Thursday, December 29

Scary Books

There was a story on the radio the other day reporting that the American pharmaceutical industry had hired a couple of authors to write a science fiction book about terrorists poisoning the drugs that come into this country from Canada. The hope, I guess, is people who read this book will be too scared to get their prescriptions filled in the Great White North.

What if other industries took this approach? What might we see on future best seller lists?


Limp Vines - Pesticide laden grapes from France find their way into a local winery causing baldness and erectile dysfunction in men over the age of 50. Published by The Napa, Sonoma, and Medicino Board of Trade.

Two-A-Wheelers - Italian bicycles with narrow, European sized seats cause hideously bruised posteriors to spread throughout a small Midwestern town. Published by the American Bicycle Manufacturers Association.

Don't Read This Book, Watch TV Instead - Terrorists reduce the size of the print in all the books in America so people who read begin to notice that their eyes are falling out of their heads. Published by the National Association of Broadcasters.

Blogs of Forever - Scientists determine that readers of blogs will live much longer than those who don't. Published by...

Well, you get the idea.

Saturday, December 24

G Day

With the passing of the less significant holidays it is time to turn attention toward the threat to one of our most sacred and beloved celebrations.

I am speaking of the War on Groundhog’s Day.

We have all agonized over the commercialization of Groundhog’s Day. The myriad one day sales, television specials, parades, and staged news events have demeaned The Day in countless ways. Many times we even hear it referred to as “G Day” prompting many offended devotees to demand “Let’s keep Ground in Groundhog’s Day!”

But now things are getting more serious. An assault is being conducted by a group of card carrying Seasonal Predictive Agnostics who believe, and have public stated, that forecasting the number of remaining winter weeks cannot be foretold by one of God’s creatures gazing upon a shadow(my emphasis). They have even suggested that the Groundhog is not related to the hog at all but is a – it makes me shake with anger to say it – a rodent!

That’s right. Our Beloved Predictor compared to rats and porcupines!


And to make things worse these elitist arbiters of taste want to disallow the use of the term “Have a happy Groundhog’s Day.” They want all public references to be made in the form “Enjoy the terrain non-hog’s day”.

From my cold, dead lips!

Now is the time for action. Write your congressman, city council, local school board. See to it that the time honored Groundhog tradition is preserved! Remember, this is just the first step. Who knows what could be next?

There is certain Bunny I know that is quite concerned.

Tuesday, November 22

What's Your Sign?

My wife and I were at a restaurant having dinner with Nelson, my nemesis, and his lovely wife Nini.

After ordering I excused myself to go to the men's room. Regular readers of this effort will recall that I have had my problems with restaurant facilities in the past but I haven't let that deter me from continuing to avail myself.

This particular establishment was one of those sports-themed eateries that feature pennants, archival newspaper photos, sports equipment, and, so help me, athletic shoes hanging on the walls. Generally I find it unseemly to have large, cleated footwear looming a foot from my head as I'm slurping my French Onion Soup, but the food is good and the price is right.

As I headed down a small corridor toward the restrooms I noticed that the two doors did not identify themselves as "Men" and "Women" or "Guys" and "Dolls" or even "Buoys" and "Gulls" (which you find in some seafood palaces). Rather each door had a grainy, black and white photograph of a baseball team on it. The problem was I couldn't tell which picture was the men's team and which picture was the women's team. They both featured a grim looking group of players, with unsmiling, defiant faces. In each photo all wore baseball hats. There were two rows of players, but the front row was cut off at the waist and the lower part of the back row was covered by the front row so I couldn't see if either team was wearing skirts or shorts or bobby sox or some other form of gender indicative apparel.

I was glancing back and forth in befuddled amusement, examining the photos, looking for some sort of clue, when I heard Nelson's voice from behind me.

"What’s the matter, Jim? Can't decide whether to use the little boy’s or the little girl's?"

"I, I, I,...I was just admiring these pictures. I wonder who they are?"

"What, you don't recognize the Topeka Tootsies?" he said, pointing to one of the photos which featured what looked to me like a rather masculine "T" on all the hats. "Or," he added, pointing to the other photo, "the Binghamton Bull Wrestlers?" Then he pushed the door and went in.

I tentatively followed him and was relieved to see a row of sparkling white urinals lining the wall.

It was comforting to know that I was in the Men's Room.

Where the Men go.

To do the Men things.

Like Men.

Eat your hearts out, Topeka Tootsies!

Thursday, November 17

Hamlet At Law

The other day my son’s class went to see a production of Hamlet that was being performed by the students of a law school. At first this seemed somewhat blasphemous to me, since Shakespeare is famously known to have written “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers”.

Upon further consideration, however, I became intrigued by the thought of Hamlet as presented by a group of lawyers – or almost-lawyers as the case may be. James Thurber once wrote of Macbeth as a murder mystery. How would Hamlet be as a legal drama? Sort of Law & Order, ECU (Elsinore Castle Unit).
To sue, or not to sue: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of gross negligence,
Or to file suit against a deep pocketed target,
And by litigation ameliorate the damages?
To mediate: perchance to settle out of court: ay, there's the rub;
For in that settlement what proceeds may come
When we have dropped the charges,
Must give us pause.
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of despised love - not to mention mental anguish -
Without at least trying
To make a killing in the courtroom.

Of course those in the legal trade - and I suppose some thin-skinned Shakespearian scholars - may object to this flight of fancy.

I have only one thing to say to them.

Objection overruled.

Friday, November 11

It's Settled. The Earth Is Flat.

Recently several arbiters of education have decided that the so called "evidence" of the Earth being "round" is not evidence at all. It is, in fact, just a theory.

The theory of the round Earth.

To present a fair and balanced environment for the children who attend the schools for which they are responsible, they have made the only morally consistent decision they could and that is to teach -- alongside the etitist "Rounders" theory -- the equally valid yet mystical theory that the Earth is flat.

Flat Earth Theory -— sometimes called Flatism or Flatulence —- is the view that the Earth shows tangible signs of being flat. It has been around, in one form or another, since the time of ancient Greece. Flat Earth Theory is still a minority position, but even many scholars who disagree with it are intrigued by the idea—and can’t seem to get it out of their minds.

Last month this gnawing need for knowledge led to the first international Flat Earth Theory Conclave in Columbus, Kansas. Scholars from as far away as Switzerland and China were invited to come and discuss the reasons why the Earth must be flat.

Unfortunately, the conference was sparsely attended because the scholars from Switzerland and China, while on their way to Kansas, fell off the edge of the Earth and were never heard from again.

Thursday, November 10

Human Remote Control

From a recent Associated Press story:

Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Corp., Japans top telephone company, says it is developing the technology to perhaps make video games more realistic...

A special headset was placed on my cranium by my hosts during a recent demonstration at an NTT research center. It sent a very low voltage electric current from the back of my ears through my head -- either from left to right or right to left, depending on which way the joystick on a remote-control was moved...

I felt a mysterious, irresistible urge to start walking to the right whenever the researcher turned the switch to the right… Your feet start to move before you know it...

Yes, it could be used to "make video games more realistic". But it could be used for other things, too. Things that are more, shall we say, nefarious...

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

"Alright, Hideki, let us now test the device"

"Yes, Mr. Yamoto. What shall I do first?"

"Make him move to the right. Good! Now make him move to the left. Excellent!"

"It seems to work well, sir."

"Now for the real test. Make him walk to the payphone."


"Yes! The payphone on the corner. Make him walk there. MAKE HIM!!!"

"Yes sir. There. He stands before it."

"Make him pat his pockets to see if he possesses any coins. Now make him reach into his pocket and remove all his coins. Good. How may coins does he have?"

"I have no way of knowing that, sir."

"Never mind. Now he is ours! Now make him...make him..."

"Yes, sir?"


Tuesday, November 8

Election Day

Today is election day. My son just turned 18 and this is his first time voting, so I thought we'd walk over to the polling station together.

It is a humbling experience to bring a new voter into the world. I spoke about how lucky we were to live in a country where citizens had a choice in how they are governed. How blessed America is to be allowed to present to the voters the sacred choice of the electoral franchise. How it is our duty to God and to those who have gone before to exercise our right to vote.

Then came the hard part.

We had to decide whether to vote for the guy who left his wife and kids to shack up with a hot tootsie or the guy who steered kickbacks to his brother-in-law for a series of no-show jobs.

Ah, Democracy in action!

Friday, November 4


It was raining and I couldn't find my favorite umbrella. It's a collapsible umbrella that is remarkably sturdy and is a masculine black that gleams impressively when it is wet. Since I was in a hurry and already late for work, and since it was a day on which I knew the transit system would be climatically challenged, I reluctantly grabbed my wife's spare umbrella and bolted out the door.

As I walked out into a downpour I opened the umbrella to reveal an off-lavender dome with yellowish lacy curlicues around the edges. It did not gleam impressively.

There was also the insignia of a new brand of perfume prominently displayed on the top. The perfume was called "Intensity", but I couldn't help thinking that I might as well have had "girly-man" scrawled across the top of my umbrella.

I had only trudged a few steps toward the bus stop when Nelson, my nemesis, fell in step beside me. He was holding a tent-like umbrella made of dun colored canvas atop a solid wooden pole and having a substantial, leather covered handle.

"What you got there, Jim? Perfume umbrella?"

"Intensity is not a perfume," I said defensively. "It's a fragrance. There's quite a difference. And," I added creatively, "it's unisexual."

"Complementary gift with $35 purchase?"

"I don't know. My wife bought it..." - here I realized I may have made an unfortunate admission, so I quickly covered up. "She bought it for me, though. As an aftershave." I knew it didn't sound convincing but I continued weakly, "Yeah, they threw in the umbrella."

By now I was standing at the bus stop looking pleadingly down the street for the appearance of a bus.

Nelson sniffed the air. "Smells to me like you're wearing Polo." He sniffed again. "Polo Green."

"Yeah, well I don't wear the Intensity every day, Nelson," I snapped. "I like a little variety."

"Let me know next time you're wearing it. I'd be interested."

When I got home that night I found my good old "manly-man" umbrella in the washing machine where I had left it to dry out last time I used it. I also found my wife's bottle of Intensity on the dresser.

I'm debating whether to start wearing it as an aftershave, or just stop shaving altogether.

After all, a bearded man carrying a black umbrella -- what could be less girly than that?

Wednesday, November 2

Restaurant Review

Recently I mentioned an adventure I had in the men's room of a French restaurant. This prompted some friends to ask me why the first thing I do in a restaurant is to use the facilities.

Frankly, I find that the condition of the men's room is often an indicator of the quality of the restaurant.

A clean, tidy, well maintained restroom usually means a well prepared, satifying meal.

A unkept, littered restroom and - well, look forward to a visit from Mr. Reflux.

Saturday, October 29

Assumed Names

The other day I saw an ad for the movie "Doom" billing the star as "Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson". Then I saw an ad for the movie "Get Rich Or Die Tryin'" billing the star as "Curtis '50 Cent' Jackson".

Now, I would be the last person to question the judgment of a former football player and wrestler or a gangsta rapper who has been shot 9 times, but what the heck are these guys thinking? You hear 'The Rock' or '50 Cent', you know what kind of movie you're going to get. You may not like it, but you know what to expect.

Who wants to see a movie starring Dwayne Johnson. Or Curtis Jackson?

A day or two later I saw an interview with Tab Hunter where it was revealed that his real name is Arthur Kelm. This was probably his second best kept secret, and rightly so. Who want's to see "Ride The Wild Surf" starring "Arthur 'Tab Hunter' Kelm"? Alright, who wants to see "Ride The Wild Surf" under any circumstances, but you get my point. "Tab 'Tab Hunter' Hunter" had the decency to stay with the name that got him wherever it is he's got to.

Imagine tuning in to NBC one fall evening in 1960 to watch "The Arthur 'Tab Hunter' Kelm Show" starring Arthur 'Tab Hunter' Kelm. It's ridiculous.

So come on Rock, come on 50! Don't sell out your sobriquet. Don't mangle your moniker. Why would you do that? To please your mother ("Dwayne, can't you use the name momma gave you?")? To make it easier to cash a check ("I'm sorry, we can't cash a check for this small amount ... Oh, sorry, that's your signature...")? To keep from getting shot 9 more times ("I ain't gonna waste no bullets on no Curtis Jackson, I'll tell you that!")

Well, maybe that last reason is a good one.

Monday, October 24


The other night I was watching the television program Alias with my teenage son. It is one of the few things we do together these days. At his age you don't really want to hang around with your old man much (I know I didn't), but we both have enjoyed this show for several years now. The plots are intriguing and that Jennifer Garner is sure easy on the eyes.

For those who are not familiar with the show, Ms. Garner is the heroine. She plays a CIA agent, and this season both she and her character are pregnant. I must say it is a bit disconcerting to see a pregnant woman dangling from some precipice while firing away at the bad guys with an automatic. It is certainly something you won't see on many other shows, although if I know television, next season there will be a plethora of adventuresses-with-child battling evil doers everywhere

During a commercial interruption I casually asked of no one in particular, "I wonder how many pregnant CIA agents there are in real life?"

"I don't know," replied my son. "Maybe we should ask Karl Rove. I'm sure he'd be glad to tell anyone who'll listen."

These dulcet tones of political cynicism almost brought a tear to my eye.

They grow up so fast these days.

Thursday, October 20

What do you call that guy that lives with that other guy?

There is this gay couple with whom my wife and I (and our dog, Spike) are quite friendly. I'm pretty sure they're gay, anyway, although I don't have a good track record on this subject.

We are always encountering one or the other of them in the grocery store or in the park or in a local restaurant. We always have some interesting news for each other or observation about the theater or the weather or the Yankees or just life in general.

The other day I ran into one of our neighbors while shopping for vitamins at the local Vitamin Emporiumme. I started taking vitamins when I went on one of those low carbohydrate diets. I thought it would be a good idea to replace all the vitamins I would be missing by avoiding bread, potatoes, and Frosted Flakes. I miss the Frosted Flakes the most, but just for the vitamins you understand.

We spoke briefly about vitamins and dieting and then parted ways. I had just turned a corner when I ran into the other half of the couple. "Hi", he said. "Hey," I replied, "I just saw your..." I suddenly realized that I didn't know what to say. "Your roommate" sounds too clinical and "Your Lover" is way too familiar. "Your life partner" is something a lawyer might say, and "Your Significant Other" -- what the heck does that mean, anyway?

I mean, what do you call that guy that lives with that other guy?

Totally flummoxed, I could feel my mouth moving but nothing coming out. A real Ralph Kramden moment.

Finally my neighbor took mercy on me. "You mean Charles?"

"Yes", I enthused with relief. "I just saw your Charles...I mean Charles."

"Well, what a coincidence", he smiled, "I just saw the other half of your spousal union walking your animal companion."

I smiled. "Was my adolescent progeny with her, too?"

"The entire familial triumvirate was there", he said and we both started laughing.

Just them Charles walked up. "What's going on, Danny?"

Danny! I mentally smacked my forehead with the palm of my hand. Charles and Danny! I will never forget that again.

"Oh, not much", said Danny. "Just reviewing the nomenclature of relationship."

"Okay," Charles said slowly. "Great. Hey," he said to me, "I just saw your Sweetie Pie over at the park."

"You did?" I asked.

"Yeah. And she was walking that little fuzz-bucket Spike."

Sunday, October 16

A Short Story

I am not a tall man. In fact I'm a shade closer to five feet than six. This hasn't generally been a problem in my life. When I was growing up the pediatrician would always tell my mother that I'd be experiencing a growth spurt any day now.

I'm still waiting for that day.

But all in all I think I've handled this hideous deformity with grace and good humor.

The other day, though, I had an unfortunate incident. My wife and I were dining at a new French restaurant. While we were waiting to be seated I took the opportunity to visit the men's room.

I don't know how to put this delicately, but, well, the urinals were somewhat higher off the ground than I expected. This seemed an odd thing to find in a French restaurant. Let's face it, there aren't too many Francois or Pierres playing in the NBA.

Usually when confronted with a "high" or a "low", uh, "fixture" I choose the high one. After all, a man has to maintain some degree of self-respect. But in this case I was a bit daunted. I stood back a moment, mentally comparing the height of the porcelain receptacle to the length of my legs. After a brief interval of indecision, I decided to have a go.

I will say right here and now, with God as my witness, that I did not have to stand on my tiptoes! However, it was a close call.

I came out grumbling to myself and as we were being led to our table my wife said "What's the matter with you, grouchy."

"Oh, the damned urinal was too high," I blurted out, perhaps a bit too loud. The waiter froze for a moment, the back of the chair he was pulling out to seat her balancing delicately in his elegantly manicured hands.

"Excuse me?" she asked with the usual patience and aplomb that she has spent 22 years of marriage honing to a fine art.

"Never mind," I whispered as I sat down. "It's not important."

"Fine," she said, then added to the waiter, "Oh, and Francois, can you bring him a phone book to sit on?"

Wednesday, October 12

Bus Stop, Wet Day

I was waiting at a rainy bus stop this morning, huddled beneath a flimsy shelter with several other refugees (or should I say evacuees?) After several minutes we began grumbling to each other about the bus service.

"It's really coming down," observed a lady in the corner.

"It's been a long time since the last bus," said one man wearing a nice looking trench coat as he checked his watch.

"They must be on the rainy day schedule," said someone else.

"What's that?" I asked.

"You take the number of busses that would normally come, divide by the number of inches of rain that falls, and the result is the number of busses that will actual come."

"So if you would normally get 8 bussed an hour and it rains two inches you would only get 4 busses?" asked the lady in the corner.


"Except," said an elderly gentleman standing at the edge of the shelter, "you must deduct one bus for each person who can't fit under the shelter."

"And counting you there are..." - I did a quick count - "...three people out in the rain," I said. "So now we're down to only one bus an hour!"

"Well," said the elderly gentleman, dripping sarcasm as well as rain, "you could improve the odds if you'd all squeeze in and let us underneath."

That's what we did, and sure enough a few minutes later a bus came. Unfortunately, it was full and sped right by without slowing down. It did manage to splash several of us, though.

We stood there looking at our soggy shoes then glared at the man who had brought up the cockamamie rainy bus schedule.

"Of course," he explained, "there is an exception to every rule."

Friday, October 7

A Scientific Study

From the New York Times -- "In the early 1960's ... an employee of the tape recorder manufacturer Ampex decided to prove the value of consuming LSD. So he set up the International Foundation for Advanced Study and went about his project in classic methodical fashion. Test subjects were given a series of doses under constant observation and expected to take careful notes on their own experience."

I wonder what those notes looked like...

Journal of Dr. M______

I have now ingested an unspecified dose of lysergic acid diethylamide, also known as L.S.D. Thus far I am experiencing no no no discernible effects. However, only a few minutes have passed. I took the dose a 6:00 PM and my watch just told me it is 6:35.

Note for further study: I had no idea my watch spoke French, but --


-- Nothing. Just a shadow. Just a shadiowiowiowiowiow! A shadioliolio. Shadow? Shadow? The Shadow Knows. Me And My Shadow Knows. STREE-O-LING DOWN THE AVENUE!

Note for further study: Why is it always that way?


It has now been one and one-half hours since I tasted of the fruit of the Pharmaceutical Demon. Pharmia-see-uti-calio. Pharma, pharma, pharma-The Pharmaceutical Demon, the Pharmaceutical Demon, HI HO THE DAIRY-O, the


Shadows again? Creeping shadows of doom...Shadows of my future...Dark, dark, so dark and indecipherable.


Now at the two hour mark.

Note for very, very, very important further study: ..... Oh, how important could it be?

Not as important as my inner soul screaming to be free, I can tell you that. Not as important as my very self shrieking VAINLY for justice and an egg cream. Not as important as the shadows of my unconsciousnessity. No, not that important. Not that important at all...Hey, where's my watch? Hallo, watch...Oh, there your are. How did you get over there? You walked? Ok

...HOLY MO...

no, I won't do that again. Oh no, I won't. I won't. Because. I. Don't. Want. To.....................................


Final analysis
Evaluator: Dr. J_____
Phamaceutical Interaction Institute Conclusions:

Dr. M_______ reacted typically compared to other participants in the program, although he did have the most vivid responses of all the subjects who were given a placebo. It is suggested that he be observed closely in the future for any futher mainfestations of --


Thursday, September 29

The Jagged Edge

Nelson, my nemesis, caught me filing my thumbnail at work the other day. I had jammed my thumb while reaching for a soy crisp that was falling off my desk and created a painfully jagged nail. I was smoothing it out with an emery board when Nelson stuck his head in the doorway of my office.

“How about some lunch… Hey, what’s the matter? Broke a nail?”

“No, I didn’t break a nail. I jammed my thumb reaching for a…” I didn’t want to admit liking soy crisps to Nelson so I said, “…beef jerky.”

“And you broke a nail doing that?”

“It just cracked a little. It needs to be smoothed out is all.”

“What you got there, Jim? Emery board? I could see how that would handle a lady's nails, but I’d think a man would need something stronger. Just goes to show you.”

Although the emery board had done a fine job smoothing the edge of my thumbnail (and buffed it to a very attractive sheen, I might add) I couldn’t let his comment go unchallenged.

“This is just an emergency fix. When I get home I’ll have to go over it with a..., uh..., belt sander or something.”

"You know, if your nails are fragile..."

"They are NOT fragile! I just..."

" should try getting more calcium in your diet. Quit eating that beef jerky all the time."

"What should I eat, then?"

"Oh, lots of foods have calcium. Hey, I know! You ever heard of soy crisps?"

Monday, September 26

Dental Records

I was at the dentist the other day undergoing a root canal. These things seem to take forever so I was daydreaming about dentistry and what I knew about it. Being a bit on the morbid side, the one thing that came to mind was that dental records are often used to identify a body that has either been burned so badly it is Burned Beyond Recognition or been dead so long it is – I guess Dead Beyond Recognition.

As I lay there idly looking at my dentist's nose, I wondered if he ever had to use dental records to identify anybody. Since my mouth was filled with what felt like a soldering iron and a couple of crescent wrenches I couldn’t ask him, but I tried to picture what it must be like. You never see the actual identification on TV or in the movies. Just a cop or coroner or lawyer informing the audience that the victim had to be identified from their teeth because “that’s all that was left worth identifying.”

"Dr. Freely, I'm Detective Wilson. I have some x-rays here I'd like to see if the belong to a patient of yours."

"Certainly, Detective. What is the patient's name?"

"A Mr. Lazlo. First name Victor."

"Oh, yes. I remember Mr. Lazlo. Terrible overbite. Still owes me three hundred dollars."

"Well, I wouldn't count on collecting that any time soon, Doctor."

"Why is that?"

"He was Burned Beyond Recognition."

"These x-rays are terrible. Look at all those black marks. He can't have had that many cavities."

"That may be soot..."

My reverie was interrupted by my dentist's command to rinse and spit. As he gently removed the bib from beneath my chin I had to discretely inquire.

"Hey, doc, ever had to identify a body from the teeth?"

"Not really. There are experts that do that. I did provide dental records once, though, to identfy some bite marks in an assault and battery case."

"Don't you mean 'assault and bitery'?"

For some reason he rushed me out of the office after that.

Tuesday, September 20


I see that Prince Harry – that’s the Prince from England – has apologized again for dressing up like a Storm Trooper. His official statement was “I'm very sorry if I offended anybody”.

We get this kind of apology quite often these days – “If I’ve hurt anyone…”, “If anyone is disturbed…”, “ To the extent that the federal government didn't fully do its job right, I take responsibility”. I think of these as non-apology apologies. It’s like saying “If someone is so thin-skinned that they are upset by my boorish actions, I feel sorry for them.”

When I was a kid I don’t think my mother would have accepted this type of apology.

“Mom, if anyone is offended by the baseball that went through the window, I am truly regretful.” “Well,” I can imagine her saying, “If anyone is offended by going to his room for the next week, I am truly regretful too.”

Are people too proud - or have they just forgotten how - to present a real apology? Whatever happened to “I screwed up. I’m sorry I did it. I’ll try not to do it again.”?

To the extent that people refuse to take responsibility for their mistakes, I am truly regretful.

Wednesday, September 14

Comme ci, comme ça

I was riding in an elevator in a Manhattan office building with two young French women.

"How was your weekend?" said one in a lovely Parisian accent.

"Comme ci, comme ça," said the other dismissively.

"No-no-no-no-no," scolded the first. "This is America. Don't say 'comme ci, comme ça'. They say 'Awesome'. Always say 'Awesome'."

Awesome well expresses the Can-Do attitude that we Americans are known for around the world. How can we be anything but Can-Do with so much awesomeness surrounding us? When you expect something awesome around every corner, you can't wait to get around every corner to experience it.

The way things have been going lately in the world, though, I'm afraid it's difficult to see much to get awesomed about. Depress-somed is more like it, at least for an old-timer like me.

Some of my contemporaries tell me they think "awesome" is overused, but I would much rather hear "awesome" than "comme ci, comme ça" from the young people I know. "That was an awesome game last night." "This burger is awesome." "You are an awesome dad."

All right, I don't hear that last one too often. But when I do,it's...well, you know.

Monday, September 12

See how they run

Even for a city as fast-paced as New York, I'm amazed at how many people I see running every day.

First of all there is the hoard of joggers who stampede along the local streets like the bulls of Pamplona. What I find interesting about joggers (not being one myself) is how they have to keep running even when they are not running. The other day I was waiting for a red light when a jogger loped up next to me, then continued running in place while waiting for the traffic to clear. "Can't rest while you're waiting?" I asked. "Gotta stay warmed up", he gasped. "Don't want to pull anything." Then off he ran through the traffic, like the Titanic through a field of icebergs. He should worry less about pulling something and more about a hit and run.

At least joggers are running by choice. I also encounter many normal, everyday people like you or me, in street clothes and non-athletic shoes, running as if their lives depended on it. People run for buses and taxicabs. They run to get across the street before the light turns red. They also run to get across the street after the light turns red. There is running to get money from the ATM followed by running to spend money from the ATM.

I doubt there are many cities that engender as much non-voluntary running as New York does.

Why? Because if you don't keep up you might be left behind. And that just wouldn't do, now would it?

Friday, September 9

A Visit To The Library

I had to go to the library the other day to return an overdue book. I don't know if it has to do with age or lack of free time but it takes me longer and longer to finish a book these days. This was just a thin book of short stories by James Salter but it seemed to take forever to get through it. Don't get me wrong, they were wonderful tales; but after each one I ended up spending as much time thinking about the theme and characters as I did reading the story. This is probably the sign of a good book, but I think it also means that as I get older I'm looking for more from a book than just what's on the page.

In any case, I took off for the library at lunchtime knowing that my book was two days overdue. When the librarian scanned the book and said "twenty cents" I took a dollar out of my pocket and handed it to her, amazed that the fine for an overdue book was still so modest. If this had been the video store I'd have been out several dollars.

She looked at my dollar bill warily. "Do you have anything smaller?" she said.

"Smaller than a one?" I asked, a smile in my voice.

She opened a the desk drawer to reveal a cash register tray containing no bills, a few quarters, two dimes, and a nickel. I half expected a moth to fly out.

There was no cash register, mind you, just the tray stuck in the desk drawer. I guess they couldn't afford a cash register. That may explain why the library is the last place in America where a single is a big bill.

I was about to tell her to keep the dollar (that's me, Mr. Big Spender) when the gentleman standing next to me said, "I've got twenty cents." He pulled out a handful of change, carefully plucked out two dimes, and gave them to the librarian.

"Hey, thanks," I called to him as he returned two books and quickly left.

"That was really nice," said the librarian. She carefully placed her treasure in the tray and closed the drawer.

"We all love the library," I said. "Someday maybe I'll get a chance to pay somebody else's fine."

"Maybe you will," she smiled and I headed for the door.

On my way out I picked up a "Donate To Your Local Library" envelope. I'll be sending in a contribution.

And you can be sure it will be more than twenty cents.

Wednesday, September 7

New Orleans Le Show

If you are weary of hearing about the tragedy of New Orleans I recommend you listen to Harry Shearer's celebration of New Orleans on the latest Le Show. I listen via podcast, but you can hear it online here.

It is a wonderful tribute, and some great music too.

Tuesday, September 6

Hey, Don't Give Away The Ending

I’m getting just a little bit sick and tired of movie previews that give away the whole movie. The other night at the theater my wife and I had to sit through 20 minutes of previews, some of which were quite long and detailed. After watching these "coming attractions" it feels like you've already seen the movie.

Previews didn't used to be like this.

In 1941 you didn't see this preview for Citizen Kane : “In a world where a rich publisher dies, the last word he utters,'Rosebud', refers to the sled he had as a child. That's right, even though he's old and rich he still yearns for the simple days of his childhood when he played with his sled, 'Rosebud'. That's 'Rosebud'. The sled."

In 1950 you didn't see this Sunset Boulevard trailer: "Even though he's dead, he is still the narrator! That's right, he talks and talks even though he's laying face down in a swimming pool with three slugs in his back. The narrator. He's dead."

In 1960 you would not expect to hear these words coming at you from the screen: "You'll be shocked when the main character gets stabbed to death about 20 minutes into the picture by the motel owner who dresses up like his dead mother whose dried up body is sitting in a swivel chair in the basement. If anybody turns that swivel chair, hoo-ha are they going to be in for a shock. Because she's dead. In a swivel chair." Could you still appreciate Psycho as much after that?

Alright, I admit that previews today aren't quite that bad. And I also admit that current movies don't quite come up to the level of the classics. But for crying out loud,
at least have the common decency to try to retain some of the mystery, damn it! The movie going public deserves it.

Sorry if I seem overly preoccupied with this. I'm still pretty upset by that recent preview I saw.

It simply ruined The Dukes Of Hazzard for me.

Thursday, September 1


Ever since 9/11 I have had to produce an identification card with my picture on it in order to be granted access to my place of business. I don’t know how effective this is in the war on terror, but it seems to make the building management company feel better so I’m happy to comply. I carry my ID in my wallet, which has a clear plastic window so I can flash it like an FBI agent. If I’m going to be inconvenienced I might as well have some fun with it.

I usually do this to the morning security guard, a young man who is very dedicated to his work and rarely smiles. He displays an assiduous adherence to protocol. To him any job worth doing is worth doing well.

This was never demonstrated more clearly than on the day I accidentally left my wallet at home. As I approached the security desk my heart sank when I reached for my wallet and felt a disturbing emptiness in the rear pocket of my pants. I patted all my other pockets to verify that it was not in any of them, then re-checked my rear pocket just in case I had missed it the first time. I had not.

I recovered quickly, however. After all, the young guard (what was his name?) had seen me come into work every day for many months. Surely he must recognize me. “Morning”, I said cheerfully as I strode boldly past the desk and headed for the elevator bank that would whisk me to the sanctuary of my office.

I was extending my finger to press the call button when I heard him say “Just a moment, sir” in that polite tone I imagine the police use before beating a confession out of some perp. “I’ll need to see some identification.”

I turned to face him, my finger still pointing in frustration. “Ah, identification”, I said as if it were a concept I had not fully incorporated into my being.

“Yes, sir. Picture identification. Either a building pass or a governmentally issued evidence of identity.”

“Well”, I squinted at his nametag. His name was written on it in a very elegant and entirely unreadable script. “Well, Jilly" - I swear, it looked like Jilly - "I have worked here for quite some time. Surely you must recognize me.” I smiled my friendly smile, which was undercut by the fact that my finger was still pointing at him. A sudden vision of Bill Clinton passed through my mind.

He did not smile. He glanced down at his nametag. “It’s William, and I’m required to verify the identity of anyone who enters this building.”

“Well, the thing is William, I seem to have left my wallet at home today so I don’t really have any identification with me.”

I heard a disgruntled shuffling behind me and turned to see a small queue had formed. In each person’s hand glowed a card with his or her name and picture on it. How I envied them.

“Please step aside, sir, so I can process the others”, said William. Process? I didn't like the way he used that word. I wondered how he was going to process me.

After he casually glanced at each person's building pass or governmentally issued evidence of identity, he turned his attention back to me. "So you don't have any form of identification at all?"

"Nope." I smiled my rueful smile.

My rue was wasted on him. He shook his head regretfully, as if I had told him I was suffering from a terminal illness. "That's bad," he sighed. I half expected him to pull out a gun and put me out of my misery.

We both looked down at the floor and digested the situation. Then I thought of something.

"I've got this", I said, rummaging in my briefcase for an expired student body card from an adult learning center where I had once taken a Creative Writing Course. The picture on it was not particularly good, but it did resemble me in a washed out, poorly lit kind of way.

I gave it to him and he turned it over in his hands. I guess he was trying to decide if it was a forgery. I took a small step out of the overhead light, trying to look a little more washed out. Finally he nodded and said, "Okay, but you'll have to sign in."

I gratefully added my name to the sheet on his desk - prudently noting that I was there to visit myself - and almost ran to the elevator. When I reached my floor I felt such relief it took a moment for me to realize one other thing.

I didn't have a card-key to open my office.

Monday, August 29

Vacation Email

So I'm back from vacation. So I turn on my computer. So what is the first thing I see?

"You have 382 messages."

I have been approved for 87 mortgages.

I have won 23 stainless steel watches.

Thirty-seven girls named Tiffany want me to call them ASAP.

A total of 48 well meaning folks want to help me with the quality of my - how shall I put it? - manhood. I wonder if any of them is named Tiffany?

There are 7 people who want to be sure my teeth are as white as they can be.

Nineteen dieticians will help me lose weight.

Twenty-eight pharmacists will sell me anything from Ambien to Xenical without the annoyance of obtaining a prescription.

Seven banks sent a total of 103 messages warning me that my account is in danger of immediate cancellation if I don't send them my user name, password, social security number, and mother's maiden name.

And the very erudite, though grammatically challenged, Dr. Clement Okon of Nigeria has offered to transfer "...THE SUM OF $21,320,000.00 (TWENTY ONE MILLION, THREE HUNDRED AND TWENTY THOUSAND U.S DOLLARS)...WE HOPE TO COMMENCE THE TRANSFER LATEST SEVEN (7) BANKING DAYS" into any of one those bank accounts if I just give him the account number and PIN. I'm sorry, Dr. Okon, but the chances of that happening are zero (0).

I must admit, though, it is humbling to be so popular.

Friday, August 19

Multicultural Medicine

I work in an office populated by, as my third grade geography teacher used to say, "people of many lands". I don't think they have geography teachers anymore. The other day on the bus I heard a couple of young people arguing about whether Chicago was in Illinois or Indiana.

Since we are a multicultural group, when anyone has a health problem there are several different suggestions for treatment. For example Nu might recommend acupuncture and tea, whereas Marcel would suggest a glass of wine and a good cheese. Esther never hesitates to offer to call her son-the-doctor, while Karl just wants you to tough it out and quit your Gottfluch whining.

Last time I was feeling under the weather I tried all of these palliatives, enduring Nu's needles in my neck while drinking a sludgy green brew, followed by cheap Merlot and runny Brie with Marcel. I called Esther's son, who turned out to be an obstetrician, and finally retreated to my office, being sure to let Karl see that I was suffering in silence.

As I sat behind my desk staring at the world map I keep on the wall, I could hear them talking and laughing and discussing their various remedies.

I'm glad I could help them feel better.

Wednesday, August 17

Do these pictures of these shoes make me look fat?

Yesterday I wrote about some new shoes I bought and longtime reader and loyal fan blogblogblog asked to see a picture, so here they are in all their glory.

Dig it!

Tuesday, August 16

Do these shoes make me look fat?

I’ve never been concerned about fashion when it came to sneakers. I usually look for something comfortable that doesn’t cost too much. I have no brand loyalty, and probably have worn shoes made by a dozen different manufacturers over the last few years. I do try to avoid certain brands because, thanks to Michael Moore, I can’t get away from the image of a half-starved, six year old third world child applying bloody fingers to a pair of $190 shoes. But that’s just me.

I guess that’s why market researchers don’t care about my opinon.

Recently I was shopping in a discount department store with my wife. She was actually shopping. I was just loitering around the underwear looking for those white tee shirts that have no label tag to irritate my delicate neck. As I wandered across the border into the shoe department I saw a pair a shoes that I found very attractive. Even though, according to my self imposed footwear schedule, I was not due to purchase a new pair of sneakers for at least 3 months, I couldn’t help but be attracted to these shoes.

They were not the Seinfeld white that I normally buy, but light tan in color with a flat bottom and very shallow tread. Around the edges there was a dark red trim. The laces were long and round and plump and glowed with an attitude that said “Hey, you. Tie this!”

They were on sale at a very reasonable price so I tried on a pair. They fit perfectly. I walked around the shoe department in them. They were light on my feet, almost like not wearing shoes at all. Then I stood with my back to a mirror and quickly turned around to get a surprise look. The impact was stunning. They looked great on me. I had to have them.

When I got to the checkout my wife was waiting. “New shoes?” she said, observing the box under my arm. “Is it that season already?”

“I saw them and I had to have them, that’s all”, I said somewhat defensively.

“Relax”, she said. “It’s your schedule, not mine.”

By then we were at the register and I handed over my purchase. The clerk scanned it and I saw the description on the register screen come up as “Skate”.

“What does ‘Skate’ mean?” I asked the young man behind the counter.

“Like, you know, skateboarding.”

“You mean these are shoes for riding on a skateboard?”

“Well, uh, yeah.”

Now I was riddled with doubt. How many 58 year old men wore skateboarding shoes? Was I just going to look ridiculous walking around in shoes designed to execute ollies and frontside 180's?

Still, I remembered the impact of that surprise look in the mirror. I went ahead and completed the purchase.

Now I have one more decision to make.

Do I get the maple deck pintail longboard or go with the f-glazz old skool pooler?

Sunday, August 14

Goodnight, boss.

Ollie, the night guard in my office building, has always bid a cheery "goodnight!" to the workers as we left for home, and many of us would wish him a "goodnight, Ollie" as well. On Fridays it really became a lovefest - "Have a good one!", "Ollie, enjoy it!" "Thank God It's Friday, right?" "You know it, Ollie!" "See you Monday!"

After a while Ollie started adding a little sobriquet to his farewells, like "Goodnight, boss" or "Have a good one, chief." This was a nice parting gift, and for a few minutes it made those of us workers in the drone category feel special. It added a little spring to our step. We walked the walk of "boss". We walked the walk of "chief".

One night I was leaving a little later than usual after an extended struggle with a database that wouldn't behave. "Goodnight, Ollie", I said with a sigh of fatigue.

"Goodnight, Doctor", perked Ollie.

Doctor? Where did that come from? I suppose he was just going for a little variety, but I must admit it was rather flattering. I spent my trip home weighing the value of "Doctor" versus "Chief".

The next night I gave Ollie a jolly wave on my way out and he sang out "Goodnight, Your Honor." I almost floated out the door until I was brought back to earth by the stinking, humid morass that is Manhattan in August. But I didn't care. The world of the mundane has little effect on someone known as "Your Honor".

Last Monday as I was leaving for home there was a new guard on duty, a polite boy, but rather young to be in charge of security. "Where's Ollie?" I asked.

"Promoted. He's going to be working days. He made Captain."

Just then I saw Ollie step out of the elevator, dressed in a spiffy new uniform. "Goodnight, Jordan", he said to the new guard, then nodded in my direction and said, "Goodnight."

"Goodnight", I said. Then I added, "Captain."

Wednesday, August 10

Creative Meets Critical

I recently started taking a creative writing class at The Learning Appendage. I suppose some less generous readers of these posts may be thinking, “Well, it’s about time” but I will forgive you those thoughts.

Unfortunately not enough people signed up for creative writing so we were combined with another class called "Critical Thinking for the Twenty-First Century". I have never been sure what was actually involved in critical thinking - regardless of the century - but I was about to find out.

At the first class the teacher asked if anyone wanted to read something they had written, so I read from a poem I have been working on for some years.

When I had finished the teacher asked the class for some feedback.

One of the critical thinking students said “Complete drivel.”

“Can anyone expand on that?” queried the teacher.

From the back of the room I heard a voice that sounded disturbingly like my nemesis, Nelson, add, “How about ‘unmitigated drivel’?”

“Better”, said the teacher. “Are you a critical thinker or a creative writer?"

"I'm a double major", said Nelson.

That figured. Nelson is nothing if not an overachiever.

"Now just a minute", I defended. "It's easy enough to be critical. Now how about some thinking? What's wrong with this poem?"

"Well, for one", said Nelson, "it's in iambic pentameter." The teacher nodded approvingly.

"and WRONG with THAT, i ASK you SIR, is WHAT?"

"It doesn't sound natural", said Nelson. "Language like that sounds unmanly. In fact, if you think about it, just writing poetry is kind of unmanly."

That really got my knickers in a twist.

"Hey, being a poet is not unmanly! There are lot's of very manly poets."

"Name one."

I ill advisedly tossed out the first name that came to mind. "Percy Bysshe Shelley."


"I rest my case."

"Ralph Waldo Emerson, then."

"Why do they all have three names? Trying to compensate?"

I desperately tried to think of a manly poet. "Bruce Springsteen."

"The Boss? I don't think so", sputtered Nelson.

"Or maybe I should say 'Bruce Frederick Joseph Springsteen'. If I count right that's four names".


"...Frederick Joseph...", I added.

"... is no poet."

"Seems to me they are always calling Bruce 'The Poet Of His Generation."

"How would you like to get poetic with a knuckle sandwich, buddy?"

It degenerated from there, with neither of us being creative or doing much thinking. I believe they will be separating the classes in the future, though.

As for my poem,

on IT i'll WORK both DAY and NIGHT til DONE.

Thursday, August 4

Learning Spanish

I've been learning Spanish by reading the ads on the subway. So far I have learned these words:

herido - injured

plomo - lead

resbalar - slip

daños y prejucious - damages

caída - fall

envenenamiento - poisoning

llama - call

un - a

a bajo costo - cheap

abogado - lawyer

Monday, August 1

General Washington, meet Mr. Rove

After reading about the adventures of George Washington in David McCullough's new book 1776 and at the same time following the adventures of Karl Rove on the news every night the following scenario occurred to me.

It is January 1777. George Washington and his small army have crossed the Delaware River and defeated the Hessian mercenaries at Trenton, New Jersey. News comes that the British General Charles Cornwallis and his army are approaching from the north to counterattack. Washington consults with his Generals, Nathanael Greene and Henry Knox, as well as a new advisor, Karl Rove.

Washington: Gentlemen, we have won a great victory. Now we must determine the best course of action against Cornwallis. How do you advise?

Greene: Sir, we must attack to secure our gains. Cornwallis is a worthy opponent, but the righteousness of our cause will not be denied.

Knox: I agree. Cornwallis is an good man and a fine leader, but we can defeat him if we keep faith with our cause. We must pledge our sacred honor and attack.

Washington: And you, Rove. What do you counsel?

Rove: I say we see if we can dig up any dirt on his wife. Find out where she works, if she maybe had something to do with him getting his job; make him look like he's “whipped”, if you know what I mean.

Washington: I'm sure I don't know what you mean Rove.

Rove: I wonder if he has any medals. Let's see if we can raise questions about any medals he has been awarded. You know, make it seem like he doesn't deserve them.

Washington: I don't think we want to pledge our sacred honor to "dig up some dirt".

Rove: You know, I heard he's a womanizer and a drunk.

Washington: I have never heard any such thing.

Rove: Well, you have now. It'll be plastered all over every pamphlet and almanac from here to Timbuktu in a week.

Washington: I think that is quite enough, Rove. I'm going to have to ask you to leave.

Rove: Leave? I'm just getting started. What about his kids? They ever been kicked our of school or anything? Or his old man? Any shady real estate deals or maybe a gambling problem?

Wahington: You there, Lt. Burr. Will you please excort Mr. Rove from the room.

Rove: Get your hands off me Burr. You don't know who you're dealing with. Your reputation is toast - do you hear me? Toast! It would be so easy to have Novak spread it around that you're a trigger-happy hothead. What do you think of that? How would you like to go down in history as a trigger-happy hothead, huh?

Washington: For God's sake, Rove. Control yourself. I worry for you.

Rove: You don't have to worry about me, "Excellency". Hah! Nothing excellent about your teeth, is there? How'd it be if Novak got a hold of that, General Splinter Mouth? “Anonymous sources report that the savior of our country can’t even chew his own meat. He has to have his wife do it for him.” Hah!

Washington: You are a scoundrel of the first order, sir. I feel sorry for you. Good day.

Rove: Don't feel sorry for me. I've already got another gig lined up.

Washington, Greene, and Knox: "Gig"?

Rove: I start work next week for a real hero.

Washington: A real hero?

Rove: It just so happens I‘ll be senior advisor to one of the finest military minds there is. And unlike you losers, I have a feeling he'll do whatever I tell him to.

Washington: And who might that be?

Rove: Why, Benedict Arnold of course.

Wednesday, July 27

Dangerous Books

I see fundamentalists are complaining about Harry Potter again. This happens every time a new Potter appears. The claim is that there are several scriptural proscriptions against wizards, unicorns and flying broomsticks. Some groups are planning book burnings or, if denied a fire permit, book stompings.

It is easy to make fun of these groups, but they appear to be sincere. In fact I have no argument with their position. They are free to believe as they wish and burn whatever they want within the confines of municipal fire codes. Isn't that what America is all about?

Quite frankly, though, I think by picking on such an innocuous target as Harry Potter they are just making it more difficult to act when a real problem appears.

For example I was browsing through a newly opened children's bookstore the other day when I noticed a slender volume called "Hey, Kids! Let's Worship At The Feet Of Satan" on a shelf near the door. When I pointed out to the clerk, who was sitting at the counter busily stuffing envelopes, that I didn't think this was appropriate reading material for children he gave me a scornful look. "Ever heard of the First Amendment, buddy?", he said, putting a letter into an envelope.

"I believe in the First Amendment as much as anyone. I just don't think children should be exposed to a book called 'Hey, Kids! Let’s Worship At The Feet Of Satan' or, well, this one right here on the counter - 'Beelzebub And The Blustery Day'".

"That's not for me or you to say", he hissed as he quickly wrote an address on the envelope. I think it was 666 something. "What are you? Some kind of fanatic?"

"I don't have to be a fanatic to know that a child shouldn't be reading books called - look at these, stacked right here on the floor - 'Demons, Demons, And More Demons' or 'Lucifer Has Two Minions'."

"Well, there's nothing you can do about it, pal", he said, quickly licking the envelope with an extremely long and remarkably flexible tongue. He shifted slightly on his stool, as if he had been sitting on something uncomfortable and looked up with bloodshot eyes. "Is there?"

"Nope, nothing I can do about that", I said backing slowly away, trying to decide if his tongue was actually forked or was that just a trick of the light. "Nothing at all I can do about that." I turned and half-ran out to the street and didn't stop until I was several blocks away. I didn't sleep well that night.

When I walked by the next day it looked like the store had gone out of business. If it had ever been in business at all. The door was secured with a rusty padlock and the windows had accumulated what seemed to me to be much more that 24 hours worth of dust.

I'm sure there must be an explanation for all this, but it's much too mystical for me to figure out.

I mean, what do I look like? A wizard?

Monday, July 25

Party Problems

I was at a party recently when I saw my friend Mac talking with a fellow to whom he bore some resemblance.

“This is my brother,” said Mac.

“Wow,” I said, “He looks just like a younger version of you.”

“My older brother”, he continued.


This brought to mind the time I was at a party and asked a woman with a rather pronounced abdominal protrusion when her baby was due.

“I’m not pregnant”, she replied.


Then there was the party where I kept referring to the principal of my son’s school as “Colonel” because somehow I had gotten the idea that he had once held that rank in the military. It turned out he had never been in the military and, in fact, was a committed pacifist.


Obviously I have some issues here. As I see it I have only two choices. I either have to stop going to parties, or I can commit myself to making more intelligent conversational choices and giving crystallized, thoroughgoing examination to anything I am about to say.

There's no doubt about it. The choice is clear.

I'm going to miss those parties.

Friday, July 22

Ghoulish Weathermen

Is it just my imagination, or do TV weathermen become more ghoulish during hurricane season?

This thought came to mind this morning as I watched my local forecaster excitedly tell me that Tropical Storm Franklin was the sixth - SIXTH! - tropical storm of the season. "And," he gloated, "IT'S ONLY JULY!!!".

And what's with that name? Franklin? What kind of a name is that for a hurricane? Are they running out of names? For a long time hurricanes were always given feminine names. Who could ever forget hurricane Camille? Now they include masculine names too. They still talk about Hurricane Andrew. One year there was a Hurricane Georges - with an "s". Not that there's anything wrong with that.

If the Weather Service is running out of names for hurricanes, I have an idea for them. If baseball teams can name their stadia after corporations, why not name hurricanes after some of the finest companies the business communities have to offer? How about hurricane Enron? Or tropical storm Worldcom?

I guess that would be a bit redundant, thought. Naming a disaster after a disaster.

Tuesday, July 19

The Baby Gift

Despite the difficulty I have had in the past finding acceptable gifts for various occasions, I was given the task of purchasing a shower gift for a close family friend who is having her first baby.

I went to a place called, I believe, “Babies Is Here” or something like that. Apparently grammar is not a strong point in the prenatal mercantile trade.

My wife had thoughtfully provided me with a list of acceptable items. "I learned my lesson with 'The Skinner'", she'd said as she made out the list, referring to the hunting knife I had once sought to bestow upon a friend as a Bon Voyage present.

Holding my list I approached the young lady behind the counter and said, “I’m looking for a baby shower gift.”

“Is it for a boy or girl?” she asked.

“Well”, I smiled indulgently, “how would I know that? It hasn’t been born yet.”

“Oh”, she smiled even more indulgently, “they can tell”.

“Ah, yes”, I pontificated. “The wise and powerful gift of a women’s intuition…”

“Not intuition.” – the unexpressed epithet “stupid” hung in the air – “Sonogram.”

“Of course”, I said, as it were something I had known all along but only briefly forgotten. I repeated the word, as if savoring it's significance. “Sonogram." It sounded scientific, so I tried to cover my ignorance by adding, "I don't think they believe in that. They’re…” I tried to recall who it was that probably wouldn’t believe in science. “They’re Republicans.”

She warily bent down to study her computer terminal. "Is the mother-to-be registered?"

"Oh, she and the father-to-be both vote in every election." She paused and a heavy silence descended upon us. Finally I spoke up. "Primary and general," I explained.

"I mean is she registered for baby gifts?"

Clearly I was out of my league, now. I understood registering your car or registering your gun, even possibly registering your hunting knife if you were allowed to have one, but registering your baby gifts seemed like a pretty blatant invasion of privacy.

But as I saw her hand begin to edge ever so slightly toward the red security phone on the edge of the counter I determined that this was not the right time to get into that discussion.

I handed her my list. "Just anything on there will be fine," I said.

I ended up with a baby bottle warmer, a couple of hooded bath towels - one pink and one blue - and a monitoring device which would allow the parents to listen in on any private conversations their baby might have with other members of its cadre.

Might as well get used to it, kid. They've already registered your gifts.

Saturday, July 16

Northern White Males

I have my clock radio set to NPR even though for the first 15 minutes or so after it goes off I’m usually too stupid with sleep to understand a word they are saying. This morning, however, I swear I heard a reporter talking about the endangered Northern White Male. Since I am a member of this threatened community, this brought me half awake anyway.

Evidently one of the problems is that Northern White Males are having difficulty feeding their young. Now, I haven’t had a raise in over two years, but I can still feed my teenage son – just barely. If the price of pizza and hamburgers goes up it could get dicey. So I can sympathize with other Northern White Males having trouble making ends meet.

Then, through the gradually lifting fog of slumber, I heard the unsettling news that Northern White Males are on the verge of extinction, even though in days gone by they had been considered quite valuable - mainly because they're big, slow, and float after they are harpooned and killed.

When the reporter added that the biggest threat to Northern White Males consisted of being hit by ships, becoming entangled in fishing lines, and offshore pollution it occurred to my slowly focusing mind that perhaps I had made some kind of mistake. As the report went on it dawned on me that there must be more than the 300 Northern White Males the reporter said were left on earth, and, while the death of any man is a tragedy, losing Northern White Males at the rate of 8 a year doesn’t seem so bad.

After I woke up fully, I checked the NPR web site and found that the story had actually been about northern right whales (they got the name “right” because they were considered the "right" whale to kill in the 19th century – because of that post-harpoon floating thing).

Because of this experience I'm thinking that perhaps NPR requires too much thought first thing in the morning. Maybe I’ll switch my clock radio to a station that requires little thought but still generates enough noise to wake me up. Maybe talk radio.

I suppose you can call me ridiculous for all this. You can call me a fool, if you like. But, please, don't call me Ishmael.

Sunday, July 10

Kids and TV

A new study indicates that watching too much television may have an adverse effect not only on children but also on adults who watched too much TV when they were children. I find this study very suspect because it just so happens that I have watched a whole bunch of TV since I was real little and I don't think it has hurt me none.

The study found, for example, that children who have television sets in their rooms scored lower in math tests. But just what kind of math questions did they ask children who are devoted television viewers? Did they bother to ask how many episodes there were in "24"? Or how many children the family in "Eight Is Enough" had? Suppose each of those children appeared in each episode of "24". How many children would that be? I have no idea, but that's beside the point. What if "Two and a Half Men" were on "60 Minutes". How many minutes would that be? See, it's all in how the question is framed.

Another study, looking at 1,000 adults in New Zealand, found lower education levels among 26-year-olds who had watched lots of TV during childhood. Sure, I can see that.


What kind of television programming could they possibly have in New Zealand? "CSI:Auckland"? "Everybody Loves Kiwi"? Come on, what kind of a study of TV viewing is that?

Finally a study of 1,800 U.S. children found that those who watched more than three hours of television daily before age 3 scored worse on intelligence tests at ages 6 and 7 than youngsters who watched less TV. Excuse me, but how do you tell how much television a 3 year old is watching? Do you have them fill out a form or something? Just because you sit them in front of a TV doesn't mean they are watching it. If you sat them in front of a book for 3 hours a day would that mean they were reading it? Would their intelligence tests improve? If they didn't, would that mean reading is bad for kids?

And exactly how do you measure the intelligence of a 6 year old? I have a teenage boy and, College Board or no College Board, I doubt anyone has the ability to measure the intelligence of the typical 16 year old. Unless the answer to every question is “whatever”.

And anyone who is a regular reader of these posts must have wondered if there is any measurable intelligence in a 57 year old man.

So how do you accurately measure the intelligence of a 6 year old? Can Judy color inside the lines? Is Johnny able to recite “Mary Had A Little Lamb” by heart?

Well, Mister Big Time Scientific Education Tester, here is a question that any TV watching 6 year old can answer without thinking. Suppose the answer to this question would determine how intelligent you are. I’m just wondering how you do.

Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?

Thursday, July 7

Adventures in Camping

Over dinner the other night a young actor friend mentioned to my wife and I that he was going camping next month. This was not earth shaking news because he is quite the outdoorsman and it is not unusual for him to disappear into the Adirondacks for a week or ten days only to emerge looking like a well-tanned, highly photogenic version of Jed Clampett.

“I’ll be going to Patagonia for two weeks,” he said.

“Ah, Patagonia,” I replied wisely. “That’s in Pennsylvania, isn’t it?”

“No,” he beamed. “South America.”

“South America?” I asked, slightly concerned. "Isn’t that mostly jungle?”

“Not Jungle,” he said patiently. “Rain Forest.”

“Sorry. I didn’t know there had been a name change.”

Later that night my wife suggested that we get him a going away present, and I was assigned the task of finding something appropriate.

Next day at lunchtime I walked over to a nearby, somewhat old fashioned sporting goods store and trudged up the three flights of stairs to the camping department. I was tempted to make base camp on the second floor and carry on to the summit in the morning, but I had to be back in the office by two.

I usually only go to the sporting goods store to look at baseball equipment and dream of unfulfilled glory, so the camping department was unexplored territory for me. Also my only experience with the jungle – I mean rain forest – came from watching Tarzan when I was a boy, so finding a suitable gift was going to be a challenge.

A leathery skinned old man was behind the counter. “Hello”, I said. “I have a friend who is going camping in Patagonia and I wanted to get a little Bon Voyage present. What do you suggest?” He stared at me for a long time, opened his mouth to speak once or twice, and then stared some more. Finally he said, “Bon Voyage for a trip to the jungle?”

“Rain forest, actually.”

Looking back I suppose it might be considered by some an odd thing to give a going away present to someone about to embark on an expedition into the darkest recesses of the terra incognita. I don’t suppose anyone gave Dr. Livingston a going away present. Or Lewis and Clark. I probably could have asked the clerk about that. He looked old enough to have known Lewis and Clark.

After a few more minutes of silence I remembered Tarzan swinging through the trees with a knife in his mouth. "How about a knife?" I asked.

"Yep, we got knives right over here," he said and steered me to a glass case filled with ominous looking cutlery.

Unsure how to proceed I asked, "Er, do you have anything that could be comfortably held in the mouth?"

"Well," he said, scratching his head, "you usually want to hold it in your hand..."

"Well, of course you'd need to hold it in your hand when you are using it," I said, trying to sound informed. "But what do you do with it when you are, um, you know," here I sort of muttered, "swinging through the trees."

"I reckon you could hold it in your mouth under those circumstances," he said, suppressing a chuckle. "But you might consider a sheath instead."

"Ah, the sheath. Of course. I'm sure that's how some would do it."

I ended up getting a nice hunting knife, which he rather disconcertingly kept referring to as "The Skinner", and a buckskin sheath beautifully decorated with genuine Native American beadwork.

Of course my wife made me take it back the next day and exchange it for some insect repellant and 6 rolls of Charmin-To-Go. But for the afternoon just knowing I had the ol' "Skinner" tucked away safely in my brief case made me feel just like Tarzan, King of the, um, Rain Forest.

Tuesday, July 5


For my last birthday my wife gave me a small pair of binoculars. They fit easily into a coat pocket and are very handy for Broadway shows and for Yankee games where the upper deck seats that I favor (i.e. can afford) are located somewhere in the vicinity of the orbit of Pluto.

On July Fourth I decided to take my new binoculars with me when we went over by the river to watch the fireworks show. I know some people like to get there early to stake out a good viewing spot, but since we live within walking distance it's a more casual event for us. We usually wander over a few minutes before the scheduled start, meet up with some neighbors, and watch the fireworks from behind the heads of all the people who got there early. I invariably end up behind a tall man carrying a tall child on his shoulders. This is not as bad as, say, being in a movie theater seated behind a tall man with a tall child on his shoulders since fireworks spread out pretty far across the sky and if you don't see every single sparkle, well, that's good enough.

Unfortunately Nelson, my nemesis, was there. Nelson is one of those fellows who always have the latest, brightest, biggest, and fastest whatever it is you have the older, duller, smaller, and slower of. This evening he had a pair of binoculars that looked like something the Navy might use for observation at sea. The body must have been a foot long and the lenses were the size of cake plates. He was busy adjusting the focus and I quietly guided my wife past him so we wouldn't be noticed.

Several of the other couples greeted us as we settled in to watch the fireworks and I proudly pulled my new binoculars out of the pocket of my jacket.

"What have you got there, Jim?" I heard Nelson's booming voice. "Opera glasses?"

"No, Nelson, they're not opera glasses," I replied haughtily. Then, searching for an appropriate rejoinder, I ill advisedly chose, "They're more like bird watching glasses."

I believe I heard my wife groan, but I'm not sure.

Nelson made a great show of looking at the now completely black sky. "Not too many fowl out tonight, Jim. I'm afraid you're in for a disappointment." He slowly brought his binoculars to his eyes and looked into the empty sky. "Hey," he shouted, "I think I can see Pluto."

I refused to let this incident quell my enjoyment of the fireworks, and through my opera gla…--I mean binoculars -- got a perfectly good view of the rocket's red glare haloing around the back of some tall kids head.

And I believe I spotted a Great Horned Owl on the way home.

Sunday, July 3


I wandered into the shelter earlier than usual because I heard there might be shoes. "Sorry, no shoes today", said the man with the belligerent voice and sympathetic eyes. "Maybe next week." I looked down at the scuffed brown loafer on my left foot and the black high-top sneaker on my right. Yeah, they could last another week if I kept a lot of walking off my to-do list. I smiled at that. To-do list. Those were the days.

As I walked out I noticed a well-dressed man carrying a book. This was a good sign. People who read are frequently more generous than those who don’t.

“Hello, sir”, I began. “I’m sorry to bother you, but I have recently been released from prison and am in need of assistance.” I had never actually been to prison, but this was a well-tested gambit that often elicited a contribution.

The man, however, walked right past me. Undeterred, I scooted up behind him and tried How The Gulf War Had Really Messed Me Up, but he just walked faster. I increased my speed to keep up but when I started itemizing my health problems, the man broke into a run.

He moved pretty good for a big man and had about six steps on me before I put it into high gear. I caught him at the library steps, which the man had climbed two at a time. He was frantically yanking on the doorknob, and then turned around with a wild look in his eyes. I was afraid he was going to scream.

“It’s closed on Wednesdays”, I said. “Budgetary restraints.”

He nervously raised the book over his head, holding it like a club. “Not one step closer,” he said. “I don’t have any spare change no matter when you were released from prison or how long you were in The Gulf.” So! He had been listening after all. A warm feeling of satisfaction spread over me.

“Look, mister,” I said, “if you’re going to use a book as a weapon you’ll need something more substantial than ‘The Prophet’.”

He glanced up at the slender volume in his hand and lowered it until it hung limply at his side. “It was my wife’s, actually,” he murmured. “It’s a week overdue.” He looked at the little “closed Wed.” sign on the library door. “I guess her branch would be open today.”

“Most are,” I said. “The Donnell, Mid-Manhattan, Yorkville…”

“Yes, Yorkville. That’s hers.”

“Nice little library. Clean toilets.”

That reminded him of our respective stations in life. “Yes, well, I suppose I could try another branch.”

“I guess you don’t spend too much time at the library,” I said as he squeezed past me and gingerly walked down the stairs.

“No, my wife is – was – the reader in the family.” I followed him down to the sidewalk and walked along side of him. This time he didn’t speed up.

“She doesn’t read anymore?” I said.

“Oh, I’m sure she does. She's...we're not...we're...", he whispered the next word with awkward unfamiliarity, "...separated.” Then he smiled bitterly and looked at the copy of 'The Prophet'. "Yes, she was a reader, alright.”

“Mine, too,” I said.

“You have a wife?”

“Used to. Not anymore.”

“I’m sorry.”

“It happens.”

"Don't I know it."

He turned a corner and headed uptown, but I didn’t follow. “The Donnell is just 30 blocks. You can walk it in half an hour,” I called to him. “Thanks,” he called back. “I’ll just get a...” He trailed off and an uncomfortable look spread across his face when he realized he was talking to someone for whom a taxi might as well be the Space Shuttle. He started to say something, but a cab pulled up and he got in without comment.

I wandered past the library and back to the center where it turned out some shoes had come in after all. I got a nice pair of Oxfords that didn’t fit too badly (and at least matched) and some watery macaroni and cheese.

As I was leaving Mrs. McCarthy stopped me and said someone had left something for me. She handed me a library copy of ‘The Prophet”. Inside the front cover was a hundred dollar bill and a note. “Perhaps you can return this for me tomorrow and pay the fine. P.S. Keep the change.”

Thursday, June 30

Cousin Floyd

I have quite an extended family, many of whom read these posts from time to time. My cousin Floyd recently commented, "Hell, that don't look so hard. All you do is write about stuff that happens to you." Well-said, Floyd. That is pretty much what this effort is about. I thought it might be interesting to let Floyd have a chance to write his own entry.

This morning when I was having my bacon and eggs "over easy" I noticed that one of the yolks was broken. Somebody once said "If you want to make an omlet, you're going to need eggs." I don't like omlets. I prefer two eggs "over easy". Without either of the yolks broken. "Over"? "Easy"? Hmmmm....

I dreamed I was having my bacon and eggs "over easy" when I noticed that one of the yolks was broken. It was an oddly familiar dream.

I'm pretty fussy about my eggs.

Pretty fussy, indeed.

Thank you, Floyd, for giving us some insight into how easy this blog business really is.

What do you think? Should we have Floyd back for more of his perceptive musings?

Tuesday, June 28

Model Congress

I was at a family function over the weekend and my niece mentioned that she was involved in something called 'Model Congress' at her high school. She explained that in Model Congress students get to emulate the activities of the United States House of Representatives.

When I asked her if a model lobbyist ever takes them on a model junket she gave me the "There goes Uncle Jim" smile that I get all to often these days. "Maybe they'll cover that next term", she said, then warily moved to another table.

"Maybe they'll cover that next term." Hmmmm...

Welcome, students, to the second term of Model Congress. Last term we learned how a bill is introduced on the floor, how facts are gather during committee hearings, how differences are arbitrated among members, and how a final consensus is reached.

This term we are going to find out what really happens.

The first thing you need to know is that five percent of your final grade will be based on the weekly quiz, five percent will be based on the final exam, and ninety percent will be based on how much money you can raise for re-election.

Next, how to raise money for re-elections:

  1. Schmooze fat-cat party bosses

  2. Prostitute principals in the boudoir of corporate largesse

  3. Promise the voters that your number one priority is to "shake up the status quo"

Finally, what to do with the money you raised for re-election:

  1. Keep the status quo just the way it is

  2. Give a portion to some ne're do well relative who never worked an honest day in his or her life

  3. Hide the rest in an anonymous offshore account where it can't be traced except by someone who bothers to look

That about covers it, except to say frequent unexplained absences are encouraged and lavish gifts to the teacher are expected. My office hours are noon to, oh, I don't know, around 12:20 or so I guess. Oh, and there is an ATM outside the door for those who forgot to bring something.

Class is dismissed for a 6-week recess, and let me be the first to congratulate you for taking an interest on seeing how democracy really works.

Saturday, June 25


I see that the former Republican Party co-chairwoman has been selected to run the Public Broadcasting System. I suppose this means there will be some changes in PBS programming:

NewsHour with Karl Rove
Tonight: Why liberals love homosexual flag burning al Qaida child molesters.

The Freedom Chef with Condoleezza Rice
Condi explores the obsolete cuisine of the "old" Europe.

Sesame Bun Street
Big Bird explains why fast food is good for you.
Also: The benefits of privatized Social Security.

Upstairs, upstairs
In this special episode the rich get rich and the poor get poorer.

Fawlty Spiderholes
Saddam does his laundry.

Friday, June 24

Re: The Sleep Expert

In response to my previous post “The Sleep Expert” several readers wrote to remind me that there are other, more physical, uses for a bed, implying that there is something odd about the fact that I am not as obsessed with that sort of activity as they are.

To those readers I have but one answer.

I am 57 years old.


Wednesday, June 22

The Sleep Expert

All my life I’ve heard that good health requires eight hours of sleep a night. This morning on the radio, however, some sleep expert was saying that people who sleep seven hours a night live longer than people who sleep eight. Why weren't we told this before? It is pretty upsetting to think we’ve been wasting that extra hour a night under the impression it was going to keep us healthy, and then find out we were misled into engaging in life-threatening bedtime behavior. This makes the WMD story look like a little white lie!

My guess is this cover-up was perpetrated by the mattress industry. Face it, the more you sleep the better it is for Big Bedding.

We’ve all heard those mattress mountebanks say, “You spend one-third of your life in bed”. That sounds like a lot. It’s worth investing in a good mattress for one-third of your life. But “you spend seven twenty-fourths, or 29.1666666667 percent, of your life in bed” just doesn’t sound so persuasive. Heck, for 29 percent I could sleep on the floor.

Clearly, more time in bed means more wear and tear on the mattress, which means more frequent replacement, which means more of Mr. and Mrs. Joe Sleepyhead's money going into the ill gotten coffers of the Sleep Cartel.

Pretty clever, these mattress boys. Pretty clever, indeed.


The sleep expert went on to discuss common sleep problems which keep some people from getting their solid seven. I personally have little trouble sleeping. It is easy for me to let the cares of the day drift away whilst the moon goddess Selene gently osculates me into the slumber of the innocent, as the gentle rise and fall of the waves................................................


..........Sorry, I nodded off there for a minute.

Occasionally my wife has trouble sleeping, though, so I relayed to her these suggestions from the sleep expert:

  1. Don’t read or watch TV in bed. Bed is for sleeping and you must train your mind to know that.

  2. If you find yourself lying awake at night worrying about things, set aside a "worry time" before you go to bed to work those things out, or even write them in a journal. Then by the time you’re in bed you won’t have them on your mind.

  3. No matter how much your husband snores do not poke him, kick him, or tell him to roll over. Under no circumstances must your husband’s sleep be disturbed.

Okay, I threw in that last one myself, but, hey, if I don’t get my 29 percent I’m just no damn good.

Monday, June 20

Assisted living

A co-worker was telling me about the assisted living residence where his mother is staying. It seems ideal. She has all her meals pepared for her. She has all her housekeeping done for her. She gets to watch all the television she wants to watch. There are concerts. They have parties.

It just sounds so great I think I seriously have to consider it.

Oh, not for my parents, who, at 80, are still living happily in their home of 48 years.

No, I think it sounds great for me!

George Bernard Shaw said, "Youth is wasted on the young".

Could it be that assisted living is wasted on the old?

Saturday, June 18


A new barbershop opened in my neighborhood and I thought I'd give it a try. I like to support new businesses and I’m always willing to buy a magazine at a fledgling newsstand or have lunch at a pristine restaurant. It’s great to see the excitement and optimism of the owners when a new business opens up, before they realize that Wal-Mart or Target sells whatever they have to sell for about one third the price. I’m amazed at politicians who insist that paying taxes or abiding by worker safety rules are the enemy of small business. The real enemy of small business is…Big Business!

I used to go to a very affordable barbershop located along a dingy subway station concourse but they shut their doors recently, leaving a sign in the window reading “Closed for Renovations.” In New York “Closed for Renovations” means “Closed for Good” so I had to look for another place to care for my hair, still copious at aged 57 thank you very much.

As I walked into the new barber's I was greeted like a long lost family member. They were effusive in their praise, overwhelming in their concern, ebullient in their laughter. Of course, I couldn’t understand a word they said because they all spoke Russian, but the language of zealous flattery is universal.

They knew a few words in English - "How short?", "Sideburn?" - but mostly they spoke Russian. And once I was seated in the chair they earnestly went about their work in relative silence.

This was wonderful relief. My old barber was very talkative, usually sports -- "How about those Yankees/Mets/Jets/Giants/Knicks/Rangers" depending on the season and who hadn't gone on on strike. I like sports as much as the next guy with a full head of hair, but once we’ve discussed the latest trade rumors and injury report, I’m pretty much done.

It was serene to sit quietly and not be asked to analyze why so-and-so was a bum, and why whoozits was an overpaid crybaby. Someone must have told the Russians that Americans like games with their hair care, though, because they did have some sport that I did not recognize on the small TV in the corner. They had turned the sound down so it wouldn't interfer with the balalaika music playing on the stereo.

There were two other customers being tended to, and occasionally the barbers would toss an aside to each other, but for the most part it was just the whispering of the scissors snip-snipping a hirsute lullaby. I must have nodded off for a bit because I began to dream that I could understand what they were saying…

“Vladimir, how about those Voles? It looks like they may go all the way.”

“Don’t forget the Lynx, Dimitri. They have a pretty good team this year. And what about the Otters? If they can stay healthy, well who knows?”

“The Otters? Feh! They play like women!”

“Perhaps they play like women, Arkady , but at least they don’t fall asleep in the chair like this…”

I awoke with a start. My haircut was over and my barber was holding a mirror behind my head so I could review my neckline. It actually wasn’t bad.

A little like Leonid Brezhnev. Brezhnev

But not bad.

Wednesday, June 15

My new radio

I got a new portable radio to listen to while I pursue my 10,000-step program. In this program I must walk 10,000 steps every day. I even got a step counter so I know if I'm on target. My first day I strapped on my counter and set off to walk! At day's end I had walked a total of 3,000 steps. Clearly, I have more walking to do.

My new radio lets me preset my 5 favorite AM stations and 10 favorite FM stations so all I have to do is press a button to listen to one of them. I set about selecting my stations.

I set the 5 AM's easily. One all news, one sports-talk, NPR, and 2 talk radio (one conservative and one liberal).

Then came the hard part. Finding 10 FM stations I like.

It had been a while since I listen to FM radio but I looked forward to what I remembered as a wide variety of formats to enjoy. I planned one button for an oldies station, a couple for country western, maybe three or four for classical music, NPR (yeah, I know. How much NPR can one man take?), some jazz, show tunes, the sky's the limit.

I was in for a surprise.

First of all, apparently radio stations no longer go by their call letters. It used to be WABC or (where I grew up) KRLA but now it's all Hot this and Zoo that, plus a "Jack" - whatever that is - and a Lite (I guess being able to spell is not required to own a radio station). The point is you don't really know what station you are tuned to, except that it is Hot or a Zoo.

After trying to listen to several stations I had to check to see if my new radio was broken because it seemed that all the songs were the same song. I don't want to sound like my parents who claimed, when both I and rock-n-roll were young, that all the songs sounded alike (you couldn’t really tell the difference between The Coasters and The Drifters? C’mon, Mom and Dad!) But it seemed like everything I heard on my new radio sounded like a bunch of people yelling at each other or yelling at me. And they were all so angry! What do they have to be angry about? They have recording contracts! People listen to their music on the radio!

There was anger in the songs of the Sixties - remember “Eve of Destruction” or “We Gotta Get Out Of This Place”? – but not every single song was angry. There were optimistic songs, too. “Here Comes The Sun”, “Joy to the World”, “We Gotta Get You A Woman” – songs of happy expectation.

But on my new radio I heard no optimistic music. Only songs about being P.O.’d.

Well, that has to change. I can’t let the youth of America go on thinking that life is a meaningless struggle for nothingness.

There is so much more to life, kids.

I am now making it my mission to introduce a new musical form that I call Rose Colored Rap to the next generations of Americans.

Yo, wassup, hey hey, Yo, Yo, Yo!
The sun'll come out tomorrow, y’all.
Bet your f@#%-ing dollar that tomorrow
They'll be sun. Be-hatch!

Just thinking about tomorrow, motherf#%&*
Clears away the bulls#$%& and the sorrow
‘Til there’s none, Yo Ho, Yo Ho!

Well, you get the idea. I know it needs work (that last part sounds a bit like a sea chantey, I know), but it's important work if I am to save the kids from this depressing music.

Meanwhile, I have set the buttons on my new radio to Lite(sp?) FM, Hot Jazz 101.9, the Classical 96.3 Zoo, and the rest to NPR. Believe it or not I could find no Oldies or Country Western stations in the New York market.

That really makes me angry!