INSITEVIEW- - tom shugart's weblog

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Ten Years of Insiteview -- Selected Posts From the Archives

In celebration of this blog's tenth anniversary, I will occasionally be re-publishing some of the posts that appeared here in 2002.  Here's the next one:

March 3. 2002
Magical Evening 

Jill and I resolved to have more fun in 2002. Last night, we contributed a notch to fulfilling that pledge. Got together with a favorite couple, Neil and Jane Levy. We decided to act like tourists and go see a San Francisco tourist fave--"Beach Blanket Babylon." It's been playing to sold-out audiences without stop since 1974. A real show-biz phenom, but you know how it goes. When you live somewhere, you tend to neglect the must-see tourist attractions.Both we and the Levys have been here for three decades and have never bothered to go see this local treasure. 

A wonderfully balmy evening--a rare SF occurence. We precede the show with a stroll down the always vibrant Columbus Ave. Bubbly people spilling out onto the sidewalks from the Italian eateries. We go by the still-kicking Lawrence Ferlinghetti's City Lights bookstore and are heartened to see four gigantic banners hanging from the third floor rooftop. Each poster shows a face with a large American flag covering the mouth. The posters say, in sequence: Dissent / Is Not / Un / American. Way to go Larry. May you live forever. 

We pop into one of the many Italian joints for a pre-show dinner. Over pasta and Chianti Classico, I reflect on what a natural Neil would be for blogging. A semi-retired law professor who loves to write and does so with wit and the soul of a poet. I won't bug him about it now because he's leaving in a few days for the South Pacific to write his next travel book. But after he's returned and gets the book off to the publisher, I'm hoping I can get him to join me in the fraternity of bloggers. I'm not putting any money on it. Most of my friends, even the ones who love to write, seem to have strong resistance to taking it on.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A Decade Ago
Today I celebrate the tenth anniversary of the launch of this blog. You could definitely be excused for asking: “Why would I celebrate something that’s dead on the vine?” During this decade, only the first half saw any regular activity from this space. I’ve gone the way of legions of the early bloggers (those of us who back then usually had to explain to others what a “blog” was) -- out of steam; a finite and exhausted pool of creativity; too many competing demands for time; loss of interest; the rise of social media replacing the blogosphere as community; laziness; whatever.

However, unlike many of those pioneering souls, I never officially shut this thing down. Perhaps in the back of my mind the thought lingered that I might someday return to this space, despite the enormous changes that have rendered the modern blogosphere a very different animal from its early days -- a period in which I was proud and excited to have participated.

While many of us have faded away, an impressive, indefatigable group of great bloggers from those heady days are still at it, and I salute them -- Weinberger, Searls, Locke, Paynter, Sessum, AKMA, Bennett, Frankonis, Howell, Powers, JoliffeHeibel, BenetCooper, Golby, WoodsWonderchicken, and some others I may have forgotten to mention.  They were constant sources of inspiration to me. I would never have been able to enjoy my brief fling as an early-adopter blogger without their example, and in some flattering cases, personal encouragement.

I suppose the possibility exists that it could be great fun to be back in blogging, although this time around, I would most likely be doing so in obscurity. The chances of its happening are pretty slim. However, just to be able to hang around a little while, I’ve been entertaining the thought that maybe I could celebrate this tenth year with a weekly posting from the past -- selecting something from my archives to post each week throughout the coming year. I could call it “The Best of Insiteview,” but modesty forbids. Who knows -- maybe in the process of hanging around, some new and up-to-date material might emerge? No  promises though.

This will have to be an endeavor for my own pleasure. I hardly expect an audience anymore like the old days. But if anyone should happen to latch onto this, he or she is most welcome to join me in my little stroll down memory lane (pardon the cliché). Your company would be a great pleasure indeed.  

So . . . The obvious place to start is with my very first entry, February 21, 2002.

Here Goes 

I've been fussing around for two weeks trying to start this blog. There's no way to start it except to start it. So here I go. After all, David Weinberger, who's probably my biggest source of inspiration for this undertaking, has as the motto for his blog, "let's just see how it goes," which would suggest that he felt a twinge of doubt when he started out. 

And look how David's turned out! Not that I'm in his league, of course. If mine should turn out to be one-tenth as good as Dr. W's, I would be thrilled. The point is, if you want to start a blog, just start it--and pick up the pieces later. 

I've been fantasizing about putting together the perfect essay for an opening piece. Bullshit! If there's going to be a good piece, it will come when it comes. In the meantime, there's struggling with creating a new self--an expanded self. That's what I've concluded blogging--good blogging--is primarily about. 

Acknowledging Jeneane 
The possibility for creating a new self through blogging was opened up for me by Jeneane Sessum, who is my other primary source of inspiration. She and Dr. Weinberger had an exchange on this, which I presume got opened up when Dr.W asserted that "We are writing ourselves into existence on the Web. Together." This statement has since acquired a touch of renown and cachet--deservedly so--as a lot of blogs have been picking up on it. 

But it was Jeneane--a fabulous writer who goes straight to the soul--who really made it possible for me to see the opportunity for self-expansion that lay ahead if I would take the plunge into serious blogging. She was also incredibly gracious and supportive in responding to my fan email. As was David. Thanks so much guys. 

David's been shepherding a fabulous thread on voice and authenticity, which I won't attempt to recount--but here's a link to one of David's recapitulations. These discussions (is "discussion" the right word? "Blogthreading?" Do we need a new word?) . . . 

Anyway, David and his amazing "threadmates" have precipitated my thinking quite a bit about the subject of inventing the self. "Inventing the self" sounds at first blush like an act of vanity and deception--the antithesis of authenticity. I would assert that inventing the self is a supreme act of personal responsibility. You're either creating it and putting it out there or you're operating at default self--i.e., without authenticity. 

Default self is the sum of all that one has been. We tend to see this as what the self is, and it leaves us locked in to what we were. But true self, in my view, is created as a conscious act of existential will. And that's what I see as the promise of blogging. It feels uncomfortable at this point, but I'd really be down on myself if I didn't take it on. I may experience discomfort, but I sure as hell experience a lot more Aliveness when I'm wrestling with this attempt at self-creation. 

Jeneane has examined this phenomenon with far more clarity and written about it far more movingly than I could. Check her out. "


Monday, October 19, 2009

Serendipity From Larry Chase

I'm starting a feasibility analysis for a new marketing project and going through the usual gyrations about the best place to begin. With serendipitous timing, Larry Chase's newsletter shows up in my in-box today. Subject matter: "Competitive Intelligence Gathering." Perfect. Off we go.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Thank You Ralph

Here's a Wisconsin item that our normally reliable Dairyland correspondent, Frank Paynter, let slip by. We have to cut him a bit of slack, however. He was probably caught up in the excitement of being appointed an Honorary Fellow at the University of Wisconsin.

Ralph Stayer, founder and creator of the divine Johnsonville Brats, passed away the other day. Five years ago, when I was just getting my feet wet as a blogger, I blogged about my love for the Wisconsin brat, inspired by a piece by the late, great journalist, R.W. Apple.

Apple declared the Johnsonville the best of breed, and Paynter chimed in with his agreement.

RIP, Mr. Stayer. What I didn't realize about you was that, not only did you make the best brat of the lot ( a rhyme in case you don't know the correct pronunciation of this special concoction), you were responsible for bringing the brat into the American consciousness. Apparently, before you came along, the quality of sausage in this country was abominable.

Writing this post is making me drool. I am fantasizing about sitting on the deck of some brat joint along the shoreline of the pleasant lakeside town of Sheboygan, Johnsonville's home; then a drive through the bucolic countryside over to Frank's farm to watch him do his tractor jockey routine; then into Madison for seconds at the patio of State Street Brats.

(Follow the above Johnsonville link, btw, for some mouth-watering photos and great recipes).

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

A Luxury of Age

In my last post, some twelve days ago, I said the blog would be dark for the weekend while I attended my nephew's graduation from UCLA--and some family schmoozing afterward. The weekend turned in to nearly a fortnight as I decided on a whim to take some extra time off.

This is what you younger folks have to look forward to--the luxury of being able to make spontaneous choices like this. Ronni Bennett's great blog sports the tagline "what it's really like to get older." In my view, it's not so different from the other stages of life--in the sense that it has its own unique set of advantages and disadvantages.

So far, I'd say that getting older has a lot going for it, provided one can put one's anxiety aside about what the body's decline may portend in the not too distant future, and just enjoy the advantages that one's current situation is presenting.

Isn't it much the same dynamic as when you're young? There are plenty of things to be anxious about: what kind of career am I going to have? Will I find a mate? Will I be able to meet my financial needs? What will become of my social life as my friends scatter to the four corners of the earth? Etc, etc. You could get lost in the fear, or you could take advantage of all the wonderful things that youth enables.

So, if you'll excuse the philosophical digression, I'm back and hopefully will begin posting again on a regular basis. I'm trying hard not to fall into my previous lapses of extended silence.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Til Monday

I'm rushing off to the UCLA commencement for yet another family graduation (nephew Jason).
My laptop's in the shop, so Insiteview is dark until Monday. Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Remembering Venice

Many thanks to Renee Blodgett for her warm account today of a recent stop in Venice Beach. Of course, Renee's a pro and knows how to paint a picture. She also provides some actual pics as well. Good stuff. Her positive reactions to this wacky scene tell me she's an enlightened person. Not that we really needed any further evidence.

I sent Renee a comment of appreciation because she stirred up some fond memories for this grizzled blogger. As chance would have it, I actually discovered Venice Beach way back before it was discovered. We’re talking 1958—my god!—I was fresh out of the Army and wanted to spend some time as a misfit before heading off to college.

Back then, Venice was just a beach slum with cheap rents. The primary inhabitants were body-builders; homosexuals who needed an obscure place to hide out (this was way before Gay Pride); impoverished and elderly Old Country Jews wanting to end their days by the sea and this being the only affordable place to do so; plus a scattering of wannabee beatniks like myself. Then, gradually, the real beatniks discovered the place, and then the press discovered the beats, and then all hell broke loose—reporters, TV cameras, druggies, hangers-on, you name it.

But as her post so eloquently illustrates, the place managed to leverage its new visibility and land on its feet. It became better than it was—which almost never happens in the case of discovered places. The only down note is that nobody can afford to live there anymore.

Joy In Jackson - - June 14, 2003

Nobody's reading my "Anniversary Archives." Maybe the problem is the repetition of the title. I get too much enjoyment from re-publishing some of my posts from back in the early days, so I'm not going to give it up. I'll try just using the title--and date--of the original post.

So, to continue with my road saga, here's my post from exactly four years ago:
What a change Jackson was from the poverty by which we were surrounded just the day before. If you’re not a millionaire, forget it, Jack. Actually, they have a saying here: “The billionaires are driving out the millionaires.” My old Buddy, Ed, and his wife, Harriet, are two among a small and hardy group of non-millionaires who manage to squeak out an existence in this playground of the rich.

Not five minutes after we arrived, Ed, with the extra-keen observant sense of the pilot and writer that he sometimes is, pipes up with, I’ll bet you guys are in the mood for some good food.” Man, you go that right.

We piled into their SUV (naturally, everyone has one here) and drove north up the Hole for about fifteen minutes, straight toward the Grand Teton. We pulled up to a joint called Dornan’s and walked inside. There, curving behind the large L-shaped bar was an eight-foot high picture window with a backdrop so overwhelming that it almost made you faint when you entered the room. We were nearly at the base of the immense mountain, and the back-bar window perfectly framed it in its entirety. I could imagine becoming an alcoholic just by sitting at this bar and watching the color and light changes of the mountain throughout the span of entire days.

Oddly, only two people were at the bar. The reason soon became clear. The weather was pleasant and there was a large deck on the roof of the place with lots of tables. I’ve never had a lunch in a more spectacular setting. And to add to my pleasure, they must have flown in fresh romaine and other high-quality salad greens from California. I ordered a huge salad and vacuumed it up like a refugee from a concentration camp.

As day grew into evening, we gathered ‘round Ed’s dining room table for some barbecued lamb. Ed and I were tossing down vodka martinis and feeling no pain. Ed and Harriet’s son joined us and Ed uncorked some old Zinfandels that he’d been holding onto for just such an occasion. “No locals get this stuff,” he proclaimed. “Only my old drinking buddies.”

Needless to say, we were soon in our cups. Our respective sons got quite an earful as they listened to their glassy-eyed dads trading stories about the early days of drugs, rock, protest, etc. Then, feeling no pain themselves, they began to pitch in with stories of their own. It was a great bonding moment. When my sons were infants, I used to fantasize about someday being able to knock back some booze together and trade stories. Now it was actually happening and it was better than the fantasies.

Of course, we couldn’t look a drink in the face the next day and instead, rented North by Northwest. Jon had never seen it and we had just been to Mt, Rushmore, so it was the perfect choice. I’ve seen this flick at least six times and it holds up beautifully each time.

We got a good night’s sleep, bid a fond goodbye to our wonderful hosts, and set out for the final leg of our journey. In forty-eight hours, we would be eating California food again, sleeping in our own beds, and, in my case, enjoying the embraces of my dear and sorely missed wife.

On the Road—Postscript

I would be remiss if I closed out my road diaries without acknowledging my son Jonathan—my trusty shotgun rider, relief driver, and most importantly, disc jockey. Like most young people, Jon has one of those zippered binder CD holders that’s about as thick as five Sears catalogues. It was right under his feet throughout the entire trip. I revealed my out-of-it-ness by asking how he could afford so many CDs.

The dismissive reply was predictable: “Dad, nobody buys CDs anymore. Haven’t you heard of file-sharing and downloading?”

“Of course I have. I just haven’t spent any time thinking about it. I thought it was illegal or something.”

A shake of the young head and rolling of the eyes. End of conversation.

Happily, that was the only sour note. The lad’s collection was a revelation as well as another arena of filial bonding. It included the complete discography of The Doors, Led Zeppelin, and Credence Clearwater Revival, plus many of my favorites from The Rolling Stones, Dire Straits, and others. The father’s heart was gladdened by the son’s appreciation of formative rock and roll.

I’ve referred in earlier posts to the absence of a current generation gap in comparison to anything like the way it was in the Sixties. I’m sure that anyone of my generation will nod in recognition when I say that, when we were young, the notion of parent and child enjoying the same pop groups would have been about as likely as the two of them sharing a joint or hit of acid.

In addition, Jon introduced me to some really cool present-day stuff—e.g., Beck. Beck is well known, of course, and I’ve certainly heard of him. I even have a single of his on a Hank Williams tribute album. But I’ve never listened to his wider work. Like many deserving contemporary artists, he gets scant airplay in today’s corporatized, homogenized radio universe. Oldsters like me are thus left in the dark. How true it is that having kids helps keep you young!

Another introduction from Jon’s collection that I particularly enjoyed was Portishead. There were others—very hip DJ mixes, for example, about which I was completely ignorant. But the hipness and the intoxicating beats were a pleasant counterpoint to the many hours of highway boredom.

What really blew me away was when Jon whipped out both his Miles Davis collection and The Modern Jazz Quartet. I had no idea his eclecticism had expanded to this level! There’s nothing like the feeling of parental pride. I never proselytized my kids about my musical tastes. Jon came to Miles and MJQ on his own, and I was duly impressed.

So kudos to Jonathan. He made a long trip eminently enjoyable.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Anniversary Archives - - June 12, 2003

Jonathan and I continue westward . . . .

Wandering Onward

Leaving the dreary plains behind, Jon and I headed south out of Rapid City for the half-hour drive to the famed Mount Rushmore. It was worth the side trip. Much more imposing than the photos. I particularly enjoyed the fact that the high-ceilinged, glass-walled restaurant looking out onto the monument that was the scene of the fake shooting of Cary Grant by Eva Marie Saint in the Hitchcock classic, North by Northwest, was still intact. Jon had never seen the movie and I delighted in recounting the scene to him.

As I looked out onto the carved faces of the four prezes, I couldn’t help but see visions of Cary Grant attempting to rescue the divine Ms.Saint, and being pursued by bad guys as he scampers over the forbidding rocks in his Gucci loafers, dapper as ever, every hair in place, suit and tie perfectly pressed.

As we left the Black Hills, we descended into the utterly boring central plain of the immense and sparsely populated state of Wyoming. Wyoming has some of the world’s most gorgeous scenery, but in the middle of it are these huge, ugly flats, scarred by all sorts of excavations from things being ripped out from the underbelly—coal, lead, uranium, oil, gas, you name it. The poor buggers who do the dirty work are, of course, much poorer than the dirt they excavate. They drive forlorn, beat-up trucks and live in ramshackle towns that look almost like “third-world” countries.

We can be sure, though, that the folks for whom they’re doing the digging are making out just fine. One of these would be Dick Cheney. As we drove through Casper, the Veep’s hometown, we passed The Casper Petroleum Club, and I thought to myself, “that sonovabitch was a big oil guy from the beginning.”

At day’s end, we reached Indian country—the Wind River Valley, home of the Shoshone and Arapaho—and bedded down for the night. Unlike some of the Indian country of New Mexico, there was no haute cuisine here, to be sure. Just a lot of grinding poverty.

Next morning, we headed up the valley toward Jackson Hole—one of the most spectacular drives to be found anywhere. As you leave the sandstone bluffs of the valley and climb into the mountains, you gradually rise to nearly ten thousand feet. Even though it was now June, the snow was thick, the alpine air unbelievably refreshing, and the views eye-popping.

Then--descending on the western side of the pass, the moment we were waiting for. The great valley floor of Jackson Hole came into view, with the mighty Grand Tetons thrusting skyward on the far side of the Hole, rising abruptly, thousands of feet straight up from the valley with no foothills to impede the view. What a sight! Surely one of the geographical wonders of the world.

We were on our way to the resort town of Jackson to spend a couple of days with my old college buddy, Ed Minczeski. Good food, drink, vibes, and story telling, in the midst of majestic scenery, were about to be ours. . . . (to be continued)

Monday, June 11, 2007

Anniversary Archives - - June 11, 2003

OK, time for the next installment of my '03 road trip with son Jonathan.

Before inserting the re-publish, however, I have to add my two cents about last night's ending of The Sopranos. Opinions are all over the lot--which is probably just as David Chase intended it. Once again, he proved himself to be the master of multi-texturism.

David Weinberger asks: "Am I the only person who liked it?" Definitely not, David. I thought it was ingenious. I'll leave it to critics Tim Goodman and Alessandra Stanley to convey what I felt. I'm in complete synch with their observations, and I heartily recommend reading them.

Now, let's get back on the road, four years ago:

The Fat of the Land

Before setting out across six hundred miles of tedious prairie, Jon and I decided to settle in for the night in the old meatpacking town of Austin, Minn—the birthplace of the real Spam, the home of Hormel and one of the bitterest, most notorious strikes in American history.

Next morning, over a truly crappy breakfast in a restaurant in which we were the only non-obese people in the entire place, we realized that, not only did we have hours and hours of boring, treeless, windswept landscape ahead of us, we were also not likely to see a good meal again until we crossed into California (with the exception of Jackson Hole about which more later). Nor were we likely to see many bodies of normal size.

Each time I find myself back in the heartland, it seems to get worse. The food seems to get more and more tasteless and toxic, and the inhabitants more and more rotund. How can the food be so bad—and so bad for you, I wonder, in the middle of one of the richest agricultural areas in the world?

It is said that the reason France has the best cuisine in the world is because the country is blessed with prime agricultural riches. Why doesn’t the same logic hold true here? Why is the food so unappealing, so unhealthy, so fat-producing?

Not trusting the accuracy of my memory, I double-checked with someone of my own age. “When we were kids,” I inquired, “weren’t the folks from the farmlands the ones who were hearty and lean? Wasn’t the food fresh and wonderful? Or am I just fantasizing?”

“No, no,” he replied. “Your memory is just fine. That’s exactly how it used to be.”

The culprit, obviously, is the corporatization of agriculture, food processing, and food service, plus the inability of today’s families to find the time to prepare good meals and sit down together for a healthy meal. Yes, the same time constraints exist in the large cities of the two coasts, but people have the discretionary income—plus the influence of foreign cultures—to buy and demand good food in their groceries and restaurants. Most of today’s farm families have to have a job in town to make ends meet. They may be growing food for others, but they only have the time and money for fast food crapola.

Each time we stopped somewhere during our prairie crossing, it made me sad to look at the people and recall the way they used to look out here when I was a lad. The richest country in the world, and our people are going to pot physically.

I needed to get my mind off of this sadness. Fortunately, as the sun drooped closer to the western horizon, the welcome sight of hills began to appear. We were getting near prairie’s end and close to a complete change of scenery—the gorgeous Black Hills.

The culture and appearance of the towns had changed from Midwestern to Western. We checked in for the night in Rapid City to rest up for the next morning’s jaunt into Mount Rushmore and a refreshing new landscape. The good food, however, would have to wait for a while longer …. (to be continued)

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The Agony of Anticipation

It's downright agonizing waiting for tonight's final episode of the greatest dramatic series in the history of television, i.e., The Sopranos. There's the agony of the suspense about how David Chase decides to bring this to an end. Will it be memorable? A legendary hour in and of itself? A letdown? A whimper? A bang? What will be resolved? Or will all be left unresolved? Chase is fully capable of leaving it all up in the air.

Then there's the agony of knowing that it ends forever. I'll probably be dead before anything this good comes along again. Well, in a couple of years, I'll get the DVD's, and start from the beginning, one episode per week, and re-live the pleasure all over again.

Of course, speculation about tonight's finale has been flying all over every form of media. My favorite comes from the blogosphere's own David Weinberger.

Up, Then Down

The first thing greeting me on my blog feeds today was the return of alembic, Maria Benet's superb blog. I've been missing her voice. But the thrill was soon dashed upon reading what she had to say.

There's a lot of mean, crass commercialism going on in today's blog scene, and I've been bitching about it in my crude way for some time. But Maria's abilities at word-smithing far eclipse mine. In her usual poetic fashion she expresses the melancholy that I feel but haven't been able to articulate.

I've been trying to combat the melancholy by my attempts, however feeble, to revive this blog and keep it going. Whether I can manage to keep it up, it's too early to say. Blogging's not nearly so much fun, at least for me, when you've lost most of your audience.

On the one hand, there's the view of people like Frank and Syaffolee who say, "So what? Writing's what it's about, and writing has always been a solitary activity." Then there's the view, expressed to me in person by Dervala, "Just keep putting it out there. People will find you."

Well, they used to. But the atmosphere is so different now, I'm not so sure. Yes, the buzzards will find you, as they've found Maria, apparently. She's disgusted, disheartened. Says she may take down the whole thing, domain, archives, the lot.

Say it ain't so, Maria.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Anniversary Archives - - June 9, 2002

It's that time of year when baseball starts to creep into the consciousness and cast it's dreamy summer spell. So it's appropriate to insert this piece from five years ago in between the road trip dispatches which I began re-publishing yesterday.

I tend to lose my non-sporting fan audience (which, somehow, seems to be the majority) when I lapse into these kinds of posts, but so be it. Well, maybe long-suffering Yankees fan, Dean Landsman, will enjoy it since it has a connection to the storied Yankee past.

Speaking of Dean, btw, I want to correct something I forgot to do--i.e., thank him for the great post about the fortieth anniversary of the release of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Band. If you were around at the time, I'll bet that you remember exactly where you were and what you were doing the first time you heard it.

It had that kind of impact, which is probably difficult for younger people to relate to after being subjected for so many years to rip-off albums--the one or two-hit wonders which are now going the way of the typewriter. Who gives a rat's ass anymore about an album release? We can just put our own mixes together, thanks to technology.

But back in '67, and for a few years thereafter, some albums were put together with integrity, as works of art in themselves--and Sgt. Pepper broke the ground. I totally agree with Dean on some of the other albums he mentioned that fall in that category, although I think there are two that he left out: Deja Vu, by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young; and The Band.

So here's my piece from this day in 2002:
Forty Years To Yankee Stadium

The San Francisco Giants are in Yankee Stadium this weekend. It's taken forty years to make the trip. The last time they were there was the memorable World Series of 1962.

It's a nostalgic turn for me. 1962--forty years ago this month I picked up my degree, bid a fond farewell to my beloved Indiana U, packed up my '55 two-tone green-and-cream Chevy Bel Air, and headed west to the city by the Bay.

It was a magical season for the Giants. Come October, they were fighting it out tooth-and-nail with the fearsome Yankees. What a Series it was! A plethora of future Hall-of -Famers--Mays, Mantle, McCovey, Cepeda, Marichal, Ford, Maris, Berra. Every game a close battle.

The city was having one of its wettest Octobers on record. Play was suspended for three or four days in a row as the skies emptied. The Yanks were forced to cool their heels in their hotel.

But Mantle and Ford, notorious carousers, with time on their hands in a fun-loving, hard-drinking town were in their element. No hanging around the hotel for them. The newspapers had a field day reporting their bar-room exploits.

We thought we'd win the Series because these two super-stars would be too messed up from boozing and whoring. Well, they don't call'em super-stars for nothing. Their bodies and hearts are a size or two stronger than mere mortals, and their play didn't suffer a bit. When the skies finally dried up, the Yanks went on to beat us by a fingernail on the last play of the last inning of the seventh game.

The current meeting going on in NY is worthy of the tradition. Close, exciting, superbly played games with capacity crowds on hand. Let's hope when October rolls around, we'll see a rematch of 1962.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Anniversary Archives - - June 8, 2003

Four years ago today, I began a cross-country trip with my youngest son, Jonathan. This is the first installment in a series of five dispatches from that road trip. Makes me want to go jump in the car right now and head out to the open spaces. . . . .

Farewell Wisconsin

I owe Frank Paynter—and fellow Madisonite, Dorothea Salo—my regrets as I was actually in their fair burg but made no contact with them. Apologies, guys, but I was in and out in less than 24 hours, and was bustling about the whole time.

It’s too bad, because Frank, after breakfasting in Madison with me this winter, had suggested a spring or summertime visit to his farm for a barbecue. We’ll have to take a rain check, Frank. Keep the briquettes glowing and I’ll keep the brewskis iced, although I guess that’ll be for my lonesome as you don’t imbibe anymore. And maybe we can drag Dorothea and David out there. Have you guys gotten around to meeting yet? If not, too bad. Seems to me that you would have a lot in common—techie-talk, all-around smarts, sharp wit, writing talent, and disdain for the establishment.

Anyway, I was in Madison to help my son, Jonathan, pack up and bid goodbye to the beer halls and cannabis pads of this venerable college town. He had had no luck in finding someone to share the trip west, so I decided to inject myself as the co-traveler. The lad was duly appreciative, I’m happy to say.

The timing was right. I had been ready to unload our second car—an aging sedan—and buy a small hatchback. I also hadn’t taken a cross-country auto trip in many years, and that was something that I wanted to experience again.

When good ol’ Southwest Airlines came up with an irresistibly low fare to Chicago on one of their periodic 24-hour-take-it-or-lose-it specials, I decided to roll the dice, buy the ticket, and see if I could make an attractive car purchase over the Internet in the Chicago or Wisconsin area. Then, if the plan worked, I would pick up the car, get Jon, and head west.

My gamble worked out just fine. I got a great deal on a Matrix—a sporty new mini-wagon from Toyota. It’s on a Corolla frame, gets great mileage, yet has lots of cargo space—plus a very jazzy interior. I couldn’t be more pleased.

I purchased the car from CarMax, a giant super-store operation with a large and active Internet division—featuring extra-low prices with no-haggle pricing. What a great way to buy a car compared to the bad old days of grinding it out with obnoxious salesmen and layers of sales managers and F & I (finance and insurance) hucksters.

Everything is done by Net, phone and fax. When you show up, a friendly, no-pressure guy or gal in pleasing polo shirt is there to run you through the car’s operation, give you the keys, and send you on your way. About a fifteen-minute proposition. It’s no wonder that the old-line, Neanderthals of the motor trade are falling by the wayside. They will not be missed.

Since the car needed to be broken in at lower speeds and varied RPMs, we decided to cross the state on two-lane roads. We followed the bucolic Wisconsin River Valley to its mouth-the bluffs where the first white man, Father Jacques Marquette, laid eyes on the Mighty Mississippi in 1673—at Prairie du Chien. Then we went up alongside the great river for a couple of hours to La Crosse, where we enjoyed a final Wisconsin microbrew and pleasant dinner before bidding a fond goodbye to the Badger State.

The drive along the great river was something I had always wanted to do, but never had. I wasn’t disappointed. If we hadn’t had a schedule to keep, I would have been content to have ambled up one side of the river and down the other for days, enjoying the majestic vistas, staying in the quaint river towns, sipping brews in the old waterfront taverns, watching the river traffic float by, and fantasizing about all the history that’s gone up and down this great waterway.

But, alas, it was time to point the car westward. We crossed the wide, wide waters and ventured into southern Minnesota. After a thirty-mile belt of lovely, forested river bluffs, the endless prairie was about to begin. . . . (to be continued)

Thursday, June 07, 2007

More Around and About
  • As I struggle to get hip to the new Social Web phenomenon, today's column in the NYTimes by Michelle Slatalla, one my favorite voices of irony, strikes a special chord--and a few funny bones to boot.
  • The good stuff never stops pouring out of Ronni Bennett's Time Goes By. Today, she points us to a delightful road trip blog from her old friend, Kent McKamy.
As I commented to Ronni, being introduced to kentsusdrive is personally serendipitous because tomorrow, in my Anniversary Archives, I will be re-publishing the first of a five-part account of my own cross-country jaunt with my son back in '03.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Around and About
  • If you want to get an inside view of the recently concluded D5 Conference, Rennee Blodgett's blog is the place to go. Of course, you could read D5's official blog, but it's a lot more fun--and revealing--to be given a virtual seat at the table. Nice job, Renee! Thanks for sharing your vantage point with us.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Catching Up

After my recent long absence from the blogosphere, I've been starting to re-visit some old favorites--one of which is Syaffolee.

Sya ( a pseudonym) is both a budding scientist and a blogger who fits the parameters about real bloggers being writers (as expressed by Frank Paynter and expanded upon by Ronni Bennett).

She's one of those rare right brain-left brain combos, a trait that always amazes me. (Shelley Powers and Maria Benet are two other examples who spring to mind). (btw, where are you, Maria? Is it hypocritical to ask given all my own disappearances)?

I'm glad that, despite the rigors and abuses of graduate school, Sya has managed to keep on blogging, and hasn't lost that wonderful, understated, sardonic humor that so often floats through her posts. Actually, come to think of it, it's probably what keeps her going.

Take, for instance, yesterday's post in which she remarks on the strictures about something as impractical as writing in the culture of her family of origin: "And writing! Even science has more cachet than writing. When I told my Mom that I sold two short stories, her response was, 'Don't abandon your studies.' "

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Lunch With Hillary

If you want a little more perspective on politicians than you'll find in the usual media gloss-overs, read a blogger--a really good one, that is, like Glennia Campbell of the Silent I.

Glennia managed to come by an invite to Hillary's luncheon speech over in Palo Alto the other day, and gives an informative and insightful, first-hand and up-close account. Definitely worth a visit.

I've been sensing that Hillary may be picking up some steam. Maybe it's more a case of Obama beginning to sound a bit more ordinary. In any event, Glennia, like me, has been harboring her doubts about the former First Lady, and sheds some interesting light on why our well-traveled blogger could eventually be changing her mind.

Who's Left?

It seems that even the right is going south on Georgie Boy. Thanks to Sheila Lennon for the pointer to Peggy Noonan's comments in the Wall Street Journal, a portion of which I repeat here:

The president has taken to suggesting that opponents of his immigration bill are unpatriotic--they "don't want to do what's right for America."

Opponents of the Iraq war have been slammed as unpatriotic and dismissed, too -- and that's a majority of Americans.

With the left gone, and the right going, who's left?

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A Peacock Moment

Well, I'm puffed out a bit with pride today as Ronni Bennett has added one of my stories to her terrific new blog, The Elder Storytelling Place.

It's actually a post from by blog written back in the spring of '03, when I had just returned from meeting super-blogger Denise Howell for the first time. Ronni and I were exchanging emails in which one of the topics was about how forging blogging connections provided an effective tonic for the loneliness of retirement--or isolation in general, for that matter.

As an illustration of the positive experience of meeting someone whose blogging you admired, and with whom you had struck on online connection, I pointed Ronni to that old post. Ronni said it would make a good addition to the series of stories she's been posting, so here we are.

Thanks again, Ronni, for putting this new site together. You're a trooper!

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Anniversary Archives - - May 29, 2002

Having just posted about Elaine's possible departure from the blogosphere, it's serendipitous that what popped up in my archives for today's date was a pointer to Frank Paynter's interview of Elaine--one of the first in his wonderful series of exchanges from that period with bloggers of note.

The Interviews link on Frank's blog unfortunately shows only a handful of these. They're gems. I wonder why he never put up the complete list? (Disclaimer: it's a selfish wish on my part since I have the honor of being one of the interviewees).

Anyway, here's the link again to Frank's interview of Elaine. Highly recommended.

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