TOPIC OF THE DAY – 2009

12.28 Visit from Rose.
12.27 Giants eliminated from playoffs after being blown out by Panthers. A debacle.
12.26 Dominick’s
12.24 Fun Christmas Eve party
12.14 In the Loop wins Best Screenplay nod from the New York Film Critics
12.13 Giants offense pours it on but the defense sucks, and the Eagles win in a wild and entertaining game 45-38.
12.11 Go up to Connecticut to see the Syncretics people. Hope this works out.
12.11 Aunt Lillian dies.
12.6 We did our traditional thing and went up to Battenfeld’s Farm in Red Hook and chopped us down a Christmas tree, and then went and had lunch at the Everyready Diner in Hyde Park opposite Franklin and Eleanor’s pad. The girls were in good humor and there was a lot of mud, and we were happy as a family. And then we came home and saw the Giants whup the Cowboys 31-24 to keep their playoff hopes alive!
12.5 First snow

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12.4 My sister writes to tell me that my eighth grade teacher Sister Agatha died at 93. Sister Agatha was the first larger than life figure I ever knew. She had a tremendous nickname (Aggie), a formidable reputation for meanness that permeated the lower grades, and an arrogant demeanor that reinforced the image. I spent a year in her class, and I do not recall a kind word or a smile, although I assume there must have been some. What I recall is constant sharpness, and frequent, furious anger that included going up and down the aisles smacking people. The anger made her a comic figure, an impression that was emphasized by her weight (she was enormously fat then), by her mid-day snacking on candy in the cloak room (Mallo Cups, evidently), and her occasional napping during quiet moments. Of course, I cannot imagine what it must have been like to have been a 50 year old woman trying to each seventy-odd 13 year-old boys. No wonder she behaved like a prison guard. I hope she rests in peace.
12.3 Smart Box day.
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11.27 Celebrated Molly’s birthday at the Cheesecake Factory. I have pretty girls, even if Cara will have none of creating evidence.
11.26 Thanksgiving. What am I thankful for? That things aren’t worse, I suppose.
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11.8 Cara and Nadia go see Miley Cyrus in Newark. God bless Paul Lindstrom!
11.6 Yankee victory parade down the Canyon of Heroes. The New York Times had a great quote from Alex Rodriguez. “I wish we could just continue to play. Just show up and play for no reason. We have such a good group of guys. You know. No umpires, no scores. Just show up and have fun, like a softball game.”
11.4 Yanks win series. Yay!
11.2 Check this out: The UK Government’s Children’s Secretary Ed Balls has announced a controversial new CCTV monitoring scheme, in which thousands of problem families are to be monitored 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Balls claims that the £400 million “sin bin” scheme will put up to 20,000 problem families under 24-hour surveillance in their own homes, to ensure children go to bed and school on time and eat proper meals. “Private security guards will also be sent round to carry out home checks, while parents will be given help to combat drug and alcohol addiction,” reads a report in the Sunday Express.

10.27 Lunch with Chris Napolitano at the Oyster Bar, Wish I’d gotten the seafood salad instead of the fried fish platter. Went to the Fantastic Mr. Fox screening and ran into Elvis Mitchell.

10.25 Yanks win AL pennant–it feels as though order is being restored to the world

10.25 Interesting article on Surveillance use in minor cases in the UK by Sarah Lyall in the Times.

10.25 Set out at 5:30 AM to Centenary–woof!

10.24 After Ginny and Cara go to Centenary at six AM, I go over in the afternoon, in the rain and the dark over unfamiliar roads

10.23 Over and back to Centenary with Cara, in the rain and the dark over unfamiliar roads.

10.14 Cara passes her driving test. Within hours, she is soloing through the neighborhood. I was surprised by my trepidation. But it’s a cruel world we send them into, huh?

10.11 Yanks beat Twins in the ALDS. Doesn’t mean much–they need to go much farther.

9.27 William Safire dies. A good role model for a pundit.

9.27 Yanks win AL East. Doesn’t mean much–they need to go much further. Victory over Red Sox evens season series at 9, which did not seem likely after Bosox won first 8 games. But arguing the principle of regression to the mean, I predicted that the season series would not be worse that 10-8 in the Sox’ favor, and I was right.

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9.22 Wonderful 2-hour opening episode of House. Andre Braugher brought an enormous amount of humanity to his performance. Franka Potente, whom I had not seen since The Bourne Identity, radiated warmth.

9.21 Thrilling last second victory by the Giants over the Cowboys

9.11 Mom’s funeral. Slashing rain.

9.09 “You lie!” shouts Joe Wilson

9.4 Meeting with Aaron Gell at Oyster Bar

9.2 Mom dies

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8.30 Cara attends the Hamptons Classic Horse Show. That would be Bruce Springsteen in the photo she took, above, wearing the cap

8.25 Teddy Kennedy dies

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8.25 Cara and Nadia see Britney Spears at Madison Square Garden. Yes, in that blurry photo Cara took, it’s Britney, bitch!

8.18 Molly totals the Toyota on the Taconic

8.9 Yankees complete sweep. Following Sabathia’s gem Saturday, Pettitte pitches 7 scoreless innings, and leaves with one-run lead, which Phil Coke promptly yields. But Damon and Teixiera go long back-to-back, and a couple hits later Swisher knocks in 2 with a single, and the Yanks now lead the reeling Red Sox by 6.5 games.

8.7 Amazing game–Beckett and Burnett each pitch 7 scoreless innings, and relievers keep pace, until the 15th, when Alex Rodriguez homers with a man on, and the Yankees win 2-0.

8.6 Drove Cara and her friends to Great Adventure, and then continued on down to Maryland to see Mom and Rose.

8.4 It turns out that the driver of the minivan had been drinking and smoking pot.

7.26 In the afternoon, sirens like we’ve never heard before, and we know from sirens. Turns out lady in a minivan with four kids inside went down the Taconic the wrong way, possibly entering at Pleasantville Road. Three car collision, eight dead, including the woman and four of the kids. Said to be the worst vehicular accident in Westchester in 75 years. At night, late thunderstorms, violent and intense. One boomer crashed loud and low, right over the house. I had just drifted off to sleep, and the huge noise sent a shock of alarm though my perfectly relaxed body–from my neck, down my back, down my legs, right into my toes. I could feel my individual toes light up. Never ever felt that before.

7.17 Walter Cronkite dies

7.16 Bad news from Molly

7.12 Dinner with Armando Iannucci

7.7 Interview with ynt63

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6.28 Mariano Rivera gets his 500th career save (and first career RBI) in a 4-2 win over the Mets. He is one of the real greats, and watching him for a long time, as well as Derek Jeter, has been, like watching Johnny Unitas, Bobby Clarke, Frank and Brooks Robinson, Jim Palmer, Keith Hernandez and Phil Simms, a real privilege.

6.27 Molly and I drive Jaguars

6.25 Michael Jackson dies

6.24 Went to Maryland to visit Mom and Rose

6.23 Susan Schmidt’s birthday party

6.21 “Happy fucking Father’s Day!”

6.4 Marymount Manhattan Writers Conference

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5.31 Just when Dick Cheney and the other members of the Bush National Security team thought it as safe to get back in the water, along comes Richard Clarke. The former head of Counter-terrorism, the man who laid out the Bush administration’s record of inattention to the threat form al-Qaeda in his book Against All Enemies, returns in The Washington Post today to sack Cheney and Condoleeza Rice. Says Clarke: “Top officials from the Bush administration have hit upon a revealing new theme as they retrospectively justify their national security policies. Call it the White House 9/11 trauma defense. Unless you were there, in a position of responsibility after September 11, you cannot possibly imagine the dilemmas that you faced in trying to protect Americans,” Condoleezza Rice said last month as she admonished a Stanford University student who questioned the Bush-era interrogation program. And in his May 21 speech on national security, Dick Cheney called the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, a “defining” experience that “caused everyone to take a serious second look” at the threats to America. Critics of the administration have become more intense as memories of the attacks have faded, he argued. “Part of our responsibility, as we saw it,” Cheney said, “was not to forget the terrible harm that had been done to America.”‘ Clarke, who was present at the White House at the time of the attacks and in the tumultuous days following, repeats the devastating information he presented to the 9/11 Commission: the administration officials were surprised by the attacks because they hadn’t been listening. And in their shock and surprise, they pursued preconceived ideas about Iraqi involvement, ideas which they were told at the time were ridiculous, and which have proven without foundation. These days, Cheney talks about how the country was kept safe because of the actions of the administration. Will the self-serving, shameless fear-mongering never end?

5.22 On Slate, John Dickerson considers yesterday’s speeches of President Obama and Vice-President Cheney: “Obama spoke to America’s ideals, literally if not figuratively, delivering his speech in the building that houses the Constitution. Cheney spoke from a bunker, figuratively if not literally, holding forth in a roomful of conservative partisans. . . .Cheney’s bunker was actually at the American Enterprise Institute, but early in his defense of the Bush administration’s policies, he returned to that moment on 9/11 when he was hurried in to the White House basement. His message today was, essentially, protection at all costs. “There is no middle ground,” he said. “Half measures leave you half exposed.” The former vice president spoke for nearly 45 minutes and attacked many targets—Democrats, the press, Speaker Nancy Pelosi—but his central point was that President Obama has left America exposed.” Cheney’s problem is that he has always been in the bunker. As journalists such as Jane Mayer and Ron Suskind have shown, Cheney sees all threats as imminent. As Suskind wrote, Cheney saw any threat that had even a one percent chance of being realized as a threat that he, and by extention, the government, needed to protect the American people from. That, of course, is totally unrealistic–it is an unrealisitc way to live, and it is an unrealisitic way to govern. One does not wish to be nonchalant about terrorism, but the threat is not so extreme that it requires us to abandon core values. Protecting American lives is important, but the simple fact is if the government really wanted to protect Americans and save American lives, it would forget enhanced interrogation, and simply ban cigarettes and soda pop, and make everybody exercise 30 minutes a day.

5.20 It looks like Slate’s Jacob Weisberg, whose book The Bush Tragedy was one of the most insightful examination’s of W. and his lamentable presidency, is getting into the Obama psychoanalysis game, Weisberg recently wrote a column in which he described the four things we know about Obama. “He sees the middle ground as high ground. . . Obama’s focus on reconciliation is clearly more than shtick. We saw this impulse at work when he made pre-emptive concessions on his stimulus package in an unsuccessful effort to win Republican support. We saw it in another way when he personally brokered a compromise between the French and Chinese presidents at the G20 summit in London. Every few days, it seems, Obama, tries for a “new beginning”—with Iran, Cuba, the Muslim world, even Paul Krugman. Engaging with opponents animates him more than hanging with friends. . . .He’s the decider for real. . . .Advisers who play what are supposed to be honest-broker, facilitating roles at the White House either play different roles (Larry Summers) or don’t play much role at all (Jim Jones). Obama sees himself as ringmaster as well as star performer. The president’s knack for deep dives into policy questions is undeniably impressive. But as quick a study as he is, his supreme self-confidence may shade into overconfidence. He shows signs of suffering from the arrogance that often accompanies brilliance. It’s unlikely, for instance, that Obama can function as his own grand strategy guru on foreign policy. But he doesn’t seem inclined to give that job to anyone else. . . .He likes it hot. If you have a friendly conversation with someone close to Obama, he or she is likely to marvel at the president’s comfort level with crisis. . . .The question here is capacity, not capability. Can any one person simultaneously manage so many issues in the hands-on way Obama insists on managing them? He’s ruthless. In a recent interview with the New York Times, Obama described his economic policy as “ruthless pragmatism.” Interesting choice of modifiers.” This is the first work I’ve seen that actually tries to find some fissures in what so far has largely been the first term of Obama’s sainthood. Time will tell if Weisberg’s pioneering work in teasing out Obama’s vulnerabilities will prove perceptive or premature, but one thing is sure–nobody has ever been perfect.

5.20 Writing in The Washington Post, Stephen Stromberg mulls over the arguments for a Truth Commission to probe all there is to know about torture and terrorism and the Iraq War. “[F]or those of us not trying to score political points, the attraction is that a truth commission would, ideally, more thoroughly and fairly document who knew and approved of enhanced interrogation and why. A few weeks ago, that didn’t look as important a task to perform immediately. But now that the CIA and the speaker’s office might engage in a war of competitive document release, conditioned by the political demands of the moment, maybe it’s time to bring in a referee. Still, the Pelosi episode demonstrates how unlikely it is that any such inquiry conducted right now could stay above politics.” The idea of a Truth Commission is too clever by half. It’s the idea of people who like Obama but who want to find some way around his reluctance to spend his time and political capital “re-litigating” (to use an Obamian word) the sins of the Bush adminitration. But what will happen when we’ve discovered all sorts of terrible stuff and then can’t prosecute? This will surely confirm what the rest of the world now only suspects–that we’re letting criminals get away with murder. My sense is that if things are bad enough for us to investigate them, it’s moral cowardice and political suicide not to prosecute. It is far, far better never to speak of the crimes than to bring them up and then try to ignore them.

5.15 Dick Cheney may not hold office anymore, but he still may be the cleverest man in Washington. Over the last week, he has managed to pollute the torture discussion by having us debate not whether torture is moral or legal, but whether it is effective. Yes, many right-thinking people are now saying, let’s take a look at those memos from the always reliable CIA that conform that when Americans go to sleep tonight, they can thank waterboarding for keeping al Qaeda out of their bedrooms. Well, at a Senate hearing yesterday, former State Department counselor Philip Zelikow shrewdly put the discussion back on the correct footing. He said that America is still in danger, and if we were to be hit again, we may, in our fear and rage and agony, perform some torture. “We could be hit again and hit hard,” he said in his testimony, “But our decision to respect basic international standards does not appear to be a big hindrance in this fight. … Others may disagree. They may believe … that America needs an elaborate program of indefinite secret detention and physical coercion in order to protect the nation. The government, and the country, needs to decide whether they are right. If they are right, our laws must change and our country must change. I think they are wrong.”

What a brilliant argument. If Cheney and his ilk are right, and torture and other extreme measures are justified, then let’s legalize such measures now, in the calm of this moment, before the next attack. But if you’re not ready to legalize it now–and I don’t think even Cheney is–then let’s stop this discussion before we embarrass ourselves further.

5.13 On The Daily Beast, Charlie Gasparino asks a a very interesting question: why, in the aftermath of the financial collapse, have only two people been indicted for criminal offenses? So far, only two hedge fund traders from Bear Stearns, Ralph Cioffi and Matthew Tannin, have been formally charged with criminal wrongdoing. And yet, as Gasparino writes, “‘Cioffi and Tannin will argue that every disclosure they made was approved by Bear Stearns management; that compliance officials sat in on meetings with investors where these assurances were given and never raised an eyebrow…”There were 540 people at Bear Stearns Asset Management,” said one person close to Cioffi’s defense team. “Now, obviously they weren’t all working on the funds. But there was a chief compliance officer, a chief risk officer, and they all knew what was in the fund and signed off on outgoing statements to investors. So if there was fraud, it would have to be a firm-wide deal.” And of course, Bear Stearns was hardly the only firm that was investing in sub-prime loans. The balance sheets of Citigroup, Merrill Lynch, Lehman Brothers, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley were also packed with the same kind of investments. As Gasparino writes, “For nearly a year before the firms confessed to holding tens of billions of dollars in this illiquid mortgage debt, they assured the world that their exposure was minimal. Merrill Lynch was possibly the most egregious of the lot, pointing out in repeated public disclosures through the summer of 2007 that its holdings were hedged with insurance and other means. By the end of October, Merrill finally woke up and realized that those hedges were anything but—the firm was bleeding red ink, and had to account for tens of billions of dollars in losses, which in the following year forced the firm to sell itself to Bank of America. But not before the damage was done. . . .I don’t know if that constitutes the legal definition of fraud, but it should.” The Obama administration has proven itself slow to wield indictments in the matter of torture, not on a matter of principle but of practicality. No one except Tannin and Cioffi have been indicted yet, but indicting a bunch of bankers when the system was on life support would hardly have been a prudent move. But as a banking collapse seems less and less likely, there seems less reason to treat the bankers with kid gloves. It will be a huge disappointment if the Obama administration, in the name of a justifiably angry nation, doesn’t institute new reforms and regulations, and it will be surprising, very surprising, if a few fat cats are not made to answer for their decisions in a court of law.

5.12 In The Washington Post, Richard Cohen contemplates Dick Cheney’s insistence that torturing al Qaeda operatives led them to disclose information that thwarted planned attacks and saved lives. Cheney says that he has seen CIA memos that substantiate such claims, and is now calling for President Obama–practically daring Obama–to release those memos. Cohen, a frequent Cheney critic, is wondering if Cheney may have a point. “In some sense, this is an arcane point since the United States insists it will not torture anymore — not that, the Bush people quickly add, it ever did. Torture is a moral abomination, and President Obama is right to restate American opposition to it. But where I reserve a soupçon of doubt is over the question of whether “enhanced interrogation techniques” actually work. That they do not is a matter of absolute conviction among those on the political left, who seem to think that the CIA tortured suspected terrorists just for the hell of it. . . .Cheney says he once had the memos in his files and has since asked that they be released. He’s got a point. After all, this is not merely some political catfight conducted by bloggers, although it is a bit of that, too. Inescapably, it is about life and death — not ideology, but people hurling themselves from the burning World Trade Center. If Cheney is right, then let the debate begin: What to do about enhanced interrogation methods? Should they be banned across the board, always and forever? Can we talk about what is and not just what ought to be?” By all means, yes, release the memos, if only because continuing to keep them secret will endow them with authority far beyond whatever they might actually say. But let’s not do this because Dick Cheney is suggesting this course of action. It’s long past time when we should be treating this man with any kind of respect. His theory of government was to scare America, to unleash a sense of low-grade hysteria whose principle beneficiaries would be himself and his little dog Bush. Cheney is the man who informed us that Saddam had biological and chemical weapons, which they did not. He told us that “the evidence is overwhelming” that al Qaeda had been in contact with Saddam, when such evidence was nearly nonexistent. He repeatedly asserted that Saddam had a nuclear weapons program. He did not. Perhaps he got all this bad info from the CIA–the very same CIA whose memos he would like to cite as proof of the efficacy of torture. Dick Cheney is a scaremonger who has proven that he has no credibility. His days of authority are over, and our days of listening to him should come to an end.

5.7 In The Washington Post, David Ignatius wonders whether Baby Boomers are prepared for retirement. The writing on the wall, he reveals, is brief: The answer is no. First, only about half of Americans have any employer-sponsored retirement plan at all, leaving the rest to depend on Social Security. “For a typical boomer worker, that would mean a monthly benefit of about $2,400 at a retirement age of 66 in 2020.” But among even those with some kind of employer-sponsored pension, few will have enough income. “How bad are baby boomers at financial planning? Extremely bad, according to Annamaria Lusardi and Olivia Mitchell of the National Bureau of Economic Research. They found that more than one-quarter of boomer households thought “hardly at all” about retirement and that financial literacy among boomers was “alarmingly low.” Half could not do a simple math calculation (divide $2 million by five) and fewer than 20 percent could calculate compound interest. The NBER researchers also found that, as of 2004, the typical boomer household was holding nearly half its wealth in the form of housing equity. Uh-oh.” One study held that for the 53 percent of households that hold at least one retirement account, the median combined balance was a mere $45,000. For households headed by persons between the ages of 55 and 64, the findings are not much more encouraging: the median value of all retirement accounts was just $100,000. A 65-year-old man retiring last month could use that $100,000 would buy an annuity that would pay a paltry $700 a month for life.

What’s the answer? Save more, of course. But I suppose we could always try to act in a selfish, me-first manner. We Boomers have always been pretty good at that.

4.23 As ironic as it is to hear former Vice President Cheney propose the publication of secret government documents, he makes an excellent suggestion–indeed, let’s see the documents that tell us what information we gained from torturing enemy operatives. Let’s see the whole thing. Because what we’ve been told so far is not very convincing. As Tim Noah reported yesterday in Slate, advocates of waterboarding Khalid Sheik Mohammed say that it was while undergoing these procedures that he revealed the existence of the plot to fly a plane into the Library Tower in Los Angeles. However “In a White House press briefing, Bush’s counterterrorism chief, Frances Fragos Townsend, told reporters that the cell leader was arrested in February 2002, and `at that point, the other members of the cell [(later arrested] believed that the West Coast plot has been canceled, was not going forward.’ A subsequent fact sheet released by the Bush White House states, `In 2002, we broke up a plot by KSM to hijack an airplane and fly it into the tallest building on the West Coast.’ These two statements make clear that however far the plot to attack the Library Tower ever got . . . that plot was foiled in 2002. But Sheikh Mohammed wasn’t captured until March 2003. How could Sheikh Mohammed’s water-boarded confession have prevented the Library Tower attack if the Bush administration broke up that attack during the previous year?” So why were we waterboarding KSM 180 times in the month after we captured him? Think about it: we caught him on March 1, 2003. We began bombing Baghdad on March 19th. It says something about the Bush administration that even when its war plans were drawn up and its divisions deployed, they still hoped to find some evidence of al Qaeda’s relationship with Saddam.

4.23 With a week left before the fabled 100 day mark of the Obama administration arrives, we’ve learned two very important things about this president: first, he is easily the most personable president of the last half-century, something which he and his family and his dog exploit brilliantly; and second, either he is playing the inside political game better than anyone since FDR, or he is a twig hut waiting for a strong wind. What we’ve been given by Obama in these early months are are gestures, symbols and rhetoric, which is fine–the gestures, symbols and rhetoric have all been pitch perfect: the open hand, the open smile, the open mind. But the other attribute Obama has displayed is patience. It was interesting this week to listen to Obama’s critics on the right talk about his appearance with Hugo Chavez, and his critics on the left talk about what the banks are doing: in both cases, the critics are frustrated that Obama isn’t doing more–isn’t giving the back of his hand to Chavez, isn’t taking over the banks and whacking the zombies. Habitues of a fast-paced media culture, they all favor action, But one knows from life that patience is often the best managerial strategy, that some problems solve themselves, that sometimes big actions can cause as much turmoil as they abate, and that small actions that solve part of a problem can reverberate across the landscape and neutralize the rest of the issue. In these tense times, there is nothing harder than to have patience–think of Kipling’s line about keeping one’s head while all others are losing theirs. So far Obama has played a very cool hand. But all the chickens of the Bush administration are coming home to roost, and hard decisions are going to have to be made about who is going to bear the costs and losses. The first 100 days are coming to end–let’s see how we feel on Labor Day.

4.19 Writing in The Wall Street Journal, Peggy Noonan sees the recession sending Americans back to a simpler life, and being better off for it:

“The New York of the years 1750 to 2008—a city that existed for money and for all the arts and delights and beauties money brings—is for the first time going to struggle with questions about its reason for being. This will cause profound dislocations. For a good while the young will continue to flock in, for cheaper rents. Artists will still want to gather with artists—you cannot pick up the Metropolitan Museum and put it in Alma, Mich. But there will be a certain diminution in the assumption of superiority on which New York has long run, and been allowed, by America, to run. More predictions. The cities and suburbs of America are about to get rougher-looking. This will not be all bad. There will be a certain authenticity chic. Storefronts, pristine buildings—all will spend less on upkeep, and gleam less. So will humans. People will be allowed to grow old again. There will be a certain liberation in this. There will be fewer facelifts and browlifts, less Botox, less dyed hair among both men and women. They will look more like people used to look, before perfection came in.” It was Noonan, of course, whose airy poetry helped Ronald Reagan usher in the Theology of the Free Market which has so dramatically come to ruin. Here, as is her wont, she has churned up some simplistic observations (her speciality) which she aims to pass off as perceptive. All she is doing is climbing into her personal Wayback Machine, and picturing the bygone 1970s, without any recognition that the unique combination of factor which produced the seventies are altogether different than the factors at work today. You can’t say she’s going to be proven wrong, but she has already proven to be painfully unimaginative, with no real capacity to see how the new constantly reinvigorates the old, preventing true Groundhog Day experiences.

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4.18 Cara saw Demetri Martin

4.16 “Is Susan Boyle ugly,” asks Tanya Gold in The Guardian, `or are we?” In case you’ve been living in a cave for the last week, Boyle is the woman–described by Gold as “small and rather chubby, with a squashed face, unruly teeth and unkempt hair. . . [wearing] a gold lace dress, which made her look like a piece of pork sitting on a doily”–who performed a song from Les Miserables with impeccable strength and beauty on a TV show called Britain’s Got Talent, setting off a cascade of astonishment and amazement, as well as six million You Tube hits.

Why are we so shocked when “ugly” women can do things, rather than sitting at home weeping and wishing they were somebody else? Men are allowed to be ugly and talented. . . .But a woman has to have the bright, empty beauty of a toy – or get off the screen. We don’t want to look at you. . . . It wasn’t singer Susan Boyle who was ugly on Britain’s Got Talent so much as our reaction to her.” Score one for Gold, although in fairness, by the time we see see someone with such an amazing voice on television, an army of helpful handlers has almost always spotted the talent on the way up and contributed various beautification services. Gold rightly holds Boyle up as the poster child for victims of unfairly low expectations, but I’d be willing to bet we’ll never see such an unstyled Boyle again.

4.15 Saw The Graduate at the Burns Center, with remarks by Mark Harris

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4.9 Visited Sagamore Hill with Ginny

4.7 Conecticut women win NCAA, go 39-0

4.6 Cara gets learner’s permit; North Carolina wins NCAA

4.3 Visited Mom in Maryland; attended reception for poli sci graduates at LaSalle

4.2 Taught first class at Marymount Manhattan

3.28 Diner with the Schmidts at Goldfish; not good

2.23 Mel Gibson on Jimmy Kimmel–funny! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wpdYqqdNGl0

2.22 Oscars: Was it the best Oscar show I’ve ever seen? (not a big hurdle.) Admittedly, I had low expectations going in–no real contests in the big categories, no movie, with the exception of Rachel Getting Married, that I was particularly keen to see again.What a pleasant surprise! Hugh Jackman was terrific. There is something very charming about watching a handsome, talented guy risk making a fool of himself in front of his peers. The second number, the tribute to musicals, was a bit all over the place, but if you don’t like Jackman and Beyonce, then you don’t like home cookin’. Also, bringing out past winners to praise the performances of this year’s nominees was especially effective. To have one of the gods step down from the pantheon and bestow a tribute, in what were pretty perceptive and well-written remarks (kudos to you, oh show writer whose name I do not know), must have had more meaning than showing a ten-second clip, as was always done in the past. Some things fell flat, but Sophia Loren looked terrific, Tina Fey and Steve Martin and Ben Stiller were funny (a round of applause for Natalie Portman for playing the thankless role of straight woman), and the whole thing ended before midnight. Good show!

2.22 That chowderheaded woman who hosts the Sunday morning show on WABC TV actually said, “We going to talk to Hugh Jackman, who’d like to see his fellow Australian Heath Ledger walk off with a posthumous Oscar.” We all would, and we would talk about it forever.

2.20 We see The Class at the Burns with the Parkers.

2.18 Cara buys a guitar

2.14 Cara’s sweet 16 party

2.1 Super Bowl XLIII. Excellent game, won by the Steelers. A good contest, another in a recent spate of exciting championship games. Whatever happened to the blowouts?

1.31 Back from London. See blog for details.

1.23 Off to London.

1.20 Obama sworn in. Good address, but nothing brilliant.

1.15 Miracle on the Hudson. US Airways plane with 155 people on board ditched into the Hudson River,

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after striking geese upon takeoff from LaGuardia. It was 22 degrees. All survived.

1.11 Giants lose. That’s all right–liberating, in a way.

1.3 Went to the movies with Josh and Debbie Parker.

1.1 New Year’s Day at Brill-Jensens. All the children, all grown-up.

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