June 21, 2005

Ready for the Globe Theater.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 7:12 pm

First, a bit of background. I don’t think that Topdawg at Two Nervous Dogs was joshing when she said that she had purchased a TV zapper, which is a small device that can turn off any television with the push of a button. Even if she was kidding about that, I have fantasized about having such a device the next time I find myself in the waiting room of the car dealer having my brain numbed by daytime television.

Anyway, she has written a one-act play about using such a device in a physician’s waiting room. The title of the piece is “The Taming of the Tube.” Willy the S would be proud.

June 20, 2005

A Village Story.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 5:33 pm

My friend Eric posted a story that involved the sudden appearances in Pennsylvania of a naked fellow wearing a mask and identifying himself as “Zorro.”

That triggered the amazing and largely inexplicable series of neuronal firings across millions of synapses reminded me of a brief encounter I had many years ago in the Greenwich Village Section of New York City.

I believe I was a college student (I told you it was many years ago) when I went with a buddy to one of the then-hip saloons in the Village. After drinking enough beer to require the “breaking of the seal,” I entered a one-urinal, one-stall men’s room. In such places, etiquette requires, and expediency suggests, that, if someone is using the urinal, the next person should use the stall.

Given that the stall was empty, I was surprised to hear another person enter the men’s room and take up a position directly behind me. I maintained the appropriate men’s room, urinal-using “forward stare,” but I was thinking, Doesn’t this asshole person know the rules? A foreigner perhaps?”

The person waited until I was just about zipped up when he tapped me on the back. (This is very, very, very bad form in a men’s room.) I turned around and hoped that it was not going to be necessary to go to “General Quarters.” Before me stood a tallish man, dressed like an Indian warrior, war paint and all. He wore one of those headbands over his long black hair (like Tonto). He was bare chested and wore only a loincloth (I assume he wore something underneath it, but I did not look) and moccasins. The best part is that he was holding a farookin’ tomahawk in his right hand!

Good thing for my pants that I had just finished pissing.

In a very calm and non-threatening voice he said, “Could you spare a dollar so I could buy myself a drink?” (One could actually buy some kind of drink for a buck in NYC back then.)

I wish I could report that I responded with a snappy comeback, or that I disarmed the renegade following a blazing display of deadly foot karate, but, remember, he was holding a tomahawk in his farookin’ hand. Instead, I simply said, “Sure,” and ponied up a buck.

He responded, “My liver thanks you,” and he walked out of the men’s room.

I got to thinking, “Hell, I gave the guy a buck and he didn’t even call me ‘Kemosabe’.”

June 19, 2005

Step Aside, Clive Barnes.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 11:28 pm

Sluggo reviews Hecuba:

“It’s drama. It’s Greek. To me, it’s still spinach.”

Ya gotta love it.

“Accusation Fatigue”

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 10:05 pm

TigerHawk explains the basis for this phenomenon.

Here is a sample:

We Americans are quite used to being accused of human rights violations by every dirtbag — and every apologist for dirtbags — on the planet. Activist American leftists and their anti-American supporters abroad have been accusing America of atrocities at least since the mid-sixties. According to the left, the United States and its soldiers or agents were criminals by virtue of our dealings in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Chile, Cuba, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Israel, Iraq, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Angola, Somalia and Ethiopia (I’m sure that I’ve forgotten a few). We know that wherever we go, whatever we do, we will be committing human rights violations — at least according to international NGOs, the BBC, most European media, most American professors, most activists in the Democratic party, and most members of the United Nations. …

I will start caring what the world’s chattering classes think when they hold non-Americans — Africans, Arabs, and Chinese in particular — to the same standards. Until they do, I am forced to conclude that these critics of America are either racist to the core — they simply expect less of Africans, Arabs and Asians — or politically anti-American. There is no third explanation. Until then, therefore, I will support our military, knowing full well that the world has never seen a serious war without some violations of law, and that this war is almost certainly the cleanest counterinsurgency since the invention of counterinsurgency.

Read it all.

We Pulled it Off!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 1:09 pm

About six months ago, daughter TJ and I hatched a plan for a surprise birthday party for Mrs. Parkway. It required the logistics of the Normandy Invasion and was shrouded in as much secrecy. The ruse was that TJ was to be receiving an award from her alma mater, and we were invited to attend the presentation.

In the ensuing months, a restaurant and a menu were chosen, invitations were printed and sent out, favors were purchased, flowers were selected and ordered, music was arranged, and a host of other details were attended to. Fortunately, TJ, who is skilled at such things, did all the heavy lifting.

What also ensured that the event would be a surprise is that it was scheduled a bit more than a week before her actual birthday (which we will also celebrate, only on a much smaller scale).

The most amazing thing is that no one, not even the Usual Suspects with whom we spend so much time (often over cocktails when people tend to blab), spilled the beans. It was comical when a few times in the past weeks, because I am not very good at writing down dates, I was rather sternly reminded by Mrs. Parkway, “Don’t for get that we have TJ’s thing on the 18th.” I would feign minor indignation by saying, “Sheesh! All right already. I haven’t forgotten.” (ha!)

The timing was flawless. I had said that we would pull out of the driveway between 6:45 and 6:50. I checked my watch (as I had done a hundred times yesterday) and confirmed that the wheels were rolling at 6:47. I called TJ from the car, explaining to Mrs. Parkway, “I want to make sure that she is already there so we don’t walk into the room without knowing a soul.” Of course, that was the signal to get everyone in position and “shooshed.”

TJ met us outside the place so she “could escort us in and introduce us.” When we walked into the room, having positioned Mrs. Parkway in the front, instead of seeing a room full of people she didn’t know, she saw approximately 50 people, family and friends, who yelled “Surprise!” in perfect unison. I caught her when I felt her knees momentarily buckle. It was a classic moment.

TJ has written a recap of the event itself better than anything I could write today, what with the post-event exhaustion and the vodka-spawned bass drum that is beating inside my head at the moment.

Yep. Just like the Invasion of Normandy. It was a great success.

Oh, and Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there. I know that I caught the brass ring in the Fatherhood Department. I had a wonderful father, and I have a wonderful daughter.

June 17, 2005

Patron of Da Arts. (Updated)

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 5:40 pm

I will be headed to the theater tonight to see this. Frankly, I am more in the mood for, as the theater critics say, “a sidesplitting comedic tour de force,” but this clearly isn’t that.

The good news is that I rarely see a bad show at the Paper Mill Playhouse, and cocktails are sold in the lobby.

UPDATE: The show was excellent. With one simple set and virtually no props other than some chairs and a prop piano, the production money could be spent on a large and talented cast. The music and the vocal performances were great, particularly the ensemble numbers. There were even a few light moments and a laugh or two tucked into this otherwise serious storyline. Best of all, however, was the performance of Rachel York, who played the Mother. She has a beautiful voice that covers an amazing range, and she played hell out of the part.

My only criticism is that the first act was a tad too long (ninety minutes). Some people were hustling to the rest rooms during the intermission.

I recommend seeing it, but be sure to visit the rest room before the curtain goes up.

June 16, 2005

Childhood Memories.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 10:58 pm

“What five things do you miss from your childhood?”

I have seen others on Mr. Blogroll answer this question, and I find the question and everyone’s answers quite interesting. I, therefore, have decided to take a dip in the pool, as it were.

Generating such a list is always difficult, because the minute you’ve posted the list, you invariably think of other things that probably should have been included. With that said, here are the five things that come to mind as I sit here at the end of a long, long day of chock full of Life 101.

In no particular order, they are:

1. The Last Day of School: For me, it was a day of unbridled joy. It always seemed to be a sunny day (admittedly, that is probably a product of selective memory), full of promise for the next couple months of freedom. In grammar school, we would sing:

No more pencils, no more books
No more teacher’s dirty looks.

I couldn’t wait to get home to take off and put away my “school clothes,” and don my jeans (We called them “dungarees” then), which, along with a few tee shirts, constituted my summer garb. Back then, boys in my neighborhood didn’t wear shorts.

Of course, things changed as I got older and the last day of school meant a summer job.

2. Gutter Ball: We played gutter ball damned near all year round. The game was played with two people. The “batter” threw a ball (a tennis ball, or Spalding rubber ball a/k/a “Spaldeen”) against the curb, and the fielder tried to catch it. Each grounder caught was an out. Catching it on a fly also constituted an out. A missed grounder was a single. If the ball crossed the opposite curb on a fly, it was a double. If it went on Mr. Whatshisname’s lawn on a fly, it was a triple. If the ball flew over Mr. Whatshisname’s fence, it was a homer. The idea, of course, was to hit the curb with the ball precisely on the corner, which all but assured a homer. Each player would be identify himself as a “team,” which back then pretty much guaranteed that the “teams” chosen were the Yankees, the NEW YORK Giants and/or the BROOKLYN Dodgers. “Now coming to the plate with the bases loaded, Yogi Berra!” This was serious stuff, and the games would go on for hours and hours, and hours.

3. Sleigh Riding. With a good snow, we would sleigh ride to the point of exhaustion, or until dark, whichever came first. Sometimes this took place on the nearest street that resembled a hill, but when we got serious snowstorms, we would sleigh ride in “the woods,” which in reality was probably no more than a nearby acre or so of undeveloped land in the town. It may not have been a true “woods,” but for us it was like Aspen.

4. Italian Hot Dogs and Lemon Ice. It was always a rare treat on those occasions when my father would come home from work and say, “How about for supper, we take a ride “Down Neck” (i.e. the “Ironbound” Section of Newark) and pick up Italian Hot Dogs?” An Italian Hot Dog (a “double” – one always got a “double”) consisted of two greasy hot dogs in a half a “pizza roll” (Think one half of a loaf of Italian Bread, about the size of a small hubcap, shaped like a pita), with mustard, peppers, onions and fries crammed into the crevice of the roll. There simply is nothing better.

On other nights, my dad would suggest that we take a ride “Down Neck” to Adams Street for some lemon ice. Back then, Adams Street was the Mecca of lemon ice. The old Italian ladies used to make it and sell it from ramshackle stands in front of their multi-family houses. The stuff had real bits of lemon rind in it. Heavenly.

5. Family Gatherings. On holidays and often on no special occasion, my parents, aunts, uncles, family friends and cousins would find themselves in the same place at the same time. The adults drank beer or “highballs,” while the kids drank Coke, Pepsi or “Dad’s Root Beer.” This was not a talking free-for-all, with everyone blabbing at the same time. Instead, without any formal rules, it essentially was a story telling event, with each person capturing the floor and everyone else’s attention while he or she said something that had everyone, as they used to say, “in stitches.” The children were included, but if you managed to capture the floor and, thereby everyone’s attention, the story had better be good. It was wonderful training for adulthood, and yet not a single person in the room ever studied developmental psychology, adolescent psychology, social psychology, or any other “ology” for that matter. Jack’s dad was da bomb at these events.

Sadly, the “grownups” are all gone now. I hope we pack the same gear.

Chiggers, Et Al.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 9:34 pm

Ever wonder what chiggers, the Mainstream Media, Howard Dean and nail polish have in common?

Denny pulls it all together.

June 15, 2005

I Get an “F” in Proofreading.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 6:25 pm

Only today, after what must be a year and a half or more and hundreds of clicks, did I notice that Eric’s site appeared on my Blogroll as “Straignt White Guy”.

I think I may be the world’s worst proofreader. When I was a judicial clerk, part of the job was to proofread the judge’s opinions before they went to the publisher. One clerk would read while the other followed. I was a bad reader (I read right through mistakes) and I was even a worse follower. The only way we would be sure to catch all the typos was to read the opinion backwards calling out every punctuation mark and every capital letter and every word. It was not fun, but it worked.

There is no way that I’m reading my posts backward, so please forgive me for the occasional typo. I think it’s a question of brain wiring.

Still, in a year and a half, I should have noticed that Eric is not the “Straignt White Guy.” Yep, brain wiring.

June 14, 2005

Farookin’ Hot!!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 10:15 pm

sun angry.jpgI don’t tolerate heat well, which right now is a bitch, because Jersey is on the tail end of a heat wave. Temperatures have been in the nineties with oppressive humidity. I know for my southern friends, our heatwave would not be a big deal, but I get downright panicky and/or seriously crabby in the heat.

Tonight was particularly rough for a cold weather guy. I had rushed home after work (if you can call sitting for almost an hour in traffic “rushing”, because someone’s car had the bad taste to burn up on Route 78) in order to change clothes in time to participate, on behalf of the Post, in Flag Day Ceremonies held by the local Elks Lodge.

It is a moving ceremony in which the various flags of America’s history are marched before the crowd, while the narrator gives a brief history of each flag. This is followed by the retirement, by burning, of old flags that are no longer serviceable. The Elks, like the American Legion, collects flags from people throughout the year who want to properly dispose of them.

Our Post is the only one around that has a ceremonial firing squad, so we are regularly asked to participate in the Elks’ annual Flag Day event. As such, I got to spend the better part of the longish ceremony standing at attention in the sweltering heat, dressed in a white long-sleeved shirt, long pants and Legion Cap. When the flame was finally put to the flags, we fired three volleys and then presented arms while a bugler played “Taps.”

It may have been a moving ceremony, but I think I lost a couple quarts of water standing there. I’m not a Budweiser fan, but when it was over, I inhaled an ice-cold Bud, and it went down like well water.

Earlier in the day, I had taken my walk in the heat and humidity, which was less than pleasurable and required two bottles of water – one I brought with me and one I bought from a convenience store about three quarters of the way through the walk. During today’s walk of death, I could not help but notice the four-foot long antenna-like structures that are painted red and white and affixed to the fire hydrants in town. Their purpose is to permit fire fighters and everyone else to know where the fire hydrants are when the snow is high enough to bury them in the winter.

Those antenna-like things in today’s tropical heat served to remind me that, if you can live in Jersey, you can live anywhere.

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