Monday, September 04, 2006

'Crocodile Hunter' Steve Irwin

Ace of Spades HQ: "Steve Irwin brought the woman I loved untold hours of goofy, 'no worries mate' fun. Sure, a lot of it was unintentional comedy. ... But, it was still fun. It made her laugh. And I swear to you, even if I ever get to the point where I can't hear her voice anymore, I will always remember the sound of the demure, semi-embarrassed manner in which she used to blushingly crack up."

AmSpec Blog: "[W]hile his death is sad and tragic for his children, they will grow up with evidence of a father who balked at nothing and went where few if any other men were willing to go. To my mind that sort of one of a kind fearlessness is a much better example than a father who gave up what he loved because the world is a dangerous place."

Austin Bay Blog: "Irwin died over the weekend, died while filming at close quarters another dangerous species. The poisoned barb of a sting ray put a hole in his heart. ... A violent, unnecessary death. Irwin was idiosyncratic, personable, enthusiastic, informed, and physically courageous. That's a lot to admire. But what drove him to get too close one too many times?" "It's clear to me that Discovery Channel is responsible for Steve's death. ... Without Discovery Channel paying top dollar for this footage, there would be no market for these maniacs who put their lives at risk. Discovery is responsible for creating the 'naturalists have to risk their lives to be credible' genre, and they need to take a long hard look in the mirror and think about what they [have] done. They are responsible for Steve Irwin's death, and they are inspiring a second wave of risk takers who are undoubtedly going to meet Steve's fate."

The Moderate Voice: "This kind of death will be felt more than that of a 'normal' celebrity because Irwin offered young people a conservation message as well as entertainment value. Kids and young people became aware of wildlife and conservation concepts and facts through his demonstrations, performances, shows and his film. They will hear about this story ... and they'll feel a loss. ... You can count on one hand (barely) the number of people who truly and effectively can meld modern mass media and entertainment together and who also enjoy a mass international audience. So his loss for those who believe in spreading the word about wildlife and conservation to younger generations is a huge one, indeed."

RedState: "Even Irwin's death itself reinforced his life's mission, as with it he has taught us another invaluable lesson about the deadliness of animal life not properly, and precautionarily, respected -- as well as just how quickly the consequences of such action can be felt. While many expected a spectacular end to the man who gambled his life every day, the death of possibly the world's number one on-camera risk taker was fairly anticlimactic. ... In his own eccentric, risky, and larger-than-life way, Steve Irwin captured the imagination of, and touched, the world. He grabbed life by the horns and, day in and day out, lived it to the fullest."

ShopFloor: "It is ironic that he should leave this earth on the day when Americans celebrate Labor Day. Here was a guy who embodied the spirit of the day: He not only had a great work ethic, but he had boundless enthusiasm for the work he did. For those of us who push words or numbers or policy, it is hard to maintain the same adrenaline levels. But Steve Irwin was a guy whose boundless love for his job was quite truly infectious. No one who watched his show even a single time was ever in doubt about that. ... The world will be a quieter, far less interesting place without him."

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Grandpa Tumblebug: Ode To The EPA

Grandpa Tumblebug wrote a tune several years ago, when an environmental crackdown at the state and federal levels put the pinch on his family’s oil and gas business in West Virginia. Later, when his children bought him time in a nearby studio, Grandpa Tumblebug recorded the song. The focus of his ire was the Environmental Protection Agency.

As a tribute to him -- and at the request of my family -- I am posting the tune online. Click the graphic to listen to "Ode To The EPA," by Wayne Kerns.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Grandpa Tumblebug: Fun-Loving Fiddler

My grandfather, Wayne Kerns, died during his sleep sometime Saturday night, a few weeks shy of his 80th birthday. Grandpa Tumblebug (my nickname for him) loved to laugh and make others laugh. When I think of him, I will always picture him like this:

Grandpa Tumblebug also loved to strum, sing and fiddle.

That's why our children -- his great-grandchildren -- are learning to appreciate music. "You have to learn to play the violin before you learn to fiddle with it," Grandpa Tumblebug told our son, Anthony. He's already learning "Orange Blossom Special," Grandpa's favorite and mine.

Our daughter, Elli, isn't far behind. She can play "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" now. And as soon as 20-month-old Catie (not pictured) gets out of diapers, she won't be far behind.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Baseball Player Kirby Puckett

Captain's Quarters: "After suffering what turned out to be a massive stroke yesterday, family members removed Kirby Puckett from life support today and he passed away at 44. ... Although I have been a Dodgers fan all of my life, Kirby was the kind of player that all baseball fans loved. His joy and enthusiasm for the game and the fans came across wherever he went and whenever he played. We celebrated with Kirby when he won the two World Series; we mourned when glaucoma took him from the game too soon. Now we are all stunned as death has taken him from us far, far too soon, and we pray for the family and loved ones he left behind."

South Dakota Politics: "When I was in high school, a bunch of us went to one of the Twins winter tour meetings that was being held in our hometown of Rochester. We were very excited because our favorite Twin, Randy Bush, was going to be the player that spoke. Well, something came up and Bush couldn't be there, so we had to settle for Kirby Puckett. Tough break, huh? Before the event, I went to the card shop and bought a Kirby Puckett rookie card. That night I got to meet Kirby Puckett, shake his hand, and he signed that baseball card. I still have that card hidden away under lock and key. You keep your treasures. I'll keep mine."

Between The 5 And The 6: "Puckett will always be remembered for his leaping grabs against the plexiglas wall of the Metrodome and his Game 6 walk-off home run in the 1991 World Series. ... But what baseball really lost was one of the great smiles and personalities in recent memory. Over the past few years, his legacy was scarred by allegations of affairs and sexual assaults. His divorce and public spats with mistresses caused the Twins to step away from one of their most famous alumni. But the fans still loved Kirby. They loved his smile, his persona, his energy and his dedication to the organization that he took to the top."

Water Cooler Wisdom: "There are exceptions, of course, but it seems that the truly great athletes -- the ones that are consistently at the top of the game year after year -- have one trait in common. They never seem to forget that they are still grown men playing a boy's game. Despite the attention, the media hype, the large-dollar contracts, they don't stop having fun on the field, and they never lose sight that they do so because they have been given a special gift. ... I can't think of anyone who exuded that sense of joy more than Kirby Puckett."

Power Line: "Kirby was liked and respected everywhere, but I think you had to be a Twins fan to fully appreciate him. His cheerful confidence and good humor never flagged. He never played at less than full speed, no matter how insignificant a game may have been in the standings. Kirby's stumpy appearance was deceiving; he was fast, especially in his early years, and was one of the strongest men in baseball. Notwithstanding his image, which bordered on the cuddly, Kirby was tough. I once saw a catcher try to block the plate as he was coming in to score; Puckett knocked him halfway to the dugout."

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Actor Darren McGavin

Brainwagon: "I loved 'Kolchak: The Night Stalker.' ... The thing that I found most remarkable about the show is just how unheroic Kolchak really was. He wasn't Clark Kent, secretly fighting crime with superpowers at night. He was just an average, middle-age reporter, whose only talent seemed the ability to irritate everyone he came into contact with. It was a great character, and a great set of performances by McGavin."

Garfield Ridge: "For my money, one of my favorite McGavin roles is in an excellent 1990 made-for-HBO movie, By Dawn's Early Light. The story of an accidental nuclear war between the United States and the crumbling Soviet Union, it featured McGavin as the secretary of Agriculture who becomes president after the attack. Suffice it to say, he's a little unhinged. Anyway, great little war movie."

Kybruno's Blog: "Darren McGavin is immortal for me as The Old Man from 'A Christmas Story.' Even then I wished they had gone ahead and made more movies with that cast. But this is great, and he was perfect as the winner of a Major Award that his evil wife later destroys."

Actor Don Knotts

Joe The Cab Driver: "Don Knotts is dead and I'm sad. ... He was Mr. Furley and Barney Fife. He was in the Apple Dumpling Gang with Tim Conway. I don't know why I'm so sad, though. I mean, I'm really, really ridiculously sad, on the verge of tears. I suppose I identified with his nervousness. I could always empahtize with his fumblings. Barney Fife always kept on bullet in his shirt pocket, the only one he was allowed to carry with him after he shot himself in the foot. That's my whole life, right there."

My Daily Rant: "I learned bullet-maintenance from Barney Fife while watching The Andy Griffith Show. The bullet-maintenance skit was one of my favorite episodes. To this day, if I happen to catch it in reruns, I laugh till my sides hurt. In the bullet-maintenance show Barney was inspecting an old-timer bank guard and discovered the bullets on his gun-belt were green and moldy. Suffice to say Barney gave him a dressing down. ... Barney then displayed his one, single bullet that Sheriff Andy allowed him to carry, proudly stating, 'That's bullet maintenance!' The bank guard gazed at the bullet in awe and said that Barney's bullet was legendary in Mayberry."

An Unclaimed Soul At Large: "Sheriff Andy Taylor and Deputy Barney Fife.....opposites who worked as a well oiled machine. They made us laugh and feel safe. How surprising it was to learn in later years that Andy was the hyperactive, over anxious one and Don Knotts was the cool, collected part of the team. ... I'll never forget Barney fumbling with his one bullet as he tried to load his gun. Probably my favorite Barney moment was when he administered a sobriety test to a clearly pickled Otis. Otis passed with flying colors; Barney flunked horribly!"

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Civil Rights Activist Coretta Scott King

Firedoglake: "Coretta Scott King passed away in her sleep last night at the age of 78. She was a tireless advocate of civil rights and nonviolent protest, and a testament to the notion that a single individual can help to move a mountain. Mrs. King had a grace and an outward serenity that masked a steel core and a deep faith in justice and individual libterties."

Grandmother Jessica Rachel McMaster

ScrappleFace: "Jessica Rachel McMaster ... is the grandmother of editor Scott Ott, and served as a mother to him and three brothers since the late 1960s. Jessica McMaster gave up her career, surrendered much of her pension, and walked away from a comfortable lifestyle in a handsome apartment to move to an old house in the country and take care of four boys. Without her sacrifice, and that of her husband James McMaster, 84, these boys were candidates for foster care or an orphanage. Thanks to their love, these boys are now… an airline pilot, a university professor, a construction worker and a Christian children's camp director (who happens to write satire).

Friday, December 23, 2005

Journalist Jack Anderson

Stories That Matter: "Jack Anderson died last Saturday morning. He gave me a job as a reporter in 1968. He taught me that a kid from California could investigate anything and ask anyone in government any question. ... He taught me that too much time in power corrupts. ... He taught me that I could overcome a state education and the lack of an ivy- league pedigree by simply calling more people than anyone else. That is how Jack became the best reporter of his generation. No one spoke truth to power as eloquently as Jack Anderson. ... Jack Anderson put the fire in my belly, convincing me that being a reporter was the most important thing I could do with my life."

TPMCafe: "All of us at TPMCafe are associated with Josh Marshall's intrepid effort to revive the tradition of muckraking journalism at a time when there's so much muck to rake. Accordingly, there should be some acknowledgement of the passing of one of the last century's great muckrakers, Jack Anderson. ... [I]n his time, Anderson was himself a bigfoot journalist and a fearful factor in Washington, ready at any moment to turn rumors into ruin.
And he had his own cult of minor celebrity, back in the day. ... [W]e should take a moment to remember Anderson, with all his faults, as a man who never took official obfuscations and denials for an answer."

POGO Blog: "I'll always remember Jack at his 16th Street office, wearing a pair of slippers and coolly marking up copy at his desk. Whenever I saw Jack, he appeared in control of everything around him. ... I can still sense the respect that Jack's presence commanded, as well as the extent to which people, like me, would go to earn his respect. He could make a young associate's day by simply flashing his wry smile and saying, "Good job." To be sure, Jack, in his familiar role as mentor, kept a watchful eye over all the young journalists in his stable. He wanted them to succeed beyond their work for him."

MF Blog: "Overall, one may confidently say the weight of the deeds in the life of Jack Anderson fall far more often on the "good" side of life's ledger. Anderson was a national treasure. His consistent willingness to attack the powerful has been sorely missed among our remaining major newspapers for more years than we as a nation may want to admit."

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Sen. William Proxmire

GM's Corner: "A true political giant, William Proxmire died today at the age of 90. ... [H]e was one Democrat that I really liked -- liberal in some areas but a fierce conservative when it came to government spending and encroachment into ordinary life. Proxmire was called once so independent that he was often considered a party of one. He almost always got elected by huge margins, seldom took any money from anyone and often had election expenses of less than $1,000. His Golden Fleece awards [for wasteful federal spending] were absolutely priceless in terms of humor, grace, and caustic wit and absolute correctness."

The Debate Link: "Though most obituaries focused on his admirable opposition to corruption, pork and government waste, Senator Proxmire had a far more important issue he adopted as his own. For 20 years, from 1967 to 1986, William Proxmire gave one speech every single day Congress was in session urging the American ratification of the Genocide Convention. When he started, it was considered a fanciful ambition; 3,211 speeches later, America finally affirmed the absolute and categorical imperative to oppose genocide in an 83-11 vote."

The Xoff Files: "The stories about Bill Proxmire ... all say he was a maverick, and he was. But more than that, he was a character. He was quirky. He was eccentric. On some things, he was a fanatic. At times, there was even a touch of the crackpot. But the people of Wisconsin liked his style. He was known nationally for his Golden Fleece Awards to spotlight and ridicule what he saw as wasteful spending, but he was almost as well-known for his hair transplant and his fanatic exercise and diet regimens. ... Former staffers tell of Proxmire batting out his own press releases on a typewriter in the Senate office. And they recall his insistence on prompt attention to constituent letters, and how [he] might stop at a staffer's desk and ask to see the oldest unanswered letter."

The Needle Man: "In more than two decades, Proxmire did not travel abroad on Senate business, and he returned more than $900,000 from his office allowances to the treasury. He repeatedly sparked his colleagues' ire by opposing salary increases, fighting against such Senate 'perks' as a new gym in the Hart office building. ... Even so, his reputation was that of a workaholic, and even his strongest critics found him to be one of the chamber's most disciplined, intelligent and persistent members. He held the longest unbroken record in the history of the Senate for roll call votes."

POGO Blog: "Although he used the press to draw the public's attention to some of the more egregious abuses of the public, the more telling stories about his concern for the public were ones that never made it to the press. Two examples: During the Vietnam war, he would regularly go out to Walter Reed and Bethesda Naval Hospital to visit with wounded soldiers, but we were under strict orders not to let anyone in the press know about it because
he thought it might embarrass the wounded and he wanted to keep doing it. The second, and funnier, story occurred during the Cuban missile crisis, when the Wisconsin National Guard was nationalized and sent to Oregon. The office kept getting complaints that there were inadequate blankets and intolerable food, even for the Army. Well Prox, being Prox, decided to investigate and, without telling anyone, got on a plane to Oregon. ... That afternoon truckloads of unavailable blankets started arriving, more than enough to double the normal allotment of blankets for the troops and, surprisingly, the quality of the food improved, too. Can you imagine any of the current senators doing that?"