Sunday, May 3, 2009

Derby watching

What a race!

Ever since Barbaro and even before that, it's become too hard to watch the ponies.

So yesterday, I had one eye on my reading material and the other on the TV at the gym. Mostly I pretended to read while keeping an eye on the woman one bike over who was clearly wrapt in the race. When she started hooting and hollering, I had to look and saw the amazing Mine That Bird come from back, WAAAAAAY back, along the rail to take it by a mile.

Then the wonderfully crazy Calvin Borel took his victory lap in some of the best television in a long time. Borel sure knows how to seize the moment The parade led to some world-shaking questions back at the gym. Like:

1: Where were his teeth?

2: Did he take his teeth out to make weight?

3: Did he take his teeth out to minimize injury?

4: If he was toothless to start, would he use his winnings to buy teeth?

whatever the case, he is one charismatic rider. And the aerial view of his winning surge was amazing, and nearly a carbon copy of the "rail sanding" push he made two years ago to win the Derby.

Best of all about this Derby, nobody died.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Why we love Anthony Lane

He is the snarkiest of film critics and the one people run to read. (Face it, no one cares what David Denby, the anti-snark crusader, has to say.)

Examples of Lane at his best: From his February 2, review of Liam Neeson's thriller "Taken":

If "there’s one thing we’ve learned from “24” it’s that anybody named Kim, with a father schooled in dirty work by the U.S. government, will have a large echo chamber where her brain is meant to be. Kim and a friend leave for a vacation in Europe, where, ignoring the advice of her father, they are abducted with such consummate speed that it might have been simpler if he had FedExed them directly to the kidnappers. Pausing only to borrow a private jet from his ex’s slimy husband, Mills flies to Paris, where he proceeds to work his way, without mercy, through a personal alphabet of undesirable aliens. This being a brisk affair, of little more than ninety minutes, he gets only as far as Albanians and Arabs, but, if I were an innocent Bermudan, let alone a Belgian, I would be starting to get nervous about a sequel.

Snark personified. Plus real value add.

Lane's review of the Star Wars sequel/prequel/ whatever was priceless.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Wanna survive the recession? Bet on booze

This weekend's Wall Street Journal had a great analysis of stock performance from the Great Depression onward. What stocks did comparatively well in the cauldron of the late '20s and early '30s? Not many.

Money quote:
"The only clear winner: cheap vices. Among the sectors with positive returns were cigarettes, cigars and tobacco, sugar and confectionery products, and fats and oils, which each gained between 1.6% and 7.5% annually."

So if fattening, carcinogenic vices were good bets in the Prohibition era, here's betting booze is the best bet now.

You don't have to tell me twice: But not sure Maker's Mark is publicly held.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Charter Cable: Fool me twice, shame on me

So the memory of the last run in with Charter Cable faded enough for me to try again to set up broadband access at a secondary residence.

Note to the world: Never, ever, involve yourself with Charter Cable if there is any alternative. And I mean any. Starbucks usurious broadband fees look positively welcoming in comparison..

This time the issue was much the same as last. Call into customer service—a term Charter takes very lightly. Set up another appointment to install broadband internet access. Withstand a barrage of upselling/cross selling attempts. Do we want 256 digital stereo music channels? Sorry no. Just broadband. I set myself up as an authorized user on the account, complete with pin number and all sorts of legalities involving verbal agreement with the account holder who was on the horn with me and Charter lady. Check, check, check

Set up the appointment for the holidays.

Last night, sensing a need to reconfirm, Call into "customer service" to check the work order and the charges we had discussed. Once again, after long waits, the rep has no record of my account holder status. No record of what the charges would be. Nothing. In what I suspected would be a futile attempt to fix the situation, I ask for the supervisor. She was surly right off the bat. I try to cancel the installation. No can do! Have to talk to someone else for that.

Take the night off to cool down. Call into Charter this morning. Navigate moronic voice mail system. Get into automated appointment queue. Turns out there is a way to confirm an appointment automatically but to cancel, you have to talk to a CSR—you got it—the dread "Customer service rep. More hold time.

This person tells me I need to talk to yet another person. I do so. Appointment is allegedly canceled.

Here's betting that the install guy shows up anyway.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Trains, planes & (hybrid) automobiles

The spectacle of Detroit's Big Three auto execs road-tripping from Detroit to D.C. in their respective hybrids is too rich.

Ford's Alan Mulally, choking on his quote about his own $21-million-plus salary being "okay" where it is, was the first to try to wring lemonade out of lemons. He would make the supreme sacrifice of driving the return trek to D.C. in a Ford Escape hybrid. Quite a come down from the (separate) private jets he and his GM and Chrysler comrades used last time out.

Then Chrysler and GM CEOs were shamed into following suit. Good God men! If you're going to abase yourselves--and well you should after the stunt you pulled you've done--why not go all out? Carpooling is the only way to go. Oh, i know the negotiations over who's crappy hybrid to take would be endless. My suggestion? Prius. That would be some penance.

A friend and I were jawing over who could star in this high-concept comedy: Little Petey suggested Clint Eastwood for one of the CEOs. Hmmm. Must think on that. Frank Langella? Check. We were unanimous on Fred Willard as the third. Rule of thumb: Cast Fred Willard in anything. And everything.

Backup to Clint, if he's too stern: Martin Mull. See above rule. It applies to Mull too.

Related question: When can we officially stop referring to Ford, Chrysler, and GM as the Big Three?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Itty bitty GOP

David Frum's article in the NYT maggie foretold a lot of what happened Tuesday. And hopefully the trend will continue.

The fact that the McCain operatives (or perhaps even other Republicans) have the long knives out for Sarah Palin may mean that the party will broaden beyond the right wingers that hold it hostage. Or, more likely, the party will blame McCain for being not conservative enough, and continue their nutty rush to the bottom.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Another Repub for Obama

Heard Bill Weld, former Republican governor of our fair state, on the radio today endorsing Obama. It was a great Weldian quote, reminiscent of how truly likable he was before he got all weird: Running for another term, winning it, only to apply immediately for another gig, divorcing his world-class wife for what appeared to be a twinkie. You know. The usual.

Today's money quote: "I've had about as much fun with Republican orthodoxy as I can stand."

This was the same Weld who jumped into the not-very-clean-yet Charles to prove how clean it was. Forcing other, less charismatic and fun pols to follow suit, much to their chagrin. The one who used to declare his unambiguous affection for strong, amber liquids.

What a guy.