GEICO Caveman Defeats Giuliani


Since posting about the possibility that cavemen had and used language, my prehistoric friend has come to account for nearly 20% of all the traffic to this blog.  With numbers like that the GEICO caveman would have beat Rudy Giuliani in the Florida primary.  Not enough to be a serious candidate this time, but I think he’s setting up a run for president in 2012 (the caveman, I mean – Giuliani? not so much).  You don’t think so?  Check out this issue ad.


Blue Man Blues


As posted on BrianKaneOnline, the theatrical performance artists Blue Man Group are being sued by a man who attended a show in Chicago and was the subject chosen for the “Esophagus Cam” stunt.  He claims he was traumatized to the point of nightmares, and actually required dental work as a result of having the camera, “covered in food, liquid and grime from the Briar Street Theatre floor, including the thick blue paint used to cover the actors’ faces” put in past the uvula and causing a contusion to his esophagus.  He says, “I couldn’t eat, swallow, I could only have soft food. I had headaches, stomach aches, it was awful.”


I was the “Esophagus Cam” audience member at a BMG show in Boston.  I was a little taken aback by it, but the actors were careful to hold my head still and never actually put the camera in my mouth (though you could see the inside of my mouth on screen – a real treat, let me tell you).  I never felt like I was in any danger, and suffered absolutely NO ill effects from the experience.  As Brian says in his post, having an old high school friend who is intimately familiar with the operations of BMG, and having experienced it myself first hand, what I find awful is that this guy is trying to make a buck and save his sorry face at the expense of one of the most creative, and successful, groups to come along in a long time.

Sign me up as a witness for the defense.

Smoke ‘Em If You Got ‘Em

chesterfield.jpgThere was a time when I smoked. It wasn’t really until I was in basic training with the Army that I smoked; actually, it was when I had washed out of basic training and was waiting for my discharge orders and a flight home. But I became a regular smoker, and stayed that way for about five years. Unfiltered Chesterfield Kings were a particular favorite, though I couldn’t find them everywhere.

It’s been more than twenty years since I was a regular smoker – oh, a cigar here and there, but no cigarettes, and no pipe. Not even a cigar for the last couple of years. There are times when I still miss it, and the temptation is surprisingly strong, though I haven’t given in. It’s better that our kids haven’t grown up around it, and that the messages they get about smoking are unrelentingly negative. They’re better off, even if it makes it hard to explain all those old movies and the whole culture that grew up around smoking.

Of course, growing up in the late 1960s and 1970s, a lot of people smoked. My parents did, at least for a while. My mother quit when I was still pretty young, and my dad did, too, though I was never quite sure that he had quit completely. Cancer was never really an issue in our family, but heart disease and stroke were (are). That, and my wife’s complete aversion to it, are what keep me from giving in. Just as well.

Keeping The Demons At Bay

Make a habit, break a habit.  That’s what I said a couple weeks before New Year’s.   Having any luck?

With me it’s pretty much same ol’, same ol’, y’know.

I’ve been a little more conscious of the stress level in my life, and trying not to do things that add to it.  Honestly, though, I’m not sure I’m not just wimping out by not giving myself a hard time over things I need to change – eating less, exercising more (enough negatives to sort through, there?).  That kind of thing.  I can’t keep giving myself a pass.  Or can I?  I suppose I can, but the point at which I won’t be able to give myself any more passes will probably come sooner than it might have otherwise.

Morning and evening prayer have been more part of my routine the last couple of weeks than they have been, lo, these last couple of years.  But that’s not saying much.  If nothing else it helps me remember that there is a bigger reality than me, and I have all too much of a tendency to sink into my head.

Maybe it’s just cabin fever setting in.


rhapsody_logo.gifAs I’ve observed elsewhere, I don’t exactly live on the bleeding edge.  That said, I am not new to the world of online music services, whether it’s a radio station streaming live, audio archives of a favorite program, Hearts of Space, StillStream, or MSN Radio (now Pandora).  The kids are all on iTunes – so am I, but I am without a digital music player.

I came across Rhapshody a few weeks ago (I know, I don’t get out much); the twenty-five free plays got my attention – much better than the snippets you get on iTunes or Amazon.  Used up almost all of my free plays the other night, though, just cruising around.  In alphabetical order:

  • Cheap Trick
    • Gonna Raise Hell
    • Ain’t That a Shame
  • Dave Matthews Band
    • Ants Marching
  • Electric Light Orchestra
    • Fire on High
  • Emerson, Lake & Palmer
    • Fanfare for the Common Man/Blue Rondo a la Turk
  • Jean Michel Jarre
    • Oxygène (forget which one, though)
  • John Rutter
    • (don’t remember which one)
  • Larry Fast/SYNERGY
    • Relay Breakdown
  • Maynard Ferguson
    • MacArthur Park
  • The Fabulous Thunderbirds
    • Tuff Enuff
    • Wrap It Up
  • William Orbit
    • Silent Signals

Listening to some old favorites and finding new and interesting things really appeals to my inner musical omnivore.  Maynard Ferguson’s “MacArthur Park” from M.F. Horn I practically brought tears to my eyes.  And ELP’s riff on and incorporation of Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor after the 19:00 mark of “Fanfare/Blue Rondo?”  Copland, Brubeck, and Bach all in one place:  Wow.  Too much fun.

A Voice From The Past


Working my way through the works of Thomas Merton more or less consistently over the last several years, I found myself wondering what he sounded like.  I knew there was a collection of audio tapes at the Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University, but there was nothing I could find on the Internet.  Last fall I discovered that Credence Communications was putting out a series of CDs featuring Merton speaking to groups of novices in the 1960s.  Portions of the recordings have also been posted on YouTube.

Much like founding out what a favorite radio personality looks like, hearing the voice of someone you only know from their writing can be completely different from what you imagine.  In this case, Merton sounds much like I thought he would – approachable, direct, knowledgeable without being pedantic.  Given the original audience for the talks he was giving the content is somewhat esoteric, but the recordings provide an interesting glimpse into Merton as a human being.  As I have experienced in his writing, Merton is all about being authentic, all about the true self, regardless of the particularities of religious doctrine, so it’s good to hear him come across this way “in person.”