Go to Jail, Go Directly to Jail

Ahhh . . .  the iconic board game, Monopoly®, certainly had a lot to teach, and seems to be relevant today.

At an early age I understood the importance of owning the railroads, ala Andrew Carnegie, and strived to include mid-level real estate purchases as I positioned my holdings around the board.

Among its many lessons, the game also taught players the importance of strategizing; while Chance and Community Chest both included two “Go to Jail” and two “Get Out of Jail Free” cards.

While we find ourselves in the middle of an IRS targeting probe and missing emails – another questionable government debacle in the growing number of questionable government debacles – their go-to honchos are anything but. Lois Lerner’s infamous taking the Fifth, while others provide non-answers, rambling answers, luke-warm answers, confused answers, Bush did it answers, lack of funding answers, finger-pointing answers, partisan answers and bi-partisan answers as they make their way around the board of the oversight committee.

IRS Commissioner, John Koskinen, et al, have been strategizing and rounding the board – but someone should tell them Congress is not playing a game. Have the stonewallers run out of Chances? Will Congress play their card, “Go to Jail, Go Directly to Jail.”?

As life unfolded, I also learned that somewhere in the world you will find your twin. “Someone that looks so similar to you that the striking resemblance causes people to do a double-take.” Please read, I’m Confused: Who’s the Puppet?, posted September 20, 2013.

So, what does the IRS and having a twin in the world have in common with Monopoly, you might ask . . . you tell me.

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen's twin, Mr. Monopoly.

The Double Entendres in Publishing

I see it in my mind – a room filled with staffers and the editor. They have to decide on the title of a book. This is not just any book. After all, it’s a book written by an established public servant who has stoked a love/hate relationship with the public. A lawyer, wife of a governor, first lady, senator, presidential candidate, secretary of state – you know, accomplished. So, the title has to convey a seriousness . . . a respectability, if you will.

With all of the titles floated, tossed out, and under consideration, what editor thought the title for Hillary Clinton’s book, “Hard Choices” was apropos?

Better yet, why did Hillary think that title was befitting her experiences? Did she believe placing her signature above the title would add the necessary seriousness and respectability? Didn’t anyone see the glaring issue with that title? Or did Simon & Schuster follow Penguin Books wink-wink-nod-nod with the title they chose to represent disgraced 4-Star General and CIA chief, “All In: The Education of General David Petraeus.”

Wasn’t the country dragged through enough voyeurism and unwilling education on the peccadillos of her husband which unfolded during his presidency; but, more so, wasn’t she personally and publicly humiliated enough?

Sounds more like a Bill Clinton autobiography, and just so you know . . . I like President Clinton.

What were the other suggestions for the title of her book: Firm Hand, Behind the Door, Under Pressure . . . ewww, can’t get my mind off of her husband’s shenanigans. I for one, consider her approval for the title of her book as lacking judgement and poor.

Hillary’s “choice” doesn’t bode well for her decision-making capabilities, or does it . . . are we being punk’d?

Exposing Vivian Maier

An extremely private person who looks at the world through their oft-skewed perspective collecting seemingly unimportant things could be referred to as an eccentric, or maybe even a hoarder. But one person’s innocuous collection can become a treasure trove for another.

Within an untold number of storage lockers filled with books, newspaper clippings, knick-knacks, and the like; decades-long experiences of life were plucked from the depths of those impersonal walls. After years of obscurity, a very personal collection surfaced which documented moments in time through Vivian Maier’s steadfast perspective.

Self portrait: Vivian Maier

Vivian Maier began life in the Bronx, New York, with her French-born mother and Austrian-born father in 1926. Although her parent’s marriage didn’t survive, she lived with her mother along with Jeanne Bertrand, an award-winning portrait photographer, while in New York until the age of four. At some point Vivian and her mother went to France, and after numerous to-and-fro trans-Atlantic trips, Vivian returned to the United States in 1951.

And, it was then that her career as a nanny began. Did Vivian choose the life of a nanny because it coincided with her unencumbered free spirit? Possibly, but what we do know is the families for which she worked were not aware of the quiet, unassuming genius in their midst.

Vivian’s work captured life unfolding primarily in New York City and Chicago through the lens of her camera. Politics, social issues, race, class, gender, and inequality were among her subjects; and her career as a nanny was ever-present showing itself time after time as she documented the experience of children.

What’s the big deal, you may ask – we are awash with street photographers, what makes Vivian Maier so genius?

Maier was primarily a self-taught photographer who fastidiously cataloged her body of work. Vivian clicked the button on her camera to take the photograph, and never returned. Her images were left only to the moment in time, burned onto undeveloped spools of film negatives, and her memory – she never saw most of her images.

Due to non-payment to the storage facility, in 2007, the hoard-filled contents of Maier’s lockers were auctioned off to RPN Sales. They then held a subsequent auction, and one of the buyers was John Maloof. His life has never been the same.

Maloof was lucky enough to purchase Vivian’s breathtaking, lifetime body of work . . . well over 120,000 unexposed photographs which reveal a remarkable level of composition and sophistication. Reconstructing most of the archive, Maloof enthusiastically leads the project and spearheads sharing the genius of Street Photographer, Vivian Maier.

Never married, never a mom, would this intensely private nanny have wanted her treasures shared? After all, weren’t they hers, and hers alone to methodically catalog in the quiet recesses of her own mind? Would she have appreciated all the fan-fare, and having her life exposed?

We’ll probably never know the answer to those probing question, nonetheless, we have become the beneficiaries of this unique woman’s contribution.

The Tortoise and the Hare

This Easter, it looks like the Aesop’s Fables hare has forced himself on the amiable tortoise. Most likely this year’s race will end in a photo finish.

Apparently the hare is looking for a win, but would be happy with a place or show.

Sour grapes!

I’m Confused: Who’s the Puppet?

It has been said that somewhere in the world you will find your twin. Someone that looks so similar to you that the striking resemblance causes people to do a double-take.

The world did that double-take upon the reading of the “Report on the Alleged Use of Chemical Weapons in the Ghouta Area of Damascus on 21 August 2013″ written by United Nations inspectors.

I thought this serious assessment on the tragic event would have prompted Syrian President Bashar al-Asaad to pay heed, but it seems Asaad’s twin was the one who read the one-page report which concluded “. . . that any use of chemical weapons by anyone under any circumstances is a grave violation of international law.”

Bert, from Sesame Street fame, has a striking resemblance to Syria's president. He was photographed reading the United Nations report on chemical weapons used in Syria while Syrian President Bashar al-Assad blames the rebels for the attacks.

I’m confused. At this point, I’m not really sure who the puppet is . . . Putin, Asaad, the United Nations, the United States – or Bert?

Salamander Week

Last week I happened upon the NatGeo channel which was showing the first of a six-part series, Inside the American Mob.

So far it’s been pretty interesting. The undercover FBI agent, Donnie Brasco, infiltrated the organization during a six-year period. After amassing a wealth of information on the inner workings of the Mafia, Brasco’s findings netted 200 indictments and over 100 convictions.

The film, Donnie Brasco, starring Johnny Depp, was a pretty good overview of the real-life FBI agent Joseph Pistone’s unprecedented infiltration.

At some point it was commercial time, and I experienced Shark Week’s “Snuffy the Seal,” or was it a well-placed warning?

Mr. Butterfly's 15-second flight.

When my children were little we lived in Florida, and I brought my son to the Science Center’s Little Learners summer camp program. It brought science to youngsters, and was very age-appropriate.

There were many hands-on experiments which we loved, and I also signed him up for the Butterfly Growing Kit. We received a white oak-tag like house with clear plastic windows, sugar feeder, etc.

We carefully and responsibly charted our egg’s progress as it morphed into a larva, and onto a pupa. Then the day we were waiting for came . . . our pupa morphed into a butterfly.

We didn’t have any news coverage, and our neighborhood didn’t assemble for the freeing of our well-cared-for butterfly. But my family was very excited . . . we did a very good job. We were about to release this beautiful butterfly into the wonderous world.

We carefully carried the house outside and opened up its roof for the butterfly to spread its wings and fly. Mr. Butterfly found his way out, fluttered three arm lengths away from me to our tree in the front yard, and gracefully landed on a bottom branch.

As quickly as Mr. Butterfly landed on the branch, that’s how quickly a salamander pounced. The salamander whacked him, I literally heard the crunching of Mr. Butterfly’s wings. I felt like I was part of the code: You know, it’s your closest friend who brings you to the event, but you never come out alive.

Horrified, I sprang into action to distract my son from witnessing Darwin’s cycle of life La Cosa Nostra style.

I was deeply affected, and to this day I share this story with others . . . including you.

Snuffy the Seal’s fate cut too close to the bone.

The hit on Snuffy was captured by news cameras on the pier covering the event.

His public execution was perpetrated by a soldier working for Don Dorsallini, aka . . . the Sharkfather.

This video contains graphic material. Viewer discretion is advised.


It’s “All In” the Title

Paula Broadwell, posing in happier times – is that a smirk I see?

If you’ve been living under a rock, Paula Broadwell is the co-author of our disgraced 4-star General and CIA chief David Petraeus’ biography, “All In: The Education of General David Petraeus.”

Is it just me, or is the title of this book inappropriate knowing what we now know?

Even the sub-title seems a tad disturbing at this point.

Or, was the naming of the book an inside wink-wink, nod-nod.

You be the judge.

Like a Fish Out of Water

Easily viewed and appreciated by high-flying jets or space craft, Durrat Al Bahrain consists of 15 man-made islands which have risen out of the water.

This $6 billion urban project was created at the southern end of Bahrain, a small island off the coast of Saudi Arabia in the Persian Gulf.

Nearing completion, residents, tourists and retail will mingle among the villas, apartments, mosques, hotels, golf course, beach, boating, shops, malls, cafes, restaurants and convention center. Developers Atkins and KMC Bovis insist, “Development and environment can exist harmoniously.”

Saudi Arabia, do you have an EPCOT?

Go fish.

Smile: The Future of Medicine

Princeton University is working on a removable, chip-like tattoo. When affixed to tooth enamel, it can detect harmful bacteria and transmit the information in real time.

The biosensor is made of silk strands, gold wires thinner than a spider’s web and graphene. It offers quick, wireless transmittal of information and could eventually monitor a patient’s health.

What it doesn’t offer is how to achieve a long-lasting bond, or how to protect the biosensor from teeth brushing.

These Fries Leave a Bad Taste

Are the Golden Arches tarnished?

A McDonald’s advertising campaign has gotten a super-size amount of attention. It was designed to simulate french fries reaching up in the sky, and could be seen for three miles.

The questionable sign in Chicago, The Best Fries on the Planet, has offended many due to its eery likeness to the annual memorial of the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks – Tribute in Light.