Thursday, June 26, 2008

Little Heaven

Got a little toy for my birthday a while back and I was out road-testing it. Here's one of the results. A wee bit seasickness inducing, I'd say. (But, you may ask, how's the quality (before it hits YouTube)? Check out the delightful Mr. David Pogue (who doesn't love this nebbish guy???? I'll hurt you if you don't) here, for an idea.)

Please excuse the limited commentary of the video. I tend to slobber heavily when I'm at this establishment, so vocalization proves difficult. The herky-jerky filming unfortunately doesn't truly reflect the charm of the place. The staff are quite enthusiastic without being cloying, knowledgeable without being preachy, and funny without being performing. Each trip there is different as the used stock eternally changes. There are some bargains to be had, some treasures to be unearthed, and some times of calm to be spent here. Nothing fancy or ornate; simply tuneage displayed for easy perusal. You'll tend to find folks here, customers, I mean, who wander the aisles with the purpose of monks; Minimum talk, maximum reflection. Stockbrokers in $1k+ suits going through the bins right next to Mohawked kids shuffling through the same genre.
Aside from the university, the Exchange is the other main reason to stop by in Princeton.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

......a l m o s t .......

With a depleted squad against a powerful foe, Turkey lost 3-2 to Germany in the 90th minute. A bummer!!! Well, you know things were not going well when Turkey's Ugur Boral scored the first goal in the game. 1-0, Turkey. Things were going to go downhill for the Turks from then on. Per the descriptive, the Germans were outplayed by their under-manned opponent. It's a shame Fatih Terim's boys couldn't pull out another win.

There's always the World Cup in 2010. GO SPAIN/RUSSIA!


No Fatih Fatigue

It's Turkey, this year's miracle team, against Germany toady in the semi-finals of Euro 2008. The winner gets to face either Spain or Russia, who play tomorrow in the other semi-final. My choice is a Turkey-Spain final, although it'll take a Miracle of Major Consequence for this event to take place. Russia looked especially good against a solid Netherlands team in the quarter-finals and the latter lost 3-1 against the young Russkies. Spain finally won against Italy after 1,000 years of football frustration (please note that all writing on football (soccer) is assumed to be fueled by the need for exaggeration and the dearth of facts), so the Spanish lads will be too drained from their quarter-finals to be able to do much else except to show up on Thursday evening (Swiss time) and take a shellacking from the Russians. Besides, Putin allegedly has the hit sign on for some of the Spanish players, so personal safety, not scoring goals will be on their minds. Just kidding?!!? Maybe.

But Turkey? Well, after they let the Croatians think they won the game in the last 20 seconds of overtime, only to score with 1/1,000,000 of a second left to send the game's result into penalty kicks, when they then smacked Croatia's football program bacwards a few decades with a 3-1 edge in penalty shots, I switched from the departed Team Hrvatska to their conquerers, Turkiye Futbol. I enjoy their style of play, their mix of wily veterans and bumping-chest young punks, and, most of all, I love watching their coach, Fatih Terim, go through his dramatic game performance. He runs the gamut from A to Z (or whatever the first and last letters of the Turkish alphabet are), of joy, anger, sadness, frustration, elation, depression. He starts out in sartorial splendour, pressed suit and shirt and gradually transforms himself into a barely clothed man on the edge of a psychological breakdown. His players obviously love playing for him as he so obviously loves his players.

I wish them well, but I feel their time may be up. Besides playing against Football's version of the Evil Empire, Germany, the Turks have to deal with not having quite a few important players available, due to injury and the deadly double yellow and red cards (Red and yellow cards will keep goalie Volkan Demirel, attacking midfielders Arda Turan and Tuncay Sanli and centre-back Emre Asik in the stands, while defenders Servet Cetin and Emre Gungor and midfield men Emre Belozoglu, Ayhan Akman and Tumer Metin are all facing a race against the clock to be fit. Definitely out of the running to feature in the semi is skipper and main striker and groin injury victim Nihat Kahveci, who will be badly missed.)

For a multitude of reasons, I've despised the German football team, relishing every time any other team beat or tied them. It's all a subjective thing on my part. The simple matter is I can't stand them. So candles will be burning and fingers will be crossed for today's match between the Young Turks and the Evil Empire.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Inspired by but not attaining the heights of this week's New Yorker piece, Animal Tales by Simon Rich, here's the newest family member, Barko, having a few words with the unidentified dog on the other side of the stockade fence.

Unidentified Large Dog: How ya doin'?
Barko: Just getting them assimilated to me. Another week or so and I'll be telling Riley what Life is all about.
ULD: A week? You must be really good! Took me over a month and a half.
B: When d'ya hit the joint?
ULD: Oh, I think I was pushing a few years. I was at one of those species specific rescue places, when is was chosen. You know, even canine mercy has gone the specialty route these days. Back when my father, wherever he is now, was around he would....
B: Yeah, yeah Pops, put a doggy treat in your mouth and let me show you what the kids are bout these days.
ULD: Pops!? Doggie treats?!? Son, you could be my doggy treat if I was to jump this fence.
B: Chill out, Pops. Don't pull a muscle and listen up.
ULD: Ruffffff!
B: So, as I was explicating. I'm only 8 weeks old and this puppy stuff will only last me another 30 weeks or so. So listen up, maybe your kids can take it in when I've given you the facts.
ULD: (Growling..) O.K.
B : These humans are suckers for quite a few things. What is it with them and fur and wobbly legs? They seem to spend a lot of time yelling and grumbling at each other. But put a puppy in front of them? The tree spits out the sap in buckets.

So, here's a few choice bits that have worked quite well. The beauty of them is that I can repeat them over and over again and they never get bored. Like "Seinfeld" reruns except all residuals come to me.

The tilted head with a bit of the tongue showing is always good for some "oohhhh"'s.

Flopping one ear and then the other seems to work with both of the human sexes.

Licking, yep, licking is always good. Seems to suggest to them that I like them. Good to know they'll never realize it's my way of getting the taste of dry dog food out of my mouth.

Tail-wagging is o.k., but especially so if you can do it with an off-beat cadence. In a month, I'll have a Monk-ish wag happenin'; the old fart in the family will think he's seeing ghosts. Rump-moving and tail-shaking seems to make them feel I especially like them.
Laying down and then flipping on my back gets them into a petting frenzy. I think it's the paws pointing straight up and then flopping down at my elbow (I think I have one of those on each leg...or are they my knees?).

Finally, after all of these have worn them down to a bowl of goo, I direct my sparkly black eyes toward them, let out a slight moan, and then stand back as they totally dissolve to liquid.

This bunch I'm with are especially susceptible to my heart-pulling shenanigans. Wish I could spread out my paws on this Mac keyboard so I could e-mail the bro's and sis' at home and let them know all that training in canine hospitality has worked.

I mean, I've even peed on a rug several times and almost unloaded some back-end trash and all I heard as complaints from this family is "ahhhhh......".
ULD: The life, huh?
B: Oh, yeah. Although this 1 yr to 7 yr ratio I keep hearing about is a drag.
ULD: Yep, each day's a week.
B: Well, I'll just have to make sure I let them know my time here is limited and love and attention is all I need. Excuse me, I have to go back inside and work on my Catholic guilt bowling. They haven't seen my "barking at my reflection" bit yet. That's a sure-fired shot to the heart.


Friday, June 20, 2008


Here's the news. With a scintilla of a second left in injury time (a subjective amount of time in football that is tacked onto regular time) of the Euro 2008 Football championship ( and Croatia up 1-0 on Turkey, the Turks score to tie things up. Well, you know where that was going.

Yeah, Turkey wins in penalty kicks, 3-1. It was a great game and the Croats had their chances. Three absolutely positive scoring chances for sure and they blew them. But the last chance, the chance to run the game out with 20-30 seconds left and their being up 1-Zip on Turkey? That's the chance they truly blew. Idioti!

Well, at least this game's result will be grist for many a Croatian summer's late night moan. If you happen to be in Croatia the next few weeks, you'll be seeing a lot of folks walking around the street, arms pleading as in this photo of Croatian coach Bilic.


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Tragedy & Sadness

On June 14th, Esbjorn Svensson died while scuba-diving in the Stockholm Archipelago. Forty-four. That's how young he was. As one of the founders of the Esbjorn Svensson Trio (usually simply known as E.S.T.), he had been one of the leaders in European jazz. Some of the group's earlier albums never made it state-side but their releases in the last 5-6 years were readily available here. A critic's delight, E.S.T. has had a tough time breaking in over the Atlantic. Each new album promised to be the key to their stardom. I latched on to them when they released Somewhere Else Before in 2001 and have been a loyal fan since then.

Well, sort of loyal. Early on last year, E.S.T. was scheduled to play at Zanzibar Blue Jazz Club in Philly. Something came up and I opted not to go, figuring the boys were still very young and they'd come around the following year. That April, Zanzibar Blue closed its doors, putting a serious hurt on live jazz in Philly.

Saturday, Esbjorn Svensson died at an all too early 44. My flippant attitude last year comes back to haunt me; I never had a chance to see this talented group.

I can't see the group going on without him. What a tragedy. Perhaps Nick Bartsch's Ronin, Marcin Wasilewski, and Bad Plus can carry on in the spirit of things.

This Sunday I have one of my dj-ing gigs at WVUD. It'll be a heavy portion of E.S.T., for sure.

Other tributes are here, here, and here. He was one of the good guys.

06/23/08: As pointed out by Chazzy G, here's a commentary of E.S.T. from The Bad Plus' blog, Do The Math. There's an interesting bit about the importance of having a great sound engineer.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008


In the Land of Croats, discerning between a compliment and an insult usually requires time, patience, intuitive skills, sharply honed skills in logic and linguistics, and a practiced ear for tone and modality. A full bottle of rakija is not a detrimental thing to have handy either. The Croatian compliment, when finally deciphered, tends to be a pearl wrapped in cobwebs of enigmas, past effronts to one's character, and dope slaps to one's self perception. To a non-Croatian, receiving a Croatian compliment or a Croatian insult seem identical. The delivery usually begins with the gradually raising of a speaker's shoulders, a increase in pitch, and an almost violent shaking of arms, which are usually in the threatening arms akimbo pose. Sometimes, the difference between the positive and the negative comments are not fully comprehended until later.
Much later.

It's been about 3 years since my family came back form a wonderful vacation in the Land of Croats. During our visit, my family had the enjoyment of meeting most of my relatives, who all happen to live in one city. One of my aunts, who happens to be the same height, about 4 ft 6 in., as most of my aunts, greeted me with a dope slap when she found out that I'd failed to teach my Ever-Loving spouse and my children the intricacies and pleasures of the greatest language in the world, Croatian. She then shook her head and called me a magarac, a semi-affectionate sobriquet that I translated for my family.

They had heard my stories of my family but had taken them in with many grains of salt, the large chunky sea salt kind. Pah! My father/husband is again with the exaggerations! The trip to Croatia was necessary simply to show them that though, yes, I do weave the stories with a touch of the Celtic (the Celts first stopped over in Croatia to plant their seed of over-the-top story telling before ending up in Ireland) tendency toward blarney, truth is at the core. Seeing my aunt jumping up with vigor to slap me upside the head was proof that my told tales bore some reality. Not having seen me in over 20 years and proclaiming me a donkey was a delicious frosting to my Croatian cake.

Not having been in the homeland for a while, I took her combo dope slap and "magarac" comment as your typical Croatian insult. Little did I realize that being called a magarac was a compliment!

I think.

An informative entry from is here on Joe Magarac.


Monday, June 16, 2008

A Call Out

The daughter, ever sly and humorous will be picking up a dog, a Westy to wit, shortly. The pup comes from a litter of 4, he being the 3rd one sold. The breeder sounds like a real character, a retired gentleman in northeastern PA who has a rambling old house that is the domain of 14 of these little energetic flashes of white fur. The last time we had pets in our dinky (Sub-Saharan word for "tight, small space") house was 15 years ago or so. A caged rat named Nicodemus, an animal whose name took longer to say than the poor animal lived. When the Ever-Loving wife and I first took up shared residence, I brought a Maine Coon-ish cat into our connubial bliss situation. He, poor guy, didn't last too much longer as his abundant hair, or rather, his abundant hair loss was a source of allergic reactions for our kids. In a cruel trick of timing, he was neutered the same day that our first-born arrived. Cats being such intelligent creatures, he always looked at my son with a scowlish look, convinced that his emasculation and my son's arrival was more than mere coincidence. So, off he went to another owner blessed with no aversion to cat dander.

So, we haven't had an animal in our house in quite a while. We haven't been tied down by four legged beasts that would put a crimp in our imagined spontaneous & exciting lives. The kids are grown and we...have opted to burden ourselves with a wet-nosed tail-wagging bundle of joy. Who says you get smarter as you get older?

Oh, yeah. The name. I had mentioned the slyness of my daughter, right? She opted for the Nom du Chien of Barko. Yes, Barko, which coincidentally rhymes with Darko. Wonder who'll be coming when he's called?

Note Bene: My apologies in advance for sappy puppy photos that will most probably appear on this blog. I will provide advance warnings of these treacly pics whenever possible.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Heat Things

The first of what are promised to be numerous spates of high heat days has just passed. Last tonight's furious sky shows brought buckets of rain, bright jags of lightning, and surprisingly low murmers of thunder and immediately reduced the humidity and the temperature. In the morning, my pillow was not the soggy pile I'd woken up to the previous 3 days. The sky was blue, clean, and lightened of its watery burden. Before rising to fall back into Wednesday's work burden, I stole a few minutes staring at some of the trees on our street and the avian guests they were hosting. A lot of carefree chirping and cackling going on; at least some species were happy to be up and about.

None of the trees on our street are fruit-bearing. Their duties are confined to providing a most welcomed shade. In a city, that's a burden enough. I started thinking back on places I'd lived in back in the Land of Croats, specifically in the city of Zagreb. A city dotted with parks and streets lined with trees, Zagrebcani (as residents of the city are known) are quite proud of the small backyards that they retreat to after work or on the weekends. A place to putter, plant, and to.....make rakija!

Rather than growing trees whose main purpose is to offer shade, plum trees, lovely small, gnarly looking collection of branches bearing purplish brownish fruits are put into the backyards. And if one didn't have enough room in the back, you'd visit one of the local markets and haggle with someone like this for your necessary raw material. Anyone who distilled their own rakija was obviously the best distiller. Most of the home stills were operated or "managed" by men as the women were quite busy making this or that or something else that demands to be preceded with a stampulj of rakija. To "clear the passage", as is stated in the Land of Croats. Roughly translated as "clearing one's throat".

Two of my now departed uncles were fanatics about making their own rakija. One had several plum trees in his back and front yards, trees that I grew very familiar with as I, along with 5-6 of my cousins, were the cheap labor used to pick the plump fruit for him. His wife, an incredible and a humble cook, provided the rewards for our labor, making to-die for stuffed potato dumplings using some of the peeled plums that we'd picked. Her meals were such that afterwards we lay immobilized under the trees we'd just de-nuded of fruit, staring up at the slow-moving summer sky picking its way through the branches of the plum trees. The wind would quietly sigh as would we, laying there and thinking of what other delectable concoctions would come from her kitchen. We heard her humming and then singing from her "office" and recognized from her melodies that she had something going on.

The rakija? We learned the art of the quick-swallow early on. By the time we were 10-ish, a shot before Sunday's big meal would cleanse the palette and cause our tongue's gustatory system to stand at full attention, a necessity for the delights soon to follow.

The uncles have long since passed on as have their houses and their plum trees. The family tradition of home-brewing has gone underground. The slow and easy passage of our youth's time has been replaced by store-bought rakija, a liquid that shares minimal qualities with the homemade stuff. My cousins and I talk about those days, thinking that retirement will lengthen our days and open up possibilities of time well spent picking, gathering, and brewing. Well, if not for the end result, then for the thin threads tying us back to laying under plum trees, marveling at the blue sky dragging itself across our eyes.


Monday, June 09, 2008

Fell's Point Heat

Meeting up with a too-long-not-seen friend in Baltimore yesterday, we quickly picked him up from the Amtrak station in Baltimore and drove down to Fell's Point. It was 11:30 and the heat was coming off the cobblestone streets right through our shoes. Walking past the familiar Baltimore Police Station, we slogged our way toward the end of one of the multiple piers, hoping to get some cooling harbor breezes. Not of that this day. With the sun pulsating above, we repaired to Kooper's Tavern, for an excellent brunch, with bottomless Bloody Marys and Mimosas thrown in on this day when quaffing anything cold was a life-preserving necessity. We sauntered around Fell's Point, staying on the shaded side of the streets until the heat forced us into Max's Beerhouse, a veritable fountain of beers on tap and in bottle. A light, cold breeze was blowing through, Croatia v. Austria in Eurocup 2008 was on one of the large HD screens, stand-up comics doubling as bartenders were pouring out the precious stuff, tipsy customers held in control by said bartenders (wavering on that cusp between entertaining and loutish drinking), what more could we have asked for?

Three hours later, we stepped outside the a/c'ed tavern and were plastered with late afternoon heat and on our way back to Delaware. We'll soon be coming back to Fell's Point again. Great places to eat and sit. Noticeable lack of tourists dribbling in form the Inner Harbor about a 1/2 mile away. Old tugboats to goggle at. Laid back atmosphere throughout. Baltimore at its best.


Thursday, June 05, 2008


There you have it. One last shot of Don Cherry wearing your favorite upholstery/curtain fabric. If she were alive (and also not a fictional character), Scarlett O'Hara would be proud of Mr. Cherry's fabric utilization skills. As far as the Red Wings are concerned, fabric utilization wise, they've sewn up another Cup, #4 in the last 11 years, playing a style so reminiscent, IMHO, of the CCCP teams of the 1970's and early 1980's that I rubbed my eyes to make sure I was looking at Babcock and not Tikhonov behind the bench.
As Whisky Prajer noted, the Red Wings did deserve to win. They were a class above every other team and, on most nights, played that way through the Stanley Cup playoffs and the finals. Somehow it always seemed that, though limited to 6 players on the ice at any given moment, they skated so intelligently and swiftly that I'd swear they had 8-10 men on the ice. The waves of attacks never subsided, wearing down all opponents who skated backwards to their defensive positions, thinking they could stop the onslaught.


Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Ebright Azimuth

We lowlanders residing in the state of Delaware are well aware that no mountain or even hill range runs through our small state. Most of us are aware that we have the second lowest highest point in the country. Allegedly, Florida, land of hallucinogenic cow pies, has the lowest highest point, Britton Hill, at 345 feet. A lot of folks in Delaware thought Mt. Cuba was our high point as it has "Mt." in its name (In most states "Mt." is short for mountain; in Delaware, it's short for minute) and it's located in an almost hilly part of the state.

Turns out the highest point is Ebright Azimuth, soaring up to 448 feet. Now, IMHO, you can have your Mt. McKinley (Denali), AK at 20,320 ft, your Mauna Kea, HI at 13,796 ft, or even California's Mt. Whitney at 14,494 ft. Me? I prefer the Ebright Azimuth. What a great name! How often do you hear of a place named Azimuth?
"I'm going to Ebright Azimuth's!" sounds like the beginning of a drinking bout.
"That Ebright Azimuth...Geeeeeeez!!" Well, we all know an Ebright Azimuth in our lives that we have an issue with, don't we?

I bring this topic ("Lowest Highest Point") because I will admit to being duped by a favorite group of mine, Moxy Fruvous. This Canadian raconteur-ish band has a live album in which they demand audience participation in determining the Lowest Highest Point. Their answer, i.e. the band's, is Delaware.
I believed these guys, even though the closest they ever got to Delaware was Philly, because they were Canadian. I figured their geography teachers were simply better than ours. Besides, they're Canadian. Why would they invent, mis-lead, or lie? The definity in their tone had me swallow this geographical error with nary a choke.

Lesson to the kiddies: Never trust a rock band for your geographical facts. And if the band happens to be Canadian? Well, don't let their polite manners sway you.


Monday, June 02, 2008


An interesting little piece in the 6/09/08 New Yorker issue on Buckminster Fuller brought back memories still attached to some mental cobwebs. Both the ever-loving wife (ELW) and I had experiences as audience members in a "Bucky" show. The ELW had the spectacle of Mr. Fuller at her graduation ceremony, where he landed his space pod on a muddy, sunny Saturday. I experienced Mr. Fuller on a dark and wintry day in Montreal in the all-things-are-possible undergrad years. Since the latter event occurred a good 2-3 years before the ELW’s caps-thrown-in-the-air days, Buckminster Fuller" was a bit more tethered to the ground, with emphasis on a bit.

He was bow-tied at both events but that little bit of cloth at the neck was insufficient restraint on the ideas that poured forth. I was at least more fortunate than the ELW that questions were allowed after his, ahem, presentation. Not that the questions, some as long-winded as Mr. Fuller’s philosophical slalom runs on man’s future, were answered in any manner resembling the key topics inquired of. I expected a puff of smoke to appear at any moment and a "Bucky Ball" to encircle him and disappear into efficiency. I couldn’t recall anything specifically said that night although the following quotes attributed to him seem vaguely familiar.

Thinking is a momentary dismissal of irrelevancies.
Man is going to be displaced altogether as a specialist by the computer. Man himself is being forced to reestablish, employ, and enjoy his innate "comprehensivlty." Coping with the totality of Spaceship Earth and universe is ahead for all of us.
Universe is non-simultaneously apprehended.

In some cases, he was dead on.

When I was born (1895), humanity was 95 per cent illiterate. Since I’ve been born, the population has doubled and that total population is now 65 per cent literate. That’s a gain of 130-fold of the literacy. When humanity is primarily illiterate, it needs leaders to understand and get the information and deal with it. When we are at the point where the majority of humans them-selves are literate, able to get the information, we’re in an entirely new relationship to Universe.
We are at the point where the integrity of the individual counts and not what the political leadership or the religious leadership says to do.

Politicians are always realistically maneuvering for the next election. They are obsolete as fundamental problem-solvers.

..and he definitely was a Love Child.
Unity is plural and, at minimum, is two.
The highest of generalizations is the synergetic integration of truth and love.

I do remember a bunch of us went to see Woody Allen’s “Sleeper” immediately after the lecture and discussed how humour eases the swallowing of deep thoughts so much easier that a tightly tied bow-tie. Some of our other friends had attended a lecture by Mr. Fuller before so they came to the event better prepared than we were and seemed to get a lot more out of the opinions and philosophy presented. Although……their expositions of the lecture tended to a style less vigorous in its mental gymnastics, but a lot funnier.

By the time the ELW was introduced to his act, Mr. Fuller was much closer to boarding that space pod to the next take-off point. The folks in attendance were not there to soak in any truthyisms that Mr. Fuller was launching that day. The ELW remembered it as a day that a quaint old gentlemen tottered and sweated his way onto the stage and dealt as best as he could with the swelter of the day, while the audience, half duly inebriated to combat the elation/sadness of the day, paid no never mind to the garbling coming their way. Frisbees and hats were thrown amongst the gowned audience and one wonders if Mr. Fuller thought that space pods were perhaps landing.

My favorite bit from the article?

" Stewart Brand, the founding editor of the "Whole Earth Catalog" and an early, self-described dome "propagandist," called geodesics a "massive, total failure":

"Domes leaked, always. The angles between the facets could never be sealed successfully. If you gave up and tried to shingle the whole damn thing—dangerous process, ugly result—the nearly horizontal shingles on top still took in water. The inside was basically one big room, impossible to subdivide, with too much space wasted up high. The shape made it a whispering gallery that broadcast private sounds to everyone."

Among the domes that leaked were Fuller’s own home, in Carbondale, and the structure atop the Ford Rotunda. (When workmen were sent to try to reseal the Rotunda’s dome, they ended up burning down the entire building.)


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