Wednesday, December 21, 2011

I guess it sounded like a good idea

Barack-star unveiled his new campaign theme.

Unfortunately, it's already been used.

Saturday, September 24, 2011


So what if economists are predicting an inevitable double-dip recession? Who cares if more than 9% of our fellow citizens are unemployed?

If you've got it, flaunt it!

That's just what Mobama did at the most recent fundraiser for her beleagured husband-in-chief. Take a look at those bracelets--$42,000 worth of diamond and gold bling she's sporting!

If Barack is re-elected, I'm hoping there will be a massive redistribution of wealth and I can pick a couple of these up for myself. I think they're really pretty!

Raising Cain

Sorry for the gratuitous headline.

Herman Cain just sent shockwaves through the Republican Party by winning the Florida straw poll by a huge margin.

Cain 37%
Perry 15%
Mitt Romney 14%
Rick Santorum 11%
Ron Paul 10%
Newt Gingrich 9%
Jon Huntsman 2%
Michele Bachmann 2%

9-9-9. That's our friend Herman Cain's buzz line for his revamped tax proposal. Basically, the founder of Godfather's Pizza says he'd scrap the whole Federal tax system.

Cain would completely abolish the payroll tax. (Collective cheer from the working people!)

Businesses would be taxed a flat tax of 9% on gross income minus investments.

Individuals would pay a 9% Flat Tax on gross income less their charitable deductions.

Finally, the feds would institute a 9% sales tax insuring that EVERYONE gets to share in the cost of keeping the wheels of this expensive government turning. Right now nearly 50% of Americans are getting off scot free.

Go Herman! I like him and his pizza!

[BTW if you're wondering where the phrase "scot free" comes from, I looked it up. Contrary to popular belief, it has nothing to do with Dred Scott or the Scottish.

Sceot is the Old English for "a tax." Scot and lot was a medieval muncipal tax levied on residents. Someone who managed to avoid paying this medieval tax got off "scot free."

Eventually, the word evolved to describe getting away without any kind of punishment, fiscal or otherwise.

So, now you know. Who ever said this blog isn't educational, as well as entertaining?]

Headband makes a comeback, Hillary to follow

The headband is back! The last time Hillary rocked this look she was on stage swaying to Fleetwood Mac. Could this be a signal to her supporters that she's tossing her headpiece into the presidential ring? With Barack-star doing the slow motion death spiral, the 2012 race is about to get a lot more interesting.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Cowardice of Paul Krugman

Today most people are remembering 9/11 and how the nation came together as one, mourning the loss of 3000 fellow citizens at the hands of foreign terrorists and celebrating the brave heroism of our first responders.

Most people.

I'm reprinting a blog post from Paul Krugman, a liberal columnist for The New York Times.

September 11, 2011, 8:41 am
The Years of Shame

Is it just me, or are the 9/11 commemorations oddly subdued?

Actually, I don’t think it’s me, and it’s not really that odd.

What happened after 9/11 — and I think even people on the right know this, whether they admit it or not — was deeply shameful. Te atrocity should have been a unifying event, but instead it became a wedge issue. Fake heroes like Bernie Kerik, Rudy Giuliani, and, yes, George W. Bush raced to cash in on the horror. And then the attack was used to justify an unrelated war the neocons wanted to fight, for all the wrong reasons.

A lot of other people behaved badly. How many of our professional pundits — people who should have understood very well what was happening — took the easy way out, turning a blind eye to the corruption and lending their support to the hijacking of the atrocity?

The memory of 9/11 has been irrevocably poisoned; it has become an occasion for shame. And in its heart, the nation knows it.

I’m not going to allow comments on this post, for obvious reasons.

Krugman titled this post "Years of Shame." I think his comments are shameful. The fact that he doesn't allow comments on his post is a testament to his cowardice.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Decision criteria

I'm not sure yet, but I'm contemplating tossing my vote for the next President of the United States to the person with the best hair. In 2008 I voted for the person I thought would be the least worst President. He didn't win and we got what we got.

Now, nearly four years later, the country is deeper in debt; unemployment is higher; the stock market is lower; rumors of terror attacks are looming; banks aren't loaning money; no one's buying houses; we've had tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, blizzards...nothing seems to be going right.

I haven't decided for sure, but I think basing my decision on who has the best hair is valid. Call me shallow, but if things are going to stay this badI'd prefer looking at a decent looking person for the next four years over a less decent looking person.

Right now, Rick Perry and Mitt Romney are in the lead.

Rick has great locks. Shiny and thick. I like that.

I've met Mitt and he's one of the most handsome men I've ever seen. Really. He has just the right touch of gray. He's who I'd cast for POTUS if I was making a movie. I wish he'd lighten up on the gel, and just let it go au naturel.

Newt Gingrich has a great head of hair, but I'm not a fan of big men with huge heads of white hair. They remind me of Q Tips. He's out.

Barack-star is also out. The worse the state of the Union, the shorter and grayer his hair gets. Sorry, he doesn't even deserve a photo.

Michele Bachmann has decent hair. She's in the competition. I like how she's moved from brown to auburn. I think it's a little long for a woman her age and a little too helmet-ish, though.

If Hillary would throw her mane in the ring, I'd consider her as long as she continues to use a hairdresser. When she does her own hair it's an epic fail.

I think you can figure out where I stand on Rudy Guiliani.

An up and comer is the guy from Utah, John Huntsman. He's low in the polls, but coming on strong. Huntsman's hair is the right length, nicely salted and peppered, vibrant and healthy.

Of course this is all just in the thinking phase. If the best hair would have won in 2008 we might have President Slime Bag John Edwards and First Girlfriend Rielle Hunter whooping it up in the White House.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

I have no choice.

I'm going to start blogging about politics, again.

I can't help it. The material is just too good.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

...and can you supersize that?

Makin' St. Louis proud!

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - “I’ll have four cheese sliders, some fries, and…oh yeah, all the cash in your register — to go”…

Police say a woman attempted to pull off an armed robbery at the drive-thru window of a White Castle in north St. Louis early Monday.

When the employees read the note handed to them by the woman and saw her holding what appeared to be a gun, they locked themselves in a back office and called police.

Meanwhile, the woman climbed part-way through the drive-thru window and grabbed the cash drawer before taking off.

She dropped her weapon while making her getaway and it turned out to be a fake.

When police tracked the suspect down at her home in the 1900 block of Warren, the suspect reportedly climbed onto the roof and jumped three stories to the ground below.

She’s hospitalized with non life-threatening injuries and faces robbery charges.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Big Books, Little Print

Almost all the books on my reading list this year are huge! I think I deserve extra credit.

Right now I'm reading a biography of Charles Lindbergh by A. Scott Berg. It's excellent and 500+ pages. Last night I had a flying dream.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Tick-Tock, Tick-Tock, Now It's Time For Us To Stop

I remember when my former Benevolent Boss, aka Big Daddy, used to let everyone take off a couple of hours early on the Friday before a holiday.

Non-union staff members were so thankful to have their normal 50+ hour work week reduced by 4% five times a year.

What nonsense.

"OK, boss, I don't mind shuffling, but I won't scratch my head."
Ruby Dee

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Good guy finishes first

"He's humble when he needs to be humble, and he's confident when he needs to be confident."

That's what Jack Nicklaus had to say about new golf hero Rory McIlroy.

What's not to love about this kid? Awesome smile, freckles, loves his mom and dad, he even spent time in Haiti volunteering. Today he finished a stellar U.S. Open to win by 8 strokes, and set a record 16 under par.

Yea! I hope Rory's the new face of golf.

The last time I was this happy was when Zach Johnson won the Master's in 2007. I remember how irritated one of my old co-workers was when Zach won: "A Christian, from Iowa!" I couldn't tell which descriptive was worse to him.

Maybe the days of bad boys Greg Norman, Tiger Woods, and John Daly are finally behind us.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Let's Hear It for The Boy!

Let's hear it for the boy
Let's give the boy a hand

Congratulations are in order to one of my favorite people in the world. Yep. He landed THE BIG JOB.

If you're wondering...he didn't need to step on anyone, squash anyone, lie about anyone, or stab anyone in the back to get to where he is. He's just smart, talented, fair, and has a vision.

It's great when the good guys win.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Yes, I'm talkin' to you...

(Note to readers: If you think this post is about you, it is.)

For those of you trying to white-knuckle your way to sobriety, I'd suggest you try AA or some other valid, tried and true 12-step program.

If you insist you're too good to join those "other people"...and, yes, I suppose you do...well the road will be much harder and most likely less successful. In fact, statistics say that without some sort of serious help, more than 90% of folks who stop drinking on their own start up again. So, there you have it.

However, if you insist on doing it "your way", I've done some research for you and here are some tips from WikiHow:

1)Understand why you drink. The brain is divided into two basic parts, which we will call the human brain (you) and the animal brain (it). The animal brain is concerned only with survival, and when you are chemically dependent on alcohol, it falsely thinks that you need alcohol to survive. Because of this, you could call it the "booze brain." If you don't understand how the booze brain works, it can easily trick the human brain (you) into drinking. However, once you understand why you drink, you are prepared to take action with the CORE process - Commit, Objectify, Respond, Enjoy. This simple process can help you stay away from alcohol for good.

2) Commit yourself to permanent abstinence from alcohol. You do not need alcohol to survive. The human brain is much smarter than the booze brain, which doesn't understand that you can live without alcohol. You can outsmart your booze brain by learning to think of it as something other than yourself. This way, when it demands alcohol, you can tell it "never." When you think about this, you might hear your booze brain objecting and pleading with you to "never say never." It does not want you to quit drinking, because it thinks it will die. But you are smarter than it is, and you know you need to stop. Make a plan to quit for good.When you're ready, say the words "I will never drink again." Pay attention to how you feel. If you are scared, panicked, angry, depressed, or feeling badly in some way, that is the booze brain at work. Because in all honesty, you WILL feel bad at first. Your body has been operating with this chemical for...however long? It thinks it needs it. It has to learn how to operate without it now, and learning has a curve. Give it time to learn. Your nerve neurons have been being put to rest for some time now, and now are all a-buzz with activity, so resting and sleep will probably be hard to get for a couple of days. Your booze brain will tell you lies. Call it a liar and watch late night TV till it passes!

3) Objectify your booze brain. Think of it as something separate from yourself, and learn to hear it speaking to you. It will try anything to get you to drink, because it falsely believes that you need to drink to survive. If you are feeling bad, it will tell you to drink to feel better. If you are feeling good, it will tell you to drink to party or celebrate. In fact, it will try to use any event in your life (good or bad) as an excuse to drink. Whenever you have any thought or feeling that suggests drinking, that is the booze brain trying to trick you. Objectify it by saying "it wants a drink" instead of "I want a drink." When you objectify the booze brain, you realize that it has no power over you. You are in control, and it is an outsider. All it can do is try to trick you into drinking, and you can outsmart it every time. Human brains are smarter than animal brains. Whenever possible avoid, or substitute non-alcoholic alternatives for alcohol in social settings.

4) Respond to your booze brain by saying "never" whenever you hear it asking for a drink. This causes the booze brain to back down, because it recognizes that it is not in control and there is no way it can force you to pour alcohol down your throat. It will try many different ploys to trick you into drinking (especially at first), but now that you have this information, you will know what it is up to every time. Remember, any thought or feeling that suggests drinking at any time is the booze brain at work. When you recognize it, just tell it "I never drink" and continue with whatever you were doing. Don't argue with it, just tell it that you never drink. It will eventually get more and more discouraged as time goes on, and it will bother you less and less. Before too long, you'll be an expert at dealing with your booze brain, and it will be easy to stay sober.

5) Enjoy your recovery from alcohol dependence. Don't be afraid that you will slip or relapse, because that fear is the booze brain at work, trying to give you an excuse to give up. Once you practice the CORE process for a while, it will become impossible for you to go back to drinking, because anytime you think about having a drink, you will see that it is just your booze brain at work. Remember, only your booze brain wants to drink. You do not want to drink, you want to quit. You are smarter than the booze brain, and now you know how to beat it. After a short time, the CORE process becomes automatic, and you don't have to make a big effort to stay sober. You may feel bad, angry, sad, or depressed at times, but that's normal. If the booze brain tries to use these feelings as excuses to drink, you will know what it is up to, and you'll know how to deal with it. Just tell it "I never drink" and get on with your life.

6) Say "No thanks, I'm quitting." when friends ask about your behavior, or offer you a beer because they expect that with you. Or "I'm slowing down." Or if you don't want to get into it, just "No thanks." If it's people that come around with alcohol all the time because once again, that's normal around you, you may need to tell them directly that you're quitting so that it isn't constantly in your face. Friends will respect that and keep it at home.

7) Remember, you are a strong individual with a "human" brain. You are stronger than you will sometimes feel you are.

Cheers! I'm glad you're no longer drinking and driving (if you really have quit).

Related Post: Grow Up, Would You?

A sign of things to come?

Why has my new IPad been lolling around in Louisville all day? Because it missed its plane connection to St. Louis this morning. I hope this isn't a pattern of irresponsibility.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Weekend travel

My new IPad is apparently having one last fling before it comes to work for me. So far its itinerary has included Chengdu, China; Chek Lap Kok,Hong Kong; and Anchorage, AK. This thing's better traveled than I am.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Out of hiding

This Arnold Schwarzenegger vs. Maria Shriver stuff has brought me out of the woodwork and back into blogging.

Somehow the media has turned Maria Shriver into a sort of simpering, victim of Arnold's infidelity and resulting love child.

For real? How did I know Arnold's a cad before Maria? I've never met him, lived with him, or seen a single Terminator movie. Go figure.

This continuing refrain of rich, privileged, smart women as victims makes me sick (see Elizabeth Edwards, Jennifer Anniston, Silda Spitzer, Sandra Bullock, Hillary Clinton, etc. etc.)

Move on.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Why I'm mad at Barack-star today

All this lousy world news (wars, earthquakes, tsunamis, unemployment, collapse of the Euro, fat children, borders under assault by illegal aliens, healthcare costs, etc. etc.) has completely knocked Elizabeth Taylor's passing off the front page and the cable news channels.

That totally bums me out.

And, I blame Barack for not handling these situations as they came up.


I wanted to see more old footage of Richard Burton and Liz, National Velvet, Liz as Maggie in Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, Elizabeth wearing those turban hats, hanging out with cool guys like Rock Hudson, Roddy McDowell, and Montgomery Clift...but no.

It's just one crappy story after another. The world is falling apart. This bad news has even knocked Charlie Sheen out of the A Block.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Yankee, Go Home

So there was a slight change of plans for the Obama clan. Apparently Rio has its share of racists and right-wing fanatics, too. These crazed folks took to the streets and sent a slightly unwelcoming message to the reluctant leader of the free world, causing his handlers to call an audible and cancel the big guy's speech in the city square.

Hopefully day 2 of Spring Break For The Obama's will go better.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Blame It On Rio

This Barack-star guy is even more amateur than I originally thought. Where has he been lately? Certainly not working on the situation in Libya, or putting an assistance plan together for Japan, or getting tough with Iran, or negotiating a better healthcare deal, or putting together a serious budget that might impact our ballooning deficit. In fact. this dude is so indecisive he's actually making Jimmy Carter look like one of history's great leaders. Yep. Now that times are really rough he's taking the fam and FLYING TO RIO!!!

Mutton Dressed As Lamb

It's the time of year when a not-so-great trend rears its ugly head. Dum de dum dum. Moms wearing their teenage daughter's clothes.

No, no, a thousand times no.

As a good friend of mine (who in the interest if protecting him, will remain anonymous) says, "Forever 21 is not meant to be taken literally."

No, middle-aged woman, you're not 21. In fact, we both rounded that bend some time ago. Please step away from the mini-dresses and the plunging necklines, I beg you to cover your upper arms, and above all else give up the short shorts. Too much skin, too many animal prints, and big patterns become a joke when you wear them.

You can still be fashionable. What you can't be is cute in your daughter's clothes. Sorry. Give them up.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Grow up, would you?

Here's something that really ticks me off. Grown people, like 60-years-old, who continually drink and drive. Especially the ones who can afford to hire a cab or even a driver. Seriously. What makes these arrogant folks think they have the right to endanger my life and yours? The next time I have to move over two lanes because you're swerving and following me too close, I'm calling the police.

I'm talking about you. You know exactly who you are. If I could follow you every night just to get you off the streets I would. Unfortunately, I don't have time. If you have to drink yourself into oblivion every night, the least you could do is stay home.

Consider yourself warned.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Just a suggestion

Hey! I was at Walmart the other day and saw those folding umbrella strollers on sale for less than $25. If you have a baby or toddler, I'd suggest you do everyone a favor and invest in one. It's not quite like the mini-coupe-sized strollers all the new moms are blocking aisles with these days, but really portable. I toted my son around in one for a few years and he didn't seem to suffer any permanent physical or psychological damage.

Related Posts:

Things I don't understand #7-9

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Catching up

I've really missed checking in with you guys who lurk around here. Here are some random thoughts (in no particular order).

Wow. How about that "storm of the century?" Yep, shut the whole city down for five days for virtually nothing. My favorite part of it was hearing a tv weather dude claim his forecast had been "spot on." He said it with a straight face, too. Hopefully, the cold weather is over and we're headed into spring. Then those same folks can be wrong about rain.

The Super Bowl was a little underwhelming. Granted, we were at a huge party and I wasn't glued to the game but it seemed like everytime I looked up someone was dropping a pass. On the other hand, the food and company were outstanding.

Here's what I've read recently: Little Bee, Luncheon of the Boating Party, Mark Twain's Autobiography, Nemesis and Decision Points.

I love my friends. It's good to have people with integrity on your side.

Metromix has announced the Top 10 Twitter users in the STL. If you've ever thought about getting into Twitter, these folks are a good start. I remember when some people I used to work with called Twitter a fad. Visionary, huh?

Ah, there's so much more to talk about...Egypt, the Blues, Tony LaRussa back for another year to torment us, guys in the corner offices, my favorite TV show--Justified--back on the air, etc. etc.

We'll both just have to come back.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Who makes these decisions, anyway?

So this ad was banned from running during the Super Bowl by FOX:

What do you bet we see a lot of those respectable Go Daddy ads?

Nice move, FOX.

Oh, yeah, in case you're wondering:

John 3:16: For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

State of the Union

Missed it and didn't miss it. If you know what I mean.

The Office

Next time you ask yourself, "Hmmm. Is there a statute of limitations on taking credit for someone else's work?"

No. It's bad form to use another person's work to bolster your own weak portfolio. It's stealing. Go do something yourself. I know you're capable.

Remember when Barack-star and Biden took credit for the surge in Iraq working after they'd voted against it? People saw through it and the Prez & VP looked stoopid.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


I caught about 5 minutes of the breathless news folks in ugly snow hats telling me that 8 inches of snow had dumped on the St. Louis area overnight. That's when I turned the TV off and picked up my Mark Twain biography.

Fortunately, I don't work for some crazed megalomaniac (great word), who thinks whatever he/she is doing is so important that all employees need to follow his needless example and slog their way through this mess to push some paper around their respective desks.

Go home. You're not that important and neither is your boss. Besides, there are some great old movies on TMC today.

If you work for a good guy, yea for you! Enjoy the day!

Noise proves nothing. Often a hen who has merely laid an egg cackles as if she laid an asteroid.
Mark Twain

Related Post: News? Not So Much

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Knock, knock. Hu's There?

This is not a joke.

Who was invited to the state dinner with Barackstar and Mobama, and China's Hu Jintao?

Among others...Jackie Chan, ice skater Michelle Kwan, wedding dress designer Vera Wang, Law & Order's B.D. Wong, and cellist Yo Yo Ma.


Also in attendance was Barbara Streisand who yukked it up by saying her connection with the dinner was “I used to work at a Chinese restaurant.” Again, I'm not joking.

Interestingly, the Obama's did away with the traditional red carpet. Instead, Mobama donned a red dress and matching red gloves. Perhaps showing some sort of weird solidarity with the majority holder of our bank note.

No word if former advisor and Mao-afficionado Anita Dunn was invited.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Yep. I agree with 79-year-old Regis. It's time for him to go. Actually, take that annoying Kelly Ripa with you.

Related Post: Wise Words

Friday, January 14, 2011

Uh. Oh.

Doesn't take a genius to figure out why states are raising taxes up to 67% (ie. Illinois)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

2011 Book List

So here it is...the 2011 book list. These are supposed to be some of the finest books ever written in each genre. I hope you enjoy a few of them with me this year.

Eleanor & Franklin, by Joseph Lash
The Spirit of St. Louis, by Charles Lindbergh
Lindbergh, by A. Scott Berg
Truman, by David McCullough
LBJ: Master of the Senate, by Robert Caro

Science Fiction
2001: A Space Odyssey, by Arthur Clarke
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sleep?, by Philip Dick
Starship Troopers, by Robert Heinlein
Ringworld, by Larry Niven
Rendezvous with Rama, by Arthur Clarke

Historical Fiction
A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens
Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo
The Historian, by Elizabeth Kostova
The Clan of the Cave Bear, by Jean Auel
The Mists of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley

The Godfather, by Mario Puzo
The Silence of the Lambs, by Thomas Harris
A Coffin for Dimitrios, by Eric Ambler
Gaudy Night, by Dorothy Sayers
Witness for the Prosecution, by Agatha Christie

Black Elk Speaks, by Black Elk
Orthodoxy, by G.K. Chesterton
The Four Quarters, by T.S. Eliot
The Sabbath, by Abraham Joshua Heschel
Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, by Shunryu Suzuki

Classical Fiction

Ulysses, by James Joyce
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, by James Joyce
Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov
The Sound & The Fury, by William Faulkner
Catch 22, by James Heller

Trust me!

I just read this and laughed out loud:

The way to avoid backstabbers
is to never turn your back.

Ha! So true. Just some friendly advice to those of you who are regularly subjected to bullies, liars, backstabbers and their kin. Don't kid yourself, you know who they are. They're the ones behind closed doors talking about people behind their backs.

Famous backstabbers:
Marcus Brutus
Benedict Arnold
Elizabeth Taylor
LeBron James
Jay Leno

Monday, January 10, 2011

2010 Book List Review

Yea! I completed my 2010 book list, plus some. That makes a total of 61 books. Here are my picks for best in their categories.

Classical Fiction:

To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee: Best [tie]
Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexander Dumas: Best [tie]
The Time Traveler's Wife: Worst, frankly I found this book very creepy
Crime & Punishment: Fyodor Dostoevsky

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, Agatha Christie
The Postman Always Rings Twice,James Cain
Strangers on a Train, Patricia Highsmith: Best
The Big Sleep, Raymond Chandler
Anatomy of a Murder, Robert Traver

The Road Less Traveled, M.Scott Peck
The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
I & Thou, Martin Buber
Letters & Papers from Prison, Dietrich Bonheoffer: Best
The Story of a Soul, St. Therese of Lisieux
Waiting for God, Simone Weil

The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Means of Ascent, Robert Caro: Best
Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank
Eisenhower: Soldier & President, Stephen Ambrose
Dale Carnegie: The Man Who Influenced Millions, Giles Kemp
A Narrative of the Life of Davy Crockett, Davy Crockett

Historical Fiction:
Memoirs of a Geisha, Arthur Golden
Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell: Best [tie]
The Pillars of the Earth, Ken Follett
Outlander, Diana Gabaldon
The Good Earth, Pearl Buck [tie]

Science Fiction:
1984, George Orwell
Foundation, Isaac Asimov
Neuromancer, William Gibson
Slaughterhouse 5, Kurt Vonnegut: Best
The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula LeGuin

Book Club Selections:
Travels With Charley, John Steinbeck
Tell No One, Harlan Coben
Moloka'i, Alan Brennart: Read it
The Help, Kathryn Stockett: Loved it
The Commoner, John Schwartz
Blessings, Anna Quindlen (second time I read it and still didn't like it)
Chance of a Lifetime, William Hartel
The Book Thief, Marcus Zusak (read this and then read Anne Frank's diary)

(Additions to original book list)

The Faithful Spy, Alex Berenson excellent modern spy novel
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Rebecca Skloot non-fiction worth reading
The Custom of the Country, Edith Wharton
The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis
Gift From the Sea, Anne Morrow Lindbergh
The Tea Rose, Jennifer Donnelly don't waste your time
Secrets of Eden, Chris Bohjalian
The Cellist of Sarajevo, Steven Galloway so good, but so depressing
As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner a classic for a reason
The Darling, Russell Banks
Return of the Native, Thomas Hardy Best addition to my book list
The Magnificent Ambersons,Booth Tarkington
The Post-Birthday World, Lionel Shriver (really unique, left me thinking about it for a long time)
The Lovely Bones, Alice Siebold
Galileo's Daughter, Dava Sobel
The Winter of Our Discontent, John Steinbeck
Titanic Thompson: The Man Who Bet On Everything, Kevin Cook Fun read about a real, larger-than-life guy you've never heard of
Nemesis, Philip Roth excellent!
Paradise Junction, Phillip Finch
In A Place Dark and Secret, Phillip Finch
Rape, A Love Story, Joyce Carol Oates Best Title
Decision Points, George W. Bush

Tomorrow I'm unveiling my 2011 Book List.


Why is it that the rhetoric seems be ratcheting up, even as people are calling for a return to civility?

One person is to blame for the killings in Tucson.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Wise words

Here's an editorial I ran across. If you're wondering if it's time to let go of something and move on, it is. Nothing's more pathetic than watching a boss, actor, athlete, doctor, lawyer, or indian chief hang on past their prime. So hang up your red shoes, red hat, red vest, red jersey, or whatever and move on. Let someone else take your place. It's their turn.

Dick Clark, Brett Favre, and the Art of Letting Go
By Lane Wallace

On New Year's Eve, I turned on the television to watch the "ball" drop in New York's Times Square and stumbled on the image of a much-diminished Dick Clark gamely trying to fill his role as the emcee of the celebration despite having suffered a debilitating stroke. It was painful to watch. I understand Clark wanting to reclaim the role and life he had before his illness; my mother suffered a serious stroke a couple of years ago and I watched her fight the same battle in the months that followed. Age and health failures are thieves that steal life and competency away heartlessly, unfairly and sometimes without warning. But it was still painful to watch.

Two days later, I watched a much-diminished Brett Favre put in a sideline, and most likely final, appearance as a professional football quarterback. I say "most likely" because although Favre officially announced his retirement from pro ball on Sunday night, he's reversed that decision more than once before. But this time, watching him stumble increasingly over the course of the season, few viewers had any doubt that the once-great QB, who had taken the Green Bay Packers to the Super Bowl twice and set the NFL record for the longest consecutive streak of game starts (321), was finished. Had been finished, in reality, for some time before he actually conceded defeat. Which was painful to watch, as well.

A few years ago, a friend who was closing in on age 60 told me he'd figured out that the real challenge in life was learning to let go. That's not the only struggle, of course, but it's certainly one of the big ones—especially in the years following 40. Letting go of anything—childhood, baggage, grudges, anger, failure, friends, lovers, loved ones, or just the past in general—is never an easy thing. But letting go of who you used to be, when you really loved being that person, falls into the double-black-diamond level of life challenges.

In 2002, the writer and essayist Roger Rosenblatt gave a beautifully poignant description of that struggle in talking about the great historian William Manchester on an episode of PBS's News Hour. Manchester had suffered two strokes and, subsequently, had lost the ability to find and organize the words necessary to finish his biography of Winston Churchill.

Manchester's face, Rosenblatt said, showed "all the bewildered agony of someone realizing that he cannot do what he was born to do."

We build identities over years and decades. Once, we were our ancestry. Here in the New World of America, we are judged more on what we do than who our parents were. And if we're lucky, we manage to find something to do that we feel, on some level, we were "born" to do. That's the great and wonderful part. Especially if being a natural at something leads to high levels of success or notability in that field, as it often does.

Of course, pursuing something you're so passionate about that you not only excel at it but feel it was something you were born to do makes that activity far more central to both your life and your identity. So what do you do when you edge closer to Father Time than the possibility-filled infant year? When enough years pass that the top of the bell curve slips through your grasp and you find yourself sliding down the far side? When you're past your prime, or not physically or mentally able to do or be what people recognized you for anymore? Who are you, then?

The entertainer and comedian Carol Burnett once said she ended her variety show while it was still getting high ratings—a show that gave her a level of fame and success she never again equalled—because she wanted to exit before the hostess started turning out the lights and asking her to leave. If only Elvis could have had that strength and self-control!

There are also any number of people, famous and not, who have mastered the art of reinventing themselves, over and over again, as their age and capacities and knowledge changed. John W. Gardner, who was the Secretary of Health Education and Welfare under President Johnson and went on after that to found Common Cause before lecturing at Stanford University, lived until the age of 89. And he bragged about taking a new career job after his 76th birthday.

Some of those people take on new careers in completely different fields (former NBA basketball player Kevin Johnson is now the mayor of Sacramento, CA), while others find different ways to contribute in their field of choice, even after their "best" or starring years have passed. Perhaps Favre could coach, or become a commentator, and perhaps Clark could provide valuable input to productions behind the camera. It's not the same as being the out-front star, of course, or nailing a 70-yard pass to win a game that hangs in the balance. But to make that switch first requires a clear and courageous acknowledgment that all things pass, grow old, and need to be let go of, eventually. Of one's own aging, and passing into those who have, instead of those who still will. It requires, in other words, a willingness to look Father Time in the eye and recognize and find peace with a part of ourselves in that image, as well as an optimistic willingness to set out and explore what still might lie ahead. Adventure, after all, can be found in any stage of life, right up through the end.

For years, I've looked at the image of Father Time and the Baby New Year and thought only of its basic interpretation: the passing of the old year and the beginning of the new. But after watching Dick Clark and Brett Favre's performances, it occurred to me that the iconic New Year's image might also be a reminder of the grace and possibility that come from acknowledging not only the renewal of life in the new year, but also the passage of time in the old. From recognizing what time it is, and moving on to whatever lies next before the party gets stale, or the hostess shows you the door.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

10 Lessons from 2010

In no particular order...

1) Bed bugs do bite
2) Tiger Woods is as big a phony as I always thought
3) John Edwards is a bigger phony than I thought, and I thought he was a pretty big phony
4) People with the most power often have the least class
5) When eggs can't be trusted, the year is going to be a bad one
6) Don't believe your bosses...the jobs aren't coming back
7) The internet is the great equalizer
8) Principles and your reputation are worth standing up for, no matter the consequences
9) Friends who stab you in the back were never friends
10)The Golden Rule is still the only rule you need. In case you don't remember it, "treat others the way you'd like to be treated"