Monday, February 27, 2006

Dying TV Guys

In the last couple of days three old TV guys have passed on to the next realm. (As to what that is, well, this and hundreds of other sites are at least partly dedicated to figuring that out.) Yesterday Darrin McGavin, Don Knots and today I heard that Dennis Weaver have shuffled off their mortal coils. I guess none of them would really qualify as icons. McGavin was always kind of a second stringer in the title role on Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer and later as Kolchak on the original Night Stalker. Many will remember Knotts from 3s Company which I never watched, but, of course, his main claim to fame was his stint on The Andy Griffith Show as the bumbling Barney Fife. Fewer will remember Knott's first real exposure on The Steve Allen Show as the nervous, bug eyed "man on the street." Dennis Weaver's most memorable role was his rather short lived tenure on the original Gunsmoke as the hobbling Chester Goode. (Remember him awkwardly running along a wooden sidewalk yelling "Mr. Dillon, Mr. Dillon.") Of course, he later managed a fairly long running modern day western/detective series, McCloud. He was, some may not remember, the beleaguered traveler in Steven Spielberg's directorial debut, Duel about the homicidal semi.

All three appeared in countless TV and film roles during the course of their respective careers. None were ever true headliners. But, man. All three of these guys were a part of the fabric of early American TV. A good deal of the work they did, would be considered by today's standards stilted and obvious. But at the time, back in the '50s and '60s, they were progenitors of those standards. .

Actually, probably the best actor of the three, McGavin was also the least well known. Again, his stuff was never quite "A" list, even for network TV. Often, Mike Hammer and the later Night Stalker ran on less vital Friday or Saturday nites. But Gunsmoke and later McCloud were always pretty much "A" list shows as were Andy Griffith and 3s Company. They were three of the many faces that one expected to see on a nightly basis on the television shows I grew up with.

I will miss Chester, Barney and Mike.


Saturday, February 25, 2006

The godless community

Just a short note here. I am happy to report that the godless community is larger than, until recently, I had imagined. There are bunches of sites - some great - some not so great - devoted to non-belief. I will endeavor to add links to some of the better ones I have found, or been led to in the next few days, and I will continue to add any I believe are of interest.

I know that I still have a rather insignificant readership, but it is growing incrementally. I remain pleased with my discourse with Sweet Jazzy Cat. I kind of feel like a kid at kindergarten coming home to tell mommy about my new friends. Agnostic Mom has been gracious enough to join in the fray (Not James Frey, I should clarify.) Of course she has a great site of her own which has an impressive following. New to the short list of visitors is one OVER2U who has recently established a site - Open Campus ( I hope to hear from him in the future. He has but a few posts at this time, but they are, I think, insightful and well written. I should note that OVER2U is not monolithic in his interests, which in turn interests me. I endeavor not to be a johnny one note here.

Now, in that spirit I offer the following:

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am "in training" for the Indy Mini-Marathon as a walker. I am an older endomorph, not properly packaged for running or jogging. So I walk. Even so. For anyone who has not endeavored to get into or remain in decent physical condition, the prospect of walking 13.1 miles is daunting. I walked about 6 miles earlier today, and I must tell you, I don't exactly feel great right now. In a way, the fact that I walked The Mini a couple of years ago, somehow makes it more daunting. I vividly remember just how bad I felt along about mile 11. I truly did not believe that someone could feel so bad and still be able to move, let alone walk. I well remember how pained and dazed I was at the walk's end when first I had to stop and sit down so they could remove the timing chip from my shoe. I doubted strongly that I could get back up out of the chair, but I apparently did. Then, I had to run the gauntlet of people shoving things at me, various fruit, bottles of water, chips, cookies. Then someone motioning toward me to come over and get my picture taken. Leave me alone! was my only thought. I walked back into Military Park, juggling all my new found treasures, where all participants were supposed to meet up with whatever family member, friend, or neighbor was assigned the task of getting us home. I saw that the "S's" were gathered out in the, by then, too hot sun. Screw that! I found a large old tree and gingerly collapsed between its exposed roots where I spent the next several minutes staring straight up at the tree and the sky beyond wondering what kind of an idiot willingly puts himself through such torture. Walking 13.1 miles. I could have driven it in a lot less time, and would have felt infinitely better when I arrived.

Every now and then a face would loom over me, its mouth moving, asking if I was all right. While I really had no idea, I just nodded and said I was fine. Actually, I am now certain that I was on the brink of death. I was dehydrated. My electrolytes were askew. I finally managed to dig my cell phone out of my fanny pack (Yes, I had a fanny pack. What of it?) and called my son who was wandering around looking for me. He eventually found me and said, "You look like crap, dad. Well come on, let's go to the car. " "Where is it?" I queried. "At Circle Center Mall." he replied. (For those of you unfamiliar with downtown Indy - Military Park and Circle Center Mall do not rub elbows with each other. Circle Center is probably about a half mile or more from the park.) Once again. Screw that! I calmly stated, "You go and bring the car as close to this spot as you can get it. Just don't run over me."

Well, of course, as these marathony kind of things tend to cause numbers of street closings and blockades, he was only able to get the car to within about 3 blocks of where I continued to lie prostrate under the big tree. By this time I had probably been lying there about 45 minutes or so. The park was clearing out. The little tents were closing up or coming down. I think that if my son had not returned, I would likely have been left there to dry up and blow away. But, never fear, return he did. I drank some water - I can't stand Gatorade, it makes me want to - how you say? - hurl chunks - and finally managed to get to my feet with not a little difficulty. I hobbled along beside my 20 something son, who had, while I was struggling along in the Mini, gone up to Butler University and run several miles along the Monon Trail. (Again, if your not familiar . . . oh, who gives a rat's ass?) He was fine and fit. Ready for anything. I was ready for cortisone shots.

So, in that light, I look forward to my next adventure in mini-marathon land with high hopes.
I'm sure my training regimen will render me far more fit and ready to fiddle my way along for another 13.1 miles. May 6th can't get here soon enough! I wonder if we've got any whole grain beer?


P.S. The photo above is apropos of nothing. It was taken on a property that I appraised a couple of years ago. I just thought it would look pretty good to anyone who has grown tired of winter. I know I have.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Random Thoughts

Cheney's Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: The whole gun totin' Cheney affair was a non-starter for me. As I may have mentioned, I think hunting is hardly an adult passtime. However, while the shooting was an unfortunate incident, I don't see how there is any political traction here. It was, afterall, nothing more than an accident. I am hardly a Cheney fan. What I know of him, I don't like. But, enough all ready. Let it go. It means nothing. Find something worth chewing on.

The Dubai Port Authority: Well, I really don't know enough about it to make an informed comment. All I can say is that it seems dumb. So much of politics is concerned with appearances. How does having an Arab/muslim country in charge of running our seaports look? Circumstances being as they are, it just looks bad. I suppose it just came down to dollars and (lack of) sense. Obviously, there was no transparency in the selection process. Apparently not even the pres (bless his little Texas heart) knew about it.

Winter Olympics: Americans are doing okay, I guess. As of this AM the US was second in the medal count. The biggest flop obviously has been Bode Miller. What a piece of work. Other disappointments are too numerous to mention. Delights? Well, of course, so far Sasha Cohen has been great. Belbin & Agosto also did us proud. (I guess it doesn't hurt that both the ladies are - to use the technical term - hot!)

Agnostic Mom: Several days ago I read one of Agnostic Mom's posts (or possibly a comment on one of her posts) wherein she stated that she doesn't know whether or not there is a god. For that reason she believes that she is an agnostic. That's not how I define the term. An agnostic, as I understand it, has not decided what she or he believes. It's not a question of knowing.

I don't know that there is no god. I definitely don't believe in the existence of any god. Regardless of how much anyone believes, or doesn't believe, no one can know that there is or isn't a god. At this stage of our knowledge, we cannot prove either position. I have read some of the "proofs" for and against god's existence on The Carnival of the Godless, other sites, books, etc. No matter the often excruciating extent some go to state their case, if god suddenly materialized and forced us all to listen endlessly to John Tesh music, all such arguments would be rendered moot. Of course, there is even less likelyhood that some proof against god's existence will present itself. Proving the negative is more problematic. Nevertheless, I don't believe in god's existence. I am an athiest.

Cartoons: The cartoons above are not in any way provocative. They are scans of a couple of pen and ink drawings my father drew, probably around 75 to 80 years ago. He attended some type of school to learn the process of lithography, which at the time was still done by etching images on limestone. While I never knew these drawings existed until well after his death, I assume that he created these and other drawings we found while attending the school which, I believe, was located in Dayton, Ohio. He later became a lithographer, more specifically a stripper which had to do essentially with cutting and pasting in the photo-lith process. Ultimately, he and a couple of co-workers at a large offset company in Indianapolis, Burfords Printing Co., started their own shop in the late '40s. They named it Modern Litho Arts. It was a struggle, but they eventually achieved some small success. My dad retired, selling his interest in the company to the one remaining partner in the early '70s. Dad was diagnosed with colon cancer in 1972. It finally claimed him just over 28 years ago on February 20th, 1978. I miss my dad.


Sunday, February 19, 2006

Those Darn Cartoons

Some scurrilous individual indicated that the "cartoon" at the left is a likeness of the prophet Mohammed. But I have it on good authority that it is actually a caricature of one Mickey Podherz, a high school classmate and inveterate nose picker who had a problem with early onset facial hair.

Any resemblence to the prophet is purely coincidental.

Any muslim cleric who places a bounty on anyone who offends them should be kidnapped and forced to perform karaoke versions to Barry Manilow's "At the Copa." repeatedly on Al- Jazeera's "E."

Personally, I think that every newspaper and periodical in the west should publish all of the offending prophet cartoons. Who would they target then?

No doubt pious muslims would never consider publishing anything offensive against jews or christians. Their hypocrasy is without equal.


Wednesday, February 08, 2006


On January 28th Jazzy Cat wrote a short piece on the impropriety of religious pluralism. He makes the point that among all of the various religions, only one can be genuine. All others must needs be wrong. Well, now that's the ultimate problem. That's how we all wind up as pink mist, isn't it? (My thanks to tv's Grey's Anatomy for the pink mist thing.)

Every person of faith believes that he or she is on the one true path to eternal paradise. All others, presumably, are on the slippery slope to the nether world. All christians, actually not just all christians, but all methodists, all baptists, all presbyterians, all nazarenes, all lutherans, all catholics, etal, believe that they are the chosen of god. Never mind that the jews, muslims, hindus, sikhs and, well, everyone else of faith believe the same. Each is convinced that they are on the path of absolute truth. In the end, is there any possibility of these people finding common ground? Or will it all end in the eventual armagedden that the Raptiles predict?

If it can be said that athiests have any kind of mission, it may well be to do everything possible to forestall such an eventuality. It may not be enough to just batter ideas back and forth, or to spend time delving into the absurdities and contradicitions in the christian bible. I believe that agnostics, athiests, secular humanists, or whatever, must try to become more involved in the larger society. We must come out of our godless closets. We must involve ourselves in our respective communities. We must get involved in politics at all levels.

I understand that it will be an uphill battle to say the least. Anyone trying to get elected to public office as an admitted athiest or agnostic will likely encounter an openly hostile electorate. I suppose there are small enclaves in some communities which have embraced an avowed secular candidate, but they would surely be few and far between. I live in a solidly red state - a bastion of the bible belt. I don't believe that I am currently in a position to make any kind of political move, but that could change. I don't believe that politics is the only road to take. Organizations like the Council for Secular Humanism are good, great in fact, but often, I feel like they are essentially preaching to the choir.

What else can be done? I'm looking for suggestions. As much as I enjoy this, I doubt that blogging is going to get it done.


Friday, February 03, 2006

Mohammed and other stuff

First: I have been out of the loop for a while. If you have read my last couple of entries, you know that my neighbor, Susie, died unexpectly several days ago. There is to be a memorial service for her tomorrow. Several members of her husband's family have stayed with him for support. Soon, though, he will have to face the first days alone in his house. He is essentially retired, so he has a lot of time on his hands. He generally stays busy doing yard work and otherwise working around the house. But, of course, February is not a great time for yard work. While he is an inveterate tinkerer, I imagine he will have times when he becomes painfully aware of the silence, the emptiness. My wife and I will do what we can; have him join us for meals either at home or when we go out, and just checking in.

I am not close enough to Ernie to know how he will respond. He may be fine. Or not. Again, we will do what we can.

Now, on to other things.

Images of Mohammed:

Obviously, I could care less about someone printing caricatures of mohammed or any other religious figure. I responded to a poll taken on the MSNBC web site which asked if those who created and printed the images of mohammed should be punished. I voted no. (big surprise.) I clicked on results to find that something more than 80% agreed with me.

It then occured to me it was likely that most of the respondents were christians. Most christians would not likely be overly concerned with images of mohammed. What if the images had been of jesus? I suppose the numbers would have revealed another bias.

There is a difference, however. As most predominantly christian countries enjoy (or endure) a free press, it is likely that any number of less than flattering images of jesus have been printed in all manner of media. Certainly, some would voice their displeasure, but there would probably not be a massive angry response with thousands of people taking to the streets firing automatic weapons in the air, burning flags and effigies, and making murderous threats.

Muslims should get over themselves. Why should the rest of the world walk on proverbial eggshells whenever an issue arises which might affect members of the nation of islam? Political life is often not polite. If you expect to be able to make accusations against someone else, you have to expect to take them as well. Do muslims imagine that mohammed's feelings are hurt?

A look at the history of much of the Muslim world - including current history - reveals a people who have long been and, in many countries, continue to be violent in nature. A book I cited in an earlier post - The End of Faith - goes to some length in revealing the root of Islamic violence. Current protestations notwithstanding, the koran makes literally dozens of pronouncements in support of violence against anyone not of the faith, or against any muslim believed to be insufficiently devout.

Of course, it should be noted that the christian bible also reveals a vengeful god, especially in the old testament.

I am fearful that, unless cooler heads prevail, there will ultimately be a major conflagration between muslims collectively against the western, and largely christian, world. I am making no predictions about how or when such a conflict might happen, but my gut is, at best, queasy about the future. I hope this fear is foolishly alarmist.

However, I find it not a little alarming that many of our political leaders, both Rs and Ds, have recently stated they believe it to be almost inevitable that the USA will suffer a nuclear (or nuculer) attack(s,) and/or chemical and/or biological attacks at the hands of fundmentalist muslim terrorists. That's just dandy! Where might it happen? New York? DC? LA? Gnawbone?
(Yeah, there is a town in Indiana named Gnawbone.) Do you suppose that the politicos making such statements know something? Are they guessing? Or just hedging their bets?

What would our response be to such an attack? Who would we retaliate against? And how?

Good questions!