Category Archives: etc.

The original Bernstein moment

One of the greatest moments in any movie, ever. And it only takes about a minute.

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Casino Royale with cheese

So I just get finished going back over some research into Atlantic City during its golden Nucky Johnson era, and I overhear a conversation in which an old lady talks about getting hit with a mobility scooter while she was waiting on line at the new Revel casino.

Peaches and cream, baby.

I want to write a James Bond script in which 007 tries to play bacarat at an Atlantic City casino and gets run down by an old lady on a Medicare moped. After that parkour chase at the start of Casino Royale, they need to take their stunt work in a new direction. Rosa Klebb on a mobility scooter — that would just rock.

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Surf and turf

Since Island Beach State Park is one of my favorite stretches of the Jersey shore, I’ve noticed that an awful lot of untamed nature has been going on there. First there was a sighting of a 12-foot Big G in June, and now here’s this video of a feeding frenzy that actually came within the surf line. My first thought was that they wanted the new Blu-Ray of Jaws (which I wouldn’t mind getting, either) but they were dining on menhaden, which is already a popular bait fish — I guess the sharks decided to cut out the middleman and eat ’em before they became bait. The sharks in question were apparently browns and sand tigers. Not species that are usually dangerous to people, but you wouldn’t have wanted to be swimming when this buffet rush started.

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A Saturday smile

Mitt Romney. With Paul Ryan as his running mate. Ho. Lee. Smoke.

The Democrats have proved themselves past masters at the art of plucking defeat from the jaws of victory. But not even Cass Sunstein could show them how to blow this one.

And to think I was in a bad mood this morning. 

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Dumb clucks

So, Mike Huckabee has ordained that today is Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day? Cool! I’ll order a pizza.

While it’s certainly refreshing to see American conservatives showing an awareness of, much less a concern for, any Constitutional amendment besides the second one,  I’m afraid the chicken wingers lining up outside those hen-hacking stations are, as per usual, not just missing the point but strenuously avoiding it.

Nobody is disputing the right of the company’s president, Dan Cathy, to say that legalizing same-sex marriages opens America up to God’s wrath. Goodness gracious, no — in fact, I encourage him to speak his mind freely. He can take his place alongside Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, and Osama bin Laden on the executive board of the “America Had It Coming On 9/11” club. Ditto his use of company profits to support anti-gay hate groups. Speak up, fella. Let everybody know what a bigoted creep you are, and decide if they want to help by spending money on your crummy food. 

The First Amendment enshrines the right to express all sorts of opinions. What it doesn’t do is mandate that others agree with those opinions. If Dan Cathy wants to pretend his hatred is an expression of Christian love, he is free to do so, just as I am free to ridicule him as a medieval-minded loon. I am also free to share with others my contempt for his degraded notions, and ask them if they want to give their bucks to creepy clucks.

So speak your mind, Dan Cathy, I say. And take comfort from the fact that I have no wish to give my mockery the force of law. Would that the same were true for you and your bigotry.  

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Bridges of sighs

Apparently the Golden Gate Bridge is, along with being one of the most awe-inspiringly beautiful things ever constructed, a choice place for suicide jumpers. This fact has sparked a rather macabre series of posts at Andrew Sullivan’s site in which readers list other bridges favored by suicides. So let me offer my own tidbit: the Donald and Morris Goodkind Bridges that span the Raritan River in Middlesex County, New Jersey. Not only do they attract a fair number of jumpers, but their status has been certified by an appearance in the first season of The Sopranos — specifically, the episode “Nobody Knows Anything,” in which a crooked detective (John Heard) opts to kill himself before he can be prosecuted and disgraced. I’m sure the location was chosen quite deliberately: The Sopranos was usually very astute in its use of New Jersey scenery. We’ll just pass in silence over that “Pine Barrens” episode that was (a) shot in upstate New York, in (b) an area largely devoid of pine trees.

The reason the bridges serve such a grim purpose isn’t hard to see: the steel Donald Goodkind Bridge, which carries traffic south into New Brunswick, has a low railing and a relatively wide sidewalk that offers easy access. (Ironically, the Donald Goodkind Bridge’s wide footpath makes it one of the few safe places to walk along Route 1, and venturesome moviegoers use it to reach the AMC Loews megillaplex on the New Brunphuss side.) The concrete arch Morris Goodkind Bridge, which carries traffic north into Edison, is far less accommodating to pedestrians; the footpath is all but impassable, and walking the narrow shoulder would be an equally effective way to kill oneself.

There’s actually a charming backstory to the naming of the bridges. The concrete span, built for two-way traffic in 1929, was designed by Morris Goodkind, an engineer with the New Jersey Department of Transportation. The steel span, built in 1974, was designed by Goodkind’s son, Donald. The father-and-son designations were approved many years later. 

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Letter to a young weasel

You’ve probably seen this video of Karen Klein, the school bus monitor being teased and insulted past the point of human endurance by a bunch of middle schoolers in upstate New York. Like me, you probably felt a little nauseous watching the thing. You probably also wanted to see the bullies punished in ways even the Taliban might consider inhumane:

Since the video became to talk of the nation, well-wishers have donated over a half-million dollars to a fund for Karen Klein, officials of the Greece Central School District are talking about disciplinary measures, and two of the four kids have apologized, though not in person. Apparently these faux badasses who could spend ten minutes vomiting filth at an elderly woman lack the stones to look her in the face and say they’re sorry. Why am I not surprised?

They certainly are a sorry bunch, and since Karen Klein seems to be taking her unwilling media celebrity with plenty of poise, I find myself imagining how the parents must feel. Sure, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and all that, but any parent knows there are moments when one’s child can do something horrifyingly out of character. And I’ve seen other children who behaved like disgusting creeps at a young age but matured into apparently decent and interesting young people.

What would I say to one of my kids in this situation? I would want to say something like this:


You picked on an old lady and made her cry. You looked at a woman old enough to be your grandmother, a woman with tragedy in her past, and the only thing you could think to do was make her life as shitty as possible. I spent years raising you, taking care of you, wrapping you in love and good things, trying to show you the best in the world, and this is what you did with it. I look at that video and hear the cruelty in those voices and I don’t recognize the child I raised. I wonder who you really are. I wonder if I really want to know.

Are you proud of all this?

The woman has said she doesn’t believe the apologies she’s heard, and I don’t blame her. She heard the vile way you talk when you think you can get away with it. Now, when you’re out in the open and everyone is watching, you say nice things and offer an apology. It’s nothing but a lot of words. I wouldn’t believe them, either.

The bad news is that nothing you say will redeem yourself in her eyes. There is some good news, though. Not much, but enough for us to work with. And you need to work on this.

You can get better. You don’t have to be a smirking creep your whole life. Learn good things, and do them. Improve yourself. Next time, instead of joining in with the weasels, you be the one who tells them to stop. Watch that video and memorize it. Whenever you find yourself sounding like that again, stop and go the other way. And while you’re learning to do this, I’ll be asking myself some hard questions, too. Did I do anything, model some kind of behavior, that made you think this was an acceptable way to act? But you’re old enough to bear responsibility for the things you do and the things you become. If you’re going to be any kind of man at all, you have to do better than this.

You may never again have that woman’s respect, but if you do things right, you may eventually deserve that respect.

Start now.

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The egg cream challenge

Lou Reed sings the praises of the most perfect summer drink that doesn’t contain alcohol. (The one with alcohol would be a Dark’N’Stormy, or a gin and tonic.) Unfortunately, the only place in my immediate area that still knows how to make a real egg cream is Magnifico’s, on Route 18 North in East Brunswick, N.J. They understand that an egg cream starts with seltzer and syrup. If the workers at an ice cream joint ask you what kind of soda you want, change your order, because an egg cream made with Coke or root beer ain’t an egg cream.

So, what happens when people want an egg cream in some other part of the country? Feel free to list your egg cream connection in the comments field. Next time I’m traveling, I want to know if there are any options if I’m suddenly stricken with the unquenchable thirst for an egg cream.


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Where geekery meets politics

Click here if you don’t get it. I trust the Mitt Romney connection is already obvious. For the record, I really am interested in seeing Tom Hardy’s performance as Bane in The Dark Knight Rises. With The Dark Knight, Christopher Nolan set a pretty high standard for all subsequent Batman villains.

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A Conservative Martyr is Born, or Soooooo-weeee! Time to Top up the Trough!

In today’s Good Riddance to Bad Rubbish news, conservative political hack Karen Handel has quit the Susan G. Komen Foundation because of the continuing firestorm over its decision to cut funding to Planned Parenthood — a move she spearheaded, according to HuffPo. Ms. Handel announced her departure with the clouds of squid-ink that usually darken the waters whenever a winger gets spooked by the spotlight.

What does it mean? Here comes another piglet for the Wingnut Welfare trough, that’s what it means. What’ll it be next for our Ms. Handel? A ghost-written book of recycled whining that becomes a bulk-order bestseller? A weekly column for WingNutDaily? A cozy sinecure at an unflushed think tank? Conservatives love their make-believe martyrs, and we haven’t heard the last from this one.

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