Thursday, December 31, 2009
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Saturday, December 26, 2009
I hope everybody's enjoying the holidays. It's been warm and rainy in Rome, not very Christmas-like weather, but we had a great day yesterday. First of all, Santa got me a nifty new Flip video recorder. Very cool! Then we had a wonderful Christmas dinner with friends at our friends Neil and Laura's apartment. I took the recorder along, of course!
Today also happens to be the 37th anniversary of the death of Harry Truman. So raise a glass for Harry tonight (bourbon, preferably). Here's his obituary from the New York Times. I think it's pretty good.
Friday, December 18, 2009
Monday, December 14, 2009
It wasn’t the most environmentally friendly system, but it sure was convenient.
Recently, however, the city instituted a new system in our neighborhood. Now trash must be separated four ways (organic waste, paper, bottles, non-recyclable waste). Each is collected on a different day at two different places. It’s all very confusing, and so far we seem to be the only people in our apartment building actually trying to follow the new system. Apparently old habits die very, very hard here.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Wednesday, December 02, 2009
On a much happier note, Harry Truman's Excellent Adventure is one of the book club selections at DearReader.com. By the way, have I mentioned that the book would make a great Christmas gift?
Monday, November 23, 2009
Check this out: Last Friday a minor league hockey team that plays in Independence, Missouri, wore Harry Truman jerseys! Harry, of course, lived in Independence. After the game the jerseys were auctioned off as a fundraiser for the Truman Library. Man, I would love to get my hands on one of those jerseys!
Friday, November 06, 2009
Check this out: Somebody is retracing Harry and Bess's trip using my book as a guide. They're making videos and posting them on YouTube. Pretty cool! Click here to watch them.
Thursday, November 05, 2009
Monday, September 28, 2009
Tuesday, September 08, 2009
Monday, August 31, 2009
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Thursday, August 27, 2009
And, like most boomtowns, it was a pretty wild place, teeming with brothels, saloons, and gambling halls. An old canalhand named E. E. Cronk later estimated that “60% of the buildings on both sides of Canal Street from Erie Street to Commercial were houses of prostitution, 30% were saloons, and 10% grocery stores, etc.” “The lowest houses of prostitution both in level and quality were those lining the tow path in back of the Canal Street buildings,” Cronk remembered. “The prostitutes operating on Canal Street considered themselves ‘ladies of the evening’ and the towpath women ‘dirty whores.’”
Not surprisingly, it was a dangerous place, too. Police patrolled Canal Street in threes, one in front, two in back. When the canal was dredged every spring, it wasn’t unusual for eight or more human bodies to be discovered.
The canal itself was a frothing, stinking bouillabaisse of garbage, human and animal waste, agricultural and industrial runoff, and offal (not to mention the bloated corpses). The effluent would occasionally produce giant methane bubbles that would rise to the surface and explode, unleashing a stench so foul it sickened some people for days. It practically goes without saying that disease was rampant. Periodic outbreaks of typhus, typhoid, and smallpox killed hundreds annually.
Yet, for all its faults – and there were many – Buffalo was also an exciting, vibrant, bustling place, filled with practically limitless opportunities for an ambitious young man. There were fortunes to be made, and you could have some fun there, too. One imagines 17-year-old Grover Cleveland strolling down Canal Street’s wooden sidewalks for the first time, smelling the fetid canal, hearing the beckoning calls of the ladies of the evening and the rollicking piano music emanating from the saloons. It must have enthralled the minister’s son from rural Fayetteville.
He resolved to stay.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Finally, I can quit my job!
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Monday, August 10, 2009
Yesterday, Allyson and I went to Viterbo with our friends Lillian and William. Viterbo is a lovely town in the mountains about 90 minutes from Rome. Its most famous for being the home of several popes in the thirteenth century, including four who are buried there (although nobody is exactly sure where one of them is buried). The town has a pretty amazing medieval section, but the best part was that it was practically deserted. Where do the Italians go in August? Underground tunnels? Caves in the mountains?
Wednesday, August 05, 2009
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
UPDATE: Well, the game ran too long, so the interview will have to be rescheduled. Bummer.
Monday, July 27, 2009
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
I've always been fascinated by the case of Phineas Gage. One day in 1848, he was working on a railroad in Vermont. There was an accidental explosion. An iron bar shot through the air - and passed directly through Gage's head, entering the skull beneath his left eye. His left frontal lobe was pierced, but the wound healed and Gage would resume a more or less normal life. He would live another 12 years - though his friends claimed he was never the same as before the accident. No wonder. Gage's skull is on display at Harvard's medical school, but not much else is known about him. But as this article explains, a post-accident photograph (a daguerreotype, actually) that appears to show Gage (and the iron rod!) has recently surfaced. And, you know, I don't think he looks too bad.
Monday, July 20, 2009
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Friday, July 17, 2009
The concert was held outdoors in Villa Adda, a park on the north side of the city. The attendance couldn’t have been more than 300 or so, so it was a pretty intimate affair. We all pulled our plastic chairs right up the edge of the stage. I went with my friend Neil, and we sat less than 20 yards from Jon.
It was a nice, mellow concert. Jon played at least bits of lots of Yes songs: And You and I, Roundabout, I’ve Seen All Good People, Owner of a Lonely Heart, Long Distance Runaround, Starship Trooper, Yours Is No Disgrace, etc. His forays into his solo catalog were mercifully brief.
What surprised me was how frail he appeared. He'll turn 65 this fall and he's had some health issues for the past few years, including a broken back and chronic asthma. But he’d always seemed ageless to me. Not anymore. He had to use his inhaler several times during the show (though all the smokers crowded at the front of the stage didn’t help). He moved slowly and even seemed to have trouble putting his guitar back on its stand when he was done with it.
Alas, none of us is getting any younger, least of all yours truly. More on that later...
Friday, July 10, 2009
Tuesday, July 07, 2009
Monday, July 06, 2009
Sunday, July 05, 2009
Saturday, July 04, 2009
Found this when I was rummaging through stuff at my mom and dad's old house last month. It's my dad's plane ticket from their honeymoon. They flew to Bermuda, which was a pretty swanky honeymoon for a union plumber and a registered nurse in 1951. The cost of each round-trip ticket was $97.75, which (according to this website anyway), equals about $820 in today's dollars. As you can see, they flew Colonial Airlines, a Canadian outfit that was bought by Eastern Air Lines in 1956. (Eastern went belly up in 1991.) I also found a brochure from the resort they stayed at: Elbow Beach Surf Club, which is now part of the Mandarin Oriental hotel group. I guess they had a good time. They were in Bermuda from October 21 to October 25. My eldest sibling was born the following July 24.
Wednesday, July 01, 2009
Had a great time in New Orleans (despite the heat and humidity). Allyson had a lot of fun catching up with old friends and I enjoyed making some new ones. Now that we're back in Rome, Allyson is hard at work getting ready for next week's G8 Summit, which the boss is attending. (This boss, not this one.) Meanwhile, the book is excerpted in the latest issue of The Pennsylvania Gazette, the alumni magazine of the University of Pennsylvania (where I earned my degree in folklore). Click here to read it, if you are so inclined. And my interview with Bob Edwards was rebroadcast on the weekend version of his show last weekend. (Click here for information on how to listen to it.) Looking forward to a big Fourth of July party tomorrow night!
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Friday, June 19, 2009
From: Mr. Lo Chin Jack
Quanzhou Haitian Textile Co.,Ltd,
Address: Haitian Industrial Park ,
Jiangnan Development Zone,
Quanzhou , Fujian , China .
Request for Legal Assistance
This is an official request for legal representation on behalf of Quanzhou Haitian Textile Co.Ltd. We are a textile company with principal business in garment manufacturing and trading.
We are presently incapacitated due to international legal boundaries to exert pressure on our delinquent customers and we request for your services accordingly. We got your contact information from the Online Lawyers Directory as a result of our search for a reliable firm or individual to provide legal services as requested.
After a careful review of your profile as well as your qualification and experience, we are of the opinion that you are capable and qualified to provide the legal services as requested.
On behalf of Quanzhou Haitian Textile Co.Ltd, Please accept my sincerest appreciation in advance for your willingness to render your services as we look forward to your prompt response to our request.
Mr. Lo Chin Jack
Quanzhou Haitian Textile Co.Ltd.
Dear Mr. Jack (or is it Mr. Lo?),
You were wise to carefully review my qualifications and experience. You can never be too careful these days! Crazy Internet!
I am honored and pleased to accept your offer to represent Quanzhou Haitian Textile Co. Ltd. in all legal matters. In fact, I have already filed the paperwork necessary to transfer control of the company to me. Accordingly, I regret to inform you, Mr. Jack/Lo, that you are no longer the Legal Representative/Owner of Quanzhou Haitian Textile Co. Ltd.
I shall immediately begin to exert pressure on your – sorry, my – delinquent customers. I am sure this will result in Quanzhou Haitian Textile Co. Ltd. being swiftly capacitated.
Thank you for your loyal service to the company. You must vacate the premises immediately. You may, however, keep your e-mail account.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
How are you? i hope all is well with you, i hope you may not know me, and i don't know who you are, My Name is Miss Morin khalifa i am just broswing now i just saw your email it seams like some thing touches me all over my body, i started having some feelings in me which i have never experience in me before, so i became interested in you, l will also like to know you the more,and l want you to send an email to my email address so l can give you my picture for you to know whom l am. I believe we can move from here!I am waiting for your mail to my email address above. (Remeber the distance or colour does not matter but love matters alot in life)
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Yesterday the Post held an on-line discussion about summer books, during which HTEA was mentioned favorably:
Brookland, D.C.: Seems like there's a lot of depressing news out there revolving around newspapers and publishing. Book sales are down; book coverage is getting slashed; newspapers are disappearing altogether; etc. In such trying times (to maybe overstate the situation?) which current writers consistently put a smile on your face?
[Book World editor] Rachel Hartigan Shea: Good writers, actually. And I don't think they're going away. People always want stories in whatever form they take.
But the book that most delighted me recently is "Harry Truman's Excellent Adventure," which we reviewed last Sunday. I love the idea that 1) Truman thought he could go on a road trip like a normal person, and 2) that Matthew Algeo became so obsessed with the trip that he tracked down just about every detail of it...
The book has also received several nice mentions on various blogs in recent days. Thank you, bloggers!
Friday, June 12, 2009
Thursday, June 11, 2009
An interview that I recorded for The Bob Edwards Show is running today (Thursday, June 11) on XM Channel 133 and Sirius Channel 196 (click here for times).
The Washington Post will review the book this weekend. Please keep all fingers and toes crossed for me. Also, my C-SPAN presentation will air again this weekend. Click here for times.
Friday, June 05, 2009
Wednesday, June 03, 2009
Number of events held.
Number of states in which events were held.
Dollars spent on gas.
Average miles per gallon (highway).
Number of meals eaten at McDonalds (in my defense, they have very reliable WiFi).
Highest attendance at an event (Kansas City Public Library, May 6).
Lowest attendance at an event (undisclosed location).
Number of times “American Pie” was heard on the radio (in whole or in part).
Approximate number of dead deer seen on the roadside (in whole or in part).
Number of dead foxes seen on the roadside.
Rank of Steve Miller Band’s “Take the Money and Run” on The River 106.3 FM’s Top 500 Memorial Day countdown in Wheeling, West Virginia. An outrage. Shouldn’t even be in the top 100.
$5.00 (50% of total bill)
Size of tip given sassy waitress Hannah at IHOP #3056 in Morgantown, West Virginia.
Number of professional baseball games attended (Kansas City Royals, Columbus Clippers).
Number of breakdowns (mechanical).
Number of times I was introduced as “Matthew Allego.”
Approximate number of books signed.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
In any event, it was a much more pleasant experience than the last time I went to a zoo.
After the zoo, I went downtown and visited the Thurber House, where James Thurber lived while he attended Ohio State from 1913 to 1917. It’s a wonderful museum. Among the interesting artifacts is the typewriter Thurber used while he was at the New Yorker.
Apparently, when Thurber died he had just begun a story called “Please Do Not Touch.” I wonder where he was going with that one...
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Only two more events left on this leg of the book tour, tonight at 7 at the Barnes & Noble at 1739 Olentangy River Road in Columbus, and tomorrow night at 7 at the main branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Had a great couple of days in western Maryland. Before my reading at Main Street Books in Frostburg last night, I had dinner at the Princess Restaurant with Fred Powell, the bookstore's owner. We sat in the famous Truman booth, of course. The restaurant's owner, George W. Pappas, picked up the tab, which was very nice of him - though I have been responsible for getting the Princess a fair amount of publicity lately!
Last night's reading was a great success, as was today's at the Frederick County Public Library. Now I'm in Wheeling, West Virginia, for a few days. When I checked into the motel I picked up a copy of "Roundabout," the monthly guide to events in the Wheeling area. Much to my surprise, my reading is listed!
Friday, May 22, 2009
Click here to read a very nice review of the book in the Jackson (Mississippi) Free Press. ...
Tonight (Friday night) at 7:30 I will be doing a reading at Main Street Books in Frostburg, Maryland. (Beforehand I will be having dinner across the street at the Princess Restaurant, where Harry and Bess stopped for lunch on their way east). Tomorrow (Saturday) I will be appearing at the Frederick County Public Library in Frederick, Maryland, at 1:00 PM.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Sunday, May 17, 2009
The Virtual Book Signing at the Abraham Lincoln Book Shop in Chicago yesterday went great. (It will be archived and available on-line in a week or two.) Many thanks to Mary Kravenas and Dan Weinberg for making it possible. The Abraham Lincoln Book Shop is a really wonderful place, with all kinds of presidential memorabilia on display and for sale. If you ever get a chance, stop by. You won't be disappointed.
Friday, May 15, 2009
Tomorrow at noon (CDT), I will be appearing at the Abraham Lincoln Book Shop in Chicago, but if you can't make it, you can still watch the event live on the Internet!
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Tonight at 7 I'm giving a reading at Pudd'nhead Books (37 S. Old Orchard Ave., Webster Groves, MO). Afterward I'm meeting up with some old St. Louis friends across the street at the Highway 61 Roadhouse. If you're in the area, please come to both events!
Tomorrow I'm driving to Chicago (to meet Allyson - yay!!!). On Saturday at noon I'll be giving a reading at the Abraham Lincoln Book Shop (357 W. Chicago Ave.). That will be a great event - and it will be carried live on the Web at www.virtualbooksigning.net, so you can join me even if you're not in Chicago!
Monday, May 11, 2009
This morning I appeared on the Scott & Scott show on WZUS-FM, the country station in Decatur. That's me in the middle. Scott is on the right. The "other Scott" is on the left.
Tonight I spoke at the Decatur Public Library. We had another good turnout (more than 50 people).
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Had a nice event at Morrisson-Reeves Library in Richmond, Indiana, yesterday. More than 20 people attended my presentation, and afterward I was presented with a gift basket by the local Convention and Visitors Bureau (pictured above). Drove to Decatur, Illinois, today. Tomorrow night at 7 I am doing a reading/signing at the Decatur Public Library. (BTW, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch ran a nice article about the book today.)
Thursday, May 07, 2009
The book tour is off to a good start! More than 150 people attended my presentation at the Kansas City Public Library last night. Many thanks to Henry Fortunato and the library staff for setting up such a wonderful event (which was taped by C-SPAN, incidentally). This morning at 10, I will be a guest on the Walter Bodine show on KCUR-FM (89.3) in Kansas City. (Harry's grandson, Clifton Truman Daniel, will be on the show with me.) Tonight at 6, I will be signing books at the Banes & Noble in Independence, Missouri. If you are in the area, please stop by!
Saturday, May 02, 2009
In 2004, I produced a story about Mr. Gordon for Marketplace. Back then he was "only" 103 and still came into his office several days a week!
Incidentally, in its obituary, the New York Times appears to use two quotes from my story, but mistakenly attributes them to "NPR." Marketplace, of course, is produced by American Public Media.
Friday, May 01, 2009
Thursday, April 30, 2009
Monday, April 27, 2009
Monday, April 20, 2009
Thursday, April 16, 2009
My friend Mitch happened to visit the public library in Granville, Ohio, recently, when he noticed my book was among the library's "Staff Picks." So thanks to Amy in Circulation for the recommendation. But, really, isn't a book best appreciated when it is bought, not borrowed?
Friday, April 10, 2009
My book is mentioned in the new (May) issue of Real Simple. It’s included in the magazine’s monthly “Simple List.” Very cool! ... On their trip, Harry and Bess ate lunch at the Princess Restaurant in Frostburg, Maryland. As I mention in the book, of all the small mom-and-pop businesses that the Trumans patronized on their trip, the Princess is the only one that has survived, more or less intact, in the same family. This week, the Cumberland (Maryland) Times-News ran a very nice article about the restaurant on the occasion of its 70th anniversary. ... My book also includes a little sidebar on UFOs. Well, this week the Los Angeles Times ran a fascinating article about Area 51, the secret military base where crashed UFOs are supposedly stored. ... Thanks to my friend Colin Woodard for giving the book a very nice plug on his blog. (See you in a couple weeks, Colin!) ... Thanks also to Anna for mentioning the book on her blog, “Muse at Highway Speeds.” ... It’s going to be a busy weekend: Allyson has to work, while I have to get ready for the trip home. (The cats have nothing special planned.) Have a great weekend everybody!
Tuesday, April 07, 2009
I’ve been watching a lot of coverage of the Abruzzo earthquake on Italian TV. It’s pretty incredible. Some smaller villages have been completely destroyed. Irreplaceable medieval buildings have been reduced to rubble. Not to mention the many lives lost.
Here in Rome we were sleeping when the quake struck early Monday morning. We slept right through it. Since then there have been a few aftershocks during the day that we’ve felt.
I’m still in a daze over my New York Times op-ed last Sunday. A few people have asked me how it came about, and the answer is, I was lucky. An op-ed page editor at the paper read the Publishers Weekly review and sent me an e-mail asking me if I wanted to write the piece. Since then, the book has been mentioned in a couple other blogs, so hopefully the buzz is building!
Sunday, April 05, 2009
Wednesday, April 01, 2009
Some friends are visiting us this week, which is always a good excuse for us to get out and see some of Rome's many sights. On Monday we went to the Vatican Museums. Have to admit that I wasn't blown away by the Sistine Chapel. (Maybe it was the ungodly crowds.) But the Raphael Rooms were most impressive. Above is a small detail from one of the frescoes.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
I saw my book for the first time today! My friend Neil (clearly a man of impeccable taste) had pre-ordered a copy and received it yesterday. This morning he brought it along when we met for coffee at the Pantheon. It’s a pretty cool feeling, seeing your book for the first time. I’m letting myself enjoy that feeling for a few days before I start worrying about what I’m going to do next!
Monday, March 23, 2009
Afterward, we watched the real runners. The marathon course went very close to our apartment building. I shot this video of the leaders passing by us, right at the 36-kilometer (22-mile) mark. (The leader in this video, Benjamin Kiptoo Kolum, went on to win the race in record time.) What impressed me is how fast these guys are running! I mean, I know they are world-class runners, but they went by so fast you could barely read their bib numbers - and they still had four more miles to go!
After the marathon, we worked on our terrace for a good two or three hours, pulling weeds, sweeping up a winter’s worth of dirt, etc. That was much harder than the fun run - but probably not as hard as running the marathon would have been.
Monday, March 16, 2009
Harry Truman's Excellent Adventure is already being hailed by critics, and it is widely expected to be this year's fastest-selling book about a road trip that Harry and Bess Truman took in 1953.
Don't miss out! Pre-order your copy today at your local bookstore (click here to find your local independent bookstore) or from on-line booksellers, including Barnes & Noble, Amazon.com, and Powell's Books.
Oh, and Happy St. Patrick's Day everybody!
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Here are the instructions for Line 6 on Form 760PY (the form for part-year residents), which is actually the first line after the basic name, address, and filing status stuff:
"Part I on the back of Form 760PY must [emphasis theirs] be completed before you make an entry on Line 6. Complete Lines 28 through 32, then enter..."
So filers must complete Lines 28 through 32 before [emphasis mine] Line 6? If that's the case, why not move Lines 28 through 32 ahead of Line 6? Let's call them Lines 6 through 10, and renumber the following lines accordingly. And this, for all intents and purposes, is the very first line of the form. It's not an auspicious start. And it only gets worse. To wit: Line 32(a). On the form all it says is, "Net fixed date conformity modifications." Flummoxed? Well, here's what the instructions say:
"Virginia's date of conformity with the Internal Revenue Code was advanced from December 31, 2006, to December 31, 2007. The special 30% and 50% bonus depreciation allowance for certain assets under the IRC and the 5-year net operating loss (NOL) carry back..."
It goes on like that for another nine lines of gibberish, unintelligible to all but tax-preparation professionals (and I suspect even a few of them would be confused). It almost seems like a trap for the filer. Not only that, but the design of the form is abysmal. The type is so small it's hard to read. I don't have my pica ruler handy, but I'm guessing it's 10-point at the most. And the leading - the space between the lines - is so narrow that it's difficult to write in the numbers.
The federal form is, by comparison, a work of clarity and beauty. But nothing compares to the Maine income tax forms.
My, I remember them fondly: bold and colorful, with plenty of room to write in the numbers. If fact, there are designated spaces for each digit on a line. The instructions were clear, too. In the spirit of the Rome Bus Project, here are my grades for income tax forms:
Monday, March 09, 2009
Harry Truman's Excellent Adventure: The True Story of a Great American Road Trip Matthew Algeo. Chicago Review (IPG, dist.), $24.95 (272p) ISBN 978-1-55652-777-7
Public radio reporter Algeo (Last Team Standing) brings the 1950s into focus with a fascinating reconstruction of Harry and Bess Truman's postpresidential 2,500-mile road trip. “I like to take trips—any kind of trip,” Truman wrote. “They are about the only recreation I have besides reading.” Between 2006 and 2008, Algeo retraced their journey with stopovers at some of the same diners and hotels the couple visited. When Truman left the White House in 1953, he returned to Independence, Mo., rejecting lucrative offers he felt would “commercialize” the presidency. His only income was a small army pension. Acquiring a 1953 Chrysler, the Trumans set out with no fanfare and a curious notion of “traveling incognito.” However, reporters and newsreel cameras soon turned their vehicular vacation into an ongoing media event. The book benefits from extensive research through oral history interviews and papers at the Harry S. Truman Library, and Algeo's own interviews with eyewitnesses. With deliberate detours, this book is a portal into the past with layers of details providing unusual authenticity and a portrait of the president as an ordinary man. 20 b&w photos, 1 map. (May)
Friday, March 06, 2009
Hmm. I wonder how that would go over in the States...
Monday, March 02, 2009
Algeo, Matthew. Harry Truman's Excellent Adventure: The True Story of a Great American Road Trip. Chicago Review. May 2009. c.272p. photogs. maps. bibliog. index. ISBN 978-1-55652-777-7. $24.95. HIST
In the summer of 1953, back in Missouri after leaving the White House six months before, Harry and Bess Truman loaded up their new Chrysler and headed out, like thousands of their fellow citizens, on a summer vacation. Public radio reporter Algeo chronicles this unlikely excursion in great and wonderful detail. The Trumans drove to Washington, DC, to visit old friends and then on to New York to visit their daughter, Margaret. Along the way they caused a sensation at almost every diner and filling station at which they stopped. In addition to a detailed itinerary, Algeo, who retraced the Trumans' route, also provides many interesting side trips, including both press and government reactions and interviews with folks who'd met the Trumans on the trip. It was still a time when former Presidents received no pension or Secret Service protection, when there were no interstate highways or big chain motels, and travel was a much more intimate and haphazard affair. This enchanting glimpse into a much simpler age that is all but gone should appeal to anyone interested in the Fifties, Harry Truman, or unusual travel tales. Recommended for public libraries and undergraduate collections. —Dan Forrest, Access Svcs., Western Kentucky Univ., Bowling Green
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Apparently, as each new patient came in, the receptionist simply placed a new blank form on the top of the pile. So, there’s a lot less paperwork involved in health care in Italy. But a lot less privacy, too!
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Sunday, February 08, 2009
Sunday, February 01, 2009
Saturday, January 31, 2009
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Apparently this “re-branding” is part of PepsiCo’s effort to connect with younger consumers, who, with all their text messaging and whatnot, seem to have developed an aversion toward vowels. At least they could have put a period after "Mtn." (Of course, this is the same company that bottles Dr Pepper.)
While they were at it, PepsiCo also changed the logo of their flagship beverage to this:
I guess it’s supposed to look more like a smile than the old logo, but to me it just looks like somebody talking out of one side of their mouth. Or splitting their pants.
Monday, January 26, 2009
I got a lion in my pocket
And baby he’s ready 2 roar
Okay, the lion is obviously a metaphor for a penis. But, if that’s the case, why does he have a penis in his pocket in the first place? Does he have a hole in his pocket? Or is it somebody else’s penis? (Thanks to Phil.)
The only one for me is you, and you for me
--The Turtles, “Happy Together”
This is a neat bit of lyrical legerdemain. You think The Turtles are saying he’s the only one for her and she’s the only one for him. But they’re really just saying she’s the only one for him – twice. In both cases, she is “for” him. Whether this feeling is reciprocated is unrecorded. (Thanks to The Guv.)
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
It oughta be illegal
Make it a crime to be lonely or sad
I understand the sentiment - that, by outlawing loneliness and sadness we might somehow eradicate those two (admittedly regrettable) human emotions. But, even if Congress enacts tough new anti-lonely-or-sad legislation (and with the Democrats in charge, who knows?), what about those few poor souls who, no matter how hard they try, are unable to stifle their loneliness and/or sadness? I mean, is incarcerating the lonely or sad really the answer? Surely it would only make them sadder - though, given prison overcrowding, it might, I must concede, cure their loneliness.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Monday, January 19, 2009
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Monday, January 12, 2009
The Pittsburgh Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles are just one win away from playing each other in the Super Bowl. How cool would that be – a Steagles Super Bowl!
Thursday, January 08, 2009
The event reminded me of an anecdote in my forthcoming book, Harry Truman’s Excellent Adventure.
At Dwight Eisenhower’s first inaugural in 1953, a young freelance photographer named Bob Goldberg snapped a picture of Truman, Eisenhower, Herbert Hoover, and Richard Nixon standing together on the dais. Eight years later, Goldberg asked Harry to sign a copy of the photograph, which the other three men had already autographed. Harry refused. “I wouldn’t sign a picture with that son-of-a-bitch Nixon in it,” he said by way of explanation. “He called me a traitor.” Then he cocked his fist as if to throw a punch. “This is what I’d like to do to him.”
(To read Bob Goldberg’s account of the story and to see the picture, click here.)
Wednesday, January 07, 2009
A friend who works in accounting tells me he recently processed a payment with the following “reference number”:
Wow! For those keeping score at home, that’s two hundred thirteen duodecillion, twenty-two undecillion, seven hundred ninety decillion...
Can anybody top that?
Tuesday, January 06, 2009
I would guess that this tracking number is greater than the total number of packages all human beings have sent and ever will send - multiplied by, oh, a quadrillion. It seems to me that account numbers, tracking numbers, etc. are, too often, needlessly large and complicated. Why, for example, does our electric company account number exceed the total number of human beings who have ever lived?
In this regard, at least, the U.S. government deserves some credit. At one billion, the maximum possible number of Social Security numbers seems perfectly reasonable.