty of good 'Merican brewers making plenty of good 'Merican beer.

Just go down to a good liquor store (we're blessed by being a few blocks from Binny's Beverage Depot) bring your small child with you, and have them pick you out a beer based on whatever entertaining artwork, costumed historical figure or whimsical creature appears on the packaging. Odds are you'll get some pretty darn fine microbrews that way.

And now, thanks to globalization, you can get Bass Ale, Spaten, Negro Modelo, Dos Equis, Sapporo and everything else at prices way better than you could've gotten years ago.

It's nice to know that in this crazy mixed-up world of ours that some things do get better over time.

What is this place??

The first person to correctly guess where this is wins a 12-pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon and an award-winning recipe for pruno.

*Prize winners must be 21 years of age or older. Prize cannot be shipped, but must be picked up at the compound in person after listening to a lot of my bullshit. May God have mercy on your soul.

Monday, July 24, 2006

It's not a civil war?

The Daily Star - Politics - Iraqi PM rules out civil war despite mounting violence

The Iraqi prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, acknowledged that 100 civilians a day are being killed in Iraq in what the article describes as "mounting sectarian violence." He then asserts that "civil war will not happen in Iraq."

What? Dude, it's happening now. I mean, how many deaths does it take before "sectarian violence" becomes "civil war"?

I thought of the number of deaths and their impact on Iraqi civil life:

Population of Iraq: 26,783,383 (source is the CIA Factbook)

100 deaths per day=
3000 deaths per month=
36,000 deaths per year

I think that the number of deaths per year represents approximately .001 of the total Iraqi population. (Feel free to check my work, math people, and make any corrections.)

If the level of violence currently afflicting Iraq was occurring in the United States, at a proportionate rate, here's a rough idea what it would look like:

Population of United States: 298,444,215 (source is the CIA Factbook)

829 deaths per day=
24,870 deaths per month=
298,444 deaths per year

For a point of reference, the FBI reported 16,137 murders in the United States in 2004. As another point of reference, remember the panic during the Belway Sniper killings in 2002? The Washington DC area was thrown into a panic when 10 people got killed during a 3-week time frame.

Can you begin to imagine what life is like in a country facing this level of violence? Iraq has now become so mind-bogglingly horrible that it's hit the realm where the normal American mind shuts it off--it becomes steady background noise from yet another third world hellhole, too awful to stop and truly contemplate.

Thinking about cremation

An email list I'm on has recently been talking about cremation, after a member posted this piece from the NY Times.

As for cremation, I'm all for it. The main question for me is, scattering or planting? After visiting cool cemeteries in New Orleans, rural Iowa and Key West, the idea of having a tombstone somewhere has a lot of appeal. I like the idea that some stranger, years in the future, will stand at that spot and say "I wonder what that guy was like?" On the other hand, I love the idea of having my ashes scattered into the Ohio river near Louisville, to make the glorious journey down the Mississippi, through my beloved New Orleans, into the Gulf and on out into the whole wide world.

How's this: Burial at Sea

They'll even pack your cremains into fireworks and shoot you off a barge while your family watches from shore, or from another boat.

It's all ok with me:

"...for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return." --Genesis 3:19

Just don't ever, EVER stuff me into a huggable urn. As God is my witness, I'll haunt you to death.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Let me tell you my bad beat story...

Nah, I respect my readers too much to subject you to poker whining. When I lost today it wasn't a bad beat, it just was what it was: 888 beaten by an ace high flush, after the entire board came up spades and the guy who tried to run a bluff on me had the ace of spades.

I played in a little charity poker tournament this afternoon, sponsored by the Palatine Park District and run by Rockford Charitable Games. They run poker games for various charities around the Chicago area. It was a good time, and I got to try out some of the stuff I've been reading about in Championship No Limit & Pot Limit Hold Em by Tom McEvoy and TJ Cloutier. My poker experience has been limited (pun intended) to limit poker a few times at Las Vegas casinos and twice at local riverboats.

The tournament was a blast. I got the feeling I'd stumbled into kind of a subculture; lots of players seemed to know each other, and the dealers, from other "charity" events. There were unlimited re-buys, which meant that some really bad players stayed in longer than they should have. Almost half the people at my table re-bought during the first few rounds when they ran out of money. Here were the players I made note of at my table:

30-something suburban guy: called too much
30-something suburban guy's buddy: did better but still busted out
affable black gangsta: reckless bets and calling put him out
crafty older middle age guy (was still at the table when I busted out)
talkative boozed-up black street guy: re-bought several times and then busted out in a spectacular way after nodding off at the table. I was glad he sat to my right.
internet boy #2 (looked sharp but wasn't as good as he clearly thought he was)
affable fat white guy taking a day away from riverboat casinos
internet boy #1 (complete with iPod and aviator sunglasses, busted out on a bluff)
shaky but decent retired white guy (still at the table when I busted out)

There were 12 of us at the table, but the above characters are the only ones I remember. As guys busted, other players got plugged into their empty seats. The tournament was notable for its lack of women--I only saw 5 or 6 out of 140+ players. The most noticeable demographic groups were:

-dyspeptic older affluent white guys
-internet boys (also internet/world poker tour boys) notable for their headsets and baseball caps and televsised-poker style outbursts
-gangstas (mostly Latino and Asian, with a few brothas thrown in)
-doughy middle-age suburban guys living a fantasy (sadly, I might fall into this last category)

Overall, it was a good time. I was there nearly 3 hours before I busted out, and I at least I had the satifsaction of knowing I didn't go out on a bad play. It's a game of skill and luck.

Our garage door gets replaced this week, and the porch guys should be coming soon. I got some training business stuff in the works too, and it's shaping up that late July and August are going to be zany times at the compound.

Hope y'all had a good weekend.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Just what you've always wanted.

I was looking at the visitor stats on Site Meter (that little icon at the bottom of the page) and I remarked to MizBubs that so far there have been 1,012 visits to the compound, and 2,552 people have at least poked their head in past the corrugated tin fence.

Proudly I turned to her and said "you realize what this means? I now get to spout off to an audience of thousands!"

She gave me that gentle, reassuring pat on the shoulder and said "just what you've always wanted."

Now it's time to go refill the propane tank and cook some pig meat.

Time to get Kinky

Kinky Friedman, that is. After the last week of embarrassing antics from our nation's most famous Texan (see previous post) I needed some welcome news from the Lone Star State. And I think I have it.

Kinky Friedman (cigar lover, mystery writer and former lead singer of The Texas Jewboys) is running for governor of Texas. Visit his official campaign website and you can buy a tee shirt, read Kinky's stands on the issues, or get a talking Kinky action figure.

Originally dismissed as a joke, he gathered 137,154 signatures to get on the ballot--way more than the 45,540 needed to, according to the Washington Post.

Why the hell not?

Friday, July 21, 2006

What's the deal with President Bush?

Is our president drinking?

Normally this isn't a subject I give much thought to. Ever since the post 9/11 pretzel-choking-while-watching-football-with-only-the-dog incident I've just assumed that the POTUS gets well into his cups from time to time. A few days ago, however a friend sent me a photo of Bush and Putin at a formal dinner.

OK, maybe it's jet lag. We all know the president is an early-rising, workout-obsessed person. It's not like he's used to staying up late at night reading a good book.

But then the other incidents at the G-8:

Yo, Blair! The POTUS summons his best bud at the summit, Tony Blair, by calling out "Yo Blair" and then talks to him with a mouth full of dinner roll. CLASSY!

The Bush-Merkel neck rub. Yes, the POTUS sneaks up behind German Chancellor Angela Merkel and playfully squeezes the back of her neck and shoulders. You can see the film of it here.

Also, while in Germany, a little German baby obviously didn't get the script and it made for an amusing photo op. Maybe the kid could smell the schnapps and was afraid the POTUS was about to burst into flames.

Finally, once Bush was back in the US, and hopefully got some sleep, he went to address the NAACP conference. And promptly slapped a black man.

They say alcohol loosens inhibitions. Maybe it's not booze. Maybe he's just got a bad case of grab-ass.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

It’s My Funeral and I’ll Serve Ice Cream if I Want To

It’s My Funeral and I’ll Serve Ice Cream if I Want To - New York Times

What's inside a girl?

The King of Siam sent a telegram, saying a-wop-bop-a-loo-a-bop-a-lop-boom-bam...

The way I walk

Is just the way I walk...

The way I talk is just the way I talk...

Me and MizBubs watched The Cramps: Live at Napa State Mental Hospital last night when I got home from work. It was shot in 1978 at a mental hospital in California. The, uh, patients are right up there with the Cramps, in the words of James Brown: moving, grooving, doing it, you know? It's a short flick, and worth checking out. You wonder what kind of dope-smoking mental health worker thought this would be a good idea:

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

R.I.P. Mickey Spillane

And here's a link to an article in the Hollywood Reporter. Ironic, given that Spillane didn't like Hollywood and refused to live there.

I know I'm going to miss prose like this:

"I snapped the side of the rod across his jaw and laid the flesh open to the bone..." "I pounded his teeth back into his mouth with the end of the barrel ... and I took my own damn time about kicking him in the face. He smashed into the door and lay there bubbling. So I kicked him again, and he stopped bubbling." -The Big Kill

You can see more examples of the dames and trenchcoats that graced the covers of Mickey Spillane paperbacks here.

I think I'm going to have to go put Kiss Me Deadly on my Netflix queue.

I am reading and listening

I'm reading Breach of Faith: Hurricane Katrina and the Near Death of an American City by Jed Horne. He's the metro editor of the New Orleans Times-Picayune. It's the first of the Katrina-related books that have been circulated at our library--thanks to my clout there (through MizBubs) I'm the first patron to get it. You can listen to an interview with the author here. I'm about 60 pages in and I've only cried once.

Thanks to my youngest, very cool daughter, I'm listening to Educated Horses by Rob Zombie. I like it better than his more techno-sounding stuff from a few years ago. What's not to love about somebody who loves horror movies, white trash, carnivals and strippers?

Faster Pussycat, Kill, Kill

OK, I'm not ashamed to admit it: I've been up late drinking bourbon and goofing around YouTube. There are worse things.

I have no idea what this means...

Japanese animation, dubbed in German. And there's a penguin.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Huggable Urns

Just what I said: huggable urns. An urn, filled with your loved one's cremains, shaped like cute little stuffed animals or pillows embroidered "hold me." I am not making this up.

Here's the opening of a story from the Detroit Free Press:

Wherever she goes -- to a restaurant, to visit family and friends, or to court where her husband faces a murder trial in August -- Lori Lemons takes her dead daughter with her.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Rat Terriers & Nude Sunbathers in the News!

Man Sues Over Naked Beach Beef - July 13, 2006

It's difficult to believe someone who'd file a suit like this would be narcissistic enough to have been a bodybuilder.

Weekends are the time for cartoons!

ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive Project Blog: Filmography: You're Driving Me Crazy (1931)

Another link to the International Animated Film Society. God bless those guys, I'm going to send them some money. And if you ever sat around in college getting high to old Max Fleischer cartoons, you better send them money too.

Thugs beat teen with pal's leg

Most normal people don't understand the extremes of human behavior as well as cops do, in my opinion. For instance, I'm not particularly shocked by a story about a group of thugs who get out of a car, steal an amputee's prosthetic leg, and then beat his friend with it.

It's like I always say: if people only did things that made sense, I'd be out of a job.

Sunday morning coffee

Oh golly, it's hot today. I love it. I especially love it while I'm sitting here in a bathrobe, in the cool dark air-conditioned house while everyone else is still asleep, drinking my coffee. I'm going to love it even more though, once I'm outside in it. I'm becoming lizard-like in my middle age, transmogrifying from lounge-lizard to swamp lizard I think. Not that the two are mutually exclusive.

What a wild couple of days it's been. Some friends from Ireland visited with us overnight after landing at O'Hare airport. They had their newly wed son and daughter-in-law with them, and the DIL's father came down from Minnesota to meet them at the airport. All five of them stayed with us overnight, while the girls stayed with grandma to make room. All lovely people, and we had a grand time. The husband works for the Duchas, the Irish heritage service--the equivalent of our National Park Service. What I thought was going to be a simple night out on the town with a few friends, however, got hijacked into a full-blown sister cities event, and I ended up having to arrange a casual dinner for 22 people, including the mayor, village manager and some trustees. Not how I really wanted to spend my Friday night.

The good thing is that after dinner, only a few of us continued on to Rosa's Lounge. Our Irish friends loved it, and it was a lot less college/touristy than some of the other northside blues clubs. Rosa's was great--great sightlines, great sound, and Carlos Johnson was cool and funky.

Saturday morning came sunny and warm and beautiful. MizBubs made a delicious blueberry coffee cake--the best coffee cake I've ever had in my life--and we had fresh cantaloupe, cherries and blueberries. Then, at 8:55am CST, we went into action: time to buy tickets for Tom Waits!
Manda worked the phone--unsuccessfully as it turned out, getting about 20 busy signals in the time it took for me to get through on the computer. Ticket sales were limited to 2 per person, and they checked for duplicate orders, so we used separate credit cards and mailing addresses. Bottom line, we gots us 4 tickets in the first balcony for August 9 at the Auditorium Theater!

Our visitors departed around 11am, and then we took off for Kalamazoo. The guy I bought the canoe from was really nice, and of course, a brainiac. He's built some canoes from a form (he sold his form last year) and we got to see examples of his work. He started a biotech firm with some friends a while ago, so his time is limited now. We fastened the canoe to the roof and made the drive home in under 3 hours. Now I have this beautiful canoe skeleton on my back porch, waiting to be resurrected.

By the way, it's the one year anniversary of the release of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Tim Burton. My youngest watched the DVD again last night while I worked on MizBubs' resume, and I'm listening to the soundtrack now. Ooompa loompa.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Time to hit the road

And drive to Kalamazoo to pick up the little canoe that could. Our friends from Ireland just departed for Hayward, Wisconsin and parts north. We did the smart thing and left Rosa's lounge just after midnight, but in hindsight we probably could've skipped the last couple of nightcaps once we got home. Good times, though, and our deck made a great setting for coffee this morning.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Baghdad starts to collapse as its people flee a life of death

How's that for a headline? And it's not from some left wing rag, it's from the Times UK online.

Remember lines like this from the Bush administration (courtesy of Stupid Iraq War Quotes)

"My belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators." –Vice President Dick Cheney, "Meet the Press," March 16, 2003 (Source)

"My answer is bring 'em on." —President George W. Bush, challenging militants attacking U.S. forces in Iraq, July 2, 2003 (Source)

"I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency." --Vice President Dick Cheney, on the Iraq insurgency, June 20, 2005 (Source)

"Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed." –President Bush, standing under a "Mission Accomplished" banner on the USS Lincoln aircraft carrier, May 2, 2003 (Source)

Now, compare that happy-talk bullshit with what the Times reporter says:

Hundreds — Sunni and Shia — are abandoning their homes. My driver said all his neighbours had now fled, their abandoned houses bullet-pocked and locked up. On a nearby mosque, competing Sunni and Shiite graffiti had been scrawled on the walls.

A senior nurse at Yarmouk hospital on the fringes of west Baghdad’s war zone said that he was close to being overwhelmed. “On Tuesday we received 35 bodies in one day, 16 from Al-Furat district alone. All of them were killed execution-style,” he said. “I thought it was the end of the city. I packed my bags at once and got ready to leave because they could storm the hospital at any moment.”

In just 24 hours before noon yesterday, as parliament convened for another emergency session, 87 bodies were brought to Baghdad city morgue, 63 of them unidentified. Since Sunday’s massacre in Jihad, more than 160 people have been killed, making a total of at least 1,600 since Iraq’s Government of national unity came to power six weeks ago. Another 2,500 have been wounded...

More recently, he announced a national reconciliation plan, which promised an amnesty to Sunni insurgents and the disbandment of Shia militias. Both initiatives are now in tatters.

“The country is sliding fast towards civil war,” Ali Adib, a Shia MP, told the Iraqi parliament this week. “Security has deteriorated in a serious and unprecedented way,” said Saadi Barzanji, a Kurdish MP.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Flesh-eating dog update

Cosita the flesh-eating terrier (who was found literally licking the flesh off her 91-year old companion, who died a few days later) has been renamed "Sonny" and adopted out.

Hopefully Sonny's new owner won't try getting the dog to lick peanut butter off his toes. Because now the dog has the taste for human skin and blood.


This story courtesy of my sister-in-law (River Rat):

A wallaroo is missing in Bismark, frightened away from his home by a new puppy.

We're supposed to feel sorry for this marsupial because it got scared by a puppy? Hah! Wallaroos hate us just like all the rest of nature, and when given a chance they'll attack in a frenzy of kicking and clawing.

Residents of Bismark had better arm themselves with hammers and 9mm pistols as long as this wallaroo is on the loose. "This animal could look you eye to eye," said wildlife officer Lenny Barshinger. "They're very powerful animals for their size. They have formidable claws on their hands."

Thinking about tools

Yep. What with canoe restoration in my future and all, I been thinking about tools lately. Now, I know some a you skeptics out there might be saying hey--where exactly does one use the No. 4P Heavy-Duty Geared Pipe Threader in the restoration of a wood & canvas canoe? And my answer to you is, who cares?

I found this cool pinup on the International Animated Film Society site. They have a whole page of pics from pinup artist George Petty's Ridgid Tool calendars from the 50's.


Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Animal attack news

It's been a while since I've had any good animal stories on here. Let's try and make up for lost time:

A companion dog for an elderly woman is found eating flesh off of her arm. The old woman died later, and an unnamed investigator says the dog was probably "just trying to be sociable."

A missing Crocodile Monitor lizard is roaming the subdivisions of St Louis.

A pair of kill-crazy swans go on a rampage in England.

Elderly Californians are terrorized by mountain lions.

ALLIGATOR ATTACK! Dog gets dragged into canal, leaving "only bubbles."

Bear 1, golfer 0.

Watch the skies! When seagulls attack.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

R.I.P. Syd Barret

Pink Floyd founder Syd Barret has died at the age of 60.

The Laughing Heart

your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is a light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you chances.
know them.
take them.
you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
in you.

-The Laughing Heart; Charles Bukowski

Some people are just crooked

The Case of the Unpaid Parking Ticket - Why some people cheat, and others don't. By Tim Harford

Monday, July 10, 2006

A Brief History of the Bikini - How the tiny swimsuit conquered America. By Julia Turner

A Brief History of the Bikini - How the tiny swimsuit conquered America. By Julia Turner

Read it for the commentary. No, seriously, the slideshow is just an afterthought.

Available Emblems of Belief for Placement on Government Headstones and Markers - Burial & Memorials

Available Emblems of Belief for Placement on Government Headstones and Markers - Burial & Memorials

Click on the above link and check out all the different "Emblems of Belief" available for headstones and markers. I'm a Christian, but I'd be mighty tempted to get that cool retro-atomic atheist symbol for my grave.

Wiccan war hero gets no pentacle on his grave

Evidently, in the eyes of the United States government, some religions are more equal than others. Here's an excerpt from this article in the Washington Post:

At the Veterans Memorial Cemetery in the small town of Fernley, Nev., there is a wall of brass plaques for local heroes. But one space is blank. There is no memorial for Sgt. Patrick D. Stewart.

That's because Stewart was a Wiccan, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has refused to allow a symbol of the Wicca religion -- a five-pointed star within a circle, called a pentacle -- to be inscribed on U.S. military memorials or grave markers.

Life just got easier

My court appearance this morning didn't amount to much. The defendants asked for a continuance, and the trial is postponed until September. YAY! That means that my week now is a lot less hectic, I'll get more sleep, and I'll still have the opportunity for big overtime $$ in September because I'll be working nights again.

So, I took advantage of the extra time this morning to apply for and receive a federal tax ID number for my training business. Hopefully I'll need it as the year goes on.

One thing I really like is getting packages in the mail. Gots no idea why, really, I just love it. And today, I got TWO packages! My honor guard sword (HAHAHAHAHA, I'M DRUNK WITH POWER) and this nifty carry-on bag from Campmor. MizBubs and I are going to try travelling lighter on our next trip to Las Vegas, and this carry-on bag (along with a tri-fold garment bag that's on it's way from is part of the plan. Did I mention that I really like packing? And organizing, and luggage? Each duffel bag, garment bag, backpack or suitcase is a reminder of some adventure, and represents all the places it's been, as well as all the places it's ever going to go.

My eldest reminded me that we need to buy tickets for Flashback Weekend, which is coming up later this month. She's waiting to find out if she'll be working the festival, helping to promote Hot Rod Zombies From Hell--the low-budget movie she got a small part in.

OK...enough relaxing. Time to get off my ass and get something done.

Monday morning coffee

I like the house in the morning like this, when it's quiet and cool.

It's shaping up to be another busy week here at the compound. First, I have a subpoena effective today through Friday, for a jury trial that's scheduled to begin this morning. The trial stems from a residential burglary in December 2004; one of my detectives, while on a surveillance, spotted a known burglary crew and followed them to a score in a neighboring town. There was a foot chase, and once they got a warrant to get into the bad guys' work car they found proceeds from another burglary that had just happened in our town. I got called in around 10:30pm to assist with the evidence work. Cold night, about 15-20 degrees with 20-30 mph winds. Coldest outdoor scene I've worked. Anyway, the lab matched the cuts on the alarm wires to a wire cutter found in the crew's work bag, and there was some good footwear impressions too. We'll see how the trial goes.

I'm waiting to hear from the canoe guy in Michigan. We're tentatively set to go up there on Saturday the 15th to pick up the canoe, and I'm waiting for directions and payment instructions. I found the canoe books (this one, this one and this one) and I remembered (I think) that they weren't actually gifts--If I recall correctly they were loaned to me and left here. Time to place an order I think.

Finally, we have friends from Ireland arriving Friday. They're only staying one night, and then going up to Minneapolis to visit family there. We're going to take them to Kingston Mines to hear some blues that night, and then send them off with a hearty breakfast Saturday morning.

Gotta go.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Barney, we hardly knew ye

Mixed feelings here at the compound right now. This afternoon we gave up our blue front Amazon parrot, Barney. We've had him nearly 4 years, and while he's been adorable as heck at times, and a lot of zany fun, he's also turned even more cranky and unpredictable over the past few months. Back in March he bit MizBubs, badly, right in the face, leaving a scar on her forehead that's just going away now.

We adopted Barney from a shelter called Refuge for Saving Wildlife. MizBubs and the girls used to volunteer there, and when Barney came in we agreed to keep him as foster parents until he could be placed. I kind of fell in love with him and talked Miz into adopting him. Oops. His aggressive behavior improved for a long time--not that he was ever cuddly, it's not in the nature of most Amazons--but after seeing my bride stunned and bleeding from a face wound, enough was enough. RSW said they didn't have room to take him back, but they eventually connected us with an outfit in Wisconsin, the Center for Avian Rehabilitation and Education.

Barney seemed to really enjoy himself meeting the people there, and the birds. He was fascinated by a big-ass Macaw that came in, and was allowing himself to be passed around by various staff. Maybe he turned mean because he was just sick of our bullshit. Who knows...

I do know that I'm relieved, but just a little saddened, to no longer have a screeching, cackling parrot to provide deranged background noise for our everyday life.

The little canoe that could

We have a canoe!

An unfinished 17 foot Old Town wood and canvas canoe, waiting to be
-paid for
-picked up from Michigan, and
-repaired and restored

This means I have to re-read those canoe building books like NOW, and clean out our garage.

Here it is, the beginning of a new adventure:

Friday, July 07, 2006

It's a disease

"Oh've got the disease now."
--Statement from one of my coworkers after I purchased a WASR-10, a Romanian AK-47 knockoff.

The arsenal has topped off now at 6 guns:

-S&W Model 66 .357 revolver (my first gun, and now MizBubs' home defense weapon)
-Glock Model 21 .45 semiauto (my first semi-auto, carried it on duty for 10 years)
-Glock Model 26 (my off-duty gun, it replaced a .38 snub)
-Winchester Model 12 shotgun (made in 1949, a gift from one of my brothers-in-law)
-WASR10 7.62x39 rifle (my first scary-looking assault weapon, when I asked MizBubs about buying it, and she heard the great price, she was like "well, yeah, go ahead, you've always wanted one haven't you?)
-Remington 870 shotgun (another great deal, and it's got an interchangeable barrel so I can modify it easily for deer hunting)

Each one of these weapons has some backstory, special meaning or purpose. I joke about how I have enough guns to fit out the entire family as a CQB fire team, but seriously, we're not quite there yet.

But, as much as I LOVE gun talk, that's not the disease I'm talking about today. Today I'm talking about the disease of repair & restoration projects. And canoes.

Some of the very best times I've ever had in my life have involved camping and canoeing, and especially a couple of canoe trips we've taken with my father-in-law: one on the Kickapoo River in Wisconsin, and one in the Boundary Waters in Minnesota. We left for our Kickapoo trip the morning of September 11, 2001, listening to the events unfold on the radio, and then didn't hear anything else about what had happened until the morning of the 13th.

While I've got literally hundreds of wonderful memories of camping trips with MizBubs' family--from laid back outings at Finally Farm to crawling through cave mud at Maquoketa Caves to hanging around a cabin in Minnesota--any trip that involves time in a canoe stands out.

We came close a few years ago to buying a form to make our own wood and canvas canoes, but a change in fortunes stopped us from going ahead.

We've got some decent places to canoe around here, nothing spectacular, but enough that I'm always vaguely on the lookout for a decent used canoe. Well, there I was wasting time on eBay and I found this 17' Old Town canoe. Up until that moment I'd been looking at cheap Royalex and aluminum canoes that were being auctioned here in Illinois. But the moment I saw that husk of a wood canoe, I felt the fever. That monomaniacal oh yeah we can put on a show in the barn how hard could it be delusional fever. Any of my family members reading this will know exactly what I'm talking about.

I have two books on wood & canvas canoe building that were a gift from my father-in-law years ago. I'm digging them out now to prepare. I've made sudden frantic calls and emails to other in-laws to secure garage or barn space to work on this thing, if I get it. I'm attending the Cubs-Brewers game in Milwaukee tonight (an FOP outing, and I'm not even sure why I'm going) so I won't be home when the bidding on this skeletal beauty ends. MizBubs, as she has for so many years in this marriage, is going to do my bidding. Only this time for good, not evil.

I'm not sure if I'm more scared of not getting this canoe, or of getting it and having to deal with the reality of restoring and finishing a workable canoe, something I, in all honesty, have no f*cking idea how to do beyond having read a book on the subject. Clearly the guy selling this ran out of time, patience, space money or whatever needed to finish this thing. I don't want to be that guy myself, re-selling a partially finished canoe in two years. Then again, plenty of my grandiose schemes have worked out quite well.

So we'll see how this goes.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

The right vibes to regrow teeth

New Scientist Tech - Technology - The right vibes to regrow teeth

Scientists at the University of Alberta, Canada, have come up with a device that they believe may help re-grow damaged teef.

Legions of hockey and rugby players rejoice.

Support the magnetic ribbon industry!

Folk Songs of the Far Right Wing

Folk Songs of the Far Right Wing

Lady Liberty Trades in Some Trappings

I found this NY Times story courtesy of a poster on DailyKos. The diary entry is titled First Time Diarist: It Can't Happen Here. The pastor of the church that put up this monstrosity has also written that Hurricane Katrina was punishment for New Orleans' embrace of sin.

The statue cost $260,000. Says the pastor: "I personally feel that the answer for the poor is Jesus Christ."

Why not Liberty holding up a big dollar sign, or a 200-foot tall Buddy Christ?

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Bush, Las Vegas, conspiracies and sex: midweek freaks

One thing I love about the online world is the tendency to run across information that is just plain freakish. You know certain items will always get coverage, like former porn stars running for public office. Be forewarned, there's some bizarre reading ahead if you follow the links.

This whole strange journey started with Wonkette, who has given an enthusiastic endorsement of Melody "Mimi Miyagi" Damayo for governor of Nevada. Yes, Melody Damayo, formerly known as adult film star Mimi Miyagi, is running for governor of Nevada. AS A REPUBLICAN. In addition to her starring roles in such films as "Seoul Train," "Screaming Mimi" and "Asian Invasions" she's also an entrepreneur in the best GOP tradition, publishing such multicultural awareness magazines as "Oriental Dolls" and "Asian Hotties."

I don't know if it's the radioactive waste, or the 24-hour availability of cocktails and gambling, or what, but Nevada has some interesting candidates this year. Like Leola McConnell, liberal Democratic candidate for governor. Leola McConnell identifies herself as a former dominatrix, and claims that from 1998 until 2003 she was William "Book of Virtues" Bennett's personal domina. Looks like she tried to get Virtue Czar Bill to get counselling for his gambling addiction, but to no avail. He evidently thought it wasn't anything a good spanking couldn't take care of.

On June 4, 2006, McConnell issued a press release and made this shocking claim: In 1984 I watched George W. Bush enthusiastically and expertly perform a homosexual act on another man, one Victor Ashe. YOW!!!!

This made me think of Jeff Gannon/James Guckert. Remember him? He was an ex-prostitute and right wing "journalist" who managed to get into White House press briefings using fake credentials so he could lob softball questions to Scott McClellan or the POTUS. The MSM totally dropped the ball on this one; can you imagine the outrage had a gay hooker/fake journalist been discovered making multiple visits to the Clinton White House? On days where there were no briefings scheduled? With Secret Service logs showing that he checked in and didn't check out, or vice-versa, indicating that the gay hooker/fake journalist could have spent the night at the White House?!?!

The mind reels.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Understanding the meaning of freedom

George Lakoff has an excellent editorial in the Boston Globe. Here's an excerpt:

President Bush, in his second inaugural address, used ``freedom," ``free," and ``liberty" 49 times in 20 minutes. ``Liberty" has become the watchword of the radical right. The right has taken over the use of these words as part of its appropriation of patriotism.

Progressives must reclaim not merely the words ``freedom" and ``liberty," but the ideas that made this a free country. To lose freedom is awful; to lose the idea of freedom would be worse.

George Lakoff is the author of an excellent book titled Don't Think of An Elephant: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate.

My final Fourth of July gift to you. I hope it makes up for Liberace's hairy legs.

4th of July: Parting Wish

Here's hoping that everyone had as good a 4th of July celebration as our friend Liberace obviously had back in 1976:

The Declaration of Independence & The American Dream

I saw this featured on Here's an excerpt from a commencement address given by Greil Marcus:

"Pettit called the Declaration of Independence a lie," Lincoln said in Peoria in 1854, answering a speech by Stephen Douglas. "If it had been said in old Independence Hall 78 years ago, the doorkeeper would have thrown him into the street." ...

There's a way in which you can see every American story as a version of the
Declaration of Independence: every story an attempt to make it true, or prove it
a lie. In 1941, Henry Luce called the 20th century "the American century"; he
meant this was the century when America became a colossus from which the rest of
the world would have to step back, trembling with awe.

But if that American century was truly American, you can almost see Lincoln reminding us -- or, if not Lincoln, the doorkeeper at Independence Hall -- then the story of the
American century is the story of all sorts of previously excluded, marginalized,
scorned, despised, ignored or enslaved people -- laborers, women, African-Americans, Asian Americans, Jews, Latinos, gay men and women -- entering into full citizenship and full participation in national life. If not full citizenship, a more complete citizenship than even Lincoln or the doorkeeper could in fact have imagined -- as, again and again, decade after decade, those echoing words of the Declaration of Independence sounded as if for the first time.

It can be easy to forget this, when people on both the left and the
right tell the story of the country as if it were a story of power, not speech
-- a story of the movements of money and armies, not the acts of men and women,
acting alone or together."

Happy Independence Day

Happy Independence Day everyone! Here's a document that's worth reading again. And guess what? One of MizBubs' ancestors, Abraham Clark, was a signer!

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

hen in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred. to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

— John Hancock

New Hampshire:Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

Massachusetts:John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Connecticut:Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York:William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey:Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Pennsylvania:Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer,
James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Delaware:Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Maryland:Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

Virginia:George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina:William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina:Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton
Georgia:Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

Sunday, July 02, 2006

The party's over...

But it was a gooood party. No fires, no injuries, no obnoxious drunken host wearing a fez. Just good times all around.

It was amazing how mellow everyone was. We ended up with nearly 3 cases of beer left over (although the 5 gallons of "Shingle Stain" tiki drink got totally consumed) and most folks left between 10-11 pm. As always, some of the best part of the party is the last hour or two where just a handful of people end up hanging out and talking. After running around checking on food and drinks and introducing people all night, that's a welcome respite.

What a wonderful feeling it was, looking out over the yard and seeing dozens of people having a good time. We've truly been blessed with good family and good friends. I did a head count this afternoon and found that we entertained 31 adults and 12 kids. We had a bunch of new friends that came to one of our parties for the first time, and that's after they've seen me singing karaoke Tom Jones! Lovely people.

The house and yard cleaned up pretty good--MizBubs' sister and her husband are really, really wonderful at getting all those bottlecaps and peeled-off beer bottle labels off your porch and lawn, call me if you need them at your next function. The sad thing was, I barely got to talk to them. I had to drag my ass off to work at 7am to practice marching up and down the square in preparation for the 4th of July parade. Did I mention that I'm part of my department's newly-formed honor guard? Oh, yes I am. And I gotta tell you, I look damn good in a uniform. Oh yes I do. I'm about to order my sword from eBay as we speak; you see, sergeants give the commands using a sword like in the USMC drill manual. I'm drunk with power just thinking about it.

Just before I sat down to write this, I finished putting together another training proposal, this time for a local hospital. They're looking for training for their security staff. A coworker came up with this lead, and it looks good right now, knock wood. This has been a good year so far for training corporate security people. I gotta tell you, typing up a proposal while you're sitting in your bathrobe sipping a bourbon, while your kids watch Howl's Moving Castle in the next room, just totally beats the crap out of being in an office doing the same thing in a suit and tie.

I am so looking forward to sleeping in tomorrow. Good night.

Memphians weigh in on Bush/Koizumi visit to Graceland

"Anyone who idolizes a zombie dope fiend is going to burn in hell."
--James Denson, also 78, whose mother was Elvis' mother Gladys' good friend