Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Last of the Story

Paul Harvey has died.

And with his passing, a radio era has ended.

For as long as I have listened to radio, there has been a Paul Harvey, the man whose gentle, personable baritone and impeccable timing epitomized the best that radio could be. When I was a child, I thought of him as a rural man, a voice of small towns and farms and grandparents. His advertisers seemed almost bucolic; his commentary focused on the small, the common, and the universal. He celebrated the average person, and he spoke of the average person with admiration, with authority... and with love. He was radio's Clark Kent, celebrating and defending the values that defined America as he saw it.

I assumed for many years that he was local, in fact; it wasn't until I was a teenager that I came to realize that he was a national figure, and his broadcasts (then on television and radio) were syndicated nationally. That led me to appreciate him a little more; he had found his audience and he spoke to them decades before shock jocks and iconoclasts made radio seem glamorous.

As I grew older, I learned to appreciate his technical expertise. He was a man who owned his time on the radio; he treasured every moment, and at the same time he was a demanding master who made every second pay for itself. He mastered the pause, the chuckle, the stressed syllable, the repetition, the intonation that made radio come to life.

His "The Rest of the Story" pieces were small audio masterworks--brief stories that brought moments of history to life. Had he done nothing else, these terse audio gems would have earned him a place in radio history.

In the past few years, I heard Paul Harvey's voice much less. The station that carried him for decades cast him off a few years ago, so the internet became the only way I could hear him. His voice was a bit more gravelly, a bit more tenorous with age... but it was still Paul Harvey, and there was no one like him.

Tonight, that voice has been silenced. Paul Harvey will tell no more stories... but there will be many who will tell stories about him, and celebrate what he accomplished and how he helped to shape radio as a medium.

Good night, Mister Harvey...

Sunday, February 22, 2009

This Makes Cents

And now, sound financial advice from one of the greatest fiscal thinktanks, Saturday Night Live...

Friday, February 20, 2009

And the Fallout Continues

Another few days of incompetent Presidential leadership and we see another 175+ point drop in the DJIA since my last post, meaning that we're closing in on a 25% loss of market value since the last day before we knew we would be stuck with four years of Barack Obama.


This is what happens when we get an inexperienced amateur who's never held a real job outside that required him to make a real payroll and run a real business. Every passing week makes it more clear that he has no idea what he's doing, and his advisors are likewise clueless.

It's a shame we didn't get a President with far more real-world leadership and executive experience. John McCain, for instance... or Mitt Romney... or Sarah Palin...

But no, we got the empty suit with the pompous voice and the platitudes...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Not Too Stimulating

So far, Barack Obama's election continues to have the same effect on the economy, day after day.

Dow Jones average for 11/4/08 (before election results were posted): 9625
DJIA for 11/5/08 (day after Obama's win was confirmed): 9139, -486 (- 5+%)
DJIA for 1/20/09 (inauguration): 7949, -1676 from 11/4 (-18%)
DJIA for 2/17/09, the day "economic stimulus" package signed: 7552, -2073 from 11/4 (-22%)

Well, that's one way to close the gap between rich and poor... make everyone poor!

(By the way, the DJIA for 9/12, just prior to the financial devastation that began with the 9/15 collapse of Lehman Brothers that sent dominos tumbling, was 11421. The DJIA dropped 1796 points, or 16%, between that time and the end of President Bush's administration... a percentage that Barack Obama's administration surpassed on the day it was inaugurated, and has continued to force downwards since then!)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Why I Don't Post Much to Facebook

I like the concept behind Facebook--it's a great way to stay in contact with large groups of friends, and it's a handy way to find out what people are doing. However, I doubt I'll ever post very much to Facebook; instead, I'll continue to use my blog as my primary means of expression.

The main reason is this, found in Facebook's terms of service:

The following sections will survive any termination of your use of the Facebook Service: Prohibited Conduct, User Content, Your Privacy Practices, Gift Credits, Ownership; Proprietary Rights, Licenses, Submissions, User Disputes; Complaints, Indemnity, General Disclaimers, Limitation on Liability, Termination and Changes to the Facebook Service, Arbitration, Governing Law; Venue and Jurisdiction and Other.

So whatever you post to Facebook, they own forever, even if you decide to cancel your account there. Bear that in mind before you decide to share your next great creation with all your Facebook friends!

Now This Is Superman

After watching last week's 30 Rock, in which we saw a lot of John Hamm in glasses playing an earnest, simple, occasionally bumbling fellow, I am convinced that Hamm is the only actor anyone should consider for a Superman remake. He can obviously pull off both the Superman and Clark Kent roles, and he would help viewers to forget the embarrassment that was Brandon Routh...

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Like a Big Pizza Pie...

Today, we tried a pizza from Big Pie in the Sky, a restaurant spotlighted in a January episode of the Travel Channel show Man Vs. Food. They're only about 10 miles from here, and we had an errand to run that put us within a mile of the location, so we took advantage of a discount offer that had been given to us and ordered one of their 30" pizzas.

Now a friend of mine in LA swears that there's a place there that claims to offer a 50" pizza, and another friend said he had seen a restaurant that claimed to be the home of the 60" pizza, but I've never actually seen one of those--but I have seen a 30" pizza. I've seen it on the Man Vs. Food episode, and now I've seen it in real life.

Yes, it's big. Enormous. To an average adult, this seems as big as a large pizza must seem to a 4-year-old.

Having seen the show, I was hoping for a pizza like they served in that episode--loaded with ingredients on every square inch of the surface. What we got was a bit less grand. A fair amount of pepperoni and sausage combined with skimpy helpings of mushrooms, green pepper, and black olives. Lots of cheese, but it was a heavier, oilier cheese than most restaurants that are on my "best pizza" list. The ingredients stopped about 3/4" to 1" away from the edge on one side of the pizza, but a full 1 1/2" to 2" away on the other.

Even so, it's a lot of pizza. Over 700 square inches worth of pizza, in fact, contrasted with the just-over-250 square inches of pizza in an 18" Rosa's pizza or the 200 square inches of pizza in a Bellacino's 16" large. So even if you average 1 1/2" of crust all the way around and you throw that plain crust away, you still have 575" of pizza to consume.

Enough veggies to balance out the meats would have helped nice; the veggies were there almost as a footnote to the pizza rather than playing a vital role in the pizzavore experience. Better pizza sauce would have also been a good thing; their sauce is very weak and watery compared to the sauce at most other pizza restaurants, with minimal seasonings mixed in. And I prefer nothing but mozzarella on a pizza; it was obvious from the color and taste that there was some cheddar and (I'm pretty sure) romano mixed in with the mozzarella on the pizza we got. While they do offer those cheeses (along with smoked provolone) on their four-cheese pizza, they didn't say anything about it on the supreme--although to be fair, I should have noted that they did mention "fresh milk mozzarella" when it was the only cheese on a pizza, so I should have caught that and asked what their cheese mix was, then put in my all-mozzarella request.

So how was it? Good, but not great. I'm glad I tried it, but there was nothing there to convince me to abandon Rosa's (the great pizza restaurant right across the street from our neighborhood) or to make a special trip for a second helping. Still, I'm glad I tried it, just to be able to add it to the list of Atlanta-area pizza restaurants we've sampled.

(And no, we didn't eat it all. We ate two pieces each (had 'em cut it into 16 pieces, not eight), saved a piece each for possible future consumption, and gave the rest to Jared 'n' Jenny so that they could give us their thoughts on it. I figure he'll eat it before he reads this review, so my opinions here won't color his final report on their quality.)

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Happy Birthday, Charles!

My good friend Charles Rutledge is one year older today! (Well, he's actually only one day older, but since we tend to measure birthdays in years and not days with no rounding up, we'll stick with the former statement.) It's hard to believe that I've known Charles for almost half of my life; we first met back in 1982, shortly after I became co-owner of Dr. No's.

Those of you who know Charles realize what a remarkable man he is. If you don't know him, may you have that opportunity. Here are ten facts about Charles that even his friends may not know (but if you ask, he can tell you every one of these stories in great detail!):

(1) Charles once dispatched Thor with a single punch.
(2) If everyone who asked for Charles's help in moving were to repay the favor, he'd be able to relocate at least twelve times without ever lifting a box or a piece of furniture
(3) Charles was the originator of the theory of time displacement
(4) Charles is inhumanly fast at AutoCAD, much to the dismay of other draftsmen who might have jobs if Charles didn't finish all the work so quickly
(5) Charles once witnessed a Klingon weep because he had lost a claw, at which point Charles swore he would not go DragonCon ever again
(6) Charles is the Angel of Death
(7) Charles is never late. Except once. In Japan. And it wasn't his fault.
(8) Charles doesn't have a mobile phone. Well, except for the one that he has... but he's keeping it a secret so that no one calls him.
(9) One should never call Charles after 10:30 pm.
(10) Charles may claim to swear allegiance to Crom, but his friends know that Kirby is his real idol