Friday, April 30, 2010

And Up From The Ground Came A Bubbling Crude

by Dick Mac

When Jed Clampett was "shootin' at some food" and "up from the ground came some bubbling crude" he discovered oil on his own. No government subsidies or tax breaks, just a clean shot and a bounty of wealth. Jed cashed-out and moved his family to Beverly. "Hills, that is."

British Petroleum was shootin' at some food in the Gulf of Mexico and out from the seabed has come a bubbling crude (oil that is, black gold, Texas tea). Sadly, it is floating on the water, poisoning sea life, destroying industry, and making it's way to the coast, the beaches.

The area that is being affected is the home area of a different kind of tea. Most of the Gulf Coasts states lean towards being what passes as "conservative" but is really more accurately described as "selfish," and these people claim to be a Tea Party (a Texas Tea Party, now, I suppose). This community boasts the glory of the corporation, and demeans their government (sometimes in a treasonous way). The almighty dollar over the almighty nation.

Now one of these sainted corporations is destroying their environment. I wonder if they expect their horrible, terrible government to clean up the mess; or will they have the courage of their convictions and show us how corporations can do things better, demand that BP clean-up their corporate mess, and save their beaches.

Tea Party supporters, of course, don't have the courage of their convictions, they want the government to stop spending money on others, but expect the government to be plenty big to take care of their needs and demands.

Corporations can manage things better than the government, right?

Well, I want to see the Tea Party marching on Washington, and pronouncing on Fox News, that the government get out of the way of the clean-up, stop wasting tax dollars, and let the oil industry take care of business.

Oil From Spill Is Reported to Have Reached the Coast

Thursday, April 29, 2010


by Dick Mac

I have been moved by the recent developments in the Apple vs. Gizmodo fiasco.

You know the one: Apple employee allegedly leaves a prototype iPhone in a bar, a geek allegedly finds it and magically knows it's a top secret device in development, contacts a bigger geek at a geeky blog, sells the alleged top-secret device to the blogger, who creates a really insipid video (that is not even close to being geek-porn) in which he displays and discusses the device.

Apple gets angry and insists that the top-secret device be returned. It is returned.

The police (evoking laws intended to protect technology companies from having their intellectual property ripped-off) show-up at the big geek's home, smash the door down, and confiscate his computers.

As one commentator said: he got the "meth lab" treatment.

Over at Facebook, I expressed reservations about Apple's tactics, and some fruits with whom I am friends (and there are many fruits whom I love) have taken the "receiving stolen goods" position to defend Apple and the police in their gestapo-like tactics to punish the bad, bad, mean geek who bought and videotaped the device.

Arousing, isn't it?

Well, I was not successful at putting my finger on what exactly was irritating me about Apple taking this kind of Microsoft-like stance. Then, last night, Jon Stewart discussed the incident on the Daily Show and he puts words to much of what I feel about this:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

I still want a MacBook and an iPhone! I sure wish I was rich!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Aw! Crap!

by Dick Mac

When the economy collapsed under George Bush and the market reached its nadir just over a year ago, my family made a decision to invest directly in securities, instead of investing in funds.

For those unfamiliar with the difference, there are (generally) two vehicles for consumers to trade in the market, and what follows are very pedestrian (though I believe accurate) descriptions of these two choices:

Funds. Companies like Vanguard, Fidelity, and many others, collect money from investors, pool the money together, and invest in securities and/or bonds. The increased buying power allows fund managers to make bigger (and better?) investments, and remove the onus of securities research from the individual investor. In return, the investor is often shielded from some market fluctuations and reaps the benefit of the fund's greater purchase power and research teams. Most funds specialize in one area (sector) or another. There are energy funds, corporate bond funds, balanced funds, international funds, etc.

Securities. Companies like Fidelity, eTrade, and many others, provide trading services, that allow consumers to buy and sell individual securities. These direct investments in individual companies generally expose an investor to more risk; but also provide a vehicle of potentially more profit. A consumer can invest directly in Ford Motor Company, Microsoft, 3M, and any other publicly-traded corporation. If that company pays a dividend, the investor collects that dividend as it is paid-out (often quarterly). Also, in a perfect world, the value of the stock continues to increase.

So, this time last year, stocks were at their lowest point in many years, and it became obvious that this was the one opportunity we would have, as working class people, to get into the market. We knew about the same successful companies that all Americans know about, and we started learning about other companies. We read every day about the economy and the way the credit crunch was affecting each industry. We then sank a chunk of change into the market.

Some investments were great, and some were total dogs.

I was reminded of our bad investments yesterday when I heard the text of an email from a Goldman Sachs executive who wrote that the investments they were creating, selling, then betting against, were not the best products available in the market.

Goldman had created an investment vehicle named "Timberwolf" and the executive wrote: "Boy that Timberwolf was one shitty deal"!

I look at some of my family's investments and feel the same way. We are lucky, though, because our shitty investments were of our own doing; we didn't have an investment banker selling us an investment she knew would be shitty, and that she would be working to defeat, leaving us holding the shitty, and eventually worthless, investment.

Sure, we've made shitty investments, but this move by Goldman is much shittier than any investment we've ever made.

I think that should be the new populist slogan for Goldman:

"Goldman Sachs, since 1869: Shittier Than You!"

"Goldman Sachs, Shitty since 1869: You can take that to the bank!"

"Goldman Sachs, bringing shitty investments to the market since 1869."

"Looking for a shitty investment? Let Goldman Sachs take you to the cleaners!"

Have a nice day!

Senate showdown puts Goldman's defense on display at the Washington Post site.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Exactly How Long Has PowerPoint Been Around?

by Dick Mac

I've been working in the legal technology field for over twenty-five years. I think I remember when PowerPoint didn't exist. Today, though, it is as if it has existed since the beginning of time.

Do you think Pontius Pilate watched a PowerPoint presentation of Jesus' scourging, struggle through the streets, and eventual crucifixion? Using PowerPoint's flowchart feature, Pilate could have seen a rather dynamic and engaging slideshow, complete with animation and sound effects.

I wonder if PowerPoint 0027 allowed embedding of media clips. I sure hope it had a variety of Greek fonts.

The Roman marketing or client services department could have used sound bites from the yet-to-be-released "Messiah" and video clips from the forthcoming movie "Jesus Christ Superstar" (which movie holds-up much better now than it did thirty years ago).

Sadly, I don't think PowerPoint was available to them; but, think of getting that plum assignment in 32 A.D. The career I could have built on that!

A couple years ago, Microsoft (owner of PowerPoint) released PowerPoint 2007. The newest version (soon to be replaced by PowerPoint 2010), changed every part of the PowerPoint experience. The basic file structure was changed from a simple binary file to a robust XML format. The features are remarkable and could make the presentation "Iesus Nazarenus, Rex Iudaeorum" a phenomenal and engaging project.

Sadly, PowerPoint is rarely used for anything quite as engaging as the martyrdom of a deity. It's usually about cost analyses, or staffing levels, or corporate mergers, or project implementation.

Recently a PowerPoint slide about the United States occupation of Afghanistan made its way into the press.

It is belittled by dullards (that is, conservatives and other anti-intellectuals) as being complicated. It is laughed-at by people like me who see the point but can't fathom why you would bother creating it. It is lauded by those geekier than me as a true graphic representation of our mission.

No matter what you think of it, it's sure worth a look!

We Have Met the Enemy and He Is PowerPoint at the New York Times site.

Monday, April 26, 2010

NY Subway Ridership

by Dick Mac

The New York subway system is one of the modern wonders of America.

Massive numbers of people are moved around four of the five boroughs, to and from work, school, hospitals, theaters, museums, concerts, sporting venues, and every other imaginable event that makes an American life an American life.

I take the F train to the E train to 53rd Street & Lexington Avenue each workday. Lex & 53rd handles 51,000 commuters a day!

The F train stop near my home handles 3,800 commuters a day, and has a lot more platform space than 53rd & Lex.

Although ridership is down since the Bush Recession, the subway is still crowded, vital, and amazing.

Having been in NYC for 12 years, I have been paying attention to how they count the riders. I am impressed that they really use counters! Employees stand at entrances or exits, or the bottom or top of escalators, with clickers in their hand actually counting the people that pass. Counting is also done in concourses that connect different lines, as well as on the cars themselves.

Of course there is a chance of inaccuracy, but I think this data must be gathered in conjunction with counting turnstile numbers to get a complete picture of ridership. A turnstile will tell you how many people came into a station, but it can't tell you a rider's destination or transfer.

I have noticed a disturbing trend in the counting in the past eight years. These clicker/counters are generally in stations, on platforms, and riding cars at times when ridership is distinctly lower than usual.

They are counting during rush-hour, but they are counting on days that guarantee smaller numbers than usual. You will see them clicking/counting on the Friday before a long-weekend, when many people use a vacation day to extend the long weekend. You'll see them riding a subway car through Brooklyn on the Friday after Passover, when many New Yorkers are not even leaving the house. You'll seem them at the bottom of an escalator on a morning during school vacation week when a remarkable percentage of parents take their vacations.

You never see them on a Wednesday morning in the middle of March, when everyone is working. You never see them on a non-long-weekend Friday when most everybody is going to the office.

It's odd, and I can't quite decide why they are using these numbers for anything.

This miscounting of ridership is so blatant that I can't believe mainstream media haven't written about it.

I know that public transportation is considered a drain on the taxpayer, but it is actually a vital part of American capitalism. Still, we have decided that public transportation is too expensive. That it needs to be reduced. We have, of course, reached the wrong conclusion.

Google provides maps for just about everything, and the link below is a ridership map published at the New York Times. Check it out, it's pretty cool.

New York City Subways: Mostly Fewer Riders

Friday, April 23, 2010

Willie Whistle

by Dick Mac

Willie Whistle hosted afternoon television on Channel 38 WSBK-TV, in Boston. I remember him being on in the 1970s, but not earlier. I wasn't a fan, as I was already in high school. My sister watched, and I found his high-pitched voice to fluctuate between irritating and fascinating (depending on the level of my sobriety at the moment).

This clip is actually a feature story about Willie and his encounter with a snake:

There is surprisingly little on the internet about Willie Whistle.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Get Your Gal And Promenade Down To Boom, Boom, Boomtown!

by Dick Mac

Saturday mornings in Boston during the 1960s meant Boomtown with Rex Trailer on television. I remember his sidekick, Pablo, a "Mexican" guy with a moustache dressed in a sombrero and poncho. Later, his sidekicks were Sgt. Billy, a Civil War era soldier, and Cactus Pete, a prospector.

I always dreamed of being on Boomtown, but it never happened.

Rex Trailer sponsored carnivals for the Muscular Dystrophy foundation, and more importantly, hosted trips to sunny Florida during school vacation weeks.

Wow! Imagine being lucky enough to go to sunny Florida with Rex Trailer!

There is a DVD available: Rex Trailer's Boomtown Gold DVD

Also, this fan site is hard to load, but includes pictures and memories: Boomtown Memories

This video "Rex Trailer 60 Years in TV" is an homage to the man and his career:

Rex Trailer - Boomtown Theme and Hoofbeats [this is the same slideshow from the Boomtown Memories site above]:

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Bozo The Clown

by Dick Mac

In 1962, Marie Cashman took me and my younger brother on the subway to the WHDH-TV television studios, to appear on the "Bozo The Clown" show.

I was four years old, and my brother was three. Marie was probably fifteen or sixteen, and she had to walk us all the way down the hill from the top of Calumet Street to Huntington Avenue where we took the trolley downtown to switch to the Watertown line and then to a bus to get to the studio.

The memory of the show is mostly a blur.

The clip below is NOT from that broadcast, but rather a very nice quality collection of clips from a 1966 "Bozo" broadcast.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Major Mudd

by Dick Mac

Throughout my childhood, Major Mudd appeared on WNAC-TV, Channel 7, in Boston.

"The Major Mudd Show" starring Major Mudd and His Gang was on television after school, and many kids dreamed of appearing on the show. If I remember correctly, my sister was lucky enough to appear on the show some time around 1967 or 1968.

Ed McDonnell,who portrayed the Major throughout the show's run, was known as a charitable man who made many appearances and helped many people.

Later in life, McDonnell required medical attention that he was unable to afford. A benefit was held, money was raised, and McDonnell became the recipient of charity he so generously gave in the past. He needed a kidney transplant, which he did not ultimately receive, but he was honored by those who cared.

In the Summer of 1967, I was featured in a public service announcement for Summerthing, recorded at the WNAC-TV studios in Kenmore Square. I was very happy when the studio we used housed the set for the Major Mudd Show (although the set did not appear int he commercial). It was glorious to be on that set. I asked the technicians if Major Mudd was around, and they all laughed. I didn't get to meet the Major that night, and never did.

I'd love to hear from people who have memories of Major Mudd.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Love Will Tear Us Apart Mash-Up

This was the single version I had in my collection.  Did you have a single of LWTUA?by Dick Mac

Although pretty much ignored by mainstream media when it was released thirty years ago, Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart" has endured to become a song loved by many, covered by scores, and enjoyed by everyone who hears it.

In this video, member joyedivision strings together clips from the film "Control" and creates a mash-up of many versions of the song.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Every Painting at MoMA on 10 April 2010

by Dick Mac

Each time I go to MoMA, I think about doing exactly this. Usually, though, I am with a group of people, or another person, and stopping at every painting isn't really feasible.

Now that I have seen that someone has done it, you can be sure I will come-up with one of my own someday.

What I like most about this video is that the dreadfully massive number of Picassos (as good or bad as they may be) that MoMA displays at all times is not so obvious, as they are scattered among the paintings of other artists.

I appreciate that MoMA has an extensive Picasso collection; but, do they have to hang so much of it all the time? They removed three Leger painting recently (three paintings I happen to like very much, including "Three Women") and instead of hanging other Leger paintings they hung three more Picassos in the space.

Support Doctors Without Borders in Haiti

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A Good Start For MLS Attendance

by Dick Mac

Three weeks into the 2010 Major League Soccer season, attendance is up to an average of 18,452. This might not sound like a lot, but it places the league third in the rankings of professional sports attendance, right behind Major League Baseball (30,213, last season) and just ahead of the National Basketball Association (17,110, in its current season).

NFL - 67,508 (2009 season)
MLB - 30,213 (2009 season)
MLS - 18,452 (current season)
NBA - 17,110 (current season)
NHL - 17,004 (current season)

It is possible that MLS could drop down the list as the season progresses, if attendance wanes. In a World Cup year, however, it is expected that interest in the league will increase.

MLS attendance numbers benefit from remarkable attendance in Seattle, with a regularly sold-out 36,000 seat stadium and 31,000 season ticket holders (most in the league).

It is hoped that the addition of a new franchise in Philadelphia, and the opening of Red Bull Arena, in Harrison, NJ, will continue fueling the broadening interest in the sport.

I got the soccer bug while living in London and learned about MLS when I returned to New York. I have been a fan since, and my daughter and I are season ticket holders.

If you haven't seen an MLS match live, I recommend it.

If you are in the Metropolitan New York area, come out to Red Bull Arena: Tickets to Individual Red Bull New York Matches

If you are in another area, perhaps there is a match near you: MLS Clubs

Circus, Gang Haven, Sports League? What is the NBA?

by Dick Mac

When I was a boy in Boston, I would watch Bill Russell play against Wilt Chamberlain and I (like so many) just assumed that the Boston Celtics would be the NBA champions.

In the 1980s, I was treated to Larry Bird and those amazing Celtics teams that built a rivalry with Magic Johnson and the Los Angeles Lakers.

Then Michael Jordan arrived. He was called the savior of the league, the player that would move the NBA into the big time.

Oddly, I thought the NBA was already the big time and I was under the impression that the league was doing just fine. Shows you what I know.

I continued to follow the NBA through the late-1980s; but I found that the sport had changed. Cheating was rampant, sociopathic behavior was becoming the norm, officiating was embarrassing, and priced rose and rose and rose.

I found Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls to be particularly unpleasant to watch. They weren't like the other great NBA teams I remembered and Jordan is a punk. He's a penny-ante criminal in a big boys game.

Crime is now the norm among NBA players, and thuggery is the rule, not the exception.

Jordan and the dullards who followed him make Wilt Chamberlain's claim to sexual insanity seem quaint and normal.

And the owners of the Bulls enabled this criminal culture. I once heard that Michael Jordan's retirement form the NBA and introduction to baseball was orchestrated by the league, because NBA Security warned that he was about to be implicated in a gambling scandal. If Jordan would vanish from the sport for awhile, NBA Security would make the whole thing go away.

So Jordan, under contract to Bulls ownership was transferred to their other team, the Chicago White Sox and played baseball for a couple years. When the heat was off, he returned to basketball.

Jordan's father was murdered, and the backstory is alleged to be that Jordan and his father were messing with the big boys in the gambling world and that the father's murder was a warning to Jordan about getting his house in order.

Perhaps just rumor, but it really fits the image of today's NBA.

Come now, Chicago Bulls executive vice president John Paxson, who like other sports franchise owners believes that he is above the law. After the Bulls lost to the Suns last month, Paxson confronted coach Vinny Del Negro and threatened him.

The incident was witnessed by many.

It is now in the media: Bulls VP Paxson shoved Del Negro

Why does this matter? Why does anyone care? The NBA is a league of thuggery, and the Bulls are the root of the moral collapse of the sport. Let them all rot! Take the cameras off them and let them go away.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Pulitzer Prize for Hank Williams

by Dick Mac

The first time I heard a contemporary (someone I considered hip) mention Hank Williams was on Patti Smith's bootleg record "Teenage Perversity And Ships In the Darkness."

On this tour, the band was performing the Velvet Underground's "Pale Blue Eyes" as a medley with "Louie, Louie" and Smith announced. "Lou Reed wrote this song about Hank Williams who died in the back of a limousine on his way to a gig."

At the time, I had no idea if it was true. I have since learned that it is not true, but sounds really cool.

Prior to that, my only exposure to Williams had been late-night television advertisements for collections of his music on "LP, cassette, or 8-track tape."

I had no appreciation for country music and though not disdainful, I ignored it. I began to appreciate country music in the early-1990s and started listening to Johnny Cash. It wasn't long before I learned that Hank Williams had written a number of really great songs: "Hey Good Lookin'," "Your Cheatin' Heart," and "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" among them.

Today, Hank Williams is in regular rotation in my music collection.

Williams died tragically at the age of 29: too young. He left us an amazing songbook.

Yesterday, the Pulitzer Prize was posthumously awarded to Williams for his songwriting.

Hank Williams' songwriting earns special citation from Pulitzer Prize board

Hank Williams at

Monday, April 12, 2010

Bits And Pieces - Dave Clark Five

by Dick Mac

I bought this single in 1964 at Sears Roebuck on Park Drive in Boston. I went there with one of the other kids from the projects. Usually we would steal stuff, but this time I had a dollar.

I clutched the 7" 45 RPM treasure in its little brown paper bag (no more than a sleeve really) all the way home across Brookline Avenue, through The Fens, by the Gardner Museum, up Evans Way, across Route 9, through the parking lot of the Howard Johnson's, across Ward Street, and up Oregon Court to 104 McGreevey Way.

I played it over and over again on my mother's record player.

I don't know when or why I stopped playing it. Probably when I got my next single.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Malcolm McLaren, 64

by Dick Mac

I awoke this morning wondering what happened to my autographed copy of Malcolm McLaren's album "Fans," a collection of Puccini arias (and one Bizet aria) done in pop format.

My friend Michael, a die-hard and lifelong opera fan, hated McLaren's "Madame Butterfly." I really liked it. I respected Michael's disdain, though, and did not play the 12" single while he visited.

You probably know that McLaren was the svengali behind the rise and fall of The Sex Pistols, the excitement generated by the band and it's sad and ugly demise. Many people, though, don't know much (if anything) about his post-Pistols career which bordered on brilliant.

McLaren was interested in exposing his fans to musical forms they might not have heard.

His first release "Duck Rock" was an amalgam of New York scratch, Appalachian folk, and African tribal music. The single "Buffalo Gals" actually received radio play, and was heard in dance clubs around the world. The dub "Looking Like A Hobo," which was part of the "Buffalo Gals" song, could be heard in many different venues besides record stores.

The song "Punk It Up" featured African aboriginal women singing the chorus "Sex Pistols man, Sex Pistols man, that's what I am. Everybody knows he's a Sex Pistols man" over and over again.

The song "Double Dutch," which became an MTV staple, focuses on jump-rope culture and competition in the inner city and focuses on the Ebonettes crew and their jump rope competitors The Golden Angels, The Fort Green Angels, The Five Town Diamond Skippers, and The Pleasure of Rope Rippers (all of whom may or may not be real or fictitious double-dutch crews).

The marriage of McLaren and the Bronx duo "The World's Famous Supreme Team" is the compnent of the production that makes it a success. The team, Se'Divine the Mastermind and JazzyJust the Superstar, had a radio show on Newark's WHBI-FM 105.9 FM. Clips of their broadcasts are inserted throughout the album. For more current information about TWFST, see their page at

Notably, Thomas Dolby also appears on the record.

McLaren's next record was an attempt at mainstream pop that was really a bunch of outtakes assembled to meet contractual obligations, and was a total failure. I am unable to find any cuts from "Swamp Thing" in electronic format. Here's a tip, though: someone has posted it at and if you now how to rip from You Tube, it's all yours for the taking. See, MALCOLM McLAREN - Buffalo Love

"Fans" was a more successful composition and release. It was on his tour for the album's release that I met McLaren and he autographed my copy of the record. What is the quality I most remember about McLaren this evening in 1984? He smelled. Yup! He smelled. He smelled bad. He wore a trench coat with deep pockets (we had been warned ahead-of-time that he liked to take things. He was both shy and aggressive, and I was fascinated by him and it was exciting to make his acquaintance if only for a handful of minuted before he proffered a humorous radio interview.

"Waltz Darling" was his mash-up of Classical and Rock, without coming-up with Classic Rock! He joined forces with Jeff Beck and Bootsy Collins to form the Bootzilla Orchestra and released an amusing record that should be heard by everyone.

At this point in his career, I sort of lost interest. Other releases followed, but nothing grabbed me until his mash-up "Love Will" that combined Joy Division's haunting "Love Will Tear Us Apart" and The Captain & Tenille's saccharine-sweet "Love Will Keep Us Together" (truth be known, I adore both songs). It used to be available on You Tube with a video of Gary Gilmore, but I am unable to find it these days.

I will now have to hunt down Paris, Jungk, Tranquilize, and Shallow – Musical Paintings; the records I have not heard.

Oh, and I hope my buddy Rich has that signed copy of "Fans"!

McLaren died yesterday at the age of 64. His death is a loss to the world's of art and music.

Godspeed, Malcolm.

Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren dies in Switzerland aged 64

Duck Rock
Swamp Thing

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Thursday, April 08, 2010

Spring Becomes Summer, All Of A Sudden

by Dick Mac

A colleague told me it was a lovely day; so at lunchtime yesterday I departed without my jacket.

The streets were teeming with people!

I walked down 53rd Street to Third Avenue and could barely make progress while wending my way through the throng of office workers.

And it was hot. I mean HOT!

I'd read a Facebook post from a friend in Boston that it had reached 95F in that city and it felt that hot in New York.

It was my lunch break and I wasn't sure what to eat. The heat killed my appetite, and as I began to perspire while walking down Third Avenue, I found myself seeking shade, and not sustenance. I turned west onto 52nd Street and was relieved to find shade; and I was shocked to see that every food outlet: the falafel truck, Chop't, Subway, Pump, and Chipotle all had long lines of people snaking out onto the sidewalk.

Well, the entire line for the falafel truck was on the sidewalk, and I had never seen that many people in line for that particular brand of street meat.

I walked up the North side of the street. I avoided Pump, because I just can't figure out what they are selling and I find it uninviting. I had a veggie burrito from Chipotle last week and wasn't in the mood for beans. Subway is out; I have to be in a bad mood to enjoy Subway. I find it tasty, but not very filling, while making me feel bloated at the same time. No way was I getting street meat from this truck. I reserve my street meat purchases for Rafiqi's at 51st and Park - the best street meat in the neighborhood.

So that left Chop't.

I have a fave sandwich at Chop't: the Rocky Mountain Cobb: lettuce, chicken, blue cheese, craisins, and walnuts, chopped up and mixed together in steakhouse blue cheese, in a wrap. Yummy!

I had not had one for almost two months. During Lent I am vegan and that excludes a Rocky Mountain Cobb for lunch. So, I got into the line out on the sidewalk and waited patiently. The line moved quickly.

Chop't is an amazing display of immigrant industriousness. Teams of three manage three stations and they whip out salads and sandwiches like nobody's business. Even the difficult customers with their special needs (only half that much cheese please, can you add sesame seeds, can I get the dressing on the side, does that cost extra, blah blah blah) can't slow this amazing production line.

As I finally entered the store, I saw it: a new item named for Barcelona FC, the Spanish soccer team that less than 24-hours earlier knocked my Arsenal out of the UEFA Champions League. I don't know when the item went up on the board, but the sign appeared new and I took it as a personal affront.

Now, I like Barcelona FC. My favorite player of all-time, Thierry Henry, plays there, as does the greatest player alive, Lionel Messi, and the best European player, Zalatan Ibrihamovic. Add Dani Alves, Puyol, and a host of other great players and it's easy for me to say that Barcelona is the best team in the world.

But a club sandwich named for them in Midtown Manhattan? Where's the Arsenal Club?

Well, I got over it right quick and in a hurry and eventually got my sandwich, along with two pieces of sea salt taffy, and made my way back to the office. The notion of a long walk interrupted by the heat.

Come to find out, NYC reached only 92F yesterday, not 95F!

Summer Overtakes Spring; Confusion Reigns

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Well, He Was Alive When They Arrived!

by Dick Mac

And now for something completely different . . .

A woman and her step-daughter were arrested at the airport in Liverpool when it was discovered that the infirm husband of the older woman was actually dead.

The man was strapped into a wheelchair, wearing sunglasses. Airline staff became suspicious when they observed that the man was not moving at all.

The women insist that he was alive when they arrived at the airport. They were returning to Germany to grant the man's wish that he would die in his homeland.

Woman Arrested After Trying to Check-In Dead Husband for Flight

Two women busted for trying to smuggle deceased relative onto plane

2 women accused of trying to take dead relative on plane

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Om Kalsoum - Wa Daret Alayyam (And The Days Have Gone By) - Music Video

by Dick Mac

I was introduced to the music of Om Kalsoum in the mid-1970s, shortly after her death. Like so many before me, I was mesmerized by her voice and singing style. I understood nothing of the lyrics, sung in Arabic, but I was (and still am) able to listen to her sing for hours.

Born in Cairo, Egypt, sometime around 1900, she rose to become the greatest Egyptian singer of all time.

Her concerts could last from 20 minutes to an hour and a half, and were often the presentation of a single new song that she would improvise for the entire show.

On the day of her funeral, Egypt declared a national day of mourning and the entire nation shut-down in her honor.

The Beatles may have been bigger than Jesus in the Western world; but Om Kalsoun was bigger than The Beatles in the Arabic world (the Orient).

Om Kalsoum at Wikipedia

Here is a 5-minute video.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Why Do Teabaggers Hate America?

by Dick Mac

How do teabaggers think we created jobs after the Civil War, the Depression, WWII, and Vietnam?

Government investment, that's how.

Industry did not (and has never) created jobs. The rich have always demanded that the government create the jobs.

Working people who now support the GOP and demand a smaller government need to think about how the United States has always been successful, and it has never been because of the generosity or hard-work of industry, or the down-sizing of government!

You want to know a nation with small government? Somalia. Nigeria. Congo. Liberia. Are these the nations teabaggers aspire to be like?

Almost every generation has inherited the debt of earlier generations, going all the way back to 1780. Yes, since the beginning. Our Founding Fathers did their founding on debt. HUGE debt. Money borrowed from people who didn't like us very much.

This is part of the American Way. We call it an investment in the future.

And where were the teabaggers when the previous President destroyed the economy, national pride, and our future with two wars he was incapable of leading?

If teabaggers are just afraid homosexuals, brown people, intellectuals, and reproductive rights, just say so. Then we'd know why you support the GOP.

Stop pretending that our government used to be something it wasn't, or should become something it never was, is not now, or ever should be.

Why do teabaggers hate America?

Friday, April 02, 2010

Ed Roberts, Inventor of First PC

Altair 8800by Dick Mac

The January 1975 issue of Popular Electronics included an article about the Altair 8800 computer. It was the first personal computer. Ed Roberts, founder of MITS (Micro Instrumentation Telemetry Systems), designed it, but there was no market for the computer and no demand.

Roberts figured he might sell a few hundred a year. Imagine his surprise when 800 were ordered the first month!

Paul Allen showed-up with a computer language called BASIC and was hired on-the-spot. Allen's friend, Harvard student Bill Gates joined the company shortly thereafter.

The rest is sort of history, I guess!

Ed Roberts, M.D.Eventually, Roberts sold his company and found himself out of the technology industry while a non-compete agreement was in effect. He moved to rural Georgia, near his mother's family. Instead of resting on his laurels and spending his money, Roberts became a medical doctor and started a practice.

Born in Miami, FL, in 1941, he attended Oklahoma State University and started his carrer in the miliatry. He was a geek who was interested in computers, calculaters, infrared technology, and other things that were not yet part of mainstream life.

He married in 1962 and had six children. Two other marriages followed.

Dr. Roberts died of pneumonia yesterday, April 1, 2010, at age 68.

Ed Roberts, creator of early PC, dies

Ed Roberts, developer of MITS Altair 8800 computer, dies at 68

Dr. H Edward Roberts: Inventor Of The Altair

Microsoft founders lead tributes to father of the PC

Ed Roberts (computer engineer) Wikipedia

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Thursday, April 01, 2010

Keep It Warm, by Flo & Eddie

by Dick Mac

After The Turtles broke-up in 1970, Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan became members of the Mothers of Invention. Working with Frank Zappa gave them an arena to continue their wonderfully off-kilter creations. In particular, their performance with The Mothers during the last show at The Fillmore East, which has been recorded for posterity on The Mothers album of the same name, was phenomenal.

After they left The Mothers in 1972, they became Flo & Eddie. On one of their LPs, they released the song "Keep It Warm," which is one of my fave songs of the seventies.

Here are two videos:

This is a montage video over the actual LP recording:

This is a live performance from 2008:

"Keep It Warm" appeared on the 'Moving Targets' album. Like all Flo & Eddie records, they are almost impossible to find on CD. 'Moving Targets' is available only as a limited edition, signed copy direct from The Turtles Merchandise Page at their website.

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