Tuesday, January 30, 2007


My wife, 'LIZ' made this recently. She and 'Soccer Fairy' here playing with goodies from her creative stash. Quigley the Pomeranian watched them quietly. And the living room was TRASHED when they finished! But what a result... flamingoes, and all. Thank you, Liz! Mwah!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

“The Sound of Music”

c. 2007 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

“The hills are alive with the sound of music
With songs they have sung for a thousand years
The hills fill my heart with the sound of music
My heart wants to sing every song it hears”

- Julie Andrews in 1965, as Austrian singer Maria Von Trapp.

Thanks to the iPod, Internet technology, and cell phones, music is a
valuable commodity of The Information Age. Tuneful entertainment may be found literally everywhere! Enjoying familiar melodies can be accomplished without the bulky equipment of yesteryear. MP3 players now occupy nearly microscopic bits of space. Have room for a keychain? Then you can have i-tunes on board!
This ease of being constantly ‘plugged in’ has influenced pop culture with undeniable force. NIKE had already opened the door to commercial use of rock music by paying to feature The Beatles song ‘Revolution’ in an ad from 1987. At the time, many were shocked by this move to derive naked profit from rock history. Yet it was only the beginning…
Now, advertisers grab catchy, recognizable songs for their commercials without hesitation. Chevrolet Truck spots featuring the Bob Seger composition ‘Like A Rock’ are numerous. Cadillac continues to enjoy similar success from bygone promotions that used the classic Led Zeppelin track ‘Rock and Roll.’
Today, the simple act of watching family television can be a musical adventure. Commercials for a myriad of products feature cutting-edge recordings by many out-of-the-mainstream artists. Being confronted with sales pitches for aluminum foil, laundry soap, soft drinks, and personal care items can actually be… musically educational!
The following list provides a few familiar examples from prime time TV:

THE RAMONES / “BLITZKRIEG BOP” – Cingular really accelerated the trend toward cool music in commercials by using this vintage track to promote their ‘Go Phone.’ Veterans of the ‘punk’ era were shocked to hear an obscure nugget of New York rebellion in such a context. But a new generation was drawn to learn about the music itself. The end result – posthumous exposure for a heroic, yet still unknown band.

DIRTY VEGAS / “DAYS GO BY” – One of several fashion-friendly spots for Mitsubishi, from 2003. This one featured a woman passenger doing some sort of bodysurfing, hand jive dance while in her seat. Coupled with off-focus, urban backgrounds and racy glimpses of the Eclipse, it was unforgettable. The ad continues to be a favorite post on YouTube.

TELEPOPMUSIK / “JUST BREATHE” – Another Mitsubishi commercial that features hip, moody melodies. Rather than attempting to sell a motorcar, their focus is on the company as a lifestyle partner. The ad seems to promote membership in a fast-paced social strata. A perfect counterpart for video images of trendy folk enjoying their vehicles in an urban environment.

DEE / “MILES AND MILES” – This rousing bit of techno-pop serves as the backdrop for ads depicting the Ford ‘Edge’ Crossover Vehicle. Is it a minivan? Or an SUV? You decide. Regardless of whatever category is appropriate for the car, the tune works well to promote its viability and hipness.

BODYROCKERS / “I LIKE THE WAY” - The music for a Diet Coke spot. Lots of dancing around an inner city loft apartment. Hearing this tune while standing still is impossible. Surrender to the beat!

ROYKSOPP / “REMIND ME” – One of the humorous GEICO commercials. A billboard for the company uses the famous slogan: ‘So Easy A Caveman Can Do It!’ Passing by on an airport moving sidewalk is an offended Neanderthal. He shakes his head in disbelief…not another one of those ads!

THE TEDDY BEARS WITH IGGY POP / “PUNKROCKER” – A brief, stop-motion history of Cadillac, shot on a desert highway. The interplay of empty vehicles parading in jerky succession over the highway is surreal and infectious. It continues the recent Caddy trend toward marketing to an upscale, yet younger, crowd.

DIAMOND NIGHTS / “THE GIRL’S ATTRACTIVE” – A classy tune for Jaguar automobiles of Great Britain. The rhythm pairs easily with flashes of sports car and a leggy fashion model. Included is an added Bonus for those caught up in 80’s nostalgia - the tune eerily reflects a bit of Billy Idol doing ‘White Wedding.’

THE FALL / “BLINDNESS” – An ad for the Mitsubishi ‘Outlander.’ Futuristic and stark, very metallic and plodding. Intended no doubt to sell the product as an urban assault vehicle for those with modern sensibilities.

THE ROLLING STONES / “I’M FREE” REMIX – This song was originally released in 1965. But it was reborn in this ad for the Chase Freedom Credit Card. A bit of tweaking makes it strangely appropriate for the commercial. Like Chevrolet and Cadillac, Chase has successfully co-opted a piece of Baby Boom culture.

ANJALI / “STINGING SITARS” – An impressive promo for the Cingular ‘Blackjack.’ The hand manipulation sequence is stunning. When viewed in sync with the rocked-out sitar track, it is literally spellbinding. This music takes surf, psychobilly, and post-hippie experimentation on an uncontrolled thrill ride!

Perhaps most the most outrageous ads in this category are from Volkswagen. In a pairing with First Act, a series of their commercials boasts that buyers will receive a limited edition guitar with each V-Dub purchased. Featured are noted performers like Slash, and John Mayer. Also included is the fictional Nigel Tufnel, from Spinal Tap.

Julie Andrews might be overwhelmed with the explosion of music-as-capitalism in modern times. But a different performer seemed to herald such things, twenty years ago. In his quirky anthem ‘The Sound of Musik’ Austrian singer Falco spoke of pop melodies as a sort of superhighway for cross-cultural communication between generations, countries, and continents:

“The sound of musik
It’s Lennon - McCartney, Cole Porter too
They’re dancin’ with my babe, babe - ba - ba - ba - babe - blue
Hey daddy – don’t you bother me - its gonna be my
Rock and roll day - give the children what they want
Hear the universal choir pray”

- From the 1986 album ‘Emotional’

Rock is now advertising, and advertising is a reliable conduit for delivering art to
the masses. Televisions, music players, cell phones, and personal computers are about to become one versatile unit. With a single destination for everything, knowing the difference between culture and commerce may be less relevant than choosing the technology through which we listen.


Friday, January 19, 2007


c. 2006 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

Note to Readers: I’m a great fan of the United Kingdom. (With Scottish blood on my mother’s side of the family.) So the following work was strange to compose…

John Cleese is well known to most Americans for his groundbreaking work in the ‘Monty Python’ comedic troupe. Many have also enjoyed seeing domestic reruns of his ‘Fawlty Towers’ series, which was popular here thanks to PBS. Movie roles in ‘A Fish Called Wanda’ and ‘Harry Potter’ have helped him stay in the public consciousness.

Recently, this veteran performer issued a satirical critique of modern America. It was titled ‘Declaration of Revocation.’ After considering the message for several days, I drafted the following letter:

Respectfully Declining To Surrender Our Independence

Dear Mr. Cleese,
Greetings from nearly three hundred million free American citizens. We would like to offer our thanks for your considerable body of humorous work. Even in our hillbilly nation, you are regarded as a sort of folk hero. (In spite of the fact that you have probably come here, like your countrymen, simply to make lots of extra money from uncultured Yankees.)
Allow us to take issue with your most recent manuscript about resuming control over our portion of the continent. Included here is a point-by-point review that will clarify our position…

>>“To the citizens of the United States of America, in the light of your failure to elect a competent President of the USA and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective today. Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths and other territories.”

John, please! Your empire is long gone. Get over it.
With regard to electing competent leaders… remember Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain? The fellow who ‘secured peace in our time’ by signing a friendship agreement with Adolf the Nasty, just before German bombs began to rain down on your homeland? That didn’t work out, either. In America, the pendulum swings eternally. We are a rowdy bunch. (You’ll realize this when Barack Obama is sworn in at The White House during January, 2009.)

>>“You should look up ‘revocation’ in the Oxford English Dictionary. Then look up ‘aluminium.’ Check the pronunciation guide. You will be amazed at just how wrongly you have been pronouncing it… There will be no more 'bleeps' in the Jerry Springer show. If you're not old enough to cope with bad language then you shouldn't have chat shows. When you learn to develop your vocabulary, then you won't have to use bad language as often.”

John, isn’t calling your dinner ‘bubble and squeak’ or ‘bangers with mash’ also bad language? And about Jerry Springer – he was born in England. We now realize that you sent him here to annoy us and cheapen our intellectual standing worldwide. Thank you very much!

>>You should stop playing American ‘football.’ There is only one kind of football. What you refer to as American ‘football’ is not a very good game. The 2.15% of you who are aware that there is a world outside your borders may have noticed that no one else plays ‘American’ football. You will no longer be allowed to play it, and should instead play proper football. Initially, it would be best if you played with the girls. It is a difficult game. Those of you brave enough will, in time, be allowed to play rugby (which is similar to American ‘football’, but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full kevlar body armour like nancies).”

John, you are correct. Soccer is a difficult game… for us to take seriously! It is a gender-neutral sport our children play in grade school to fill the time left between regular classes and recess. In that role, it is wonderful. But calling the contest ‘football’ doesn’t make us forget professional athletics. Even having David Beckham in Los Angeles won’t change that reality. BTW - do more than 2.15% of people in the U. K. know that they play North American football in Canada?

>>“You will no longer be allowed to own or carry guns. You will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous in public than a vegetable peeler. Because we don't believe you are sensible enough to handle potentially dangerous items, you will require a permit if you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public.”

John, this Royal proposition might work on an island like yours. But our law enforcement officers have tried to take guns away from urban gangs, political malcontents, and illegal immigrants for years. To date, this activity is still a work in progress. Our southern border is thousands of miles long, and very porous. Anything smaller than an M-1 Abrams tank is hard to detect by satellite. Finally, the only Americans likely to cooperate with a weapons ban are those who aren’t part of the problem.

P. S. – In England, does a ‘Cricket Bat’ qualify as being potentially dangerous?

>>“All American cars are hereby banned. They are crap, and it is for your own good. When we show you German cars, you will understand what we mean.”

John, we know German cars well, because so many of them are made here. (Like the Japanese ones, and Korean, and…) As for British cars, even many of your own people won’t drive them. The only auto manufacturers left in England are those owned by foreigners. Go figure!

>>“The cold tasteless stuff you insist on calling ‘beer’ is not actually beer at all, it is lager. From November 1st only proper British Bitter will be referred to as ‘beer,’ and European brews of known and accepted provenance will be referred to as ‘Lager.’ The substances formerly known as ‘American Beer’ will henceforth be referred to as ‘Near-Frozen Gnat's Urine,’ with the exception of the product of the American Budweiser company whose product will be referred to as ‘Weak Near-Frozen Gnat's Urine.’ This will allow true Budweiser (as manufactured for the last 1000 years in the Czech Republic) to be sold without risk of confusion.”

John, cold beer is good beer! Period. Warm is a temperature for chicken wings, loaded baked-potato skins, and Hooters waitresses.

Secondly, U. S. Budweiser is the world’s best-selling brand. Even we don’t understand why, but you can’t argue with the numbers. Your own people are willing to pay a hefty price to drink this stuff. It is the UK’s most popular premium packaged lager, for bars, pubs, and restaurants.
In conclusion, if you are ever in Ohio, visit the Great Lakes Brewery. (Some of us actually do like ‘good’ beer.)

>>“You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns, lawyers or therapists. The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that you're not adult enough to be independent. Guns should only be handled by adults. If you're not adult enough to sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist, then you're not grown up enough to handle a gun.”

John – in this land, most disputes are resolved intelligently. In other words, on television! We use Dr. Phil or Judge Judy to set things right. But America was born out of an armed rebellion. (Would you have given us independence if we grew flowers instead of organizing a citizen militia?) So we need the finality of weapons-grade combat. Lawyers offer us all the violence, without real bloodshed. The yield is fewer gun-related incidents. Therapists help convince us that the outcome is just as rewarding. Isn’t that better than authentic carnage?

>>“Please tell us who killed JFK. It's been driving us crazy.”

We would… but then the CIA would have to kill you. ALL of you. It is better if we just keep the secret to ourselves.

I hope this provides useful insight into our individualistic approach to living. We humbly suggest you invade France if imperial superiority is something truly necessary to revive in England. (The French haven’t had a large group of visitors since hosting the Germans in 1940.) They are very hospitable people. Give it a try.

Thanks again for bringing ‘something completely different’ to America!

Yours Truly, Rod Ice

My letter needed extra postage to reach the United Kingdom. Yet sending the response seemed like a civic duty. It felt good to have spoken out in defense of the nation. If anything, I was grateful to Mr. Cleese for having inspired such a unique writing project.
Thank you, John. And God Bless America!


“Letter to a Canine Hero”

c. 2006 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

DEC. 28, 2006 (THE MAPLE LEAF) – “Geauga County K-9 Midge just can’t escape the world-wide fame her nose and size have brought her. Not only has the Chihuahua-Rat Terrier mix become a world-wide media star, she now holds the world’s record for being the smallest police dog… Last week, the Sheriff received an official letter in a large envelope that included a Guinness World Record certificate…”

It was a windy Geauga afternoon. I had been working in our home office since morning. Unread mail was piled nearby. Fresh coffee ebbed steam from a cup on my desk. Household pets busied themselves with playtime. Yet only a single concern held the moment. How would I choose a subject for the next Maple Leaf column?
News stories had been plentiful in recent weeks. It was also tempting to offer some sort of year-end retrospective. But I wanted to compose something more personal. A feature born of authenticity and creative inspiration.
My thoughts were interrupted by a knock at the door. It sounded erratic, but insistent. “I’m just sitting here at the computer. Come on in!”
Soccer Fairy appeared with a childish grin. She was stylishly dressed in a pink sweat suit. Her blonde hair glistened. I suspected that she had been thinking up some sort of ingenious, eight-year-old scheme. There was a folded piece of notebook paper in her hand. “Hi Roddy!”
I spun in my chair. “What’s up, girl? You look determined today…”
She smoothed the paper between her fingers. “I need to mail a letter. Do we have any stamps?”
I smiled. “A letter? To who, Grandma Cali?”
“Uhhh, no,” she whispered. “It is for the Sheriff.”
I went red. “What? For the Sheriff? Is this a school project?”
Soccer Fairy shook her head. “No, the letter is from Quigley.”
“From the… DOG??” I said in disbelief.
Our light brown puppy stood on his hind legs. “Arf!”
“Yes!” she answered. “He wrote a letter… to Midge!”
I burst into full-blown laughter. “Ohhhhh, okay! Now I get it. Hahaha. Quigley wrote a letter to another dog. The Geauga County Sheriff’s dog!”
She tapped her toe. “Yes!”
I went blank. “Okay. A dog wrote a letter…”
“No silly,” she said. “Dogs can’t hold a pencil. I wrote it for him. He barked the words and I put them on paper. Then I made a fancy border with the art set you and Mommy got me for Christmas. I thought it would be perfect for the newspaper.”
Our pet yelped with pride. “Arrrrrf!”
My embarrassment couldn’t be hidden. “Sure. He barked, and you played stenographer and publicity agent, all in one.”
“Played… what?” she asked.
“You wrote the words,” I said. “Our beautiful eight-year-old athlete also speaks fluent dog…”
“No teasing!” she squeaked.
“How about a note from Grumpy the Siamese cat? I’ll bet Sheriff McClelland has a cat somewhere. Meowwww. Mrrowwww! Rrrrrowww!!”
“Stop it!” she giggled.
“Maybe he even has a goose…” I continued. “We could wing it with a fowled-up letter from the AFLAC bird! Honk honk honkkkkkkkkkkk!”
“Roddy!!!!!!!!!” she screeched. “Quit being crazy!”
I relented at last. “Well, I guess there’s no point in arguing…”
She brightened with hope. “So will you help me, pleeeeease? I need a stamp!”
I reached for a desk drawer. “Sure. But can I read the letter, first?”
Soccer Fairy agreed without hesitation. The document was a colorful page, done in hues of neon pink, blue, purple, and lime green. I read it aloud as she listened:

“Dear Midge,

My name is Quigley Padderson. I am an eight-pound, male Pomeranian from Thompson Township. My family got me from the Geauga Humane Society.
Anyway, I get picked on a lot because I am so small. Pick, pick, pick. At home, two out of three cats are bigger than I am. But that doesn’t stop me from trying to stand tall. I do my doggie best to let those furballs know who runs the household. I can make a lot of noise for a little yapper! But they just laugh when I bark. The only animals I can really boss around are gerbils. And they won’t come out of the cage when I’m there. Cousin Dree calls me a ‘Doggie Mc Nugget.’ I don’t get respect from anything bigger than a ladybug. It’s tough being me.
My keeper writes for The Maple Leaf newspaper, and saw you on the front cover. He said that you were certified as the world’s smallest police dog. That made me very proud! I walk with confidence now, knowing that you can help fight crime, in spite of being little. It proves that everybody has a special place in the world. Now, I feel good about being so tiny!
I hope you have a good New Year. Take care, and be safe!

-- Your Friend, Quigley”

I was impressed. The letter showed an adult sense of focus and composition. “Very well done, sweetie. Quigley could be a canine journalist.”
Soccer Fairy was pleased. “Well…Mommy did help a little.”
I raised an eyebrow. “Aha! That explains Quigley’s impressive vocabulary. So this is a total-family project?”
She nodded. “Welcome to the club!”
Suddenly, my wife appeared, with her own cup of java. “It’s so good to be home from work! How is everyone?” We traded hugs after she slipped out of her overcoat.
I scanned my watch. “Is it that late already?”
Liz fretted with her auburn hair. “It was madness at the store today. I couldn’t wait to get out of there.”
The Fairy held out her poochie letter. “We’re going to put this in the mail!”
I took a deep breath. “Yeah… our dog is a writer. How impressive!”
My wife covered her mouth. “I was meaning to tell you about that…”
“A letter to Midge, Geauga County’s most famous citizen,” I said, smartly. “From a down-home pup in the boondocks. This is real news, up-to-the minute.”
“Maybe we can be on television, too!” Soccer Fairy proclaimed.
I reached for the phone. “No problem. Hello, WKYC Channel Three? This is Rod calling from The Maple Leaf newspaper. Mark Nolan is a personal friend of mine. Uhhh… I see him every day. Anyhow, I’ve got a dog that can write, and an eight-year-old who thinks like a college student…forget your evening broadcast. I’ve got guaranteed ratings, right here!”
Liz almost spilled her coffee. “You’re such a poo!”
Quigley dropped to the floor. Talk of a media appearance made him faint!
Our girl shook the letter, impatiently. “It’s getting late! We need to put this in the mailbox!”
My wife reached for her coat. “Come on, we’ll go while the car is still warm. Just let me change out of these heels.”
The Fairy cheered. “Yaaaaaay!”
“By the way, what’s for dinner?” Liz said, quizzically. “Aren’t you normally playing hillbilly gourmet by this hour on the clock?”
I fumbled for useful words. “Uhhhh, well, I uhmmm…”
Quigley was still dizzy. He rolled around on the floor. “Rowf!”
My wife didn’t wait for a plausible excuse to develop. “See you in a few minutes, Chef Rodney! I love you!!”


Tuesday, January 09, 2007


It seems that recent weeks have been filled with obits
for friends and heroes. Here's one from Cleveland: Len
'Boom Boom' Goldberg. He was a giant at WMMS 100.7 FM.
Len reminded us of the yonder days when terrestrial
radio actually made a difference. His voice is still
instantly recognized by anyone over 40. He passed on
Dec. 27th.

Thanks, Rod

http://www.wmms. com/pages/ boom/index. html

Sunday, January 07, 2007

“A Spirited Conversation”

c. 2006 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

Note to Readers: As the New Year begins, many Americans have resolutions in mind that affect health, finances, and family matters. But for those in the afterlife, concerns about the future take on a different character altogether…

It was a blustery night in Thompson. Ice crystals whipped my front door with furious abandon. A moan of angry wind seeped through the window seals. I huddled close over a single candle, for extra warmth. Pale light filled the darkened living room. Liz was asleep in our bed. But restless thoughts kept me awake.
“Why now?” I protested through layers of sweatshirt material. “On a night like this… why would we have to lose power?”
The walls began to shake. Flame wisps reflected from the black television screen while I rubbed my arms. Hope of rescue seemed far away.
And then…
The room brightened with a sudden burst of otherworldly power. My fingers trembled uncontrollably! The floor buzzed with invading arcs of electric fire. I was paralyzed and mute. A silent scream filled my throat. “Hellllp meeeee!!”
A gentle voice stilled the chaos. “Good evening, Rodney.”
I sank in the chair. What kind of insanity had taken hold of my mind?
“Yes, welcome to you, friend,” A second personality intoned.
My eyes burned. It was impossible to blink!
“You must enlighten us, Rodney,” a third spirit said with emotion.
Amazement filled my senses. I strained for clearer vision in the wavering glow of candlelight. From the shadows, three faces appeared. Visages so familiar, that they were instantly recognizable. Yet unexpected! Those of President Gerald R. Ford, Senator Barry Goldwater, and President Ronald Reagan.
My jaw fell open. I croaked like a frog. “How are you here? And, why??”
Reagan spoke first. “Don’t you remember? I surprised you, two years ago…the look on your face when I appeared reminded me of Bonzo the chimp!”
I gasped for breath. “That was a wild dream. It made for an entertaining newspaper column. But nobody really believed it…”
Senator Goldwater laughed, mockingly. He raised a fist for emphasis. “Do I look real to you, kid?”
President Ford nodded with grandfatherly calm. “Rodney, this is strange to me, as well. I’ve only just arrived in the afterlife…everything is still so new! But we’re here on a mission. This is important work, just like what I did in the White House. We need answers. Answers you can provide.”
I was mystified. “Hey… I’m just a small-town wordsmith!”
Reagan clapped his hands. “And I was once just an actor with a primate co-star. That doesn’t mean you can’t help us, friend. Your outlook is what we need.”
Goldwater agreed. “What we want are real, unadulterated opinions. Not Washington ‘spin’ and horsefeathers!”
I was still confused. “You’ve come to a rural township in Ohio looking for answers… but answers to what?”
President Ford bowed his head. “Rodney, I don’t have to tell you that the Grand Old Party took quite a drubbing at the polls last year. That hurt almost as much as seeing my Wolverines lose to Ohio State!”
Silently, I shrugged in affirmation. “Sure, I saw what happened.”
“It was like a taste of strong medicine,” he continued. “Sour on the tongue, but able to teach us something.”
Reagan agreed. “Franklin Roosevelt and JFK have been chuckling for weeks! They said I ought to switch back to the Democratic Party!”
I taunted them with a riddle. “So, how do you know I’m not a passionate member of the Donkey Club?”
Ford shook his head. “We want a common man’s opinion on this mess. Not the excuses of professional pundits. Not a partisan excuse. Why did voters decide to throw us out of power?”
Goldwater smiled. “What do you think made this happen, brother?”
I took a deep breath. “Look, guys, I’m no Republican. I don’t identify with either national party. If anything, I’ve got a Libertarian outlook… our founders had a healthy mistrust of government and institutions. That attitude works for me…”
Ford smiled. “Rodney, I’ve had my own disagreements with the party leadership. It just seemed best not to make headlines during my mortal life. But now, I’m ready for straight talk. Call your own play, quarterback!”
“Same here,” Senator Goldwater observed. “You are the kind of guy we have to convince. So tell us, in layman terms, what put the GOP out of power?”
“No… you need to ask someone with more experience in these matters,” I protested.
Reagan whispered gently. “Rodney, we need straight talk from a regular citizen. The experts didn’t gain any yardage for 2006. So speak your mind, mister! Give an opinion for the Gipper!”
I sighed. They were not going to leave without satisfaction.
“Umm… okay, if you won’t take ‘no’ for an answer…” I struggled to compose my thoughts. “How would you define the word ‘conservative?’ What values would you reckon to be at the core of every true believer in this philosophy? Say, a strong defense, less government, lower taxes, moral certainty?”
All three echoed their approval. “Yes!”
“So,” I continued. “With Republican control spread from Washington to Columbus… do you think those basic principles were honestly being advanced?”
Senator Goldwater stammered. “Well…”
I narrowed my eyes. “Honestly? Come on, you’re all out of office and free to speak your minds!”
The trio looked at each other, with nervous uncertainty.
“Think like an everyday citizen,” I said. “A real party loyalist would certainly vote Republican in ‘06. Sort of like being a Browns fan in spite of wins and losses. Yet if one held true to conservative principles above all else…what would they do? Stand up for the party, or… their beliefs?”
President Reagan lowered his eyes.
“How did your people govern?” I asked. “Capitol Hill was ripe with pork-barrel spending, and influence-peddling. The debt kept rising as new programs were added. Doesn’t that sound pretty much like… business as usual?”
Senator Goldwater shivered. “I would have chastised the whole bunch of them!”
“Then,” I said. “When the public was expecting a change from long-term corruption and intrigue, you gave them Jack Abramoff, Mark Foley, and Governor Taft!”
Ford hid his face.
“Add to that the billions spent on Iraq, regardless of your opinion about the war,” I observed. “It’s a hard sell.”
The trio remained silent.
“So what do you get from all of that?” I concluded abruptly. “Public confidence? Victory on Election Day?”
Reagan was frustrated. “If it had been a movie, I would’ve fired the director!”
“Average, blue-collar voters don’t really sympathize with Michael Moore, Ted Kennedy, or George Soros," I concluded. “But what did you guys offer in contrast?”
Goldwater raised his fist again. “Even Bonzo could’ve seen this train-wreck coming!”
“A conservative message speaks well to minority interests, if it is delivered properly,” I said with reflection. “The premise of opportunity and real achievement makes sense. It is authentic empowerment. But have any of your people made a genuine effort to reach out in the spirit of diversity? Jack Kemp tried that line of reasoning, and was soundly ignored. Colin Powell had credibility that crossed political lines, yet became disaffected with the status quo. You’ve got to do better.”
President Ford bit his lip. “We preach to the choir, too often. Our message is lost on the street. But it takes courage to speak out.”
My sermon was nearly at an end. “You are correct, Mr. President. But some of your own people are saying it out loud… read William F. Buckley’s recent work. I’ll repeat myself… you could have done better.”
Silence gripped the room. Their faces were red!
“Remember talk of the ‘Big Tent’ for Republicans?” I said passionately. “You need to fill that tent with more than empty chairs. Our world is moving quickly, in many directions. You need to regain focus. Talk about the future. Define your points of difference!”
The trio stood motionless while listening.
“Democrats will have Barack Obama as their charismatic standard bearer,” I concluded. “What will you have??”
No one answered the question.
“Sorry if that sounded like a tirade,” I apologized. “You asked for my opinion…”
“Yes we did,” Senator Goldwater agreed. “I feel like we just went through a scrimmage with Notre Dame. Thanks for the bruises, kid!”
President Reagan chortled. “Well, Barry is right. You’ve given us some hard knocks, but also a lot to consider. Nobody learns this game without getting mud on their uniform.”
Ford nodded. “Rodney’s ruminations were just a practice workout. Our toughest encounter will be in the 2008 political season. That’s where we could go four quarters without a touchdown play…”
Goldwater frowned. “Okay, so it’s agreed. We either prepare, or get shut out of the big contest!”
Reagan nodded with affection. “Thanks, friend…”
I reached for more coffee. A reply would barely form on my lips. “Uhmm, sure. It was a pleasure…”
Suddenly, harsh sounds filled my ears as power returned without warning! I spilled my cup from sheer surprise. The television crackled, and household lights flashed on and off with manic urgency. The furnace roared. Our alarm clock squawked like a demented rooster!
Saturday morning had come at last. And my guests were gone.
Liz appeared from the bedroom. She was wrapped in an extra blanket. Her pink cap fit snugly. “Aren’t you coooold out here?”
I didn’t answer.
She grew impatient with my silence. “Well, at least the power came back. Brrrr, this place is frosty! What made you sit out here all night?”
My reply sounded like nonsense. “I was having a conversation.”
“With who? Yourself?” she snapped.
“With three guys from… uhmmm… Washington.” I said.
My wife raised an eyebrow. “What did you say?”
I rubbed my eyes. “It was a dream. Never mind.”
She headed toward the bathroom with a flip of her blanket. “Enough of your crazy dreams. Go back to bed, Rodney!”


Wednesday, January 03, 2007

“New Year’s Resolutions”

c. 2006 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

Making resolutions for the New Year is a familiar way to spur moments of self-improvement. The tradition represents our hunger to achieve and excel on a personal level. Yet too often, these promises are quickly made, and forgotten. We need to more carefully consider such oaths before they are taken. Only then will we temper our desire for goodness with realism.
For this writer, ten resolutions await the coming year. Each is the sort of goal one might expect for a season of remembrance and celebration. But when applied, they will produce results that may differ from your own. Read on, and compare!


ONE: I resolve to help clean up my environment.

Thrift stores and yard sales around Geauga are always cluttered with collectable books, kitchen appliances, vinyl records, furniture, car parts, paintings, old radios, 8-track tapes, magazines, and beer cans. In the New Year I will do my best to purchase more of these items to help beautify the greater community. I also pledge to find good homes for any stray, plastic flamingos that have been abandoned by their keepers.

Note: My wife says I’ve got to find room for the extra junk, first.

TWO: I resolve to begin recycling.

I promise to reuse, recycle, and reduce! Household conservation will begin with a tire-garden row around the house. Then, foil pans can replace our expensive cookware. Containers, jars, and bottles will be washed and used again. Old sheets may reappear as ‘retro’ clothing. Discarded phone books might make excellent facial tissue! Extra nuts and bolts will be saved for future repairs. Even old tablecloths can be sewed together for use as curtains. Our careful innovations will do much to stretch household finances.

THREE: I resolve to be more health conscious.

Typically, medical professionals focus on issues of diet and fitness when considering their patients. Too often overlooked is the need for emotional wellness. In the approaching calendar year, I promise to help address this need. The Ice Household will host more game-day parties that feature wings, ribs, and nachos. No one will be allowed to leave without a smile!

Note: Wife Liz says, “Tell them your doctor won’t approve. Don’t try this at home!”

FOUR: I resolve to drink more water.

My doctor insists that it is the nectar of life. Therefore, I promise to chug more water, along with hops, barley, yeast, and malt. Because of the great importance attached to this liquid, increased consumption will begin immediately. I predict heightened self-satisfaction, and a general reduction in personal stress. My chances of living to the age of one hundred years are bound to increase. Healthy living, here I come!

FIVE: I resolve to lose weight.

It is no secret – to lose pounds, one must EAT LESS. Personal food intake needs to be reduced before slimming can begin. So, in the New Year I promise to eliminate meal portions in the interest of self-betterment. I will give up fruits completely. Ditto for vegetables. (Except celery stalks with blue cheese dressing, as a side dish for hot wings.) If this sacrifice leaves me hungry, I will simply drink more water. (See resolution number four.)

SIX: I resolve to clean out my closet.

I promise to donate unused clothing items to locations of The Discovery Shop. The result will be extra space, and thrifty garments for those in need! Forgotten wearables have collected at home with frightening speed. Now, these treasures can find a new life in happier environs. They include a pink T-shirt, used only once to clean my truck; a purple tie, left in the drawer because it doesn’t go with anything else in my wardrobe; a green Hawaiian shirt that appears to have been made out of motel bedding; and a pastel pink dress shirt, bought to appease my wife during a shopping trip.

SEVEN: I resolve to think globally, and act locally.

For the New Year, I promise to act as a goodwill ambassador for America. I will find a ‘pen pal’ in France, and send them copies of our newspaper. In some small way, this may help increase common awareness between our opposite regions of the world. Also, I pledge to offer gifts of Giant Eagle Pork Rinds, selected NASCAR trinkets, Carhartt work apparel, Miller High Life, and a DVD of Larry the Cable Guy. My Gallic compatriot will come to know and love Geauga as a friendly spot on the map!

Note: Liz refused to allow the package mentioned above to leave our home. She insisted on a more gentle representation of U. S. culture. Substitute the following instead: Richard’s Maple Syrup, videos from GTV, fine cheeses from Middlefield, and an autographed photo of Val ‘The Polka Gal’ Pawlowski.

EIGHT: I resolve to commit more random acts of kindness.

In 2007, I promise to clip coupons from the ‘Country Savings Magazine’ and give them to people I don’t know. For a total stranger in need of plumbing help or auto repair, such a gift could be priceless. The habit will spread good cheer, while increasing business for local merchants. Deals at eateries like ‘The New York Deli’ and ‘19th Taverne on the Greene’ might lift spirits while assisting the family budget. In addition, extra conversations are bound to result from such activity.

NINE: I resolve to become more politically active.

Each year, Election Day typically produces a sense of frustration for our voters. We grumble with dissatisfaction, but accept the status quo without any attempt to create a climate of change. With that in mind, I hereby declare my candidacy for Governor. I intend to run in 2010, on the Libertarian Party ticket. My running mate, Mary Bramstedt, will explain our strategy at a joint appearance on the Chardon Square.

Note: Liz says I have to try for president of something like the Geauga Browns Backers before attempting to win a term as Ohio Governor. Watch for updates on this resolution as they develop… I’ll contact Bernie Kosar soon for his support.

TEN: I resolve to learn a foreign language.

America’s version of the English tongue has been so influenced by urban culture and technology that it often sounds like gibberish. Sports metaphors add to the confusion. High-speed linguistic abbreviations rattle anyone over thirty. In the New Year, I pledge to get a handle on this timely reinvention of how we speak to each other.

A new calendar year dependably offers the hope of perspectives as yet unseen. To have untested possibilities is to be reborn in spirit. Old habits perish with the fall of night. And we resolve… to begin… again!