Saturday, December 31, 2011

Predictions for 2012

Here are my predictions for 2012.
Dow $13000
S and P $1400
NASDAQ $3000
Unemployment 7.5%
President Obama will be embarrassed by the OWS demonstrations at the convention, but he will be  re-elected.
Congress The House will remain in Republican hands, the Senate in Democratic hands.
China There will be a Chinese spring with widespread protests and rioting.
Middle East will stabilize but no major changes except the Muslim Brotherhood will take power in Egypt.
Europe will offer travel bargains for Americans.

My predictions are probably overly optimistic. Happy New Year!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Homemade Christmas CD's

One of the ways people economise this time of year is to make homemade Christmas "mix" CD's. They take their favorite Christmas songs and make a CD using Windows Media Player, Roxio, or one of many other software packages. They are easy to do, and with a cute cover, can make a nice gift for friends and relatives. My friend Clarence and myself have been making them for years. We, however, go back to the days when the medium was the cassette tape and the source material was records (those black things with holes in them) and tape recordings of TV or radio shows.

Back in the seventies we started this hobby, and now  annoy friends with these things  almost every year. Over time we migrated to CD's and now use computers instead of  tape recorders. Clarence's stuff is more sophisticated than mine in terms of music used. He likes to blend sound effects and one or two music tracks together to create montages of sound. Mine are simpler, but have the advantage that I tell heart warming little stories on mine, between the songs.  This year I got more sophisticated, adding echo to my essays, mixing in background music and tweaking them a bit with Roxio Creator 10. I noticed it sounded like I was in a windstorm at first, then I found that if I taped a Kleenex over the microphone I could eliminate that nasty wind noise. I redid a couple but left the rest. It's hard for amateurs to keep the lilt in one's voice the second or third reading.

People who have children with musical inclinations may have gotten singing versions of these things. Hearing your son play the electric guitar while yodeling is a special treat for parents.

The recipients of these treasures is not always appreciative, however. Many a homemade CD in a car's player gets half played then removed and thrown into the gutter while the car is moving.   Art is not always appreciated by provincial audiences.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Miracle on 34th Street

Just saw Miracle on 34th Street. Great movie. Interesting to see that it was a real Thanksgiving Day Parade that was filmed at the beginning. I was just thinking that this film and its real life equivalent could never take place today. I checked them off as I was watching.
Doris Walker had never met Fred Gailey at the beginning of the film. Yet he, an unattached male,  was allowed to entertain her young daughter in his apartment. They finally met but then after one meeting he was permitted to take young Susan all over New York. Kris Kringle, who was mentally unstable (he did hit the psychologist with his cane) is allowed to be alone with Susan with no other adults around. 

To protect Susan from two potential predators, these things could never happen today. Plus smoking would never have been permitted in a court room. And what was Susan's wish? To move to the suburbs. Altough a common desire, it could be perceived as being an anti New York sentiment. Plus an environmentally unsound one, since presumably the couple would still be working in the city, probably getting there with Fred Gailey's car. 

And today, a house would never be left open. There would be real estate agent's lock box barring  the entrance.  My how times have changed. 

Happy Kringle, 
Mr. Mustache. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The European Crisis

The European crisis reminds us of another instance of Aesop's tale of the ant and the grasshopper. The ants work hard and save. They generally have only one wife or two in their lives and their children go to college. But they are dull. The want to have fun in life so they hang out with grasshoppers. The grasshoppers are fun. They drink til 2am and then call in sick the next day. They drive nice cars and go from wife to wife. The ants create an association with the grasshoppers. They will be one economic unit. When ants have a labor shortage, grasshoppers will come to their countries to work. Ants can buy the grasshoppers' wine and olives and listen to their musicians. The arrangement works out fine. 

Then one day the grasshoppers have a debt crisis. They bought things on credit and now have no way of paying off their loans. "Oh please, you ants have so much money! Help out your dear friends." The ants say "why don't you just lower the price of your currency like you did in the past?"  The grasshoppers can't because now they share currency called euros. And that is the dilemma they are in. 

Editor's note: A recent article in Slate disputes the theory that Germans work harder than Greeks. 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

I am a luddite

I am a Luddite. I hate to admit it but today I went to a meeting and found out I am no longer the hip with-it librarian I thought I was. Today I found out that the modern day librarians communicate with patrons by sending text and images to I-Phones, androids, and I-Pads. I don't even own or use one of these things. I don't even own an HD TV. Yes I play Cd's but I have found out that those will soon be relegated to the scrap heap. I even play 45 rpm records. It happens to all of it as we get older I guess. And to think I used to make fun of those people who missed the card catalog.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Looks like Christmas has begun

Yesterday I was sitting in an airport bar, Papadeux at Houston International, guzzling a beer and eating Louisiana fish chowder. The music was playing, and what should come on but All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth. Yes I said, it must be the start of the Christmas season.

Editor's note: Click on the link. It's great. With apologies to Spike Jones, who recorded the classic rendition of the Christmas classic.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Fathers, sons and Thanksgiving

Fathers and sons both look forward to the reunions the turkey and its stuffing brings. Typical sons, away from home, look forward to a weekend where they will be able to relax, get a few good free meals, drink unashamedly from the liquor cabinet, get their laundry done, and catch up with old high school buddies. Fathers look forward to the weekend too. A productive weekend. Now they will have some help around the house. The storm windows need to be put up, the lawnmower drained, the tires changed on the Oldsmobile. 

The son loves a homemade breakfast of pancakes and bacon. However, how much sweeter it would be at 10 AM instead of 830 with a morning full of chores awaiting him. And a Sunday with scratchy clothes and church loom forward at the conclusion of the weekend. Soon the holiday is over and everybody can get on with their lives. Except there is that even bigger family time coming up after the official start of winter. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The decline of pickpockets

I just read that the American pickpocket is become a rarity. Apparently the skills are deteriorating and most pickpockets today are older. The apprenticeship into pickpocketing is evaporating. It is now safer to carry a wallet in a large American city than at any point in the 20th century. I used to carry money in my shoe when I went to New York so I would have money to get home in case I was pickpocketed. Times Square was the world headquarters of the art. New Years eve was the international festival of pickpocketing.

However, the art still lives own in Europe. I once met a pickpocket there. It is comforting to know that certain crafts live on somewhere in the world if not here.

Newt Gingrich

The Republicans are being very fickle this year. So far they have nominated Michele Bachman, Herman Cain, Richard Perry, and now they are on the brink of putting Newt Gingrich in the White House. Newt Gingrich, an oldy but goody. I remember when he was, for a spell, the most powerful man in Washington. He was the man who forced our then president to have a tet a tet with Monica Lewinsky to relieve stress.

The best thing about Newt Gingrich is his slogans. The most famous is the "Contract with America". There are many more: American Solutions for Winning the Future, Renewing American Civilisation, Rediscovering God in America, Strong America Now, America only works when Americans are working. He loves the word America. I wonder if he means to include Canada in his slogans.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Siberian ice baptism

This is a small video of an immersion baptism in an icy lake. Personally I'd have waited til spring.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

All Soul's Day

This day, recently passed, occurs on November 2. Unlike November 1, All Saints Day, it is not a holy day of obligation in the Catholic church. It is, however, for me, one of the great holidays because it honors those of us who have died and are in Purgatory. It is a day to pray for  the departed average Joe's. Most people, I suspect, end up here after death. The concept of Purgatory is that this is the place for people who have done a little bad but not a lot of bad. The minor evils one commits, known as venial sins, accumulate and one goes to Purgatory for a spell. How long has never been spelled out for me. It is something like waiting at the doctor's office, not a pleasant place to be, but at least you don't have hot spears thrust through your pancreas like in the other domicile.

That dirty joke you told, that will get you into Purgatory. That time you aggravated your wife for the fun of it. That will also get you into Purgatory. That little kiss you got from that teenage waitress. Well you get the idea. Purgatory must be a crowded place. Like a doctor's office in a practice that accepts Medicaid.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

How to know when you are in a bohemian neighborhood

When you see a sign like this on a door, it usually is a sign that you are in a Bohemian neighborhood. If you are inside a shop and you see a sign that says, "unattended children will be sold" it means you are in a Bohemian neighborhood. You can be in New Hope, Province town, the East Village, South Street Philadelphia, Venice California or Boulder Colorado and you will know that you can get weird birthday cards, paraphernalia, and vinyl albums in the area if you look hard enough. 

Monday, October 24, 2011


Recently I was talking to a lady who was complaining about spending sixteen dollars at a public laundromat. I can't figure it out. Before I was enconsed with my own washer dryer, I did use public or apartment building machines, but never spent more than four dollars on the project.

Ideally, one should have a wife or a mother to clean one's garments. During my college days I often avoided the college machines by trundling home my dirty clothes for dear Mama. Through the New Brunswick bus terminal, through the Port Authority, then onto Hackensack with a suitcase full of dirty clothes. Of course Mama was so happy to see me that she glady did my clothes and on Sunday night I was back in the dorm room with fresh laundry and a slice of butter cake.

When I ran away from home at twenty five I did have to learn to do my own laundry. I learned that I could save money on clothes dryers by draping clothes around the apartment. Trousers and shirts I hung up damp. I never to this day separate laundry. Everything goes in together except, perhaps, sweaters. I figure the undies can be grey as they won't  see them at work anyway. If the undies look really bad I soak them in the sink with bleach. I also put my shirts and trousers in the dryer to get rid of the wrinkles. Then I hang them up in the closet, still damp. No point in wasting electricity. The next day I am at work, quite dapper. At least I think so.

Editor's note: "she glady did my clothes" is a split infinitive.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Happy days

Yes, good news today, Quadaffi is frozen in a shopping mall, we are leaving Iraq, and the stock market is up. If they don't cancel Pan Am, I'll be a happy man. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

The human microphone

One of the things that 2011 will be remembered for is that it was the year the human microphone was invented. Since amplified sound is not permitted in Zucotti park, the speaker talks briefly then his words are repeated by the crowd. It reminds me a little of Catholic Mass when the priest says "et cum spirito too"  and the congregation repeats it.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Farmer's markets

The end of farmer's markets for this year is at hand. The end of browsing through the stands. Last week I bought white sweet potatoes or banana squash. The apples are usually good too. 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Dial a Demonstration

During my idealistic youth I remember calling "Dial a Demonstration", a telephone service where you could hear a recorded message describing the demonstrations going on in New York that day. If you wanted to protest the war, fight for women's rights or even march for the International Lady's Garment Workers Union, you could for the cost of  bus and subway fare.

Twenty years later I was sitting in a bar and a young man walked in with hair past his shoulders. The woman next to me smiled and said, "he could use a haircut". I laughed with the other middle aged people at the bar.

Now I was now part of the establishment. Instead of fighting "the man", I now was "the man". I've noticed the change. Now when I hear a car on the street that is playing loud music I get aggravated while as a youth I would have been thrilled to hear  loud rock music booming from a car at a red light.  The last time I demonstrated was for my pensions, a pale echo of the idealism of the young, hip, WBAI listener of a happier time.

Which brings us to the current Wall Street protests. Oh what is it that they want to do? Put another thorn in Obama's side? Oh what do they hope to accomplish? Will these demonstrations bring them jobs? Will they make us all happier and make us willing  to give up buying cheap shirts made in China? The aging baby boomer is full of dilemma. I wonder for a moment, what it is like at the demonstration. I suppose they communicate using social media instead of telephone loops.  I wonder if there are LJG's like the old days.

Saturday, September 24, 2011


The road block to most people in their education, the thing that separates the sheep from the goats, is algebra. This was announced to my seventh grade glass by my first male math teacher, Mr. Goldberg. He had a beard and being in his class definitely made you feel grown up, if terrified. I struggled through the class, got a D at one point, but went on to redeem myself in the end with a  B. After seventh grade algebra I went on to eighth grade algebra, a breeze. I followed that with geometry and trig. When I graduated from school and was selling hot dogs at Two Guys, I had the satisfaction of knowing I had passed algebra.

To the unsuspecting seventh grader who is given the class schedule in September lies that nasty word, "algebra".  It is the one hurdle that will stand between happiness and misery, success and failure in school. Algebra. It re-emerges in community college, like a bad penny. There it is, the requirement to taking statistics. It isn't just the science majors. You must complete algebra first to be a social worker.

Why is there a shortage of nurses in the United States? Nurses have to show that they've passed algebra. Why does America have a shortage of high tech manufacturing workers? Algebra. Why does your doctor have a weird accent? Americans are limited with their algebra so we have to import doctors from overseas.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Jury duty

You come home from work and notice you have an envelope from the county. It's a jury notice. Yikes. For some people it's a major catastrophe, for some a minor inconvenience, for some an invitation to goof off from work for a while. Most of us have been called, but few get the chance to serve.

After a long wait in the jury assembly  room, I got a chance to be chosen to go to a court room for jury selection. I couldn't believe the questions they asked. What do you do for a living. How about the other people in your house. What TV shows do you watch. Where do you get your news. What magazines do you read. If you could talk to any one, living or dead, who would it be. What bumper stickers are on your car. It was fun watching everyone try to weasel out of serving on a panel. The judge left most of them off.

Being selected, I got to actually serve on jury duty. It wasn't too bad. We even got to watch a surveillance video. Things have changed since the days when jurors were all male and smoke filled the room. Oh Henry Fonda, where are you when we need you?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Hotel radios

Just finished seeing "Don't bother to knock" with Marilyn Monroe. In old Hollywood movies, it seems de riguer, that the hotel room in a swanky hotel always has a radio where you can flip a switch and hear the goings on in the nightclub downstairs. Of course there usually is a band playing with a sultry singer. I wonder how common it really was to be able to eaves drop on the bar downstairs in hotels in the good olde days.

 I have never been to a hotel that had this feature. It seems like such a nice touch.  "There's nothing on tv, let's see if there's any action in the bar downstairs". And you could find out by turning on the radio.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Giant crocodile captured

From story on Yahoo News:

About 100 people had to pull the crocodile, which weighs about 2,370 pounds (1,075 kilograms), from the creek to a clearing where a crane lifted it into a truck, he said.

The crocodile was placed in a fenced cage in an area where the town plans to build an ecotourism park for species found in a vast marshland in Agusan, an impoverished region about 515 miles (830 kilometers) southeast of Manila, Elorde said.

"It will be the biggest star of the park," Elorde said, adding that villagers were happy that they would be able to turn the dangerous crocodile "from a threat into an asset."

Despite the catch, villagers remain wary because several crocodiles still roam the outskirts of the farming town of about 37,000 people.

They have been told to avoid venturing into marshy areas alone at night, Elorde said.

Editor's note: I have always believed it to be a good policy not to venture into marshy areas alone at night.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Baby bump

Okay, it was cute in the beginning but I'm getting tired of the term baby bump. I think we should go back to the term "there's a cake in the oven."

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Retirement for baby boomers

One of the things most of us over fifty think about, even more than sex, is retirement. Retirement is the future for most of us (the alternative is an early death) and it will be different for us than it was for the greatest generation. No, sadly, just like most baby boomers had a harder time of it (once you discount fighting in World War 2 and the depression) than our parents, retirement will be different for us than for Mama and Papa. Once back in civvies, the greatest generation bought homes in the suburbs and big sedans while gas and home prices were still cheap. They had cute if challenging children. When they retired, comfortably in their early sixties, they could travel, move to Florida, go to nice restaurants, stay in nice hotels, and visit the family cross - country.

For the the baby boomers, retirement will be a different story. Homes will not have gone up in value as was true in a pleasanter time. Energy costs will be more. There will be more demand for government services for the new seniors. And most baby boomers will have a rather small retirement allocation. This will cause some problems, especially for the grasshoppers amongst us, but may present some advantages to the ants.

If you need a job, things will be tough. Just like baby boomers had to compete with all the other baby boomers for jobs when they graduated college, so competition will be fierce for part time retirement jobs. Our children will not be in a position to help us. This is America, not Asia. Health costs will go up. At age 65, most of us will discover that we are diabetics.

The good news is that for the ants who may have a few dollars, life won't be so bad. At a 20% unemployment rate, there will be lots of maids and helpers as they get older. Restaurants and hotels will be cheap, since most people will be too poor to afford them.

One thing you can be assured off, all the baby boomers will hang out with Face book friends and talk about the good olde days. Or have omelets on senior days at the diner.

Top: Retirement housing for baby boomers

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The big earthquake of 2011

In 1983 I was on vacation in Aguascalientes, Mexico. I was sitting in my hotel room listening to the radio (there was no tv or aerocondicionado). Suddenly I heard this rumbling sound and the ceiling fan started swinging and the bed started shaking. Then everything stopped. It was my first earthquake.

For years I've told my earthquake story and impressed people since most people who live east of the Mississippi have never experienced such a thing.

On earthquake day of 2011 it was my lunch hour and I was walking, possibly crossing the "Trenton makes bridge", and felt nothing. Later I heard everyone tell their earthquake stories. Sounds like it was exciting. But I missed the whole thing. And no-one will be interested in my Mexican earthquake story anymore. Such is life.

Editor's note: The old college try blog implied that Qaddafi would remain entrenched in Libya. Well I was wrong. Score one for perseverance.

Friday, August 12, 2011

We can always be guests on talk shows

In high school, on the last day of English class, the teacher decided to kill time by asking the class what the future would be like. I raised my hand and said that all jobs would be eliminated and all workers would be replaced by machines. I (quite the high school wit) added that the only job that would still exist would be that of being a contestant on a game show.

In the future as the class saw it, life would not be so bad, though. There would still be a few things for people to do. Work hours could be drastically reduced, though, and we would all make plenty of money, thanks to the advances of automation and government spending.

So far only the elimination of jobs has happened. The rest has turned out to be as likely as the cigarette trees sung about in the big rock candy mountain.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Philadelphia Folk Festival

Going to musical festivals and sleeping in a tent was one of the rites of passage (along with the trip to California and the youth hostels) of being young in the 70's. Heeding this life requirement I went to the Philadelphia Folk Festival in the summer of 1971. Muddy from the recent rain, there were a number of great performances by Janis Ian, Doug Kershaw, and Doc Watson. Oscar Brand sang bawdy songs, and lots of other amateur and professional musicians played. The Hare Krishna people chanted and sold spiritual food. Our group made hot dogs, then used the water to make corn. What a swell weekend.

Today I went to a sneak preview of the festival/cum street fair in Philadelphia. No spiritual food but some nice tamales with corn husks and Vietnamese food, etc. was eaten by yours truly. If it wasn't so hot it would have been a fine day. The full 50th anniversary of the Philadelphia Folk Festival is coming up too. Today, unfortunately, nobody thinks they can save the world with a guitar.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Aunt Agnes on Murdoch

Aunt Agnes called me this morning. She was very upset. "Everybody knows the only place where you hear the real story on this country is on Fox. Why all this foldorol about that British business has nothing to do with what's going on over here. Just that liberal media gloating over the troubles of an honest man and and honest folks at Fox."

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Two new blogs

Two new blogs, one on Balcony Tomatoes and one on the librarian blog. Idle hands are the devil's workshop

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Testing the tubes

Recently read an article that made me nostalgic for the good olde days. Remember when a radio stopped working and you would pull the back off and take the tubes out? Then you would bring the tubes to an electronics store or even Modell's and test the tubes in a device like that seen in the picture. More often than not, you'd find out you had a bad tube. You'd buy a replacement and you'd be on your way. You had to be careful putting the tubes back in the right slots, though, or the radio might explode.

Sunday, July 10, 2011


I've had Facebook for over a year now. I got an invitation from someone who wanted me to look at a movie she put up. The movie was good and it introduced me to Facebook. The best part of Facebook is in discovering people you used to know but lost track of. It's fascinating to see what people you knew from elementary school or the street where you grow up look like and what they ended up doing. The weird thing about Facebook is that once you friend someone, you get to follow them and their families as they go on vacation or to the zoo and soon the novelty wears off.

Facebook groups can be fun too, in a way. I am in the group for my high school class. They apparently have a core group that has mini reunions in a bar. Thanks to Facebook I now know about these events. The big local band in high school, Filet of Soul, is performing again. It's just like being in high school again. Isn't it wonderful

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Corn fields in the garden state

This may be anecdotal, but this weekend, driving around Mercer County, I noticed a lot of corn fields in the suburbs. Vacant tracts, being held in waiting for the next housing development or mall are being utilized as corn fields. Apparently corn harvests are supposed to be high this year. Sort of fun, passing corn fields on the way to the mall.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Jersey shore

There are two types of people in New Jersey. Those who flock to the Jersey shore on weekends and those who don't. The ones that do get to enjoy the traffic jams, overpriced food, entrance fees, crowded beaches and iffy weather. A weather forecast for hot and humid can turn into cold and clammy once one gets east of the Parkway.

When I was a kid my father explained that where you went on the shore depended upon your nationality. Italians went to Belmar, Jews went to Bradly Beach, Irish went to Avon, Methodists went to Ocean Grove. Today it's more catch as catch can, hordes of drivers looking for parking spaces less than a mile from the beach. Since my father couldn't swim and the rest of the family got sunburned within a few minutes of arrival, our trips to the shore were limited to semi-annual visits. My most memorable trip to the shore is the time we arrived at the beach, my brother stepped on a bee, and the family immediately went home.

As I got older my father discovered a bed and breakfast (they didn't call them that then) that was at the Irish contingent of the shore. I remember watching television with nuns that year.

If you don't go to the shore you can delight in the fact that the roads are empty and you can go anywhere and nothing is crowded. One of the secrets of living in New Jersey is the pleasure of not going to the shore.

Whenever you ask someone what they enjoy doing most they always say "walking on the beach". What is it with walking on the beach?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Pepper plants

Took a picture of my plants again this year and they are featured in the other blog. It's pretty bad when you realize you'll never look as good as Anthony Weiner.

Saturday, June 4, 2011


Viewers of television in New Jersey have lately been subjected to this ad about sharing the road with motorcycles. I guess it is trying to show that your grandmother, doctor and accountant can ride motorcycles. True, due to the overall greying of America and the higher costs of owning a motorcycle, the young, tattooed toughs that we think of as motorcycle riders may be an out of date image.

Still, I have to say my mother never rode a motorcycle and I can't think of anyone I know who has a mother that rides one. Hence, there is a certain falseness to the thought that most people's grandmothers ride motorcycles. Except in television situation comedies.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Television sets

I guess I come from the old school. You buy a toaster, you keep it til it breaks. You buy a stereo, you keep it and all the components until they break. I am on my fourth TV and I've been very happy with it. Planned to keep it til it broke.

Lately, however, I've noticed something is wrong. When I watch a ball game I can see the home team's score but not the visiting team's. I see a show with three people talking and the person in the middle looks okay but I can only see the right side of the face of the person sitting on the left and the left side of the face of the person sitting on the right. Either that or the program is letter boxed with a small viewing area with black on the upper and lower parts of the screen.

Yes, I have an analog TV and I feel society is pushing me to go with one of those LED deals. At least my toaster hasn't gone digital yet. Gosh darn it. One day I may even have to upgrade from Windows 95.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The silly season

First we had the story of the head of the International Monetary Farm chasing a maid up a hotel corridor at noon on a weekeday, like in a French movie. Then the news that Arnold Schwarzenegger fathered a child of his maid. Now the latest news that dear Queen Elizabeth is visiting a stud farm in Ireland. Sex is everywhere.

Last week I was taught about pantyliners. Although I think of myself as a man of the world, it took the Soap Net's Saturday showing of the Gilmore Girls to teach me that such a product existed. I love watching the commercials of programs that are supposed to be seen exclusively by women. It is like taking a voyeuristic look at something that older male bachelors are not supposed to know about. Now whenever I see a woman I wonder. "Is she wearing a pantyliner?" As Jean Shepherd used to say, it must be the silly season.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Yugoslavia sculpture

I discovered this blog with pictures of weird Tito era sculpture. Hot peppers go onto porch this week.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Excess baggage

I have discovered a new find. A terribly British travel show, available as pod casts (including Itunes). They have different guests each week, and it reminds me of an older time when loyal subjects visited the colonies. The show has a Graham Greene feel but it entertaining. Sometimes the accents can be a bit heavy. On BBC 4.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Saturday Night Live

Just finished watching Saturday Night Live. All I ask for is one joke.

Monday, May 2, 2011


Nowadays, the workplace is being inundated with webinars. Every time you want to talk to someone they're glued to a computer listening to some smug speaker and webinarring. In many cases they have replaced out of office meetings.

I do have to admit that I miss those. Leaving all your patrons and their problems to your co-workers while you are having an outing. A drive and a meeting and a nice lunch. A nice way to catch up on out of town gossip. Sure beats a webinar.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Take your boyfriend to work day

Last week I endured "take your sons and daughters to work day". It was cute. The kids looked bored. Nowadays instead of just hanging out with Mom and getting taken to lunch, there are assemblies and programs. Enough to make the kids wish they were in school. Maybe that is the idea.

For next year, I propose replacing that with "take your boyfriend to work day".

In this program, women's boyfriends would get to go to work with their lady friends. It would be a good opportunity for boyfriends to find out what the work environment is like, how to dress, how to take a coffee break. So many men are falling behind their lady friends in their career paths that it might be a good instructional day for young men. It also might be a good experience for the boyfriends to get to know what shaving and taking a bath at 8am is like.

When women talk about their boyfriends at work, sometimes it might be nice to associate a face with a story. Now the co-workers would get to see what said boyfriends are like. Perhaps determine if they are appropriate partners for their girlfriends.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

William and Kate

Like most Americans, I'm fascinated by the British Royal Family. Meeting a friend in Britain I asked her about the Royal Family and she said, "Oh that's something we do to attract American tourists. Here we don't really follow the queen and all that rot". Americans every year put millions into the coffers of our British friends visiting sights involving the House of Windsor or Stuart.
And it's true, on trips to England I've seen Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London, where Mary Queen of Scott got hanged. The tour of the Tower of London was a high point of my trip that year, where a witty Beefeater led a tour and we got to see where Mary Queen of Scotts got her all.
In America, when you enter a city you might see a sign with the population of the place and, out west, the elevation of the town. In Britain you are likely to see a sign that says, "Here Lord Souchmouch was hanged in 1566". Britain is full of morbid history. Royals got that way with shootings and hangings, not by photo shoots in People Magazine.
And so we are being inundated this week with the upcoming wedding. It's a shame William and Kate are so dull. Harry would have made a more exciting groom. Only the most dedicated Royal watchers will not get bored this week with the fuldorol surrounding the Royal wedding. For a week we will take our eyes off of the economy and Qaddafi and be glued to the tube while buying overpriced tea cups to celebrate the event. I have an egg cup from George's coronation of 1937. I'm waiting for it go go up in value.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Hero sandwiches

I don't know if it's still true but in the 70's there was a rule that upon graduating from college you had to drive to California to find your identity. I obeyed the law and drove the Ford Falcon to California with "Crazy Bob". The first place we stopped was Charleston, West Virginia. My friend was convinced that the dance came from there. Many years later I realized the famous Charleston was in South Carolina.

I remember being impressed by the fact that there was a commercial AM station nearby that played bluegrass music. We went to a sub stand.

Today, returning to Charleston WV after all these years I went to lunch and ended up going to a sub shop and having a hero sandwich. They still put mayo on ham sandwiches.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The page 69 test

The page 69 test

Recently I read about the page 69 test. The theory is that if you open a book and like page 69, you'll probably like the book. It's sort of like the flip side theory. I developed this theory as a teenager. In this theory, I posited that if you like the flip side of a hit single, you'll probably like the album. It shows the group has depth. It's like meeting someone at work. At work you see the person's page 69 not just the hit single.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Give it the old college try

Many of us try and fail at endeavors. Failed musicians, politicians, Lothario's give up and take on more prosaic endeavors. With Libya, America will probably give up in a few weeks but we will always be able to say, "We gave it the old college try".

Editor's note:

Recently finished reading A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson. In this entertaining book on walking the Appalachian trial, the author and his buddy twice give up on hiking the AT. But at least they gave it the old college try.

Monday, March 21, 2011

the future

Many years ago as a child I rode through Futurama at the 1964 New York World's Fair and saw what I imagined to be the future. It was many images of what I would come to think of as the future.

Last week, with planes bombing Libya, Saudi Arabia invading Bahrain, women leading a revolution of sorts in Egypt, a partial meltdown of a nuclear plant in Japan it occurred to me. BINGO. We have entered the future. The dark, chaotic, unpredictable world of the future. From now on we will be living in the future. The future has begun.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A sister with a summer place

In life, we often wish for things that we don't have. A man comes home from a busy day at work and sees a sink full of dishes and nothing of interest in the refrigerator. The bathroom needs scrubbing and he's in no mood to cook or clean. He imagines a pretty wife, adding spices to the stew, the sink clean and the bathroom looking fresh and inviting. His clothes are all freshly ironed and hanging in the closet. "Oh to have a wife!" he thinks.

The working woman goes through her condo. "I hate those bathroom closets! I hate that shower-head." She imagines in her mind a husband. A cute guy, dusty with shaving from the power saw, getting ready to stain the cabinets he is building.

"Oh to have a husband!" she thinks.

I have simpler thoughts. I dream of having a summer place. No, too much work and responsibility. What I want is to have a sister who has a summer place. A pleasant place, perhaps near the shore or the mountains. I would have a standing invitation. A place to go on Memorial Day, Easter, Labor Day, the Fourth of July. And of course there would be a boat.

"Where are you going for the weekend"? the nosy secretary asks.

"I'm going to my sister's summer place."

"Lucky you."
A change of scenery. Lots of parties with summer people. My own room reserved just for me.
Married people and people with sisters with summer places are going to tell me I am dreaming. Most husbands don't build cabinets for their wives. Most wives don't sweat over a hot stove. Most sisters only invite their brothers to their cottages once a year, to help entertain the other relatives.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Joe McDoakes

I've been trying to think of anything good that came of my recent hospital stay. After some commiseration I would say that I learned to appreciate cable TV, especially TCM. And thanks to TCM I have discovered Joe McDoakes. How wonderful it must have been in the 40's and 50's to encounter this series. Settled in your seats ready for the feature, a special treat before Cary or William came on the screen. Joe McDoakes. Each featured a booming announcer describing a modern day problem and the situation being acted out by Joe McDoakes, who later became the voice for George Jetson. And to think they made 63 of them. Classics.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Hospital gowns

Some of you may have heard from the grapevine that I was in the hospital for a spell. The

hardest thing I had to learn was how to tie a hospital gown. That took me half an hour the first time, only to be told by the nurse I had put it on backwards. I also learned how to use a portable urinal, sleep through noise, and choose from a menu. Navigating the menu is difficult at first, as the knowledge of pain avoidance in bad food is more relevant than choosing appetizing selections.

Sickness has been so overdone in blogs and magazine articles that this blogger will probably avoid the topic in the future. Just like every baby boomer has their sixties coming of age stories, now they are all coming up with their heart-by-pass and cancer stories.

The nursing home had a plethora of events. Bingo, movie night, wheelchair relay night, but one thing that caught my eye was happy hour. Here people drink non alcoholic beer and juice shooters. I was thinking this country needs a place where people would be taught how to drink, smoke, have affairs, play cards, and taught the pleasures of recreational drugs. But, alas, we already have such places. They're called colleges.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Jean Luc Goddard

If there was one word that defined hipness in high school and freshman year in college it was Jean Luc Goddard. I first encountered the name being mentioned on WBAI. Apparently, the callers were objecting to the change of the name of the film "One Plus One.
It was being changed to the name "Sympathy for the Devil."
"It is nothing but a sellout from art to commercialism," the caller ranted.
Being a big Stones fan, naturally this caught my eye. Apparently, there was a Rolling Stones movie out directed by a French arteur.

Two weeks later I was on the bus with some friends and we were headed for the movie, "One Plus One", then playing in New York. To be fair, the Stones footage is interesting. The Stones didn't look like they were having too much fun though, and the stuff outside or in the junk yard was preposterous, I thought.

Later at Rutgers, I took the class, "The French Film" (my mother used to get laughs at parties reciting the classes I was taking) and it showed "Breathless". In 1972, Jean Luc Goddard, spoke at school and I got to see him. Jane Fonda had appeared around that time too. Apparently they were both in New Brunswick, tied to the movie "Letter to Jane". Goddard's film criticized Jane Fonda and perhaps she was on the heels of Goddard to stand up for her dignity, according to one story.

"Breathless" I chiefly remember for Jean Seberg selling Herald Tribunes. Saw it again on TCM and I actually enjoyed it and understood it for the first time. I guess there are advantages in age.

I never saw "Weekend" until recently although I told a white lie about it many years ago. The teacher had said in class that we could see any film in the library collection if we needed to for a paper. The next day, however, I was turned down flat by the staff of the library. There I was informed that they never set up a projector for one student. Luckily the library had a book of the screenplay with pictures. I implied in the paper that I had seen the movie when actually I was stretching the truth.

It's hard to say that Jean Luc Goddard was a great filmaker, but he was definitely of his time. In the year 2020 when the class at high school is assigned "movies of the sixties", his films will be introduced as relics of the madness of that decade.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A night in Tunisia

A blog that is written in Tunisia and is following the excitement in that country.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Where's your tie

I wrote a new post on the Sixties blog. I think it's great our Congressman are going to do Outward Bound together. I wonder if their valets and butlers can come along.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

January grumpiness

In December snow makes us nostalgic and happy about snow at Christmas. Especially if we get a day off. In January snow just makes us grumpy. More shoveling. More lousy roads.
Employers use different methods to tell their staff they have a snow day. One place I used to work used to call workers an hour before they would not normally get up to tell them not to come in the next day. Another job would send the calls out at midnight the night before. Recently I was called for a delayed opening and when I got to work the security guard told me that, in fact, the delayed opening had been changed to closed.

Early January is when most of us de-Christmas our homes. When I was a kid we used to sing Christmas songs backwards while taking ornaments off the tree.

This is also the time when we finally have to deal with our presents that have been sitting under around the living room. A few tips for gift givers. Never give large gifts to people with small apartments. Never think that you can start someone with a new hobby. If they didn't scrapbook before, they're not going to start now, even if they have a huge scrapbooking kit. Most apartments have a shortage of electical plugs and finding a new one for an unwanted gift can make people testy. And if you buy a shirt for someone to wear at work, make sure it has a pocket and is wash and wear. People aren't going to start ironing for the sake of a Christmas gift.
And why oh why don't they clean the snow at doctor's offices and drugstores! Well, enough grumpiness. At least in January you can be grumpy and not be called a Scrooge.


Almost finished Keith Richards' biography "Life". Actually surprisingly literary work from the Stone with nine lives. Anita Pallenberg doesn't come off too well. Mick comes off better than advertised. Of course, the author comes off as an angel with a dirty face.
The part about growing up in England is good reading. The book has gotten good reviews and will now be part of the Stone's literary pantheon. The big dissapointment is at the end. Yes he fell on the beach at Fiji but he never climbed a coconut tree.
Editor's note: An earlier blog on the Rolling Stones. For a more literal story of the early Rolling Stones, try Bill Wyman's A Stone Alone, a good companion piece to Life.