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Showing posts from April, 2020

Following Ryan Reynolds, AKA: The Franklin Factor

Colin Jost is my hero. I’m not ashamed to tell people this. I mean, the guy is funny – objectively, statistically funny. He’s funny in a smart way and a smart-ass way, as opposed to a dumb-ass way. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that, some of the most successful Saturday Night Live alumni have raked in the cash playing dumb-asses.) And he’s the head writer for the hands-down, most successful, most iconic, longest running, most influential comedy juggernaut in US television history, which is to say world history. Anyone who likes to write, and fancies himself the least bit clever, would be silly not to hold Colin Jost in the highest possible esteem. And I do, but not so much for those reasons. Yes, they are compelling, obviously. I mean, I came up with them didn’t I? But the line between admiration and hero worship is drawn in the shape of a heart, and inside that heart is Scarlett Johansson, Colin’s fiancee. Where do I begin? I am happily married, and I was graduating c

Recipe for a genius, billionaire, playboy philanthropist

They say Robert Downey, Jr. made $75 million for his swan song appearance as Tony Stark/Iron Man in Avengers: Endgame . Good. I don’t know that I needed to know that, and I’m not sure I care one way or another, but I do know the fact that it’s out there in the universe now is a bad thing. It’s a siren’s call to every person with more attitude than brains, just the people we all try and limit our exposure to. Let’s see, I can imagine people saying: That’s crazy, no one should make that much money for anything, ever! Yeah, sure, like he needed that money. What about all the people without jobs? Endgame was a money-grab anyway, the movie stank! Let’s start with the last one first: To anyone who would like to argue that a movie that was awaited as rabidly as this one and that made $2.8 billion worldwide (I’m rounding up from the actual, which was something like $2.769 billion) was a lousy movie, well OK you hipster moron. You’re entitled to your opinions, and I’m sorry you’re s


I read an odd headline today. It said “Price of crude oil plunges below zero.” Something like that takes a little time to sink in, so I will pause for a moment. OK, ready? Good. As it turns out, crude oil is traded on the commodities markets as futures contracts, meaning you say today how many units you’re committing to buy at some point in the future for how much money. As near as I can figure, this is simply a way for people who have nothing to do with drilling, collecting, shipping, refining or selling oil to make money. From oil. That said, I guess I am not terribly broken up that some rich people are losing an opportunity to get richer by buying low and selling higher. I am more upset that I cannot pull into my favorite Wawa, grab a coffee, fill my tank and have them pay me for the privilege. After all, if fuel costs less than zero, they should pay me to take it off their hands. I will pay for the coffee because I am not unreasonable. The thing I find interesting is how

Life during wartime

Donald Trump says he’s a “wartime president,” and I would have to agree. I’ve been alive for a couple wars, and I’ve read about a couple more, and everything we are dealing with under the COVID-19 pandemic certainly feels like we are fighting a war. There are many similarities: We measure each day in death and devastation: How many have died, how many are jobless. We take care to recognize, if only nominally, our “heroes;” during conventional war, it’s the troops and under coronavirus, our health care providers and first responders. (I would add DoorDash drivers.) We are training ourselves to live with less. During Middle East skirmishes we use less gasoline; during COVID we ration toilet paper. In the time of the COVID War we think about our loved ones more often. We lament not being able to visit them when, in all fairness, six months ago we consciously chose to go to food truck festivals, apple-picking and even to see the new Terminator reboot rather than visit them. Freed

Meet the F#ckers

My grandcat is an a$$hole. I love her, and she is so pretty, but she’s a huge a$$hole. Her brother is much more lovable but he comes with his own challenges. It’s Week Six? Seven? Don’t know, time has no meaning in the Upside Down. It’s whatever week it is, and my wife should be ecstatic but she is not. She should be ecstatic because our 20-something children are home with us again, ejected from their normal lives by COVID-19. Six months ago this would have been the best possible state of affairs, together again with those closest to us. The band reunited for one, spectacular farewell tour. Of course, how could we have known that the band would be a cage match featuring REO Speedwagon, the Grateful Dead and Neckdeep, with Gilbert Gottfried as the opening act? There’s a reason no one should know how sausage is made; this is the reason. As of today, here’s who’s/what’s in my house: My Wife , trying desperately to balance working from home with not working from home. As a sidel

I'm feeling the Bern

Now that Bernie Sanders has left the 2020 Presidential race I have to admit I am distraught, far more than I had imagined I would be. It’s not because I share any (literally: any) political views with the Senator. It’s not our mutual Jewish roots. It’s something far more important and relevant: I was looking forward to seeing more of Larry David’s ruthless, dead-on impression of Sanders on Saturday Night Live . Enough to have backed Bernie for President myself? Well, let’s leave that topic for another time. SNL was born in 1975 and instantly became a carnival mirror held up to US politics. From Chevy Chase’s accident-prone Gerald Ford to Dan Aykroyd’s affable Jimmy Carter, the show started off spoofing the Beltway landscape and eventually grew to help shape it. In a culture as tremendously lazy as ours, it figures that we would devolve to a point where we get our news from Weekend Update and make important decisions based on caricature portrayals of actual (elected!) leaders. In

The unintended consequence of free speech

When I was young I dreamed of being a writer. Actually, that’s not true; I dreamed of being several writers. The first step to becoming a writer, any writer will tell you, is becoming a reader. So depending on what I had just read that had thrummed a particular chord inside me, that was the kind of writer I dreamed of being. A novelist, a screenwriter, a playwright, a journalist, even a songwriter on rare occasions. And I grew up doing some writing. Little writings, here and there. In high school I wrote and delivered an award winning essay as part of a citywide Veterans of Foreign Wars competition, and was supposed to receive my award from then-mayor of Philadelphia Frank Rizzo. Instead, Frank was busy and sent his District Attorney, future Philly mayor and PA governor Ed Rendell. I literally threw out the commemorative Liberty Bell a week ago while cleaning my basement. The engraved plaque had fallen off, and I couldn’t come up with a valid reason I would need a Liberty Bell clangi

No country for smart men

When i was young we liked smart men and dumb women. Oh my god, now don’t get your back up - please. I can feel the waves of Weinstein-fueled disdain coming off everyone. Hear me out.  Remember I Dream of Jeannie ? Major Whoever, an actual astronaut, and Jeannie. OK, maybe she wasn’t dumb but she was naive and that’s good enough. It played as dumb. How about Marilyn Monroe - the character not the woman. Woman: pretty smart. Brand: Curvy and dumb. Betty Boop. Goldie Hawn; sock it to me. How about Three’s Company ? Jack had to pretend to be gay to live with two hot women. But were they two hot women? Or was Janet SMART, and Chrissy HOT? Dumb blonde. (Smart brunette.) How about Charlie’s Angels ? Poor Kate Jackson; she was smart. Somewhere along the way the rules changed. Smart women became powerful, attractive, desirable: JK Rowling, Rosario Dawson, Kerry Washington, Madonna. I watched Miss Americana on Netflix recently and only then did I realize it was not cool to

A little patch of land somewhere that’s green

Wow, what a nice feeling. I want to thank everyone for their very kind feedback on my musings yesterday. It gave me a welcome opportunity to sit back and look fondly at a large-ish group of people I genuinely like and admire, whether or not they are front-and-center in my world today. As far as connection, or engagement, or validation – whatever it is we are supposed to be doing in this environment – it was a gift, and I thank you for that. Next: It occurred to me, as I was basking in the glow and contemplating making time to actually write things that people may actually want to read, that I can’t really use Linked In as my vehicle. For the last 20-plus years I have represented Reliance Standard, its leaders, stakeholders and customers, either full-time or part time, as a communications professional. Scribe, oracle, spokesperson, Jiminy Cricket…pick your favorite image. Linked In is a great platform, and it has gotten greater, but the architecture is based on the individual: My of

Starting is hard.

It’s quiet. Too quiet. The year started on a promising note. Then, on my birthday, in the middle of my company’s annual national sales meeting, the World Health Organization declared “the novel coronavirus” a Public Health Emergency. No one in my immediate orbit blinked. Now, 70 days later, I have been relegated to mandatory Work From Home status for a month. And as such, I have gone through the Five Stages of Grief: Denial : What do you mean the WiFi won’t connect? I’m sitting right in front of the router! Anger : If you play that soothing Relaxation soundtrack once more, I’m going to club you to death with your scented oil diffuser! Bargaining : Yes, fine, I will wear the homemade mask if you let me go to the store for cat litter and iced tea. I need cat litter and iced tea. Depression : I’m working seven days a week in a cave underneath my home. FML. Acceptance : OK, I think I’m ready to turn my webcam on. Briefly. Apologies to Elisabeth Kübler-Ros