HELLO FROM EAU CLAIRE, WISCONSIN:

HELLO FROM EAU CLAIRE, WISCONSIN - city of big bottoms and small minds.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Unexpected But Appreciated Christmas Gift From Perla


About a week before Christmas I received a very pleasant surprise from Perla Batalla, a very talented, versatile singer from Ojai, California, that I had the honor of opening for some years ago at the Stone's Throw here in Eau Claire. Dedicated to her recently deceased father-in-law, Claud Mann, Jr., the album is as much of a gem as all her other great albums.

Entitled "We Three Kings", one might suspect that it is a Christmas album, but it is so much more. We Three Kings, the first cut, is done with a latin beat and sparse string accompaniment which helps to show case Perla's amazing voice.

The second cut is A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square/Joy to the World, an inventive juxtaposition of two well known songs that Perla weaves together seamlessly.

The third cut, Christmas Time is Here, features Perla's daughter Eva-Batalla-Mann. They sing together and the blend is perfect! Heavy with jazz influences, it is a very soothing, deeply moving Christmas salute that makes one want to sit in front of the fire with a cup of schnapps-laced hot chocolate and take in the beauty of a decorated Christmas tree and the warmth of a good fire. Perla adds Spanish lyrics with the help of Gilberto Gonzalez.

The fourth cut, Noche De Paz/Silent Night starts with a beautiful. jazzy Latin piano and features, once more, Perla's deeply touching vocal style. I am tempted to say that it is one of my favorites, but how does one choose a favorite???

One of the things that makes this CD so very special is that it is a compilation that you can play year round as the fifth cut is a simply scripted, guitar only, version of the old folk ballad The Water is Wide with Marty Van Loan on guitar. Marty Van Loan has been a performing singer songwriter in the southern California area for the past 20 years. In 1997 he was a finalist in the Telluride troubadour contest and after you listen to him play, you might want to look into his own recordings.

Perla teams with daughter Eva again on the old spiritual Mary Had a Baby featuring sweet, sweet harmonies.

The Little Drummer Boy follows with simple yet complex instrumentation of piano, bass, drums, and a special performance by Perla's husband Claud Mann on Congas and bongos.

Eva's Danny Boy blew me away the first time I heard her sing it! And it continues to blow me away each time I listen to this recording which she made in 2005. I can only imagine how proud Perla must be of her daughter!

As Perla was at one time a back up singer for Leonard Cohen, it is only fitting that she includes the song Hallelujah by Mr. Cohen as the next to last cut on the CD.

Perla concludes the CD with a stirring rendition of Auld Lang Syne - one which I will be certain to play tonight, New Year's Eve - and I shall lift a glass to both Perla and Eva and thank the powers that be that I was fortunate enough to meet Perla!

Do yourself a favor and order this CD! You can find it on Perla's site at: www.perla.com.

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Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas 2008 Laid Back

Christmas 2008 was a pretty laid back affair for me. Kim left for Minneapolis to be with her mom and sister on Friday, December 19. That same day I trekked to Wisconsin Rapids and did a pizza party for a Rapids Urologist.
Christmas eve morning, armed with a brand new Garmin 750 GPS, I went to Madison to pick up my son Jonathan at the Madison airport. I am impressed with the Garmin's capabilities and it was a good purchase for someone who is constantly trying to find out of town addresses. Couple that with my constant thirst for gadetry, and it makes for more interesting road experiences.

My time with Jon was very special this year. We took a day to go over to Menomonie to the cemetery and visit, at Jon's request, the grave site of Grandpa Jack and Grandma Alice. We then drove out and past the farmstead where Jon spent many happy times visiting and jamming with child hood friend, Geoff Keezer.

Since Jonathan doesn't get many chances to experience home cooking, I rustled up a pizza the first night he was in and for Christmas eve dinner we did a turkey with all the trimmings. It was way too much food for two guys, but what the heck!

Jonathan left on Christmas morning and Kim came home later that afternoon.

December 26th we joined Kristi, Joy, and Kim's cousin Bill and his wife Helen and their two sons for lunch in Hudson to celebrate Joy's 76th birthday.

Other than that, it has been a pretty quiet time. We have been renting quite a few movies. Last night we watched Will Smith in "I Am Legend" -- pretty much a downer!

This afternoon I am meeting with the local Veteran's Administration officer to be certain that I am signed up for all benefits as there may be some serious changes as of the first day of 2009.

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I watched the Green Bay Packers final game of the season yesterday and personally I didn't think it very classy of the Green Bay fans to take up a chant of "0-16" towards the end of the game, taunting the Lions, especially since our own team ended up with a 6-10 record - not something to be that proud of!

The Lions, decimated with injuries, (17 players on disabled list!) played with a lot of pride and hung in there throughout the game.

I see the Vikings took the North Division Title -- but I don't think they will get very far in the playoffs.

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Sunday, December 21, 2008

HOW CAN I GET THIS REPORTER'S AUTOGRAPH ON AN 8 BY 10 COLOR PHOTO?

In the following story, the reporter states that the shoe throwing "shocked the world". Hell, it didn't shock me in the least. And I am very proud to hear him say that if given the opportunity he would do it again.

George Bush, as the sticker on my automobile says, is a WAR CRIMINAL and should, along with his henchman Dick Cheney, be brought before the world court for murdering untolled numbers of children.

Al-Zaidi is a hero in my estimation, and should be freed immediately without further prosecution.

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Iraqi shoe-thrower: I would do it again
Sat, 20 Dec 2008 09:45:11 GMT


The Iraqi journalist who shocked the world by throwing his shoes at the US president reportedly says he would do it again if given the opportunity.

"In a letter to Iraqi prime minister, Muntadhar al-Zaidi has only apologized to Nuri al-Maliki himself," Fardanews reported, citing comments by an Iraqi source familiar with the case.

"He said that he felt no remorse for throwing his shoes at the 'Great Satan', George Bush, and added that he would repeat his actions if he sees him again, because Bush's forces have killed many of Iraq's children," added the source.

Al-Zaidi has told the judge investigating the incident that Bush was the target of his action not Nuri al-Maliki, whom he likes and respects, said the source, who according to Fardanews was close to the investigations.

Al-Baghdadiya satellite channel correspondent Muntadhar al-Zaidi hurled his shoes at US President George Bush during a press conference in Baghdad on Sunday, shouting in Arabic 'this is a goodbye kiss from the Iraqi people, dog'!

News of al-Zaidi's lack of remorse came after several Western media outlets reported that the journalist had written to Maliki apologizing for the incident, and describing it as an 'ugly action'.

Al-Zaidi's brother Uday, however, has rejected the reports, calling them 'incorrect'.

"This apology is not a real one. If they (the government) want an apology, they must first release him so he can do it freely and not under pressure," said Uday.

Fardanews also published comments by an anonymous Iraqi official involved in investigations, who confirmed that al-Zaidi had apologized to Maliki, but said that the reporter did not regret his action.

The official also said that in a written statement to the judge, al-Zaidi had said that he expected to be killed by the Bush's body guards after hurling the first shoe.

"It seemed that his bodyguards were not on full alert at the time, that was how I managed to throw the second shoe," the official quoted al-Zaidi as saying.

DECEMBER 21 - HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAVID!





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Today is December 21st, which is my son David's birthday. I called him "early" this morning and got his message: "milliions of years ago, the earth was a vast wasteland. Now you can leave me a message." So I did. Happy birthday, my son. I hope that your Colorado trip over the Holiday is fun and successful. I wish you all the best for the coming year.

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AL-ZAIDI TRULY MY HERO - HURLS WITH A LOTTA SOUL

Pictured is my hero, Muntzar Al-Zaidi, Iraqi journalist and shoe hurler. Actually, I am envious of the man! If only I had the chance! I, of course, would have taken a dump in both the shoes before hurling them!
Now, it turns out, upon retrieval of the shoes, that Mr. Al-Zaidi wrote a missive for Bushie on the bottom of his shoes which reads:

Dear President Bush:

Sorry to throw shoes at you but was only way to get message to you. I have very much liked you as president. You have:
- weakened U.S, economy
- weakened U.S. military
- weakened U.S. influence in world
- wiped out U.S. moral high ground
- weakened U.S. vocabulary
- weakened U.S. dollar
- strengthened U.S. comedy
I have wanted thee things to happen for a long time. (cont'd on other shoe)

So I was hoping you would next become president of Turkey. I do not like them much at all and I think as their leader you could make them dumb and ruin their economy. Please?
Please answer by throwing your shoes at me. P.S. - although English is not my first language I still know you should stop using it. You are breaking it. Please communicate with gestures only. Thanks.

(from Lee Camp's blog: 23/6)

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

News From Bin Olson! Bush Has New Job Prospect!

This report in from reporter Osama Bin Olson, the only verified camel jockey east of the Mississppi:

Soon to be (thank God!) ex-president George Bush is said to be looking into opening a shoe shine/cobbler shop in the green zone in beautiful downtown Baghdad.

"It will be good to be actually doing some form of manual labor other than cutting and stacking brush at the ranch," the soon to be unemployed said with that silly smirk on his face. "Lord knows I haven't done anything in eight years so it'll prb'ly take me awhile to get in shape, but I think that I will model my cobbler shop after the Seattle Fish Market only in reverse. Rather than having fish tossed about by employees, customers will be bringing in shoes in need of repair and tossing them across the counter at me. Any customer that can catch me off guard and actually hit me in the head will get a 10 per cent discount. Fridays will be 'Hit Me in the Testicles' and win a free sole day."

Nobody will be allowed to win more than once a week. "Fool me once - shame on you -- fool me again -- no -- lessee -- you can fool some of the people some of the time, but fool me once and it's mission accomplished -- or sumpthin like that."

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Saturday, December 13, 2008

SOME CRAZINESS FOR THE WEEKEND!



NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION: STAGE A "BYE BYE YOU BASTARD BUSH" FAREWELL PARTY TO THE WORST PRESIDENT EVER


Just realized that I haven't written here for days! Must be winter hibernation. Ms. Kim keeps the thermostat at the house at 68 degrees and like a snake, I become rather sluggish at such cool temperatures. I have been forced to seek the warmth of my little stove at the office.

Before the first major snow fall, I trudged back into the woods behind the office (with the help of my kindly wife) and dragged out a lot of downed limbs of pine, oak, and anything else that I could cut up with my hand saw for kindling. Now if I get over here early enough in the morning, I find a left over bed off hot coals lurking under the ash, throw in some of my cut up kindling, and in no time, it's 75 to 80 degrees in here. Ah, comfort!

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Thankfully, time does not stand still (although with Bush in office the last eight years have been interminable). Now that we have a president-elect, I think we are all counting down the days when idiot boy is no longer able to fuck up any more. To that end, I suggested to Kim that we throw a party.

Now, God knows, my party days are over. But this is one occasion that I am not about to pass up. Yesterday Kim and I designed invitations and took them down to the printer. The outside has a photo of Cheney talking to Bush, saying: "I've got good news - a hundred Brazillian troops are joining the effort in Iraq." Bush is saying: "Hey! That's great!" Inside on the right side of the invitations Bush is saying: "How many is a hundred brazillian?"

The actual invitation reads:

You are invited to a Bye Bye You Bastard Bush Party

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Kim Wilson, Larry Heagle Residence

5:30PM - 8PM

BYOB

Pizzas will be Made,Tears of Joy Will Be Shed

Please RSVP to lheagle@larryheagle.com by January 14

We fully intend to have each guest stand and make a toast to the departing "Worst President Ever". Something like: "HERE'S TO GEORGE, MAY HE NOT MISS THIS YEAR'S IDIOT'S CONVENTION IN TEXAS WHERE HE BELONGS - AND MAY HE SINGE HIS NUTS OFF AT HIS FIRST BACKYARD BAR-B-Q."

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an article by Truthout's Michael Winship:

With all the interviews President Bush has been giving out lately, you'd think he has a new movie coming out for Christmas.

ABC, NBC, National Review, Middle East Broadcasting, the Real Clear Politics Web site - even a talk with The Washington Post's NASCAR expert. For a fellow who's sometimes gone for months without a press conference, suddenly, the president's a regular chatterbox, spreading the word in these final days that his eight years in office really, really weren't all that bad. Honest.

OH? I THINK WE WILL BE THE JUDGE OF THAT, GEORGE, YOU DUMB ASS!

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With our nation in economic melt down, I recently received this from Tiit Raid:

A Japanese company (Toyota) and an American company (Ford Motors)
decided to have a canoe race on the Missouri River Both teams
practiced long and hard to reach their peak performance before the
race.

On the big day, the Japanese won by a mile.

The Americans, very discouraged and depressed, decided to investigate
the reason for the crushing defeat. A management team made up of
senior management was formed to investigate and recommend appropriate
action.

Their conclusion was the Japanese had 8 people rowing and 1 person
steering, while the American team had 7 people steering and 2 people
rowing.

Feeling a deeper study was in order; American management hired a
consulting company and paid them a large amount of money for a second
opinion.

They advised, of course, that too many people were steering the boat,
while not enough people were rowing.

Not sure of how to utilize that information, but wanting to prevent
another loss to the Japanese, the rowing team's management structure
was totally reorganized to 4 steering supervisors, 2 area steering
superintendents and 1 assistant superintendent steering manager.

They also implemented a new performance system that would give the 2
people rowing the boat greater incentive to work harder. It was
called the 'Rowing Team Quality First Program,' with meetings,
dinners and free pens for the rowers. There was discussion of getting
new paddles, canoes and other equipment, extra vacation days for
practices and bonuses. The pension program was trimmed to 'equal the
competition' and some of the resultant savings were channeled into
morale boosting programs and teamwork posters.

The next year the Japanese won by two miles.

Humiliated, the American management laid-off one rower, halted
development of a new canoe, sold all the paddles, and canceled all
capital investments for new equipment. The money saved was
distributed to the Senior Executives as bonuses.

The next year, try as he might, the lone designated rower was unable
to even finish the race (having no paddles,) so he was laid off for
unacceptable performance, all canoe equipment was sold and the next
year's racing team was out-sourced to India .

Sadly, the End.

Here's something else to think about: Ford has spent the last thirty
years moving all its factories out of the US, claiming they can't
make money paying American wages.

TOYOTA has spent the last thirty years building more than a dozen
plants inside the US. The last quarter's results:

TOYOTA makes 4 billion in profits while Ford racked up 9 billion in losses.

Ford folks are still scratching their heads, and collecting
bonuses... and now wants the Government to 'bail them out'.

IF THIS WEREN'T SO TRUE IT MIGHT BE FUNNY!

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Need laughter? Google "Tommy Tiernan" and find a place where you can order this crazy Irishman's DVD's! I have three of them and he is absolutely, far and away, the funniest stand up I have ever encountered. Of course, I am Irish, so I am a bit prejudiced!

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Friday, December 5, 2008

Stella the Destoyer - Is Nothing Safe?


Yesterday I received the box pictured, filled with fitted insulation tubes designed to slide along the bottom edge of all outside doors to keep the winter out more thoroughly.

Being a guy who never does something now that can be put off until later, I left the box sitting out and went out to run some errands. When we got back, what you see in the photo is what we beheld -- handiwork of Stella the Destroyer! I swear the cat is part canine!

We have seen her do this to other boxes after they have been emptied. This is her first "safe cracking" attempt!

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Sometime ago, I was returning home, late at night, from a banquet gig in eastern Wisconsin, traveling on Highway 82. i stopped to take on fuel at a gas station outside Mauston, Wisconsin. As I was pumping the fuel, I noticed him -- a big old hulking local cop, pacing the front of the store nervously.

When I came in to pay for the fuel, he approached me:

"You traveling on Interstate 94?"
Somewhat taken aback at being spoken to at all, I sid "Yes, I am."
"Which way are you headed? West or East?"
""Ah - I'm headed West."

At this point a young black man appeared from behind the far shelves.
"Good," says the cop. "Take this kid with you."

Now I am up against it! On one hand, I don't want to appear to be a racist, on the other hand, if I give the kid a ride, I am breaking my own cardinal rule: NEVER PICK UP HITCH HIKERS.

Inside I am in real turmoil because the third element here is that this is a damn cop telling me to break the law that is set for Interstate travelers -- no hitch hiking!

But I am intimidated by the uniform and agree to take on the passenger.

We leave and drive in silence for a bit. Finally I break the ice.
"So -- where are you headed?"
'I am going to the Twin Cities to live with my aunt."
"Oh. And where are you coming from?"
"I just got out of prison".

It is quiet in the car for a good long time as in my head I curse that freakin' local Barney from Mauston. As we get nearer my Eau Claire exit, I figure I better make some things clear and hope for the best.

"Gee, I'm sorry I am not going all the way to the Cities. We are coming up on my exit soon. Tell you what, though. I'v got about twenty dollars left in my wallet and I want you to have it to help you on your way."

We make the exit and I pull to the shoulder. He thanks me for the $20 and exits the car.

Obviously that experience still crosses my mind occasionally. I really should have reported Barney to his commanding officer in Mauston!

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The couple were 85 years old and had been married for sixty years. Though they were far from rich, they managed to get by because they watched their pennies.


Though not young, they were both in very good health, largely due to the wife's insistence on healthy foods and exercise for the last decade.

One day, their good health didn't help when they went on a rare vacation and their plane crashed, sending them off to Heaven.


They reached the pearly gates, and St. Peter escorted them inside. He took them to a beautiful mansion, furnished in gold and fine silks, with a fully stocked kitchen and a waterfall in the master bath. A maid could be seen hanging their favorite clothes in the closet.

They gasped in astonishment when he said, 'Welcome to Heaven. This will be your home now.'


The old man asked Peter how much all this was going to cost. 'Why, nothing,' Peter replied, 'remember, this is your reward in Heaven.'

The old man looked out the window and right there he saw a championship golf course, finer and more beautiful than any ever built on Earth.

'What are the greens fees?,' grumbled the old man.

'This is heaven,' St. Peter replied. 'You can play for free, every day.'


Next they went to the clubhouse and saw the lavish buffet lunch, with every imaginable cuisine laid out before them, from seafood to steaks to exotic deserts, free flowing beverages.

'Don't even ask,' said St. Peter to the man. This is Heaven, it is all free for you to enjoy.'

The old man looked around and glanced nervously at his wife.

'Well, where are the low fat and low cholesterol foods and the decaffeinated tea?,' he asked.

That's the best part,' St. Peter replied. 'You can eat and drink as much as you like of whatever you like and you will never get fat or sick.

This is Heaven!'


The old man pushed, 'No gym to work out at?'

'Not unless you want to,' was the answer.

'No testing my sugar or blood pressure or...'

'Never again. All you do here is enjoy yourself.'



The old man glared at his wife and said, 'You and your fucking bran muffins! We could have been here ten years ago!'


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MY FRIEND PERLA BATALLA HAS A NEW CD OUT!

"Perla's newest, "We Three Kings" is available at:
http://cdbaby.com/cd/perla5

Or by sending a check made out to Perla Batalla
$15 per cd and $5 postage and handling to:
Mechuda Music
PO Box 250
Ojai, Ca 93034

(They make fabulous Christmas gifts!)

"A Perla Christmas" Goes on Tour:
Dec 3-5 Sun Valley Idaho
Dec 6 Salt Lake City, Utah
Dec 7 -10 La Mesilla, New Mexico
Dec 12 Raymond Kabazz Theater, Los Angeles
Dec 19 Zoey's at the Lodge Ventura, California

Release Notes:
Grammy nominated world vocalist, Perla Batalla continues to defy
genre with her 6th CD release & very first holiday album, "We Three
Kings". Featuring timeless traditional & contemporary classics,
including "Noche de Paz", Vince Guaraldi's "Christmas Time is Here"
and Leonard Cohen's stirring "Hallelujah". Perla's legendary vocal
prowess coupled with fearless and inspirational arrangements
celebrate love, family and the best meaning of season. Produced by
Perla Batalla with memorable performances by Eva Batalla-Mann, Dave
Palmer, Alan Thornhill, Chaz Benton, Debra Dobkin, Karen Hammack,
Charles Frichtel, Marty Van Loan, Mike Velasquez, Ken Eros and more.


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