Mike's Reporter Blog

I don’t like Tom Petty (hope I don’t get fired)

Friday, January 25th, 2008
Michael McGuire

“Tom Petty is the greatest singer, guitar player and song writer in the history of this Universe or any other, and he forever will be. Just listen to the delicate, yet complex integration of chord progressions and lyrical mastery in songs like ‘Don’t Come Around Here No More,’ ‘Into The Great Wide Open’ and ‘You Don’t Know How It Feels.’ It’s like seeing two people fall in love to the sounds of a symphony only they can hear.”

That’s what someone told me once when I said I didn’t like Tom Petty.

Okay, I lied. That’s not what they said.

But they did call me a jerk.

That’s not the only time, either. I’ve lost friends, nearly family, because I don’t like his music…his music.

I didn’t say I didn’t like him. He’s probably a great guy and fun to be around. I just think his songs are too simple for my taste and that a lot of them sound too much alike.

“Then you’re are an idiot!” – I can already hear you saying it.

It’s okay, let it out.

“You don’t know crap about music!” “You’re tone deaf!” “You’re ugly!”

Keep them coming. I know I’m evil. I change the station when I here “Free Fallin” or “You don’t have to live like a refugee” – how dare I! It’s okay. I’ve learned to accept who I am.

And if I’m in a situation where I’m unable to change the station or the stereo, I start singing (I can sound just like Tom Petty) really loud, only I change the words to make the song’s lyrics really awful.

For example: “Free Fallin” becomes “Free Ballin.” You can only imagine how it goes.

That one’s made people cry.

Now Tom Petty is the performer during half-time of Super Bowl XLII in Phoenix. Can’t say I’m as thrilled as everyone else.

I believe my direct quote was, “I’d rather watch Steven Tyler and Justin Timberlake sing ‘Walk this Way’ and toss microphones back and forth to each other in hell before I’ll watch this year’s half-time show.”

But it’s clear I’m alone on this one. In fact, I’m not going to say that everyone else in the world claims to be Tom Petty’s biggest fan, but I’m not going to say they don’t, either.

That said; if I’m the only jerk on the planet that won’t defend the greatness of “Last Dance with Mary Jane” to the death, than even I have to admit Tom Petty must be doing something right.

Get a night-life

Friday, December 28th, 2007
Michael McGuire

It’s 6:40 p.m. on Friday. And I’m here late because I wanted to bounce some ideas of my readers.

Below are some of the possible names for the classless, body odor-filled bar I’d like to own someday. I thought up some slogans, too, with the hopes that the bar will gain a disgusting enough reputation to warrant selling T-shirts with bright decals and funny characters on them (I’m told it’s important to cross-market and develop value-added products).

Have a look-see:

Name: McScurvy’s
Slogan: “If you’re ugly, we’re open.”

Name: The Busted Grill
Slogan: “There’s no cover charge, but you have to let us knife you.”

Name: The Damp Sleeping Bag
Slogan: “Home of the first Little Debbie Urinal Cake”

Name: Butterfly Kisses
Slogan: “Don’t worry. If she hasn’t left you yet, she will.”

Name: Hotel Honduras
Slogan: “1st World time at 3rd world prices.”

Name: The Bill Collector
Slogan: “You’re only homeless when we’re closed.”

Name: Plywood Palace
Slogan: “Doors lock when pyrotechnics start.”

Name: Jail Bait
Slogan: “Technically you can’t date ‘em, but theoretically you can sure as hell fight over ‘em.”

Feel free to help me out if you come up with any of your own.

A Shopping Cart Christmas Carol Classic

Thursday, December 20th, 2007
Michael McGuire

“These Three Carts” (done to the tune of “We Three Kings”)

These three carts of P&C are
Wheel bearings un-greased they traverse afar.
Snow bank and fountain, Street corner and mountain,
Acting as make-shift cars

O carts of wonder, carts of night,
Carts with foil antennas might,
Pick-up a TV station, no it’s fading,
Guide us to that case of Milwaukee’s Best Light.

Born as carts on P&C’s lot,
WD-40 I have to unfreeze them again,
Carts forever, rusting never
Still abandoned by all in shame.

O carts of wonder, carts of night,
Carts filled with garbage and gas create fire bright,
Portable oven, char-broiled chariot we’re lovin’
Guide us to that case of Milwaukee’s Best Light.

No Common Sense to offer have I.
Leave a perfectly good cart on the neighbor’s lawn to die.
Drunk and hazy really lazy,
Steal new cart and go get high.

O carts of wonder, carts of night,
Three carts on the front porch make it tight,
We’ll hang on lawn until they’re mysteriously gone
Guide us to that case of Milwaukee’s Best Light.

Carts not mine: It’s a bitter dispute
Though the store manager doesn’t shout of gathering gloom.
It’s the neighbors, haters, cops and writers,
That give me such an awful time.

O carts of wonder, carts of night,
We’ll take the carts back and make it right,
Squeaking, squirreling, leftward turning
Guide us to that case of Milwaukee’s Best Light.

Glorious now behold the zip ties,
worse for ware, but here the cart lies.
Alleluia, alleluia!
Sounds through the cart return area and skies.

O carts of wonder, carts of night,
The carts are home to reunite,
From store to car, they travel no more far
Guide us to that case of Milwaukee’s Best Light.

Call me idealistic

Friday, December 7th, 2007
Michael McGuire

Regarding my pro stance on the Town of Norwich and City of Norwich taking part in a joint consolidation study, one reader that doesn’t agree wrote: “Michael is pretty young and idealistic, which is to be expected and also is proper.”

I actually think I’m pretty cynical, and at 25, I feel like I’m 40 (too many late night’s at Millie’s Diner).

I see my position as being more pessimistic than anything else. It’s born from a lack of faith in local government.

A lack of faith that it will ever be proactive. A lack of faith that it will ever take risks. A lack of faith that it can ever look beyond the short term. A lack of faith that it can really get anything done on its own. A lack of faith that it can ever lead.

If anyone’s idealistic, it’s the people on the Norwich town board who think they live on an Island Kingdom beholden to no one.

Furthermore, if anyone’s idealistic, it’s people in local government who think Chenango County will get better if we stay the course.

Who knows, maybe if we do nothing the county will become a tourism hotspot?

“If you think Branson sucks, wait till you see Norwich!” A pamphlet might read.

I know local governments can rest on their laurels. I know local governments have excuses. I know local governments hate Albany. I know local governments can meet for two hours once a month. I know local governments can react after a situation reaches crisis mode.

What I don’t think local governments can do is develop a realistic vision of the future. They sure can develop a future based on a fantastic version of the past.

What a story

Friday, November 30th, 2007
Michael McGuire

– Missing pastor found alive in Arkansas using identity of man killed in Norwich
CENTERTON, Ark. – According to several newspaper reports, a pastor once believed kidnapped and murdered by Satan worshippers was found alive in Arkansas last week working as a small city mayor using the name and Social Security number of a man killed in Norwich nearly 50 years ago.
After disappearing in 1980, Donald L. LaRose, a former Baptist minister in Lancaster, Pa., Broome County and Indiana, was found last week in Centerton, Ark., living under the name Bruce Kent Williams.
Based on the report, the real Bruce Kent Williams was a 19-year-old man killed in a car wreck in Norwich in 1958. It is unclear how LaRose obtained his name and Social Security number.
It was not known Wednesday if Williams was a Norwich resident.
Before twice disappearing – once briefly in 1975 and then again in 1980 – LaRose claimed he was being threatened by Satan worshippers. Now the mayor of a small city in Northwest Arkansas and re-married as “Ken Williams,” LaRose says he left his first wife and their children so the Satanists would not harm them.
From 1972-75, LaRose was a pastor in the Town of Maine, located in Broome County. While there he went missing briefly before turning up in Minnesota, claiming Satanists had abducted him in Binghamton and brainwashed him into believing he was Bruce Kent Williams.
In 1977, he moved to Hammond, Ind., where he went missing for the last time in 1980.
For the last 27 years, LaRose has been a local radio personality in Northwest Arkansas.
His identity was discovered by reporters who received a tip from LaRose’s family who discovered a website, www.donlarose.com, that is registered to a “Ken Williams” in Centerton.
On his website, it reads, “Since my unveiling on Wednesday, November 21, 2007, I have revised this report to delete portions of the story designed to keep people from following my trail. All changes will be included in bold letters.”
As it turns out, Bruce Kent Williams – the identity Don LaRose assumed – was not killed in Norwich. Neither the city or town have records of such a person dying in a car accident here.

I figured that busted pretty much any local connection to the story.

However, after reading the article, a Norwich woman called in and said she knew Don LaRose when he was her pastor at the First Baptist Church in Maine, NY, where she lived before moving to the Norwich area 10 years ago.

While LaRose has been somewhat vilified, she claims the man she knew was loved by all, and when he disappeared, it frightened and devastated an entire community.

“Everybody loved him,” she said, recalling LaRose when she was 15 years old. “As a pastor, he really fit the needs of our community.”

The LaRose she knew was kind, outgoing and popular with people of all ages. “He was a caring man, a great family man, and he was very funny.”

LaRose had a distinct laugh and a great singing voice, too, she said. “If I heard them today, I’d know it was him without seeing him,” she said.

For all intents and purposes, LaRose was the squeaky clean leader of a wholesome church.

Then, on election day, 1975, everything changed.

He claims to have been abducted and brainwashed, waking up homeless in Chicago and then Minneapolis – without any idea how he got there – believing he was “Bruce Kent Williams,” with no idea who Don LaRose was or anything about his past life.

You can read LaRose’s account of the whole story at www.donlarose.com. (The woman I spoke with says the transcripts on that website describe LaRose’s story just as it happened).

Can’t say I believe it, but it’s a fascinating read.

Regardless, the facts are clear. Feared kidnapped and killed by Satanists, this guy was gone for 27 years. All the while he was a radio host and mayor in Arkansas most of the time.

It’s a hell of a story, if nothing else.

No Country for Turkey-dazed Old Men

Friday, November 23rd, 2007
Michael McGuire

Saw “No Country For Old Men” last night.

And I can’t honestly say how I feel about it.

In parts – the acting, dialogue, action sequences and the scenery – it was excellent.

Overall, I thought this movie was missing something; mostly because it tried to do too much, I think.

The Coen Brothers are masters at tying together complex story plots that contain equally complex characters – like the dude’s rug tied the room together in their oft-quoted film classic, “The Big Lebowski.” In the case of “No Country,” the plot, based on the Cormac McCarthy novel, is simple, the characters are simple and their separate story lines are simple. It’s all pretty straightforward – the acting and action drive this movie.

But as you may or may not see, the Coens spend too much time drifting and not enough time explaining, like the Soprano’s. And in a few key scenes they leave too much for the imagination. They lack that punch they’ve delivered time and time again.

All-in-all, it’s definitely worth the price of admission, though. And I have a feeling that a second viewing might change my mind (I was dazed on turkey and up past my bedtime the first time around).

I look forward to getting the DVD as well (commentary and extras might give some more insight).

As a side note, moviegoers on Thanksgiving should be allowed to bring leftovers into the theater. Who wants candy when you could have a turkey, stuffing and mashed potato sandwich?

Nothing spends like dirty money

Friday, November 9th, 2007
Michael McGuire

I deal strictly in cash.

I don’t like credit and debit cars. First off, I don’t trust them. Second, cards are tied directly too computers, which I also do not trust (but apparently, I have no problem with them as long as I can shoot my mouth off on Internet blogs). Third, when you use a card, it’s like using play money – you don’t have to actually part with your hard-earned dollars like you do when you hand-over a wad of green. I’d wouldn’t be able to keep myself in check without that money guilt.

It’s not just about preferring cash over card, though. I’m actually making a healthy life choice by keeping real money in my pocket.

That’s because it’s teeming with bacteria. Some gross, some not so gross. And the way I see it, I’m building up my immune system every time I open my wallet and take out a few bills.

But, according to recent studies, money isn’t as dirty as once thought.

In the 1970s, however, cash and coins had a pretty bad rap.

A recent research article from an on-line source (which apparently is trustworthy) notes: “In 1972 a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association cultured bacteria from 200 coins and bills and found objectionable ones like fecal bacteria and Staphylococcus aureus on 13 percent of coins and 42 percent of notes.”

Other studies have shown that many bills have benign bacteria growing on them. Only a small amount have been found to carry nasty bugs like E-coli.

I’ll admit, it feels icky when you actually think about the less-than-desirable hygiene habits many people have, then consider that those nasty Neds and scurvy Susies have all been rubbing and caressing your fundage.

But if you consider yourself a survivor, keep a hold of that roll.


Friday, November 2nd, 2007
Michael McGuire

I was going to blog about Tootsie Rolls, but it was pretty stupid, so I decided not to (I wanted to know why they had rectangular tootsie roll bars – shouldn’t they be called tootsie blocks?).

Not a big deal…

What is a big deal however, is the old “put the candy out in a basket on the porch” trick instead of answering trick or treaters at the door.

I saw a few houses pulling this on Halloween.

It’s a jackpot for some lucky kid who gets there first (unless they’re passing out something lousy like after-dinner mints).

I say, if you’re not in the spirit or you can’t be there to give it out personally, keep your lights off and don’t waste any money on candy. Because just putting it out there defeats the entire purpose of Halloween – which is kids soliciting candy from an actual person.

Although, from what I’ve seen, more than a few kids have forgotten how to ask nicely.

But kids wouldn’t even dress up on Halloween anymore if everyone just put out a basket and called it a night. Why would they? No one would see it? Just like they wouldn’t dress up if people stopped passing out candy all together.

Handy Halloween tips

Friday, October 26th, 2007
Michael McGuire

Anyone else have Halloween parties to go to?

I’ve got one tonight and another Saturday.

Per usual, I didn’t figure out what I am going to be until last night.

I’m sure there are others in the same last-minute boat.

My recommendation: pick a costume that is simple and offensive.

If you’re short on time and money – and you still want to be the talk of the town – then you’ve got no other choice.

Why simple? Because it’s cheap – not a lot of shopping or expensive costumes because you can probably make something with the stuff you already have.

Why offensive? Because you need to stand out. Make a few waves. You can’t be just simple, that’s boring. You have to add a twist (plus, being offensive doesn’t take much work).

Remember: think simple.

A good starting place: make a list of famous and infamous icons.

Or (what I like to do): make a list of all the local weirdoes and crazy people in the town where you live. They make great and easy-to-do costumes.

Next, go through all your old clothes and household items to see what you’re working with. Then, pick the character you could best match with what you have.

Note: before you pick someone, famous or local, make sure all your friends would be familiar with. That makes it funnier and saves you a lot of explaining.

Also, think about who’s going to be at the party. Look out for any potential guests that might get overly upset by your display and adjust accordingly. And it while it’s probably not necessary, make sure the person or a person you’re dressed like won’t be there.

Don’t limit your search to people, either. You can be anything. Just look at stuff around your house and imagine something else it could be. Get the creative juices flowing.

Remember to be shocking.

To do this, you have to give your costume a twist. If your character is nice, give them a not-so-nice touch. If they’re evil, sweeten them up a bit.

For example, if you have a club-size piece of wood, a few white sheets and some imagination, you could become the star of the new hit movie, “Walking Tall: The Mother Theresa Story.”

The possibilities are endless (I’d tell you what I’m going to be, but I don’t want to ruin the surprise, or get fired).

It’s Halloween, so feel free to push the envelope. The more taboo, the better.

Have you seen the light?

Friday, October 19th, 2007
Michael McGuire

“Who cares about oncoming traffic? As long as you can see, that’s all that matters.”

That’s apparently the attitude headlight makers have these days.

Unless you’re in an SUV or a vehicle with some clearance, there’s no doubt you’ve noticed the blinding intensity of the newer beams.

They even have commercials that demonstrate how much brighter and wider these upgraded versions are.

So it’s like we’ve turned our low beams into high beams, and high beams into spotlights.

Wow, really smart.

What good is it having lights that can bring down an airplane if the cars coming at you have them too?

We’ll all blind each for the sake of seeing better.

People are lucky there are guys like me out there that fear change and technology. Our dimmers give you a quick window to get a grip over the road again before descending back into hallogen hell.

We’re what’s keeping all you fancy-pants from going off the road.

Headlights we can artificially tan or call on Batman with – another well thought out, and necessary, American innovation.