Monthly Archives: April 2007

Still Life with Fighting Monkeys

We visited the Ringling Museum yesterday morning.  You might expect circus memorabilia or mummified goats with three heads.  You would be wrong.  The Italianate mansion houses hundreds of masterpieces of the 16th and 17th century.  Definitely worth a visit.  While strolling thru the 17th Belgium century room, I came across the painting I’m now using as my header:  Still Life with Fighting Monkeys.  I’m only sorry I can’t crop the pic to include ALL the monkeys.

Right in the middle of a room full of serious still life studies comes the fighting monkeys.  Frans Snyders, you rocked.



Filed under Huh?

David Halberstam, R.I.P.

I was guzzling coffee this morning at our friend’s house in Sarasota after experiencing a tough Yankee’s loss last night to the lowly Devil Rays.  I was wishing I was less than a complete idiot regarding sunscreen and the amount of time I spent on the beach yesterday and I was thinking how much fun twittering is when you are on vacation – kinda keeps you in touch (if you wanna stay in touch!) and then I dropped my coffee cup…I read the news.

One of the best journalists that ever graced the pages of the Tennessean (many years ago) and one of the best writers of my generation was killed in a car wreck last night.   David Halberstam was one of those so-called ‘new journalists’ who could make non-fiction read like the best fictional prose you ever read.    He wrote about baseball, basketball, Peace Corps, civil rights and war.  He was one of the first major journalists to write the truth about Viet Nam.  

Read ‘The Breaks of the Game’ about his year with the Portland Trailblazer basketball team.  You don’t even have to like sports to appreciate how he got inside the head and heart of those players.   Read ‘The Children’, largely about the civil rights movement in Nashville.   Halberstam’s passions were on his sleeve and in his pen.

Halberstam saw through the smoke screens.  Last year in a speech in our state he was talking about how journalists telling the truth about Iraq were being shouted down just like the ones who spoke the truth about Viet Nam.

“The crueler the war gets, the crueler the attacks get on anybody who doesn’t salute or play the game,” he said. “And then one day, the people who are doing the attacking look around and they’ve used up their credibility.”

Halbertam NEVER lost his credibility.


Filed under Uncategorized

Finally…time for baseball

It’s been a long, sad, depressing week. I thanked God for Friday, despite the Preds going one and out again.. It’s time for my personal anodyne: baseball. One of my baseball friends and I are off to Florida today. I’m bagging two new baseball stadiums over the next few days, AND I get to see the beloved Yankees in Tampa Bay next week. I”m hoping they will have shaken off the horrors of their loss last night to the more devil-ish than the Devil Rays, the Bah-stan Red Sux Sox.

We’re meeting another friend this evening in Miami. If all goes well, I’ll return to Nashville having visited 33 major league baseball stadiums. With apologies to Johnny Cash….

I’ve been to Montreal, Bawstan, Shea and Yankee in New Yawk, Old Philadelphia Stadium, Old and New Baltimore, Old and New Cleveland, New Pittsburgh, Old Detroit, Toronto, Old Comisky, New Comisky, Wrigley, Old and New Cincinnati, Old Milwaukee (the stadium not the beer), Old and New Atlanta, Old St. Louis, Kansas City, Old and New Houston, Old and New Texas Rangers, Old San Diego, Angels Stadium, Dodgers Stadium, Giants Stadium, and Seattle. Baseball has been, very very good to me.

Best ballpark food by a mile: Seattle. Capitalism at it’s best….every vendor spot up for bid, as opposed one bid for all….result, remarkable and varied food options, as opposed to say, Shea Stadium where the brats taste like the hamburgers.

Best ballpark view: San Francisco…downtown, bridges, harbor

Worst: Shea Stadium in Queens. They could’ve given you Manhattan. Instead they chose auto-body-repair city. It can’t get any uglier.

I’ll miss my wife and many of you. I’ll get over a lot of that missing when the plane lands this afternoon in south Florida…whoohoooooooooooo


Filed under baseball, journey

Do you still beat your wife?

Slarti has an interesting post on the Winkler business concerning abuse and the difference between the male and female assumptions about abuse in a case such as Winkler’s.

I chimed in on this for several reasons. Some commenters wondered why Ms. Winkler just didn’t up and leave if she was being abused. As my wife said this morning when we were watching the news..’if you don’t understand why she didn’t leave, you don’t understand southern church of Christ culture’. Divorce is still a big taboo. The only ‘scriptural’ reason for divorce is adultry. You keep the family intact at large costs to yourself, because appearances do matter (that’s not just a C of C axiom).

I’m also a great believer in Occam’s Razor: All things being equal, the simplest solution tends to be the best one.

People who are not trained to kill don’t kill without a reason unless they are truly mentally ill. That’s not to say that the killing is always moral or justified, but people just don’t kill for the hell of it.

I’d venture to say (as I did in the comments at Slarti’s) that you could put every spousal killing into one or more of the following three categories*:

1. Sex
2. Money
3. Abuse – with self-defense being a sub-category of abuse
It was never a matter of just plain onery-ness. People who are not insane just don’t kill their spouse for little reason. There is some provocation. Doesn’t mean it’s ok, but always remember Occam’s Razor.

So, I disagree with Slarti’s premise that men look to trials such as this and wonder (or wager) when the ‘abuse card’ is going to be played. When the other major reasons are eliminated, abuse is what you have left.

Apparently the jury agreed: voluntary manslaughter implies provocation.

*unless, again, the killer is just plain bonked out.  Sorry for the technical medical jargon.


Filed under golden rule stuff, sanctity of life

Great white father speaks – ‘Sunni and Shiite unite!’

One of the many reasons our incursion into Iraq was wrong: arrogance and lack of understanding of history. Iraq was cobbled together by the English. Iraq is not an ‘organic’ country filled with people steeped in Iraqi pride.

The neo-con dream of parades and millions of people yearning for democracy was just that: a dream. And now we’re getting impatient. Not just those against the war, but the leader of the Department of Defense:

Making his third visit in four months to Iraq, Defense Secretary Robert Gates took a decidedly stronger tone as he warned the troubled nation’s leaders that American patience is wearing thin.

On his unannounced trip, the Pentagon chief said Iraq’s leaders have to move faster to bring together the warring factions.

Does this administration understand irony? Is this like the town in the movie ‘Roxanne’ where the Steve Martin character tells a new-comer to eschew irony, because they just don’t get it here?

The Sunni-Shiite rivalry dates back almost 1400 years, to Islam’s earliest decades. After the prophet Muhammad died, the group that became the Shiites backed his son-in-law, Ali, as his rightful heir. Shiite means partisan, as in partisans of Ali. Ali and his sons died in a series of battles lost to the caliph.

The President refuses to sign a bill that contains a timetable. We, the people, who clearly voted against this war in the 2006 election deserve to know how progress is being made and what plans the President has to keep this war from going on another five years. Are there realistic benchmarks? Does the Iraqi army have more than a handful of battalions who can ‘stand up’? Can we honestly say that the Iraqi army and the Iraqi police force are not riddled with militia whose allegiance is not to Iraq, but to their tribe?

Here’s another word the Bush crowd might not ‘get’: hubris

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Filed under Iraq, irony may be the shackle of youth but I love it, rank hypocrisy

A brief note on ‘Ugly Betty’, or, the ever beholding eye

I enjoy the show.  I have to say though, that for a show that purportedly shows us that there’s more to life than superficial beauty, the show is absolutely freaking loaded with beautiful women.


Filed under pop cults, TeeVee

Meanwhile, not in Virginia

Jackson wrote a provocative post yesterday that ties the two recent headlines together:

The more important question to me is why does the country not have the same ‘stop what you are doing and fly the flag at half mast’ sort of reaction when 33 people are senselessly murdered in Iraq. If you ask me, that is the real racism in today’s world.

The shooting in Virginia was jarring because things that extreme just aren’t supposed to happen here. We’ve come to expect daily body counts from Iraq because many of us have become numb..numb to the effects of a ruinous intervention..numb to the effects of a civil war in which we don’t belong even though ‘we’re’ trying to do something right,

The news-channels are doing their best grief pimping and will somehow manage to grind this story into numbing pixilation. When daily body counts become fodder for the news-monster, and death becomes as mundane as the pablum that passes for intelligence on sit-com TV, we still get temporaily  jarred when violence explodes in the wrong place. But, it won’t take long for Virginia Tech to be just another item on the crawl at the bottom of the screen. Apparently, death in Iraq is already that trivial.

Grieving relatives retrieved bodies from hospital morgues Thursday, and passers-by gawked at the giant crater left by a market bomb in one of four attacks that killed 183 people on the bloodiest day since the U.S. troop increase began nine weeks ago.

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Filed under Iraq, politics, sheer evil