Bringing In The Sheaves

I have to confess an addiction.

OK it’s really not an addiction… more like an obsession.

No wait, it’s an addiction. It has to be. After all, I can’t go a day without it in some form.

It’s not caffeine. That’s just a given anyway. I need that to live.

It’s not smoking. I wouldn’t dream of doing such a thing.

No, this is a television program.

Survivor? Never seen it. Amazing Race? See my answer for Survivor.

Little House On The Prairie? Bingo.

I’ll wait for you to stop choking on whatever you were eating or drinking.

Better? Good. I’ll continue.

So yeah… Little House on the Prairie. Laura Ingalls and family. Walnut Grove. Michael Landon. That’s the one. I always liked the show as a kid, and watched every Monday night on NBC in the 1970s as the Ingalls family dealt with everyday issues for a family in the 1870s– drought, crops, chickens, money, the Olesons, church, school, mean kids, Indians, crooks, births, deaths, and of course, ending every day with a valuable lesson from Pa and Ma.

I’ve read every Laura Ingalls Wilder book from cover to cover more times than any other book, ever. I still enjoy reading them today. The stories and the characters are just as enjoyable now as they were when I was in grade school.

But the TV show holds an extra special place in my heart. Who could forget snobby busybody Mrs. Oleson rejecting Ma Ingalls’ eggs at the Mercantile because they were brown, and “brown eggs get 4 cents less than white eggs.” Or Mr. Edwards’s jolly laugh and his theme song, “Ol’ Dan Tucker.” Or the lovely Miss Beadle teaching school, then the kooky but sweet Miss Wilder, then Laura herself after she became Mrs. Wilder. Or the adorably dopey Willie Oleson standing in the corner countless times at school. And then there’s Nellie Oleson… wonderful, bitchy, bratty Nellie…. and the endless ways she schemed to get her way against Laura. Mary going blind. Laura meeting “Manly” for the first time and carving their initials in a tree. The horrific fire at the Blind School that killed the wonderful Alice Garvey and Mary’s baby son. Carrie having a dream and meeting her “twin” (the character actually was played by twins).

I have a lot of memories of this show, and they’ve been enhanced because I now watch the show every day on the Hallmark Channel. They used to show two episodes every day from 9-11am, but now they also show two MORE episodes from 2-4pm… so that’s FOUR episodes of “Little House” that my DVR records for me. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

So yeah, I’m addicted. And it probably scares some of you, and probably makes you concerned for my sanity, but I don’t care. So what if the show is schamltzy. And so what if it doesn’t exactly follow the books word-for-word. And who cares that it took on a life of its own for Michael Landon to tell his own stories… I don’t. The show is fun– at times hilariously funny, and at times devestatingly sad. Just like life.

And as for Hot Toddy’s notion of Little House trading cards… I sense a business venture in our future. I’d bet the Nellie Oleson card alone would make us some big bucks.

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Read this. Get pissed off. (Part 2)


This adult picture brought to you by… censorship!

That’s right folks, censorship is alive and well in the 21st century, and websites such as Gay.com (where the above image is from) are forced to “dumb down” their rules on pictures… pictures of members who have paid for this service.

As a paying member of Gay.com, this upsets me. So I am posting the information that they have posted on their site about why they have resorted to this measure. So read it, get pissed off, and do something. That’s all I’m asking.

Changes to our photo policy mandated by the Bush Administration

Always on the lookout for hot guys and ways to keep people from having fun, the US Dept. of Justice is taking a break from prosecuting terrorists to do something they think is more important: restricting your right to view and share photos online.

All member photos identified as adult on our site are temporarily unavailable for public view, due to the sudden, and unconstitutional, decision by the US Dept. of Justice to place new restrictions on all web sites around the world that do business in the US (I guess nobody ever told them the internet is borderless). Gay.com thinks your adult photos should be sexy, secure, and legally protected, so we’ve joined with other companies to seek an injunction against this ruling. We’re doing everything possible to minimize its impact on you.

What does this mean for you?

Your civil liberties are under attack by the US government!
All photos identified as adult will be temporarily unavailable from public view
Members will still be able to view their own adult photos and edit their profiles, but they temporarily won’t be able to see anyone else’s adult photos
Gay.com will begin reviewing all adult photos, and will make them available again for public viewing if they meet our new standards (see below)
About these new government regulations

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has previously found these regulations to be unconstitutional, yet the Bush Administration has chosen to pursue them anyway
The new regulations go into effect June 23, 2005
It only applies to “sexually explicit” content, not content that is merely “lascivious” (Hmmm, I don’t know what explicit means, but I know it when I see it!)
See below for a detailed, and entertaining, explanation of what’s “explicit.”
Your adult photos

The good news: most of your photos are OK (including your adult photos) and will be restored once they’ve been approved by Gay.com, because the dirty boys at the US government only consider certain poses and activities to be “sexually explicit”
The bad news: under these regulations Gay.com will no longer be able to accept or display “sexually explicit” photos from its members for either public or private view

New standards for “sexually explicit” content on Gay.com

• A hand holding or touching genitals, or appearing to grip or stimulate genitals is considered masturbation and is prohibited.
‚Ä¢ A hand clearly “cupping” or covering genitals for the purposes of keeping them covered is allowable.
• A hand inside pants is prohibited as it implies masturbation.
• Pictures with more that one person that include nudity are prohibited.
• All cartoons are prohibited.
• While images of a nude person on all fours is allowable, an image showing the buttocks being held apart by hands would be considered explicit and prohibited.
• In the interest of safety, no images of nude children (e.g. a nude baby at the beach with her two dads) will be allowed.
• A clothed person posing with their pet is allowed, but a nude person with an animal is prohibited (no more walking your dog in the nude!).
• An image of a person in a bondage or fetish outfit is allowed (but please, no polyester!).
‚Ä¢ Images that depict bondage or S&M “abuse” are prohibited (shockingly, images from Abu Ghraib prison would be censored under the new regulations)
‚Ä¢ Digital images run through an “illustrator” filter on software would be held to these same standards

What is Gay.com doing about the regulation?

• We have joined with other companies to legally challenge its enactment
‚Ä¢ We’re fighting for your civil liberties, and oppose undue government interference with individual expression
‚Ä¢ We’re fighting against such regulations because we know they have a disproportionate effect on historically isolated groups, such as the LGBT community
Make your voice heard!

Contact US elected officials and the Dept. of Justice to tell them you oppose 18 U.S.C. §2257
US Dept. of Justice: www.usdoj.gov/contact-us.html
US Senate: www.senate.gov
US House of Representatives: www.house.gov

Support the Electronic Frontier Foundation in its efforts to defend freedom in the digital world www.eff.org
Need help?

Call: 1 (866) 313-6373
(Toll-free in the US & Canada)

Dearest Tom Cruise: Shut the F**k Up!

Dearest Tom Cruise,

I want to start this letter by telling you that I’ve always liked you. As far back as I can remember, I thought you were pretty cool. OK, I had a crush on you. I won’t lie. I’ll never forget the issue of “Teen Beat” that my sister bought with you on the cover in a tank-top. I about wet myself.

Let’s face it, Tommy. You’ve had one heck of a career. Nobody can deny that. You’ve been a heartthrob teen star, a dashing young man, a swinging single, a devoted husband and father, and then a once-again available divorcee. And yet you’ve always remained high in the public’s admiration.

But Tom, you’re blowing it. Big time.

First of all, let’s talk about that monkey act you pulled on Oprah. I mean come on. Beating your chest and swinging your arms like a friggin’ chimpanzee. Over what? A girl? Who’s half your age… or LESS?

What’s going on, Tom? Why are you resorting to such foolishness? You’re not 20 anymore. You’re not even 30. You’re in your 40s. 40-something men do not jump on furniture. They don’t do backflips. They don’t act like 10-year olds. What’s gotten into you?

OK fine, you love the girl. Great! Good for you. But can’t you just sit there like a grown man and say so? Why the antics? Why the acrobatics? We’d believe you if you just tell it to us straight … er… honestly.

And all this Scientology stuff is getting out of hand too. We’ve been hearing about it for years, but it’s starting to get ridiculous. How many brains have you washed in your lifetime? Nicole converted. (But is she still “in”? I wonder.) Now you’ve got Katie. And now she’s “in” too.

Oh now I’m not begrudging your right to believe what you want to believe in. This is America after all, and it is, despite what some people want us to believe, a free country. But all this machination is just a little bit too suspicious, Tommy Boy.

And now you’re engaged? Well what a surprise that was! How long have you been dating her, Tom? A month? Two? How well do you know her, really? Have you met her parents? Do they approve?

Well I would be happy for you, Tom, but what I read the other day in the papers, which you know always print the truth, really cinched it for me. You said that you asked her to marry her to quell the rumor mill and put an end to the tabloid witchhunt. Oh Tom. Have you learned nothing in your 42 years? The hunt has just begun.

Of course, it may be just mere coincidence that both of you have movies coming out right about now… Katie has that Batman flick and you get to play Orson Welles or something or other in War of the Worlds. Coincidence? Ha. Come on, Tom. You know exactly what you’re doing. You’re playing this for all it’s worth, and you’re loving every minute of it. You’re getting attention galore, and YOU LOVE IT. It’s been kind of quiet on the Cruise front for the last few years, and you just couldn’t stand it. Yeah ok, you dated Penelope Cruz for a while, but oh, I don’t know, something about the Cruise/Cruz rhymey-rhyme thing probably didn’t appeal to you so you nixed that one.

Thing is, I just don’t buy it, Tom. I really don’t. In fact, it’s been hard for me to buy in to most of your romances. Yeah I know the rumor mills have been going around for YEARS about your sexuality, but I really don’t care about that anymore. If you’re gay, fine. If you’re straight, fine too. I’m just tired of hearing about you. I’m tired of seeing your face. I’m tired of hearing your shrieky voice. I’m tired of the tabloids salivating over your every move. It’s getting old, and I am over it.

So Tom, do me a favor and just shut the fuck up. Please. Go away. Get married if you must (again), move to some deserted island, and stay there. I’m done with you. I don’t care what you do, I don’t care who you date, and I don’t care who you “love.” If you’re so hungry for attention that you have to pull these stunts and make these scenes, then you’re more screwed up than I ever thought before. Get help buddy. And get lost.

At least Nicole seems to be doing well. Which is good, ’cause I always liked her better anyway.

Best of luck.

Sincerely,

RcktMan Rick

The Ride Home

There were numerous things to talk about today. There was a huge fire in Lakeview that burned down a Dominick’s grocery store. There was a ton of sunshine and pleasantly warm temperatures. There’s the fact that I am still suffering from some sort of cold or allergies or something that is making everything miserable. And there was the long six-hour rehearsal that I went to for CGMC, which officially kicks off “Hell Week” for our show “World Tour.”

That’s all well and good, but what happened after all of that, during the ride home, trumped all of it.

Exhausted after a six-hour day in the sweltering basement hall of the church at which we rehearse, I made my way home. Usually I join some of the boys at North End for a drink, but I was beat, and since I was still not feeling 100% great, I figured it’d be better for me to just relax.

Driving north on Broadway Avenue is nothing exciting. There isn’t a whole lot to see. It’s just the ride home. Nothing special.

Traffic was moving along at a perfectly fine clip, and in just a few minutes, I would be safe at home.

As I approached Irving Park Road, about ten blocks from the church, I suddenly saw a man dash out from a taco stand at the right side of the street. He seemed to be running away from something, or to something… I couldn’t really tell. But instead of stopping at the street and waiting for traffic, he continued, full speed, directly into the street.

And that’s when it happened.

The car in front of me barely had time to stop. In fact, I am almost sure it didn’t. The man dashed past the parked cars and directly in front of the car in front of me. Both were going at their full speed, and the reaction was instantaneous. The man was clipped at the arm by the car’s driver side mirror. He flipped over two, maybe three times, and landed at the side of the road, crumpled by the fire hydrant. The mirror shattered and sprayed all over the street.

Had I been looking down, or off to the side, I would have missed it, but for some reason my eyes watched every waking second of this event. Dumbstruck, I of course shouted “Oh My God!” pulled over and immediately called 911.

After giving the fire department all of the information, I turned my car around and parked it. The car that hit the man had pulled over by the intersection. I could see the hood was crumpled and the mirror was gone. The windshield was smashed. The driver and a girl came out of the car. The girl was crying hysterically. She was on the phone, I assume trying to call 911. I told her I had already called. She kept crying and didn’t hang up.

I walked over to the man on the ground. He was surrounded by his friends and other witnesses. His arm was definitely broken. I was suprised it was even attached to his body. There was blood pooling at the curb. I couldn’t look for long. It was gruesome.

The police were the first to arrive, then the fire department and the paramedics. I gave my statement to the police as they gingerly tended to the man at the curb.

Everyone gave pretty much the same account of the event. The man darted out, the driver didn’t see him, and they hit. I couldn’t tell if the driver was going too fast, but in hindsight I really believe he was going at about the rate of speed as the rest of the traffic.

And then I said to the officer, “If I had been in the driver’s position, I wouldn’t have seen him either. It just happened so fast.”

And then it hit me. It could have been me. I could have hit this man. If the timing were just a second off, or if there was nobody in front of me and I was driving just a little bit faster, it could have been me.

But thank God it wasn’t.

The man was responsive, and alert. He’s going to be OK, but he’s going to be in a LOT of pain. It could have been worse– MUCH worse. I have never seen anything like this, and I hope to heaven I never will again.

As the ambulance took off, the crowd began to disperse. I walked back to my car and took one last look at the car that hit the man.

It could have been me.

But thank God it wasn’t.

And then I finished the ride home.