Wednesday, May 30, 2018

1951 Some Short Takes

The Monster is Missing

Headline on the Newsday briefing email: “18-ton Excavator Missing. Problem: They All Look Alike.”  This happened in Riverhead on New York’s Long Island.

What would you do with something like this if you had it?
Let the theories begin.  

--a bunch of construction workers get drunk, drive it off and hide it as a prank. (Probable.)
--a bunch of frat boys get drunk, drive it off and hide it as a prank. (Improbable for two reasons: (a) No frat boy is likely to know how to move it and (b) moving it may require getting one’s hands dirty.)
--an arms dealer with a chop shop carted it off to dismantle and sell the parts to some middle east potentate. (Unlikely.)
--it was kidnapped by space aliens who have been stalking it from afar and fallen in love with it. (Possible.)
--there was no missing excavator and Newsday either got hoodwinked or made the story up.

Getting to Ireland
Since the pro-choice side won the fight in Ireland, many women will choose to go there for abortions.  As a public service, several airlines are offering discount round trip flights.  But one of them is charging an extra one-way fare for the fetus.

De Beers: If You Can’t Beat ‘em, Join ‘em
The world’s most fun diamond hoarder is about to start selling “lab grown” diamonds.  This after years of insisting that “real is rare,” which it isn’t.  It’s just withheld from market.  The new stones will have a De Beers logo so small you can’t see it with the naked eye.  Now, be honest.  Unless you’re a jeweler and wearing a loupe, can you really tell the difference?

We asked the host website of All the World’s Knowledge, Google, to “show what a diamond lab looks like.”  No answer, no images.  The mental image is of little old men and women hunched over microscopes and Bunsen burners.  That’s probably not right.

IV. Fooliani Booed at the Stadium
How quickly we ingrates from New York forget a great man in our midst.  Why when Rude-e showed up for a ballgame at Yankee Stadium, the fans booed him. Can you imagine the nerve of those ticket holders?  

The man, not the airport.  His 101st birthday would have been yesterday, May 29th.  Bet you’re heading for Hallmark right now to buy a “sorry I was late” birthday card.

New Old Stock Shoes
Summer vacation bound students at Penn State University are selling the stuff from their dorm rooms and apartments from during the spring semester.  Need a good pair of shoes cheap? This is the place to look.  Most of them are unworn.  New condition.  That’s because on that campus, no one’s feet actually touch ground. Plus you get to see the inside of the country’s third ugliest building, the unfortunately named “Beaver Stadium.”

GE: Progress is Our Most Important Product.
General Electric stock is trading at about $15 a share, a low that it hadn’t seen since 1998.  But what cost $15 in 1998 now costs just under $24. So they’re in worse shape now than the last time they saw a price like the most recent close at posting time.  Now that’s what I call progress!

What Would Walt Say?
Disney’s ABC fired Roseanne Barr for making a racist tweet. She was trump’s on air sweetheart which tells you all you need to know about her if you’re not already familiar. This dimwit can go back to counting her millions while the dozens of people who worked on her show hit the unemployment line.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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Monday, May 28, 2018

1950 Visit to a Small Bookstore

How can a spanking clean space with bright lights still seem drab?  It can and it does.  But first, let me tell you the backstory.

We traveled this past weekend to a small city where the Balloon People live. Do not confuse the Balloon People with the Balloon Heads, an entirely different animal.

Balloon Heads just have an over-inflated view of themselves, their children, their accomplishments, their houses and their importance to everyone else.  Everyone knows one of these, even if they are themselves Balloon Heads but seem not to realize it.

No. The Balloon people have big everything.  They are tall and wide. They have to wear doublewide jeans. They can’t find dresses or shirts except in the big and tall shops, of which there is one, count it, one in this place. Books R Us is in a shopping mall that is basically 750-square feet of not much and plenty of empty former stores.  

Our first stop was at the food court where one of the stands serves Italian food.  We asked for a slice of Sicilian, unheated, please.

On the plate came a wedge of thick pizza-like substance. A wedge of Sicilian? Sicilian pizza is supposed to be rectangular and thick.  It was thick. But it was from a round pie.  This is a heretofore undiscovered sin.  Not a big one. But a sin all the same.

You can’t properly browse in a bookstore on an empty stomach.  Okay.  Mission accomplished as some president would say.  Off to Books R Us.

Bright shiny place, but drab. Not dog-eared drab but still.

Thousands of books.  Low prices. Few customers. The cashier at her podium might have been reading. A good sign. Bookstore workers should like to read, especially when no one’s buying anything. Bad eyesight and distance prevented detecting whether her eyes were open. And it was impolite to stare long enough to see if she would turn a page.  

First shelf: New York Times Best Sellers.  (Should that be one word, not two?) Best sellers from what year, though?  Certainly not this one.

Novels, romance novels, young reader novels, sci-fi, biographies of people you’ve never heard of.  Travel, adventure, and -- yes! -- even reference.  But not a dictionary or encyclopedia among the choices.  The closest they came to a real reference books was “Chasing Hillary” by NYTimes reporter Amy Chozick. We’ve read the book.  It’s good.  It’s funny. It is not a reference book.

Psychology, self-help, and diet books.  Diet books? In the City of the Balloon People?  
Bottom line: zillions of books, no one looking, no one buying.

People keep saying Wessays (™) should be in book form.  For what?  To be placed in the brightly lighted book museum in a shopping mall?

Books are where ideas with the hope and promise of immortality go to die.  


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Friday, May 25, 2018

Privacy Notice

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This blog complies with all the new hoo hah about privacy, or at least Google Analytics says it does.  Here, to reiterate, is our privacy policy:  We don't receive personal information and wouldn't know what to do with it if we did.  We don't know who you are unless you send email because comments are blocked.

1949 The Recipe

Here’s what happens when the food critic writes a crime story for the newspaper.  First, the story has to happen.  In this case, it’s a bunch of hillbillies who build a meth lab and the cops bust them, and it.

Next the cops send a fax to the local paper, the Dogpatch Daily Dispatch.

No one’s around the newsroom to go out and sniff around.  The one remaining staff reporter is getting winded between stops on his daily rounds which include but are not limited to: the college football team, the opening of a new restaurant, the closing of an old restaurant. The closing of every road everywhere for construction.

Sounds like a busy schedule.  But today is a relatively light day because

--The congressman’s office is closed for memorial day.
--The county government leaders are away at a “conference.”
--Most of the cops are on DWI patrol even though it’s ten in the morning.
--The Mega Mart is closed because they couldn’t get enough temps to staff the place.
--All roads are subject to periodic closure due to construction.

So the paper calls on the restaurant critic, Lori Fresser, who happens to live next door to the meth lab and has a house covered roof-to-foundation in asbestos blankets and has the largest sprinkler system on the planet, just in case.

She ventures out of her asbestos-blanketed front door and rolls over to the neighbors who she does not know very well because they keep to themselves.  Perfect people about whom you can always later say “they were quiet. Kept to themselves. Never bothered anyone.”

Inside the home are the few cops who aren’t patrolling the roads no one can use, about four of them.  And there -- in all its glory -- stands the unexploded meth lab.

The reporter writes a note to herself “reminder: call some asbestos removal guys.  I won’t be needing those fireproof blankets anymore.”

None of the perps are talking.  Fine. They have a right to remain silent. So Ms. Fresser (the name means “eater” in Pennsylvania Deutsch, German and Yiddish.) So Ms. Fresser does what a food critic and recipe maven always does.  She lists the ingredients.

And she writes her story.  And she submits her story to the editor who is located four states away and is responsible for ten of the publisher’s dailies.

And the editor is distracted and doesn’t pay much attention to the story below the first paragraph which starts out “It was a dark and stormy lunchtime…”

The recipe gets printed.  All the ingredients you need to make a dangerous, addictive and illegal substance.

And now, the paper’s readers, all three of them, know how to make methamphetamines for fun and profit.

Next day, the publisher who is located three thousand miles west marvels at the amazing circulation bump for the Dogpatch Dispatch.

Word travels fast.  The locals have crowdfunded the sticker price and circulation has risen from three to 42,558.

Maybe Ms. Fresser should rethink calling the asbestos removal folks.

Questions on the trump-Kim cancellation:
-What happens to all those medallions commemorating the meeting?
-What will trump do with the replica Nobel Peace Prize he ordered from
-Will Kim rebuild the nuclear test site he destroyed on the eve of trump’s pull out?
-How will not meeting help the fetal peace process?
-Is Russian president Putrid involved somehow, and if so, how?

The dangerous thing about Trump’s fantasy world is not when it dissolves into nothing; it’s when he seduces the rest of us to move into it.” --David Brooks, New York Times columnist.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

1948 The Royal Divorce

1948 The Royal Divorce

GALWAY, IRELAND -- McCabe was in Murphy’s Pub hoping for a soccer game replay and a tune or two. It’s an old timers’ joint where you can nurse a Smithwick’s for an hour if you must, but don’t ask for ice in your Slane’s or out on the street will ya land.

No soccer today.  It’s the Royal Wedding. Every channel.  And on the radio. 

McCabe says to no one in particular “I give it five years.” Y.C. Wang, who was born on St. Patrick’s Day but hadn’t tasted a Guinness until she was well into middle age and hasn’t had one since, agrees.

“That Harry… he’s less British than I am,” says McCabe. “And he’s a playboy.  How long before he starts messing around?”

The bride, the new princess Markle of Hollywood is to the commoners, the new Princess Di.  She proved it by marching down the aisle with that 14-foot headgear wearing Diana’s ring, but without her father at her side.

How long until she finds her own Dr. Khan or Dodi Al Fayed. Tip to princess Markle:  You get into a car with some guy from Pakistan or Egypt and the driver is French and drunk, wear a seatbelt.

McCabe: “With Prince Dumbo and Diana, everyone knew it couldn’t last. Dumbs was smitten with that inelegant gin sponge Camilla proving that Britain is not the height of elegance, manners and taste it claims to be.”  This from a guy whose nickname at Murphy’s is “William of Orange.”

At the request of the footballers (that’s what they call soccer) Murphy turns three of the eleven TV sets to the replay channel.

But the chatter about the Royal Divorce continues apace.  The royals don’t have a lot of fans on the west side of Ireland.  For example, some regulars at Murphy’s have latched on to the notion that Prince Philip lied about his age to join the navy early and he’s really 112 years old, not 96.

Oh, by the way, Queen Liz and Prince Phil are distant cousins which explains a lot about Prince Charles.

Liz however is in fine shape for someone of her age (which we know is 92.)  She and Mama Markle wore similar colors.  How cute. 

The American African bishop who officiated gave a wonderful speech about love and no one fell asleep. Or at least no one fell asleep and was caught so-doing on camera.

So McCabe and Wang are on the same page about the length of the marriage.  But they are not on the same line in the Excel sheet about the projected timeline that builds toward the end.

One thinks Harry already has a girlfriend hidden somewhere in the palace.  The other thinks he’s on and hunting.

--WestraDamus predicted a chubby blonde woman would win the new low-rent version of American Idol and was, as per usual, at least partly wrong.  But winner Maddie Poppe is blonde, though in no way a flesh boulder.  And she’s dating the runner up who should have won, Caleb Hutchinson.

--Have you had enough of the award show overload run by each of the networks?  The website Axios says ratings are down for all of them. That includes the Oscars, Grammys, Tonys, Golden Globes, MTV, Billboard and SAG awards.

--The format itself remains viable as Danish National Television prepares for the first season of “The Nobel Awards,” where contestants audition before judges Queen Margrethe of Denmark, the Rev. Al Sharpton and Simon Cowell.  And here’s your host, Ryan Seacrest.

Additional reporting by Bill “William of Orange” McCabe in Galway.
I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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Monday, May 21, 2018

1947 Keep Our Children Safe? and Remembering Sam Hall

That’s what the Prez sez. And then there’s Sen. Cruz (R-Alberta) who wants you to know those slaughtered kids in Santa Fe TX near Houston are in his prayers. Fabulous, Raphael. How’s that worked for you in the past?

So another Friday morning at a little place named for the railroad that used to run through it.  A town of 12-thousand or so with a city hall in a cement plant, 15 bars and 21 churches, most on or near Highway Six.  Ten dead.  And the shooter, apparently a 17 year old didn’t have the grace to kill himself and save Galveston County the scarce chemicals they use to zap whoever is convicted regardless of judicial, prosecutorial and defense errors, pleas to the governor and serious doubt about whether the jury picked the right guy.

How’s this for TODAY’S QUOTE: “I always kind of felt like eventually it was going to happen here too.” --Paige Curry, 17, student at Santa Fe High School.

OK, Paige, you were right.  And the shooter raided daddy’s gun casket for the pistol he used and the shotgun he carried.

There was talk of pipe bombs.  There was worry that there was more than one gunman… well, gunchild. But young Ms. Curry puts a new kind of face on the story. It is the face of inevitability and acceptance.  Have we gotten so used to this that we just expect it to happen?

Apparently so.  It happens so often we soon will get to the point that when we see a screen full of kids marching from a school building, we’re ready to say “oh, what? Another one?”

The gunsels among us have framed these portable tragedies to have us believe that people who want gun availability shrunk want to get rid of all guns. While that idea has merit, that’s not the object. The object is to protect kids, not steal hardware.

--Many who use motorized carts supplied by the grocery have spent a lifetime eating Quarter Pounders and have grown into quarter-toners who are too big to walk. Some of us who use them are injured and here’s a plea to the flesh boulder crowd: When you’re finished with the machine, please plug it in so the rest of us can use them without running out of juice in Aisle Three.  And someone get hold of the Energizer Bunny or Elon Musk and see about a battery that lasts more than ten minutes on a charge.

Sam Hall

There’s a folk-ish song about a guy named Sam Hall, a misanthrope who is hanged in the final verse.

But there also was a real “Sam Hall.”
His real first name was Hugh.
And he has died.

We worked hand in glove at WOR and at the RKO and UniStar radio networks.

He was a lunatic. A lovely and loving lunatic.  Did magic with words. Looked a little like Ichabod Crane, but with a bushy beard. He was so tall, people wanted to charge him for using air space when he walked on the street. Drove an ancient VW van, “Dixie the Wonderbus.”  Supplied plastic leaf bags for your lap because the windshield wasn’t quite attached and the rain would come in and soak you. 

Sam was a beautiful man. And as good as it gets on the air.

Now he’s gone.  

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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Friday, May 18, 2018

1946 ReXXon 2.0

1946 ReXXon 2.0
When the guy lecturing you on truth and ethics headed an oil company worth more than the gross domestic product of Pakistan something seems off kilter.  But that’s what former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson did the other day and he had a point.

ReXXon, as he’s known to readers of this site, addressed graduates of Virginia Military Institute and warned against ethical failures and made up facts, something he was forced at times to do as CEO of ExxonMobil and then Secretary of State working for The Man he’s said to have called a “F***ing moron.”

Take your wisdom where you find it. ReXXon was not the captain of his company ship Valdez, the one that set bird life back to the stone age and turned Prince William Sound into Prince William Silence. So you can’t blame him for that.

Here’s the single most important part of his speech:

If "our leaders seek to conceal the truth, or we as people become accepting of alternative realities that are no longer grounded in facts, then we as American citizens are on a pathway to relinquishing our freedom."  

ReXXon’s mistake in accepting the job of running the State Department was that he thought he was going to run the State Department.  He was a guy used to having his orders followed. Why not? He was more important than Pakistan and dozens of smaller countries. But that job, like every other post in the trump cabinet, is only a placeholder so the Don of the crime family has someone to blame when things go wrong, which is most of the time.

Plus, at State, there were so many empty parking spaces it looked like the building was closed.  Which it pretty much was. So, who was going to follow those orders, Jared?

Who was it said during the JFK years the country’s focus was on seizing the future, while most of the time since it’s been about keeping our noses above water?  ReXX wants facts.  After all, they’re harder to twist than whims, which is how we’re being governed now.

You may hate Big Oil.  But you can’t argue with this:  they know how to get the stuff out of the ground and ship it hither and yon.  You may not like it.  But they get the job done, largely because they understand the job.

If ReXXon boned up on the way his predecessors got things done, he was misled.  If he thought he could stand up to the White House buzz saw and direct the department more or less as it should be directed, he was delusional.

Still, it’s nice to hear that he’s come around.  Or at least says he has.

And Rex, about that speech:  All your own work?

--ReXXon was not in charge at his company during the Valdez mess. So it’s unfair to blame him, and we don’t. But the corporate culture at ExxonMobil is another story.

--Tillerson came out from under the trump appointment cleaner than he went in.  This speech gave him the chance to say something important.  Had he said this stuff at this volume in his days as a government worker, he would have been put out to pasture before anything grew there.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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4745 An Ounce of Cure

  Forget the ounce of prevention and the pound of cure.  With everything getting odder, let’s make it a Troy Ounce of prevention.   While “n...