Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Indignation

October 8, 2018

As I’m sure you’re aware, today’s yet another Columbus Day.  This holiday, surprisingly, has proven to be a much needed source of blog gold silver bronze.  In years past I’ve written about my unhappiness with the way the celebration day is moved around as if it’s a piece of furniture you reposition in your living room; and also how I’ve noticed the remarkable similarities between us Jews and Italians. And now, this year, I see yet one more way that the holiday “speaks” to me.

When I looked on my computer calendar the other day, I noticed that Columbus Day is now shared with or called (I’m not sure which) Indignant Peoples Day. In other words . . .  MY DAY!  And it couldn’t have come around at a better time.  Not only do I have the heart-breaking Supreme Court nomination fiasco to resent but there’s a ton of other circumstances that have been accruing for which I certainly need a day, at least, to memorialize.

To name a few, Bumble Bee has downsized its standard can to 5oz.  Fully a third less than it used to be. They must think I’m an idiot. I guess they hope that I won’t realize that  I can no longer get two sandwiches out of what is one of my dietary staples.  Come on!  And, I’ve already cited how impossible it is nowadays to get a martini that’s actually served in a martini glass. Give me a break!

But maybe the greatest indignity of late is the recent announcement of the MacArthur ‘genius’ grants.  Twenty-five  of these $625,00 awards will be handed out to mostly unsuspecting recipients. Yours truly was not one of them even though I certainly would fit the profile ’cause I’m nothing if not “unsuspecting”.  But as far as I know I wasn’t included.  I say “as far as I know” because I just finished an article about one of the ‘geniuses’ who kept getting phone calls from an unrecognizable number which she ignored. Finally, after much annoyance, she took the call. That’s how she found out about her selection.  I never pick up calls from unidentified numbers. That may be proven to be really costly.  Damn!!

Oh wait . . . Shit!!  I just looked at that calendar again; it’s Indigenous Peoples Day!  Not my day at all.

Jeez . . .  now I’m really upset.

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Come Fly With Me

September 20, 2018

For much of my life I’ve heard that travel is a broadening experience, particularly international travel. Presumably, we learn how our neighbors in the world live and we’re able to escape the bubble of our own circumscribed experiences. I recently had this notion highlighted for me.

That’s not a piece of dust on        your computer screen

About two weeks ago, Lebasi and I took a trip to The Netherlands. I won’t bore you with a verbal slide show of our trip. Instead, I’ll relate something that I learned in Amsterdam’s airport as we were on our way home. While we waiting to board our flight I went to the bathroom.  As I neared a urinal, I noticed a house fly on the back wall.  Not wanting to be bothered by the fly, I moved on to an adjacent urinal — and again, another fly.  I checked a number of the other vacant urinals and sure enough, they all had flies. At that point I realized they weren’t real flies at all but were, I thought, part of the design of the urinal, possibly a logo.

Now that I’m back home and have a respite from traveling, I’ve had a chance to continue my “broadening” and find out exactly what’s going on. What I’ve found is that these fly images were introduced at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport a while back as a way of giving us guys a target to shoot at. This is hard to understand . . . hitting the urinal is like “shooting fish in a barrel” or like peeing on a fly for that matter; how can you miss? In any event, according the airport’s manager, providing a fly target seemingly resulted in a reduction of spillage rates by 80 percent. And apparently, a change like that translates into a major savings in maintenance costs. (How the “spillage” rate is determined is something I don’t want to even think about. Nor should you.)

It wasn’t always this way. Originally, the target in the urinal was a series of dots. At some point the dots were changed into etched flies because research showed that guys like to aim directly at an animal they can immobilize. Studies showed that the  ability to use one’s natural gifts and achieve victory over the foe while standing is the key. Guys can always beat flies. That’s why flies are so satisfying.

The Dutch may really be onto something here.  But I’m sure that there’s a lot more that can be done to reduce the spillage rate. Way beyond that 80 percent figure. And not just in Amsterdam but everywhere. Obviously, the key is to come up with a target that’s just so satisfying to pee on that any drop of spillage would be one drop too many. Maybe something really outlandish; perhaps a little weird looking; possibly orange . . . hmmm, I wonder what that could be.

Dutch Treat?

 

 

Mystery Bus Ride

August 20, 2018

Unfortunately, I’ve been watching an astounding number of political shows lately. Because there is so much repetition of the  content on these programs, I’ve been hearing the same expressions used over and over by the journalists and pundits who appear on them. None of these annoy me nearly as much as the invocation of the term  “thrown under the bus.”  As in, Person #1 threw Person #2 “under the bus” in order to save his own skin. (This is where I get to use all the nifty lingo I’ve learned about FISA warrants.) It seems to me there are so many other ways to say that differently even if it’s only not to sound like everyone else. Someone might be sabotaged by a colleague, have his legs cut out from under him, may be “knee-capped” by a cohort or some other expression that doesn’t immediately spring to mind. People, let’s show a little originality here.

Of course, being thrown under the bus or its equivalent is nothing new.  If you go  back in history you can find loads of examples. In Biblical times, as you may remember, Jacob threw Esau under a rock to appropriate his birthright. In medieval times Thomas More was thrown under the guillotine by Henry VIII.  And let’s not forget our early American history where Alexander Hamilton was thrown under a horse and buggy by you-know- who. (I’ve taken literary license here–I’m not stupid.)

More currently, who can forget Richard Nixon throwing John Erlichmann and Bob Haldeman under a 1974 T-Bird? (John Mitchell would have joined them but it was too crowded; he wound up under a 1973 Ford Falcon.) And now, it seems that DJT and the people in his orbit have thrown so many people under so many buses that delays at stations around the country have swelled to heretofore unseen waiting times. Sad.

It’s only fairly recently that UTB has taken the lead for my least favorite meme. Prior to that, I was wincing regularly when I would hear, “at the end of the day” intoned by everyone and his brother on these political shows. That seems to be the preface for any concluding remarks on almost any matter. We have the entire English language to work with —- why limit yourself! Why not an occasional, “when all is said and done” or even just, “ultimately”?

Or better yet, refer to the statement by John Maynard Keynes who, when commenting on short-term and long-term economic theories, put it simply, saying “in the long run, we’re all dead.”  And for all I know . . . maybe under the bus, as well.

Before The Fall

May 31, 2018

 

(Real) Estate Planning

The other day, I stopped in at the office presently and formerly known as Garfield Realty. This has been happening a lot less often which I now realize may have something to do with the infrequency of my blog posts, a situation that is close to becoming epidemic.

When I went into the office I was greeted by Luap and his two sons, Everett and Gus. The younger of the two, Gus, looked about the same age as my grandson, Rex, so I asked him how old he was. He said, rather proudly, that he was four years old. I asked when he had turned four to which he answered, “On my birthday.”  Apparently, the kid is every bit the smart-ass his father is.  I followed up by saying that I couldn’t wait to turn four also.  He explained to me that grownups can’t turn four because “you have to be three before you can turn four.”  See what I mean?

But even more fun and interesting was the presence in the office of a woman Luap was meeting with who, it turns out, is a founder of a seniors organization in Park Slope that arranges group activities.  Luap had mentioned this outfit to me a few weeks ago.  Why, I can’t imagine. He introduced us and despite my long-term absence from the world of normal civil discourse, I was able ask her a bit about the organization. Almost as if I was getting some information to pass on to my parents.

Luap asked what events she had coming up and this is when it got really interesting.  She said that early in June her group would be having a meet-up to discuss funeral planning. I must have made the face that I use for things that I can’t fathom because she quickly added that there would be a free lunch at that meeting.

Luap #2 (or #3)–there are a lot of Luaps at Garfield Realty—- was also in the office and was sitting near to me. When I heard the suggestion that the funeral planning would include lunch, I leaned toward #2 and remarked, sotto voce, that they’d have to do a lot better than that to get me there. The woman continued that later in June there would be a meeting to discuss “fall prevention.”  Again, I whispered to #2, “how can you hold back an entire season?”  After he made the face he uses when he can’t fathom something, I realized she wasn’t making an autumnal reference. Then I launched into an internal tirade about how I had just finished up biking back from the tennis courts after playing for a few hours and why would anyone in there right mind think that I had to worry about falling and who did she thing she was talking to  . . . and . . . and . . .   Clearly, she had touched a nerve.

Maybe this is an indication that visiting my old office is not all it’s cracked up to be.  And then again, there’s that steep set of stairs getting in and out.  Seems kind of risky.  A person could take a terrible fall.  Maybe Luap should look into installing a handrail. Or maybe two.

 

“The Birth Of A Notion”

May 10, 2018

I imagine that many of you have read about Senator John McCain’s failing health and his request that both Barack Obama and George W. Bush give eulogies at his funeral  Oh . . . and also his insistence that Donald Trump not attend his funeral.  This planning of his final Senate hearing is a bit macabre but certainly understandable, particularly as it regards the Asshole-In-Chief (AIC).

This news story has prompted me to consider if I might have any special requests when my time comes.  And I do. I’d also like Obama to attend the final set of my last tennis match and perhaps say a few words. After all, he is a terrific speaker.  But I’m not so delusional that I don’t know that’s a real long shot.  However, like Senator McCain, I also am adamant that the AIC stay away. Under no circumstances should he be anywhere near my final serve.

And, I’m not alone. Not one person I know would want him to attend any of their occasions–happy or solemn.   So I’ve decided to launch the #IAlso movement both as a paean to the Senator and as a companion to the #MeToo movement.  Think of it . . . #IAlso could be the meme that, in shorthand, says that this guy is so vile and despicable that you wouldn’t want him around even “over your dead body”.  #IAlso.

Because Senator McCain is in his twilight, those of us who have disagreed with him may be more sanguine about the homages honoring his decency and morality. Maybe . . .  but not quite. Because, as right as Mr. McCain is about the venality of DJT, it’s too soon to forget that he is the one who, in an act of cynicism, introduced us to Sarah Palin by making her his running mate. It’s possible he fells guilty about that and recognizes that Ms. Palin may well have been the gateway drug that led us to a President who is so crass, corrupt and devoid of any humanity that he is unwelcome to attend funerals.

#IAlso

 

 

The Ice Breaker

April 19, 2018

Maybe you’ve not noticed but I haven’t written in quite a while. This, because I’ve been stricken, once again, with “bloggers block”, a malady I’ve suffered with three or four times during this blog adventure. The timing of my infirmity is particularly unfortunate because I’ve been making real strides in escaping my hermitage which would ordinarily yield some real blog fodder. Sadly, that has not happened.

For example, about a month ago Lebasi and I took a little trip to Charleston, South Carolina. The trip was timed to include my birthday. I thought my absence from home would somehow shield me a bit from the indignity of a new age.  Unfortunately, it didn’t.  Somehow overnight, I went from one ridiculous age to an even more ridiculous one. Funny how that happens.

Charleston is obviously very welcoming, gorgeous and even in light of its very complicated history, a real treat.  So despite the onslaught, we had a wonderful time.

As further evidence of my committment to escape the confines of my apartment, last week I took a trip with Lebasi to Washington, DC.  During our stay there, we visited a few museums including the Holocaust Museum.  I left there emotionally spent.  Also with a bad cold. Lebasi thought it was something I picked up from the throngs inside the museum.  I saw it as one last desperate attempt by the Nazis to get me. A clear sign that I’m both more suspicious and more Jewish than she is.

Before the “block”, these outings would have given me tons to write about.  I’m not certain, but I have a sense that the stuff that’s going on in the political world is overwhelming my sensibilities and may be preventing me from getting back to form.  I just know it’s waaaay more inviting to write about that than a travelogue.

Particularly the kind of sordid business that involves Michael Cohen and the Defiler In Chief (DIC).  For example, I’m tickled by the irony that the judge in Cohen’s case is Kimba Woods. Among Mr. Cohen’s “clients” is a Republican fundraiser who enlisted Mr. Cohen’s services to pay $1.6 million dollars in hush money to a former Playboy Playmate.  As luck would have it, while she was a student in London, Judge Woods worked for a period of time as a Playboy Bunny at the Playboy Club there. Who would’ve thunk it?

Before the “block” that could have been a riotous and interesting story.  So let us imagine this essay as one would look at one of those ships that break up icebergs.  As a small ice breaker assaulting a block of ice at least the size of the one that took down the Titanic. I think that’s what I may very well be up against.

Stormy Whether….Or Not

March 21, 2018

As you might expect, I’ve been paying close attention to the legal battles that our Philanderer-In-Chief is currently fighting. Lately, the TV coverage of the brouhaha with the porn star, Stormy Daniels, has taken up a lot of my free time. (Truth is . . . I have nothing but free time.)  As a result, I’ve become somewhat of an expert on non-disclosure agreements, lie detector tests, court proceedings and fake tits.

While the reporting on this saga has been pretty solid, there are times where I think I could supply some really interesting analysis. For example, there have been a number of times where I’ve heard some pundit question why the settlement with Ms. Daniels was such an odd amount—-$130,000; not $125K or $150K but $130K.  Here’s where my expertise could be really useful.  You see, the pundits are primarily gentile and miss the semitic significance of that amount.

In the Jewish gestalt, the eighteenth letter of the Hebrew alphabet, chai, is considered lucky.  So it is not uncommon for Jews to give cash gifts of some multiple of $18. (For example, a grand-nephew of mine recently had his Bar Mitzvah and my gift to him was $360. Or $36,000. Or maybe $360,000 . . . I forget which.)  At any rate, the lawyer who handled this matter for our P-I-C is one Michael Cohen who is, unfortunately, Jewish. Not one of our stars, for sure.  It’s obvious to me that the amount Mr. Cohen “gave” to Ms. Daniels is exactly 7,222.2 times chai. Just do the math . . . 7,222.2 X $18 and voila! — $130,000! Sometimes, if you have the right background information, explanations can be quite simple. (CNN, MSNBC —if you’re listening; you might want to start looking around for someone with a yiddishe cup.  Maybe someone with a lot of free time. I’m just sayin’.)

Another interesting observation I recently heard about this weather business is that apparently, the non-disclosure agreement that Stormy signed was a boiler plate document that had the appearance of having been used many times.  That it was a photocopy of a photocopy of a photocopy, etc.  You know, one of those forms that get fuzzy and lose their margins after a while.  For the life of me, I just can’t figure out why that would be.  Maybe I’m not the right man for that pundit job, after all.

The Grateful Dread

February 13, 2018

Just recently, I went to a dinner party given by one of Lebasi’s friends. There were about a dozen or so guests all of whom knew one another in varying degrees.  That is, except for me, who knew no one but Lebasi.

Everyone seemed nice enough but I didn’t really connect with anyone. That, I attribute to two factors; the first and most important is that the person I was traveling with (and am always traveling with) was me.  Secondly, and possibly just as salient, was the fact that there was no hard liquor being served and I was embarrassed to been seen swigging red wine. So I wasn’t as loose as I sometimes can be.

It’s not that I didn’t make an effort to be social. I did. In fact, at one point I found myself in a long conversation with a woman who was probably very nice. I say “probably” because she had a very thick Spanish accent which made understanding her really difficult. I know that a lot of the time I wound up nodding my head as if agreeing to much of what she was saying.  For all I know, she and I may have planned a long vacation together. Yet, Senora X and I did manage a sustained conversation.  Unfortunately, what we wound up talking about included my three least favorite things — real estate, her health and my health. I’m giving myself a B+ for the effort.

As the party wore on we all helped ourselves to the main courses and settled into various places of the living room to eat. I was just about to dig in when I heard the sound of a spoon clanging against a glass. Someone wanted our attention. A woman I had briefly engaged with wanted the floor . . . I thought she was going to toast or thank our hostess. But that’s not what she wanted.  Not by a long shot. Instead, she related how at her house before meals, her family would go around the table to talk about what they were “grateful for”.  And wouldn’t it be a good idea for all of us to the same. I thought that actually that wasn’t such a good idea at all. But as an outsider it wasn’t my place to put the kibosh on such a nifty plan.

The fun began as the first guest spoke and the solemnity made its way around the room  After a few people spoke saying some sincere and sometimes platitudinous remarks, it became my turn. You should know something about me—-public speaking fills me with dread.  And, by “public”, I mean speaking to any more than one person.  So after the person before me made their little speech and all eyes were focused my way, I said, “Ditto”.  I thought that fit the bill quite nicely.

Well . . . no, I didn’t say that. Instead, I said what was in my heart, “I’m kind of a private person and since I don’t know any of you at all, I feel somewhat put upon to have to talk so personally and intimately to strangers.”  I thought this would really lighten the mood in the room.

Actually, I didn’t say that either. Instead, I said something to extricate myself from the nightmare I was in without actually touching upon what I was grateful for. Eventually, the grateful speeches made their way around to the woman who had suggested it and not surprisingly, she was well-prepared with her gratitude platitude(s). And then, we all got back to eating and being less thankful for our blessings.

After the party, on our way home, I complained to Lebasi about how I didn’t like being put on the spot in that way and maybe Ms. Gratitude might have been more sensitive that there was a  gorilla in the mist stranger in her midst and maybe  . . .  blah, blah blah. Lebasi was very patient with me and ultimately brought me down from my high horse and back to earth.  Now that’s something to be grateful for.

Origin Of The Specious

January 30, 2018

There’s a quote attributable to Lawrence Summers, Bill Clinton’s Treasury Secretary, that I’ve alway liked: “In the history of mankind, no one has ever taken a rented car to a car wash.” His remark was part of a larger point which, for now, eludes me.

I thought of that quote the other day when I was having dinner out with Lebasi and was getting annoyed at how loud the music in the restaurant where we were eating was. I called the waiter over and asked if the music’s volume could be lowered. Which he took care of.  It occurred to me then that, most likely, there’s another thing that has never happened in the history of mankind; no one has ever asked his waiter see if the volume of the music in a restaurant could be turned up loud.

I’ve noticed that lately I’m  becoming much more proactive in dealing with circumstances, such as that one, which annoy me. As if I’ve chosen to light a candle instead of curse the darkness. This trading in of indignation for action is a very big deal for me. In fact, just last week I did something I’d never done before to mollify my grouchiness. I was standing in line at the supermarket holding just a couple of items. I was behind a woman with an entire cartload of groceries who was next to be checked out. I got her attention and while pointing to my paltry payload, asked if I could go ahead of her. Although clearly not too happy about it, she agreed. Beware, this may be the new me.

This got me thinking about how my growing impatience with everyday events (albeit starting from a pretty high mark) has been countered by an offsetting increase in a willingness to get out of my comfort zone, be more brazen and advocate for myself in heretofore unknown ways.  At first glance I saw this change in behavior as simply an arbitrary, interesting and fortunate turn of events.

But when I thought longer and harder about this (aided by some alcohol), I began to see this dynamic as not some aimless, haphazard occurrence. It’s become clear to me that what I’ve been both witnessing and been a part of, is the mobilization of some Darwinian laws of nature. In effect, I’ve become part of a small lab experiment in proving the theory of the survival of the fittest. That is, I’m adapting in ways needed to keep the species (me) going.  This sounds almost noble.

Of course, being part of the entirety of man’s evolution is not something I set out to do. I didn’t seek that kind of responsibility. But I’m happy to do my part to keep mankind going; at least for a while. But only if I can be assured that I won’t have to wait on any long grocery lines.

A Real Thrilla In Wasilla

December 31, 2017

 

Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier had their famous fight known as the “thrilla in Manila” over forty years ago.  Recently we had a smaller, much less well-attended and less publicized battle in Wasilla, Alaska. Ordinarily, this would have been big news but we’re living in (through) an era where everything short of nuclear war seems to fall in the cracks because of a chaos, disruption and outrage that has become almost commonplace in the Trump era.

Last week I came across an article about Sarah Palin and her  family that caused me, at first, to have very mixed reactions. It seems that one of her sons, Track, was recently arrested on a variety of charges including assaulting his father, Todd.  Evidently, Track got into a dispute with his father about borrowing a truck, physically assaulted him and then . . . well  you know how it is, one thing led to another and pretty soon Todd was leveling a shotgun at his son. Track is now awaiting sentencing.

Ms. Palin is and has been one of my least favorite characters in the political world over the last number of years. And I’ve written about her several times on this blog. Upon reading this story of family dysfunction, my initial feeling was one of Schadenfreude (the pleasure taken in someone’s misfortune). But then I began reading some other stories of misfortunes befalling the Palin household in the last several years and I softened and began to feel somewhat sympathetic towards her.  After all, it is the holiday season.

But then I read a news account of Track’s arrest (yes, another) about a year ago for beating up his girlfriend and Ms. Palin’s related comments and I felt the bucket of my new-found generosity of spirit spring a leak.  She attributed Track’s violent behavior to his Army service and the ramifications of PTSD.  No problem with that but she added, “and it makes me realize more than ever, it is now or never for the sake of America’s finest that we’ll have that commander-in-chief who will respect them and honor them.”  Seemingly, that inglorious draft dodger, DJT is Ms. Palin’s North Star when it comes to virtue. I then realized that she is the same idiotic panderer she’s always been and any feelings of empathy I had for her dissipated.

Which is really too bad . . . because I was really getting in this holiday spirit of “good will towards all men.”  Oh well, there’s always next year.

Folks, this concludes the ninth year of the blog.  You’ll be pleased to know that years #8 and #9 will be published as one volume in an attractive non-leather bound edition that will be available in the spring.  This year, we’ll be paying in bitcoins for you to take them off our hands.

We here at the blog factory wish you all a healthy and joyous New Year.