A random look at the life and times of Jim Rising recovering radio addict and newspaper columnist.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Rascal Flatts Review

With a flash bang that must have been seen and heard in Wilkes-Barre and Scranton the Rascal Flatts “Bob your head” tour touched down at the Toyota Pavilion at Montage Sunday night and brought 16 thousand to their feet in a hurry.
Gary LeVox, Jay Demarcus, and Joe Don Rooney rode down to the super high-tech stage on a futuristic scaffolding from what looked like a hundred feet in the air. Think Mad Max’sd thunderdome meets ET’s Spaceship. The stage set included huge risers for the keyboard, drummer and pedal steel player with immense video screens on two sides. In the center was a semi circle screen that concealed the stairway to the scaffolding. Through most of the nearly two hour show at least five young ladies did the frug and the mash potatoe behind the screen. Just like shindig! Which brings me to the only criticism I can make of the spectacle. Where was the country? Oh sure the five piece back up band included a fiddle player who could play down the devil or Charlie Daniels but try as I might I couldn’t hear the pedal steel.
But I don’t mean to say it’s bad. In fact the show was just short of amazing.
From the opener “Still feels good” from the latest CD it was clear that these guys can sing. The effortless harmony that is their trademark was in full force Sunday night. Launching into “Life is a highway” Gary Levox (Le Vox means the voice, right?) made you forget all about Tom Cochrane. The list of hits that follwed included “Love you out loud”, Everday, a rousing version of “Stand” and the pop sounding “Take me there”. Then after an overly long speech from Joe Don where he thanked the employees of “Dunder Mifflin” for being so doggone nice it seemed like ti was time for the obligiatory acoustic set. Joe Don laid down a nice version of “Movin’ on with just an acoustic guitaur and Jay Demarcus sang a sadly truncated “Skin” while noodling on a keybord. The Medly roared back into the full band behind Gary belting out “Feels like today.”
The Flatts will release their first greatest hits CD shortly and it’s bound to include every song they played Sunday night. After the band was introduced the pace picked up with “Fast cars and freedom, “ Bless the broken road”, “What hurts the most” and the set ended with “Here’s to you.”
The encore brought the trio back out for “Me and my gang” and the night ended predictably but not badly with “Bob that head.”

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


An article in the Times Leader caught my attention the other day because it mentioned the Weekender.
The story was about the PLCB and its policing efforts to prevent the discriminatory practice of “Ladies nights” at local watering holes. About this I have no opinion. I can’t see the harm but whatever. It’s funny that it’s ok to have nights for people who work in the service industry. Isn’t that discriminatory against those who don’t? But what peaked my interest was the comment from some PLCB honcho that “We always read the weekender to see if bars are running ladies nights” or words to that effect. Really? Well I am not sure if the PLCB ever reads this column but if they do I have a message for them. LET US BUY SIX PACKS IN GROCERY STORES. When I first moved to NEPA (28 years ago) I was astounded to learn the rules of beer buying. I was less astounded than amused when I found out that the purported reason for the rules was to “reduce consumption.” Huh? Let me get this straight. By forcing beer consumers to buy an entire case at a beer distributor rather than a six pack that will reduce consumption? An interesting concept but I am not sure that’s working out so good. Because there are lots of places where you can buy just a six pack. Bars, some convenience stores and a few delis. But in most cases you pay substantially more. And the selection generally sucks,
Whenever I travel back to my home states of Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine I am always amazed when I see beer in the grocery store. It just seems like a dream. You mean I can buy just a six pack and I won’t get charged with a crime? Amazing. And here’s another concept. In some places you can buy a single bottle. Or a mixed six pack. So if you want to try a new brew you don’t have to make the commitment of a whole case.
Now I realize that there are probably many economic reasons that my poor beer addled brain can’t understand about this whole concept. Surely there is a reason beyond “Reducing consumption” for this madness.
But here is my real point. Some grocery stores are allowed to sell wine. Not beer, not hard liquor but wine is ok? Why? And now Wegmans can sell beer. Why can’t the grocery store I go to sell me a six pack? Why can’t they have a big cooler full of all the many brands I want to try? Then I could go the beer distributor and buy a case and everyone is happy. Or then again I could be wrong.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Rectum? I damn near killed him!

"I have a sad story to tell you
It may hurt your feelings a bit
Last night when I walked into my bathroom
I stepped in a big pile of ...shhhhh . . . aving cream,
be nice and clean. . . .
Shave ev'ry day and you'll always look keen." Benny Bell.

The following is true. Names and places are also true. No one is being protected here. Our story begins, as so many do, at the Pocono race track. A day long adventure, including the ingestion of a multitude of mature beverages, a hoagie the length and circumference of a Clydesdale’s leg and a dump truck full of snacks ranging from peanuts to jalapeƱo and habanero beef jerky. Hot? Like the hinges of hell in your mouth! Well you name it; it went in the pie hole. We were ready to begin the trek homeward.
It’s not a long drive but that summer’s eve it seemed like the Bataan death march. About 15 minutes into what should have been about an hours drive traffic stopped dead. Then when we did move it was only at a snail’s pace and only fifty feet at a time.
An hour passed. I knew I was in trouble.
I have been acquainted with my bowels for more than five decades. I know almost to the second how much time I left before I have an accident that will put me in a trance as I fill my pants and then have to throw my underwear in the woods. Not that as a self respecting adult male I have ever had to do that. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. I have no idea what happened to that underwear, dear.
We finally got on the open road. My internal bowel gauge was telling me I had about 20 minutes. I frantically searched my memory of our route for places to take a dump. In my discomfort I wondered if I could just knock on someone’s door at random and beg.
Things were getting tense below the belt. I was sweating and cramping. It made driving more than an adventure. I am proud to say my traveling companions knew not of my distress. Of course as passengers they were enjoying even more adult beverages. That may have dulled their senses somewhat.
The cramps intensified. I knew that if I tried to relieve the pressure by opening the gas valve that I would have, how can I put this delicately, shat myself. So I kept the exhaust valve tightly clenched and gripped the wheel until my knuckles turned white.
At last I remembered. There was a convenience mart up ahead a few miles. I checked my bowel gauge and it said maybe. Hurry.
As I pulled into the parking lot in a four wheel skid I threw the door open and told my passengers’ of my mission. “Why don’t you just do it behind the store?” Mickey asked. Right.
My bowel gauge sensed we were close. It registered a two minute warning.
I headed for the store praying they had a restroom. YES! Over there! As I moved towards it (ever try to walk nonchalantly while holding your butt cheeks in a clench?) I noticed the door to the hallway was heavy duty steel. It had huge u shaped metal prongs on either side of it with a two by four leaning on the wall. My mind registered that it must be to secure the door from what ever was on the other side. I really didn’t care. Bowel gauge at 1:30 and counting.
Into the hallway I moved and thanks be to the God who watches over little children and drunks the Men’s room door was unlocked. I flung it open.
Two things struck me at once. It stank. I mean not a bad smell. But an aroma you could cut with a chainsaw if you didn’t mind ruining the blade. And number two. It was filthy. Here is the cover of the Rolling Stones Beggars’ Banquet album that they outlawed. This toilet makes the one I was in look like a surgical operating room.
In the hell hole I had just entered there was a guy using the urinal. The stall was occupied and locked. I must have groaned because the guy at the urinal looked at me and said “Bedonnaminute.” He was so drunk, I noticed that when he turned to look at me he was pissing on his shoes.
My bowels, sensing where I was notified me that the countdown was T-minus 15 seconds and the tanks were filling.
The stall door opened and a small boy darted out and made a bee line for the door. My drunken companion said “Smhellylilshitainah? Which I translated to mean “Smelly little shit, is he not?”
I lunged for the door. And things started to do downhill fast.
First off my bowels began to make the noise that submarines do before they go under water. A klaxon sounded and “DIVE DIVE DIVE” was being shouted.
But the “Smehlly” little kid had not flushed his offering. I tried the handle and all became clear. Toilet broken. No Flushee.
At this point to say I didn’t give a shit would be wrong. I did. And I did right on top of the little kids. What choice did I have?
While this was going on the drunk not two feet away began to yell. ‘Yarnt taking a shit in there ar ya? Holy F(*% how can you do that? Ar ya shitting in there? Hey guys, he’s taking shit in here!”
He went out the door and I continued my duty. “Bang!” the door slammed open and the drunk and several more like him came in to offer me advice. ”Jesus, man-are you really shitting in there? Don’t sit on the seat. I can’t F*&%ing believe that you are F$%^ing shitting in there!” And so on.
It took me what felt like ten years to finish my duty. Again, thanks to the Lord of dirty filthy bathrooms there was toilet paper.
My tormenters eventually tired of yelling at me ( I think it had more to do with the aroma I was producing then anything else) and as I left my pile in the bowl and headed out the door I figured the arrangement out. The bathrooms were a shared affair with a bar next to the convenient mart and the bar was hosting a Hell’s Angels happy hour.
I hurried out of the store but not without knocking over a display of something on my way out. The Indian behind the counter yelled something at me but I was moving at warp nine by then.
I relayed this story to the long suffering wife whose only comment was, “Why didn’t you go before you left?” The kind of advice you give to a potty trained three year old right? But alas I am much older and wiser than that. Right?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

8 08 08 lucky?

I have taken a part-time job. It’s almost not a job at all except for the fact that I have to show up. Before I went on vacation a couple of weeks ago the gym where I work out posted a note on the locker room door. They needed someone to open the joint up at 4:30am Monday, Wednesday and Friday. 3.5 hours a day.
Since I spent more than thirty years as a morning radio announcer getting up that early is an engrained habit. The perks include a free gym membership and a few extra dollars a week to put towards my newly reassessed mansion/estate. I haven’t worked a job where I had to be anywhere on a regular basis for almost a year. I actually kind of like it. So before I went on vacation I told them that if no one wanted it when I returned I would take it. That’s exactly what happened.
The first day, 8 08 08 was a disaster.
I am able to wake up without using an alarm clock. I can tell myself what time I want to wake up and I do. I am also one of those insufferable people who can climb out of bed completely awake and even with a hangover that would kill a lesser man, usually in pretty good mood.
But just to be one the safe side I had the long suffering wife set an alarm clock.
I don’t know what made me turn over and look at the clock. For a few seconds I couldn’t believe it, and then I started swearing. It was 4:55am!
A great way to start a new job! Late the first day.
With hair standing straight up and clothes thrown on I raced out the door and drove like Dale Jr. was on my tail. Thank God there were no cops or deer in my way on my route! I live pretty close so I made it only five minutes late. But still loads of grumbling from the early birds. And I had forgotten all my careful notes about how to do the job so I had to wing it.
The day just got better. I was supposed to review a concert that night for the Weekender. On our way to the show the long suffering wife’s car conked out. Stopped dead in its tracks. Right near the Moosic entrance ramp of I-81. So I called my buddy and he helped me get a tow. I am lucky to have a friend like that. While we waited on the side of I-81 (staying in the car became not an option. Watching huge 18 wheelers bear down on us in the rearview was just too nerve wracking) an SUV pulled up behind our car. Then leaned on the horn like it was in the way. I struggled up the steep bank to see what the hell was going on. The tinted window rolled down and the driver said “Is that your car?” A moment here to describe the driver. She was blonde. Very blonde. Now I am happily married but I am not blind. She had on tube top that was dangerously full. Tribal tattoos on her arm. The car smelled like…well it smelled real good. And she was drop dead gorgeous.
She was in the words of the late Rick James “The kind you don’t take home to mother.” A snap judgment maybe but I stand by it.
“Yes it is.” I managed to stammer.
“Oh crap! My girlfriend has the exact same car and she said she was broken down right here.”
What are the chances? Sure enough as I looked down the highway I saw another car with flashers on about a mile away. It was a twin to my Wife’s car.
The babe in the SUV pulled out and soon after my friend and the tow truck arrived.
I never did make it to the show.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Hummingbird do-do.

I don’t know if it was poo or pee. More on that in a bit.

I love hummingbirds more than any other bird. They are so cool! No other bird can hover in place like a tiny helicopter. They can go 63 miles per hour in a dive and they sound like a huge bee. Plus they are so little. About the length of your index finger and weighing an astonishing 1/8th of an ounce. Perfect little creatures. They can even fly backwards!
We have always fed the “Hummers” at the Rising ranch. But until this year we never got more than a few. For years I dutifully filled the light bulb shaped feeder with the pricey red stuff that I bought at the feed store. A few of the little guys would come to visit but not many.
This year I followed the advice of the Long suffering wife’s sister and made my own syrup for the feeder. It’s pretty simple. A four to one ratio of sugar and water boiled to dissolve the sugar does the trick.
Within hours of setting up the new food we were overrun with the buzzers.
I was overjoyed! For the first time we had the males fighting over the feeder. Females would tank up like little pigs, eating so much that when they left the feeder they had trouble gaining altitude.
I changing the feed one day I removed the feeder for a few minutes. The hummers were in a blind panic. Where did it go? They hovered where it was supposed to be, flew in circles and generally acted like they were starving.
After seeing a few fights between males I was told that multiple feeders would end the hummer wars.
Of course I went too far and at one point I had four feeders up. Domino’s sugar stock went up.
I have settled on two main feeders on the porch by the bar-b-q cooker and one by the kitchen window.
Our neck of the woods is the exclusive territory of the Ruby-throated hummingbird. The males have the red throat and we seem to get a lot more females at the feeder.
They have absolutely no fear of me and routinely gas up while I am cooking burgers on the grill. With a wing beat rate up to 80 per second they sound like a bee on steroids.
I have not had good luck getting a picture. I have a crappy digital camera (it’s actually a video camera that takes stills) and by the time I get one in the viewfinder they take off at 65mph.

From our kitchen I have a clear view from my place at the table of the two main feeders.
The other day a fine specimen was hovering between the two feeders. As I watched it took a dump. Or maybe a whiz. How could you tell? There was no doubt that it pushed something out of it’s exhaust vent. A little silver colored stream.
I have never heard anyone else say they have seen a Hummingbird go.
Look up Hummingbird shit on Google and you will get some interesting sites, none of which have anything to do with what comes out of the rear of a hummer. Hummingbird Poo gets you a very nice blog from a single Mom in Texas somewhere but she only says “No one ever said watch out for the Hummingbird poo.”
So I feel kinda special.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Soft Soap


That’s the name of the commercial. Take a look at it.
I don’t argue with the message that being a girl in today’s society is tough.
I am sure it is although I have no personal experience to know.
But being a kid is tough. Always has been. Always will.
And I am sorry to say that I think being a boy is just as tough, if not tougher than being a girl. The expectations on what it takes to be a MAN in our society bombard boys just as much and in even more sinister ways than the ones directed at girls. Watch any recruitment ad for any armed service for more insight.
The ad in question depicts the young girl being bombarded with images that are supposed to warp her young mind about the concepts of beauty. But let’s face it, no matter what century you live in there has always been some sort of pressure to conform to the norms of society as far as appearance goes.

Walk through any museum and see standards of beauty and dress that we find less attractive in this age but back when Rueben painted those zaftig models they were what everyone thought they should look like.

The Oriental custom of binding feet to make them tiny seems barbaric to us as does the African custom of elongating the neck by use of metal bands. But they thought it was beautiful.

My thinking is that you aren’t going to change society and its pressure to make people look and dress a certain way unless you legislate it. See Red China for how that looks.

But why the concentration on young girls? Whether you’re plumbing goesinto or goesouta you have intense pressure from the time you enter kindergarten on through the rest of your life to conform, to be like others. As a young boy I was forced to wear corrective shoes to correct a foot problem I was born with. They were ugly, big, wingtip monstrosities and I hated them not only because I was uncomfortable in them but the other kids made fun of me.
Later in the boys locker room my man breasts were the source of much ridicule. I was not the biggest or strongest kid so I got my share of beatings and other physical abuse. I was reminded constantly by my classmates what a worthless boy I was. Picked last for every team and then pummeled mercilessly by my teammates. All because I was fat and uncoordinated.

Two points here.

I can assure you that what happened to me happens to loads of little boys today.

And it didn’t change me a bit, except to make me stronger. I am still fat and uncoordinated but it bothers me only from a standpoint of health, not self-esteem.

So if little girls can’t take the image the world pushes on them who really is to blame?

And in the final analysis isn’t Dove soaps (a product of Unilever who also markets AXE with ads that glorify the image in the onslaught ad) goal really to sell more of their soap?

It’s ok with me to do an ad campaign to try and raise public awareness about how the media manipulates standards of beauty and behavior. Just don’t be sexist about it.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

R.I.P. CD's

In my lifetime I have seen recorded music go through some pretty big changes, not all for the better.
45’s were my introduction to commercial recorded music. I bought them, played them to death on the family Hi-Fi and I thought they were just fine.
I would continue to play 45 RPM records for many years as a radio announcer. The biggest problem with 45’s on the radio was “cue-burn.”
When you ready a record for play on the air you rotate it until you hear the beginning on a “cue speaker” (off the air). Do this a few hundred times and you heard a hiss like sound at the beginning of the record. We used to joke that the reason for jingles was to hide the cue burn.
Lp’s were of course around and when I could afford them were added to the collection.
When I turned 16 and could drive the first thing I bought was an 8 track player. It was a miserable way to hear music. The tapes were bad quality and jammed frequently-there was no fast forward and there was the annoying “track change.” A small foil sensed when it was time to change to the next tracks. 8 tracks referred to the fact that there were 4 “programs” in stereo on a tape. The manufacturers would only put 15 minutes or so of tape on the cartridges so the foil would tell the playback heads to move to pick up the next part of the recording. Usually in the middle of “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida”
The progression of recorded commercial music can be tracked at flea markets and yard sales. You don’t see many boxes of 8 tracks anymore. For some odd reason you do see LP’s and 45’s. Maybe because they were around for more years

Next came cassettes, a vast improvement over 8 tracks but they still sucked. At least you could fast forward and rewind. But the thin tape easily got fouled up and wore out pretty quickly. The quality sounded ok but the tape speed of 1 7/8 inches per second left a lot to be desired. And they were HISSY. If you spent money on a good system the hiss really became annoying. You see lots of cassettes at flea markets.

CD’s came into their own in the early 80’s. I installed the first CD player in the radio station control room (it’s cost $800 bucks!) and we made a big deal about it. The very first song we played (“Something about you”-Level 42) skipped. But CD’s were a big improvement over any other format. The frequency response seemed to be better and they were not susceptible to “cue burn!” Of course now we know that the early CD’s were really not that great-some even were made by using LP records as the masters. And now there is a “retro” movement back to vinyl with some purists vowing that LP’s sound better.

I write this little elementary examination on recorded music in my lifetime to make a point. The wheel has turned once again and it’s my judgment that soon CD’s will as obsolete as 8 tracks.

Here’s some support data: The Nielsen Soundscan shows that CD sales from January to June 2008 declined 16.3%. It’s still healthy at 172 million but digital is up 35% in the same time frame.

Digital music is worse than cassettes but no one cares. We have now a generation of music listeners who were weaned on I pods and other crappy MP3 type players. The sound is NOT as good as CD's but when you are listening on cheap computer speakers or shitty ear buds you wouldn’t know it.

Aftermarket stereo systems for cars are all but history. The new listener’s plug the I pod into the dash and think the factory system sounds fine. Why pay more?

But here is the real reason I think CD’s are toast.

On vacation last week the new Rick Springfield CD came out. He’s on a major label (Universal) again. The long suffering wife has been a fan since Rick sang “Speak to the sky” so of course we had to get it.

I could have downloaded it for 9.99 on I-tunes but she wanted the artwork.

So we shopped.

We went to Kmart and found the music department but couldn’t find it. Never mind that, we couldn’t find ANY CD’s. Asked a clerk who said “Well they used to be over here.”

Went to Borders. They had one copy (we needed two) for $16.99.

Next door was a Best Buy. They had loads (In an end aisle display yet) for $11.99.
We returned the Borders copy.

My point here is this. If one of the world’s largest retailers, K-Mart, has 86’d CD’s how long before Wal-Mart and the rest follow suit?

And would Mr. Average consumer have stopped at three places for what is after all a luxury digressionary income type purchase? And why the wide swing in stock and price? Rick Springfield is not a huge artist anymore I know but he has a huge and active fan base and is on the daytime soap “General Hospital” so you would think maybe he could sell a few, would you not? And the buyers of CD’s are now almost all my age (and the long suffering wife’s age) and don’t want to download it. We want to buy CD’s! Why is it so hard?

Digital music will be the norm in the coming years. It reminds me of the old saw: “You can have it cheap, good or fast-Pick 2. Fast and good, it won’t be cheap. Cheap and good, it won’t be fast. Cheap and fast it won’t be any good.”

Cheap and fast is what prerecorded music (read: the record companies) has chosen.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Poor old Scranton (that’s Scra-ann to some). It’s always been the butt of jokes and ridicule but now the joke has spread to the funny pages. Back in the days of vaudeville Scranton and Wilkes-Barre both were fairly important stops on the tours. The legend goes that booking agents for New York would try out acts in this area because the audiences were difficult to please. The catch phrase became "If you can make it in Scranton, you can make it anywhere!"
Over the years Scranton has made it to the big and little screens but not always with a positive spin. Witness this exchange from the TV show “"All in the Family"
Archie:"We're going to fly to Florida"
Edith: "Florida? No, I want to go to Scranton."
Archie:"Scranton? What's in Scranton?"
Edith: "My cousin Emily".
Archie:"The only way you'll get me to fly to Scranton is if some screwball hijacks the plane."
In the Movie “Home Alone” Macaulay Culkin’s mother ends up in van with John Candy’s Polka band in Scranton. It’s a very funny scene.
In the “Sopranos” Paulie Walnuts takes a trip to Boston and describes it as “Scranton with Clams.”
Andy Rooney in a 60 minutes segment mentioned the Electric City in a disparaging way commenting on housing prices here (he thought they were too low) and the fact that garbage collection was suspended on Columbus Day.
Then of course there was the wonderful portrayal of Scranton in Jason Millers “That Championship Season.” If you’ve never seen it it’s worth it for the scene with WYOU’s David DeCosmo and the Elephant alone. The Elephant is the one being buried.
But until last week I don’t think we ever made the funny pages.
On Friday August 1st The King Features syndicated cartoon “Blondie” showed tightwad Dagwood trying to buy a birthday gift for his long suffering wife Blondie.
He turns down perfume from “Roberto Lemongello of Naples at $125 an ounce and from “Antonio Scentonelli of Venice” at $65 per ounce. In the last panel we see Dagwood and Blondie on the couch as Dagwood proudly hands her genuine “Ted McGillicutty of Scranton” for $6.50 an ounce.
Blondie is delighted.
Blondie, whose maiden name was Boopadoop and Dagwood appear in 2,300 newspapers all around the world and have been translated into 35 different languages in 55 countries and are read by an estimated 280 million people every day.
I sense a marketing opportunity. If someone could bottle the essence of Scranton (and I am not real sure what that would smell like) and sell it as “Genuine Ted McGillicutty of Scranton” I bet you could get more than $6.50 an ounce. Or then again I could be wrong. See you in the funny papers.

Vroom, Vroom.

The NASCAR races at the Pocono Speedway are a test of men’s endurance. 250 laps, five hundred miles of blistering heat, intense competition and it requires dogged determination to make it all the way through to the checkered flag. It’s also hard on the drivers. Being a NASCAR fan I am predisposed to like the two annual events on the Pocono plateau. But even if you love NASCAR racing you have to prepare yourself for a grueling day.
Take last Sunday as an example. The Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 was set to show the green flag at 2pm. This means that any self respecting race fan has to be in the parking lot, tailgating and consuming mass amounts of frosty cold mature beverages by nine am. Many weeks of 16 ounce curls are a prerequisite to the big day. You have to be on your game! After several hours it’s time to trudge with loaded coolers to the racetrack. Depending on the luck of the draw where you park may be anywhere from half a mile to ten miles from your seat. Mile after mile you stumble in the baking heat carrying enough beverages in your cooler to stock a beer garden. Finally you arrive at the grandstands. Your seat, at the top of the stands is approximately one mile in the air, with a vertical pitch that would frighten a seasoned Mt. Everest sherpa guide. When you reach the top all you can hope is that you packed oxygen in with the beer. Now, if you have timed it right you have several hours to sit in the sun. Remember you are now very close to the sun as you are at the top of the grandstands. More beverages must be consumed. Many more. In fact so many are consumed that now you must wobble your way down the slope and make your way to the ”worlds largest toilet.” That’s what the sign says on the facilities. And it’s a good thing too because you have to take the worlds longest pee. Then it’s back up to where to air is rare. Lather, rinse, repeat. Do this all day long. And is the day ever long! There are some things in life that would be better if they were shorter. The “Dark Knight” film could have been ½ hour shorter and featured more of Keith Ledger. The Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 would be twice as good if it was half as long. Let’s face it, any NASCAR race (and most sporting events) are most interesting in the last ten minutes. 500 laps at Pocono takes long enough to conceive, gestate and give birth. Of course the kids’ first words would be “any more beer?” Or then again I could be wrong.