Monday, December 10, 2007

Speeding In Slow Motion

Excuse the primer coat on the walls, ignore the overgrown shrubbery out front, and ignore that leak dripping in the center of this virtual structure; despite the extravagant disrepair, there is and are good reasons for the dreadful conditions, despite any and all malfeasance.

In short: work has been kicking my ass, and more importantly, I've been working on a personal project for the better part of several months. Since it is fiction, the hard part about maintaining this space is finding a day when I am happily and efficiently productive in front of a keyboard but not able or willing to commit said efficient creativity to the fiction but to the HoB. It's an easy, but unfortunate, argument, one in which the HoB always comes up short.

It's not that this space hasn't, doesn't or won't continue to serve as a launch pad, a home away from home and/or a good place for me to share the basis for the firings of what few neural synapses I have left between my ears; the HoB will continue to thrive, and I'll be sure to clean up after I have guests and such. The problem is, however, that to finish my first draft is my chosen goal, and inasmuch as I truly enjoy spouting off herein about nearly everything that crosses my path, I'm almost completely focused on wrapping the first draft and seeing if I can meld everything into one tangible, comprehensive, understandable jumble of spies, guns, nuclear weaponry, technology, boobs and cars. No, it's not a James Bond novel; hence why I didn't use the term "gadgets" anywhere in the description.

In any case, I expect to be back here sometime soon, and I apologize yet again for this edificial malaise.

Or, as they say in Brooklyn, thanks for coming by and for being so patient.


Monday, October 29, 2007

The Epitome of Pinstriped Stupidity

This past weekend -- and the past month or so -- was extremely busy. Granted, it needn't take hours to stop in here to update the masses on the exciting things occurring in and around Boogieland. However, being that the past month has been spent preparing for another monster soiree, the arrival of my other half, my cousin's bar mitzvah this past weekend, and a variety of work projects huge and miniscule, it's been a rather eventful 30 or so days.

This past weekend marked, as indicated above, my cousin's bar mitzvah. We piled -- with my grandmother -- into the car and headed north to Westport, CT., and celebrated with the family to watch Mikey become a man. The apple, as it were, does not fall far from the tree. He acquitted himself well and had a lot of fun doing so, despite the pressure, stress and the modern equivalent of keeping up, and we were very happy we were able to enjoy the experience of watching him handle the pressure and the happiness of this, his day.

In another case of the apple does not fall far from the tree, however, we have Hank and Hal Steinbrenner.

Circa 1978, I was indoctrinated into the world of the New York Yankees, a team whose then-biggest superstar, Reggie Jackson, inspired his own candy bar and etched his legacy forever in the hearts of Yankee fans with multi-home run games against the Dodgers in the World Series. Reg-gie! The chants echo on re-broadcasts of Yankee "Classics" on the YES network, and anyone who knows baseball knows Reggie Jackson earned his nickname of "Mr. October."

Now, however, with the Yankees' most recent first round playoff ouster (by a relatively weak Cleveland Indians team), Joe Torre was forced out by the Steinbrenner clan. Of course, this move has further implications. The Steinbrenners, in their emphatic need to demonstrate their high degree of shortsighted stupidity, pushed Joe Torre out of the picture in the same year as three significant Yankees have options as free agents: Andy Pettite, Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada. Each of these players looked to Joe Torre as a calming influence, as he was the only manager they ever knew (except in Andy Pettite's case, who defected to the Houston Astros for several years and played under other managers). With Joe Torre's departure, none of these players can regard the team as the same one with which they won championships in the 90's, because going forward from here, any failure or success will be supervised by someone other than Joe Torre.

Much more significantly, of course, was the fact that the Yankees also had another significant issue on the front burner to address other than their impending choice of manager to replace Joe Torre: Alex Rodriguez, aka A-Rod, the team's third-baseman, had a choice set forth before him. He could continue with the Yankees or he could opt out of the final three years of the deal he originally signed with the Texas Rangers (and which he took with him when he was dealt to the Yankees). The Yankees, while going about a search to replace Joe Torre as manager, repeatedly indicated they would not negotiate with A-Rod if he decided to opt out of his current deal. Part of the reason why they were so desperate to keep his current deal in place was that part of that deal was the Texas Rangers agreed to pay approximately $21 million of A-Rod's annual $25 million salary over the last three years of the deal. By opting out of the deal, the Yankees will effectively lose that money.

In their attempt at repeating King George's mantra of "It's Good to Be A Yankee," the two morons, Tweedle-Dee (Hank) and Tweedle-Dum (Hal) have effectively said of A-Rod "If he doesn't want the privilege of being a Yankee, then goodbye to him." Except the two nitwits, and their shitbird father, haven't bothered to watch what is happening in their own organization. They have insulted and dismissed Joe Torre (with a silly, incentive-laden, demeaning offer), shown they have little, if any, regard for the real cause of their consecutive playoff dismissals (good starting pitching starting with young, talented pitchers who can reach 90 mph or better with their fastballs), irritated three of their most respected free agents (Pettite can simply leave, and it's very likely he will do so; Mariano Rivera, even at the age of 38, is still a top-notch closer; and Jorge Posada is, both offensively and defensively, an impressive, high-end switch-hitting catcher), and most importantly, given the excuse to A-Rod and his agent to pursue high-end dollars.

If the Yankees remain true to their word and ignore A-Rod's re-free agency and do not attempt to re-sign him, they will impress the hell out of me. Despite A-Rod's incredible regular season achievements, he had no meaningful hits or RBI in the playoffs. As talented as he is, he chokes come playoff-time, and for a team whose only mantra is "Win The World Series or be Cast Aside (Like Joe Torre)," a guy who can't perform in the playoffs doesn't belong here. And frankly, for a guy to be paid $30 million annually, to not perform in the playoffs while I'm paying $250 a ticket is an insult to me as a fan and a season ticket holder. So let the guy walk.

Except the shitheads -- aka Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum -- don't do things in a well-thought-out manner. You have the feeling that, despite Yankees GM Brian Cashman and the Steinbrenner clan warning A-Rod that if he opted out he would be ushered out, you again have the feeling they will go back on their threat and attempt to re-sign him, further demonstrating their desire to make themselves look like morons.

I don't mind that fact; what bothers me is that with every classless, stupid, immature quip, sound-bite or interview one of these idiots offers forth, it tarnishes the Yankees. The Steinbrenners, with their actions and comments over the last month, have solidified themselves in the annals of least classy owners. The way they mistreated and mishandled the departure of Joe Torre was absolutely repulsive. And with their mishandling of those Yankees who will soon depart, their cluelessness and classlessness will have far more disturbing implications. While they trumpet the fact that it's good to be a Yankee, they have shown, in the next few seasons (until they hire another, solid replacement for the recently-departed Joe Torre), it will not be good to be a Yankee. Just a few hours north, Boston was celebrating its second World Series in four years and yet, Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum were going on and on about how wonderful it is to be a Yankee. Is it really?

Is it really wonderful to be a Yankee when repeated, continual success (Joe Torre's guiding the team to the playoffs every year he managed the team) was met with increasing criticism? Is it really wonderful to be cast aside or left for dead by a team that operates politically rather than by what is happening on the field? It it really great to play for a franchise that is more concerned with the appearance of facial hair but is willing to sign a 45-year-old pitcher who can't hit 90 on the radar gun, nor can he reach the fourth inning? And is it such a great thing to be forced to listen to a pathetic, sandbox-esque retort to Joe Torre's matter-of-fact explanation that his departure wasn't his own choosing?

The apple, indeed, does not fall far from the tree.

Or, as they say in Yankeeland, it's deja vu all over again.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Speed, Futility and Frustration

Despite my lack of upkeep around here these days, that's not to say I am completely disgusted over the seeming evaporation of the wallpaper, formatting and overall panache I've worked to maintain 'round these parts over the past several years. We're in the process of either sprucing it up or relocating -- or both -- and as soon as I know, so will you.

In the meantime, with respect to the title of this missive, the frustration isn't simply relegated to the HoB's disappearing template. Rather, it refers to a confluence of work-related aggravation, personal aggravation and overall displeasure. First, the overall displeasure part is the fact that the temps have been clocking in in the high 70's up to the mid 80's in NYC over the past few weeks, despite the fact that we've all been waiting -- with bated breath, natch -- for Fall's arrival. So we had a few chilly days -- welcome, Fall -- during the Rosh Hashanah holiday. And then right back to square one with humidity, high temps and the cacophony of smells associated with petrified horse-apples, garbage and sweaty homeless people all rolled up into a nice, breathable package.


Personally, despite the fact that Kaia's great and we're speeding towards our three-year anniversary, we're both inundated with work, which, as per usual, makes things difficult. However, since she got a bad cold a few weeks ago and has been doing a lot more sleeping, I've missed being able to get her on the phone -- and keep her there -- for long stretches. Between that and the incredibly unrelenting temps, my apartment is a less-than-wondrous place to be after dark. The a/c is functional but overworked and it's hard to get a lasting sleep when, circa 2ish AM, the fuse blows and the apartment turns into a 79 degree oven. Joy.

Workwise, as I mentioned, we're both going all out. For my special dog-and-pony show, I've been running around in circles trying to wrap something up that should have been resolved a few years ago, and since it involves the immediate loss of about a half-million dollars in tax credit (and, in the long run, a total of about ten million dollars in credits) it's got to be resolved ASAFP. Moreover, since the people with whom I'm working have other things on their plates, I'm handling these spikes at 7AM through 9PM, on weekends, and essentially the situation is like a hopped-up speed freak occupying the left frontal lobe of my brain. We're doing a great job in handling everything that's coming at us -- in both efficient and timely manner -- but it gets, exhausting...always being "on."

Of course the good news, above and beyond Kaia and I -- is that the holidays passed without excitement (unless by excitement you mean everyone had a pleasant, enjoyable time) and that the fast-approaching party we've arranged for 10/20 is picking up steam as well. Things are, overall, great, but when you have the kind of month I've had, it's hard to appreciate even when you are forced to acknowledge, via the written word, that your girlfriend is awesome, you've got great friends and your family, thankgawd, is all happy and healthy.

Despite all that, I still reserve the right to bitch -- especially about the weather ;-)

In either case, I intend to be back here with far more regularity with which I have been visiting, so check back if you'd like.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


The House of Boogie has been unoccupied for awhile, but that changes now.

It's unfortunate that it took marking a day like September 11th to remind me that this space is something I need to look after with regularity.

And I intend to continue doing so.



Friday, August 03, 2007

The Wee, Wee Hours

Despite the fact that there's been so much happening in and around my immediate and overall worlds, I haven't found the time to stop by -- yet again -- and the only reason I managed this missive is due to the fact that the intense NYC heat, coupled with allergies and a load of work, has rendered me unable, apparently, to get more than a few hours of sleep at any given time. And although I have lots of things to address in the dark, pre-dawn hours of the morning, dusting, laundry and cleaning in general don't sound nearly as appetizing as do me visiting here to give the place a little sprucing up.

I've been meaning to address the Michael Vick situation: Mr. Vick, as you most likely recall, was recently indicted for his role in a dogfighting enterprise which he bankrolled and, apparently, in which he was a major participant. For most of us, the notion of dogfights -- or even cockfights -- is sort of a non-issue. In this country, we tend to focus on things that seemingly are above ground, and for most people, the concept of dog-fighting isn't even on the radar. So it was so much more appalling that Mr. Vick, who up until the last several months was a relatively upstanding member of the society of pro athletes, was accused of not only bankrolling this operation, but being personally involved in the brutal disposal -- a polite euphemism for barbaric execution -- of dogs deemed not vicious enough for combat.

To expand on this for just a moment, this "disposal" involved electrocution, beating, drowning or -- worse -- repeated slamming of a dog's body onto the ground until it died. How can anyone who performed any of these acts -- specifically, the final item on that list -- consider him- or herself a human being? What kind of person could repeatedly slam another living creature into the ground until it ceased to be alive?

The other noxious tidbit associated with this "industry" is the fact that females and males are trained to compete in the ring, occasionally against one another. This particular fact makes breeding suitable combatants difficult; females are trained to inflict pain on their male counterparts, so finding suitable males to merely survive the mating process is difficult in and of itself. Apparently, to answer this dilemma, some industrious individual invented something called a "rape box" -- essentially, a barrel or some sort of surface to which a female dog is tied to, or onto which strapped into a harness, and the male is permitted to mate with her at his leisure and his safety. Despite the name, this secondary aspect of this "industry," while abhorrent, is not quite as repulsive as the matter-of-fact, brutal disposal of the participants.

Aside from the fact that several NFL players had originally supported Mr. Vick and suggested dogfighting wasn't even illegal (both points they later recanted), it is fairly clear that this issue reveals a disturbing and, frankly, disgusting dichotomy. This is not about financial class -- Mr. Vick has wealth beyond which most Americans cannot even fathom -- this is about character, or lack thereof. Moreover, it also reinforces the fact that no matter how much money one earns, class is something which is inherent in the individual, whether he has millions or nothing.

The other major news story of the day is the tragic collapse of a major commuter bridge in Minnesota yesterday. We've by now all seen the horrific destruction this incident has left behind, both in terms of the physical damage to the bridge and the loss of life it caused. What's worse, however, is the notion that this bridge, like many others around the country, had been listed as needing upgrades/repairs in order to make it safe for use. Those improvements, unfortunately, never came, and the four or more people whose lives were lost as a result are a sad, permanent testament to the pernicious result procrastination can have when combined with government inefficiency.

The main concern, of course, is that because this bridge, like many other American commuter bridges, was built nearly 75 years ago, the traffic patterns for which it was designed and the traffic which it withstood were, and remain, far different. Essentially, without suggesting this will happen again with worse consequences, it certainly does suggest that it's a possibility.

Finally, personally, nothing much of excitement has been happening. In tandem with the weather, the workload and the aforementioned lack of sleep, I've been doing as much as I can both in and outside the office to insure I'm ahead of the curve. Since a lot of my work requires me to be downtown and put in face-time at city agencies, I've borne the brunt of one of the most shitty weeks, weather-wise, that the New York summer dishes out. It's been between 85 and 95, from my understanding, this whole week, and leaving my air-conditioned, 70-degree apartment in the morning to hit the bus stop a block away is an exercise that makes me wonder why I even bother showering at all.

Last weekend a friend and I hit Costco for a variety of goodies, and I wound up getting everything I needed and then some. I mention this because I bought a case of Diet Coke in cans and a case of Poland Spring 24oz water in sports bottles. Normally this supply would last me months, but due to the extreme weather, I've sucked down way too much DC and the Poland Spring, thanks to regular work-outs, won't last another ten days. It could be worse, of course; we could be living in the age of tap water and fans without air conditioning.

Finally, Kaia and I have been addressing her impending month-long stay in NYC ahead of her eventual move here, but between her schedule and mine, we haven't been able to spend much time searching for sublets. We both know where we're headed but at the same time, it's frustrating when reality throws obstacles in our path, and 3,000 miles between us is only one thereof.

As a post-script, the movie 300 came out on DVD and since I never got around to seeing it in the theater (despite wanting desperately to see it), I opted to get it on DVD. Since I upgraded to a widescreen HDTV, I've been doing a lot of work and watching programs I've recorded on the HD-DVR (the hard-drive recorder). Essentially this means I have an infinite -- literally -- supply of stuff to watch. Between that and the fact this week is "Shark Week" -- Discovery Channel's week-long series of shark-related programming -- I haven't had the time to fire up 300 on my DVD player. Earlier in the week I planned on watching it this weekend, but since I've got plans for almost the entire weekend I honestly don't know how or when I'll find the time to watch this film, which is sort of aggravating. It's akin to being all dressed up with nowhere to go, except I've got shitloads of places to go and nothing to wear. Or something like that.

Nevermind. It's early, I'm overtired, and I'm done apologizing ;-) Until next time...


Thursday, July 26, 2007

Ghost In The Machine

Wellums, there's plenty of reason to be curious as to why this space has seemingly shit the bed over the past two or so weeks. Most of same stem from our intent to migrate to a new server, which is a) faster; b) more capable of distributing content, like pics, video and even a planned weekly Pod-cast; and c) more reliable in terms of content and template delivery.

However, the flip-side of that coin is that none of these plans have any relevance if the site doesn't fucking work. Said relevance has not been lost on me, so I apologize for any of you who have been needing a fix of the HoB.

Please note that the bulk of the improvements herein have been transparent -- or at least I had hoped they would be -- and once they have been completed same will insure a better Booginacious experience for us all, or at least I am hopeful of same.

Meanwhile...I'll be addressing Mike Nifong, Michael Vick, Scooter Libby's pardon, Iran, North Korea and the resurgence of the New York Yankees in soon-to-be posted rants.

Until then, please be patient while we improve from the inside out in lieu of the other way around.

Thank you...


Friday, July 13, 2007

It's Like A Heatwave (Only Hotter)

Okay, while I officially agree with the GOP that there is absolutely no such thing as global warming and that Al Gore is really an animatronic Communist, I can -- and will -- admit privately that if it was any hotter this week in NYC I would have been forced to spend my outside-the-office, work-related duties nearly 100% naked. And even saying that, much less contemplating it, is and should be an indicator that, yeah, it was incredibly hot and humid this past week in NYC.

Kaia managed to escape on Monday to San Fran, and she did so right before it went from "really hot" to "holy shit, if it gets any hotter I'm calling Kevorkian" hot. I think it reached somewhere between 90 and 95 earlier this week through Wednesday, and luckily -- mercifully -- Thursday was downright lovely at somewhere around the high 70's/low 80's.

Before the reader opines that my life is so devoid of anything of interest beyond my innate, irascible fascination with the weather, please note that when it's this hot, a) people in New York really can't and don't focus on much of anything else; b) I spend about 40-50% of the workday downtown dealing with city agencies, city employees and people on the street; c) even if I wanted to spend the aforementioned hours downtown in reasonably comfortable clothing, the only way it would be comfortable dealing with 95 degrees and humidity would be poolside, cooling off or preparing for another dip in the pool. Oh, and d) the heat is so inescapable (at times) that I find myself crossing from one side of the street to the other to avoid the direct, painful glare of the sun (awnings and tall buildings help). This last point should not be relegated to insignificance; I wouldn't cross the street if I saw a maniacal killer sporting a machete and a chainsaw and a bodyless head dripping blood unless it was going to help me reach my destination, but thanks to that big yellow ball in the sky, I'm now dodging cars, bicyclists and the odd scooter in the street to stay out of the sun.

Go figure.

Okay, now that I've -- hopefully -- managed to convince you, the reader, exactly how awful it really was this past week in NYC, I will say that there is no question that on some level the summer in NYC always features a week or two that evokes prior summers and a week or two in which it was painful to do anything outdoors in the City other than jump into a pool of unevaporated water, and unless we're in for a nasty summer, this past weekend was definitely one for the books. Now that we're in the technology age and air conditioners can be had for a mere $100 and up, it makes me wonder how anyone could survive these types of summers -- in the 40's and 50's, etc. -- without adequate A/C. If I was a kid flitting about an apartment in this type of summer 50 years ago and had no A/C, I'd get a shitty, no-paying gig at a movie theater or take classes just to insure I was in A/C.

Of course, the "green" response to the above-offered observation would be that these types of intense summers didn't occur 50 or so years ago. The response would continue, in essence, by saying that thanks to global warming, our winters are reduced in their intensity and our summers are 50% worse.

Maybe so...but while we can and should change our habits now -- recycling plastic and paper, using less electricity when/if possible, etc. -- we didn't have a lot of things 50 years ago, including styrofoam, packing peanuts, cell-phones, high-performance/high-output V-12 engines, readily-available, consumer-friendly four-wheel drive vehicles, or for that matter, easily-workable automobile leases. In fact, we didn't have a lot of stuff. So while we can reverse-reminisce about the not-so-good-old days, we should keep in mind that the planet -- despite what Live Earth and its organizers might suggest -- is a lot better off these days. True, there's fighting and war over more than 60% of the face of the planet -- but I can go get a cheap-ass cell-phone and call more than 60% of the planet for 3,000 or more minutes a month and it won't cost me shit. So I not only have the option, as an American, to go shoot 60% of the world's inhabitants, I can also posture about making the planet safer for them or call them and discuss it one-on-one, that is assuming we spoke the same language ;-)

My point is that this planet-wide warming issue is not simply a New York City one, nor is it confined to hot downtown streets in Jerusalem, Baghdad, Moscow, London or Sydney. But as much as the heat from the sun affects us all universally, so does the heat from fighting, war and the breakdown of diplomacy. So inasmuch as I face this interminable heat with regularity, I'm just going to continue to do everything I can to handle it on my own, keep my A/C cranked to 60% (and my apartment at a cool 70) and call it a day.

So the next time someone comes up to me and warns me this is a sign from The Almighty that a biblical plague has befallen us and I must repent in order to save the world from becoming one giant ball of heat and fire, I'm going to take that free handout Jehovah's Witness Bible and see how far up that volunteer's ass it will go -- and then shove it a little further.

As we recall hearing from Bartles and James, thank you for your support.

Stay wet, happy and cool.

Monday, July 09, 2007

All I Need is...

So, between Live Earth this past weekend and a jaunt Kaia and I took to Mohegan Sun in Connecticut, I suppose heading out in a few to the office isn't exactly awful.

Actually, it is on some level, if only because I had off from Wednesday to today, first, second, we had a blast over the weekend, and third she's now jetting off to San Francisco, all I need is a time machine to return me to the evening of June 21st.

It all started as we planned, with friends in Connecticut, to hit the casino. The choice between Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun is, apparently, an easy one. I'd visited Mohegan Sun awhile back, but this time we -- rather, Kaia -- was going with an agenda: Win a shitload of money...

Well, we ended up doing fine, so no worries there; however, the real agenda was for/with our friend Heidi, who heard that Jack Wagner (former soap/pop star, current beau of Heather Locklear) was going to be performing at Mohegan Sun. Heidi brought a few Jack Wagner 45's and a picture circa 1982 of Jack and his mullet, and when we arrived in the actual casino -- a tad late after enjoying a delicious dinner care of our friend H2T and Heidi, natch -- we could smell the excitement in the air -- either that, or a combination of cigarette and cigar smoke, cheap perfume and desperation.

All in all, we had a great time. We all did well at Mohegan, we all had a blast, and we got to spend the entire day with H2T and Heidi. Earlier that day, we picked up a blue Nissan Altima rental, headed out to CT, arrived in good spirits (thankfully the car's A/C was strong and fully-functional) and we chilled out and enjoyed some relaxation at H2T's.

The Live Earth shows -- the concerts held this past weekend to raise awareness for global warming and the environment -- were, for the most part, incredible. Some of the bands playing around the sites aren't bands in which I'm interested, but I was more than satisfied seeing Dave Matthews, the Foo Fighters, The Police, and, yes, even Madonna. Last night we watched some of the concerts I recorded in High Definition and were absolutely blown away by the entire audio/visual experience.

All in all, it was an incredible weekend that ended far too quickly.

In retrospect, vis-a-vis the weekend, I can only appreciate the fact that we have great friends, I have cash to deposit in the bank this afternoon, and the weather -- which was relatively obnoxious, if not merely abhorrent -- cooperated and didn't rain very much, if at overall we had a great time gambling with friends, poking around the casino, and, all in all, Kaia and I attempted yet another challenge -- the multi-hour car trip (with me driving, of course) without issues of any kind, even with her PMS on the near horizon.

And this morning she went (back) to SFO. We're still figuring out all the logistics of her moving here so, perhaps, the next time I reveal she has gone to San Fran, it can be for a visit rather than her returning home.

More on that and other fronts later.

On to work...


Wednesday, July 04, 2007


Every time I find myself wandering farther and farther from these pages, I always have a good reason, and yet I still -- inevitably -- feel guilty and incomplete. It's not quite a month since I've graced -- or soiled -- these pages, and yet it feels like ages.

My bad.

First and foremost, happy belated-ish 4th of July. Kaia and I chilled out at home rather than go to a friend's. She wasn't feeling well and I was shot, so we chilled out and watched "An American Haunting" on Showtime -- how patriotic of us, natch -- before we caught the tail end of the bitchin' fireworks display over the East River. For those of you missed it, here's a net-based sample.

For those of you who did see the fireworks, I'm very happy for you and your family and your friends and all the people you'll yap about the fireworks about over the next 36 hours, which is approximately 15% longer than any human on this planet who cares about the 4th of July will care to hear about the fireworks.

To add to the excitement, on tonight's newscasts, they actually -- I shit you not -- had reporters live at the scene (by The Water Club) describe the fireworks. "It was magical," "it was exciting," "a lot of oohs and aahs from the assembled crowd..." Sorry, but I don't care too much about the ooh's and aah's and I even less care about what some bobble-head cares to say about said ooh's and aah's. I know it's about patriotism and excitement and being in America, but the truth is if you're spending the day/night with the one you love, the fireworks aren't nearly as meaningful as the ones between you and your other half. So pfffffffffffft :-D

In other news...aside from my writing project, which has continued to cook along at a steady pace, part of the reason for my absence herein had been a party I co-hosted with a friend on June 23rd here in NYC. We ended up getting everything just about perfect, aside from a little "what the hell is she doing here"-esque drama, and approximately 166 people, plus my co-host and I, had a bitchin' time. Until our next party, which we estimate to be called for October 20th, this was the topper. Then again, we've been saying that over the last three parties, so I'm hopeful this upcoming one continues the trend of steady improvement and -- to borrow from Lexus -- our relentless pursuit of perfection (and cleavage). We're getting there ;-)

Beyond that, Kaia's been in town since the 21st and all, as per usual, is well. We've been stuck in, stuck out, running around and hanging out, and in almost every situation our puzzle pieces match perfectly. Between spending time watching movies and the variety of items on my DVR, heading downtown to restaurants for drinks and eats, and just bouncing around the City, it's all good. The only caveat is that her family still resides in the Bay Area (ie San Fran) and she misses them while she's here, but again, like my co-host's and my party planning, every day gets better and it's just a matter of time before (unlike our party planning) we go pro.

Speaking of TV et al, since I last visited these parts my old venerable, 150-pound 27" Mitsubishi shit the bed, so I finagled me one o' them-thar new HD TV's, this one of the 32" Sharp Aquos widescreen variety. I'm not a big TV person -- or at least I wasn't prior to this bad boy's arrival -- but I'm seeing things on the screen I never did before. I think the most significant improvement in terms of quality can be seen when watching sports. Part of the reason I love visiting Yankee Stadium (besides the Yankees consistently winning, o' course) is stepping out from the tunnel to see the grass -- verdent, lush and the truest green I've ever seen -- and now, all I need to see that is to fire up the TV. Obviously going to the game will never quite be replaced, but the truth is that the HD reproduction of Yankee games is so superb that it's hard to justify spending $200 to go to the game when the broadcasts are so incredibly immaculate.

Of course, watching movies in 1080i through this doesn't hurt; but until the high definition format war (between Blu-Ray and HDDVD) is over, I don't need to see the pores in Denzel Washington's face whilst watching Crimson Tide. The quality is more than sufficient, and since I've been watching these things via a small, analog TV for so long, I will appreciate the next jump (ie to the winner of the format war) when/if I make it. Meanwhile, I'm watching DVD's I've owned for years and seeing more detail and jump than I ever did, so I'm still jazzed despite the fact it's been here about as long as has Kaia. Go figger.

Anyhoo...there's much more about which I could expound, but it's late, my lady's already sleeping and I'm ready for a few nice days without work.

I'll be back much sooner next time -- and despite saying that, this time I do indeed mean it -- so in the interim, happy post 4th of July. Hope you all enjoy(ed) the off day(s) and make good use of good summer weather and keep yourselves smiling for as long as possible :-D

Ciao fer now...

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Into the Sunset

Now that all the hype surrounding the Sopranos finale is in the past tense, as is the final episode itself, I have a few reactions. First, however, if you need a warning that this piece contains spoilers, what you really need is some self-examination for not watching it live like the rest of the country.

I went out with a few friends about three weeks ago, on a cold Friday night, and we were all surmising what might comprise the final few episodes. My friend Dave opined that the series would end with a flash-bang and fireworks that would leave us all with muted, stifled "wows." The penultimate episode, in which Bobby and Silvio are shot, the former being killed and the latter surviving -- barely -- it occurred to me that this series would not necessarily end with fireworks, but it wouldn't end with a whimper, either. I advised my friend Dave that if I was doing the writing, the final scene would, ostensibly, wrap up with the four -- Tony Sr., Carmela, Meadow and AJ -- sitting and talking (not arguing, bitching or insulting one another) and the camera would pan out, through a window, and fade to black. Granted, the finale was a bit different -- Meadow was making her way through the door when the blackout occurred -- but overall it wasn't far from what I envisioned as the end to a great story.

There were and remain a lot of loose ends -- from the Russian who gets loose in the woods with Chris and Paulie chasing him (from a few seasons ago) to what happens with Silvio; from what about Junior's money to who, if not Carlo, is informing on the family; will Tony be indicted, and if so, will he eventually go to prison?

The point of the story is that none of these questions really matter, nor do their answers. The whole point of the story was about a guy -- Tony Soprano -- who is the head of a family of four, and who happens to also be the mob boss of New Jersey. So the actual ending -- the four of them sitting, together, as a family, at a table eating dinner is far from a shock to me. The quick, almost abrupt ending was weird -- and I think it was meant to be jarring and obvious in its zeal to wind up or down, depending on your perspective. David Chase obviously wanted to shake our tree, and when he zooms in on the key turning in the ignition after all the hits happen in the penultimate episode, it's clear that everyone watching firmly believed that car was blowing up.

So all the back and forth, the ramping up of tension with Meadow parking her car and running to get into the restaurant, led one to believe that she was in grave danger. And I applaud David Chase for playing with our emotions as he had for the past seven seasons (and the past ten years). Let's be clear -- the ending came too soon, and of course, the series could easily continue on into another year or more (or, more likely, a movie). But the whole point of what he was trying to say with this series, and, especially, the finale, was that the family -- both the Soprano family of four and the Sopranos of the mob, will continue. If Tony is indicted, someone will take his place until -- if -- he leaves prison. If he is killed/assassinated, the Family will continue, whether it's Paulie -- unlikely -- or someone younger and less jaded and thwarted by life. Phil's right-hand man will step up with Little Carmine, who has always worked well with and loved Tony, and they'll do great things. AJ's movie producing days will start -- and don't ignore the connection between Christopher's waffling, flaccid, dual personality and AJ's similarity in both his inability to cope with life and his eventual career being what Christopher was doing prior to his untimely death. Everything will wind up, and continue, even if we -- and David Chase's cameras -- are not there to witness it.

The whole point is that the mob is, has been and always will be run by men who want, simply, to make money. Some of them get angry -- like Phil, or even Tony -- but for the most part, they use their heads to guide their hearts. Sure, Phil was pissed that Tony beat the crap (and the teeth -- literally) out of one of his guys, but logically speaking, he had the right to do that. And it was the wrong move to go after Tony and his guys (Bobby & Silvio). So when the war got out of hand -- when people started losing money -- Phil's guy suggested (not in so many words) that they should back off and go back. Tony, after avenging the insult to his daughter two weeks ago, immediately agreed to go with Little Carmine to Phil's house to make peace. It was the right move, and people in this business -- this dirty, secret business -- either think and act properly and logically or they wind up dead, either by gunshot or getting their heads flattened with the front tire of a Ford Explorer, or, in Phil's case, both.

Was the ending abrupt, too short and unsatisfying? Absolutely. Was it brilliant? Absolutely.

I think part of his point was that life in the mob will always continue, and that people -- like Tony and his wife and his children -- all bear the burden of surviving and living in that life. Sure, they have lots of money and do basically whatever they want -- but at what price? To go to funerals, mourn people that were killed by their former friends, and to wonder whether Tony, or others like him, will go to a meeting one night and never come home? The whole point is this life will continue, and even though there is no beginning, no middle and no end, one has to wonder whether this type of life is one in which you'd like to participate, be a spectator or eradicate completely.

I'm simultaneously irritated that this show has run its course -- even though I acknowledge that it has. The thing is, when applying a finite thing like a television show to something like the Mafia, the key difference is that one, eventually, must reach its conclusion. That, above all else, is what Chase was saying in this somewhat anti-climactic ending. I do think it was wonderful direction, editing and puppet-mastering, ie the ramping up of the tension ie with Meadow, etc. You expected something, and what you got -- for better or worse -- was an ending that acknowledged and reminded us that it, first and foremost, was, is and always will be about the family, before The Family.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Someone Stuff a Ham Sandwich in Rosie O'Donnell's Yapper

My visits here seem to be few and far between these days; the good news is I'm spending about an hour a day running my ass ragged on a treadmill whilst watching OnDemand showings of the macabre Showtime series "Dexter" to which my friend Dave got me addicted. On top of that, Kaia and I are spending a load of time on the phone, as per usual, and since I've been going at top speed workwise now for the better part of the last couple weeks, there's been barely enough time for eating, sleeping and breathing beyond all that.

When I do manage to spend time in front of a non-work PC, it's more often than not me checking work e-mail or actually filling up pages for one of my current writing projects. Thus far, on my main project, I've got about 200 or so pages finished, yet every so often I need to step back and take a break. Invariably, I wind up buying some sort of ultra-violent game for the PC to bring me back to enjoying mindless, pointless, unrewarding and anti-social entertainment on the PC. It's basically my strategy on how to be "friends" with your PC, as it is with introducing kids to computers. If you start -- or, in my case, re-start -- with entertainment and don't look at a computer as some sort of work-related appliance, you're bound to be much more productive in your work-related endeavors thereon simply because you don't feel like you have to be chained to the PC.

As for the project, it's called "Identity Theft." It's not, however, relating directly to anything financial per se; it's a combination of political thriller, moral commentary and psychological exposition/self-examination. Essentially, it's going to feature lots of firepower and some flowers as well. For the most part, I generally don't divulge any real details of what I'm working on, not even with Kaia; however, in this case the impetus to get my ideas down on paper -- with respect to the project, I mean -- have bubbled to the surface much faster and in much clearer focus than most of the stuff I usually commit to e-paper while writing fiction.

Needless to say, now that I've gotten all that bullshit front and center and out of the way, I came across this nugget and could not resist addressing it on some level.

Would someone please tell Rosie O'Donnell to shut the hell up? Between her pathetic last stand -- Rosie's stint on The View skids to a halt next month -- and the recent sandbox-showdown (aka whose dick is bigger) conflagration with Donald Trump, I've heard far too much from Rosie D. More often than not, when I watch these types of public feuds, it's usually involving two quasi-intelligent combatants who are mostly ego. To wit, neither Alec Baldwin nor George Clooney are particularly irritating; on the contrary, I actually have regard for each of them as actors and, frankly, as people. But if I need to hear about the former's political aspirations or the latter's tsk-tsking on Darfur I'm gonna hurl.

I've addressed this in these pages before: when did actors and actresses become so important to our culture that we actually cared what they had to say where no script was involved? As an actor or actress, one's job is to gracefully and/or methodically speak other peoples' writings and thoughts. So what in that particular job description would fool one into believing his/her opinion is as valid as his/her ability to provoke and/or perform others' opinions?

Put another way, it sure didn't work out as planned for Tom Cruise or Mel Gibson.

But I digress.

Tomorrow morning, the sun will rise, I will (likely) go to work, there will be a massive exodus for Memorial Day from this great city, and Rosie O'Donnell will still be shooting off her mouth.

Nothing much has, or will, change.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Fool Yourself

Look out child you're bound to change,
You can't ever stay the same
Cause if you keep on singin' the same old lines
You're going to look around babe and find your friends out of town

Watch out girl the words you're sayin' don't really fit the play
Somebody else you might talk to now
Knows what you sayin' what you mean
They don't help your style...

You might say you ain't got a hold on yourself
You might say you always try your best
You might say you only need a rest
You might say you can only fool yourself
I said fool yourself
I said fool yourself

Don't believe the words you read
They're written on the street
And every time you know you play their game
They'll knock you down and take your pride away

See how bad you need to cry
But no matter how you try
It's the same old story once again
You always had number one who called you friend
I called you friend

You might say you ain't got a hold on yourself
You might say you always try your best
You might say you only need a rest
You might say you can only fool yourself
I said fool yourself
I said fool yourself
I said fool yourself

- Little Feat, 1973

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Skating By

So a friend of mine who's in from out of town called me earlier this week to get together. Under normal circumstances, we try to hang out when possible, and since he vacated NYC awhile back it's been more difficult to go to some neighborhood bar for a game and a drink, but we try to make the time when/if possible.

So when he called me and mentioned he wanted me to hang with him and a couple other friends, I hesitantly agreed. Some of the people I've met through him are a tad irritating -- at his own admission -- so every time he brings a mini-entourage it's definitely a stop-and-thinker. It turned out he brought a couple guys I know from high school, so we spent time catching up here and there and planning today's hockey excursion. And even if I didn't want to see my friend and my former classmates, there was still external considerations. I've been incredibly busy so a few hours in front of a big-screen TV at a sports bar sipping a tasty beverage wasn't a problem for me, although I had shitloads of stuff to address this weekend, and having to get all of it done around Mother's Day aren't ideal circumstances. Either way, Kaia wasn't in town so I opted to head out for a little. The Yankees lost 3-0 to Seattle but the Grey Goose was really, really cold.

So this morning I headed downtown and got on ice skates for the first time in way too long. I remembered the feeling of tightening the laces so intensely that my feet felt like they were about to lose circulation; the feeling of being on a bench in a locker room and doing my own personal version of a "Please Don't Let Me Die On The Ice" prayer; and finally, the exhileration of feeling the air rushing at me while racing up the off-wing on an odd-man rush. Even with a couple of vodka-tonics still lingering in my system (where I don't know), it was nice getting out there, even if it was at an ungodly hour and we wrapped up about the time I was normally due to get out of bed on a sunny Saturday morning.

So all in all it was nice to get back to hockey, even if for only a semi-intense scrimmage. It was also nice potting a few pucks, even if one -- by accident -- glanced off the goaltender's helmet (been there, done that -- and I didn't hit him with a slapshot). The bottom line is I really love playing the game, and I know that if I re-committed to it I could play weekly without question. But it's one thing to climb onto the treadmill for 45 minutes or an hour every day; it's another to wake up at 5AM, even on the weekends, to play a game that could land me on a trainer's table or a hospital bed.

And as I headed back uptown, pondering the trainer's table/hospital bed option, it occurred to me that I'm not expecting or anticipating either of those results. I've played about 300 or so games over the years and not had any serious injuries beyond one major incident. But on the other side of that coin, I remember reading a comment from Wayne Gretzky upon his impending retirement from hockey. "When you're thinking about the possibility of injury while you're out on the ice, that's usually the time when you get injured. That's when I knew it was time to stop playing."

I may only wear one '9' on my sweater, but it's hard to argue with that logic. That is, even if I had it in me to argue.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Deafening Silence

Long ago someone told me that in order to be heard above a noisy room full of people was to address them as a group in a quiet voice. Rather than slamming a gavel, blowing a whistle or shouting above the din, using a quiet voice would instill quiet among the noisy people, and those making the most noise would soon follow.

Now that almost two weeks has gone by without any noise herein, I'm fresh out of apologies. It's not that I meant to be an absentee owner, nor was it my intention to stop contributing here. Rather, I've had so much on my plate that by the time I realized I needed -- wanted -- to stop by, I never made it in. Until now.

As for what occupied my time thus far, there's no one thing to which I can point as the culprit with an Agatha Christie-esque "a-HA!" However, it's more five distinct things which have kept me from fulfilling my end of this writer/reader dichotomy.

First, for the past month or so, I've been toiling for 45 to 60 minutes on the treadmill. That in and of itself isn't an excuse, nor is it meant to be, but I've increasingly made a concerted effort to get that thing unfolded, powered up, climb aboard and then do my thing for 45 or so minutes. Initially I wanted to work out in the morning, say, around 6:15, and then hit the shower before work. But I decided I'd rather get to work earlier, get home and then work out sometime in the middle of the evening, after dinner, and then wrap up.

Why is this significant? The main reason is that I usually get home between 6:30 and 7, and intellectually I'm spent until I recharge, say, around 8 or 8:30. By the time I endeavor to swing by here, it's workout time, and as much as I'd like to commit my ruminations on life to electronic print while I'm working out, it's not nearly feasible. I am proud of the fact that I've only missed one day working out since I got the thing here, but if the upside is a major increase in fitness and weight loss, the downside is that it really screws up my nights.

The second thing that has played havoc with my HoB visitation is the immense load of work I've been handling. I'm trying to bring stuff home from the office, either physically or electronically, and while some people have deadlines and the requisite quiet periods, it's increasingly clear I have and will never have any such deadline/downtime. Pretty much every week introduces new things that need to be addressed immediately, and even when things are quiet there's always a cauldron bubbling quietly but menacingly right below a placid, calm surface. In essence, it's controlled chaos. We're doing well, we're always busy and we're relatively efficient, but being a lean, taut machine has its drawbacks -- like no vacation, no "mental health" days and, for sure, no days where there aren't a half-dozen things needing significant attention in and outside the office.

Third, I've been -- I'll admit sheepishly -- addicted to a game for the PC called Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter (GRAW). It's quite a mouthful whether referring to it properly or by its acronym, and what it is, essentially, is an intensely accurate simulation of modern urban anti-terror combat. Granted, I wouldn't know to what degree or how accurate it is, but I will say this: the game features you as a captain leading a team of soldiers into hot zones, and it's so realistic that the sound of incoming sniper fire -- with direction and volume thereof playing significant roles -- can mean life or death. For the most part, the opponents are incredibly sneaky, and each of the game's missions -- broken down into four or five mini-objectives -- require hours of intense, careful attention to detail. It's not just about clicking a mouse to kill a bad guy; it's so intense that you find yourself on the edge of your seat and recoiling when a bullet slams into your character and leaves you with a view of the world that no longer includes you. It's almost surreal in its breadth and its intensity, so much so that I limit myself to less than an hour at a time simply because my character dies so frequently that it's actually exhilerating when a mission is completed but frustrating and unnerving when your character dies and you're left with a view of your killer running over your virtually lifeless form.

Sound uber-geek? I'll confess, I felt a bit like Vince Vaughn's character in "The Break-Up" as I knocked out hours trying to solve the missions. However, in my own defense, had Kaia been floating around nearby, I know -- hope -- that I would have the good sense to turn off the game and spend my nights with her.

Next up on the agenda, of course, is Kaia -- she's been planning for an election for chairperson for the board on which she sits, and things have been heating up. Tonight is the unofficial wrap-up, and it's an important culmination of all her efforts. Most of the people on the board are aware she's going to be moving to NYC soon, and I hope that she gets elected despite their knowing she'll be vacating the position sometime in the next four or so months. Based on tonight's activity at the meeting, where she and her opponent squared off -- sort of -- she's likely to be the organization's next chairperson. But all of the energy and focus that she's expended has obviously had me on this ride along with her; luckily, the ride is nearly finished, and, as they say in the massage business, it will likely feature a happy ending.

Finally, I finally recommitted myself to writing fiction. Several years prior to 9/11, I'd been fomenting the pillars of a story surrounding a major terrorist attack on US soil, although my story didn't merely include Jihadi elements but also some mercenary aspects as well. The notion of nuclear proliferation has been and will continue to be a reality in the modern world, especially the (blech) post-9/11 world, and that, I believe, will be a copilot (the other being al-Qaeda and groups with similar goals) towards where we -- as a planet -- move in our quest for survival and self-destruction.

It's not a pretty contemplation, but if it worked for Tom Clancy, it can work for me. Besides, he's just an over-rated former insurance salesman; I've killed over 1,400 bad guys, overthrown a general staging a coup in Mexico with the aid of a former US General, and I've nailed snipers in the dark from 500 yards out. So I have a lot of first-hand experience at what passes for combat these days. Let's see Tom Clancy counter that.

Oh, um, did I mention that the full title of "GRAW" is "Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter?"

"Heading to position, captain. Over."

In all seriousness, I pondered whether to leave the HoB on semi-permanent hiatus, shift gears or fully concentrate on fiction. But inasmuch as I know that what I include here might find its way into the pages of my work, I also know that whenever I encounter something in a work of fiction that smells preachy, I'm put off in a major way. Whether it's on film or on paper, unless it's one giant statement -- a la Syriana -- I catch little snippets of personal politics seeping into everything from Clancy to Grisham to Baldacci to Silva, and while it's difficult to keep these stories rolling without some sort of personal statement, it's more often noticeable and undesirable. More importantly, how I write -- for better or worse -- is to start with a premise, toss in some key elements and incidents surrounding the action -- and then sort of wing it.

That might sound unprepared, but I never delved into writing workshops beyond the communal work I did in high school and college that fostered creative writing, so I don't know if Stephen King sits down at a PC with an entire story in his head and just pours it out, or whether he basically has no idea where his story or his characters are going. I know that David Chase, the writer of The Sopranos, indicated that when he writes he has absolutely no idea what's going to happen within the scope of the story, so as I put together scenes, ideas, concepts and bits of flash and scenic significance, I'm somewhat reassured that I'm doing it right. Which makes it all the better when I reach milestones, which I do here and there.

The problem, of course, is that you can't create -- not in any meaningful, legitimate way -- if you're focused on your girlfriend, killing bad guys from 350 yards from behind a masonry wall across a corpse-riddled town square, or pumping along at 4.2 miles an hour. But as long as my mind is functioning -- granted, it's a relative term -- I am regularly plotting, tossing around ideas and wondering how best to build the layers of my story until I'm ready to finish the icing and slice into the thing.

So while this should not serve as an apology, I hope it at least suffices to explain where I've been and what I'm doing these days. I'm sure I'll be a more regular visitor here, if for no other reason than the Rangers are out of the hockey playoffs -- not unexpectedly -- and the Yankees are still a long way away from October baseball.


Friday, April 27, 2007

Thursday, April 19, 2007


Every time for the past few days, I've visited a news site and been hit by the images and the sheer number of stories about the tragic, disgusting, disheartening events that happened on the Virginia Tech campus less than a week ago. As with most stories that seem to embroil the entire nation, whether it's Don Imus's nappy-headed commentary or Terri Schiavo's right to die, these stories -- whether as dictated by the people or the media, or some sort of combination thereof -- refuse to go away...on many occasions, with good reason. Yet I do often finding myself in the position of avoiding news sites once it's clear the site in question, whether CNN or The New York Times or what have you, has saturated and exceeded the point of the return.

The formula, in essence, is "Does my need/desire for information about this particular topic outweigh the sad, unfortunate, tragic images and information I will undoubtedly confront upon visiting said site?" Soon after the event(s) are first reported, I've had my fill.

So when it came time to read about Cho Seung-Hui's actions -- both the shootings on the campus at Virginia Tech and the contents of the package he mailed -- between the shootings -- to NBC, I had, for the most part, reached that point where enough was enough.

And then I saw the photos of him posing with handguns, some of which depict him pointing said guns at the camera and some of which depict him pointing a gun at his own head. What strikes me as most noticeable about these photographs, and the embedded photo (courtesy of NBC and CNN) is how angry this guy looked. These photos were not taken between the shootings; the package thereof was mailed between them. These were taken at some point while Seung-Hui was preparing this attack. So this series wasn't his way of making an "in-the-moment" documentary of his actions.

Still, aside from the sheer number of fatalities, not to mention injuries, it amazes me that he was perceived by his classmates as well as faculty and staff at the University as having some sort of behavioral and/or mental deficiency. He was clearly angry, anti-social and all of his interaction with the other people on campus, before Monday, hinted -- strongly -- that his thoughts and his outward emotions were tinged with anger and violence.

So why was this guy not anyone's priority?

Let us, for the time being, forget the notion that it seems more people in modern society are "snapping." Even if that weren't true, let's simply assume that this individual was referred for mental health treatment and underwent some sort of exam over the past 18 months. Let's also, for the time being, forget the notion that pressure, drugs (anti-depressants and the sudden lack thereof), even food additives, chemicals, etc., play a part in modern society's seeming increase of these types of anti-social explosions by lone, paranoid, depressed or disgruntled individuals. Can't we simply accept that these types of incidents are happening on a frequent enough basis that people need to be vigilant about those people they suspect may have mental or societal difficulties?

We've all, at one time or another, encountered someone we clearly believe is "not all there." Whether that means the guy whose OCD precludes him from shaking peoples' hands, to another guy who mutters loudly to himself on the subway whilst wearing a scarf and a winter hat in the middle of July, to someone who always seems outwardly angry, to the quiet, withdrawn members of an office staff or a school class whose only outward expression is anger, violence and something that doesn't quite seem normal.

Who are we to judge others? That argument is legitimate, of course, in that no one is truly "normal." What you or I might suspect is strange, odd behavior might be perfectly reasonable to another. Moreover, whether it's my neighbor who waters her lawn at 3AM wearing a fright wig and a pink tutu, or the guy who goes jogging at midnight wearing ladies clothing, clearly each and every one of us has our own way of living daily life.

However, Cho Seung-Hui clearly had mental problems. His on-campus behavior, outside of class, was marked with discord and with females reporting his behavior as stalkerish. In class, his work -- particular, two plays he presented to an entire drama class -- was marked with anger, profanity, a non-sensical hostility and a clear penchant for retribution and vitriol. His professor had him removed from her class for these reasons and reported his behavior to the administration. Subsequently, the police department was alerted to his behavior. So why did Monday happen?

As we attempt to move past this tragedy, and those who lost friends and loved ones in this episode somehow try to come to grips with what happened, I'm not advocating a litigious revenge on the school administration, the police, or anyone in particular. I am, in its stead, advocating some sort of progress as to how we should address these situations, not only by questioning how one can buy a handgun with this sort of mental history, but how to prevent these things from happening as well as training security to handle these situations should -- if not when -- they happen.

There's far too much minutae embedded in the life of Cho Seung-Hui and his behavior to be addressed here. Further, his actions don't merit any attention. What merits attention is the lives he took or impacted with his actions. But most importantly, this incident -- and similar incidents that will undoubtedly happen in the future -- should and must be examined so we can, perhaps, find a way to prevent these things from happening again.

If nothing else, that would be a tribute to the people who lost their lives in this senseless, awful episode in America's modern, and violent, history.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Defending The Indefensible

Since my last visit to these pages, during which I addressed the controversy surrounding Don Imus and his characterization of the Rutgers Womens Basketball team as "nappy-headed ho's," MSNBC opted to alter their suspension of their weekday simulcast of Mr. Imus's show to permanent status. It's possible they will reinstate the simulcast but, at this point, it's doubtful.

This morning I had occasion to listen to Imus's show, which was the start of the annual two-day Radiothon dedicated to research fighting Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and Tomorrow's Children. During the first five hours the Radiothon -- which runs 'round the clock even when Mr. Imus signed off this morning and tomorrow as well -- raised $1 million.

At some point this morning, when not directly calling attention to the goal of the Radiothon, ie to raise monies for charity, Mr. Imus did address the situation and last night's announced cancellation of the simulcast by MSNBC. Basically, he said he'd spoken to several of his friends -- many of whom happen to be regular guests on his program -- and they all suggested he'd apologized enough and that he should move on and move forward, which is what he did. Although he hopes, I would imagine, this situation will calm down somewhat, perhaps once he has met in person with the Rutgers Womens Basketball team, he also acknowledged that this Radiothon could be his last.

I think why this situation, which has clearly snowballed, is so troubling depends on one's perspective thereon. On the surface, I would think that most black people reacting to this story would concur that his comments were repulsive, deplorable and demand his dismissal. The sole exception, I would think, would be those black people who know him personally (ie colleagues of his at WFAN) and those who listen to his show somewhat regularly. Even among those people, I'm sure none of them are supportive or enthused by the comments that fomented this trouble in the first place; however, knowing the context and the style in which Mr. Imus operates makes these comments less a matter of racism and more simple bad judgment.

With respect to White America, the only people who have no issue whatsoever with his comments are people who indeed are racist, bigoted, misogynistic imbeciles. Every person with whom I've spoken or heard from think he said something terrible, stupid and repulsive -- and as he has admitted himself, they are correct.

However, I'm -- fortunately or otherwise -- in a somewhat interesting place vis-a-vis this whole situation. Despite not having been a regular Imus listener for at least a year or two, when I heard these comments and the context in which they were spoken, my first thought wasn't "How could he have said something so disgusting about black women?" Instead, it was "How could he have said something so stupid?"

Obviously his comments denigrated these women on the basis of their ethnicity. Obviously his comments denigrated them as women. And obviously, his comments -- as a result of these facts -- have no place in public speech.

Without invoking the Bill of Rights, our Freedom of Speech and Expression and lamenting -- over a violin creaking out a sad tune -- the death of life as we know it in the face of political correctness, it's clear that he said something really, really stupid. We could also discuss the fact that he didn't refer to these women by using the "n-word" -- a word so horrible, so awful, so terrible, that we can't even fucking include it -- even to exemplify how horrible, how awful, how terrible a word it is in some shitty blog, let alone on the public fucking airwaves -- but the fact is his intent was not to denigrate these women or black people in general. Taken in or out of context, however, it sure sounds like it -- which is why said comments are so stupid.

However, to anyone who has any experience listening to Mr. Imus's show, he/she knows that Mr. Imus -- like other participants on his show -- do impersonations of people. Many of these impersonations -- of a sarcastic Irish cardinal, Rush Limbaugh, Janet Reno, Bill Clinton, Al Sharpton, et al -- are meant to be humorous in their ridiculous extremism. Rush Limbaugh, via the Imus show, has -- in the past -- sung "The Lady Is A Tramp" (dedicated to Hilary Clinton); the aforementioned Irish cardinal talks about drinking and pedophilia; Janet Reno is portrayed with a gruff-voiced man who talks as if he's the sheriff of a Wyatt Earp-era frontier town; and Al Sharpton is portrayed as a caricature that makes Jerry Springer and his show seem sophisticated.

Of these people he has lambasted with regularity, all but one are white.

Further, in his show's impersonation of Al Sharpton, he tries to emphasize that Mr. Sharpton spends more time yelling and screaming and pointing a finger than at making any valid or worthwhile points. Moreover, he does so by portraying him to be a joke -- at least, in my estimation, he's done so since Mr. Sharpton accused white policemen in the Tawana Brawley incident of being racist, even though his claims were proven summarily false (and he was forced to pay damages and restitution to the officers thereafter).

It's also interesting to note that Mr. Sharpton's reaction to Mr. Imus's comments caome well after Mr. Imus's show had been poking fun at Mr. Sharpton for years.

The point being, Imus -- in the course of saying something stupid -- was not being racist or bigoted. His crime, if you will, was of using terminology that -- coming from a white person -- is, essentially, despicable. Of course, had he been a black person referring to the team in that particular manner, none of this uproar would have taken place, especially at the hands of a hypocrite like Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson.

But he's not black, so it's meaningless.

However, it seems to me -- whether stupid or racist -- these comments deserve and merit reaction. The question, however, remains as to whether his comments were intended in humor that simply went too far or if they were/are evidence of his racial/bigoted prejudices. If I haven't made same clear, I believe wholeheartedly that the guy said something stupid "in character" -- that is, two homies rappin' with one another -- rather than his genuine views on black women.

Still, since we're debating whether he genuinely is a racist and a misogynist, it seems to me that if he was a racist he would denigrate black people with more regularity and would have been dismissed years ago. Why? Because most of his interviews are with political candidates and/or people, like Tim Russert, who could and cannot afford to be associated with someone who is identified -- properly or otherwise -- as a racist. That doesn't mean he's not a racist; it simply means that he has spent much of his career talking and sharing his views over a four-hour clip on a daily basis and has less than a handful of racial controversy on his resume. If he was a genuine racist, I believe he would have been "outed" long ago. Granted, he takes liberties in describing and/or impersonating some guests who are of a different ethnicity than him -- but he lampoons white people to whom he is very similar ethnically. So if he is a racist because he lampoons black people, than he is a self-hating white man because he rips into every- and anyone that does, says, thinks or portrays something stupid, different or interesting.

Essentially, if we're to brand him a racist, than we should also aim our bile at comedians who attack people at live performances (Michael Richards aside). People who are overweight, short, bald and just plain ugly are all targets of stand-up comedians. Does that mean that if a comic fires off a fat joke in the direction of someone who's overweight that said comic hates fat people? Similarly...short people? The point isn't whether the comments are shared, but the intent behind them.

As far as him being a misogynist, Mr. Imus's agent, Esther Newburgh, is a lesbian. He refers to her as "Lobster" ("Lobster Newburgh"). Does that mean he hates women, hates lesbians, or has some deep-seated resentment of females in general? Or is it merely, perhaps, evidence that he enjoys attacking women in general?

Or perhaps it could also mean that despite the fact he takes liberties with Ms. Newburgh's name, he trusts and respects her enough to represent his interests in his publishing endeavors. Does that sound like someone who is a misogynist?

He referred, at one point, to the media critic for the Washington Post (Eric Kurtz, I believe) as a boner-nosed, beanie-wearing Jewboy. The gentleman to which he was referring is Jewish.

That must mean, certainly, that Imus is a raging anti-Semite. Regular readers of this space, I'm confident, know that I am quick to respond to anti-Semitic and anti-Israel commentary when it is done in ignorance rather than factual debate. And yet, somehow, I can overlook Mr. Imus's characterization of the aforementioned Mr. Kurtz. Why? Because despite poking fun at Mr. Kurtz, he also treats him -- when the conversation turns serious -- with respect and admiration, clarifying the fact that a silly spewing of nicknames and/or labels is done in jest. If I believed Mr. Imus went after Mr. Kurtz or another Jewish person for their ethnicity, I'd be standing next to Mr. Sharpton bitching and moaning.

It's very easy to take shots at a man who said something stupid in a public setting as Imus did. It's also very easy to ignore the fact that, despite his being a target, he today raised $1 million for a charity dedicated to children. What sometimes amazes me is that a man who does so much good for so many people -- ask any of the families who have been involved in the Imus Ranch -- is even questioned as he has been.

Certainly, he said something stupid and hurtful -- but it's clear, at least to me, that his goal was to be funny, not hurtful. Had he gone after these women endlessly, and insulted other teams simply due to the fact that they were composed of mostly black women, I guess I would wonder about his intentions. But he didn't. I wonder what would have happened had the team been composed of mostly hispanic women, and instead of referring to them as "nappy-headed hos" he referred to them as "hubcap-stealin' hos" or "guacamole-eatin' hos." What would the fallout been thereafter? How about if he referred to McAbee (an Israeli basketball team) as a bunch of "yamulkah-wearing freaks" or the University of Nebraska Mens Basketball Team as a bunch of "White-Bread Corn-Holing Farmer Idiots." Who would be on the picket line chanting for justice and out for blood?

The answer is, likely, no one.

The reason why, whether we want to admit same or not, is that despite saying something incredibly stupid, which he did, his intent was not to hurt or offend anyone. However, this country has become so hyper-sensitive to anything remotely negative vis-a-vis the black community, as represented by Mr. Sharpton and Mr. Jackson, that all non-black people -- even other minorities -- are forbidden from approach. To wit, is the word "kike" referred to as the "k-word?" Is the word "mick" referred to as the "m-word?" Do people think of the word "chink" when the "c-word" is invoked? No. So why, in our daily discourse, are we so intrinsically repulsed by the word "nigger" that we can't even repeat it to exemplify that word which repulses us so without fearing an appearance by Betelguese, Satan, Candyman or something far more sinister? The word is repulsive and connotes a disgusting period in our history, so we avoid it. Yet many black people refer to one another in that manner.

Hypocrisy. Plain and simple.

I'm not suggesting we as Americans, black or white, start using the "n-word" in our regular discourse. I'm suggesting, rather, that we as Americans -- black AND white -- should ask why we've been brainwashed into being so afraid of speaking frankly about race and about the differences that divide us -- in an interest of bridging these divisions. Hearing some rapper or some random imbecile use the "n-word" casually is an especially repulsive experience, if only because I've never heard a Jewish person refer to another Jew as a kike, and I've never heard Irish people refer to themselves as micks, and I've certainly never heard an Asian person refer to other Asians as chinks. In fact, I bristle whenever I hear the genuine use of one of these slurs because it is repulsive to me; however, when it is used in context -- regardless of the recipient of the insult or slur is black, jewish, asian, or arab -- it's different. Hearing someone refer to me as a boner-nosed, beanie-wearing jewboy wouldn't be acceptable, except if I knew the person's intent wasn't to insult but to go so far beyond the bounds that the insult was an attempt at humor.

I'm not defending Mr. Imus nor do I condone his comments. But I think this uproar, this controversy, this witch hunt, is a sham. I think it's a hoax. I think it's retribution and I think Mr. Sharpton and Mr. Jackson are hypocritical pulpit-pounders who need to go find a legitimate cause in which to involve themselves. Imus did something stupid -- and he knows and admits he did -- and not simply because he said something shitty about people who really didn't deserve to be insulted, even in jest. What he did was cross the line and allow hypocrites like Sharpton and Jackson to judge him.

At least that's how I, a honky resident of Hymietown, see it.

Or, I think we have a long way to go in this country before speech really is free and protected, on both side of the gray.


Since I wrote the above, it was widely reported that Mr. Imus was fired by CBS. I remain shocked and amazed that his mistake has cost him his job. I further am shocked and amazed that CBS caved to pressure from Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and Bruce Gordon and opted to remove Mr. Imus in the middle of a multi-day Radiothon dedicated to helping sick children. As I wrote above, in its first four hours, Mr. Imus raised over $1 million. Assuming tomorrow's donations approached those he achieved today, I was curious as to why CBS -- and any of the people calling for Imus's removal -- would ignore what he was doing today and what he was aiming to do tomorrow and remove him. The only logical conclusion I have been able to reach is that they were under so much pressure from the black community that they basically had no choice. What bothers me about all of this is that the Black Community -- from the parents of the Rutgers players to Mr. Sharpton, who is supposedly a minister, to Oprah, to any of the other prominent critics of Mr. Imus -- has repeatedly suggested that Imus's attack insulted these proud, articulate, promising women. And yet CBS -- with pressure from the concerned, protective black community -- still went ahead and prevented him from continuing to raise money for charities dedicated to helping children.

It seems to me that if the Black Community -- Mr. Sharpton, Mr. Jackson, Mr. Gordon, et al -- really wanted to change the way we see race in this country, they would have at least recognized that Imus should have been permitted to finish the Radiothon. I guess it's really not about helping one another or protecting and nurturing the children -- it's about helping out black people, and protecting and nurturing the black children.

Way to go, CBS. Your callow, pandering release valve demonstrated to me that you care more about the black minority than operating within a modicum of common sense.

I hope CBS has plenty of good, pro-black community programming in the near future. It better be good -- Al Sharpton's watching and waiting.

Monday, April 09, 2007

The Cost of Free Speech

Unless you live under a rock, you have heard something -- on some level -- about last week's comments by Don Imus, the morning "shock jock" DJ for WFAN in New York City. His program addresses a variety of topics; last Wednesday, however, his focus was on the Tuesday night Womens' Final Four Final game, which featured the Rutgers Womens Basketball team. Mr. Imus, in his discourse, referred to the team as a bunch of "nappy-headed ho's."

Had that phrase been uttered by Rush Limbaugh or any other conservative political radio pundit, the axe would have swiftly come down. However, because Mr. Imus is an "entertainer" rather than a serious political commentator, there's question over whether his remarks were really racially-motivated by bigotry and/or racism.

However, the uproar that has resulted from these comments is interesting. Al Sharpton, a frequent target of Imus insults, led the charge, calling for Imus's dismissal. In addition, Jesse Jackson also called for Mr. Imus to be fired by WFAN. The latter led a protest held at NBC in Chicago which saw 50 people picket the NBC affiliate there, while the former continued calling for Imus to step down. Imus offered to have Mr. Sharpton appear on his show, which Mr. Sharpton denied; however, Sharpton invited Imus to appear on his show, which Imus accepted.

While a transcript of the interchange isn't yet available, I watched some of the conversation between the two. First, I genuinely believe Al Sharpton thinks Imus is a bigot and a racist. Second, I think Mr. Imus genuinely was trying to be funny, not racist. Third, I think that the disparity of opinion over what actually transpired is too great to be successfully bridged. And fourth, I think that any time a white person makes any disparaging comment about a black person or black people in general, he or she will be branded a racist.

To expound on these points, we live in a tight-lipped, tight-ass culture. We speak in politically-correct terms, even when those terms are ridiculous. Several Presidents refer to black Americans as African-Americans, yet if a white person of African heritage became a citizen of the United States, that person would also be regarded as an African American. We're so careful not to insult or offend or step on anyone's toes that we walk on eggshells any time we even approach the topic of race, and while I understand the defensive nature of a minority against broad, stereotypical criticism, I cannot understand the overzealous need to apologize for years of systematic bigotry in modern contexts.

Essentially, in recent retrospect, what Michael Richards did onstage was fairly repulsive. So was what Mel Gibson did in the back of a police cruiser after being arrested for DUI. Each of those two individuals displayed, perhaps, how they felt at that particular moment without regard for the people or the ethnic group which they attacked. What Imus did, however, was a silly, foolish attempt at humor.

Part of the problem in the Imus situation is that Al Sharpton not only focused on the "nappy-headed ho's" comment but also another of the radio show's participants using the terms "wanna-be's" and "jigaboos." Those terms were taken from the context of a Spike Lee film; however, being that Spike Lee is black, his use of those terms, obviously, has far different meaning and consequence.

In this particular situation, Mr. Imus jabbed at the Rutgers' Womens' Basketball Team but didn't do so out of malice or racism, at least not in my opinion. If one listens to his show for a week -- or has done so in the past -- it's fairly clear that he uses base, foolish, silly humor to attack any and all members of the public. He, in the past, has referred to Janet Reno as a man, and he's poked fun at Al Sharpton -- the same man leading the charge calling for his dismissal -- by depicting him as a fool who shouts out his thoughts like a circus ringmaster.

When all is said and done, Mr. Imus isn't going to lose his job as a DJ, and I think within a month all of this will disappear from society's front pages. I think black people will continue to despise him and brand him a bigot and a racist, and I doubt that characterization will ever disappear. However, I think it's convenient that many people -- especially those calling for him to be fired -- ignore the fact that he's spent countless millions building hospitals and the Imus Ranch, which is dedicated to putting smiles on the faces of critically ill children and their families. He also hosts an annual telethon on WFAN which is dedicated to research for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. For a bigoted piece of shit, the guy seems to be awfully generous.

Was what he said racist? I'm not sure. If he said "I wouldn't give a job to a black person because they're all lazy," that's racist. If he said "I wouldn't give a job to a jewish person because they're all greedy and cheap," that's racist. If he said "The New York Knicks are a bunch of carjackers in shorts," that's not racist. Why? First of all, he HAS said it on his program -- a number of times. Second, because he's not being serious in his suggestion that the Knicks are a bunch of guys who actually go steal cars. He is trying to be funny; whether or not he's successful is another story. When he referred to the women on Rutgers Women's Team, I doubt he was referring to them in that way in truth; I think it was his way of attempting to be funny and characterize them as a bunch of tough women. His use of the word "ho" wasn't suggesting they were prostitutes, nor was he suggesting they were low-end human beings or somehow to be regarded in a lower light because they're female.

He was simply trying to be funny, and his attempt at humor failed miserably. He has admitted same numerous times, so there's no point in regurgitating that fact.

However, what all this shows is that any disparaging commentary aimed at black people in this country must be given with a disclaimer, or not be given at all. And the truth is, I think his attack on these women -- even in jest -- was way off base. And again, he'll agree. The bottom line is that he said something stupid and is being attacked for doing so. But what he did was use bad judgement, not reveal some bigoted, racist side to his character.

I only wish we lived in a culture that didn't spend so much time poring over the minutae of some dumb comment from a comedian and more time digging into the actual problems we face as a culture.

It's easier to chastise and brand Mr. Imus as a racist and a bigot than actually try and make some progress in any meaningful way.

I guess, however, that's why Reverend Al has his radio show; if things actually improved, he could actually go home, get a regular job, stay off the front page (and the 6 O'Clock News) and we could actually move forward as a culture.

Guess not.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

All The Way Back...

Sitting on a speeding 4 train heading back to Manhattan from Yankee Stadium is no place to compose a worthwhile post about this particular afternoon. However, thanks to Blackberry and a bitchin' game, I've decided to go ahead and do so anyway.

First of all, about two weeks ago we decided to use our season tickets, which we share in a consortium, to hit today's Yankee game against the Baltimore Orioles. My parents invited my cousin, who's about 14, to the game, and asked my sister and I which of us would like to be the fourth. My sister, having figured that Mikey, my cousin, has never been to the Stadium, would be better-suited to have me explaining everything that was happening rather than her, so I agreed to go.

Now having said all that, today was my first trip back to Yankee Stadium since my father got sick in August, 2004. It's not a matter of loving the Yankees any less -- I'm still a Yankee diehard and always will be. Same for him. It's just that getting over to the Stadium and doing as much walking as is necessary in this "post-9/11" world -- meaning with the newish Stadium security policies -- makes it a bit more difficult to navigate the throngs milling around after a game.

Yet we made it, and for the better part of the afternoon we wondered why we bothered. The Yankees debuted a new Japanese pitcher named Kei Igawa who basically had a horrid afternoon. He allowed seven runs in five innings and looked awful; so not only were the Yankees losing big, but by the time he left the game with the score 7-3, many in the crowd opined that his signing was a Yankee mistake.

Despite this, and the fact that the forecast had called for flurries and 40-ish degree weather, we (and most everyone else) stayed. It was cold all afternoon -- in fact, when I got to my seat, my parents and Mikey were already seated, covered in blankets and freezing. The first thing I said to them was "What a day for a ballgame...a football game." The weather cooperated, although it was cold all afternoon and I wore a puffy coat and gloves throughout the game. And once the Yankees shitted up the first half of the game, it was a cold, crappy day at the park.

And then it happened.

They began inching back and managed to get the score to 7-6. Finally, the bottom of the ninth approached and they were able to load the bases. The last Yankee hope -- Mr. Non-Clutch -- Alex Rodriguez approached the plate with most everyone in the Stadium cheering, hoping supporting A-Rod, who has a proclivity (as a Yankee) for not coming through under pressure, would help. He got into a 2-2 count, and with the Yankees one strike away from a long, cold loss, A-Rod connected and blasted a grand slam, walk-off home run into the seats. The Stadium erupted and in an instant, as my Dad, who gets weepy and emotional every time he visits the Stadium, I remembered why I love not just the Yankees but coming to Yankee Stadium.

As we departed, as promised, I got Mikey (and myself) a Yankee hat; his was an adjustable replica of the traditional Yankee hat, while mine is a mesh Yankee batting practice hat (they just came out with them this year and I'd been meaning to pick one up). On top of that, I scored him a pretzel (we didn't have much to eat during the game due to Passover observance) though he had broken it already so a warm pretzel on a cold day was a good way to wrap up the afternoon.

Despite the fact that, between the tickets, the parking, the food and all the other crap topped out at over $450, it was really a great afternoon, and definitely will be one for the long-term memory. And I can only assume that I'll get as weepy and emotional as I get older and return to the Stadium, and hope that it's my wife and my kid(s) with me watching the game and making fun of me, but smiling and treasuring the moment nonetheless.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Back From The Living

Despite it being obvious, I'm appalled at the fact I've let this space get so run down, so infrequently updated and dilapidated, and, frankly, I'll be practicing self-mutilation later. In the meantime, my apologies for the boredom that's remained behind where laughter, exultation, enjoyment and self-fulfillment once reigned.

Now that I've gotten that bullshit out of the way, I do apologize for not stopping by sooner. I think that this most recent delay has been a product of a number of factors: first and foremost, Kaia going to San Fran threw me a bit. No more than usual, perhaps, but since we had spent two great weeks together -- including my birthday -- I had gotten used to her, even under pressure, smiling as I came through the door or making sure I was out of bed early enough to open the office, or even -- and most importantly -- being there even when nothing needed to be said aloud. Overall we are in a difficult place -- or places: we know that there's nothing better for the other out there, but when 3,000 miles and three hours separate us, it's difficult returning back to phone calls and e-mails when the last couple weeks had been anything but. We've conquered this territory before and I'm sure we will continue to do so, but it's frustrating for us both, as I am sure she's as unhappy to be packing and flying back to San Fran as I am in watching her leave. We'll get it right sometime soon -- sometime, perhaps, during her next visit in June, if not my next visit to SF (perhaps even sooner).

Meanwhile, on top of all that, work has been a steamroller rather than a roller-coaster. There are few ups and downs, but since March 15 ended a filing period (with a bang), there's still so much to handle, address and/or juggle it's been like running around in a circle until Boogie drops. Every time I contemplate a five- or seven-day period to head out to San Fran, something -- a client, something missing from a City agency I need to re-produce, etc. -- pops up like a gopher in a Boardwalk arcade. Things are never difficult, per se -- just overloading. Hence the steamroller versus the roller-coaster analogy.

On a positive note, I decided against joining a gym and instead -- finally -- purchased a folding treadmill. I bought one from Smooth Fitness -- the 5.25 -- and while I'm looking forward to getting that bad boy set up in my place, I'm not quite sure, with a Manhattan apartment, it's going to coexist with the rest of my crap. I've been and continue to extricate some of the various collectibles I've retained from the 80's -- like VHS tapes I no longer have the capacity to watch -- and without Kaia's involvement, I've been slowly but surely introducing these useless space-wasting goodies to the garbage chute. While she was here, Kaia was helpful and supportive but stopped short of forcing me to toss anything out; basically, as space increasingly is at a premium -- especially now, with the treadmill on the way, moreso than ever -- I've basically got to revamp everything in the bedroom before I can't fit into my own place.

As for why I didn't join a gym, I figured I would be lazy like the 85% of the population that joins a gym, pays monthly dues and then never bothers using it. I actually had been a member of a gym but things always managed to get in the way, so I finally decided that I wasn't going to be able to wake up in the morning or go to bed at night without seeing the treadmill, knowing it was draining my wallet as well as my bedroom space, so that would insure my guilt would translate into a daily hourly workout. The fact that it folds is sort of a plus (then again, if it didn't, I wouldn't be able to fit it through the door -- in or out -- or myself into my bedroom).

Overall I'm looking forward to getting back to daily workouts and -- with the summer upcoming -- skating on a regular basis. I've actually got a few invites to play hockey in a summer league or two, and since the summer leagues are outdoors, they don't have the negative aspect of the ice hockey game, which is the opportunity for frozen rubber pucks careening towards one's head or chest at 75+ mph. So we shall see.

On top of all that, I'm now a full-on, unabashed Crackberry addict. I started using a Blackberry device through Cingular but returned it due to lousy service, and as of late I've been using a Verizon Wireless Blackberry and more and more I find myself tethered to clients, the office and to the Internet. Remember when you, as an uber-geek, were stuck in the house and one or both members of your parental unit shouted at you to go out and play in the sun? Well now you can, without missing phone calls, e-mails, news or anything else. Blackberry has become an increasingly ubiquitous tool for navigating work and real life: it has a map feature that gives you directions (from one address to another or via GPS, if the Blackberry you're using is so equipped) and basically insures you are never lost, neither geographically nor informationally. Basically, in essence, the thing rocks. And by "the thing," I mean Blackberry service, not the device itself. Back when cell phones were first introduced as portables (as opposed to in-car handsets), cellular service was sorta sketchy. Now, however, you can be sitting on a beach in San Juan, on an air tarmac in Guadalajara, the third-base side of Yankee Stadium and/or a traffic jam on the LIE in mid-July and still be connected. While not all of those situations has the same effect on each of us, keep in mind that always being connected is a double-edged sword. There is no down time -- you are always tied into what's happening around you. That means that if you need to advise a client you need some paperwork, instead of calling them and shmoozing for twenty minutes, you can fire off a quick e-mail and save yourself 15 of those minutes. However, on the other side of the coin, if you somehow don't get around to e-mailing or speaking with a client, there's no excuse; no dog ate your homework, your cell battery didn't die (I've had phones that crap out like cheap Puerto Rican hookers, but the Blackberry battery lasts longer than a Tom Clancy novel), and you either ante up or you crap out. Translation: it's a blessing and a curse, but considering that my production has increased, my cell-phone call usage has dropped and my sanity is, for better or worse, about the same, I have no complaints. As I see more and more people -- regular people, not just suits and celebrities -- whipping out their Blackberries on buses, in City buildings and everywhere else, I am hopeful that one day Blackberry service is the norm rather than the exception.

Finally, I wanted to make sure to wish all my hebe friends a happy Passover, and my non-hebe friends a happy Easter. And to all of those who don't enjoy Matzah or Eggs, tough noogies.

My apologies again for such a delayed return to these pages; I'll do my best to keep the lawn mowed, the plants watered and the interesting commentary -- or what I normally include herein in place thereof -- rolling along.

And one final note: in celebration of the recently-commenced baseball season, these two words should, and shall, suffice: