Author Archives: Jim

A Problem in the Bronx Zoo

We share 98% of our DNA with the Lowland Gorilla.  Can we say that we are fairly close on the evolutionary tree? Among the features that we have in common are opposable thumbs and finger nails. Finger nails? Finger nails!  … Continue reading

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The Feathers Were Ruffled in the Den

Although the classification of pickles at first glance has little bearing on the brief tale I am about to relate… but in so much that I experience that is the “now”, there is a story from the “then” that is … Continue reading

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Roar of the Greasepaint, Smell of the Crowd

In the Spring of 1967 I took part in Hamden Hall Country Day School’s production of George Bernard Shaw’s “Androcles and the Lion”.  I was the Lion. In spite of the prominence of the name in the title, the role … Continue reading

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Consider THE Dog

I was born and raised in New Haven, CT; and as such, from birth I was hardwired for Pizza, or more appropriately, groomed to participate in the debate over the relative merits and ranking of New Haven’s three anointed Pizza … Continue reading

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THE MAMALOSHEN

In 1791 Catherine the Great created the Pale of Settlement.  It was the territory within Russia where Jews were permitted to live. It included all of Belarus, Lithuania and Moldova, much of present-day Ukraine, parts of eastern Latvia. And with Second Partition of Poland in … Continue reading

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So, Felicity it is

Felicity?  I know, I know… not a great name for a Guinea Hen!  But what could we do?  The fancy, shmancy breeder had already named her Felicity!  I wanted to name her Margaret, or Elizabeth, or Eleanor, or Sacagawea, or … Continue reading

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A Year in Wine Tasting

As some already know… I am the lucky guy on the Grapes Team who gets to lead wine tastings for our local customers… something I have been doing for 17+ years. Since January 1 I have hosted 64 tastings, both … Continue reading

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I Voted!

And here’s the great news!  In Connecticut they allow you to vote on behalf of other people, too.  You know… folks who can’t make it to the polling place.  Not only that, I got to vote for folks who live … Continue reading

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Richard Parker’s Fall Soup & Gearbox Sangiovese

It’s wonderful to be relieved of responsibility of preparing a Sunday repast. On an Autumn day, leaves drifting downward in the crisp air, having a man frog on hand to labor in the kitchen is a good thing.  And today … Continue reading

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Games Before the Digital Age

Having just acquired a rather nasty case of shingles, a reminder of my overly protected childhood (but clear evidence of not overly protected enough) when I contracted chicken pox, I find myself in a fair amount of pain. My effected … Continue reading

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Lunch with Kara Morrow

Columbus Magnet School, I’m thinking 1988.  My Shaina was in Carol Lewis’ kindergarten class, and I was taking advantage of a Wednesday off from work to join in for lunch.  Carol would take wallpaper samples from area home decorating businesses, … Continue reading

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A Business Partnership in Antiquity Gone Bad

Before crossing the Rubicon River in 44BCE, Julius Caesar took time to time to write to his ally and colleague, Brutus… Dear Brutus, I am ready to make my return to Rome.  I am bringing a Legion, and knowing that … Continue reading

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For My Friends and Family

Some of you were there to see Sandy at her worst… the encephalitis a raging storm gripping her mind and body.  I have said to some of you, “I would have gladly signed a contract with God two and half … Continue reading

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Linguine Bolognese with Château Les Mongettes ’11

My old friend Art Riccio could weave stories about his “from-scratch” sauces… hours in the making, putting to shame anything pre-made.  It’s a bit intimidating to have a buddy (who I have known since 7th grade) who watched his parents … Continue reading

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Gen’l Jackson’s Grilled Little Necks & Sancerre

The recipe for this dish was inspired by the “Hero of New Orleans”.  On January 8, 1815 Andrew Jackson in defense of New Orleans led 5,000 soldiers of several militias from the western States and territories and won a decisive … Continue reading

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Thank You Dr. Horoscope!

OK… I admit it.  I have never put much stock in horoscopes.  I know lotsa folks follow their daily horoscopes.  Good folk.  As a brief aside, and not to confuse the issue, Adolf Hitler wouldn’t make a move before he … Continue reading

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My Family

To say that my Mother was a “pack rat” is a major understatement.  It’s been years since our home at 25 Alston Ave was sold.  After the sale of the house, boxes of “stuff” found their way into the homes … Continue reading

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So, I had this dream…

Dreams, dreams… they are the wonder of my mind.  A collection of events, places, people and time frame that are roughly sewn into a patch-work quilt of impression.  Lacking a clear beginning or end.  Fact spiced with fiction, or fantasy … Continue reading

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Déjà Vu, All Over Again: Act II, Scene 2

“But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Juliet is the sun. Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon, Who is already sick and pale with grief, That thou her maid art far more … Continue reading

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The Courtship of Reginald & Gwyneth

R: Musca domestica… The adults are about 5-8 mm long. Their thorax is grey with four longitudinal dark lines on the back. The whole body is covered with hair-like projections. The females are slightly larger than the males, and have a … Continue reading

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Welcome Desdemona!

You might think I’m crazy spending $22,000 on a truffle pig.  Crazy like fox!  Do you know how much truffles cost an ounce?  They are not called “black diamonds” for nothing!  Napoleon III had a 150 carat truffle mounted in … Continue reading

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Note on the Fridge

Calpurnia: I’m off to Pompey’s Theatre and then to the Senate.  Much to do before I take the army to crush the Parthian Empire.  Meantime, before I leave I have to bring the Senators to heel.  And before I crack … Continue reading

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Turks & Caicos Pork Chops w/Mango-Mint Salsa

Maybe I’m just fed up with the winter.  Or maybe I’m thinking that a year ago I was walking my youngest daughter down the aisle in Turks & Caicos, enjoying the turquoise Caribbean Sea and the amazing fresh, spicy and … Continue reading

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From the Joke Library

This has been in my inventory for many years… first told to me by my Brother-in-Law Alan.  I took it off the shelf yesterday and shared it with someone with whom I regularly trade stories.  Today he asked me for an abbreviated … Continue reading

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Osso Bucco and Burgundy

This is a favorite dish of mine.  And it’s “showpiece” for great wine. The recipe itself I took from Food Network’s Giada DeLaurentis. It is simple to follow and is textbook example of a great dish not needing to be … Continue reading

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Courtesy of Lynn

I hate to admit it… but I am finding some of these “old people” jokes that my sister keeps forwarding to me to be pretty good.  I’d like to think that the ones I laugh at are purely funny, rather … Continue reading

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Red State Casserole w/Marley Bush Vine Blend

Perfect for Sunday supper, great to enjoy at the ski lodge or on any snowy day… I am almost embarrassed by how easy this dish is to prepare.  Almost.  I could lead you down the path, recounting how I soaked … Continue reading

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THREE FACES OF HELL

I knew that he loved the sun, and even with his eyes closed his face seemed to enjoy the spray of sun that filtered thru the blinds of his room.  If his hospital bed were closer to the window he … Continue reading

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Leave it to Hammacher Schlemmer

So… tootsies cold are they?  And regardless of the boot, overshoe or thermal socks, you just can’t get your precious toes warm enough on those frigid winter days! Rest easy… the astute buyers at Hammacher Schlemmer have found the perfect … Continue reading

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High Tide in the Sea of Copernicus

Carthage House Chatham, Massachusetts September 20, 1996 My Dearest Jimmy, Now that my teaching days are well past, this is my favorite season.  It’s warm enough during the day to still enjoy our yard and a walk on the beach; … Continue reading

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TOAD HALL STEW & BODEGAS OLARRA RECIENTE ROSÉ

“’Oh, yes, yes, in there,’ said Toad impatiently. ‘I’d have said anything in there. You’re so eloquent, dear Badger, and so moving, and so convincing, and put all your points so frightfully well–you can do what you like with me … Continue reading

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Zmartwychwastanie

I remember this as if it happened yesterday.  We were from a small isolated forest village near the Vistula.  Our village was so small that it made other small villages look like cities.  Maybe that’s why they didn’t send a … Continue reading

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The Last Supper

{March 14, 44 BCE} CAESAR:  Calpurnia!  I’m home! CALPURNIA: Waaaaaaaaaaah! CAESAR:  What is it now Calpurnia? CALPURNIA:  Waaaaaaaaaaaaah!  Oh, Julie I feel so horrible!  Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah! CAESAR:  Settle down Calpurnia and ‘splain to me what happen’. CALPURNIA:  Well… I know that … Continue reading

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Sunday Evening at Sandy’s Table

I picked up this recipe from Cuisine at Home, and it was simply named “Tasty Beef Stew”. Easy to follow and assemble; but thinking that the name was lacking, I re-named it in honor of one of my favorite Peter … Continue reading

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The Incident at the Pool

I stared down at my jambalaya, took a glance at the Ranger-Bruin hockey game at the screen in the far corner of Ash Creek Saloon and savored a sip of my Wild Turkey Rye on ice.  Folks to the left … Continue reading

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The Day of Rabbit’s Worry

On a day that I was thinking about, our friend Rabbit found himself in a fit of worry and agitation.  He paced the greeting spot of his well tended home that was comfortably tucked into a corner of 100 Acre … Continue reading

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Paella & Dom. du Grand Boujassot Sablet ’10

If you are one to fret and labor of the choice of wine to go along side of a dish… fret no longer.  Years ago I discovered a dish that offers fool proof opportunity for wine pairings.  The dish is … Continue reading

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A Man of Letters & An Invisible Rabbit

I call it a “mail box surprise”!  Amongst a few bills and some irritating political adverts, a letter.  A real letter! A good friend chooses to communicate with me not by phone, not by email, or texting… but in the … Continue reading

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Bagel Man and Shmear

… or why it is not a good idea to have two martinis before story time   “Let’s see… Berenstain Bears?  Winnie the Pooh?  Bread and Jam for Frances?  I love the drawings in that book.” “Dad… you always fall asleep when … Continue reading

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Cranial Fracking

There are gems, and then there are the real gems.  This is from a New Yorker‘s “Shouts & Murmurs” section written by Ian Frazier. I love this type of elaborate, detail filled comedy writing. CRANIAL FRACKING Recently, I signed a lease … Continue reading

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Father Knows Best

Emperor Penguins endure the harshest climate on earth… the Antarctic.  The Penguins mate for life and share in caring for the single egg that is produced during the winter breeding season.  After laying the egg, the female transfers the egg … Continue reading

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Theft of the Blue Chair

Go ahead, ask me why am I sitting in my blue club chair, naked as a jaybird, in the meat locker of the Stop & Shop in Southbury, reading Sir Thomas More’s Dialogue of Comfort against Tribulation (in the original … Continue reading

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Soft Shell Crabs and Scubla Pomédes

OK… I admit it. When the new issue of Wine Spectator arrives, the first page I look at is the last page! I can’t wait to see the featured chef, the featured recipe and the recommended wines. The May issue … Continue reading

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As I Was Saying

My kids suggested that a return would be beneficial for me.  So here I am, in the town of my childhood… Pequot Landing, Connecticut… in the section known as the Village, a mile as the crow flies from Long Island … Continue reading

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These Are The Facts!

FACT: Gaius Julius Caesar was murdered on March 15, 44 BCE… the Ides of March. FACT: Caesar was forewarned about his impending doom by a soothsayer. FACT:  The soothsayer did not have a union card. FACT:  The soothsayer did not have a valid permit … Continue reading

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I Ain’t Superstitious

My Father took it upon himself to remind everyone in our family when a birthday was imminent.  It went something like this, “Your Sister’s birthday is on Wednesday, don’t forget to call her!”   This would be repeated, as necessary, throughout … Continue reading

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Painting with Lenny

Hello again dear friends! When I was driving my mother to the airport yesterday, we passed by this charming wooded glen that framed a pond… there was this narrow dirt road that meandered into the distance… actually it was an Interstate; … Continue reading

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Adult Macaroni & Cheese

Macaroni and cheese is another “comfort food” that can act as a gustatory return to foods we loved when we were kids. And there is a little kid in us that never departs! Call me short-changed; but I never had “mac and cheese” … Continue reading

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The Visit

“I think it all began when my parents wouldn’t let me wear blue jeans…” “Wouldn’t let you?” “Well… that’s not entirely right.  I didn’t know that blue jeans existed until I went to college!  Well look… sure the other kids … Continue reading

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Bison Meatloaf with a Spanish Red

We didn’t call it comfort food when I was a kid. We called it food. It was served in generous portions, and in my home, where my Grandmother “Mommie Soph” ruled in the kitchen, comfort food could have been re-defined … Continue reading

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Cioppino & Albariño

This is the deal. On Friday I am responsible for the dinner and the wine. I can grill, I can roast, stir-fry… re-heat. It’s my call. Sometimes, take-out, or I can pick out a restaurant. Killing a raccoon on Swamp … Continue reading

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The Field Marshall Ish Kabibble

True.  Nothing makes a man feel better than wearing a uniform!  Few know of my military background. My Father’s Grandfather served nobly with Chinese Gordon at Khartoum (he was his tailor).  For skill and bravery under fire (he had to … Continue reading

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Basic Rock (with apologies to Mel Brooks & Carl Reiner)

This story started in a simple way… It took place years ago. It was a Saturday afternoon, mid-September, Dad was at work and Mom and I traveled to Woodbury to visit my Aunt & Uncle. “I thought that the New Year was on January 1!”

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So… Have You Seen The New Penny?

My day was not going well… nothing that $100,000 or a whisky wouldn’t cure.  And then I looked at the change I got from Pauli’s Bagels first thing in the morning (a plain “everything” bagel and a grapefruit juice), and included therein was … Continue reading

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Uh-Oh! Part II

It appears that the U.S. Mint has time on its hands.  Understandable, I suppose.  Creating the same coins every day… every week… every month. I can imagine all the excitement that must be generated when they gear up to change … Continue reading

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Ten Things I Remember About Being a Kid on a July Day

1. No School. As oft mentioned in these pages, I hated all forms of school (except gym).  It began with Grade Four, and my dislike continued unabated.  It could have rained every day in July; but no school?  There was … Continue reading

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Outside the Lines

Zack and I have been trading playlists for a bit.  We both love music.  And I am impressed with his devotion to current music and his interest in music from “my” era.  Still, there seemed to be something missing in our exchanges. 

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Why I Am Not Going To Summer Camp This Year

Let’s be clear on this.  They can’t make me! If I have to I will remain in this bathroom forever.  I will turn off all the lights.  I will grab the plush bath towels taken from the Connaught Hotel in … Continue reading

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The Landing

I pressed my nose and hands to the glass, unconcerned by the finger prints and nose shmears left behind.  Yes.  It was good to be a kid on Alston Avenue in the Winston household where a smudge here or there … Continue reading

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Reason #5 Not to Move to Atlanta (or the reason why Sherman put the city to the torch)

Atlanta: home to Vito Goldberg’s Pizzeria, and home to the “Dirty Diaper Pie.” Made on a caraway pizza crust, a tasty tomato pie, topped with homemade chopped chicken liver, onions and crisp bacon. Wash it down with an ice cold … Continue reading

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Mama Mia, That’s a Spicy Meatball!

What could I do?  Is it a crime to laugh?  OK, so I was by myself… sort of.  I was in Norwalk’s TD North Bank to take care of a couple of things.  Just one person standing at the teller’s … Continue reading

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Penguins of the Caribbean

Emperor Penguins endure the harshest conditions of the Antarctic winter to breed.  With air temperatures of -40F, wind gusts of 75mph, the males of the colony cluster together into tight huddles, balancing a single egg on the top of the … Continue reading

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Mrs. Tilden Suffers a Meltdown

“OK class… here are your parts for today. Gifford you’re Caesar. Martin you’re Antony. Jean-Margaret you’re Calpurnia. Elizabeth you’ll be Portia. Gaylord… Cicero. Lawrence… Brutus. Tall Simon… Cassius. Red Hair Simon… Casca. And Fitzhugh, you’re Titus Vestricious Spurinna the Soothsayer…” … Continue reading

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Meeting the Winemaker & the Breathtaking Wines of Domaine Leflaive

Someone whispered at our table, “the four toughest jobs in the world in order of difficulty: Winemaker of Domaine Leflaive, Mayor of New York City, Coach of Notre Dame Football and President of the United States.” John and I were … Continue reading

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Resolutions, And The New Year

OK, OK…. look, I was meant to get this out before… like maybe between Christmas and New Years.  Or at least, last week.  But… you know, I’ve been very, very busy. First, there was all that snow, and the drop in … Continue reading

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Basketball, As They Know It

It’s not often that we are visited by life forms from another planet… or life forms that declare themselves as such, in a clear manner.  Unlike, for example, Roger Clemmons, Boy George and Sarah Palin, who have kept their true … Continue reading

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Proud of You All

Well, it’s like this… I got to thinking about Mommie Soph.  That my memories were tweaked by sharing a standing rib-roast with Alan, Lynn, Andy, Sandy, Shaina and John on Christmas Eve may seem a bit out of place.  Christmas … Continue reading

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A Private Space

There are those days, those times, when we need a private space. Some place that provides us with a sense of security. The place could be mental or physical. Even for a young prince of the household… which I certainly … Continue reading

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Not Breakfast at Tiffany’s

“I’m Hung-over. I need food.” “Me, too… well, not hung-over. What looks good?” “I dunno… let’s see.  The lumberjack omelet?  3 eggs, sausage, bacon, ham, monterey jack cheese.  Anything missing?” “That looks good.” “Hey.  Do you go to those Chamber … Continue reading

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The Secret is Out!!

Sandy and I have, what you might call, pet backgrounds.  Specifically, dogs.  I love dogs probably more than Sandy.  I mean… more than Sandy loves dogs. *cheesh* Talk about your freudian slips! We’ve talked about different breeds.  I am committed … Continue reading

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The Golem of Carthage Rd

This happened years ago.  It was a grey March Sunday, and I can remember it like it was yesterday. “How manifold are Thy works, O Lord! In wisdom hast Thou made them all; The earth is full of Thy creatures. … Continue reading

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Maximum and Minimum

“Be good. I’ll be right back.” That was Marge.  I wish I had a rawhide chew for every time she told us to be good… and a bowl of chicken liver for every time she told us that she would … Continue reading

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Present Company and Absent Friends

“Ladies and gentlemen!  Light your cigars!” An unusual way to begin a “toast”… but we should expect nothing less.  After all, it’s Clayton Burrows who we are about to honor. Too bad he is not with us.  Too bad he … Continue reading

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Clayton

Several years ago I began a piece… it was really to be an extended sketch of both Clayton and James.  I felt there was an amazing story there… of the connection of the two people. I was able to put … Continue reading

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Life As We Know It

From an address to the Royal Academy of Sciences by Stephen Hawking, distinguished Theoretical Physicist and Cosmologist, Member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Fellow of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge and … Continue reading

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Paige & Milton, The Second Season

Emperor Penguins will stay with the same mate for the duration of their lives.  Each year the female penguin transfers her egg to her mate for an incubation period that lasts for sixty-four days.  While the female heads to the sea … Continue reading

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Minutes From The Council of Sages

{Before the establishment of Tiberias and Caesaria as centers for great Talmudic discourse and for the written codification of Jewish Law, the great sages of Judaic knowledge formed what had been referred to as “The Council of Sages”, although in Aramaic Ganim Taybloch … Continue reading

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The Jonas

On a recent trip to the Nation’s Capital, this reporter took in a visit to the Smithsonian to see the new exhibit that is on display in the “Americana” Wing (close to the exhibit with Archie Bunker’s chair): The Jonas.   … Continue reading

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Castle On A Cloud

It was not their first walk together, nor would it be their last.  But it would be one that they both would remember; ’til the last great kreetisfer bird dropped from the sky. It was not his suggestion.  It was not … Continue reading

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Play It Again

The sun poured into that corner of the room thru the oversized windows.  He could have been sitting in a Palace.  The Hermitage? Schönbrunn Palace? But this is now, not then… not a scene from Amadeus. And the person at … Continue reading

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Making a Difference

In 1998 two couples (the Gottliebs and the Bowers) published a book, 1000 YEARS, 1000 PEOPLE… Ranking the Men and Women Who Shaped the Millennium.  The millennium that they referred to covered years 1000 to 1999.  I love the book.  … Continue reading

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The Curse of Toplitsky

Perhaps you’ve heard the old joke… “Mrs. Feinman, what a magnificent ring!” “Yes, and it’s a legendary diamond!” “Legendary?  Do you mean that it has a curse?” “Of course it does… the curse is Mr. Feinman!” The story I am … Continue reading

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The Ten Commandments, The Outtakes

The film The Ten Commandments debuted in 1956. Three hours and forty minutes long… the script contained 308 pages with 70 speaking parts. 14,000 extras and 15,000 animals (four legged extras) were used in the production.  Once movies started to make … Continue reading

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Caesar Takes A Chance

[The Ides of March. The Roman Forum, 44 B.C.] CAESAR:  Good morning boys! What a day for the game… I can’t wait to get started!  I’ll be the Dreadnaught! CASCA: OK.  I’ll be the Howitzer. LONGINUS:  Oh well… I guess it’s the Top … Continue reading

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Wines of Australia

On a land mass as big as nearly the Continental United Sates, Australia’s geography hardly seems suitable for viticulture.  The northern rim is a tropical climate covered in rainforest, woodland, grassland and mangrove swamp.  The massive interior is desert and … Continue reading

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Rose

One of the most misunderstood wines in America is Rose.  For many, it is “White Zinfandel.”  For others it is the first wine they drank to excess when they were well under age.  Do you remember sneaking into your parent’s … Continue reading

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Paige & Milton

“The Emperor Penguin breeds in the coldest environment of any bird species; air temperatures may reach −40 °F, and wind speeds may reach 89 mph. Water temperature is a frigid 28.8 °F,which is much lower than the Emperor Penguin’s average body temperature of … Continue reading

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Fantasy Drafts Out of Control

FRIENDS… This fantasy draft stuff is really getting silly… but, it’s finally entering into a zone where I can fully, and enthusiastically participate. I can’t believe there are people who are unfamiliar with Fantasy Leagues… but rather than risk embarassment … Continue reading

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Wine Tastings

Try it, you’ll like it!  Or maybe you won’t.  That’s the conundrum… a seemingly endless sea of wine, different wines, different vintages, different labels.  It’s all so confusing.  And when all is said and done, it’s still a matter of … Continue reading

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Syrah/Shiraz

You say tomato, I say tomahto.  Yes, Syrah and Shiraz are the same grape varietal (and Petite Sirah – known as Durif in France– is a completely a different varietal and a story for a different day). Its origin is … Continue reading

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Dessert Wine

It is ironic that on a night as a host, you may serve spectacular reds and whites during the course of a dinner, and if you take the extra step to serve a dessert wine, it will be that wine … Continue reading

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Why Bordeaux

Sometime after 48 AD the Roman Legions made it to St. Emilion and established vineyards to produce wine.  It’s a thirsty business, conquering the world. From these humble beginnings along the Gironde estuary and the Garonne and Dordogne Rivers, the … Continue reading

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Box of Chocklits

I will tell you what this is not… it is not a collection of my fifteen favorite songs (although I did compile a list of thirty-three favorite tunes four years ago, and three of those songs are included herein).  It … Continue reading

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Wines That Sparkle

We hear the distinctive pop and it signals the celebration about to begin.  Our eyes brighten as we watch the sparkling wine being slowly poured into a slender flute.  No other wine is as closely identified with those important occasions … Continue reading

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A Simple Question

“Jimbo, where do Republicans come from?” The question was posed by Max, age five.  We were on our way to the High Temple of Dinosaur Fossils in New Haven: Yale’s Peabody Museum.  Sometimes there are long breaks between questions and … Continue reading

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40 Years Ago

Where were you 40 years ago?  I watched our lunar landing from the train station of a Czech  border town.  I had been kicked off a night train going from Berlin to Vienna because I did not have a “transit visa.”  The border … Continue reading

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Chardonnay

America loves Chardonnay.  We drink more of it than of any other wine.  We grow it in virtually every State that is planted to vinifera vines.  We produce more of it than they do in France!  In the words of … Continue reading

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Wines of the Southern Rhone

Viticulture first appeared in the Rhone Valley around 600 BC; but it wasn’t until the 13th Century when the Papal See moved from Rome to Avignon that production of wine significantly expanded. In contrast to the Northern Rhone which is … Continue reading

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It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time

Sandy wasn’t keen on the idea at first.  I told her about the abundance of potassium contained in bananas. I admit it… I was trying to wean her off those expensive potassium pills she buys on aisle #1 in Stop & Shop. Yes, … Continue reading

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I Should Have Been Studying, But…

The young men who struggled to gain a foothold on Omaha Beach might not have grown up with television… but I did. I’d like to think that somewhere down the road, folks will look back at my generation and marvel … Continue reading

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