February 28, 2007

Joe Welch on the left, Joe McCarthy on the right.

Back in the fifties there were two Joe's who came at each other while television watched. Our two Joe's were:

Joseph McCarthy: Senator from Wisconsin
Joseph Welch: Attorney for the Army

A light reappraisal of who and what:

Joe McCarthy a drinking Senator from Wisconsin happened upon a way to gain national attention. After the Korean War, a war the United States fought to a draw, communists became the national bogie-men. Red was not the color of choice at that time. His mission was to find communists working in the government and expunge them. But Joe, not a Mensa member, took it too far and became a bully. Worse, a bully with no conscience. He would subpoena people whose names were turned in by zealous 'patriots', people with grudges, or people who actually thought they were doing good. They would also brow beat witnesses to turn in anyone that might have heard some scuttlebutt about. They would agree to do this out of fear for themselves. He was running an inquisition more than an investigation. Joe from Wisconsin obviously loved the media attention as the proceedings were telecast to one and all. Truth was not a prerequisite, innuendo would do, and lives were ruined. He was not content with communists in the government, he also went after movie actors, directors, producers, primarily and I am guessing here because it brought in more viewers when the stars showed up. He was a fifties hustler for television ratings.

Eventually events, and a feisty, crafty lawyer named Joseph Welch caught up with Joe from Wisconsin. Also and this is probably the fatal blow to him, the people of the United States elected Dwight Eisenhower as president, and DDE did not like Joe from Wisconsin, even though they were both from the same party. But without sympathy or patronage from the White House, Joe from Wisconsin days were numbered. Joe Welch plunged the dagger into his heart with these words: HAVE YOU NO DECENCY SENATOR. His witch hunt ended and he became a shadowy, drunken figure in the senate, censured by his colleagues and died three years after the hearings at 48 years old.

February 27, 2007


Poems gathered from noted poets inspired by the paintings of Edward Hopper.

Sidney Wade
GAS-after Edward Hopper

The lonely man
performs some necessary ritual
behind a pump. We cannot tell
exactly what it is he does because
the angle is so odd. A rack of cans

of oil between
two pumps on the island stands, as they always
do, conveniently available
in easy reach of any needy
motorist. The light is low, and the trees,

massed heavily
behind the man and his pumps, march darkly
off to the right. A modest shock
of roadside weeds attends the greenery
as it condenses. On the periphery,

out of our ken,
shines a source of artificial light. We
are meant to feel the clutch of the
evening. It is not benevolent.
The artist has invested his talent.

in loneliness.
The values and the crusty inflections
of his particular diction
demonstrate devotion to the modest
fears of the soul in the longest moments

of late after-
noon. A sign hangs white above the station.
Mobilgas and Pegasus. A
flag of sorts, a standard, here, to more
than gas. The language, though hard, is clear.

Oh my where does the time go? These guys were young when I was young. Oh well the crew cuts got credit for SH-BOOM, but I'm uncertain if it was a cover for another group, maybe the Chords or the Penquins. I'm not sure but I connect the song to the Crewcuts, even though I really think it was the Chords. The Penquins had a big hit I think with another that the Crewcuts covered, EARTH ANGEL. I hope I'm right about this.


February 26, 2007

I was dreading today. We signed up for digital tier or some such thing meaning we will get many more channels, and digital telephone. The reason we did it is not without merit I think. I went in to pay our bill and I asked a question about a channel we did not have. DIY to be exact. She said we could add DIY and a whole bunch of other channels and digital phone service for five or six dollars less. It took a couple go throughs for me to fully comprehend more for less. I then called in the wife who was waiting patiently in the car. The nice lady then went through the whole thing for her a couple times because the wife doesn't understand the more for less thing either. Anyway it sounded good and we signed up.

As we were leaving, the wife and I looked at each other and thought and said the same thing. Oh my goodness, all those cables running in the back of our television from a VCR to a DVD reader, to a DVD recorder. We knew adding a new modem from the cable company would be a disaster, and if I had to take them out out and start over, I smelled disaster.

The installer comes in this morning bright and early and I explained my worry about the cables, he says "no problem". All I have to do is insert the cable from the street into the new modem and out to wherever it was previously and then I would be good to go.

NAW, it didn't work at all. Disaster had struck again. Granted I have invested a little heavily in recording devices, but I enjoy it and it keeps me off the streets and the bars, as some funny people say.

When it becomes too much for me of little skill and much fear of cable pulling and inserting, I call in my SISTER-IN-LAW, the hundred pound cable dynamo who somehow has no fear of the snake-like cable and has a clear sense of what they should be doing when she moves them around. She's a human schematic when it comes to cables. I can never quite see the whole picture. Well it's done. The operating instructions have changed somewhat and now I have four remotes, all of which have a job to do with one of the applications I want to achieve.

Oh we also now have HDTV. All we have to do is buy a new television set that will light up and be clear as a bell. Well not this week. Our current television is one of the last big floor model consoles put out by RCA. It's great and until it gives it's last gasp we will have to be content with whatever is the opposite of HDTV, low density? Whatever.

February 25, 2007

What could be better on a quiet winters day, than listening to just a bit of Gershwin. George Gershwin had a short life 1898-1937, dying of an undiagnosed brain tumor. But in those short years he wrote music that is still extremely popular and shows no sign of diminishing. He is one of those people who sometimes walk the earth who when they die so young, we say what if he had lived..but what he left in his few short years is memorable and is still hummed and whistled.

February 24, 2007


I sometimes think back on those carefree days when a game of baseball may have been the most pressing thing on my mind, and serious thinking about my future wasn't something I was heavily into.

My whole life it seems has been a series of random or serendipitous events happening serially that have worked out for me very well. But more fanciful, perhaps we are all puppets here on the ground being manipulated by the Gods above, Zeus, Hermes, Thor, and that crowd in their afternoon pastime of the human chess game. Zeus the protector of the human race may have laid his hand on my shoulder; Naw probably not, I’ve just been lucky.

But I do remember thinking of what every kid thinks of now and then; when I grow up I’d like to do this or that. Of course my ambitions never rose above wanting to be a great athlete, which would have been a trick as I was born with nada natural athletic abilities. But just as well, I could dream with the best of them.

I had fleeting thoughts of wanting to be a pilot, a sailor, or many other things all of which were pure juvenile meanderings. But it is a happy time that time of dreams unencumbered by reality. I remember it fondly.

February 23, 2007


The Arcade was built in 1890 by Detroit Bridge Co., run by Stephen V. Harkness.[1] It is a unique architectural treasure of 19th century urban America. Designed by John Eisenmann, the Arcade is one of the few remaining arcades of its kind in the United States. Modeled after the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II located in Milan,[1] this magnificent Arcade is comprised of two nine-story towers with a skylight, 100 feet (30 m) high, made of 1,800 panes of glass spanning over 300 feet (91 m). The construction was financed by John D. Rockefeller, Marcus Hanna, Charles F. Brush and several other wealthy Clevelanders of the day.[1]

The Arcade is a cross between a lighted court and a commercial shopping street. The building is a complex of three structures: two nine-story office buildings facing out to Euclid and Superior Avenues, connected via the five-story iron-and-glass enclosed arcade.[1] The Richardsonian arched entrance along Superior Avenue is original, but the Euclid Avenue front was remodeled in 1939[1] by the firm of Walker and Weeks. The level of the Superior Avenue entrance is about 12 feet lower than the Euclid entrance, so that there are two bottom arcade floors, joined by staircases at each end. Since Euclid and Superior avenues are not parallel, a passage leads, at a 23-degree angle, off the Euclid entrance to a rotunda at the southern end of the Arcade.[1] The arcade itself is a 300-foot-long covered light court, ringed by four levels of balconies, which step back above the Euclid Avenue level. The vertical lines of the columns, rising nearly 100 feet (33 m) to the glass roof, create a spacious domed interior.[1]

In 2001, the Hyatt corporation redeveloped the Arcade into Cleveland's first Hyatt Regency hotel. The Hyatt Regency occupies the two towers and the top three floors of the atrium area. The two lower floors of the atrium area remain open to the public with retail merchants and a food court. In addition, the Hyatt's lobby and offices are located near the Superior Avenue entrance.

February 22, 2007



Fallingwater - Mill Run, Pennsylvania

The Masterpiece of Architect Frank Lloyd Wright

"There in a beautiful forest was a solid, high rock ledge rising beside a waterfall, and the natural thing seemed to be to cantilever the house from that rock bank over the falling water..." -- Frank Lloyd Wright in an interview with Hugh Downs, 1954

Fallingwater, the residential masterpiece of great American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, was designed in 1936 for the family of Pittsburgh department store owner Edgar J. Kaufmann. Considered by some as the most famous private house ever built, Fallingwater epitomizes man living in harmony with nature. The house, set amid 5000 acres of natural wilderness, is constructed of local sandstone, reinforced concrete, steel and glass. It juts out over a waterfall on Bear Run, appearing as naturally formed as the rocks, trees and rhododendrons which embrace it.

The interior of Fallingwater remains true to Frank Lloyd Wright's vision as well, including cantilevered desks, earth-toned built-in sofas, polished stone floors, and large casement windows which allow the outdoors to pour in. The hearth of the soaring stone fireplace is actually a boulder on the hill, supposedly Mr. Kaufmann's favorite sunning spot before Fallingwater was built - the house was literally built around it. From the Great Room a set of stairs enables you to walk down and stand on a tiny platform in the middle of the stream.

Fallingwater was the weekend home of the Kaufmann family from 1937 until 1963, when the property was donated to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy by Edgar Kaufmann Jr. It still looks as it did when the family lived there - the only remaining great Wright house with its setting, original furnishings and art work intact. Designated as a National Historic Landmark, Fallingwater was also named by the American Institute of Architects in 2000 as the "Building of the Century."

February 21, 2007

John Sloan (1871-1951)
Red Kimono on the Roof, 1912oil on canvas, 24 x 20 in.

This unglorified view of a woman, a clothespin in her mouth, hanging up her laundry on the roof of a building is one of Sloan's classic pictures, painted at the height of his career. He may have painted it from the window of his studio, which would explain the elevated vantage point. The picture's sense of immediacy and of a directly observed scene is enhanced by the spontaneous brushwork and the attention to light and shadow.

Sloan was a Philadelphia newspaper illustrator when he joined several journalist colleagues in an artists' group called The Eight, led by the painter Robert Henri. Sloan and four others in the group became known for their realistic paintings of life in New York's bustling Lower East Side, which they executed with broad, vigorous strokes and a conscious avoidance of sentimentality. Sloan and other urban realists later became known as the Ashcan School.

February 20, 2007

I really like this scene from GUESS WHO'S COMING TO DINNER. Tracy is magnificent. He only had about three weeks to live. He knew it as did Hepburn. He could only work for a couple hours in the morning hours before he wore out. He obviously was speaking some of his lines to Hepburn. The tears she shed were obviously real. I loved the whole scene. I love the thought of a perfect world and I love the song which comes on at the end of the scene, THE GLORY OF LOVE. It was so appropos.

I wrote this eight to ten years ago for a granddaughter.

a fable for any age

By Jim Kittelberger

Wham, Bam, Drrr, Zing, Wing..The sounds from the girl factory were loud and frequent.

There are many sections within the factory. There is a section for brunettes, redheads, and a special section for blondes. The head girl maker in the hair section is Arno the magnificent.

He is making a special announcement to the whole factory over the loudspeaker system. Your attention please.

We have today received a special order from the great God-O, and he will be making a special trip to our factory to watch our progress. You must follow all orders exactly; we can have no second rate work on this project. If a mistake is made, the offending worker will be sent immediately to REJECTOLAND. There they will have to work on BOYS with spiked hair and freckles. OHHHHHHHHHH, could be heard from the workers, because no one wanted to go there.
In the hair section, Arno was reviewing the hair types. I do not want stringy hair. I do not want a dishwater color. I want hair that reflects Gods sun. AH YES, THAT IS THE COLOR I WANT.

Since I have been made special bigwig-colossal-chief over everybody- major domo great- fantastic- magnificent- very wonderful BOSS, I will follow this project to its completion. The next stop was the eye room.

Now, I do not want vacant looking eyes, I do not want dull looking eyes, I do not want silly dilly eyes, I do not want bird eyes, I do not want snake eyes, I do not want pig eyes, I do not want potato eyes, I do not want buckeyes, I do not want fly eyes, I do not want fish eyes, I do not want glass eyes and I especially do not want red eyes. What the special order requests are blue eyes that reflect the stars and its glitter. Eyes that laugh without words. Eyes that can show kindness. Eyes that will see the good things in life. Eyes that will show love to each person they look upon.


Now on to the naming department, where they met the head of the department, Mrs. Alphabetcha.

We need a name that is just right for this special project, Mrs. Alphabetcha. Can you do it? Well ABCDEFGHI am sure I can Magnificent Arno. Now be sure you don't give her a name like Gertrude or Agnes or Helga or Salamiface or Zelda or Brutus or Clarinetlips or Eggplant. I want a name that is regal and feminine. I have just the name for the special project. It is the name of the last Russian czarina and it is very feminine. It is GrouchoOh No, Oh No, that is just a little naming department humor.


The very best name we have in our department is ALEXANDRA. This is magnificent said Arno the magnificent.

We will now take the parts I have requested to the assembly department. This is Mr. Model Kit, head of the assemblers. Do you have your instructions Mr. Kit? Indeed I do Mr. Arno.

I have instructions to attach the gold as the sun hair to the top of the head. Insert two blue eyes from the special stock with stars in them. Insert the premium brain with a special section added for extra compassion and love. Insert and attach all of the above into a head with the AAAAAAAAAA+ pretty face. I have attached all the other necessities such as fingernails, toenails, a couple of arms, a couple of legs, a belly button and white teeth with a complimentary toothbrush and toothpaste included.

WHALAAAAA! What do you think Mr. Arno?

Perfecto Mr. Kit. I think she is just about ready for shipment.
All of a sudden the room became as bright as the sun and everything became silent and a red carpet appeared on the floor and Mr. God-O appeared and spoke: Ms. Alexandra, I am going to send you to earth to be in the care of two very nice people, who will do the best they can for you and will love you for all your days. So go now and have a very happy life and I will see you again in about ninety years or so and I will want a report, so keep a diary.

February 19, 2007


I met Mr. Tibbetts at a book signing years ago. There are some events so big, so huge in our history that it is hard to connect a friendly chatting man to something that is discussed today and will probably be discussed forever for its pros and cons in human history.

THE GUY WHO INVENTED THE TV REMOTE HAS DIED. A great invention, if for nothing else, being able to hit the mute and tune out the junk that comes out of that box.

The co-inventor of the TV remote, Robert Adler, has died.
Adler, who won an Emmy Award along with fellow engineer Eugene Polley for the device that made the couch potato possible, died Thursday of heart failure at a Boise nursing home at 93, Zenith Electronics said Friday.

In his six-decade career with Zenith, Adler was a prolific inventor, earning more than 180 U.S. patents. He was best known for his 1956 Zenith Space Command remote control, which helped make TV a truly sedentary pastime.

His wife said he hardly ever watched TV, he read.

My bride of fifty-one years is trying to kill me with kindness. Of course, with that kind of weapon any judge would rule I was certainly of age (I guess) and have no one to blame but myself.

I have been trying to lose weight, and succeeding somewhat. But as anyone who has been through diets before, knows that it's a game of trying to fool your metabolism for periods of time. It will let you lose weight initially, but then something happens and your metabolism thinks you are starving, and being part of the good machine that is the human body, it makes better use of the fats, nutrition, etc and retains it, or loses it slower, thus when you step on that scale, little or nothing is coming off. How can this be? Well anyone who has been on diets know what I am talking about.

I was in one of those periods, and not being too pleased with the whole deal. I want to eat things I shouldn't or at least much more of the standard stuff like breads, gravy, desserts, all no-no's. So I was in that kind of rebellious mood, wanting to eat the tempting looking advertisements I seem to be seeing everywhere I look.

Oh, one more thing; We had reservations at a really nice restaurant for Valentines day night. The meal we would have eaten was their best on the menu. We had planned carefully our input for days ahead to accommodate the calories we would take in, psychologically we were ready to enjoy the evening. Well we live in Ohio, and as far as the weather goes, anything is possible. We got dumped on. Snows ranging upward to seventeen-eighteen inches came in, so we had to cancel. My attitude became darker. When my stomach growled, I did not take it kindly or as a symbol of a diet working. I was hungry.

It is now valentines day and my wife presents me with an invention of hers made especially for the day. She knows I love chocolate so I am presented with the succulent dessert you see above. The part that looks like a chocolate cupcake is pure chocolate. It was great. So where is 'she's trying to kill me with kindness assault'? Well it was like priming the pump after eating that delectable creation. I broke into some homemade chocolate chip cookies she had baked before the diet started, (but I knew where it was). Last night I consumed a large portion of popcorn (large for me) before going to bed. What happened to any common sense this boy of advancing age might have had? Gone.

This morning is Monday, my once a week weigh in day. I take off anything that might add an ounce and stepped up to get the verdict. OH SHOOT. Well what should I expect. Instant retribution came down upon the ignorant cuss. But I'm back at it. I just finished lunch. What's that growling I hear?

February 17, 2007


I love good baseball; I love Cleveland Indian baseball. Sometimes there is a big difference between the two.

But I'm not really a very good baseball fan. I prefer watching the games from the comfort of my living room, getting up when I wish, to go in search of goodies to eat, or just to take a break to read a few lines from the current bestseller. I like being able to remove myself from watching when it starts getting boring or when the Indians are getting pasted good and proper. I don't think I'm exactly a 'fair weather fan', but perhaps I am a fan who likes his baseball from a comfortable chair surrounded by other entertainments, or diversions such as an mp3 player to change my input to music whenever I feel the desire, or reading material to wile away a little time during those low scoring well pitched games. I've also been known to absent myself from in front of the television during the games to spend moments on our outside porch watching the birds pecking away, searching for different varieties of foodstuffs while I refresh myself with iced tea and perhaps a dessert or two, and then to return later to the ballgame to watch a couple more innings. By what I have described, if the baseball club were aware of my antsy routines, they probably wouldn’t let me into their stadium anyway. I’d drive the true fan nuts.

Now if I don't sound like the greatest of baseball fans, I know of one person who really is a fan. That would be my son. He is what I would consider a great baseball fan, not like his old man. My son has always been a fan.

A fan mostly of the Indians, because he grew up with them, although he does have a secondary allegiance to the Washington baseball club. I say baseball club instead of the Nationals, because he became a baseball fan rooting for the lowly Washington Senators. He became a fan of the Senators because we lived in Virginia, near Washington when he was growing up, and true to the rules of what is right, from the fictional book of baseball fan etiquette, he rooted for the home team, the Senators. They were bad, not in the current lingo of bad meaning good, they were in the kings English, bad. He didn't care, he loved them, and he rooted for them. Then when our Washington life was over, he became a Cleveland Indian fan, which he remains to this day mostly. I think though, knowing him, he is grown now, living in Florida, I think he probably feels a pull toward the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, or the Florida Marlins also.

My son also goes to minor league games whenever he can. He likes the game regardless of the venue. He is also in baseball heaven since moving to Florida. He now takes a tour of the spring training sites whenever he can to watch the boys of summer prepare themselves for the season ahead. The collector of baseball cards when he was a young boy now collects photographs of his favorites close up and relaxed before the rigors of the season ahead makes them less accessible. He also, and this is typical and so good, he takes his two sons with him whenever he can, guaranteeing lifelong baseball fans of them, maybe into the next century.

Baseball is a great game, regardless of what kind of fan you are, a pretty bad one like myself who doesn't like to go too far out of his comfort zone, or a very good one like my son. It is a game that is a leveler of men, a game that the participant will go as far as his talent will allow, and a game that will always have us wannabe's watching their every move.
This is funny.

February 16, 2007


I will be turning seventy this year, I'm not proud of it, nor am I ashamed of it, it's just a fact. I could make the joke, it's better than the alternative. I haven't consciously been thinking about it, but perhaps sub-consciously I have been very aware of it. I hadn't though that it was one of those threshold ages, but maybe it is. I saw this article by Joseph Epstein in ARTS AND LETTERS of an article he wrote for the WEEKLY STANDARD. If you're approaching the magic age of seventy you will get a kick out of the article, and certainly recognize yourself in much of what he writes about. I certainly did since we were born in the same birth year, a good time to be born. There is no good year to get old, but there you are.

Kid Turns 70 And nobody cares.
by Joseph Epstein 01/29/2007, Volume 012, Issue 19

Seventy. Odd thing to happen to a five-year-old boy who, only the other day, sang "Any Bonds Today," whose mother's friends said he would be a heartbreaker for sure (he wasn't), who was popular but otherwise undistinguished in high school, who went on to the University of Chicago but long ago forgot the dates of the rule of the Thirty Tyrants in Athens and the eight reasons for the Renaissance, who has married twice and written several books, who somewhere along the way became the grandfather of three, life is but a dream, sha-boom sha-boom, 70, me, go on, whaddya, kiddin' me?

A funny age to turn, 70, and despite misgivings I have gone ahead and done it, yet with more complex thoughts than any previous birthday has brought. Birthdays have never been particularly grand events for me; my own neither please nor alarm me. I note them chiefly with gratitude for having got through another year. I have never been in any way part of the cult of youth, delighted to be taken for younger than I am, or proud that I can do lots of physical things that men my age are no longer supposed to be able to do: 26 chin-ups with gila monsters biting both my ankles. I have always thought I looked--and, as mothers used to instruct, always tried to act--my age. But now, with 70 having arrived, I notice that for the first time I am beginning to fudge, to hedge, to fib slightly, about my age. In conversation, in public appearances, I described myself as "in my late 60s," hoping, I suppose, to be taken for 67. To admit to 70 is to put oneself into a different category: to seem uncomfortably close to, not to put too fine a point on it, Old Age.

At 70 middle age is definitely--and definitively--done. A wonderful per iod, middle age, so nondescript and im precise, extending perhaps from one's late 30s to one's late 60s, it allows a person to think him- or herself simultaneously still youthful, though no longer a kid. Forty-eight, 57, 61, those middle-aged numbers suggest miles to go before one sleeps, miles filled with potential accomplishments, happy turnabouts in one's destiny, midlife crises (if one's tastes run to such extravaganzas), surprises of all kinds.

Many ski lifts at Vail and Aspen, I have been told, no longer allow senior-citizen discounts at 60, now that so many people continue skiing well into their 60s. With increased longevity, it's now thought a touch disappointing if a person dies before 85. Sixty, the style sections of the newspapers inform us, is the new 40. Perhaps. But 70--70, to ring a change on the punchline of the joke about the difference between a virgin and a German Jew--70 remains 70. One can look young for 70, one can be fit for 70, but in the end there one is, 70.

W.H. Auden, who pegged out at 66, said that while praying we ought quickly to get over the begging part and get on to the gratitude part. "Let all your thinks," he wrote, "be thanks." One can either look upon life as a gift or as a burden, and I myself happen to be a gift man. I didn't ask to be born, true enough; but really, how disappointing not to have been. I had the additional good luck of arriving in 1937, in what was soon to become the most interesting country in the world and to have lived through a time of largely unrelieved prosperity in which my particular generation danced between the raindrops of wars: a child during World War II, too young for Korea, too old for Vietnam, but old enough for the draft, which sent me for 22 months (useful as they now in retrospect seem) off to Missouri, Texas, and Arkansas. My thinks really are chiefly thanks.

As for my decay, what the French call my décomposition géneralé, it proceeds roughly on schedule, yet for the moment at a less than alarming rate. I have had a heart bypass operation. Five or so years ago, I was found to have auto-immune hepatitis, which caused me no pain, and which side-effectless drugs have long since put in remission. I am paunchless, have a respectable if not abundant amount of hair atop my head (most of it now gray, some of it turning white), retain most of my teeth (with the aid of expensive dentistry). I have so far steered clear of heart attack, dodged the altogether too various menacing cancers whirling about, and missed the wretched roll of the dice known as aneurysms. (Pause while I touch wood.) My memory for unimportant things has begun to fade, with results that thus far have been no more than mildly inconvenient. (I set aside 10 minutes or so a day to find my glasses and fountain pen.)

I have not yet acquired one of those funny walks--variants of the prostate shuffle, as I think of them--common to men in their late 60s and 70s. I am, though, due for cataract surgery. I'm beginning to find it difficult to hear women with high-pitched voices, especially in restaurants and other noisy places. And I take a sufficient number of pills--anti-this and supplement-that--to have made it necessary to acquire one of those plastic by-the-day-of-the-week pill sorters.



February 15, 2007

It's my age. I think that is the reason that I currently find very little in the current crop of movies from Hollywood that I want to see. Certainly I don't want to go to the movie theater and spend the exorbitant cost of a ticket. But primarily they don't make movies for anyone out of their teens. So the lack of any new pictures to enjoy deepens my like for the oldies. I've found that the old movies told stories and isn't that what we want? A good one I watched the other night was DINNER AT EIGHT, with as they used to say, a cast of thousands. Well it wasn't thousands, but there were quite a few, as the poster here shows. They each had a story that interested the watcher. Both Barrymores, Lionel and John were great. John as I have read played himself mostly and he was great. Marie Dressler was fantastic as the washed up femme fatale and friend of Lionel Barrymore. Wallace Beery was his usual loud mouthed character and held his own against his wife in the story Jean Harlow who has some great lines and dishes them out perfectly.
Lee Tracy runs his mouth in his usual mile a second dishing out of his dialogue, as he did so perfectly in another film I saw him in, playing the outgoing President in THE BEST MAN. Edmund Lowe plays the ladies man doctor and Billie Burke was Billie Burke as she is in all her movies, but in this one maybe a little more frantic. It is a great movie made greater because it was in black and white. We were watching the actors and paying attention to the story instead of our eyes critiquing the furnishings of the house. I copied it off of TCM a while back and just got around to watching it. I always allow a little more time at the beginning and the end when I copy a movie there because I would hate to miss the commentary by Robert Osborne. He is the quintessential insider which always makes the movie experience a little bit better.

I've never been a hunter, but this struck me funny. Only seems fair somehow.
You may have heard this joke before, I had, but it is apropos because the major league pitchers and catchers start working out today in Florida and Arizona. It's also apropos because I am getting older, but like all older folks I just figure they're talking about the other guy and not me bacause I'm too young. Oh well, we kid ourselves.

The Baseball Fans

Two buddies named Bob and Earl were two of the biggest baseball fans in America. Their entire adult lives, Bob and Earl discussed baseball history in the winter, and they pored over every box score during the season. They went to 60 games per year and they even agreed that whoever died first would try to come back and tell the other if there was baseball in heaven. One summer night, Bob passed away in his sleep after watching the Yankee victory earlier in the evening. He died happy. A few nights later, his buddy Earl awoke to the sound of Bob's voice from the great beyond."Bob, is that you?" Earl asked."Of course it's me," Bob replied. "This is unbelievable!" Earl exclaimed. "So tell me, is there baseball in heaven?" "Well, I have some good news and some bad news for you. Which do you want to hear first?" "Tell me the good news first." "Well, the good news is that yes, there is baseball in heaven, Earl." "Oh, that is wonderful! So what could possibly be the bad news?" "You're pitching tomorrow night."

February 14, 2007


Studs Terkel is ninety four years old now, and will be ninety five soon. He is a living legend, an American treasure. I have read many of his books and enjoyed them. It is a most enjoyable way to learn history. We learn it through the middle man Studs' ability to draw his guests out on subjects they know by having lived it.

If you have not read Studs Terkel, and you love history, you are missing a valuable resource.

Check out his web site and listen to a large sample of the interviews.
We in Ohio and many other states have been socked with a lot of snow. As you can see by my pictures of the fake birdhouse on a stick, the snow has really accumulated. I stuck a yard stick in the snow as I was on my way to blow snow out of our driveway for the third time. As you can see, I hope, it was at 16" this morning. The intrepid weatherman says we will get a couple more and then it will move on out of here. On my third cleaning up of the snow I fell onto my left leg which slid on the ice. I though for sure I had broken the darn thing, but I have more luck than sense I guess, so I am quite gleeful at the moment. I am too old to be breaking legs. Just when a person starts patting themselves on their back for being able to do what the young folks do, life has a way of saying gottcha. Well I was lucky today and I am grateful as can be.

February 13, 2007

In my day, this was sexy and romantic. Heck, still is. Just in case you've forgotten or didn't know, this was from the movie PICNIC with William Holden and Kim Novak.

Just a sentence or two to remind ourselves
that we are all children or grandchildren of
immigrants. The rich and the not so rich were
all immigrants once. Everything we are is owed
to those who came from other places.

the following text is taken from a National Geographic book titled AMERICAS HISTORYLAND

The statue of liberty national monument rises 300 feet above New York Harbor to lift her lamp "beside the golden door." Within her copper form, hued green by time's alchemy, visitors climb a spiral stairway to peer from windows in her massive crown. Masterpiece of Alsatian sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, gift from France, this "Mother of Exiles" inspired poet Emma Lazarus whose words adorn the pedestal. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe fee...

Standing in the center of old Fort Wood on Liberty (Bedloe's) Island, the 225-ton statue tends freedom's greatest portal. She has been strengthened, her torch brightened since her unveiling in 1886 at the flood tide of immigration. In the 19th century, famine and strife sent torrents of aliens to the United States. Let them come, exulted Emerson: The energy of Irish, Germans, Swedes, Poles, and Cossacks, all the European tribes,-and of the Africans, and of the Polynesians-will construct a new race, a new religion, a new state, a new literature."

From 1855 to 1890 more than seven million strreamed through Castle Garden, New York. Boston, Seattle, San Francisco, Honolulu established other depots. But Ellis Island, New York, outstripped them all. By the time it closed in 1954 after 62 years, 20 million immigrants had poured in. Before quotas checked the flow, men claimed that for every steamship arriving, teeming with passengers, a new steel plant rose in Pennsylvania, a new textile plant sprang up in Massachusetts, and 1000 more pick-and-shovel men pushed railroads west from Chicago.

February 12, 2007

The weatherman predicts snow today, snow tomorrow, and maybe some more Wednesday. I say to that weatherman, as our intrepid leader 'W' so notoriously said, BRING IT ON. The reason I say this so arrogantly is that this is the week that the boys of summer start limbering up in the land of sunshine. They start exercising those million dollar arms throwing to those boys behind the plate. The boys who live or die professionally by not letting one of those pitched balls get by him. Next week the position players arrive and the sport pages will be full of who will become the next big star or who will leave their team high and dry to migrate to a higher paying employer, oh the woes for the fans of free agency. I love it all, I especially love the Cleveland Indians. The Cleveland brass always bring in new talent that is acclaimed as the person who will carry us into October baseball, some where the Indians have gotten to often. But Cleveland Indian fans are forever optimistic that this is the year. Maybe it is.

February 11, 2007

I read Dick Feagler's new book entitled, IS IT JUST ME? last night. It is a compilation of his columns that appeared in the CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER. Mr. Feagler also has his own talk show in Cleveland and knows everybody and most everything about Cleveland. Mr. Feagler is a blunt talker, and always makes his point. I was taken by many of his columns from the book, but this one seemed typical of the feeling that things change, yet they don't, and someone always has to pay the check for someone's ineptness. It is titled: PASSING THE WORD ABOUT WESTMORELAND, written by Dick Feagler on July 20, 2005.

I try to believe in an afterlife. If there is one, the ghosts were
murmuring in Arlington Cemetary last night.
The whispers went from foxhole to foxhole, grave to grave. My
bet is, they sounded like this:
"Hey, Westy's dead."
That's from a marine corporal in Da Nang. Dead a while.
"Really," said an Army guy who drowned in a swamp. "How old
was he?"
"He was 91," the corporal said. "He died of natural causes. He was
in a retirement home."
"Well, said the Army guy," given human nature, I guess we all died
of natural causes. He just lived about 70 years longer than us."
"How old were you?" said the Marine.
"Do the math, jarhead," said the soldier. "I was 21."
"I was 20," the Marine said.
A slow, warm wind blew a newspaper across the grave. I believe
the dead still get our news. It's a chilling thought. But maybe they
don't care anymore. It's like watching too much CNN.
The Marine read the story to the soldier:
"Retired Gen. William Westmoreland, who commanded U.S.
troops in Vietnam-the nation's longest conflict-died Monday
night. He was 91."
"Did you ever see him?" the soldier asked.
"Got a glimpse," the Marine said. "He got off a chopper and we
had an honor guard for him and he passed me by. That was about
two weeks before I got mine."
"I got mine when he was saying he saw the light at the end of the
tunnel," said the soldier. "Remember that?"
"Oh God, yes," said the Marine. "And the body counts; remember
"When we used to fudge the numbers?" said the soldier. "I sure
They chuckled softly in the darkness.
"You know, Westy was a great soldier," the Marine said. "He was
brave and faithful. He was a semper fi kind of guy. He once said,
"They put me over there and forgot about me." That's as close as I
ever saw him to whining."
"Well, said the soldier, "they put us over there and forgot about
us too. But the difference was, he called the shots. He saw the light
at the end of the tunnel."
"Ha ha," said the Marine.
"Ha ha," said the soldier.
There was a pause then.
"You know," said the soldier, "It was pretty obvious after we got
there that we weren't going to win the war. All we could win were
"Yeah," said the Marine. "We ended up just fighting for each
other. But the guys who were supposed to figure out what we were
doing there just took a hike. Or lied about it."
"Westy never understood that," the Marine said. "His job was to
fight. And he did that. All generals do that. The public doesn't care.
The politicians don't care. They are all gutless and the guys with
the guts are buried..."
Then the night was interrupted by the noise of a machine. The
machine was digging a new hole, which would be fresh and tidy in
the morning.
"Iraq?" said the Marine.
"Yep," said the soldier.
And they listened through the night and heard a new foxhole
being dug. Another neighbor. New midnight conversations. Some-
body else to talk to.

February 10, 2007

I loved traveling on trains. I haven't done much of it though, and none in recent times. I did most of my train traveling during my time in the military. I think the longest stretch was going from the Midwest to Wyoming for a tech school I had to attend. This was in the fifties and trains were on a downward trend at that time. Airplanes were taking over as the mode of travel preferred. I could understand the reasoning at the time, but now that I am older, and getter old fast, I would prefer to do any traveling I may be required to do on a slower mode of getting from one place to another.

Airplane travel is great, but it's much akin to time travel. You enter the aluminum body, or whatever metal airplanes are made of, sit back, and presto you are at your destination, waiting for jet lag to catch up to you.

Train travel, on the other hand, seems designed for the traveler who is not on a stressful schedule, and can enjoy the ride by actually seeing the passing scenery that marks your passage, and also affords the opportunity to get up and stretch your legs when the need arises.

I have read recently about the re-emergence of the grand old Oriental Express. A very rich person has collected what he could of the old carriages (that would be cars to peons like me) and brought them back to their former opulence. Russia, I understand, also now has a train similar, and they would say better than the Oriental Express. All of which is good news for the grossly rich that want to one up their friends and neighbors.

But it is good news for us commoners, maybe. It might mean that improvements could be made to our Amtrak system, or even better something else that could offer competition, although I doubt the good business sense in spending too much on a train system for the hoi polloi. I think it will probably fall to the rich and famous to enjoy the resurgence, and for the rest of us to read about it and remember perhaps how it used to be and smile contentedly for the memories of the past.

February 9, 2007

A glimpse of our garden buried under a winters snow that won't go away due to the temperatures that stay close to zero each night. The peaceful serenity of the scene has not lulled the mistress of the manor into a lethargic, reflective mood; indeed it seems to have brought her blood to a fever pitch as scenes of a new brick patio dance through her head, with visons of moments sipping iced tea while sitting under a brightly colored umbrella dance through her imaginative mind. Age has not diminished her desire to dig holes, move brick, or rearrange the location of trees. Although her knees won't allow too much of the above, her gardener, me, can still push the dirt around, so between us we will get it done. Bring on the spring, bring back the birds, bring back baseball.
I like a poem that romanticizes the possibilities of life. Such a poem is this one written by Wendy Cope entitled IDYLL.

We'll be in our garden on a summer evening.
Eating pasta, drinking white wine.

We won't talk all the time. I'll sit back,
contemplating shadows on the red-brick path,

And marvel at the way it all turned out.
That yellow begonia. Our gabled house.

Later we'll stroll through Kingsgate Park.
My leg won't hurt, and we'll go home the long way.

Asked to imagine heaven, I see us there,
The way we have been, the way we sometimes are.

February 8, 2007

Boy, did I get the dates wrong on this one. I went back to check on a fact or two and I saw the date on the Peyton Place and Sandra Bullock proposed vehicle was dated March 2006. Sorry about that. But I will let it stand because the point I wanted to make was the ignition of memory about a subject after so long a period. Memories can be cozy or instructional. The curse of Alzheimer's is the destruction of our memories. How dastardly is that.

Memory is a marvelous thing. I was browsing this morning and came across the blog BLACKNOIRE, formerly BLACK INK, on which the blogger was writing about Grace Metalious, the author of Peyton Place. I guess a new movie is being made about Grace. The honcho of the deal is Sandra Bullock. First I’ve read about it so I don’t know if Sandra will star in it or not, probably.

But what it stirred up in my memory was my wife and I living in a small cottage behind a State Department employee’s big house in Falls Church, Virginia when I was in the Air Force and we were poor as church mice. One day we were shopping at Brentano’s book store at Seven Corners in Falls Church, Virginia where we purchased two books, not only two books, but the first two books we bought in our married life. In those days hard cover books cost $3.95 cents per. We bought two brand new books, A BRIDGE TO THE SUN and Grace Metalious PEYTON PLACE. We proudly took them home to our little cottage and installed them on a single board bookcase, over a window, placing them right in the middle. It looked right and made the little cottage our home for a while. Several thousand books later and fifty years down the road we still buy books, but at a little higher price than that $3.95 we put down for Grace’s brand new book.

February 7, 2007


If God can forgive me, why then can’t I forgive myself for my shortcomings?

It’s said that God will forgive most anything if the culprit will only fess up to him, and don’t do it again. Okay, I can do that, matter of fact I did do that, but I still feel uncomfortable with the memory, and these are memories that should have run into the statute of limitations as they happened more than fifty years ago, although if I’m talking about God and forgiveness then time is not measured on a calendar I don’t suppose. Okay forget that. If then I am okay with God, is it my personal conscience that won’t erase the slate?

I read everyday of people doing horrendous things to their fellow human beings and seemingly having nada in the conscience department. They’re said to be sociopaths as if that makes it all understandable. They don’t carry any baggage, yet I can’t dispose of the minutia of my conceived wrongdoings to others. I can forgive others, but I’m not too good at forgetting. Perhaps the reason I can’t forgive myself is I have a Velcro memory or conscience in certain areas, the things I want to forget and leave behind stick with me like glue. There is always an answer for my computers ill’s somewhere on the internet, then what I need is a roadmap to the answer of how to give it up and purge my conscience of the guilt of life, the minutia that is gathered by living a long time.

I saw this today and perhaps could blame old Socrates for opening up this can of peas. He said we should examine our life. I do, and I come to one conclusion that I am responsible for what I have done and further for what I think or thought.

“The unexamined life is not worth living” – Socrates (470-399 BCE)
belief that we must reflect upon the life we live was partly inspired by the famous phrase inscribed at the shrine of the oracle at Delphi, “Know thyself.” The key to finding value in the prophecies of the oracle was self-knowledge, not a decoder ring.
Socrates felt so passionately about the value of self-examination that he closely examined not only his own beliefs and values but those of others as well. More precisely, through his relentless questioning, he forced people to examine their own beliefs. He saw the citizens of his beloved Athens sleepwalking through life, living only for money, power, and fame, so he became famous trying to help them.

Well okay Socko, but most of us can’t stand up to a lot of that examining ourselves these days. The ethics codes of your day are certainly not the codes of today. Matter of fact, our ethics change yearly it seems, so for this exercise I think I will leave it to God to forgive and forget when I come to that moment of judgment and new life.

February 6, 2007

I must have a touch of weird in me, because I like the graveyard scene in OUR TOWN, and I like the SPOONRIVER ANTHOLOGY. I have always read the latter, but now I can listen to someone else read it to me (and you). Click the hyperlink and listen to a portion of it. I will post subsequent portions from time to time.

RUNS: 2:53


The tortured genius of Vincent Van Gogh has been a subject of interest for artists, historians and psychologists since his death in the late 1800s. Although relatively prolific as an artist, he enjoyed no commercial success during his lifetime, only having officially sold one work, a scenic view called The Red Vineyard.

Van Gogh lived primarily on support from his brother, painting feverishly, even when deep in the depressions and manias that colored the latter part of his life. He became enamored of the new, vibrant paint colors being developed, predominantly yellow, and went so far as to rent a yellow house at Arles, France, which would be his last studio.

There he resided for a time with fellow artist Paul Gaugin, until Van Gogh's first breakdown when they parted ways. During this period, Van Gogh turned out his famous sunflower paintings, multiple copies on the same theme, in bright yellows and oranges, with varying numbers of flowers in all states from closed buds to wilting, dry stalks. One of the renditions would eventually sell for nearly $40 million dollars in 1987, up to that point, the most expensive painting ever. Only three years later, his Portrait of Dr. Cachet, would sell at auction for an amazing $82.5 million dollars.

Yet Van Gogh enjoyed nowhere near that success. In fact, most of his paintings he gave away, producing copies of his favorites for friends.

February 5, 2007

Philosophy 101 (a)

As the Peanut classic strip illustrates, we sometimes pooh pooh people who seem to be doing nothing seriously in life. Isn't life supposed to be taken very seriously, and shouldn't we be thinking and doing serious things? Must we go through life intent on changing the world? Is it possible? Must we label Snoopy as a ne'er do well, dilettante going through his life always looking for enjoyable things to do? Maybe life is meant to be enjoyed and filled with pleasurable pastimes. I believe it is a matter of degrees, but that's only my opinion, after all this is Philosophy 101 (a) so what do you think?

February 3, 2007

A Story in five parts. Part I

A story of two people who refuse to adhere to the laws of nature and time; Of love and devotion and a belief that their love has no boundaries. It's a romantic fantasy, but are we so sure it's a fantasy?


The End Is The Beginning
By Jim Kittelberger

"Jack, could you please help me button this blouse?" asked Ruth, as the arthritis again made buttoning the sleeves difficult. Her daughter had bought her the new blouse for her birthday. A present for her eighty-fifth birthday. She thought again that she would have to look it up in the Hallmark birthday book to see what symbol was representative of eighty-five. Probably a stone, because she had great-grandchildren who thought she was born in the Stone Age.

"Well, maybe I was born that far back," she thought, "I feel like I was anyway." Jack, her boy friend first, her husband second, and best friend forever, for these past sixty-six years, returned his reclining chair to the sitting position and pulled himself out into a somewhat erect position, groaning as all old people are supposed to do. "I'm on my way Ruthie," he said, as he maneuvered his way to her bedroom, which was on the same floor.

This one story house they now lived in was a concession they had to make when it became evident they could not handle stairs anymore. But a small enough problem that was solved easily by trading their house of fifty years for this all-on-one-floor model. They were able to stay together in this new house, which is really, all they wanted.

Jack was approaching eighty-eight years old, and he knew he was failing. He had always been lucky with his health through the years, but now his doctor confided in him that all indicators showed his time might be short. Jack and the doc had been doctor and patient for many years, and had come to an understanding about telling each other the truth, and he appreciated his truthfulness in this final matter.

As he entered Ruth's bedroom, he smiled to himself that he could still do something for this woman. Lord knows their physical lovemaking had ended sometime ago. But the love he felt each time he saw her and touched her had not diminished in all these years.

"So, what kind of predicament have you gotten yourself into now?" he teased. Jack was able to do what Ruth's arthritic fingers could not do, but not without some difficulty. "I remember," Ruth said, touching his arm, "when you didn't have any problem undoing my buttons." "Yes, and I don't remember many objections either," Jack said. "I especially remember those days when we were stationed at that Army post near Washington, before the kids came. We acted like we had discovered something unique that no one else knew about. I couldn't keep my hands off you," he said with melancholy, "Do you remember?" "That seems so long ago, and yet like it was yesterday." Ruth replied, with that far away look that was becoming more common as time went by. "Oh, how I wish," she continued, "that sometimes we could for just one more day feel again that physical urgency to just enjoy each others body with no thoughts other than the pleasure we could give each other. Not thinking about it, but knowing we had nothing but time ahead of us to enjoy whatever life would throw our way. Yes, my sweet one, I do remember."

Jack was chuckling to himself. "So what's so funny McGee?" Ruth asked. "I was just remembering another time right after I got discharged and we moved back here. It was probably the last time until the kids grew up and went out on their own, that we were free from responsibility. We bought that silly yellow Buick and headed for Florida. When we got to Georgia, we put the top down the rest of the way to Florida. That evening, when we rented a motel for the night, we looked like two sweaty Indians. Between the red Georgian dirt flying in our face and the sunburn, it's a wonder they didn't try to rent us a teepee. You looked like you had a white bathing suit on when you peeled your clothes off. I remember that really turned me on. Hell, I was always turned on in those days." Jack sat and took her hands in his. "You still do in fact, because you're still here and my memories are all intact. Just touching your hair can set off an avalanche of moments and we have had our share of them." Jack chuckled again. "I'm glad you stayed around all these years. With you here, all my memories are real. If you weren't here anymore, I wouldn't be positive I was lucky enough to really have had someone like you. I'd start doubting my memory, and my life would be empty." "Go away with you old man," Ruth said with a smile. "If you don't get away and do something useful, I'll forget that we're nothing but feeble bodies held together by memories and I'll try and seduce you. Can you imagine how much damage we'd do to these deteriorating carcasses then? Go, scat." "Ruthie my dear, I do love you." Jack said as he left the room.

Jack and Ruth, Ruth and Jack, It was as one name to all that knew them. As they like to say, they grew up together. In fact that wasn't too far from the truth. From the time they met they were comfortable with each other. During their school days they were not really shy, but not eager to let their personalities carry them in group situations. But together from the very first they were themselves and comfortable with themselves and with each other. As Jack or is it Ruth likes to say, "we started a conversation and until we finish with it, it would be impolite to leave." Six decades and counting later, the conversation goes on. "Heck," Jack likes to say, "look at all the money we've saved on shrinks. All they do is let you talk, well what do we need them for?"

Each of them continues to show the other respect and treat each other with politeness as if their relationship was still new and had to be treated kindly, lest the others feelings would be hurt. But now, as the years have piled up and Jack knows his end is near, his biggest concern is leaving his Ruthie behind alone.

They have talked about this, of course, why would this be exempt from their conversations? But this is a problem that is insoluble and out of their hands. One thing, of which they are certain, they will meet again in that other dimension after this life has ended. To that end they have left instructions that when the last dies, their ashes will be mingled together to be released on a day of bright sunshine in a field bursting with new life. The beliefs they embrace will on that day become realities and they will be together again.

On the day the conversation ended, Jack spent a restless night, his spent heart laboring to keep beating a little longer. As daylight crept into the room, Ruth started to stir. She awoke with a start and looked over at Jack by her side. His eyes were open and he managed a smile. "Please take my hand," Jack said his speech somewhat slurred. "Oh my God Jack, no, no, don't scare me." Ruth said, tears springing to her eyes. "Ruthie, my Ruthie, don't cry too much. I'll be with you in spirit until the day you come to me. Please know that I've loved you all my life and it won't stop just because I'm not here anymore." Jack stopped and sighed, the effort too much for the strength left in him. He went quietly.

February 1, 2007

Joe Biden announces and immediately puts his foot in his mouth: Biden described Obama as "the first mainstream African American [presidential candidate] who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that's a storybook, man."

Is it going to be possible to go 670 approx. days until the election and not have every candidate say something stupid? No, it's not possible. Maybe that's all that will be necessary, the last one that doesn't say idiotic things will be president. You would think though that people who talk for a living would be able to keep a clamp on stupid talk.

"A study in the Washington Post says that women have better verbal skills
than men. I just want to say to the authors of that study: Duh."
--Conan O'Brien