Wednesday, May 31, 2017

"Nothing specifically personal"

I'm telling you right now, I'm going to need a neck massage, the way people are making me shake my head in disbelief and dismay (that awful combination).

But here was Terry Frei, until recently a sportswriter for the Denver Post newspaper. You look at his website, and it would seem that he is well-read and well-informed and part of the larger world in which we live.

And then you read his tweet from the night of the Indianapolis 500, and you wonder what unlocked the door behind which he used to hide stupid statements.

This year's Indy race, in which I have as much interest as I would have in watching people discuss which flavor of rice cake is tastier, was won by Takuma Soto, a fact I would never have known had Frei not chosen to tweet this following dumbness:

"Nothing specifically personal, but I am very uncomfortable with a Japanese driver winning the Indianapolis 500 during Memorial Day weekend."
The publisher of the Post, Mac Tully, and the editor Lee Ann Colacioppo, put out a statement the next day saying that Frei "is no longer an employee of the newspaper."   
This is what upset Frei so much

"We apologize for the disrespectful and unacceptable tweet that was sent by one of our reporters," the statement reads. "It’s our policy not to comment further on personnel issues. The tweet doesn’t represent what we believe nor what we stand for. We hope you will accept our profound apologies.”

Shortly thereafter came this from Frei: "I apologize."

He went on to say, "I made a stupid reference, during an emotional weekend."  Frei's father was a World War II veteran, which apparently accounts for his emotional state. I don't know. My father fought in that war too, and during his time left on earth, he bought and drove Volkswagens and Hondas.

Frei, four-time winner of the coveted "Colorado Sportswriter Of The Year prize," later tweeted a lengthier apology...
I fouled up. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said what I said when I said it. I should have known better and I regret it. I in no way meant to represent my employer and I apologized to The Denver Post.
On Sunday, I was going down to Fort Logan National Cemetery to place flowers on the grave of and to salute my father, Jerry Frei, who spent the four-year gap between his sophomore and junior seasons at Wisconsin flying the F-5 unarmed version of the one-man P-38 fighter plane in the 26th Photo Squadron. (And I did make that visit.) He flew alone, or with a partner in a second plane, over Japanese targets in advance of the bombing runs. When Blake Olson of Channel 9 asked him about being unarmed, he laughed and said, ‘I had a pistol.’ He flew 67 missions, crossing the 300 combat hours threshold, and earned the World War II Air Medal three times. I have written much other material about American athletes in World War II. I researched and wrote quite graphically about the deaths of my father’s teammates, Dave Schreiner and Bob Baumann, in the Battle of Okinawa. I have the picture wallet containing photos of his family and girlfriend that Schreiner was carrying when he was killed. That is part of my perspective.
I am sorry, I made a mistake, and I understand 72 years have passed since the end of World War II and I do regret people with whom I probably am very closely aligned with politically and philosophically have been so offended. To those people, I apologize. (In fact, the assumptions about my political leanings have been quite inaccurate.) I apologize to Takuma Sato. I made a stupid reference, during an emotional weekend, to one of the nations that we fought in World War II — and, in this case, the specific one my father fought against. Again, I will say I’m sorry, I know better, and I’m angry at myself because there was no constructive purpose in saying it and I should not have said it, especially because The Denver Post has been dragged into this.
Terry Frei

Well, now he is out of a job, and what newspaper would hire him, now that he has shown what sort of ill feelings he harbors? Could anyone expect him to write an objective account of a game involving anyone born outside of the United States?

Image result for robert benchley isn't it remarkable
Advice Frei should have taken
Robert Benchley was an early hero of mine, and I always remember words he wrote in a piece for The New Yorker entitled "Isn't It Remarkable?"

"We are constantly remarking on the fact that things are done well by people other than ourselves.  'The Japanese are a remarkable little people,' we say, as if we were doing them a favor. 'He is an Arab, but you ought to hear him play the zither.' Why 'but'?"

Benchley said those words in 1936, and here we are, 81 years later (yes, I had to use the calculator) still being surprised that a man can win a race in spite of the fact that he is not descended from the Pilgrims. 

I see that Frei has written several books. Watch for his next one to come out, a searing self-evaluation about his journey to reality. Maybe he'll even learn to play the zither! 

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Game over

There used to be a television commercial for Chiffon margarine in which actress Dena Dietrich portrayed Mother Nature. Mother Nature tasted the inedible spread made from cottonseed oil and was fooled into thinking it was real butter, and she was mad at being duped, storming off with, "It's not nice to fool Mother Nature!"

I mean, cottonseed oil margarine? Your toast should taste like a shirt?

Image result for stampy elephant
So let nature alone, and especially don't mess with creatures who can end your life with one stomp.  Good advice that should have been taken by Theunis Botha, who was 51 when he shot an elephant at a Zimbabwe game reserve. As a result, he will not see 52. 

Big game hunter Botha was leading a pack of hunters when they came upon a breeding group of elephants and shot at them.

One of the elephants took exception to this action and crushed Botha, who leaves behind a wife and five children. 

Image result for theunis bothaHe "perfected" (his website's words) "leopard and lion hunting safaris with hounds in Africa." He also pioneered European-style "Monteira hunts" in South Africa. 

In a "Monteira hunt," hunters send in packs of hounds to chase prey toward the hunters as they lie in wait.  That certainly makes for a fair fight.

Botha was one of those people who came to this country to get bigshots eager to get all testosterone-y to go to South Africa and kill animals because it makes them feel masculine.

In America, animal rights activists have shut down the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus because of their demands that elephants be excluded from the show. Without the ponderous pachyderms thundering around arenas nationwide, ticket sales went down and the Big Top went to the bottom.

So I hope that PETA and their counterparts will now turn their attention to Americans who fly to other continents to shot these wonderful beasts.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day 2017

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks still bravely singing fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead: Short days ago,
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved: and now we lie
In Flanders fields!

Take up our quarrel with the foe
To you, from failing hands, we throw
The torch: be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die,
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields

Composed at the battlefront on May 3, 1915 
during the second battle of Ypres, Belgium
by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Sunday Rerun: 5 Jacksons make one Benjamin

I'll betcha twenty bucks you don't know what's made of 75% paper and 25% cotton and has been around since 1861.

If you answered, "Regis Philbin," I'm sorry.  The correct answer is "The United States Twenty Dollar Bill," and now you owe me one.

A US twenty bears a flattering portrait of our seventh U.S. President (1829–37), Andrew Jackson, and he's been there since replacing Grover Cleveland on the front side of the bill since 1928. This is why Little Richard and I call a 20 a "Jackson," and why our granddads had to stop calling them "Clevelands," which led to the Stock Market Crash of 1929.  The photo at left shows Mr Little Richard asking for more 20s.

This is a sawbuck

Some of us still call a twenty-dollar bill a "double sawbuck" because a ten-dollar bill is often nicknamed a "sawbuck" because the Roman numeral for ten (X) looks like a sawbuck.  This usage was out of style at about the same time everyone realized no one knew what a sawbuck was. 

What's funny about Andrew Jackson being on the $20 is that when he was president, he was vehemently opposed to both the National Bank (the Revolutionary Era Bank of North America) and to paper money.  The main goal of his administration was to dismantle the National Bank. And he decried the use of paper money in his farewell address. (As a nation, we began using paper money during the Civil War, when metals used for coins were in short supply.)

So naturally, we put this man, who hated paper money, on paper money. 

Now we are engaged in a debate about taking his image off the double sawbucks, and surely Old Hickory would approve.  There's a push to replace him with a great woman in our history, and if there is a shortage of twenty dollar bills in many pockets, we have no shortage of worthy women.  Click on the link and make your choice! 

Saturday, May 27, 2017

The Saturday Picture Show, May 27, 2017

I saw this online, but there was no caption or description, and I have no idea what it is. It might be a photograph, it might be a painting, I don't know what it is, but it has plenty of pretty colors and it would make a great wallpaper.
This is a tree on a little knoll in a night photograph.  
There used to be a song called "He's Got The Whole World In His Hands," and when I saw this, it made me think that we all have the whole world - and the chance to make it better - in our hands every day.
All it takes is some old spoons, a drill and some fishing line...
For Memorial Day weekend, let's try to remember that this is the holiday set aside to pay tribute to those who lost their lives defending the nation.  It's not the same as Veterans' Day.  These men and women deserve their own special day.
"Leaves of three, let it be."  This is what poison ivy looks like. Be on the lookout for it when you traipse through the woods.
We celebrated Bob Dylan's birthday this week. This was the cover of his second album, 1963's "The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan." The cover photo was taken in New York's Soho neighborhood, at the corner of Jones St and (Positively) W. 4th St, and here it is inlaid atop a recent photo of the same location.
We love that Prison Break show on FOX. Recently, lovable Teddy "T Bag" Bagwell pointed out to Secret Service agent Kellerman that the one thing he found confounding after his incarceration was the popularity of "kale...Kale."  Then he shot him.

Friday, May 26, 2017

And for you?

I can't hear about the Charles Schwab stockbrokerage without thinking of a guy I once worked with who bore the same name. He had his phone number in the residential listings book, but sure enough, once a week or so, someone would call him and ask if they should sell or buy some stock they were interested in owning or dumping.

Charlie would say, "Well what do you think?" and encourage the person to follow his or her inclination.  He never took a cent for this sage advice, either.

I mention this to bring up an article I saw that mentions one Walt Bettinger, the CEO of Charles Schwab. He has an interesting way of evaluating applicants for jobs.  And what he does is an excellent way of finding out what kind of person he's dealing with.

"I'll ask questions like, 'Tell me about the greatest successes in your life,'" he told the New York Times. "What I'm looking for is whether their view of the world really revolves around others or whether it revolves around them. And I'll ask them about their greatest failures in their life and see whether they own them or whether they were somebody else's fault."

That's all pretty much standard interview stuff.  But this...well, read on!

Bettinger's deal is, he tell the jobseeker to meet him at so-and-so restaurant for breakfast. But Bettinger gets there early and gets the manager in on the deal. He tells the person in charge, "I want you to mess up the order of the person who's going to be joining me. It'll be OK, and I'll give a good tip, but mess up their order."

(A lot of places might say there's a good chance the order was GOING to be messed up anyway, but still...)

"I do that because I want to see how the person responds. That will help me understand how they deal with adversity. Are they upset, are they frustrated, or are they understanding? Life is like that, and business is like that. It's just another way to get a look inside their heart rather than their head."

He wants to see if the applicant will handle the situation reasonably, without demeaning the server or throwing scrambled eggs around.

And if the person orders bacon, eggs and pancakes but is served grapefruit, granola and yogurt - and he or she says NOTHING, but slides it down their neck without quibble - that's not good either.

That might indicate that the person is timid, or does not pay attention to detail, or is not able to right a wrong - - all undesirable attributes in the world of business today.
Image result for grits and pork roll

"We're all going to make mistakes," Bettinger concludes. "The question is how are we going to recover when we make them, and are we going to be respectful to others when they make them?"

I always cook my own breaky, so I have no one else to blame when my grits are dry and my Pork Roll rolls away. I'm always gentle with me.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Back before there was Giant or Safeway or Weis...

Grocery stores, as we all know, sell off the whole chickens whose time in the refrigerator case is, shall we say, about to go into extra innings, by putting them in the rotisserie, slathering them with barbeque sauce and selling them, at long last, that way.

And then, if the almost-expired chicken doesn't sell in the rotisserie reincarnation, the deli guy shreds it for chicken salad.

And when THAT doesn't sell, I don't know what to tell you.

Image result for rolling hoops
Rolling Hoops
But I want to take you back to a time in America, before the George Foreman ro-to-matic rotisserie, before the electric turning spit was invented, when it was up to everyone barbecuing a bird to turn the doggone thing, lest it get all cooked on one side and all raw on the other.  Ma had butter to churn and laundry to beat on the rocks in the creek and Pa was tied up chasin' varmints and plowing row after row of corn to have with the chicken for dinner, and the kids were busy rolling hoops or hooping rolls or whatever they did. 

Dizzy Dog
Someone came up with the answer, as someone always will, if we just wait long enough. Canis Vertigus, Latin for "dizzy dog," was the solution.  

And if at any time you think I am pulling your leg or losing my mind, let me assure you, this is all true.

In the kitchen, they would rig a wheel, like a hamster wheel but much bigger, and put a dog in there to make that little wheel spin and spin. And the dog, a breed of Corgi called a "turnspit dog," made dinner come out perfectly even by doing his job.  The wheel was connected to the rotisserie and the whole family could go on about their lives, knowing that wonderful, falling-off-the-bone fire-roasted chicken awaited them later.

Some families were even so well off that they had two turnspit dogs, with one always ready in the bullpen to come in take over when the other one got dog-tired.

Back the, people did not look upon animals as we do today. Cats were there to keep the rodent population down, and dogs earned their dinner (perhaps some leftover chicken?) by working doggone hard for it.

And that's nothing, compared to what people expected of their children then! My heavens, sometimes they even had to walk to school in cold weather!

Carrying leftover chicken for lunch.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Great ideas in male garmentry

Oh, well now, I mean, really.
You've heard the talk, the rumors, the buzz.  Will I or won't I? The paparazzi are clustering outside my house, cameras at the ready to get a shot of me walking down to get the mail while wearing a romphim.

It's the romp-HIM, a romper for men, as opposed to the previously female romp-HER.  It's a shirt, it's a pair of shorts, and you don't have to remember to bring one or the other when you pack for the big weekend in the Hamptons.  Or the Hampdens, whichever.

It sort of reminds me of those little shorts that little short boys wear, the kind with suspenders already attached. That's the money shot for kid photographers - a pic of a little boy in blue shorts with suspenders, a white shirt, and a beanie style cap. All over Baltimore, these pictures sat atop pianos in living rooms and downstairs, they were on the wall, hanging from the knotty pine paneling.

The people whose job it is to decide what's fashionable and what isn't have come out and said that men should run to the nearest haberdashery and prance home wearing one of these epicene outfits, and I know it will come as no surprise that the fashion experts can include me out on this one.

Mr Cam Newton can have my romphim;
I don't need it.
For one thing, I have a thing about my pants not being made of the same pattern as my shirt. The closest I would ever have come would be to wear a denim shirt with jeans, but I even drew the line at that.

For another thing, I would tend to look like ten lbs. of potatoes in a five-lb. bag in one of these getups.

For a third thing, they look like shorty pajamas that Joan Collins would have worn in a 1960s movie.

For a fourth, I have three pairs of shorts: khaki, slate, and olive, and no need for a fourth.

But thanks for making me laugh, fashion world!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

"Pair up in threes" - Yogi Berra

"Hand me that pair of pliers!"

"A nice pair of pants would go well with that jacket, but there's a loose thread on it...hang on. I saw a pair of scissors around here."

"I'm gonna pose in my underwears!" - Filippo Giove of " Jerseylicious"

It's been driving me nuts since Eisenhower was in the White House. Why do we say we wear "a pair" of pants when we only say we wear "a shirt"?  Why is it "a pair" of pliers when it's only one hammer? If you have some leftover styrofoam and wish to send it to your friend in Schenectady, how do you pack it up? In more styrofoam?

Ever notice how much 16th century soldiers looked like 21st century hipsters?
Image result for trump fat assI can't handle that last one, but I finally look up the pants issue. We say "pants" as short for "pantaloons." Way back when when men got rid of the loincloth and started dressing a little more nicely for work, they wore pantaloons, which were actually in two pieces. You put one on one leg, tied it around the waist, and then did the same to the other leg.  Some brilliant person decided on the unipant, and we still wear them today, although I would pay a fortune to hear Donald Trump say he is "wearing pantaloons."

The deal with "a pair of scissors" is, each blade is actually a knife, but you put them together and you get the cleaving going on that you couldn't achieve with a knife in each hand.  Same with pliers...take them apart and see how much you can get done, pulling nails or whatever, but a pair makes them work.

It's sort of like peanut butter and jelly, cheese and pepperoni, Heckle and Jeckle. When the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, we say it's working great, and we move on.

Next up: If you sue a parsley farmer and win, will they garnish his wages?