Saturday, January 31, 2009

Private parts

I will not cross the line . I will not cross the line. I will not cross the line.

In my zeal to amuse you, I have often taken you to topics that blur the distinction between private and public. You have been lying with me during my prostate exams and have questioned with me why everyone seemed to have knowledge regarding the size of my manhood. My ego and my body parts have often been on full display.

But I must always remember that it is my journey that I am asking you to share in. My friends and family did not sign on as co-conductors of this train. What I think might amuse you about others is of no moment. No one signs an assumption of risk form when they enter into a discussion with me. Their lives are not proper topics for these pages.

I had dinner with 3 other couples last night. The conversation was often hilarious and clearly not intended to go beyond the 4 walls that held in our words Yet, as the evening ended, there was a slightly nervous discussion as to whether they might waken to find their thoughts revealed for all the world's viewing.

I don't want my friends looking over their shoulders to see if I am writing down their words as they speak. I don't want them guarded in my presence. I don't want them avoiding me for fear my lunacy has tentacles.

I promise to my wife, my son , my daughter and my friends that I will practice my mantra every day. I will not invade other people's territories in a mad rush for literary power and glory. I will not reach across the line of privacy for my own journalistic advancement. I will obey the rules of a writer's Geneva convention and not take my friends prisoners of my pen.

I will shortly be walking through freshly fallen snow with many of last night's entourage. I am contemplating handing them a document waiving my right to report on any intimacies which may be revealed. I fear it is the only way they will let me travel with them. I wouldn't blame them.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Say it ain't so

Joe Torre has co-authored yet another tell all. The third book in his ever expanding series, we now gain further insight into the mind of the ex-Yankee manager. From the reviews given in the media, it appears that the fall of Joe Torre was not in his exit from our scene but in his gathered recollections.

My memories of him are of his humanity, of his dignity, of his compassion. I recall the tears he shed when discussing his brother's cancer, or contemplating the wonder of reaching and then winning the World Series. He looked and sounded like every man. He was like us, only a little better.

He did not belittle his players. He chose not to be petty when the Steinbrenner attacks came as they inevitably did. He had a love for those he coached and a passion for the game that transcended the numbers on the page, or the hits and errors on the field. It was his calm in the storm that soothed his players and made him more than just another manager.That image is now forever tarnished.

We learn of his tearing down A-Rod. We hear of the blame heaped on Cashman for not covering his back. We see a side of Joe Torre that we did not want to see and hoped did not exist. We wanted him to be more. We expected him to remain above the fray.

Like Simon and Garfunkel, I now ask where have you gone Joe? You didn't need the money and we didn't need another glimpse of yet another ordinary man. The pinstripes have now been stripped off your back. I hope you are warm in your new home in California.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

A country song


It's a love once right gone wrong
It's a loner aching to belong
It's a want, a need so strong
It's life, it's here, in a song

It's the shoes one size too big
It's my old man's wearing a wig
It's the neighbor's a dirty old pig
It's real life, all zag and no zig

It's funny, it's sad, it's sweet,
It's soulful, it's kind, it's neat
It's cold, it's warm, it's heat
It's true life, it's mine, with a beat

All life's a country song
In rhythm and rhyme we belong
Tempest tossed, weak or strong
For better or worse, right or wrong

It's hope in a bottle of booze
It's daytime, with nothing to choose
It's a perpetual win or lose
It's whether or not we refuse

It's everything and nothing at all
It's big and often it's small
It's reaching and it's in a fall
It's silence and it's in your call

It's the beginning or maybe the end
It's straight but sometimes a bend
It's broken, but it may soon mend
It's my enemy tomorrow my friend

My life's a country song
In rhythm and rhyme I belong
Tempest tossed, weak or strong
For better or worse, right or wrong

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

While Rome burns

Governor Blago- "So how do you think I'm doing?"

Interviewer on the "Tomorrow and Tomorrow" show- "Well, I do admire your energy for doing every talk show on every major network in 1 day. But, the more important question is why you are defending yourself here and not where you are on trial."

GB- "Did Jesus defend himself? Did Martin Luther King? Did Gandhi? Did Rocky Balboa?"

Interviewer- "But, if you are not going to state your case in Illinois, why did you not just resign?"

GB- "Their day of reckoning will come, but this is not the moment. For now, it is just important that the rest of the world knows I did nothing wrong".

Interviewer- "But the tapes of your conversations call for an explanation that we can all understand."

GB- " Let me be perfectly clear about that. I DID NOTHING WRONG. Now are you satisfied?"

Interviewer- "This is just a waste of time and energy unless you are willing to be forthright with me."

GB- "I am trying to be honest. I get up at 3 o'clock every morning thinking only about what I can do to help my State."

Interviewer- "Did you say you worry only about yourself?"

GB- " I am so misunderstood". While I am running every morning, I try to run as far away as I can."

Interviewer- "Are you running away from your troubles?"

GB- "My wife and my children suffer. I suffer. Now is the picture beginning to clear for you?"

Interviewer- " Whom do you blame for this happening?"

GB- "Well, it is not those who prosecute me, because ultimately I believe in them. They will soon see the light. It is not the media because I know they are now listening to me. It is those whose only thought for the last 4 years is to get me and my hair out of the picture."

Interviewer- "And who would that be?"

GB- "I can tell you it was not Senator Burris and it was not Oprah Winfrey. Beyond that, you will have to decide for yourself."

Interviewer- "Did you seek to gain personally from the appointment of a new governor?"

GB- "If you would speak with Rahm Emanuel or with Jesse Jackson, Jr. , you would have your answer."

Interviewer- " And what would that answer be?"

GB-" I am sorry. I am due to appear on the "Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away" show in 10 minutes. I must leave now. But, I just want to end by thanking you for letting me clear my name before the American public."


Monday, January 26, 2009

WWOD ( What would Obama do)

The final score was Covenant 100 , Dallas Academy 0. The coach for the winning team was unapologetic. Upon reflection, the players on his team spoke of feeling terrible and wanting to forfeit the game. The losing squad talked of canceling the remainder of its season and withdrawing from the league.

It is the age old argument of whether it is intellectually dishonest to show compassion and to do less than your best. For one coach, the answer was obvious. For the rest of us, the ramifications of inflicting this type of humiliation cries out for a much more nuanced response.

I ask you to tell me how some of the following would answer the question of running up the score (each individual's response should be 25 words or less)

1) Barack Obama
2) George Bush
3) Dick Cheney
4) Joe Biden
5) Bobby Knight
6) John Wooden
7) Your boss
8) Your mother
9) Your mother in law
10) Your psychiatrist
11) Your spiritual guide
12) Your favorite teacher
13) Your best friend
14) Your worst enemy
15) Sarah Palin
16) Katie Couric
17) You

Try to hear their voices ( this is not hearing voices in your head) and answer as they would. The best answer gets an all expense paid trip to interview the coaches. The worst answer has to read all the posts on my blog in a 24 hour period.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Good Books Make Bad Movies Hall of Shame

Discuss. Any other good examples?


Spectacular Book:

Crappy Movie:

Fantastic Book:

Horrible Movie:

Investigative Blogalism

Viral phenomena are rumors, videos, stories, blog posts, and just about anything else that spreads quickly and wildly across the internets. One such 'virus' was an article about the vast liberal conspiracy that is daylight savings time. I did a little sleuthing and produced this investigative post, which, like everything viral, had its moment of glory, but soon faded deep into bloggy obscurity. I repost it here for some out-dated amusement.


Earlier this morning, my friend's mom forwarded me a scan of what purported to be a letter to the editor of the Arkansas-Democrat Gazette. In this letter, the author eloquently proclaims that global warming is a myth perpetuated by a liberal Congress, which sinisterly moved up Daylight Saving Time by several weeks in order to increase the hours of sunshine and, thus, make March warmer than normal.

Now, I know that the far edges of the right-wing contain individuals who might honestly espouse such views, but I was very skeptical that such a letter would actually be written, let alone be published in an actual newspaper. Further adding to my doubt, the headline of the letter contains a typo, and the same exact scan appears conspicuously throughout the blogosphere, in most cases without a link to the actual publication. Even a google search and a google news search for the headline turns up lots of blogs, but no links to the newspaper itself.

However, I did a bit more sleuthing and, sure enough, the letter is for real. Lest you believe that the scan you see here is a mere Photoshop trick, click this link! The question still remains: Is this a clever and concise work of political satire, or something much more frightening?

UPDATE: I did a little digging. Connie M. Meskimen, the Arkansan author, shares his/her name with an Arkansan bankruptcy law attorney. I can probably conclude that this is one and the same Connie M. Meskimen. I'd like to think that receiving a law degree connotes a certain level of wisdom and common sense, and so I am sincerely hoping that one of the following is true: (A) Connie M. Meskimen has a highly-developed sense of irony and a sharp wit; (B) Connie M. Meskimen, the lawyer, did not write this letter; or (C) Arkansas reexamines its standards for admission to the bar.

UPDATE 2: (A) wins! Check out this tongue-in-cheekiness from one Connie M. Meskimen, published years earlier in the same publication:
According to reader Connie M. Meskimen, tonic water, also called quinine water, was developed by the British to make quinine palatable to troops in India suffering from malaria. "I would suggest then that by liberally imbibing gin and tonics you will experience a great curative effect. You might explore whether your health insurance would pay for part of the liquor bill."

Happy VERY EARLY Independence Day

So, it turns out I'm mostly carrying photo posts over here, as those seem to have more timelessness than my written ones. Though this one is of July 4th fireworks, it seems oddly appropriate at the dawning of a historic new American presidency.


An annual tradition: The best shot of the night from the Edgewater, NJ fireworks show. While not one of the more spectacular fireworks displays out there, the backdrop makes it a highly photogenic one.

Posted by Picasa

Another Ported Photo Post

One of my favorite pastimes is what I like to call "improvised tripoding" with my camera. When taking night shots or dimly lit indoor shots, flash is often either (a) inadequate or (b) inappropriate, or both. In this situation, never prepared with an actual tripod, I like to try to find stationary or nearly-stationary objects on which to balance my camera, in order to enable a steady, long exposure without shakiness and blur. Tabletops and chair arms work well, as do some street signs, windowsills, rocks, and wide fence rails or posts. Sometimes, in more desperate or creative moments ("extreme improvised tripoding"), I will also use tree branches, other people's heads, or the hood of a stranger's car.

Tonight, while ostensibly on an errand to 7-11 to replenish our dangerously low ice cream supply, I decided to take some shots using the aforementioned method. My favorite shot of the evening is below. It is so quintessentially suburban strip mall, it could have been shot in nearly any town in America (in this case, the photo was taken in Fort Lee, New Jersey). My favorite element, though, which I didn't notice until I transfered the photos to my laptop, is the distant manikin in the window, unblinkingly staring back out at the world. There's something wonderfully creepy about it.

Posted by Picasa

Snow-Covered Greetings

Hi, I'm Richie (Jay), son of Robert of Too Early To Call fame. You may know me from a few of my guest posts. Well, effective immediately, I've received a promotion from 'guest poster' to 'contributor' on this blog. I've shut down my also-ran blogging operation, and merged forces with the much more established, well-read, and frequently updated pages of my dad's blog.

As I transition over to this blog, I may carry over some old material.

Starting with this: A medley of snow photos from just about one year ago.




Sometimes being out-of-focus means you're a bad photographer. Other times, it means it's snowing buckets and you can call it 'art.'




This one's my dad:


Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The greatness to dream

the following is what I heard in my mind yesterday:

"Like Dr. King, we must have a dream. We must not view the landscape before us and ask why. We must instead envision the dream and ask why not.

I stand here the product of the dream of people from Abraham Lincoln to Rosa Parks to Martin Luther King and thousands more. I stand here because of people who saw the dream and would not be deterred in their quest. I stand here because we as a people have been for over 230 years, and continue to be, a nation that permits dreams by its citizens. I am here because we as a nation do not let dreams die.

But dreams often do not come without a great price. There are often terrible struggles and difficult consequences. There are obstacles that seem insurmountable and problems that seem unsolvable. But our greatness lies in our willingness to do whatever it takes, to always keep reaching.

We as a nation now see danger and harsh terrain when we look ahead . We as a nation dare not turn back. We are stronger and better than that. We must all do what it takes to keep the flames of our dream alive. Sometimes it may flicker but we will never let it burn out. Sometimes we will be weary but we can never rest. Sometimes we may be knocked down but we will never quit. It is our destiny to follow greatness. It is our destiny to be great."

Monday, January 19, 2009

All that you can be

"Give me your tired, your poor
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest tossed to me"

In reading the Lizette Alvarez article " More Americans joining military as jobs dwindle" I couldn't help but think of Lady Liberty, the Mother of Exiles, as she is called by Emma Lazarus in her poem "The New Colossus". It appears that the armed forces have become a haven for those who have nowhere else to turn for employment. The report of Ms. Alvarez is filled with stories of the unemployed and uneducated, reaching out for Uncle Sam to provide shelter from the economic storm.

It is the worst of legacies from the Bush era. Where we should be seen as the emblem of hope, our military has become the refuge of the hopeless.The numbers in the military are spiking, even as there is a strong possibility that many of these men and women could find themselves in harm's way. When the best that America has to offer many of us is a way out of one mess, and into another, it is a sad time for us all.

We are about to embark on a new journey. We are filled with excitement and thoughts of a better tomorrow. Let the Statue that beckons those from distant shores become, once more a beacon of hope and light. Let tomorrow be a day when our tired, and our poor, can come home from the service to find a new and invigorated country ready to recapture its strength and glory. Let our homeless and tempest tossed find no need to flee. Let the words at the base of the statue find new meaning in new world.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Fingers in the dike

I wait eagerly for every column from Paul Krugman. I find his pieces to be consistently brilliant. However, I think that Mr. Krugman failed to see the most obvious reason for Barack Obama's apparent decision to forego pursuit of Bush and his cronies.

In "Forgive and Forget" , Mr. Krugman speaks of exacerbating partisanship, and not dwelling on past abuses as the predicates given for failure to prosecute the innumerable crimes of the past administration. The reality is that President Obama is about to be inundated with matters of substance and immediacy. He is like the boy with his fingers (and toes) in the dike. I believe he has chosen not to deflect his focus, or that of Congress, on matters regarding past wrongs.

We are in a period of extreme crisis. As important as it may be for us to investigate and incarcerate, now is not the moment. The Bush league misdeeds of the past 8 years have, in their own perverse way, created a shield for those involved. We are now so busy trying to right their wrongs that we don't have the time or energy to do right and pursue them for their wrongs. Their day may well come. However, for the time being, the only finger being raised in regard to this nefarious crew is the middle finger they continue to raise at all of us.

I know it is hard to preach patience but I urge Mr. Krugman to consider the possibility. Justice delayed is not necessarily justice denied.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Freedom fried

"He's Leaving, Really" is a look by Gail Collins at what we may expect to hear from George Bush as we anxiously wait for the day when we only get a view of 43 in our rear view mirror. I think, in looking back, the President should call his farewell address "Freedom Fried".

Over the past 8 years we have watched in horror and disgust as this misadministration veered us to a path marked by freedom from the rigors of the constitution, the demands of diplomacy, the oversight of crumbling financial markets and the protection of our environment. The course taken has found us with less personal freedoms, less foreign credibility, less domestic ability and less air to breathe freely.

We have been reduced in so many ways. We await tonight's speech not for the freedoms of which Bush will speak but for the one overriding freedom we all crave. Let us all be free from the grips of incompetency and and let us all begin a new journey back to the principles upon which this democracy is based. Goodbye President Bush. Free at last.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

New TV shows

Here are some of the new shows that are scheduled for the upcoming season:

1. BM- a look at all the lives turned to s___ as a result of the shenanigans of Bernie Madoff
2. Reverse Dobbs- a look at all the illegal immigrants trying to leave the US in search of employment and a better life
3. Follow the money- an in depth tracking of where all the money from the bailout disappeared to
4. I can't start my car- a day in the life of the heads of the Big 3
5. War what is it good for- a study in all the cons (and none of the pros) of being in a war zone
6. Take this job and shove it- Days 1 to 30 in the Obama presidency- a look from the inside out
7. Social insecurity- Following the life of one reaching out for retirement and finding only air
8. The doughnut hole- Reaching into the pocket of seniors, the black hole of health care is examined
9. Jobs- 10 individuals, who suddenly found themselves out of work, look for employment where there is none
10.Fast forward- A look at our lives in 2010 and 2020.
11.Heaven help us- Fundamentalism and everything it brings with it
12.Palin failin- At home and at work with the Palin family through 2009
13.Old paper- Nothing about newspapers are new- an industry on the brink
14.Bushwhacked- Back in Texas, 43 explains it all to us. this is not expected to last more than 1 episode
15.The Clintons- As Bill has had to disassociate with everyone he has ever known, the junior secretary of state examines world affairs with Hillary in a weekly chat
16.Unchened- Dick Cheney opens up like never before- why he should have tortured Bush
17.The Obama girls- The new celebrity kids talk about adjusting to life in the big white house
18.The silent minority- Rush Limbaugh stands mute for 30 minutes each Saturday
19.Turn out the lights- As Broadway shows dwindle each day, we examine the disappearance of art in our lives
20.Yankee ingenuity- How the Yankees manage to spend their way to everything but the World Series
21.The Constitution- A where's Waldo look to find anything in the Bill of Rights left intact by the Bush misadministration
22.The Clampetts- A daily guessing game on the price of oil
23.Indicted- An examination of the crimes committed during the Bush years and whether the culprits will ever be pursued
24.Here comes the sun- Alternative energy sources and whether they will ever see the light of day
25. Seven dirty words- George Carlin's masterpiece updated to the 21st Century by George Bush

Stay tuned for more shows that are now only in discussion.

Friday, January 9, 2009


As I survey the landscape in front of me, there are landmines as far as the eye can see. Disaster seems to be lurking in a recession bordering on a depression, a $50 billion scam and an escalation of violence in the Middle East. We all search for historical corollaries to compare and contrast. It is not hard to find other similar incidents in all these contexts. The question that thus arises is what we can take from seeing the same societal shortcomings repeated over and over.

For every Michael Millken, for every Enron, there is a subsequent Bernie Madoff. For the Great Depression, there are certainly many succeeding recessions and now the possibility of something worse. For Israel if it is not 1967 or 2006 it is 2009. Why can't we seem to get it right?

Is there something in our makeup that says for every step forward there must be a corresponding step in the other direction? Can we not build on the lessons learned from earlier misdeeds and create a better, stronger model going forward? Do we come out of the worst times because of our ingenuity or just because?

Sunday, January 4, 2009


I was entombed for a total of about 25 minutes. Earplugs were supposed to drown out the noise that was all around me. I was told at various points that I was breathing too deeply. Shallow breathing is not really my thing, but I had no option. Unless I wanted to repeat the process, I had to obey orders.

Finally completing the task, I emerged from the tunnel. I was told it would be about 15 minutes before the results of the MRI were read. I got dressed and waited. I soon was informed that the crash landing had caused a partial tear of my rotator cuff. I won't know until next week whether surgery is in my near future. In the meantime, life continues.

I have learned how to dress by putting my bad arm in my shirt first. In taking off my shirt, the good arm leads the maneuver. Rolling over in bed is out of the question. Other daily activities have also taken on unexpected difficulties. The worst of these is that we have 3 stick shift cars, and first and third gears are beyond my reach. I have thus had to call upon the good graces of Joanne to now increase her job description to include chauffeur. Well, at least until late this afternoon.

Richie and I were going a little stir crazy. Jo was out for the day at a museum. We wanted out of the apartment, and talked of making a little trip to Whole Foods, a few miles away. How to get there? Richie's bad back and legs had prevented him from doing driving except on rare occasions. My legs were fine but my right arm would not cooperate. Together, we were either a mess or perfect. We chose perfect as the logical combination.

As I got behind the wheel of the car, we discussed our strategy. "I will let you know when I have depressed the clutch. You can then shift gears, and let me know when you are engaged". It was so simply ingenious.

The trip back and forth went without issue. It was as though this 2 headed, 4 armed , 4 legged being was a well oiled machine. Precision was followed by more of the same. While I do think anyone peering into our car would have been more than mildly surprised to see the drill, that was not our concern. We were on a mission.

They say adversity can sometimes bring you closer. Clearly, for Richie and me, combining the best of each us brought both of us amusement and satisfaction. We try to make the best of the hand we are dealt. For today at least, we succeeded.