Comedy

MoveOn.org Ads

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I haven’t written about politics in quite a while, and I should probably keep it that way, but I can’t, so here goes…

By now, if you haven’t seen the new ads being put out by MoveOn.org, or seen previews of them on a cable news channel, you’re either very lucky, or blissfully disconnected from the political season.

Rather than describe the ad, I’ll point you instead to an Op-Ed in The New York Times, written by one of their two token conservatives, William Kristol. I can’t do any better than Kristol in analysing the content/message of the ad, so I won’t try. Here are a few additional thoughts though.

Who are these ads targeted at? To me, there are three gigantic buckets that you can (extremely crudely) classify people in (with regard to Iraq):

  1. Believe it’s criminal that we’re there and we should get out instantly
  2. Believe it’s necessary, no matter the cost, and therefore we should stay until the job is done
  3. Believe it’s wildly complicated, with no easy answer, and (unfortunately) often shift their viewpoint (even if only slightly) based on how it’s actually going on the ground over there, regardless of ideological views

It would seem that the ads must be targeting group #3, as there is no way that #2 can be swayed by them (in fact, this kind of ad would mobilize group #2), and group #1 already believes in the cause as strongly as they can, so it’s a waste of money and a lost opportunity to show these ads to them.

So, in a group that thinks the answer isn’t simple, can this ad be effective? I find it extremely hard to believe. It literally requires the viewer to suspend all logic, and react purely to the emotional message only. If you disagree, meaning that you think that the message delivered has even a single basis in fact, then you didn’t read the linked Op-Ed piece very carefully.

I also see this type of ad as working against Obama, who is the person they most want to see benefit from it. It is highly doubtful that he will denounce it. After all, he’s one of the few prominent democratic senators who didn’t vote to denounce the General Petraeus ad. It would seem that annoying MoveOn.org is not high on Obama’s agenda. However, by not denouncing it, he risks seeing moderate people who are offended by the ad as seeing him as pandering to MoveOn.org (or worse, actually agreeing with the ads).

In fact, it completely amuses me that Obama’s stated reason for changing his widely disseminated stance on Public/Private money is the 527 money on the Right side (a.k.a. the Swiftboating money). Not once does he mention the vasts sums of money that are meant to benefit him from the likes of MoveOn.org.

For me, I have no problem with either side throwing their money away on these types of ads. They are truly stupid (the ads), and hope and assume that the viewers are stupid as well. Anyone who requires that their audience is stupid in order to be successful will (thankfully!) be negatively surprised more often than they would imagine. That makes them the stupid ones in the equation.

For me, the ads bring comic relief. Since I love to laugh, I welcome the MoveOn.org ads by the bushel. :-)

Boys Night Out

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Or rather, BNO, if you’re in the know, or are cool. ;-)

If you worked at First Boston Corporation in the 80′s (now known as CSFB, or Credit Suisse First Boston), odds are you were somewhat cool. If you worked in the department that I did, while you were definitely a geek, you also had high odds of being smart and cool as well.

In the 90′s, most of the people in my department dispersed to other firms, with the overwhelming majority of them staying on Wall Street. At some point in the late 90′s, a bunch of them started getting together irregularly (at least once a year) for dinner. They called it Boys Night Out.

For the first few years, I wasn’t invited, and wasn’t even aware that these dinners were being held. I assume that they thought I wouldn’t be interested, but I’m not sure. After some number of missed dinners, I was finally invited, and I happily accepted. Since then, they’ve been kind enough to invite me every time (or at least I think so) ;-) and even take my crazy travel schedule into account in asking me when I’ll be in town before picking a date. Thanks for that too guys!

There is a core of seven of us who try hard to make it each time. There are a few additions that used to make it occasionally, and to be honest, I’m not sure they continue to be invited, having missed too many to prove their coolness (or is it loyalty?). One time, we even had a woman join us from the old group, though we staunchly insisted that it be called BNO, even that night.

Last night all seven of us confirmed that we could make it, but at the last minute, one person had to back out due to work requirements. All but two times, we eat at a top steak house. Last night was our second time (at least only my second time with the group) dining at Sparks Steakhouse. It’s a fantastic place, and gigantic to boot.

One of the things that distinguishes each member of the group (perhaps other than me!), is that they are each extremely witty/funny/sarcastic/sardonic/etc. I can’t stress this enough. Don’t hang out with these guys if you have a weak bladder or a fragile ego. After you soil yourself, you’ll also have low self-esteem.

While we occasionally (OK, perhaps rarely would be a more apt word) discuss serious things (aside from the normal catching up on what’s going on in everyone’s lives), most of the evening is a raucous romp, ending with my cheeks hurting pretty badly. It’s most definitely not politically correct, so it’s best that it remains BNO to the extent possible. Unfortunately, we are louder than I typically care to be in public (yes, I’m totally guilty of being carried away with the merriment). It’s probably OK, because these large steak houses tend to be pretty noisy, but if we offended anyone (with our content, or just our volume), I offer up my most humble apologies!

Last night marked at least the second time in a row (but by no means only the second time!) that one particular member of our group insisted on treating us. The last time he treated, it was the most expensive meal I have ever been a part of (I can’t bring myself to mention the number in public, it was jaw-dropping), so the last thing we expected was to be treated again.

In fact, we tried (not as hard as we should have!) to split it, but he would have none of it. Sparks is not cheap (in the least), and we always order multiple bottles of fine wine, so again, he picked up a big one (but I’m guessing that it was less than 20% of the really big one, mentioned above, with the same number of people!).

The rest of the gang teases him when he treats, saying that it’s appropriate that he do so, since he’s the only one in the group without a job! I like to point out that I’m semi-retired, meaning that I work full time, but have zero income. ;-)

Of the six of us who were there last night, I directly hired three of them (including our benefactor), one of the others ended up working for me for seven straight years, even though I didn’t originally hire him, and the last guy worked with all of them, but the two of us never really worked together. That said, I’ve maintained more of an active relationship with him than with the others.

When I thanked our benefactor at the end, he told me that if I hadn’t given him a start on Wall Street (he had no college education at the time), he wouldn’t have been able to afford to treat. Obviously, I had a good eye for talent, as he greatly eclipsed my not-too-shabby career, long ago. The rest of them have all done very well for themselves as well, so in that regard, I’m proud of all of them!

Another fabulous evening in the books, and I’m already looking forward to the next one!

P.S. I almost always order a Fillet Mignon when I order steak. I love it, love it, love it. When I mentioned last night that I was going to order it, two of them insisted that I was crazy, and that I had to try the Sirloin Shell Steak. I did, and it was perfect. It won’t get me off of Fillets as a rule, but I admit that I savored every single bite last night…

Scott McClellan

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When news of Scott McClellan’s new book What Happened came out earlier this week, I was sure I would blog about my reaction the next day. By the time I got ready to start writing, so many things had been said, that I lost the zeal to share my thoughts.

The story continues to get an amazing amount of coverage, with commentary ranging from quite insightful to quite inane. By yesterday morning, I decided to ignore this topic. I am so far behind in writing about a number of things I’d like to, that this seemed to be done to death.

Then this morning, I see two editorials in The New York Times, and I get just enough inspiration to put fingers to keyboard.

The first one that I read was by Gail Collins, using Bernard Kerik as her whipping boy in the anti-loyalty rant that was breathtakingly naive.

The second is Bob Herbert, someone whom I’ve grudgingly come to respect (though not admire), at least for his intellect, and somewhat for his articulate and consistent portrayal of it. Unfortunately, while this editorial is consistent, he uses Scott’s book as an excuse to get some of that consistency off his chest, since he’s been busy lately taking Hillary to task a little more often than he’d like. Thankfully (for him, courtesy of Scott), he’s back on message.

While there are supposedly some things in the book that are downright laughable (I say supposedly because I have no interest in reading it, and never will), for the purpose of my discussion, I’d prefer to assume that 100% of the content is verifiably true!

Most of the White House responses center around the loyalty theme, not just the obvious stuff, but also the claims that Scott never shared his concerns, even once, with any of his colleagues, even ones he remained close with after he left. In that regard, they also claim that he was disloyal in not sharing those thoughts at the time, because they claim that the White House and the President in particular, were open to such candor of opinions (true or not!).

We can dismiss the majority of the golly, see we were right all along comments from people who up to just a week earlier happily painted Scott McClellan as an idiot puppet of the regime.

In between those are a fair number of insightful analyses on both sides of the political aisle. One line that amused me was by Dick Morris, feigning shock at the concept that a President would try and sell a war, pointed out that the Gettysburg Address was a propaganda speech. In other words, all Presidents sell all wars.

In a delicious irony to this whole story, the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. Scott’s Father, Barr McClellan, published a much ridiculed book in 2003 called Blood, Money & Power, claiming that LBJ had JFK killed. But I digress…

To me, the only interesting point is one of personal integrity. Again, keep in mind that I will suspend disbelief and assume that everything Scott says in the book is the gospel truth!

Exactly why does Scott choose to share this information with all of us? More importantly, why now? The famous saying:

timing is everything

doesn’t get repeated ad nauseum because it has no basis in reality.

If we are to assume (believe!) that he is doing this to save countless future generations the despair of this kind of politics as usual, then the timing becomes even more curious. He’s been out of office for just over two years. Couldn’t the saving have begun sooner?

Had he come out shortly after leaving office with his revelations, he would have been an even hotter topic on all of the shows that are drooling over having him on. Of course, it would have been hard to monetize that instant celebrity, and coming out with a book two years later would have been a complete yawn.

On the other hand, waiting until the new year, when the President would have been out of office, and the election over, one way or the other, might have yielded fewer book sales (perhaps dramatically fewer ones, especially if Obama were to win the Presidency, and the urgent need to paint McCain as four more years of Bush wouldn’t be as enticing as it is for some).

No, this is timed to extract the maximum amount of money for Scott. If for any reasons it also happens to sway the election toward the Democrats, so be it, though that’s giving Mr. McClellan way more credit and respect than is due him.

No, to repeat, this boils down to a personal integrity issue, one which Scott McClellan has none of, as in zero. This is but another in a very long string of kiss and tell books, coming in all shapes and sizes. I have no interest in any of them.

I am not interested in the ones that bash Democrats (e.g., the Clintons), Republicans (e.g., the Bushes), Hollywood (too many examples), corporate titans (also too many examples).

Why? Because most of them are written by nobodies (Scott included), that would continue to be nobodies, if it weren’t for someone else who had given them a chance. When they can’t parlay that chance into an honest career, they resort to kiss and tell, or in other cases, direct lawsuits.

This book, and the timing of its release, is no different than the various nanny tales that come out over the years (or bodyguards, etc.). Hangers on, who would be invisible to the world, except for the fact that they are always around famous people, by virtue of those famous people employing them.

If the book doesn’t sell well (already not realistic, but since I allowed for the possibility that it’s all true, let’s speculate that it might not sell well either) ;-) then I strongly suggest that Scott get a job as a nanny for someone famous, like the Jolie-Pitts, so that he can have a second chance at fame and fortune, when he outs them in a tell-all bonanza…

To me, the saddest thing about the book being in print, is that it gives excuses (good ones, unfortunately) to people who can’t look forward. They get to climb back on their high horse, point their fingers, and tell you that they were right all along. Golly gee, I’m just as proud of you as I am of Scott McClellan.

And, just like Barr McClellan’s book likely influenced Jr.’s decision to cash in too, the success of this idiot book will encourage future idiots to sell their souls as well, for the almighty dollar…

Joan Baez at Paramount Theater

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Last night Lois and I drove 30 minutes to Peekskill, NY to see Joan Baez at the Paramount Theater. How we came to see this show is itself a long story, delivered later in this post.

One of the biggest influences in my teen years was Bob Dylan. Not just the music, but more specifically, the lyrics. They were burned in my mind, even at the age of 13. I learned to play the guitar because of him. Of course, if you were a Dylan fan back then, the odds were pretty high that you were a fan of Joan Baez as well. Not only was I a fan, I was a very big fan!

Lois was preoccupied with extremely challenging life events during those years and didn’t pay attention to either Dylan or Baez beyond general awareness.

The last time I saw Joan Baez live before last night was on November 22nd, 1975 at Brandeis University when she appeared with Dylan as part of The Rolling Thunder Review tour. One of the greatest shows I’ve ever seen, including Joan’s amazing performance.

I remembered the year, but had to look up the actual date. ;-)

The audience last night was full of people who adore, even revere Joan. You could feel the excitement and anticipation long before she came on stage. When she came out the place erupted with applause. She announced that she would be playing new songs as well as the songs you came to hear. :-) She didn’t disappoint in that, playing beautiful new songs that will be on her upcoming album, as well as some of her fantastic hits.

For roughly half the show she was accompanied by her band.

Erik Della Penna played a variety of string instruments, all very well. He also sang harmony with Joan on some of the numbers. It took me a while to warm up to his playing, but in the end, I decided that he was just making sure to defer to Joan and not steal the spotlight. He’s quite accomplished and soulful.

Erik Della Penna

In addition to playing guitar, lap steel guitar and dobro, he also played a square guitar, roughly the size of a mandolin, that I’ve never seen before. Joan called it a Cigar Box Guitar, which I thought was a joke, but there’s a site for them, so it must be true. ;-)

Here is a picture of the Cigar Box Guitar, and one of Erik on the Lap Steel Guitar:

Cigar Box GuitarErik Della Penna Lap Steel Guitar

Dean Sharenow played the drums. While he kept perfect rhythm, he was obviously understated (purposely) for this kind of music. I have little doubt that he’s an accomplished drummer, but last night was not the type of show to bring out his talent. He sang vocals on a few numbers as well. Dean and Erik have their own band, separate from their work with Joan, called Kill Henry Sugar.

Dean Sharenow

Michael Duclos played bass. I have recently complained that as much as I have enjoyed numerous bass players over the past year, almost every time, they are simply too loud and overwhelm the rest of the band. Not so last night. Just as with Erik and Dean, both Michael and the sound engineer correctly chose to emphasize Joan, so Michael’s bass was solid the entire night, but significantly in the background, where it belonged.

Michael Duclos

During the first third of the show, when they were all on the stage together, they played most of the new stuff, sprinkled with recent stuff and perhaps two old favorites. She sang Christmas in Washington (from her Bowery Songs CD, released in 2005) written by Steve Earle. Steve is producing her new CD, and has written many of the songs on it. I’ll have more to say about Steve (and Joan) in my other section (now a regular feature in these posts), but for now, here’s a link to a YouTube video of Christmas in Washington with Joan and Steve performing together.

The second (or third) song of the evening was one of the old ones, With God On Our Side (by Bob Dylan). Quite a number of the songs Joan sang last night had God in them (perhaps 50%). Many are cynical about God (the Dylan song for example), but some are deeply spiritual (Swing Low Sweet Chariot and Amazing Grace). It’s an interesting mix, and I’m not clear if she’s attempting to communicate a specific message or not.

After this part of the show was over, the band left the stage leaving Joan on her own. She went into a lot more of her traditional songs here, mostly accompanying herself on the guitar, but with an occasional a cappella song thrown in as well. As good as the parts with the band were, it was more special, magical, to see her perform on her own. She certainly held the crowd in the palm of her hand throughout her solo set.

Among the favorites, she performed her ultra-famous Diamonds In Rust. I already mentioned one of the a cappella numbers above in a different context, Swing Low Sweet Chariot. She encouraged the audience to sing along during various verses of that, and they willingly obliged (I can’t explain it, but I didn’t sing along at all last night, even to The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down, one of my favorites…).

She played solo for roughly half of the show. The band then returned for a few more numbers, including Dylan’s Love Is Just A Four Letter Word. After saying goodnight, and taking their bows (in a group hug), they returned for a three song encore. After the first two songs, the band left the stage again, and Joan finished the evening with her signature a cappella Amazing Grace, which the crowd belted out with her.

She received a standing ovation before they left the stage the first time, and again at the end of the encore, including the entire audience standing throughout Amazing Grace. Like I said in the intro, she was adored and revered, and the crowd wanted to make sure she knew it. Here’s a photo of everyone singing Amazing Grace with Joan, all the while standing:

Joan Baez Amazing Grace

She was on the stage for a total of 100 minutes including the encore. While we all could have listened to her for hours longer, the show was an appropriate and appreciated length.

Here are a few photos of Joan, with and without guitar. One of the reasons that I’m including a number of similar shots is that the background lighting at the Paramount Theater is very nicely done to set various moods. If you look at some of the other photos included here, you’ll see a variety of scenes and colors, with many more that I am not posting:

Joan BaezJoan Baez 2Joan Baez GuitarJoan Baez Guitar 2

That’s the end of the general review of the evening. As always, I have lots more to say (I know, I have too much to say, always). Some of this is on the negative side, some on the more nostalgic side, and some mere speculation. So, if you don’t know me, or don’t care about my opinions, this is an excellent time to click away…

I recently wrote about a spate of concert cancellations due to illness. In that post, I forgot to mention another cancellation that I had previously written about. We had tickets to see The Mammals at Tarrytown Music Hall (last October I think) and they too canceled a week before the show, but not due to illness I believe.

In the above post, I mentioned that the only cancellation that we did not have tickets to was Joan Baez. There were a number of reasons why we didn’t end up buying tickets in advance to that show, but the primary one was that we were scheduled to be at Zope that week (March 31st). If you read this space regularly, you know that we ran back that weekend to see Girlyman at Joe’s Pub on the 30th, but we did indeed return to VA the very next morning.

We were supposed to be at Zope from last Wed through this week as well, but for the first time in a very long time ended up canceling our own trip (also not due to illness). Once the trip was canceled, I decided to check out the status of Joan’s rescheduled show (exactly two weeks after the postponed one), and lo and behold, there were a reasonable number of tickets left. The original show was sold out, so clearly, some people simply couldn’t make the new date and returned their tickets for a refund.

Lucky for us, unlucky for the original ticket buyers. We got two seats in the 10th row, left orchestra, aisle and one in. Superb seats. The show was scheduled to begin at 7:30pm. We’ve been to the Paramount Theater once before, to see David Bromberg and the Angel Band so we knew the lay of the land, and how long it would take to get there from the house (roughly 30 minutes).

We left at 6:35pm and got to the theater at 7:05pm. The police had the entire block of the theater cordoned off (from every approach). This was quite surprising. I realize Joan Baez is a big star, but David Bromberg also sold out the place (as I’m sure many others do), and he didn’t get similar treatment. Who knows the reasoning, but it wasn’t a good sign.

It turns out that the town (Peekskill) isn’t all that friendly to visitors (tourists). It’s a quaint river town, which should be in the business of attracting tourists and making them feel welcome, but just try to park in any of the dozens of empty spots on the street. Oops, don’t, unless you want a ticket. Signs all over the place saying that you need a permit to park on the street. You’d think that on a night when someone like Joan Baez is in town, they’d put up signs waiving that, but alas, no.

Even the municipal garage has two tiers of parking, one requiring permits, the other meters. Who knew I needed to show up with tons of change in my pocket to attend a local concert. We weren’t thrilled with the entire ordeal, but still made it in plenty of time to pick up our tickets at Will Call and get seated.

At 7:20pm (when we were in our seats), it was obvious that the show would not start on time. The main reason is that the hall was still half empty, with tons of people still hanging around outside. At 7:31 they made the usual announcements, so they were trying to get the show back on schedule, but the house lights were still on, and perhaps 20% of the hall was still unfilled.

At 7:40pm the house lights went off, the crowd went nuts, and Joan came on the stage. There were still quite a number of seats empty, and people were still trickling in, but at least we weren’t waiting for the last person to show up before beginning. Across the aisle from us, in the 10th row center orchestra, there were five empty seats in a row. This fact will become important (to us) shortly.

After each song, the ushers would quickly guide a few more people to their seats. After the third or fourth song (past 7:50pm) the two people who had the seats immediately to Lois’ left squeezed by us. The man proceeded to whip out his Treo, and sat there for at least 10 full minutes with the light shining brightly, working the phone (email, sms, who knows?).

It was annoying the hell out of us. Lois asked if we could move across the aisle. I hate doing that, because I would hate having to move back (in shame, as if we were trying to get away with anything), but it seemed safe at nearly 8pm. It worked out fine, as we darted across the aisle between songs, and weren’t bothered the rest of the night. Why come to a show 20 minutes late, not pay any attention and annoy everyone seated near you? Stay home and use your full computer. We’ll all be happier for it…

I mentioned earlier that I was a huge Joan Baez fan while Lois was less familiar with her stuff. As such, Lois enjoyed the show last night tremendously, having no previous reference point. I thoroughly enjoyed the show as well, but less for musical reasons. There was a tremendous sense of history for me, not just in experiencing Joan live again, but in hearing her tell some very moving stories (she told a few about Martin Luther King, someone she actively marched with and supported in a number of ways!).

Musically, her voice is still excellent, perhaps even better than most touring artists, but it’s really a shadow of what it once was. It’s likely that this is a temporary anomaly, caused by her recent illness (forcing the previous cancellation), as she specifically said that she had lost her voice, regained part of it, then regained some more. She didn’t put a timeline on that though, so it might have had nothing to do with the illness, and she might not be regaining any more, even if she gets healthier.

The good news is that she’s well aware of the changes in her voice, and even joked about it (in the middle of a song!). She no longer tries to hit certain notes, simplifying the vocal arrangement of some of the more challenging songs. I have no problem with that, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a little sad and disappointing. She also lost her place a number of times on the lyrics, laughed it off and continued on very professionally in each case. She joked about that too, quite cleverly, so last night clearly wasn’t the first time that’s happened to her.

I’m truly hoping (for her sake, and for her fans’ sake) that her voice will get stronger as she gets better (assuming she hasn’t fully recovered). The most striking thing to me is not that her voice isn’t clear, or gorgeous (it is!), but rather that she seems apprehensive about pushing her voice, even though at times during the night, when she did, she was able to hit the note, or deliver the power that she was looking for.

Joan is 67 years old. To me, she looks much older, and seems a bit on the frail side. If you look at the YouTube video that I linked above, of Christmas in Washington, which was filmed less than four years ago, she looked 20 years younger (to me). While she is as graceful and lovely as you could wish, I couldn’t help feeling badly that age (or health) is catching up with her more quickly than her young years deserve.

Of course, you can listen to her CDs to hear the difference in the strength and range of her voice. Still, it’s possible that even that is due to the wonders of a recording studio rather than the rawness of a live performance. So, through the magic of the Internet, if you’re interested, you can hear Joan do a number of songs (most of which she performed last night!) from the last concert from The Rolling Thunder Review, taped at Madison Square Garden on December 8th, 1975!

You have to register to hear it, but it’s free, and the sound quality is excellent! Her voice back then, in a live performance, is not even comparable to her voice last night, even though it was delightful to listen to her last night as well! Here’s the link to the 1975 concert. Click on PLAY THIS CONCERT under the image of the ticket stub to start the stream.

Here’s a cute story, and one which is relevant to our Girlyman experiences as well. If you listened to the above concert, you may have noticed that Joan complains (in a British accent!) that she needed help tuning her guitar! Last night, she joked that she used to have trouble tuning her guitar, but now they have these devices that help you tune them. So now she has trouble tuning her guitars, with the help of the new devices. ;-)

Until recently, I didn’t have a clue as to why all of the guitarists looked down at the stage while they tuned. More interesting was that I didn’t understand how they could hear what they were tuning, as there was often other stuff going on at the time (If you’ve ever seen Nate in action while the Girlyman ladies tune, you’d understand). ;-) Well, the device must show red and green lights for each string in tune or not (my guess, but I’d be surprised if I were way off).

Anyway, here’s a picture of her tuning last night. :-)

Joan Baez Tuning

I can’t resist sharing this photo. To me, Joan seems to be channeling Hillary Clinton:

Joan Baez Channels Hillary Clinton

Finally, politics. If you read this space, you know how I feel about politics mixing with entertainment. Perhaps that was an unconscious reason why I didn’t rush to buy tickets the first time around. There was no doubt in my mind that Joan (being a life-long activist) would definitely be political during the show. In the end, I decided that I was willing to sit through it for any number of reasons, including that she’s such a spiritually deep and caring woman, that it would unlikely be a hate-filled lecture. I was right, sort-of.

As for speech making, she only made two politically-oriented ones during the evening. The first was to say that George Bush was her personal PR machine. With him in the White House, her kind of music was in demand (not necessarily her exact words, but pretty close). If true, I wonder whether her career will come to a grinding halt if/when Obama takes the White House.

The second was a rousing endorsement of Obama himself. Her exact words were “Wait until we have a statesman back in the White House!” Okey dokey then, I guess we’ll see… Like I said above, it didn’t annoy me (though it could have, had I not anticipated it completely). As opposed to the anger with which most entertainers deliver their anti-Bush rhetoric, Joan is soft-spoken, gentle, and just trying to make a point…

That brings me to the music itself. Certainly, Dylan’s music had it’s fair share of anti-war songs (including the one she played early on). However, since she teamed up with Steve Earle years ago, she has plenty more fodder for that now. Steve is a wonderful songwriter, both lyrics and music, but he’s a very angry liberal at heart. Listen carefully to the words of Christmas in Washington in the video, or read the words here.

It’s a Bush hater’s anthem. That said, it’s delivered in a soft song, with beautiful music, and powerful lyrics (whether misguided or not!). I much prefer to get my political drubbing that way. At least it comes without the crowd whooping it up during the message and is thought provoking. So thought provoking that I am choosing to propagate his message so that you can decide for yourself whether you agree or not.

Here’s another song that’s beautiful, message laden, but a tad too vague or complicated for me (message-wise). It’s called Jerusalem, and is also by Steve Earle. Here’s a YouTube video of Joan singing it (with Erik Dell Penna) in Austria in 2007. You can read the lyrics here. It’s possible (I really hope even likely!) that this is a generic plea for peace on all sides of the Middle East conflict, or even all war in general (after all, lots of us are descendants of Abraham, not just Jews).

Unfortunately, I fear that this isn’t the true intent of the song, and he certainly doesn’t make any attempt to communicate more clearly. To me, it comes across like Jews/Israelis are the only aggressors in this ongoing conflict, and if only they could learn to lay down their swords, we’d all be better off. I realize that this is a defensive reaction, and I realize that many people have no sympathy for any Jew, and tons of sympathy for every Palestinian, but to blame this all on the Israelis/Jews is at best naive, and at worst disingenuous.

I know I’m not alone in my reaction/interpretation, as the current first comment on the video linked above (might not be the first one when you click on it!) is:

Ah Joan, I love this song. Let’s hope that Israel will be able to lay down its swords forever when that country feels safe from attacks on all surrounding Arab countries.

All-in-all, a very enjoyable as well as thought provoking evening. I reiterate my hope that Joan is still recovering and will get stronger soon. We’d see her again, I’m sure, at least to have a better sense of her well being.

Girlyman was already mentioned in a roundabout context above. Here is a very direct one! In 2003, Girlyman won the folk/singer-songwriter category in the 3rd Annual Independent Music Awards. One of the judges in that competition was none other than Joan Baez! :-)

So, having mentioned Girlyman in a real context now, let’s jump to a different context. You know what’s coming, but this is even more important for those of you who don’t know! We’re half-way through the month-long Girlyman Live CD Contest. Enter now to win a free signed copy of the new Girlyman Live CD!

Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus

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We have a 10-year-old boy spending the weekend with us in NYC. I’ll share the details on that in tomorrow’s post about tonight’s Girlyman concert. :-)

A few weeks ago, I walked over to Madison Square Garden and picked up three tickets to the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus. I was able to get great seats. Nothing at MSG is cheap, but it wasn’t completely outrageous either. The show was scheduled to start at 11am.

We got there pretty early (a nice walk from the apartment, but very windy and cold). We spent some time browsing around in Borders, and finally went into the Garden at 10:40am. There was mayhem on the floor, as many people purchased an All Access Pass, which included a pre-show entry to the floor, where many of the performers and animals were out and about.

I’m glad we didn’t do that, because it looked crushing, but there’s no doubt that the people/kids who were down there were having a blast (being 10 feet from an elephant, for example), and it gave us something to gawk at as well.

They cleaned up very quickly when the pre-show was over, and actually had some clowns out warming up the crowd a few minutes before 11. The show started promptly at 11am.

It’s really not necessary to give specific details on the various acts, but I’ll summarize by saying that the entire experience is tons of fun and reasonably entertaining throughout the show. I was very pleasantly surprised at the length of the show. I assumed it would be 90 minutes (with or without an intermission). It turned out to be 140 minutes including a roughly 25 minute intermission.

There were many things that seemed to thrill the adults (me included) more than many of the kids. Part of the reason/problem is that many times, there are simultaneous performers doing things in different places in the arena. I can see how deciding what to watch can be distracting (even to adults). Of course, while clowns amuse kids physically, the humor itself is often way over their heads.

They bill themselves as The Greatest Show On Earth. Obviously, that depends on your taste. That said, from a pure spectacle point of view, it’s arguably an accurate description. There are so many peformers in the show it’s a little mind-boggling. Even though our tickets weren’t cheap, it’s hard to imagine a mathematical split of our collective fees that can even feed that many people and animals, let alone have them make a nice living. I’m sure they’ve worked it out, but still…

Speaking of money, these kinds of events are meant to soak parents out of every extra cent they own. The only two things we broke down and bought were a $7 box of popcorn (which was actually quite tasty, if not value priced) and a $15 DVD of the Circus itself.

We watched the DVD last night. It’s highlights of the show. We were actually quite pleased with the ability to relive the experience, even though it was only seven hours after we left. So, that too wasn’t a bad value. :-)

On the other hand, a snow cone was $10 (but you got to keep the plastic cup). If you bought cotton candy, you got a circus hat which was like the one worn by the Cat In The Hat (but in circus colors). I think that was $12 or $15. Of course, kids screamed for every one of them, and parents often relented. It would have been trivial to spend more on the junk than on the tickets…

After the show, we walked up to the giant Toys ‘R Us in Times Square. It was so mobbed I can’t even describe it. Recession my foot! Yes, I know about the math of this supposedly dead economy, but everywhere I go (and yes, I mean everywhere), there are mobs of people, spending tons of money, on completely discretionary things, like circuses, concerts, toys, movies, Broadway, restaurants, etc.

A good time was had by all yesterday, with the adults possibly enjoying it even more than the kid. ;-)

Snarky Customer Service

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As you all know, I’m a huge fan of Girlyman. I have an alert service that informs me whenever there is news about them (and The Wailin’ Jennys as wel). Today, I received an alert pointing me to a blog about Brooklyn. In this post, she writes about a Brooklyn-based group called Sweet Bitters. She lists their influences, which include Girlyman, hence my alert notification.

So, I listened to the four songs on their MySpace page (linked above), and liked their sound. They only have two upcoming live dates listed there, one being on April 5th, 2008 at Pete’s Candy Store in Brooklyn. I wouldn’t mind seeing them, and there’s a slight chance that we could make it there that night.

Sweet Bitters’ link to the venue makes it clear that the show is free. Since there is no place to purchase tickets, Pete’s is clear enough that tickets are free as well. They have a menu link, with five sandwiches listed and some cocktails, so one assumes that they make their money that way, but there’s no mention of a cover or minimum so who knows.

Utilizing the better safe than sorry theory, I sent an email to one of the addresses listed in their contact link (I think it rotates on reloads, because I saw another name appear at a different time).

If you read this space regularly you already know that the above italics aren’t rare for me. ;-) I will happily admit that I overdid the quote marks (to indicate the same emphasis I use italics for here). I thought I was helping highlight the underlying points. Here is my email in it’s entirety:

Hi. I’ve never been to Pete’s. I might be able to make it on 4/5 to see the 9pm show (Sweet Bitters), but I’m not sure yet.

Can you tell me how Pete’s “works”?

What time should we show up for the 9pm show to get good “seats”?

Are there tables or rows of chairs, etc.?

Obviously we’d like to give you “business”, so the above question is related to whether we show up early and order drinks and dinner, but whether we have to move afterwards or sit at the table and watch the show?

Do you “sell out” (we’d be coming from Manhattan, so it would be frustrating to show up and not get in)?

Thanks in advance, and I’m glad to have found out about your place today! :-)

P.S. I don’t know if it matters, but there would be two of us for sure, and possibly four…

OK, a little over-the-top, but reasonably clear, no? In particular, the part about my desire to want to support the venue given that the show is free?

Here is the entire unedited response, cutting out my original email from the bottom:

“all” pete’s shows are “free”. if you are worried about “it” being ” too full”, then “come early”. you do not have to “leave your seats” from one show to the next. i hope this “response” was “helpful”.

for more “info”, go to www.petescandystore.com.

“take care”

OK, let’s analyze. First and foremost, did he respond to my questions? Mostly, but not as accurately as one would hope. What does come early mean? 8pm, 7pm, 3pm? It would seem that he mistook my question about selling out to simply mean is it free. Otherwise, he might have said something like “on occasion, in particular on Saturdays, if you don’t get here by 8:45pm, there is no room left in the place”.

More importantly, is his response appropriate? I’m a potential customer. Could he be sure that I was savvy enough to take his sarcastic reply in the (hopefully amusing/entertaining) manner that he intended? Wasn’t it as likely that if I’m so clueless as to have put the quotes in to begin with, that I might be offended at being made fun of?

Let’s assume that he doesn’t care (that’s my assumption!). After all, they’re not charging for the concert. In any event, they must have some reason to open their doors, and perhaps I would never come there, not just that night. Perhaps I’d even blog about it, affecting other people. ;-)

Bottom line, I think his response was at best snarky, not necessarily out-and-out nasty, nor obviously meant simply to be humorous.

Is that the best way to get business? Who knows. I still don’t know whether I can make it or not, but I’d still like to. Whether I’m interested in giving them business is another matter, but we’ll see how that plays out as well.

I could have been indignant in my response, ignored it, or chosen something in between. Here’s the entire text of my response:

“thanks”, “cute answer” ;-)

Hope he doesn’t think I was insulting him. ;-)

Anyway, I really wrote this post to promote Sweet Bitters, even though I am also indirectly promoting Pete’s Candy Store. I just couldn’t resist telling the whole story behind it, because I have written about the lack of customer service in the past, and this is but one more example…

Random Spitzer Fiasco Thoughts

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I really wanted to make one long post on this issue, and then put it behind me. Having Lois as a conscience made me behave otherwise. So, in my last post, I kept it simple, and just translated Eliot Spitzer’s resignation speech.

What follows are completely unrelated, random thoughts on this fiasco. It’s a mixture of comedy and commentary. It’s not news. If you stumbled on this post looking for anything important, please move along swiftly…

On Monday night, David Letterman had a Top 10 Eliot Spitzer Excuses. Some are clever, some are lame, some are deep.

While his #1 excuse:

I thought Bill Clinton legalized this years ago

was excellent, I propose knocking one of the lame ones off the list (you can pick your own), and replacing it with mine (perhaps even in the #1 position):

I thought I was joining a Prosecution Ring!

Keeping with the same inspiration, but moving to commentary from comedy, let’s repeat the #1 excuse again:

I thought Bill Clinton legalized this years ago

OK, so obviously, Bill didn’t quite do that. But, the joke isn’t far from a different reality. Bill Clinton legitimized this years ago. While many people were horrified at Bill’s behavior, probably more were only too happy to excuse his behavior, at every opportunity. After all, it was a private matter.

Well, Bill’s indiscretion with Monica Lewinsky might not have been criminal (though other allegations against him would definitely be criminal if true!), Eliot Spitzer is only too happy to be lumped in the private matter queue, even though his was clearly a crime.

One of the best words used by many commentators to describe Spitzer’s behavior is reckless. This too applies to Bill’s behavior in the White House. Why? Because at best, you leave yourself open to blackmail. Do you think that the people behind a high-end prostitution ring would be above blackmail?

How far do you think Bill Clinton or Eliot Spitzer would have gone to protect their secrets? I think pretty darn far, if they had the slightest notion that it might be kept under wraps. At best, that’s reckless, at worst, it’s disastrous. Thankfully for all of us, both of them were caught.

What’s the point of that line of reasoning? The point is that is has nothing to do with morals. To be clear, I would support legalizing prostitution, so I am not moralizing against this specific crime. But, until that happens, this is most definitely a crime, and engaging in it is simply reckless (or, in the immortal words of Wicked the Musical, well, not that simple).

Many commentators have pointed out that he has specifically prosecuted prostitution rings in the past. So, he can’t easily claim that he didn’t think it was a crime. What is more interesting (and has also been commented on many times already) is the fact that he was well aware that his banking transactions would likely be flagged!

He called the bank to ask them to break up a large transaction into smaller parts and was told that it had already gone out. He then asked for his name to be removed from the transaction and was told that this couldn’t be done.

Folks, think about it for a minute… Are you done thinking yet? This guy knows exactly what happens next. The IRS (in the past), and now likely the FBI as well, immediately start looking into what might be behind this kind of money movement.

So, even though they might have pieced together his past indiscretions (oops, I fell into the trap, as I should have said crimes), they might have had some trouble making an air-tight case if he hadn’t continued, allowing them to catch all of his conversations on his cell phone once they got a warrant based on the suspected money laundering.

People are calling that arrogant, or showing his hubris. That’s just plain kind. To me, it’s just plain stupid. Do we want a leader in any position of power to behave so stupidly that they can’t think through the consequences of the predicament they are in, and alter their behavior at least a bit?

I would whole-heartedly endorse a new set of laws on the books that would allow prosecution based on over-the-top stupidity. Sure, it would be abused with prosecutorial zeal at times (ironically, by the likes of Spitzer himself!), but in the end, we’d get some really stupid people off the streets. ;-)

So, we’ve shifted gears already, so lets use the last theme to shift into a related one. (If you weren’t paying attention, that theme was stupidity.)

None of what I’m saying has anything to do with party affiliation, though I’m sure that a very few staunch Democrats will want to read that bias in this piece. A number of commentators on the cable news shows came out earlier this week and immediately started screaming about the comparisons between this fiasco and the ones surrounding Larry Craig and David Vitter (as if any prior bad act somehow excuses a current one).

Before you think I’m just picking on some obscure commentator, here’s an article in the vaunted Washington Post, making exactly that comparison. Some of the comments show that this is hardly an isolated opinion.

Before I make some observations, using the previous theme, let me state clearly that I think Larry Craig should be in jail! Not for the crime he’s accused of, but because he’s as stupid as they come in having plead guilty to said crime! I don’t care whether he’s gay. I don’t care whether he’s a hypocrite who railed against gays, even though he’s very likely gay. I care that he’s making laws for this country, but didn’t think to consult a lawyer as to the consequences of his guilty plea? Lock him up!

Sorry, it’s not entirely out of my system yet, so here’s one more thing. On February 19th, 2008, the situation comedy show According To Jim did a phenomenal parody of the Larry Craig bathroom encounter. It perfectly portrayed my original reaction when this story broke.

Let’s see if you think Larry Craig is guilty of this crime or not? To be clear, guilty of solicitation, not guilty of being gay! If he isn’t gay, how likely would he be to have a clue as to how to solicit someone in the next stall? I certainly wasn’t clued in to this technique. But, as Jim Belushi deftly showed us, there are possibly some situations whereby you could accidentally engage in this coded behavior.

OK, so now you’ve done the unthinkable, and accidentally solicited an undercover officer. When confronted with those facts, what do you do? Admit it, just to make it go away? Huh? It’s not even a matter of his position as a Senator. It’s a matter of complete incredulity that you might have done such a thing, a thing that you had never even heard of before.

The alternative is more obvious. You were soliciting, you got caught, and you panicked. In the famous words of a great comedian (Bill Engvall):

Here’s Your Sign

OK, are you satisfied that I can skewer a Republican as well? Good. Unfortunately, that’s not the point. There is very little similarity in their plights. Spitzer prosecuted this exact crime, and can’t pretend to not understand that it’s a crime. We’ve already covered the stupid defense of Larry Craig, and no, it’s not plausible, but it’s certainly not the same level of ridiculousness that would apply had Spitzer claimed a similar defense (thankfully, his stupidity has some bounds…).

They are similar in that Larry Craig was an anti-gay moralist, so they are both hypocrites, for sure. Larry Craig and David Vitter can’t enforce laws directly, and they can’t even pass laws without a majority of their colleagues agreeing with them. So, if they are influenced (as in my assertion above regarding blackmail), they can do damage, for sure, but not as much as someone who was Attorney General, and recently Governor.

Shifting gears again…

Did you notice that the only senior Democrat who didn’t immediately denounce (let alone distance themselves from) Spitzer was Hillary Clinton? There’s little doubt that she was wildly uncomfortable when asked to comment, but in the end, she wouldn’t disclaim his behavior, even after he publicly admitted it. You can read an article about it here, but the important quote was:

Let’s wait and see what comes out of the next few days

Why wait? Was there a possible good outcome or spin possible from this admission? No. She was caught between a rock and a hard place. If she denounced his behavior, the follow-up question would inevitably be Why didn’t you denounce Bill’s behavior? It would feel like splitting hairs to answer Well, Bill didn’t commit an actual crime…

While this may not cause her any more grief than losing one committed superdelegate, it shows one small consequence of Bill’s former reckless behavior. It put her in a position of having to be an apologist for someone that no one else felt a need to defend.

Ultimately, whether it hurts Hillary or not, her behavior has hurt all women. The phony stand by your man speech (when they obviously hate each other beyond description) has made it more difficult for other woman to stand up for their basic human rights to be treated with dignity by their partners. It’s interesting (and even a little amazing) to me that so many women look up to her. I only hope those women don’t have to live the private life that Hillary does…

Just to make sure that the last point isn’t misunderstood, I’m not saying that none of the aggrieved woman (no pun intended on McGreevy’s name) ;-) should stand by their man. If there is love between them, or for the sake of the kids, etc., they should try to work it out. But, if it’s expediency, and in particular political expediency that keeps you together, then it harms all women.

I honestly think I can write for a few more hours, but I have probably lost all of my readers by now already. So, I’ll end with one last irony.

Since this scandal broke, the name of this particular prostitution ring (or rather, Escort Service) has been splattered all over the Internet. Even The New York Times printed their name: Emperors Club.

One has to wonder how much more money they are going to make in 2008 now that people know that a super rich person, who knows a ton about the industry, specifically chose them, including having women brought from out of state to pleasure him. I’d say the IRS has it’s work cut out when auditing this enterprise next year! ;-)

Translating Eliot Spitzer Resignation Speech

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I feel the need to provide a public service. Eliot Spitzer, Governor of New York, resigned today. He gave a heart-felt speech, that was carefully crafted to communicate as clearly as possible with everyone in the country.

Unfortunately, not everyone has the appropriate decoder ring necessary to un-craft the true meaning of his message. Thankfully for the rest of you, I have one. I ran his speech through the magic decoder, and here’s what came out:

In the past few days I’ve begun to atone for my private failings with my wife, Silda, my children and my entire family.

In the past few days, I have been very quiet, and have allowed my family to look at me with horror and disbelief. When I break the law, it’s a private failing, when others broke the law, I was there to demolish them.

The remorse I feel will always be with me. Words cannot describe how grateful I am for the love and compassion they have shown me.

I know that this will forever be on the Internet for all to see. I am grateful that my family hasn’t pulled off my fingernails, at least not yet.

From those to whom much is given, much is expected. I have been given much - the love of my family, the faith and trust of the people of New York, and the chance to lead this state.

I have been given much, and have taken a lot more, from many people. I deserved it all, and if I crushed people along the way, including innocent ones, I was on a mission, so it was all necessary.

I am deeply sorry I did not live up to what was expected of me.

I am deeply sorry that I was caught. Being Governor certainly wasn’t the last stop on my road to ultimate power, though now it looks like it might be.

To every New Yorker, and to all those who believed in what I tried to stand for, I sincerely apologize.

To everyone, I couldn’t stand for anything in an honest manner, but at least I tried to appear to stand for something. For the fact that you now know that I was more of a do as I say and not as I do kinda guy, well, I’m very sorry you found out.

I look at my time as governor with a sense of what might have been,

I look back, still remembering what it was like before I was caught, ah, the good old days.

but I also know that as a public servant, I and the remarkable people with whom I worked have accomplished a great deal.

I’m sorry, but I can’t leave in complete shame, I simply have to take another bow, pat myself on the back, and throw a bone to some people who I hope don’t completely abandon me in the coming days.

There is much more to be done and I cannot allow my private failings to disrupt the people’s work.

I had more to do (privately and publicly), but now that my private crime spree has become public, my work has been disrupted.

Over the course of my public life I have insisted, I believe correctly, that people, regardless of their position or power, take responsibility for their conduct.

While in power, I have insisted that people cave to my every whim, I believe correctly. It served my personal purpose. I made them take responsibility for everything, whether they committed a crime or not.

I can and will ask no less of myself.

Now that I have been caught, I have decided to hold myself to a similar standard, given that I would have been held to that standard by others, if I didn’t do it first. Of course, not exactly the same standard, since I didn’t resign immediately and I certainly don’t intend to go to jail. It’s not like I actually knew I was doing anything wrong before I got caught, so it’s really OK that I didn’t hold myself up to that standard a tad earlier.

For this reason I am resigning from the office of governor, and at Lt. Gov. David Paterson’s request, the resignation will be effective on Monday, March 17, a date that he believes will permit an orderly transition.

Don’t be mad at me for not resigning immediately a few days ago, nor for hanging in there for another few days. Other people urged me to take this route, and you know how much of a giver I am, I simply couldn’t refuse them.

I go forward with the belief, as others have said, that as human beings our greatest glory consists not in never falling but in rising every time we fall.

The people that I put away, or nearly ruined, had no redeeming qualities. I, on the other hand, will rise to greater heights shortly. Stay tuned!

As I leave public life, I will first do what I need to do to help and heal myself and my family,

As I leave public life, I will duck and hope that I survive the coming storm at home,

then I will try once again, outside of politics, to serve the common good and to move toward the ideals and solutions which I believe can build a future of hope and opportunity for us and for our children.

I will then try and assert my two-faced moralistic views on the rest of you, but I’m not sure exactly how just yet, given that I won’t be in a position of authority. That said, I’m a clever and very rich guy, and I have little doubt I’ll figure it out.

I hope all of New York will join my prayers for my friend, David Paterson, as he embarks on his new mission and I thank the public once again for the privilege of service. Thank you very much.

It’s unfortunate that David Paterson will now enjoy everything that is rightfully mine, but please, join me in a golf clap for his ascendancy to my throne.

Meaningless Opinions

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Once again, The New York Times proves how relevant and in touch it is with the country. Today, they ran an editorial which gives voice to eight former presidential candidates.

I couldn’t bring myself to click through to a single one of these. I’m not saying that the issues aren’t important. I am saying that none of these people has anything to say which can possibly affect this election.

Between the eight of them, they probably sewed up 37 delegates (or was that votes?), so clearly no one cared what they had to say before. (No, I didn’t actually check how many delegates they had collectively, it was a joke, that was directionally accurate…)

Thank goodness we have The New York Times to ensure that also-rans get a megaphone to scream that their opinions are still relevant, when millions of people have made it clear that they are not.

All we need is hope and change, we don’t need no stinking issues. Don’t make us think, let us dream!

Old Shoes

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A long and busy week at one of our portfolio companies is finally over. For Lois, all of the days were chock full of chores, but yesterday, February 29th, 2008 was particularly hectic and draining.

While not normally a superstitious person, I have a strong feeling that Lois is feeling happy that it will be four years before she has to experience a February 29th again. ;-)

Here was the culminating event of a tense day (for her). We were supposed to leave for Richmond at around 3pm. At 3pm, Lois was not at her desk, but I didn’t think about it as I was deep into something and I had my headphones on, so I was basically oblivious to what was going on around me.

One of the employees had a medical emergency. Lois was with him the entire time, waiting for the EMTs to arrive. When they took him away to the hospital, she finally came back to her desk. She asked if I had any idea what was going on, which you already know the answer to.

We packed up to leave, but Lois wanted to go to the hospital first, to check up on him. We gathered the things that he left in the office, and gave them to another employee that was headed to the hospital a few minutes before us.

Once we left the office, we loaded our car (as we always do). That included Lois putting things way in the back of the SUV. I then started driving toward the hospital. When we were roughly 10 blocks away, we heard things sliding around in the back (not that unusual), but also thought we heard a thud, which was not as usual.

Lois looked back, and noticed that she had never put down the rear door/window. Oops. Clearly, she was unnerved. I pulled in to a gas station, and Lois ran around to the back. She declared that nothing fell out, which seemed miraculous.

A quick digression, to set up the remainder of the story…

The day before, I mentioned to Lois that my shoes were starting to go. They might have had a ton of life left in them, but it could also be five minutes. I bought these shoes (Timberland) in San Francisco, in May 2004, on the remnant rack. They have been my favorite shoes ever since, even though they were 1/2 size too big. They were comfy, and (until now) virtually indestructable.

Lois decided that we would head to Walmart to buy new shoes after work that night. We did. I couldn’t find any shoes I was happy with. We headed from there to Super Target (1/2 a mile down the road), and while their selection was way smaller, I found a pair of shoes ($17!). I’m pretty happy with them (having worn them for two days now).

But, when we left the hotel in the morning yesterday, I asked Lois to put my old shoes in the back of the car, so that if the new shoes hurt, I could put the old ones back on.

OK, back to our main story…

When Lois declared that nothing had fallen out, I asked whether my old shoes were back there? She went back to check again, and sure enough, my shoes were not there. I didn’t care too much about those shoes, since the new ones seemed fine, but I pointed out that if she didn’t know the shoes were gone, perhaps she didn’t really know everything that was back there.

So, we decided to double back. Along the way, I was looking in the street on the opposite side that we were driving on (the side we had driven on with the door open). Nothing. Just as we were hitting the corner where our company building is, I noticed a guy walking away from us with my shoes in his hand!

I came to a quick stop, and Lois jumped out of the car and ran after the guy. She told him that those were her husband’s shoes, and he looked at her quite quizzically, but gave them to her. She then asked if anything else had fallen out, and he said no.

I then turned around, and we headed back to the hospital. I wasn’t allowed in to see the employee, because only two people were allowed at a time, and the other employee was already there, so Lois joined them while I listened to a bunch of music in the waiting room (mostly Girlyman, surprise!).

We then headed to Richmond. Along the way, Lois is now not so sure we didn’t lose anything else, but she’s at least sure that the critical things are still there, so that’s a small comfort.

The good news is that the employee is now feeling much better. We’re heading back from Richmond shortly, and will be seeing him later this afternoon again.

The only good news about the shoe incident was that it released a ton of Lois’ anxiety and pent up nervousness, as she couldn’t stop laughing about the absurdity of chasing down a man carrying my old shoes on the street. In fact, she was laughing so hard and uncontrollably, that she was extremely close to a full bore cry!

All’s well that ends well in this case. Whew! :-)