Sunday, January 31, 2010
Saturday, January 30, 2010
Play the percentages with me a moment.
So Friday evening I'm watching "The Dog Whisperer", and about half way through a commercial for the local Veterans hospital comes on. Fair enough.
The ad closes with this announcement:
Within the viewing area of this commercial, every qualified candidate is known. How many can there be, after all?
Is a TV ad likely to drive more out of the woodwork?
Friday, January 29, 2010
I'd been too self absorbed the past several days, wrapped up on my couch with blankey, TV remote and puppy to observe, until an attentive reader brought to my attention, the passing of Louis Auchincloss.
I often felt I was born too late to really understand Mr. A's novels of the life and mores of upper crust New York, but whenever I need a good escapist read I turn to him first. Somewhat in the same manner as some guys pine for those heady New York days of "Breakfast at Tiffany's" or the early Playboy fantasy life, I naturally turned towards the gilded Patrician age of post war America.
Frankly, I wonder if Mr. Auchincloss's writing wasn't mostly misunderstood. I'm not certain he was praising the rich, for the sake of being rich. It more felt like he was an anthropologist, discovering a new tribe of beings. He always seemed to me to be questioning the why's or how's rather than the novelist natural inclination towards justification. He seemed more the Puritan.
Few of his novels are great literature, but all are enjoyable reads.
Two of my favorite LA quotes:
“The tragedy of American civilization is that it has swept away WASP morality and put nothing in its place,”
"How can you live in the times we live in and not feel, 'Doesn't there have to be some evening up?'
To his family and friends, My condolences. He will be greatly missed.
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Near contemporaries, successful, talented, respected, political, philanthropic, and long married. They may also have the distinction of being the two most beautiful men of their generation.
The life of a screen actor must be terribly neurotic. You go to work, and a year later, the director shows you a film, and tells you to go out and sell it. In the mean time you've done 4 other things, have forgotten the work you're hyping and then have to wait for critics and the audience to give you feedback. For a ham like me, I'd need instant gratification. I'll take the stage, or a rock and roll career any day.
Remember the opening of the Masterpiece Brideshead? Has anyone ever looked like the young Jeremy Irons?
Except perhaps the young Sting?
To my eye they have aged fairly well too.
Part of the Faustian bargain of being married to one of the world's beautiful and accomplished people is knowing how and where to compete, and when to be yourself.
Both men are married to women who were accomplished actresses before marriage.
While Mrs. Sting may appear more the rock star glam wife, Mrs. Irons, an attractive woman in her own right, seems more settled in her own skin.
To each I wish much continued success, although if they each never did another thing, we would have memories for a lifetime.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Monday, January 25, 2010
Like sands through an hour glass, once again it's Robby Burns' birthday. The second of the two Scottish holidays this month.
My sole Scottish connection is through my daughter. Her father in law has accepted my unworthy self into their clan, McIntyre, just my luck them using an Irish spelling for a Scottish name. I am deeply proud none the less, and shall celebrate the day festooned in my most festive Blackwatch jacket.
Fortunately for me too. Burn's poetry has always left me cold, I have long preferred my new kinsman, Duncan ban MacIntyre's poetry, at least in translation. It's hard enough to be a poet, especially difficult if you are unable to read or write as Duncan was. He wrote primarily about the beautiful rugged highlands, its flora and fauna,and had the particular Celtic gift of poetically sticking it to the man.
But the good Scots deserve a day of feasting, any country which celebrates their second greatest export, which has loosened many a tongue of their greatest poets, on their currency, is one I am glad to be any part of.
I'm not a Scotch drinker, but I do believe in taking nourishment with the Gin that made Scotland famous, washed down with a bit of Drambuie.
Brother Scots we celebrate you on this day. Go forth and celebrate in peace. Remember, you have no idea where that haggis has been.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
We had friends for dinner, and deep into our third bottle of wine, we had covered most to the usual subjects. I'll not bore you with the specifics. Through the haze, I reflected on something I saw on PBS earlier in the week. See if it catches you as off guard as it did me.
Sometime in the not so distant past the joy of jumping rope went away.
Age appropriately (in public at least) until maybe 6th grade rope jumping was practiced in the mid 60's. Fifteen years later gone, and along with it all the jumping rhymes, and terms like double dutch. Gone, went the way of hop scotch, and 4 square.
Granddaughter Paige will be 10 next month, just about the right age for jumping. If I asked her to jump rope with me she'd think I'd had 3 heads.
Since I was in my cups, I posited that the last jump roper in America could likely be located, boxers and exercise fanatics excepted. Probably a woman in her mid 40's.
Photo from Iceland Eyes
Saturday, January 23, 2010
My new shorts arrived yesterday, and sense memories of basic training came rushing back. I could see, smell and feel the day uniforms were handed out, as if they were current. The ordeal is pretty much as you would expect. A bunch of scared kids on one side of the counter, a bunch of uncaring drones on the other.
Once you got your uniforms the next stop was the tailor. At Lackland AFB in 19XX the tailor was a euphemism for a long row of Mexican women with sewing machines. The women knew their job, they took one look at you, and hemmed pants to fit with nary a ruler, or wasted second asking needless questions.
Five minutes later, your 5 pair of uniform trousers were returned, and mostly fit pretty well. Cost was $5.
I mentioned this because new military uniforms the world wide smell the same, and by definition fit no one. Rushing to open my package I pulled the largest pair of shorts I have ever encountered. The "cuff" is 16 inches wide.
The length is not much shorter than Capri's.
For illustration I overlaid my every day Bill's Khaki shorts with the new ones.
PS: For those who read Mrs. Blandings blog, Friday was her day, she wanted no comments. Well, Mrs. B. I'm a ways farther down the parent road than you, and I cried along with you. I still regularly mosey to the basement to look at the bears, dolls, and comic books. My children will wonder too why I kept them. Someday they'll find out on their own.
Friday, January 22, 2010
While he and his wife were at work, and the kids at school, someone broke into their home and stole anything that plugged in. Television, computer, games, pods, and players.
The local gendarmes says yah that happens around here sometimes. It won't be quick but we might get some of it back.
While most of it is stuff, and can be replaced, the sense of being violated takes much longer to heal. Mercifully, no one was home, or hurt.
Oddly, the day they lost theirs, I received an XBox. Obviously, I am not a gamer. In fact I made my boys play with the sound off. Continuous Mario driveling noise can quickly throw the unawares over the edge. I was close most of the time.
No my X box is somewhat different.
Mrs. T gave it to me on her anniversary. I was shocked since come anniversary time she gets not gives. Here it is.
It's a small jewelry box. Ten years, X, get it?
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
"Adam used to work with me. He left here about a year ago to get married and finish school. He's a photographer, he speaks fluent Haitian Creole, and has spent time in the past doing missionary work in Haiti.
For their first wedding anniversary he and his bride decided that 2 weeks in Haiti sounded like a pretty good idea.
They arrived in Port Au Prince on January 5th.
This is the blog of their travels. It's pretty interesting to see just how drastically a vacation can be ruined in 42 seconds time."
Groupon is a nationwide (big cities)coupon service provided by business owners to get the word out about their wares. Click on the web site, locate your city, sign up and every day an Email arrives with the deal of the day.
In Mayberry on Monday, $15 bought a $35 coupon at a local grocery chain. Over the weekend $15 bought $35 at a local restaurant.
I bought and used the grocery coupon, and am happy so far.
Have any of you had other experiences with them?
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
I was at the dentist last week. The concierge asked that I come in early to fill out the all important 3 page paper work. Page 1: How do I get paid? Page 2: What have other medical types told, so you don't sue me? Page 3: What brings you here today?
I'd cracked a tooth, and was tired of spitting fragments. Pretty straight forward, and I was taken care of quickly, professionally, and painlessly. Then the dentist read my entrance exam.
"Looks like you're about due for a cleaning", the good Dr. suggested.
Why? says me.
"Says here you haven't been to the dentist in a while."
What the form said, was that I hadn't been since early in the first Reagan administration. I know because I wrote that.
"Do they need cleaning or do you want to clean them?" I inquired.
Seeing that he wasn't getting a new boat out of me, I was turned loose, without a follow up appointment.
That experience got me to thinking.
How much of what is spewed at us as gospel, is created out of whole cloth, by folks with a vested interest in our fleecing?
Did people need to go to the dentist twice a year, before the American Dental Association was created?
Please, I am not for a minute advocating that you ignore your health, but really, do you really need that appointment?
Monday, January 18, 2010
“Polar exploration is at once the cleanest and most isolated way of having a bad time which has been devised.” Apsley Cherry Garrard
Most males come equipped with the Explorer gene. Men who wouldn't walk to the grocery store for a 6 pack of beer seriously consider hiking the Appalachian Trail. Climb Mt. Everest? There are 4 television shows a week which describe it as a walk in the park. Single handed sailing across the ocean? Child's play.
Not many actively contemplate spending several years in Antarctica.
Apsley Cherry-Garrard's book "The Worst Journey in the World", may be the reason.
One hundred years ago British explorer Captain Robert Scott, set off from Cardiff to the Antarctic. His goal, for God and King, was two fold. First, to be the first man to set foot at the South Pole. Second, it was to be a mission of scientific exploration. Therefore they would bring back whatever specimens Scott's party decided the scientific community couldn't do without.
Due to the extreme weather, Scott's base camp is still intact. The photos, taken from The Telegraph, show how the campsite looks today. There is a fund raising drive taking place to rehab the building, as a testament to luck, pluck and the spirit of exploration.
With Scott dead, it was left to Cherry to deliver the eggs to the British Museum. With great solemnity he prepared his presentation, and a nice speech concerning how the eggs were gathered and the great personal cost to retrieve them.
The Worst Journey in the World" may be the greatest travel books ever written. It's they only thing Cherry ever wrote, and describes a world unimaginable today.
Sunday, January 17, 2010
by Calvin Trillin
So far, despite all the attention given to the wannabe terrorist from Nigeria widely known as the Underwear Bomber, nobody has mentioned that I predicted this turn of events. How many dead-on predictions does a person have to make to get a little credit around here? Am I implying that I’ve been similarly prescient in the past? Well, now that you mention it, yes. In a 1978 column about what was then being called the New Right, I said that I’d had some experience in the early sixties with the previous New Right, a movement most memorable for speeches that reached a level of boredom not witnessed in this country since members of the Communist Party droned their way through the thirties. Given the number of years between the two New Rights, I wrote, another New Right should be coming along around 1994. Sure enough, in 1994 a number of readers (three, if memory serves) wrote to remind me that my prediction had been uncannily correct: Newt Gingrich had led the Republicans in a historic takeover of Congress, and the press was full of stories about the power and vibrancy of the New Right.
A coincidence, you say? A lucky guess that I couldn’t repeat? Wrong. In a book I published in 2006 called “A Heckuva Job: More of the Bush Administration in Rhyme,” here is what I said, in one of the non-rhyming passages, about the so-called Shoe Bomber of 2001: “I’m convinced that the whole shoe-bomber business was a prank. What got me onto this theory was reading that the shoe bomber, a Muslim convert named Richard Reid, had been described by someone who knew him well in England as ‘very, very impressionable.’ I had already decided that the man was a complete bozo. He made such a goofy production of trying to light the fuses hanging off his shoe that he practically asked the flight attendant if she had a match. The way I figure it, the one terrorist in England with a sense of humor, a man known as Khalid the Droll, had said to the cell, ‘I bet I can get them all to take off their shoes in airports.’ So this prankster set up poor impressionable Reid and won his bet. Now Khalid is back there cackling at the thought of all those Americans exposing the holes in their socks on cold airport floors. If someone is arrested one of these days and is immediately, because of his M.O., referred to in the press as the underwear bomber, you’ll know I was onto something.”
That’s right: I predicted the Underwear Bomber in 2006. You could look it up. Around the same time, I repeated the prediction in public appearances and, as I remember, a couple of times on television. (I firmly believe that, in this world of ever-diminishing irreplaceable resources, using a line only once represents the sort of wastefulness our society can ill afford.) And what transpired on Christmas Day three years later? Another bozo tries to blow a hole in an airplane and succeeds only in setting his underpants aflame in a manner that might have rendered him ill equipped for the seventy-two heavenly virgins who were to be his reward if he succeeded. And how is this bozo described by friends and family? Naïve. And where was this bozo educated? University College London, within commuting distance of that diabolical trickster Khalid the Droll.
Has that name—Khalid the Droll— been mentioned even once in the endless press and television interviews with so-called security experts who prattle on about “connecting the dots” and “fostering interagency coöperation” and “eliminating stovepiping”? No, not once. Not once has anybody said, “Somebody should have followed up on Trillin’s underwear tip.” Not once has anybody considered the possibility that, after the shoe-bombing scheme worked to perfection, Khalid the Droll announced to his cell, “When they’ve had a few years of taking off their shoes, I bet I can make them expose their private parts to full-body scanners.” Not once has one of these after-the-fact analyzers considered the possibility that, just as the thirties Communists and the early-sixties New Right tried to bore us into submission, Khalid the Droll is engaged in an elaborate scheme to embarrass us to death.
And what will be the next step in this scheme? I’m working on my prediction now. I just hope somebody is paying attention this time. ♦
Read more: http://www.newyorker.com/talk/2010/01/18/100118ta_talk_trillin#ixzz0ctV3EnXy
Saturday, January 16, 2010
Would it matter, to learn your favorite author was a despicable human being?
Let's forget the writers curse for a moment.
Standards change, we forgive great authors who have come before, blaming their sins on, "that's how it was in those days", whether they be anti-Semites, racists, homophobes or wife beaters.
What about the the really heinous?
Can you separate the work from the writer? Does Faulkner offend your modern sensibilities? Do you enjoy Lewis Carroll any less for his child pornography? Does Barrie's fondness for young boys put you off Peter Pan?
What would it take?
I suspect that a good story overcomes any and all. Any thoughts?
Friday, January 15, 2010
Once upon a time I asked the love of my life to marry me. She said yes.
Today is the 10th anniversary of our wedding, and I am happier than I have ever been in my life. Just wait for tomorrow, I'll be happier still.
In our family its Mrs. T's anniversary. It's her world, I'm just along for the ride.
To quote Winston Churchill:
To my adored bride, Happy Anniversary, I love you madly.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
In the dark ages, unless there was snow on the ground, we were playing baseball. At school, during recess and lunch, the 5th grade played the 6th, the 7th played the 8th.
Saturday afternoons were back at the school yard, playing pick up games. No parents, no coaches.
Does anyone do that any more?
I don't suspect so.
Makes you wonder about the near future of pro baseball, if kids don't play.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Once again you've taken a high hard one on the chin over your steroid use. Bet you didn't see that coming.
May I offer a suggestion which will shut the nattering nabobs up at once, forever. It will also allow you to stop your whining,and crying on TV. It's unseemly.
Since your steroid use was no surprise to anyone, except perhaps you, take the offensive.
Go back on a national sports interview show. When the interviewer asks if you have anything else to say, say the following:
"America, I used steroids while playing. Major League Baseball didn't care, the Players Union didn't care, the fans didn't care. Sammy Sosa and I saved professional baseball from itself, and the cocaine era. We put fannys in the seats. We made a hell of a lot of money for team owners and management. We didn't do badly ourselves either.
Get off my back, get over the steroids. They are a fact of life. No one cares."
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
The cold weather has you thinking spring clothes doesn't it. It does me.
It's much like escapist literature. You're caught in the moment, but the moment is unpleasant. It's cold, you don't want to be outside, you're sick of being inside and the new magazines won't show up until the end of the week. So what do you do?
I've been rummaging through my closets, looking for what I need for spring.
I've stated before, my closets are full. Consequently, I've done very little shopping over the winter. A few replacements, nothing major.
Spring shopping, were I brash enough, would be a major boon to the economy. I'm not that brash.
This coming spring, like many before, will find me swaddled in my daily go to uniform of Gurkha shorts and either a chambray or polo shirt. I like military clothing. It's durable, cheap, and looks good under most conditions. I wear a lot of it around the house. Unwittingly, so do you.
I have several pair of Bill's Ghurka shorts that I have just about worn through. Today I purchased 2 pair from an importer of British militaria. These are the real deal. In military parlance, Shorts, KD, 1949 pattern.
I'm old enough, or perhaps fat enough, to have the sense to know not to leave The Park in shorts. Perhaps to the hardware or feed store, but not much farther. If I were more a Higgin's I'd don long British uniform socks and give it a go, but not yet.
Besides 100% wool socks are itchy, and I'd shrink them first time. Maybe if I were a few stone lighter.
I also picked up a couple of pair of British Army drill shorts. Tough to beat Khaki.
Which finally gets me to where I wanted to go in the first place. A while back, buddy ADG, wrote a long piece on the Ghurkas. It was up to his usual standard of greatness,and then some, but he left the gurkha story unfinished. I expected he would eventually get to it. He will, but I'll prod him with this tid bit.
The Gurkhas were justifiably known throughout the British Empire for their courage in battle. Their regiments distinguished themselves from the Crimea to Gallipoli.
This story is told by a young British officer serving in North Africa during WWII.
"Well, North Africa was a sticky bit of business, and one day it was decided that we had to air drop some fellows behind old Rommel's lines. It was a dangerous mission leaping into the desert in the black of night-so it was decided to ask for volunteers. Now, I'd heard what asking for volunteers was all about-it meant that the Gurkhas and a pigheaded Yorkshire man or two would go, while the rest of the chaps stayed home and played gin rummy. So volunteers were asked for, and to my great surprise only about half the Gurkhas signed on.
"It was damned discouraging, actually.
"All my life I'd been hearing inspirational tales about Gurkha fearlessness, and here they were, being downright prudent. I mean, it was dangerous, but not all that dangerous. So I thought, another legend tarnished. These guys aren't that tough after all.
"Disillusioned, but determined to find out why the legendary fighters had fallen so short of their reputation, the officer made a number of inquiries. What he discovered, was that none of the Gurkhas, including the 100 or so who did volunteer to jump, realized that they'd be given parachutes".
Now for ADG to finish the story.
All photos : What price glory, except Higgins(ABC) and the seated man (ADG)
Monday, January 11, 2010
All day long, like a song stuck in your head, I've been thinking about Spalding Gray. After a while, it would go away, only to work its way back into my consciousness. Sometimes,I take that as a sign to post about something. This one wouldn't go away. Finally, it hit me. This is the anniversary of his death. It's been 6 years, feels like yesterday.
I found Spalding, on the Disney Channel of all places. Years ago, they broadcast "Swimming to Cambodia". I probably missed the first half hour, but was spell bound forever after. At one time, I had video tapes of all the monologues.
Spald, had a brother, who teaches in town, so about once a year he would show up do a few shows and sneak out. I rarely missed one.
My favorite show, involved Mrs. T and I taking a group of foreign students to see his monologue. They were lost from the get go. If you couldn't follow the machine gun patter of his dialogue it was curtains. The kids never stood a chance.
Mr. Gray, wherever you are, the world is sadder place with you gone. To the Gray family, others miss your brother as much as you.
Do you remember time before television?
I remember when my family got our first TV, I was probably 3, so for all intents I have always had it. I was thinking about that this afternoon.
For thirty years I worked in a technology field. I'm not a Luddite, but frankly don't know much about the how and whys of computers, video games, and electronic things which keep pre-teenage boys up at night. I am curious though.
What I have learned about computers is this. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. So is an old man with time on his hands.
This weekend, while staving off cabin fever, I decided to learn what tricks our home networked TIVO could do. Turns out quite a lot, just not much you'd want it to, which brings me back to the dark ages before television.
I remember going to my ancient relatives homes where life revolved around radio. The world stopped to listen to a program. They were always programs. Their homes were designed for comfortable listening.
Well one trick TIVO can do is play your ITunes, or Podcasts through your TV. Watching radio. Sadly, it's a habit we've grown away from, and is now singularly unsatisfying.
TIVO isn't a one trick pony though. TIVO desktop software will allow you to store saved movies to your computer hard drive, from which you can save them or download them to DVD's. I've done that a lot recently.
Another is viewing the pictures on your computer through your television. I've got a lot of stored pictures. Some I've borrowed from you, and some I've taken myself, but I can't imagine calling the family in to watch my photos on TV.
Only one other feature made some sense, if.
If you had family members scattered around the country. Tivo will allow you to send video to other TIVO subscribers. Want Aunt Marge to see the school pageant? Instead of uploading to YouTube, you send your video directly to her TIVO. Probably .005% of all users will ever try that stunt.
After all is said and done, if you are a TIVO subscriber hook it up to your network, if for no other reason than to get ride of the telephone cords.
No I'm not shilling for TIVO today. Just frustrated.
Photo from turnitupmom.com
Sunday, January 10, 2010
Saturday, January 9, 2010
Natch, I have no connection to this shop, but do wish them well.
Friday, January 8, 2010
All my life I have had magnificently bad cars. Most were by choice, some were mistakes which should have been foreseen, sometimes I just fall in love. As often as not, I fall in love with something I would like to see in the garage, rather than truly own, or be dependant upon.
I have wanted a Range Rover Classic since about the day after I first saw one. I can't imagine a more useless piece of rolling toxic waste, but my heart just skips a beats every time I see one. My little friend on my shoulder says it won't hurt that often. I know better.
Since giving up my car to Number 2 son this summer we have been a one car family if I don't count the Bentley. It really hasn't been inconvenient having one car, just limiting.
So with the big storm approaching I thought I'd approach my bride with logic. We'll be stuck in the woods forever, without one, I suggested. The neighbor plows the drive, was her retort.
The car is near free, the on going expense no greater than a severe gambling addiction. Still she says no.
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Leave a fat, bald man to his self delusions, but have you ever had a perfect hair day, accidentally?
I'll be switched if I'd dare show a picture, but somehow, someway if I planned my hair to be one way forever it would have been like it was today. I couldn't duplicate it, I couldn't explain to my young barber chick that I wanted it this way. It just turned out.
Having reached the top of my game, follically, I believe I'll shave the remaining two strands off, and retire from the game.
While speaking of my barber chick:
The mythology of the Kennedy clan attributes much of the Kennedy family wealth to old man Joe's belief, and actions that it was time to exit the stock market when his shoe shine guy started giving him stock tips. Thereby escaping the Crash of '29. Advice that would have stood up well in the early 2000's.
For reasons known only to god,or perhaps the need to have a beautiful girl in the photos, my barber is opening the New York Stock Exchange trading day January 8th. Perhaps another sign of a coming apocalypse.
Photos: Life and NYSE