Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Happy 24th Birthday, My Son

February 27th is the birthday of my child Casey. Here he is digging in the dirt in the backyard at the log house, wearing jeans and his pea coat with the flag pin his Grandad made sure he always wore. He was a cute little tow headed bugger when he was young.

At age nineteen he was elected Mayor of his hometown, when he was a sophomore political science major at the University there. Today, in addition to being Mayor and an active volunteer fireman he is the Borough Manager of a small nearby town. His Father, Mother, Stepfather and all the rest of his family are very proud of him. You've grown up to be a good and useful person Pieboy !

Senator Bob Casey, D - Pennsylvania and my son Casey. Watch out Senator , some one's sniffing after your job !

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Socks, The Clinton White House Cat, Passes On

In this March 19, 1994 photo, Socks the cat peers over the podium in the White House briefing room

BALTIMORE – Socks, the White House cat during the Clinton administration who waged war on Buddy the pup, has died. He was around 18. Socks had lived with Bill Clinton's secretary, Betty Currie, in Hollywood, Md., since the Clintons left the White House in early 2001.
Currie confirmed Socks' death Friday evening and said she was "heartbroken." She did not give details, referring calls to the Clinton Foundation office. The foundation released a statement from the Clintons: "Socks brought much happiness to Chelsea and us over the years, and enjoyment to kids and cat lovers everywhere. We're grateful for those memories, and we especially want to thank our good friend, Betty Currie, for taking such loving care of Socks for so many years."
Socks had reached his late teens, an advanced age for a cat, when reports surfaced in late 2008 that he had cancer and Currie had ruled out invasive efforts to prolong his life. Socks was what feline-lovers call a tuxedo cat, mostly black with white down the front and belly and on his feet, suggesting a fashionable dandy in a black satin evening jacket with a snowy shirt peeping out. He had markings that looked a bit like a mustache and goatee.
Chelsea Clinton's pet first appeared in the news in November 1992 after then Gov. Bill Clinton won the presidency and the family was the still in the governor's mansion in Little Rock, Ark. Socks became an early symbol of privacy vs. media in the Clinton era when photographers got a little aggressive as he took a stroll outside.
Life changed for Socks in the White House, when his easy access to the out-of-doors was necessarily curtailed. One official conceded that, yes, Socks was on a leash while outside.
Things took a turn for the worse in late 1997, when then-puppy Buddy, a chocolate retriever, arrived. Relations between Socks and Buddy were cool from the beginning. "I'm trying to work that out," Clinton joked at the time. "It's going to take a while. It's kind of like peace in Ireland or the Middle East." A few weeks later, in early 1998, the two pets had an encounter on the South Lawn. "A very agitated Buddy approached the cat and began barking as the president restrained him with a green leash," The Associated Press reported. "Socks, hair raised high, stood his ground until Clinton and Buddy made their exit to the Oval Office." But their pairing enchanted pet lovers, especially children. In 1998, then-first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton put out a book of children's letters to the two pets in "Dear Socks, Dear Buddy." "Can you please send me a picture and a paw print," one youngster wrote Socks. "Do you have fleas? I think my cat has fleas." In the book, the first lady wrote she had been taking daughter Chelsea to a piano lesson in spring 1991 when they spotted two kittens in the music teacher's front yard. "The black one with white paws, Socks, jumped right into (Chelsea's) arms," she wrote.
After the Clintons left in early 2001, Socks moved in with Currie. Buddy, meanwhile, made the move with the Clintons to Chappaqua, N.Y., but he was struck and killed by a car the following year. Socks continued to live quietly with Currie, sometimes making appearances at programs held by pet welfare groups. Landau said Socks enjoyed sitting in the sun and that Currie doted on him, cooking him special chicken dinners.

By Associated Press Writer Kasey Jones

Nice, I think pets are , as they say friends are, God's way of apologizing for your family.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Golden Retriever In Cut Off Jeans

My friend Tooch has a beautiful and maniacal golden retriever named Ruxpin. The other day, at the tender age of 13 months he was fixed. To keep him from scratching at the stitches Tooch rigged up a pair of cut off jeans, with a hole for the tail, for him to wear.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentines Day

I've been a collector all my life and old paper holds a fascination for me. Here are two beautiful old valentines I've had for years.

This one is dated 1901 and is die cut.

It seems as though back then that hearts were not as common a motif as flowers.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Midnight Music Club # 4 - Dan Hicks - I Scare Myself

He may be the only really hip person there is. Dan Hicks was with San Francisco band The Charlatans and left in 1968 to form Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks with violinist David LaFlamme. This band was a cult favorite because of their both funny and wonderful original songs. My favorite release from that time is "Last Train To Hicksville." Dan works with only the best players and singers and the way they work is amazing. In a live show the music is enhanced by their low key antics. Here's the band doing "I Scare Myself" :

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Happy Birthday A. Lincoln - We Honor You, Cracks And All

He was in his time the most popular and the most disliked American. "Abraham Lincoln was one of the four most hated presidents in U.S. history, the other three are Andrew Jackson, Harry Truman and George W. Bush." , explained James Cornelius, curator of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library. He is now, without question, our most beloved and respected citizen.

"Looking For Lincoln" is Historian Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s quest to piece together Lincoln’s complex life. The 2-hour documentary airs on PBS television on Feb. 11, 2009,
it can be viewed online now here in it's entirety. There are over 14,000 biographies of Lincoln, more than on any other person in the worlds history. In this new PBS video we see a Lincoln that will disappoint some and enrage at least a few. Viewers will find not an iconic hero but a human with all the normal faults and fears ( and sometimes extreme fears ) that we all have.
Lincoln has been described as the representative American, he's a representative human and like all a mixture of elements of courage and fear, wisdom and folly, accomplishments and mistakes. Many of his speeches were poetry and his personal writings were sublime in their wisdom and sensitivity. Witness :

We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battle-field, and patriot grave, to every living heart and hearthstone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.

A progressive theorist but coldly realistic thinker who stayed within and shared many of the accepted prejudices of his time. One will see here some cracks and chips in the complexion of the marble iconic figure that carried the nation on his back for over four years. Acknowledging these cracks does not diminish his place in history nor the value of either his service or his example to us.
Bob Dylan said " Woody Guthrie was my first hero, he taught me that there were no heroes." People are only human, but some, when needed, when called by History, like Lincoln, can be heroic.

Cold / Warm - Cat In A Box

When it was doing this outside

Shadow aka Pete the neighbor cat came inside to find a warm spot for a nap.

Laying in a warm bed of antique papers.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Pittsburgh Steelers And The Joy Of Six

Pittsburgh is the first team in NFL history to win a sixth Lombardi Trophy, surpassing the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers, each with five.

PITTSBURGH (AP and other sources) — Gold and black-clad fans with Steelers' iconic Terrible Towels waving in the air or tucked into their back pockets partied into the early morning hours Monday in an impromptu block party across Pittsburgh to celebrate the team's historic sixth Super Bowl win.Thousands of people gathered in the city's Oakland neighborhood near the University of Pittsburgh and also along the quirky strip of bars known as the South Side. City officials had anticipated the large crowds, and had about 400 police on the streets as a precaution. Moments after the Steelers sealed the 27-23 victory over the Arizona Cardinals in Tampa, revelers poured out of area bars, and some broke out in song, bellowing Queen's We are the Champions.The city's Oakland section, near the University of Pittsburgh, was ground zero for post-game revelry, where thousands flooded the streets, waving the yellow and gold and lighting what they could on fire. Police, who has barricaded several streets so that fans could celebrate without jumping on cars, reported no major incidents, just a few good-natured couch fires.

Down in Tampa, the Super Bowl itself went off with minimal bad behavior, as less than 30 fans were arrested, including two who tried to snatch someone else's tickets and sneak their way into the big game, and one particularly drunk driver who somehow managed to drive her way into a police horse.
Police in riot gear patrolled the South Side on bikes and in cars, letting the loud and rowdy
celebration run its course. Jim Jacobs, 43, had his 8-year-old son, Marcus, on his shoulders and 9-year-old Luke by his side. We're going to have a hard time getting them up for school tomorrow, and they are home schooled," Bars were packed in the area popular with college students and the 20-something crowd, with music blaring. One man carried a life-size cutout of President Barack Obama, with a Terrible Towel draped around the neck, while a one-man band played in the middle of a blocked-off street and photos of players were projected onto the sides of buildings.

The Pennsylvania politicians who watched the Super Bowl at a White House party with President Barack Obama gave high marks to the team and the Fan-in-Chief. Mr. Obama had declared his allegiance to the Steelers before the Super Bowl."It was great, just a real honor to be able to watch the Super Bowl with the Steelers in it anywhere, but it was that much more of an honor to watch it at the White House," said Sen. Bob Casey, of Scranton. Mr. Casey brought four Terrible Towels and Eat 'n Park cookies to bring a bit of Pittsburgh to D.C. Mr. Casey said the event was "99 percent social." "The president was paying close attention," he said. "I think he saw every play."
Ah, the Super Bowl, gotta love a night that includes couch fires, driving into a horse, and dozens
of arrests, but is considered surprisingly orderly.

Here is how some of America’s leading sports pundits saw the Steelers’ triumph:

Bill Plaschke, Los Angeles Times: “In the end Sunday night, with Pittsburgh dancing and Arizona moaning and America struck dumb with the true spectacle of it all, Super Bowl XLIII will
overwhelmingly be remembered for one thing. It was the greatest. From a stirring national anthem to a tingling late finish, the Steelers’ 27-23 victory over the Cardinals was the greatest Super Bowl ever, one whose Roman numbers should have been XXL for its double-extra-large helping of theatrics and dramatics.”

Dan Wetzel, Yahoo! Sports: “The fourth quarter had been a disaster for the Steelers, 16 unanswered points, a tiring defense and an offense that couldn’t get out of its own way. A lesser team would’ve crumbled. A weaker-minded group would’ve pointed fingers. Anything less than a champion would’ve let the Cardinals momentum wash right over them. (Ben) Roethlisberger had no such concerns. He knew his guys. He gathered the team before that final drive, embraced the opportunity and dared his teammates. This was their chance. It’s one drive for the Super Bowl, who doesn’t want this?”
Mark Kriegel, “Hines Ward might be the soul of the Steelers. Larry Fitzgerald, who now owns Jerry Rice’s single-season playoff records, might be the best receiver in football. But as the night moved toward its finale, Santonio Holmes kept telling himself this was his game. And so it was.”
Gene Wojciechowski, “Do you have any idea how hard it is to win a Super Bowl? The
Steelers have now won a record-breaking six of them, two in the past four years. Fifteen of the
NFL’s 32 franchises have never won one. Five have never even advanced to the game. So trying to put an Iron City six-pack into perspective is like trying to comprehend Michelangelo’s Sistine
Chapel or Rod Blagojevich’s hair. Some things are beyond explanation.”

Mike Bianchi, Orlando Sentinel: “In these trying economic times, how can you not feel good that
it’s the Steelers who have become the model franchise in all of professional sports? Some other of the NFL’s other dynastic franchises have come and gone, but the Steelers just keep coming. The Dallas Cowboys? They make headlines because their quarterback dates Jessica Simpson, but they haven’t won a playoff game in a dozen years.”

Other Quotes from the news:

Steelers football is 60 minutes. It’s never going to be pretty.

At 36-years-old, Tomlin is the youngest coach to lead a team to a Super Bowl victory.
Making his annual Groundhog's Day appearance Monday in Punxsutawney, Pa., Phil gazed out at a cheering crowd and "saw his shadow," the event's announcer said, signaling more winter to come, CNN reported. "After casting a joyful eye towards thousands of his faithful followers, Phil proclaimed that his beloved Pittsburgh Steelers were world champions one more time," the announcer said, adding, "And as he looked, 'a bright sky above me showed my shadow beside me. So six more weeks of winter it will be.
I just checked a map -- I had no idea Tampa was a suburb of Pittsburgh.

It was, in a word, marvelous. And none of the above even accounts for Jennifer Hudson's national anthem, the wave to the crowd by the members of that U.S. Airways flight crew who pulled off the Miracle on the Hudson . . . and, of course, the Boss, Bruce Springsteen,

This Ben Roethlisberger is one part bull rider, one part whirling dervish and three parts all man.

Harrison, the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year, picked off Kurt Warner's pass in the end zone and rumbled 100 yards the other way for a touchdown. That play was the longest in Super Bowl history .
The big apple is celebrating the Pittsburgh Steelers' big win on Sunday.In honor of the Steelers' Super Bowl win, the Empire State Building is shining its tower lights in yellow and white from dusk until midnight on Monday

A little more information on that Terrible Towel guy.
Myron Cope left behind something far more personal than a legacy of terrycloth, a battle flag for
a city and its team. In 1996, he handed over the trademark to the Terrible Towel to the Allegheny Valley School. It is a network of campuses and group homes across Pennsylvania for people with severe intellectual and developmental disabilities. It receives almost all the profits from sales of the towels. “It’s an incredible help for us,” a spokesman said. “We’re a nonprofit organization, and our primary funding is through Medicaid. While Medicaid is very good to people with disabilities, it is limited in what it will cover.” Myron Cope wanted the money to go not for construction projects, but for individual assistance for residents. Recent purchases include high-end specialized wheelchairs and sensory programs that allow severely disabled residents,including quadriplegics, to perform tasks such as turning on lights or music with a movement of their eyes.
Hundreds of thousands of the towels, trademarked as “Myron Cope’s the Official Terrible Towel”, are sold every year, for about $7 each. Through the Steelers, who handle the marketing of the towels, the school receives a check every month, usually for tens of thousands of dollars. Before this season, Allegheny Valley School had received more than $2.5 million from the towels since 1996.Roughly $1 million of that came during and immediately after the 2005 season, when the Steelers won Super Bowl XL. This season is likely to top that.

Thats part of the Steelers story too. It is always noted that the Steelers reflect their community of fans' personality. One never reads that about any other football team.

The celebration continues with a parade in downtown Pittsburgh at noon on Tuesday. Come and celebrate a wonderful success story in these lean and cold days. Come and be joyful.

I told you so !

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Pittsburgh Steelers - Tonight's The Night

When the Pittsburgh Steelers win tonight they will have won more Super Bowls than any other team.

The Steelers ride into their third American Football Conference championship game in five years tonight, their fourth in seven years, their sixth since 1994, and their 14th since the original cast of football icons led by Franco Harris himself mapped out a sporting empire in the 1970.
The line: Steelers by 6.
Series: Steelers lead, 17-10, including 1-0 in playoffs.
The skinny: Teams have met three times in the same season 18 times, with 11 sweeps. ...

The Ravens led the NFL with 34 takeaways. Ed Reed has 10 INTs in their past eight games. ... John Harbaugh (16) and Mike Tomlin (32) have 48 regular-season games between them as head coaches, fewest for conference title game coaches in the Super Bowl era since the Colts' Don McCafferty and the Raiders' John Madden had 42 between them in 1970.

Terry O'Neill takes the term "Steelers fanatic" to a whole new level. Some may remember his name from the last time the Steelers were in the Super Bowl. O'Neill is the guy who had a heart attack at Cupka's Bar on the south side when Jerome Bettis fumbled. A few years later, as the Steelers are approaching another big game, O'Neill said his friends are a little worried about him come Super Bowl Sunday. Terry O'Neill now has a pacemaker that still goes off occasionally on Steeler Sundays."This is how I'm introduced: 'Remember the guy who had the heart attack back when Jerome Bettis fumbled?'" O'Neill said. O'Neill's name is on T-shirts that say "Home of Heart Stopping Action." O'Neill went to the hospital after his heart stopped beating when Jerome Bettis fumbled on the goal line against the colts in the playoffs. Alive, O'Neill laughed a lot. "Another Pittsburgh guy, Andy Warhol, said we all get 15 minutes of fame, and here I am, talking to you after being dead," he says.

When did this game of games, this week where endlessly irritating television commercials used to trumpet the coming of Super Sundays with a chorus of trumpets and kettle drums worthy of the closing credits of "Britain at War" disappear into a world where the pregame words of the combatants sound like Elizabeth Barret Browning talking in her sleep?

A lot started with Myron Cope, for him, the Steelers were the best men. Myron passed away last year, but don't let that fool you. In both my mind's eye and hear I see him and hear him shouting from wherever the best of Pittsburgh calls heaven.
If that's a little confusing, then be aware that Myron spoke three languages: Pittsburgher, Cope-Speak and English -- definitely in that order. For 35 straight seasons, following a distinguished newspaper career, Myron was the Steelers' "man in the radio-TV booth." He was also Pittsburgh Nation's conscience, cheerleader and elder statesman. When it came to the Steelers, he was about as objective as a Florida real estate guy trying to sell you 32 acres of swampland.
A good catch in Cope-Speak was a "yoi." A great catch was a "double yoi." On the rarest of rare occasions, he even resorted to a "Triple Yoi." A Steelers first down was greeted with "Okel Dokel."
When Myron spoke, Pittsburgh listened. It had no choice. Picture the sound of the Last Empress of China dragging her elongated fingernails across the face of the world's largest blackboard. That was Myron's falsetto voice spreading the saga of the Steelers up and down across the air waves of Western Pennsylvania.
He knew his audience the way a father knows his children, and that bond led to the invention that lifted thousands and thousands of battered Pittsburgh emotions at a time when it was clear that the empty mills were never coming back. When the blue collar economy went straight down the old outhouse shaft, it was Myron Cope who rallied the Faithful.
He gave them The Terrible Towel.
The way Myron explained the birth of the Terrible Towel was like this:
"The general manager of my station wanted a gimmick, but I told him I wasn't a gimmick guy, and he said I better reconsider because my contract ran out in three weeks, so I told him 'I'm your gimmick guy.'
"I got on the air, and I told anyone and everyone within the sound of my voice (at Myron's decibel level, that meant from Three Rivers Stadium on up to Saturn) should bring a yellow towel to the game. If they didn't have one, they should buy one, and if they couldn't buy one, they should dye one."

The Terrible Towel was born. It is the most recognizable symbol in all of sports -- a yellow hand-held blizzard that could have distracted the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
If as you watch Sunday's game on television, one huge slice of the grandstand turns bright yellow, the sun has not fallen on Raymond James Stadium. An army of Terrible Towels has.
This will be the first time the Steelers of Pittsburgh try to win a Super Bowl without Myron Cope on this planet. But they best be warned. He's watching. He has always watched these Steelers with the same intensity that Pittsburgh always watched him. The older guys who retired from the front office will still tell you how amazed they were when Cope would check into the players' hotel surrounded by crowds of fans so large that security guards were needed in every city.
Not much has changed since then. Back in Cope's old hometown Sunday, the wind off the Allegheny River will rattle through downtown with all the subtlety of Harry Grebb's left hook. It will jar the teeth and cut through layers of clothing. This is the way it's supposed to be in the Western Pennsylvania weather, with God in his heaven, the calendar just dipping a single toe into February and the Steelers about to play football in the Super Bowl.
If Cope were here, he would frown on Florida's 70-degree weather but remind you it would be fine as long as his Steelers won. He would tell you that they had to win because back home there are generations of families that learned about Bill Dudley and Jock Sutherland and Bobby Layne and John Henry Johnson through the tribal elders. Now they tell their own children about Terry Bradshaw and Lynn Swan and Franco Harris and Jack Ham.
And then he would remind all that he was the one who gave air time by the hour to the creation of Franco's Italian-American Army -- the Franco Harris fan club. He explained to the world -- or at least Pittsburgh, which was his world -- that Franco's Army was the brainchild of the brainchild of a pizza guy and a baker to honor the Steelers star who was of African-American and Italian-American ancestry.
This will be his kind of game with his kind of stakes and thousands who made the trip from Pittsburgh will wave their Terrible Towels the way Joshua's horn players zeroed in on Jericho.
Let the record show that two days after Myron's death, hundreds of people gathered in the teeth of a heavy snowstorm in front of City Hall in Pittsburgh. As one they saluted their fallen hero in the ceremony that featured one, whole, solid minute of silent Terrible Towel waving.

This is an athletic opulence few cities even aspire to with any practicality. The Arizona Cardinals, who play the Philadelphia Eagles in today's earlier National Football Conference title game, have not mounted such a grand stage since the Truman administration, or approximately two decades before anyone so much as thought of a Super Bowl.
And still modern Championship Sundays in Pittsburgh deliver a seismic coupling of pride and wariness, something realist short story master Alice Munro might call "a terrible amount of luxury and unease."
The Steelers lost both championship games in the short history of Heinz Field. They've lost the last three title games played in Pittsburgh and four of the last five. But because they took the hair-raisingly uncharted Cincinnati-Indianapolis-Denver route to Super Bowl XL just three years ago, and because a victory tonight against the Baltimore Ravens would put them in a seventh Super Bowl (more than anyone except the Dallas Cowboys), they retain the perpetual civic burden of capacious expectations.
"We're used to this in Pittsburgh," said Hines Ward, the dean of Pittsburgh's stars. "No disrespect to the Pirates or the Penguins, but the standard around here is the Super Bowl every year. That's just what's expected."
Expectations are only part of the Pittsburgh/Steelers equation. On the other side is identity, as there is likely no fan base so intense, so far flung, so proud of something even as often indefinable as Pittsburgh ethos. "More than any other sports franchise I can think of, there's a kind of work ethic about them, and I don't know if it's branding, because that gets oversimplified into black and gold or whatever, but it's something about the Steelers that is recognized in London, in Manchester; there's a Steelers bar in Leon, France."
Consequently, Pittsburghers, regional expatriates and converts the world over have an implied license to take this simple game hyper-seriously, regardless of the debatable global urgency of an event like tonight's. It's all predictably manic, if not a little bit comic.
"I've found what epitomizes Pittsburgh, what sums up what we're all about, and it's right there in the main terminal at the Pittsburgh airport," said Bill Crawford, the gifted young Pittsburgh comedian. "There are two huge statues there. One is of George Washington, and one is of Franco Harris. People from Pittsburgh pass them and think, 'Yeah, that's normal, let's get our flight,' or 'Yeah, that's totally all right, let's go to Brookstone.'
"But people from outside the city see that and think it's ridiculous. They're like, 'What? Wait, this guy's the father of our country, and this other guy caught a football off somebody's helmet 35 years ago.' You can hear the argument, right?
"Dude, he was the first president."
"Oh yeah? Well Franco was a first-round draft choice in 1972."
"But Washington beat the Redcoats."
"Hey, Franco beat the Raiders -- it's pretty well documented. It was Immaculate."
"C'mon; he was the leader of the Continental Army!"
"Franco had Franco's Italian Army, it was his army, so in my mind, Franco's up one."
Small wonder that our own view of world history, even as it's unfolding, often gets seen through a black-and-gold looking glass. On the front page of this newspaper, the morning of Dec. 29, an all-capital letters, five-column headline read, "BIG BEN DOWN, PROBABLY NOT OUT." The one-column head next to that said, "Israel pounds Gaza by air again."
As the next Steelers cataclysm draws within hours, additions to the faith are fervently sought and dutifully recorded. The Steelers have never lost to a division opponent such as Baltimore in a postseason game. They're 7-0. When they beat an opponent twice in one season, as they have the Ravens this year, they've never lost a third meeting such as this. They are 7-0.
In the compound Pittsburgh equation though, there is something more than, again, "a terrible amount of luxury and unease."
"The reason we watch sports is the uncertainty of the outcome, but it's particularly compelling in a framework of success, like in Pittsburgh," "Look at San Francisco. There is a history of bohemia, which is generally enough to color a future of bohemia to a certain extent.
"With Pittsburgh, the Steelers are the embodiment of everything the city has ever done right, presented today in the urgency of a live event, a live event that can color the question of whether we can continue to do so.

Go Stillers !
Kickoff: 6:30 p.m EST.

This was mostly pieced together from several different sports articles, too many to credit, so forgive me.

This is very cool , these musicians are aged 11 to 13. Do yourself a favor and check them out !