Monday, March 19, 2018

Oh, goody, the Winklevoss twins are back!

I must say, I do spend quite a bit of time contemplating The Big Questions. Sometimes, the questions are one-shots:

Why did the a-hole in the SUV, turning on a red light from the second outer lane on Arlington (not from the lane that comes with the right hand turn arrow, which at the moment of offense had a red light) into a crosswalk with a walk sign on Comm Ave – you know, the woman staring fixedly into the smartphone she was holding up – give me the stink-eye when I yelled at her for almost hitting me. I am a practiced jaywalker, so I know enough to look when I’m doing anything pedestrian-y, even if what I’m doing is 100% legal and 100% MY right-of-way. So, that’s the kind of one-shot Big Question I tend to ponder

Then there are the semi-recurring questions, as in:

Who the f bags up a dog poop and leaves it on the front steps of a building that’s not even theirs, especially when there’s a trash can less than 5 seconds walk away. (Variation on a theme: Starbucks cup, beer can, pizza box…) I know I live on a well-traveled main drag, but still, that trash can is seconds away. It’s your trash. How about you dispose of it, not me.

Not to mention the really Big Questions, the Mega Philosophical Questions:

Why? Why me? What for? How?

I also have a somewhat unique Big Question category, and that is Big Questions related to the Winklevoss twins:

Why? Why them? What for? How?

Would the idea of these guys be so amusing if they had a name like Gates or Buffett or Sergei Brin, rather than a name like Winklevoss?

Okay. You can’t help what your name is. And more than once I’ve wished for a surname a bit less boring than Rogers. But Winklevoss? This is just a funny name. A winkle. Sounds like a tiny little something-or-other. Like a tiny little sea snail. Oh, that’s because it is. Or, in an alternative meaning: extract or obtain something with difficulty. "I swore I wasn't going to tell her, but she winkled it all out of me.”

And that voss part? Low German for fox.

So a Winklevoss is a foxy little sea snail? Or someone who extracted a fox with difficulty?

Anyway, Winklevoss is something of a smile-on-the-face name, no?

Then there’s the fact that they always appear in tandem, leading to the question:

Would this connected at the hip thing seem less weird if they were regular old brothers, rather than twins?

There are, of course, other questions about the Winklevoss, and you may be asking the biggest of them all.

Who are they?

As those who saw The Social Network, the movie about Facebook, know, the Winklevoss twins were the prepped out fellows who claimed that Mark Zuckerberg stole their idea. They sued Zuckerberg and ended up with $65 million, which is several orders of magnitude removed from Zuckerberg’s wealth, which is $75 billion. In the movie, their big scene is when they go whinging off to the office of the president of Harvard to complain about their not-so-prepped out classmate who ripped them off. (As I recall, the president of Harvard just about laughed in their twin faces. He may even have called them douches. But that may have just been a thought cloud.)

That was then, and $65 million is only relative chump change, so the Winklevoss brothers (a.k.a, the Winklevi) have been able to eke out a modest existence as venture capitalists. And, hoping not to get screwed out of the big payday again, some of their venturing capitalism has focused on the bitcoin world. Because if an online platform where most of the users share pictures of their grandkids or run contests for the next flavor of Dorito turns into $75 billion, how much might a big old tulip-bulb of a disruptor like bitcoin be worth some day.

Seemingly (at least according to Wikpedia), bitcoin has yet to deliver the success of their dreams (and Zuckerberg’s living reality). Their dabbling has been a decidedly mixed bag (emphasis mine):

The twins' company, Math-Based Asset Services LLC, filed to register a bitcoin-based exchange-traded fund called Winklevoss Bitcoin Trust in 2013. The fund was denied in March 2017.

In 2013, the twins led a $1.5 million in seed funding of BitInstant, a bitcoin payment processor. However, in January 2014,Charlie Shrem, CEO of BitInstant, was arrested and charged with money laundering related to the Silk Road online black market investigation. The brothers said they were passive investors in the company.

In 2014, the twins launched Winkdex, a financial index that tracks the price of bitcoin. The index uses data from seven exchanges, weighed based on the daily trading volume of each exchange.

In March 2014, it was announced that the twins had purchased seats on Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic shuttle using the profits they had made from bitcoin

In October 2015, Gemini, the twins' Bitcoin exchange, received approval to launch from the New York State Department of Financial Services. The exchange is targeted at both first-time users and professional traders.

And now they’re looking to:

…create the Virtual Commodity Association, a self-regulatory organization meant to police digital-currency markets and custodians. The non-profit group would aim to develop industry standards, promote transparency and work with regulators including the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission to prevent fraud. (Source: Bloomberg)

God knows that mondo bitcoin could use some regulating. And a Commodity Futures Trading Commission commissioner, Brian Quintenz, has given the Winklevi a shout out:

“I congratulate Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss on their energetic leadership and thoughtful approach in outlining a virtual commodity self-regulatory organization (SRO) concept,” he said.

I’m sure I’m piling on here, especially given that I’m sure there have been plenty of times when my name has been coupled with a sib, and our last name used just once. But “Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss” sounds like they should be a married couple, not two professionals in business together. Wouldn’t Cameron Winklevoss and Tyler Winklevoss be a more serious way to refer to them?

But I’m sure that I’m being a complete and utter nitpicker here. Leading to the Big Question:

Why am I such a nitpicker?

And, of course, a final Big Question:

Will the bitcoin market, as currently constituted, explode or implode before the Winklevoss twins have the opportunity to regulate it?

So many deep thoughts, so little time…

Friday, March 16, 2018

“A Little Bit of Heaven…”

I have been at this blogging thing for a good long time. Long enough to have accumulated eleven posts that talk about St. Patrick’s Day, which all blather on about being an Irish American, what’s going on in Ireland, or whatever pops into my mind as this day approaches

What’s popping into my mind on this, the day before St. Patrick’s Day, is that, tomorrow evening. I’ll be leaving on a jet plane. And not just any old jet plane. An Aer Lingus jet plane. Heading for Ireland.

It will be an odd little trip.

One evening in the town my great-grandparents Trainor hailed from. A couple of nights in Dublin. A couple of nights in Galway.

I will no doubt be doing a post or two on the trip, but those won’t show up for another week or so. Next week’s Pink Slip schedule is stacked already.

So today I’m packing. And charging my Kindle. Making sure I have everything that needs to be printed out printed out. Making notes to myself to remember to pack my laptop.

I will be drinking a cup of Barry’s Tea. The better to wash down a slab of soda bread slathered with Kerry Gold Butter.

But, since I have so many oldies but goodies that cover St. Patrick’s Day and American Irish-ism, I won’t be spending any time coming up with a new angle on the day.

They’re all pretty good, but I think my fave is You Say Potato, which also includes the recipe for the world’s best Irish soda bread.

2017: Faith & Begorrah

2016: Kiss Me, I’m Half Irish

2015: The Wearin’ O The Green

2014: St. Patricks’ Day 2014

2013: The Ides of St. Patrick’s Day”

2012: Answering Ireland’s CallI

2011: St. Patrick’s Day 2011

2010: St. Paddy’s Day No More We’ll Keep.

2009: Irish Eyes Not So Smiling These Days.

2008: You Say Po-tay-to, I say Po-tah-to. Who’s Irish and Who’s Not.

2007: Kiss Me, I’m Irish.

I’ve titled this piece “A Little Bit of Heaven”, not because I believe Ireland is a little bit of heaven. I love Ireland, but if there is a heaven, it’s hard to believe it gets as much rain as Ireland. But when my father was growing up, he and his sibs and cousins all had a party piece that they were required to perform when called upon. My father’s was “A Little Bit of Heaven.”

Here, for your listening pleasure, “A Little Bit of Heaven”.

Not my father’s voice, by the way.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!


Just in case that link doesn’t work – and I’m thinking it won’t – here’s the bare-naked URL:











Thursday, March 15, 2018

Famous Volcano Has Strange Effect On Women

I like to think of myself as someone who pays absolutely no attention to ads, but this is absolutely not true. I may not respond to them, but I do pay plenty of attention. Ads are always catching my eye. Or my ear. Or both.

In the former category was a full-page ad that appeared in a recent Economist.

Their ads are generally low-key and/or highbrow. Quarter page b&w or full-page 4-color for an upscale business or for someone to direct the railway system in some Indian state. And then there was one with this headline:

Famous Volcano Has Strange Effect On Women

And this subhead:

Man and nature collaborate to create a glamorous green ring guaranteed to rock her world!

Well, mark me down as someone who wouldn’t mind at all if man and nature were to collaborate to rock my world, but I’m afraid the Spirit Lake Helenite Ring doesn’t have a strange effect on me:

Spirit Lake ring

Okay, it’s only $99 – and they throw a pair of stud earrings in for
“FREE” (EXCLUSIVE). But this deal definitely doesn’t grab me in the least. 

The ad also contains this gobbledygook:

Your Offer Code: SLR520-02. You must use this insider offer code to get our special price.

Special price only for customers using the offer code versus the price on without your offer code.

Of course, the price on the website – $478 – has all kind of red-letter notices that, if you use the online offer code, the ring and studs cost only $99. So…

Okay, it’s not in the same league as an email from a Nigerian prince,
but I really would like to know whether anyone in the history of Helenite (the manmade gemstone made from Mount St. Helen’s ash) ever paid that $478 for this jewelry. I’m guessing no.  And I’m also guessing that there aren’t a lot of Economist readers who took advantage of this fantastic offer, unless there are some teenage boy readers out there who fell for the “strange effect on women” headline and ordered one for the teenage girl of their dreams. Or for Dear Old Mom.

The other ad that caught my eye, and my ear, is the one that educates us about PD. It shows the zipper area of a pair of jeans, partially unzipped, and asks:

If you’re curved below the belt…

Well, if you are curved in your nether regions, you might well have PD, which stands for Peyronie’s Disease, which I’m quite sure is no laughing matter. Not familiar with PD? It’s basically curvature of the penis, and if your penis curves like a scimitar, it apparently can be painful. The pharma company running the ad presumably has a drug the helps with PD, but it’s not mentioned.

Unlike the ad for the Spirit Lake Helenite Ring, the PD ad does have a strange effect on this woman. And that effect is to think need-to-know-basis, and to wish it out of my hearing and sight.

For crying out loud – which is how we used to say ‘for fuck’s sake’ in the quaint old days before we had ads for PD and ED – I was just getting over being bombarded by ads for ED. I’ve pretty much become inured to them to the point where I don’t even know if the Viva Viagra and Cialis in the bathtubs ads are still running. I’m guessing that if they are still on the air, they’re airing on the same network where I’m seeing an occasional PD ad, which is MSNBC, which presumably appeals to the demographic that would be concerned with both PD and ED.

Maybe it’s like the ads for Frebreeze that talk about being noseblind. I no longer notice the ED ads. Thankfully.

Anyway, I remember when it was a big deal to have ads on TV for “feminine” products like tampons. Guess this was one area in which grrrllll power was ahead of the curve. (Note: curve curve, not penile curve) We’ve come a long way, baby.

Speaking of which, there’s also an ad that considers the ladies for the Book of the Month Club – and who knew that Book of the Month (which I grew up with, and subscribed to on my own as a young adult) still existed? In this ad, women are raving about getting their monthly book, and those listening to them think they’re talking about getting their periods. The ad belabors the point, but it’s pretty funny. At least the first time around.

As it turns out, Book of the Month is remaking itself by aiming at women in their 20’s and 30’s. (Interesting article on BOMC on Wapo can be found here.)

Guess us old gals will have to stick with Amazon and Kindle.

And maybe I should turn off MSNBC (and put down The Economist) and pick up a good book for a change. Think of it: AD FREE!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Young Blood

Bill Faloon – not to be confused with granfalloon – has spent his career on the life and death or, rather on the death and life-after-death and/or what, me die? continuum. At one point, he was a mortician. Then he apparently started thinking that there were better things to do with dead bodies than embalm and dust-to-dust them, and got involved in cryogenics. I don’t think he was the one who froze Ted Williams head, but that’s what we’re talking about.

Somewhere along the line, he co-founded the Church of Perpetual Life (“fellowship for longevity enthusiasts”), no relation to the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. But, when you think about it, is there anything more perpetually indulgent that trying to live forever?

Faloon is also the co-founded of an outfit called the Life Extension Foundation, which sells vitamins and supplements that promise to extend your life. And, coming soon, blood, which he was flogging at a recent symposium on staving off death which attendees paid $195 a piece to attend:

“Take that initiative,” Faloon urged his audience of about 120 people who had flown in from as far as California, Scotland, and Spain. How? Paying to participate in a soon-to-launch clinical trial testing transfusions of young blood “offers the greatest potential for everyone in this room to add a lot of healthy years to their life,” Faloon said. “Not only do you get to potentially live longer … but you’re going to be healthier. And some of the chronic problems you have now may disappear.” (Source: StatNews)

I don’t know if I necessarily want to live all that much longer than I might be actuarially entitled to, but if some of those chronic problems could potentially disappear…No more frozish shoulder, no more gimpy right ankle.

And then I read that participating in the trial could cost $285K.

So maybe I’ll stick with PT for that frozish gimpy stuff. Especially when I saw what a real scientist, as opposed to a mortician turned cryo-guy-o turned live forever huckster,has to say:

“It just reeks of snake oil,” said Michael Conboy, a cell and molecular biologist at the University of California, Berkeley, who’s collaborated on studies sewing old and young mice together and transfusing blood between them. “There’s no evidence in my mind that it’s going to work.”

Which is not to say that there aren’t folks betting that there’s life in them there pills.

Google has a “secretive anti-aging spinout, called Calico.” And Celuarity, a spinout of biotech biggie Celgene, just raised 250-large (that’s a quarter of a billion dollars) to build a “biorefinery” that’s going to use placentas “to delay the aging process.” (This made me ask myself how Barbara Hershey is holding up. After all, didn’t she oh-so-famously eat the placenta after the birth of her child with Kung Fu man David Carradine? Turns out that didn’t happen:

After Free was born, she revealed they had planned to eat the afterbirth (“It’s very nutritious”) but buried it instead beneath an apricot tree “so he can eat the fruit nurtured by our own bodies.” (Source: People)

Whatever the impact of the fruit of the placenta had on little Free, true to his name, at age 9 Free renamed himself Tom. Meanwhile, David Carradine died of autoerotic asphyxiation in Thailand in 2009. Sorry about that triple ewwwww bit of info.)

Anyway, if you want to take a chance on the young blood, you’ll be working with Dr. Dipnarine Maharaj.

The study, which he describes as a Phase 1/Phase 2 trial, is a first-in-human test, which means that it is designed to evaluate only whether the experimental therapy is safe. But in his remarks at the symposium, Maharaj didn’t hesitate to make bold promises about what the treatment could do to ameliorate the frailty that results from getting older.

“We’re saying that we will defy aging,” Maharaj told the crowd at one point. “We believe that this could benefit everyone who is here,” he declared at another moment. (Source: back to StatNews)

Well, we do know that, at $285K to take part, Dr. Maharaj will benefit from it. (The number of participants is capped at 30, so the total take would be $8.5M. Faloon has no stake.)

There didn’t appear to be many takers at the symposium, but hope is springing eternal when you’re a fringe scientist. Or billionaire libertarian eccentric Peter Thiel, who’s supposedly interested in the young blood approach.

According to the article, no one has as yet signed up for the trial. That includes Faloon. He seems more wedded to the cryogenic thang:

When flying, Faloon used to lug a thermally insulated helmet in his carry-on bag that he’d put on during takeoffs and landings. The idea was that, in the event the plane crashed and burned, his head could still be salvaged and frozen. But he no longer takes his helmet on flights, he said, in part because he’s not sure it will actually work.

The helmet, not the cyrogenics.

All I can say is, with us Boomers having little interest in going gentle into that good night, we’re going to be hearing about a lot more of these ideas. Some of them (most of them, no doubt) are crackpot. But some of them (one of them) might work.

Maybe I’ll change my mind at some point, but as of this point in time, thanks but no thanks. Happy to stick with old blood that’s coursing through my veins, even if it does nothing for the gimpy ankle.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Burn, baby burn. Flood, baby, flood. Just don’t ask us to pay for it.

Today, we’re having a major-league Nor’easter. As of this writing (Monday evening), we’re looking at over a foot of snow in Boston proper – and 2 feet-plus in some areas. Fortunately, while we’re looking at blizzard conditions (high winds, included), we’re not in some bad juju, high astronomical moondance sitch. So our coastal areas are not supposed to get flooded out. Or not flooded at out as badly as they were in the storm a couple of weeks back, when waves were roguing over two-story shorefront houses on the South Shore and Boston’s Aquarium T-station entrance was surrounded by sandbags.

Every winter we have at least one storm where we watch homes and clam shacks on Boston’s North and South Shores get taken out by Mother Nature. Front yards that used to stretch putting-greenly down to the water’s edge, conjuring up images of Kennedy family touch football games at Hyannisport (or my family’s more sedate – ahem – croquet tournaments in West Dennis), are now kaput. Instead of front yards, there are boulders and chunks of concrete flush up against the front steps, hoping to keep the bays at bay.

And Plum Island, which is attached to Newburyport by a causeway, is more and more in danger of moving from a semi-detached island to a fully-detached island.

We get the storm scenes every year – always during the winter, and often during the summer after a hurricane or even a really bad rain storm – but they’re getting more frequent and more severe – in part because the storms are more frequent and more severe, and in part because there are more permanent homes along the coastline. What used to be a clam shack and a few flimsy, non-winterized summer houses are now a bistro and a lot of year-round structures.

And, of course, every time there’s a storm, we hear that the folks who got flooded out will retrench, and rebuild.

And they can do so because, even if it’s god-awful expensive, folks have insurance. Plus the cities, towns, and the state all pitch in to add infrastructure improvements like seawalls and reduning the dunes by trucking in sand.

Meanwhile, out on the West Coast, although they do have mudslides aplenty, they’re not so much worried about flooding as they are about fire.

Which means that when we’re not watching local television to see clam shacks floating out to sea, we can switch to national television to see neighborhoods where one side of a street burnt to the slab, while across the way, the houses are all intact.

But those burnt to a crisp buildings are going to be rebuilt just as surely as those Massachusetts houses that turned into boathouses on their way to being smashed to smithereens are going to get rebuilt, too.

Way out west, like it is here, the problem is worsening weather and development and redevelopment in places that shouldn’t have been developed to begin with. And sure shouldn’t be redeveloped after they’re leveled. Because it’s going to happen again.

As climate change creates warmer, drier conditions, which increase the risk of fire, California has a chance to rethink how it deals with the problem. Instead, after the state’s worst fire season on record, policymakers appear set to make the same decisions that put homeowners at risk in the first place. Driven by the demands of displaced residents, a housing shortage, and a thriving economy, local officials are issuing permits to rebuild without updating building codes. They’re even exempting residents from zoning rules so they can build bigger homes.

State officials have proposed shielding people in fire-prone areas from increased insurance premiums—potentially at the expense of homeowners elsewhere in California—in an effort to encourage them to remain in areas certain to burn again. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) spent a record $700 million on fire suppression from July to January, yet last year Governor Jerry Brown suspended the fee that people in fire-prone areas once paid to help offset those costs.

Critics warn that those decisions, however well-intentioned, create perverse incentives that favor the short-term interests of homeowners at the edge of the wilderness—leaving them vulnerable to the next fire while pushing the full cost of risky building decisions onto state and federal taxpayers, firefighters, and insurance companies. “The moral hazard being created is absolutely enormous,” says Ian Adams, a policy analyst at the R Street Institute, which advocates using market signals to address climate risk. “If you want to rebuild in an area where there’s a good chance your home is going to burn down again, go for it. But I don’t want to be subsidizing you.” (Source: Bloomberg)

Well, I never thought I’d be agreeing with the R Street Institute – and I’ll no doubt be eating my sodden words when the Charles River backs up into my bedroom and the value of my condo plummets – but I’m all for “go for it.”

Let insurance compensate for the first destruction for those who’ve owned a place for a while, but after that, one strike and you’re out. Or at least on your own. As for new construction in places that are statistically likely to burn or flood, how about non-subsidized insurance? If you want to build on the flood plain, have at it – and have at that $$$ insurance policy.

I feel terrible for those who lose their homes to natural disasters, especially those who’ve lived in their homes from way back in time, before they realized that they were living in peril. But we gotta start facing some facts here. It’s going to get worse. We may have to abandon some areas so that they can go back to nature and serve as the fire brakes and flood prevention zones that they were intended to be.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Swaggy baggy 2018

In all my non-excitement over last week’s Academy Awards – Frances McDormand did something about women, Bonnie and Clyde made up for last year’s Best Picture announcement fail, the movie about the woman and the fishlike creature won, and I do believe the only film I saw last year in a movie theater was Lady Bird  - I nearly lost sight of an ultra important aspect of the Oscars: what’s in the swag bag?

As you are no doubt well aware, each year the main nominees (directing and acting) get swag bags full of all sorts of goodies. So even if you don’t get a statue, you get something to show for your troubles. (Sorry Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, and Greta Gerwig: I thought Lady Bird was great, but nary a one of your won anything. At least you didn’t go home completely empty-handed.)

The point, of course is marketing. After all, the folks that get the swag bags are likely to have enough $$$ to afford all these goodies on their own. Maybe they should randomly draw a few names from the lesser nominees – Best Use of a Weird Voice in an Animated Short – and put a smile on a few faces that could use the loot.

Anyway, the swag bag is worth over $100K, and this year’s edition has in it:

A 12-Night Trip to Zanzibar and Tanzania
For two. Because who wants to go on a lux trip with private meals and private safari guide all on their lonesome? One thing I’m wondering: is there just one trip that all the winners take at once, or can they go on a truly private version – or semi-private with their SO? I mean do Frances McDormand and her husband the Coen brother want to hob-nob with Daniel Day-Lewis? Does Timothée Chalamet want to hang with Meryl Streep? Not that I really need to know the answer. For all I know, they all give their bag contents to their personal assistants or letter carriers.

A Week’s Worth of Spa Treatments
After doing a bit of shoveling last week, and with a still semifreddo shoulder going on, a 90-minute deep-tissue massage at the Golden Door sounds pretty darned good, even if the Golden Door sounds like a strip joint or porn film. But that’s just me thinking about the Golden Banana (“Boston’s premier strip club) and/or about the classic 1970’s porn flick, Behind the Green Door. Not that I saw it, but I do not believe it garnered any Academy Award nominations.

23andMe DNA Testing Kit
Seriously, at $99, I’m pretty sure that most folks can afford this one. But I am a sucker for this sort of thing, and love those shows that trace down the ancestry of Hollywood types, who all turn out to be the bastard great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandson of Bonnie Prince Charlie, or have a distant relation who did the calligraphy on the Declaration of Independence. Watching these shows, I was always wondering why all these celebs had claim-to-fame antecedents, while us nobodies went back generation upon generation of non-entities. How could this be? Then I read that they cherry pick the actors who have something interesting in their background. I.e., they run down dozens of boring histories before coming up with someone related to Custer’s bugler. Oh. (Duh.) Anyway, if the swag bag recipients spit in the vial, I’m sure that some show or another will be contacting them if their DNA turns up that they’re related to Amelia Earhart or Julius Caesar.

A Six-Night Trip in Hawaii
We had a nasty frigid snap, and a couple of awful storms, but this winter – unless you live on the South Shore of Boston and had rogue waves washing over your two-story house – wasn’t all that bad. Nonetheless, a trip to Hawaii sounds not so bad this time of year. The rack rate for the one BR “luxury” villa is $500/night, by the way. Which sounds sort of low rent for the average Hollywood glamour puss. But which works for me.


Ten Personal Training Sessions

Theoretically, this sounds good. But then I think about someone whose website says “Welcome to a Better You,” which is what personal trainer Alexis Seletzky’s does. There is no doubt a better me lurking out there somewhere. Nonetheless, thanks, but no thanks.


A Stay at a Luxurious Greek Resort
One measly night a $460/night resort – yet another luxury villa, only this one’s in Greece, not Hawaii. If I’m going to drag all that way for a one-night stand, I think I’ll stop off at Lake Como and chill with George, Amal and the twins.

Color-Changing Lipstick
We’re getting closer to the bottom of the swag bag barrel here. This lipstick is only worth $22. But what, pray tell, is
  color-changing lipstick? I rarely wear lipstick – too much trouble to figure out what to do with that thin upper lip – but I can’t imagine wanting the color to change. Is it chameleon-like? Does it assume the color of whatever you’re wearing?

Okay, okay. I broke down and googled. It’s like a mood ring. Only for your lips. So it adjusts to your body chemistry to create the perfect hue. But apparently does nothing for a thin upper lip.

Other highlights
Hard to believe that My Magic Mud toothpaste is a highlight, but for $20 a tube, I guess it should be. And “hundreds of dollars worth of Le
Cèline false eyelashes”? Maybe I’ll cede mine to my personal trainer. Or leave them in the bed-stand drawer at George and Amal’s.

And then there’s “access to a new dating app called “NeverMissed” before it launches.” Is it just me, or wouldn’t celebrities tend to avoid dating apps? But what do I know about dating apps or celebrities”

Sweet 68 and never been missed.

No wonder my personal swag bag is running on empty.

Source of Swaggy Baggy info: Money/Time

Friday, March 09, 2018

Anthem (“All Hail, Massachusetts”)

On the news the other evening, the West Virginia teachers, who had resolved their strike and gotten a raise for themselves and other state workers, were celebrating at their state house when they broke into song. Take Me Home, Country Roads (West Virginia, Mountain Mama).

It, of course, made me happy that these folks, whose compensation is barely above the poverty level and who still go out of pocket to buy clothing for and otherwise take care of their even-more-mired-in-poverty students, had won their victory. But it also made me realize that one of the things that the otherwise excellent Commonwealth of Massachusetts lacks is a state song.

Oh, we have one. It’s called All Hail, Massachusetts, and I’d never heard it until I moseyed over to YouTube. As anticipated, it was pretty awful. And the fellow singing it, Rick Pickren, is obviously not a Bay Stater. It’s CONK-id, not CON-CORD. Geeza Louisa.  

All hail to Massachusetts,
The land of the free and the brave!
For Bunker Hill and Charlestown
nd flag we love to wave;
For Lexington and Concord,
And the shot heard 'round the world;
All hail to Massachusetts,
We'll keep her flag unfurled.

And trust me when I say that, much as we all love our native state, the Massachusetts flag is pretty boring, and not one that I’ve ever seen anyone waving.

Far better is our state folk song, Arlo Guthrie’s Massachusetts, which is actually a pretty good tune. Not to mention that it’s god’s own truth.

Now if you could only see
I know you would agree
There ain't nowhere else to be
Like Massachusetts

Still, I can’t imagine a bunch of teachers bursting into a rousing chorus of Massachusetts while standing under the Golden Dome.

It is, however, a lot more imaginable than anyone bursting into a drowsy, dirgey chorus of the Bee Gees The Lights All Went Out in Massachusetts. What a complete and utter downer. Nonetheless, as I learned from Wikipedia, in 1968, “it was the first No. 1 hit single by a non-Japanese artist on Japan's official hit chart.”

My favorite Massachusetts song is Sweet Baby James, which doesn’t mention Massachusetts, but does mention Boston, my husband’s name (James), and my birthday (December 1). So, yay!

But what would our teachers sing?

Probably Sweet Caroline, because, well, that’s what we sing. It’s lively. It’s energetic. And you get to bellow, “so good, so good, so good”.

But we don’t have a Country Roads, or a Colorado Rocky Mountain High, or an Oklahoma! No Sweet Home Alabama. No Deep in the Heart of Texas. We don’t even have a Georgia On My Mind or Back Home Again in Indiana (which, oddly enough, was the tune to the theme song of my grandfather’s saloon. Alas, there is no one alive who remembers the lyrics, so all we know is that it began “Back home again, in Rogers bar room, that’s the place I long to be.”)

So we’re not near the top of the heap when it comes to state songs, and we don’t fare much better on the city song front, either.

Dirty Water is, of course, a great song. And we get to sing it every time the Red Sox win.

But it pales in comparison to New York, New York (Frank Sinatra/Yankee Stadium). Or New York, New York (from On The Town – as in “the Bronx is up and the Battery’s down”). Or even The Sidewalks of New York.

We have a couple of runners-up to Dirty Water: the plaintive Please Come to Boston. The Dropkick Murphy’s Shipping Up to Boston. Charlie on the MTA. But, sorry folks, it ain’t no New York, New York (either version).


Chicago has better songs, too. My Kind of Town, Chicago Is (there’s Frankie-boy again), and Chicago, Chicago (That Toddlin’ Town). But the state of Illinois, while I’m sure they have an All Hail, Massachusetts equivalent floating around out there, doesn’t have anything akin to Arlo’s Massachusetts. Or even the Bee Gee’s Lights All Went Out.

San Francisco, where New Yorker Tony Bennett left his heart, has better songs than Boston. They’ve also got Jeanette Macdonald belting out San Francisco. And the hippy-dippy If You’re Going to San Francisco. But points off for MacArthur Park, even if it doesn’t mention the city.

Oh, boo hoo. Wish we had a better state song. Wish we had a better city song. Something like City of New Orleans, which I realize is about a train, but still.

Think I’ll go drown out my sorrows by listening to Frank and Ella sing Moonlight in Vermont. That’s almost the same as moonlight in Massachusetts. Then I’ll segue over to Patti Page crooning about honest to goodness Massachusetts moonlight in Old Cape Cod.