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

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Frack You!

What I know about geology and mining could be carved on the head of a pin with a dull butter knife. I am pretty sure that I was probably taught something about it in school. If I was it didn’t stick. I do however know when I am being fracked. And I think I am. Well not me personally. But I think our area is being bent over. Whether you spell it with an “a’ or a “u” I think the end result is the same. Something is inserted, fluid is deposited and then a withdrawal is made. The mess is left for the penetrated to clean up. In case you have no idea what the frack I am talking about, here is my limited understanding. Very similar to the discovery that you could burn coal and that there was a lot of it in the ground of NEPA the folks that know about such things have discovered another rock in our dirt here that they think can make them money.
Marcellus Shale. Trapped inside these rocks is more natural gas than you would encounter at the Plymouth Kielbasa festival. Obviously the big natural gas guys want it.
What is being done is directional drilling underground to reach the rocks and then water is pumped into the rock under high pressure in a process known as hydraulic fracturing or fracking to release the gas. It’s sort of a one cheek sneak done to Mother Nature. More than a few things bother me about this. First-this area was without a doubt screwed by the extraction of coal from the ground. Ugly piles of culm, pollution and a generation of men with Black Lung are the results I see. Would you not be a little suspicious of strangers from out of town who want to do basically the same thing? Secondly-they are offering to make people, landowners, rich. All you have to do is let them drill and pump and everything will be fine. Strangers who want to make me rich make me go hmmmm. And thirdly-I don’t think that it’s an accident that the process involved is one or so letters away from words I can’t use in this column. I have seen lots of press about this. Little of it is positive. Already there was a spill of fracking fluid. Fish died. A creek was polluted. The Frackers said “ooops.” And yet landowners are signing up and big trucks with lots of pipes are barreling down our highways. The gas guys say “Trust us.” I dunno about you but when someone says “trust me” I tend to hear we will “Frack you.” Or words to that effect. I could be wrong. Hope so.

Friday, October 16, 2009

It was Macy's

I’ve always disliked it. I can understand why they do it but nonetheless it makes me uneasy to think that the work of genius can be reduced to a technique to shill a product. In general anytime art meets advertising I think it’s a bad idea but especially when its music. Lucky for Picasso and Monet or god forbid Dali their work doesn’t readily lend itself to selling deodorant or feminine hygiene products. The works of the immortal Bard and even Edgar Allen Poe have upon occasion been used to make products more attractive. But music and Madison Avenue have always seemed to go hand in hand. Up until now I have just sort of gritted my teeth and put up with it. Even the Beatles songs haven’t been spared from this aural assault. As long ago as 1985 the first Beatles song was used in a commercial, "Help" (sung by the Beatles themselves) was used in a commercial for Ford. But last night hearing John’s “Come together” as the background music for a department store featuring ninnies cavorting around like they were inflicted by St. Vitus dance syndrome was just too much for me. Now I am sure this is a fine department store. The models dancing looked very stylish. But they should all rot in hell for taking money for prostitution of a song. Is that a law? Could it be? It should be. I know, Beatles songs have been used to pitch everything from diapers to sneakers. But it still bothers me. It bothered the Beatles too.” If it's allowed to happen, every Beatles song ever recorded is going to be advertising women's underwear and sausages. We've got to put a stop to it in order to set a precedent. Otherwise it's going to be a free-for-all. It's one thing when you're dead, but we're still around! They don't have any respect for the fact that we wrote and recorded those songs, and it was our lives." -George Harrison November 1987. Other than decomposing George must be spinning in his grave like a lathe. I am sure there are moments when Paul McCartney must wonder what circle of hell he stumbled into that let Michael Jackson control his songs. I’ve always admired what Jim Morrison did when the Doors were asked to lend “Light My Fire” to a car commercial. Buick proffered $75,000 to hawk a car. As the story goes the other band members agreed while Jim was out of town. He came back and went nuts. He called up Buick and said that if they aired the ad, he'd smash a Buick on television with a sledgehammer. I would have paid to see that. Or then again…

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Casino Blues

“Well, I've never been to England
But I kind of like the Beatles
So I headed for Las Vegas
Only made it out to Lido's” - Hoyt Axton-“I’ve Never been to Spain”

Myself, I’ve never been to England, Las Vegas or Lido’s which I think is in San Jose California. I have been in Plains Township, Luzerne County. In fact I have passed through the home of about 10,000 NEPA souls quite a few times on my way to work. I have even been in the Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs casino. Twice. As I write this it seems a safe bet (Heh, pun intended) that table games of chance will be approved and up in running in the Mohegan Sun casino soon. Cool. Plains Township will now be just like Las Vegas, right? Well, maybe so, maybe not. Let’s make some quick comparisons. The weather. In January the average day time high in NEPA? Colder than a witches brassiere made of brass. Vegas? 57 Degrees, No snow. Score Vegas. What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas? I guess so, I don’t know what happens there but I have heard rumors. What happens in Luzerne County stays in Luzerne County? Well, Hugo Selinkski’s daring bed sheet escape from prison and our proud tradition of corruption in government have garnered us national if not worldwide attention. Score Vegas. Vegas has Barry Manilow, Bette Midler and Wayne Newton. This month at the Breakers lounge at Mohegan Sun they have “Peat Moss and the Fertilizers.” I kid you not. Score Vegas. In Vegas each casino is next to another that is bigger, better, gaudier and flashier. In Plains Township there is a heavy equipment dealer near to Mohegan Sun. A hot dog stand. And the ASPCA. Score Vegas. Wait a minute here. There must be something Plains Township has that Vegas doesn’t. I mean something positive. Wait, I know. I bet you can’t get a decent peirogi, bowl of haluski or a hunk of kielbasa anywhere in Vegas. I know they have all sorts of famous Chefs like Emeril Lagasse and Wolfgang Puck but they can’t hold a spoon of horse radish to our homegrown ethnic traditions. Why I bet they don’t even have Stegmaier or Yuengling on tap in their fancy casinos. Score Plains. And we have the Susquehanna. No smelly river in Vegas. Score Plains Township . And here is the best part of Luzerne County vs Las Veags. Comedy teams. In Sin City you have the Smothers Brothers and Penn and Teller. Martin and Lewis were a big favorite there. Here we have Ciavarella and Conahan. It just doesn’t get any better than that. Eat your heart out Vegas.

Sunday, October 4, 2009


They are pretty scary looking. Sort of a cross between a spider and a cockroach. Way too many legs for me and the little bastards can even fly. Plus they have a self defense mechanism that gives them their name. I refer of course to the Halyomorpha halys better known to you and me as the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug. Now we here at the Rising Ranch have had a few of these obnoxious critters over the years. The rule seems to be you see one, you see another, they travel in pairs. Not this year. We are infested with the bugs that stink. If you have never run into one of these useless insects that you cannot imagine the smell they give off when you bother them. It’s enough to gag a maggot. And it’s the kind of smell that, like a dead deer in the hot summer sun, just lingers in the back of your throat. I did a little googling on the nuisances. First of all homeland security must have been asleep the day they arrived from China, Japan, Korea or Taiwan we aren’t sure. They are not natives and are most certainly terrorists. They eat and spoil fruit crops. They also munch on flowers. They love to hang around houses because they seek shelter and warmth and will set up camp inside for the winter. For reasons unknown to entomologists they are increasing in numbers especially here in NEPA. Even though they are scary looking they are pretty stupid and it’s not a hard task to catch them in a tissue. If you are gentle they don’t release the stink and can be sent to oblivion via the commode. But if you aren’t careful they will gas you and you will wish you were never born. Speaking of gas there is very little in the way of pesticides that discourage these menacing little bugs. It seems all you can do is try to prevent them from entering your house. As I sit here I count four on my window screen. They sort of remind me of another pest that has taken up residence and is thriving in NEPA. These other bugs are different in that when you squeeze them they don’t stink. They squeal and cash drops out of them. I refer of course to the Luzerne County Judgeus Corruptus and their close relative the County Employeeus Theifter. Known also as the Handsinthetillus. From what I see in the news these also seem to be increasing in numbers. I wish we could flush them down the toilet, but they would probably thrive in cesspools. Not so different then what they are used to, if you ask me.