Sunday, August 31, 2008

Tropic Thunder

Faintly funny at times--often difficult to understand the dialogue--overall, too self-indulgent--
saw a child: girl, 10 years old, I'm guessing, in the Saugerties theater--and it was a disgusting, raunchy movie--

Don't seen to have time to read--keep renewing library books--even with this Labor Day holiday, I'm behind--should alter my life to give myself more time to read--

Friday, August 29, 2008


In the Maywood, NJ, MarketPlace yesterday, as I walked in I glanced at a cop--with his gun in its holster. A short, rather slight guy.

Not long after, he almost brushed against me as he walked past me. I wondered about this.

A few minutes later, I was talking to a woman I knew, and the cop swaggered past. In an exaggerated way. I raised my voice a bit, talking to the woman-I guess, to show that I was normal.

What was the cop doing? I guess he had noticed that I had noticed him--and wanted to see if he could scare me (because I was a wanted felon or something?).

I remember, years ago, walking into the Port Authority building and noticing two cops standing by a wall. One of the cops must have seen me notice them--and deliberately started walking toward me. I figured he wanted to see if I would run--but I just kept serenely walking. He didn't bother me.

I still get angry at one NYC cop. I had been flagged down--for not wearing a seat belt. So had other drivers. There was a line. I got out of the car--because my back hurt. A cop yelled at me: GET BACK IN YOUR CAR! I did--although I needed to stretch my back. It still makes me mad. The way cops treat upstanding citizens.

More to come.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

This and That

How depressing! McCain might win--but could Americans make the same mistake as they made in the last Presidential election & vote for a colossally inferior candidate?

Saw La Traviata with Nebtrebko and Villazon. Startlingly modernistic, but arresting. Still, the "Expressionistic" elements worked to dis-suspend belief.

Pat Brennan may be losing her job at Rutgers. A great shame--she's done a world of good by giving people informed, objective advice.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Jack Landau

His obit is in today's Times; an advocate for journalists. I worked with him at the Bergen Record years ago; obnoxious then, too--as the obit indicated.

I was going out for coffee. I asked around if anyone wanted any; some said yes, and thank you.

Landau contemptuously ordered a cup--with no thank you--as if I were a nobody. Annoyed me no end. In general he was contemptuous of other people.

He had a run-in with Eliot Ashare, a similarly obnoxious bully. Landau was using Ashare's phone and his chair when Ashrae came in. He wouldn't get up. Ashare began pulling his chair away--Landau was furious.


I should write about two other obnoxious people I've encountered. A woman from AARP--and the president of Burgdorff Realtors.

Saturday, August 16, 2008


the best idea ever?

how about love thy neighbor

honor thy father and mother?

and other commandments?

I particularlty like: practice gratuitous acts of kindness

musicals vs operettas

today, at the bard music festival, a speaker quoted leonard bernstein on the difference between broadway musicals and operettas--

musicals star ethel merman

musicals are written about nyc

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Moe Berg

Recently I wrote about the Major League catcher, Moe Berg--who, after his baseball career was over, became a spy for the US-- and once was deputized to assassinate Werner Heisenberg if the famous German physicist said that the Nazis were close to developing a nuclear weapon--

A professor of religion wrote to me, pointing out that there was a more recent book about Berg than the one I had mentioned--titled "The Catcher Was a Spy"--

I finally got it--

A play on "The Catcher in the Rye"--

Two people I interviewed for my article mentioned Moe Berg--Peter Horvitz, author of books about Jewish athletes, happened to buy some books that Berg had sold to a bookstore in Princeton--and that got him interested in learning more about athletes--

A recently retired NTTimes sports columnist, Murray Chass, used to drive to Princeton games with Berg--but didn't know who he was then!


Sunday, August 10, 2008

my life in 6 words

· Summarize your life in six words. For inspiration visit Smith(, an online storytelling magazine. In one exercise, readers submit six-word memoirs. For example, “Habitual mind changer... wait, scratch that,” or “Fourteen addresses. Eleven schools. Result: ADD.” Creating a six-word memoir will force you to think hard about themes in your life.


sided with underdogs--moderate success despite handicaps--(didn't always follow rules.)

Thursday, August 07, 2008

World's Shortest Books

Reasons to retire in Camden, NJ GOV. CORZINE
A guide to Arab democracies
My hunt for the real killers OJ SIMPSON
French war heroes
How to avoid premature senility JOHN MCCAIN
Black people I've loved RUSH LIMBAUGH
How to act intelligent DENNIS RODMAN
World's Most Beloved Lawyers
Mistakes I admit I made GEORGE W. BUSH
Things I've Accomplished in Life PARIS HILTON
The Wild Years AL GORE
Great restaurants in England
How not to be disgusting SARAH SILVERMAN
Great Things to do in Detroit
Everything I Know JOHN MCCAIN
Spotted owl recipes THE EPA
Job opportunities for English majors
Gun safety DICK CHENEY
How to find Osama Bin Laden GEORGE W. BUSH

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Jokes to remember

1--I got this elephant for you--only $50!
2--What do I need an elephant for? I gotta one room apartment1
1--Because we're old friends I'll cut the price. $25!
2--You must be mad! I need an elephant like a hole in the head!
1--OK, two elepphants for $25.
2--NOW you're talking.


Minister is giving a long-winded sermon; guy leaves, comes back near the end.
Later the minister says to him, how come you left during my sermon?
Guy says, I needed a haircut.
Says the minister, why didn't you get a haircut before I began my sermon?
Guy says, I didn't need one then.

Dentist says to his plumber. I charge $150 an hour--you charge $300!
Plumber says, when I was a dentist, I charged only $150 an hour, too.

Al Vogl

Remembering AJV

At Medical Economics, a financial magazine for physicians, chockfull of expensive ads, we regularly submitted “green sheets” – story ideas on green paper. The top editors would comment on them, giving them a no or a yes or a “rework.” The final decision was made by our genius of an editor, RCL (R. Craigin Lewis). But just before his comments came those of AJV (Al Vogl)—brief, shrewd, and (almost always) decisive. I proposed an article on how white doctors should deal with black patients. Everyone shot it down—except AJV, who pointed out that with the coming of Medicare, doctors might be seeing many more elderly blacks. RCL agreed.
Al was so good-natured, he was profoundly reluctant to hurt anyone in any way. The most severe dressing-down he ever gave me was: “You sure took a long time on that story!” Intelligent, inquisitive. With a warm, winning smile and a terrific sense of humor. One of those people whose company you love. When he took the helm of Next, a future-oriented magazine, and invited me aboard, we had a grand time.
One unusual thing we did at Next was to conduct Delphi polls. We asked a group of experts a series of questions; then sent their answers, and their comments, back to them for a second vote. Usually a few of the experts changed their answers--as they abandoned positions they weren’t that sure of. We did Delphi polls on which stocks to buy now, where the next nuclear war would occur (India-Pakistan), and the consequences of our first contact with alien creatures. One question in the last poll was: Have we already been contacted by aliens? Carl Sagan answered yes! He was in a distinct minority. On the second round, he changed his response. But we never published the article; the magazine folded first.
As editor of Medical Economics, Al had had a tough managing editor under him. He needed one at Next. Lots of infighting. Al was lucky to leave before it folded.
MD magazine, a cultural magazine for physicians, was perfect for Al, with his unbridled curiosity, his wide knowledge of the Two Cultures, his good taste. I made him very happy when I wrote an article about Typhoid Mary, and was able to publish a letter she had written that had never been published before. What tickled him was a letter he received from a physician-reader, furious that we had run the letter he was planning to be the first to publish!
Being gracious and charming has its rewards. He bought a Meerschaum pipe, and right outside the store, dropped it and broke it. He went back into the store and asked for a new one. “You broke it, you own it,” he was told. He laughed pleasantly. That did it. The clerk smiled and gave him a new pipe.
Waiting for a bus near the New York Academy of Medcine, Al was accosted by a young kid who demanded Al’s money. Al gave him a fistful of change—and a piece of his mind. Something like: What is this city coming to where you can’t even wait for a bus without getting mugged! The kid’s response: He threw the money back at Al and said, Keep your damn money!
Al told that story and laughed and laughed.
He was a rare gentleman. It was truly a privilege to work with him and to know him.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

A Favorite Headline

Linda Ronstadt made a recording of La Boheme, singing the role of Mimi.

Now, in Boheme, Mimi's candle burns out, so she goes upstairs to get a light & knocks on a door. Rodolfo is there. He lights her candle, but it goes out. Then she drops her key & he helps her look for it on the floor. He touches her hand & sings the lovely aria, Your tiny hand is cold. (Che gelida manina.)

Time magazine reviewed the recording.

Its headline:



Friday, August 01, 2008

Re Al Vogl

Whom should I notify?

From Medical Economics: Not many friends left who knew him--

From Next--Ryan killed himself--Molly was crazy--Richard C. was wackily competitive--Karen S. was horrible--Dean W. played the role of knowitall--no one at all I remain friends with--

no one to share memories with--

Al Vogl

I googled him, just to check that he's still editor of the Conference Board magazine, and learned that he had died in June--

I worked with him at Medical Economics and at Next--

A grand guy--

One of the finest people I have ever met--

I never saw his obit in the Times--if it appeared--