Thursday, November 30, 2006

He of the gapped tooth

At the gate for our flight back from the midwest today, saw Cornell West. Unmistakably, fro, beard, suit and gap. When the delay was announced, he wandered off chatting on his phone, presumably to catch another flight, as he didn't come back.

A shame, I wanted to introduce myself to him. I've always wanted to ask him about the opening to his 1991 book Race Matters, the book that broke him through to the "mainstream" momentarily. To illustrate the problems of racism in America today, West recounts how he drove into Manhattan from Princeton in his Lexus, parked his car somewhere in the 60s, and tried to hail a cab uptown to Harlem. As a black man, he found it hard to get a cab.

My point is: he had a car, why didn't he just drive up to Harlem like a normal person? Cleopatra Jones went up there in her Vette, didn't she? Was he afraid he was gonna get gang-banged by them fearful darkies?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Gift ideas

Behind the register at the MidWestern client are a number of forlorn belogoed items on plastic hooks: Baseball caps, visors, commemorative pens, etc., all bearing the logo of a premerger entity. Today I noticed a box of round items with a picture of the building I was in on them, could it be? I thought. Could it really?

Yes it could. Coasters. Terra Cotta coasters, adorned with the image of HQ. I think I need to purchase them and take them home.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Noise about food

  • Coming out of the cafeteria today I overheard three black women who were clustered and listening attentively to one another: "For that recipe I usually use the brick cream cheese, but this time I used the whipped, and I tell you..."

  • Not to be outdone, at the top of the escalator a pair of white ladies discussed their own baking "And that's the recipe I'm going to take to the competition..."

  • Tonight at the sushi restaurant, the Grouse found himself the sole gringo eating the raw guy, set off against a couple of tables of Japanese businessmen as if cut from the frames of Tampopo, slurping their noodles demonstratively, segmenting off fine little pieces of eel with chopsticks and then popping them in their mouths

Monday, November 27, 2006

Itchy and scratchy

I wish I could figure out what made me itchy and scratchy all over sometimes, or particularly those parts of my body all covered in clothes (A clue! Natalie might say). It's rather difficult to concentrate on work when your ankles and quads are screaming out for attention.

Meanwhile, back at the hotel, I happen across the "Great American Country" channel showing "Sugarland" in some video where they mope and cavort around Ground Zero, demonstrating great woe and contrition before lots of home-baked American flags affixed to the chain link fence of much wailing. I got one thing to say: they should keep their country cowboy-hatted asses the fuck out of Manhattan. I hate like I hate very little else when jingoist heartlanders try to appropriate 9/11 to their reactive flag venerative ways. Look how great it's worked out in Iraq. Let em go build their houses and tend their jails and let the East Coast liberal elite get back to doing its job, that's what I say.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Room to room

With Beth upstairs sleeping after a nasty night, Natalie, Sadie and Graham are watching the Aristocats in the sunroom. Graham, for some reason, stands in front of the TV agape for a few minutes, then gallops across the living room giggling and bangs into the radiator in the foyer.

Perhaps this means he's supposed to be outside playing. Dunno. Am reading the paper.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Trip to fan

Working off turkey here in bed, preparing for another onslaught of this vile bird and many of the fine people who eat it. Soon the annual obeisance will have passed, and we can return to beef and the other white meat.

While reading about the sushi-borne radiation poisoning death of Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko, found a decent blog Publius Pundit, which would appear to have a human rights focus.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

The Holiday Grouse

It's nasty here in the otherwise glorious New York Metro area today, cold and rainy, one of those days when you're actually thankful for the roof, doors, and windows. Natalie, swathed in some silky garment of grandma's, has set the table expertly. Graham was just petting the kitty.

Meanwhile, as Grandpa and I debated the future of the world, I came to the heartening conclusion that, if the retirement of the baby boomers both threaten the feasibility of Social Security at current benefit levels and also the stockmarket, as boomers take distributions from retirement accounts, then there are a couple of mitigators. First, longevity risk is offset by obesity risk, that is, if people keep getting fat and diabetic than future pension liabilities will be offset by falling mortality. Conversely, if public health efforts succeed and obesity is diminished, then people in aggregate will be more willing to up the retirement age to 67 or 68, because they'll be energetic and will want to work more, so that the inflow side of retirement fund pools will increase.

Chew on that, bitches.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The internet sucks

I really have few clues about how to entertain myself on the internet. I've checked out YouTube, Facebook, MySpace, other peoples' useless and indulgent blogs, basically there's little that's entertaining for long. The internet is useful, sure, but not much fun. It's like one big Swiss Army knife, or a bunch of informational McNuggets.

At the end of the day, I'd rather lie on my bed and read a book. Books are at least small totalities. In putting them together, somebody at least tries to put together a unified view of some portion of the world.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Mildred Pierce

I had never read a book by James Cain, but I picked up a copy of Mildred Pierce not long ago in Lambertville, in a fine family outing that involved pizza and cool Fall air and used books, a classic combo that had formed a good part of my youth and took me back. Mary snuck in antiques. Natalie got pizza. Graham kinda got hosed, but he's too young to care.

So I read this book, and it was damned good. Mildred is kind of a proto-feminist type, a woman who ditches her deadbeat husband, starts a business, has sex out of wedlock and enjoys it, etc. Not a whole lot of these published in 1932. There's an Icarus component to it for sure: she flies high and then is brought low. But what else is new. There's sex and floods and pies and steaks and coloratura and booze, but mostly there's challenge and perserverance.

A good book.

Monday, November 20, 2006

No se appoye contra la puerta

I always thought the proscription against leaning against doors on trains was about falling out. And maybe there's some of that going on, but it's more about how the Acela whips by on the track right next to the one you're on and making the doors pop violently. If you're leaning against that thing, it could easily give you whiplast and/or back your head against the window, breaking it and perhaps giving you a big bump. I narrowly escaped that fate this evening, but did.


In school today, Natalie and her cronies made butter the old-fashioned way, which was "cool". I wish I had made butter.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Enterprise Software Guys

"Is that a feature you would be interested in?"
"Would it be helpful to you if you had one system that could do all of that?"
"Do you think it would be desirable if we could take care of that for you?"

Software salesmen are such weasils. We were just on three hours of calls with the guys, and boy are my arms tired.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

At the airport

flight delayed

5 minutes free time online for buying a Coke at this store.

Gotta go.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


Somehow, in all my years on the planet, I haven't gotten used to needless and causeless hostility. Have I not been paying attention. I am often unable to bracket it and remember that it is being meted out by a bleating nimrod, and get distracted and bumped off course. And I remember the immortal words of Rodney King, " why cant' we all just get along?" Why not indeed?

Speaking of black people and violence in LA, just caught Spike Lee's documentary on Jim Brown. Jim Brown always kinda reminded me of my dad, which could be disturbing, depending on who you believe regarding Brown's many alleged misdeeds. Pretty good piece of work for a Spike Lee joint, it must be owned.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


It always seems like travelling places gives ideas for the blog. But that would seem to be more true for commuting around New York than getting on an airplane to leave it. The only things I saw of vague interest yesterday was the Heidi Fleiss-looking woman in pinstripes and twirlable gold beads on the Alamo shuttle. She, unlike us, was Emerald Club.

The day had, it is true, started off good, with Natalie rushing down the stairs at 6:15 as my car service approached to give me kisses before I headed out.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Death management

Just mostly read Eugene O'Kelly's Chasing Daylight, in which the CEO of KPMG finds out he's going to die in 3 months, resolves to write a book about it and die well, and pulls off all three. He lays out a clear plan for death and executes to it as precisely as one might hope. He sets out to attain peace and introspection and balance, and would seem to pull that off too.

The book has won some sort of special jury prize, and while that's not as pathetic as Braveheart winning the best picture Oscar, it's still something of a stretch. It's not a great book qua book. Too many cliches: "It was another Perfect Moment to end a Perfect Day." They should have spent more on the ghostwriter.

But it is honest and courageous, and I fought through to the end to see what happens. The guy dies as dignified and decent a death as one might hope for, within the genre of Reality media. I wouldn't be surprised to see Mark Burnett snap up the rights to this concept and bring it right into our homes.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Question of the day

The peanut gallery here in Princeton is floating the hypothesis that two ns at the end of a German surname ending in "man" has meant historically that the bearer is a gentile, while one n meant a Jew.

Thus Dustin Hoffman vs. E.T.A. Hoffmann. Hard to formulate this question properly to get a good answer out of Google.

It's just the kind of shit the Krauts would think of.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

For some reason

Gene continues to express surprise at the number of places high-fructose corn syrup can be injected into the food chain: two kinds in one packet of salad dressing, he tells me. I hate to tell him that it's in the air around here.

After dinner last night, where I had a surprisingly good bit of seared tuna and some quite crabby crab cakes, I walked a little on Madison Street in Cincinnati. There I saw a sign that said "schwing in for some Schnecken", and so I stopped in to Busken Bakery, a 24/7 old school bakery that's straight out of the 60s. Unfortunately, they were out of Schnecken, some cinnamon bun like item that comes out at 6 in the morning twice a week and sells out quickly. I tend to doubt that it's worth making the run, though it's said to be buttery.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

An actual sign

Hanging on an actual wall an actual MidWest insurer is this 2' x 3' banner:

"Through these halls walk some of the finest imaging professionals in the world.
(Company logo)"

That would make me durned proud.

Monday, November 06, 2006

West Chester, OH 9:11 pm

Was just driving around in the rainy northern suburbs / warehouse wasteland of Cincinnati, looking for a grocery store called Biggs. Didn't find it. But there's every fast food and casual dining chain you ever dreamed of. And parking galore.

Found a Circle K at long last. I should feel fortunate enough to have emerged with water. I knew that seltzer wouldn't be forthcoming, but I thought maybe ginger ale could be had. No. Coke Iceys were there, note to self.

This after an afternoon at another midwestern insurance company with decor out of A Family Affair. And computers out of Office Space.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Quiet day

Mom left.

Graham is recovering from a the nastiest cut on his tongue that I ever saw on a tongue. I can't figure out how he pulled that off. And, with the pain receding, he's gratifyingly hungry. Cereal, turkey salami, bagel, toast, apple sauce, soy milk, he's consuming and smiling.

Outside sun and nice weather, which bodes well for soccer in an hour or so.

Even Natalie is cooperating, reading and working on art projects.

Listened to Richard and Linda Thompson again today, and somehow I feel a direct line from yesterday's listenings of the Circle Jerks (including the classic "I've Got the World up my Ass") to the life-affirming noodlings of these Brits.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Slow brain day

Graham is having a fit downstairs about having another video.

Walked Natalie and Helen from school just now past high school soccer game. Idiot girl in sweatshirt and sandals in 40 degree weather.

Lots of bags of leaves begging to go into my compost.

Mary's test went well.

Had a good phone call with Paris.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Doppel Ganger

Have you ever seen these two together? Harvey Pitt, former SEC Chair. Steve Carell, like so not.

Think about it.

Return to normalcy

I've seen a frenzy of traffic the last few days as the various hired hands of corporate respectability have rained their attention down on the Grouse, in the hopes of... doing I know not what. Perhaps they seek an actionable statement. Perhaps they're just low paid Dilberts themselves executing scripted searches and preparing reports no one will read. That seems likely, much as I romanticize my pointed barbs.

In any case, these are cheap hits, and not worth the paper they're not printed on, unless the visitors "set a spell" and drink in the eternal wisdom of the Grouse. And so, we will draw the episode of a certain financial "services" company to a close and return to musings on topics in child-raising, metaphysics, and lunch. Mostly the latter.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

10,000 hits!

Round about 11AM, an historic threshhold was crossed: ChewYourGrouse collected hit number 10,000, and thus acceded into an elite group of websites who have logged such an impressive total. "10,000 hits in scarcely more than two years, those are numbers to be reckoned with," said Robin Southerly of Media Metrix, a leading provider of web traffic rankings. "And to think that the numbers over the last couple of days were driven by traffic from TIAA-CREF, Cyveillance, and Nameprotect," she continued, "that really gives you an idea of the might of user-created content." Nameprotect provides "advanced monitoring services" to help firms manage brands.

Hit 10,000, appropriately, was logged by our man Blue down in Lawrenceville, who's been a regular supporter down through the years. Lets all give a shout out to Blue, who retained this name though he was offered the use of the name Carrot many years ago.