Monday, January 31, 2005

!!! Tatra !!!!

In an NYT article today, "An East European Tour de Force, Often Copied but Still Unsung, Matthew Healy revs up praise for the Czech automobile, Tatra.
"A brilliant young engineer named Hans Ledwinka joined the company around that time and introduced innovations like all-wheel brakes, air-cooled engines and a central tube chassis with independent rear suspension. The Tatra's design and construction were years ahead of their time, strongly influencing Ferdinand Porsche, who was developing the Volkswagen Beetle on orders from Hitler; Porsche appropriated several of Ledwinka's ideas for VW. By the early 1930's, Tatra was testing aerodynamic design elements by a Hungarian designer, Paul Jaray. Many of these were incorporated into the design of the Tatra 77 of 1934. The air-cooled V-8 engine was placed behind the rear axle, allowing a spacious, quiet interior, and the car had a top speed of 90 miles an hour.
Ledwinka continued to tinker and produced a more graceful and compact model, the T 87, in 1936.
To keep the car light, much of the Tatra V-8, an advanced overhead-cam design, was made of aluminum. Like its predecessor, the sleek T 87 had an airplane-type central fin at the rear, air-intake scoops along the sides to direct cooling air to the engine and a third headlight that turned with the front wheels to cast light around a curve - as the Tuckers did years later.

Named after the Tatra mountain range, these cars were uniquely Czech. As a kid, I still remember the sounds of the Tatra 603 as they competed in road races in the streets of Zagreb.
The old part of the city was closed to modern vehicles and the cobblestone streets were free to the 1930-1950 vintage cars that were feverishly cleaned and worked on. There were Trabants (Plywood pieces of dreck), Citroens, MG's and Skodas. But the futuristic 603 or the Tatraplan were the cars the boys mooned over. They were loud, scary, and dangerous. They seemed to take the corners by driving up the sides of the buildings. The tires were cloaked by metal, so they seemed to float on air as they blew the street dust in your face. We weren't interested in which car won; just how many more times we'd see the silver or the red Tatras crashing past other inferior cars as they grabbed the center of the road to make the truns that would send their back ends swinging.
I thought these cars were long gone. But there's always some folks out there with a mania for theTatra. The National Czech and Slovak Museum in Cedar Rapids, Iowa seems an awfully tempting museum to go to. They have a mint condition orchid-blue T 603. Forget the Zum-Zum, Vroooom is the way to go.

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Thursday, January 27, 2005

Kiddie Economics
From, this little excerpt.

"The Selfish Reason to Have More Kids, January 19, 2005
by Bryan Caplan

Steve Landsburg has some powerful moral arguments for having another kid. (See the chapter "People Wanted" in Fair Play). Contrary to organizations like Zero Population Growth, the externalities of another productive human being are positive, not negative.

But like most economists, I don't think that the typical person's willingness to pay to do the right thing is very high. What fraction of your income are you giving to tsunami victims?

There is however a purely selfish argument for making another baby that most people overlook. I know a lot of parents who pull out their hair on a daily basis who are sure to disagree. But they are guilty of a grave error: Focusing exclusively on the present. When your offspring are ages 4 and 2, adding a newborn seems like a tough burden. And it is.

But think ahead to your golden years. How many kids do you need to get as many visits, phone calls, and grandkids as you would like? 5? 10? An old saying tells us that "One parent can care for five children, but five children cannot care for one parent." It could happen to you.

Basic microeconomics recommends a simple strategy. Have the number of children that maximizes average utility over your whole lifespan. When you are 30, you might feel like two children is plenty. But once you are 60, you are more likely to prefer ten sons and daughters to keep you company and keep the grandkids coming. A perfectly selfish and perfectly foresighted economic agent would strike a balance between these two states. For example, he might have four kids total - two too many at 30, six too few at 60.

Trust me - you'll thank me later. Your third child ought to thank me too, but we all know better than to expect gratitude from the young. Now all you have to do is convince your spouse! "

..or slip some subliminal tracks onto your kids' iPods (see previous post) about care of elders.

iPod & Golf
Neither. I do neither. I don't iPod (yes, "iPod" is both a verb and a noun) and I don't golf. I'm tempted by both, but I haven't succombed to either.
I won't go into the golf thing; it's been beaten to a pulp by various other folks. I've seen what it's done to friends. Doting fathers happy with their surrounding have turned to malcontents perpetually out of their house addicted to the vanishing point of par. Callaway junkies meandering down the aisles of supermarkets, then stopping to take an imaginary swing, the swing that they should have used yesterday..or was that the day before.

The iPod is a different matter, although one that is equal in its draw and its potential for addiction.
My son has had one for a while. Now, my daughter has one as well. She still seems to be normal; I'm not sure how long that state will last.
My son has gone to the dark side. He has worn the graphics of the controls off of the face of the player. He is one with the iPod; his tactile control is now at the skill level of a professional safe-cracker. Programming the music player has extended his nights. Creating the mixes has cut into his socializing. Music has always been important to him, but now he's bordering on the behaviour usually associated with the obsessives on the links.

Golf, he's now also taken up golf. That's him gyrating on the green at 17. I believe it's Mos Def playing on his iPod. No!! A 7 on a par 4!

I see his time being measured in the lengths of songs on his iPod. I really don't want one. Really..

Monday, January 24, 2005

Blanket of Kindness.
The weekend is over and the potential calamity, woe, & grief that could have hit the Philly metropolitan area has not materialized. It's in a holding pattern over William Penn's head, located with the remainder of his statue atop City Hall. The Eagles had won, advancing to the Supe against another Northeast team, the Patriots.
The Storm that was supposed to leave 18-24 inches of snow did not materialize. Instead, its younger brother paid a visit. 12-14 inches was a lot easier to clean off...well, clean off the areaas immediately surrounding Lincoln Financial Field, at least. While other parts of the city lay buried in the white stuff, sounds of joy and relief and sights of tears and gatorade baths emanated from the Linc, where the only snow visible was in large piles. The end of the curse on the Iggles was more important than clean and accessible streets.

Locally, the snow was welcomed by kids hoping for a three day weekend and by parents whose half-finished backyard projects were in need of cover. The eyesores that were a cause of daily harangues and reminders were gone now. In their place were natural sculptures and windblown snow dances. A Christo with a predeliction for White had come to town.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Four's the Charm!?!?
Depending on which radio station, tv station, or weather website you had happened to listen/see/read in the last day or so, Philly's going to be dusted with a couple inches of snow or shellacked by 16 inches of the white stuff. I'm hoping for the latter. A large amount of snow bodes ill for a dome team, such as the Atlanta Falcons...especially if the stands aren't cleaned up. That's a lot of snow for creative orb construction and launching. The fans in Philadelphia are not known for their rectitude. They do possess an abundance of attitoooode, which they are more than happy to demonstrate. A fourth time to the NFC championship would statistically seem a sure lock for a victory.
But this is Philly, the poorer cousin of Chicago and Boston. That is why a lot of snow is needed. If Atlanta prevails, at least the snow drifts will provide a soft landing for all of the Iggle fans throwing themselves off of the Lincoln Financial Field precipice.

Prediction: Eagles pull it out in the 4th qtr, 17-14 , with T.O. slinking down from the skybox to join in the final play, a fake pass to him and a handoff to Brian Westbrook for the winning TD.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Buying paper
One of the first blog sites that I’ll hitch onto each morning is Whisky Prajer. Aside from the usual good-natured view of life that flows through his entries, there’s usually a remark that may be written in passing that sticks with me for most of the day. Or longer. In the January 17th entry, Mr. WP is continuing his countdown of the Top Ten Delights of California.
A very quirky and, therefore, interesting list is this.
#4 on the roll call is titled "Bookshop Santa Cruz/Recycle Books San Jose". While describing 4 bookstores that he particularly likes, he throws off this comment.
"What this (buying used hardbacks @ a bargain!) usually requires, of course, is an extra suitcase holding only books."

An extra suitcase.

Addictions come in two categories.
1) Socially Unacceptable.
2) Socially Acceptable.

By "socially", I refer to the general popular view of a country. Something socially acceptable in NYC may not be acceptable in the rest of the USA, where the Fun Police is on full Bush indoctrinated notice.
Category #1 usually is also legally unacceptable, although the country within which you are practicing said addiction will determine its legality.

Luckily, trudging around the USA with a suitcase of books is still considered socially acceptable, although I’d stay away north of Mississipi, Alabama, & Georgia. Slapping a "No Child Left Behind" sticker on the luggage wouldn’t hurt in these dark times.

Even Mr. Nick Hornby chimes in positively on book accretion. From his latest book, " Polysyllabic Spree", a short accumulation of his essays from the magazine, "The Believer", I quote:

"...all the books we own, both read and unread, are the fullest expression of self we have at our disposal...and...with each passing year, and with each whimsical purchase, our libraries become more and more able to articulate who we are, whether we read the books or not."
From her book, "So Many Books", Gabriel Zaid notes that "the truly cultured are capable of owning thousands of unread books without losing their composure or their desire for more."

What has obviously not been addressed in this blog entry nor in Mr. WP's, from an acceptance point of view, is the spousal acceptance. What's good for the gander may not be good for the goose. I've read Mr. WP's entry many times and I did not come upon any mention of his comely wife. And how do I know she is a lovely creature? Why, there's no mention of her reaction to a suitcase of books. She must be totally on board with this manner & quantity of book procurement. For introverts especially, social acceptance carries no weight when compared with that of the spouse. And don't all spouses carry their weight better when they're balancing 4-5 books under each arm?

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Two Amphibians
For those of you out there old enough to have gone through the reading-of-the-bedtime story routine, you'll probably recall those nights when you absolutely dreaded the ritual. In a sleepless driven stupor, you unwittingly handed over control of reading matter choice to your child. What were you thinking? The full Berenstein Bears encyclopedia of dreck! "The Lonely Puppy" or "The Unhappy Puppy" or some other Golden book that you were hoping had fallen apart with previous nights' forays into children's schlock literature. These books were almost as bad as the painfully sweet tv programs you were so judiciously keeping your kids from.
Remember when you were raking leafs together in a pile that one autumn? Thought you'd pulled a fast one by chucking some of these books onto the burning leaf pyre. Hah! Your progeny sensed an imbalance in their little world, raced out to the pile, and grabbed their books just before the flames licked their covers. That look that they gave you still haunts your soul. It was your own version of Kristallnacht and YOU were the Nazi!

Luckily, your genes and those of your spouse started to kick in by the time your kids were 4. A bedtime story became synonymous with a Frog & Toad story. Your child nestled into bed and you squeezed in ( that time your girth was minimized by all that lack of sleep and plentitude of exercise) close, so both of you could see the green and brown tinted illustrations while you read another Arnold Lobel story about those two good friends, Frog & Toad.

Lobel's books were that rare thing. They appealed to and held the fascination of an incredibly wide age range. They were (and still are) funny, philosophical, and true, without being saccharine or cloying. And, above all else, they dealt with friendship and its joys, bumps, & bruises such that both parent & child understood this relationship thing.

Recently, my family had a chance to see Arnold Lobel's characters come to life on stage. A good friend, (Musical Director of the play) Charlie Gilbert, was intimately involved with the production and performance of a musical based on Mr. Lobel's books in Philly.

The Arden Theatre, sight of the performance, is a gorgeous 360 main performance stage theater. The theater allows for an ingenious stage setting for the play; enough to solidify Frog's and Toad's houses without eliminating imaginative viewing by the kids attending. The cast of actors numbered 5, with multiple roles assumed by the 3 supporting actors. Songs were successfully concocted from the text of various Lobel stories; you left humming a few with "Cookies, Cookies, Cookies" lodged as an earworm that, I think, will be in my noggin for a while. There was a break midway through the performance. Sodas and cookies were served. Care to take a wild guess after which song the break was scheduled? Kids were dragging their parents at banzai speed toward the treat-laden tables. The parents just hummed "Cookies..." as they cheerfully handed over the green stuff.
The audience was a 50-50 mix of kids and adults. The quiet of the children during the play indicated the hold that the musical had on them. The parents were a bit more talkative.

"They're doing the story about "The Letter"."
"Hey! The "Leaf Raking" story!
"The Sledding Story! Wow!"

Shusshing an adult when their son is sitting next to them is a bit awkward...

"A year with Frog & Toad" will be appearing at the Arden Theatre in Philly, through Jan. 30th. Don't worry if you're going there without a child in tow. There'll be quite a few adults there to keep you company. They may even be willing to share some of their Kleenex.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Not a Has Been
While doing my once-every-5th-Sunday dj'ing gig @ WVUD, I was searching the music library for some new-ish music. For the 3 hour early Sunday morning show, Morning After, I tend to start with quiet, but disturbing, music for the first hour. The second hour shakes out the weekend ending cobwebs by bringing in vocals and a spate of mid-volume drums, sax, or oud. The third hour concludes with sets for the fully awake. The first half of that last hour is usually filled with songs of sarcasm and wit.
You know. The usual suspects.
Loudon Wainwright III. Rev. Billy Wirtz. Greg Brown. Billy Bragg. Moxy Fruvous. John Lurie. And the Godfather, Tom Waits and his pal, Chuck E. Weiss.

Looking for any new "addition" for this part of the radio show, I was crossing my fingers that I might run across another gem, like The Legendary Jim Ruiz Group's 1995 release, Oh Brother Where art Thou? (which has NOTHING to do with the Brother Coen's film...which came out in 2000). Songs like "My Bloody Yugo", "Mij Amsterdam", and "Oh Porridge" are rare indeed, but when they are sung in a catatonic delivery... Well, you've got a gem.

So, while Bill Evans and Jim Hall were playing selections from their 2002 cd release of a 1970 album, Undercurrent, I scooted over to the station's CD library and trolled for sarcasm.
Picking up Willam Shatner's Has Been, I noticed that Ben Folds had produced the CD and had also sung and played on it. In addition, Aimee Mann, Henry Rollins, Adrian Belew, and Joe Jackson had joined in the festivities in various capacities of singing, playing & writing. If anything else, this CD sounded like a cocktail filled evening party that was surreptiously (and excellently) recorded.
And then Nick Hornby's name came up. He had co-written one of the songs, "That's Me Trying", a sad & sordid song/story about a father and a daughter reunion. Listening to it leaves one feeling awkward, sad, and slimy simultaneously. (It also propelled me to seek out my daughter when I came home and hug her to within an inch of her life).
Now, dear reader, if you've been combing through this blogsite, you'd have noticed that I have a thing for Mr. Hornby. If I had any more affection, I'd either have a cease and desist order hanging around my neck or Mr. Hornby and I'd be co-habitating (well, at the very least I'd be lurking outside the back of his house behind some hedgerow).
So, seeing Mr. Hornby's name associated with this CD, a listen was definitely merited.
"I Can't Get Behind That", a duet Mr. Shatner performs (because he doesn't really...uhm...sing) with Henry Rollins, ended up being my choice for airplay yesterday. Great response from the selected listenership (the listening audience is painstakeningly sieved from a 20 question postcard sent out. The frequency, 91.3, is carefully guarded so as to keep the listenership to a minimum. What self-respecting volunteer radio station actually wants listeners!??), so the choice was vindicated.
You! Yes, you should step down from your "William Shatner is an utter fool" high-horse and give this cd a serious listen. Well, not serious. More like eyebrow-raised inquisitive. Seriously.

Friday, January 07, 2005


Listening to Blue Note’s "Bill Evans / Jim Hall" cd "Undercurrent", while mulling over the close of the previous year (Bang!, not a whisper).

From the All Music Guide, Mr. Ken Dryden (not Mr Kick-save-and-a-beauty of the 1970-80’s Montreal Canadiennes) writes:
"Undercurrent" has long been considered one of the classic piano/guitar duo sessions, pairing Bill Evans with Jim Hall. These studio dates were a jump start for Evans' career, which he had placed on hold after the unexpected death of his bassist, Scott LaFaro, a few days following their historic Village Vanguard recordings were made. First reissued on CD in 1988, this 2002 edition features the same music, but remixed with gorgeous 24-bit sound and the songs re-sequenced into their original LP configuration, with the alternate takes and initially unissued tracks following them. An added bonus is the removal of the graphics from the striking cover photo, as well as the inclusion of a photo of Evans and Hall taken at one of the two sessions. The seamless way they swap between lead and supporting roles throughout gems such as the waltz-time "Skating in Central Park" adds to the overall appeal of the disc. Though the master take of "My Funny Valentine" has a smoother introduction, the alternate has more intriguing interplay between the two men. The other selections are every bit as masterful. Although Evans and Hall would later do a follow-up duo session for Verve, this memorable CD is the one to acquire first."

What really strikes me about the cd are the original liner notes, written by Barry J Titus. (painstakingly re-typed here by Yurz Troolie)

"Rimmed iron wheels chew candy between tracks window smithers Xmas tree window silver money fleeing present unone given coca cola smiling blank wall perspires omens heads nodding close gaped lips seen stick stuck taxi sign disrobes May 15th, 1959, hanging about her knees mail bundle wheeled cripple clutches Read Wall Street clock white sun monocle IIV or VII long blink see eyes time? Apparitional liquid hesitates a foot, a universe below the white paint-trussed varicose ceiling. Liquid slips, drops, unoutlineable shape, presenting absence, glides unreal, an excuse for splattering focus, a school of Dolphins or a dark Grecian head. Virtuoso: practice makes perfect. Two sharps. Ice crystal; diamond egg frog oan wrkwrk-wrkwrk. Donned rubber belts nose mouth. Nub knuckled fingers bounce overfilled heat tear salt balling. Again. Two sharps. Ice crystal, diamonkey, egg, nail rubonk, snill. Huhhh. Snill. Rubru, nail, frog, diamond many windows flash ice. Air out. Curtain fingers, ceiling lines, French door bars gripped unstill sun broiling play, fat ended keys with black spines. "How could the Augsburg festival have been in Vienna, hah! Loewy?" Paint corner her jagged lip fingertips petrified red cream smile flicked starving grotto. "I mean is she a satirist or," her tendon muscle stomach dieted twist the flat skirt front. "I think she needs a milk man, Loewy." The shambled, bent, stripped fingers forked each other angles. His imagination chained in Veronica’s orange ochre wallpaper, blankets. A quicksilver limb paints the swamptoon. "Yes, I do!" shook, he shivered, remembering, room loose daggers broke ice bergs about them. Peanut butter note, Fang, Fang. Ice Fang back wriggled sorcerer hand hung dead skin frog back Mama into Eassie leap shrunk from the door hid sharpened tusk hallway, awwwrice fang bump jump. "Six fifteen," growled grate hunched on sofa. "You’re presence is expiring, I mean, inspiring." Blue, yellow tinged, Mars capillaried, eye, blue crystals, white slash, "I know what I want! Why is it such a struggle for you? I fell revolutions." Lie quicksilver idealization limb delusion chrome rationalization dance dragged curtained bog cracked ice amazon child’s burning nerves. Always left whiskers, uneven fingernails, premature orgasms hairy legs, long nose pranthula. Go play. Eat chocolate cake, peanut butter, pickles, but clean your room and wash your elbows. Ceiling lines, piano leg shadows, French door bars, eleven to four thirty. "Ma!" shook the still fingers. Rectangled silence coagulated scraped waiting, dangling. Daddyeeee drove him smack clamoured up back fallen stairs into the quilt where a silk wrapped, dark quaked moon bled tears. Run vanity open smear black commaed cheek. “Coups d’etat!” forehead burst powder, lipstick ribboned run eye shadow sink spit spigot greyened clear washed black rubbed lather pushed red pressed tan smeared blue smudged grey circled one eye deathlaughcue hiccupping criggle vermouth spread on the table top gash crystal core neck glass cupped fingers polished green. A silver ghost hears. Life illuminates a paper screen Eyes dance truth’s instrument. Sieve, sickle and sloat, red grimes grey molds parted skins furrowed tissue libes skeletal screams. Long brown stone blunt nose raised, "Naked day?" puffed sound slices blush. Tongue stuck inside closed teeth. Torso immobile inflame face clacks ticket counter leaned hat veiled hat pulled hat swivel, "I don’t know what to say," Jagged leaning brown limbed face. His eyes crumbled smiles smoke dust wound warm bricks."

Now, that’s a review/commentary! I think…..Or as Mickey Mantle said, when answering a question posed to him by a Congressional Committee investigating baseball, "Whatever Casey said." (referring to the great English scholar, racanteur, and baseball manager, Casey Stengel)

Re. Barry J. Titus? Wrote a book, "Masks", back in the late 1950’s. Long out of print. He seems to have vanished, along with his editor, who probably wnet off the deep end. Googling leads you nowhere, except perhaps here.

In NYT's Wednesday issue, specifically the usual Science Times section, there was an interesting article, "What do you believe is true even though you cannot prove it?", wherein fourteen scientists were asked to ponder everything from string theory to true love. God and abu Gharaib were also included. The individual takes were quite fascinating. Why read this when you can go to the source at Respondents included Howard Gardner, Alison Gopnik, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Jared Diamond, & Ian McEwan. Brain's in full-tilt boogie mode.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Take a Peek Thanks to Pepper of the Earth for pointing out this wonderful site. Any blog site that has a list of quotes to ponder with 30-40 references to Bill Watterson's Calvin and Hobbes has blog entries well worth examining.

Caught in the "Crossfire"
Jon Stewart, while eschewing any big game trophies to be displayed in his home, may now actually have a bowtied Tucker Carlson head over his mantel.

Back in October, 2004 Stewart was invited on the political talk show, Crossfire, co-hosted by Tucker Carlson and his bow tie. After minimal introductions, Stewart went on a tear.

"What you do is not honest. What you do is partisan hackery," Stewart said.
"I'm here to confront you. ... You have a responsibility to the public discourse, and you fail miserably. ... It's hurting America," he said.
Carlson, clearly angry, replied, "Jon, I'm sorry. I think you're a good comedian. I think your lectures are boring."
He called Stewart John Kerry's "butt boy" for lobbing softball questions at the candidate on "The Daily Show."
"I thought you were going to be funny. Be funny," he told Stewart.
"I'm not going to be your monkey," Stewart replied.
After a commercial break, the sparring resumed.
Carlson: "You're more fun on your show."
Stewart: "You're as big a d--- on your show as you are on any show."
As the credits rolled, Stewart said sarcastically, "Well, that went well."

Apparently it REALLY did not go least for Mr. Carlson. He will have to accompany his bow tie to another show, another hetwork. That is, if one is willing to put up with him. CNN US chief executive Jonathan Klein, who just came aboard in late November of 2004, says all of the cable networks have overdosed on programming devoted to arguing over issues. He says Carlson's career goals and CNN's needs just didn't match up. Mr. Klein specifically cited the criticism that the comedian Jon Stewart leveled at "Crossfire" when he was a guest on the program during the presidential campaign. Mr. Stewart said that ranting partisan political shows on cable were "hurting America."

Mr. Klein said last night, "I agree wholeheartedly with Jon Stewart's overall premise." He said he believed that especially after the terror attacks on 9/11, viewers are interested in information, not opinion.

Bids on Carlson's bow tie collection are expected shortly on e-Bay. Personally, I think he'd make a great addition to the WWF shows. He already has a costume.

The floating question is....Who's next in Mr. Stewart's sights?

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

My (Next) Life as a Dog
From the "Nothing New" department of Life comes the 2 x 4 upside-the-head realization that the future is out there waiting to eternalize my very existence. And what is the next life existence to consist of? Well, a short visit to NYC yesterday to catch the taping of Jon Stewart’s first "The Daily Show" of 2005 offered a glimpse. If wishes were a certainty, I’m already practicing my low growl and soulfully deep eye set. It’s the dog’s life for me!
While visiting a family member residing in the Metropolis, a strong desire for water came upon me. Opening the fridge, choices loomed. A Brita filter water pitcher containing NYC’s own H2O squats on a rack.
Bottles of Fiji bottled water, swaying to some island rhythm.
"This o.k.?", I asked, holding up a bottle of the “fastest growing imported premium bottled water”.
"No. The Brita water will do."
"….because the Fiji’s for the dog."
Bow. Wow.

I learned later that said canine (a very cute dachshund with an inexplicable fear of me….well, maybe he saw me eying his Fiji), sometimes spends time with his brother in a mutually scheduled dog sit event at his brother's pad. His brother, also an NYC dog, has his own section of an apartment. He also has his own TV. The owners have it tuned to ESPN. Seems the little mutt (and I write with a silent "affection" assumed) loves to watch sports. And only sports.

I’ll be clinging onto life a bit longer. I’m holding out for the panel plasma TV, which will go nicely with my cedar chip filled extra wide La-Z-Boy Alexander Sofa (canine version)

Monday, January 03, 2005

This past winter's break was a strange series of days arranged around celebrations, visitations, adulations, "hip"notic salutations, and (surprisingly) very minimal inebriations. Workdays alternated with holidays with vacation days. Slipping in and out of each day required taking one's bearings before proceeding on. Was it a casual day for dress? Or was a modicum of spiff necessary to make it through with minimal sartorial embarassment. Gifts were exchanged..and then exchanged again.
Stories were repeated until one was utterly bored reciting them again. The fam was defintely not hanging onto every word!
Liberties were extended.
Tales were improved upon.
Cast and characters changed from one telling to the next.
Christmas was spent travelling up and down routes 295 & 27 in NJ. Driving back and forth through Princeton was errie. The town was empty, deserted of students and professors. Philly was relatively quiet as well, dozing on its discarded wrapping paper couch, waiting for the 26th to come. The Iggles were to play the Rams; a two week display of pitiful 2nd string football would follow. WIP radio was inundated with sports fans' calls of woe; the Iggles bandwagon was getting lighter; Santa had not brought a magic cure to T.O.'s ankle injury.
Christmas day in Jersey brought multitude servings of Croatian brown food. All spicy and delectable and ....brown. Two servings minimum; 3 to 4 certainly do-able. Just a wallow in Old World cuisine. The annual feast of the Trencherman.
Thought of Ray Romano's comedy bit warning his friends about his mother's cooking portions. "If you really don't want another serving, you'll have to shoot her. And you better not graze her; she'll just keep on coming with a full plate."

Had a chance to see the Mummers go through their pre-New Year's Day Strut on Dec. 30 at Philly's Convention Center. The fancy brigades were polishing their Jan. 1, 2005 Broad Street parade with some run-throughs. For $3, you got to watch them in the warm confines of the Center and even to try on some old Mummer costumes. Shame that we didn't have a camera; 2005 Christmas card photos could have been finished! What a way to kick start the next year by already marking off an item of the 2005 Honey-do list.
An admission of prejudice here. I've ridiculed the Mummers in the past. Their costumes, the perceived waste of time, the musical instrument playing, the shuffling dance steps... just the whole damn thing. After watching them practice and seeing them up close (very up close) I've seen the error of my ignorant ways. New respect will be shown to them from now on; these folks work like fiends... and the costumes??...well,up close, they are a thing of beauty. No, I'm not suffering from a hangover here. I'm being serious!

What's 2005 to bring? No resolutions yet but I seem to have the number "3" stuck in my head. At a New Year's Eve party, we did the Sad Sack gift exchange thing in which a pile of items, nicely wrapped but unwanted Christmas waifs, were distributed by virtue of numbers drawn from a hat. I drew 3. Fate or Adam Smith's Invisible Hand was involved. So 3 will be this year's resolution. The third choice. Three of a kind. Door #3. A minimal commitment, but a stance of sorts.

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