Monday, September 22, 2014

One Last Item on Standard Oil

Which has morphed, over the years, into ExxonMobil.  But was once, here in the US, called Esso.  Get it?  S.O. equals Esso?

I call your attention to Jenson Button's McLaren, which, although painfully slow, is the most beautiful car on the circuit these days ...

The top of the body is metallic gray and the side-pods and wings are glistening triple-black.  Written on the side of the car are the words Johnny Walker.  Which makes me want to order a Johnny Walker Black Label the next time I'm at the Malt Room.  Which surely must be the desired effect.

But that's not the point as it relates to Standard Oil.  Note the branding on the rear wing.

Fun, yes?

If you ever go to the Tiffany's flagship store on 5th Avenue in Manhattan, you owe it to yourself to take the elevator to the floor that says "Statement Jewelry."  Which couldn't be tackier, but who am I to judge Tiffany's?  The statement in question, one supposes, goes roughly: "I'm richer than you."  Something like that.

Anyway, the manner in which they display the emerald rings, the diamond bracelets, the emerald and diamond necklaces, is astonishing.  For one thing, you're not allowed to touch the stuff.  [Duh]  You stare at the jewelry through glass-topped display cases.  What Tiffany's -- those clever people -- has done is line the inside of the top of the display cases with thousands of little spot bulbs, so that the facets of the diamonds, for example, pick up each one and seem to almost glow.

It's really astonishing.  The living embodiment of Poppy Bush's Thousand Points of Light he was always talking about.  The irony that only rich people get to actively participate is not lost on me, but let's leave that for another day.

Shift instead, friends, to the Singapore Grand Prix.  Which couldn't have turned out worse.  The only good bit was that Singapore is the only night race on the entire calendar, and the way the highly polished cars look under the thousand or so lights that line the course is almost identical to how the statement jewelry looks at Tiffany's.

Even the Ferraris -- possibly the ugliest Ferraris of all time -- looked fabulous.

Oh look!  There's Jenson trying to catch up to my boy Kimi Raikkonen ...

Ahhh, the Irony

One more reason for Scotland to hang tight with the UK:   The Rockefeller Brothers Fund announced yesterday that it would be divesting itself of all fossil fuel-related assets.  Which is more powerful as irony than it is as an economic factor.

But add to this the fact that Germany, the dominant economy in Europe, recently announced that 30% of its energy was coming from renewable (i.e. non-fossil) sources.  Thirty percent!  That's a lot.  Apparently the growing adoption of solar energy by the Germans has caused a bit of a tipping point for solar panel costs, accelerating their already vertiginous drop in prices.

So pinning one's hopes as an economically sound, independent country on future proceeds from the the North Sea oil fields seems to make even less economic sense than it might have twenty years ago.


Did you happen to see the PBS special the other night called The Royal Paintbox in which Prince Charles gave the viewers a one-hour tour of the many works of art created by the royal family?  And these people, let me tell you, never threw anything away.  We're talking about sketches from the 1600s.

So it was comprehensive, to say the least.  Or as comprehensive as a one-hour television show can be.

Very enjoyable.  Prince Charles has turned into a pretty talented watercolorist.  Particularly his work in the hills surrounding Balmoral.  Which, as every body knows, is in Scotland.

One more reason!

And one last Derek Jeter thing

There's a listicle in the Times laying out the man's career achievements.  It's so long, given the sheer weight of the man's achievements, it takes half an hour to read -- an easy hour if you watch the videos and click through the links -- but it fails to mention that last night he became the oldest Yankee to have four straight multiple-hit games.

I don't like this side of you.
What side.
This squishy Jeter-loving side.
It won't last long, I promise.
You know there's no gift bag for you no matter how much you suck up.
I know.  That's a whole different thing.
Okay.  Just so we're clear.

Mr. Gift Bag

My loathing for the New York Yankees knows no limits.

That said, I can't help myself in being a Derek Jeter fan.  Check this photo out ...

Age 19, I think.

For those readers living on Mars, Jeter is less than ten games away from ending one of the truly special careers in baseball.  Hell, make that any sport.  Plus the whole gift bag thing, which has to make you smile.

Fun article about the early days here.

Adios Campagnolo.

Hope Solo is a Pill, and so is Lolo Jones

This, from the Department of Corrections ...


Did you read the post titled Hope Solo is a Pill?  In it I managed to combine two pills:  Ms. Solo and Lolo Jones.  The fact of the matter is that it's Lolo Jones who appeared on Dancing with the Stars and can't dance a lick, and it's Hope Solo who is said to have beaten up her sister and nephew and was, regardless, made captain of the US Womens' soccer team.  

It is strange, though, how typographically similar the two names are.  Hope Solo.  Lolo Jones.

Take the S in Solo and attach it to the end of Hope, then invert the two words:  Olo Hopes.

Add an L to Olo and change the H to J and the P to N:  Lolo Jones.

So the mistake was understandable, in your book?
In my book yes.  Inevitable is a word rushing through my head.
Didn't Hope Solo also appear on DWTS?
I believe she did.  All the more reason to get them confused.
It's almost Shakespearean, isn't it?
It is.  Almost.

Nonetheless, I apologize for the cock-up.  At least a part of me does.  The other one looks at the post and thinks it's a masterpiece of the particular kind of ebb and flow that characterizes the best work Here at the Year.  So even though factually wrong, it's still a bit of a Jewel.  I remain quite proud of it.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Go Blue

The New York Times, in its majesty, is down on Big Blue.  Today one of its writers wrote, and I'm quoting from memory, "It seems hard to believe, but the New York Giants may be the worst team in football."

Wow.  Remember how I told you that things couldn't fall apart with the Giants because they were never together enough to fall apart?  It reminds me a little of the notion, explored below, that Pop Tarts can't go stale because they were never fresh.

Putting this on my to-do list for Monday

Here's a similar take on the subject, although not video.  And, of course, here are the lyrics from White Rabbit ...

One pill makes you larger
And one pill makes you small
And the ones that mother gives you
Don't do anything at all
Go ask Alice
When she's ten feet tall

And if you go chasing rabbits
And you know you're going to fall
Tell 'em a hookah-smoking caterpillar
Has given you the call
Call Alice
When she was just small

When the men on the chessboard
Get up and tell you where to go
And you've just had some kind of mushroom
And your mind is moving low
Go ask Alice
I think she'll know

When logic and proportion
Have fallen sloppy dead
And the White Knight is talking backwards
And the Red Queen's off with her head
Remember what the dormouse said
Feed your head
Feed your head

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Go Mets

All that's left of the Mets season is to root for my boy Lucas Duda to somehow go 30/90.  He's currently at 28 home runs and 85 runs batted in, with about ten games to go.  Thirty and ninety is about one notch below superstar status, the bottom level for which I define as 35/100.  Obviously the metrics are different if you're a pitcher.  Or a great defensive short stop who bats .310.  Or a couple of other things.  But still, who would have thought?

This is him getting ready to scatter the crowd on Shea Bridge.  Which is silly because at this time of the year you could shoot a cannon off on Shea Bridge and hardly hit anybody.  And I'm talking grape shot, not cannonballs.

Wait til next year!

No really.  This time I mean it.  Next year should finally be a good one.  The first good one in quite a while.  Can't wait.

Until then, here's the best Keith Hernandez film ever ...

Not safe for work.  Or for kids.

Krugman is God


If you think painting for a living is a scam, I've got to believe it's nothing compared to running a political polling organization.

Do you remember when Barack beat Mitt?  People at Romney headquarters were genuinely shellshocked.  Millions and millions of dollars worth of polling had convinced them they had it in the bag.  That, plus listening to nothing but blowhards like Limbaugh and Hannity.  Which is their own fault.  But hey, you pay a reputable firm to conduct a poll and they get it that wrong?  That's not on you.

I want my money back!

I only bring this up because prior to the actual vote on Scotland leaving the UK the projected results were widely considered too close to call.  Within the margin of error.  All the usual polling stuff people on television talk about on election night.  Yet the final result ended up about 55% to 45% to stay.

Which in an American election we'd call one whack short of a whuppin'.

At some point you've got to just figure that the polling boys are just taking our money and messing with us.  Perhaps while sitting in front of a nice fire with a single malt in one hand and a cigar in the other.  I would have closed with a picture of Robert Preston as The Music Man but I couldn't find a good one.

Hope Solo is a Pill

Do you watch Dancing With The Stars?  I think it's the best reality show on television, in part because I like to watch dancing, in part because it doesn't really have a mean bone in its body and in part because I've never seen The Amazing Race, which everybody says is the best reality show on television.

Anyway, last week was the first week of this new season and, at the same time, the last week that we have to put up with Hope Solo.  Who, despite her lengthy Olympic resume, can't dance a lick.  No rhythm, for starters, but more critically no willingness to let go, loosen up.  Plus a complete unwillingness to take coaching.  Which is odd, because I would think that running the hurdles would be all about rhythm and being loose and listening to the coaches.

What's that song from Flashdance? Something about feeling the rhythm?

It's called What a Feeling.
No question mark?

Anyway, nobody has time for the big black cloud that was Ms. Solo.  Who on the show admitted she's both a virgin -- this is public news, and that's absolutely fine -- and that she's not slow-danced with a man since her high school prom because, apparently, everybody made fun of her because she was a crappy dancer.

So she's thinking to fix all this [Editorial note: Based on my limited experience with Ms. Solo, Sigmund Freud couldn't fix all this] in front of 20 million people?  And she thinks it's going to go well?  Because it didn't.  And, thankfully, they tossed her off.  It's like on the Dog Whisperer where Cesar's pack shuns the psycho-dogs.

Next up, her domestic violence trial.  How very much of the moment!  She's alleged to have assaulted both her sister and her teen-age nephew, if I've got it right.  The good news?  US Women's Soccer just made her the captain of the international team.

I read that last sentence and wrestle with it.  I'm all about due process.  And I certainly feel like we are too quick to toss it aside and mount our Societal Horse of Righteous Indignation to demand that people lose their jobs (although I think they should fire Roger Goodell when he gets back to the office on Monday).  So part of me thinks she should play until she's had her day in court.  Another part of me thinks they shouldn't have made her captain.

Too creepy.

And it also bugs me when people scream that Ray Rice should never play football again.  Let the man pay his penalty, genuinely try to rehabilitate himself -- easier said than done, but it's the journey that matters -- and then get back to his livelihood.

Hell, Michael Vick is one of the absolute stand-up guys in the league right now and they threw him in the slammer for two years.  Good for him.

I'm taking the Jets against the Bears.

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Best Painter I Know, Personally

Look at this set of paintings by my buddy John Hampshire ...

Wow.  Four of them, each one maybe five by eight.  Feet, if that's not obvious.  What a wall they'd fill.  He's having a show in Chatham, NY soon and I suggest each of you take a trip up -- Chatham's lovely -- and try to buy one.

I've always liked my portraits best when the subject isn't staring at me.  Too much pressure.  Plus I love the narrative sprawl.  What's with that hand?  A little creepy, no?  But in a good way.

From the Department of Corrections ...

Earl from Denver wins the coveted mirror ball trophy for being contributor of the month.  He was good enough to write in and suggest that I referred to Erin Andrews as Erin Burnett.  Truth be told, he didn't just suggest it, he said it outright.

My apologies.

The Zenith, Volume 2

What about this one? ...

You have to admit, the tears at the end are pretty strong.  Also, is that guy wandering around in the background a priest?  If so, it would speak volumes about Ms. O'Connor's ripping up a photo of the Pope on Saturday Night Live, of all places, in 1992.

I've been thinking about Christianity a bit.  There's a sign in somebody's yard that's on a route I walk frequently.  It says something like ...

God loved us so much
He gave us His only child.

And I got to wondering, did he really give him to us?  Or was it more like a 30 year lease?  And how hard was that, really?  I mean, it's not like Jesus didn't just pop right back up to Heaven.  And sure, it hurts like a sonofabitch getting crucified (I'm assuming), but still.  I'm less impressed than I used to be.

You're gonna burn in Hell for saying that.
You think?

The Zenith

I don't think that George Michael video is the zenith of music videos.
You don't?
No.  I think Michael Jackson singing Billie Jean (is not my lover) is the zenith of music videos.
Okay.  Fair enough.

Thursday, September 18, 2014


Remember that scene from Braveheart when they eviscerate Mel Gibson's character William Wallace?

"Freedom!" he screams, and Scotland was never the same again.

All that aside, good for the sensible majority of Scots who figured out that as amusing as it sounded, seceding from the United Kingdom was cra-cra.  Which my daughter tells me is spelled cray-cray.

Three hundred and seven years is a long time for any relationship.  I mean, surely you've settled into a routine by then?  Why rock the boat?

Plus, Paul Krugman told them not to.
Which would totally be enough in my book.

I think the Walker Brothers recorded it first, but Dionne Warwick made it a classic.  The key line being "Breaking up is so very hard to do" ...

Plus this classic by George Michael, even though the only thing it has to do with any of the above is that George Michael is British.  And the title.  Oh, and it may be the zenith of music videos.  The absolute zenith.  Honestly, the only thing that would have made it better would be Naomi Campbell throwing a phone at somebody ...

Cindy Crawford in that tub!  Wow.  If that was a Cialus ad, I'd kill to be in the other tub.  Fully medicated.  If you catch my drift.


This from the Times ...

The Postal Service is commemorating chefs in a new series of “Forever” stamps. They feature portraits of Edna Lewis, Julia Child, James Beard, Felipe Rojas-Lombardi and Joyce Chen. There have been postage stamps with food since 2005 (peaches), but this is the first time stamps have recognized food personalities. “They’re all pioneers,” said Susan McGowan, the director of stamp services for the post office: Celebrity Chef stamps in sets of 5, 10 and 20, $2.45 to $9.80,, available starting Sept. 26.
Speaking of Blogger, don't ask me why the above block of text is all smushed to the right.

Regardless, I am totally marching down to the Post Office and buying a set.  My concern is that the sheet of stamps will feature all of those mentioned above.  My inclination would be to have nothing but Julia Child stamps.


A friend of mine recently asked me about blogging.  One of the first questions was where to do it.  I suggested Wordpress or Blogger as two popular blogging platforms, just to get the guy started.  And the second the word Blogger streamed off my fingertips I started in on the bitching and moaning about what has to be one of the most annoying services Google offers.

Case in point, look at the two posts below this one.  The one titled Jackie's  5th Amendment features a triple space between paragraphs whereas the one titled One Cent, Plus Shipping features the double space that actually reflects my keyboard input.

I have no idea which format this post will be, since Blogger seems to change its mind in an arbitrary fashion.  Speaking as what's technically referred to as a loose control freak, it really pisses me off.

Jackie's 5th Amendment

I used to live on 5th Avenue and 5th Street, Brooklyn, New York.  USA.  Earth.

I mention the Earth because I firmly believe I could travel the length and breadth of the thing and I'd never find an odder bar than Jackie's 5th Amendment, a bar at the corner of 5th Ave and 7th St in scenic Park Slope, although I may be off by one street.  In an article in the Times today about dive bars I was sorry to see that it closed last year.

One Yelper offered ...

I'm pretty sure I got Hep C.  I've been to some pretty dive-y bars but this one really takes the cake.  

This made me laugh.  Here's her full yelp, if that's the word for a post on Yelp ...

I'm pretty sure I got Hep C.  I've been to some pretty dive-y bars but this one really takes the cake.  

Yes, they have cheap drinks but the selection is pretty limited and you kind of have to deal with the insanity that is the bar staff.  I wonder if it's legal to employ 80 year olds to serve drinks to rowdy hipster.

My low rating basically comes from the completely off-the-wall interaction I had with the 80-year-old barmaid wearing a Looney Tunes jacket.  So the bar is crazy busy (birthday party with like 50 people) and I go and order 3 drinks: 1 Gray Goose + soda, 1 vodka + cranberry, and 1 Jack + Coke.  She take about 20 minutes to find glasses for everyone before asking me to repeat my order again.  We end up getting the vodka/cran in a plastic cup, the Jack/Coke in a wine glass, and Goose/soda I think was just poured into the cupped hand of my friend. So she tells me that my order is $30.  Keep in mind that drinks have been $5 all night.  I totally don't mind paying $30 for these drinks because that's still pretty reasonable by NY standards but I just wanted to clarify why they were suddenly more.

Old lady suddenly blows her gasket and goes, "You ordered 6 drinks!  Those 3 whiskeys and the 3 vodkas!"

Wait...I can tell you the last 16 drink orders you made and you couldn't even finish pouring our drinks without asking me to repeat my order and you're accusing ME of not knowing what I ordered?  

Anyway, the drinks were paid for and I even left a nice tip but I can only tolerate so much when it comes to bars and being accused of stealing by someone obviously suffering from dementia is not acceptable!

I suppose, since I quoted her entire review, I should credit her as being somebody called Margaret T. from Brooklyn.

Me?  I frequent a higher end dive bar when I'm in New York.  A place known, as you probably already know, as the Peter McManus Cafe.  A couple of weeks ago, misinterpreting the word 'cafe' to mean that it was safe to eat there, a couple of my friends recently did.

"You ate there?" I exclaimed when they told me.  "Man, never do that."

My favorite part about Jackie's 5th was that you could order six Miller ponies in a bucket of ice for, like. almost no money at all.  This bucket of beer thing has now become a popular bar meme.  But Jackie's 5th was the place I saw it first.

Just for the record, I would never have eaten at Jackies 5th.  And I mean that as a complement.

Adios Campagnolo.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

One Cent, Plus Shipping

I was reading a review of Martin Amis's book Zone of Interest and came across a reference to a book titled The Kindly Ones by Jonathan Littell.  One thing led to another, I slid my electronic canoe into the Big River and found that this thousand pager could be purchased used for $.01, plus $3.99 shipping and handling.

This whole one cent, plus shipping business started to annoy me.  Obviously the money to be made is in the shipping and handling, because at a single penny there is no money to be made with the book itself, barring an astounding level of volume.  Eleven would be the This is Spinal Tap joke.

It should also be noted that paying a penny for the book/four bucks for shipping is a common experience on the Amazon used book section.  Amazon, interestingly enough, will also sometime sell you a used book using the Prime member one-click button.  The cost is often $4.00 even.  Which is exactly the same thing.  As a Prime Member -- the Amazon elite, one might suggest -- I think a little transparency is in order here.

In closing, the Amis book is a satire set in a Nazi concentration camp.  The Littell book is about an unrepentant, highly-perverse concentration camp physician.  I don't think I'm going to buy either one.  Not that either can't be a great book (Littell got rave reviews), but I'm saving all my difficult book chips for when Hillary Mantel releases the final volume of her Wolf Hall trilogy.  Now those are some books.

Quick additional note:  Isn't it fun how much Hillary Mantel looks like Hillary Clinton ...

Playing The Drums ...

In keeping with our post-fashion-week exploration of whatever, here's Cara Delevingne -- a supermodel, I suppose -- playing the drums ...

The whole thing is barely a minute and a half long, so just hang in there through all the frou-frou and wait til she hits the skins.  It's not that she's Ginger Baker, which would be a great name for a supermodel, but she obviously has a certain capacity for the task at hand.  And I admire people who multi-task.

And speaking of multi-tasking, here to balance things out is Sammy Davis Jr. on drums.  Plus the vibes because, hey, Frank doesn't hang out with chumps.

I do love this video.  
Obviously, since you've posted it at least twice before this.  
It's an artifact from another time.  Might as well be from Mars.

It should be noted that Ms. Delevingne -- try typing that three times fast -- is actually quite an amusing young woman.  I don't subscribe to her twitter feed, in fact I avoid twitter as much as anyone can who's actually on it, but I did read an article in New York Magazine called The Dao of Cara, comprised of five or ten highly entertaining tweets by her.  It might have been a different magazine, and that might not have been the name of the article, but you get the picture.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

My Hero ...

Rare, I'm told, interview with Francis Bacon.  Who doesn't like bacon?

I'm imbedding this from someplace odd, so I have no idea if it'll work.  Regardless ...

Dirt Changes Everything

Wow.  They're sending the Tony Stewart case to a grand jury.

Me?  I had expected a faster resolution, i.e. calling it a tragic racing accident and moving on.  What the hell was Kevin Ward, now dead so we can't ask him, doing standing five feet away from race cars going 50-75 miles per hour ON A DIRT TRACK?  Doesn't matter how pissed you are, or what happened to you, this seems to me like asking for it.

And maybe Stewart did hit the gas, spin his wheels, unfortunately torque up the track just enough to catch the guy with his wheel, but it couldn't possibly be anything other than an unintentional gesture.
I find the whole thing stupid.  And I don't even particularly care for Tony Stewart -- just so we're clear.  Although I do sometimes shop at Office Depot.

Here's the Number 14 in happier days

Those cars still look stupid compared to the old style.

It's worth noting that Tony Stewart could have driven within five feet -- likely a lot less -- of Kevin Ward at 200 mph in relatively safety had he been on tarmac.  It's the dirt that changes anything.

And I take that back:  I don't think I've ever been in an Office Depot.

Have I Ever Told You How Good It Feels To Hold You?

I refer, of course, to Ronnie Spector.

Big hair.  Satin dress.  No wonder Phil Spector went ga-ga.

Lately I've been playing Ronnie Spector in the radio function of Rdio.  The stuff that comes out -- from what I'd describe as the transition between doo-wop and Motown -- is a hoot.  I'm not going to turn it off until Leslie Gore sings It's my party and I'll cry if I want to.

It goes without saying that, if you haven't seen Twenty Feet from Stardom you should do so now.

Although Ronnie made it to actual stardom, I'm sure there's a thing or two she could tell you.

From The Department of Corrections

The lines "Oh God said to Abraham kill me a son/Abe says Man you must be puttin me on" are not from Desolation Row.  Highway 61 Revisited would be the correct answer.

The full text ...

Oh God said to Abraham, "Kill me a son"
Abe says, "Man, you must be puttin' me on"
God say, "No." Abe say, "What ?"
God say, "You can do what you want Abe, but
The next time you see me comin' you better run"
Well Abe says, "Where do you want this killin' done ?"
God says. "Out on Highway 61".

Well Georgia Sam he had a bloody nose
Welfare Department they wouldn't give him no clothes
He asked poor Howard where can I go
Howard said there's only one place I know
Sam said tell me quick man I got to run
Ol' Howard just pointed with his gun
And said that way down on Highway 61.

Well Mack the finger said to Louie the King
I got forty red white and blue shoe strings
And a thousand telephones that don't ring
Do you know where I can get ride of these things
And Louie the King said let me think for a minute son
And he said yes I think it can be easily done
Just take everything down to Highway 61.

Now the fift daughter on the twelfth night
Told the first father that things weren't right
My complexion she said is much too white
He said come here and step into the light he says hmmm you're right
Let me tell second mother this has been done
But the second mother was with the seventh son
And they were both out on Highway 61.

Now the rowin' gambler he was very bored
He was tryin' to create a next world war
He found a promoter who nearly fell off the floor
He said I never engaged in this kind of thing before
But yes I think it can be very easily done
We'll just put some bleachers out in the sun
And have it on Highway 61.

Pretty good song.