Sunday, April 13, 2008


Borat Osama is a Pastafarian and I will give $250,000 to anyone who can prove otherwise.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Sopranos.... The end!

So the Sopranos didn't end with Tony getting whacked... it ends with him chewing onion rings with Meadow and AJ and Carm just being lucky. He's one in a million... Phil is whacked, Melfi is now free of his torments, but he's a much better boss thanks to her help. The Melfi Tony relationship is the walkaway lesson.

The cat keeps looking at Christopher's photo. There's a dude in the bathroom - is he packing?. Carlos is singing, Tony will probably do time soon...

It's over, everything Tony ever touched turned to crap, for the 2nd or 3rd generation. The Godfather glory is stripped, shitty people ruin lives. That's the lesson. Not so difficult if you just think about it for a minute. Good ending. Thanks HBO

Monday, May 28, 2007

Willing Suspension of Disbelief: Ch. 1. Baseball

I was 9-years-old. Another night was swirling past. It was 2 or 3 in the morning on a school night and I was thinking about baseball again. Over and over the green grass the p'ting of the bat, the reaction the jump racing after the fly ball accellerating so I just might be able to dive and snag that fly before it hits earth... then the color drains out of the scene. The imaginary me pulls up, no longer cares and the ball drops. It doesn't really even matter if I pick it up. The runner might as well take a right at first base and go back home and play with his other friends. The pitcher might as well roll the ball home, there are so many other things we could be doing. The whole game is completely ridiculous and utterly pointless, and I've been wasting my time thinking about playing it, watching grown men play it on the scratchy black and white television or listening under the crack in my door to radio broadcasts..
Who really cares if you dive and snag that fly. Who cares if you dig in just hard enough on your last step to lunge the extra inch and make a snow-cone catch that you roll up with your wrist to keep the ball from slipping out?

I remember crying and rerunning the scene in my head over and over. Each time the joy of chasing after a pop up just at the edge of my range seemed more impossible to locate. It really is an absurd game, and caring as much as I did about it was, it seemed to me for the first time that night insane.

I had spent every cent of my allowance for the past three years on baseball cards. At times even resorting to theft to collect more of the Topps images with the player's stats on the back. I had 5,000 cards by the time of this existential crisis.

We had serious inflation in those days, in 1974 at the beginning of the season I paid 10 cents plus a penny tax for a pack of 8 cards. Later that season Dougherty drugs upped the price to 15 cents plus 2 cents tax. I remember packs going up to 10 cards and going up to 20 cents plus 2 cents tax. Whatever the price and however I had to scrounge, all my sense in those years was given over to baseball.

And what did I have to show for it? I'd alphabetized them, sorted them by team and home run totals and wins (for pitchers), by years of service, by all-star status. And I would build huge houses out of them that I would bomb with other cards.

I would pull out the card of the player at bat when WTIC's Boston Red Sox broadcast and put him at home plate on my mother's diamond-shaped living room Oriental rug... "Rico Carty steps up to the plate," Ned Martin would say. "He's been struggling this season to find his stroke," Jim Woods. Would pitch in.
"There's a long fly deep left field..."

But what conceivable difference could possibly be made whether this fly ball off Bill Lee on April 13, 1976 would find the screen over the monster.

That night, I recognized for the first time, that there was no point. It didn't matter any more than whether I put on my left shoe first or the right.

After sobbing some, I steeled my emotions. It was a very similar sensation to the realization I had come to at age 6 when I realized that Gramps Beale (my great grandpa) was just the first person I know who died and that everyone else including me was destined to follow. I desparately wanted to talk to my Mommy, who was sleeping in the next room. I crept out of bed stood at my parent's closed door and planned to tell her about how sad I was with the revelation that baseball was completely pointless and that I didn't care whether I hit caught or threw a ball ever again...

I had woken my parents 2-3 times in the past few years when I was sick. I remember a particularly disturbing digestive condition that required an enema... This felt just as bad, but still I felt funny and couldn't wrench the courage to knock on my parent's door. I sat down on the landing. Relaxed a bit and thought about what I felt I had to say to my mommy (who incidentally thought baseball was ridiculous). I was tired, worked up, but with my guard down the image of a fly ball again popped into my head. Adrenaline surged as I accellerated, it didn't matter, but it was the only way to play the game. I surged forward in my mind the gray tones flamed green, I leapt I caught the ball. It was fun and right and the only way to play the game to try and to care. Not just for me in that moment, but for the batter who wanted a legitimate hit, not a gimme... And for the pitcher and for all the other players on my team and all the other teams in the league. The game, the season, the records and the history only work if everybody is allowing their marrow to govern their actions. Anything less is oblivion.

I crept back into bed and woke up loving baseball more than ever. Thirty years later I would much less precipitously, but just as thoroughly come to the same conclusion about fiction. Pointless, yes, but there are more than enough dividends to justify the willing suspension of disbelief. That will be the subject of my next blog.

Sunday, April 15, 2007


So I stayed up all night worrying about being an immature idiot and whether my flight to Rochester, New York for "spring break" would be cancelled. By 4 am there was a serious blizzard blowing and 6 inches of powder in upstate NY and a front bearing down on Boston, but my wife cheerily assured me that we still had a window before the Nor'easter shut down all travel.

So I pulled myself together, packed my golf clubs and my son's into a hard cover tube that looks like a bazooka tube to teh TSA and always gets searched. Even though we would at best be lucky to smack whitey at a range the idea of a week's vacation without the prospect of sport makes me wither.

Spring break 2007 would involve packing up the remnants of my parent's estate in a snowstorm. Dad killed himself 11 months ago, unable to recouperate from the blow struck when my mom died in 2003 from the sporadic form of mad cow disease.

I was hardened, hung-over and fairly heavily stressed out when we pulled into Logan. The rain from the Nor'easter was starting to fall sideways I figured we'd be lucky to fly any time in the next two days. They called our section and I stood there talking to a guy in a Red Sox hat about how we were heading into the teeth of the storm - six inches fallen already and 1-2 feet forecast. He told me he thought we would be flying around it. But I pointed out that we had to land in it nonetheless. Then my wife Emily handed me my ticket... to San Juan Puerto Rico and said, Surprise!

It was awesome. My son Clint didn't figure it out until we were landing and the pilot mentioned that it was 87 degrees and that we were landing in San Juan Puerto Rico... What continent are we on? He asked bewildered by the possibilities.

My daughter was wondering about why we were flying over the ocean, but is still more surprised that her mother could fool her for so long...

So here I am in the mountains at Nelson's Country House a few hundred yards from the entrance to the Carribean National Forest with about 700 screeching frogs yelling in my ear. 2000 miles from estate planning and putting my family heirlooms in PODS containers. I'm told there are more pleasant surprises to come, there always are with Emily... It's good to be alive.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Guest Blog: The Gulf of Tonkin and the Persian Gulf: The Case Against a War with Iran

The Gulf of Tonkin and the Persian Gulf: The Case Against a War with Iran

For those who know history, the capture of fifteen British sailors elicits an unhappy feeling of déjà vu. In the Gulf of Tonkin, U.S. naval forces were supporting South Vietnamese commandos engaged in sabotage operations in North Vietnam. Although Operation 34 A may have been a justifiable response to Vietcong infiltration of South Vietnam, the fact that U.S. naval forces were engaged in military conflict at the time of the first attack on the destroyer Maddox was withheld from the general public. Apparently, there was no second attack on the Maddox and the Turner Joy, and it may well be the case that in the first episode the Maddox was attacked in a case of mistaken identity by still relatively harmless patrol boats. In the second attack, it is clear that what Clausewitz called the fog of war played a key role, as nervous sonar technicians misinterpreted data under stress.

The point of the matter is that the Gulf of Tonkin incident was generated by dangerous interaction between U.S. naval forces pressuring an adversary, and then used to rationalize the escalation of U.S. involvement in the Vietnamese civil war, an escalation that President Johnson already desired. The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution that authorized the ultimate deaths of millions of Vietnamese and fifty thousand Americans would have been unlikely to have passed the Congress if either Operation 34 A or contemporary doubts as to the reality of the second attack had been public or congressional knowledge.

The analogy with the capture of the British sailors is obvious. It is widely rumored that the United States has been attempting to pressure the Iranians through destabilization activities of U.S. intelligence services. The Bush administration has called for regime change in Iran on more than one occasion. The Bush administration has placed an enormous naval and air strike force in the region capable of a devastating attack on Iran. This has created a very tense situation between the U.S. and Iran, especially on the Shat al Arab waterway where the British were captured, the waterway being a source of contention between Iran and Iraq that in significant measure lead to the Iran-Iraq War.

An episode like the capture of the British sailors was almost a certainty given the tense security environment. While we may not like the Iranian regime, we would be unwise to allow such an episode to be the first step to rationalizing an attack on Iran that is a Bush administration policy in search of a justification for the following reasons.

First, given the duplicity of the Administration in launching the attack on Iraq, there would need to be very precise GPS coordinates of the British ship's position provided by an independent source before anyone ought to believe the story being put forward. Second, any attack on Iran would severely stress the U.S. armed forces, because the United States would be required to secure the oil fields of Southern Iran in order to prevent Iranian retaliation with their oil weapon. Third, an attack on Iran would increase Muslim hostility to the United States in general, and especially among Shia in Iraq who are vital to achieving any reasonable outcome there. Fourth, any U.S. attack on Iran more generally would unite Shia and Sunni against the United States, a grievous development to long term U.S. security interests. Fifth, an attack on Iran would push China and Russia closer together, as the U.S. would appear as an increasingly dangerous menace to world order. Finally, because of all the above effects of an attack on Iran, Israel's long term security would be endangered. Israel cannot in the long term live with Muslim hostility that is provoked by the United States on an increasing basis and must find some accommodation in order to survive. Many Israelis fear Iran, and not without reason, but a Muslim world increasingly united in hatred of the U.S. cannot be in Israel's interest.

The impact of the Gulf of Tonkin incident was to destroy a generation of South and North Vietnamese, and kill fifty eight thousand American soldiers. The press must do its duty and see that the current drift of events with Iran does not generate an outcome orders of magnitude worse.

Guest Blogger Donnie is an adjunct professor of
Instructor of Political Science, Economics, Finance and Law
He can be reached here:

Friday, March 16, 2007

The Five Paragraph Essay

The ability to organize one's thoughts and communicate ideas clearly is the backbone of good writing. This is why Bolsheviks and neo-Manicheans reincarnated in the role of officials in state education authorities, are entitled to insist upon the notion that the five-paragraph essay is the foundation of good writing.

The five-paragraph essay is a formal format of written argument just as a sentence is a vine upon which ripe fruits of thought may hang. It is a common requisite in assignments in middle school, high school, university and sometimes elementary school where doofus children roam in search of clues as to how to express themselves.

The format is obvious enough to satisfy the typical monad. Writing a keen five paragraph essay involves some transitions and variations expressed upon a theme's merits. Mind you, don't let them ramble or burst in ways that might seem unseemly.

Yet finally, in preparation for my recapitulation of the topic sentences: heretofore; I recall a moment in my youth, in which my dearly departed mother, expressed her concern over the welfare of her father's anti-troglodendtensendentitiousnist legacy. She worried that a boy raised in a town where co-ed four-square was considered racey would be incapable of scrying the experience of a minor above the tree-line where men - waking at dawn - choke on the first breath of coal dust, swallow back a hiccup of the hooch they drank from the belly-button of their second cousin the night before, and move on down the mine without any further reflection.

Nonetheless, I successfully am able to conclude, by assuring the reader that the four paragraphs prior to this one are among the smartest, well-connected, convincing arguements scripted since the 6th century Nipponese scholar Matsuyama:
Haiku, writ by you
says I care for structured thought
more than I let on.