Archive for September, 2008

MixwitMixwit make a mixtapeMixwit mixtapes

I was pretty limited by the songs available through this program.

Songs I would have added if I could:

Cyndi Lauper, Money Changes Everything
Patti Smith, Free Money
10cc, Wall Street Shuffle

Got anything else?

Read Full Post »

MixwitMixwit make a mixtapeMixwit mixtapes

I just assumed that would link to the mixtape. Guess not.

Try this

Read Full Post »

list making with paul newman

I really adored Paul Newman. He was not only a great actor, but a truly giving man. Most times when an celebrity dies, I feel bad and move on. But there was something about Newman that made him more than just an actor or a celebrity. There was a humanity to him that you don’t often see in stars.

My 9 favorite Newman flicks:

For Apache The Bronx
The Towering Inferno
Absence of Malice
The Sting
The Hustler
Fat Man and Little Boy
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Cool Hand Luke
Slap Shot

Todd is insisting we eat boiled eggs later in Newman’s honor.

Luke: I can eat fifty eggs.
Dragline: Nobody can eat fifty eggs.
Society Red: You just said he could eat anything.
Dragline: Did you ever eat fifty eggs?
Luke: Nobody ever eat fifty eggs.
Prisoner: Hey, Babalugats. We got a bet here.
Dragline: My boy says he can eat fifty eggs, he can eat fifty eggs.
Loudmouth Steve: Yeah, but in how long?
Luke: A hour.
Society Red: Well, I believe I’ll take part of that wager.

Read Full Post »

(Really, just get to the end and there’s a question there)

Everything’s a mess. At least that’s my take on it. Granted, I’m not schooled in the way of all things finance and Todd’s 6am lectures on markets and banking and buyouts sort of float over my head, the way most things to at that hour. When I’m worried/confused about something I don’t have the knowledge base to understand, I do what I do best: read. Everything from the Wall St. Journal to blogs, from wiki to The Economist, from the personal opinions on Fark to dry dissertations. Usually the variety of reading will get the reasonable side of my brain to calm down the panic-prone side. Not today.

First of all, there’s last night’s dream. I don’t know if I wrote about this before, but in the past two months or so, Alan Greenspan has been making a lot of appearances in my dreams. I suppose he’s just a stand-in for a myriad of money related things, but it’s still disconcerting to see his face in my dreams so often. Anyhow, last night I dreamed that Mr. Greenspan was singing Cypress Hill’s “Hand on the Pump” while I threw boxes of tea into Boston Harbor with Conan O’Brien. Make of that what you will. Whatever it means – and the Tea Party/shotgun part of it obvious, though I’m not sure what Conan O’Brien has to do with anything (maybe I was trying to find a way to laugh through all of this) – I woke up feeling something like…dread.

It could be the weather. It rained all night long, accompanied by heavy wind and occasional thunder and the sound of the rain beating against the air conditioner is probably what formed the bass line in Greenspan’s rap karaoke performance. The bad weather still around when I rolled out of bed at 5am, with heavier rain, stronger wind and a darkness that isn’t supposed to let up until Sunday.

This all doesn’t help my sense that the sky is falling. Yes, something I yelled at people for thinking not two days ago is suddenly running through my head. It’s a combination of things: the bailout, WaMu, people saying we’re headed for a depression, the fact that there is absolutely no one in this election I feel good voting for, no one that makes me feel safe and secure about this country’s future. It’s depressing.

What to do? Well, there’s nothing I can do. I can’t change what’s happening with the economy, I can’t miraculously make one of the candidates appealing to me, I can’t do anything but sit here with the lingering feeling that I should be buying a shotgun and canned goods.

But I’m not going to do that. I’ve been in panic mode before, and panic mode is the old me, for the most part. I’m not going to let myself get swept up in pitchfork brigade, I’m not going to let other people’s panic become contagious, I’m not going to give up and crawl under the covers and wait for things to either blow over or implode.

I will try to become more informed about the financial situation this country is in. Being informed is what keeps sane people from panicking.
I will take every opinion I read with a grain of salt and realize that one person’s experience with a certain financial institution is not everyone’s experience.
I will not pull my money out of banks, hoard non perishable food or start stuffing my pockets with sugar packets from the diner.
I will go about my work, my life, making my mortgage payments, paying the electricity, paying my taxes, putting gas in my car.
I will, instead of focusing my entire energy on the large world around me, start focusing on the little things in my own world.

You know how sometimes in movies where everything is going to hell and bombs are exploding or people are dying from some scary disease or the whole town is being killed off by zombies, and there’s always that one moment where someone remembers what is important to them, remembers that in the midst of turmoil and confusion and insecurity there are things that they hold near and dear, things that will always make them smile no matter what is going on in the world?

Yea. I’m going to spend the weekend playing video games.

What, you expected something else? Some kind of introspective, sappy thing about enjoying time with your loved ones before we are all forced to work 18 hours days in factories? I told you I’m not panicking. See, this is the kinder, gentler me. The one that is now refusing to spend her days reading too much information, gathering too much misinformation, feeling dread about the world, feeling pessimistic about the future, waiting for the other shoe to drop. I have to be this way. It’s self preservation. Not to keep me from going insane or to keep me from starting a shotgun revolution.

I just want to stop dreaming about Alan Greenspan. That’s all.

Honestly, this was just a long, rambling way of putting a question out there to those who are a bit smarter than me in all things economy. And maybe there are others out there who want to know, as well:

Explain the financial crisis, and how it effects us, in words a regular, non financially savvy person can understand.

Read Full Post »

the sounds of ringtone silence



I do not want to be entertained by snippets of “Love in an Elevator” every time your mother calls. I do not want to hear “Sweet Caroline” for the 50th time in one hour because your kid doesn’t know how to wipe his own ass without asking you first. I am tired of Stewie Griffin’s maniacal laugh and of Bart Simpon’s “Cowabunga” or “Bananaphone.” You have made me sick of the theme to The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, which I once loved. While it’s nice that your boyfriend calls you every hour on the hour, there is no need to announce it with a chorus of “All My Life” at full blast. And you, yes I’m looking at YOU, good for you for figuring out how to program different ring tones for every caller, but the repertoire of Huey Lewis’s greatest hits that pours out of your phone every ten minutes (does your sister know she’s hip to be square) is going to give me a mental breakdown pretty soon. You are all grown people. Adults. There is no reason I should be hearing snippets of Hannah Montana or High School Musical when I’m at work.

At any given moment during the day I can hear the Ducktales theme song, Celine Dion, Metallica, the Ohio State fight song, and a myriad of sound effects, all set on high volume that make me jump out of my skin when someone’s phone goes off. Oh, and the text message sounds. Girl, if you send and receive about 500 text messages a day, maybe you shouldn’t have a woman screaming as the alert sound. And maybe you have a bit of problem. And perhaps you think having the sound of a fire alarm as your ring tone is funny, but who will be laughing last when I beat the crap out of you with that phone? Me, that’s who.

You are all driving me crazy. At least have the decency to take your cell phone with you when you leave your desk so the rest of us aren’t subjected to “Do You Think I’m Sexy” when your girl calls, and then the subsequent beeps at ten second intervals to let you know you missed her call, which is a moot point as she’s going to call you back in thirty seconds anyhow because WHY DON’T YOU ANSWER YOUR PHONE, BABY? I HAVEN’T TALKED TO YOU IN OVER TWENTY MINUTES AND I’M LONELY FOR YOU! How did I knwo she said that? Because you are talking on fucking SPEAKERPHONE. My god, as if the ringtones weren’t bad enough now I have to hear everyone’s most intimate phone conversations about their love life, their gynecologist appointment, or the minute details of what they are making for dinner.

My phone? It rings. Like a phone. But you know what? You will never hear it because when I am in a public place, be it work or the train or the grocery store, my phone is on vibrate. Because I don’t think people should be subjected to my ringing phone. I’m considerate like that.

Please, I am begging you. Put your cell on vibrate during the day. If you can’t do that much for everyone around you, at least turn the volume down. It’s bad enough that it’s 2008 and every radio station in New York is still Led Zeppelin obsessed, but to torture me with “Stairway to Heaven” turned up to 11 every time your phone rings is enough to push me into a workplace incident.

I am on a mission now. Every time someone leaves their cell phone unattended at their desk, I am going to change it to vibrate, or better yet, silent. I really don’t care if they miss that all important 70th call from their 25 year old son wondering what he should wear to his job interview at McDonald’s. I’ve become a superhero of sorts. The Silencer. Wherever a cell phone is blasting an Aerosmith song, I will be there to silence it. Wherever a text alert sounds like a fog horn, I will be there to silence it. I am a modern day avenger, a cell phone vigilante and my superhero theme song is the sound of silence.

Read Full Post »

My mother has a bad habit of forwarding every “dire warning” email she receives.  After I sift through the 7,000 forwards attached to the mail, I finally find what she actually wants me to read. I glance through it (it always begins: WARNING! MUST READ! IMPORTANT!), throw some of the key words into the search box on snopes.com and then send my mother the results.  And no matter how many times I debunk whatever urban legend, misinformation, medical warning, etc. she sends me, she keeps on sending them.
Today I received from mom an email about baby carrots. You know those little carrots that come in a bag, the kind you use to snack on or serve with a vegetable dip? Well, according to the latest in email trends, those baby carrots are not only the rejected parts from other, bigger carrots, but they are dipped in vats of chlorine (the same chlorine you put in your pool!) and the chlorine really, really sticks to them because – being spare parts of other carrots – they have no natural protection. Apparently they go straight from the giant vats of chlorine to the bag, because you’re told to look for white spots on the carrots in your fridge – that’s the dreaded chlorine resurfacing.
So now everyone on my mom’s mail list and the thousand mail lists that received the Case of the Chlorine Carrots before her will do one of two things: laugh and delete the email, or panic and spread the word.  Before you know it, people will be calling for a ban on carrots, they’ll be writing their senators, there will be protests and carrot boycotts and old ladies everywhere will be going through their refrigerators, wearing toxic-proof gloves and gas masks, throwing out baby carrots.  All it takes is one email like this, one lonely, panic-prone person checking off names in their AOL address book and sending out caps-lock warnings with multiple exclamation points without citing a single source and within one day there is an army of people waging war against innocent carrots. The carrot industry suffers, the whole agriculture industry suffers and in turn the supermarkets suffer and somewhere, a dozen stock boys and cashiers will be laid off just because people believe anything they read.
And really, there would be nothing to this story except for the fact that I went to the bank during lunch today. There were three women and one man on line ahead of me. They were talking about pulling their money out of banks. The man was saying that Washington Mutual is about to go under and if you don’t take all your money out immediately, you would lose every cent, that the FDIC thing is a big lie. The three women gasped, and one of them reached for her cell phone so she could call her son to tell him that his bank is collapsing. One of the other woman was saying she overheard a conversation in the grocery store this morning about a coming stock market crash and we should all take our money, no matter where we bank, and sell our stocks and convert everything into cash and fill our gas tanks and….wait.
The thing is, these people, much like the carrot people, are going to go home and tell their neighbors and tell their family and it will be like some urban legend chain mail come to life. And while some of those people may laugh and walk away, you can bet a lot of them will get caught up in the unnecessary panic and tell their friends that the sky is falling and Wall Street is sinking and the world is about to end, and they will tell their friends and before you know it, it’s the carrots in the chlorine, the guy in the backseat of the car, the Mrs. Fields cookies all over again. But with worse results than some idiot paying for a cookie recipe.
Moral of the story: shut up.

Read Full Post »

i have measured out my life with coffee spoons

I dreamed last night that I was reciting The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock to a group of newspaper writers. They were supposed to interpret the meaning of the poem and write about it in their newspapers. The poem meant something different to each one of them, and I was frustrated because not one of their interpretations had anything at all to do with the poem itself, but with whatever the writer’s opinion was on some issue he/she was already covering in their paper.

Eventually the writers all started whispering:

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo

over and over like a mantra, until I couldn’t take it anymore. I told them that while it was nice they memorized those lines in high school and could still repeat them, the real heart of the poem was in the lines

For I have known them all already, known them all:—
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
So how should I presume?

Though I did not recite all of that in the dream out loud, I assume, as I had to go look up the last two lines to that stanza just now.

I know where part of this dream came from.

Last night during the Emmy Awards, Steve Martin presented Tommy Smothers with a 40 year overdue Emmy for his work on the Smothers Brothers show. Pretty nice, right?

Smothers came up on the stage to accept his award and I waited for a poignant, if funny, speech in which Smothers would be grateful for finally getting the Emmy he deserved.

Instead, he launched into a political diatribe.

It doesn’t matter to me what that diatribe was about or whether or not I agree with him. What matters is that was really such an inappropriate time and place for him to say what he did. Yes, I know the point of the whole thing was that he didn’t receive an Emmy 40 years ago because he was so outspoken and I guess he was proving a point now. It seemed like he was saying “fuck you” when he should have been saying “thank you.”

I just don’t like random politics in my entertainment, whether I agree with whatever celebrity is spouting off his innermost thoughts or not. And while I’m sure Smothers is getting a slew of virtual high fives today all over the internet, I’m writing him off as just another self-absorbed entertainer who thinks the world is his very own stage.

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufock.

Read Full Post »

Some of you have read this story already, but it’s my favorite Yankee Stadium story.

Read Full Post »

Some of you have read this story already, but it’s my favorite Yankee Stadium story.

Read Full Post »

i miss him already


On the ride into work yesterday I was listening to Opie and Anthony. They were having a conversation about visiting sick or dying relatives, how a lot of people don’t do that kind of visiting because they want to remember their relatives in a happier state. The subject was timely for me; I planned to take the kids to the hospital later that day to visit our uncle (my father’s brother-in-law). I had gone back and forth on the idea of making them go. An uncle they were close to, an uncle that just a week ago was playing cards in my parent’s backyard. He was sick then, he’d been in ill health for a while. But even as his body was failing, even as he started using a motorized wheelchair to get around, he was vivacious, happy and full of life. Friday, he had trouble breathing and went to the hospital. Saturday, his body started to shut down.

My kids are not babies, they’re teenagers who are unfortunately well versed in the death phase of life. Still, I wanted them to have good, lasting memories of our uncle, not images of him laying in a hospital bed dying. Then I thought about the other times I have done this. My grandparents on my father’s side, for instance. Watching them die a little more day by day, seeing the tubes sticking out of them, seeing them wither away to nothing – not an easy thing to watch. But as time went on, the hospital memories faded and were replaced with the good memories. I no longer, when I think of my grandmother, think of her last moments in that hospital bed. I think of her making spaghetti, cursing at wheel of fortune or rocking my kids to sleep. Same for my grandfather; no longer do I focus on the say they took him out of the house on a stretcher and we knew that was the end, his face sunken, his eyes expressionless. Now when I think of him he’s drinking a gallon jug of wine and singing to Jimmy Roselli songs.

I’m glad I did spend those last few moments with them, that I made sure to say my goodbyes. Not a literal goodbye, of course. Nobody goes to a hospital to visit a dying relative and says “Just came to say goodbye before you leave us.” It’s more like, “I’m here. I came to keep you company and hold your hand for a bit. It’s not much, but it’s something.” You don’t visit them for yourself, you do it for them. To let them know you didn’t abandon them just because they look too small, too skinny, there’s too many tubes running out of them, they don’t look like grandma anymore, it’s too sad.” Yes, it’s sad for you. Imagine how it is for them. They know they’re dying. I believe that even when they are not responsive, when it looks like they’ve all but slipped away save for the slow, rhythmic heartbeat keeping time on the bedside monitor, they hear you. They know. They’re comforted by your presence, they’re happy you are there and even if they can’t acknowledge you, or maybe they cant’ even hear or see you, they can feel you.

At 10am yesterday, my mother called me at work. My uncle took a turn for the worse, maybe we (my sister and I work together) should go see him during our lunch break. They’ve called his wife up to the hospital, saying she should be there now. I know what this means, but I also know what it doesn’t necessarily mean. They called us to the hospital three different times when they thought my grandma was ready to go. Each time we went, stood by her bed – a whole crowd of us, children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews – and waited. It’s very weird waiting for someone to die. Not anticipating. Waiting.

At 11 I called my sister. Maybe we should go now, I tell her. Not wait til lunch. I pack up, we leave work and head to the hospital. My mother and father are there, my father’s brother, a cousin and my father’s sister, who is sitting, in a wheelchair, at her husband’s bedside, waiting. Back in January my aunt was diagnosed with lung cancer. They gave her six months to live. And there she is in September, standing by her husband’s deathbed. Life is strange.

My uncle was on a morphine drip. His arms and hands were various shades of red and black and blue and purple; his circulation was struggling. He was restless, uncomfortable and the morphine was the only thing that assured me he wasn’t in a lot of pain. His face looked like he had aged 20 years in the last five days. I’m sure he could hear us as we sat around the bed talking about the weather, the Mets, our kids. As he moved around in his drug induced sleep, I wondered what he was thinking, or if he was just dreaming.

At one point, he bolted upright, opened his eyes, and waved at us. Surprised, we waved back.

We left the hospital at 12:30. Soon after I got home my phone rang. My uncle had died. It must have happened shortly after we left. I was immediately glad I took that time to go see him. In the few short days he was in the hospital, most of the family got to say goodbye to him. He was a much loved man.

I lived with my aunt and uncle for about seven years before we bought this house. They lived upstairs, the kids and I downstairs. My uncle was a very animated, vocal kind of guy. When he would watch a Jets or Mets games, I could hear him yelling at the television. I always knew what was going on in the games by which curses he was shouting out. I didn’t even have to watch the game. Just by his voice, which carried down the stairs, I knew if the Jets fumbled the ball, if the Mets made another error. He was a man who loved life, who had a great sense of humor and was always fun to be around, but there were things he took very seriously; football, baseball and cards. He was the most competitive card player I ever knew, even in the nickel/dime games of May I we played, he was hell bent on winning. We were constantly amused by his reactions when someone made a bad play that messed up the hand.

He loved to cook, and was known for the Polish kielbasa and sauerkraut he brought to every family function, for his amazing apple pies. When we had dinner for my birthday last month, he made a cake that had mayonnaise as a main ingredient. I tasted it with trepidation, but it was incredible. We ate the whole thing.

When we were young, their house was that one house where all the kids hung out. They had five kids. At any given time there were about five friends of each kid over there, listening to music, lounging in the backyard, sleeping on the living room couch.

They moved to Florida when I was 12. I remember the day they left, how he cried as he was getting ready to go. And I remember the day they moved back to Long Island, how he cried with joy to be back with all of us. And we were so happy to have our uncle back.

I have so many good memories of times I shared with him while we lived together. Putting up Christmas lights, putting in new bird feeders even though my aunt hated birds, planting flowers every spring, the way he got so excited over the kids’ baseball games, the card games, sitting on the porch, cousins, aunts and uncles all around us, feeling lucky that we have such a close family. More recently, seeing the joy listening to him tell Todd stories about about being a minesweeper in WW2.

He was a wonderful, loving uncle, husband, father and grandfather. I can not tell you how much we will all miss him, how Todd will miss listening to his stories about about being a minesweeper in WW2, how my kids will miss his presence at family dinners, how everyone will miss his presence during May I games, how much I will miss the sight of him rolling across the street in his motorized wheelchair to join us for dinner at my parent’s house, how my nephews will miss getting rides in that wheelchair, how all his grandnephews will miss him coming to their games, how we will miss his apple pies, how my aunt will miss his companionship, how much I will miss his complaining about the Mets.

I’m so glad I took that time to go see him yesterday. That memory of him as an old, beaten man lying in that bed won’t last as long as all the other, wonderful memories I have of him.

I’ll miss you, unc.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »