February 23, 2004

Two Jersey Judges and the Sopranos.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 9:36 pm

It is hardly news that the HBO hit show, The Sopranos, will be returning on March 7th. Many of us in Jersey have a special affinity for the show for various reasons. Among them are:: (1) the story is set in New Jersey and makes references to real Jersey towns and other locations. For example, when Uncle Junior says that he lives on Watsessing Avenue in Bloomfield, we can relate; (2) the majority of the location scenes are shot in New Jersey (e.g. the famous opening montage; I recognize just about every snippet), and (3) many of us know (or knew) people who look, talk, and, to one degree or another, act just like the characters in the show. (Yes, Virginia, there is such a thing as organized crime in New Jersey.)

Over the weekend, we learned that a federal court judge in U.S. District Court in Newark ruled that a Jersey resident, Robert Baer, himself a judge in a Passaic County municipal court, was not entitled to share in the show’s profits.

Baer had sued David Chase, the producer/creator of the show, alleging that he (Baer) had discussions with Chase when the show was in its development stage and that he introduced Chase to people with real underworld contacts. According to Baer, in exchange for these discussions and introductions, Chase promised a share of the proceeds of the finished product.

The court ruled that “the essential terms of the contract cannot be determined, [and] that the alleged agreement is too indefinite to allow the court to ascertain with reasonable certainty what each party agreed to.” That is, of course, a legalistic way of saying that Baer’s case is as about as dead as headless Ralphie Cifaretto.


February 22, 2004

Not Exactly Pete Seeger.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 12:54 pm

I saw this over at A Secular Franciscan Life, and it absolutely cracked me up.

February 21, 2004

Vinyl Night.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 3:38 pm

The Usual Suspects and others have been in their basements today digging out their old albums and 45 records, because tonight we are doing our first “Vinyl Night” at the Post Bar. Earlier today I picked through the couple hundred albums I have stored away in the basement to find ones that contain songs that people are not likely to have on CD. Among them are albums by: Lloyd Price, Steppenwolf, Paul Revere and the Raiders, and Little Richard. I am also bringing a box of 45’s that I played hell out of when I was in high school. There are some gems in that box, as well as some “What-the-hell-was-I-thinking-about” stinkers.

We set up three turntables and some kick-ass speakers, and Paulie’s brother, Willie (he deserves his own post), has volunteered to spin the “Stax o’ Wax.”

The food will be classic Jersey fare – pizza and subs (They would be “hoagies,” “heroes,” or – heaven forbid – “grinders” for you folks who are not from here). The bar will be open, and we even moved the pool table to make a bit of a dance floor.

I intend to have a few cocktails, enjoy all the tunes, scratches, pops and all, and I might even take to the dance floor.

It should be fun, and the Post will make a few badly-needed bucks.

Update: Vinyl Night was a huge success. The music was great to hear, and watching it come from those three turntables was something I hadn’t seen in quite some time.

Unfortunately, this morning’s headache, fatigue and general malaise serves to remind me that I proably enjoyed Vinyl Night a tad too much. It is even more unfortunate that I have to drag my weary ass back to the Post today, as it is my turn to tend bar.

It could be a long day.

February 20, 2004

Some Questions.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 9:11 pm

George Will poses 28 questions to Mr. Kerry, and he promises more to come.

Via Newmark’s Door

When Tax Lawyers Disagree.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 3:56 pm

It seems that Cousin Jack and another tax lawyer disagree about a tax law issue that Jack has spent a good deal of time thinking about and writing about.

This other fellow opined that Jack’s reasoning was circular.

Jack’s reserved and scholarly response is here.

February 19, 2004

Waiter, There’s A Fly In My Soup.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 10:25 pm

Both Serenity and Two Nervous Dogs share the horribles that go along with being a server in a restaurant. I am certain that I do not pack the gear to do that job, and if I ever tried my hand at it, it would not take me very long to dump some idiot’s dinner on his damned head.

I think people who are rude to servers are shithooks of the highest order. There is no reason for that.

Politics at the Rest Stop.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 10:11 pm

I have been trying to avoid writing much political stuff for a few reasons. First, others, who write almost exclusively political pieces, do it much better, Second, because, although I am very interested in politics, I am too tired by the end of most days to deal with the verbal combat in the comments section that seems to come with the territory of political blogging. Third, in today’s highly charged political climate, I find myself becoming increasingly angry with the other side, whose hatred of the President seems to have stripped them of their reason and civility. Finally, I find that writing about it all seems to only make me even angrier and frankly, I didn’t start blogging to be angry all the time.

Oh I am certain that, from time to time, I’ll write something political, but I hope it will be the exception rather than the rule.

Kim, at Velociworld, apparently is of like mind. He generally writes about things non-political, but occasionally he turns on his political high beams and produces an excellent read. I, therefore suggest that you take a look at “Who Are You Kidding?” It is a gritty indictment of those Republicans who claim to be so disaffected with the President that they will not vote in November. (Note: He and I will both be voting on Election Day.)

Speaking of politics, Dale, at Mostly Cajun, has written a great piece called “Why I am Not a Democrat.” (scrolling down to the title may be necessary). Go read.

February 18, 2004

No Blue Shit For Jimbo.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 10:57 pm

I was over at Side Salad, and I came across Jeff’s observations about a blog that is devoted completely to “Pepsi Blue,” which is, as you surely have guessed, Pepsi that is Blue. It would appear that, except for the person who decided to start a blog devoted to Blue Pepsi (I have to assume that the author likes the stuff), people didn’t much care for it. Responding to its poor sales, Pepsi decided to discontinue the manufacture of Blue Pepsi. One Blue Pepsi Blog reader lamented the discontinuance of the blue stuff, but others complained that it was too sugary. At least one person noted that (How shall I put this?) that the blue color in the beverage travels unmodified all the way through one’s digestive system. ‘Nuf said.

Blue Pepsi. Who knew? Jeff says he had never heard of it, nor had I until I read about at Side Salad. I can, however, safely say that I would not drink the stuff, even if were offered to me for free. My lack of interest in trying Blue Pepsi has nothing to do with the “too sugary” comment on the Blue Pepsi Blog, or even the other comment about the blue ca-ca thing (as gross as that is). The fact is that I DO NOT drink blue stuff.

But, it wasn’t always that way.

About a dozen years ago, I was out with two of my buddies doing the rounds of the local saloons. As I recall, we started out about nine o’clock, and by around 1 A.M. we found ourselves pretty well oiled in what was to be our final stop. Up to that point we had all stuck to beer – quite a bit of beer, but only beer.

As often happens at such times, one of the guys (OK, it was Yours Truly), said, “Waddya say we do a couple shots?”

The other guys agreed, so the issue then became, what shots shall we drink? There was some discussion of bourbon, but one guy didn’t like that. Someone else suggested Southern Comfort, but that was also nixed (It seems that everyone has a Southern Comfort horror story). Then, as my eyes passed over the array of bottles on the bar looking for a shots candidate, they stopped dead on a bottle of THIS.

I said, “Hey, get a load of that bottle of blue stuff. Waddya say we have a couple shots of that?”

Pete* said, “I dunno. It looks pretty nasty. I don’t think so.”

Vic* added, “No way. I’m not drinking that blue shit.”

I replied, “Come on, you chickenshits. Where’s your sense of adventure? Sure the stuff looks like Windex, but you only go around once. Hell, you drink brown whiskey, so why not blue whiskey? Besides, it might be good. You won’t know unless you try it.”

Neither responded to the challenge.

Not one to give up easily, I said, “You don’t have a hair on your ass, if you don’t drink some of the blue shit.” (At the time, and with my then-current blood alcohol level, this seemed like a particularly learned argument.)

Pete, apparently responding to my persuasive logic, relented and said, “OK, I’ll do a shot.”

Vic stood firm. “There is no way and I mean NO WAY that I am drinking blue shit. You guys are f***ing nuts if you drink that shit.”

Well, just as he apparently didn’t mind being told that he didn’t have a hair on his ass, I didn’t mind being called “nuts,” so Pete and I began drinking shots of the Blue Shit. About three more beers and five or six shots of Blue Shit later, we stumbled out of the place.

The next thing I remember was waking up in the morning feeling as if someone had stuck a red-hot poker between my eyes and set off a dirty bomb in my stomach. I dragged my broken body into the bathroom for a glass of water. On the hangover scale, this baby was a solid 10. I felt close to death. It was then I noticed in the mirror that my tongue was blue, as were portions of my lips. I thought, “Holy shit! My tongue is blue! My farookin tongue is blue!!!! Let me think. Let me think. Blue…..blue…blue lips. Cyanosis!!! Jesus, blue lips means that I am cyanotic. I’m oxygen starved and possibly moments from death. Is my brain about to shut down? Is this how it ends?”

Then the lunacy of the night before dawned on me. I wasn’t cyanotic after all. It was the Blue Shit that colored my tongue and lips. It was the Blue Shit that turned my insides into TNT, and crippled me for the better part of a day.

And that, dear friends, is why Jimbo does not drink Blue Shit. EVER.

* These are not their real names. I doubt either of them would want the world to know that they were part of this sorry escapade. That’s particularly true for the guy who also drank the Blue Shit.

February 17, 2004

A Morning in the Service Department.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 11:41 pm

This morning I had to take my car to the dealer for an oil change and its
15, 000 mile service. I truly like the quality of service at this dealership (I’m on my second car from there), but there is only so much an organization can do to make a visit to the Service Department a tolerable experience.

Here’s a bit of stream of consciousness about the experience:

I reported to the service counter with keys in my hand and my current mileage written on a slip of paper. As always, I was prepared to be exceedingly polite to the guy behind the service desk. In fact, I was fully prepared to be an unabashed, obsequious toady, for there are few people who have more raw power than the guy behind the service desk – The Service Guy.

One can only hope that the Service Guy remains patient while one describes the rattles and hums that often bring people before them to grovel. If the Service Guy appears to be listening, one fervently hopes that he really is listening and that he’s not thinking, “Hmmm, get a load of Putz Boy here telling me how his car is making a noise that sounds like ‘wala wala wala WHEEEEEEEEZ.’ Where’s the coffee guy, anyway?”

In this particular dealership, the Service Guys are good. Either that, or they are well trained to look like they really give a shit about what you have to say. However, today I got a new guy, who, although good, obviously did not finish the orientation course.

Service Guy: “Good morning, sir. What can we do for you today?”

Me: “Good morning. My name is James So and So, and I have an appointment to have my car serviced.”

Service Guy: “What did you say your name was, sir?”

Me: “My name is James So and So.” I spelled “So and So” for him.

Service Guy: “I’ll be with you in a second, sir.” He apparently realized that he hadn’t finished the “paperwork” on the previous customer, which required some writing and lots of stapling.

Service Guy: Having finished the stapling said, “So, that was James So and So?”

Me: “Yes. James So and So.” I spelled “So and So” again.

Service Guy: Clicking away on the computer. It had to be a thousand keystrokes. “Would that be James ‘A,’ So and So, or James ‘T.’ So and So?”

Me: “James ‘A.’ So and So.”

Service Guy: A thousand more keystrokes as he stared into the computer screen, then, the Service Guy asked, “Is this your first time here, Mr. So and So?”

Me: This is trouble. I replied, “No, it’s about my third time here with this car, and this is the second car I got from this dealer.”

Service Guy: Frowning.

Me: Thinking, “Oh my God. He’s frowning.” Things can turn to shit when a Service Guy frowns.

The Service Guy did a couple more thousand keystrokes, and he was still frowning. I was beginning to think that all is lost.

Me: “I can tell you what kind of car it is, and I can give you the plate number. Will that help?”

Service Guy: “Do you have your registration with you?”

Me: There is now a tiny stirring of anger beneath my veil of supplication. “My registration is out in the car. If you absolutely need it, I can go outside across the lot and get it, but I never needed it on the previous dozen or so occasions that I have been here.”

Service Guy: Apparently remembering one of the lessons in the orientation course, said, “That won’t be necessary. I can get the necessary information.”

I had thought that he meant that with a couple thousand more keystrokes he would be able to locate me and my car (He had already found me, James “A”) in the dealer database. No, what he meant was that he was going to out in the lot and take down the vehicle identification number from my car.

He reappeared a few minutes later and entered my vehicle identification number into the computer. At least another 750 keystrokes later, the Service Guy says, “OK, I’ve found it. What seems to be the problem?”

Me: “I’m mainly here for an oil change and the 15,000 mile thing, whatever that entails, but please have them take a look at the driver’s side exterior door handle. It is sticking.”

Service Guy: “Sticking? What do you mean ‘sticking’?”

Me: Back into supplication mode, hoping he’s still with me on this one, “Well, when I open the car door, the handle sort of stays ‘out’ a little bit. Maybe it just needs oil.” Why I felt compelled to suggest a possible fix, I have no idea. One often runs off at the mouth when in supplication mode.

Service Guy: Another thousand keystrokes, this time resulting in a document that contains all my previously inaccessible information and also describes what is to be done. It probably contains 3,000 words in varying degrees of fine print. He proffers the document and says, “I just need you to sign here, Mr. So and So.”

It is noteworthy that I spend a good deal of my professional life drafting and reviewing contracts of all kinds, and I often scold people for signing things without reading them. I confess to sometimes even being downright uppity in saying, “How can you sign something that you have not read?”

Of course, I immediately signed the document without reading it, which, for all I know, created a mortgage on my home, or willed all my possessions to my “Beloved Service Guy.” Lawyer-Schmawyer. One does not make a Service Guy wait while one reads a long document. It’s just not done.

Service Guy: “Will you be waiting for this, sir?”

Me: “Yes, I will.”

At that point I was relegated to the Service Area Waiting Room, a smallish room containing nine chairs, a coffee maker (with coffee) and even some donuts. There was a pile of magazines and a couple newspapers on the table. The room also contained a television for those supplicants who are not interested in the printed word.

I poured myself a cup of black coffee and avoided even looking at the donuts, particularly that delicious-looking chocolate one. I sat in one of the three open seats. I put my mondo farookin’ cold weather, down parka (which is about the size of a St. Bernard dog) on the seat next to mine, being prepared to remove it if another person entered the room. I put my briefcase on the floor and decided to read the copy of the New York Times that was on the table, even though I had brought a book along in anticipation of having to wait for the car to be serviced.

It was difficult to concentrate, because the television was blaring daytime talk shows, which, as far as I am concerned are slightly only less painful than stabbing yourself in the eyes with knitting needles. On the TV were two guys before a studio audience going on and on about the value of some Barbie dolls. The audience was ooohing and aaahing and applauding enthusiastically. It was awful.

The guy four seats away was reading the Bible and highlighting certain passages when he wasn’t talking on his cell phone. I wondered if he was talking to God on the phone to see if was highlighting the right stuff.

I was still trying to read, when another talk show came on, this one hosted by a guy named “Wayne” Something-or-other. This one was worse than the gushing Barbie doll guys. The audience (or laugh machine) was howling with laughter at stuff that wasn’t even remotely funny. At this point, I begin wondering how long does it really take to change oil and do a 15,000-mile check up. I was ready to tell the Service Guy to forget about the sticky door handle.

Just then, a man and lady walked in the room. They were considerably older than I (therefore, pretty farookin’ old). He was walking with a cane. I immediately removed my St. Bernard-sized parka from the seat next to mine and held it on my lap. It was like wrestling with a large, green marshmallow with arms. Managing the New York Times was not longer possible, which was OK, because after reading three John Kerry Puff Pieces and two articles referring negatively to the President’s appearance at the Daytona 500 and a local factory, I had had enough of the New York Times.

I wrestled with the green marshmallow in order to get my book from my briefcase. It would be easier to manage the book.

The lady spent a good deal of time adding all sorts of adulterants to a cup of coffee for her husband and lovingly delivered it to him. I thought that was nice – the gesture, not the milk and sugar-laden slop in the cup. The lady took the seat next to mine.

I finally got the book positioned over the green marshmallow, when Wayne Whatshisname, the talk show guy, introduced Betty White (of Mary Tyler Moor and The Golden Girls fame). It was difficult to block it out, and what made it worse is that the lady decided to repeat every friggin’ thing that Wayne Whatshisname and Betty White said. Everything.

Finally, after a dozen or so lines, she stopped repeating what was said, and I thought, “Finally, she shut up.”


As soon as she stopped repeating every farookin’ thing that Wayne and Betty said, she began humming. Yes, humming! She didn’t hum a particular tune, which would have been bad enough. Rather, her humming sounded like a random tone generator set at a volume just loud enough to be perceptible but impossible to ignore.

While she was humming, her husband began repeating what Wayne Whatshisname and Betty White were saying and following some of the repitition with “wry” commentary like, “Yep. The Golden Girls. That was some show.”

She hummed and he commented. Then she stopped humming and began repeating shit again. I figured that they were a tag team, and I ccould not even begin to imagine what a day in that house must be like. After about a half hour of this (forget about trying to read), I was ready to go stand outside in the freezing cold to wait for my damned car.

Finally, FINALLY, the Service Guy appeared in the door to the waiting room and announced, “Mr. So and So?”

I got up from my seat juggling the book, the green marshmallow with arms, and my briefcase as I walked across the room to meet him outside the door of the waiting room. It was not unlike a scene in a hospital when the surgeon appears in the waiting room to give the family the lowdown on the surgery of a family member. I recall hoping that he was not about to tell me that they discovered a bad fraznotwidget in my car, which would require their keeping the car for a few days.

Luckily, everything was OK, although the Service Guy told me that they would be ordering a new door handle to replace my “sticky” one. Although I felt door-handle-story vindicated, I really didn’t pay much attention to the Service Guy, as I just wanted out of there. By comparison, continuing on to work would be like a walk in the park.

I hopped into my big, fat, capitalist car and savored the comfortable seat and the solitude. The newly oiled engine purred, and off to work I went.

Oh, yeah. I forgot something. The lady who sat next to me? You know, the repeater and hummer? She smelled like pee.

I really don’t want to think about that.

February 16, 2004

Calling In Sick.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 9:25 pm

Here’s one for everyone who has ever called in sick and tried to sound a just a bit sicker than they really were. Next time, forget the teatrics and go for creativity.

Employee: ”I’m sorry but I can’t come in today.”

Boss: “Really? Why is that?”

Employee: “My doctor says I suffer from Anal Glaucoma.”

Boss:.”Anal Glaucoma? What’s that?”

Employee: ”I just can’t see my ass coming to work!”


Thanks to my friend Russ, a Navy Vet who rides a Harley and who can fix anything.

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