Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Pastrami and Other Holiday Delights

You know how, when you clean out the freezer, there are things that you don’t throw out because they sounded delectable or they were too expensive to just toss.  There has been a good portion of pastrami in mine for  months, maybe years and for whatever reason, it still remains in the freezer.  We are not going eat it, but this week I finally found a use for it.  When I fell last week and banged my knee, the result was swelling and a black and blue mark from right above the ankle to well up my thigh.  It needed to be iced, but finding one ice pack that long was nearly impossible, until I remembered the pastrami.  It packed flat so it was about 14 inches long and about 7 inches wide, just about the size of my injury.  No, I’m not going to eat it, but I am going to keep it frozen in case of another emergency.

After the pastrami story I hesitate to get serious, but I must.  There is a great deal of talk about media access to the President. There is a great deal of it but it is only of interest to a small circle of people who cover the President.  There is till a great deal of talk, but it probably is not your morning breakfast conversation.... unless someone in your household is assigned to the White House.

There is always a tension between the media and the communication people on the White House staff.  Over the years the Presidential staff has tried to limit the access of the media but  there is usually an outcry, so it hasn’t worked. In an interview with George Stephanopoulos, he confirms that there was this tension during the Clinton days,  but he says that it was Hillary’s idea to close off the Press Secretary’s office (which for decades was traditionally open to reporters.)  No matter who tried to do it, it did not work. Not until this Administration, for a number of reasons.  The Press continue to allow the White House to do what they want for fear of retribution, (the last Press Secretary threatened that “there will be blood” if the National News Channel didn’t listen to his foolish requests),   and the technology is so sophisticated that releases from the White House Press Office are picked up and reprinted by the media outlet as if it was their own. Writers can do this, photographers cannot. The public generally has no idea who did what. 

So when did this “no access”, closed press begin?  Probably on the day the Chief Justice had to swear the President in for the second time (you remember, he flubbed it on the first Obama inaugural.)  And all they had to do was get away with it once. From then on it was Closed Press event, after Closed Press event.  They even closed the event with the aging veterans of the Negro baseball leagues.  Why would they do that?  But a better question is, why did the league allow it?

This last trip to Africa for the Mandela funeral was a forty hour trip -- in the air. The only VIP who came back to talk to the press covering the event, was former President George W. Bush -- who had nothing to say but what he did say, he said off the record. Not that it mattered, but he made a gesture of good will,  and it was appreciated by the people with whom he spoke.  The President might as well have not been on the plane for all the conversation he had with anyone other than family and friends.  And since he has taken to ‘selfie’ photo shots, before you know it there won’t even be an official White House photographer to catch all the events no one else can.

And in conclusion, a few days ago we lost Tom Laughlin.  He wrote, produced and starred in the Billy Jack movies.  A folk hero of sorts, he was the first producer to advertise his films on TV, and he ran for President -- yes of the United States.  He had no money and no experience in politics. So what idiot would work for him -- you guessed it, this idiot. But that’s another blob.  We also lost Peter O’Toole, one of my favorite actors ever. While he is remembered for his role in Lawrence of Arabia, what he should be remembered for is his role in “My Favorite Year”, “Goodbye Mr. Chips” and, of course “Ratatouille”. He shamefully (for the Academy) never won an Oscar, though nominated 8 times.. And when asked if just being nominated was an honor he replied, “Second prize is no prize, thank you very much indeed." Now there’s a guy who should have been President!  Happy holidays

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Oh, the Holidays

Version:1.0 StartHTML:0000000230 EndHTML:0000008803 StartFragment:0000002728 EndFragment:0000008767 SourceURL:file://localhost/Users/david%20burnett/Desktop/*Desktop%20stuff_2/Blob%20Iris%20files%20apr%2006/Holidays2013.doc
Last night I was walking the puppy when all of a sudden some black ice found it’s way under my feet.  It was 6:00pm, there was no light, and the ground was hard. Unable to stop my forward progress, I skied (without the benefit of ski’s) down the small hill in the front yard… fell forward, and landed hard on my left knee.  I yelled and yelled for David. In the meantime, the small flashlight slipped out of my hand.  The puppy picked it up and began to circle me. When David finally made his way outside, the light helped him to find me in the dark. Despite the obvious pain I was experiencing, it was hilarious.  Tyrone is applying for his Gaffer license.

This is not an “oh! poor me”, blob.  It is rather a reflection on mankind’s vulnerability.  You know better than to believe that for a moment, I hope. No, this blob is about the pithy and insightful thinking I do.

Yesterday, when I was shopping for a table on which to set up the new record  player, (it’s a real old time player that plays and transfers music from LP’s, 33, 78 and 45’s to a computer – we have thousands of these vinyls  but haven’t heard them in years.) I was thinking about what happens when my generation of cousins is gone.  It wasn’t heavy thinking all that. In fact it brought back memories of pretty funny stuff.   Like, who will be there to remember that when Aunt Helene laughed, she always laughed so hard she peed in her pants.  Or when Aunt Fritzie made kippers, the house smelled like fish and onions for three weeks.  Or that Aunt Betty bought  all our sexy lingerie when we got married.  Or that Aunt Sophie bought plastic tablecloths, fitted them, cut them, and if she didn’t like the way it looked, returned them – in their original packaging, (no easy task).  Or when anyone needed advice, Aunt Peppy happily offered it – even when not asked. And the advice was always colorful.

With some work, (as shown in The Gefilte Fish Chronicles)  memories, recipes,  and traditions,  are passed from one generation or the other, there are some things that you cannot pass on. The sound of a voice or laughter, the smell of perfume or after shave, or the feel of a hug. If you didn’t experience those things in person,  it is almost impossible to duplicate.  When mom died, her helper at the retirement home asked if she could take a bottle of the perfume she always wore.  It was her way to keep mom in her life. But she couldn’t duplicate the look she gave us when she was aggravated.  We can reproduce the tea and jelly grandpa made for us. And  we can retell the stories Aunt Sarah told us.  But we can’t see the expression on their faces.  It’s a little too much reality for my taste.

People often offer diametrically opposed platitudes.  Some of my personal favorites are,   “Life must go on,” or “Never put off anything you want to do, because you never know what’s going to happen tomorrow.”  And “you need to wait for your turn and good things will come.”  That’s pretty much like,  “Save today, because you cannot predict the future.”  All this is to say, -- We should all be encouraged to live our lives with good memories of the past, and enormous hope that we will be remembered in the future.  What I want people to remember about me is that I was kind, funny,  honest and had a clear sense of who I was.

When I write one of these blobs, I never know how to finish them.  So I will leave with this thought.   Once you have tasted the grapes of wrath you will ever be satisfied with bananas.  Happy Holidays.  We’re Just Sayin’… Iris

Monday, December 09, 2013

A Penguin Xmas

Ah, the holiday season. Lot’s of foolish spending, too much eating, parties we never get invited to, and millions of nutty people gathering at Rockefeller Center to see THE TREE.  Which looks exactly like it did last year and the year before-- for as long as it’s been lit by LED lights.  But visiting the tree is something that must be done, especially if it’s not inconvenient.  All of the above translates into making NYC, the happiest place in the world -- Except for all the Disney Properties.

This morning I had a meeting on the West Side.  I did not revisit the tree. But as I came up from the subway, there were at least fifty Christmas trees chained next to a fence.  The trees were all tied up.  My first thought was that there was no need for that because they wouldn’t escape. Silly right?  But they looked so sad for green feathery inanimate objects.  Of course they were chained and tied because otherwise they would have been stolen.  Holiday season or not, the thieves are still sitting in waiting for an opportunity to walk away with something for which they have not paid.  

But that’s not what I wanted to blob about. In fact, I’m not sure what I wanted to blob about except people’s reactions to Mandela’s death.  When someone of his stature dies, everyone needs to say something.  That’s OK, he was a great inspirational hero. So his passing necessitates a remark or two.  But politicians that say they were inspired to “model their lives” after this wondrous human being, are pretty much full of crap.  What political person in this country is principled enough to spend 27 years in prison. Is there anyone who you can think of who has the leadership qualities, yet alone the courage, to live their lives like Mandela.  I don’t think so, and I mean that in the nicest possible way.

Every year we try to make plans for the holiday.  We used to have Christmas with friends and New Years at my house with friends.  I don’t like to be in crowds, so Times Square is not an alternative. (Kidding, I would rather be covered with honey in a place where the ants could have a picnic), but there has to be a better plan.  The nicest places we have spent New Years have been the homes of out friends who live on the west coast.  I doubt that we will be able to do that this year, but we are open for suggestions -- in a pet friendly environment.  

And speaking of pets, the other night we were at an event where they had the most creative hors doevres.  I thought I would share this with our blob readership because they made me smile. In fact I took a few and named them -- then we ate them, but such is life. And if you want to put a holiday smile on your face just take a look at these -- and figure out what they are.  Happy holidays and see you next year on the internet.  We’re just sayin’… Iris