Welcome to Buster's Blog

Irregular commentary on whatever's on my mind -- politics, sports, current events, and life in general. After twenty years of writing business and community newsletters, fifteen years of fantasy baseball newsletters, and two years of email "columns", this is, I suppose, the inevitable result: the awful conceit that someone might actually care to read what I have to say. Posts may be added often, rarely, or never again. As always, my mood and motivation are unpredictable.

Buster Gammons

Monday, August 23, 2010

Rock or Rocking Chair?

Back in the mid-1970's, during the most misspent portion of my misspent youth, I attended several all-day rock & roll shows at the old Cleveland Municipal Stadium. These Belkin Bros. productions were called "The World Series of Rock" and all the big names of the day were eager to play this sort of mini-Woodstock venue. At one time or another in that cavernous old ballpark I saw Crosby Stills Nash & Young, Eric Clapton, Santana, Emerson Lake & Palmer, Rod Stewart, Todd Rundgren, Uriah Heep, Aerosmith, Edgar Winter, and I'm sure many others that have since faded from memory.

One band I saw up there twice was Blue Oyster Cult. They were never the headliner, but they were at the time one of the stalwart FM radio groups, with hits like Burnin' For You, Godzilla, and Don't Fear The Reaper (which we always sang as "Don't fear the reefer"). Definitely a great arena-rock band.

So it's with a combination of sadness and amusement that I note that the BOC, former rock gods, will stage a free-admission show this upcoming Saturday afternoon at the Obetz Zucchini Festival. I shit you not. Zucchini. Obetz. Free.

To preserve my rose-colored memories, I plan on not being there.

Advice For Bryce Harper

Bryce Harper is a 17 year old can't-miss stud of a baseball player. He quit high school after his sophomore year and quickly earned his GED, which allowed him to enter this spring's amateur draft. The Washington Nationals took him with the #1 overall pick and Harper just signed a 5 year, $9.9 million contract. Not bad for age 17 (or any other age, for that matter). I look forward to seeing him play in the near future.

I'm reminded of the classic baseball comedy film Major League -- the part where, in spring training, the manager addresses "Wild Thing" Charlie Sheen and says, "Son, this is the major leagues. At this level, we wear caps and sleeves."

Here's the same advice, updated for Bryce Harper: "Son, this ain't a Kiss concert, it's the major leagues. And unless you'd like Roy Halladay to rearrange your ribcage for you, I'd suggest you wipe that fuckin' black shit off your face!"

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Moronic Advertising, Part 2

As if BP hasn't done enough already, they persist in insulting our intelligence with a self-serving ad campaign which tells us how wonderful BP is for cleaning up their own fucking mess! These spots feature feature good-old-boy BP employees with Cajun accents admitting they'll never capture "all the all" (that's "all the oil"), but nevertheless congratulating themselves for their Herculean efforts with all their planes and boom and boats skimming "oil-water mixture".

Each ad also includes the phrase, "BP has taken full responsibility for the clean-up, and that includes keeping you informed." Puh-leeze! Informing me has nothing to do with the clean-up job. It'd be a hell of a lot more responsible if BP would quit spending multi-millions on this masturbatory PR campaign, shut the fuck up, and just get to work!

Another unrelated and unhappy BP thought: It's great that the well is finally capped. Far, far less oil is visible on the surface of the water. But out of sight should not be out of mind. This thing barfed unholy quantities of toxic crap for three months! Against the EPA's wishes, BP sprayed copious amounts of another toxic substance all over the surface oil. This product, known as Corexit (industry nickname "Hides-it"), doesn't make oil go away. It disperses it, i.e. breaks it down into little balls and makes it sink. It's still there, as is all the oil which never made it to the surface . . . initially. Today, oil still washes ashore in the Prudhoe Bay from the Exxon Valdez spill. BP's Deepwater Horizon catastrophe is the Exxon Valdez to a factor of ten.

Moronic Advertising

Yes, I know this one is obvious and too easy. Because after all, if you're looking for stupid shit, you can't find a more target-rich environment than advertising. But anyway, this spot's been running the past couple summers, and it annoys me. It's from the convenience store chain UDF, and it features a milk shake and an ice cream cone having a conversation. (See? We've already crossed the threshhold of dumb. And it gets worse.) At one point, the milk shake explains that it has been "designed to taste thicker and colder". Surely I'm not the only one who knows that "thick" and "cold" are not freakin' flavors! Jeez!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Johnny's Been Thinking Again

Ohio's Republican candidate for governor John Kasich has already said he like to eliminate the Ohio income tax. Now he's stubbed out his fattie and announced his latest bright idea: He proposes to do away with the Ohio Department of Development. He wants to privatize it, downsize it, and turn it over to corporate executives. Because everybody knows that getting rid of taxes and regulations, reducing the size of government, and letting the private-sector free-enterprise geniuses run the world is the only way to go. He'd call his new non-government outfit Jobs Ohio.

John-Boy has other plans, too. He wants to get rid of the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources, take it private, have AEP run it, and call it Strip Mine Ohio.

He'd shut down the Ohio Dept. of Transportation, turn it over to RhinoKote, and name it Pothole Ohio.

The Ohio Highway Patrol would be eliminated, replaced by the five former policemen of New Rome. This free market entity would be known as Speed Trap Ohio.

The entire Ohio Public Employees Retirement System would be privatized and run by Bernie Madoff. We'd call it Ponzi Ohio.

All members of the Ohio House and Senate would be let go, their functions taken over by the student government at Ridgeview Middle School. It'd be named Really Small Government Ohio.

And finally, after being elected and sworn in, Kasich would privatize the Governor's office and downsize himself. The state's executive branch would be handed over to Rupert Murdoch, and would be known as Fair And Balanced Ohio.

The Mosque Non-troversy

OMG! The ragheads are gonna build a community center with a mosque 2 blocks from "Ground Zero". (And is Ground Zero an official name? Let's find a better one.) This project is supported by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and has been OK'd by the NYC zoning board. And my cousin Obama has said, admirably and correctly, that Muslims have the right to religious freedom, same as anybody, and they have the right to erect their building where they want, same as anybody, assuming local approval.

And with that, the foamy-mouth brigade on the far right went absolutely ape-shit. Southern Baptists churches will spend their day on 9/11 burning copies of the Koran. Charming! Newt Gingrich says we should not allow any mosques anywhere in the entire country because Saudi Arabia doesn't allow Christian churches within its borders, and because the Nazis aren't allowed to build a clubhouse next door to Auschwitz. (Hey Newt, you asshole! The Saudi "royal family" are goddam dictators! We should imitate them? And fuck the Nazis!)

And of course many millions of otherwise decent people feel compelled to vent their spleen and denounce the mosque/Bloomberg/Obama on the common man's sounding board, Facebook. They talk about sacred ground and honored dead. They wrap themselves in flags and patriotism and Jesus and family values, but they're just spewing the same old hatred, intolerance and bigotry (usually with atrocious spelling and grammar). And unfortunately, some of it comes from people I know.

Guess what? Buster feels likewise compelled to weigh in on the subject:

The average American is an idiot, under-informed and over-opinionated. Yet in today's world we constantly encourage his poorly-considered views. There's a new poll or survey every ten minutes. The average American's opinion on anything is likely to be very emotional, illogical, and quickly constructed, but it sure feels nice to say it, to let it out, just like it does with a good fart. The fart has more intellectual value.

So to hell with the opinion poll of the moment. If CNN reports that their latest poll shows that 7 of 10 people oppose the NYC mosque, it's the same as saying 7 of 10 people hate Muslims, or 7 of 10 people are ignorant jackasses. I mean, c'mon -- not that long ago, 7 of 10 people thought slavery was just peachy. Once upon a time, 7 of 10 believed in witches. The common man is entitled to his beliefs, but those beliefs are often crap and wiser heads eventually prevail. (Of course that doesn't explain Richard Nixon and George W. Bush.)

Our nation is governed by laws and rules, not hysterical shouting and arm-waving. He who yells loudest and longest is not necessarily right, and such volume and venom can cover up some really flawed thinking.

Religion is at the heart of this matter, and all religions are bullshit, Islam included. (I realize that's a minority view, and an unpopular one too. Perhaps Buster will wax eloquent on that topic another day.) But BS or not, Obama's right -- Muslims in this country have a Constitutionally guaranteed right to practice their religion and build their churches. You wanna change that? Freedom of religion, just as long as it's your religion?

The proposed community center is not going to be smack-dab in the middle of the former WTC site. It's a good two blocks away and around the corner. And we're talkin' big-ass Manhattan city blocks. But that's not far enough away for some in the cranky crowd. OK then, exactly how fucking far away should it be? And what else should be banned on or near the site? (Of note -- There are several other mosques in Manhattan, some damn near as close to the WTC site as this one is.)

Everybody calls it a mosque, but it's designed to be a community/cultural center. There will be no minarets, no calls to evening prayer. Calling it a mosque is like calling the YMCA a church.

The destruction of the twin towers on 9/11/01 was a horrible, God-awful thing. The world will never forget, and the people of NYC especially will never forget. For many, emotions are still high, the wound still raw. This is completely understandable, and yet . . .

What happened that day was a murderous act committed by 19 individuals -- radical terrorists who were Muslims and who cloaked their craziness in religious zealotry.

There are many, many millions of Muslims in this world, and virtually none of them are radical terrorists. There are millions of Muslims in the U.S., and tens of thousands in NYC. Virtually none of them are radical terrorists. There were Muslims working in and around the WTC that day who were killed. There were Muslims who died taking part in the response effort. They were not radical terrorists either.

The grim pages of history are filled with murder, brutality, torture and atrocity. Heinous actions are not the province of any single sort of human being. Incomprehensible horrors have been perpetrated by members of every race and religion, by people of all ages, and by both genders. Nobody has an exclusive. We homo sapiens can be a nasty lot.

But despite our brutish tendencies, we humans are also entirely capable of understanding, tolerance and forgiveness. Two hundred thirty five years ago, the British were none too popular here on our side of the pond. Today, the U.S. and the U.K. are peas in a pod. Two hundred years ago, some of my forebears (and yours too, maybe?) were slaveholders. Most of today's African Americans have forgiven, not forgotten, this abomination. The early 1940's were not a good time to be a German-, Italian-, or Japanese-American, but we've managed to get past that fairly well. The Cold War is history and we've normalized relations with Russia and Viet Nam.

This proven ability to get our shit together and move on is a good thing, and one of our more useful traits. I cannot imagine my world without British gin, Japanese technology, Motown music, and Italian food, to name just a very few. I'm not sure what Islamic culture has to offer me. I'll pass on the faith thing, and the music hurts my head. But I do enjoy a good hummus. It's a start.

More to the point, this whole mosque "issue" is a non-troversy trumped up by the far right and conservative Christians in a lame attempt to score political points. The Muslim religion is not to blame for 9/11, and Muslim people are not our enemies. It's time for detente, not chap-assed ranting. If you are personally offended or threatened by a mosque in Manhattan, I think you're being really narrow-minded and paranoid. Stop it, and unclench your butthole.

Buster, out!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The B.F. Retirement Rag

[To the tune of "The Hokey Pokey"]

I ask, "Is Brett Favre in?"
I ask, "Is Brett Favre out?"
I ask, "Is Brett Favre in?"
This confusion makes me shout.
His future's herky-jerky and my brain is turned about.
So is Favre in or out?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Does PETA Know About This?

The Scottish microbrewery BrewDog has made a name for itself by creating expensive, ultra-high alcohol content beers and ales with clever names, such as Tactical Nuclear Penguin, a beer which checks in at 32% alcohol-by-volume, and Sink The Bismarck!, a 41% ABV ale.

Their latest achievment hit the market recently. They call it End Of History ale. It's an incredible 55% ABV, or 110 proof! And, as the crowning touch, every bottle comes inside its very own dead animal, as pictured at right. Beer and taxidermy -- sheer genius!

"Hey dear, do you wanna go out tonight?"

"Nah. How about we stay home, knock back a couple squirrels, and play a little grab-ass?"

Eighteen Is Not Enough!

Have you seen the "reality" show on TLC called 18 And Counting? Well, you're too late. It's now known as 19 And Counting. (When it first aired in 2008, it was 17 And Counting.)

It features the blissfully bonkers Jim Bob (Jim Bob? Seriously?) and Michelle Duggar, a Conservative Christian Bible-beating couple from Bugtussle, Arkansas. They "love kids", so Michelle has given birth to a whole boatload of 'em. She dropped adorable little Number 19 in June.

Good grief! This woman's vagina is like a clown car at the circus -- open the door and an endless stream of people come out! Michelle Duggar makes Octo-Mom look sane and reasonable.

After spitting out her 19th, a reporter asked her if she would continue to have more children. Michelle replied that it would be "up to God." Aha! Sleeping with him, too!