Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Guaranteed to Bring You a Smile

I for one am not sorry to see January get its bony ass on out of here. If this month is intended to serve as a window through which I can see how the remaining 11 slices of 2012 are going to be served to me, I think I shall just climb back into bed again with a note pinned to my chest, "Do Not Wake Up 'Til 2013."

As is the case with all things - as a general rule anyway - as bad as January has been, it has not been without its charms. Take for example the story of Santa Ana Zuloaga-Campuzano of Chicago. As an aside to my fellow Springsteen fans out there, given his age (30) he appears not to be this Santa Ana. Mr. Zuloaga-Campuzano was arrested by Chicago police in the wee small hours of last Sunday morning. When the police first encountered him, "he was sleeping in a 2002 Ford Expedition that was stopped in the median of 115th Street at South Doty Avenue in the Riverdale neighborhood, according to a police report. The vehicle was littered with empty beer cans, and Zuloaga-Campuzano mumbled, belched and laughed as he talked with officers, authorities said."

Even I have enough real-world awareness to recognize that what makes his tale one of humor and not one of tragedy or outrage is that he inflicted no harm on anyone but himself as a result of his night out on the town. He is reported to have told the police that he consumed eight beers, three shots of tequila and three shots of cognac prior to beginning his journey home. He is reported to have told the police that he simply stopped to go to sleep so that he would not hurt anyone. If it was not for what happened once he was taken into custody and to the Calumet District police station for processing, then the funniest part of this story might have been this piece of it: Asked to submit to a breath test, he refused, saying, "What's the point? I know I'm drunk," according to a police report.

It is however precisely because of what happened once Zuloaga-Campuzano reached the Calumet District police station that his wonderfully concise statement against interest is reduced to the status of an amusing anecdote. Once again, courtesy of the Chicago Tribune:

After police found him asleep and surrounded by empty beer cans in an SUV that was obstructing traffic, a Chicago man urinated on the police station floor and then entertained himself by singing loudly and playing air piano, prosecutors said.

The story made no mention of Zuloaga-Campuzano's setlist but I suspect that he probably opened with this one and played this piece as his encore.

And if you missed him Saturday night, good news! He shall be playing the greater Calumet District for the next couple of days or until his arraignment anyway. If you go to check him out remember not to sit too close.

He is a performance artist after all.

-AK

Monday, January 30, 2012

Candle Power

I suppose that as a parent I do not need my own birthday to remind me of how old I am. I can measure my life through the use of Suz's and Rob's birthday. For while I sought refuge in law school to escape from hard math, even my rudimentary grasp of arithmetic permits me to understand that as they get older, I must be doing likewise. Looking at the reflection that stares back at me in the harsh light of 3:00 a.m. every morning, it appears as if I age a decade for every one of their years. As it should be I suppose. It is them after all - and not me - who each has a whole life ahead.

Today is Suzanne's birthday. I was not present at either the moment of conception or the moment of arrival. I would like to think however that I have been there for most of the big ones since. There have been countless great ones and one or two....well, let us just call them less than great ones and leave it at that. The good stuff far outweighs the bad.

This is the first birthday Suz is spending in her new, adopted home state of Texas. We used to needle her about the fact that unlike her brother (who essentially has not lived 'home' since his second year of college) we were going to have to include her in the listing when we put the house up for sale (4 bedroooms, 2.5 baths, Central Air and 1 Adult Child). And then in early November she came home and announced she was moving to Houston. Her car was packed and she was Texas-bound by the Sunday after Thanksgiving.

There are times when it feels as if it has been much less than sixty days since she moved to Texas. There are far more times when it feels as if it has been much longer than that. There is a decidedly different vibe in the house without her in it.

I wonder if it has occurred to her yet that her success in Texas forging her own way in life comes as exactly no surprise at all to Margaret and me. We have known always what she knows now, which is that anything she sets out to achieve, she can. She is her mother's daughter after all.

In honor of her birthday, we decided to send her something a bit kitschy. We gathered up the troops in a place near and dear to Suz's heart - not to mention a place to which she went to extraordinary lengths to keep Rosie, Dempsey and Boo from - and took a group picture:


The note that went along with the photo said, "Wish You Were Here!" and while that is true, it is only half of it. The rest of the wish, left unwritten is, "Happy That You Are Happy There!"

Happy Birthday Suz. Mom and I love you and miss you....

....and we promise that as soon as the picture was taken, we got the animals off of your bed and out of your room.

-AK

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Empty Spaces and Abandoned Places

Friday morning was "feeding frenzy" time in the New York/New Jersey portion of Springsteen Nation. Tickets went on sale throughout the morning for the two shows that Bruce and the E Streeters are going to do at the Izod Center (the Brendan Byrne Arena for us lifers), the two shows at Madison Square Garden and the one show at the Prudential Center in Newark prior to joining Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo on their European vacation this summer. And as to be expected whenever more people simultaneously attempt to purchase tickets for an event than there are available, Friday morning turned into a real sh*t show for the folks at Ticketmaster. If I had a dollar for every time Ticketmaster offered up an excuse/alibi/defense for managing to screw up the ticket-purchasing process, then let's just say that I would be comfortable sleeping through my alarm clock at least a couple of times a month.

Clearly, no one in charge of things at Ticketmaster puts much stock into Shakespeare's query, "What's in a name?" "Master" suggests some level of expertise has been achieved. "Mastur" on the other hand suggests that some level of something else altogether has been achieved. Perhaps their problem is not one of competence but one of spelling.

I made out better than some of my fellow die-hard fans. I was able to grab two GA (code for "you shall be standing and not sitting to watch this show") tickets for the Missus and me for the April 4 gig at the Izod Center. History has taught us that at some point in the late summer/early autumn the tour shall wind its way Stateside again and will likely take up residency in football-sized stadiums for multiple night stands from sea to shining sea. If it does, then I shall channel my inner insane person and once again try to navigate the Ticketmaster gauntlet to get tickets. While I hope that I have better success on that day than I did on Friday, whether I do or not the Republic shall stand. Life shall go on....

....as must the show.

-AK

Saturday, January 28, 2012

See-Saw Man

We have reached the final weekend of January. I risk jinxing us by saying this aloud I know but it appears as if we shall navigate the usually treacherous waters of January in Jersey with only getting smacked once by snow. If last Saturday's display was the worst punch that Mother Nature hits us with all winter, then color me thrilled. Just try to stay within the lines. I am enough of a mess without your help. I assure you.

I have spent weeks on trial - and in bad cases - that have generated less stress than this week did. I earn my living practicing law. I do not build anything (and somewhere Kelly smiles). I do not manufacture anything. One could argue that I do not create anything. All I do is try - for the most part - is save people from themselves. I am a tort defense lawyer - as if good pastry needs defending; right? By the time I meet my clients they have already allegedly done something that damaged another and that "another" is now seeking compensation. I suppose on some level I am a repairman. My job is to fix that which someone else has screwed up. I tend to think (cue the immodesty music) that I am good at what I do.

But being good at it does not mean that everyone can be saved. Certain things are beyond my ability to fix. That is a realization that brings little comfort and even less solace. And when it happens, it bums me out more than a little. This week was one of those weeks.

And it was a week that reiterated the importance of something with which I bore my kids to death: Peace. If you are one-half of a successful couple, you spend more time than you realize leaning on your other half. Well, sometimes you realize it easier than others.

This week was one of those weeks.

-AK

Friday, January 27, 2012

Breaking the Banks

It has seemed as if every season since the breaktheough 11 win season in 2006, a certain faction of Rutgers University's football fans has wondered aloud how much longer they were going to have to "settle" for Greg Schiano being their football coach. Yesterday they got their answer. Schiano moved from "current" to "former" coach at David "Sonny" Werblin's Alma mater. Schiano heard the siren's call of the NFL and did what a lot of Jerseyans do. He relocated to Florida. He is a bit ahead of the curve perhaps in that he is heading to the home of the "Early Bird Special" and Jai Alai at the age of 45. Then again, he is driving south to take a job that shall place him in the company of only thirty-one other men.

I suppose that I am in the minority among the Rutgers fan base this morning but I have not been transformed from a Schiano fan to a Schiano basher by virtue of his decision to pursue a head coach's job in the NFL. He did one hell of a job during his tenure at RU. He changed the culture at the "Birthplace of College Football". He transformed it from a punch line and into a conversation topic in college football for seemingly the first time since it bested Princeton 6-4 all those years ago. And he did so over the course of eleven years without a hint of scandal or impropriety. On the contrary, over the course of the past several years Rutgers has kept the company of Stanford, Duke and Northwestern in terms of the percentage of its football-playing student-athletes who graduated.

I wish that the timing had been better. Methinks that a number of the young men who had given non-binding verbal commitments to Rutgers to become members of the freshman class of 2012 will end up signing letters of intent to play their college football somewhere other than along the Banks of the Raritan. It is their right to do so. And if the change at the top of the program impacts upon their decision as to where they attend college, then they should take another look at all of their options.

I hope that life in the NFL treats Greg Schiano well. I for one shall miss him. I hope that I am not alone.

-AK

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Hearing the Footsteps of the Green Monster

As I have mentioned in this space from time to time over the past several months, the Missus and I are preparing to place the old homestead on the market (timing is everything right?), which we anticipate doing at some point in the first half of 2012. If you know anyone in the market for a beautiful center-hall Colonial in suburban Middlesex County New Jersey with four bedrooms, 2 1/2 baths, fenced in backyard, full basement and vinyl siding, windows and central air conditioning all installed within the last eleven years (a/k/a "the time that we have owned the joint"), then tell them to drop me a line. Happiness is saving the Realtor's fee after all.

One of the interesting aspects of the packing process is it requires one (in our house Margaret is that "one" far more often than am I) to do some expeditionary work, going through long-ago forgotten boxes and containers in the never-ending quest to divine the difference between trash and treasure. Over the course of the past month or so at least a couple of occasions have arisen when she has taken a picture with her phone of something uncovered in a box whose identifying markings confirm that its contents once rested in the room of either Suz or Rob. Margaret photographs the item of indeterminate significance and then sends it to its erstwhile owner with a query, "Keep or Toss?" If the response is the former, then we keep it. If it is the latter, then out it goes. Well, that is the story we have told the kids thus far anyway. Whether everything they designate as a "keeper" is in fact kept remains a story for another day.

But I digress.

While we (meaning of course Margaret) were compartmentalizing the contents of Rob's room among the items of his we stumbled across is an old iPod. I know not how old this one is - or whether it was his original one. I know that it is metallic green in color and it is the approximate size of the Brooklyn phone directory. Well, at least the White Pages.

I presume that it is among the vestiges of his college years. That presumption - uninformed as always - is predicated upon the fact that we stumbled upon it in the general vicinity of other items from that era. My scientific method is so strong that if Santorum gets elected President, I am a shoo in to head up Health and Human Service....or NASA....or both.

Anyway, in my mind's eye I visualize Rob making his way through the subway tunnels and streets of Manhattan from what was then his home at the New Yorker Hotel to the John Jay campus. It is a visualization that makes me smile. Given that smiles can be in short supply now and again - I am Irish you know - I take them wherever I can get them.

Marathon training has commenced. Training in the Winter to run a marathon that takes place in the early Spring requires dedication and an ability to overcome monotony. The latter is a direct effect of so much of one's training having to take place indoors on a treadmill. To help me keep on keeping on this week I have listened to music not from my iPod - where the songs are at least known to me - but from Rob's old green monster. And it has been fantastic. I must confess that thus far most of the songs I have heard have been wholly unfamiliar to me. But it matters not. It matters not because they all seem to possess a decidedly uptempo vibe, which comes in damn handy when one is spending time on the human hamster wheel.

And it matters not because while the process is tedious, the smile on my face has remained in its appointed place. For I think not of what I am doing while I am listening to the music in my ears. I think instead of what he was doing when he was listening to it in his ears way back when in his crazy college days. And that is most assuredly a very good thing.

If it is enjoyment through osmosis, so be it. I shall take it without complaint. And given that he apparently downloaded close to 400 songs on this iPod, I shall take it down the road a good long piece.

-AK

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Antidote for Temporary Periods of Joy

A million years ago - before my whiskers turned just so many shades of gray - I worked for my brother Kelly. One of us is an absolute genius at taking what is drawn by architects and engineers on plans and prints and turning it into a real live building. The other one of us went to law school. I would like to think that my abandonment of my career in commercial construction in favor of the puruit of one in law was likely the single greatest thing to happen to my brother in terms of his profession. After all these years, I would be willing to wager that he agrees.

I might be the most mechanically unskilled man on the planet. I let out a little cheer whenever I open the refrigerator door and the inside light comes on. I do not pretend to know how one relates to the other. I just appreciate that they somehow go together. They say ignorance is bliss. I do not know about that for if that was true I would be the plaent's happiest man. I am not. I am Irish. As Yeats once wrote, "Being Irish he had an abiding sense of tragedy, which sustained him through temporary periods of joy."

While it is self-evident that none of what Kelly attempted to teach me about construction actually seeped its way into my pores, I did learn very well from my brother another very important lesson. I learned from him that while people sing about their disdain for Mondays, it is not Monday that is the week's worst day. It is instead the day that lies in wait behind it on the calendar. The day so horrible that when I worked for Kelly I learned to not refer to it as "Tuesday" but rather, "The Day After Monday".

For it is that day - the Day After Monday - that is the worst day of the week. Monday is a bummer but it is the Day After Monday that takes center stage as the #1 El Sucko Day of the week. His rationale was that since a lot of people have off on Saturday/Sunday while getting up for work on Monday is a buzz kill, your mind thinks, "Hey this is not so bad. The last time the alarm clock woke me up and I had to go to work, I was rewarded with two straight days off!"

But when the alarm clock rings again on Tuesday morning, your mind realizes that it and your body are screwed. The day before was not an aberration but rather the jagged tip of a spear that is five days long. It occurs to you that not only were you not rewarded for having worked on Monday by receiving two more days off, you have actually been punished. Your punishment shall be four more sleep-crushing mornings in a row before your chance to come up for air appears on the horizon line.

Scoff at his logic at your own peril. I learned long ago to respect and dread - just a little - the pain that the Day After Monday brings. Yesterday I was not disappointed. It delivered it in spades. And lucky boy that I am, it appears - in one small corner of my professional universe - as if it shall be the Day After Monday for the foreseeable future. Color me excited....

....not.

-AK

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Geography and Other Mysteries of the Universe

"We’ve had three races,” Santorum said. “One was in Mitt Romney’s backyard state of New Hampshire. He has a home in New Hampshire and he has campaigned there for six years as governor of a neighboring state. Last night’s race in South Carolina was pretty much in Gingrich’s backyard where he staked his claim. There was one race (Iowa) in nobody’s backyard , one race where you had to go out a level playing field. We competed and we won that race. We’re going to go out and campaign all up and down the state of Florida.”

In a Santorum Administration a premium will not be placed on geography. The former Senator from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania himself revealing a startling lack of knowledge on the subject inasmuch as the geographic juxtaposition between Georgia and Florida appears to be classified information on which he has not yet been briefed. Perhaps at some point between this day and Inauguration Day 2013 he can hop a flight to Jacksonville, Florida and take the long, involved trip directly North on I-95 until he reaches Florida's northern neighbor....Georgia. He should be prepared to spend at least 45 minutes in the car. Florida is not - after all - in Georgia's backyard or anything.

From a man who is an ignorant tool to one who earned his living by donning the tools of ignorance. Today is the day that Jorge Posada formally announces his retirement. His retirement from professional baseball. His retirement from the Yankees - the only team for which he played. Posada was a hell of a Yankee. He was a cornerstone piece of a period in Yankees history that awakened the echoes of the dynasty teams of a bygone era. He shall be missed.

I for one am looking forward with eager anticipation to the day when Santorum gathers the media to announce his retirement from the race for the White House. Unlike Posada, he shall not be missed.

-AK

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Lion Sleeps Tonight

Joe Paterno died yesterday morning. He was 85 years old. "Joe Pa" spent more than sixty years in the employ of - and to a large degree in the service of - the Pennsylvania State University system. He spent the final four and one half decades of his life as the head coach of the Penn State University football team. His career ended with his teams having won 409 games - the most victories ever earned by a single coach in Division I college football.

But his career ended under circumstances that as recently as Win #409 would have seemed unfathomable. On a Thursday evening in early November 2011, the Board of Trustees of the Pennsylvania State University terminated the employment of the University's football coach. In the "Transaction Wire" of the sports page, the last entry of Joe Paterno's read, "FIRED".

I did not know Joe Paterno. I do not think I know anyone who knew him. There shall be many words written about him in death - as there were about him in life. There shall be words of praise, words of condemnation, words of anger and words of forgiveness. People who knew him in life shall write about him in death, sharing their view of him through the prism of whatever relationship they had with him. People who did not know him in life will continue to feel free to offer an opinion of him - whether good, bad or indifferent. Opinions are like a##holes after all. Every one has one. And here in the Century of Gaga and the Kardashians, every one is eager to expose you to theirs - regardless of its actual informational content.

Not having known the man, I cannot engage in the hypocrisy of pretending to offer an informed opinion of him. I know that it shall prove worth remembering no doubt as the words come pouring in from all corners in the days and weeks to come that History is in the mind of the teller. And it is worth remembering as well that no teller can now - in death - change the man Joe Paterno was in life. He was who he was. Whoever that was. Be it an effort to elevate or an effort to impugn matters not. Not to the dead anyway.

When sorting through the seemingly endless number of things that shall be written about his life and his death, it may be helpful to remember that regardless of what he was, Paterno was a man. He was - by genetic limitation - imperfect and flawed. Just like me. Just like you. Just like all of us....

....just so many shades of gray.

-AK

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Dry as a Bone

While it was not an anniversary marked with public celebrations and memorials anywhere in these United States - at least to the knowledge of Yours truly - 2011 marked the sequicentennial of the American Civil War, a conflict that serves as the de facto genesis of the term "oxymoron". The War Between the States commenced in South Carolina when the troops of the Confederacy bombarded the Union garrison stationed at Fort Sumter into surrender.

If Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant, negotiating the terms of the surrender of the Confederacy at Appomattox Court House, Virginia on Palm Sunday four grueling and blood-soaked years later could have known that the inhabitants of South Carolina would grow no smarter in a century and a half, one suspects that they would not have permitted them to re-enter the Union. We already had North Carolina back in the fold right? Did we really need two Carolinas?

For those of you in South Carolina who voted for Newt Gingrich in your Presidential primary yesterday, H.L. Mencken applauds you. Well, he would but for the fact that he is dead. Given that it was Mencken who wrote,
"Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard" his applause may be implied. Gingrich is a malevolent force whose supposed political resurrection would have remained merely farcical but for the good old, "Good Ol' Boys" in the Palmetto State.

Mencken also wrote that, "Nobody ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public." Or at the very least, the electorate of South Carolina....

....a group of people looking for the map that leads them home. Thus far with little success to show for their effort.

-AK

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Indian Summer

Pitchers and catchers shall report to Major League spring training facilities throughout Florida and Arizona next month. It is an annual rite of winter is it not? The arrival of Summer's boys. If you are - as I am - a baseball fan the mere thought of spring training caused the corners of your mouth to curl upward a bit. If outside your window this morning you are looking at ground covered with snow, sleet or some other wintry bullshit, then yours is not sly smile. It is an ear to ear grin.

Among the "boys" who shall be camping this February is Jamie Moyer. Forty-nine years young and one full season removed from his most recent major league. Moyer's age might work against him but he has two qualities that big league teams love: smarts and a left arm. The soon-to-be half centurion southpaw just signed a contract with the Colorado Rockies. Moyer made his major league debut in 1986. The team whose camp he shall be in next month made its debut in 1993. It is not every player whose professional experience pre-dates that of the team for which he plays. Then again, Moyer is not "every" player.

When he pitched in Seattle a few seasons back, the media and his teammates called him "The Ancient Mariner". If he makes the Rockies, I wonder what kitschy, team-appropriate nickname his mates shall hang on him. I read somewhere that his goal is to pitch in the major leagues at age 50. He has - to date - 267 victories. While logic would dictate that he shall hang up his cleats at a win total somewhere south of 300, I for one am not inclined to bet against him making it.

Jamie Moyer - The Boy of The Endless Summer.

-AK

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Never-Ending Story

The boys from Mara Tech are channeling their collective Horace Greeley this weekend - jetting West in the hope of striking a bit of gold in Northern California. Perhaps it is because I have developed the ability to blot from my memory those things that I found to be especially unpleasant but the name Trey Junkin had disappeared from my mind completely.

That was until I read this piece in the New York Daily News. Mere seconds before I started to read it, I had forgotten that the last time the Giants played the 49ers in San Francisco in the postseason had been in the Fassel Era. As soon as I started to read it, it all came rushing back.

Junkin is a terribly tormented man. In his mind, his life has been reduced to one moment. A moment that he cannot escape or erase. Sad stuff. I suppose it is of little consolation to him - and to the prison that he has built inside his own head - that at least one Giants fan (Yours truly) viewed the turning point of the game NOT as being Junkin's errant snap but rather Jeremy Shockey's drop of a certain touchdown pass from Kerry Collins, which served as the accelerant on the Giants' self-immolation as they turned a 24 point lead into a 39-38 defeat.

Unfortunately for Junkin what I think matters not at all. History exists in the mind of the teller and in Junkin's mind, his half-century of personal history, the things he has accomplished, the woman he has married and the children he has raised has been reduced to a few horrific seconds on a football field.

Every man plays the game. And for some, the game never ends....

....even long after the rest of the players have left the field.

-AK

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Wilde Times and Feats of Clay

You might have missed it but "The Greatest" turned 70 earlier this week. Many gifted wordsmiths, including Jerry Izenberg, wrote tributes to Ali on the occasion of his 70th birthday. I suppose that I would appreciate the lovefest more had I never seen the HBO documentary "Thrilla in Manila". It revealed in a stark, harsh light just how much pain Ali inflicted upon Joe Frazier in the early 1970's when the two men were arch-rivals and blood brothers in a trilogy of fights that was an epic.

Ali bullied and baited Frazier in every conceivable way outside of the ring. Then after having opened wounds that festered for decades thereafter and may or may not have ever fully healed made a lame attempt to assuage his own conscience about what he had done to Frazier by peddling some crap about it having all been done "in the name of the promotion" of their fights.

This week, the shell of the man who once was "The Greatest" reached the age of 70. He bested Frazier one final time I reckon. Frazier died in early November 2011, a victim of liver cancer. He was 67.

Oscar Wilde wrote, "No man is rich enough to buy back his past." Nor outlive it. Not even if, once upon a time now likely trapped in the dark folds of his memory forever, he was "The Greatest"....

....well, in the ring anyway.

-AK

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

My Ever Disappointing Self

I made a bit of news around the office on Monday. In hindsight, nothing too spectacular to be sure. Actually even before my view of the scene shifted from present to past tense, I knew it was nothing too spectacular. Just an oddity I suppose.

I rolled into work Monday morning carrying with me not only my lunch and the stuff I had worked on at home over the weekend but with an uninvited "tagger on". I know not from whence it came but I was the proud owner of a cold/virus/whatever the hell one wants to call it that grabbed me by the ever-graying hair on my chinny chin chin and slapped the crap out of me. Whether that phrase is used literally or figuratively right there is left to your own fertile powers of imagination. It forced me to do something I never do. I left work shortly after noon and went home. I retired to the comfort and solace of my bed for the afternoon, trying to sleep the illness out of me.

While I went to bed Monday night and awakened yesterday morning feeling not much better than I did at midday Monday, I ceased acting like a blithering simp, put on my big boy pants and made it through the entire day at work. People get sick. I wholly grasp that concept. I have siblings who deal with more maladies, illnesses and injuries on a daily basis than any ten people should have to. When they are overcome by illness, which they are far less than one might reasonably expect or anticipate, their respites are well-earned. They have more than an air of legitimacy. Me? Mine had all the legitimacy of a Kardashian marriage.

The goal for me is not to "d-bag" out between this morning and week's end. Will I pull it off? It is only Wednesday. Check back on Friday.

-AK

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

This Is What Will Be

Tip for anyone EVER seeking the Presidency of the United States. Do not do anything that makes you even remotely palatable to Yours truly. For as soon as you do and I make up my mind to support your candidacy, you are doomed to fail. My apologies therefore to former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman and all of the fine people who worked hard on his campaign. In my defense, I thought I was helping. In hindsight, I am happy I did not order my Hunstman 2012 baseball cap. Where would I wear it now? I still have not worn my "Giuliani 2008" one.

However, I shall be certain to wear this Sunday that which I have worn the past two Sundays in support of the boys from Mara Tech and their march through the NFC playoffs. I know that the "experts" will tell you that the Giants' recent success is the result of (a) the seemingly always excellent play of Eli Manning; (b) their kinda, sorta rejuvenated running game; (c) their very much rejuvenated pass rush; and (d) the irrepressible Victor Cruz (a/k/a "The Salsa King"). While I suppose those four factors have contributed at least a bit to the ascent of the G Men, none of them is the difference maker. This is:


Go ahead and scoff. My magic t-shirt and I are used to dealing with detractors. People mock that which they cannot understand after all. The proof of its magic is irrefutable. I wore this shirt, which I received on New Year's Eve 2011 as part of my participation in the JSRC's Twilight Run in Asbury Park, for the first time on January 8, 2012. What happened on that day? The Giants won their first playoff game - opening kegs of whoop ass on the Atlanta Falcons 24-2. Big deal, says you. The Giants played at home and were favored to win. True, I say. But remember what else happened on January 8, 2012. I was rooting hard for the upstart Broncos and their prayers of an upset victory over the Steelers were answered. Why? The t-shirt of course. Still a skeptic? I did not wear it this past Saturday.

Sunday afternoon my magic t-shirt and I led the Giants onto the not-quite frozen tundra in Green Bay. Admittedly, we led the charge from the warmth of my den at home but our presence was felt nevertheless. How can I be sure? I can be sure because the team that was a 7.5 point underdog crushed the homestanding defending Super Bowl champs 37-20.

Thus, on Sunday the 22nd Magic T and I shall once again combine our considerable powers in support of Coach Coughlin's troops. If the Giants win on Sunday and then win the Super Bowl on February 5, then I shall put my lucky charm away for the duration of the winter....

....although I might test the depth of its power on one final occasion this calendar year. In the early spring perhaps.

Who among us could not use a little Magic....

I got shackles on my wrist
Soon I'll slip 'em and be gone
Chain me in a box in the river
And I'll rise singin' this song
Trust none of what you hear
And less of what you see
This is what will be, this is what will be


-AK

Monday, January 16, 2012

Where the Palais Used to Stand

You may be among the Americans enjoying the day off today. Although it is not actually his birthday, today is the day set aside this year to honor the birth and the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. And while the National Basketball Association - a professional sports league whose biggest stars include a number of high-profile African American athletes - views today as a 'work day', for a number of public and private organizations and their employees today is a 'non-work day'. For us at the Firm it is business as usual. Whether the workplace you call home has a space that needs your face today or not, do yourself a favor. Spend a few minutes here. Learn a little something about the man.

In addition to being a federal holiday, today is my sister Jill's birthday. I am not brave enough to disclose her age publicly but I can say this. If you took arithmetic at Abraham Lincoln Elementary School then today you would be calling Jill to wish her well as she celebrates her birth "Two score and seven years ago" on this date.

I hope Wilma has a wonderful, happy birthday. There are six Kenny siblings. Jill is the one who is closest to me in age and the one with whom I have probably had the closest relationship my entire life. It is not an exaggeration to say that had Jill not loathed the entire time she spent on campus in South Bend as a freshman at Notre Dame, which loathing led her to transfer to CU, I likely would never have ended up in Boulder.

She and I are similar enough in terms of our personalities that once ND proved to be a brutally poor fit for her, I never bothered to apply there. Seemed like nothing but a waste of my time and Mom's money to fill out and mail in the application. Moreover when I could not decide as a senior in high school where I wanted to go to college - a decision made all the more difficult by Georgetown's and Boston College's separate but similar decisions to reject my effort to matriculate to one of their institutions- it was Jill who brought me the CU application and who encouraged me to not only apply there but to enroll there.

While I was running Saturday afternoon, a song from a lifetime ago popped up on my iPod. It made me think of life way back when as a teenager, which made me think of some of the funny (often hilarious) jams Jill and I got ourselves into as kids. My personal favorite is when - during my first impromptu driving lesson (using Mom's Chevette) - I managed to make a left turn right into the railroad ties that the guy whose house was located at the corner of Amwell Road and Wertsville Road used to mark the border of his property. While the exact details of the ridiculous story we told Mom to "explain" why it appeared as if someone had jammed an entire set of Lincoln Logs under her right front wheel's rim have been lost to the fog of time, I do recall how earnestly the two of us tried to sell it to Mom. Whether Mom bought it I know not. Considering that we were children 5 and 6 - all of whom had tried to sell her on one thing or another at some point - I suspect that she did not.

Jill's oldest child is a freshman in college this year. I suspect without knowing for certain that Jill's principal role has been transformed from seller to potential buyer. And having learned from the best, I suspect that she knows exactly how to handle it.

My sister's married and she lives on an Estate
Her daughters go out, now it's her turn to wait.

She knows they get away with things she never could
But if I asked her I wonder if she would....


Happy Birthday Wilma.

-AK

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Second Helpings

Like wind on the plains, sand through the glass
Waves rolling in with the tide
Dreams die hard and we watch them erode
But we cannot be denied....


For Christmas, Margaret bought me the coolest gadget I have ever had access to: a Garmin Forerunner 410. To date I have not figured out all of the great stuff it is able to do and candidly given the disparity between (a) its assortment of bells and whistles; and (b) my limited mental capacity it is reasonable to presume that I never shall. I have figured out however how to set it anew every time I want to use it so that instead of following a pre-set course, I simply go where I want to go. It is a feeling that can only fairly be described as liberating.

This week I shall begin in earnest the 16-week training program that is designed to prepare me for the 2012 New Jersey Marathon. This year's race shall be run on May 6th. The goal this year is what it was last year: 4 hours or less. It is a goal I missed by close to 30 minutes last year. I went to law school to stay away from hard math but even I recognize the fact that 30 minutes plus 12 months is not likely an equation for success.

Yet the pursuit begins anew. My brain tells me that my goal is not likely to be achieved. It is hard to fathom how an additional year's worth of age will help me in my quest. Logic dictates that it shall not. And yet my gut tells me I can....

....well to be 100% accurate, it tells me I might. And in the cold of January that is good enough. All you need to keep warm is a bit of fire inside.

-AK

Saturday, January 14, 2012

JC v. GQ

Jesus is coming
He's got a new bag of tricks
No more walking on water
No more healing the sick
But he can sure pick the horses
And he makes a mean sauce
And let's not forget
How he came down off that cross


While I do not pretend to know the whys or wherefores as to John Eddie's motivation for writing "Jesus is Coming", which was a standout track on his excellent "Who the Hell is John Eddie?" disc several years back I am confident that it was NOT Tim Tebow. I say that not because I am a Tebow basher or because I pretend to know Eddie's feelings about him - presuming he has any. I say that because Eddie released the CD and the track in 2003....also known as the year that a future Heisman Trophy winner, Two-Time National Champion and NFL first-round draft pick was sixteen. He would not even begin to receive notoriety - or take his first steps towards saving mankind - for another year or two.

T Squared leads his disciples (teammates - sorry!) into battle tonight against the QB who everyone (not from New England) formerly loved to hate more than any other. And in fairness to everyone - what's not to hate? Is it not enough that Tom Brady has won 3 Super Bowls - including his first one against a Rams team that supposedly could not lose (cue ironic music and clip of Tyree catch while asking, "Sound familiar?")? Not for him apparently. He has to poke us mere mortals in the eye off-field as well. He romanced and fathered a child with a beautiful actress only to dump her (prior to baby's arrival) for a supermodel.

So tonight on one field America will have the NFL QB who many fans root against just because his life is so much better than ours that our envy consumes us lined up against the NFL QB who many people root against just because he seems to be too good to be true. And I would almost be willing to wager that there are more folks pulling for Mr. GQ than there are for the Holy Roller simply because of what we presume each represents.

Me? My position on the existence of the Almighty and the inane silliness that is organized religion makes me the anti-Tebow. Yet I root for the kid. I have since he started his college career at Florida. I may not be one who has much use for faith or the power of prayer but hating on a kid simply because he does? Every time it seems to me that we have drilled to the nadir of humanity, we pull a Harry Stamper and achieve a heretofore unattainable depth. Have two minutes to spare? Read this - written by a CU-Boulder alum who actually can use language effectively - and then gauge your enthusiasm for bashing the kid. If it has not waned, then I fear the problem my friend is not Tebow but you.

What shall happen tonight in Foxboro? I have no idea. I am not a man who bets on football but I did happen to glance Friday at the line in the Star-Ledger. Brady's Bunch was posted as a 13.5 point favorite, suggesting that Tebow might need to pull off a miracle along the lines of fishes, loaves and the multiplier effect to earn a win - and he is not getting any help from this bunch. Nor from this corner either - although it is likely to cause him to smile.

The last time there was a line this big in an athletic competition with religious overtones was when the Christians went to Rome to take on the Lions. For those of us who might have forgotten how that turned out, be reminded that it was the Chiefs - and not the Christians - who represented the AFL in SB I.

Jesus is coming
Yeah, that's the company line
But Jesus ain't coming
He's been here all the time....

....Jesus, if you're coming
I hope you're coming tonight
'Cause I'm all alone in the darkness
And I could sure use the Light


-AK

Friday, January 13, 2012

Fortune's Sweet Kiss

Friday the 13th is not a day usually associated with good fortune. However, in the interests of balancing the celestial scales, attention today should be given to two sterling examples of good fortune. Examples that admittedly highlight the concept on different scales.

Among the axioms we learn from the time we are old enough to learn such things is that a dog is, "Man's best friend." In my experience that has been true. Sometimes however the shoe is on the other paw as it were. Feel no need to take my word on this point. Ask Barney.

Last Saturday Barney the dog made the acquaintance of Roy O'Connor, the kayaker. Theirs was most assuredly a chance encounter. At the time Barney introduced himself to Mr. O'Connor the latter was more than a half-mile out in the sea, fishing and paddling near the beaches of Siesta Key, Florida. O'Connor pulled Barney aboard his kayak, quickly assessed that the dog seemed to be not only cold and exhausted from his swim but also very scared and injured, and then began the quest to locate Barney's owner. The link to the video O'Connor posted to YouTube is here. If you can spare five minutes to have your faith in humankind bumped up a little, then watch it.

Sadly, Barney's owner (whose name was located courtesy of Barney's microchip) had been killed earlier that day when her vehicle was struck by a drunk driver. Authorities speculate that Barney, who had apparently been in the car with his owner when the accident happened, had become frightened by what occurred and had simply taken off, ultimately ending up in the Gulf of Mexico. O'Connor's open water rescue not only saved Barney's life but enabled Barney to be reunited with his owner's family, slicing a sliver of happiness into an otherwise horrid day.

From time to time in this space, I aim my anger at one of the most despicable assemblies of/excuses for humankind of which I am aware: the Westboro Baptist Church. The dreck who are the WBC represent the worst our species has to offer.

Thankfully there is an antidote for the poisonous WBC. It is the Patriot Guard Riders. Their Mission Statement says more about them and the incredible things they do than I could ever hope to. While there are exactly zero wasted words in it, I think that my favorite ones are these, "We don’t care what you ride or if you ride, what your political views are, or whether you’re a hawk or a dove. It is not a requirement that you be a veteran. It doesn't matter where you’re from or what your income is; you don’t even have to ride. The only prerequisite is Respect."

As long as good people exist and remain vigilant about keeping the bad people among us in check, humanity has a chance.

"Down here it's just winners and losers and don't get caught on the wrong side of that line." Kudos to those whose feet are firmly planted on the line's right side. And thanks to them also for pointing out for the rest of us which side is which.

-AK

Thursday, January 12, 2012

An Examination of Habitual Depth

Well, it sure turned out to be a good thing that college football made us wait until we were a third of the way through January before having its National Championship Game. As if the first go-round between 'Bama and LSU was not at lest borderline brutal to watch, the rematch was worse. It is almost impossible to spend a boring Monday night in N'Awlins. Almost. Kudos to Nick Saban's kids for winning the game and to the kids from LSU for having had just an extraordinary 2011 season. Their problem was simply one of timing: all of their good playing occurred during 2011. As they found out on Monday night, that was so "last year".

The greedy suits who run college football kinda, sorta got what they deserved this year. A season pockmarked by scandals at Miami and Ohio State and the end of an empire at Penn State that may or may not have been ruled all of these years by an emperor sans clothes needed a big finish to try and refocus the public's attention on the sport from the back page to the sports page. It did not get one.

Somewhere Oscar Wilde is smiling. It was Wilde after all who wrote, "No man is rich enough to buy back his past." As the powers that be who run college football learned this autumn, the odds get no better when a lot of men appear at the "Returns/Exchanges" window simultaneously. Not even when they agree to pool their considerable resources in a vain attempt to enhance their bargaining position.

2011 was chock full of teachable moments for the people who oversee college football. I wonder if they actually learned anything. A very wise man once observed that, "Very often the difference between a rut and a grave is the depth of the habit." Left unsaid is that it is a damn sight easier to extricate yourself from the former than the latter.

In which of the two does college football (and those who run it) find itself? Time will tell.

-AK

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Carving Out a Little Nietzsche

The fax machine might be the most abused office machine in the history of office machinedom. Once upon a time, its creator envisioned it as the means of quickly transmitting a hardcopy of a document from Point A to Point B without the original document having to be physically relocated from A to B. Over time it has been denigrated and deemphasized. Worse yet, its gift of alacrity seems to be sadly misunderstood and relentlessly misapplied. My favorite thing? When I receive a document from someone "Via Fax & Regular Mail", which I always interpret as meaning, "On one hand I think this document is SO important that I wanted you to see it right away, but on the other hand I do not give a rat's ass when it arrives OR if it does." Talk about a mode of communication that makes Sybil appear to speak with one voice.

Worse yet for the fax is that in the e-mail, Twitter, IM era the fax is so 27 seconds ago. About the only items that show up in our office regularly by fax are those that no one has solicited. Apparently the Firm sits right in the center of the Italian Deli Delivery Triangle because if your last name ends in a vowel and you own a deli, chances are that our fax machine is among the ones whose paper you waste five days a week. I know not whether anyone who works at the Firm ever eats at and/or orders lunch from one of these establishments. I know that if they do it is not because they have glanced at the day's menu that was faxed over at dawn's ass crack. I am the first one in the office every morning. While the buck does not stop with me, the unsolicited faxes most assuredly do.

Anyway, one of the places that sends it menu over - I have never actually glanced at the name on the top of the menu (or if I have, it has not registered in my memory for I have no idea what it is) - writes a famous or noteworthy quote on the bottom of its menu. I am not in the restaurant business so I must admit my ignorance as to the correlation between pithy observations on one's delivery menu and one's delivery traffic - presuming there is one at all.

Monday's offering did catch my eye. Well, the quote did. Not the daily specials. It - the quote that is - was from Friedrich Nietzsche, "It is not a lack of Love, but a lack of Friendship that makes unhappy marriages."

That seems to me to be just about absoutely correct. Margaret and I are married for more than 18 years. I love my wife absolutely. I do not exaggerate when I say that she saved my life. I also do not exaggerate when I say that she is my best friend and without exception is the best friend I have ever had. I do not pretend to speak for the rest of the world. I know not whether such a sentiment is universal. I reckon that I hope it is.

Bill Cosby put it another way, "The heart of marriage is memories; and if the two of you happen to have the same ones and can savor your reruns, then your marriage is a gift from the gods."

Maybe that is why there always seems to a Law & Order repeat playing on one of the television sets in our house....

....then again, it could just be the theme music.

-AK

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Catcher Says Goodbye

Round Two in the Republican dogfight takes place today in New Hampshire. It took me a while to find a candidate in the Republican field who does not make this registered Republican want to throw up in my own mouth. Now that I have I reasonably anticipate that he will finish so far up the track tonight that he will announce this time tomorrow that he is suspending his campaign. I hope not.

Perhaps it was lost in all of the hullabaloo that went on the past several days, but hopefully you saw the announcement over the weekend regarding Jorge Posada's decision to retire. Posada has been among my favorite Yankees for the entirety of his career. The Yankees reportedly told him a couple of weeks ago that he was not part of their 2012 plan. I know not how earnestly he explored the possibility of playing in some sort of reduced role for another team. I know simply that according to the reports on espn.com, Posada decided that he shall not. He shall retire from professional baseball having worn the uniform of only one team - the Yankees.

His final season in the Bronx was not a thing of beauty. His struggles were well-documented and the nadir of his Yankees career occurred in May when he asked out of a game against the Red Sox after Joe Girardi told him he was going to have to hit 9th. For a long moment thereafter - as Posada feuded with management and certain media outlets - it appeared as if that might have been the final act of his career.

Fortunately it was not. And while the Yankees season ended sooner than either expected or hoped with a first-round loss to the Tigers, Posada went out swinging. He hit .429 in the ALDS and his mere appearance in the on-deck circle sent the Stadium faithful into apoplectic spasm. And I sat in my den cheering along with the throng. And when the Yankees season ended, it occurred to me that I had seen Posada play for the final time.

From where I sat to watch him play for more a decade and a half, he shall be missed. A lot has been written in Yankee land the past couple of years about the "can't miss kid" Jesus Montero. Promise is a wonderful thing. I reckon we shall see this season whether there is in fact a point of intersection between hype and reality. I know not whether we shall. I know that he has damn big gear to fill. As for Posada? Not much left to say except thank you for having been an integral part of so much Yankees success since the mid-1990's. And of course - good luck.

....and maybe, just maybe, "Hip Hip Jorge!"

Ah, I could not resist doing it one last time.

-AK

Monday, January 9, 2012

Retro Vision

Margaret and I went to the movies on Saturday night. We took in George Clooney's new movie, The Descendants. I am not much of a moviegoer so I shall not pretend to know whether there are better bangs for your cinematic buck at the multiplex. I do know however that Clooney's movie was terrific. I shall confess - without giving away anything not already shared in the film's previews/teasers - that seeing Clooney play a guy whose wife was preparing to leave him unnerved me a bit. I mean for crying out loud he is George Clooney. In The Descendants he even plays a successful lawyer - and his wife was still preparing to leave him. Man, if Clooney can be cuckolded, what hope do the rest of us have? Anyway, if you are inclined to spend an evening (and $20.00 or so) taking in a film I recommend you see The Descendants. Clooney is terrific, the two young actresses who play his daughters are as well and the story is first-rate.

The coolest part of our Saturday night at the movies was the fact that because the movie was not playing in our neck of the woods, the Missus and I took a ride down towards Princeton to see it. We went to the Montgomery Cinema. Margaret had never been there. I had not been there since I was a little boy. In fact the last time I recall being there was when Kara, Jill and I went to see "In Search of Noah's Ark", which I happened so long ago that we were still living on Canal Road. Missed that one, eh? Given that most movies seem to get remade, perhaps "In Search of Noah's Ark" shall sail again.

If it does it will likely end up playing again at the Montgomery Cinema. Perhaps I shall see it again just to see how much the new edition has changed from the original. Having been inside the Montgomery Cinema for the first time in more than three decades Saturday night, I can attest to the fact that its setting has not changed much since its first voyage.

Not that it was a bad thing at all. There was something nice about going to see a movie at a place that trends towards the homespun as opposed to the fast-paced. It has been said that everything old is new again. As I was reminded Saturday night, there is more than just a kernel of truth in that old saw.

-AK

Sunday, January 8, 2012

For the Love of Mama, America and Jesus Christ

If you are reading this helping of dreck this morning, then congratulations to you - and I thank you for responding in kind to me. We have made it through Week One of Year 2012. Not everyone did so if you are still here and those you love are all present and accounted for, move Week One into the "W" column and get ready for Week Two.

I do not pretend to know whether today is in fact their birthday or simply a convenient date relatively close to it upon which their parents are celebrating it (we do it for the Father of our Country, the Great Emancipator and Dr. King so peddle your mock outrage elsewhere) but today Megan/Adam's twins are going to be the honored guests at their own 1st birthday party. I might very well be the only lunatic who has ever thought of this in such a manner but I can make a compelling argument (compelling to me at least) that the "baby birthday party" is an event that has more in common than you might realize with a repast.

At the center of each event is an honoree (in this case two actually) who (a) has no idea that the event is taking place; and (b) shall have no memory of it once it is over. And for good measure, at each event there shall be at least one invited guest who eats/drinks too much and stays too damn long. Of course, at the baby birthday party there is a reasonable likelihood that the honoree shall also pee on and/or poop him/herself at some point during the celebration. I have yet to see that happen at a repast. Anyway, having their little ones celebrate their first full lap on their lives' calendar is a big deal for Megan/Adam - as well as for the twins (both of whom are just adorable) - so I hope that the day goes wonderfully well for all concerned and that Year #2 follows in lockstep.

I was much more jazzed about 2012 until I stumbled across something that my brother Kelly posted on-line the other day. It was a link to an article on msnbc.com entitled, "Mental Decline can begin as early as 45, study finds", which article begins with the following upbeat news:

The brain's abilities to reason, comprehend and remember may start to worsen as early as age 45, a new study from England suggests.

Researchers gave tests of thinking skills to about 5,100 men and 2,200 women between the ages of 45 and 70 years over a 10-year period. They found people ages 45 to 49 years experienced a notable decline in mental functioning.


Fantastic. Nothing excites a man less than one month from acknowledging the happening of his 45th birthday than finding out that upon its arrival this lawyer shall need an immediate influx of guns and money because the sh*t is going to start.....well it is going to start doing what sh*t has a tendency to do. "Clean up in Aisle 5!"

So I suppose the bad news is that my mental decline shall start in earnest in less than a month. Not terribly exciting. The good news, however, is two-fold. First, it makes my decision to subject myself to a second consecutive New Jersey Marathon much easier to defend - "Do not blame me, it is my diminished mental capacity!" Second, given my pre-age 45 mental acuity it is a development, much like my guy Jon Huntsman and his Presidential campaign, which shall slip below the surface while causing nary a ripple on the water.

Here in 2012, I may very well make the transition from a slow turning to free falling. As long as I stick the landing, everything else will take care of itself.

Or at least I hope so. For if ignorance is bliss, here is to hoping that the next stop for me is euphoria....

-AK

(Before I forget....Go Giants!)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Quest to be Thumbody

He said, before it had really begun,
"I prefer the one about my son."
"I've been wading through all this unbelievable junk
and wondering if I should have given the world to the monkeys"


It is winter presently in these United States. It makes it mitten season - at least for those of us who do not call Houston, Texas home. In case you might have missed the latest examples (scattered hither and yon across the great swampy morass we call this country) of the importance of hearty mittens - and with the recent spate of holidays and all your oversight would be understandable - here goes your proof.

First, as someone who is a diehard New York Rangers fan and someone who knows good, intelligent people who happen to suffer from the affliction of being Philadelphia Flyers fans, I shall resist the temptation to paint all Flyers fans with the brush reserved for the small handful who attacked - seemingly without provocation (other than of course that the Rangers fans had the audacity to wear Rangers jerseys to the game) - a couple of Rangers fans on a South Philly street after Monday's Winter Classic. One of the two assault victims and the one who - by all accounts - was the more seriously injured of the two Neal Auricchio, Jr., is a Woodbridge Township, New Jersey police officer and while a member of the United States Marine Corps served in Iraq was awarded a Purple Heart for a wound received in combat. As of Friday, published media accounts indicated that Police Officer Auricchio intends to return to work on January 9th - one week after being attacked.

There is something fundamentally wrong with us bipeds that we think - even if just for a moment - that one's attendance at a sporting event in support of the team that our homestanding favorite team is opposing - is something akin to a declaration of war. And as much as I would love to drop a Philly joke in here (they are after all the city that booed Santa Claus) it is a problem endemic in too many venues in too many cities around this country. An asshat is an asshat, geography be damned.

From the great state of Illinois comes a peek behind the curtain into why a lot of people hate those of us who practice law. Let us have some fun with a quick hypothetical and you shall see what I mean. Ready?

You are the mother of a young man who while walking in a marked crosswalk and across the tracks at a local train station on his way to the passenger platform is struck by an express train moving at a speed faster than 50 miles per hour, which train had as it approached this station honked its horn and otherwise expressed its intention to zip right through (as opposed to slowing down and stopping). As a result of the impact between the speeding train and your average-sized son, his body gets shattered into pieces, including a particular piece of considerable size that flies through the air and strikes a passenger standing on the platform waiting for a train. What shall we call you, mother of the dead 18-year-old boy?

According to a state appellate court in Illinois, we should call you a defendant:

A woman who was injured when she was struck by the body of a commuter killed by an oncoming Amtrak train may sue his estate for damages, an Illinois appeals court has ruled.

The slain man, 18-year-old Hiroyuki Joho, was hurrying to catch a train in heavy rain in September 2008 when he was struck and killed, the Chicago Tribune reports. A large part of his body flew through the air and struck Gayane Zokhrabov, who was waiting for the Metra train. The 58-year-old woman suffered injuries to her shoulder, leg and wrist.

The First Judicial District of the Illinois Court of Appeals said Zokhrabov may sue because her injuries were foreseeable and Joho owed her a duty of care. The court reversed a trial judge who found that the accident “was not reasonably foreseeable and was instead tragically bizarre.”


If you think the excerpt from the ABA Journal article is a head-scratcher, then check out the actual opinion in the matter of Zokhrabov v. Park. For pure comedic content, the comments under the article are unsurpassed. My favorite is the one written by someone identifying her/himself as a lawyer and that reading this opinion caused her/him to "throw up in my own mouth."

Among the things that force me to fight hard to suppress the feeling of wanting to throw up in my own mouth is the "Jumbotron Proposal". We have all seen it; right? Some young Romeo pops the question on his unsuspecting Juliet in front of tens of thousands of total strangers while sitting courtside or rinkside or wherever. He proposes, she accepts and then to the delight of those seated around them and the scores of others sitting at home, they engage in an uncomfortably long and forced game of tonsil hockey not seen since the salad days of Tipper and Prince Albert of the Valley or at the very least Lisa Marie and Michael.

At a recent UCLA basketball game - one at which a lot of Bruins fans came dressed as empty seats - a certain young man opted to pop the question on his beloved while the pair was on "Mistletoe Cam". Perhaps it was the stress of the moment. Perhaps it was the incessant presence of the reporter and the microphone she kept trying to shove into the young woman's face. Perhaps it was the fact that the young lady had bet the "over" and simply wanted to watch the rest of the game. Whatever the reason or the reasons, she left this particular Bruin in ruins.

Are you scared? Are you scared?
Are you scared? Are you scared?
You might have never heard, but God's comic....



And there you have it folks. Proof that kittens are not the only ones who should be careful to wear our mittens. After all, we have but two thumbs.

-AK

Friday, January 6, 2012

Falling Off The Tabletop

I try very hard to stay away from political commentary and such here. There are enough places on-line and elsewhere to read/hear/watch what someone possessing a thimbleful of knowledge on the subject hopes to foist upon you - the reader/listener/viewer under the guise of informed opinion. Rush Limbaugh has built a successful careeer on adherence to that very idea...well that and boatloads of prescription medications. But Tuesday's caucus in Iowa begs three questions - in no particular order of importance.

First, upon finishing ANBB ("Ahead of Nobody But Bachmann" - further proof that Huntsman's candidacy exists only in his mind) on Tuesday night, Texas Governor Rick Perry declared that he was going to head home to Texas for a few days to weigh whether to continue his pursuit of the Republican nomination. Have the good people of Texas missed him at all while he has been out/about showering the good people of the rest of these United States with his own special brand of incompetence? Suz has lived in Houston for six weeks or so - during which time the Gov has been otherwise engaged - and by all accounts she has been very pleased with her new home. Perry's alma mater even managed to win a bowl game while the Gov was off inflicting himself on the rest of the country. If A&M can win without the help of its former Yell Leader, then what Texan actually needs him to come home?

Hell, her new hometown team is even in the NFL playoffs for the first time in its history. The good news is that the Texans will play the Bengals on Saturday afternoon in the first playoff game to be played in Houston since December 29, 1991. The bad news is that given how ravaged the Texans are by injury at the QB position, owner Bob McNair might be better served luring the winning quarterback from that 1991 game (the last playoff game won by a NFL team from Houston) out of retirement to guide his team as opposed to relying upon one of the guys on his active roster.

Second, if the people of Iowa could have promised the rest of the country well in advance of Tuesday's little set-to that they would end the Presidential campaign of Minnesota's most recent and most offensive export - and considering this state has subjected the rest of us to Norm Coleman, Jesse Ventura and Al Franken that is no small accomplishment - would we have permitted them to caucus earlier than the first Tuesday in January? Labor Day perhaps.

I for one will now have time to contemplate which thought frightens me more (whether it is that Michele Bachmann is a member of Congress or that the majority of folks who bother to vote in her district in Minnesota actually opt to send her there as their representative) without really caring about what the answer is. She is now what she was before the career dissipation light illuminating her quarter-hour of fame went dark, which is their problem with which to deal.

Third, is there any reasonable basis for thinking that James McMurtry was not in fact referring to Iowa when he penned these words:

And I watch those jet trails carving up that big blue sky
Coast to coasters watch 'em go
And I never would blame 'em one damn bit
If they never looked down on this
Not much here they'd wanna know
Just Levelland
Far as you can point your hand
Nothin' but Levelland


30,007 Iowa Republicans cast a vote for Rick Santorum on Tuesday night. Proof - if of nothing else - that the best light in which to see Iowa is through the window of a jumbo jet from 35,000 feet above it while flying from somewhere else to somewhere else altogether.

Who else cannot wait to see what fun awaits all of us in New Hampshire?

-AK

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Sun Circles

My career at the Firm started on this very date - the 5th of January - a very long time ago. I began my employment here on January 5, 1998. A moment in history so long ago that (a) none of my hair was yet gray; and (b) neither of my children had yet graduated from grammar/elementary school. Experience has taught me - as I reckon it has you as well - that time flies whether we are having fun or not, although the former is much preferred to the latter. There have been significantly more good times than bad times during the rather long time I have been here. For that I am thankful.

My time here has not been continuous and uninterrupted. It was at Christmas 2008 that a "too good to be true" opportunity presented itself to me and I took it. However, almost immediately upon hopping over the fence I learned that not only was the grass not greener, it was not even grass but rather a combination of concrete and emerald green Krylon.

Forget skinning a knee. You can shatter a patella if you land the wrong way on that stuff. Trust me, almost three years after I closed my one-man show, "Prodigal Partner" and I am still walking with a bit of a limp.

I consider myself fortunate to be where I am presently, not only because of my self-imposed exile (referred to among those of us who speak of it at all as my "Winter at the Reservoir") but because of where I had been prior to arriving here - for the first time - way back when during the Clinton years. My first job out of law school was one where I learned a lot and got paid less than a little, our ability to live on my meager salary complicated far too often by the Spaldeen-like qualities of my paycheck.

I finally got the hell out of there in June of 1996 and landed in Hackensack. I worked for a man who all these years later remains among my favorite people - and I hope he feels likewise about me. Our little office would have ultimately been the death of my boss John Libretti, who worked like a crazy man. It was our perpetual economic struggles that prompted him to put in a good word for me at the Firm with a mutual friend of ours who was then a Partner here. But for that referral, I might not have ever landed an interview way back when in December 1997. I left Hackensack with a heavy heart, having enjoyed pretty much every minute that I worked for John, but knowing that he was right and that for each of us to survive, we had to go separate ways.

December 1997. I smile when I think back to the interview because the Partner who interviewed me then has been my Partner here now for close to eight years. Howard not only opened the door for me during that initial meeting all those years ago but he was instrumental - not so long ago in May 2009 - of re-opening the door for me, which door I had foolishly closed behind me a few months earlier. To this day, I know not which gesture I appreciate more. It is a nice dilemma to have.

Hmm....it has taken me close to a decade and a half but finally I have learned something. Shall wonders never cease? Ask me in another fifteen years or so.

-AK

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Predictions and Other Annoying Sh*t

If you doubt just how quickly everything can change, search on-line for a copy of any of the 8,200 publications that five short months ago predicted that February's Super Bowl would pit the Eagles and the Jets against one another. This weekend there are a dozen NFL teams that shall begin play in the playoffs. Philadelphia is not among them and much to the surprise of Rex Ryan the Jets are not either. Hmmm....Good to keep in mind that while football is played on any number of different surfaces, paper is not one of them.

You are having a pretty good week when the thing that has you most tweaked is the manner in which the geniuses who run NCAA College Football and the BCS have sucked the marrow out of New Year's Day for fans of college pigskin everywhere. Well, at least from one fan in particular who bears a striking resemblance to the reflection I see every morning in the bathroom mirror.

I still do not know exactly what the "Ticket City" Bowl is or what the hell it did to earn a place as part of the New Year's Day lineup. Nor do I understand why it is the 4th of January and neither the Orange Bowl nor the Cotton Bowl has yet been played. And do not even get me started on the GoDaddy.Com Bowl or the BBVA Compass Bowl - not only wondering what the hell they are exactly but why it is they are played almost one week AFTER the Rose Bowl.

And this year, the interminably long college football season concludes on January 9th with a rematch of the epic field goal-a-thon that LSU and Alabama played in early November. Rah! Inasmuch as LSU won Round 1 at 'Bama, I think that 'Bama should have to beat the Tigers twice in order to win the title. I shudder at the thought of when exactly the NCAA would schedule the 3rd and deciding game to be played - President's Day weekend perhaps?

Best part of the Ticket City Bowl? Maxwell. Still bringing it in 2012.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Business as Usual

At some point yesterday, "the holiday season" officially ended. At first glance, one would surmise that it was when the Missus and I took down all of the Christmas decorations. Upon further review, it was when Rob and Jess said goodbye. The kids are jetting west to Colorado this morning, resuming their life and picking up their baby girl - Tillie. I look forward to hearing from them whether Tillie becomes a regular patron at Milo's Kitchen as her cousin Rosalita is.

I reckon that it will likely take until week's end before Christmas officially feels as if it occurred not a week ago but more like a lifetime ago. It seems to me as if in the practice of law a cessation of hostility is declared that begins at or about Thanksgiving and lasts throughout New Year's Day. Now? While I work hard to stay out of a great deal of the enmity that permeates my profession - and I suppose countless others - on occasion it can be difficult to do so. The fact that Christmas is juxtaposed against the dead of winter in these parts might have quite a lot to do with it. A season of tidings and joy is quickly supplanted by a season of relentless cold and (at least if the past couple of winters are any indication of winters to come) a ceaseless supply of snow.

My resolution for 2012? To try and maintain at least a tiny reservoir of the good feeling that dominated my day-to-day for the past thirty days or so for the next three hundred thirty days or so. If I can keep just a tiny bottle's worth or so chilled and at the ready to see me through, I should be just fine.

I only need a little bit. I learned a long time ago that the best things come in small packages....


-AK

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Ballad of the Slow Learner

For the numerology freak heads among us (and you know who you are), you likely awakened today and experienced a bit of tightening in the trousers. After all it is 1/2/12. Pretty cool for you I am sure. Before you know it, the first of February will be here. Anyone else in a RUSH for it to arrive?

The Missus bought me something very cool for Christmas this year. It is a Garmin Forerunner 410. Candidly I suspect that it is in fact many miles ahead of me in terms of my skill level as a runner. I am not nearly talented enough at the whole running biz to merit such a wholly cool piece of equipment. Do not misunderstand. I have no intention of giving it back. It might be the single coolest thing I have ever owned. It is a watch, which in and of itself might not seem very cool. It is also a GPS device, which means that instead of having to map out a route that I wish to run before I head the door, now all I shall have to do is strap on this little beauty and let it tell me how far I have run. On a somewhat more depressing note, it also records how fast - or not - I am running.

I intend to break it in this morning, taking it on its maiden voyage as I take advantage of a "non-work Monday" to get an outdoor start on my marathon training. Yes, I said it. Marathon training. After bitterly failing to meet my goal last May when I participated for the first time in the New Jersey Marathon and failed to complete it in four hours or less, I have done something that I initially did not think I would do. I am trying again.

Trying again might be the dictionary definition of a fool's errand. My hope last year was to finish in four hours of less. I finished in a tad less than four and one half hours. I have no idea just how I am going to will legs that shall be more than one year older on race day in '12 than they were on race day last year to go thirty-plus minutes faster this year than last.

I really did not intend to take another shot at the marathon this year. My inclination against doing it again had less to do with what a painful experience the race was - the cramps in both legs that made me contemplate drowning myself in the tantalizingly close Atlantic Ocean almost unabated from mile 16 on were brutal - and what a potentially destructive experience the training regimen was. Margaret is a hell of a good sport. She tolerates a lot of nonsense from her husband. Last winter and last spring the time commitment necessary to train for the race took me away from home quite a bit and while we never had a direct conversation about it, I would be willing to wager that it grated on my wife's patience.

Proof that Margaret is better than I deserve lies in my Christmas present. Amazing woman, my bride. Here's to hoping that this time around that at some point on the 26.2 mile course I enjoy a point of intersection between reality and expectation.

-AK

Sunday, January 1, 2012

In The Lonely Cool Before Dawn

Happy Leap Year! For everyone who found that 2011 was just a tad too short to cram in all the fun you planned on having, I give you the 366 day year. Sadie Hawkins - you magnificent wench! Good to see you again.

I hope that for you and yours the transition from last year to this one went smoothly. And presuming it did, here is to hoping that the 365 days that follow this one pay heed to the example it has set for them.

In these United States, 2012 shall bring a Presidential election. It seems as if the Republicans have been on the campaign trail since January 21, 2009. They are now firmly ensconced in the "Adult Swim" portion of the program with the good folks of Iowa set to caucus this week and a litany of primaries to follow thereafter.

If you want proof that the Presidential campaign process starts too damn early and lasts too damn long, you need look no further than the resurgency of former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum in the Republican field. Any campaign that lasts long enough to make those doing the listening to all of the speechifying think that anything emanating from his mouth sounds like a reasonably good idea is one that has gone on for too long. I am a Republican and I cannot fathom the elected office for which I would cast a vote for Santorum. One for which I would not, however, leaps readily to the forefront of my mind.

There is much ground to cover between this first day of 2012 and the first Tuesday following the first Monday of November 2012, which is when we the people shall go to the polls to either re-elect President Obama or elect a new occupant of the Oval Office. How it all shall shake out remains to be seen. If you think you know how this particular game of hardball is played, then do yourself the great favor of buying and/or hornswaggling from your local library the book Game Change. It should be required reading in every high school U.S. History/Government class in this country.

Being an Irishman and a simple-minded lad as well, I choose not to worry now about such large-scale things as the Presidential election. Tip O'Neill's lesson regarding politics, "Think global, act local" has practical application in any number of other disciplines.

As a parent I am pleased because although neither of my two resides in the same area code - or the same time zone for that matter - as the Missus and I do, it appears to me as if each of them is starting 2012 in a really, really good place. Each has reached this point in their respective lives without being burdened by bad advice from Yours truly. My resolution for 2012 is to keep that streak intact with regard to both of them. But not interfering does not mean that I am not rooting really hard for a specific outcome. At some point in the not-too-distant past each one awakened to find that where they were was at peace. 'Tis the world's most precious commodity. One worth fighting for and one worth working hard to protect. My wish for Suz and for Rob in 2012 is that the peace that found them last year continues to ride with them into and through this year and the ones that follow it.

I know not if it is something one ever outgrows - the sense that accompanies the beginning of every year that one has nothing but time in which to get things done - but I think perhaps it is. I know that I am better attuned to the relentlessness of time's march as I approach 45 than I was at 25. A few years ago, speaking of the importance of embracing the time that we are given - of measuring it qualitatively and not quantitatively, someone wrote, "Don't stand up on the dunes and watch the waves crash over the sand from afar. Let the cold water slap up against your legs and your back. Let it scare you a little, let it heighten your senses a little, let it excite you a little."

Not bad advice I reckon although - as is his habit - a fellow Jerseyan expressed it better and more succinctly, "Show a little faith there's magic in the night"....

A lifetime's worth in fact. Dive on in, the water is fine.

Happy New Year....

-AK