Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Super Bowl's Super Myths

There are all kinds of urban legends about the Super Bowl, many of them untrue. You may ask yourself: " Self, is it true that there are water problems due to a big flush at halftime of the big game?" , "Self, is the Super Bowl really the biggest betting day in Las Vegas?" For the answer to these and other Super Tales about the Super Bowl read this.

Monday, January 29, 2007

'The Office' Wins!

The cast of the televison show 'The Office' accept their award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series at the 13th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards

I watched enough of the SAG Awards last night to see my favorite program "The Office" win the award for Best Ensemble in a Comedy Series. To me, this is one of the funniest shows ever (Yes, I know it came out in England first but No, I don't think the UK version is better). After years of criticizing NBC's "Must See TV" (I hated Cosby, disliked Friends, so-so on Cheers, lukewarm on Seinfeld) there is finally a show that I really enjoy. Hell, I have even downloaded an episode I missed on my iPod. If, for some reason you haven't seen this show then by all means check it out. It really is a different type of comedy. You will laugh, but not at the usual predictable one-liners or other easy and overused gags. Instead, the show straddles the fine line that exists between tragedy and comedy. Working in an office can be a soul sucking experience. "The Office" takes this tragic reality and shapes it into a poignant yet funny storyline.
"The Office" home page

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Bollywood actress wins UK "Big Brother"

Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty, at the centre of a raging race row, has been crowned the winner of British reality television show Celebrity Big Brother.

The 31-year-old Indian actress burst into tears on hearing she had won the public vote.

The experience on the Channel 4 show had been "incredible and overwhelming", she said after winning the show last night.


Saturday, January 27, 2007

Friday, January 26, 2007

Visiting New York?

If you are planning to visit NYC this summer and want to see a Yankee game with me, drop me a line ASAP. On Monday I can buy single game tickets. If there is a time you plan to be here or a game you really want to see, (go to for schedule) let me know and I will get them. C'mon. Join me at the Stadium!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The cold, hard facts

I have learned a important lesson about the cold. Yesterday I had the day off and decided to go on a nice long power walk. It was cold and breezy outside, with the wind chill in the upper teens. I have found that I have a pretty high tolerance for the cold (especially if I am walking – sitting at home not so much). So yesterday I spent almost 4 hours briskly strolling through the city. It felt really good.

Toward the end of my walk I felt an itchy/scratchy feeling on my legs. I wear a Velcro knee brace and figured that it must had come loose and was scratching me. When I got home however I discovered a big rash on my legs. Apparently, no matter how much I can take the cold – my skin act independently. For what ever reason the cold had really chapped my legs, shoulders and back. Ouch.

This morning I was in for even a ruder surprise. My face, out in the elements all day yesterday, also looked much worse for the wear. My face now looks like a cross between suffering a bad sunburn and an allergic reaction to some medication. Not pretty. Also, this morning, my face was swollen almost beyond recognition. When I glanced in the mirror this morning I saw myself 15 years older! No exaggeration – it was bizarre and frightening. I was puffy around the eyes and cheeks. The little wrinkles had become deep canyons and the youthful glow I have managed to keep too long was replaced by a harsh, ruddy complexion. This just 2 days after a birthday no less!

I got to work about 2 hours later and I thought much of the puffiness had gone down. But the comments by my co-workers quickly dissolved that bit of wishful thinking. They asked me “what’s wrong with your face” and told me “Go home you look so sick” and this favorite from another co worker “I cannot look at your face today”.

I do feel a little sick now and may take that one piece of advice to use some sick time, but for the moment here’s a lesson for any newcomers to cold weather: Just because your brain likes it – it doesn’t mean your body will.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Obama smear by FOX, Rupert and Rev. Moon

I wrote kind of a long piece about this story but “blogger” erased it on me. (This new system is much better and convenient – but it does have it’s flaws). What it said in short was that this is a wonderful example of how misinformation is disseminated to the followers of the right wing. It shows why so many people are grossly misinformed – and why they are likely to remain so for some time to come. Frankly, I think it is Un -American to purposefully mislead people in order to gain electoral success. The Republicans have allowed themselves to be manipulated by the likes of Rupert Murdoch, Rev. Moon and the rest of the right wing media machine. I hope that they will soon realize (and stop) this well funded, well planned strategy of misleading their followers in order to frighten them, once again, into voting for “Conservatives”.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Big Brother Bully Booted

Jade Goody (L) and Shilpa Shetty are seen in a composite handout photo. Britain's media on Saturday welcomed the eviction of a reality TV show contestant accused of racism and bullying, but criticized the television channel over a show that has whipped up an international storm. (Channel 4/Handout/Reuters)

UPDATE! The chairman of Channel 4 (UK)ordered an inquiry last night into whether underhand tactics had been used by the producers of Celebrity Big Brother to stoke up the race row between Jade Goody and the Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Big Brother UK Controversy

As many of you know I have been a long time fan of the TV show Big Brother. As far as reality shows go, BB has the most interesting concept: Lock people in a house and watch them 24/7 - pretty much slowly going nuts for 100 days. Big Brother 1 in the USA was great and the contestants nearly revolted against the producers because of the harsh treatment. Unfortunately since that time, Big Brother in the USA has been becoming less of a social experiment and more of a beauty pageant for attractive back stabbers. Each year of BB USA has been less interesting and less entertaining than the last.

You may also know that Big Brother did not start here and is on all over the world. It is a Dutch production that is wildly popular everywhere. In fact, I think BB USA is the least popular of the shows. Anyway, there has been a huge controversy in this years Big Brother in the UK. Controversy is no stranger to this show and every country seems to have their share but this time, the ripples are being felt in broad areas of international relations.

You can read this link to get all the details but a quick summary is that a Bollywood Star (Bollywood is the Hollywood equivalent in India and the surrounding area. It is massive and Bollywood stars are almost as well know as our own top matinee Idols) is in the house and has been the subject of racist taunts. Read up on how much of an international furor this has caused.

Last night she and her Nemesis Jade were up for eviction. With a record 38,000 complaints - security was such an issue that there was no live audience allowed near the booted contestant (Jade) and the police are needed extra security and a safe house to evacuate the evicted house guest.

Now, I don't support racists taunts but I do like good TV. If a show is going to call itself a REALITY programs then, dammit, it should actually reflect reality! Here, BB USA is full of beautiful people scheming to win the money. It has been sanitized beyond any recognition of reality. It seems that overseas, there is still an edge to the show with the producer not fearing controversy but dealing with it head on. That's reality my friends!

Friday, January 19, 2007

GULP! China now able to shoot down Satellites

It seems that if we actually make it through the next two years we are in for some dreary times indeed. Contemporary critics of the Bush administration are rightly focused on all the terrible things they are doing to destroy our way of life. Historians, however, will also show us all the things they did NOT do during their tenure which are endangering generations of Americans to come. The Bush administration, distracted by Iraq and redefining the US Constitution, has allowed China and the rest of the world to 'surge' ahead of us in many different ways. Economically we have probably already fallen too far behind to catch up anytime soon. Alarmingly, we have also fallen behind at least China militarily. Because of the utter incompetence of the Bush foreign policy team and their abuse of Superpower status, we now face a future where the survival of our satellite communication devises (private and military) will depend on the attitude of Chinese leaders. Thank God I know how to use chopsticks already.
The test of an antisatellite weapon, which the government refused to either confirm or deny today, despite widespread press coverage and diplomatic inquiries, was perceived by regional experts as China’s most provocative military action since it test-fired missiles off the coast of Taiwan more than a decade ago. Unlike the Taiwan exercise, the main intended audience this time was the United States, the sole superpower in space. source

Snow: Then and Now

I just woke up to see the first accumulation of snow for the year. It's not much but it's something. The first thing I did was send an e mail to an old friend in Florida who shares the same birthday as me. We used to always wish that it would snow on 1/21 but it never did. New York may not get snow on Sunday, but today is close enough.

Growing up in Miami no one never saw snow... well, that's not quite true. I should say that I never saw snow. Do you remember this exactly 30 years ago, when Miami did get it's 1 and only snowflake? Seems like they are due again, no?

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Iraq PM says Bush, Rice Statements "Give Moral Boost To The Terrorits"

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki voiced frustration with both President George Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Wednesday, saying their recent criticism of the Iraqi government probably helped the "terrorists."

"Such statements give moral boosts to the terrorists and push them towards making an extra effort and making them believe that they have defeated the American administration, but I can tell you that they haven't defeated the Iraqi government," he said during a meeting with a handful of reporters.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

He's In! (Almost)


Mitchell Hults, 15, second from left, smiles as he is surrounded by cheering students at an assembly in his honor at Union High School, Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2007 in Union, Mo. Hults is being regarded as a hero after he helped authorities find two missing boys by identifying a small white pickup seen speeding away after the abduction of Ben Ownby on Jan. 8. The middle school that Hults and Ownby attend planned the assembly held at Union High School. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Monday, January 15, 2007

Faith Without Facts: New "Museum" to say Earth is 6,000 years old

After reading this story I was ready to let loose a long insulting diatribe about how faith without facts epitomises the USA under the Bush administration (not specifically about religion either!) and is destroying the ability of our citizens to make rational decisions or develop informed opinions. But, for the moment I'll stop myself. However, I ask my readers to explain to me what they think about this. I pride myself on being open minded but stories like this leave me rolling my eyes and shaking my head. If anyone out there can defend this - I promise to look at it objectively. Of course, if anyone else wants to rip on the premise of this "museum" I won't stop you. full story

Ken Ham's sprawling creation museum isn't even open yet, but an expansion is already underway in the state-of-the art lobby, where grunting dinosaurs and animatronic humans coexist in a Biblical paradise. "I think we'll be surprised at how many people come," Ham said as he dodged dozens of designers working to finish exhibits in time for the May 28 opening. The $27 million project, which also includes a planetarium, a special-effects theater, nature trails and a small lake, is privately funded by people who believe the Bible's first book, Genesis, is literally true. For them, a museum showing Christian schoolchildren and skeptics alike how the earth, animals, dinosaurs and humans were created in a six-day period about 6,000 years ago -- not over millions of years, as evolutionary science says -- is long overdue.

Chicken Hawk Bush can't watch Saddam Video

Last night I watched the 60 Minutes interview with President Bush. Much of it was maddening, as usual watching this simple minded man talk frightens the Hell out of me. One part of the interview in particular though really galled me. (Check out the quick diary I wrote about it here last night generating 80+ comments.)
I was just watching the 60 Minutes interview of George Bush and saw the sorry proof of the chicken hawk syndrome afflicting the White House. CBS reporter Scott Pelley asked Bush a number of times if he has seen the Saddam Hussein hanging. Bush kept saying yeah, "parts" of it. Finally Pelly asked what parts. Bush said "the taunts but not" .. he couldn't quite say it looking sickened at the very thought. Pelly chimed in "Saddam going through the chute?" "Yes", admitted the man who is now sending 21,500 additional young Americans into peril. What a piece of work. He can't even watch his enemy be hanged on a grainy video but he can sleep soundly after sending 3,000 American and 15,000+ Iraqi to their unnecessary deaths! [transcript here]. It is also important to remember that George W. Bush set a record in carrying out executions during his 1 1/2 terms as Governor of Texas. He sent more than 140 people to death there. Yet he gets queasy just thinking about watching someone die! This guy is truly dillusional and dangerous.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Thursday, January 11, 2007

21,500 Americans Sent To Bail Bush Out

The Bush speech last night [transcript] was quite a spectacle. If I didn't know better, I would assume that George W. Bush has finally come to realize that his misadventure in Iraq was a complete failure and that his critics, who have warned that EVERYTHING he has attempted in his life has been a catastrophe, are right. Born rich and with an influential name, Bush spent his adolescence and early adulthood flaunting his social status and acting irresponsibly. Of course he knew his name would always get him out of trouble. He was given businesses, repeatedly failed at them and was repeatedly bailed out by his family. He was weak governor of Texas, but had his reputation bolstered by Republican politicians and media stars willing to spin any version of truth to propel him to power. He snatched the 2000 election and arrogantly acted as if he were appointed King. His Iraq policy was based on some mystical vision of spreading democracy and it has also failed miserably. Who will bail him out this time? Well, last night he asked our overstressed military to rescue HIM from another one of his blunders.

The reason I bring up all this history is because it was important to me in forming my decision about his new Iraq plan. If this were a man who had a history of success or even a mixed bag - I would be more inclined to support him in this new strategy. But, lets face it - the guy is a dumb ass and surrounds himself with people who pretend otherwise. Even if this was the best idea in the world (which it is not) I think it would be fair to assume that Bush would find a way to screw it up. So, I am against the escalation plan. I cannot support putting the lives of 20,000 of Americas finest in the hands of George W. Bush. Especially when the plan rests on the word and deeds of Iraqi President Maliki - whos own legacy of failure is rather stunning.

Finally, the most troubling part of his speech to me was his statement indicating possible military action against Syria and Iran. I would not be surprised if this "surge" of his includes spreading the war to these two other nations. I am not sure anyone can do anything to stop this man from further damaging our nation. My only hope, the only possible silver lining in all this, would be that the American people grow up and realize that George W. Bush is just one cog in the Right Wing wheel that has been corroding the strength and reputation of the United States. Please remember that George W. Bush was groomed by these right wingers for years to be President. They had plans to invade Iraq for almost as long. Have no doubt that they are grooming others and planning other great visionary battles for the United States. So, if the election of 2006 turns out to be a warm up to a complete repudiation of the "Conservative" movement (hey - real conservatives - take back the name the GOP has stolen from you!) then perhaps some good can come of this dark chapter in our history. First, though we have to survive the remaining two years under their sphere of influence.

Condoleezza Rice in Love!

Who could have anticipated it?

Corporate Media ignore Democratic response to Bush Speech

"One television observation: I know that NBC, CBS and ABC were anxious to get back to their entertainment fare. But given the gravity of the issue, couldn't they have allotted another 10 minutes before returning to the likes of "Deal or No Deal" and "Criminal Minds"? They also thumbed their nose at the concept of equal time by blowing off Dick Durbin's Democratic response". (source)

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The (un)Civil War in Iraq

You really, really have to look at this video. It is a TV debate (on Al Jazeera) between a man who was pleased that Saddam was executed and one who was not. Amazing to see the deep hatred (not just disagreement) between these two factions. It makes our current atmosphere of partisanship look very lame. It also makes me even more pessimistic that peace will come to that area anytime soon.

First Snow

Just a few minutes ago the first snowfall of the season started. How exciting! This radar picture doesn't really show it that clearly but take my word for it - it's snowing. UPDATE 10:25am - Well, that was fast. The sun is out, the snow is gone.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Bush to Call for Troop Escalation

"A draft of President Bush's Iraq policy speech says the aim is to have Iraqi forces in control of all security by November and for extra U.S troops to deploy by the end of this month, a U.S. official tells CNN."
President Bush will have a tough task convincing Congress and the vast majority of Americans that his idea of a troop escalation in Iraq is a good idea - although he'll do it no matter what. I will be watching and listening with an open mind. Clearly, his incompetence and dishonesty has gotten us into a huge mess. But, if we just leave Iraq to its own accord there will be chaos and, I believe, we could be at even greater risk than we are now. I don't know if a surge is the answer but I will hear what he and the Congressional leaders have to say. If I come to believe there is a way to salvage something from this fiasco then I'll be all for it. If, however, it is just a last ditch effort by Bush to save his reputation or to try to corner Democrats then I'll join the 60% of Americans against sending more troops. Feel free to comment.

The speech is Wednesday 9pm (EST).


I was watching the Apple presentation today of their newest gadget: the iPhone. Below is some of the press release that describes it. It really looks great of course and at $499 combines a laptop, an iPod and a telephone all in one. Sounds like exactly what I have been wanting. I doubt I will get it though. First, It's a bit pricey and I already have an iPod. Second, I will need a new phone before they release it in May or June. Finally, I am wary of the the first generation of anything electronic. There are often unforeseen problems that are not straightened out until the second or third version. Also the price tends to go down by year 2 and 3. So my plan is to get a new (non i)phone. Wait the 24 months for improvements to be made and prices to come down before looking at the iPhone. I also hope that with the imminent release of the iPhone - other PDA makers will lower their prices NOW - so folks like me can take advantage.
Here's is how Apple describes their new toy:
After more than two years in the making, Apple CEO Steve Jobs today announced the company’s intention to enter the mobile handset market, unveiling the new Apple iPhone. The iPhone brings together several features of the iPod, digital camera, smartphones and even portable computing to one device, with a widescreen display and an innovative input method. “Every once in a while a revolutionary product comes along that changes everything,” said Jobs. Featuring a new input technology called “Multi-Touch” the iPhone features only a single “home” button, and is controlled by sliding a finger across its touch-sensitive 3.5-inch, 160 pixel-per-inch display. The iPhone, which runs Mac OS X, has full iTunes integration and can also seamlessly sync data with a desktop, including music and videos from iTunes, contacts, calendars, photos, notes, bookmarks and email accounts.

Monday, January 8, 2007

Friday, January 5, 2007

Saddam Hanging

There is really not much I can add to what has been said about this story. Yes, Saddam was a bad guy. But, I find it hard to see how it was worth 3,000 American lives, tens of thousand of Iraqi lives and our reputation and status in the world. The botched execution last week has blown up in our face and not only threatens our troops on the ground now but endangers all of here at home for years to come. The resentment caused by the sorry spectacle will no doubt motivate hundreds, if not thousands of people to hold a grudge against America and Americans.

Saddam said during the first Gulf War that it was "The Mother of all Wars". Most thought he was saying the "Mother F#$^ER" of all wars. Therefore, his quick defeat in Gulf War I opened him up for years of ridicule about the statement. But (as I have said since way back then) what he meant was that it was going to be "The Mother" as in the war that gives birth to all other wars. Was he right? Bin Laden said that our presence in Saudi Arabia during the first Gulf War was part of the motivation for 9-11. Iraqi Freedom was launched in part to "finish the job" of the first war. Who can doubt that future wars will have ties to our current mess? So, while asshole Saddam may not turn out to be exactly right in his prediction back then - he sure is coming damn close. Somewhere in Hell he must be laughing.

More Bush Power Grabs Uncovered

There are a couple of troubling stories getting somewhat buried in the press with all the changes going on in Congress. These stories show a White House that not only tries to claim powers that would make a dictator blush but also doing so in sneaky slimy ways that should outrage anyone who cares about this country. History will judge George W. Bush as the most incompetent Presidents of all time. They should also put him in the category as President most disdainful of the people he is supposed to serve.

White House visitor records closed
The White House and the Secret Service quietly signed an agreement last spring in the midst of the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal declaring that records identifying visitors to the White House are not open to the public. The Bush administration didn't reveal the existence of the memorandum of understanding until last fall. The White House is using it to deal with a legal problem on a separate front, a ruling by a federal judge ordering the production of Secret Service logs identifying visitors to the office of Dick Cheney.

If you read the above story you will find mentioned how the visitors logs were demanded and received by these right wingers during the Clinton years. Part of the "Two Americas" we find our self in. One for Republicans and one for the rest of us. Which side do you want to be on? This next story (below) came out a couple days ago. Seems another one of his secret signing statements allow him to open up your mail. If the President is so sure that these huge power grabs are so necessary why does he do it so secretively? To me it simple shows that he doesn't care what the American people think, what the law says or anything else. He is the decider and whatever he wants to do he will do. It is not partisan to say that this man goes against everything that American stands for.

Bush quietly authorizes opening of Americans' mail
President Bush has quietly claimed sweeping new powers to open Americans' mail without a judge's warrant, the New York Daily News has learned. The president asserted his new authority when he signed a postal reform bill into law on Dec. 20. Bush then issued a "signing statement" that declared his right to open people's mail under emergency conditions.That claim is contrary to existing law and contradicted the bill he had just signed, say experts who have reviewed it.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

A New Day. A New Congress.

I am taking today off to watch the new Democratic Congress' first day in power. It's a political junkies Holiday - and this year the gift won't be coal!

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Saban leaves Miami for Alabama

Today head coach Nick Saban left the Miami Dolphins to coach the University Of Alabama football team. He will become the highest paid coach in college football making a minimum of $30 million. He also stands to rake in hundreds of thousands of dollars from Bowl games. I am a die hard Dolphin fan and have been following this story pretty close.

At first I was hoping that Saban would stay. Despite his lack of success during the first two years of his tenure, I felt that Saban had great potential and could bring my team back to greatness. But I've changed my mind. I'm happy he is going. This is not a case of sour grapes or anything and I am not even mad at him for leaving before his contract is up. Let's face it - who wouldn't walk out on their job for $30 million?

Saban had some bad luck during his short tenure as Dolphin head coach with the irresponsible behavior of Ricky Williams and the worthlessness of Dante Culpepper. Losing your #1 Quarterback and Halfback would cripple any team. Still he kept them motivated and playing hard. Even though he will not lead us back to the promised land, I still prefer him to any of the other Dolphin coach since Don Shula. He was classy and professional.

It has been so long since the Dolphins have been a winner that my expectations for success have fallen. I am actually patient enough now to let some rebuilding take place. A change in coaches gives us an opportunity to start fresh (again). After a 6 -10 season that has to be a good thing. I am partial to Bill Parcells who currently leads the Cowboys and seems a little unhappy but there are also other coaches out there that would have a good chance of success rebuilding the Miami Dolphins .

Pat Robertson: A Call To Action?

There he goes again. The leader of the Religious Right in the United States is talking terror again and the mainstream media is portraying it as a “prediction” that America will suffer a terrorist attack in 2007. His reason? God told him so.

While those who still have control of their mental facilities will dismiss this as the ramblings of a delusional man, many on the other side of the aisle will actually take his words quite seriously. So seriously, I think that Mr. Robertson is not just giving us a warning – he is also encouraging his most rabid followers to launch such an attack in the coming year.

I know this is a serious charge, but look back at some recent terrorist activities. Osama wants to destroy America and bring us to a right wing Taliban culture. Women as second class citizen and all governmental activities being done in the name of religion. He predicted the end of the USA and gained thousands of followers willing to do the dirty work.

Timothy McVeigh was closely aligned with the militia movement that help birth our present day Republican party. It is documented that he listened to AM and shortwave radio broadcasters who said that a violent overthrow of the United States was constitutional and desirable. That was enough to send him over the edge and blow up the Federal building in Oklahoma City.

In Ireland religious and political leaders preached hate for decades that kept "The Troubles" going for so many years. Those willing to fight and die in this struggle were motivated by these leaders. Hundreds did so during the 1970’s and 80’s.

All through recent history, we see that people like Robertson, have use judgments and predictions to motivate their most devoted (and delusional) followers to carry out their vision. Just as influential talk radio hosts in the early 1990’s sought to instigate a government overthrow and Taliban leaders send out video and audio recordings condemning the morals of the West in hope of swelling their ranks, Pat Robertson talks about mass destruction to the USA in order to fill his pews and coffers. But that is not all that his words could do.

I worry that he may actually be persuading those who still (unbelievably) count themselves as one of his flock, to fulfill his prophesy. The mainstream media can call this a warning from a man who talks directly to God. I find it frighteningly close to a call to arms. So, as crazy as Robertson is – we should worry that his dire prediction is carried out.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

3 Wall Street Journal Stories

I rarely read the Wall Street Journal. Usually only in hotels when they give it out free or in airports if I have a lot of time to kill. It's a pretty good business paper and many of the stories and commentaries are quite interesting. If I had the time and easy access I'd probably read it everyday. I did not read it today, but out of the blue, I found myself coming across 3 different news stories about the daily. Seemed worth noting.

First, when I was reading the New York Times on the Subway this morning I learned that the Journal had shrunk their paper size in an effort to save money. No big news there, many newspapers are struggling financially and this is an easy way to cut costs. It was an extra big paper and come to think of it kind of bulky. Then I saw a full page ad from their workers complaining about a decline in the paper's once heralded standards. I was very surprised to see that spat being fought in such a public way. Finally, later in the day, I read on line that Rupert Murdoch was thought to be interested in buying the Financial paper to bolster his FOX News empire.

Three times yesterday the Wall Street Journal came to my attention.

So I bring it to yours.

Monday, January 1, 2007

Happy New Year!

Happy 2007 to everyone! Of the 3 New Years Eves I've spent in New York City (2000, 2006, 2007) this one was the closest to what everyone watches on television. For those unaware, the Times Square crowd you see on TV is tightly managed, packaged and actually quite small. That's by New York standards of course.

Let me explain. On busy nights in Times Square the place is packed! Tourists overflow the sidewalks, street merchants offer their wares and people walk all around taking in one of the most dynamic pieces of real estate in the world. On New Years Eve though, the police fence off the entire area and only a lucky thousand or so are actually allowed in Time Square itself.

In past years I have gone downtown hoping to get into the action but never made it any closer that 4 or 5 blocks away. Great fun, of course but not what you see on TV. Only those diehards who arrive very early actually have a shot at getting into the heart of Times Square. They are the ones handed out freebie hats, noise makers and party favors (all corporately sponsored and color coordinated to look fantastic on television). By about 2 or 3 in the afternoon, when the most determined of revelers fill up the staged celebration areas, the place is sealed off. But somehow, even though I worked until 9:30pm and had to rush in from Brooklyn, I was able to break that seal.

All thanks to New York landmark and my home away from home - Jimmy’s Corner. You have to be a well liked regular to get the (free!) pass necessary to physically get to the bar on New Years Eve since it is located right in middle of Time Square, well inside all the police blockades. I got those passes.

It was great fun to work my way through the tourists squeezed up tight against barricades many blocks from the dropping ball, and flash my pass. The cops moved gates, yelled at people to get out of my way and pretty much rolled out the red carpet as they granted me access to the prized area. I liked that.

My first impression of the area was how empty it looked. Obviously, safety is #1 in the minds of the authorities and from what I can gather, the crowd control plan is designed to anticipate any worse possible scenarios. Avoiding stampedes, allowing emergency vehicle flow and leaving evacuation routes free clearly must have been the idea because there was so much free space there it was almost eerie. That’s right, Times Square on New Years Eve actually has fewer people in it than a typical weekend night. Now of course if you count the masses who are a block or two or five away, there are many, many more people there. But not in the Square itself.

Once inside the bar the festivities were on. Drinks flowed and old and new friends prepared to bring in 2007. At about 5 minutes to 12 we decided to see if we could see anything from outside the bar. We walked the half block to our own barricade - only yards away from the center of activity. Outside of arriving 12 hours early and getting a free hat , this seemed like the best possible scenario to view the countdown: Yards away from the Jumbo-tron and feet away from my barstool.

But it got better. At about 1 minute to 12, the cops, to our shocked delight, moved the barriers we were standing at and we were free to enter the heart of action. All that empty space must have been saved just for us! All of us from the bar (and neighboring hotels) quickly scooted into the middle of Times Square and were showered with the confetti you all see on TV. (The confetti had logos from Target stores - yes, even the confetti was corporately sponsored) It was really awesome! I never thought I could get that close and to be allowed in at the last minute was almost embarrassingly easy.

So 2007 started off well. I admit I’m not feeling like a million bucks this morning, but if you can’t be hung over on New Years Day … well how are you going to handle March 18th? While I know that a good start to a year does not guarantee anything about the twelve months ahead - either does a bad start. So I will just enjoy the memory of last night, rest up today and get back at it bright and early Wednesday morning.