Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Inaugural Thoughts

I didn’t get invited to the Inauguration.

Athough I am the sole proprietor of this “highly influential” blog, I was passed over once again.

I watched it on TV most of the day because Kathie took both sets of car keys with her to work.

I wonder if Ann Coulter was there. I didn’t see her. For a fleeting minute I had the shocking thought that she was Biden’s date. Turns out it was his wife.

Martha Stewart attended. She made a point of boasting about it on her show (note: I don’t sit around watching Martha all day long, just at lunch). She explained that Obama “owed her one” because some insider stock tips she gave him paid off big time and helped him launch his Senate campaign. I heard that since she was the first person released from Gitmo, they were signaling that the healing had started.

What was up with Aretha’s hat? My sources tell me that she was trying to make a statement about alternative energy. Those big propellers on top of her lid were supposed to turn in the wind and power her teleprompter. It didn’t work that’s why she had to substitute the lyrics with a series of impromptu shrieks and bellows.

My son thought the Yo Yo Ma and Isaac Pearlman tune was the theme from Star Wars.
My wife tells me that, actually, it is an old Shaker piece. The Shakers were a religious group that practiced celibacy, went into ecstatic trances, and did an early version of the Hokie Pokie during their services. And we thought the Bushes were weird.

How bad was that poem? It didn’t even rhyme. I suggested that Martha and Snoop Dogg could team up as they did at the Grammys a few years ago and deliver a hip hop offering.
I even wrote it for them:

Hey there, Barack
Time to go on the attack
Give Al Qaeda a whack
Be like Kennedy, as in Jack
Get the US back on track
Send George Bush to Iraq
Give them bankers another stack
Where’d you get that suit?
Off the rack?

I am still waiting for them to get back to me.

Who screwed up the oath? Apparently Chief Justice Roberts thought he could “ad lib” the words to the hallowed oath. My sources say he also ad libs his legal opinions when Judge Judy is not available for consultation.

How cool was that car? With all those darkened windows, blue and red strobes and flashing lights I expected it to start bouncing and playing salsa music every time it stopped.

The downer for the day was poor Ted Kennedy. I hope he is okay. Although I know from when I used to plan events, if you get enough old guys in the same room, one of them is bound crap out. The fact that not one, but two, went face down in their fruit salad shows how many tottering old guys there are in Congress.

I guess Tom Brokaw didn’t check out all of the old timers at the lunch because he kept going on about how Obama’s election was a generational change. Seems we Boomers are out and gen x or y or whatever is now in. Hang on!! We just got here. The Greatest Generation has been in power for like 80 years, but it looks like we are two presidents and done. I think he is just greasing the old promotional machinery for another of his best selling generation books.

Well, I think I will go check in with Martha and see if she managed to get Hillary’s cookie recipe.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


Last week was my 64th birthday. A lovely day celebrated in the company of old friends.
Of course, the Beatles tune “When I’m Sixty Four” has been running through my head ever since.

I wonder why they chose 64? Is it an age that has special significance in English culture? Maybe it just fit their rhyme scheme better, although I find it hard to believe that John and Paul couldn’t rhyme anything they chose. At any rate, Sixty-four is a landmark now simply because the Beatle made it one.

My original idea for this blog was to re-write the Beatle’s song from the perspective of one who has reached that hoary age rather than a young man looking from afar. However, you cannot improve upon perfection. The Beatles got it right the first time.

When I get older losing my hair,
Many years from now,
Will you still be sending me a valentine
Birthday greetings bottle of wine?

If I'd been out till quarter to three
Would you lock the door,
Will you still need me, will you still feed me,
When I'm sixty-four?

oo oo oo oo oo oo oo oooo
You'll be older too, (ah ah ah ah ah)
And if you say the word,
I could stay with you.

I could be handy mending a fuse
When your lights have gone.
You can knit a sweater by the fireside
Sunday mornings go for a ride.

Doing the garden, digging the weeds,
Who could ask for more?
Will you still need me, will you still feed me,
When I'm sixty-four?

Every summer we can rent a cottage
In the Isle of Wight, if it's not too dear
We shall scrimp and save
Grandchildren on your knee
Vera, Chuck, and Dave

Send me a postcard, drop me a line,
Stating point of view.
Indicate precisely what you mean to say
Yours sincerely, Wasting Away.

Give me your answer, fill in a form
Mine for evermore
Will you still need me, will you still feed me,
When I'm sixty-four?


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Of Buffleheads and Barnacles

There was a bufflehead in Califon the other day.

For the avian challenged, a bufflehead is a small duck. It is, in fact, the smallest diving duck in the United States. It was bobbing along in the river all by itself like a bath toy. Bufflehead is the name we humans have given these creatures. I would not call anyone a bufflehead unless I had a distinct height and weight advantage, as we clearly do in this case. We don’t know what they call themselves, but if they are as self-centered as us I’m sure it translates from the duck as something like God’s Chosen Birds.

These are uncommon but not rare here in Califon. The big news though is the annual arrival of the Barnacle Goose. This rare Asian bird has arrived around Christmas for the last several years. It comes with an entourage of hundreds of migrating Canadian geese which makes spotting it like finding a needle in a haystack.

This causes great excitement in the “birding community.” The web sites chirp and the e-mails twitter with hourly updates on the bird’s whereabouts. Birders come from miles around eager to add this prize plum to their life list. This is a list of every bird that a particular birder has seen in his lifetime. You don’t need photos or corroborating witnesses to add a bird to your list. In fact, you don’t actually need to see the bird; hearing it suffices.

It seems to me that bad birders like myself probably have more impressive life lists than our more adept counterparts, since we often see and hear birds that we don’t actually see and hear. It’s not that we are dishonest, its that when two birds look or sound alike, it is much more satisfying to opt for the more exotic.

Professional birders, or ornithologists as they like to be called, do this as well. Witness the flap over the Ivory Billed Woodpecker. Several experts have persuaded themselves that they have seen this presumably extinct creature. Others say they have seen the common Pileated Woodpecker and opted for the exotic. Hey, if O.J. can persuade himself that he didn’t do what everyone else knows he did, it’s no big deal for some professor to convince himself he has seen a defunct woodpecker.

It also speaks to the pace of life in this community that the big mid-winter event is the arrival of a goose. Groups of people wearing binoculars stroll the riverbank. Carloads of them cruise about asking locals for the latest goosian gossip.

Most locals couldn’t tell a Barnacle Goose from their sister-in-law but for a few precious days we are the Keepers of the Goose and special.

I, have in fact, seen the goose. Frankly, it isn’t all that exciting. It’s a little smaller and darker than a Canadian, but stands out about as much as a Bosnian in a crowd of Serbs.

Of course, the wet blankets at the Audubon Society are having none of it. They will not accept it in their annual Christmas bird count because they say that it is an escapee from a private collection rather than a true immigrant.

I say bully for the Barnacle and more reason to celebrate the gaggle of Canadians who, rather than “cleansing” him, have accepted him as one of their own. It’s nice of them to drop in on us at Christmas. Maybe they have room in their midst for a wayward Bufflehead.