Tuesday, July 7, 2015

We Don't Need Tighter Gun Controls

At 10:45 p.m. Sunday, June 28, Abdul Mutakalim was shot in the 1700 block of Elmore St. in Cincinnati.  On Tuesday, June 30, Mr. Mutakalim died in the hospital.

On Thursday, July 3, Cincinnati Police SWAT executed a search warrant in the 3100 block of Beekman St. in Cincinnati.  They arrested Javon Coulter on charges of aggravated robbery and aggravated murder.

Javon Coulter is 14.

Monday, July 6, 2015

We're #1

Over the years I haven't hidden my disdain for Walmart.  I think they are the dregs of American retailing.  Low wages, poor training, unhappy employees and a deliberate effort to keep employee hours below the threshold to receive medical coverage and other benefits all are enough for me to consider them the worst.  Mrs. Grumpy, like so many consumers, still shops Walmart for certain items because they are so much cheaper than everyone else.  An identical six pack of bottled water that sells at Kroger for $2.99 goes for $1.50 at Walmart.  I always tell her to use her own money when shopping there; I don't want to contribute to those assholes.

Anyway, Mrs. Grumpy goes to an exercise class at the local Y three mornings a week.  One day she comes home to tell me that one of the women in the class told her that our local Walmart has the highest rate of shoplifting of any store in the chain.  I didn't believe that and a quick Google search confirmed that a Denver area store deserved the honor.  Then last week the police captain in charge of the district in which we reside, that also includes the Walmart, declares to the local media that said store is indeed the most shoplifted in America.  Between June 2, 2013 and June 2, 2015 the store reported 235 incidents of theft and there were an average of 2.5 police runs per day made to the store.

Walmart corporate headquarters has declined comment other than a stock press release saying how they are continuously working to reduce theft.  The local police have had no further comment.  So until someone else steps up to take the crown, I guess our Walmart is indeed #1.  The ironic part is that the new District 3 police headquarters building will go operational at 7:00 a.m. tomorrow morning; it's located less than 100 yds from the front door of Walmart.  At least the cops will have a quicker response time.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Absence Makes The Heart...

Mrs. Grumpy left early last Sunday to visit family in North Carolina.  Sort of a family crisis and she made the decision to go just the day before leaving.  I have a close friend getting married this Saturday, so I opted to stay here for the wedding.  I've been home alone before, like when she goes to Germany to visit her mother and it always goes the same way.

I start out thinking this is going to be the greatest thing ever.  The dishes can pile up in the sink, I won't make the bed, I can cut the grass when I feel like it, not necessarily when it needs it.  I can even turn the toilet paper over so it unrolls from the bottom the way civilized people have it.  This feeling of liberation and euphoria lasts about one day.  By Monday night I haven't been out of the house all day, other than to take Abby out.  On Tuesday I again do nothing other than to get my ass in gear to go to the ribbon cutting and open house for the new district police headquarters in our neighborhood, where I don't see anyone I know and speak to nobody.  By Wednesday she's been gone for four days and I realize I haven't talked to another human being in that time.  I also have taken exactly one shower.

Today (Thursday) I actually got myself out by 1:00 p.m. to get a haircut, pick up some dry cleaning and get a foot long at Subway.  Half for lunch, half for dinner.  I know, pathetic.  Most of you are probably thinking I miss the hot meals.  Not really.  I didn't get married the first time until I was 32 and after that short lived mistake ended I waited 13 years to marry again.  The point being that I lived alone a lot of years and always managed to keep myself fed.

No, the problem is loneliness.  I've never developed close male friendships where I can call up and say "Let's go get a beer".  I could do that with The Big Guy, but he's over four hours away.  Mrs. Grumpy is my company, the person I count on to be there, to listen to me, to tell me where we keep the ice cream scoop.  She's coming home Sunday and for me it can't come soon enough.  If you see her, keep this between us.  I don't want her getting a big head.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

I Now Pronounce You

By The Big Guy
Senior Contributor

I went to my first gay wedding this past Saturday. As the minister who performed the ceremony said, they were to be congratulated not only for their marriage but also for their incredible timing. Their marriage in a state where gay marriages have been conducted for some time followed by one day the ruling from the Supremes that such events were now legal in every state, even Mississippi and Texas and Louisiana and Alabama.

Lisa and Kim have been together for over two decades. They have raised two beautiful teen daughters in a loving home. I have no idea why they decided now was the appropriate time to dot the i’s and cross the t’s in the eyes of the state. Having never been faced with those issues myself I can only imagine the problems that could ensue. It was delightful just to be a part of this family’s journey for one night.

It was a lovely event on a beautiful summer evening in a stately old building in the suburbs. Had there not been two women standing at the front of the room with the minister you would have been hard pressed to point out any differences. Lisa, being Jewish, brought a few of her traditions to the ceremony, as they spoke vows each had written under a chuppah (canopy) and crushed a wine glass under their shoes together. To complete the service the minister simply declared the happy couple married as opposed to the standard pronouncement of ‘you are this and you are that and off you go.’ And they kissed and we applauded and the recessional led to the receiving line and that was that. For those wondering, especially those of you in Mississippi and Texas and Louisiana and Alabama, lightning did not strike. The earth did not open up and swallow the wedding party and guests or even a few hors d’oeuvres.

During dinner there were several toasts, short speeches and heartfelt words of love for the continuingly happy couple, followed by dancing late into the night. The event came to an end. Everybody went home. Two women were married. I was a witness. Nothing bad happened. The world continues to spin on its axis. Life goes on. Really.

I’m looking forward to the day that the event I attended last Saturday night becomes so commonplace that it hardly causes notice at all, not even a post on a blog. Then all those people in places like Mississippi and Texas and Louisiana and Alabama who say they don’t know any gay people, don’t live near any gay people, and don’t work with any gay people can get the surprise of their life.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Hero Of The Week

Army Pfc. Jacob S. Fletcher
Age:  28
Company C
2nd Battalion (Airborne)
503rd Infantry Regiment
173rd Airborne Brigade
Died 13 November, 2003
Samara, Iraq

Monday, June 29, 2015

I Don't Deserve Any Credit

I'm sitting at home one Saturday morning about a month ago when there's  knock at the door.  I open to find a 30-something woman who introduces herself and tells me she's from the Westwood Civic Association.  She would like to award us the Yard of the Month for June.  Says she will bring out the sign a few days later and pick it up at the end of the month.  I told her we would be honored.

The best part was telling Mrs. Grumpy about it when she returned home.  Because it's really her award.  Although we have a landscaper who comes out and cuts everything back and mulches every May, Mrs. Grumpy keeps on top of the upkeep, edging the beds, keeping weeds at bay and shaping up all of the greenery when necessary.  Me?  I cut the grass, a 10 minute job.  Sometimes, if I let it go a day or two too long for her taste, Mrs. Grumpy will cut it; in those instances I do nothing.

This picture was taken before all of the June rain and much of what you see is now awash in yellow lilies and purple cone flowers.  I like having a nice looking yard.  Just not enough to break a sweat to keep it that way.  Fortunately, I have Mrs. Grumpy for that.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Bringing Back Memories

Maybe some of you remember my writing here last fall about receiving the information for the 50th Reunion of my high school graduating class.  If not, you can review my feelings at the time
by clicking here.  I've had  eight months to consider what to do about this gala event.  For most of those eight months I was resolute in my original decision that the whole thing was going to be a waste of time.  Those feelings stem from the last reunion I attended, our 30th.  At that one the attendance was disappointing, there were a lot of people I didn't even know in high school (remember, we had a class of 677) and most everyone there clustered in little clumps with the friends they have been hanging with ever since high school.  For those reasons I had no interest in attending the 40th.

Then a few weeks ago I received an email sent by a classmate through the contact link on my profile at the reunion website.  Why did I post my profile if I had no intention of going?  Good question.  I'll need to consult a psychiatrist to answer that one.  Anyway, this classmate said she had started reading this blog since I had pasted a link into my profile.  She wrote to tell me she enjoyed the blog and that she and I were among very few liberals in our class.  Since then she has been subtly urging me to go.  I started checking the website to see who was coming.  There are a few people I would like to see.  And, as The Big Guy said last fall, I'm probably never going to see any of them again.

Long story, short, I sent in my RSVP this week.  We're officially going, but only one of the two nights.  If I were to go Friday and find it terrible I would feel obligated to go on Saturday since we had paid for it.  So I'm in for Saturday night.  Since it's being held at a casino I can take a roll of quarters.  If it starts to sound like a Tea Party rally I can go play the slots.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

What's the Environment?

By The Big Guy
Senior Contributor

I was lucky. I grew up in a place and time where I would have had to go out of my way to become a racist. By the time I was five years old my dad would take me to work with him on occasion, at the end of his day. There was Angelo, John, Chester, Tommy, Leon, Willie, Joe and Eddie, a few of the names I remember of the eighty or ninety guys he worked with at the post office. And of those eighty or ninety guys probably half or more were African-American. I guess Negro would have been the descriptor of choice back there in the late fifties, early sixties. But to me they weren’t Negroes. They were John and Tommy and Joe, the guys my dad worked with and I never gave it a thought beyond that.

When I was in high school my dad managed to get me a job at a small department store, one that has long since gone out of business although it was surprisingly featured in a New York scene in The Godfather. I worked for Eddie who handled shipping, and Roy who did maintenance work around the store. Eddie tended to be a bit more strict than Roy, but they both kept busy all day and kept me even busier because I was the sixteen year old and they were the grown ups. They were in charge and I did what I was told. The fact that they were black never crossed my mind.

That’s why I was lucky. I grew up in a home where I was not taught to hate. My role models, my parents, did not hate. Oh, there might have been an in-law here and there they weren’t crazy about, but hate? No. And I believe I eventually realized that this was even more important to me than the fact that my youthful exposure was race agnostic. It wasn’t that I didn’t learn about prejudice as a kid, having grown up Jewish in a predominantly Catholic neighborhood. In the fifties the Catholic kids were learning in their school that apparently I had some direct hand in the killing of their Savior. Heck, I wouldn’t have been happy about that either. Fortunately most of those kids must have decided that I probably wasn’t directly to blame and it was most likely my grandparents or great-grandparents that were the bad guys. So it was still okay to play baseball with me.

I guess all this is just to say that reflecting back on events this past week, you can eliminate all the signs of racism that you want. You can take down all the confederate flags flying in the south. Amazon and Walmart can stop selling beer coolers and beach towels with that same symbol on them. You can burn every swastika you come across. But until people stop passing down the rudiments of hate to their children, either by overtly teaching it or by their actions in the home, that whole created equal thing is still an awful long way off.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Hero Of The Week

Army 1st Lt. David R. Bernstein
Age:  24
1st Battalion (Airborne)
508th Infantry Battalion
173rd Infantry Brigade
Died 18 October, 2003
Taza, Iraq

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

In his "manifesto"  Dylan Roof credited the Council of Conservative Citizens with helping to form his views on African-Americans and race.  These politicians knew who Holt was and the views of his organization when they accepted the money.  Now they're scrambling to give it back.  Hey, one of my Senators made the list.

Monday, June 22, 2015

I Have A Solution

Once again our country mourns a senseless multiple shooting, this time by a 21 year old racist at a black church in Charleston, SC.  Nine innocent people dead, shot while attending a Bible study.  An hour earlier they had welcomed their murderer with open arms.  Now the country, as happened after Columbine and Aurora and Newtown and countless other instances of mass shootings, will talk for a few weeks about the need to do something about gun violence.  And then nothing will be done and it will fade from memory until it happens again.

Well, I have the answer.  I am proposing that legislation be passed in Congress that will make it mandatory for every citizen aged 21 and older, who passes a background check, to not only own a firearm but be required to carry it at all times.  It would work much the same as Obamacare does for health insurance; if you choose not to arm yourself there will be a financial penalty.  For those who can't afford the full price of a gun there will be government subsidies.  The subsidies will be financed by the fees collected for background checks. 

Do you think Dylan Roof would have been so quick to walk into that church with mayhem on his mind if he knew every one of those parishioners was armed?  I think not.  He may have succeeded in killing a few, but he would have been met with overwhelming fire power.  The death toll would have been much less.  Down the road any nut case bent on committing mass murder is going to have second thoughts before acting.  It's a logical deterrent.

Will this lead to some cases of unjustified shootings?  Of course.  There will be some people who will decide to settle minor disagreements with their guns; people who do that are complete idiots and we're better off without them.  On balance, a society where law abiding citizens are armed will be safer and less dangerous.  Write your congressperson today.

Friday, June 19, 2015


I had an appointment at 1:00 yesterday.  I arrived early and as I sat in the waiting room a large TV was tuned to Fox News.  As I was the only one there, I could clearly hear the audio.  To my disbelief, the three people on air were trying to make the case that the shootings of the night before in Charleston, SC were not racially motivated but rather an attack on religion.

The attack took place in an historically black church, the victims were all black, the perp has expressed anti-black views in the past, had a Confederate flag license plate on his car and wore a pro-apartheid patch on his jacket.  But Fox is doing their best to make it look like another piece in their War on Christianity narrative.

That's all I have.  I'm mad and sickened.

**Late night update:  After writing the above I saw Sen. Lindsey Graham portraying the shootings as "Christians are under attack in this country."  You fucking moron.  

Thursday, June 18, 2015

One Man's Trash...

By The Big Guy
Senior Contributor

I’ve moved storage lockers. I’d give you the new address but fortunately I don’t live there. My stuff lives there. And trust me on this: If you ever get a storage locker with the expectation that it is a temporary thing you are deluding yourself. No matter how hard you try to destroy, donate, sell, give away or reuse all the things in your storage locker, it is a task at which you will never succeed. One day you will be dead and your kids will have to go through all that crap and decide how to dispose of it. This is fitting since most of the stuff once belonged to them anyhow.

Renting a storage locker is the great addiction of the twenty-first century, having replaced cigarettes. Instead of eating away at your lungs it has its way with your wallet. Storage locker companies know this, which is why they are popping up all over the country either as new construction or through the conversion of old warehouses. In the not too distant future I envision cities with business districts made solely of storage locker facilities and Starbucks.

I can’t remember how long ago it was that we got our first storage locker. I suppose I could track down some old paperwork but it would only depress me. It has to be at least ten years ago, maybe a bit more. It was small, cute, a novelty. We filled it with stuff that we didn’t have room for in the house, things that we probably didn’t need to keep but we did. A major home remodel caused us to jump to a locker about four times the size of the original one. That’s where our stuff has been for the last eight years. The reason for the move had to do with what I assumed to be the storage locker company’s new advertising slogan, which must have been something along the lines of, “We neglect you better than anyone.” The building became run down. The ceiling lights were never replaced. The exterior doors on one side were broken so that anyone could just walk into the building. So they boarded up the entrance. The bathroom was broken so they just boarded that up, too. The only thing they ever managed to do on a timely basis was raise the monthly rent. So my only option, the only one that mattered was to move out. I don’t think they gave a damn but I felt better.

As we moved lockers the other day the whole family pitched in. When we first got there my son opened up a box that had his name on it. On top he found the Starting Lineup figures of the 1989 Chicago Cubs. Before my very eyes I watched a thirty-year-old man turn into a five-year-old boy. For a very short moment all the aggravation of this whole locker thing went away. Moment over. Damn.

So we’re in the new place. It’s great. The loading dock is indoors and shielded from the weather. The restrooms are clean and new. The office staff is friendly and helpful. The lockers are carpeted! Best of all, the same size locker is costing me twenty percent less than at that dump I just left. I think I’m going to like it here, which is good because clearly, I am never going to be able to get rid of this damn locker.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Hero Of The Week

Army Spc. Jeffery M. Wershow
Age:  22
2nd Battalion
124th Infantry Regiment
1st Armored Division
Died 6 July, 2003
Baghdad, Iraq