I am in line for champagne at Martin's liquor in Mount Laurel with 75 or so other procrastinators. I hope you have your happy juice by now!
Everyone party safely and Happy New Year to you and yours!!
I have stayed away from the presidential election primaries for the most part, but the Iowa caucuses are upon us and I guess it's time to begin thinking about the person who will succeed the moron-in-chief.
For the most part, I think that it's way too early, but the folks who want to be president have been bothering the good people of Iowa and New Hampshire since Labor Day, invading their diners and TV sets every day trying to dos something that will help them stick out from the crowd. I think the best way to note how ridiculous it is to begin political television ads 16 months before the election is to review this actual TV spot running in Iowa for for Republican Mike Huckabee, former Arkansas governor.
Yup, friends, that's an actual TV ad. And he's serious. You should vote for him because and actor playing a part says you should. Or he will punch you or something. Huckabee's plan for 'securing the borders' is Chuck Norris? Give me a fucking break. This is the front runner in the race for the Republican nomination? How can I be expected to take this group seriously?
As Family Week rolls to a conclusion and folks from all over head back to wherever the heck they came from, I take this moment to note that it's the last Sunday of the Year and that means .... The 11ths Annual Men's Lunch!!!
This blessed event combines, drinking, football, wings and ribald conversation in one robust afternoon. Oh and did I mention that it's traditionally held at Hooters?
For over a decade now, the men of Southern Delaware County and our friends have gathered on the final Sunday of the year to basically be MEN. We sit around, drink, eat and scratch ourselves. And look at orange-clad butts. We compare notes on who is married and divorced now, who won in fantasy football, who saw MRGG last, and the relative merits and educational backgrounds of our waitresses.
It's a blast and I am headed there now. so if you're in the Route 1 and 202 area, drop by Hooters. We'll be the group of 30 something guys watching football. Oh ..well ... It might be hard to pick us out in that crowd.
As we begin to wind down the year, I have started to upload the images from Christmas.
The set from Christmas Day itself is up on my Flickr site. Other photos will follow shortly.
Among my gifts this year was a Tamron 180-250mm IF lens. The GF made a big investment in my photo hobby and you can see in some of the images the wide range this lens has. It's way easier to shoot indoors and close with it, given the nice wide angle ability it gives me. It was a super thing to find under the tree!
I'll have a full round up of the gifts later after we rake out the living room and I find them all!
Whether you believe or not, this is some of the best writing that ever has been:
And it came to pass in those days that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee out of the city of Nazareth into Judea, unto the City of David which is called Bethlehem (because he was of the house and lineage of David)to be taxed with Mary, his espoused wife, who was great with child.
And so it was that while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them, and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger."
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men!"
And it came to pass, when the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, "Let us now go even unto Bethlehem and see this thing which has come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us."
And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger
And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.
And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.
And the mystery started there. 2008 or so years later we still celebrate this even with gatherings of great hope and joy. People gather from far and wide to spend time with their friends and family.
However you choose to celebrate, or even if you don't, my wishes to you for a wonderful and Mery Christmas!
Everything I am going to buy is bought, the food is ready for tomorrow and the kids are at their mom's. I've got some wrapping to do and the Christmas Cleanup Elf needs to visit, but otherwise, we're all see for St. Nick to visit.
The GF and I are headed off the my sister's shortly for the annual Christmas Eve Fish Extravaganza shortly. The food is always excellent and I will try to take notes this time so I don't forget who made what pie.
In the last few minutes, Santa has made his way across northern Africa and is now at Sabha, Lybia dropping a few presents for good boys, girls and former totalitarian dictators. Santa does not discriminate.
I hope everyone enjoys the evening and whatever makes it special for you and yours.
I take a good many photographs, About 1000 a month for the last year and a half. Having a digital camera and a big external hard drive helps a lot in terms of editing and storing the images. I also have about 2500 of the images up on the internet photo sharing site Flickr. There are sets of family photographs, travel photography, random shots and a few attempts at photographic art.
And now there is a new section for the family photo archives. I have a stack of photos that my mom and dad got from my father's aunt. They're black and whites from the 40s and 50s and show my father's family in various stiff post-war poses. There are photos of people I never met, including my grandmother, and photos of folks I never knew until much much later. There are also some shots my mom saved of my grandmother's extensive collection of photographs from the 60s, 70s and 80s. They are primarily fading color shots, with a few portraits and such worked in.
I started scanning the images on my Epson Perfection 4180 Photo scanner. The photographs are old and brittle, some in worse shape than others. If I don't start now, they will fade away to nothing. While there isn't much of historic value among the piles of photos I have to scan, they deserve to be preserved. People took the time to take the photos, paid a lot to have them developed, and saved them for all these years. They should be preserved.
So head on over to Flickr and see how the project is progressing. One note however - in the interveneing years, some of the names have been lost. If you know who someone is or where the shot may have been taken, please leave a comment so we can add the data.
Now back to the holiday preparations!
Hey there - I need your help!!!
My brother's great sports blog, the700level is in a sports blog tournament. They are the best philly sports blog on the planet. Period.
Please help them out by going to :
and voting for The700level
Thanks for yer support!
For all of my adult life until last year, I drove a full-size pickup. First I had a bright red 1994 Ford F-150 that went through a lot over the years, between me learning to drive the behemoth, Carin striping the sides, Kevin hitting the house and so much more. It was a great truck, always able to help friends move or to haul materials for one project or another. I still miss it.
Then I got "The Burgundy Dodge" as John called it. A 2003 Ram 1500, it helped me build the house in Speedwell, moved me there and then again to Moorestown. After I started working in Center City Philadelphia, it became impractical to keep a full-size truck and I traded it for the Honda CR-V I drive these days.
The CR-V is a nice compromise vehicle, small enough to park easily in the city but big enough for the kids and the GF and all their things. But it's not the kind of truck that you love like I loved the Ford or like John loved the Dodge.
Today I needed to move a piece of furniture and rented a brand-new midnight black 2008 Dodge Ram Big Horn 1500 with 20 inch wheels. It's got a 4.7 liter V-8 engine under the hood that is near-silent around town but snaps your head back when your hit the accelerator. There were only 408 miles on the odometer when I drove it off the lot. it still smells new.
With 4 doors it's plenty big enough for the family, but none to easy to park. It purrs along smoothly but only gets a greedy 13.5 mpg. And as you can see, it's a pretty hot looking ride! I've got to take it back tomorrow, but it felt pretty good to be back up high in a pickup again, even if it's just for today.
Thanks to those of you who checked in to find out how my visit to the oral surgeon today went. I guess it went as well as can be expected when a guy you never met uses pliers in your mouth.
On the positive note, there was no need to knock me out. On the negative side, I sure wish i was knocked out now.
With Christmas only a bit more than a week away, I decided I don't have enough going on in my life, so I went to the dentists for my once-a-century check. Turns out I need an emergency extraction. See - now that's why I don't go to the dentist! Whenever I go something bad happens.
I knew something was wrong actually, the inability to chew on that side of my mouth and the throbbing pain were kind of a dead giveaway.
So today I am going to pay some guy to knock me out (first time ever for that at least by a doctor)and then grab one of my teeth with pliers and pull as hard as he can. And for the privilege of all this, I get to fast for 6 hours. Have you ever gotten up in the morning and not gotten a drink of water? Yeah. It's hard.
I'll post later on how it all comes out!
Tuesday was the GF's birthday. A celebration was in order. In August she had taken me to XIX, the Park Hyatt's re-done version of the Bellvue-Stratford's Founder's Restaurant. In August the food was wonderful, the sunset amazing and the service solicitous. So it seemed that a return for her birthday was in order.
XIX (pronounced nineteen) is named for its placement on the hotel's 19th floor. It's probably better known as a quiet, rather elegant cocktail spot for the folks who occupy the commercial space below or visit the upscale hotel above. On none of my visits has the dining room been particularly busy. This may have to do with the circuitous route that you have to take to get to the place, going up an elevator 19 floors, wandering through corridors and rooms and past the bar before finally being seated.
Or maybe people have gone there, had our waiter Chuck serve them, and decided never to go back.
The food was very good. I had three Melpeque and three Raspberry Point oysters to start. They were fresh and wonderfully flavorful, but had been inexpertly shucked and had were still attached to the shell in places. The GF ordered her usual calamari, which was lightly battered, crispy and tender at the same time. The dipping sauces are nothing to write home about, (Homemade cocktail sauce is usually more than unmixed ketchup and horseradish. I guess they meant make it yourself cocktail sauce) but the appetizer course was moderately successful.
A word about the cocktails. This place us known as a good bar with well-made libations. I ordered my usual winter drink, an old-fashioned, I got club soda with a splash of whiskey, a ton of bitters and a cherry. No sugar, no orange. Drinking a club soda and bitters is definitely an odd experience. The GF's apple martini was well-received if the shortest we saw at our 3 stops that night.
For dinner I had the recommended "clay pot," a medley of seafood in a coconut milk and lemon infusion. The flavors were intense and unexpected in the cold of December, and the seafood was prepared perfectly. One large scallop, two mussels, a lobster claw and two pieces of snapper was $34. The GF had veal cheeks that were exceptional. Surrounded by root vegetables and a massively flavorful reduction sauce, the veal was tender and without a hint of fat. They were far better than the Monk's Cafe version. The portion size was very nice for $28.
All in all this would have been an excellent meal if not for Chuck. He alternately glowered at us or ignored us. I was left to hear abut the specials from his recitation at the next table. Luckily runners brought us good bread and kept the water glasses filled or we might have had to get it ourselves. When the appetizers where served, he hovered nearby , stopped table side for a moment, grunted and moved on. Yes Chuck, everything here is fine, thanks for asking!
He wasn't a bad waiter. I watched him give very good service to the table next to us. He just didn't like us. Can't say what was up about that, we were properly dressed, had reservations, they knew it was a special occasion. He was enough of a distraction that we skipped dessert and coffee. We didn't let it spoil the night, but maybe if you go you should think about specifying another server.
PS - I am definitely NOT allowed to talk about the fact that the GF is totally hilarious after 3 martinis!
Today is the culmination of the semester's work for the art ad design students here at work. It's really amazibg to see what they produce over four months.
5here is everything out there from a mock up of a wall and floor complete with molding and drywall compound to amazing metal work and sculptures.
This is an inspiring place to work even if I have to admit I don't get al of what they produce!
After a two-week hiatus, the Fantastic Four returns this week in full holiday mode!
What are your four favorite holiday traditions?
How about you? What tradition makes the season special for you?
While it's pretty much all gone now, last night marked the first real snow in Philadelphia this season. The late autumn storm brought between one and four inches of the white stuff across the area. it was enough to make driving a bit messy, though not really treacherous.
This morning, it was as cold as I can remember in a long time, with the thermometer showing 22 degrees when I got the CR-V started this morning. I uploaded a few images of Center City that I shot on the way home last night. The camera shake was desired this time, but I sure hope I get a monopod from Santa! I especially like the ghostly appearance of the lower portion of City Hall in the photo at the left.
Have a great day!
I have to post about the really great soup I had last night. I was on the run to my dad's house to see how he is doing since his discharge and needed something fast to eat. I stopped into Valanni on Spruce Street, one of my regular haunts to see what I could get on the run.
Chef Even Turney convinced me to sit down and relax for a minute and have a bowl of his soup special for the evening. I am thankful he took the time to slow me down. The soup was worth its weight in gold. Deep brown broth filled with caramelized onions and mushrooms, a piece of toasted French bread floated in the middle. I sat at the bar and relaxed as the bowl of hearty goodness warmed me and settled me down from a long work day. The magic was worked.
This is the second week in a row I have had a great bowl of soup at Valanni. Last week, Turney put out a wonderful butternut squash puree with lump crabmeat and grilled asparagus. I thought that would be hard to beat, but this week's Monday soup special blew me away! The onions fell apart in my mouth and the veal-base was perfectly salty and robust for the windy evening.
I eat out a good bit. At least once a week. As noted earlier, I eat at Valanni a good deal too. The reason is simple. The food is unfailingly excellent. There are other reasons too, but that's the basic one. Excellent food gets my attention all the time. The staff is top-shelf and it's easy for me to get in and out of there, but it's really the great stuff that comes out of the kitchen that ranks it at the top of the restaurant scene for me.
While he food is always wonderful and the place is fun, last night deserves a special mention.
PS - for all those who have asked, Dad is home and doing well. Thanks for your support!
Well the living room is cleaned and re-arranged, the tree is up and fluffed, the ornaments have been unpacked and hung, the train is set up and running. The kids are smiling and ready for the Great Red One's visit. And I am EXHAUSTED!!!
Since the kids will be away in St. Croix for a week for a family wedding, we decided it was best to get the place ready for Santa this weekend rather than trying to cram it in closer to the holiday. John especially enjoyed decorating the outside of the house with colored lights and candy canes. Emma is particularly interested in running the train.
We also saw Santa today and got our Christmas wishes in. In between all of the holiday festivities, the Eagles threw away a game they should have won.
A sprinkling of snow covers the ground this morning in Moorestown. It's just barely enough to say that it's snowed. The cars are covered, as is the tree that john and I decorated yesterday for Christmas. It's about 26 degrees and we are expecting a mix of snow sleet and rain as the day goes on.
We're off to get out picture with Santa, then decorate the tree while watching the Eagles beat the Seahawks this afternoon.
Unedited photos of Santa coming to Swarthmore last night are up here.
Have a great day!
For those of you who have expressed good thoughts and asked, here is a quick update on my dad's health.
He's doing well, but is still in the hospital. It's not looking like he will be released for a few more days. The atrial ablation procedure on Thursday went well, but took a longer time than most due to some unusual heart topography. There has been some concern that his heart rate has not dropped below 110 or so and that his blood pressure is somewhat elevated.
Currently the thinking is that the levels are high because he has a slight cold and some anxiety related to being in the hospital. After the cold passes and the Coumadin levels are adjusted, they will hopefully come down and he can come home.
John and I visited 'Pop' for a while today and he showed John around the wing, introducing him to the staff and showing him all the things the is hooked up to. Both of them seemed to enjoy the relaxation of hospital rules to allow a 7 year old to visit.
Hopefully things will normalize and he'll be home mid-week!
Right now I sit under a jaundice-yellow umbrella in the 'Atrium' at Crozer-Chester Medical Center. My brother and mother are also here, Mom doing a crossword puzzle, Matt tapping away stylishly on his MacBook.
Why you ask?
My dad is somewhere in the bowels of the hospital having some part of his heart 'cauterized.' I thought they stopped doing medical cauterizations somewhere in the Dark Ages, but a doctor actually used the phrase yesterday, so that shows you how much I know about cutting edge heart procedures. Matt on the other hand, seems to know a great deal in that he edits a magazine or two that cater to exactly to the kinds of guys zapping my dad's heart right now. The docs talk mostly to Matt. I frown and nod a lot.
Dad mentioned several times yesterday that he had not planned on being admitted to the hospital yesterday. That he felt fine and had things to do, etc. His cardiologist, who admitted him to the hospital within 10 minutes of meeting 'Pop' noted his 157 heart rate and used words like 'non-compliant patient a lot.' The drugs have not slowed down the 'atrial flutter' he is suffering from, hence the zapping currently being done.
This episode likely marks the beginning of the next phase of life for us adult Pesotski children, that part which will likely involved an increased number of visits to hospitals and calls to bosses explaining our sudden absences. As Matt noted yesterday, 'once a cardiac patient, always a cardiac patient.' That being said, if you had told me 9 years ago, when my dad had his quintuple bypass that he would not be back into the hospital for 9 years, I would have said you were nuts, especially given his 'non-compliance.'
He'll likely be just fine after the procedure today, though it will be a few days before he is home. I am guessing he will take this as the wake up call that it it and increase dietary and exercise compliance for a bit. But who knows for how long. I probably should as well. I'm carrying an extra 10 pounds and can't likely run around the block. I should probably put my money where my mouth is.
Thanks to all of you who have called and texted with good wishes. We appreciate them.
24 year old Washington Redskins Pro Bowl safety Sean Taylor died early this morning as a result of a gunshot wound he sustained in his home from an intruder. Taylor was in his 4th year in the league and had been an All-American at the University of Miami, which bizarrely did not note his passing as of 9:30 am EST.
While not a close follower of the NFL, I basically thought of Taylor as the proto-typical Hurricane pro. Brash and hard-hitting, he sometimes drew the ire of the zebras and opponents with his over the top style. His teammates where telling a different story yesterday, saying he had 'matured' and holding a candlelight vigil for him last night.
Whatever the case, every person deserves to be safe in his own home and my condolences go out to Taylor's family, friends and teammates.
I spent much of yesterday helping Bopper re-hab his parents' kitchen. They live in a great 1920's stone twin in beautiful Media, PA. The old kitchen is pretty much gone, they are salvaging the dining area floor, but basically everything else will be new. Bopper is a top-shelf carpenter and fixer of the highest order, so my role was to do whatever he needed done.
The project is a few weeks old at this point and most of the demolition had been completed. I did some fairly basic wiring and carpentry, tried to keep Mr. Ranson on task, and enjoyed the camaraderie. Kevin did yeoman's work chipping 1970's-ear adhesive of a wall that can now be skimcoacted. Bopper and I have done a bunch of these kinds of mini-projects and it was good to be able to still have enough ability to help out a true master carpenter. We solved a few puzzles, thought out the next couple challenges and actually got some work done.
The real discovery of the day was Bopper's new 'screw machine.' HIs dad bought him an early Christmas present last week, a Makita BTD142HW Cordless Impact Driver. Bopper had talked about it early in the day, but I have never been a big Makita fan, so I basically ignored him. Later, as I was struggling with the beast of a 18v Milwaukee monster Driver he has, Bopper said uhh why don't you try the Makita.
I did and that was all it took. I am not sure where it has been all my life. Light and easy to handle, the BTD142HW has a TON of torque and a nice bright LED that shows you what your are doing. The battery holds a charge for a good long time and charges up in 15 minutes. Mr. Ranson notes that it even plays a song when it's done charging. I'm in love. I added it to my wish list immediately.
As I bloatedly recline on the couch and prepare for a busy day of watching college football and encouraging my kids to be quiet, I reflect on the bounty that crossed the tables yesterday.
First, thanks to Wawa for getting the day started with a 20 ounce cup of java yesterday. While it wasn't up to the usual standards, Roy of the Moorestown store served it up and got me moving after my Wednesday night out with the boys. Not a bad way to start the day.
The GF served up a tasty mid-day snack of a very basic ham and cheese on multi-grain bread with sliced tomato sprinkled with fresh ground pepper and sea salt. Sounds simple, but the execution was perfect and it got me though until dinner.
Late in the afternoon, it was time for the turkey feast at the GF's mom's house. The Company was great as always, and the food was top notch. A few specific items deserve note. The perfectly prepared dark meat of the bird hit the spot for me. I just wish I had some more now for a cold turkey sandwich. The GF's cousin made an amazing macaroni and cheese that was EASILY the best I have ever had. Need to find out how she does it.
Also of note at the first gathering of the evening was the marshmallow ambrosia that the GF's grandmother made. It took me back to the holidays with my own grandmother. It was darn near the same thing in my memory! Marshmallow, cherries, coconut and mandarin oranges. MMMMMMM-MMMMMM! The Santa Margarita Pinot Grigio provided by GF's little sis was also excellent!
Then we packed everyone up and headed over to PA and my sister;s house for dessert. We arrived at the perfect time, as they were finishing their meal and in time for dessert! I headed right for the fridge, as my brother Matt had tipped me that he had a selection of great holiday beers for my sampling. He did not disappoint. The Anchor 2007 Christmas brew is their usual big, bold bottle of hoppy brown excellence. But the beer of the night was Dogfish Head's Olde School barley wine. Weighing in at 15% abv, Matt and I split this one. Caramel, citrus and a bit of hops on the end. Very nice! My sister sure knows how to make a pumpkin pie. The flavors were fresh and complex and it was one of the best in my memory. I don't do crust, but many raved about it. Kudos to the chef!
We all had a great day eating and drinking and enjoying each other's company. I hope that you all did too!
I don't have too much to say other than the headline today. It's been a good year in so many ways and we should all pause for a few moments amid the feasting and drinking and family and football today to remember that Thanksgiving is about remembering all that we have and giving thanks for it in our own way.
I am not a particularly religious person, but I am mindful of the fact that for someone like me to have done so well, there MUST be a higher being. I see that higher being's work daily in the smiling faces of my children and their joyful noise each morning. I see it in the rolling hills and stunning beauty of our nation. I see it in the men and women who protect us and serve us so that we can stay free.
It's becomes something of a Thanksgiving tradition around here to 'borrow' Norman Rockwell's 'Freedom From Want' for today's post. Thanks Norm!
Today the NBA, and basically all of basketball, is dominated by black athletes. For anyone younger than say 35, it has always been this way in their memory. So it's pretty hard to imagine that the dawn of the NBA was dominated by short Jewish guys. In fact, much of the history of basketball until roughly the mid-1950s was centered on Jewish players and coaches.
Did you know that Red Auerbach was Jewish? That there are dozens of Jewish players and coaches in the Basketball Hall of Fame? That a largely-Jewish series of teams at CCNY and LIU were a major college basketball powers of the 40s and 50s?
I might have known some of this in the vaguest of senses, as I hail from the town that spawned the greatest Jewish basketball team of all time, the South Philadelphia Hebrew All Stars (SPAHS), but it had been pushed to the back recesses of my mind by the high-flying acrobatics of today's NBA, and even college and high school game.
And then I had the chance to go to the Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival's presentation of filmmaker David Vyorst's 86 minute documentary "The First Basket" on Monday night. Vyorst did a wonderful job weaving together vintage black and white footage of mid-20th century hoops games, modern day interviews of many of the major Jewish players of the 40s and 50s, as well as contextual material on basketball, the Settlement House movement and Jewish-American history. The film is richly narrated by actor Peter Reigert, who lends his nasal Bronx accent to the images.
The title of the film derives from the fact that the first basket in NBA history was scored by a Jewish player, Ossie Schectman on November 1, 1946 as the New York Knicks beat the Toronto Huskies 68-66 at Maple Leaf Garden in Toronto. Yup, the first NBA game ever played was played before 7,090 confused Canadians in a hockey arena.
Vyorst covers the men who made the NBA a force in American athletics, guys like south Philly's Eddie Gottlieb, who owned the SPAHS, the Philadelphia Warriors and ran the NBA into the 1960s. He interviews Auerbach at length, who tells giant stories of little men though clouds of cigar smoke. Vyorst spends a great deal of time detailing the accomplishments of Nat Holman, the Hall of fame coach of the CCNY Beavers at their heyday. He also talks to about a dozen Jewish superstars of the 50s, many who animated re-tell the best stories of the glory days of their youth. Their stories really carry the film and it was sad to note that several of them passed on before the film was completed.
The film is a touch New York-centric, though it covers Philly ball a good bit. There is an inexplicable 15 minutes devoted to basketball in Isreal, which seems a late appendage rather far from the core of the movie. The Jewish-dominated points shaving scandals of the early 1950s are covered, though briefly. The later scandal involving Jack Molinas is ignored completely. David Stern appears, but with little context and one is left to wonder who he is and why he is there.
All in all it's a very good film, but one is left wondering if Vyorst was making a feel-good film about the heyday of Jewish athletics in America or a true documentary. It ends up feeling a lot more like the former. It's a good film that deserves wider attention, and should be seen in the context of the contributions that the profiled pioneers made to today's game, and also a commentary on how much has changed. Today there isn't a single Jew in the NBA, CCNY is a mediocre team competing among the worst of the Division III teams and LIU is an is a shadow of its former self on the D1 scene.
I'd like to thank my good friend Bob Arrow, the coordinator of the Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival for the opportunity to see the screening of "The First Basket." Bob recently announced that he will shortly retire from his posting at the PJFF of the last six years. I wish him all the best!
Philly.com reports today that a private firm has analyzed FBI crime statistics for US cities and that Philadelphia came in as the 21st most dangerous city in the US. Camden was the 5th. Detroit, the most miserable place I have ever visited, was the worst. Shockingly, instead of acknowledging that there is a crime problem in her fair city, the Detroit Police Chief, complained that the report is only available for purchase.
Ella Bully-Cummings, Detroit's top cop apparently thought that was more egregious than the fact that Detroit had as many violent crimes as did Philly in 2006. For the record, Philly is almost twice as large as Detroit and has a major tourist and night life industry that attracts non-residents. Detroit, umm, doesn't. By all means Ella, if you cant' argue with the facts, dispute the distribution method.
Last year, Philly had 406 murders to Detroit's 414. 1.5 million people live in The City of Brotherly Handgun Crimes, compared to 850,000 in the Motor City. Over 300 people have been murdered in Philly this year, the worst pace since the high of 503 in 1990.
Lost in all of these statistics, and the national attention they have brought, is the fact that gun violence in Philly has begun to creep out of 'the neighborhoods,' and is now affecting Old City, Center City and other places tourists and business people frequent. I work on The Avenue of the Arts and all of the high priced condo folks I talk to in restaurants and bars in the area are beginning to worry that crime is soon going to be more than something they see on the evening news. They're afraid and Michael Nutter should be too.
Nutter is inheriting a city where there aren't enough cops, guns flow free and easy and cops have become targets. His solution is 'stop and frisk' and Charles H. Ramsey. You may remember Ramsey as DC's police boss actually had his patrol car stolen. Philly's currently ineffective top cop, Sylvester Johnson says 'stop and frisk' risks urban unrest and amounts to racial profiling. I'd argue that we're in the middle of a war here and arguing about what might happen while people die is rather like re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic.
News stories aren't going to solve the violence problem. More prisons wont either. Stop and frisk might be a good start, but violent crime comes down to 2 things. first, there are too many guns and it's time to make it tougher to buy and sell them. One a month is a JOKE, and will still allow you to amass a personal armory, yet the NRA has it bottled up a year later. Second, we need a plan to provide opportunity and jobs for the people in the city who can't afford to live away from the violence. That's a big statement and it's easy to just say it, but we've know it for decades and need to get started. It's time for a New New Deal.
it's easy to focus on Philly or Camden or Detroit and say , 'Oh god crime there is terrible!' But the real story is that there has been a continuing increase in violent crime in most large US cities and it's a threat to national security. Local anti-crime and education programs have fallen under the ax at every level as we have focused on 'The War On Terror.' It's time to admit that the war on terror abroad has been an abject failure and start to focus on winning the war on terror in our neighborhoods.
As many of you know, I like to get dressed up and go out. While I am perfectly comfortable eating pizza and drinking Yuengling in my Jeans for Ellie's First Birthday (at Carin's last night), I also like to don the tux, grab a flute of bubbly and escort the lovely GF to a formal ball. One of the best every year is Hair o' The Dog.
I've been a few times over the years and will make a return this year on Saturday night, January 12, 2008 at the Hyatt Regency Penn's Landing. Headlining the event will be my favorite local band and my good friends, Mr. Greengenes. Something tells me Bryen will skip the tux.
It's a cool even, usually with good food and plenty to drink. In the past ladies rooms have been an issue, but i have been assured that the organizers have this one under control this year at the Hyatt. The crowd is wide-ranging from young hotties to The Guv. In my (ahem) mid-30s, I am solidly in the heart of the age range. It's black tie for the guys and the ladies come SERIOUSLY dressed up.
I won't say it's cheap. At $125 a head, it's at the top end of prices for Philly charity events, but it's worth it. The event benefits PAWS - The Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society this year.
I'd recommend you get your tickets early, especially if you are thinking about the VIP section option. I've waited in the past and been disappointed. Let me know if you are going, or what the other hot dates for the winter ball season are. I'll see you there!
Yeah. I had forgotten too.
After that, Southwest issued an apology and used the situaion in their ads for a bit, Ms. Ebbert, either a college student, an aspiring lawyer, or Hooters waitress, depending on where you read, appeared on every bad TV show on the tube.
Until yesterday, that is, when Ebbert announced that she had posed nude for Playboy. Like we all didn't see THAT one coming! It took about 12 minutes for the photos to be leaked to the internet. If you must see the images, here they are, but you have to go to confession later.
Don't worry mom, "they are very tastefully done" according to Ebbert.
I tend to tune out commercials or jump up to grab a beverage or pee during them. So I had heard this one several times before I actually saw it. Then I had no idea what they were selling because I was too confused by the animals. So I started waiting for the commercial to see what the heck they were trying to get me to buy.
Turns out that Jeep is trying to get me to buy the new Grand Cherokee by running this spot on ESPN and Discovery all night long.
The music is "Rock Me Gently" a #1 Billboard hit by Andy Kim from 1974. I'd never heard that one, but I do remember his other #1, "Sugar, Sugar," which he sang with Ron Dante as part of "The Archies."
I'm torn on whether this is a great commercial. I mean I had NO CLUE what the product was for the first 3-4 times I was exposed to it. However, the unusual music and the animated animals drew me back enough times for me to figure out what they were selling. Heck, I even went and found the video and did a post on it.
Now what's the wolf eating and regurgitating the bird about?
Every now and then you have a day that makes you realize how amazing the small things are in life ... In that light here is today's Fantastic Four:
What are the four most amazing things in everyday day? They could be occurences, people, items, events ... you name it!!!!
Have a great weekend!
After a bit of a delay, the first of the autumnal photos from my recent trip to southwestern Pennsylvania have been posted over at my Flickr site. I'm still working on the images from the Flight 93 Memorial, which I also visited on that trip.
These images have been a bit of a struggle for me. I am using the rather crappy kit lens that I have had for years. It's served me well, but you see a lot of noise on the long focal lengths as it isn't image stabilized. The focus is also a touch soft.
I am also struggling to show the deep blue of the sky and also catch the pop of the fall foliage colors. I am a novice Photoshop CS3 user, but gosh, what an amazing program! For the most part, I have erred on the side of the leaves, but probably would have had better results working a bit more with my filters as I was actually shooting the images to try to enhance the blues.
Let me know what you think!
A really cool project is going on evening right now on South Broad Street in Philly. Students at The University of The Arts are lighting two buildings at Broad and Pine and the effect is spectacular!
Yeah this a crappy cell phone picture but I think you get the idea of how cool the lighting is on the neo-classical architecture of Hamilton Hall. The lighting accents the building and adds figures ad details that make you imagine the setting could be Ancient Athens!
The projection on Anderson Hall on the east side of Broad is more abstract, but still VERY cool. Don't take my word on it. Get down there and see it!
While I have tested the photo post possibilities for my new Samsung SCH-i760 smart phone a few times already, this is my first attempt to use it for an email post. It's a pretty cool little mobile computer, complete with a sliding full QWERTY keyboard, Windows Mobile 6, a 1.3 mp camera and a bunch of other stuff.
The GF hates it. I like it but am not in love yet.
We all have that outfit that just feels perfect, or makes us feel invincible, or that always gives us that extra measure of confidence on a date or interview. Thus, today we take on clothing
What are your four favorite articles of clothing?
Have a great weekend!
And now for something a little different. I just got done a fairly recently-published audio CD of John Grisham's Playing for Pizza and thought you all might enjoy a bit of a review.
Playing for Pizza
by John Grisham
Unabridged Audio CD
Published by RH Audio on Septermber 24, 2007
6 CDs - Read by Christopher Evan Welch
I am not much of a John Grisham fan. I like legal thrillers just fine, but his seem to be written all to often to be turned into a film later. Things explode often. Private jets are frequently used. Kisses happen on the beach at sunset.
Still, I was looking for some light listening for a recent trip and the premise of Grisham's latest novel intrigued me. Since it wasn't a lawyer saving the world or a hooker exposing insurance fraud, i decided to pick up Playing for Pizza. The liner notes mentioned a down on his luck NFL quarterback looking for a last shot at redemption playing American football in Italy.
It sounded just interesting enough to spend the $20 on so I would not have to be punching buttons on my car radio for a day of driving across Pennsylvania.
And it was interesting enough to prevent that. But not by a whole lot.
It's a fun read about a lovable loser, Rick Dockery, who, after losing a game no one could have lost to cost the Cleveland Brows a shot at the Super Bowl, heads to Parma, Italy to play QB for the Parma Panthers. He's out of money, running from a possible paternity suit and desperately interested in seeing the cheerleaders of Italy. Dockery soon finds himself immersed in a city in love its food, wine and opera, and though a fish out of water, makes the best of his few months there.
The passages about the food and sights of Italy are amazing. It's some of Grisham's best writing. The football sequences make it clear Grisham knows a bit about the game. But if you're looking for a story, there isn't much here. It's a Tom Cruise movie of a novel. You know, talented rouge gets a break, faces adversity, bonds with unexpected people, overcomes said adversity, learns to enjoy life and triumph in the end. All the while, he beds a hottie and leaves us wondering what's next.
It's fun. Just not that special, which is a shame given all the material Grisham has to work with here.
It'll make a great movie.
The lobster-cheddar omlette at Valanni was excellent, but we wanted something special for dessert so we headed to S. 8th St. and the original Termini Brothers Bakery.
A dozen ricotta stuffed cannoli should hold us for a while.
We had a few hours to spend with Emma on her 4th birthday yesterday. she was just as sweet as ever, enjoying her two favorite things, presents and ice cream.
She's still a tiny little thing, but she is the sweetest little girl I have ever known. I look at the picture of her four years ago in the NICU and I realize how luck we all are to have her today. !s snall and quiet as she is, Emma is a tough little girl who knows her own mind.
Stubborn doesn't nearly cover it. But she pulls it off with a giggle that makes you melt and give in to her wishes with a laugh.
She's my little princess and I hope her birthday was as happy for her as it was for me!
Today is Emma's fourth birthday. To celebrate my little princess's special day, we have a birthday theme.
What four things do you like most about birthdays?
Have a great weekend!
I have to admit that the first time I saw this commercial i had to tell myself that it really WAS on network TV and that I was not imagining the visual puns.
I have to hand it to Kellogg's for not taking themselves too seriously in this ad spot for All-Bran. Not many commercials on the air for products like this handle it as humorously. I mane how often do you see a construction worker talk about 'doing it' with All-Bran while a truck TAKES A DUMP just behind his ass? Even Slate magazine has picked up on it/
Really. Go ahead. Laugh. It's ok!
This ad is WAY better than the 3 guys in the car talking about a 4 hour erection being 'a scheduling issue.'
After republicans running for various offices tried to slur a democratic opponent as soft on terrorism, a federal district judge in the Fort Dix Six case has called the republican tactics "despicable."
I would have stopped at "desperate," but the judge is probably right.
Tracey Riley is running for Assembly as a democrat and her husband's law firm is defending one for the terrorists accused of plotting to kill soldiers at Fort Dix. Somehow the two attorneys and the other guy running on the republican ticket have jumped to the conclusion that because her husband is providing a constitutionally-protected defense to an accused ciminal, that somehow she is a terrorist.
It's bottom-feeding politics, but not unexpected from this group, who are clearly running scared this fall as the dirty deeds of the last few decades seems poised to catch up with the elepantine party of burlington County.
This isn't very much like me, but I have been feeling a bit burned out and not much into realizing how good things are.
Then a friend sent me the little story below. Normally I hate things like this, but it hit me especially well this morning. I hope you understand ...
The Mayonnaise Jar and the Coffee
When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar... and the coffee...
A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly, he picked up a very Large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls.
He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.
The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.
The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar.
Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous "yes."
The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.
"Now," said the professor, as the laughter subsided, "I want you to recognise that this jar represents your life.
The golf balls are the important things. Your fa mily, your children, Your faith, your health, your friends, and your favourite passions. Things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.
The pebbles are the other things that matter. Your job, your house, and your car.
The sand is everything else. The small stuff.
If you put the sand into the jar first," he continued, "there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you.
Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness.
Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your partner out to dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the House and fix the disposal. Take care of the golf balls first, the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand."
One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented.
The professor smiled. "I'm glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there's always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend."
I try not to do whiny, complaining posts, but i watched the World Series last night and it totally ticked me off.
In that vein -
What four things most piss you off about TV?
On the positive side, it was an amazingly well-played game and I can't wait to see if the Phils can make a real play to bring Schill back here for his last season. Mike Lowell would look nice in red and white at 3B as well.
And I am never buying another Taco Bell product again.
have a great weekend!!!!
I'm headed out on the road for a few days tomorrow, so in honor of that we have a travel-related list!
What four things do you do everywhere you travel?
have a great weekend and I will talk to you from the road!
Just a quick post to wish my dear brother Matt Happy Birthday!
You've come a long way from the little guy who used to wake me up every night rocking in your sleep.
Have a great day!
It's a virtually required rite of fall for suburban families to trek to some local pseudo-farm with rides and face painting and fresh-baked pies to find the fall decor. We joined approximately all of South Jersey on Sunday in a giant field/parking lot and surveyed the situation with dismay.
Two different lines of over an hour before you got to get on the hayride out to where you could actually PICK pumpkins.
People EVERYWHERE. Tired children. Swirling dust.
We decided to select from the pallets of pre-picked pumpkins available for weenies like me. The children chose $32 worth of pumpkins to decorate the front steps and house with. That's over 46 pounds worth.
They enjoyed it immensely. They also loved the side trip to Maggie Moo's on the way back home, though John would have preferred Coldstone. When we finally staggered home, we put up the Halloween lights out front and the various orange and black decorations throughout the house. Yes. I said Halloween lights.
It's just amazing to me that Halloween and "harvest" have become such a holiday. I can remember a few decorations as a kid and a trip to Linvilla for a pumpkin. But I sure don't remember 2 hour lines and swarms of people at Target fighting over who gets the last set of faux tombstones.
When did this explosion happen? I've heard the theory that hallmark is responsible for the geometric expansion of the Valentine's Day to the juggernaut of spending it is today? Who is behind the Halloween/Harvest? Pumpkin farmers? Hay bale salesmen?
I went along and all ... but I don't get it!
Ok - here we go. I have a cold, so I have tried a few things to shake the bug to no avail so far. In that theme - here is this week's Friday Fantastic Four:
What are your four favorite cold remedies? Commercial, homeopathic, homemade, off-the-wall, whatever. What works for you?
Busy weekend coming up, Matt's Bday, pumpkin picking fall decorating, etc.
Get out and enjoy the new cool temperatures.
It's 70 degrees now with bright blue skies. Not unusual weather at all for Philadelphia in the fall. But given that 4 of the last 6 days have featured high temperatures of 85 or higher, it's unusual for this year. I guess we've seen the last of the REALLY warm weather for the year, but I am still not ready for winter.
We never really had a chill, so it's not like you could even call the last few weeks "Indian Summer," since summer basically just stretched on into mid-October unabated. I have not had the heat on this year and even as late as 2 nights ago, the AC was necessary to sleep comfortably.
And then there was this weird wet stuff falling from the sky last night just after dark. I can't remember the last time it rained. According Weather or Not we had .16 of an inch of rain in the last 6 weeks, but I must have slept though that. The cold front that came through last night with thunder and lightning knocked out the power for a few ours and also knocked out the humidity. It's really comfortable outside for the first time in what seems like weeks.
For the weekend it looks like we'll have to fire up the oil burner for the first time as temps will drop into the 40s for the first time since may. I love fall and I have missed the cool mornings, so I guess I am ready. No snow yet please though!!!!
Back in April, Jody Mac warned me that the best I could hope for was a pennant race that went down to the wire. Jody was dead on. This team scrapped and slugged and even at times, pitched its way into the Division lead with only hours to spare.
It was a wild, wonderful ride.
At the end of 162 games, I was darn near spent and I just watched the games. From all appearances over the last week, the Phils were spent too. I went down to the games in South Philly and watched last night as Jamie Moyer, who personifies the phrase "Crafty Lefty," gave them just one more chance. I had High Hopes.
But it wasn't too be. These Phils were too young, had spent too much energy, and just did not have enough against a team that matches up against them very well. So they will stack the bats, fold the uniforms and break out the golf clubs for another winter.
At least the off-season was a week shorter this year.
Well the Phils game did not go as planned yesterday, but I have an upbeat list for today to get karma rolling again in the right direction.
What are your four favorite childhood memories?
Let's hope all the good thoughts get the Phils back on a winning streak!
Have a great weekend!
Rough one yesterday for the Phightins, but all will be better down at The Bank today.
Photos from yesterday's madness are up at my Flickr site. i'm on the run and will have more for ya later!
See ya all down at the park!
Fourteen years ago this month, Bryen O'Boyle and I watched Curt Schilling and the Phils shut down the Toronto Blow Jays 2-0 at Veterans' Stadium in South Philadelphia. It was to be the high water mark of the Phillies franchise for the 27 years since the magical month of October 1980.
Today, I will be back in South Philly as Bryen and Mr. Greengenes get the crowd pumped up prior to the biggest game in a LONG LONG time here in Philly. Then I'll be back in the office watching the game online with the rest of the Phils Phaithphul.
I'm hoping Hamels has a Schillingesque day and the Phils take the lead in the series.
I'll have photos and a wrap later today!
LETS GO PHILS!!!!!
As a father, yesterday was pretty tough for me.
My son is a Yankees fan in a major way. Last spring, we had decided that there was a good chance yesterday would be an important game and that we should be in Baltimore to watch the Yankees clinch the AL East.
It never entered my mind that the Phillies would be back home in Philly clinching the NL East while I watched the scoreboard at Oriole Park.
I wore full Phillies regalia including a bight red shirt and cap. I got a good number of friendly "Go Phils!" comments and even saw 2 other guys in "P" hats. The scoreboard operator kept us updated, and between the 5th, 6th, and 7th innings showed video highlights of the Phils scoring.
In the 8th, they showed the video of the Phils rushing the field and put "Philadelphia Phillies 2007 NL East Champions" up on the big board.
While I was overjoyed, the major feeling was RELIEF! We had finally made it. The long up and down ride of the season was over and we are ready to take care of business.
We clapped and cheered and high-fived and accepted the congratulations of the Yankee fans. While I wasn't in South Philly, I was happy yo be in a ballpark among the baseball faithful. I'm meeting some Hummer driving real estate sales man Yankee fan from Westchester county in the Bronx for the World Series in three weeks. I don't know his name, but we sat in Section 27- yesterday. I'm sure he'll remember the crazy Phillies fan. At least I think he will. He drank a few beers.
We're about to head out to the baseball game. No - not THAT game, the Yankees game in Baltimore.
My son is a huge Yankees fan and at the beginning of the season, thinking the last game might be big for the Yanks, I got us seats in the Club Level at Oriole park for the season finale.
As it turns out, the game will be meaningless as the Yanks have already clinched a wildcard berth and the O's were terrible again this year.
The game here in Philly though will be one for the ages, as the Phils battle the Nationals to scratch their way into the playoffs for the first time since 1993.
I'll be watching the scoreboard and wearing my Phils shirt. Keep me posted on all the news from South Philly and Flushing
Here's a new one for this week:
What are the four most unlikely things you have done?
Have a great weekend rooting for the Phils!!!!
It's a DAMN good day.
A major project wrapped up at work.
The boss taking me and the staff out for thank you drinks.
A night at The Bank watching the Phightins' scratching and clawing their way tot he top of the NL East.
I'll be down there... drop me a line if you will be too.
Sorry about the lack of posts lately, but it's been a rather crushing week or so at the job. While the project isn't complete yet by any means, the finish line is on the horizon and I can at least THINK about other things.
On the positive side, I have had a couple of very good meals this week since I have been too tired to cook. On Monday, the GF whipped up a great Italian sausage sandwich made with turkey sausage. Very good! Tuesday was 12th Street Cantina pizza at work - actually very good stuff!
I was a big fan of the meal Thursday night at Alma de Cuba. Lobster and Crab ceviche was tasty and there was a good-sized portion, not something you can always say about a Stephen Starr appetizer. While I think it wasn't a true ceviche, it WAS finished in a very nice citrus sauce. The sugarcane tuna entree was very good, excellent rare tuna with a coffee and sugar searing that was
a nice change to the usual tuna preparations. Their caipirinha was more sour than I usually have, but still very good.
Friday, we tried the newish Mexican Post outlet at 1601 Cherry. I love the hot, cramped, noisy 2nd Street location. But they should have stopped there. While it was a Friday, you should still be able to get decent service and good food. You can't. The 2 high-end margaritas I had differed widely. We were largely ignored in our corner of the dining area and the food was not up to the Post standards. Skip it unless you're looking for a happy hour crowd.
The King Tut exhibit at The Franklin Institute afterwards was very interesting and had some wonderful and exquisitely detailed work, but lacked a "WOW!" centerpiece. It's amazing how well-preserved the 3200 year old relics are, but the splendor associated with the words "King Tut" was absent.
Last night, the GF and I met the parents in the city for a visit to Sotto Varalli. I've eaten here a good bit and the one thing I will say is that these guy know how to make risotto. I started with six Malpeque oysters on the halfshell that were good-sized and salty. I had the seafood risotto as an entree, filled with excellent littleneck clams, some middling mussels, shrimp, half a lobster tail and a huge hunk of crab. A+!!! The GF's chicken risotto was also well-received. My parents raved about the Maine-inspired corn and crab chowder and the colossal crab appetizer. I had mango mousse for dessert, the ladies had bread pudding and my dad had creme brulee. All the desserts were tasty, but basically average. The house chianti was terrible at best, but the pinot noir was smooth and easy to drink with the seafood. Service by both our new server and the experienced Eddie was top-notch.
We finished the night at my usual haunt, where Laurentiu was making a surprise appearance behind th
e busy Valanni bar. I celebrated my recent decision to remain at UArts with a healthy pour of Lagavulin 16 year old, which I had last with my brother to celebrate his promotion last year. It's still damn good stuff. The GF had a Laurentiu creation that tasted spot on like a watermelon Jolly Rancher.
Continuing on our book theme, here is today’s list:
What author would you most like to see have a new book out?
Have a great weekend and GO PHILS!!!!