Saturday, March 12, 2011

Rats! Foiled Again

I consider myself to be a fairly well-educated and intelligent person, and have no particular affinity for rodents or Kia vehicles. And I'm definitely not the kind of person that loves television commercials; more often than not I start flipping the channels as soon as the commercials come on. So can anyone explain to me why, whenever this commercial comes on, I absolutely CANNOT look away?

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Jay-Z - Empire State Of Mind Ft. Alicia Keys (Official Music Video)

It's really frustrating when my pet peeves get in the way of my enjoyment of something. I heard this song many times and really liked it. But then today I noticed that at several points throughout the song, Alicia Keys sings "concrete jungle where dreams are made of." Now that's the only thing I can focus on.

You just can't do that to the English language. Not even if you're Alicia Keys.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Weekly Roundup

Ashen Grounding
Volcanic eruption grounds thousands of fliers across Europe
It’s a shame that all these people are stuck wherever they are, but that is probably preferable to glass forming in the engine blocks and the planes crashing into the oceans, the mountains, or whatever terrains they happen to be over at the time. Right?
Washington Post

Busting Billionaires’ Bundled Bad Bond Bets
A Wall Street Invention That Let the Crisis Mutate
So let me get this straight. They put all their bad debts into one fund, then told a whole bunch of people to buy them. Then the value increased and they told a whole nother bunch of people to buy them, while at the same time telling the first group of people to sell them, knowing that the whole thing would go south and people would lose a crapload of money and the banks would be able to cry poormouth and then get over $700 billion of bailout money. All this going on right under the noses of the SEC. Wow, these regulators sure deserve kudos, huh? I guess it’s understandable, though. This is obviously a complex and highly sophisticated scheme that is at least an entire generation beyond, “hey, I bet I can tell you where you got them shoes!”
New York Times

Visiting Hours
Hospital directive gives gays a victory without the fight
You can’t marry nor serve openly in the military, but get this: you can visit one another in the hospital. Oh, and so can everyone else. Score!
Los Angeles Times

Here We Go Again
IDF troops kill Palestinian in clashes at Gaza border
Even with all the signs of the Armageddon—the earthquakes, volcanoes, fires, tornadoes, hurricanes, explosions on the sun, atmospheric irregularity, global warming—Hamas and Israel just won’t give up until they kill each other with guns.

Love That Dirty Water
Ex-Blackwater president charged in firearms case
Well, when you tour the Budweiser brewery you get free beer. When you tour the Hershey factory you get free chocolate. When you tour the greenhouse you get a free seedling. What do you expect to get when you tour the Blackwater facility?

Perhaps The Worst Human Being In The World
Police: Man tortured 4-year-old to death for wetting his pants
Life in prison is way too good for this man. This person would bring down the curve for the entire prison population. What should happen is, this guy should be sentenced to die by the exact method that he used to kill this innocent little boy, except that however long it took him to kill the boy, the sentence should be carried out in double the amount of time. I would gladly pay my own way to wherever he is to be a volunteer executioner. What kind of family is this, anyhow? Too bad the mother’s sister and her friends didn’t start jonesing for their drugs earlier in the day or the boy might have survived. Unbelievable.

Stand And Be Counted
Low Census Response Rate Will Cost Tax Dollars
It’s official: people will politicize EVERYTHING. The constitution mandates that everyone be counted every ten years. If you don’t like the way it is done or do not agree with the results, work to change the process or amend the constitution. But does EVERYTHING have to lead to accusations and counteraccusations between “liberals” and “conservatives?” I mean, seriously.

King’s Ransom
Lawyer Doubts Larry King and Wife Will Reconcile
Well, if the lawyer’s saying it, it must be true. Is Larry trying to catch up with Lizzy Taylor? All the news you need to know…

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

And The Ban Played On

The big news of the day in Massachusetts is that advocates for the mentally retarded want to ban the word “retard” from the vernacular. Read all about it:

This is an important issue, and one that brings to mind the larger responsibility that we all have as Americans, to get involved and ban that which we find offensive, distasteful, vulgar, profane, and inconvenient. As everyone who has ever paid attention in civics class knows, there is an unwritten passage in the Bill of Rights, the Right to Never Be Offended or Inconvenienced. Therefore, it is our duty as patriots to ban books, words, ideas and, yes, lottery tickets. As referenced on, dedicated citizens are exercising their constitutionally guaranteed right by the thousands. Here is a partial list of banned things:

-New York, New York, the city so nice they named it twice, bans car horn honking. You might ask, then, why have car horns at all? Shut up.

-the McAllen, TX School District has banned pleated skirts, belts with designs, shoelaces with designs, ass-slapping, hugging, kissing, hitting, unstrapped sandals, and spaghetti straps.

-Abbeville, SC, bans spit

-North Carolina bans both lottery tickets and fortune tellers (what’s the point of one without the other, anyhow?)

-Dayton, Ohio bans homeless people

-New York bans murder (I think we can all agree with this one, except in extreme circumstances possibly involving the Clintons)

-Kaysville, Utah (motto: Happy Kaysville!) bans the donation of nuclear weapons (but, curiously, not the possession of nuclear weapons)

-Wyoming bans albino monkeys

-Honolulu, HI bans loud singing

-Grants Pass, Oregon bans self-service gas stations

-Kansas bans bare-handed fishing

-Mumbai, Arkansas bans smoking in the movies

-until recently, Boston banned Native Americans

I have to admit, I’m a bad American. Not only do I feel it necessary to question our leaders on their decisions, something that the founders never intended to happen, but I have not started a petition to ban even one single thing that offends or inconveniences me.

The mental retardation folks have inspired me. If these selfless men and women can give so much of their time and effort toward furthering the banning goal in this country, then I should at least do my part. The problem with the whole retard thing is that their ban proposal is very nonspecific. What does it mean to ban the word? Their proposal spells out no consequences for not abiding by the ban. Well, I will not make that mistake. I have very clear ideas in mind of what should happen to people who refuse to abide by the bans I suggest.

Tonight I announce my intentions to pursue bans on the following:

-people in the grocery store that stand in the middle of the aisle blocking passage while they bend down to examine every single can of La Sueur Peas for five minutes to decide which can is good enough to feed their family. And they always have their cart blocking the aisle in front of the other canned goods that law-abiding citizens would like to select. I suggest no less than $100 fine and 10 days in jail per violation.

-fat people who wear spandex. You’ve seen these people; don’t deny it. Mostly women, but also men who are at least 30 pounds overweight walking in the park, on the street, at the mall, in church, with skin-tight spandex and no underwear. That is without a doubt one of the most disgusting things to see. There should be an automatic fine of $10 per pound overweight, and there should be a “Biggie’s Law” whereby these particular offenders would be required to advertise in the local paper and send postcards to their neighbors identifying them as fat show-offs, so that people can choose to banish them from the neighborhood if they wish.

-Last, but not least, anyone caught feeding pigeons outside of a building entrance or exit should be shot without trial. For those of you who, like me, have been the unfortunate victims of hair-poo or getting smacked by a runaway pigeon in flight, ‘nuff said.

Let me know if you agree with me on the above bans, and if you’re willing to sign petitions to that effect. If not, let me know what you’d like to ban. Most importantly, get involved! Rally your neighbors, call your Congresspersons. It doesn’t matter so much WHAT you want to ban, it’s that you PARTICIPATE in the banning process. It’s what democracy is all about.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Bush Is My New Hero

Laura Bush supports Obama speech to school children

Truth be told, I couldn’t care less what Laura Bush thinks about Obama or his speech. That whole thing was blown so far out of proportion; it was, simply, ridiculous. Right-wing idiots are targeting every single thing that President Obama does, says, believes, or pushes for. What they don’t understand is that that kind of strategy can easily backfire, as your opposition simply has to sit back and wait for you to get too outrageous and then hit you hard from the other direction. And by then anyone who hasn’t made up his mind is going to be sick of hearing from you and will welcome the transverse argument.

Why I am currently loving Laura Bush is this: “Mrs. Bush also decried the extreme political partisanship in the nation.

"’We're polarized. ... A lot of people on the right, a lot of people on the left. We've seen that for the last eight years. ... We're still seeing it,’ she said.”

It is about time that a prominent political figure in this nation, and especially one with such close ties to one of the biggest offenders in this area, calls it out. The two-party system is not interested in solving problems. The two-party system breeds intentions to win, at all costs.

Democrats and Republicans see each other as the opponent. When political parties were first formed in this country, they were meant to be collaborative, the thinking being that if both sides could coherently state their arguments, then the solutions developed would benefit the widest number of citizens possible. A worthy goal, one might think.

However, that is not what happens. What happens is, when a Democrat says something, a Republican’s immediate reaction is, “that is a bad idea. That is a bad solution. That is bad for the citizens.” They then go back and try to cull reasons for their opposition from the details of what the other person actually said. The same thing happens when a Republican says something, on the Democratic side.

Think back to how many times in your life you’ve been correct when you reached a conclusion instantaneously, before knowing even a single fact. I’m willing to go out on a limb and say that it hasn’t always worked out, in fact it has probably never worked out.

And this attitude permeates even more fully among the citizens than it does in Washington. Picking sides before the battle has even begun seems to be a national pastime, as evidenced by the recent “town hall” meetings on healthcare and this week’s outcry over the president’s address to the nation’s children.

Unfortunately, it will probably take a person of greater significance than Laura Bush to spark a national debate on this subject, but the fact that she recognizes it and is willing to decry it publicly is a start.

But until we’re willing to take a good hard look at ourselves and realize what we are doing, problems will still go unsolved while the left and the right, while the ego and the superego, while the ying and the yang continue to do battle and deny that the other makes valid points that are worthy of consideration.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Culture Club

So here’s what I get in the mail:

“Town of Stoneham
“Board of Selectmen

“Dear Mr. O’Hara:

“We are pleased to inform you that the Board of Selectmen, at our meeting on June 30, 2009, appointed you a member of the Cultural Council for a three-year term, effective through April 30, 2012. Please contact the Town Clerk’s office for an appointment to be sworn in. You will be contacted by a member of the Cultural Council with information relative to meetings.

“Thank you for volunteering to serve the Town.

“Very truly yours,
“Board of Selectmen
“John F. DePinto

When I first moved to Stoneham and started working for the Boston Philharmonic, I looked around for various volunteer opportunities. On the Stoneham web site I saw that they were looking for people to serve on a variety of committees, so I filled out the form and selected the Cultural Council. I had no idea what it does, but I figured it would be right up my alley. I was a bit surprised when I heard nothing back from anybody, no email thanking me for my interest, no phone call asking when I might be available, no nothing. So I just forgot all about it.

Four years later, this letter comes in the mail. That was it. I had no idea I was even being considered to join the Council. You would think that they would let someone know that they are going to be the subject of a vote at the Selectmen’s meeting, but I guess that’s just how the town works.

The day after I got the letter I called the Town Clerk to schedule my appointment to be sworn in. I was expecting a long, involved conversation regarding when we should hold the event to permit maximum attendance by town officials and members of the public, what the proper dress should be, how to get the public safety officials involved in order to ensure minimum disruption to the town during the parade, what type of cake and punch I prefer to have served at the reception following the ceremony, and who from the media should be invited to cover the event.

Instead, what he told me was, “I’m here til 6:30 on Tuesdays.”

Turns out what the Cultural Council does is, it allocates funds provided by the Massachusetts Cultural Council to Stoneham to support cultural endeavors. In the past it has provided support to schools for ballet performances, to the Stoneham Theatre for special projects, to various community groups for things like puppet shows, etc. So it seems like a worthwhile endeavor. We’ll see what happens.

So after all my expectations, the “swearing in” was a bit anticlimactic. I walked up to the Town Clerk’s window at Town Hall, the Clerk brought out this huge binder thingy with pre-printed oaths. I had to read the oath, which was something like “I swear to carry out my duties as [a member of the Cultural Council] in accordance with the Constitution and all applicable laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.” The part in [] brackets he had to write in, because they also use this same book to swear in members of the Finance Advisory Committee, the Recreation and Open Spaces Committee, the Conservation Commission, the Board of Appeals, and the There But For The Grace Of God Go I Committee (um, I mean the Water and Sewer Review Board). Anyhow, after I read the oath, I signed and dated it, then the Clerk signed and dated it, we shook hands, and on my way I went. I guess the parade will be scheduled for a later date.

So, if you have any ideas for good cultural events in Stoneham….well, don’t ask me, because I have no idea how any of this works just yet.

In other news, the dead tree in the front yard finally got cut down today! This was completely unexpected. Since the tree was on the little patch of ground between the sidewalk and the street, it technically belonged to the town. Bill has tried unsuccessfully to get the tree taken down, even going so far as to offer to pay the town to cut it down. Every time he was told by the Tree Nazi Warden (yes, Stoneham has a guy whose job it is to be in charge of the trees) that since it had green leaves on it, it was still alive. Yeah, right. This was the sickest looking tree I have ever seen and I’m so glad it has been put out of its misery. Anyhow, I’m not sure if they just have a long list of trees to remove and just got to us today, or if others have been reporting the tree as well, but today they showed up.

Apparently notification is not big in Stoneham, neither by the Selectmen nor by the Public Works Department, because they never sent anything to let us know that they would be by today to remove the tree. I was in my little office in the basement working with the air conditioner on when they showed up, and I couldn’t hear them knocking on the door. Then all of a sudden the doorbell chimes and at the exact same moment, my cell phone started ringing. It was my neighbor Xavier across the street telling me that some men in a big truck were gathered around my car while one of them was knocking on the door. It looked to him as though they were about to start cutting down the tree with my car still sitting right under it!

So, luckily I was able to move the car and let them remove the tree. The Tree Nazi Warden didn’t remember ever telling Bill it couldn’t be removed. Mmhmm. But whatever. No more bird shit on my car. Woohooooooooo!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Happy Independence Day

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Surprisingly, no one had ever thought to write that down before.

Thanks, guys.

Happy Independence Day, everyone!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Dos & Don'ts Of Bank Robbery

Man Arrested After Failed Dedham Bank Robbery

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One final tip:

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

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Weekly Roundup

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, January 31, 2009

25 Things

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

13. Whew. Halfway through.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Judge Judy Tells It Like It Is

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

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

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

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

Friday, January 23, 2009

Mi Amigo Bueno

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nobody listens to me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, January 22, 2009

What's In My Inbox

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Oiling Up My Dance Machine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, January 9, 2009

The Weekly Roundup

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, January 4, 2009

I Wasn't Dreaming

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

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

The front of the house

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

Down the street

Looking down to Mike & Christine's

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

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