1-5-2005 Ashlee, Vince, Velma and Pop Pop

Getting ahead in a difficult profession requires avid faith in yourself. That is why some people with mediocre talent, but with great inner drive, go much further than people with vastly superior talent.--Sophia Loren

I just freaking knew I shouldn't have dialed-up that stupid Orange Bowl game last night. Let's face it, these big showdowns rarely live up to the tremendous pre-game hype. Plus, I could really care much less than less about college football. Why heavily invest yourself in the minor leagues? I'd rather watch professional football any day. Whatever. That's my malfunction, not yours.

And the halftime show...the halftime show was absolutely frightful with just a sprinkling of abysmal thrown in for good measure. It sucked. And as soon as Ashlee Simpson warbled her very last note, I was horrified when the assembled crowd just about booed her off of the planet. Say what you will about her, but I honestly felt bad for her.

After her Saturday Night Live debacle she was called a "lip-synching laughingstock" and a "karaoke coward" by the New York press. She was also compared to Milli Vanilli.

But I got to wondering last night why one particular performer should be crucified for daring to lip-synch (or sing to a backing track) where literally thousands of artists before her were never booed off of any stage for doing exactly the same thing. What's up with that? What did Ashlee Simpson do that stands out so much?

Think back to some of the completely lame-ass music shows that were broadcast by the major television networks over the years? I can't remember how many times I noticed some musical "artist" lip-synching and immediately pointed it out to whomever I happened to be watching it with.

Let's be honest here. Dick Clark's American Bandstand was a freakin' joke during the early to mid seventies when I mistakenly bothered to watch it on occasion. I saw Slade rocking away to "Cum on feel the noise," despite not having their chords plugged into their guitars. I also saw The Bay City Rollers jammin' away directly in front of their amps that had nothing at all plugged into them. Not a single chord. Nuthin'. And how many times did we hear somebody perform their hit song on television and it sounded exactly the same as the single version? Yet, when their "live" album was eventually released, the "live" version sounded nothing like the version we heard on the boob tube. How'd they do that?

Midnight Special? KISS sounded exactly like the studio album? Were any of you folks buying into any of that at the time? Beth, I hear you callin'...ah, f*cking gross, man.

Hip-Hop and Rap jerkoffs prance around into front of a tape machine lip-synching about their f*cked-up lives and that's called music? At least Ashlee Simpson lip-synchs to live music played by actual musicians.

Whatever, man. I think lip-synching is about as lame as pretending to be a taxpayer watchdog. But I don't understand why one performer should be lambasted to death for using a tried-and-true technique for performing one's songs that was perfected long before she was even born. And don't tell me she's the first one that got caught. That's not even close to the truth if you know anything at all about the recording industry. If Ashlee Simpson deserves to be run off of the stage in tears, there's a whole bunch of "professional" wrestlers that need to follow in her footsteps.

The truth be told, Ashlee sings about as well as a drunken homeless guy frozen to the bottom of a garbage hopper and screaming for help. She's actually cutting us a big break by lip-synching.

No biggie.

I just got to wondering about all of that.

Now try this:

LOS ANGELES (AP) - NBC hasn't received any calls about the F-word that Motley Crue rocker Vince Neil dropped during the live New Year's Eve broadcast of "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno."

"Happy f---ing New Year, Tommy!" Neil said to bandmate Tommy Lee shortly after midnight Friday.

The remark was carried to viewers on the East Coast but was edited out before it was broadcast in the West, according to the entertainment trade paper Variety, which reported the incident on its Web site Monday night.

Leno normally tapes his show for broadcast later in the evening but does a live version for New Year's Eve. He had never a problem with profanities before, although the word has slipped out from time to time on other programs.

"The network has not received any calls regarding the incident," an NBC official, who asked not be identified, said Monday.


Ain't no f**king lyp-synching going on there, Tommy!

Didn't the Voice..just cover this very same story? For that matter, didn't I take y'all on a photo tour of this property during the summer of '03? Is this like old news, or what? From the Leader:

Brick albatross: W-B ponders fate of decrepit old complex

With owner Thomas J. Murray in bankruptcy, residents and the city are stymied by the Courtright Avenue site.



WILKES-BARRE - Grim and spooky, the old industrial complex on Courtright Avenue and Darling Street owned by local real estate man Thomas J. Murray is a graffiti-marred eyesore that hulks over its neighbors.
The red brick buildings sport spray-painted slogans, many too profane to print. "Dead City," "Crime Pays," "Blood Inc." and "Suicides" are a few of the tamer phrases repeated throughout the complex.

The name "Tyrone Biggums" shows up here and there. Viewers of the "Dave Chappelle Show" might recognize Biggums as the homeless crack-cocaine addict character.

This down-and-out factory is just the type of place where such a guy might hang his hat. Piles of soiled mattresses litter the ground, many half-eaten by vermin. Magazines, bed rolls and empty beer cans are evident everywhere.

The last few businesses cleared out in recent years. Funnovations Inc. assembled gas-powered scooters there as recently as 2001. Another business involved mattresses, explaining why so many are found there.

Mayor Tom Leighton recently named the complex as one of the top blighted areas in the city during a press conference about the demolition of a row house on North River Street.

The city ordered Murray to demolish the worst of the buildings more than six years ago. On Oct. 23, 2003, city council sent Murray a letter stating the area was neither safe nor secure.

Entire exterior walls and roofs are missing on some of the buildings. There are hundreds, perhaps thousands of broken windows in the buildings, and half-broken skylights threaten to rain down more glass on the unwary.

But nothing has been done, and it's likely nothing will be done any time soon. Murray is broke and in bankruptcy.

"We patrol it, and we try to keep people out of there, but what else can I do?" Leighton said. "If the city cleans it up or demolishes it, all we can do is slap a lien on the owner, and there's already millions of dollars of liens on him."

A bankruptcy auction last March found no takers for the property, though the sale of several other parcels did clear some of Murray's debt.

The biggest lien holder on the Courtright property is the Grand Pacific Finance Corp., located in Flushing, N.Y., which loaned Murray $1.5 million in 1995.

Murray also owes money to utility companies, and taxes to the city and the county.

"But Murray is still the owner," Leighton said.

Asked why the company didn't foreclose after the auction, Leighton answered, "Would you want to own it?"

Those with homes and businesses nearby are unhappy with the run-down condition of the property. Several buildings are partially collapsed.

"They've turned it into a dumping ground, and vagrants are using it like it's a condominium complex," Virgil Argenta said. Argenta owns two rental properties near the complex.

"Scrappers have stolen all the copper pipes, the plumbing, the compressors from air-conditioning units," Argenta said. "The city needs to step up to the plate and do what's right. Knock it down or at least board it all up so that people can't get in there."

Another neighbor who owns a business at the edge of the complex said he is moving out when his lease runs out.

"They come to vandalize those buildings, then they vandalize mine," said the businessman, who asked not to be identified. "I'm getting out of here as soon as possible."

He has not decided whether he will relocate his business, which employs about 100 people, elsewhere in the city.

"It's the rats that are the real problem," said Darling Street resident Michael Woolard. "You see the rats running around all day long. Somebody's got to do something about it."

Murray could not be reached for comment. Representatives of Grand Pacific Finance Corporation did not return calls.

"We're working with the finance company to try to get a developer in there or get control ourselves, but it takes time," Leighton said. "It is a priority, particularly because we are concerned for the residents, but right now, our hands are tied."


Let's do this, shall we?

"We patrol it, and we try to keep people out of there, but what else can I do?" Leighton said. "If the city cleans it up or demolishes it, all we can do is slap a lien on the owner, and there's already millions of dollars of liens on him."

That's millions with a capital "M." Should the city assume those debts?

"We're working with the finance company to try to get a developer in there or get control ourselves, but it takes time," Leighton said. "It is a priority, particularly because we are concerned for the residents, but right now, our hands are tied."

It takes time. It seems I've heard this before. Oh, yeah. The firehouse closings. It takes time. No way! Fix it now! Right now! I understand how complex these things can be. But there are some among us who do not understand the complexities and the costs associated with fixing decades worth of mistakes and inattention.

"The city needs to step up to the plate and do what's right. Knock it down or at least board it all up so that people can't get in there."--Virgil Argenta

Board it up? Can the city really afford to purchase and clear-cut the last of the remaining rain forests to board up that gargantuan beast of an eyesore?

I want to see that place removed from the landscape as much as the next guy. But to up and demand that the city spring into immediate action after that property has languished for decades suggests to me that the guy with the bright ideas is being totally unreasonable in his demands, if not shamelessly grandstanding.

There seems to be no shortage of folks demanding that serious money be spent and spent right now whenever it suites their agenda. And if the city responded every time someone generated some press at it's expense, we'd be right back to deficit spending and tons of red ink. Is that really what we want? Or need?

It takes time.

The adult responsible for the bottom line has spoken.

It works for me.

And for the folks too completely irresponsible to ever be trusted with the bottom line of this city, the full names of Scooby Doo's Mystery Inc members are: Fred Jones, Daphne Blake, Velma Dinkley, Scooby "Scoobert" Doo. Shaggy is actually Norville Rogers.

There's some valuable info they can actually use. (?)

Check this story out. I snatched this from the web, but it escapes me as to where from. Oops!

Blog reading explodes in America

Blogging was popular during the US presidential campaign Americans are becoming avid blog readers, with 32 million getting hooked in 2004, according to new research. The survey, conducted by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, showed that blog readership has shot up by 58% in the last year.

Some of this growth is attributable to political blogs written and read during the US presidential campaign.

Despite the explosive growth, more than 60% of online Americans have still never heard of blogs, the survey found.

Blogs, or web logs, are online spaces in which people can publish their thoughts, opinions or spread news events in their own words.

Companies such as Google and Microsoft provide users with the tools to publish their own blogs.

The rise of blogs has spawned a new desire for immediate news and information, with six million Americans now using RSS aggregators.

The aggregators automatically compile the latest information published online from the blogs or news sites.

Reading blogs remains far more popular than writing them, the survey found.

Only 7% of the 120 million US adults who use the internet had created a blog or web-based diary.

Getting involved is becoming more popular though, with 12% saying they had posted material or comments on other people's blogs. Just under one in 10 of the US's internet users read political blogs such as the Daily Kos or Instapundit during the US presidential campaign.

Kerry voters were slightly more likely to read them than Bush voters.

Blog creators were likely to be young, well-educated, net-savvy males with good incomes and college educations, the survey found.

This was also true of the average blog reader, although the survey found there was a greater than average growth in blog readership among women and those in minorities.

The survey was conducted during November and involved telephone surveys of 1,324 internet users.


Blogs, baby! My buddy in Forty Fort pointed out to me that while blogs may have become the rage of late, I've been blogging away for years now. I started blogging on December 2, 2000. And the only longer running blog that I know of in NEPA is Watermelon Punch, which is the sole property of a young lady from Edwardsville.

I was on the frickin' cutting edge, man. Cool. And I owe it all to the editors of the two local newspapers who steadfastly refused to publish most of my prolific bullspit that was regularly submitted to them.

Oh, well.

Trust me...you gotta try this rather simple game. Rubik's Cube this ain't. It's easy enough to play and all, but it will test your geography skills. Or lack thereof. If you score less than 75%, you will be immediately deported to the tsunami region. Good riddance!

Wait! One more little thing. I scored 46 out of a possible 50, with an average error of 15 miles on the measly 4 that I somehow missed. No one can top my geography skills. No one. You have been challenged.

Place The State

Here's what I could...gather about Pop Pop's "nasty gram."

Apparently, city employees can sit around and gab with city council folks all they want on a very wide range of issues. But council folks are not supposed to sit around informally discussing "collective bargaining issues" with said city employees without a member of the union's executive board being present.

More specifically, if off-duty firefighters and council folks (or any agent of the city) informally discuss collective bargaining issues without an E-board member being present at such time, that could result in the city being fined if the E-board members wished to go that route. That's the way I'm hearing it. Rules up the whazoo, or somewhere thereabouts.

What I'm wondering is, why would the rank-and-file members of a union that recently voted to ratify a new contract be discussing collective baragaining issues with anyone on council? I thought that stuff was a done deal for a while yet. What it suggests to me is that the folks that accepted that contract are no longer happy with having done so. I'm not saying they're off-base to feel whatever way they may feel. It just suggests to me that the seeds of discontent are planted for the next go-round. I guess it never gets any easier in a struggling city.

Anyway, no book burnings just yet.

Darn. That would've made for some really cool pics.

Gotta roll. My new Switchfoot CD is calling out to me. By all rights, I should have been completely deaf many years ago.

I like to dream...right between the sound machine.

Au revoir