Thursday, December 31, 2015

Predictions for 2016

First what I predicted last New Year's Eve:

Drum roll please. Mr Mustache predictions for January 1 2017: 
In red, what really came true on January 1 2016 
Dow 18500 17425
S and P Index 2100 2044
NASDAQ 5000 4593
Microsoft will retreat to 40 55.48
Eagles will get in the playoffs but lose in January. Eagles will not make playoffs.
Obama will make overtures to Iran like he made to Cuba but Congress will not go along with the deal, no treaties or normalization. Actually our president was cagier than I thought he would be. Pretty much got what he wanted in both instances. As a technicality we have a Charge de Affaires not an Ambassador in Cuba today. 
Unemployment will go down to 5% correct, and oil  47.07 will go up to $60. 
Middle East will stabilize a tad but the EU will be in the doldrums. Isis did lose some territory but did not really stabilize. Everybody seems to be in the doldroms nowadays.
The New York Post will start the drumbeats to impeach the mayor of NYC. While the Post is not Biaggi's biggest fan, no drumbeats. 
Overall another middling year. 

My financial predictions for 2015 were overly optimistic. I never predicted the market would go down and never really recover. This year I am carrying over my market index predictions from last year to the end of 2016 with the caveat that Microsoft will go to 60.  Hopefully by then we’ll have made some money on the market again.
Microsoft was one prediction that underestimated the price, next year I see it ending at 60, a small gain. The unemployment rate is now 5.0 and I am predicting 4.8 by the end of 2016. The Philadelphia Eagles will make the playoffs next year but lose their first post season game. Donovan McNabb will be well liked as head coach.
The Democrats will have a good election in November and Bill Clinton will be our next first lady, although they will have to give him a new name, the dowager President? 

Editor's note: What the BBC says we'll be wearing in 2016. Really?

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Fact checking at parties

As the holiday season is coming to a close I have been thinking that most parties could use a fact checker. That is, a hired librarian or journalist who would circulate the party with a smart phone and verify the truth of what is said. I have to admit I have become somewhat skeptical about the facts that are presented in modern social situations and believe a professional fact checker could really do a service in circulating in a gathering and check the veracity of what is said.

Bill Grabonski announces that Windows 10 makes you buy a new printer!
The fact checker could tell Bill which existing printers do, in fact, work on Windows 10.
Janet Aldessio tells Rebecca Schwartzen that if she bottle feeds little Timmy, he will become allergic to peanut butter. The fact checker could give likely percentages according to the CDC.
Henry Gribaldi says that the Beatles were tough guys because they grew up Liverpool. The fact checker could tell him that actually three of the four went to fancy schmancy private high schools and it was Hamburg, not Liverpool where the boys learned about the seedier side of life.
Sid Blencher remarks that diesel engines always last longer than gas engines. The fact checker could swoop in on the conversation and verify his claim.

In addition to increasing the level of knowledge all around, a party fact checker would be a wonderful job for a retired librarian. To quote from Keith Richards, that's all I have.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015


My father was Italian and my mother was from Texas. Normally Mother dominated the food choices at home. Our family ate southern fried chicken, black eyed peas, collards, turnip greens, corn bread and okra. My father’s family taught Mother how to make a spaghetti sauce and it wasn’t bad. Sometimes around the holidays my father would bring home salami, provolone, capicola, or pepperoni from a place on 9th Avenue near the bus terminal. I guess it was his way to remind the kids of their Italian heritage. 

Bacala being de salinated.

One year, as a special treat to the family, he brought home bacala. This is a dried and salted piece of cod fish that dear old Dad ate as a youth in the Bronx. Proudly, he set it up in the basement where he had water dripping over it for three days. Not unexpectedly, Mother was not particularly happy to see this new member of  the family. Still, that Christmas Eve a tomato based soup with bacala, garlic, olives, and basil materialized on Mother’s stove on Christmas Eve. As if she didn’t have enough to do.

I’ve taken up the practice and make bacala at home on Christmas Eve. Friends and even my nephews have tried it and hated it. I can’t figure out why. If you have ever hiked and then taken off your hiking boots and socks  you can smell something that tastes roughly like bacala. 

Bacala soup

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Better the devil you know

Just finished listening to Fred Kaplan on the Brian Lehrer show.  The theme could be called "better the devil you know". I've been hearing this all over the media recently, including from Bernie Sanders. Americans thought the Arab spring was going to result in liberal intellectuals, westward leaning, running the Middle East. Like the Russian and French revolutions, the beneficiary was going to be the common man, freed from his chains, with Facebook and Al Jazeera as their guides. Like the Russian and French revolutions, the end result was worse than what most people had to begin with. 

One of the lessons of age is that change can be a fickle thing. The new neighbor may have five dogs, three kids and fight with her husband. The new library director may even be worse than the spineless library director you have now.

Americans are starting to learn their lesson. Sometimes what you want is a strongman. Or as Truman said, "He may be a son of a bi--h but he's our son of a bi--h". So much for America standing strong bringing the world to liberty and egalite. Happy Christmas to you too.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

I finally saw Spinal Tap

One movie that baby boomers often discuss at parties is the musical classic, This is Spinal Tap. Old rock fans with beer guts love to ruminate over this classic film, often comparing it to its cousin, the Ruttles All You Need is Cash. 

The film is presented as a pseudo documentay of a real band and obstensibly, Ozzy Osbourne did not know it was a spoof. In the late eighties I was watching it on tv and turned it off after ten minutes. It looked like a documentary on a band I had never heard of so I channel clicked away from it. The next day I was chastised for missing this classic. "I donnu, I never heard of Spinal Tap. I thought they rememinded me of Grand Funk Railroad. Sorry my bad." Well I didn't say my bad since that expression didn't exist yet. 

Recently I saw it on the cable tv listings and got excited. I was finally going to see Spinal Tap. Turns out it was a premium channel that I didn't get. Not to be defeated, I ordered it through Netflix. 

Finally the dvd arrived (sorry I'm technologically still living in the 00's) and I got to see this gem. It isn't bad, and it does show the banality and pretensions of the heavy rock band scene of the 70's. It has a decent story line, though and has it's moments. I especially liked the Stonehenge bit. 

I felt very clever towards the end, when they were really having trouble filling halls or getting decent engagements. Once, while visiting Japan I was told that everything that was ever big in America is still big in Japan. Folk music from the 60's, polka music, hula hoops, Dixieland, etc. are still big in Japan. I said to myself, "I'll bet they are still big in Japan". Lo and behold, the band finally finds paying gigs in the land of the midnight sun. 

Spinal Tap is, for better or worse, a decent look at the rock life styles of an earlier time. They are the sort of band people in my dorm at Rutgers listened to while smoking w--d. Along with Ummagumma by Pink Floyd. 

I can't wait til Chrismas Eve. I promised myself that I'll play the commentary. It should go well with bacala. 

Thursday, December 3, 2015

I've discovered the Elf on the Shelf

Years after every family in America has been immersed in the Elf on the Shelf ritual, I have finally discovered it, thanks to an hour of bored browsing on the Internet. I now understand the concept. The elf materializes in different places in the house every morning and reports to Santa when the children in the household are being mischievous. When kids sneak a cigarette or have one of their father's beers without permission, the Elf reports to Santa and this can impact their take on Christmas day. 

I can see how it may also be used in the office. The secretarial assistant talks a little too long on the phone. The clerk spreads rumours about the Vice President in charge of operations. That night the Elf tells the CEO  and this reduces the worker's Christmas bonus. I can see how the Elf on the shelf could also become the Grinch on the shelf. 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Aunt Agnes had a dream

For today's blog I have a guest host, Dear Aunt Agnes.

Yesterday I shared a pot luck with some of the ladies from the congregation and had a delicious plate of Welsh rarebit. Well the legend was true. I had a horrible dream. I was sound in my bed and I could feel someone looking down at me. He was an Arab fellow with a long head scarf. 

"Hello, Christian lady. President Obama let me have asylum along with a group of refugees from Syria. I am going to have to take your television set and your mattress. Then we are going to pray to my God."

Boy did I wake up fast. I am so worried about what that president is going to let into this country. Please lord, may our next president be Republican!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

The barbershop is back

I wrote this in 2011:

Every Friday I have gotten in the habit of listening to the Barbershop. As a Caucasian, I've often wondered what Black people talk about when they're ruminating in the neighborhood

tonsorial salons. Today, we have the privilege of finding out, thanks to the feature on NPR, the Barbershop. 1:45 PM. 

Today in 2015:
The Barbershop is back! : Michel Martin and a new crew are back on NPR on Saturdays as part of the weekend All Things Considered. Now again Caucasians can eavesdrop on the thinking of the Black intelligentsia. I hope they have upholstered the seats by now. 

Sunday, October 25, 2015

The return of the Gilmore Girls

Apparently the big news is that it's coming back. One of the great cultural institutions, a television series that sums up the hope and aspirations of  21st century Americans, is returning. Apparently it will surface on Netflix on line.

The guessing games are starting. What will they do about dear old granpaw now that Edward Hermann has hit the bucket? Will Luke's daughter come back? Will Luke and Lorelei be an old married couple by now?

I'm sure Christopher will make an appearance. And the daughter with the cute glasses. Kelly Bishop I'm sure will be featured and just as feisty, and Paris will make an appearance, even though she is in a hit show now.

Lane will be managing her mother's store since the old lady had by-pass surgery. Jess will be recently out of prison and managing the diner while Luke is the cook at the inn and will be living there. Melissa McCarthy will come back for the Thanksgiving show.

The hardest character to place will be Rory. Although the actress can use the work, the character will have gone on to a news job at WGBH in Boston. It would be tragic if she was home, living with Mom after all her fancy schooling. She will visit on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter so we'll get to see her.

I telescoped my prediction. The shows (there will only be four, albeit four long shows) will be based on holidays. Each show will take place around a holiday where people not living in Stars Hollow will be around, visiting family.

There will be a Thanksgiving show, a Christmas show, an Easter show and a Fourth of July show. Luke and Lorelei will be married but living up the street from each other.  Those are my predictions.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Walking has taken on new meanings

As life in America moves ever faster and as our waistlines get ever larger, a new movement is overtaking our shores. Namely...walking somethings.

Walking meetings

This seems like a really fun Monday morning at the office. The office manager is growling into a megaphone about productivity and limiting our breaks to fifteen minutes. The staff is limping along, too much partying last weekend.

Walking school buses

This is a nice way to save the tax payers money. You coral all the kids together and a few parents or spare staff members. Everybody walks to school. Instead of sitting in a bus the little tykes are getting exercise. "A hundred bottles of beer on the wall..." they sing.

Walking dates

Walking dates can be fun. They are cheap (unless you keep stopping for things) and an efficient way to gauge the fitness of your potential life companion. Avoid these if you are out of shape. They can be tough especially if the other person is in better shape than you.

Betty hiker: I am having so much fun. This is so much more fun than swilling beer in a bar.

Barry hiker: Huff....Huff... Huff... Could you go a little slower? Boy, I need a break.  Perhaps we could stop off at the Queen and Camel for a quick one.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Halloween humbug

When I was a tot my mother insisted that our family never wore store bought costumes. My mother liked to show off her rural roots and sewing skills in late October. I was a little Dutch girl, a little Dutch boy, a farmer, Tom Sawyer, well you get the picture. Texas straw got re-used year after year.

Halloween was  okay. My brother, with my assistance, carved out a pumpkin. School had a Halloween party. We walked around the neighborhood with the girls up the street and collected candy.

Seventh grade my mother celebrated. No more Halloween. No more costumes. Her kids were too old for Halloween.

I lived a relatively Halloween free life until I moved to Denver. The branch manager loved the holiday and made the staff dress up in costumes. My mother was several states away so I had to design my own costumes. One year a few of us went as African Americans. It was fun, although it might be politically incorrect nowadays.

Now I am an adult and am still designing Halloween costumes. I have no ideas so far. In 2008 I went as the Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulsen. Does anyone have any ideas? Halloween. Humbug.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

The rise and fall of the Pope

You know honey, this Pope is okay. He cares about global warming,
immigration, and wants us all to follow the golden rule.

Maybe it's time we started going to Mass on Sunday. I know it's fun getting up late, but gee we could be part of a real community at church.

Today in the news: Pope meets with Kim Davis

Then again, there's nothing quite like hanging out in your Jammie's on Sunday morning.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

The folks forty fives

The folks are long gone but one of the legacies they left is a brown case filled with singles. The presence of these records is a mystery to me because I never remembered them buying records when I was a youth, although I think my father paid for my purchase of Downtown and Pepino the Italian Mouse.

Going through them I have moments of "what were they thinking?" along with trying to guess which parent bought which record. I also can't figure out where they bought them. Perhaps Frankie's Market? Perhaps my father bought them in Times Square when he missed the bus and had time to kill waiting for the next one. Hard to figure.

I always remember the folks as middle aged people who wouldn't tear through the house with a new record in their hands. Myrtis! I bought a real hot track today! Seems out of character for the old man.

I do remember my father playing records on Saturday morning. He had the job of giving breakfast to the kids. Mother had been working til 11PM the night before at the hospital. I remember waking up to "Wake up little Suzie" and "How much is that doggie in the window".  It was a way of waking up the boys and a little treat that Mother slept through.

There were some country or at least country influenced records in the box. Pee Wee King did some square dances. Then there was Jimmie Rodgers and "Honeycomb".  Roy Rogers was represented too.I suspect that was Mother's influence.

My parents hated rock and roll. Yet Buddy Holly and Chuck Berry are represented in the box. How mysterious.

Later in the box, children's records start to show up. There's Dennis Day reading Snow White and Davey Crockett. Must be the influence of my big brother when he was a tot.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

It's beer o'clock

The Oxford English dictionary has added some words to its online version. One of the more notable ones is beer o'clock. It means simply that it's time for beer. After one has been toiling at work or at a task and one is happily finished for the day, comes a moment of happiness.

"What time is it?" says Frank.
Joe, looking at his watch replies, "It's beer o'clock!"
Later at the tavern, the pair reminisce over the day.
"Boy we almost ran out of sheet rock!' says Frank.
"Well at least there was nothing left over, waste not want not" says Joe after quaffing a few.
"Let me get the next round", the bartender offers.
Suddenly, the mood changes. The door opens and a harried middle aged woman enters, accompanied by two crying children. She speaks to Frank.
"So here you are! You promised to take the kids to bible study and now I'm late for needlepoint!" She hands the whiny children over to the father.
Frank, the wife, and the kids depart the bar.
"Happy beer o'clock!" Joe shouts to his buddy.

Monday, August 24, 2015


Apparently, Dismal Land has turned out to be a huge hit. Thousands of people are lining up to see what is apparently a Britisher's image of a good time.

It's almost as much fun as owning Asian stocks.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Putting socks on with wet feet

I was recently discussing the merits of work versus retirement. I said the worst parts of going to work are getting up and trying to get to work on time. Especially when you are in a hurry and :
1) Not having time to dry your socks after the shower so you find yourself putting socks on wet feet. The socks cling to your feet and become immovable. The absolute worst thing is when they tear and you don't have time to put on a different pair of socks.

2) Getting outside and there is a sheet of ice on your windshield. You are too late for work to let the defroster do it's thing so you scrape your windshields, back and front.

3) You hear on the radio that there is a traffic jam on the highway. You figure, "Oh they are always behind. By now the roads are smooth sailing."  Then you get into a traffic jam exactly where they said it would be.

The best parts of getting to work are:

1) When you wake up in time and are able to have a second cup of coffee and maybe even eggs.

2) When you are late to work but none of the supervisors are due in. Coming in late can be like a tree falling in the forest.

3) Getting to work and you hear a fresh piece of gossip. Gossip at work makes the entire day worthwhile.

So there they are. The pros and cons of going to work everyday versus retiring.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Male menopause

I have watched the Republican debate and had been perplexed about what all these older and seemingly wealthy men have to be so angry about. The Donald may be everyone's cranky uncle but they all seem a little cranky.

Here is a summary of what I see as the main policy statements of the evening. The assembled gentleman want to:
Kill Obamacare.
Burn Planned Parenthood to the ground.
Dump the Iran agreement and replace it with boots on the ground in the middle east. In order for America to win back it's place as a world leader we need soldiers on the ground in Syria, Iraq, and Iran. 500,000 millenials in uniform is one way to get them out of their parent's basements!
Put a Berlin type wall between Mexico, California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.
Make abortion illegal once again.

I don't know. Sounds like they are aiming at older white men who are suffering from male menopause. Time for another Pabst.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Back scratching, airports, tunnels and foreign policy

Back in the day, Lyndon Johnson would grab a Senator by the arm and say,
"You know I landed in Memphis Airport last week  and was thinking, my they could use a new runway and a terminal down here."
"My thinking exactly Mr. President."
"You know if you could help me on this here civil rights bill we might find some money to help pay for your improvements in Memphis", the President would say.
Next month the civil rights legislation was passed and the next summer federal funds would became available to double the capacity at Memphis Airport.

Now our president needs the help of Chuck Schumer on the Iran deal. Israel's close friend in the Senate is suddenly being enticed with money to rebuild LaGuardia Airport. Somehow Hudson tunnel money is surfacing again.
Somewhere in Washington Joe Biden and Chuck Schumer are talking turkey. I wouldn't be surprised if Senator Menendez gets out of legal trouble too. Everybody's back needs scratching once and a while.

Editor's note: Well it looks like my theory was wrong. LBJ had a complacent Congress unlike today. Schumer and Memendez are fighting the Iran deal and no federal money for the tunnel.

Sunday, July 26, 2015


Most of my unit is what can charitably be called "hardwood floors" and I am pretty good about maintaining them on a weekly basis. My bedroom and home office have "wall to wall carpeting" which requires the work of a vacuum cleaner. I have a powerful, if noisy, Eureka commercial vacuum that I bought eight years ago at the hospital auxiliary flea market. Every three months I whip it out, move stuff out of the way and put it to work. Once every season I vacuum.

Today I did my semi-annual emptying of the thing. It doesn't take a bag I just open up the bag and dump two years worth of crud out of the bag. Today I emptied the bag, the shredder, and vacuumed the rugs. I am a lazy vacuumer. I don't move the computer desk or anything too cumbersome. I figure on my upcoming ten year clean I'll clean the rugs. Perhaps when I retire.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

My Flip Phone


Yes I have a flip phone. It makes calls. It gets calls when it is on. I never set it up to text or make pictures. It's cheap and I'm perfectly happy.

It's hard because todo el mundo has fancy schmancy phones. They have iphones, they have Androids. People sit around all day comparing their cellphones. I feel left out at times. I read in the news that Lindsey Graham has a flip phone. Well he had a flip phone.

Last week I saw a movie in one of those new fangled movie houses where they have airplane style seats with foot rests that pull up. When I was leaving I noticed I no longer had my flip phone. My neighbor found it in the grill of the chair. "Wow a flip phone! I didn't know they still made those!"

I am on the Internet at home. I am at the Internet at the office. I don't need to have the Internet when I'm eating eggs in a diner. As we get older we become like our fathers. We still had a black and white tv in 1967.

Editor's note: My flip phone, a nifty clock radio and a cabinet that could use a paint job.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Air conditioning at the office

July in the workplace. Years ago, I remember a co worker saying he looked forward to halter season all year. All the young lady’s in their halter tops. This is the time of year when you can wear your sporty t shirts and on casual Fridays, your monkey t shirt.                                 

But, alas, this year I have gone back to long sleeved shirts, sweaters, and I celebrate casual Fridays with my lumberjack clothing. The air conditioning is up so high, and with no windows in my office, it is darn chilly at work. The women at work are walking around with several layers of clothing on. No halter tops here.

Life is full of disappointments. All my stylish short sleeve shirts sitting in the closet while I look like I'm dressed for snow. It's real fun when I go outside for a walk and am bombarded with 90 degree weather and I'm wearing a sweater.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

I don't like Will Ferrell

I watch a lot of movies on tv and with my Netflix subscription. I notice THIS has a lot of free (if commercial loaded) movies and occasionally if nothing else is on, I'll give it a try. His movies always start promising enough. Will Ferrell is a single Dad with the kids for the weekend. Then things start happening. I know that Will Ferrell is considered by my fellow countrymen to be the funniest man in comedy. Somehow, I always am disappointed with Will Ferrell movies. Maybe it's because he's in so many things, that some of his projects turn out to be dogs. He is in a lot of movies.

Naah, I just don't like Will Ferell.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Old money trumps new money

I have finally discovered the key to owning antiques. If you bought something at a garage sale it probably isn't worth any money. It may be valuable to you but it probably isn't worth that much. A close inspection of Antiques Roadshow reveals the source of most wealth. It's coming from old money.

If your grandparents had money and bought nice things and these things are handed down through the generations they will be worth money. That watch or painting or lamp that your aunt bought in 1920 in Boston will be worth money today. That painting your father bought in Paris when he was a G.I. during WW2 won't be worth much today. Parisians sold millions of things to American soldiers during the war. Most of it junk.

If your grandparents bought an original oil painting in Greenwich Village in 1918 it will be worth money today. If your father bought a chair in a flea market in 1980 it probably won't be worth money today. The secret of having nice things is to have grandparents who bought nice things back in the day.

An artsy fartsy summer

Last weekend I was making an appearance at Peddler's Village and decided, perhaps unwisely, to go through Lambertsville and take the bridge to New Hope and continue on Route 202. As I was driving I encountered throngs of crowds along the way. I got excited at first. "They must be giving something away!" I was thinking. Perhaps new computers, or antique pottery. Perhaps they are giving everybody new cell phones! I was wondering what brought thousands of motorcycles, hundred of baby strollers, and hundreds of thousands of idlers to these relatively small towns.

When I finally went to a couple of shops I realized, no, they weren't giving anything away at all. A painted water jug was going for $50. A set of cups was going for $200. Why you can buy these at K-Mart for pennies on the dollar, I thought.

What is the attraction that makes normal human beings want to converge on these towns en masse? I guess it's the atmosphere. The lost youth of baby boomers. We were all going to become cabinet makers and potters and guitar makers until we put on ties and got jobs with insurance companies or found ourselves in  civil service. We go to Bucks county to relive what might have been.

When visiting dignitaries come to our doors we need someplace to take them. We can't take them to the Shop-Rite. They have those in their towns. So we buck traffic and take them to Bucks County. When we have new companions we want to show off our hip creds to we don't take them to Walmart. We take them to Peddler's Village and pay five dollars for a scoop of ice-cream. I know, for millennials Bucks County is about as hip as Branson, Missouri.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

From DOS to Cortana

Some men are nostalgic about cars they used to own. At a barbecue they'll tell stories about the old Camaro or Chevelle. Other men get nostalgic about their former wives. I guess I wax nostalgic about Microsoft operating systems. I remember the first DOS computer I had to use at work. It came with three floppies, big ones, that you had to load to get the thing to work. First you put the operating system in the drive. Then you put the program in the drive. Finally you put the data disc in the drive. You felt so modern, so with-it those days. You knew how to use a computer. And your waist size was 32.

The first computer I ever bought came with Windows 3.1. It was and will always be, my favorite operating system. Easy, fast, and it did everything. It even got on the Internet back in the day when the Internet was text only and ran at 2400 baud. The good old days.

Things got fancier with Windows 95. You had to pay for the Internet (the old dream that the Internet would never be commercialized but would forever be the province of academics and idealists soon faded). Now you got color. Images didn't move around yet, and we were all happier.

Windows 95 wasn't perfect. I can remember reinstalling my Windows from discs at least once a month. And backing up the thing with floppies every Saturday morning. But it wasn't so bad. I could drink as long as I wanted then and not have to worry about gout or triglycerides. Soon Windows 95 became Windows 98. With the new century we got XP.  A few years later we got Vista. We watched movies now on line and more importantly, met women. The modern age had begun.

Now I am living with Windows 8.1. I learned to live with it's quirks. But why does it keep looking for a proxy when I have none?

In early August I plan to take advantage of the free download of Windows 10. Having Windows 10 will give me something to talk about in the break room and at parties. I'll be able to talk with authority on life with Cortana and Edge. I'll be older and wiser and get a discount on going to the movies and have Windows 10 waiting for me at home, next to the cane.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The truth about reality tv

Unreal is a new summer Lifetime tv show on Monday nights at 10 and repeated in various places including online.

Since the advent of the form,  I have believed that reality tv was just that. An unaltered view of random events in people's lives captured by a television camera. I always believed that what I saw was an accurate view of America as it is lived by real people. I even believed that the Bachelor was completely true, unfabricated, and an unvarnished look at true love, at least as it exists in Southern California. The tears I cried during the show were real tears, responding to real people and love in all it's incarnations.

Now, thanks to Unreal,  I have learned that what you see on reality tv is made up, directed by behind the scenes people, not even pleasant people, with gizmos in their ears. These assistant producers even direct what happens among the real people being photographed. This program has taught me a lot about  American media. Today I've become a man of the world.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Americans don't understand the Europeans

Just reading about the bru ha ha about our new Attorney General attempting to
stomp into a Swiss hotel and put six of the world's most distinguished citizens into handcuffs for taking bribes. We Americans are still virgins when it comes to how things are done in the world outside our borders. Favors, a few dollars here, a few dollars there. That's the way soccer has always been run.

Friday, May 1, 2015

I'm for Bernie

The next time someone asks me who I want for president, I have an answer. "I'm for Bernie Sanders", I can say. He's been a mayor, a Congressman and now a Senator. He reminds me a little of the guy who teaches the history of labor unions at Livingston College. You had to really work to get a bad grade in his class. 

Sure he probably won't win but at least he won't be a spoiler like Ralph Nader. And he'll be a great conversation starter at parties. "Me? I'm for Bernie Sanders."

Editor's note: I wrote a new post on boxing in my Sixties blog.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Samuel Beckett prepared me for life

I was reading today about the new English class at the University of Pennsylvania called "Wasting time on the Internet."  Apparently it is being discussed in places like Slate. It made me a little nostalgic for some of the classes I took in college. I took a course in Anarchy, the Theatre of the Absurd, Altered States of Consciousness and Varieties of Religious Experience, the Intellectual History of the 20th century, and the French film, to name a few. My mother used to get laughs at parties by reciting the classes I was taking.

Actually when you think about how much time most of us kill on the Internet, the merit of a class that teaches you how to perform this task makes sense. If you are going to waste time on the Internet you might as well know how. You Tube is a major time waster. Just watch a few episodes of Pillow Talk to see what I mean.

As far as analysing how my own coursework prepared me for the world of work let us just say my first job after college was selling hot dogs at Two Guys in Hackensack. I kept waiting for Samuel Beckett to come up during that job but it only came up in the sense that Godot was somehow related to mustard and sauerkraut.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Working class Hillary

And now the latest development in the Hillary election campaign. She is officially running. I am enjoying the new working class Hillary. She drives around in a brightly painted van called the Scooby, she pumps her own gas, she stops families at Walmart and holds the baby while Mom puts the groceries in the back seat.

Old men never liked Hillary. She reminds them of the sister in law who doesn't let their brother take a drink or the woman at work who looks annoyed when a man lifts and installs her new printer.  Old guys, watching the game at the bar,  never liked her.

Of course maybe now that all will change. Older men  all love a woman who pumps her own gas and drives a car out of the Partridge Family. I'm waiting for her to go deer hunting. Yes the presidential season has begun.

Sunday, April 12, 2015


Today I decided to take a walk to my local park and on the path by the lake was a group of young people surrounding this giant globe. It was planted firmly in the path I was taking but I was able to navigate around it. No it was not a reunion of Buckminster Fuller prototypes, it was a zorb

As if seeing such a thing in my local park wasn't enough, a teenage girl then got into the thing and the zorb rolled down the hill with her in it. What an unexpected thrill. Inside the zorb is what looked like a trapeze with her arms holding the top, her butt in the middle and her feet touching the pedals. Oh my. I wonder if her father knows about these adventures. 

Of  course us baby boomers have lived through the hang gliding phase, the velcro jumps era and we have all gone to parties where people were talking kayaking. This is apparently a new craze, with origins in New Zealand.  I read that zorbing is done today in the United States but I have never seen it til now. 

I suspect my life has past that phase where I will ever zorb. Going to the doctor is scary enough for me. 

Sunday, April 5, 2015

the Royals

The past two weeks every time I've channel surfed I keep landing on the Royals.
There it is, seemingly in continuous rotation on the E! channel. What  a great show! It's an accurate and realistic portrayal of the way most of us see not only the Royal Family of England as well as the private lives of rich celebrities worldwide. I especially like the Jack Daniels from the bottles sweetie, Ophelia. Thanks to this show, I have gained many useful insights into life at Buckingham Palace. Croquet anyone?

Monday, March 16, 2015

Millenials vs Baby boomers

We are constantly being told things about millenials.

They don't own cars and are too lazy to learn how to drive a car.
The don't want to have their own places but prefer to live at home and be waited on by their parents.
They want everything handed to them.
They spend all their time playing games on their cellphones and communicate by texting.
They come to work and want to set Their hours and rules.
They have USB mittens on so their fingers don't get cold when they are playing on their toys.
They can't eat like  normal people because they are gluten intolerant.

Sometimes it reminds me of what the greatest generation said about us baby boomers.

They won't go to a barbershop and have no respect for their country.
They'd rather smoke their marijuana than put in an honest day's living.
They were spoiled by their mothers and the television set and they want to set their own rules.
That music they listen too. Thump thump thump. Sounds like a tractor trailer with teeth missing on the gears.
They think they know it all.

It's great being a grumpy old baby boomer.

Editor's note: I don't want usb mittens for Christmas but I could use an Apple watch.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Daylight Savings Time

Another Daylight Savings Time is upon us. Idle hands being the devil's workshop, I have been reading the pro's and cons of the arrangement. Apparently, farmers don't like it because it throws cows off their normal routine and the cows get moody until they get settled into the new milking times. Morning people don't like it because it takes away the sunlight for their favorite part of the day, that time between 5 and 7 when all the people they don't like are asleep.

Actually for me it works out swell. Who cares if there is sunlight before 7:30? I'm either asleep or half asleep playing with my coffee maker. But it means it is light when I get home, it is even light after dinner. I can even walk through the park after work. Not that I really walk through the park after work but knowing that I can is a boost to my morale.

The thing I most remember about Daylight Savings Time is that it would inspire my mother to let her boys (or boy after seventh grade) get out the grill and cook outside. She would summon me from my homework (or Dan Ingram) and I would run downstairs to get the grill ready. I would light the charcoals and put the potatoes on.  Just when I would be ready to cook the meat, Mother and Dear Poppa were well into cocktails. I would shout out, "Time for the hamburgers" and she would tell me, "Don't rush me, the salad isn't ready".  

At this time I'd put on the transistor radio and listen to the "Record Shop" on WINS.  Through family barbecues I learned about the old expression, "hurry up and wait". Thanks to Daylight Savings Time, I didn't need a flashlight to grill the meat. 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

the New Yorker turns ninety

Living in Denver in the 80's, I was a little homesick for the East coast, so I decided to subscribe to the New Yorker. I guess I have been getting the New Yorker for over thirty years. It was always fun winding my way through it's pages of overlong articles, sometimes continuing from week to week. The old New Yorker had no photographs but always had the cartoons. Back then, the cost of a subscription was quite low, presumably since its reader demographics were so good.

Traditionally,  the typical New Yorker reader was a middle aged man, someone who wore a tweed jacket, perhaps an academic who lived on the upper west side of Manhattan in a cluttered rent controlled apartment. His couch was old and he had crumbs on his ancient breakfast table. He smoked a pipe. 

Back in the twenties the magazine serviced a more fashionable set, a reader who would frequent speakeasies with the occasional light lunch at the Algonquin. The literary celebrities of the day would write for the New Yorker and be seen at the hottest art openings and Broadway shows. 

Tina Brown updated the magazine. She brought in more news and, heaven forbid, introduced the magazine to the world of photography. Today the magazine is much more expensive. Who are the readers today? Perhaps they are wanna be academics who couldn't get jobs in a university or afford an apartment in New York. There they sit in the suburbs paying child support and working for a social service agency in Scranton. Still they have their New Yorker.

Editor's note: In my sixties blog, there is a new piece on the Von Steuben House.
whoo boy, the New Yorker just sent me a tote bag. I guess they liked the blog.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Ho hum February

In December everyone gets excited about the weather and the hope that there might be a traditional white Christmas.  Then January comes and the temperature gets below ten degrees and everyone panics.  Then it snows and everyone gets excited and talks endlessly about the six inches of snow we had to deal with.

Now it's February and the novelty has worn off. I've stopped watching the weather reports on TV. If it's cold it's cold. If it snows it snows. Ho hum. Let's talk about Bruce Jenner instead. When we look back on the year 2015 in our dotage, we will remember this as the year that the Kardashians got even more bizarre. Bruce Jenner will become the first woman to have won gold medals for men's track and field. Much more exciting than the weather.

Tax season

It's tax season again. I didn't do too bad this year. All that extra pension money and health care money I had to kick in this year seems to have rewarded me with a better tax bill. This year Amazon took out sales tax so I didn't have to pay that on my state form. Even Turbo Tax upgraded me to Premium (they no longer accept 1099 - B forms on Deluxe) and it doesn't look like they charged me for the honor. I should be getting a nice refund which I can use to fix my dripping shower.

Like driving, doing taxes is one of those things most of us learn from the old man. My first year to pay taxes he gave me the forms and we went through them line by line. He said always do them in pencil first. Then a few days later transfer them to pen. When you are finished always put it away for a week then come back to it. Like wine, tax forms apparently have to age a little. When the time comes, go over the forms again and send them in March.

My father, an accountant, used to get tax receipts from his brother. He didn't like doing his brother's forms. He always suspected he was cheating but my uncle was probably just disorganized.

They always say "do as I say not as I do". My father always had to drive down to the post office at 10 PM on the night of the fifteenth of April and have the guy postmark his letter so he wouldn't be late. The next day he could celebrate the end of tax season and his birthday.

As a librarian I also have many memories of tax time. The IRS is no longer giving public libraries instruction books. You would think they could find another way to save money.

Editor's note: A cute blog on the demise of Radio Shack is in my Sixties blog. If I took advertising this would be my first sponsor.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Parenthood and money

Just finished watching the last episode of Parenthood. I think one thing most of us like about Parenthood is the idealized picture it gives of the American dream. In Parenthood if you are in the hospital you will have twenty relatives sleeping in the waiting room. Are families really like that?

It also presents a world where average people can start schools, run for mayor, start construction companies, recording studios, photography studios, dance studios,  and on top of that hire their relatives. Is it really true?

Look at Hank. He runs a photography shop in Berkeley, where the rent is $30 a square foot. An average photographer makes less than $30,000 a year according to the Occupational Outlook Survey. He eschews digital. I know he gets outside jobs but I've never seen a customer in the store. Yet he can afford to hire Sarah and at the end of the show gives a job to Max.

I would imagine it would be very hard to run a successful recording studio in Northern California yet Crosby and Adam do it, and can hire their niece to boot. Camille could afford to go to art school in France for a month but Zeek never mentions the money. Kristina had enough money to run for mayor, hire her niece, and then start a school.

How can Crosby and Jasmine afford a house? How are Drew and Haddie able to board at college? How can Amber afford to have a baby?

Okay, okay, there is a little bit of "television magic" involved here. Since the start of television people have lived in nicer houses than their careers seemed to be able to support. However, Parenthood purports to show a typical American family. My theory is that all of the Bravermans have trust funds that are helping to support them. That is why everyone is so nice to Zeek.

Hank got money when he was injured photographing the war and has a nest egg from that. That is my theory and I'm going to stick to it.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Duh I thought it was funny

This ad was pulled from the Super Bowl. I though it was funny.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Girls Season 3

I have been reviewing Girls every year and now I am onto Season 3. Yes I know they are showing Season 4 now but I'm too cheap to get HBO and have to rely on Netflix (the DVD version). Anyway, I finally saw Season 3.

In this season the "girls" seem to be moving on from adolescence to adulthood. They are starting to grow up. Adam, especially, is becoming a more mature person (although "I must concentrate on being an actor" phase is a little much). Hannah had a real job working for GQ, Shoshanna is aging from a cute college kid to an annoying young adult, Marnie is becoming the musical one (I see her with a real career in sitcoms after her Peter Pan debut). Jessa is the oldest but also acts the most immature. Still she is the pretty one and the edgy one, the one who is always the center of interest in any scene she is in. One new character who is weird but loveable is Caroline, Adam's sister. Sorry Lena but she is directly out of a Woody Allen Movie. 

I guess not wanting to imitate Sex in the City, the summer place scene took place on the North Shore of Long Island rather than the Hampton's. One feature of that episode is we got to see Hannah in a bathing suit.

Editor's note: I wonder if this is product placement for a cellulite removal system. 

Young girl's living in New York is one of the standard genres of tv and the movies. Sort of like westerns. In the sixties there was That Girl and Breakfast at Tiffany's. In the 90's and early 00's there was Sex and the City. In the teens there is Girls and Broad City (I don't count Too Broke Girls).  To be young, hip, female and living in the city. Us older men have to watch tv to discover what life is like for this trope.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Oh Mother you wouldn't believe the dive bar I go to now

Recently, The Star Ledger of New Jersey had a poll where it asked viewers to vote for their favorite dive bars. I recognized some of the places, but to be honest, although interesting places they weren't really "dive bars". Real dive bars would not find their way into a poll. It reminded me of the time I was in a bar (the sort of place my father would go after a game of golf with the boys) and I could hear a young twenty something lady on the cell phone telling someone "I'm in my favorite dive bar!"

Young middle class women love to frighten their mothers at holidays and tell them that now they hang out in dive bars. Poor mother will worry nights now, perhaps now that Lisa in on her own in Philadelphia she is hanging around with the wrong sort. Of course in reality the places she goes are far from being true dives. Even Yelp has a category for dive bars that probably includes places that are far from true dives.

I guess most of us like to have a little mystery about us and make the people around us think we are having adventures, perhaps disreputable ones. Sort of like exaggerating the events of a college trip to Mexico. 

The Huffington Post has a cute article about dive bars. Would people who write for the Huffington Post go to such places?  I see the ghost of Charles Bukowski nursing a beer in a bar in Baltimore. A dive bar. 

Saturday, January 17, 2015

To surplus

Last night I listened to the Slate Culture Gabfest and they talked to someone from Merriam Webster about how new words or new uses for older words come about. I realized that for the past five years, in my job, I have been hearing and using a new use for the word surplus. It is being used as a verb, at least in my narrow parochial world.

Mrs. A: All these old computers are on the floor. Can we get rid of them before I trip over them?

Miss B: Yes, but you'll have to surplus them. Get Mr. Mustache to surplus them.

Mrs. A: Can you surplus them?

Mr. Mustache: Yes I'll surplus them tomorrow morning.

Surplussing usually means getting on my hand and knees, finding the inventory number, the serial number and the model and writing it down and e-mailing this information to Mrs. A and Miss B. Then someone turns up in a few weeks with a hand truck and carts them off to surplus where they are dismembered or otherwise recycled. That is the process of surplussing. It is used as a verb.

Surplus is a transitive verb. I surplus, he surplussed, my back hurts because I have been surplussing all morning.

I have not seen surplus used as a verb in my quick Google search. Being clever, I sent this information off to the Merriam Webster website for new uses of terms. .

Gender-neutral bathrooms

This news story caught my eye this morning. Apparently to accommodate men who think they are women and vice-versa in Los Angeles they are creating gender neutral bathrooms. I wrote about this topic a few years ago. I guess it's okay. In male dominated bars it would free up the usually empty female facility for men.  I guess men could buy sanitary napkins and use the changing tables if it suited their fancy.

Men usually don't talk that much in bathrooms although there are exceptions. There are men so talkative that they never stop. I know from movies and television women talk at the sink as they are putting on makeup. Here they discuss their dates and their shoes. Now men can eavesdrop on their conversations as they sit on the toilets.

I suspect many members of the fairer sex don't won't their farts and other bodily noises to be within earshot of  men they aren't married to.  It might take away some of their feminine mystery. All to accommodate gender neutral people. I promise not to bring in Aunt Agnes for a guest column.

Saturday, January 3, 2015


So this weekend we are all de-Christmasing our homes. In some ways it is melancholy and sad to say good bye to another season. Of course it's also nice to get rid of all that Christmas clutter. Every year I get more Christmas shopping bags which I store with the other ones. They will come in handy some day, I promise myself. As a young tot I can remember singing Christmas songs backwards as we took down the ornaments from the tree. Someone should make a CD of backwards Christmas songs just for that purpose.

Of course, unlike a month ago I have unwanted presents I will have to find a place for. I don't need a pair of Ray bans to be honest.  At least the globe I can find a space on a table. I'll have to remember to dust it.

So now I'm reprinting a favorite post-Christmas poem of mine.

Another Christmas come and go

The fun the tinsel ho ho ho

But now it’s over no no no

And Santa’s back in the garage.

We sang our hymns and cookies made

But now that cheery time will fade

Christmas visits have been paid

And Santa’s back in the garage.

Oh holy night is now forgotten

Old wool socks replaced by cotton

I was so glad now feeling rotten

And Santa’s back in the garage.

So here’s a toast to the new year

Hot spiced cider replaced by beer

Winter gloom instead of cheer

And Santa’s back in the garage.

Next to the gas for the lawn mower

Near the sand and the snow blower

Spirits high now getting lower

Santa’s back in the garage.