Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Semantics 101 for the Ultra-Crazy (with extra foam)

Letter to Alan Keyes

Dear Mr. Keyes,

I received your “urgent memorandum” which was enclosed in an envelope bearing the words JURY DUTY NOTICE in large bold letters affixed with a Non Profit postage stamp.

I assume your fund-raising  efforts have reached desperation levels,  thus the subterfuge required to get anyone to open correspondence bearing your name. 
The reason you have never been elected to any public office is that you are a whack-job (interpret that however you like – it’s such a conveniently flexible term).
I am impressed however, that you have managed to convey in writing a tone that can only be described as jet engine-like screeching hysteria.  Chicken Little would be envious.  Leaning so far to the right has its perils – you’ve obviously bonked that side of your head so many times that your creativity is limited to fake civic duty announcements.  That’s civic – as in U.S.  government – as in the one with offices to which you have never been and will never be elected.  Because you are a whack-job.  In consolation, if "Crazy Town" were an actual place, you'd be a shoe-in for mayor.

You are entitled to your insane rantings – this is America after all.    
However, I find it somewhat less than amusing that you point (excuse me, vigorously thrust) your finger at what you call Obama’s criminal behavior while actively evading taxes under the guise of myriad non-profit organizations.   You rail against “big government” while milking the system for your personal gain. 

You don't really deserve it, but I have decided to enclose the "generous gift" you begged for; two pieces of embossed copper bearing the profile of an original tree-hugging liberal. 

But I am reporting to the U.S. Postal Service that you are abusing Nonprofit postage, the deceptive words “Jury duty notice” on the envelope and eight pages of irresponsible and extreme statements demeaning the President of the United States and the Office of The President of the United States.

It appears to me that you,  Alan Keyes, may be in violation of False or Deceptive Representations, the Postal law (TITLE 39 > PART IV  > CHAPTER 30 > Sec. 3005) prohibiting false or deceptive representations made in an attempt to obtain money or property through the mail.  This section was amended a few years ago to authorize the Postal Service to impose significant monetary penalties. The law now permits an administrative penalty for deceptive mailings of up to $1,000,000 for the first offense depending on the volume of mail.

Shame on you, you selfish hedonist.

Monday, September 19, 2011

If The Shoe Fits ...

More adventures in How Not To Buy A House in Arizona

My housemate/daughter's  Realtor turned onto a back-road circuitous route to the first house of ten we would look at on her quest to find the right house for two adults needing two home offices, bedrooms and baths, two rooms for young children, one for a Nanny and a large well equipped kitchen.

The long street went by one corral after another with beautiful horses.

Scottsdale, AZ had segued into Louisville, KY. I loved the ride. I loved the horses. I loved the ambiance (Ruth clearly didn’t).  I liked the contemporary ranch-style home (again, "no bueno" from Ruth).  But when she walked into the master bedroom closet the large shoe collection within captured her attention.  She noticed immediately that the owner of the home wears the same size as she does.

I turned to  Realtor Rick.   “Do the shoes convey?” I asked.

If he can work it out, we may have a new home.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

And after all that, the burger was just ok

WARNING!  Use caution (and telepathy) when driving through Pueblo of Laguna, New Mexico. 

A few nights ago I was bringing up the rear of a three-vehicle procession on Old Route 66 from the Guadalupe Vineyards near San Fidel, NM.  The vintner, Tony, had his face fixed for dinner at his favorite burger joint in the village of Bibo which he alleged was a fifteen minute drive away.  The Sledgehammer of Reason (having liberally sampled the goods at the vineyard) let me drive the picturesque rural road; my only turn at the wheel on a 1,000 mile, 3-1/2 day journey.   Tony was driving the lead vehicle, followed by his cousin, famed artist Pablo Milan with his lovely significant other, Len.   

Having only a glimmer of an idea where we were and knowing the "smart" phone got progressively dumber the closer we got to the mountains, I kept pace with the rest of the pack.  Tony was clearly starving after a hard day of grape-crushing and was not wasting any time.  As we drove over a hill one of New Mexico's finest (and youngest) pulled out from the side of the road with his lights flashing.

I pulled over to the shoulder to let him pass, as did Tony and Pablo.   To my surprise, he pulled up behind me ... and to his surprise he then discovered his Super Powers had inadvertently kicked in, and had managed to bag three vehicles with one stop.   Appearing a bit confused, the officer asked if we were all together to which I responded affirmatively, adding that we were all on our way to dinner in Bibo.  Had I ever been to Bibo, I would have realized how suspicious this sounded - it actually takes longer to say, “Bibo” than it does to drive through it and I gather Zagat doesn't have any impending plans to check it out. 

I hadn’t been going that fast (and certainly not faster than Tony) so I wasn’t sure why I was being pulled over.  Inebriated co-pilot?  Seemed unlikely.  Missing hubcap?  Ugly, but as far as I knew, not a crime.  It turns out that going over that last hill, the speed limit dropped briefly from 55 to 35 and I had been clocked at 47.  There supposedly was signage, somewhere, that indicated the change in speed limit - just not anywhere visible from the road. 

Officer Confused demanded my license and registration which he then took back to his vehicle for a mini-investigation.   Meanwhile, the Sledgehammer managed to get a call through to Pablo to tell him what was going on.   Of course, most of a bottle of one stellar Grey Riesling (among others) made the message sound a lot like, “ah tink we’re butted for weeding” which I suppose is why Pablo and Len suddenly lurched around to get their eyes on the situation.

Whatever info the cop was able to ascertain about me was apparently disappointing – he reluctantly clipped his handcuffs back on his belt and returned to our car.     Vintner Tony (administrator of the local parochial school and well known in the community) started to get out of his truck but was ordered back in by the cop.  I was then handed a pink slip and informed in a out-of-the-vast-generosity-of-my-Super-Powered-heart tone that I was only receiving a warning which held no repercussions license or insurance-wise. 

My fellow intrepid travellers' collective opinion was that there were too many witnesses to issue a BS speed trap fine.  It should be noted that of our three vehicles, mine carried the only out-of-state plate.   Not implying anything - I'm just sayin' ...

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Further Musings on Occasionally Convenient Coincidences

The slightly interesting news: There are 28,477 people in the U.S. with the last name Stern. Statistically the 1,311th most popular last name.

The good news: There are only 337 people in the U.S. named David Stern. I am David F. Stern. (#237). F as in Friedman, my mother’s maiden name, not F as in the F-word people in Phoenix still apply emphatically to the NBA commissioner (who is #266).

In 1959 I went with a group of Wharton Business School students I had just met to a bar adjacent to the campus. A man introduced himself as the establishment’s owner and apologized for having to ask for our ID. I was first to produce mine.

“Are you related to David Stern, the publisher of the Philadelphia Record?” he asked. Sensing an opportunity, I replied, "He's my father." He called the waiter over to our table and said to him “drinks on the house for these fellows.”

Four years later I was invited to dinner in New York City by a friend who wanted me to meet a guy named Johnny Stern who was producing the TV show Victory at Sea. After introductions I asked Johnny Stern how he got such a job in TV at his relatively young age. “My father is publisher of the Philadelphia Record,” he said.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Three Degrees of Seperation

I'm in Westhampton, Long Island, New York and my amiable host (The Host With The Most) has an overnight guest, Dale,  who lives in Manhattan and is originally from Memphis, Tennessee where my late wife, Margaret, grew up. 

Dale's older sister was a friend of Margaret and a classmate at Central High School.  Dale is trying to reach friends from Memphis, named Belsky who are on Long Island visiting relatives but is unable to reach them because she doesn't have the right cell phone number. She mentions the name Belsky and I recognize them as somebody Margaret knew, and who also are close friends with Irvin and Deana Serenco (my dear friends in Memphis). 

So I call the Serencos on my cell phone and get the cell phone numbers for the correct Belskys, write it down on a piece of paper and deliver it to Dale.

The small world is getting smaller.

Monday, July 4, 2011

The Fourth Be With You

I have to finish this fast because it’s the Fourth of July and I’ve got to call my niece, Olivia, in Colorado and my sin-in-law in LA to wish them happy birthday (they are both Yankee Doodle Dandies). Then I leave for the airport to exchange my three weeks out of the 100 to 118 degree heat for 100 to 118% humidity in New York, after a stop in Seattle to spend my brother’s 75th birthday with him. The two of us are the same age for two weeks every year, having been born 11 months apart.

Before I leave I have to tell you about cilantro. On Friday night I went to see my dear friends, Jerry and Ginny, and their wonderful new house.  They took me to El Encanto Dos, a large picturesque Mexican restaurant not far away. I had been to the first El Encanto in the center of Cave Creek, AZ many times.

When the very good waitress came to take our order, Jerry asked if what he was ordering had cilantro in it. Truth is that almost everything made in a good Mexican restaurant has cilantro.  He ordered accordingly.

When my Tortilla Soup arrived, Ginny took a taste and we both wanted Jerry to taste it, but of course, we had to determine if it had cilantro. The waitress said she would find out, but she was busy and the soup was losing its heat. The manager stopped by to ask how everything was. During a brief discussion we told him we were waiting to find out if Jerry could taste the soup until we found out about cilantro. David, from Missouri, excused himself and returned in a minute to say he had spoken with the chef who was on and he didn’t know if the soup had cilantro because the other chef made it. David had called the other chef and wasn’t able to reach him, but he assumed the soup had cilantro because just about everything on the menu does.

I was most impressed that the waitress and now the manager went to such lengths to answer Jerry’s question and commented to David-the-Manager that I had never witnessed such service in any restaurant.

I was about to suggest that he call the Food and Drug Administration, but remembered the Federal Government was taking plenty of time off since Monday was the Fourth of July.

Speaking of the Forth, I leave you with one question. Why would the State of Arizona allow the sales of fireworks, but have a law against setting them off?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Better Nate than Lever (or something like that)

Flog: May 8, 1945 2011

I’ve always been fond of Andrea Mitchell. I’m not going to hit on her because I can’t reconcile my checkbook and there’s no way I can compete with Alan Greenspan. But I will say that had I been Federal Reserve Chairman I would not have put too much faith in the free markets and triggered the most recent Depression. But when I heard Andrea say we “Celebrate” the killing of Osama bin Laden, I was a little shocked at the semantics.

The statement took me back to April 30, 1945 when Adolf Hitler saved us from putting an end to his vile life by taking a cyanide capsule and shooting himself in the head in his bunker in Berlin.

I wouldn’t have used the word celebrate in regard to Hitler’s death. Relief would have been a better word. Eight days later I went downtown in Seattle (a “military” city at the time). The day (66 years ago today) marked the Allied victory over Europe in World War II. Confetti fell from the buildings and sailors and soldiers hugged and kissed every woman in the overwhelming crowd, including my mother, grandmother and two aunts. I was a few weeks from my eighth birthday and may not have known the word “celebration,” but if I had I wouldn’t have used that word to describe that remarkable event. Maybe Jubilation. In the words of Center for Strategic and International Studies Rick “Ozzie” Nelson said it better than I can:

"It's important to remember that bin Laden's vision was always for there to be 1,000 bin Ladens, not just one Osama bin Laden." So there is an opportunity here for many individuals inside the organization to step forward and carry forth the al-Qaida narrative."

Ayman al-Zawahiri has long been bin Laden’s No. 2 man, and he remains a key target for law enforcement officials. There is a $25 million reward for information leading the FBI to al-Zawahiri, who is believed to have played a key role in the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Kenya.

Don’t count your chickens before they hatch

Sunday, May 1, 2011

May Day

When I got up this morning I found that Pope Benedict XVI was about to beatify  Pope John Paul, sending him one step closer to possible sainthood (Beatification is the first major milestone on the path to possible sainthood, one of the Catholic Church's highest honors. A second miracle attributed to John Paul's intercession is needed for him to be canonized).

1.5 million people showed up at the Vatican Mass.

I thought about Saints that had been significant in my life.

St. Louis (where my wife went to school).

St. Andrews (Scotland and Tennessee, the former where I hope to golf and the latter where I hope to never break down),

St. Joseph’s Hospital (where I was taken when I broke my ankle),

St. Francis (my favorite hotel in San Francisco),

St. Thomas (where I made some very good purchases when the Princess ship stopped there),

And finally, the New Orleans Saints surprising 31-17 win over the Colts in the 2010 Super Bowl that won me a dollar. 
Come to think of it, that might qualify as John Paul's second miracle.

I have determined, unfortunately, that I will never qualify for Sainthood.  Saint Thérèse of Lisieux became a saint as a contemplative in total obscurity, whereas Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta became a saint accompanied by international fame and very public works. Both attained the prerequisites for sainthood while alive, but with different works.

I am not going to say I cannot be sainted because I am Jewish. I flunked the first characteristic required: humility. That still may not disqualify me (I am after all, me). But the fact is, I have not been dead long enough.

Sorry. I’ve got to go now. I have an appointment with a dog breeder to look at a puppy. He’s a St. Bernard.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Coming Soon to an FBI "Most Wanted" Poster ...

My boss told me this morning that it’s time for me to write another FLOG. She’s President (although she prefers the title "High Priestess") of SourPuss Press, my new publishing company, and I do what she says.  For the record, my official title is "Copy Boy" (although I prefer "Schlepper"). But when I sat down at the keyboard, I developed a case of blogck (bloggers block).  Today is April 9 … the six month anniversary of the death of my first and only wife of almost 50 years. Several people called me today to ask how I was feeling. I’m feeling great, thank you.

My children and friends have been my rock.  My extraordinary, mega-talented granddaughter, Izzy, has been my redeemer. I have to be careful when I open my mouth about her, knowing there may be others within earshot who also have grandchildren. At this point in my life I can’t afford to lose friends. It seems to me that a funeral with nobody in attendance except the deceased wouldn’t be much fun.  Let me clarify now for any of you with bruised egos over your comparatively ordinary grandchildren, who subsequently may be waffling about attending my funeral - there will definitely be cupcakes.  But have a snack in the mean time - I'm not planning on checking out anytime soon.

A wonderful thing happened last week. Two mothers, Susan (from Albuquerque) and Kim (Little Rock) came to visit Ruth and Izzy in Scottsdale with their respective children, Teo and Isaac.  Teo, Izzy and Isaac spent the first six months of their lives together in a Vietnamese orphanage, during which time, Ruth, Susan and Kim developed a friendship via their shared wait to become adoptive moms.   These two wonderful women met my daughters, Ruth and Debbie, on the trip to Vietnam in 2007.   Watching their three Godsends interact nearly three and a half years later was an indescribable experience. 

The pleasure of sharing the world with my first and only grandchild (who came into my life when I was 70-years old) is beyond words, even for a wordsmith. Izzy is the apple of my eye … the cat’s meow… Queen of the Kingdom ... my eagle shot to Phil Mickelson's double bogey.

Since Izzy Thu Thi Stern came into my life December 24, 2007, many people who have met her have said “Isn’t she lucky that Ruth adopted her and gave her a wonderful life.” My response has been from that day, “aren’t we lucky that this little miracle came into our lives.”  And I said that after the little miracle painted a leather ottoman with nail polish.

I haven’t written about her publicly until today because I decided six months ago to give myself a half year before assessing how I’m doing, having lost the love of my life.  Two months after Margaret died, Izzy, then three years and seven months old, said to me, “Bubba, (she calls me that) it’s hard not having a partner.”  I responded, “Grandma was my partner for 50 years … now you’re my partner.”

She agreed.