A nice way to stay in touch with loved ones, and a convenient way to share my opinions without having everyone just walk away...wait a minute, where are you going? I wasn't finished..

Friday, July 31, 2009

I'm tired. I stayed up late last night googling

to find acceptable airfares and accommodations for a trip to Las Vegas if Jason and Dee decide to get married there next month. I know, it's the last wedding we'll get to share with one of the children, and our contribution will be minimal so I shouldn't worry and just have fun. But I thought if I could just drop a thou on the trip Janett wouldn't have to worry about pulling cash out of a money market, and she could relax and enjoy the wedding. Well, I don't travel much and my expectations may be unreasonable, like when planning a visit to Dean and Jim's. To rent a sub compact car in Boston cost $75 dollars a day. I was surprised.

Well, round trip airfare for two could easily cost a thousand. So that's why I started googling, and even though we may spend more than a thousand, we won't be way over-unless I pull a Clark Griswold. (Maybe I'd better let Janett hold the plastic.)
Besides shopping around for air-fares the other component of our (my?) plan is to stay at the Four Queens in the old downtown instead of staying on the Strip.

I'm sure Jason and Dee will be staying somewhere sparkly on the Strip along with whatever friends and other relatives who make the trip. I hope they don't try too hard to persuade me to join them there. Besides the money, you see, I'm just not sure I'm a Bellagio kind of guy. I'd feel more comfortable on Fremont Street, where The Fremont, the Golden Nugget, Binyons, and the Four Queens all have restaurants where they serve prime rib for ten or twelve bucks or buffets where for the same money you can chow down on shrimp, salads, and fancy deserts. Janett and I could walk down the street under that light show thingy they have there, and feel like we're enjoying the night life as we walk past the open doors of casinos and saloons with loud music in the air. And we're renting a car so we can take a little trip to Lake Mead, and when visiting the wedding party at their digs we'll get just a taste of the high life, without enduring 72 hours straight of it.

But what if it's seedy or tacky? I don't think it will be, but those hotels are forty or fifty year old and have been well used, I'm sure. We just have to be ready, if we find the accommodations unsuitable to blow off our meager prepaid amounts, forget about the parsimonious budget, and find something we like better. If anyone has suggestions or comments, please don't hesitate to share them. After all, this presumably will be our once in a lifetime Vegas weekend.

Monday, July 27, 2009

There might be a problem when Janett gets home.

This morning I went along with Janett to her doctor's apppointment. It was a routine visit and they discussed changes in prescriptions. The doctor's office is in Algonquin and happens to be close to a mall with a Butera's grocery store. Algonquin isn't fancy but its a little up scale from Elgin, and this Butera's was formerly a Piggly Wiggly, and the store is nice and not over 10 years old. So I mentioned to Janett that maybe we should drop by the Butera's, since this was the one Butera at which I had a chance of getting her to shop. Well, no, she didn't think we needed anything. I was a little disappointed to miss the chance to get cold cuts and sliced cheese for half of what they charge at Jewel, Dominicks, or even Meyers. But she's been doing a good job with the household budget and I have to defer in these matters, so we went on about our business.
Then a little after five she dropped by downstairs to tell me she was going to help Steffie shop for some go-to-work clothes for a temporary position that had opened up at the church. (Good luck Steffo!)
Well, she's never actually forebidden me from doing a little shopping at our local Butera's. So when I left the office I hopped in the car and headed straight for that den of grocerial iniquity, that open pit of dirty floors and stale-date-challenged provender. I couldn't help it.
But driving the few blocks to the store I realized that it could be argued that we might not really need any sandwich meat or cheese slices, and I dare not risk over stocking and exposing myself to the "You're not saving money if I end up throwing it away" reproach, and I began to shift my objective toward a quick hot ready to eat meal from the deli counter, Yeah, that was the ticket!
Providentially, the first special island in the produce department offered a selection of Racine Bakery Kolacky's for which Janett is known to have a weak spot. Good find. Three and half dollars, and worth every penny. Then some house brand hot dog buns and a package of Scott Peterson franks for 99 cents each. Who could resist - 8 meals for under two dollars. But when I got to the hot entree counter the lady had started cleaning up and the selecton was limited to Mexican (boiled?) beef, or cabbage rolls for 4.99 per pound. I debated with myself, confused and not hopeful of a really good outcome, and then I noticed some cello wrapped containers on the counter top. Some of the day's leftovers at even further reduced prices. Well it wasn't batter fried tilapia or barbecued ribs but it was cheap food.
So I grabbed one of each; chicken nuggets (1 1/4 lb for .97) jalapeno poppers (1 1/4 lb for 1.50) and six egg rolls for 2.10, even though that necessitated the expenditure of an additional dollar and a half for sweet and sour sauce. On the way to the register I did pick up sliced Deluxe American cheeze for $5. But that usually happens, partly because I see it as a desirable commodity and also as a blow struck against the purveyors of the ubiquitious "processed cheese food"
There you have it, a virtual cornucopia for $16. Oh, and at the register, as further justification for this little excursion, I also picked up a quick pick for tomorrow's mega million game. If we win tomorrow night any lingering unhappiness over my behavior will be washed away in a tidal wave of money,

Now I'm home. I ate some chicken nuggets and jalapeno poppers but there's a lot left. I'm saving the egg rolls to enjoy with my little sweetie. But I'm kind of nervous that the phone's going to ring at any second and it will be Janett asking if I want her to bring home McDonalds.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Gates and Crowley

My brother Mike and I have been exchanging Facebook comments about Officer Crowley and Professor Gates. I just posted there this link to a Time Magazine article on the arrest. Mike is upset with President Obama, I'm upset with the police officer. I'll quote the central part from the Time article: "In classically phony police talk, Crowley refers to "[Gates'] continued tumultuous behavior." When cops write that way, you know they have nothing. What is tumultuous behavior? Here's what it isn't: he brandished a knife in a threatening manner, he punched and kicked, he clenched his fist in a threatening manner, he threw a wrench or, in the Gates house, maybe a book. If the subject does any of those things, cops always write it out with precision. When they've got nothing, they use phrases that mean nothing. Phrases like tumultuous behavior.
Unless you confess to a crime,or threaten to commit a crime, there is nothing you can say to a cop that makes it legal for him to arrest you. You can tell him he is stupid, you can tell him he is ugly, you can call him racist, you can say anything you might feel like saying about his mother. He has taken an oath to listen to all of that and ignore it. That is the real teachable moment here — cops are paid to be professionals, but even the best of them are human and can make stupid mistakes.
We have an uncomfortable choice with Sergeant Crowley. Either he doesn't know what disorderly conduct is or Crowley simply decided to show Gates who's boss the only way he knew how at the time — by whipping out his handcuffs and abusing his power to arrest. Police make the latter choice in this country every day, knowing that the charges are going to have to be dropped."

I don't like police manhandling citizens and cuffing them for a ride to the station because they don't like people telling them they're being a**-**les. I think it's your inalienable right to tell them so if you believe it (but until we get this thing straightened out I don't suggest you try it.)

PS I may change my photo again. Janett doesn't like the new one 'cause my hair's smushed down.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


Jason is our oldest son. He came along with Janett, and has always been her protector, even though he sometimes seems to think she lacks a practical grasp on reality. He seems to feel that way about his sisters and fiancee, Domenica, as well. We can't figure that out because we always suppose boys acquire their attitudes toward women from their fathers, and I pretty much respect women and think they're very sound as a rule.
Not withstanding that little attitude thing, Jase has always been very loving, and it's too bad that he's had to put up with a lot. For one thing since childhood he's had a condition called Polyarteritis nodosa. My layman's understanding is that it's an auto immune defect. The symptoms in Jason's case are sores on his calves and ankles that can start from a little bruise and don't heal, but grow deeper and wider. We went to the hospital today because he was receiving treatment from a wound specialist. We all hope the treatment is beneficial, and wish "Dee" well in coping with Jase during the prescribed 30 days off work and off the leg.
Jason is not husky but is pretty strong, a hard worker and virtually unable to sit still for more than five minutes. When exasperated he shouts a lot. Maybe we could get Dee some earplugs as a "gag" gift. One likely benefit is that Jason and little Joey will become really proficient at all the electronic games in the family room and will be happy to share a month of dad and son companionship.
Love and best wishes to Jase, Dee, and Joey.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

I don't know if young people like Roy Orbison

But here's a clip from the late sixties, Interesting 'cause it looks like Bruce Springsteen and Elvis Costello were playing guitar in the orchestra. We all have to start somewhere.

If you do like Roy Orbison, here's my favorite, Blue Bayou

Monday, July 20, 2009

Please excuse my not posting...

I have no excuse, really. But I have had things going on. Like Noah and I planning a visit to Dean and Jim's mid-August. And Janett taking tests to become certified as a Quick Books Pro Advisor. And getting the check in the mail for the reunion coming up on the 15th of August.

Last time (or the time just before) I was an optimistic bear, because of the broken head and shoulders on the S&P and the Dow closing below it's 200 day moving average, I did buy a put on CAKE (Cheesecake Factory) Which then went up a couple dollars. Fortunately because they were cheap I also bought puts on Diodes and Coach which fell a little, So I broke even that week, except I didn't cover my $60 in commissions. And as always I nurture resentment, this time toward the people I envision gorging themselves on overpriced cheesecake, while the malls tumble to the ground around them.

And Saturday Steffie needed to break out of her routine so she and Janett took Owen shopping while Mally and I hung out. "Well, actually" as Mally would say, hanging out with Mally sounds more laid back than it really is. First he came to the office to supervise and evaluate staff performance. A check after your name indicates you did something well, an "X", not so well. Ageo and I did better than Jose, but I sucked up to Mally a lot, to the point where he began to look at me, a little suspiciously every time I complemented a method or manner. Still I got my checks.

Then we walked to the tiny neighborhood grocery where they sell prepared Mexican food (can you say menudo) as well as grocery staples. Malachy selected a big bag of marshmallows, like his mommy used to buy.

We then went across the street to a play park and played at being pirates with the jungle gym being our ship and the marshmallows our provisions. Mally ate quite a few marshmallows. I could see why Steffie doesn't try to keep them in stock at home. But he politely asked if he could have another each time, say every five minutes for the hour we were there.

Then home again, and more pirate play including drawing treasure maps. Mine was pretty good, even including a little pirate ship which Malachy told me looked more like a duck to him. So we began another game. I was the country cousin and lived on a farm, the porch where I could smoke and he was the city cousin and owned a grocery store, which we simulated by spreading groceries on the kitchen counters. Fortunately Steffie and Mom got back about then and Steffie had us put on a movie to watch and we napped on the futon while the movie played. When we woke up it was time for another walk, to the little store again by a different route. This time we picked up a large bottle of Fanta orange pop. When we got home and had a cold drink Steffie was saying it was about time to go home, which would have been OK with me, but then Noah called and said he could drop by. Steffie was happy to stay and wait. As it turned out Noah was a godsend introducing an energy level to the play more agreeable to the sugar-fried Malachy than my depleted enthusiasm.

But the visit was nice and I know how lucky we are to be close to the children, even though I was too tired to blog over the weekend. Dinner time, see you later.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

"...to manipulate the market in unfair ways."

Let's get this software back to Goldman Sachs whom we can all trust to use it to manipulate the market in only fair ways.

Friday, July 10, 2009

At two with nature...

I remembered, as Facebooking a comment on a photo of Ross at the beach, that "at two with nature" was how Dorothy Parker once described herself. If people remember New York's Algonquin Hotel today, it is as the setting for Rosemary's Baby or the place where John Lennon got shot. But in my grandfather's time, Dorothy Parker and other urbane litterati had a lunch club that met there. They acted as though they thought they were the cleverest people in the world, and maybe they did, and maybe they were.

I thought you might not know, so I googled her name and copied this little biographical sketch from the American Associaston of Authors and Writers.

Dorothy Parker

On August 23, 1893, an extraordinary event exploded across the universe. On that day, the indomitable, wise-cracking Dorothy Rothschild Parker decided to join the party.

Parker was born and raised in West End, New Jersey, to a Jewish father and a Scottish mother who died when her daughter was only five. The loss initially devastated her, although in time she grew to rely more heavily on her father, who had amassed a small fortune in the garment industry. Father and daughter soon developed a strong bond, and Parker shared with him all of the secrets and joys that only a young child can know. Two years later, he married a strict Roman Catholic woman, and trouble loomed in paradise.

Parker disliked her step-mother intensely, and the feeling was mutual. As a young girl, she was enrolled at a Catholic school for girls in Manhattan, later transferring to Miss Dana's Boarding School. Her father told school authorities that she was Episcopalian, although her dark Jewishness marked her as an outsider. She maintained that image of herself--dark, brooding, alone--and in the face of early alienation and disappointment, she developed a biting and irreverent sense of humor to help her cope with her loneliness. Late in life, she described herself as "one of those awful children who wrote verses."

Despite her earliest literary inclinations, Parker left school suddenly at the age of fourteen, never to return, to take care of her ill father, who had once again become a widower.

When her father died in 1913, Parker moved to New York City to seek a better life. She wrote by day and earned money playing the piano at the Manhattan School of Dance by night. Few people who knew her then would have guessed that she would work herself up to become a legendary figure in New York's literary scene, as well as one of the most talked about, revered, and feared critics in literary history.

Parker began selling poetry to the prestigious Vogue magazine at the age of 19 and soon accepted an editorial position there. From 1917 to 1920, she also worked as a freelance critic for Vanity Fair and formed, along with Robert Benchley and Robert Sherwood, the nucleus of a group they dubbed the Algonquin Round Table, an informal luncheon clique held at New York City's Algonquin Hotel on Forty-Fourth Street. Other Round Table members included writers Ring Lardner, James Thurber, and Harold Ross, who created the New Yorker magazine.

Ross said later that he borrowed the tone of voice for his magazine--irreverent, witty, and sarcastic--from those early meetings. Parker was the only female member of the club and often the only woman in attendance.

Oh, life is a glorious cycle of song,
A medley of extemporanea;
And love is a thing that can never go wrong;
And I am Marie of Roumania. - from Comment

Parker began her literary career shortly after World War I during an era when slick magazines were one of the most popular forms of entertainment in the country. The best writers of the day relied heavily on sarcasm, adopting a sophisticated, wise-cracking tone of voice. Parker soon proved that she could be just as sassy as any man.

An enigma of the day, she stood barely four feet-eleven inches tall. She loved to drink, she loved to dance, she loved to smoke, she loved to swear. And she loved to fall in love with men who didn't love her back. Drama critic Alexander Woollcott described her as "A blend of Little Nell and Lady Macbeth." Parker replied, "[I'm] just a little Jewish girl, trying to be cute."

In 1920, Parker was fired from Vanity Fair because her drama reviews had become too harsh and heartless, so she decided to put her cutting-edge cynicism to work in her first book of poems, Enough Rope, which became a national bestseller when it hit the shelves in 1926. Perfectly suited to the role of the Queen of the Flappers, she bobbed her hair, endured several extra-marital affairs, suffered frequent bouts with alcoholism, and attempted suicide on three (or possibly four, but who was counting?) occasions. Through it all, she somehow managed to maintain the high quality of her writing.

She managed, too, despite her cynicism, to take a lifelong if intermittent interest in political activism. One of those projects would affect her for the remainder of her life. It was her "pet" project, or so she called it--a demand for the release of two Italian immigrants who had been arrested for murder. She brought the project to the Algonquin where she engaged the other members of the club in heated debate. She felt strongly that long-time political anarchists Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti had been set up to take the rap for a crime they didn't commit, and she worked diligently at getting their death sentence overturned. She enticed several other celebrities into joining her, and she was arrested while marching with Robert Benchley and Heywood Broun for the Italians' release.

It was only one of her political crusades that included going to Spain to work against Franco in the Spanish Civil War (the "proudest thing" she ever did), organizing Hollywood screenwriters into a protective guild, and getting blacklisted by the House on Un-American Activities Committee for her leftist social views.

But Parker the Activist had to reconcile herself to Parker the working girl; and, in 1927, she joined the staff of The New Yorker magazine where she wrote book reviews under the pen name, Constant Reader. While she was there, she became famous for her two-line quip,

Men seldom make passes
At girls who wear glasses.

Independent and feisty, Parker--by now an established author--followed up her first book with Sunset Guns (1928) and Death and Taxes (1931), which were collected in Collected Poems: Not So Deep as a Well (1936). Her works in verse were sardonic, dry, and elegantly written commentaries on lost love or on the shallowness of modern life.

Why is it no one sent me yet
One perfect limousine, do you suppose?
Ah, no, it's always just my luck to get
One perfect rose.

Parker's short stories, which were collected in After Such Pleasures (1932) and Here Lies (1939), illuminated her deep knowledge and understanding of human nature. Among her best-known tales are A Big Blonde and A Telephone Call.

During the 1930s, Parker moved with her second husband, Alan Campbell, to Hollywood where she worked as a screenwriter on A Star Is Born (1937), directed by William Wellman and starring Janet Gaynor, Fredric March, and Adolphe Menjou. She received An Academy Award for the screenplay, along with Campbell and Robert Carson. She also collaborated with Peter Vierter and Joan Harrison on Alfred Hitchcock's Saboteur (1940).

But her success in Hollywood failed to quench her thirst for sardonic wit, much to the chagrin of many big-name celebrities of the day. Once, after meeting Joan Crawford, who was married at the time to Franchot Tone, Parker said, "You can take a whore to culture, but you can't make her think." Of the acting talents of Katherine Hepburn, she wrote, "She ran the whole gamut of emotions, from A to B."

When Parker turned 70, she said, "If I had any decency, I'd be dead. Most of my friends are." She also said, "Wit has truth in it; wisecracking is simply calisthenics with words."

Much of Parker's best writing was collected in the Portable Dorothy Parker, which has been in print since 1944. Of the first ten Portables published by Viking, only the Portable Shakespeare and the Portable Bible have sold as well and as steadily.

Razors pain you;
Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you;
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren't lawful;
Nooses give;
Gas smells awful;
You might as well live. - from Resume

Besides her witty limericks, Parker contributed several words and phrases to America's pop vernacular, including bobbed (hairstyle: 1915), queer (homosexual: 1929), bundle of nerves (1915), it's a small world (1915), and what the hell (colloquial: 1923), not to mention the ubiquitous high society, one-night stand, and, appropriately enough, wisecrack.

Dorothy Parker, who once said, "I don't care what is written about me so long as it isn't true" and "People are more fun than anybody," penned her last sardonic quip on June 7, 1967. She died alone and broken in the New York hotel she had helped to make famous and that had become her final home.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

I'm not too proud to admit

that I can't figure out what's going on in the capital markets. It helps a little bit that the experts are also clueless. This article gives us a sense of the prevailing uncertainty.

Here's a telling quote.
"Trying to figure out what the financial end game is, beyond simple Armageddon, is probably impossible. Right now many conflicting issues don’t make fundamental long-term sense. This is a very complicated maze. However, being lost inside while searching for enlightenment seems a worthy task."

Here's a scary but plausible quote from further down in the article.
"The financial industry is fundamentally doomed. Anticipate a large scale event that uses shock doctrine to control and manipulate people’s minds. Since WW II the ability to master groups and make them susceptible to brainwashing has been perfected. A massive bank collapse could be the catalytic event used to marginalize and control societies in a new direction."

Show of Hands: Who thinks they're practicing their "massive event" technique now, using Michael Jackson's death to perfect their skills?

Monday, July 06, 2009

Random thoughts

Besides classic mysteries on 11 and 20, The Closer seems to be the only show Janett and I currently enjoy.

I went short a couple of cheapies (brought puts) Cheesecake Factory and Diodes. I'll try to pick up a put on Coach tomorrow. Guess? would have been OK, but we'll see.

Brother John is back in NYC. I never had a brother who lives im NYC before.

Not giving Obama a lot of thought. Stii supportive and hopeful, but politicians may prove ineffectual and irrelevant to the resolution of our problems.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Happy July 4th

We had a really nice day, kicking off the celebrations with the Elgin Independence day Parade at 9AM. Mally and Mark were marching with Master Kim's Karate school and were resplendent in their martial art whites. Kim, Ross and I were very proud of them, as I assume was Owen, but Owen was wide eyed at everything and didn't seem to take special notice of his familial connection to the marchers.

Janett didn't attend. She was home making party preparations, including some barbecuing, and did really well. She'd gotten prepared for today over the last couple days, including making a big batch of pasta salad, her summer specialty. It has noodles bigger than macaroni (rigatoni?) al dente, and baby peas, and little chunks of cheddar cheese, and mayonnaise, and red wine vinegar and finely blended onions, celery, and green pepper. The secret ingredient? a little tarragon.
I love that stuff, I mean the dish, not just the tarragon.

We had to hurry a little because Mark was taking Steffy and the boys to Iowa to visit family and wanted to get there in time to attend festivities before fireworks. We were also celebrating Kim's birthday a few days in advance because she and Ross are going to Michigan on her birthday and will stay a few days. Janett made a butter pecan cake and frosted it with pecan coconut frosting. Fun. Kim and Ross stayed a while after Steffy and Mark left, but all were gone by 1:30. They had plans for Taste of Lombard(!?) and fireworks this evening.

Janett had plans to kick back and enjoy some quiet restful solitude, but we were saved by Louie and Julie, who'd had to cancel their pool day due to clouds and a little rain, and dropped by. I had leftovers from the grill, but Louie preferred chips and salsa, and birthday cake. Julie scarcely nibbled, maybe saving herself for a cookout they would attend this evening.

Jason, Dee and Joey were missed in their absence as were Noah and Lauren. But the nicest thing about these kind of parties, speaking as a parent, is the sense that the children married people whom they love and have happiness.

It's just past nine now and Janett is back at her QuickBooks tutorials (somebody has to get certified, and she's our tech guru.)

I'm a lucky guy.

PS I'm looking at Guess? as a short for Monday. Any opinions? Feed back around here is "aren't you the guy who shorted Darden during Lobster Fest?"