Monday, July 20, 2009

You're In The Wrong Place

But not the wrong time. I decided to switch Blogger identities, and maybe give the whole thing a fresh start. So please remove this bookmark and visit and bookmark the following site:

http://justtheguywhodoesthething.blogspot.com/

Those of you who know The West Wing will recognize that I am paying homage to Aaron Sorkin with the new title. But I also think it fits me better than "Beantown D."

Thank you!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Dos & Don'ts Of Bank Robbery

Man Arrested After Failed Dedham Bank Robbery
wbztv.com

I'll be the first to admit that there aren't a whole lot of subjects on which I can speak with authority. How to rob a bank is one subject on which I have very little knowledge to share. However, as this is a public service blog, I feel that it is my duty to help my dear readers who might be contemplating the possibility of "liberating" a bank of some excess funds. Therefore, I did some exhaustive research consisting of reading the above-linked story about a bank robbery gone horribly wrong. From this story, I was able to cull this admittedly short list of dos and don'ts. While this might not help anyone successfully rob a bank, following these simple tips certainly won't hurt.

"Dedham police say a 30-year-old Dorchester man wearing a blue suit tried to rob a Citizen's bank at 5 Bryant St. near Eastern Avenue at 8:50 a.m. Tuesday."

He starts off okay, wearing a fairly innocuous outfit that won't attract much attention. From here, however, he strays from the manual. If you are considering following in this man's personal-wealth increasing method, make sure you follow the below guidelines.

DO--make sure that you take away the employees' cell phones if you're going to leave them alone for any period of time.

"An employee immediately texted a branch manager at a different bank and told them to call police. "

DON'T--choose a bank to rob that has an obvious police presence right outside.

"As the robbery suspect left the bank empty-handed, two Dedham police details working in front of the bank arrested him. "

DO--always, always, ALWAYS, make sure that the money is accessible to the employees you are trying to rob. One sure way to do this is to only rob the bank during their regularly posted businenss hours.

"Because the bank had not yet opened for the day, there was no money in the registers, and the vault door wasn't open. "

Can you just imagine this one? I'm sorry, sir, we are still preparing to open for the day. If you can sit here for just a few minutes while we get the vaults open and the cash out for our drawers, we will be happy to accommodate your robbery as soon as we can. In the meantime, please check out this brochure on our easy and convenient Christmas Club. It has all the details of how your stolen cash can work for you, and today only we are giving away a free toaster oven with each new account opened. We realize that you have a choice when it comes to bank robbery, so we thank you for choosing Citizens Bank, and we apologize for the inconvenience.

One final tip:

DON'T--be a moron. Get a friggin job, loser!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

This Just In: Don't Believe Anything You Read

Irish student hoaxes world's media with fake quote
Shawn Pogatchnik
Associated Press

Another reason why you should never trust those Irish folk!

This Just In: Savages Act Savagely

Study: Bad boy doesn't always get the girl
Randolph E. Schmid
Associated Press

Maybe this is why Mike Tyson could never keep a woman?

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Weekly Roundup

Disrupt, Dismantle, Defeat
Obama Plan Would Narrow War Goals in Afghanistan
Hopefully President Obama’s plan will work better than President Bush’s did. It turned out not to be such a good idea to try and create democracy where none existed before, so perhaps simply targeting our enemies is the way to go. It would be nice to be able to make everyone’s lives better, but that’s not always the way to go. Our first goal has to be to make Americans safe, and it cannot be argued that dismantling Al Qaeda will go a long way toward the fulfillment of that goal. They’ll like us when we win.
New York Times

Defense of Driving
Auto Task Force Set to Back More Loans -- With Strings
Why are the people who got us into the economic mess we’re in the ones who are in charge of figuring out how to fix it? It is unconscionable that the government is providing any more financial assistance to the auto industry. Why not use that money to invest in companies that will develop a new, sustainable business model?
Wall Street Journal

Buyers Market
Consumer spending up, but income sags on job cuts
Lots of people are out of work, but it seems that the ones who aren’t are getting back into the buying mode. Good news for the retail industry, at least.
Associated Press

Conserve the Truth
Report: Reid Says Roberts 'Didn't TBoldell Us the Truth'
Chief Justice Roberts made senators believe that he was “not too conservative.” What does that mean? I’m all for Supreme Court justices not pushing political agendas, but this seems like the ultimate in slippery-slope argumentation. “Too conservative” for who?
Washington Post

Throat Burn
Hot tea linked to cancer
Don’t you just completely agree with the first line of this story? I want to get a bumper sticker for my car that says “Life causes cancer.” Because that’s what it seems like.
Minneapolis Star Tribune

Beautiful Stranger
Madonna urged to rethink adoption
Who can know Madonna’s motivations except Madonna herself? Doesn’t the press in the UK, or here in the US for that matter, have more important things to cover than what overhyped, overpaid entertainer is fancying what this week?
BBC News

Saturday, January 31, 2009

25 Things

I just got "tagged" on facebook where you have to write out a list of 25 things and then send them out to 25 other people who then have to send out 25 things to 25 people and on and on. I guess it's the chain letter of the new millenium.

It turned out not to be such a bad thing. It causes you to introspect, to consider what 25 things you'd most like people to know. I purposely injected some humor into mine along with some serious thoughts. I'm glad I did it for many reasons, not the least of which is I was able to get an easy blog entry out of it! Enjoy.

---------------------------------------------------
Once you've been tagged, you write a note with 25 random things (shortcomings, facts, habits or goals). At the end choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you.

(To do this, go to "notes" under tabs on your profile page, paste these instructions in the body of the note, type your 25 random things, tag 25 people in the right hand corner of the app then click publish.)

1. Statistics show that most people will only read up to number 4 or 5, then get bored or distracted. So I only have, at most, 4 more good ones to come up with then I can just kind of phone in the rest.

2. I have a blog. I’m kind of bad at updating it, but my New Year’s resolution is to try and update it at least twice a week (http://beantowndfromthebigeasy.blogspot.com/).

3. There are at least five things that people should never do on impulse: conceive a child, make a major purchase, declare war, acquire a pet, and get married. People should try to think through the ramifications (play the “end game”) before doing any of these things.

4. You appreciate thick comfy socks a lot more up north than down south.

5. I take it personally and get angry, and sometimes vengeful, when people cut me off while driving. I shouldn’t, but I do.

6. This country was a lot better off before politics became alternating popularity and mud-slinging contests, when decent and noble men and women viewed entering politics as an opportunity to serve their fellow citizens rather than to create dynasties for themselves. I don’t think that this problem has an easy or obvious solution.

7. The more you think about it, the more you realize that YOU pay for everything. No matter how much you’re told “the government is paying for this,” or “the company is giving you this for free,” or “this foundation gave away millions of dollars to these causes,” if you trace back the money trail it all ends at you. If you think about this too much, you will go insane.

8. What if the hokey-pokey really IS what it’s all about?

9. While I guess I am considered pro-choice because I do not believe that it is the government’s place to interfere in its citizens’ lives regarding their moral decisions, I am personally against the practice and, in the unlikely event that I would ever find myself in the position of having impregnated a woman who chooses to have an abortion, would take extraordinary measures, up to and including court intervention, to stop my child from being aborted. Pro-choice does NOT mean “pro-abortion” as one reality-challenged, religiously-brainwashed individual snidely called me recently. In fact, I consider myself “anti-abortion,” because I would not permit it in my own life. But I, like the government, have no business telling anyone else what to do unless the decision affects me directly.

10. A priest, a monk, and a rabbi walk into a bar. The bartender says, “What is this, a joke?”

11. One needs only to take a drive around Boston, Massachusetts and notice how few accidents occur relative to the manner in which people drive, to become a believer in the chaos theory.

12. I believe that the two-party system is bad for our country. It values positions over ideas. I could write a whole book about this, and one day I might.

13. Whew. Halfway through.

14. I believe in God, but I reject religion. I’ve never heard of anyone being killed over God, but I know of many people, entire civilizations in fact, that have been killed over religion. I’ve thought deeply about this for a long time and the best that I have determined is, there has to be some type of entity that is a higher form of being than humans to have created, or begun, or energized all that exists. But, this entity, whatever its manifestation, is something that is so far beyond the realm of humans’ ability to understand it, that we are arrogant for even trying. God created the world. Man created religion. I know many, many good people who are religious. However, I think these people would have been good people anyway, had religion never been invented.

15. Ketchup should not be stored in the refrigerator. Ever.

16. Elisa sent this to me as “16 Things” and I was almost done with it, and then Tamara sent me the exact same thing except that it was “25 Things.” So instead of being done I got 9 more to do. Thanks, Tamara!

17. I love karaoke. Sometimes on Saturday night I go sing karaoke at this dive called Banana Cabana in Middleton with my neighbors Nancy & Bob. If you’ve never heard Bob sing “My Way” then you’ve not experienced Shakespeare as it was meant to be. Antonio, the guy who runs the karaoke, always wants me to sing “Movin’ Out” by Billy Joel and “Take It to the Limit” by the Eagles. One time he downloaded “Louisiana Saturday Night” right there because I wanted to sing it. Once when I was in P-Town I sang “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” with a 6’5 transvestite named Dana, who was sporting a long blond mullet, singing the female’s lyrics. This happened after about 7 Long Island Teas, but I probably would have done it cold sober anyway.

18. Every day, I think about the people that I love and miss. Maw-Maw, Dad, Seaner, Nan-Nan, Uncle Johnny, Uncle Bob, Charlene. I picture them all in heaven having a big ol’ party together.

19. If you are attacked, fight back. The two most vulnerable places on the human body are the crotch and the eyes. Go for them. And don’t be polite about it either. Punch, grab, and squeeze the crotch. That will cripple the guy, but if it doesn’t work, poke him directly in the eyes with your index and middle fingers. Then run like hell. So what if you blind the son of a bitch? When they come for your life, all bets are off.

20. I installed a skylight in the living room. The people who live above me are furious.

21. Before I moved to Massachusetts, I had never heard of “closing” a pool. But every October we have to “close” the pool. Then in May, we have to “open” the pool. That’s weird. The other big difference between Boston and New Orleans is the whole concept of “last call.” Once I had some New Orleans friends visiting and the bartender announced “last call.” My friends asked what “last call” was and I replied that was when you stopped drinking. My friends said, “why on earth would you stop drinking?” I didn’t have a good answer to that question.

22. I spilled some soda on my snuggie, but it was okay because I wiped it up with my sham-WOW.

23. Hurricane Katrina was a surreal experience for me. Growing up in New Orleans, I always heard things like “the big one’s coming,” and “one of these days the levees are going to give and the whole city’s going to flood.” Storms come and storms go, you evacuate for a day or two, then come home, pick up the stuff that blew around, and continue life pretty much as normal. Then, at 36, I move to Boston and less than a month later the one I’ve heard about my whole life hits. For two days I did nothing but sit on the couch watching the news, trying to get in touch with people. I became sort of the communications hub for my family and friends. I had a spreadsheet going, when I got in touch with someone I’d put in where they were and how to get in touch with them so when friends would say “I don’t know where Joe ended up,” I’d check the spreadsheet and say, “well, Joe’s in Jackson at the Holiday Inn, room 255, here’s the landline.” It was the only thing that kept me sane, knowing that I had to keep up with my mom and the rest of my family and everybody else. Well, that, and the vodka.

24. Charlene and I went to Jewel’s concert in 2003, and it was excellent. She had just finished singing “Hands” which I love, and in the little break between songs I decided to scream out “I love you Jewel” at a quiet point in the concert. Jewel looked up from the guitar she was tuning, leaned into the microphone, and said in her sultry voice, “I love you too, baby.” I thought that was the coolest thing.

25. One day, I’m either going to figure it all out, or die. Either way, I’ll be done.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Judge Judy Tells It Like It Is

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a huge fan of Judge Judy. And no, I don’t always agree with her decisions, but I always respect her no-nonsense, no-bullshit way of getting the truth out of even the most devious of individuals.

My favorite cases are ones where she goes off on idiots for acting idiotic, deceitful, and irresponsible. I don’t suffer fools well and get very frustrated when people refuse to accept responsibility for their actions. I get angry when people lie and cheat others who trust them. And I get downright furious when people don’t live up to their responsibilities to their own children.

Unfortunately, I know far too many parents who ignore their children, or neglect their children, or treat their children like second-class citizens because of their own selfishness. There is one couple I’m thinking of in particular, and those who are close to me will recognize whom I’m speaking of. And while this is not the proper forum in which to call them out, I have spoken to each of them individually about this and I’m always told that I don’t understand because I don’t have children myself. This is true. But I know so many more parents who treat their children the right way that I’m quite able to recognize positive vs. negative treatment, and positive vs. negative influences. If I had enough money, I would hire Judge Judy to come with me for a day and lay it out for them similar to how she does for these ladies below.



Usually when people buy second hand items, Judge Judy gives them the sage advice “Buyer Beware” and sends them on their way. If you don’t read the terms of the sale correctly, or don’t fully check out what you’re buying, too bad. You can’t come back later and complain if you fail in your due diligence. But in this case, it doesn’t take Judge Judy long to figure out who the demon is. Take 10 minutes and watch this clip. I promise you will be entertained.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Mi Amigo Bueno

This weekend should be fun. My friend Celino is coming to Boston to play a concert. He’s a classical guitarist and part of the Romero family, the “First Family of the Guitar.” Click this link to watch Celino perform La Paloma. His grandfather Celedonio began the quartet back in the 1950s, and now Celino, his dad Celin, uncle Pepe, and cousin Lito continue the tradition.

The concert will be a lot of fun, but what I’m really looking forward to is being able to hang out with Celino for awhile. He’s one of these people that has absolutely no time, but when you talk to him or spend time with him he always makes you feel like you’re the most important person in the world. That is a rare quality.

How Celino and I met and became friends is kind of an interesting story.

The Romeros were scheduled to open the LPO’s 2001-02 season on September 13, 2001. They were to fly in Tuesday evening, rehearse Wednesday, and perform concerts on Thursday and Saturday. In between, there was a lot of media interest in them, even more than the usual hype surrounding the opening of the season, because a quartet of classical guitarists, particularly Spanish classical guitarists, is a rather unusual combination with a symphony orchestra. In addition, New Orleans has a lot of Spanish media who took a great deal of interest in them. So, I had interviews and appearances set up for them pretty much anytime they wouldn’t be in rehearsal.

Well, we all know what happened on Tuesday, September 11, 2001. There was no way the quartet was going to fly out of Miami to New Orleans on that day. In fact, with cell phone signals jammed up all over the country, we couldn’t get in touch with them, and their agents were in New York City, so forget that.

After the initial shock had worn off of us in the office, about Noon that day the realities of what this might possibly mean for the opening of the orchestra season began to sink in. Obviously, the quartet was not going to be able to fly to New Orleans. Should we even open the season at all? What do we do if our guest artists can’t make it? Do we change the repertoire, or cancel the concerts altogether?

To make an even longer story short, I canceled all of their media appearances except for one Saturday morning radio appearance, knowing that if they did make it, they’d be too busy to focus on anything except the concert. We debated back and forth for the rest of the afternoon and continued Wednesday morning and decided to go ahead and cancel. Most other events in the city were being canceled, and we had no word from our guest artists, so we really had no choice. Maestro had declared that it was too late to change the repertoire, so as much as we would have liked to help calm people with beautiful music, it looked like we had to cancel. As I was sitting down at my computer, ready to issue a press release about the cancellation, an email popped into my inbox from the wife of one of the quartet members indicating that they had rented a car and were driving 16 hours from Miami to New Orleans. That changed the whole situation. We couldn’t very well cancel the concerts with the four of them driving all the way from Miami.

They arrived late Wednesday and made it in time for morning rehearsal on Thursday. I met them after rehearsal Thursday and asked them if they would do the radio interview on Saturday. One of the older gentlemen said “yes, absolutely, perhaps the four of us, but at least two of us will do it.” It was kind of funny to watch, the four of them were absolutely at each other’s throats about something, I figured it was four family members who had been cooped up in a car for 16 hours straight, and all they did was bitch at each other until Maestro stepped on stage and tapped his baton. Then they all shut up, straightened up, and were ready to rehearse. After rehearsal, as soon as Maestro walked off the stage, they were at each other again. Consummate professionals, I must say.

So we got through the Thursday night concert and Friday, still with 24-hour news coverage, and most other events around the city being canceled. We were completely, SRO sold out for both concerts by people looking for a few hours of distraction, and the Romeros did not disappoint. They absolutely blew the doors off the place!

Saturday morning arrived. I went to the hotel to pick up the quartet to find the two younger quartet members, Celino and his cousin Lito. I found out that Lito was 34 at the time and Celino was my age, 32. Turns out the older guys didn’t want to do the interview and the sent the two younger guys to do it. Lito sat in the front seat and barely spoke. Celino sat in the back on his cell phone the entire drive to the radio station. We got to the station for the 11am interview and it was a complete disaster. The host of the show had done absolutely no preparation; I don’t think she even read the press materials I had sent her on the quartet or the orchestra. She had no questions prepared, she just sat there and smiled and nodded as Celino basically took over the interview and talked. I was mortified. Finally, after about 20 minutes we just sat there for about 10 seconds of dead air and Celino said something like, “well, thanks for having us. We’ll be going now.” He had to actually end the interview live on the air for this woman. Needless to say, I never booked another artist on that show!

The second we left the studio, Celino got back on his cell phone and talked the entire way back to the hotel. The only thing Lito said was to ask if I would stop at Starbucks so they could get coffee. I was convinced these guys thought I was a total idiot for setting up such a screwed up interview. So they got their coffee and I dropped them back at their hotel.

That evening before the concert I went to their dressing room to thank them again for doing the interview and to see if there was anything they needed. All four gentlemen were in much better spirits than they had been for the previous few days. When I walked out to go back to the lobby Celino and Lito came running after me. They were tired and didn’t have the energy to deal with a bunch of people who had traveled to New Orleans to see the concert. (Yes, apparently classical guitarists have groupies, too!). They asked me what they could do. I told them to stay in their dressing room after their performance because it was intermission and I would come get them after the second half of the concert started, and I would have a taxi waiting at the stage exit for them.

Nobody listens to me.

They decided to try to sneak out during intermission. I was standing outside the theater talking to my boss. I was facing the theater and didn’t see them walk out. All of a sudden my boss started clapping and shouting “Bravo!” turning everyone’s attention toward the four men. Next thing you know they’re mobbed.

The two older men actually got into one of the groupie’s cars and took off, leaving Lito and Celino standing there in the mob. Celino finally made his way over to me and asked if my car was there. I said sure and helped them get away from the adoring crowd. In the years working at the orchestra I’d gotten rather good at being able to separate these artists from their fans while putting the onus on me rather than them. So I explained to the crowd that the guys had an important appearance to make on behalf of the orchestra and I needed to get them there.

As I drove them back to their hotel they started asking me what was fun to do in New Orleans and I was telling them about the French Quarter and different places to go. Celino said that they were going to dinner with some of the folks and then asked what I was doing. I replied that I had nothing else to do that night; I didn’t have to go back to the concert because my boss knew I had to deal with them, so we made plans to meet at Louisiana Pizza Kitchen in the Quarter where they were supposed to meet Celino’s dad, their uncles, and the groupies. So I dropped them off, drove home, changed clothes, and headed back downtown.

When I got to the Pizza Kitchen, it was quite a sight. The two older guys were sitting at one end of a row of about 10 tables they had pushed together, smoking cigars looking like they were holding court, reveling in the attention of a bunch of ladies and more than a few gentlemen who are their biggest fans. I went up and greeted the older guys and sat with them for a minute and then made my way down to the opposite end where Celino and Lito were sitting with a late-30ish guy from Oklahoma who came down to New Orleans with his 10 year old son just to see these guys in concert.

We ordered dinner and talked for awhile, then the Oklahoma guy with the 10 year old son got on the topic of 9/11. He went on and on about pansy-ass Clinton and how he was so thankful that George W. was president during all of this. I just politely nodded and looked downward because I really didn’t want to get into it with this ignoramus. Now, I wasn’t the biggest Clinton fan around, but the way this guy was talking, Clinton would have immediately surrendered the country to the Taliban on September 11 and by September 15, when we were sitting there having dinner, we would all have been wearing turbans and swearing our allegiance to Allah. Please! Guys like that give conservatives a bad name. I noticed that Lito and Celino also had short answers and heads down while listening to this guy. It was almost embarrassing that a person this ignorant exists on this earth, and downright frightening that he is procreating.
We got through the dinner and the group decided to head to Café du Monde for coffee and beignets. For those of you unfamiliar with New Orleans, beignets are these fried plain doughnuts that, by municipal law, you are required to drown in powdered sugar and scarf down at the rate of 4 a minute.

As we walked toward Café du Monde it was about 11:30pm, and Celino came up to me and said that they wanted to hit the Quarter. When we got there, the older guys didn’t want us to take off, so there was a bit of a disagreement, but in the end the three of us headed toward Bourbon Street.

They wanted to go to Pat O’Brien’s for hurricanes, so we went up St. Peter Street with me in the lead. I walked into Pat O’s and straight to the patio bar where I ordered three hurricanes. All of a sudden, there’s Celino at my side saying “make that two.” I said, “what, you’re not drinking tonight?” And he replied, “no, Lito went home.” I was like, “WTF? He was just behind us.”

We got our hurricanes and started talking. Lito had some personal problems he was dealing with at the time (one was actually the source of much of the bickering that had gone on earlier in the week), and wanted to just go back to the hotel or who knows where and be by himself. So for the rest of the night it was just Celino and me.

We just clicked. It was one of those situations where you just totally feel comfortable with somebody even though you know very little about them. Through the course of the night we discovered that we have similar senses of humor, similar world views, and we’d been thrown together by circumstances that brought out the best in both of us.

We partied up and down Bourbon Street that night; I can’t remember ever before or since having so much fun on Bourbon Street. We saw some of my friends at the BBC (Bourbon street Blues Company) many of whom had gone to one of the concerts and were very happy to meet Celino. He was very gracious and I think he liked hanging out with them but after awhile I noticed him slinking back by himself again so I went up to him and suggested we leave.

He didn’t want to go home quite yet and he wanted another hurricane so we stopped by Pat O’s and got two more. Then we just went walking through the Quarter and did what has got to be the most New Orleansesque of anything one can do--we sat on some random stranger’s stoop and just talked. And talked and talked. I should clarify that I did most of the listening and he did most of the talking. He just unloaded everything he had been keeping inside of him all week.

They were stuck in Miami during 9/11. That day, he got a call from his wife that the family dog was dying and needed a $2,000 procedure to save her life. He and his wife had a 4 year old son who was devoted to the dog and they didn’t want to just let the dog die. So Celino’s poor wife was dealing with all this plus she was 7 months pregnant at the time. They went back and forth, should they spend the money or not? Finally on Thursday, his wife’s parents came up with $1,000 so C and his wife paid the other $1,000 and the dog went in for the procedure.

Right before I picked the guys up for their interview that morning, Celino got a call from his wife that the dog went through the procedure and actually died anyway. So that’s what the conversation on the way to the radio station was all about. Then, on the way back from the radio station that morning, he was back on the phone with his 4 year old son explaining to him why his beloved dog was not coming back.

That was the most heart-wrenching thing that happened among many others. We talked for hours. By the time I got home it was almost 5 in the morning. Celino and his family left that day (Sunday) and we’ve e-mailed and called back and forth ever since.

The next time I saw Celino was in Houston the following June. He was playing a solo for a University of Houston festival. He brought his family with him and I got to meet them after the concert. His wife is very sweet, as are his two boys. His wife actually wanted to go out with us but they hadn’t been able to get a sitter. She told me that she was surprised when she met me. I asked why, and she said that all she knew of how Celino and I met was that we spent the whole night in the French Quarter. She was picturing me as some frat-type party boy!

The last time I saw Celino was spring of 2007 in Boston. He had left the quartet in Europe while he came to play a solo with the Pensacola Symphony and had an 8-hour layover at Logan on the way back. So I picked him up and Bill and I took him out drinking and to the North End for Italian food. That was lots of fun. We were hoping he could stay a few days after the concert this weekend, but he has to hop a plane for Spain Sunday morning for another concert, so we’ll only have Saturday night. But he’s already warned me not to plan on getting too much sleep tomorrow night. So, I guess I’d better go rest up. Look for the concert (and party night) review to shortly follow.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

What's In My Inbox

Tuesday was a sad day. Our 43rd president, Mr. George Walker Bush, left office to retire to his ranch in Crawford, TX. Sad, because the late-night comedians have no one at the top left to slam. Unfortunately, it seems as though President Obama is a pretty eloquent speaker, so for the next four or eight years our country may be looking to Vice President Joseph “Quayle Who?” Biden to provide political comic relief. It’s a sad day in America, my friends.

In the meantime, we can at least bid President Bush a proper goodbye, and I think this “appeal” for donations to his presidential library, sent to me by a friend, pretty much does the trick. Enjoy!

---------------------------------------------

The George W. Bush Presidential Library is now in the planning stages and accepting donations.
The Library will include:

-The Hurricane Katrina Room, which is still under construction.
-The Alberto Gonzales Room, where you won’t be able to remember anything.
-The Texas Air National Guard Room, where you don’t even have to show up.
-The Walter Reed Hospital Room, where they don’t let you in.
-The Guantanamo Bay Room, where they don’t let you out.
-The Weapons of Mass Destruction Room, which no one has been able to find.
-The National Debt Room, which is huge and has no ceiling.
-The Tax Cut Room, with entry only to the wealthy.
-The Economy Room, which is in the toilet.
-The Iraq War Room. After you complete your first visit, they make you go back for a second, third, fourth, and sometimes fifth visit.
-The Dick Cheney Room, in the famous undisclosed location, complete with shooting gallery.
-The Environmental Conservation Room, still empty.
-The Supreme Gift Shop, where you can buy an election.
-The Airport Men’s Room, where you can meet some of your favorite Republican Senators.
-The Decider Room, complete with dart board, magic 8-ball, Ouija board, dice, coins, and straws.

Note: The library will feature an electron microscope to help you locate and view the President’s accomplishments.

The library will also include many famous quotes by George W. Bush:

“The vast majority of our imports come from outside the country.”
“If we don’t succeed, we run the risk of failure.”
“Republicans understand the importance of bondage between a mother and child.”
“No senior citizen should ever have to choose between prescription drugs and medicine.”
“I believe we are on an irreversible trend toward more freedom and democracy - but that could change.”
“One word sums up probably the responsibility of any Governor, and that one word is ‘to be prepared.’”
“Verbosity leads to unclear, inarticulate things.”
“I have made good judgments in the past. I have made good judgments in the future.”
“The future will be better tomorrow.”
“We’re going to have the best educated American people in the world.”
“One of the great things about books is sometimes there are some fantastic pictures.” (during an education photo-op)
“Illegitimacy is something we should talk about in terms of not having it.”
“We are ready for any unforeseen event that may or may not occur.”
“It isn’t pollution that’s harming the environment. It’s the impurities in our air and water that are doing it.”
“I stand by all the misstatements that I’ve made.” (George W. Bush to Sam Donaldson)

PLEASE GIVE GENEROUSLY!

Sincerely, Jack Abramoff, Co-Chair
G.W. Bush Library Board of Directors

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Oiling Up My Dance Machine

There’s a radio station here in Boston, 93.7 MIKE-FM, and their tagline is “We play everything.” And boy, do they. From Zappa to Zeppelin, from Miles Davis to Metallica, from Davy Jones to Def Leppard, from Nat King Cole to N’SYNC, I’ve heard it all on this station. The best part, for me, is when they play some obscure 80’s song that I remember rocking out to back in the day that I never thought I’d hear again, indeed had forgotten all about. That has happened to me several times while listening to this station.

A few days ago, I got an incredible surprise driving back to the store from the bank. Tim Curry’s I Do The Rock started blaring out of my car speakers. I probably hadn’t heard that song on the radio in over 20 years, but I remember how much I love it.

Everyone knows Tim Curry as the lovable, crazy, and slightly evil transvestite who gets lasered by a guy with a banana on his head in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. My sister used to take me to the midnight showings of that movie when I was 10 years old and I just had the best time. It remains one of my favorite movies of all time.

Tim has had quite an illustrious career. Perhaps you remember him as Wadsworth/Mr. Boddy in the film version of the game Clue, or Rooster in the film version of Annie, or the bumbling hotel manager Mr. Hector in Home Alone 2, or the elocution specialist Dr. Poole in Oscar. Recently, he was part of the original Broadway cast of Monty Python’s Spamalot.

If you check his IMDB profile, you can see for yourself just how accomplished he is. He is a true artist. Back in the late 70s/early 80s, he put out a few rock albums with some incredible songs. For awhile, his songs hit mainstream radio, but not for long. I’ve always thought of Tim as the British version of Bruce Springsteen when it comes to music. He doesn’t have the best voice, but his voice evokes such emotion and passion as to make you feel as if you are with him, in the place and time that he is singing.

So take a few minutes and enjoy the videos I dug up on youtube. The first one is I Do The Rock. He mentions a lot of people and situations that might not be recognizable in this day and age, but my sister knows the details of the whole song. Maybe I’ll ask her to do a guest entry detailing the people and situations that he mentions in the song.



The next one is my personal favorite of Tim's, Paradise Garage. It totally rocks. Notice Dr. Frank-N-Furter walking by.



The third is one that truly illustrates Tim’s emotion and passion. Yes, it’s a Burt Bacharach tune (God help us), but Tim gives it something that Burt never could. Enjoy Anyone Who Had A Heart. I couldn't find a clip with Tim on screen, but someone on youtube actually took the time to put his version with a collage of House and Wilson scenes on House. Enjoy.

Friday, January 9, 2009

The Weekly Roundup

Open For Monkey Business
Governor says impeachment vote is politically driven
"The House's action today, and the causes of the impeachment, are because I've done things to fight for families who are with me here today," said Blagojevich. Can you believe the unmitigated arrogance of some people? No, Milorad. You are being impeached because, among many, many other reasons, federal agents have you on record saying that Barack Obama’s Senate seat “is a ... valuable thing, you just don't give it away for nothing.” Save some face, man. Admit what you’ve done wrong, apologize, and give up your position. It might be the only way to stay out of jail. And while you’re at it, please do something about that hair.
(CNN)

Happy New Year
U.S. Economy: 2008 Payrolls Drop Biggest Since 1945
More troubling news for the economy as well as all of us regular schlubs out there looking for a paycheck. Seems like it’s time for a resurgence of small businesses. Let’s just hope they’re given a level playing field, since they likely won’t be afforded the benefits of any government bailout.
(Bloomberg)

No Fair
Palin: Is Kennedy getting 'kid glove' treatment?
I am so sick of immature, whining politicians. What is Governor Palin whining about? Is she just trying to keep her name in the public’s stream of consciousness in preparation for her 2012 presidential bid? If so, this is not the way to do it. I can think of at least three reasons why media scrutiny was harder against Sarah Palin than it is against Caroline Kennedy. First of all, Sarah Palin was running for Vice President of the United States. There is only one of those people at a time, and he or she is a heartbeat away from becoming the most powerful person in the world. Caroline Kennedy is seeking an appointment as a Senator from New York. Should she get it, she would be one of 535 members of the legislative branch of the federal government. An important position, to be sure, but one that affects mainly the citizens of New York, and the rest of us not so much. Another possible reason for more scrutiny on Palin than Kennedy is the fact that Palin was asking us to vote for her. The people had a choice. Caroline Kennedy, while no doubt desiring favorable public opinion, when you get down to it has a constituency of one. Governor Paterson is the only one who has to be convinced that she can do the job. Finally, while Caroline Kennedy has been a public figure her whole life, Sarah Palin came out of relative obscurity and burst onto the national scene as the Vice Presidential nominee. People were naturally curious as to who this woman was. And, let’s face it, once you got over Obama’s crazy minister and Michelle Obama being proud of her country “for the first time in [her] adult life” there wasn’t much else new about the candidates. McCain’s been a national figure for years now; all of his skeletons are out there. And everybody knows what a nutcase Joe Biden is, so good or bad, the most interesting personal history story of the election was Sarah Palin. Stop whining and go shoot a moose!
(Associated Press)

Peace For A Piece
Israel, Hamas press on with Gaza war
How long will fighting go on before people realize that warfare in that region solves nothing? How many innocent people have to die before Israelis and Palestinians decide to live peacefully? It has nothing to do with getting what you want anymore. The only way to do that is for one side to kill everybody on the other side. And hopefully, the spineless United Nations would step in before that would ever happen. For sure, the US would. But for now, everyone’s just issuing “condemnations.” There has to be a way for everyone to peacefully coexist. In a compromise, no one gets exactly what they want. And when the stakes are so high, they have to be prepared to be even more disappointed than they might expect to be.
(Reuters)

Too Much
Baltimore Mayor Indicted in Theft and Perjury Case
Well, we’ve got Mr. Blagojevich on the state level being corrupt, Ms. Palin on the national level being ignorant, now we’ve got Ms. Dixon on the local level being both. Using gift cards that were donated for needy families? That suggests one who is morally bankrupt. All we can hope is that it is not true. But I fear not.
(New York Times)

Running Doubt
NFL notes: Tomlinson listed as doubtful
Isn’t this the third playoff year in a row that Tomlinson’s been unable to play? Maybe he really is hurt, or maybe it’s some kind of psychological thing. Who cares, anyway? This year's playoffs are probably the most boring ever.
(San Jose Mercury News)

Catwoman
Angelina Jolie Gives Anne Hathaway The Hairy Eyeball
Please explain to me why I’m supposed to care about this.
(Actress Archives)

Sunday, January 4, 2009

I Wasn't Dreaming

It actually was a white Christmas in Stoneham. And, boy, was it ever. See, just because you get 6-9" of snow, that's not all you have to deal with. You need things like sidewalks, driveways, and yes, roads, so you plow, blow, or shovel the snow aside. So the snow piles up and then you're dealing with 36-48+" mounds of snow everywhere. And that's certainly what happened to us this Christmas. I'm not complaining, though. I love it! I love dealing with snow. And I love the cold so it was all right up my alley. But it is weird to look at, the snow piled up taller than a small child. Look at poor Mickey in Bob & Nancy's yard. He looks like he's about to drown in all that snow!

These pictures were taken on Christmas Eve. For awhile there, it looked like New Orleans was going to log more inches of snow in December than Boston. But, the first big snow storm moved in a few days before Christmas Eve, and the second the day before Christmas Eve, so the snow just kept on pilin'.


The front of the house


Bob & Nancy's across the street (look at poor Mickey)


Down the street


Looking down to Mike & Christine's

We headed back to Dev's for New Year's. Had a good time. Dev decorated and his place looked great. This is the small tree in the family room.



His big tree was in the front living room. The whole house just looked very festive for the holidays. We had a great time going out to dinner, hanging out with Cheryl & Mark on New Year's Eve, then watching the bowl games on New Year's Day, then having dinner with a bunch of friends on Friday. It was a good time.

One of my resolutions is to try and post to my blog at least twice a week. I started this in October 2007 to kind of journalize my life and share my thoughts with anyone who might want to read them, but I've been remiss in posting frequency. So, I want to make sure that I do something on this blog at least twice a week. I'd like to do the "Weekly Roundup" as often as possible as it is my favorite to write, although I have to admit, the most time-consuming part of the blog. But it's something to start with, anyway. If I have the weekly news roundup to commit myself to, there's one blog entry taken care of, then I only have to think of at least one other one. Maybe that will work.

Does anyone even read this blog? If you do, I'd love for you to shoot me an email or leave me a comment to let me know. That might help me figure out topics for future entries. If not, I'll just continue to post indiscriminately whatever thoughts might be floating through my head at any given time. Don't worry. And Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

As a special Christmas treat, here is the best Christmas song of all time. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Spirit

Merry Christmas, everyone. Bill and I spent the day decorating the house, and now we're watching the Pats game and decorating the tree. Well, Bill's decorating the tree and I'm stalling by posting to the blog! Anyhow, here is our house:

And here is Nancy and Bob's house across the street:

Okay, they win.

Back to the tree!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

O Tannenbaum

When I think of the major outcomes of the Louisiana Purchase, three things come to mind:

-It doubled the size of our country

-It paved the way for future western expansion of the United States, and

-It got me a Christmas tree in 2002.

See, what happened was, the bicentennial celebration of the Purchase occurred in 2003, and the LPO decided to commission an orchestral/choral piece to commemorate the event. The composer that we commissioned, Rob Kapilow, is the kind of composer that really tries to absorb intimate knowledge of the subjects of his compositions. He’s really an amazing artist. If you ever get the chance to check out one of his performances of What Makes It Great, make sure you go.

As part of the composition process, Rob wanted to meet as many true Louisianans as he could to find out what the Louisiana Purchase meant to them, and to find its relevance today. He made several trips down to meet with various constituencies that we would coordinate for him. This involved much travel by car around the state.

There is a particularly hectic 2-day period that I recall in early December 2002. Rob was in town for just a few days to meet with various groups and do some promotional activities for us; the piece was to premiere in January 2003 so it was basically crunch time on all fronts. My co-worker Ken and I were driving Rob around the state to get everything done on a Monday, and on Tuesday we had promotional activities scheduled in New Orleans. Problem was, we couldn’t spend the night on the road Monday night because Ken had to be back to perform in our educational concert Tuesday morning. So even though our last meeting got over at 8:30 at night in Shreveport, about a 6-hour drive from New Orleans, we had to drive back that same night.

We saved a bit of time by driving an hour to Baton Rouge on Sunday evening and spending the night there since our first meeting was there on Monday morning. But we still had to get up at 7:00 to make our first appointment. Then we drove for 2 hours to our second appointment, then another 3 hours for our third appointment, then another hour and a half to our last appointment in Shreveport. I ended up arriving home about 3:30 in the morning and got to sleep about 4.

I couldn’t sleep in on Tuesday because I had to get Rob to a radio interview and then get to the education concert Ken was playing in to take pictures and handle a TV crew that was covering it. After the concert I went back to the office for the rest of the day, then at 5:30 we had an event at the downtown main branch of the bank that was sponsoring the composition, where Rob would talk about his work and promote the upcoming concerts.

Operating on about 3 hours sleep in 37 hours, I chose to let the rest of the staff handle the on-site coordination of the sponsor event and volunteered to stand at a table and pour wine for the attendees. I noticed Ken leaning against one of the teller stations, available to answer questions but not much more. We were both exhausted, as was Rob, who mercifully kept his remarks short!

My friend Mark, probably one of the most generous people I know, came by to hear what Rob had to say about the piece and also to hang out with me by the wine bar. When he went to leave, he mentioned that he and his then-girlfriend, now-wife Sandy were going to look for Christmas trees for Sandy’s house. Drawing on my immense talent for sarcasm, I replied “ok, pick me up one while you’re at it.” I didn’t even think he heard me; he was halfway to the door by that point and just kind of waved back in my general direction, kind of like you do when you didn’t quite hear somebody but you don’t really care what they said.

Finally, I got home about 8:00 that night, stripped to my boxers and crashed onto my bed, oblivious to the world. I didn’t wake up until 8:00 the next morning, very groggy, probably from too much sleep. I noticed the little light blinking on the answering machine and it was Mark from 8:30 the night before asking if I was going to pick my tree up from him or if I wanted him to drop it off.

I listened to the message about 3 times, and in my groggy state had no idea what the hell he was talking about. After 2 cups of coffee, about halfway through my shower it hit me. I told Mark to get a tree for me, and Mark, being his usual efficient and generous self, actually bought a Christmas tree for me.

This is all Sandy’s fault, of course. She’s supposed to be the voice of reason in our lives. I asked her later how she could not know that I was being my usual stupid sarcastic self, and she replied that she thought it was a little strange, but Mark was so positive that I told him to get me a tree and she “never knows what’s going on when the two of y’all get together.” Then they tried to call me and got no answer, so they went ahead and got the tree.

Ok, I guess we can accept that. The best part was that we got to spend some time together the next night when I went over there to get the tree. We had dinner and just spent a pleasant time together, doing what friends are supposed to do during the holidays. It was an incredibly generous act for Mark and Sandy to get the tree for me, and I thanked them profusely, but after the whirlwind activity of the previous two days, the best part for me was being able to just kick back with a couple of friends, have dinner and talk over drinks, just enjoying being together.

For me, it’s what the holidays are all about.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Insane in the Hussein

Obama makes a play for college football playoff
Associated Press

''If you've got a bunch of teams who play throughout the season, and many of them have one loss or two losses, there's no clear decisive winner. We should be creating a playoff system,'' said President-Elect Barack H. Obama on 60 Minutes.

That is a perfectly valid opinion. And, pursuant to the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, Citizen Obama is solidly within his rights to express his opinion publicly.

But that wasn’t what the interview was about. The interview was about laying out his administration’s priorities for this country. The interview was about sharing with the American people his vision of the kind of president he is going to be. The interview was about telling the American people what he is going to do for them.

So he added, in continuation of this subject, “So, I'm going to throw my weight around a little bit. I think it's the right thing to do.”

Really? For who? For the hard-working, middle class family of five making $60,000 a year who are having their home taken away because predatory lenders increased their mortgage rates by 9 points in two years and now have to watch $700 billion of their money go to bail out the very financial institutions who also now own their house? For the 24-year old widowed mother of an infant whose husband lost his life thanks to a roadside bomb in Baghdad? For the 58-year old sheet metal worker whose body is rebelling after years of manual labor but can’t give up his job because he cannot afford health insurance any other way?

These are the people Barack Obama was elected to serve. Their problems are what his administration should focus on, and not what happens in college football. Many people are paid lots of money to figure out what is best for college football. A president is paid to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America. I have read the Constitution several times. Yes, I am a political geek with not much of a social life. That aside, I cannot find any article of or amendment to the Constitution that pertains to college football.

So, Mr. Obama, express your opinions all you like. But, please, reserve your throwing your weight around to issues that are going to affect the quality of your constituents’ lives. That is what you are going to be paid for.

That having been said, let me say that I agree with him on the need for a college playoff system. The BCS has proven to be an abject failure from the word go, and it creates much more controversy than it solves. Smart people need to get in a room and figure out a fair system, or just go back to the days before there was a national champion. I mean, honestly, does it really matter? College football is a way of life in this country; the absence of a national champion is not going to make people stop cheering for their teams.

But you won’t find me doing anything about all this at work. It’s not what I’m paid for.

Etc.
How long has Donovan McNabb been a player in the National Football League? Like almost 10 years? And he is not aware that two teams can tie? Um, yeah. It happens, Big D. Maybe not a lot, but it happens. So I’m listening to his press conference and I’m laughing my head off thinking how could this man not know the rules of the NFL? Then he asks the reporters what happens during the playoffs! I about fell off my chair at that one.

It’s nice and cold here in Massachusetts. We won’t get out of the 40s all week, and might get some snow flurries toward the end of the week.

What’s with the holidays this year? Halloween was barely over when two radio stations began playing nothing but Christmas music! Retailers are freaking out because no one’s shopping for presents yet. At least one house in Stoneham is completely and elaborately decorated for Christmas already. THANKSGIVING IS NEXT WEEK, PEOPLE. Chill the hell out. I’m sick of “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” already. By the way, did you know he had a shiny nose?


The Westfield State Owls are off to a 1-1-1 start. Not too bad for a team that was just revived this season after a years-long hiatus. Bill’s nephew Mikey is the co-captain, and I’ve been to one game already (the one where they won!) and going to another game this weekend. Go Owls! (Mikey’s the one on the left, in case you don’t recognize him from earlier posts).

Groan
Mahatma Gandhi, as you know, walked barefoot most of the time, which produced an impressive set of calluses on his feet. He also ate very little, which made him rather frail, and with his odd diet, he suffered from bad breath. This made him . . .
(Oh, man, this is so bad, it's good) . . .
A super callused fragile mystic hexed by halitosis.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

B-Mac In Da House

So the Big Bubster was in town last weekend, and we tore it up as usual. I always enjoy visits from friends here in the Great White North, but especially from the Bubmeister. He and I are as close as two people can be. We have long, interesting, involved conversations about every aspect of our lives, reliving moments that we’ve shared, places we’ve been, detailing personal events in our lives that have taken place since the last time we were together. That’s why I enjoy Bub’s visits. Oh, yeah, and he brings daiquiris!

Friday
Bub got in around 6:30 Friday night, only about an hour late. Frank had set me up with a special parking permit, but by the time I got there Bub had already gotten his luggage and was walking toward the parking area. I was stunned. Usually Logan likes to make people wait for their luggage. I remember one time I was waiting for Dev to get his luggage for about a hour. That was an interesting experience. This was before they opened the “cell phone lot” to wait for pickups so you kind of just had to drive around until the luggage finally came, or pay upwards of $20 to park in the lot. There were about five of us waiting for people from the same flight. We’d find a place to park and wait, then the state police would come and tell us we had to move. So, the five of us would drive out of the airport, then back in and find another place to wait, until the cops would show up again, then we’d repeat the exercise. This happened three or four times before our passengers finally got their luggage and showed up. I can’t really fault the staties, though, because they let us sit in our positions for 10-15 minutes before they shooed us, and only did so after other cars tried to jump onto our bandwagon creating potential traffic problems.
Anyhow, so there’s Bub with the daiquiris and all, and we drove to Stoneham, dumped his gear and took off for Mike & Di’s house for pizza.

Ahh, Michael’s pizza. One of the true joys in life. The man makes the best pizza I’ve ever tasted. Poor Bub, having been to Boston/Stoneham at least six times since I’ve moved here, had never had Mike’s homemade pizza, so we arranged to let him have some this time. So Bill, Bub, Frank, Anne, Danny and I all descended upon the Muolo residence for dinner. Jess was there with some of her friends, too, and later Di and Sarah came home. It was a fun night. Bill harassed me into taking the gallon of Long Island Tea daiquiris Bub brought, over my strong objections. I brought my camera and meant to get some shots, but I was kind of in a pizza/daiquiri orgasm and never really pulled the camera out. Oh, well. We ended the night by watching this karaoke game show on TV where you’re supposed to finish the lyrics when they cut off the song. It was a lot of fun. Di and I were by far the best at that game!
Bub loved sleeping upstairs with the adults instead of his usual cubbyhole in the corner of the basement. What can I say?

Saturday
Saturday started off with hope in our hearts and anticipation in my belly. Hope that the LSU Tigers would beat the Alabama Crimson Tide (and Mr. Coach Nick Saban at the same time) and anticipation of some great chicken/andouille gumbo Bub was making. Well, I guess 1 out of 2 ain’t bad? Bub made some delicious gumbo, but the Tigers just weren’t able to answer the strong Alabama offense. Oh, well. Poor Bub never got the pork ribs he was hoping for. I marinated them like I was supposed to, put them on the grill, and then just kind of forgot about them as the game continued. Taylor had come by and the three of us were watching the game. Well, by the time I went out to check the ribs, every single one of them was on fire. One of them actually disintegrated as I grabbed it with the tongs, and ash fell into the grill. Yeah. So, there went that.

Taylor didn’t mind too much; he was meeting his mom and his girlfriend later for dinner, but poor Bub was heartbroken. He cheered up later (even though LSU lost) when I took him to RF O’Sullivan’s, a burger place in Somerville that I’d heard about several times but never went to. The burgers were quite tasty, the beer cold, and the service good.
Bub just loved his burger & beer!

Sunday
The Patriots were taking on the Buffalo Bills for first place in the AFC East, and we had scored tickets from Bill’s friend Steve. These Pats fans know how to tailgate, I’ll give them that! This one guy opens up the entire back of his truck for the party.

We had some Coors Lite for our own tailgate, though, so even though we weren’t as sophisticated as some around us, we had our fun, too!
As we walked to our seats, I noticed this lady walking in front of us dressed all outrageously. I couldn't help but take a picture of her fuzzy boots. Do you think she belongs in Paris, or Milan?

Great seats, corner end zone in the mezzanine. We had a lot of fun, and even though it wasn’t the most exciting game I’ve ever been to, the Pats came out on top!


On the way home, we saw the oddest thing. The car in front of us had one of those scrolling electronic message boards on the bottom of the license plate cover. I’ve never seen one of these things before on a license plate. Here are some of the messages it was flashing:

“I AM A CHID OF GOD” (Not quite sure what a “chid” is)

“I LOVE YOU! DRIVE SAVE” (Yeah, “save”)

Something about the “QUEEN OF LIBYA”

Is this legal? Is this safe (or “save”)?

Whatever. It was certainly entertaining.

We got home, grabbed Bill, and ended Bub’s visit with a trip to our local hangout, Grimsby’s. We had dinner, we played keno, we lost (as usual).

But all in all, a good time as usual. I brought Bub to the airport on Monday morning to end his all-too-short visit. As always, I was a little sad to see Bub go, but, of course, we’ll always have Foxboro.

Etc.
Unfortunately, the Pats gave up the first place spot to the Jets tonight. It was an exciting game and Matt Cassell had the best performance of his career, but the defense failed us in the end.

The weather is nice and cold. We might be getting our first snow flurries on Tuesday!

We’re headed out to Westfield Saturday to see Mikey’s second hockey game. Should be quite a show!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

What's In My Inbox

Apparently, the Democrats' strategy failed. No idea where this came from, but somehow it ended up in my inbox. Read on...

--

Failure to Blow Election Stuns Democrats
Party Faithful Mourn End to Losing Tradition

Just minutes after their party's longstanding losing tradition lay in tatters on the ground, millions of shell-shocked Democrats stared at their television screens in disbelief, asking themselves what went right.

For Democrats, who have become accustomed to their party blowing an election even when it seemed like a sure thing, Tuesday night's results were a bitter pill to swallow. The head-shaking and finger-pointing over the demise of the Democrats' losing streak, which many of the party faithful had worn like a badge of honor, reached all the way to the upper echelons of the Democratic National Committee.

"Believe me, I'm as shocked by these results as anybody," said DNC chief Howard Dean, who indicated he has received hundreds of calls from incredulous party members. "We did everything in our power to screw this thing up."

Dean pointed to several key elements the Democrats put in place to ensure defeat, ranging from "a rancorous primary campaign" to "the appointment of me." "Somehow, despite our best efforts to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, we won," he said. "I came in here with a mandate to blow this thing and I didn't get it done."

Carol Foyler, a lifelong Democrat who owns a loom supply store in Portland, Maine, said she has been "nearly catatonic" since the election results were announced. "For the past eight years, I've fixed myself some herbal tea, turned on NPR, and ranted about the Republicans, " she said. "All that has been taken from me."

In other news, Sen. John McCain offered this comment on Sen. Barack Obama's victory: "My friends, I've got him just where I want him."

--

Groan
A woman has twins and gives them up for adoption. One of them goes to a family in Egypt and is named "Ahmal." The other goes to a family in Spain; they name him "Juan."

Years later, Juan sends a picture of himself to his birth mother. Upon receiving the picture, she tells her husband that she wishes she also had a picture of Ahmal.

Her husband responds, “They’re twins! If you've seen Juan, you've seen Ahmal!"

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Who's The Boss?

Whatever your feelings about Barack Obama, you cannot deny that last night was an historic night. And our President-Elect is quite an eloquent speaker. He had that crowd, and anyone who was watching on television, enthralled. He’s certainly got things going in his favor—commanding electoral vote mandate, a decent popular vote mandate, and a Democratic Congress. Expectations will be high.

Let’s hope that Barack Obama lives up to the oath he will take on January 20th. Let’s hope that he is able to rise above the demagoguery and partisanship prevalent in Washington, and actually govern. And let’s hope that he never forgets that he has been elected to serve us, the citizens.

That is a lesson that his buddy Edward Rendell, Governor of Pennsylvania, would be wise to remember. During the never-ending election coverage last night, Governor Rendell was asked if he would consider leaving Pennsylvania and serving in the Obama administration if asked.

Rendell’s answered by chuckling and then saying, “No, I’ve been my own boss for over 30 years.”

Excuse me, Ed? You were elected District Attorney of Philadelphia in 1977, Mayor of Philadelphia in 1987, and Governor of Pennsylvania in 2002. You are NOT your “own boss.” Your job is to serve the citizens of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. They elected you to do a job. Their taxes pay your salary. You are accountable to them.

This is the problem with politicians in our country. The founding fathers never expected public service to be a career. You spent some time serving your constituents, then went back to your real life. It was, to them, akin to military service, something to be proud of, something to do for awhile and then go back to being a regular citizen. George Washington, John Adams, James Madison, and James Monroe all went back to being farmers after their presidencies. Thomas Jefferson went back home and ran his farm while at the same time writing political philosophy, very little for which was he actually paid. These men weren’t creating dynasties for themselves. In fact, James Madison died almost penniless.

Many others who served in these presidents’ administrations served out their terms, then went back to their regular lives.

Imagine that happening today. Anyone who achieves a high position in government stays there or runs for higher office. They almost never leave public service voluntarily; if they do leave, it’s because they are voted out or offered lucrative jobs in the private sector. The only ones who retire are presidents, and even then no way would they ever end up like Mr. Madison. Millions and millions of dollars in book deals and speaking fees see to that. There hasn’t been one president in my lifetime who hasn’t become richer since leaving office than before or during their term. No one in this day and age is going to be the statesman Jefferson was, and use his knowledge and insights for public good without making several bucks off of it.

Governor Rendell’s attitude is indicative of this. The man thinks that he is his “own boss” instead of an accountable public servant. A quick google search revealed that this is a chronic attitude of his and not just a one-time slip of the tongue.

This attitude will only continue and prevail among people whose salaries are paid from public funds until the electorate wakes up and demands more. Hopefully, the enthusiasm of some and disappointment of others over Barack Obama’s election is indicative of a renewed engagement of the electorate.

Groan
Two Eskimos sitting in a kayak were chilly, so they lit a fire in the craft. Unsurprisingly it sank, proving once again that you can't have your kayak and heat it too.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Take Your Shaheen And Stick It Right Up Your Sununu

I just want it to be over.

No, I still haven’t decided whom I’m voting for president. The decision probably won’t be made until I’m in the voting booth. It will come down to a gut feeling. And whatever my gut tells me, I’ll probably vote for the other guy. Last time I had a gut feeling was in 2000 when I voted for GW Bush. I regretted it very shortly after, when I realized that he is a man of no character. The way you know that he is a man of no character was his willingness to accept the blatant bias of his brother’s staff in Florida in conducting the recount. A man of character would have insisted on taking state officials out of the equation. But the second it came down to Florida Mr. Bush knew he had it locked up. Was he the rightful winner? Probably. But that has nothing to do with the character issue.

There are certain qualities and certain ideas I like from each candidate. There are certain issues I have with each candidate. I am not one of these people who think that one or the other is critical in the survival of our country. Our country will be just fine. For all of our differences, Americans are by and large a resilient people. We have proved that time and time again. The specific person occupying the White House has much less to do with how my life is going than the people whom I elect on a local level.

Nonetheless, here is how I stand on the hotbutton issues with the two major presidential candidates:

Economy: McCain. More regulation is going to solve nothing. What we need to do is tell the banking giants, “Fine. We won’t regulate you anymore. But when you get yourself into these messes, don’t under any circumstances expect the government to bail you out. You want a free market economy, you got it. Good luck.” And then we need to stand by that. In a truly free market economy, the best will rise to the top. And if the best get so big that they get arrogant and take huge risks, then they need to suck it up, accept their losses, and let the next guy move in. It’s the only fair way.

Taxes: Obama. This one is kind of selfish, I’ll admit, because my personal taxes will be lower. But comparing the two tax plans, Obama’s spreads the wealth more. Now, let me be clear: I am completely against socialism, but if we are going to continue to pay taxes, then by definition we are paying into a socialist system. Everyone’s money is being taken by the government to provide services for all. Therefore, the burden should be shared relative to what each can afford. It’s not pretty, but that’s how it is. We all have the same needs, and whether you make $10,000 a year or $20,000,000 a year, bread costs the same. Milk costs the same. Gas costs the same. I don’t think it’s out of line to ask people to get by with a few fewer luxuries beyond the basic necessities of life.

Iraq: Obama. It’s time. We’ve been there long enough. Enough American lives have been lost in this invented war. Mr. No Character wanted to avenge the embarrassment of his daddy, and that’s why we invaded. I’m not saying that our troops haven’t done some good work over there. In fact, I know for a fact they have. But it’s time to support the Iraqis in running their own country, and nothing more.

Gay marriage: Neither. The government needs to recognize every union between two people as a marriage, or they need to recognize no union between two people as marriage. It’s right there in the document that defines our beliefs: “All men are created equal.” Period. End of discussion. If you would like to continue this debate, please do so in the hallowed halls of your religious organizations. Or in Vegas. And then please move on to issues that matter.

Energy: Neither. We need to end all government tax incentives, subsidies, whatever you want to call them to the oil companies and auto manufacturers. We need to invest that money into organizations that are serious about researching and finding alternative energy sources. Come on, people. There’s got to be a better way. Think of all of the technological advances that have taken place in the past 50 years. We’re using electrons in ways that no one would have imagined possible. We’re using radio waves in ways that no one would have thought possible. We’re using human stem cells in ways that no one would have ever thought possible. And yet the combustion engine works pretty much the same way as it did in 1958. Does something seem fishy to you? Because it does to me.

So there’s where I stand on a few of the issues facing the candidates in this election. For me, it’s going to be a gut thing when I step up to the voting booth.

I can say this: I will be very happy when the Senate race between two people that don’t even affect my life, that I’m not even able to vote for or against, is over.

In New Hampshire, Jeanne Shaheen is running against John Sununu for Senate. And since I live so close to New Hampshire, and many New Hampshire residents get Boston television as their local channels, so I’ve been subjected to this campaign. Don’t ask me where either candidate stands on any of the issues. I don’t know. However, if you watch the commercials, you can get a sense of each campaign’s strategy: accuse the other of being a Bush lackey. Good luck.



Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Undecided

I still don't know whom I'm voting for.

My Republican friends look at me like I'm crazy and say, "What are you, crazy? It HAS to be McCain." Of course, they would vote for Hitler were he running under the Republican ticket (and still alive, of course, although that might not matter to some).

My Democratic friends look at me like I'm crazy and say, "What are you, crazy? It HAS to be Obama." Of course, they would vote for Hitler were he running under the Democratic ticket (and still alive, of course, although that might not matter to some).

Me, I like to study the proposals of each candidate, hear what they have to say about themselves, hear what they have to say about each other, determine who has the best ideas, is more enlightened, more curious, more adaptable. Everybody else likes to be spoon-fed. I refuse to be spoon-fed.

So, a week from yesterday, it will be time for the sheep to line up again and go to their respective sides of the pen. Red sheep on the right, blue sheep on the left, and all those shades of gray, well just mill about until you end up on one side or the other.

Obama and McCain. The best our country could come up with? Absolutely not. Just the two most willing and best at playing the game. It's all fun and games until something happens. Until then, how the hell do we know?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Friendly Skies

[BUMP]

It was a pretty good week in New Orleans. Delta once again came through and got me there and home again quite comfortably and with no delays. Right now I’m on my flight from Atlanta back to Boston, and I really have no complaints.

[BUMP]

I used to be a pretty big critic of airline travel. It just seems that they take your money and then treat you like common cattle, only stupider. Stand in line to check in. Follow the procedure or get pushed aside while they deal with people who know what’s going on. Stand in line to check your bag. God himself can’t help you if your bag’s over the weight limit.

[BUMP]

Stand in line to go through security. Remove your belt. Remove your shoes. Put everything on the conveyor. No, no, no. Remove your laptop from the case and put it in a separate bin. Still got your watch on? What kind of idiot are you? Please step back through the detector, remove your watch, you moron, place it in the bin, and step through again. Okay. Obviously, you’re nowhere near intelligent enough to carry out a terrorist plot, so go ahead.

[BUMP]

Okay, at the gate. You’re at A1. But your flight takes off from K88. I don’t care that your ticket, the counter agents, and the flight information board all say that your flight takes off from A1, sir. Please walk back out of the security checkpoint and through the airport to Terminal K, conveniently located only two zip codes away, go back through security, and report to Gate K88. You’ve got 6 minutes, you’ll be fine.

[BUMP]
Red-faced, panting, down 3 quarts of sweat, at K88. Ready to board, got myself an aisle seat, 18C! Right? Well, no sir, we should have closed the flight 4 minutes ago but we didn’t because the co-pilot just arrived from his weekend in South Beach. He hasn’t even been to bed yet, haha! But as soon as he washes the banana daiquiri stain from the collar of his uniform shirt, we’ll be on our way.

[BUMP]

In the meantime, sir, we had to give your seat away to one of our stand-by’s, a college student named Joe who’s been waiting here for three days to go visit his mother in prison. Poor kid hasn’t even had a bath much less a meal. But we still have availability for you in Row 75, Seat E, right in between a semi-professional bodybuilder with a 47" lat spread and a rather plump woman on her way to a weight loss camp. Hurry aboard.

[BUMP]

Board plane, inexplicably lose balance and slam into seat 18C, smile evilly to passengers 18A&B who have suddenly noticed a strange smell, proceed to cargo area, apologize to sequoia tree on legs while maneuvering into seat.

[BUMP]

So again, here I am on my flight back to Boston, enjoying a $3 bag of trail mix consisting of approximately 4 peanuts, 3 dried up pieces of what used to be imitation cranberry or raspberry plastics (no one’s really sure) and some crushed chocolate substance, and drinking my ginger ale and like I said everything’s really okay

[BUMP]

GODDAMMIT WILL YOU PLEASE SHUT THAT CHILD UP? OR AT LEAST PREVENT HER FROM KICKING THE BACK OF MY HEAD EVERY TWO MINUTES?

The bodybuilder and the plump lady shift in their seats, each giving me back a good inch of my seat space, looking at me with respect anew. The male flight attendant named Sunshine (yeah) is asking if there’s anything I need. I need a new bag of trail mix, thank you very much. As he walks away, eager to please me, I just know…

They’re not going to skimp on the plastic berries this time.

Life is good.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Things You Wish You Knew

Good evening everyone. My name is Mr. Useless Facts Guy. What I do is I troll the internet looking for things that are fun to know yet serve no useful purpose in your life. I do this so that when Dennis is busy with things like watching Game 5 of the ALCS and switching back and forth to the LSU/South Carolina game, I can post a blog entry for him. Enjoy!

According to Useless Facts and Statistics:

A cesium atom in an atomic clock beats 9,192,631,770 times a second
If you divide the Great Pyramid's perimeter by two times it's height, you get pi to the fifteenth digit
A piece of paper can be folded no more then 9 times
4,000 people are injured by tea pots every year
In the average lifetime, a person will walk the equivelent of 5 times around the equator
Jupiter is bigger than all the other planets in our solar system combined
There is a town in Newfoundland, Canada called Dildo
The Boston University Bridge on Commonwealth Avenue is the only place in the world where a boat can sail under a train driving under a car driving under an airplane
There are 293 ways to make change for a dollar
Hang On Sloopy is the official rock song of Ohio
It is illegal to eat oranges while bathing in California

According to Useless Statistics:

The average 4-year-old asks over 400 questions a day
The average adult spends about 12 minutes in the shower per day
The average person keeps old magazines for 29 weeks before they throw them out
The average person speaks about 31,500 words per day
The average person spends about 2 years on the phone in a lifetime
The average person will spend two weeks over their lifetime waiting for the traffic lights to change

According to My View From The Jeep:

More Monopoly money is printed yearly than real money throughout the world
People photocopying their buttocks are the cause of 23% of all photocopier errors worldwide
A cockroach can live nine days without its head before it starves to death
Alexander Graham Bell's wife and mother were both deaf
The "O" when used as a prefix in Irish surnames means "descendant of"
Every human breaks wind at least 15 times a day
Fish scales are an ingredient in most lipsticks
Frank Baum, the writer of "The Wizard of OZ", looked at his filing cabinet and saw A-N, and O-Z, hence "Oz"
About 100 people choke to death on ballpoint pens each year

Groan
Two fish swim into a concrete wall. The one turns to the other and says "Dam!"

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Don't Be N. A. Hole

Actually, you can't. That name belongs to a guy who has become my hero.

It's dangerous to do this, because it might cause me to lose my faithful readers (both of you), but tonight I'm going to suggest that you check out another blog.

I stumbled across this blog one night when I was doing a web search for something or other, I can't even remember now. I probably didn't even find what I was looking for that night because I spent the rest of the night reading the entire blog. Ever since, I have checked his blog every day to satisfy my thirst for his unique way of sharing his ideas.

Some would say he's crass. He is.

Some would say he's rude. He is.

Some would say he's profane. He is.

Some would say he makes sense. He does.

Some would say he's intelligent. He is.

Some would say he's funny. He is.

Here is how he describes himself from the "About" section of his blog.

"I'm N.A. Hole

"Listen, I don’t want to brag, but I’m an asshole. When I was born I guess that my parents were drunk or something because they called me N.A. I don’t have a name, just two fucking letters: N.A. What sucks even more than not having a name is that my last name is fucking Hole. That’s right, my name is N.A. Hole - as in an a-hole as in an asshole - and it stinks. Imagine with me if you will what it was like for me growing up - 'oh look, there goes an a-hole' 'oh my god, an a-hole asked me out for a date' etc. I think you get the fucking picture.

"For what it’s worth, I decided to start a site to see if I couldn’t put my name to some good use for all mankind. And if I can’t, well fuck it."

If you're in need of some entertainment as well as some enlightenment, check out his blog through the link below:

Ask An A-Hole

Etc.
The Sox pulled it off in Game 5. It certainly won't be easy from here.

Of course, the weekend I'm going to be in New Orleans, the Saints are playing a home game. IN LONDON!

The Blazer needs a new starter. Good thing I won't need it for a week.

Groan
What do you call a fish with no eyes? A fsh.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

People

Drivers in need of Ed
I think I’ve done a pretty good job of not slamming Massachusetts drivers, but I’ll try to make up for it tonight.

It’s really distressing, because New Orleans isn’t at the top of most lists, but until I moved here I thought that New Orleans was at least #1 in bad drivers. But I was wrong. I was very wrong.

It’s not that drivers here are necessarily reckless or necessarily rude. Some are, but the vast majority just have no clue. And the scariest thing they have no clue about is right of way. Massachusetts drivers have no idea which car has the right of way. I’ve seen this play out in so many scenarios it’s ceased being funny. People in the right lane of the highway have no idea that they are supposed to allow cars to merge onto the highway. They tend to tailgate the car in front of them at merge points, in many cases forcing merging vehicles to drive along the shoulder until someone allows just enough room for the merging car to sneak in.

Possibly, they make up for this highway rudeness by being overly polite, or perhaps just ignorant, on city streets. I’ve actually been behind people, on more than one occasion, where we were going down a main street, we clearly had right of way over cross streets that had stop signs, and for no apparent reason, the car in front of me came to a complete stop in order to let someone at a stop sign go.

This might seem like the ultimate in politeness, but it’s actually the ultimate in stupidity, because I’ve had to slam on my brakes to avoid plowing into the back of these people. You just don’t expect the person in front of you to come to a complete stop in the middle of a main street. And it always takes longer for the person at the stop sign to realize that the idiot in front of me is not going to move until they do, than it would have taken for him and me to have driven past and given the driver a clear path to proceed.

I have not figured out if people are trying to make up for their rudeness on the highways by being overly polite on the surface streets, or if people here honestly have no clue whose right of way it is in any given situation. But I know what I think.

There are certain things you just “know” as a driver in the Boston area. You just know that, when coming to an intersection where a car is waiting at a stop sign, unless you’re right on the intersection, the car is going to turn in front of you. It just is. After you’ve seen it a few hundred times, it’s just something you know is going to happen. Same thing if you’re coming upon someone who is poised to turn left in front of you.

Today I was coming back from the bank on a two-way street going about 30mph. At one point the lanes widen to allow a center turning lane near some stores. I was about a block and a half away from the turn lane when a late-teens, early-20ish guy pulls into it, so naturally I think that he is going to turn in front of me. I’m getting closer and closer and he still hasn’t made a move so I figure I’ve found the one driver in the greater Boston area (besides myself, of course) that actually understands the whole concept of “right of way.”

Well, I was wrong. He sat there and for some reason waited until I was about 30 feet from the intersection and turned in front of me, causing me to slam on my brakes and screech to a stop, barely missing his bumper. Why would he do this? If you’re going to turn in front of me, why not do it when I’m more than a block away instead of sitting there until I’m almost on you and then decide you just cannot wait three seconds more?

People are idiots.

Civility Lacking
Some things are just so easy to do. Like when you’re walking through a door, it’s just so easy to hold it open just a little longer for the person behind you.

I do this all the time. It’s become second nature to me. Sometimes I’ll hold the door open even when there isn’t anyone behind me, just to keep in practice.

Most people are very polite right back, saying thank you, nodding, or smiling. And on those occasions when people aren’t polite, it really doesn’t bother me. Sometimes people get caught up in what they’re doing and just don’t notice little acts of kindness that occur when they’re focused. They should, but it’s not the rudest thing in the world so I just don’t pay them any attention.

There comes a point, however, in which it becomes less of a social nicety and more of an actual personal favor to hold the door for someone. In that case, I think that it is incumbent upon the person to actually say “thank you.”

That happened for me today. I was coming out of the post office, and there is a heavy door that leads into the foyer where there is an entrance door on the right and an exit door on the left. I opened the door to leave and there was an elderly lady about to enter, so of course I held the door for her. She smiled, nodded, and proceeded into the post office. Then I noticed a 30ish obviously pregnant lady about 15 feet away climbing the stairs that lead to the entrance with a large baby car seat in her left hand and a box in her right hand, struggling up the last stair. I decided to wait where I was to hold the heavy door open for this lady. She walked up to the door, then stopped, put the baby seat and the box on the ground in the entranceway (had I let go of the door at that point the heavy door would have slammed into her), removed her sunglasses, put the sunglasses into her purse, picked up her box and baby seat, then walked right past me into the foyer. At no time during this entire process did she so much as look my way, much less offer a thank you.

Now, I hadn’t exactly saved this woman’s life. I wasn’t expecting her to fall to the ground and praise my name in gratitude. But nothing? It pissed me off, so as the heavy door swung closed I couldn’t help but look back and say in a very loud voice, as she was opening the inside door in the foyer, “please, don’t mention it!”

People are idiots.

Etc.
The Sox are 1-0 against the Rays in the ALCS. Go Sox!

We’ve got two more prospects about to sign on to the web site. This thing’s really starting to take off!

There was a cold snap, but now the days are warm again. I’m ready for fall.