Sunday, March 29, 2015

One more reason to live in New York

I miss The Post.  I read its sports pages online, but that's not the same as holding it in your hand.  Plus, every once in a while, they cough up a cover like this ...

Which is an impressive bit of tabloid journalism.  I hope the woman in the middle gets a ton of shit at work tomorrow.  And the next day.  Etc.

Likewise her stupid friends.

The thing that amazes me is that -- given there was a huge explosion in the middle of the East Village -- there weren't more people injured.  So for that, here on Pom Sunday, we have another thing for which to be thankful.

Mea Culpa

I used to date her sister Vivian.  Vivian Culpa.

If I were you I'd leave that joke alone.  It rarely works.
Good idea.
Maybe if it was spelled "Mia" instead of "Mea" ...
Stick to the cheese joke.  And the one about the brake fluid.  They're both strong.

It's still early, but perhaps I should go on record as saying that I may have underestimated four-time Formula One champion Sebastian Vettel.  Which is an astonishing thing to say, given that the previous sentence includes the words "four-time Formula One champion," but there is a school of thought that says I (if I dropped, say, a hundred pounds) could have won two of those championships had I been driving a Red Bull.  The point being that the Red Bull car was so vastly superior to the competition that any competent driver could have won in it.

But those days are behind us, friends.  The bells are ringing again in Maranello.  Cue the Prancing Horse amidst choruses of Hallelujah ...

People always talk about how beautiful Brandi Carlisle's version of Hallelujah is, but they never mention how sad the song is too ...

Well I heard there was a secret chord
that David played and it pleased the Lord
But you don't really care for music, do you?
Well it goes like this:
The fourth, the fifth,
The minor fall and the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah

Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah...

Your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew you
She tied you to her kitchen chair
She broke your throne and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah

Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah...

Baby I've been here before
I've seen this room and I've walked this floor (you know)
I used to live alone before I knew you
And I've seen your flag on the marble arch
and love is not a victory march
It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah...

there was a time when you let me know
What's really going on below
But now you never show that to me, do you?
But remember when I moved in you
And the holy dove was moving too
And every breath we drew was Hallelujah

Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah...

Maybe there's a God above
But all I've ever learned from love
Was how to shoot somebody who outdrew you
And it's not a cry that you hear at night
It's not somebody who's seen the light
It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah...
Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah...
Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah
Hallelujah, hallelujah

The key lines come near the end: "All I ever learned from love/Was how to shoot somebody who outdrew you."  Wow.  That's pretty sad.

So maybe the Tifosi should be singing something else.  Here, this will do ...

It's my boy Leonard Bernstein, from whom we don't hear enough now that he's dead, conducting the Vienna Philharmonic back in 1979.  And I'm not talking Vienna, Virginia.

The tune is Beethoven's 9th, and it looks like they've got about a hundred people ready to sing the choral section at the end.


Saturday, March 28, 2015

This made me laugh

The purpose of the post is to acknowledge David's departure from his Broadway show. He will be replaced by George. Which isn't his real name.

Friday, March 27, 2015

The world is a funny place

Every once in a while I check the visit numbers for The Year of Magical Painting.  Which still exceed the numbers for this, my current blog, by a multiple of five or ten.  Was surprised to note that on the 22nd of this month 300 people popped by TYOMP to say hello.

Makes a man wonder.  I googled myself to see if something had been written and there didn't seem to be any extraordinary events.   I did get my hair cut that day, so maybe that had something to do with it.  For you completists, I got a number two all over with a natural back and Jen, the barber, trimmed my beard down to its barest essence.  I then shaved it off when I got home.

This ...

Now looks something like this ...

A kind of Mahatma Gandhi/Seal Team Six fusion thing.  With a touch of cray-cray, as my daughter likes to put it.  I'm thinking just one less thing to do 'til 2016.

The Poets tell
how War is Hell
but so, I'm told,
Is getting Old.

I wish Dad was still alive.  He'd get a kick out of that.  Plus this ...

The Poets tell 
how Pancho fell.
Lefty's living in a cheap hotel.
The desert's quiet, Cleveland's cold.
And so the story ends, I'm told.

Although that would have gone right over his head.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

My Kingdom for a Horse

I wrote a poem for long dead/recently discovered Richard III.

Rest in peace, old boy.
Found, some five hundred years later
And buried, finally, today.
Springsteen sang of finding the secrets of the universe
In the engine of an old parked car.
You they found under a parking lot near Leicester.
Rest in peace, old boy.

Here, if you feel like you need more, is Bennie Cumberbatch reciting one that the Poet Laureate XX just binged out for the occasion.

I'm not sure whose is better.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The New Yorker

I quoted a passage from the New Yorker in the previous post and thought I'd add a bit more.  Those of you who dutifully read the 400,000-some words that comprised The Year of Magical Painting will know that I sometimes complain about how some publications charge the same amount for you to receive the hard copy of a magazine as they do if you choose to receive it electronically.  And anybody who's ever read, say, Vanity Fair on their iPad knows that it's a vastly superior way to consume that sort of content.

Anyway, I was mucking around the New Yorker in the service of both you, dear reader, and the previous post and up popped a window that said I could subscribe for $1.00 an issue.   And I thought that was a heck of an offer.  Then I went to the "subscribe" site (which is here) and found that for a dollar a week I could have the magazine mailed to me or, for a dollar a week, I could read the electronic version or, for a dollar a week, I could receive both.

Who, I have to ask, would choose options one or two in the face of option three?  Now I'm in a rage.

Nonetheless, I also came up with, in my exploration of the magazine's exploration of Smash, this line about Slings & Arrows -- another show about which I've waxed ecstatic many times on these pages ...
We’re also not talking about “Slings & Arrows,” the single best TV show about theater ever made. 
See.  If you won't listen to me you should listen to Emily Nausbaum.

Further on the Slings & Arrows front, the bit where Rachel McAdams' character is stoned and talking to a friend in a bookstore about Danish makes me laugh just thinking about it.  The humor, if you have to know, stems from the potential confusion between the language and the pastry.


Meat Pie (Ingredients unknown)

Me?  I'm a song and dance man from way back.  I remember seeing Jerry Orbach (of Law and Order fame) playing the lead in one of the revivals of 42nd Street .  I'm that old.  And Angela Lansbury and Len Cariou in Sweeney Todd -- which I still can't get out of my head.

Sweeney!   Sweeney Todd!

Let me also add that I saw Bernadette Peters in Into The Woods because: a) her current turn in Mozart in the Jungle -- the Amazon Prime streamer about big time symphony orchestras -- is just one of many good things in the show, and b) it's a nice segue from the stage to the television.

I am sad to see Glee finish up its run.  I watched a couple of episodes early on but stepped away, knowing that my daughter would keep me fully informed.  And then, every once in a while if she absolutely insisted, I'd watch another episode so we could discuss it.  So I've probably seen between five and ten Glee episodes total.  Which was more than enough for me, but I thought it was a great idea for a television show.  I say this even though I could never once wrap my head around Lea Michele and her relentlessly needy I-want-to-be-Barbra schtick.

All of which brings us to Smash, that ill-fated experiment from NBC about a Broadway show about Marilyn Monroe and the two women who want to play her ...


I thought Smash could have been amazing, and I actually watched all of the first year (hoping for the best and being constantly disappointed) and some of the truly horrible second year before I finally stopped.  A man, after all, has his limits.  The second year was so horrible, in fact, that unlike Glee (which, I'm told, had more than its share of ups and downs), I wasn't sorry to see Smash go.

And although there were numerous reasons why it failed, not the least of which being the ridiculous plot, I ascribe most of the blame to the dramatic stylings of Debra Messing.  In the annals of terrible acting in significant television shows, I always thought Philip Michael Thomas playing Rico Tubbs set the bar for the absolute worst (this theory is supported by the fact that since Miami Vice ended its run in 1990, we've heard almost nothing from Mr. Thomas).  But after watching Ms. Messing in Smash, I'm handing the baton to her.  Which is odd, given that she was relatively charming in Will and Grace.

And lest you think I'm making shit up, consider this from no less than The New Yorker ...
... since its delightful pilot, the show has taken a nosedive so deep I’m surprised my ears haven’t popped. All the caveats I noted but dismissed in my earlier review have become the definingly awful features of “Smash.” These include but are not limited to every domestic event involving Debra Messing’s character, Julia, from her attempts to adopt a Chinese baby to her decision to cuckold a dull man with a creepy one, to her alarming array of earth-toned scarves.
The good news?  They are actually going to make a Broadway play out of Smash.  I think it's just a one-night kind of thing, but honestly, how meta is that?  Meta enough, I suppose, for it to set the record for most money ever raised on Kickstarter for a theatrical production.  Vulture, the oddly named website for New York Magazine, has a nice article here.

The bad news?  Ms. Messing will reprise her role.  But I'd still go if I was, say, walking by the theatre on a warm summer night at quarter of eight and somebody offered me a half-price ticket in a nice location.  Perhaps five rows back, on an aisle.

I'll close with a U-Tube clip which could be, barring Marianne Faithful singing As Tears Go By, the best thing ever in the history of U-Tube ...

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Tender is the Night

By Scott Fitzgerald, as most everyone knows.  I'm reading it again for the first time, like so many corn flakes, and in addition to being like eating breakfast cereal at 6:40 pm it's also like dropping acid without the negative side effects.  Or the social stigma.

It's pretty impressionistic compared to, say, Gatsby.  But every once in a while you run across a line that just takes your breath away.  While better in context, this one -- the one that prompted me to put the book down and come upstairs to write this -- stands on its own just fine.

Was it an hour ago she had waited by the entrance, 
wearing her hope like a corsage on her belt?

Wow.  I broke it into two lines because it seems as much like poetry as prose can get.

I have to go back downstairs now because I have some chicken on the stove, but here's a picture (from Madame Bovary) of Jennifer Jones, who played Nicole Driver, the one with the hope like a corsage, in the 1962 movie version of Tender is the Night.

Wow.  Looking great for a crazy girl.

Saturday, March 21, 2015


Today would have been Ayrton Senna's 55th birthday.  In this side-by-side footage watch him eat Alain Prost's lunch at Suzuka.  Senna is on the left ...

The most interesting thing about this, other than Senna beating Prost like a drum -- which I'm sure he loved because the two despised eachother -- are the famous Ss at Suzuka.  Esses?  They come right after the first turn and it's left-right-left-right til the cows come home.  I can tell you, speaking from experience (Playstation 3) that this is where you win or lose on this circuit.

And this.  One of the great laps at Monaco.  I love how the car just appears in front of him around the 1:10 mark and it's like totally not a big deal.  Modern on-board cameras, with their anti-shake technology, don't do justice to just how intense it is to drive one of these cars.

Happy birthday, Ayrton.  Rest in peace.

The Annotated Trojan War

Here in Troy we love nobody more than Homer.

Homer is to Troy what Thomas Jefferson is to the University of Virginia.  Actually that's not really correct.  But it's a nice excuse for popping up this lovely photo of the Lawn at UVA.  The thing in the background is the Rotunda.  The thing in the foreground is a statue of Homer.

All of which begs the question, are you familiar with

Do you remember when I coughed up the lyrics to Trenchtown Rock a couple of posts ago?  Some of that stuff is pretty obscure if you're not Jamaican.  The phrase "fe gelang so" certainly jumps to mind.  Which means "behave like that," more or less.  I know this because I dropped into Genius and tracked down their annotated version of the song.

My general impression is that Genius' strongest suit is the annotation of rap lyrics.  But that's not all they do.  Today I'm looking at Book V of the Iliad.  Which is here, with annotations.  Which is kind of fun, if you're in the right mood.

There has to be a Hector joke in here somewhere.
You would think, wouldn't you?

Time is like a Slinky

Some say it's a circle, but to that I say close but not quite.

Life, on the other hand, is like a figure 8 ...

If we don't learn from the past we are doomed to repeat it.  That said, there's something quite wonderful about this GIF.  I'm told this is some kind of Lexus sporting some kind of a NASCAR engine.  I wish there was audio.

A friend of mine sent me an email yesterday.  The subject line read "The Who ..."
Are not in my top 100 bands, might not be in 200 and some might say they are a little past their prime (I'm one of those people) but I bought a ticket to see them at msg.
I told him the next time they were in town I was buying him a ticket to see The Eagles.  Who think that life is like a hotel.
On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hairWarm smell of colitas rising up through the airUp ahead in the distance I saw a shimmering lightMy head grew heavy and my sight grew dimI had to stop for the nightThere she stood in the doorway, I heard the mission bellI was thinking to myself this could be Heaven or this could be HellThen she lit up a candle and she showed me the wayThere were voices down the corridor I thought I heard them sayWelcome to the Hotel CaliforniaSuch a lovely place(Such a lovely place)Such a lovely facePlenty of room at the Hotel CaliforniaAny time of year(Any time of year)You can find it hereHer mind is Tiffany twisted, she got the Mercedes Benz, uhShe got a lot of pretty, pretty boys that she calls friendsHow they dance in the courtyard, sweet summer sweatSome dance to remember, some dance to forgetSo I called up the captain, "Please bring me my wine"He said, "We haven't had that spirit here since 1969"And still those voices are calling from far awayWake you up in the middle of the night just to hear them sayWelcome to the Hotel CaliforniaSuch a lovely place(Such a lovely place)Such a lovely faceThey're living it up at the Hotel CaliforniaWhat a nice surprise(What a nice surprise)Bring your alibis
"Bring your alibis."  That's a great line.

Truth be told, I think The Eagles hold up better than The Who.  And this is from someone who listens to a lot of 60s rock.  These, after all, are my people.  And hell, I bet in the last ten years I've listened to more of the Dave Clark Five than The Who.  Just to pick a group at random.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Memory Lane costs $18,600, apparently.

Click on this ebay page.  Beautiful 1973 Volvo 1800 ES, which was the sports wagon version of their iconic sports car.  I once owned this EXACT car, same color, everything, although not quite as nice as this ...

It was a pretty cool car, but no way I'd drop nineteen grand on another one.  Even in perfect shape.  What I will say is that, if you're a car person, there were lines and shapes on this car, more towards the front than the back, that were so lovely, so beautifully sculpted, that they took your breath away.

I remember it didn't have power steering, and that the front end was fairly heavy -- it was a Volvo after all -- and the act of parallel parking the thing required a significant amount of upper body strength.

And it was loud at highway speed.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

"Give the slum a try" -- Bob Marley

Today's topic is Song-lyrics-you-have-gotten-wrong-your-entire-life.

There's a bit a few posts down about the tunnel of energy linking me and Bob Marley at the Capital Center in the late 70s.  Wow, that was something.  Then, yesterday, I was walking past a guitar store in downtown Troy and they had one of those free-standing signs that prop up on the sidewalk like those things that workmen prop up, then throw a sheet of plywood over the top and have a table?  Something about horses, maybe?  Anyway, the sign read ...

"'One good thing about music.  When it hits you feel no pain' ... Bob Marley."  And I always thought it went "... When it hits you feel okay."

So I went to the videotape, as Warner Wolf used to say, and got this from ...

Trenchtown Rock
One good thing about music, when it hits you fell no pain [repeat]
So hit me with music, hit me with music
Hit me with music, hit me with music now
I got to say trench town rock
I say don't watch that
Trench town rock, big fish or sprat
Trench town rock, you reap what you sow
Trench town rock, and everyone know now
Trench town rock, don't turn your back
Trench town rock, give the slum a try
Trench town rock, never let the children cry
Trench town rock, cause you got to tell Jah, Jah

You grooving Kingston 12, grooving, Kingston 12
Grooving woe, woe, it's Kingston 12
Grooving it's Kingston 12
No want you fe galang so,
No want you fe galang so
You want come cold I up
But you can't come cold I up
Cause I'm grooving, yes I'm grooving

I say one good thing, one good thing
When it hits you feel no pain
One good thing about music
When it hits you feel no pain
So hit me with music
Hit me with music now
Hit me with music, hit me with music
Look at that, Trench Town rock
I say don't watch that, Trench Town rock
If you big fish or sprat, Trench Town rock
You reap what you sow, Trench Town rock
And everyone know now, Trench Town rock
Don't turn your back, Trench Town rock
Give the slum a try, Trench Town rock
Never let the children cry, Trench Town rock
Cause you got to tell Jah Jah why
Grooving, grooving, grooving, grooving

Okay.  My bad.  Funny the things you carry around with you.

But the last part of the song, the part of the last verse that starts with "If you big fish or sprat" and ends with "Cause you got to tell Jah Jah why" tells you everything you need to know about Bob.  God bless the man.


You've been to the 60th floor of 70 Pine?  The answer is almost certainly no.  And I might be wrong about the exact floor, but I'm talking about the super-executive dining room at the top of the art-deco tower that houses AIG, the insurance giant.

Me?  I had lunch there once with the infamous Hank Greenberg and two or three senior AIG executives who were, literally, shaking in their shoes.  Maybe it was just a meeting with some coffee.  It was thirty years ago, so I only remember two details:  First, that the table was set with chop sticks (a nod to AIG's roots in the Asian shipping trade) and that Greenberg was a trip.

Consider this ...

Not my finest effort, but there it is regardless.  Sometimes you get caught up in trying to make a thing look too much like a thing and lose sight of the thing itself.  If you will.

Like the forest and the trees.
Exactly.  I mean, the question is:  What are we really looking for in a portrait?
Exactly.  Nicely said.
I didn't say it; I asked it.
Fair enough.  Nicely asked.
Thank you.
That upper lip really got out of hand, though.  Didn't it?
Yes.  Sadly, it did.

A snapshot in history, regardless.  And if you don't think of these magnificent works as snapshots in history then shame on you.  I would simply inform you that my portrait of Bernard Madoff is slated for inclusion in a long-term exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York next spring.  The show is titled "New York at its Core" and I can't think of anybody closer to the core of New York than me.

Charlie Rose, maybe.  Or Gay Talese, although less so now.  Ditto Jimmy Breslin.  But the point holds regardless.

Anyway, I bring the whole AIG business up after reading this in the New York Times ...

The payment, he added, will come from a homeowners insurance policy that Clemens has with AIG that covers defamation claims. It was the insurance company, Hardin said, that “made a decision about the cost of trying the case and decided it was cheaper to settle.”

Who has an anti-defamation clause in their home-owner's policy?  I'm reminded of the famous line from Bulworth (one of the great movies about politics) in which Senator Jay Bulworth, played by Warren Beatty, says something like "White folks and black folks have more in common with each other than they do with rich folks."

I don't think my homeowner's policy covers me from defamation.  Or at least I don't think it would if I had one.  But apparently Roger Clemens' does.  Also, who buys their homeowner's insurance from AIG?

Go figure.

For you completists, this is a pretty nice piece from The New York Observer re. the Greenberg painting ...

The Local: The Annotated Geoffrey Raymond

annotatedfuld The Local: The Annotated Geoffrey Raymond Artist Geoffrey Raymond did not have much luck soliciting signatures on his portrait of ousted AIG Chairman Hank Greenberg when he displayed it outside the firm’s Wall Street headquarters last week.
When Mr. Raymond first unfurled "The Annotated Spitzer" outside of the New York Stock Exchange 15 minutes after the governor resigned on March 12, over 100 passersby reveled in the schadenfreude, scrawling messages like "Spitzer or Swallow" around the head of Wall Street’s disgraced nemesis. Mr. Raymond went on to collect 350 comments on the Spitzer portrait, less than a dozen of which were encouraging, setting the still-unsurpassed record in his nine-piece "Annotated" series.
The day after News Corp. bought The Wall Street Journal last July, he displayed "The Annotated Murdoch" outside The Journal‘s Lower Manhattan headquarters, and 150 people, including the newspaper’s employees, wrote comments like "News is Sacred"–Mr. Raymond’s personal "all-time favorite."
There are few rules. The 55-year-old former PR executive-cum-painter simply asks passersby if they would like a sharpie–in this case, AIG staff wrote in blue and everyone else got black–and directs them to "stay off the face."
Typically, he manages to collect between 75 to 100 signatures during an average sunny lunch break on images of even the most uncontroversial of public figures. 
BUT THINGS ARE ANYTHING but typical on Wall Street these days. After three hours standing outside 70 Pine Street last Monday, less than a week after the government announced plans for an $85 billion bailout of AIG, Mr. Raymond rolled up the portrait of Mr. Greenberg with only 25 signatures. "Really a pretty pathetic showing from AIG people," he later wrote on his blog, The Year of Magical Painting. "Big Hank sets the all-time record for least annotations Day 1," the entry read.
Undaunted, Mr. Raymond returned to Pine Street last Tuesday, and, by 1 p.m., a halo of compliments from AIG employees and pleasantries from the general public framed Mr. Greenberg’s head. "The company went into the shitter after you left," one staffer wrote. "Please, please come back," entreated another. "Good Luck," scribbled street-cleaner Michael Love.
"Wanna sign," Mr. Raymond shouted to one passerby.
"No, thanks," he called over his shoulder. "I still have a job. Maybe in a week, though."
"Can’t do it," said another. "I’ll lose my job."
The initial skittish public reception to "The Annotated Greenberg" was partly due to the portrait’s position, "acutely, right, smack in front" of the AIG entrance on a narrow street, Mr. Raymond said, but also mainly because Wall Street is still reeling from recent events.
"There is a level of corporate paranoia that I don’t usually see," Mr. Raymond said. "Also, at Lehman and Bear, the people signing had already lost their jobs, so there is less of a risk. AIG just got bailed out, so people are probably focused on [not getting laid-off]."
It could also have been the retinue of reporters trailing him, including myself; a photographer and a reporter from Fortune magazine; and a two-man French TV crew.
One AIG employee started to write on the canvas with a blue sharpie, but got spooked as the cameraman got closer, and closed the marker.
Though dozens of suited workers and tourists snapped photos of the portrait on their BlackBerries or chuckled as they passed, many seemed not amused. One woman rolled her eyes and shot Mr. Raymond a scalding glare of rebuke, before walking inside the building.
Even those who have not been swept aside by the financial crisis said that "The Annotated Greenberg" has assumed a very different meaning when reflected under the light of the financial crisis.
"Normally, I would brush it off as funny," said Deutsche Bank employee Stanley, who has worked on Wall Street for over a decade. "After the past two weeks, I think it’s serious. Now a lot of people are looking for answers. There is an environment of fear everywhere. It’s the constant daily topic of conversation in the elevators and on the street."
The comments on Mr. Greenberg’s portrait reflect the shifting mood.
"Please keep sending that pension check," read one blue comment.
"I think you painted the wrong guy," wrote another employee.
"Thanks for the cheap stock," a third wrote.
In contrast to the annotations on other paintings in the series, the ones Mr. Raymond collected outside of AIG over the course of two days were overwhelmingly supportive, as if people were banding together behind the skeleton of the financial sector as we know it, and the CEOs who built it, such as Mr. Greenberg.
ALSO ABSENT WAS THE hostility Mr. Raymond has occasionally encountered when feasting off the spoils of Wall Street.
On Sept. 15, he said he almost got beaten up outside of Lehman Brothers by a "drunk, angry" employee wearing one of the firm’s corporate softball league jerseys.
"He was yelling at me, and getting in my face about kicking someone when they’re down," he recalled with a chuckle. "We diffused it and there were a million police officers, so I wasn’t too concerned."
At least one Lehman Brothers employee had enough of a sense of humor to buy "The Annotated Fuld," named after Lehman Chairman Richard Fuld, from Mr. Raymond off the street for $10,000.
The AIG employees we spoke with believe that if Mr. Greenberg was still around none of this would have happened. "Back when Greenberg was here it was a stable company," said one five-year AIG employee who did not want his name to appear in the article. "Back then some people were not sure how much it was an insurance business, but all I can say is that it was a stable business."
Another passerby agreed. "If he were here, he would have been ahead of the curve."
Mr. Raymond reported that things picked up when he moved "The Annotated Greenberg" over to Goldman Sachs on Wednesday. He amassed 160 annotations.
On Wednesday he cheerfully read the standout comment of the afternoon over the phone: "Snarling rat bastard die! You suck. Love, Kim."

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

You get old. Shit happens

I was on a popular website earlier and up popped a window that asked me if I wanted to take a survey about the site.  Since I like the site I clicked yes and up it popped.

One always wonders how long these things are going to take.  I'm fine with being a good sport, but sometimes they abuse your good intentions, and that makes me angry.  In this case, they have a progress bar in the upper right of the screen and by the time the third question pops up I see that I've made perhaps 20% progress, and I'm okay with that.

The question in question, if you will, reads something like "pick the year you were born."  Which made me think that "pick" wasn't exactly the right word.  A bit too random.  "Indicate" might have been better.

Anyway, I picked 1953 because that's the truth.  When I clicked submit, the next window said "Thank you for taking our survey," and now I'm feeling a bit cheated.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

My Bracketology

I'm picking the highest seed to win every game, with the exception of the East, in which I pick Virginia to beat Villanova to reach the Final Four and Duke to reach the Championship Game.  After that I don't care (because, honestly, who doesn't think Kentucky isn't going to win the whole thing?) although my bracket picks the Cavaliers to go all the way.

But the Final Four is the big thing.  And we can totally beat Villanova.  It's not like they're sporting Easy Ed Pinkney in the paint.  Or the unrelated McLean/McClean twins out on the wing.  Or even Kemba Walker -- although he played for UConn.  In any case, we'll be fine.

Worth noting:  In order to get to the Championship Game, where they will either beat or lose to Kentucky (although who doesn't like that Ashely Judd?), Virginia will have to beat Duke.  Which will be bliss.

I'm not sure that many people are thinking good thoughts about Ashley Judd.
I'm just saying.
I don't think much about her one way or another, although I wish she had run for the Senate against Mitch McConnell, but I do have fond memories of her portrayal of Mathew McGonahee's wife in that movie about the southern lawyer.
I don't think that's the way you spell it.
The man gives me a cramp, even with his fine work in True Detective, so I'm not going to expend the energy required to spell-check his name.
Fair enough.  Have you seen Dallas Buyer's Club?
No.  I hear he's great in that and I'd just rather not know.
A closed mind is like a closed door.
Yes it is.

Friday, March 13, 2015

The Wailers

I don't think the Wailers get enough credit for being a really tight band.  I want you to drop everything, go to Spotify and type in "Easy Skanking in Boston '78."  Outstanding, particularly the second half which features I Shot the Sheriff/Easy Skanking/NWNC/Jamming, all in a row.

Everybody knows that.  It's like calling Geico will save you some money.
They do?  
NWNC is the acronym for No Woman No Cry.

Me?  I miss Bob.  I saw him three times live, the third of which was, if memory serves, at the Capital Center outside Washington DC.  I had pretty good seats -- about half court, had there been a basketball court laid down -- and at one point a roiling tunnel of energy linked Bob and me as if I was staring straight into a tornado, except it was sideways, and at the other end was Bob Marley.  I'll never forget it.

You could further argue, were you of a mind to, that in addition to Bob Marley the Wailers included Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer.  I'm okay with Peter Tosh, but Bunny Wailer (or Bunny Livingston, although his first name was Neville) created in Blackheart Man one of the greatest reggae albums ever.

One man's opinion.

And let's not even talk about Aston "Family Man" Barrett.

Dem war some root boys, mon.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Harry Hole

I've been sucked into some cop/detective novels lately.  Harry Hole being, specifically, the cop.  The author being Jo Nesbo, who is tiresomely called the new Stieg Larsson now that poor Mr. Larsson is dead.  Except that Mr. Nesbo is Norwegian and Mr. Larsson is Swedish, and Mr. N is not quite as good as Mr. L.

Those Dragon Tattoo books were definitely the real thing.  Outstanding.  If you haven't read them and are reading this you should put this down -- not a thing I say lightly, given my current daily audience -- and go read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  And then the other two books.  And don't say you've seen the movies because that has nothing to do with the matter at hand.

This isn't a blog about the fucking movies.

Anyway, I blew through Nesbo's "The Son" and enjoyed it quite a bit.  Then I read Nesbo's first Harry Hole novel, which I also enjoyed.  And now -- cue the heavenly choir -- I've discovered that I can download Harry Hole ebooks on my Kindle directly from the Troy Public Library.  Which is astounding on several levels, but I'm choosing not to look a gift horse in the mouth.

It should be noted that one pronounces the E in Mr. Hole's name, so it sounds more like Hola, with a kind of Norwegian lilt.  Like Hoorla, maybe.  But scrunched up, like there's an umlaut or something.

I've seen Jo Nesbo on Charlie Rose and I can assure you that he speaks excellent English.  So one wonders whether, as a Norwegian novelist with an eye towards translating his work into English for the massive North American market, he created his character's name with the knowledge that it would almost certainly be pronounced like the way one pronounces hole in other circumstances.  And did that make him laugh?

On a related note, part of what got me fired up about detective novels was watching the Harry Bosch series on Amazon Instant Streaming.  That was pretty good, actually.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Am Remembering My Father Fondly Today

My father once told me that if a book he was reading proved boring or slow-going he would read only the even-numbered pages for a while.  Which is an interesting idea.  After all, your rate of progress through the book increases one-fold.  Or two-fold.  Or 100%.  Something like that.  And then when it starts getting interesting again, you start reading both pages.  Or, if it doesn't get interesting, you finish the book in half the time.

It's not a perfect plan, since you do miss some stuff (although he did tell me that if something of obvious importance happened on an odd page it was okay to go back and check it out), but it helped me make my way through the really grim Japanese prison camp scenes in Laura Hillenbrand's "Unbroken" that comprised the third and fourth fifths of the book.

For the record, I have an extremely high tolerance for stuff like that, but it seemed so unremitting after a while that it was just getting me down.  So yesterday I employed Dad's technique and am glad I did.  Once the war was over I switched back to normal speed and enjoyed the end quite a bit.

Thanks, old bean.

[As a personal aside:  The good part of reading for pleasure is that if you are not liking a book you can just stop reading it.  I do this plenty, but once I hit the half-way point I have this strong sense that I should just finish the damned thing, for good or for bad.]

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Who needs a new Toyota when you could have this?

The average price of a new car is now @$31,000.  For that, and possible considerably less, given that it's an auction, you could own this ...

Wow.  The pertinent data being this ...

Hanging scroll, ink and color on paper
Entitled, inscribed, and signed by the artist, with two seals
Dated end of year, yichou year (1985)
53 x 25 3/4 in. (134.5 x 65.5 cm.)

Pre-sale estimate is 25-30K.  If I had an extra 25 grand I would totally step up on this.  I am particularly taken with the eyes.

Here's a second image ...

The man has an affinity for geese.  Or whatever these things are.

And back to the car business for just a second, you could take the $30-35K you were planning on spending on a new Camry, buy a well-preserved 2006 model for a couple of grand, then buy "Cranes" at Christie's, and you'd have a rock-solid car and something to fill a major bit of wall.  What a deal.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Big Brother is Watching

I'm sure I've written a million words using Word for Mac.  Which, for anybody who writes a lot, isn't really saying that much.  Not really.

A million?  Really?
Okay.  Let's just say a hundred thousand so we don't lose the forest for the trees.

The point is, as a guy who spent his entire professional life using Word on a PC I have always hated Word for Mac.  Just so we're clear, I love my Mac (which I switched to in 2006 when I closed my public relations agency and have never looked back) but hate the Word program for it.  I just never understood why Word for Mac wasn't exactly like Word.  Just for Macs.

Anyway, at some point I switched over to Google Docs and spent some time using that as my default word processing program.  But I never really warmed to that either, so if I had to write a letter right now I'd prolly fire up Word for Mac and just deal with it.

All of which brings me to an article I just read about a Google app called Draftback.   Which, if you want to totally freak yourself the fuck out, you can download here.  Before you do, however, you can read about it at FiveThirtyEight, the blog that Adam Silver started, although that's not his name.  Might be Nate.  Regardless, click here.

Your eyes may glaze over, but don't let them do so until after you've watched the embedded videos.  Video is the wrong word, but be sure to click play on anything that has a play button.

The idea of Draftback is that you can watch, either in real time -- which would be deadly, I'm guessing -- or in a speeded-up version, the process by which you type (or have typed) any Google doc.  All of which is interesting, and potentially educational (although my jury is out on that one).  But the real trip of the thing is that Google Docs has remembered every keystroke of every document I've ever written using that program on this computer.

And that, friends, freaks me out.

I'm not Pollyanna when it comes to the trade-off we make between privacy and convenience, but this is just further proof that we really have no idea how deep that trade-off goes.  I wish I could find it, but I just read an interesting article about a guy who, troubled enough by all this to take meaningful action, now does all his personal computing using Linux.

Ha.  As if you could possibly do that.
I'm not saying I can.  I'm saying he did.

Still, taken in toto, it's almost enough to make me stop looking at pornography on the web.


That's how many points LeBron James is behind Patrick Ewing in total career scoring.  Ewing, a prince of a man in my estimation, lies 20th on the all-time scoring list.  King James has him squarely in his sights, likely passing him later this season.

It will be a black day for the orange and blue.  As if there haven't been enough lately.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Six Wheels!

Back in the old days the F1 cars not only sounded better ...

but some of them had six wheels!

I am particularly amused by the complete lack of crowd safety apparati.  I'm talking fences and shit.  Crikeys.

If you're highly motivated, a wonderful story in Jalopnik here.