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Friday, October 15, 2010


"Chi chi chi! Le le le!"

Who doesn't know that chant? 

Who doesn't know the story of "los 33," the Chilean miners trapped underground for 69 days while the world watched and waited? And who will forget the images of each rescued man walking into the arms of loved ones?

You can thank Reinaldo Sepulveda. 

He's the media director for Chilean President Sebastian Pinera, himself a former TV station owner. Although Sepulveda produced other major events, this may be his tour de force, his finest hour. Some may argue that the event was masterminded to augment Chile's and Pinera's image, but it was a calculated gamble if that was the case, because it  could all have gone so terribly wrong. President Pinera is not eligible to run another term,  so it's not as if he was looking towards a re-election bid down the road.

Not to mention, what if a freak accident occured and "los 33" were entombed for good? On live TV and on the internet?

The eyes of the world were watching and the pressure was on. 

Chile delivered, with help from friends of course. But it was their willingness to reach out for that help, and the transparency which the entire ordeal was handled on live television and the internet that cannot but fail to impress.

Contrast this with Katrina and how George Bush took awhile to get with the program. Ditto for BP with the Macondo blowout.

Maybe the United States needs to hire Sepulveda and Pinera to boost our image. 

Amen, and pass the mustard.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


A few years ago my mother called me early one evening. She lived far from me and it was customary for her to give me a buzz on occasion when she felt chatty. I'd call her back on my cell so that she would not incur long distance phone bills.

The call didn't surprise me but the hour did, since she rarely phoned until she'd finished watching a batch of soap operas of which she was very fond. That night, though, her voice was a little different, and on questioning, I found out what was the matter.

One of her neighbors, whose young daughter had died recently, had a "birthday party" for the child that afternoon. The celebration consisted of the parents releasing a batch of pink balloons into the heavens, pink being the child's favorite color. This seemingly nonsensical act touched my mother deeply.

It was, she told me, something she thought I would like, something she thought I would do. I hate to say this but I didn't respond much to the conversation at the time, somehow made light of it. But last year, after my mother had died and her birthday had rolled around, the balloon story reared its head in my memory, and I acted on it, much like I did today, what would have been my mother's birthday.

I purchased three orange balloons (my mother wasn't a pink person, she was an orange sort) and headed towards the beach. The sky, bright and October brilliant, the sun blazing overhead, the wind just right; I released them and watched as they flew high, high, higher until they were just small specks.

Happy Birthday, Mami.

Amen, and pass the mustard.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Step right up and eat your McPlastic meals, kiddies!
Sally Davies, an artist in New York City, hung onto a McDonald's Happy Meal for six months and to her surprise, not much about it changed.
Calling it the McDonald's Happy Meal Project, photographer Davies chronicled the life and times of the hapless burger and fries by posting her shots on Flicker. I just looked at them and grossed myself right out.
Although I'm not a complete vegetarian, I don't eat much meat. Last time I had prime rib was at the wedding of two friends of mine, George and Molly -- folks who I believe are now grandparents. Yep, that long ago. And I will admit that on occasion I've downed some fast food, including from McD's and Burger King, though I can't say that any of these "meals" brought much gustatory enjoyment as opposed to tiding me over until I could get real food.
But after reading about Ms. Davies' experiment, nothing, nothing on this earth will ever get me to eat anything at one of these establishments again. 
Six months and it still looks basically the same as it did at the onset? 
Amen, and .... well, maybe this time don't pass the mustard.

Friday, October 8, 2010


John Lennon would have been 70 years old today, were it not for an assassin's bullet. My father would have been 87 years old this month, were it not for the cancer that claimed him 25 years ago.

Thinking about these events is making me very angry today.  I got screwed out of a whole bunch of things that both of these men could have given me had they more time, and I'm not liking it at all.

My dad would have dug the internet, this blog even -- as an electrical and mechanical engineer he was into every bit of gadgetry he could get his mitts on. I recall when he bought a super sound system eons ago and decided that the acoustics in the house weren't good enough. So he conscripted every blanket out of my mother's linen closet and nailed them up on the living room walls, eventually forming a soundproof cocoon.

I happened upon him that afternoon, sitting on the couch, holding one of the blankets over his head in a half-shell form, listening to Beethoven's Ninth at the full capacity of his speaker system. "Sit here, sit here!" he said, and I was flabbergasted at how the makeshift arrangement made it seem as if the orchestra was in that very room.  The blankets came down later that day, but not before I'd conned my dad into playing one of my Beatles' albums full blast. Incidentally, he liked the Beatles, used to call them "the hairy ones."

I often think of how many such events I missed out on over the last quarter century since dad passed, just like today I'm thinking about all of the music that we missed out on, tunes that John would have banged out from that mind of his. I like to think I might have listened to some of those with my dad, perhaps not under a bunch of old blankets,  maybe in my living room this time.

Nobody told me there would be days like these. Strange days, indeed.

Amen, and pass the mustard.

Friday, October 1, 2010


My bathroom walls -- what were you thinking?

It started with horrific wallpaper -- amorphous pink flowers on a hunter green background-- that was so bad I ripped it off in the middle of the night once in a total fit of pique. Those flowers were screaming at me. LOUD.

Underneath the paper was an equally bad wall -- which meant that if I wanted to paint the bloody thing I'd have to skim coat it.

Skim coat, for the wall-challenged, is a thin coat of plaster material smeared over an existing wall in an effort to hide the divots and cracks that are endemic in older homes. 
Most people get professionals to do this sort of thing, but we've already established that I am not most people and of course, I set out to do it myself.

There was no room for my ladder in the bathroom so I ended up having to jam a small chair in there, or else stand on the toilet to reach other sections. I own one of those industrial type extension poles, the types that fit into paint rollers, so I was able to hit most of it.

I said most of it.

It was getting late and I was getting very tired, so I resorted to using a wooden spoon as a catapult, lobbying large hunks of the stuff towards the wall and then flattening it with my extended contraption.

That went well until the very last one -- which of course I'd loaded up well as the whole thing was wearing very, very thin.

As if in slow motion, the blob sailed in a neat arc straight at the wall and the bulk of it stuck, but a marble sized piece separated from the original and following that same arc, fell back down and... BLAM!!!

You got it.

Right on top of my head.   There are no photos. You will just have to imagine.

Amen, and pass the mustard.