Tuesday, August 12

Hair Redux Redux

After writing my recent post about the musical Hair I started thinking about draft card burning and what it meant in my younger days. I remembered this record that was popular at that time.

It is called "A Letter To My Teenage Son" by Victor Lundberg.

I think it is worth a listen.

Friday, August 8

Hair redux

I had the pleasure of seeing a fine production of the musical Hair the other night and clearly it has held up much better than I have. I first saw it almost 40 years ago (OMFG!), but to me the music is still exceptional and I found this performance to be extremely moving.

I'm not sure how someone who has viewed the Vietnam War filtered through the pages of a history book is going to feel about this show, but, really, is the Iraq war so much different?

There might have been was a bit less torture in those days.

Before the performance began the artistic director made a point of explaining that the bits of paper being burned near the end of the first act were Draft Cards. (Remember when it was a crime to burn a piece of paper?)

The concept of a government that could pluck you out of your comfortable, everyday existence and drop you into a nightmare 8,000 miles away is something that is foreign to contemporary society.

Today's government just deceives you into going to war and then won't let you come home when you're time is up.

I agree with this reviewer when he says that the key to this production is in the song "Where Do I Go?". When I saw the show in my 20's I related strongly to that theme.

"Why do I live?," cries a confused young man. "Why do I die?"

Back then I thought as I grew older (if I grew older) I'd some day know the answer to those questions.

I was wrong.

Friday, July 18

They Tried To Do A Renovation, I said No, No, No.

I headed over to my local inexpensive Chinese place the other day, eager to partake of their 4.95 lunch special. The chicken with hot pepper and peanut is a particular favorite of mine, and they make the best at Guo's.

Imagine my shock and awe when I approached the rather shabby storefront and saw a sign proclaiming "Closed for Renovation". Inside a couple of workmen were mulling over some blueprints while a circular saw whined nearby.

It was clear. Change was in the air, and a single thought immediately leaped into my head.

I shamefully prayed they hadn't discarded the oil from the deep fryer.

Countless battered chicken wings, breaded baby shrimp, and thickly crusted egg rolls had made that oil just a bit less viscous than a good quality 10W30, yet somehow it had mystically retained the spirit of all that had fried before. Whatever was placed in that oil emerged with a wonderful flavor of all it's past denizens.

It makes my mouth water just to think about it.

I noticed the owner standing by the window looking in. I walked over and asked, "Guo? What's going on?"

"Had to make renovation. Inspector say so."

"Inspector?", I asked, shocked. "Not the health inspector?"

"No, no", he said, sounding a bit offended. "Building inspector. Bad floor."

"Ah," I said, as if I knew something about bad floors.

After a decent interval had passed I had to ask, "What about the, um, er,..."

"The oil?" said Guo, knowingly.

"Oil?" I said, trying to sound nonchalant. "What oil?"

"You twenty-fifth customer to ask today. Oil fine. I keep in back. Soon as renovation over, oil go back in fryer."

I breathed an inner sigh of relief. Maybe not so inner, as Guo said, "You happy now?"

"Yes, very happy. How long until you open again?"

"One week."

I silently damned the building inspector. One week without chicken with hot pepper and peanut? A grim prospect. Very grim prospect.

I walked glumly over a couple of blocks to the another Chinese restaurant that I had noticed but never used. A bright, teenage girl stood behind the counter wearing a crisp white apron. "May I take your order?" she perked.

As I spoke she noted each item on a neatly lined notepad. When I was finished she asked "Would you like an egg roll with that?"

"I don't know. Are they any good?"

"They should be," she smiled happily. "We just changed the oil today."

Wednesday, July 9

Ham And Eggs

I was talking to my dad the other day and asking him what it was like when he was growing up. He'll be celebrating his 84th birthday in a couple of weeks which means he was born in 1924, which means he was 10 years old in 1934, the midst of the Great Depression. I was wondering how those times compared with our current economic problems.

He thought for a moment. "My father used to say 'If we had ham we'd have ham and eggs. If we had eggs.'" Dark humor from his father (my Grandfather) who I always remember as a pretty happy-go-lucky guy. Family legend has it that he spent some time as a bootlegger and I remember him telling stories about how he would outrun "The Feds" by speeding through the woods in an old Model T Ford. And on those occasions when I went riding with him he often demonstrated the prowess needed to lose a persistent Treasury agent.

If we had ham we'd have ham and eggs.

If we had eggs.

For my father, I guess, that sums up the Great Depression.

These days it's considered a hardship to pay four and a half dollars a gallon for gas while fretting about how to lose those last stubborn fifty pounds.

Certainly that's a problem, but not quite as serious as worrying about where your next meal is going to come from.

I've heard stories of people filling up their tanks at the gas station and taking off from the pump without paying. Just floor it and head for the woods.

Grandpa would be so proud.

By 1944 my father was in basic training on his way to earning a Purple Heart at Saipan.

I haven't heard him complain about the price of gas lately.

Thursday, June 26

What Is An American?

There has been some talk among John McCain's supporters that perhaps Barack Obama isn't American enough. You know, unusual name, Kenyan father, Mother from Kansas.

But at least he was born in America. Unlike John McCain, who was born in Panama.

Are we ready for a Panamanian president? If so why isn't Manuel Norieaga running? Or Mariano Rivera?

The Constitution states that only a "natural born" citizen can serve as President. So how does someone born in Panama qualify as a "natural born" citizen? How many electoral votes does Panama have?

Some people say this constitutional restriction doesn't apply to Mr. McCain. Since he was born in what used to be called "The Canal Zone" the constitution must be interpreted so that "The Canal Zone" qualifies as being part of the United States.

Well may I refer to no less an expert as Supreme Court Justice Atnonin Scalia? Justice Scalia adheres to the philosophy of "orginalism," which means the Constitution must be interpreted based on what it originally meant to the people who ratified it over 200 years ago.

So what did "The Canal Zone" mean to the ratifiers of 1788?

Nothing!

Because there was no Panama Canal in 1788. There wasn't even an Erie Canal, for that matter.

So, I'm sorry Señor McCain. When it come to a Panamanian being elected President of the United States I have just one thing to say.

¡No se puede!

Thursday, June 19

Is He A Muslim?

His ties to the Muslim community are clear.

There is no doubt.

John McCain has been seen within the past few months associating with several men who have been identified as Muslims.

Here is the proof:

Here is John McCain with so called Iraqi President Jalal Talibani, a well known - you might even say Card-Carrying - Muslim. Sunni or Shiite? Not so well known. I'm not too sure who that other guy is, but he might be a Muslim, too. Who knows?
###





And here he is with a couple of guys who look an awful lot like Muslims. Some might say that just because they look like Muslims doesn't mean they are Muslims. That, my friend, is September 10 thinking.
###





This is a Muslim woman voting for McCain in the Florida primary. To be fair, she later said she thought she was voting for Pat Buchanan.
###



Finally, there is this disturbing picture of McCain conferring with someone named Abdullah. King Abdullah. Notice how McCain is turned away so we can't see what flag pin he is wearing. Red, White, and Green perhaps?
###



So, is John McCain a Muslim? Sadly, that is not the only question we must ask ourselves. Clearly, we must also ask

Is He A Mormon?

Tuesday, June 17

This Stella's For You

I saw in the paper that the Belgian brewery company InBev wants to buy Anheuser Busch. That's Anheuser Busch as in the makers of Budweiser, the most American beer on the market.

InBev's flagship beer is something called "Stella Artois".

I'm willing to bet that a substantial majority of Budweiser drinkers cannot even pronounce "Artois".

So what are we to expect once these Belgians have taken over our beloved Bud?

Will we see some ersatz Hercule Poirot coming home from a hard day of sleuthing and cooing "'Astings, decant for me the Weiser of the Bud, s'il vous plait. I must refresh the little gray cells, 'Astings. The little gray cells."

And what about the Clydesdales? Can we expect to see them put out to pasture, only to be reproduced in chocolate - dark, bittersweet, and milk?



While you're at it why not just throw some chocolate right in the beer, Belgians? And you might as well add a couple of Brussel sprouts too!

As you may have guessed I'm against this deal. I don't want to appear to be an isolationist, but I think we all remember what happened a few years ago when the Japanese bought Montana for the beef.

Tuesday, June 10

What's in a Middle Name

His middle name is unusual. Not one you commonly hear, although it belongs to some fairly well known people. But still, it is an odd name. Not what you would expect in a regular guy.

That's right, John McCain's middle name is Sidney.

His full name, in fact, is John Sidney McCain III.

That's III.

That means both his father and grandfather had the middle name Sidney.

Coincidence? You be the judge.

And what are the origins of this name? This "Sidney"?

FRENCH!!!!

That's right. According to good ole babynames.com "Sidney" is a contraction of Saint Denis.

And according to good ole Wikipedia Saint Denis was a martyr. As in someone willing to give up his life in the expectation of some holy reward.

And exactly how was this Saint Denis martyred?

BEHEADED!!!!

Willing to die for a holy reward?

Familiar with beheading?

Admired by the French?

Remind you of anyone?

Finally, after examining the best images of Saint Denis available on the Internet it must be concluded that this "martyr" never wore a flag pin on his lapel.

In fact, sometimes he didn't even wear a lapel.

But this is America.

We are a fair country.

We are a balanced country.

We don't hold someone's name, middle or otherwise, against him.

I think we must be open enough to give John Sidney McCain III the benefit of the doubt.

There is no verifiable evidence that he supports religious martyrdom or beheading.

Yet.

Of course the Main Stream Media hasn't bothered to ask him about it, so we don't really know what he thinks, do we?

###

Wednesday, June 4

Subway Scene



I'm riding uptown on the #6 train. At 51st street a guy with a shaved head and wearing a tank top, black jeans, and motorcycle boots gets on by grabbing the door at the last minute and forcing it open.

That's a bad sign, I think.

I notice the guy has a hunting knife hanging from his belt. It reminds me of a hunting knife I saw in a sporting goods store once.

They call it The Skinner.

Another bad sign.

Under his arm he's carrying a folded up copy of The Post.

Real bad sign.

At 59th street a couple of kids get on selling candy. Milky Way, Hershey Bars, Skittles. They start moving up the aisle talking loudly about getting uniforms for their basketball team. Riders begin to grumble. They don't appreciate the intrusion.

The kids are heading right for The Skinner.

The Skinner licks his lips and his fingers begin to twitch.

The Skinner steps into the aisle to confront them. They are not intimidated. All of them are soon face-to-face.

The Skinner looks at the kids. The kids look at The Skinner. Nobody moves. Nobody blinks. Nobody breathes.

The train pulls into the 68th street station.

The Skinner's hand moves toward his belt. The kids tense up.

The Skinner speaks.

"Skittles," he says, pulling a crumpled dollar bill from his jeans pocket.

The kids give him his Skittles, the Skinner gives them the dollar, all three exit the car.

Not bad. Not bad at all.

Sunday, June 1

Barber, Please!

I went to my neighborhood barbershop the other day for a periodic trimming.

It is interesting to me to see how fussy younger men seem to be about their hair. They'll go on endlessly about how short in the back, how close around the ears, how long at the sideburn. I've always found it difficult to describe exactly how I want my hair cut. Maybe it's generational, but usually "Like this, only shorter" is about as descriptive as I get.

That's why I like to go to my barber, Gregor. He's been cutting my hair for many years and by now knows what I want without my saying anything. Like a bartender familiar with a regular patron's favorite drink - "The usual?" - he knows just how I like it.

So I was disconcerted when I entered the shop and didn't see Gregor. A stranger had taken his place.

"Is Gregor not in today?" I asked hopefully.

"Gregor not work here anymore," barked the stranger in an accent vaguely reminiscent of an Ian Fleming villian. "You need haircut? I cut."

He rather forcefully guided me to the chair which suddenly had taken on the aura of a waterboarding table. "How you like?" he demanded.

"Uh, like this, only shorter?" I stammered.

"Like this, only shorter..." he muttered in disgust, then started to spit on the floor before remembered where he was.

"So, what happened to Gregor?"

"I buy shop. He not here now. End of story." The more he spoke, the more he sounded like a KGB agent. "My son is barber now. He here in afternoon."

He snipped away for a while humming what may or may not have been the Soviet National Anthem. He seemed to know what he was doing, though, so I sat quietly and hoped he didn't cut off my ear as a souvenir.

After a few minutes of silence he whispered "Your old barber is watching." I could see in the mirror that he was looking out the front window. "Across street."

I couldn't turn my head at that moment because he had a straight razor pressed against my neck, so we both sat there frozen for a few seconds. "I hope there no trouble." he said, and returned to trimming my short hairs which were now standing up very nicely. I had a the sinking feeling that I had wandered into the motion picture "Eastern Promises".

How far, I mused, would a barber go to protect his "turf"?

He finished up quickly and pulled me out of the chair. "You go now," he said while collecting his fee ($2 less that Gregor charged, I noted.)

"Is there a back way?" I asked, looking in the mirror to inspect what turned out to be a highly satisfactory haircut.

"No," he said, shaking his head sadly. "No back way."

"Okay, then, see you later," I said as I made my exit.

"Maybe", I heard him saying to himself. "Maybe."

As I walked into the bright sun of a gorgeous Manhattan afternoon, I squinted across the street to see if I could spot Gregor. When I didn't see him I turned to go home and ran right into --- Gregor!!!!

"Uh, Uh, Hi! How are you?" I tried to sound as upbeat and non-betrayal as I could.

I smiled.

He didn't smile.

He just kept shifting his eyes accusingly from me to the barber shop. We stood there uncomfortably for a moment. Then I broke.

"I didn't want a haircut. He made me. He pushed me into the chair. I fought and fought, but..." I noticed his hand going into his jacket pocket.

This is it, I thought. Brought down in my prime. By a haircut.

"Here," he said, holding out a business card. "I work here, now."

I took a look at the card. It listed another barber shop around the corner. "Sure, great. This is great." The relief in my quavering voice was palpable. "Next time."

"Yes," he said pointedly. "Next time."

He started to go, then looked back and pointed to my head. "Like this, right? Only shorter."

Sunday, May 25

South Pacific - One More Time

Apropos of our recent conversation about Rodgers and Hammerstein here is a wonderful op-ed piece that appeared in today's New York Times.

Monday, May 19

Gifted Thoughts

Today I wandered over to my local bookshop to buy a birthday present for a good friend of mine. He's a big baseball fan which usually makes it easy to find a gift, but this time I decided to get him something in a more literary vein.

“Want a gift receipt?” asked the clerk as I prepared to check out. He was a young man with long hair and an intelligent looking nose.

That's right, I often judge people by the shape of their nose. Call me a nasalist, but there it is.

Since I was distracted by a magazine cover showing Britney Spears getting out of a car, I didn’t quite hear him. “Excuse me?” I asked.

“A gift receipt. You know, for when they want to return it.”

“Don’t you mean if they want to return it,” I said, as I reconsidered the copy of Anna Karenina which lay accusingly on the counter.

“Yeah, right." He also glanced at the book. "If they want to return it."

“Uh, just a sec,” I said, grabbing the Tolstoy tome and quickly retreating to the Sports section.

If only Leo had written more about the Yankees…

I don’t remember getting gift receipts when I was a kid. We weren't exactly poor, but we weren’t rich either so any gift I got was welcome and unquestioned. Even as an adult I don’t recall returning presents, other than an unfortunate pair of green argyle socks I once received from a presumably color blind aunt.

I don’t know whether this reluctance to return a gift is generational, cultural, or geographical. It seems more common in the East, but I've only lived in New York as an adult.

As far as it being a rich man, poor man thing, I don’t want to get into class warfare but it does seem that if you have a lot you might be a bit more picky about the things you are given.

One thing I like about posting to this web log, though, is that in the blogosphere there are no exchanges allowed.

Once you read a blog, it’s yours to keep.

Tuesday, May 13

No Talking!!!!

I am not a shy man nor am I a prude, but among the things that I find extremely annoying are men who insist on talking at the public urinal.

This morning in a restroom located in a bookstore I frequent I was minding my own "business" (if you know what I mean) when a young fellow stepped up beside me, unzipped, and said in a loud and, in my opinion, overly gregarious voice "How's it going?" An innocent enough question when asked at the produce stand, say, or bus stop, but which before the porcelain altar takes on a tone of near blasphemy.

"Not bad," I muttered, thankful that at least he had not inquired about how anything was hanging.

"Man!" he exclaimed, startling me and my bladder, "I never had to take a leak so bad!" The sound of his stream filled the air. "Ahhhhhh!" he moaned.

I focused my concentration on a feeble attempt to dilate my traumatized urethra.

"All done!" he announced as he backed away and started to zip up. He turned, looked at himself in the mirror over the sink, decided everything was perfect, and headed for the door. "Okay, man. You have a nice day," he crowed as he left, neglecting to wash his hands.

I carefully pulled up my own zipper, walked over to the sink, and was washing up when another man exited from one of the stalls and joined me.

"What a loudmouth," he said. I smiled wryly at him in the mirror. "Yep," I said.

We washed our hands in silence for a few seconds.

"Whew!" he exhaled loudly. "Man, did I have to take a dump!!!"

Monday, May 5

Some Not So Enchanted Evening

Well, my recent post about the Rodgers and Hammerstein revue I attended seems to have generated quite a bit of response, especially from one Ms. Tallulah Morehead. Despite the fact that I happen to live in New York City, Birthplace of The American Musical Theater, Ms. Morehead seems to think that I have little or no understanding of The Broadway Show Tune.

Well, let me say this: If I wanted to see a bunch of Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals and the analyze them to death - I WOULDN'T HAVE GONE TO A REVUE!!!!

Fact is, I was just looking to hear some jolly tunes and see some attractive young people sing them. Therefore, my revue review (to coin a phrase) was based on that experience, not on exposure to full fledged productions of 10 or 12 R&H shows.

Now, about the songs. Although I'm sure Ms. Morehead considers her interpretations valid within her rather dark view of humanity, I would offer these alternate views:

"Hello Young Lovers" features an older woman (How Old? My age? Ms. Morehead's age? Is there anyone Ms. Morehead's age?) looking back upon her life reflected in the light of a young couple's blossoming love. She is filled with the joy of the love she has known in her life, and joyful for the journey of love these youngsters are about to embark upon. When she sings "All of my memories are happy tonight..." she doesn't add "...because I'm dried-up, old, and alone." does she, Ms. Morehead?

And "If I Loved You" is not, as you say, a tease, Madame. It is the plaintive cry of someone who is in love but can't admit it. The "If" is an ironic "If". Truth be told, she is so in love that she fears to acknowledge it, fears that it can only lead to the difficulties expressed in the song. Of course the lyrics belie these fear. If words, indeed, "wouldn't come in an easy way" the song would go like this:

"If I loved you, words wouldn't come in an easy way
I'd prolly go 'round in, um, you know, like, circles 'n' stuff."

Finally, "Something Wonderful" has always had a special place in my heart because it's message - Most of the time he's a royal screw-up, but occasionally he does something right - is pretty much the story of my life (as any regular reader of this effort will attest.) I mean, really,

"He will not always say
What you would have him say,
But now and then he'll do
Something
Wonderful"

isn't quite the same as

"He'll beat you every day
And steal your hard earned pay,
'Cause in the end he just
Wants to
Abuse you, gal."


#


However, Ms. Morehead's critique has made me realize one thing. In the face of such whithering criticism, I feel the only decent thing for me to do is renounce my title as Mr. Theater.

From now on I will be known, in many circles, as Mr. Occasionally He Does Something Right.

Tuesday, April 29

Some Enchanted Evening

The other night my wife and I visited the basement of a local church to see the Rodgers & Hammerstein retrospective “A Grand Night for Singing”. Tickets were reasonably priced and it promised to be a night filled with many memorable tunes.

As I browsed the program while waiting for the show to begin I noticed one of the actors had appeared in a production of White Christmas. This is one of my favorite movies, starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen.

“I didn’t know there was a stage version of White Christmas,” I mentioned to my wife.

“Well, I guess there is.”

“I’m pretty familiar with musicals, and I wasn’t aware of it,” I replied, perhaps a bit more snootily that I should have.

“Oh, you’re pretty familiar with musicals, eh?” She sounded skeptical.

“In many circles I’m known as ‘Mr. Theater’,” I said.

She may have muttered something about “Mr. Idiot”, but I couldn’t hear clearly because the show was starting.

It was a fine production. They covered all the Rodgers & Hammerstein classics. It was like a jukebox musical, only the jukebox was from 1953.

The songs were sequenced to represent the path that love takes, from the hopeful optimism of “Hello, Young Lovers” to the self conscious doubt of “If I Loved You” to the settled familiarity of “Something Wonderful”. I was also happy to hear “I Have Dreamed” because this particular number was sung at Mr. and Mrs. Theater’s wedding.

I have a small quibble with the change of “Oh, What A Beautiful Morning” to a minor key, since it made Curly sound a little like a serial killer, but otherwise the performances were outstanding.

Afterwards, while walking home, my wife said “Well, what did you think?”

“I thought it was great, but I wish they had sung that song about walking down the street in your neighborhood.”

“You mean ‘On The Street Where You Live’?”

“Yeah. I really like that song.”

“Yes, it’s a lovely song. Too bad it’s by Lerner and Loewe, not Rodgers and Hammerstein.”

Then she added, unnecessarily, I thought, “Mr. Theater”.

Saturday, April 26

A, B, C, D...

The other day I was signing up for a class at the local CUNY campus. This was a class in financial planning and I was looking forward to learning how rich people manage their money, just in case I get some one day.

As I added my name to the sign up sheet I took satisfaction in the notice at the top saying “Attendees will be admitted in alphabetical order.”

I've always felt pretty good about my position in the alphabetical scheme of things. My last name starts with D which is fine with me. Far enough from the A's to prevent me from having to sit right up front, yet, at 4 of 26, still in the respectable 85th percentile.

I can't imagine the pressure that must be felt by someone named, say, Aaron Aarne. Just think: no matter where you go, no matter what you do, you’re going to sit in the front row and when attendance is taken it's going to be your name they call first.

It makes me shudder.

As we started to line up to enter the lecture hall a young girl with a clipboard asked me to point out my name on the sign up sheet. When I did, she said “I’m sorry, but you’re going to have to go to the back of the line.”

“What? No, look. I’m in the D’s.” I pointed frantically at the clipboard, then my heart sank.

Somehow, on the sign up sheet I had put my last name in the first name column, and my first name in the last name column. Worse yet I had speedily scrawled my first name so instead of "Jim" it looked like I had written "Zim".

"This is a mistake. My name starts with D," I sputtered.

"Yes, it does," she said patiently, "but we go by the last name, Mr. Zim."

"No, no, no. What happened is I put my first name ..."

"Hurry it up, Zee-boy," said a rather surly man standing behind me. "End of the line."

"But I..." I started to protest when a stoop shouldered, slightly built man with oily black hair and a pale complexion took my arm. "Don't bother arguin'", he said wearily. "Just come on back." He slowly shuffled me back to the end of the line.

"Zachary Z. Zygby." he introduced himself. The flickering florescent lighting cast a greenish tinge to his sallow skin.

"I'm Jim...” I began.

"Jim Zim?" he queried. "Interesting name."

"No, no, no. What happened was..." I began, and then gave up. Why bother? I had to face facts. I was in the Z ghetto.

"I guess you've been put at the end of a lot of lines, eh?" I asked.

"Enough." He sighed. "Enough to last a lifetime."

"Well," I said, philosophically, "at lease you haven’t given up. You keep going on even when you know the true sting of alphabetical bias."

“You must think I’m a fool.”

“Not at all”. I put an encouraging hand on his arm. "In fact, I think you deserve an 'A' for effort."

Monday, April 21

The Big 4 Or 6 - 0

There is a new reality show coming up called The Big 4-0 in which participants who are approaching the age of 40 engaging in activities designed to demonstrate that they are not approaching the age of 40.

Since I have recently completed three score years of life, I was wondering why they don't do the same thing for people approaching the age of 60.

What might people do when facing the big 6-0?

Based on my recent history I'd say one important thing to do is to file for unemployment, because even if you're not unemployed at the present, you soon will be.

I still can't believe those bastards fired me!

Another thing to do would be to start shopping for an good analgesic, because there is one thing about Sixty that is undeniable.

It hurts.

Whenever I see one of those movies where an older person and a younger person trade bodies, I always think the first thing the younger person should say is "Ow! My knees. For God's sake, what's wrong with my knees!!!!".

Another plan: Eat Meat. Eat a lot of meat. While there is still time.

Some pundits say that 60 is the new 40.

These pundits have never been 60.

Thursday, April 17

Papal PR

Coinciding with The Pope's visit to the United States the Vatican announced today that the Public Relations firm The Seraphim Group has been engaged to help present His Holiness to the American public.

Advance man Hugo O'Malley has been assigned to helicopter into a venue a few hours before the arrival of the Pontiff and greet the people who have come to see Pope Benedict XVI.

Mr. O'Malley, who lost an eye in an industrial accident, will follow his greetings with a flourish of his own composition which he will play on his solo trumpet.

It is beleived that Mr. O'Malley is the first one eyed, one horned, flying Papal people greeter.

Tuesday, April 15

Live blog of Papal landing at Andrews Airforce Base

4:07 PM EDT - The plane has landed and finished a long taxi to the mobile exit stairway. The Pope still hasn’t gotten off the plane. Seems to be a long wait. I wonder if he’s finishing his cocktail or something?

4:12 PM - Here comes president Bush and Mrs. Bush to greet the Pope, who still hasn’t gotten off the plane. While waiting the President has begun to dance a bit, doing a little soft shoe routine. And…..Wait, here comes the Pope! He’s at the bottom of the stairway. He is shaking the President’s hand. When is he going to kiss the runway? Hey, Benedict! Kiss the tarmac! C’mon, Holiness. Smack the ‘mac. Nope, he’s not gonna do it. And I thought he was one of those traditional Popes.

4:17 PM - Now he’s greeting some Cardinals – I think I see Stan Musial and Ozzie Smith – and he’s walking past the honor guard. He’s waving to the crowd and speaking to the President. The President looks confused. All is normal.

4:18 PM - There’s a pretty good looking blond walking with Mrs. Bush. Wonder who she is? Oh, she’s taking a swig from a bottle of Grey Goose. Must be one of the twins.

4:19 PM - The Pope is walking into the arrival building and standing by the luggage carousel which hasn’t begun moving yet.

4:22 PM - Still waiting for his luggage.

4:36 PM - A man with an official looking hat is approach the Pontiff and whispering in his ear. Benedict looks upset.

4:39 PM - Man in hat is struck by lightning.

4:45 PM - Apparently they’ve lost the Pope’s luggage.

4:47 PM – Pope goes to newsstand and picks up a toothbrush and mini-tube of Crest for $18.75.

4:53 PM – Pope waits at curb for his limousine, which has been forced to move because the white zone is for loading and unloading of passengers only, no waiting.

5:12 PM – After circling the parking lot a few times the limo pulls up and Pope and President get in for ride to Air Force Base Marriott.

5:13 PM - Man in singed hat chases limo pushing luggage cart with several pieces of luggage and topped by a very impressive mitre.

Snore War

My wife insists that I've been snoring lately but of course she's wrong. I don't snore. Once in a while I might breath heavily, but snore? I don't think so.

However her illusion has lead her to prod me at night and mutter "Roll over" or some other directive ("Quiet", "Move", "Lay on your stomach"). I always do my best to humor her.

This morning, however, there was a gross miscarriage of justice. Our clock radio went off at 7:00 as usual and the NPR station to which we like to wake was running a story about, I think, hog farms in China. It is common in these radio news features for the reporter to include some ambient sound in the story to give it a sense of place. In this case the ambient sound was that of hundreds of hogs grunting and grumbling as they fed on their daily portion of slop.

"Roll over", I heard the love of my life growl sleepily.

"Hey", I protested. "That wasn't me."

"Yeah, right", she replied as she settled in for a few more winks.

"No, really..." but by now I could tell she was back to sleep because of her slow, steady breathing.

Actually, I think her breathing is getting to be just a little bit heavy.

Friday, April 11

50 Plus

I got a picture postcard announcing the "11th Annual 50 Plus Expo - Forever Young".

As far as I'm concerned, the fact that it was a picture postcard pretty much shouts "50 PLUS!!!!".

Since I recently entered my 5th decade - okay, who snickered at "recently"? - I seem to have drawn the attention of a vast number of people who are interested in my being Forever Young. It's one of those ironies of life that the older you are the younger you want to be.

Anyway, as I looked over this missive I notice a few things that I found somewhat disturbing.

First of all there seems to be an inordinate amount of fiber involved in being Forever Young. As far as I'm concerned "The Magical Prune" does not deserve it's own workshop. It might be more appropriate as a bedtime story for children with accelerated aging disease.

Also there seem to be quite a few spokespeople involved in this Expo, including "Former Miami Dolphins Hall Of Fame Coach" Don Shula and "NFL Hall Of Fame Quarterback" Bart Starr, who confesses to being "a paid endorser". I never really understood the allure of spokespeople - Hall Of Fame or otherwise - but at least I can respect the ethics of someone who confessed to being a paid endorser. No subterfuge there. "You pay me, I endorse you. Simple as that. HIKE!"

I might have been interested in the "50+ Singles" seminar. Although I'm not single, I've always wondered how those dating websites work. Having been married long before the Internet appeared, my only exposure to the online singles scene has been TV commercials for eHarmony.com or Match.com or that one Eliot Spitzer belongs to.
The 50+ Singles meeting was to be run by TERRI SLOANE - M.S. - Forever Young Matchmaker /Dating Coach. Well, sorry Ms. Sloane, but if I planned to use a Dating Coach, I'd go with Don Shula, the Hall Of Famer.

Finally this announcement shocked me: "Spotlight on shingles: Know what you can do."

Well, I can tell you what you can do about shingles.

Don't put a spotlight on it.

Monday, April 7

Grief, Quantified

Several people have asked me "So where's the blog been, Jim?"

The fact is I lost my job and have been pretty busy looking for a new one.

It's tough to lose a job.

To admit you've been let go.

Terminated.

Fired.

Asked to leave.

Downsized.

You name it.

It occurs to me that losing a job is like losing a friend. A friend that you maybe didn't like too much, maybe was a little boring. But someone you had gotten used to.

When you lose a friend you grieve, and the same thing happens when you lose a job.

Elizabeth K├╝bler-Ross in her 1969 book "On Death and Dying" (thank you, Wikipedia) says there are 5 stages of grief.

1. Denial (I can't believe they fired me.)

2. Anger (I can't believe those FUCKING BASTARDS fired me!!!)

3. Bargaining (Hey, maybe if I take a pay cut...)

4. Depression (You know, I really kinda miss that job...)

5. Acceptance (I can't believe those GODDAMN FUCKING BASTARDS fired me!!!!!)

Okay, so I haven't quite gotten to the Acceptance part yet.