Separated at birth?

It seems to be the Season of the Blowhard. Look who’s grabbing headlines on the sports page and the front page:

RexRyan Trump






On the one hand, we have Rex Ryan. Erstwhile failure coach of the New York Jets, subsequently hired by a rival team in the AFC East. Now he’s the failure coach of the Buffalo Bills. Why would the Bills hire this guy who is a proven failure? Because he sells tickets and that’s what the game is all about – not wins and losses but dollars and cents. Ownership knew he’d publicly obsess over trying to beat the Patriots, rant and rave about how it’s someone else’s fault when they lose, and generally be quotable. If they’re lucky, there will be some foot fetish humor thrown in for good measure. He doesn’t have to be a success as a coach as long as he’s a media celebrity.

Sure enough, Ryan has gotten plenty of coverage in the sports pages, though precious little success on the field. Six weeks into the season and his players are already rebelling, questioning his coaching. In his absence, the New York Jets are having their best start in years. Coincidence? Yeah, right.

Then there’s The Donald. Nobody in their right mind could possibly want this clown representing the USA to the world. His candidacy is a joke. He’ll say or do something stupid and implode as all joke candidates do. Then it’s feast time for political pundits, talking heads, and editorial cartoonists and the scrap heap for Kombover King.

It’s happened before. Poor Howard Dean got bounced just for screaming, “yeeaahhh!” Who remembers 1988? Gary Hart’s libido and his aptly named boat, “Monkey Business” sank his quest for the presidency. That same year, Pat Robertson finished in front of George H. W. Bush in the Iowa caucuses. Everyone thought he was a serious candidate. He wasn’t. Neither is Trump.

As far as I can tell, Ryan and Trump are twins separated at birth (16 years apart). There’s no “there” there. Their value is purely as entertainment, which works great since that’s what most news is these days. All it takes is a buffoon or other freak frothing at the mouth and the video truck will cling to them like a remora, waiting for a juicy news bite.

Come to think of it, I’ve never seen those two together. Hmmmm…

Look closely

Whenever the subject of book tours is brought up in the company of writers, they all talk about how much they dread them. The travel, the repetitive questions, the crowds or the absence of them. I can’t imagine why they don’t enjoy the experience. If I had a book tour, believe me, I’d make the most of it. Easy to say since the prospect is slim for me. I can always dream.

If it’s any consolation to those jaded scribes, I enjoy hearing author presentations of any kind. The standard format is to have the authors read excerpts from their work then endure a line of dozens, perhaps hundreds, of autograph hounds. Serious RSI potential.

One of my favorite writers, Mark Helprin, did the signing thing but declined to read from his book, claiming that there were only a few great actors in the world and there was no way he could do his prose justice with his weak performance skills. There’s a lot of truth in what he said. What’s the point in hearing him read his own stuff anyway? Usually, I’ve already read it. If I’m there, I’m probably a fan so he doesn’t have to sell me on the book.

Instead of reading, Helprin described fascinating, often bizarre experiences he’d had. Not surprising, since his books are filled with such occurrences. He concluded his talk by urging his readers to follow his example by keeping our eyes open to the amazing things that happen around us all the time. (That’s heavily paraphrased. My addled memory can’t recall his exact words and my comparatively pathetic prose can’t come anywhere near his lofty standard.)

In the spirit of his admonition, and my unwillingness to devote too much time to this post in the face of deadlines and exhaustion, I present some photos of things I’ve observed in recent months. Since each is worth 1,000 words, this could be my longest post of all.

Enjoy, but then go out and have your own experiences.

I saw these two buses drive off a ferry recently. Which one would you prefer to ride, “Elite” or “Lamers”?

IMG_20150917_112917463_HDR IMG_20150917_113050820





This is what’s called a “no-brainer”. Who’s the marketing wizard who came up with “Lamers” for a name? It’s almost certainly a person’s name – a person who put his (or her) ego before the company’s best interests.

This guy was giving away ice cream in downtown Boston. I love this town!

This guy was giving away ice cream in downtown Boston. I love this town!

A visitor on the bike path. Is it any wonder I spend as much time on it as possible?

A visitor on the bike path. Is it any wonder I spend as much time there as possible?

What's cooler than the front porch of a general store?

What’s cooler than hanging out on the front porch of a general store? Especially Alley’s. (Martha’s Vineyard)

There’s something inspiring about these two trees seeming to grow out of nothing but rock. (Acadia National Park)