Wednesday, September 2, 2015


I was shocked yesterday when I realized September is already here. But one good thing about Fall's arrival is the opportunity to start pondering what to be for Halloween this year. Hmm...

I love Halloween. I dress up every year and like to get creative. Some of my past costumes are pictured below.

Do you dress up? What was your favorite costume? Do you have any fun ideas for me?

Caroline, Waitress
From TV Show "2 Broke Girls"

Sydney Bristow, Female Secret Agent
From TV Show "Alias" (2001-2006)
(Portrayed by Jennifer Garner)
Alice Kramden, Housewife
From TV Show "The Honeymooners"
Pastry Chef

Zombie Royals Fan
(Just after they lost the World Series)

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Repeat Offender

Why would a woman marry a man who's been married eight times before? How could she possibly believe that -- this time -- he will act differently?

Larry King was a talk-show host on CNN for several decades. The network pushed him out the door in 2010. Addicted to the camera's red-light, King is still doing a talk-show, only now it's online and nobody is watching.

The New York Times did an interesting profile on King last Sunday. They mention that he's been married eight times. To seven women. (He married one woman twice.) Only one of his marriages (the current one) lasted more than ten years. And even that one almost blew up when he tried to cheat on her with her sister. She forgave him 'cause he had prostate cancer.

King's ex-wives, who could fill up a living room, all say the same thing about him -- he's selfish, immature, a liar and unfaithful. In his defense, King says that he relishes the pursuit of women but gets bored once he's captured his prey. The ex-wives admit King was charming during their courtship but later lost interest.

If this situation isn't damning enough, King has the poor judgment to joke about it. King is 81 years old and obsessing over death, so the interviewer asked what King believed his funeral would be like. This is what he said: "I would like the ceremony to begin, 'Today we are honoring a 160-year-old man who was caught in bed by an irate husband. And the funeral is late because it took six days to wipe the smile off his face."

So let me pose the question again -- Why would a woman marry a man who's been married eight times before? If you were dating and a guy had been married (and divorced) five or six times, wouldn't that give you pause?

Monday, August 31, 2015

Smithtown Bull

The village next to mine is named Smithtown. It contains a big statue of a bull. Why a bull? Because the town has a creation-myth.

The town was settled in 1665. Legend says that after rescuing an Indian chief's daughter, the town's founder Richard Smith was given a reward -- the chief granted him title to all land Smith could encircle in one day while riding a bull. Richard Smith rode the bull on the Summer solstice (which is the longest day of the year) to have the longest ride. The land he acquired is the current town's location -- all 54 square miles of it.

The bull statue is fiercer than most, don't you think?


Sunday, August 30, 2015

Oliver Sacks

Oliver Sacks died today. He was a famous doctor who wrote numerous books and articles. His specialty was neuroscience; he focused on the brain and its workings.

I mention Sacks because you might have seen a 1990 movie about him. His book "Awakenings" was made into a movie starring Robin Williams (playing Sacks) and Robert DeNiro (a patient). It described Sacks's effort to get patients who were thought to be brain-dead back to normal life. The book was based on Sacks's true experiences at a hospital in the Bronx (NY).

I read many of Sacks's newspaper articles over the years. He was an excellent writer who engaged your interest and explained things you wouldn't ordinarily care about. He was as good a writer as he was a physician.

In February, I read an article by Sacks in The New York Times where he revealed that he was in the final stages of terminal cancer. He wrote at the time:

"It is up to me now to choose how to live out the months that remain to me. I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return; I have read and traveled and thought and written. I have had an intercourse with the world, the special intercourse of writers and readers."

In his personal life, Sacks was a shy person who didn't reveal that he was gay until this year. It wasn't until he was 82 years old that he came out of the closet. That's profoundly sad, but I understand it. He grew up in my parents' generation when homosexuality was considered deviant and even a crime. It's hard to adjust and accept that society's attitude has changed when most of your life you're taught that you'll be punished for revealing yourself. That's not an unusual perspective to have.

Saturday, August 29, 2015


I went to the creepiest place on Long Island today. And took pictures.

After World War I, the State of New York built a psychiatric center for veterans returning with mental problems.  It was built in Kings Park, only ten minutes from where I live.

Over time, the Kings Park Psychiatric Center grew and started to house very troubled individuals.  Early in my career, 25 years ago, I visited the Center to represent a man committed there.  He had  killed his mother in a psychotic rage.  I was shocked at what I saw at the Center.  Not only were the living conditions horrible but the "patients" were irretrievably lost.  They were so far beyond what we call normal that they couldn't communicate.  Their misery was palpable. I was deeply disturbed by the visit.

The Psychiatric Center was closed in 1996 and the State didn't know what to do with the property so it just laid abandoned.  Three years ago, the State converted the place into a "park" -- but without doing anything to the Center.  The old buildings are still there; the bars on the windows are still there. There's no publicity about the park and barely any signs. Today, on a beautiful Summer day, I was THE ONLY PERSON THERE. That is super-spooky.

The park has a haunting, eerie atmosphere. I sought to capture it with my camera.

What do you sense from these pictures?












Friday, August 28, 2015

Anxiety and Perspective

I tend to work too hard. It's my natural inclination. My gears get stuck in overdrive.

As a result, my physical health gets strained and I often get sick. I've noticed that when I'm ill, life gets gloomy. Problems seem bigger and badder than they did before. My perspective is affected in a very negative way.

Then, gradually, my health comes back -- and, with it, a new perspective. The sun shines brighter, people seem nicer, and the universe feels more welcoming. Problems I was obsessing over recede in importance. Life becomes... easier. And more enjoyable.

Repeating this cycle multiple times has taught me that my problems aren't the cause of my misery. The real cause is my distorted perspective. The same difficulties are lighter and easier to bear once my health returns. So I need for focus more on maintaining my health than flailing at exaggerated anxieties.

Does this happen to you?

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Is This Halloween Costume Offensive?

I love Halloween and dress up all the time.

This year a company is selling a costume that some people believe is offensive. It's a Caitlyn Jenner costume. Some believe the costume mocks Caitlyn and is transphobic -- it portrays a brave soul striving to be authentic as a ridiculous-looking man in a female swimsuit and cheap wig. Others, such as the company selling it, contend the costume is humorous commentary on a celebrity in the news.

What do you think? Do you believe the costume is offensive? Or is it acceptable humor? Does the answer depend on who wears it and their intent?