Sunday, August 31, 2008

Facing Reality

And so it's time to put down the bonbons and the wineglass, the crosswords and anacrostics and the mindless irresponsibility. It's time to pick up the mantle of honest work, of hope for the future, of--

Well, I don't know exactly, but September is just around the corner and you can't lie around in that spandex thing forever. I mean, well. ..


Now don't get upset. You've had a fantastic summer.


You went to Arkansas, remember?


Then you went to London. Wasn't that great?


Then you also went to New York, Pennsylvania, Cambridge, the Berkshires, Old Saybrook, Newport, Chicago and Champaign. Right?


The point is you have to start back to work this week. You have to get with it. Get the oil changed. Have a purpose. When was your last haircut?


Your hair looks terrible. Come on now. Don't be that way.


Well, yes, but

a bientot, dear reader. I'm hanging on to the last fingernail.

thanks to

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Sleep well, America.

This was a screen from CNN last week which showed the number of flights in the air during an equipment malfunction in Georgia. Hundreds of delays were taking place, which didn't surprise me a bit. Every time I travel, I mean EVERY TIME, I sit on the tarmac in some kind of delay. I am one of the great tarmac sitters. Now I know why--can you see all of those little silver planes? Good grief. It looks like an infestation of insects. How can they all be up there at the same time?

Best not to think about it.
Another anxiety-producing topic is the stock market.

This is Ben Bernanke, the much-maligned Fed chairman who keeps having one bad idea after another, according to the pundits. Well, we'll bail out the banks. No, no, we wouldn't do that. Okay well, we'll bail out some of them but not all of them. No, no, no, no, we wouldn't do that. On the other hand, maybe we will.

He used to be a professor at Princeton and no doubt got lots of respect.
He looks almost goofy here, doesn't he? Professors do goofy extremely well. The subtext is that they are living the life of the mind and don't think about those outer things like haircuts and clothes. Ben looks way better than most academics, who can't button their shirts right.
Ben could always button his shirt, even back in the day. He looks a bit radical here, but you have to remember, everybody looked like that then. I wonder if that's a polyester shirt.
He is a South Carolina boy, also a Harvard boy and an MIT boy. Godawful smart, though everyone is second guessing him now. Imagine back then if you would have walked up to this kid and said the day is coming, Ben, when you will guide the economic policy of the United States. I picture him saying, yeah so?
He replaced Alan Greenspan
shown here at Applebee's placing his bar order.
Best not to think about any of this. Best to enjoy the last weekend of the summer as best we can. I am going on one more jaunt, dear reader, and plan to do a geographical review of all my travels next time. A bientot

Sunday, August 24, 2008


What a gorgeous day at The Breakers, former summer cottage (HAH!) of the Vanderbilts, darling, on Bellevue Avenue in Newport. We were standing right here near these clipped hedges [I prefer my topiary in the shape of barnyard fowl, though, thank you] as a young European gentleman said well, it's nothing like you'd see in France or Europe.


Now that I've had my one trip to England, I do grudgingly admit the truth of the fellow's statement. The Europeans do grand very well.

Still, Newport is charming and lovely and I wanted to smack that guy in the face (not the guy shown). I especially like the black wrought iron fences that enclose many of the mansions, keeping out the peasants. I wonder who could afford to live in one of them now. Probably no one aside from Warren Buffett
or someone like that. And why would he want to?

Excuse me, Mr. Buffett, the fax machine isn't working again. Something about the telephone lines being eroded or corroded. And the shower is a bit wonky today. We'll get someone right on it, though. Why don't you sit outside and look at the ocean? (Mr. Buffett shown here just prior to his Low-Impact Fully Dressed Aerobics class.

Newport is part Gilded Age grandiosity and part feisty old fishing port. I kept looking for Hammersmith Farm, where JFK and Jackie were married on my birthday. Would that entitle me to a free tour? Here is an old photo.

It's not on Bellevue Avenue and I can't help wondering if Jackie felt a bit, well, declasse as she was growing up. Wonder if she would have started the pillbox hat craze if she'd been from BA.

This is called the Forty-Four Steps and they descend from the famous Cliff Walk, which winds along the rocky coast, halfway up to the "cottages." Supposedly, the old-time servants used to come down here and cause a bit of a ruckus, singing old Irish ditties that reminded them of home. How they could have reveled here is a bit problematic since the cement landing is so small. One person could have done a fabulous break dancing routine, though, and certainly trysts could have occurred and you'd have plenty of warning if someone was about to intrude (44 of them).

Side view of some historic building which I forgot to write down.

View outside of Hendrika's Cafe, which I did write down.

My companion trying to steal silverware at Hendrika's.

And me, doing what I do best.

Only a week left of The Dream, dear reader.


A bientot



Friday, August 22, 2008

non-Michael Phelps Olympics

Okay, I haven't exactly watched the event. So anything that has filtered down to me must be truly making news. Here is the USA women's gymnastics team from 1956.

They at least look like they are in high school, don't they? I can picture each one of them in bobby sox and a poodle skirt, taking driver's ed and worrying about the prom. Those brassieres were of the Double Pointy Rocket Ship variety and maybe Playtex Living. I am sure that coach wore sensible shoes at all times.

Here is the 2008 China women's gymnastics team.

Chinese women gymnasts claim first Olympic team crown

If you're going to send them a congratulatory gift, you might want to consider a Little Kitty item or even a Barbie to give them something to aspire to, like breasts. Here is the American team they beat:
Chinese women gymnasts claim first Olympic team crown

Our girls are tiny, but all look like regular users of eye makeup. I can picture them all with butterly tattoos peeking out of their low-riders.

Olga Kaniskina, Women’s 20km Walk Gold [Athletics]

This is Olga Kaniskana of Russia who won gold in the Women's 20km Walk. This is about 12.5 miles and she did it in one hour and 26 minutes. By my calculations, 12.5 miles is about 50 times around the track. That would take me, oh, about ten hours. Can that be right? I'll check today during my outing. I'm quite friendly with the groundskeeper and maybe he will time me if he doesn't have to eat lunch or do any work.

I don't even like to think about this. This is how you have to reach difficult items at Hannaford's sometimes. Would you call this getting a leg up?

I have had a wonderful summer, dear reader. I visited four states and plan on another one (Rhode Island) this Friday. I have actually completed one syllabus.

More later.



Thursday, August 21, 2008

GCC Star: Ellen Meister

Here's a book that looks very absorbing, my one requirement in reading these days. It's written by Ellen Meister, featured author on the GCC tour. It is called The Smart One and is just out from HarperCollins. Here's a heads up:

Beverly Bloomrosen has always been the smart one, the middle sister sandwiched between Clare, the beautiful and popular older one, and Joey, the rebellious rock-star younger one. But she’s hit a bit of a slump lately. Now 35, she’s embarking on a new career as an elementary school teacher and not exactly living up to her family’s expectations (“Maybe she can work her way up and eventually teach high school. That wouldn’t be so bad,” her mother helpfully comments). Bev has moved back into her parents' home on Long Island while waiting to see if a job opportunity in Las Vegas materializes, seeing it as her chance to start afresh…but before she knows it, life back at home starts to get very interesting.

Kenny Waxman, Bev’s childhood neighbor—and the boy who almost became her high school boyfriend until she found him in bed with Joey—returns. Now a successful comedy writer in Los Angeles, he can still make her heart pound…and the attraction is still mutual.Things take a turn for the sinister when a pregnant woman’s body is found in an industrial drum buried in the Waxmans’ backyard. As Bev and her sisters begin to unravel some mysteries of the past, some secrets of the present are revealed: Bev learns that the perfect Clare may not be as perfect as her glamorous, well-coiffed suburban life may suggest, while rebellious Joey is still attempting to exorcise some of the demons that have haunted her for years. In the end, the curse of being the smart one may just turn out to be a blessing.

About the author: Ellen Meister grew up in the heartland of suburban Long Island. She spent her early career in advertising and marketing, and later worked as editor for a literary magazine and published numerous short stories. Her first novel was Secret Confessions of the Applewood PTA (Morrow/Avon, 2006). Meister lives in New York with her husband and three children. To find out more, visit her website at
Jane Green called the novel, "Wonderfully funny, irreverent and entirely unexpected. " Booklist dubbed it "the perfect beach read," and Library Journal described it as, "Character-driven ... fast-paced and features great dialog."
To buy THE SMART ONE, visit your local bookstore or click below:
Barnes & Noble


Monday, August 18, 2008

Crack Kills

I am also told that this is referred to as "coin slot." But don't go by me as I am out of it and don't know anything. This was snapped in Urbana, Illinois and where, may I ask, have all the beer joints gone? Everything is Starbucks now.

This is deeply troubling to me as it is the track at my local high school. I come here every day like a sap, hoping it will be open. Here's my question, dear reader: how am I a trespasser?

I am a resident, a taxpayer, and a patron, emphasis on the second of these. Only a month ago I wrote a huge check for the privilege of being all three. Young people of course hop the fence. I cannot. Oh, I probably could, but I don't feel like injuring myself, calling the police, and/or ruining my clothes. And why should I have to?

I have only begun to tap my annoyance. I won't say anger because it's not worth getting truly pissed off over (off over?). Anger is usually a big waste of everybody's time anyway.

Anyone buying this?
Two more weeks of The Dream.
A bientot

Thursday, August 14, 2008

More Stuff

At the University of Illinois, the hottest chicks have always lived on the third floor of LAR. Also the ones who pull the most all-nighters and set off the most firecrackers in the stairwell.

Not that we would know.

We're respectable now. It's hard to believe.

You gotta figure there'd be a Lincoln Hall at such a place as U of I and there is. It's inspiring. The taxpayers are shelling out for that light behind Abe 24/7, by the way. Not that I'm one to make trouble.....

We are experts in electronics. This woman can turn on her own DVD player at home in under half an hour.

University officials continue to try and pass this off as what they call the Assembly Hall.
HAH! That's a good one.
You can easily see what it is. Two of our group are bravely set to enter it and speak to a few of the Martians about a possible Dairy Queen visit.

My hosts back in Chicago, John and Judy

Their lives are dedicated to work. They spend most of their time slaving on home-owning projects.

Judy mostly does needlepoint.

I had no choice but to befriend some locals at the Broken Oar, a motorcycle bar in a nearby town. My friends thought I would fit in and I did. The guy on the right, Neil somebody, called me Professor Bitch. I told him I'd get him back. He doesn't know it, but I put timed-release Viagra in his pork chop sandwich. It should be working just about now.
A precious summer day, dear reader. Let's enjoy it to the max.
A bientot. love,

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Illini Forever

Just back from a great weekend in Champaign, Illlinois, where I met up with these friends. Our academic achievements at the U of I have unfortunately been lost. They are buried in the Lincoln Avenue Residence side lawn, where we threw water balloons and incense and lowered the occasional friend out on sheets. Hey. We passed, okay? We played a lot of bridge.

Next to me is Judy, who does the world's best George Washington imitation and can now kick our respective asses in any athletic competition. Pass the chips. Next to her is Candy, a calm and serene individual who still attracts the guys and did so at the Champaign Rap Festival or whatever it was we walked through on Saturday night. In the yellow is Carol, who used to have a Christ-like body and still does.

Obligatory pose in front of the Alma Mater. Thanks to the very nice girl who took this without telling us how odd (or old) we were.

Obligatory pose in front of quad with Foellinger Auditorium in background. It has appeared in at least one movie (Good Will Hunting?), where it purported to be Harvard. Alumni everywhere gasped in the middle of movie theatres when they saw it.


Obligatory pose in old classroom in Lincoln Hall where we lament not paying more attention. I of course feel particularly guilty now, given my present occupation.


Obligatory pose in front of old dormitory where anecdotes about frat guys and puking are traded with enthusiasm.

Obligatory Climb-Up-On-Alma-Mater-Statue-And-Risk-Hip-Replacement shot. Notice who had the nerve to do it.

YABBA DABBA DOO! What a great weekend I had. Next time more pix of post-reunion fun in Chicago where Becky gets called Professor Bitch and finds the Special Room.
A bientot

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Floating My Boat

That phrase is always used, whatever floats your boat. Well, these three recent evenings helped to float mine. Call me a gamut-runner.

First I saw Iolanthe, a Gilbert and Sullivan offering at the

College Light Opera in Falmouth, MA. I must be honest. It was not very good. The actors just kind of stood around in straight lines and though I know the lyrics are difficult to deliver, these were not as audible as one might like. [I couldn't hear it]. In their defense, G&S is a true challenge. Last year I saw Patience and LMAO, so that's why I gave this one a try. The kids were cute, though, and there were some amusing moments [damns with faint praise].

Next up was a rental.

The Dewey Cox Story with John C. Reilly. It is plain out hilarious, although it probably shows my juvenile taste more than anything else. Keep in mind I love Will Ferrell and not everyone does. There's a scene in the beginning of this movie where Dewey gets his start at a black night club, where the owner tells him, "my customers come here to dance erotically" and boy, do they. Five stars and a big LMAO.

I like following this with Waiting for Godot, which I saw in the Unicorn Theatre at the Berkshire Theatre Festival last weekend.

Keeping in mind that it's a stupid and pointless play, it was brilliantly done. I only use those words because if you start reading about it, there is such a defiance on the part of critics and dramaturges and the playwright not to read too much into it. My question may be the same as yours, dear reader. ARE YOU SERIOUS? Okay then, it's even more pointless than I thought. But trust me, you could feel the heavy-ocity all around. IS THAT GUY SUPPOSED TO BE GOD?

Through the miracle of blogger technology, I am at this moment in Champaign, Illinois, reuniting with some old friends. BUT I'M WATCHING YOU AND I CAN SEE WHAT YOU'RE DOING. Happy to see Bret Favre in NYC. There are plenty of shrinks there for him.
A bientot
becky p.s. Will Ferrell is not in the Dewey Cox Story. I just used him as a touchstone. As it were.