Just Give Us Something to Talk About, part two

Blogger Note:  My friend, formerly known as SPOBFOB (slightly paranoid about being associated as friend of blogger) is now SNOBFOB because I understand, after further consultation, that she is only neurotic about being associated with me.

I remembered yesterday, as I was accosted on the subway by a sea of tattooed flesh, that SNOBFOB and I also discussed the state of (un)dress in the City.

We didn’t specify guidelines for appropriate body coverage and so I throw the following draft regulation out to SNOBFOB and to the community in general for comment:


At all times in public spaces, a person should cover 50% of one’s body (and those of such person’s unemancipated minors) if one’s BMI (body mass index) is over the VPT (visually pleasing threshold).  A VPT is determined as the minimum amount of body coverage that a reasonable person over the age of 45 would require not to reminisce about the good ol’ days. It is only a violation if the body coverage is so below the VPT that it could reasonably cause a reasonable person over the age of 45 to have an IHR (involuntary heaving reaction).

All in all, a public safety crisis that must be addressed immediately by Mayor Bloomberg. Imagine if a subway car full of people had IHRs. Not a pretty sight. In fact, I might have an IHR just thinking about it.


Just Give Us Something To Talk About

A friend who is slightly paranoid about being known as a friend of blogger (and ergo, SPOBFOB) and I were discussing (and, might I add, solving) the world’s ills over lunch.  It is so frustrating when two people make major breakthroughs in world peace, economic policy, and moderate reformist politics and no one will let us see the President.  We wouldn’t have made him take notes (he is the President); we know enough about protocol (we could write the book) to bring a short-form and long-form memoranda setting out the action points for achieving these huge global steps forward.

Not only did SPOBFOB and I have important problem solving breakthroughs, but we also took stock of the freak show that comprises the leaders of our nation.  Let’s face it:  Men like the game — thrust and parry, if you must — of negotiations.  Women want to get the damn thing accomplished in the least amount of time with the most impact. Sure there are women who are impossible to deal with in these situations (Michelle Bachmann, par exemple) but by and large, you don’t hear women say, “let’s say this and see what they come back with” when you know full well that “saying this” will only lead to vengeful behavior and reverse any constructive negotiations up to that point.  We rarely make grand pronouncements that make compromise impossible because our egos are in the way.  Just sayin’.

Maybe President Obama would not like to think that he is pretty much in the same camp as John Boehner and Mitch McConnell when it comes to purposeful and constructive negotiations.  Ok, so the answer is that the White House would slam the door on our advance team.

I was despondent because here we had answers and no one who would listen.  I mentioned having a cable talk show and SPOBFOB came up with the brilliant idea of naming it the “Alternate View” because we look at the world quizzically and with our heads tilted, as if we were trying to understand really edgy art.

[So, this is where I go off on one of my tangents and SPOBFOB has no responsibility for anything that follows:]

We can invite our friends and family to come on the show.  They represent a varied and seasoned cross-section of America.  Ok, the liberal, urban/suburban, well-heeled and over-educated America.  So, there would be wide national appeal.  (Ok, that would be in the sovereign nation of No-Where-istan, a state of my mind (see prior blogs).  But, I digress.)

Everything would be fair game, from:

  • did anyone really think Justin and Selena were anything but a media creation?
  • to: should you home school your children in places where the gay liberal communist agenda has not fully infiltrated main stream public school education?
  • to: should fertility treatments and surrogacy be tax deductible for same-sex couples in states where gay marriage is legal?
  • to: who is the sanest person in the Tea Party asylum? and is that like debating how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?
  • to: whether quinoa is subversive grain that could reduce America’s dependence on hamburgers?
  • to: how to keep skin from sagging without surgery?

And everything else anyone wants to cover.


Weiner, Whiner, Weenie

And another one bites the dust.

It is all so stupid.  I don’t care about Weiner’s weiner.  I don’t care about for Sen. Craig’s gay liaisons.  I don’t care about Gov. Sanford’s Argentinian fiasco or Schwarzenneger’s love child(ren).  I don’t care about Bill Clinton’s dalliances. Or Al Gore’s ooky come-on lines with the spa masseuse. And Dominique Strauss-Kahn can have all les liaisons dangereuses possible.  Those are PRIVATE matters until:

  • Sen. Craig, who was virulently anti-gay until his actions showed himself a hypocrite and in serious need of counseling.
  • The governor of South Carolina was unreachable for a time without transferring power to the lieutenant governor (even if that guy is a psycho right wing nut).
  • Bill Clinton lied under oath when he was president, and therefore head of the executive wing that includes the Department of Justice.  It was just about sex until he committed perjury.
  • Al Gore just showed himself to be gross and awkward in an alleged encounter with a masseuse that makes even the words “suave” and “debonair” cringe.
  • DSK allegedly did not have non-consensual sex.  (It is a crime.  Whether or not he was set up, “no” is “no” assuming the housekeeper said, “no” (ou “non”).)
  • GOP representative Mark Foley sent inappropriate emails to underage senate pages and should have been jailed.

The list goes on and on.

Anthony Weiner is a hypocrite.  He also said something really scary: he did not know the ages of the females with whom he was corresponding.  THAT reckless behavior together with his self-righteous attitude toward anyone who doesn’t share his Progressive political perspective and his inability to accept responsibility from the outset bears on his fitness as a leader.

Weiner has been hoisted on his own petard and burnt.  He should slink away and get counseling.

I don’t hate men (and I love POB (partner of blogger) who is a woman) but I just don’t get it.  Is it a power thing?

I teach my son, “You do it, you live with it.  You own up to what you’ve done. Try to make it right and learn from it.” But I can’t compete with these idiots who show that you have a 50-50 shot at holding onto power and prestige if you deny, deny and deny.

The one guy who deserves re-election?  The GOP representative who showed his bare chest to someone on email or some chat room and became the GOP sacrificial lamb.


Subway story

I know, it has been a long time since I had a story that involved the magnetic S (for Schmuck) on my forehead.  You remember, the one that attracts crazy people to me.

Yesterday, on the subway (OF COURSE) a man introduced himself to me as a “storm chaser” and told me all about the tornado hitting Springfield, MA.  Then he moved on to stories about the wonderful people in California after the last earthquake.

He and his wife travel to natural disasters.  He told me:

“It’s what we do.”   

I keep thinking about this guy and his wife.  They aren’t storm chasers because they only arrive after the catastrophe.  He didn’t mention that he was an aid worker.  So, so, so, they are . . . .

Disaster Gawkers?

How creepy.  So much oooky-ness packed into 3 subway stops.  I was a little capitivated by his creepiness and oooky-ness.  Thank G-d I had to get off because I was running late to a meeting; otherwise I would have traveled to bowels of Brooklyn to listen to this guy. 

Am I a Creepy/Oooky Gawker? Maybe, because  . . . .

It’s what I do.

Another year, another synagogue retreat

This year’s synagogue retreat didn’t provide as much blogging material as last year’s.  But I have a gift of missing the whole point of a spiritual retreat.  But someone said that G-d is in the details.  That can’t be correct; see below.

The retreat started the same as last year, with the welcome sign that dared me to wreak such havoc that the sign would be revised to read “Maybe we are blessed by your arrival”.

Next year, I hope to report back that my efforts were successful.

The theme of the retreat was “transitions”.  Actually, throughout the retreat, there were some really poignant and insightful observations as to certain life cycle and relationship transitions.  Even I have to admit (grudgingly) that the discussions and religious services did strike chords in me.

There was a specific emphasis on inclusion of members of the transgender community and their stories and issues.  Accordingly, our name tags listed our preferred pronouns, such as “she/her” “ze/hir” “he/his” “they/their”.   My selections were so ordinary:

We got an upgrade from our accommodations last year.  As you may remember, we stayed in a bungalow that the forest was in process of reclaiming.  Apparently, nature correctly recognized it as a compost before the retreat management did.  This year, our accommodations ranked a few levels above girl scout camp:

Ok, maybe just one level above girl scout camp.  But we did have a mini-fridge.

The camp keeps the Sabbath and maintains a kosher kitchen.  So, no coffee on the Sabbath.  A riot almost breaks out each year.  I heard someone offer anyone $1,000 for a latte.  That night, the same person was offering even more for a shot of tequila, right after everyone found out there was no wine with dinner.  Ok, the camp maybe “shomer shabbos” (Sabbath observant) but us visitors, well, not so much.

Also, the food was not so kid-friendly (cholent, quinoa with fruit and string beans, etc.), so one family broke the Sabbath and drove their kids to McDonald’s because the kids could find nothing to eat.  Hey, living by Torah means that you can’t let your kids starve.  (We packed enough snacks, yogurt and fruit so that TLP (our son, the little prince) would have enough to eat.  We also had to rely on this stash.)

But there are helpful reminders to everyone about religiosity, especially in one’s most private moments:

(Same sign as last year, but good material is good material.)

The camp is also a working farm, so we saw Hasidic Jews tending to the goats.  There was goatyurt for sale, “blessed” goat cheese, and other kumbaya stuff. In fact, the gift shop offered bottles of essence of peace of mind and women’s cycles.

Kumbaya, my Lord, Kumbaya. Oh, Lord, kumbaya.

I don’t know if POB (partner of blogger) can convince me to go for a third time.

The Test: End of Day 2.

Ah, ’tis the Spring of my Content.  (Apologies to Willy Shakespeare.) Because the Test continues.

COB (colleague of blogger) felt bad that I thought he was stacking the deck against my being upbeat for one month (the Test), so he was in and out of my office all day saying cheery and pithy things.   He also wants to be known as THE COB, because there can be no other colleague who merits mention in the blog.  Well, he is right about that.

I am trying, really.

But there is so much static interference.

Yet, I didn’t curse the man who crushed my arm by swinging open a door and catching my arm. The EXCRUCIATING pain only lasted a few minutes and the bruise is not so bad.  So, I remain cheery and hopeful and am spreading that karma like a boomerang, I tell you.

I am waiting for POB (partner of blogger) for our Wednesday night date.  I arrive early and sit at the bar. The drunk man at the other end (who is talking too loud to be ignored) is pontificating to his poor date about 1888 Germany being an example of an evolved society. Funny, how it devolved into chaos and demagoguery in just a few, short decades. But I digress.

Ok, so I am being grateful for all that I have and now I hear the drunk man claiming that, although he is Caucasian, he is Indo-European because we all descended from that part of the world.  So, now he gets to go off on Indians and Europeans.  Whoa.  He needs to stop, because even I am offended and our family fled Germany and Central Europe.

But using his theory, he can rail on whomever because we all came from Adam and Eve.  He, on the other hand, definitely came from apes or, possibly, the ever-adaptive rodent family.

Ok, a history book is committing suicide every minute this guy speaks.

I am good with his being pedantic, insufferable, and patronizing because I am focusing on the good in the world notwithstanding the current chaos. So, THE COB, you haven’t won this bet yet.  I am in a good place.

But I am drawn again into his conversation because his date is countering his ramblings with a little fact checking. Mobile Google is awesome. She is in solid fighting form now that she decided there is no future in him.   So, if I could paraphrase, “Dumb@ss, you got your facts from reenactments on the History Channel”.

He realizes, too, that this date is going nowhere.  So, he says he is rich. Dude, you need the wealth of a Saudi prince to save this date and she sounds like she has too much pride for that anyway.  Good for her.  Tragic for you.

Now this is adding to my month of contentment and karmatic equanimity.  Boy meets girl, gets drunk and offends everyone within earshot.  Girl ditches boy with facts, fabulous diction and perfect grammar.  Boy tries to get girl back with money.  Girl gets the check.

In full disclosure, I negotiated a clause in the Test that I could think about the people, not only in Japan, but all over, whose lives have ended, or been upended, by natural and man-made disasters.  So, in the midst of my ramblings, I don’t forget about them and their suffering.  I hope that relief comes in time.

The Test

COB (colleague of blogger) is tired of my doom and gloom. (Really?  I thought it part of my magnetic personality. . . .)

And that, in and of itself, is shocking, since COB was discussing that the end of the world could occur on December 21, 2012.  Something about the Mayan calendar, Nostradamus and planetary alignments. Not that COB BELIEVES it, or anything.  But he was just putting it out there.

Probably to stack the odds before he dared me to be hopeful and cheerful for one month.  ONE MONTH.

In case you didn’t read carefully enough, I was challenged to be hopeful and cheerful for one month.  (COB is a poker player and probably has side bets on whether I will sink into despair in 5 minutes, 10 minutes or 2 weeks.)

I think it is funny that people are talking about the end of the world being in 21 months away, since Japan lies devastated (and its nuclear rods laid bare) by an earthquake and then tsunami, Libya is in civil war, Bahrain and Yemen are in chaos, the Ivory Coast is a bloodbath, we are in two wars, our deficit is out of control, the recession hasn’t ended for most Americans and we have a dysfunctional Congress, and on and on and on.  Sounds like the end of days now.

BUT, I digress, comme d’habitude.

Back to sweetness and light and kumbaya.   A dare is a dare and I have my pride.  So, forget the images of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  Forget images of breadlines during the Depression.  Forget the daily carnage for an acre or two of oil fields.  I am going to be happy, hopeful and cheery, Gosh darn it.

So, here is what I did today to make good on the dare:

  • When I was at the gym, I didn’t tell the stinky man that he was curling my nose hairs, as we took turns on the same machine.
  • I made sure that all elderly, infirm or pregnant people on the bus had seats.  (Yes, I know I am too pampered to hang with humanity, but the recession hasn’t ended.)
  • I swore to POB (partner of blogger) that I would take a time-out from the 24-hours news REcycle, where the object is to scare us more than to provide information.  (Note to self:  If Wolf Blitzer or Anderson Cooper is at the nuclear power plant in Japan, it can’t be releasing THAT much radiation.)
  • I kissed and hugged my son, as I asked G-d (and whomever else with power over these things) to protect him from the chaos.

Not bad for my first few hours of Blogger-High-On-Happiness.

Elvis in the House

A portly guy wearing an Elvis wig, over-sized sunglasses and that tragic white jumpsuit that was “signature Elvis” in his final years, walked through the lobby of my office building. Apparently responding to jeers from the security guards, he yelled, “it’s still a free country and I am doing my part!”

Now that struck me. Today, with the news from Japan getting worse, Saudi troops landing in Yemen and Bahrain and pleas for a no-fly zone over Libya, we need all the Super Heroes we can get. Real, imagined or dead. Maybe the Elvis impersonator was doing what he could do to feel in control and perhaps offer comfort as a super human personality (just ask other Elvis fans).

He wasn’t so crazy after all (maybe). I might buy a Star Trek: The Next Generation outfit. They always had the answers. Maybe Counselor Troi, although I would need more gym time as well as implants. But you get the point.

Elvis was in the house. And that was what we needed today.

Charlie & Co.

For the record, I have never seen Charlie Sheen in anything, at least to my recollection.  I have only seen clips of the recent media circus surrounding the disintegration of his connection with reality. 

Why are people following him on Twitter?  Why are people tuning in? 

No one interviews a homeless, psychotic person.  But the media is making money on ad revenues by showing Charlie talking about being a warlock and transversing the space-time continuum.  Why?  Because people tune in to feel better about themselves by watching a TV star dive head first into mental abyss.   Just my theory.

This reminds me of an old tale about a media circus surrounding a young girl’s fallinto an abandoned mine shaft or water well.  Everyone was so busy getting the news story and the hard-luck backstories of the townspeople, that no one bothered to save the little girl.

And if that is true, both Charlie and we need serious medical help.

Are we there yet?

Since we are going to Rome, the city where the Holy See is resident, I figured there would be pilgrims because a former Pope is being beatified next month.  I didn’t realize that the choir of the Bridgeport Diocese would be going – 23 people strong.  All are glowing in the reflective glory of the Lord.  “Padre” said “Amen, Brother” twice and we haven’t taken off yet.

We had to wait until the entire group arrived which held up our departure time.  So now we are over an hour delayed.  And they seem oblivious to that, or unconcerned about the inconvenience.

They are quite a boisterous group.  You can tell them by their matching crosses.  Big, scary, pilgrim crosses.  Padre likes to talk loud and be the center of attention, so much so that he was quite un-Padre-like when another passenger asked if they all would stop talking loudly across the aisles.  They all felt put upon and gave each other annoyed glances.  Padre said to the passenger, “we are on vacation,” to which she responded, “so are we.  And we have all paid a lot to be on this plane.”  I backed her up even though I had an altercation with her earlier.

This group thinks that we all want to watch their interactions and think that their various pithy commentaries are bon mots for all to appreciate.

POB (partner of blogger) is sitting stunned and gobsmacked by the ill manners.  Perhaps she is still shell-shocked by the profound underarm hair of the women trip leader.  The length suggests a lifetime achievement.

There is an obviously gay man in this choir (trust me on this).  They were talking about church classes and he said he has taken 5 courses on blasphemy.  In the law business, we call that forum shopping,  Is he looking for a (gay) friendly judge who will issue a different ruling on those pesky verses of Leviticus?

Ok, so the passenger who was flipped out by all the hoopla and Christian comraderie, is a first-time flyer.  She brought her pillow from home, black-out eye patches, 2 meals from Burger King, fluffy slippers and earplugs.  Still, she was unsettled by the din.  That’s air travel these days.  The turbulence was hell-ish (50 mph winds), but that didn’t bother her.  The 2+ hour delay and the jocularity in Christ (they were comparing prayers for wind – I think they should have specified unscary, non-wrath-of-G-d type wind).  She whipped out her smartphone while we were waiting on the tarmac, and I said, “you give up the higher moral ground if you don’t obey the rules.” “I know, but I need to tell my family I will be two hours late to arrive at a family event.”  “I am sure they’ll check the planes,’ I said, trying to be helpful.  “You don’t know my family.”  I looked at her, and thought, that is true but based on the hair, the outfit, and the accent, I bet I could get a sense if I watched Snooki et al on The Jersey  Shore.

Our son was a trooper on a terrible flight in terrible weather with terrible people.  So, was POB who caught his projectile vomiting in her hands and I was a rocker for cleaning everyone up.

We got into a cab and the driver had two phones and was reading from a clipboard as he was driving on the autostrada.  When in Rome . . . put on your seatbelt.  We tipped him extra for not killing us.

Now we are so exhausted that our son doesn’t even want to stay awake for gelato.  We arrive at the hotel and collapse in our beds.

I can’t even read this over to see if it makes sense.  We are going to bed.  Today, purgatory.  Tomorrow, glorious Roma.

But we are, finally, here.