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

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Bet you'll love the wings

I just don’t understand. Now I know that I am not that smart. I am aware that my intellectual acumen resembles that of a four slice toaster. If I didn’t know this I get it pointed out to me. Usually daily. At home the question is often posed, “How can you be so stupid?” On the highways of NEPA I often hear “Get out of the way, you idiot!” So I must come to the conclusion that I am as dumb as a box of rocks. So perhaps some kind soul can explain to me this gambling deal to me. I walk into the grocery store and there is a machine twice the size of my refrigerator dispensing scratch off lottery tickets by the thousands. Some of them cost $20. Over at the pharmacy you can get your prescription filled and buy lottery tickets. Go down the street and the church is running a bingo game. Head “up the line” as they say and you can step into the casino filled with “one armed bandits” which vacuum money from your wallet or purse faster that you can say “Indian tribe.” Google “Gamble” and the return is: Results 1 - 10 of about 8,770,000 for on line gambling. (0.30 seconds). So it’s pretty clear that even though the bible tells us the wages of sin is death that there is plenty of availability to throw our dough down the drain. It would also appear to be legal. So why is it that a local bar and restaurant owner will lose his and his children’s livelihood because of gambling? This entrepreneur evidently set up a web site (one of 8,770,00 it would seem) that allowed bettors to place wagers of sin on sporting events. Then the losers or winners would go to his joint, have a few drinks, eat a nice dinner (I am told the chicken wings are to die for) and pay off or get paid off. This 71 year old man not only faces jail after being caught in a sting by the FBI but the cheerful Wilkes-Barre U.S Attorney’s office wants his Sports Bar. Now I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck. I know that it’s the money, honey. The Sports Bar guy wasn’t playing nice and sharing the dough. But if that’s the case why incarcerate him and take the bar? Why not make him write a check? Because all I know is that if and when the U.S. Attorney’s office gets possession of the Sports Bar, what was once a thriving, taxpaying business will sink faster than the Titanic. Because who wants to eat wings made by the government? I could be wrong.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Diesel fit her

I now know more about diesel fuel than I want to. This began exactly a week before Christmas Eve. Thursday. With the extreme cold weather here in NEPA I check the trusty heating oil tanks often. This year in spite of the human flesh freezing chill the gauge wasn’t moving. Hurrah! Our conservation efforts and triple layers were working. Until I tapped the gauge and it went from half full to mostly empty in a heartbeat. Uh oh. My friendly neighborhood fuel guys deliver on Thursday so I thought I was in luck. No soap. They would be happy to come…Christmas Eve. “But”, I cleverly protested. “I’m going to run out.”

“No problem” said she. “Just fill it up with diesel fuel.”

“That’ll work?” I said incredulously.

“Would I steer you wrong?”

I should have known better right then. As it turns out she was right. Diesel fuel and heating oil are basically the same. The dye color (red here in the US) indicates the difference and has more do with how it’s taxed then how or what it burns in.

Now here is where the stupidity comes in. I did it. Instead of picking up the phone and calling one of the 40 other fuel guys who no doubt would be only too happy to take my money, I fell for it. Hook line and yellow plastic five gallon container which cost me $9.99. Diesel fuel is more expensive than fuel oil. I did manage to find a gas station that had dyed diesel but it was still pricey.

And it was a pain in the ass. The burner in the basement was thirsty. To the tune of five gallons per day. So every stinking day out of some misguided sense of loyalty to the friendly neighborhood fuel guys I went through the process. And I do mean stinky. Diesel smells. Bad. And the fancy specially marked yellow fuel can? Well let’s just say someone improved the spout technology to the point where I never got more of the smelly stuff in the tank then I got on me or on the ground.

But Christmas Eve was coming. The long suffering wife said “You really think they will come?”

“Of course,” I replied. “They promised.”

Of course you know they didn’t. And so it was that on Christmas Day I was back at the gas station whose clerk knew me on sight. And smell. I noticed a bunch of fuel oil trucks parked near this gas station. A phone call the next day produced a same day delivery. I wish I could say my original friendly neighborhood fuel guys got a cheery message from me. I would be wrong.

Who are you?

In all the hoopla surrounding the upset come from behind win for the New Orleans Saints in the Super Bowl there is something that seems to have been over looked. The glaring omission? The horrible tragedy that occurred at half-time. All I can think is that it was SO upsetting that people are just ignoring it, pretending it never happened. Maybe it will just go away. Well I have news for you. It really happened, I saw it with my own eyes and it made me sick. In fact I went to bed with an upset stomach and didn’t even get to see the rest of the game. I refer of course to the alleged performance by 50 percent of what used to be “The Who.”

It wasn’t Who are you? But what are you that was the question as Pete Townshend and Roger Daltry murdered half a dozen of the band’s classics. Out of key, out of time and looking every moment like they were wishing they were elsewhere counting the paycheck - it was embarrassing. I felt like shouting out from my generation to the younger generation, ”Don’t listen. Run. Cover your ears. They were better than this. Loads better.”

Frankly I always thought that “The Who” should have had the same dignity that Led Zeppelin showed when they threw in the towel after John “Bonzo” Bonham passed away. Drummer Keith Moon was such a big part of the sound of the group. But they soldiered on. But to continue after John “The Ox” Entwistle died was just in poor taste. And yet there they were.

Without dissecting everything that went wrong last night two things stood out like Janet Jackson’s mammary glands. Roger Daltry looked like he was being moved by a puppeteer. For a look at what Roger really looks like reference the Woodstock performance of the finale ofTommy. Sunday he looked like he was heavily medicated or had recently undergone shock therapy. Now I know he is 66 but Mick Jagger is 67 and he moves around like a chicken on methamphetamine.

And speaking about Janet Jackson and her famous wardrobe malfunction, what was up with Pete’s shirt? Do we really want to see his lily white belly hanging over his guitar while he tried to do his trademark windmills?

45 years ago (hardly seems possible but it’s true) Roger belted out the lyrics to what would become if not one of The Who’s biggest certainly it’s most recognizable hits. I am glad they did NOT attempt to do a version of “My Generation.” Seeing the feeble Daltry rasp out “I hope I die before I get old” would have been too much to bear.

Busy Signal

We have not one but two land line phone numbers at the Rising ranch. I know that seems positively anachronistic in this age of cell phones and voice over internet protocol but there is a reason. Sort of. The main house phone is used by a family member who prefers it. The second line was installed for my “business” and was also a fax line. Remember faxes? I keep it because it’s in the yellow pages and two or three times a month I get a call from that. I also keep it for a sadistic form of entertainment. I have a vice. I like to torture telemarketers. I know it’s bad. They are just trying to do a job. When I die and go to whatever circle of hell I am doomed for, the guy with the horns and pitchfork will have me making phone calls to complete strangers at dinnertime. It’s only fair.

The house phone is do not call protected. Works like a charm. The business line is not. I get on average five calls a day. So I can do things like repeat every word they say back to them.

Or pretend that I know them.

“Karem, my old friend! You rascal you. How’s the harem?”

Or I can do the old call and response:

Me: Hello - ANNOYING TELEMARKETING COMPANY: Hello, this is ANNOYING TELEMARKETING COMPANY - Me: Is this A. T. C.? - A. T. C.: Yes, this is A. T. C - Me:- This is A. T. C.? -A. T. C.: Yes This is A. T. C -Me: Is this A. T. C.? - A. T. C.: YES! This is A. T. C., may I speak to Mr. Rising please? - Me: May I ask who is calling? - A. T. C. This is A. T. C… (Repeat until they hang up.)

Or I just keep repeating, “I knew you were going to say that…”

But now in the age of computers you can get high tech. There exist “Soundboards” on the interwebs that can give you short sound clips of almost any famous person , categorized by replies, insults, questions, exclamations, sounds. Well you get the drift. With a few of these open and a speaker phone you can really do some psychic damage to a telemarketer. Think Stewie Griffin. “What the deuce?” Or Robert De Niro. “You talkin’ to me?”

Funny as all this is I do try to remember that telemarketers aren't actually the spawn of Satan, that they are real people just doing a job and being cruel to them isn't right. So afterwards I tell them "Please put me on your Do Not Call list.” I could be lying.