Saturday, December 8, 2018

The Wife

Most of the time when I see a movie after I have read a book, I leave disappointed in the movie.  Years later, I might feel as if the movie is much better than I had initially thought, because the details of the book have faded. I remember being upset the first time I saw One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, and feeling similarly when I left the theater after the Godfather.  Now I like both of the movies a lot.  

I finished reading The Wife a few weeks ago.  I thought it was a good book that grew on me in the days after I'd completed it.  I could not, however, quite buy a central part of the story line.  Could not believe it would have happened that way, and that was a reason I was not wild about the novel. Still, it hung around in my head in the way good novels do.

Last night I saw the movie.  Really excellent. Glenn Close is so good in it.  As is Jonathon Pryce and Christian Slater.  When I left the theater I bought it. That is, I bought what I could not buy when I read the book. (You will have to do one or the other to know what I am referring to).  It could have happened that way.  It is a stretch, but it could have.  And I think it was Close that made me buy it.

To what extent do we, in order to motor along the bumpy highway of our existence, make concessions that seem--in retrospect at least, or to another observer--just unbelievable?  Will a spouse dodge the foul effluvia of a partner's conveniently blind selfish irresponsibility, in order to avoid the debilitating stench--yet still stay in the car.  Can social attitudes in one era, convince a person, subconsciously or otherwise, that what is incomprehensible in another era, is sort of fine.

I bought Glenn Close. I believe it could have happened. And I think the way she behaved throughout is akin to the way the wife would have reacted.  It helped that I had some background from the book.  The movie makers changed some of the storyline. The son is still central but he is a different sort of cat.  There is a daughter written out.  In the movie, there are allusions to Close's parents' aversion to the husband, and to the husband's upbringing--both of which could be seen as foundational to the behavior--but in the book, these events are developed much more.  The decision Close makes is right up front in the book but does not surface until the end in the movie.

Go see the movie. Particularly if you read the book. Just don't plan on having a jolly time with your partner afterwards.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018


Anomie--"Personal unrest, alienation, and uncertainty that comes from a lack of purpose or ideals."

Thirty years or so ago a friend called me out of the blue.  She was all over the place in the conversation.  I hadn't spoken with her for about ten years.  While it was and almost always is good to reconnect, I was puzzled by the call.  We ended the conversation and I still was not sure what we were talking about.

A few days later she called back to apologize.  She said she had been out of sorts and was grasping at old acquaintances to become tethered to something. I remember clearly that at one point while explaining the incoherent conversation she paused and, in an exaggerated way, said "I mean it was, A NO MIE."

This is a time of year when anomie can come front and center and gobsmack one leaving a sensation that is something, I imagine, like the after effects of being shot with a stun gun.

One of the positive things about work is that there is something to do, some place to go. At a wedding last April we sat at the old people's table.  I got to chatting with a couple to my left.  He had been conversing with another person across the table who'd asked if he was still working for a rental car company.  He had replied that he was.  His job, it came out, was to take a car from one location to another.  A renter takes a car from one airport and drops it off at another site.  My table neighbor's job was to take the car back to where it belonged.  "Do you like the job" I asked. He said something like, "it gives me something to do in the morning."

The advantage of having something to do in the morning is that you can't spend a whole lot of time thinking about how disconnected you might be from children, spouses, friends, siblings, old lovers, and neighbors whom you were fond of, instructors who made a difference in your life, the rare mensch who you once had the great fortune to run into at this place or that.  The advantage of going to work is that you can get so busy moving a car from point A to point B, such that you don't have time to realize you aren't, yourself, traveling in a meaningful direction. That your time on this planet is limited, and you seem to be driving cars from point A to B metaphorically and have not covered a good deal of substantive distance.

At holiday time the moratorium on work can bring on a sense of anomie. Because it is a holiday the expectation and imagined nirvana of reuniting with happy family members, can compound the sense of isolation when the time--while nourishing to some extent--highlights to an introspective sort that the event is, at best, nirvana light and maybe nirvana not.   Thanksgiving can be a wonderful holiday, but the deflating realization of anomie can ramrod your head into a wall.

Someone once told me that the secret to happy marriages was soccer practice. I asked what he meant. He said parents who were forever shlepping their kids here and there, and going themselves from one meeting to another, had no time to sit down and realize that the person they had said I do to was someone with whom they had become estranged even when they share the same bed and occasionally might even exchange bodily fluids.

I think Thanksgiving is a good time for all those for whom anomie is a dreaded condition, to touch those whom they have touched genuinely during the course of their lives and respect that this touching is the antidote to anomie.  We have a purpose and are not alienated when we remember that there are those who are or were in our lives who have been as nourishing to our health as a vitamin.  Even when you can not actually connect because of distance, or even death, it is a time to remember how you have been genuinely connected.

Chiefs and Rams

I am not particularly adept at picking political races.  And while I have gone on streaks of predicting the outcomes of sporting events, I would not bet a great deal on most of my predictions.

However, I am not bad at judging talent.  If you are a regular reader of my blogs, you may remember that I regularly disparaged Lonzo Ball and predicted he would not be an especially effective player in the NBA.  This has turned out to be the case.  Nothing more than a hyped up point guard who can make some sweet passes, but will never be a game changer. He is not your go-to guy and not someone an opponent has to worry about more than they would be concerned with any ordinary player.  Similarly I predicted Jameis Winston would not be that special as a pro.  He is hot and cold, but will never really be the elite quarterback all swore he would be. As a general rule quarterbacks who are great runners in college, have limited value in the professional ranks since, if they run regularly, they will be injured. So, remove that asset and their passing is not as singular since defenders do not have to worry about the run.

All this as preface. Last night the Chiefs played the Rams in what was billed as a game for the ages. And the announcers certainly spoke during and at the end of the game as if the teams were the cream of the crop. The Rams prevailed 54-51.

News flash. If you give up 50 points in a regular season game, you are not such a swell team.  Sure both of these teams have super stars and clever offensive plays.  But you rarely win championships by outscoring other teams.  You win championships by being able to score, yes, but being able to defend now and again. The way the rules in the NFL are now, it is true that it is tough to defend. Still, you can't let a team score every time they have the ball. Or, as was the case last night, turn the ball over so many times.

My prediction is that neither of these teams will win the championship and I do not think either will get to the super bowls. I see the Chiefs dropping another game and may not even earn a first round bye. The Rams may get to the NFC championship game, but I do not think they will be victorious there. If they are, they will be defeated in the super bowl. 

The superbowl teams: The Saints from the NFC and either the Steelers or Patriots in the AFC.

Just saying.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Home and Home

On Friday November 9th I attended a Boston Celtics Utah Jazz game in Salt Lake City. Last night, the Jazz came to Boston.  I decided to juxtapose last week's experience with what I would encounter in Boston.  So,with the help of my stub hub app, and patience, I was able to do just that.

It is difficult for persons not aware of sports costs (and that would include me up until a week ago) to get their heads around what a ticket to an NBA game can run.  When I was in Utah, I figured the cost was affected by the numbers who wanted to boo Gordon Hayward, a former Utah player who had left the team to play for the Celtics.  But in Boston, with so many events going on during any one day in the city, I was surprised to see what it sets you back to attend a game live, when the games are--every single one of them--on television.

In Boston yesterday at Fenway Park was THE GAME, Harvard vs. Yale which I did not attend. Today in Fenway is an Irish Curling game that has been hyped since the summer. The theaters and museums all had their aficionados and attendees.  How much could a ticket to a basketball game during the regular season fetch with all the competition for spectator dollars?

When I first went on line I was aghast because to sit on the moon, it cost over 100 dollars.  These prices had to come down, no?  We are talking top of the arena, closer to heaven than the court.  So I waited it out.  It got to 5 pm for a 730 start, still about 100 clams to sit not only on the moon but behind the basket.  I decided to drive to school, and then check out the costs. If it came down I would buy a ticket and then take the subway to North Station.  At 615, still a bunch of dough.  I took the subway down without a ticket.  I arrived in a madhouse of an arena and walked up to the ticket window.  He had some single tickets for 300 bucks a piece. I love sports, but that was not going to happen even for the journalistic value and research potential of juxtaposing going to a game against Utah in a home and home series.

I took out my phone. Ah, technology. I played with my stubhub app. Someone who was holding a ticket for 80 bucks and could not go to the game, had to be thinking it was better to reduce the price than eat the ticket. And so it was, twenty minutes before game time, I spotted a seat that dropped a bunch in price--it was in the heavens but close to center court.  There were five seats in a row. I grabbed one.  A steal. With the stubhub cut, 80 dollars.  I thought I had a bargain until I thought about it some more.

But hey enjoy it, I figured.  Sure, that could feed a family of 6 for several days, but push that out of your mind.

I take the elevator to the heavens.  The scene in Boston was like the scene with Utah except at 45 as opposed 33 rpm.  The fans in Utah were, well, Jazzed--but in Boston they were jazzed maybe after three cups of coffee.  Longer to get through security in Boston. Security is more of a sham I have found at sporting events than a reality.  In London at Wimbledon, at the US OPEN, at Utah, in Boston, at Fenway, at a couple of NCAA venues, years back in Miami, I have gone through security without a peep and I have a six inch prosthetic in my hip that sets off the alarm at airports.  No problem.  Seems like it is for show.

I climb to my seat. Climb is the verb.  I am one row from the top.  I was high up in Utah as well; I think I am a little higher at Boston, and not quite at center court.  So the 79 dollar ticket I paid in Utah was just a bit better than the 80 plus dollar ticket I bought off stubhub for the Boston game. 

The fans are akin in terms of enthusiasm although here it seemed like more were into the beer than in Utah. Serendipitously, the two fans to my left were Utah Jazz followers. Each had their own Jazz jersey and cheered for their squad in a sea of Celtics admirers. Last week in Utah there were many more Boston fans among the majority Jazz fans, but I did have these two Utah folks adjacent to me.

The music, noise, intermission nonsense was about the same in Boston as it was in Utah. The pregame honor America which is a staple now of games, and particularly prevalent around Veterans day was what it was last week.  The pregame introductions-- blandly introducing the opponents and then a light show worthy of a rock music concert--introducing the home team was about the same. The players, all making millions of dollars, jumping and chest bumping seemed more choreographed than genuine. Gee, these guys play 82 games, are they really, "up" for a game in November when the season stretches to March?

Both the Celtics and Jazz had played other teams the night before. The Celtics winning a thriller against Toronto, and the Jazz losing to Philadelphia.  Well, the Celtics played soporifically and the Jazz played with intensity.  Just like the previous week, the Celtics could not drop a bar of soap in a bathtub, while the Jazz players could not miss. Gordon Hayward was booed incessantly in Utah, and by the end of the game last night he could have been booed by Celtic fans because of another stinkaroo. The guy behind me was really giving Hayward a hard time. However, given how high up we were, the guy would lose his voice box before Hayward could hear a syllable from this particular zealot.

So just like last week, the Celtics disappointed its fans, while the Jazz fans went home happy.  Post game was different though. First, I went to pick up my wool hat that I had placed below my seat and found it was soaked by beer that had been toppled over by someone. Just great. 40 degrees out and I have a wet hat that smells like a Budweiser.  I leave the arena and figure I would stop somewhere to get a beer and dry off my hat.  There must be a dozen taverns around the Garden that I have frequented on one occasion or another. Every single one of them was packed and in some cases there were lines to get in. Now, I know this was a Saturday night in downtown Boston and not all the revelers were there from the game, but regardless it was hopeless to think I would get in before my hat would dry. 

So, I popped back on the subway to get my car.

On balance, I think if you had not told me where I was on both occasions, and had removed all direct indications of the location like the announcer shouting for Utah versus Boston, I still would have been able to tell you that I was in one place as opposed to the other. However, the distinctions were not that great. And, I will opine as a sports fan my entire life, the experience was not worth the dough.  Highly overpriced to sit on the moon, and I imagine to pay 300 to sit closer even more of an absurd cost.  Stay at home. Drink a beer as opposed to have someone fill your chapeau with one. Not listen to inane music and bogusly choreographed introductions.  For a regular season game, here or there, it was not worth it.

Friday, November 16, 2018


Very icy drive home last night.

On Tuesday I was in the driveway of the condo my brother and I inherited. I was on the phone wearing a pair of cargo shorts, and no shirt.  Had flip flops on as I walked back and forth while shmoozing.  Thought if the conversation went on much longer I'd have to go back inside for the air conditioning.

Now, as I write this in Boston the wind is howling and there is a sheet of snow/ice on the ground. When I arrived at the gym last night for my evening dance with the elliptical machine, a thin shower of snow had begun to fall.  When I left two hours later, it was--even for a fellow who lived in Buffalo for eight years and Albany for five--icy and treacherous.

The problem with first snows of the year is people aren't used to them.  In March if we had one of these, motorists would have gotten the hang of it.  In November, it is two hands gripping the steering wheel and cars sliding back and forth.  I took my normal route home which involves negotiating a steep swerving road.  That probably wasn't the smartest decision as on two occasions I had to do the snow mambo once to avoid a skidding car going down while I went up, and another time when I was on the way down.  The mass pike was not plowed and there were two kinds of motorists. Type A, going as fast as always, Type B moving cautiously like snails.  On South Street, the road that leads to our house, there were blue lights all over the place marking accidents and skidded cars. Very glad to pull into the driveway.

Inside a home on a snowy night when all are home safely, is the comforting antithesis of driving home on ice.  I wondered last night about the wisdom of having left Florida on Tuesday night.  I remembered how my dad was sold on Florida the minute he stepped off a plane in February the first time.  He said something about having shoveled his last snow flake. (Meanwhile, as I recall it, my brother and I did most of the shoveling, but a story for another day).

So, here I am. Cozy at home. No classes today.  The weather is warming up, so the snow will likely melt before I have to go anywhere.  Maybe I will start a fire. My university has a men's basketball game in Charleston at 11 am which will be broadcast on ESPN 2.  I have some chapters to edit and a book to read.  The plumber came yesterday to replace the water heater.  Hot showers are available. All seems well. No doubt some aggravation will surface during the course of the day, but having arrived safely after ice skating home I feel content.

Not everything is a metaphor I know, but doesn't this seem to be one (at least when you are inside and can muse about it).  Our days are trips on sometimes dicy highways.  If you aren't careful, make bad decisions, have bad luck, you wind up derailed. 

Monday, November 12, 2018

Salt Lake

Last week the annual National Communication Association meetings were held in Salt Lake City.  This was the second time I'd been to Salt Lake. The first was in 1974 during the obligatory hitch hiking across the country journey that was not uncharacteristic of the 70s.  At that time I blew into Salt Lake at night, and after a spell got picked up by a fellow on a motorcycle who took me to his mother's house where I slept in their family room. A different time but really not uncharacteristic of that era.

Well, forty four years later I arrive in Salt Lake by airplane.  A taxi driver from Pakistan who moved to Utah because, while in Pakistan, he had become a Mormon--took me from the airport to the Radisson.

My cabdriver had pointed out that the place where the Utah Jazz play was right around the corner from my hotel.  I went on line and saw that the Jazz had a home game the next night and, to my happy surprise, the game was against the Boston Celtics.  So I went the next day and bought a ticket for the game.  Academic conference in the day. National Basketball Association at night.

Lots of people wearing Jazz jerseys in the stadium as could be expected. In my section though there were plenty of folks in Celtic garb. I had no Celtic gear but had brought a Patriots wool hat in case the weather in Salt Lake was frigid. It wasn't but to show my allegiance to New England I wore the cap to the game.

The Celtics stunk up the joint but it was fun to attend the game anyway. I sat high up but at mid court and had a very good view of the game. Former Jazz and now Celtic player Gordon Hayward was booed every time he touched the ball. The fans delighted when he missed shots or turned the ball over. A player for the Jazz who had been a Celtic, Jae Crowder, had a terrific game. I recalled during the game that when the Celtics had spoken with excitement about getting Hayward, Crowder felt dissed as the two play the same position. Well, Crowder played as if he wanted to show the Celtics something, and did.  The fans were delighted.

The arena was very modern. Huge screen showing the action in case you wanted to follow on screen as opposed to watching the action live.  Expensive ticket and I had not bought it from a scalper. Way at the top and still an expensive ticket. Who can afford to attend many basketball games?

Some non sports related observations about Salt Lake City.

  • The city is far more racially diverse than I thought it would be.
  • The Salt Palace where our conference was held was as good a venue as any that the National Communication Association has selected for their meetings. Large, accommodating, friendly staff.
  • A restaurant where there was a reception of sorts was quite good.
  • When I first started going to these conferences I was a young guy. Now I am one of the old guys. But I think I am a young guy even though I am an old guy until I see myself in the mirror.
  • The exhibition hall was less populated with vendors than the halls have been in the past.  Used to have forty or fifty book salespersons peddling their products. Now probably twenty at most.
  • For a city of Mormons the hotel bar was hopping on Friday night. 
  • The mountains in the distance are impressive.
  • My uber driver on the way back to the airport told me that a new airport was being built and it would be the ninth biggest airport in the United States when the job was completed.
  • The woman who sold me my ticket could have been a ticket salesperson anywhere in the US.  

Sunday, October 28, 2018

10-27 evolution

On Saturday October 27, 1962 I had my bar mitzvah.  Strange weekend. On the day before it snowed. Pretty heavily and quite atypically for October in suburban New York City.   Next day, the Saturday, it was warm and all vestiges of the storm were gone.  My clan came out.  Peripheral family members who I really did not even know, congratulated me.  Afterwards we went back to the house and had a feast.  Friends and family came to visit in waves. A bunch on Saturday afternoon. Another army on Saturday night.  A story for another day is that it was not a particularly enjoyable day for me, but it was busy. Lots of people at the synagogue. Seventeen years after the end of a genocide fueled by the rhetoric of a selfish megalomaniac.

On Saturday October 27, 2018, at a synagogue in Pittsburgh a shooter, came into the temple and started shooting. Eleven are dead.

Oh, how we have evolved.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Late Night

I cannot recall the last time I stayed up until 4 in the morning. Usually at 4 in the morning I am stumbling to the bathroom for my second nocturnal visit.

Last night I was up until 3:30 watching the Red Sox, and then could not get to sleep until after 4.

This morning when I went to the bank, a woman who has to be pushing 80, and her husband were on line saying repeatedly "I'm not watching tonight's game.  Can't take it."  There were several nodding heads on that line agreeing with the general sentiment.

I often fall asleep during late night sporting events.  I rarely stay up after 1, and usually I am snoozing before the midnight hour. I was wide awake, doing my superstitious dance steps until 330. When Ian Kinsler made the fourth of his poor plays of the night, I shouted profanely and loudly.  It was good then that I live in a single family home that is detached from my neighbor to the south, and that I have no neighbors on the north or west.  Too far for those across the street to hear me, though it is not impossible.

Some points.

  • Kinsler was apologetic, but he should not see the field again in the World Series. His four poor plays do not even include several terrible at-bats. 
  • Nathan Eovaldi deserved better.  As did every single pitcher for the Red Sox who came out of the bullpen.  And except for Chris Sale and Drew Pomeranz, every single pitcher on the team pitched last night.
  • It is a tribute to the nature of sports that an event can be so riveting. Few in Red Sox nation stayed up until 4 in the morning because of money they had on a bet.  
  • The sadness and vitriol that poured out on the internet at 4 am, and continues on talk-radio today (and at lines at the bank) are because sport is engaging like few other phenomena in our lives.
  • The weather today is akin to the weather the day after Bill Buckner, in 1986, let the ball roll through his legs.  Just saying. Thirty two years after Buckner, Kinsler's half assed, half stupid, play at second (not to mention his three running gaffes earlier in the game) may go down in Red Sox lore the same way as Buckner's play.
  • My new cat is afraid of me. We have only been together about a month.  After he heard me bellow last night he has been steering clear.
  • It will be interesting to see who is available to pitch tonight.  In the newspaper Eovaldi is listed but that is out now that he had to throw nearly 100 pitches last night.  Maybe I should loosen up.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Random Crap

The stretch from the Prudential Exit off the Mass Pike to Mass Avenue may be less than a mile, but it can take as long to get to the spot where I need to make my left, as it has taken me to drive from
Waltham to the Prudential exit. For this reason I have ample time to watch the pedestrians as I creep along Huntington Avenue.

Yesterday I spotted a woman who, from the back, looked like a colleague of mine. As I crawled closer I saw it was not she, but I did notice her back pack.  The letters on the backpack caught my attention.  They read, "Random Crap."

Random Crap seems like a suitable name for a backpack. Therein lies random crap. A great metaphor there don't you think? Someone walking along the street carrying the weight of random crap on their back.

How much of our random crap is of our manufacturing? And how much has found its way into the backpack because of poor choices we've made. How much was just stuffed in there by inconsiderate others.

This brings me to the Kavanaugh case. There is a connection. Having watched his opening statement it seemed clear to me that this guy should never have become a judge let alone be considered for the supreme court.  Then his testimony followed which solidified my position. The calendar. Really.  The comments about how he played sports in high school. Highly relevant both.

I have taught on the college level since 1973. Ninety per cent of my students do their assignments--not all as well as the assignments could be done--but 9 out of 10 do the work.  About ten percent come in with excuses.  I have heard many. Only a traffic cop listens to more nonsense.  But nobody has ever tried to explain away irresponsible behavior by trotting out a calendar on which they placed nonsense to indicate that they could not possibly have done something.  "Hmm I see Mr. X that you plagiarized this paper." "No Dr. Z, just look at my calendar.  I practiced the trombone on Wednesday, did wind sprints so I could be the point guard on the basketball team on Tuesday, practiced singing the star spangled banner on Wednesday--see--when would I have had time to plagiarize?"

This guy is walking around with a bag full of random crap and has no clue that he is hauling these bricks around. And so, are the senators--ostensibly vetting a person to see if he will be a dispassionate arbiter when, in fact, they--both dems and republicans- are only trying to assess whether a jurist will vote their way.

The key to managing the random crap in your backpack is acknowledging what is in there and, periodically, getting rid of what can be eliminated.  But if you become a whore, no matter how much money you earn, or titles you accrue, you are going to have a heavy load of random crap that weighs you down.

Thursday, August 23, 2018


Today I saw something that was ironic. A woman in a full burqa--the only thing exposed was her eyes--was walking with her family.  She was conversing with a man who I took to be her husband and a few children.

In Boston, it is rare that you see someone in a full burqa. When I was in England last month, I noticed people so attired more frequently, but in Boston it is a rarity.

But what was ironic was not the woman with her normal looking brood.  What was ironic is the woman with only her eyes exposed was carrying a bag.  The bag read Victoria's Secret.  She had shopped, apparently, at Victoria's Secret.

So, explain to me the extent of cognitive dissonance reduction that could make these decisions--to wear a full burqa, and to shop at Victoria's secret, seem rational.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018


A rarity for me.  I cannot find sleep.  I know that this is something that plagues many, but I have been remarkably blessed. I go to bed, I fall asleep. If I wake up, I go back to sleep.  Lucky guy. Not today.  Some turbulence I guess is keeping the zs away.

So, some random thoughts. This and that.

Terrell Owens deserves to be in the hall of fame as much as a kangaroo deserves to be in the White House. He never won anything.  He has gaudy statistics but was a terrible teammate.  Hall of fame athletes ought to have helped their teams win.

The Red Sox have been fun to watch this summer. Their ability to come back has been the stuff of fiction, not reality.

It is frightening that 40 % of the country thinks that Donald Trump is doing a good job. A woman I know said that she has trouble saying his name without throwing up.  I am not there. Just stunned that people can look past his obnoxious character. He reminds me of the guy who tries to rush a fraternity bragging that he has 50 million dollars and a wench in every dorm wing,  but whenever you need a dime for a keg, he claims to have left his wallet in his room, and the only women on his arms are those that he appears to have bought.  His regular claims that the press is evil, is enough to make me wonder how anyone who does not have oatmeal between the ears, can believe Trump should be the leader of a democratic country where respect for journalists is a foundational plank.

I am regularly in awe of the incompetence at various high levels of organizations.  It strikes me as singular that a knucklehead can be the head of a lucrative company indicating that the value of whatever product or service trumps the irrational decision making of decision makers.

If pornography is the abomination that the right claim it to be and many even on the left publicly decry, then how come there is a stunning abundance of it. If the majority believe it is horrible, how can so many pornographers be cashing in. 

Outside of the library I visit, there is--daily--someone who wants patrons to sign a petition to outlaw marijuana shops in the community.  Sure. If they are so concerned with drugs, how come the petition doesn't include outlawing CVS, Walgreens, and the liquor store.

I don't give a damn that Donald Trump slept with Stormy Daniels or a former Playboy bunny. The guy is a cancer on so many fronts, dwelling on his infidelity is like focusing in on an axe murderers unwillingness to use the turn signal at intersections.

Where are the Republicans?  The true Republicans. The ones that believe in less government, conservative fiscal policies, free trade. Are so many people tickled because the stock market is going up, that they are ignoring the stench.

I do not know how some books have gotten published.  There are some real stinkers out there.

Anne Tyler is an amazing author. I read a review of her recent book, Clock Dance. Very good book and very good review of it.  One comment the reviewer made was that there were critics who deride Tyler because her books are so easy to read.  Really?  What Tyler excels at is taking complex situations and explaining them effortlessly.  Her books often have what seem to be quirky characters in them. But maybe the characters are just like you and me, she just does a good job of bringing out all of our eccentricities.

Yesterday and Monday were hotter than hell.  Those who poo poo Global Warning should leave an address for their great grandchildren when they kick so that their descendants can direct their shvitzing wrath.

Every month it seems as if another friend has departed.

I don't think the Patriots will be so extra this year. Belichick does not seem to have the same fire. Brady is Brady because Belichick is Belichick. Had Brady been on another team with another coach, his main asset--his head--would be a limited asset.

Will try to meet the sandman now.

Friday, July 27, 2018

drew me back in

Yesterday, according to headlines in the Boston Globe, Facebook lost billions of dollars. I don't think this means that Mark Zuckerberg will be staying at a youth hostel the next time wanderlust kicks in, but his company took a hit.  I am not sure why.  And as I wrote in my last blog, on balance I like Facebook. It has put me in contact with people that had been lost to my horizon.  I find out about comings, goings, children, grandchildren--get to see happy pictures--wish people birthdays. 

I wrote recently that I had decided, despite my generally favorable view of the social network, to take a break. I was spending too much time on it and that, plus concerns about privacy, and a general desire for temporary reclusiveness, had me deactivate the account.

If you have never done this, give it a try. It is not easy to deactivate. Lots of navigating steps which might make someone not all that sophisticated with technology to say "the hell with it I'll keep the account" But that day I worked at it, and finally deactivated.

And I was doing fine.  I did notice that I periodically subconsciously typed in the url until realizing I was no longer a member.  But I was getting used to it. And I had not missed it much.

Then I received an e-mail that told me that my niece had posted some pictures on facebook.  She often posts sweet pictures of their children which I like to look at.  I did not think I could access the photos because I no longer had an account. But I tried. I clicked on the link and was able to access the pictures.

The problem is that because I did click on the link, on that device at least (a laptop) I was back to "active." Yesterday I found that I am active on my desktop at home as well. How that happened I don't know.

Fact is, that once I found I was able to prowl around, I stayed on it and looked at the various posts. But I am mildly annoyed that I returned to being a member when I had actively tried to deactivate.

There was probably a clause somewhere when I went to deactivate that read that should I click on any link I would be back in the fold, but fine print should not govern this.

Facebook will return no doubt. I see that it is up over a dollar a share today.  Zuckerberg will not have to rush to make the Early Bird special tonight. 

Sunday, July 15, 2018


Last week I deactivated my facebook account.

I was in a cranky mood when I did it.  I have at times become concerned with privacy issues.  And also, I spend a good deal of time reading the posts.  I've thought that I might be a bit more productive without the account.

Several days later what have I noticed?

The first thing is how often I must have gone to Facebook. On a number of occasions I have mindlessly typed in facebook and then realized I did not have an account. So, previously, without thinking I must have gone to the site regularly.

I have missed the connectivity.  I like how facebook could and did expand my network. I had become acquainted with people I'd not seen in years.   I got to see pictures of family members that I would not have seen otherwise. I was connected to friends from various lives--college, camp, high school, sports teams, graduate school--and I enjoyed the virtual reunions. Peripheral friends have opened up in ways that have made our relationship less superficial and more meaningful. I have found out about illnesses and people's need for emotional support and have been glad to offer support to whatever extent my words may have been comforting. I have read about acquaintances' children and grandchildren and the joys they have experienced.

So, that is the bad news. I have missed these things.

The good news is that I am not spending twenty minutes at a pop, reading these posts.  And nefarious sleuths will have more trouble finding out about my interests, buying habits, "likes" and "loves."

In a way it's like being on a diet or giving up booze.  I miss the sweets and buzz, but wonder if, when all is said and done, I will be healthier.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Back from the Dead

Today, three plus days after I returned from London, is the first full day when I feel like a human being.  On Sunday night I attempted to work out. Afterwards, I do not know who the fellow was who was looking back at me in the locker room mirror. Yesterday, I felt like more of a mensch. Worked out again, and I felt better. Still sweated through my tee shirt overnight--a sign throughout my life of something less than stellar in my system. When I am really sick, or even on a night like Saturday evening, I can look like I dove into a swimming pool at 3 in the morning.  But tonight, and tomorrow morning I think I will be dry and my normal self when I awaken.

I'm in a local library, not my town's, one nearby. This is a very good community library. There is a system in the Boston burbs, that links over a dozen of these places and it is quite good. The place where I am sitting may be the best of all the participating facilities --though it has competitors. The town that houses this particular branch is quite affluent. My home in blue collar Waltham would be worth nearly double just a short ride away.  Still whenever I come to this library, I am reminded of how many people, regardless of wealth, are sick, lugging around their illnesses, and do not know it.

Thirty minutes ago a guy I have seen before came smiling into this section where I now am parked. He had the gleam of a person who was for some reason recently amused, or a religious zealot who beams because she or he has found the spiritual answer, or the person with such a gleam is a nut.

As the man got closer to me I knew it was (c). I'd seen him here before. In fact, the last time I saw him he was sitting directly across the table from where I now sit. I was afraid he was going to join me again, and my fears were warranted. But nearly a minute after he sat down he popped back up. When he was here before he was filling out a crossword puzzle frenetically, and alternately doing math computations which looked legitimate but could have been residual graffiti from courses he took forty years ago.  He was so manic then that I had to move my seat as his scribbles were jostling the table.   There's a woman now at a nearby desk who is speaking loudly in a library in a way that she would have to know is inappropriate. On Sunday I was at my university library and another person was bellowing there.  My point is that there has to be something off-kilter about an individual over the age of 18 who speaks loudly in a place where it is supposed to be quiet.

My night sweats are probably over. I will get off the elliptical tonight and feel like I appropriately purged tensions and calories to allow for the inevitable accumulation of the former and the necessary consumption of the latter in the following 24 hours. (I did spot a blueberry pie in the refrigerator which might require some extra time on the machine).  The beaming guy with the cross word puzzles, and the human megaphones in the library, though--they never recover from their temporary bouts with whatever, because whatever brought on the illness is likely here to stay.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Shall We Dance

On Wednesday night my brother and I  bought tickets to see The King and I which was playing in the London theatre district. Our dad was a big fan of musicals in general but had an especial fondness for The King and I.  We heard him croon the lyrics to “Tis a Puzzlement” on many an occasion.

There are times I often think I am not sure of what I absolutely know.
Very often find confusion in conclusions I concluded long ago.
In my head are many facts that as a student I had studied to procure
In my head are many facts of which, I wish I were more certain I was sure.

That was dad in a nutshell. A wise man who, modestly left room to doubt what he “knew.” A favorite refrain of his, after he had opined on a subject was “Yeah: but what the hell do I know?”

I thought I knew the play, but I really did not. I knew the score from the album we would listen to in the house.  I had the gist, but there is more to it. 

A widow who had been a schoolteacher comes to Siam in 1861. She travels there at the request of the King of  Siam so that she can teach his many children whom he has fathered with several wives and lovers. The King, while a blustery and, well, imperious man is beginning to feel conflicted. He is not quite saying “What the hell do I know” but he finds “a puzzlement” in some of his conclusions. He wonders how to teach his eldest son.

What for instance shall I speak to him of women?
Shall I educate him on the ancient lines?
Shall I tell him that as long as he is able
To respect his wives, and love his concubines?
Shall I tell him every one is like the other
And the better one of two is really neither?
If I tell him this I think he won’t believe it
And I nearly think I don’t believe it either.

The king is also puzzled about how to deal with other countries.
Shall I join with other nations in alliance?
If allies are weak am I not best alone
If allies are strong with power to protect me.
Might they not protect me out of all I own
Is a danger to be trusting one another
One will seldom want to do what other wishes
But unless some day somebody trust somebody
There’ll be nothing left on earth excepting fishes.

How many times did we in the Zaremba household hear those last four lines? I think someone in Washington might be wise to consider this wisdom. Unless some day somebody trust somebody, there'll be nothing left on earth excepting fishes.

Ana the school teacher is a big hit with the kids.  And the kids are a big hit with Ana.  There is a melody that I always heard on the record, but had never seen performed called “March of the Siamese children.”  Just beautiful, with little ones stealing the show. After the show I went on Youtube and saw the original Broadway version from the 50s. It was good but not as powerful as what we saw on Wednesday.

Ana tries to tell the King that the groveling of his subordinates is inappropriate. The King is not quite convinced, but she is making a dent.  The audience begins to wonder if the two might have developed some feelings for each other. 

The King is to be visited by an emissary from London. He has been called a  barbarian by some in the west and he does not like it.  He wants Ana to help him create a good image for the ambassador. He is too kingly to ask for her help, he asks her to "guess" what his ideas are, and then of course adopts them. The ambassador actually knows Ana, and has a thing for her. Before Ana met her beloved, Tom, the ambassador had tried to initiate a love affair with Ana.  Ana was not interested.

And then she met Tom. The love of her life.

When I think of Tom. 
I think about a night
When the air was full of wonder and the night was full of light.  
And the sweet mist of England was nestled on the hill 
I remember him.
And I always will.

There are new lovers now on the same silent hill. 
Looking at the same blue sea
And I know Tom and I are a part of them all.
And they're all a part of Tom and me.

She breaks into a song called “Hello Young Lovers” which will touch anyone who has ever fallen.  A reviewer for this London performance called it the best rendition of “Hello Young Lovers” that he had ever heard.  (The London production is the same cast that performed the New York version this past year).

What makes the song particularly meaningful is that another woman has been “gifted” to the King which the king thinks is normal stuff. The problem is that this woman is in love with someone else. Ana in covert ways helps these two rendezvous.

The last song on the album is “Shall we Dance”  The King and Ana begin to dance and you get a sense for sure that there is something there more than platonic.

The two sing while dancing.  Nobody else is on the stage. Each verse ends with the refrain, Shall we Dance?

Shall we take a chance on loving family, friends, sweethearts. And dance toward that possibility.

As the two dance around the stage, you certainly get a sense that they are considering romance.  What actually occurs, I won't spoil. But the metaphor is there regardless. Things can happen if we dance with our family--whether individuals are still with us or not. Exciting, wonderful, perhaps wonderfully dangerous things can happen if we dance with our family, friends, and our sweethearts.

With the clear understanding that this kind of thing can happen, Shall we dance? Shall we dance? Shall we dance?


With the clear understanding that love and friendship can evolve, we should dance toward this end.
This is the message my dad told us our whole lives. 

With the clear understanding that this kind of thing can happen.  Shall we dance? Shall we dance? Shall we dance?

Invoking dad again, his answer to the question would be, "Only, if you know what's good for you."

Friday, July 6, 2018

Getting there

I almost never think of myself as the age I am.  In most ways, I feel like I did when I was a young man.  I can exercise or walk forever. Yesterday my brother and I must have walked 6 miles, if not more.  While I was not keen about waking up at 4 in the morning for Wimbledon, I had no real qualms about lying on a blanket in the middle of a field to watch the tennis, or taking the subway back, or cheering in a crowded pub listening to assorted encouragements from well oiled patrons.

Occasionally something happens that reminds me that I am not 25.  Usually it is in the form of someone saying something to me that reflects their accurate assessment of my laps around the track.  On Monday, while riding back on the subway from the tennis matches I could not get a seat. So, like a new yorker or bostonian, I just hung onto the straps thinking nothing of it.  A man who I will put at about 45, stood up and offered me a seat. He is fortunate to have all the tissue in the back of his head given the heat stare I gave him all but screaming, sit your ass down.  

I wrote the following in a blog a few years back, but since few follow my wisdom religiously, I'll repeat it here. I was sitting in a bar once and a young woman came up and sat in the barstool next to me. She started speaking to me in a way that seemed like she was hitting on me. I found this flattering. Her comments were so atypical for Harvard Square where this tavern was located, that I began to wonder if she was on the job.  She put that notion to rest with the ensuing chat. At that juncture she said that she did not like this bar much any more. Why is that? I inquired. "Well, no offense" she began, "there's just a lot of old people in here now."  For a moment I could not fathom why she had prefaced the comment with "no offense." When it dawned on me, the expression, "getting taken down a notch" seemed most apt.

Which brings me to what occurred about 50 minutes ago here in Gatwick airport.  When I got to England last Friday I took the train from Gatwick to London, and then took a cab.  After being in London for a week I learned the subway system pretty well. I saw that the distance from the hotel to Victoria Station was a mere three subway stops.  In fact, I had taken that ride on a number of occasions when I had gone beyond Victoria Station exploring the city.  I felt like it was not necessary to take a cab from the hotel to Victoria when I returned. I'd just hop on the subway, go three stops, get on the Gatwick express--I'd already bought a ticket before I departed Boston--and zip zip I will be at the airport.

And that is what I did. I got to the Gloucester road stop from my hotel in ten minutes, had to add some money to my "oyster" card, but then was ready to go. 

Problem number 1 was the response to my inquiry about a lift. "Sorry mate there is no escalator or lift down to the district line platform. "  I packed well for this trip, not too much, just right. Just right was a lot.  So, Okay, I lug the bags downstairs. Take the subway three stops. Get off at Victoria Station and follow the signs to the Gatwick express.

A word about signs. Boston has the worst signs. The worst, They all but scream, "fuck you if you don't know where you are going." Well, let me tell you we are not called New England for nothing. The English taught us well. I am pretty good with signs, and I was turning around like a pinwheel trying to find the Gatwick express. I did.

Then I get on the train and take it the thirty minutes to the airport.  I get off. Again a war with the signs. There's departures and departures.  And I am lugging these heavy bags.  I find where I am supposed to go and there is a long line. I had arrived in plenty of time but still I had just about had it.  I get through check in. What gate? I ask. She tells me they will announce it at 245.  That would be fine except there are no fewer than 93 gates and they are all in different directions. I need to find a central place to park my tired body. I go through security and wander here and there.  I find a spot, and then mumbled something to myself that I have heard others say, but rarely have said it meaningfully to myself before: "I am too old for this shit" I said.  I am not talking about traveling, I hope to travel until I go to the terminal terminal. But maybe I don't take the subway to the Gatwick express. Maybe I dont even take the Gatwick express and tell the cab driver, I am going to the airport. 

It is about an hour since I got through security. I am drinking an ice coffee and feeling more like a human being.  I still do not where the plane leaves from as it apparently is a top secret. I am in a  coffee shop at gates 31-38. Very few are in this vicinity so I figure I will be shlepping elsewhere and now, caffeinated, feel fine about it. Maybe even stop in a duty free store. The signs for these are, go figure, very clearly marked.

Day 2 at Wimbledon

When I suggested to Gary that we did not have to get up to meet a 4am uber for Tuesday, the second day,  he was incredulous. The second day was--we had been assured--lighter in terms of fans than the first.  So why did we need to beat the sun to the queue. Gary countered and said we had the drill down now.  He had a point. It is a drill I would be delighted to forget about it by Wednesday, but this is why we had travelled to England. So I agreed.  He yielded some so we gathered at 415 in the lobby of the London hotel.

Neville, our uber driver from Monday was the same fellow who picked us up at 415.  In much better spirits on Tuesday, he again got us to the queue in a short time.  We followed the stewards' directions, walked to the flag and got our card.  We had a number in the 1600s, 600 positions closer to the front than on Monday. On Tuesday on the queue we met two sisters from London directly behind us and two chums one of whom worked for a London newspaper.  Again, another group--less boisterous than Monday's revelers--were knocking them back before 5 am.  This group was, judging by the newspapers and books they were reading, more cerebral than Monday's. Still they had laid out a blanket like a tablecloth. On it, were glasses filled with red wine,  beer or champagne. The sun had not yet come up.

What neither Gary or I predicted, and what I will remember for months, was how cold it was on this second day.  I was wearing shorts and, fortunately, a long sleeve top with a windbreaker.  Gary was similarly attired. Nevertheless, we were freezing as were many on the line.  We had brought a blanket to lie on, but instead took turns wrapping it around ourselves to stay warm. We went to get coffee from the vendors and also bought some warm doughnuts which tasted delicious and, beyond the taste, addressed the cold. We discovered a cafeteria about 1/4 of a mile away and took turns going to it, less for any food, but more because it was warm.  By the time we arrived at the grounds, and later in the day, it was nearly as warm as it had been on Monday, but it was freezing cold on that queue until about 7 or 8 am.

The line moved much more rapidly on the second day.  We were in the arena a full 45 minutes if not an hour earlier than the day before. Also because I had agreed, however reluctantly, to the 415 departure we were able to pay a bit more and get seats into one of the three stadiums that we could not get into the day before.  Wimbledon retains a number of seats in these prestige arenas for queuers. We knew that, and knew we would get shut out of these on Monday.  We thought that we would get shut out on Tuesday as well, but we were able to buy these tickets.

And they were terrific.  We were four rows back, center court.  When we heard they had retained some seats for the peasants, we figured they would be on the moon.  Not so. These seats would cost 1000 dollars easy at the US OPEN. And, the people we met from California who had bought the tickets in advance, had paid over 800 dollars a seat in the same arena.  They could not have been as close as we were.  I got to see Djokovic easily beat an opponent with strokes that were just remarkable.  We saw two other matches from these incredible seats.  Earlier we were in the second row on an outer court watching a match and I marveled at how close we were to the competitors.

While there might have been fewer people on the queue when we arrived to line up before 5, the grounds at Wimbledon themselves were more crowded on the second day than the first.  Just jammed. More crowded than I can recall at the USOPEN. The grounds at Wimbledon are not as open as they are at the USOPEN. The lines to get into certain venues are a bit longer in New York than at Wimbledon, but there is more room to move about on the grounds in New York.  Food prices in Wimbledon are more reasonable, but the lines to get to them can be challenging.  We gave up considering the strawberries and cream because the lines were too long whenever we considered waiting on them.

Some observations from the tennis and the spectators.

The players' abilities to get to dropshots was something to see. A ball that seemed completely out of reach they could manage to get and in some instances do something clever with the ball.

You could hear, from where we sat, the comments from the players to themselves, the officals, and each other.

I could get a sense of whether a player was a cry baby from their gestures and attitudes toward their opponents.  On one of the outer courts a guy was clearly getting trounced, and he kept looking at the officials as if they were the cause. At one point he was caught at the net when his opponent flipped the ball over the whiner's head.  He raced back to try and get it, but when he knew that hitting the ball back was hopeless, he hit it away from the court as far as he could, the ball probably landed near the strawberries and cream stand.  The referee called him for a sportsmanship offense. The offender turned around with an incredulous "who me" look on his face and began to plead his case in such a transparently disingenuous way that I wrote this guy off for evermore.

I am recalling now a fellow we met on Monday. He was charting every single play. When I asked him why, he said he was a journalist from Luxembourg and one of the competitors was from Luxembourg himself. Still, he charted every single point.

The ballgirls and ball boys had a paramilitary style when play began, during points, and when they were relieved as they were periodically throughout the match.

One player routinely foot-faulted and it was not called once.

More than I recall it from the USOPEN, people cheered for their countrymen and women.  When an Aussie was playing, the Australians around me shouted for him. When Kyle Edmund, a Brit, played the place was very supportive of him.  Meanwhile he was real good.  I saw, from the fourth row, Edmund whip his first round opponent. I read yesterday that he won the second round.  He plays Djokovic in the next round, and I think his ride will be over. Still very impressive.

During the Djokovic match at almost exactly 7pm, people were cheering on his opponent so that the match might be a bit longer.  When those cheers were voiced, followers of Djokovic also shouted their support.  Then in the amidst of cheering for the competitors, a yell came from the crowd that  caused both players to laugh. Someone shouted, GO ENGLAND, at about the time when England's world cup match against Columbia was about to begin.

After we returned to the hotel I went to a pub to see the end of the soccer match.  England had led by a goal nearly the entire game, but the home town team was tied very late in the contest.  I got to the pub just in time to see the end.  Quite a scene in there when England prevailed 4-3 on penalty kicks.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

wimbledon day 1

I once said that if the business of america is business, the business of England is tradition.

On the first day of the tournament, we started out at 415 in the morning. Our uber driver, who had driven around the block looking for us, was not especially jolly when he picked us up. In short time, however, he got us to the Wimbledon queue line.

We followed the directions of the many stewards already there at that hour of the young day. They told us, as they told us yesterday they would, to line up and follow another steward's yellow flag with a large Q on it.  When we arrived at the end of the line we were given a card with a number on it.  Our number, at 440 in the morning or thereabouts was in the 2000s. That means, for those not certain, that 2000 people had already lined up waiting for tickets before 5 am.

The people in front of us, a couple from Australia, set up with their chairs. Gary and I got our blanket and chairs out as well. Immediately behind us, two women unfurled a blanket and pillows. Within minutes these strangers were sound asleep inches from us.  It was not easy for them to become sound asleep, because beyond them a group of about eight chums, were chatting noisily next in line. These buddies who looked like tennis players themselves, and I kid you not, opened up a bottle of champagne, and started knocking it back nearly as soon as they got settled. This, I found out-- the sound of popping champagne corks--and various types of imbibing before the sun came up was not especially unusual.

We chatted with the folks from Australia. Their son lived in London and they were visiting. We exchanged names and in short time became as friendly as one can be with strangers with whom you have had not much more than thirty minutes of kinship.  Several entrepreneurs had set up portable coffee stands beyond where the last queue line would be. They were doing terrific business.  I was on a line for about a half hour which only got bigger as the sun came up.

It was not until about 8 oclock when the queue started to move.  So, we waited over three hours before anything happened. When instructed by the officials, up we went and began to follow the 2000 people in front of us. We waited another half hour at one junction, and then proceeded on.  On the queue, we got to meet the previously sleeping women. They were both from the US, friends from high school in Idaho.  One was a sports enthusiast who traveled the US to watch baseball games.  She wanted to check off her to-do list going to Wimbledon on the first day of the tournament.  Her buddy now living in Seattle, was just tagging along. The two had left from San Francisco, flown to New York, and then to London. There were other stops on their UK itinerary but this they did not want to miss.

The queue trudged on. At one point, people who had pitched tents, or we, who had chairs, stored our luggage at a spot for such storage. Then eventually we went through security. Then another long line to where we bought our tickets. We got into the Wimbledon grounds at about 1045, having been nearly six hours on the queue.

And, as I had been told, it was not an ordeal but rather an interesting experience.  Gary's assertion that we had to leave at 4 was not quite so. We could have arrived at 530 and still been okay. But I did not mind the wait. Got to meet our new Australian friends, the women from Idaho. We got to observe people drinking champagne before the sun came up in the east. We were able to see people emerge from their tents, like you might see at a national park, roll up their sleeping bags, march to the temporary rest rooms, and return with steaming coffee.

We arrived at the arena and watched several matches in much the same way we watch when we have gone to the USOPEN as we have for the past two decades.  For the USOPEN you just buy your tickets in advance. You bring your tickets. You go in.  You do not have to get up at 4 am to get in for an 11 am match. Why they do the queue thing in England is, I imagine, because they have always done the queue thing in England.  And it was kind of fun.

I would have been pleased to arrive a little later for the second day, but Gary felt that we had gotten in the 4 am groove.  Next blog will describe day two, on the queue.

Sunday, July 1, 2018


We meet up this morning in the lobby and embark on a reconnoitering mission to Wimbledon. On the subway we meet a couple who appear to be carrying a tent. Gary speaks with them and they are, as their accoutrements would suggest, going to camp out at Wimbledon to make sure they get in for tomorrow's matches. Last night I met a woman who had travelled from Los Angeles. She and her husband were here with her mother. They would not be camping out. They had purchased tickets in advance for the games. The price was approximately 800 dollars a seat. She said, and I can understand it, they did not want to travel all the way to London and not get in. We saw them, both the daughter and mother again this morning. On Tuesday they will all be going to Scotland so getting in on Monday is imperative.

We decided to follow the couple with the tent.  We both got off at the Southfields subway stop.  He and she started race walking to the field where the queue begins.  We walked through a gate and there, 24 hours approximately before the matches are to begin, there are officials answering questions.  There are, I am estimating close to 1000 people in tents waiting for tomorrow. The couple we met on the train get in the back of the line.  An attendant tells me that the field will be complete with campers over night.  A veteran attendant says he has never seen it so populated.

A fellow I know in Boston told me that as long as we arrive by 7 in the morning we ought to be fine. Gary is nervous and wants to get to the queue by 6.  I am not so nervous. I want to slay the attendant who says we should arrive by 530 tomorrow morning.  I want to murder the next attendant who suggests we arrive by 5.  Gary is all for it. I suggest we cancel our hotel rooms and pitch a tent if we want to get here any earlier than 5.

Tomorrow we have scheduled an uber for between 4 and 415. We will get to Wimbledon by 5. I have acquiesced to his request to leave at 4 by making a deal. The deal is he does not squawk if we cannot get in to see a certain group of matches he is interested in seeing.

Pablo, a clerk at the hotel, tells us to go to a city area called Portabello to watch Spain play in the world cup. We do. Interesting scene. We leave after regulation with the score tied 1-1. Boring game even for the aficionados who are populating this outdoor bar.  Spain eventually succumbs in penalty kicks.  I wonder if Pablo will show up for clerking tomorrow.

We go out to dinner to a very good restaurant on Gloucester street recommended by the concierge.  The place is jammed and is adjacent to another italian place that is nearly empty.  We get seated and have an enjoyable conversation with a couple from southwest England, a three hour train ride from London.  He is a tennis player and with his wife are going tomorrow to see the games as well. They have secured a reasonably priced ticket through a club to which he belongs.  After dinner Gary spots the mother, daughter and husband here from LA.  They say they have met others at our hotel who are leaving at 730 in the morning to queue up.  Such sweet music that.  But I have agreed to the 4 am uber ride in exchange for the no squawking promise.

Across from the italian restaurant is a pub, so we stop there and see the shootout between Denmark and Croatia. Bad day for western europe. The Russians beat the Spaniards, the Croatians beat Denmark. Bad day for soccer as well. Two less than exciting contests in the world cup.  Last stop of the night is an ice cream place like no other I have ever seen. They actually make the ice cream, right in front of the customer. Not just put the scoops in the bowl. They pour the cream, mix the ingredients, have a freezing contraption like none I have ever seen, and serve up a scoop of ice cream.

Another interesting note. Waitresses are taking orders on mini cell phones. No pads here, none that I have seen.  I should get some sleep. My wake up call at 340 London time will precede the last pitch of the Yankee Red Sox game starting at 8 pm Eastern Time.

Thursday, June 28, 2018


For years, my high school friend Gary and I have gone to the US Open during the last week in August.  For several of these years we have been joined by another high school crony who has sometimes made the trip from as far away as Australia.  We are going again this year and adding yet a fourth high school bud to our trip to Flushing Meadows.

But the big news this 2018 is, after talking about it for years, Gary and I are leaving tomorrow for Wimbledon.  Years ago I actually did see a tennis tournament in England, but I have never been to Wimbledon and a smile creeps onto my face when I think about next week when we plan to attend.

I'm working on a book now about sports and communication.  So, in addition to just the fun, this excursion will be edifying I believe as I'll be able to juxtapose tennis fandom in Wimbledon with the fandom at the US Tennis Center. We have been told that we need to queue up beginning at 7 to gain entry.  A friend of mine who has done just that in the past said that waiting on line even for the three hours is kind of fun as you get to mingle with other aficionados.  It is there, I hope, where I plan to do some informal research.

My prediction is that except for some of the rituals, the experience in Wimbledon will be akin to what occurs in New York. The USOPEN is really an international gathering.  And I imagine the same will be true at Wimbledon. Of course the majority of spectators will be from the UK, but there will be representatives from all over the world there who are watching the games.  What they serve at the refreshment stands might vary and the costs different and protocols confusing, but my hunch is that I will observe more similarities than differences.

An aspect of the trip which we did not think about, which to me at least will be valuable, is that coincidentally the World Cup round of 16 games will be played while we are there.  And England is still alive in the competition.  If I have the times straight, some of the matches will be played while we are at Wimbledon watching tennis, but one match a day may be in the evening. It will be a hoot for me, someone who does research in sport bars, to watch the fans congregate in pubs and cheer. Since Wimbledon is likely to draw many from all over the world, it would not surprise me that fans from all countries represented will be cheering madly.  Yesterday, here in a super market where there is an alcove dedicated to coffee sipping, I watched the end of a match with some shoppers.  A woman who I assume from her concern has a Mexican lineage, wanted to know how Mexico was faring and others in this area were similarly riveted to games.  If in a grocery store, in a Boston suburb, where the US has been eliminated, there are people riveted to televisions while they sip coffee amidst bags of celery stalks, laundry detergent, and doughnuts, I think the noise in the English pubs will be robust.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Say Something Smart About That

You've been surfacing more regularly over the last week or so. In my dreams and occasionally when I am awake.  Yesterday I was driving and I remembered something from a seder, probably in the 70s. It was the second night and you invited friends from work.

The seders typically impressed our guests. You made sense out of them as opposed to the ceremonies that people often attend.  I've been at seders that ranged from very religious affairs that I could barely follow, to what amounted to a dinner that only nominally referenced the holiday. Yours made sense. We followed a hagadah in English.  We finished up after the meal.  Your buddy Larry once sighed when you said we were going to finish up, but when it was over he was grateful.

On this one occasion that floated up yesterday, we were talking during the seder about some current event. One of the guests said, "Say something smart about that Meyer."  He wasn't being sarcastic. You had not been holding court and pontificating.  It was just that you regularly had insightful things to say. So the guest was interested in your thoughts.

Father's Day is coming up. I don't think the Hallmark holiday is what has brought you to my consciousness.  But since we are approaching the day, and since I have been thinking about you, and since mail may take a long time to get to where you are at even with the internet,  I might as well write this now.

The most apt father's day gift I ever got for you--far better than shirts or ties or tennis racquets--was a compass.  I think this was in the early 90s.  It was most apt because the best thing you ever did for me was be someone who knew where you were, and travelled in the right moral direction as best as you could figure it out.  Quite an irony since you had such a terrible sense of direction as a motorist. As a person, though, you went the right way--not right in terms of pragmatic--right in terms of right.  And you defaulted to it.  Whenever I feel as if I am losing my way, I have a sense that I am doing so--I might not stop and get back on track--but I feel a tug like a voice saying, "Uh look where you are going, boychik." It can be annoying.  Nevertheless I am grateful. In nature versus nurture, this is nurture.  

Without a moral compass, it becomes more difficult to avoid faustian bargains.  One can zoom along what seems like a smooth road, then find out way down the highway that you took a route that leads to a hell of some sort.

Happy father's day.  thanks for the travel guide.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

A coupla meshugenehs walked into a...

It is raining cats and dogs.

I went to the office today. Gorgeous for most of the day.  Sunny, maybe a little too humid.

The forecast was for some severe weather from 4-8.  That weather included the possibility of hail. We have had hail here before and it can do a number on the hood of your car.  I was parked in an indoor lot on campus and I figured I would wait out the storm.

At 430 I looked out the window. It had not started to rain yet. I figured maybe I could beat the storm home. There were predictions that power could be lost and trees could be coming down. I did not want to come home and be surprised by a tree on my deck. The wizards thought the chances of hail in my locale were only 5 %.

So I left the office. When I stepped outside it was just starting to drip a bit.  My car was parked in a lot that is a 4-5 minute walk from my office. Still not teeming when I get to the lot.  I come out and am on the road that will take me to either Storrow Drive, a winding river road, or the Mass Pike--a straight shot to my town.

It is pretty congested on the approaches to the highways.  At one point, 5:26, I say to myself.  "This could take a while." Traffic is not moving real well.

And it is around this time when kaboom, it really starts to come down. I actually consider going back to my office. There is a tiny road that branches off near the Fenway and if I take that I can return.  I try to brave it.

It takes a good stretch of time before I can get to Storrow Drive.  I turn on the radio to the station that gives you traffic on the threes. I get to hear, on three occasions, how fakakt the traffic is. I heard this, traffic on the threes, report three times before I get onto Storrow Drive.

Sometime along Storrow Drive it gets worse. It looks like the day the earth stood still. Now 90 minutes later it still looks that way, but I am behind a computer not a driving wheel at this juncture. Thundering, lightening. Bad visibility.

I get out of Boston and cross a street called Galen Street in Watertown. It is still coming down heavy but at least I can see.  I am driving now on Route 16. It is definitely the long way home, but I do not want to get on the Mass Pike.  The traffic on the three guy has described the congestion on the Mass Pike in a way that is not enticing.

I know Route 16.  There used to be a very good Chinese restaurant there that was good enough to pass other Chinese restaurants to get to. When I first started getting take out from it, the very friendly proprietor would remind me that his place was right across from a Dunkin Donuts. I get to the Dunkin Donuts. Still pouring.

Meshugeneh number 1 is exiting from Dunkin Donuts. He has one of those carriers where there appears to be some coffee and a bag presumably of donuts.  Mishuguneh number one is strolling. Not moving with any kind of speed. It is pouring. He is carrying his donuts and coffee and begins to diagonally cross route 16.  I think of Wimpy, the Popeye character. This fellow with the tray has not passed up many donuts. I would put him at 5' 6 ". He is wearing shorts and he is taking his time crossing route 16. By the time he gets to wherever he is going he will have one wet donut bag. Does not seem to be troubled by this.

I keep driving. Still pouring. I see Meshugeneh number 2. He has running shorts on, no shirt. He is running. Getting in his daily jog.  Thundering and lightning. Putting his feet down in puddles that come up to his ankles. Not an issue.  I was once a runner and I ran in some bad weather. My thinking is that maybe this guy started out some time ago when it was not raining and is now far from the starting point. Otherwise, if he started when the thunder and lightning started, he is certifiable.

It takes me over an hour to get home. Crazy scared drivers, puddles on the highway making me think I would have been better off in a canoe. Barely visible in certain places.  Today going in, well after rush hour, I was parked at the U in 15 minutes.  Going home 60 tense minutes. Still pouring. It is 7 04 pm. Looks like 9 04.

Hope that guy is enjoying his donut. I, myself, had a shot of scotch as soon as I walked through the door.