CharlatanCharlatan by Pope Brock

Thoroughly enjoyable, I found the Epilogue to be the most disturbing section, with the surfeit of modern-day analogues to “Dr.” Brinkley’s methods.

The story of quacks wouldn’t be nearly as fascinating without the legions of ready and willing customers for their too-good-to-be-true methods. Here was a guy who suckered untold numbers of people into getting goat testicles implanted into them. And only after decades of practice did they turn on him.

But…fascinating read, and I’d highly recommend it.

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Addendum: I finally got to watch this week’s Mad Men, and with talk of Bert Cooper’s “procedure”, I couldn’t help but be glad that I read this book – he’s the right age, and it sounds like he ended up with one of these “rejuvenation” surgeries that amounted to little more than a botched vasectomy in the 1920s/30s.

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365:126 (last one to the party)


I’m pretty sure I’m the last one on earth who hasn’t watched a single minute of The Wire, so I finally decided to bite the bullet and add it to my netflix queue. That’s not to say these discs won’t sit on top of my DVD player for 3 months before I actually start watching, but…it’s a start.


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reinvention and relics


Last week’s episode of Mad Men focused, in part, on the planned destruction of the beaux-arts masterpiece that was Penn Station in favor of the horrendously ugly madison square garden. Considered one of the greatest architectural travesties in the history of New York City, not even an adman as great as Don Draper could sell the “futuristic” MSG believably. I wasn’t even alive when they tore down Penn Station, but I feel the loss every time I see a photo, or have to take Amtrak. And they’re still trying to fix the error by reshaping the companion post office across the street as a “new-old” railway terminal (one which faces endless delays in its own right).

But the one good thing that the travesty gave us was new rules regarding historic preservation in New York City. Which is the only reason that the New York Central Railroad wasn’t able to do the same thing to Grand Central Terminal (and yes, there were plans on the books to tear that one down as well). Instead, the station was renovated and renewed, and is now considered one of the crown jewels of New York City architecture, one of the most beautiful train stations in the world, and one of my personal favorite places to go. Sometimes I just stop by when I’m in the neighborhood to stare at the ceiling. One of my favorite birthday dinners ever was a spur of the moment decision to eat at MJ’s steakhouse, sitting under the great ceiling. The food was fine, but the atmosphere was what couldn’t be beat. The Summer Streets events that just concluded here in NYC afford pedestrians and cyclists a unique opportunity to stop and take a lingering look at portions of the great station that otherwise go by as a blur in a taxi window.

Now, if only something could be done about the monstrosity of the MetLife building in the background.

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now with 100% more swankiness…


I had been getting a little bored with the design here – not the overall theme, but that microsoft lichtenstein-esque icon I had been using for years had been feeling a little, well, stale. But, not having any artistic ability myself, I was resigned to my clipart persona forever. Until I discovered this morning. I might have gone a little crazy, but I like to think that the icon I came up with is a (much) swankier version of myself. With a girdle, of course!

I might get bored with this look in a month, but for now, I’m loving it!

Of course, this probably wasn’t helped by the fact that I rewatched the entirety of both seasons 1 and 2 of Man Men on Blu-ray (with audio commentaries) in the last few days. While I’d probably want to shoot someone if I actually had to wear a girdle every day, and if I had to live through that time period I probably wouldn’t be ten years out of law school right now, I’m completely smitten with the entire show. So glad it’s coming back!!

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the best interviewer working in TV


I know that Jon Stewart constantly repeats the refrain that he’s a fake newsperson, and that he shouldn’t be taken seriously, but I think that he’s the only one working in journalism today that’s willing to ask these questions. Going all the way back to Thomas Nast’s cartoons (or, quite frankly, the fool in King Lear), it’s often the “clown”, the comedian, the joker who is the only one who is willing to speak truth to power. It’s couched in humor, but one has to wonder why Stewart is the only one who is willing to dig deep on these issues, while the “real” journalists do nothing more than serve as mouthpieces for the industries/administrations that they cover. Oh, and I’d be surprised if the SEC didn’t begin to investigate Cramer for market manipulation based on those clips that were dug up where Cramer admits that he’s pumping stocks.

Full, uncensored interview clips of Part 1 (and please enjoy the schadenfreude of these clips being sponsored by Bank of America). Part 2 and Part 3 can be viewed at the Daily Show’s website (had problems with embedding).

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weirdest cross promotion of the week


Today’s marathon on USA of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit is being brought to us by Sex and the City. I can’t be the only one who finds something horrendously wrong with this combination.

(and yes, I know it’s just a continuation of the L&O marathons going on all weekend, but SATC sponsoring all Chris Noth episodes of L&O: Criminal Intent makes perfect sense. This is just kind of gross).

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A minute and a half that encapsulates everything that’s wrong with our media today


I just wandered downstairs to get some coffee (something I rarely do in the afternoon, but falling asleep at my desk is never a good idea), and MSNBC was on the TV. while the tiny little scrawl at the bottom let me know that 7,000 people were presumed dead in China and something vague was happening in Myanmar/Burma (no details of course, it was the substance-free scrawl), the talking heads were talking, in-depth, about the following two subjects. With video. and interviews.

  • some person who taught her parrot to mimic Obama
  • a cat who sneaks into concert halls to listen to Mozart

Just about then, some folks came in and got them to switch the TV over to soccer. That made much more sense.

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I kept reading the news this week and thinking “hmm, that might be something to blog about” and then proceeded to get distracted by other things, like work. and TV. and rearranging my closet. Yeah. This was a week of serious procrastination. So much so, that I have to go in to work at some point this weekend to catch up on something that I totally could have gotten done during the week except that I kept putting it off and then got hit with a bunch of stuff that needed to get done by Friday. So that was smart.

So, in an effort to put off going into the office just a bit more, here’s a list of the things that I thought about blogging about this week but never got around to…

  • Edwards endorses Obama (finally). Just in time for it to make a really big difference in the last three remaining primaries. Good job waiting until it’s both a foregone conclusion and utterly useless in having any effect.
  • California Supreme Court overturns gay marriage ban. I have to say I was genuinely happy about this, particularly given how much more influential California is than Massachusetts on an electoral level, but I also wondered why these things always seem to happen in a way that will drive the fundies out in droves during a Presidential election year. All in all though, good news.
  • Oscar Pistorius can compete in the Olympics (if he qualifies). A little less obvious, and I normally don’t talk about work, but I had to throw this one in here since my firm actually represented Pistorius pro bono. Very cool.
  • President Bush, apparently forgetting that his own grandfather did significant business with the Nazis, compared Democrats to Nazi appeasers. By quoting a conservative Republican in 1939 who wanted to negotiate with Hitler. Someone needs to explain history to Bush, because “talking” is not quite the same thing as “allowing Germany to annex half of the sudetenland without any substantial opposition”.

And on that note, maybe someone should put this guy in the same history class.

I’m not normally a big fan of misogynist-in-chief Matthews, but I nearly snorted my coffee through my nose from laughing so hard when I saw this the other morning.

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In the list of post-writers’ strike things that I’m irrationally excited about coming back to my TV, this is very definitely at the top of my list…

Of course, all this makes me want to do is go out and get everything on DVD.

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random holiday celebrity sighting


Who: Sam Waterston, otherwise known as ADA extraordinaire Jack McCoy on Law and Order.

Where: sitting across the aisle from me on Metro North this morning. Rocking a fedora.

I debated bothering him to find out about when his darn show would start again, but I thought better of it and just read my book instead. 

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