First up is * (aka Kingspawn). I saw * from the corner of my eye, waiting in line for the midnight showing of Borat. His trademark brown locks gave him away. Quickly, Tom introduced him as Kingspawn, king of the flame. I squinted my eyes, could this supple-handed gentleman really be the flaming monster of so many of my past posts? I suppose he was, but quickly, conversation turned to current chess-related news such as the Kramnik's water-closet hijinks at this years' World Championship. I explained to * that I try to keep my chess posts at Delino limited to Chess Babe content, as there are so many sites out there that have the real inside scoop on other chess matters. I look forward to seeing * again. Smart young man.
Like a bolt of ligtning from a dark sky, I met, for the first occasion Rod *, (bka Actual Rod, aka govtiswatching, aka the Persian Diversion, aka Sulieman the Magnificent, aka the Iron Sheik). First thought, those are some sharp looking glasses. We made some minor chit chat as Rod ruffled through his shoulder sack. We began to shuffle into the theater, and we had some prime seats for the showing. Sadly, Rich and Dan arrived late so they had to sit at the back of the theater. I made some minor small talk, and saw that a man infront of me was sharing some Oatmeal Cranberry cookies with his girlfriend. I asked him for one, and he gave me the last one. Noah, smelling a cookie, grabbed his hand into the bag, but I caught him at the wrist. The cookie was safe. I divided it evenly, using a Pie-cutting algorithm, between Noah, Rod, Tom, and myself. I spoke with Rod a little bit about his impending journey to a town south of Kazan to teach English for the next several months. However, I forgot to tell him to read Pushkin's short story The Captain's Daughter. We spoke a little bit about Trotsky, and some other revolutionary folks, and then I asked Tom, sitting between Rod and I, before the movie started, what he thought was more inflammatory for me to say in the theater in New York, that I ran on the Communist party ticket in my High School election, or that I voted for President Bush in the 2004 election. Rod, proceeded to gag. Eric?! Voting for Bush. Yes, yes, its all true. In any case, Rod was flabbergasted, as expected, he remained pleasent throughout. Tom thought he was going to gouge out my eyes, he only gave me a light scratch later in the night as I said good-bye to him outside the theater after the movie. The man who gave me the cookie said he would not have offered it to me if he had known I was a Bush voter. Oh well, it was well on its way to being digested by that point, too late Sir. Rod, it was very nice to meet you in person, good luck in Azerbaijan, or wherever your travels lead you. Let me know if you need me to send you anything from WalMart.
Tom (bka Tom, aka the Tom in Dan/Tom), well there is much to share about this blogger. Perhaps most striking were his automatic reflex-like ordering abilities about Peter Luger's. I don't need to see a menu, Three Doubles, Two Medium Rare, One Rare, Two orders Spinach, One Order Potatoes, Water all around, a Diet Coke for the Gentleman in the Blue Shirt to my Right, Four slices of Bacon for the table. And make it snappy Eli. Tom is a skilled Peter Luger ordered, that having been said, there really isn't too much to consider when ordering there. Does anyone really need to be told that Medium-Rare has a Pink center at this point? In any case, Tom was instrumental in bringing Noah (aka doesnt blog, doesnt use facebook) to the roof of the Met to see a puff of black smoke on Monday afternoon. Alas, we were too late for the black cloud. Biking however, on Sunday, through Central Park, with Tom, and some old high school friends, I found an unclaimed Twenty Dollar US Bill on the street. I asked some people around me if anyone had dropped it, and no one said they had. So it was mine, all mine. I treated my friends to some Gatorade, of course everyone ordered Lemon-Lime, just like me, cows. Tom and Noah and I also went to the Yale club on Monday to Workout. I declined the Squash invitation. I thought the orange slices in the water dispenser were a nice touch, but where are all the women? I'd say the average Gym member I saw there was a 50 year old white male with a fat gut and a squash racket in his hand. We also had an opportunity to go to the bar Fat Cat's. Tom beat three times in Chess. I was obliterated each time after using my Chernev-recommended King's Pawn Opening. Illogical Chess, move by move. I didn't have much luck with the Giuoco Piano either. In any case, it's a cool bar, and the following night there was a live Piano Jazz music. One older gentleman was positively atrocious, but the other four or so pianists were fantastic improvisers. There was a clarinetist as well, who provided some backround music as I set up a file-attack check-make, using my Queen and Rook, against one David Leiberman. I'd say the highlight of the trip was when Tom ate about three pickles and drank an egg-cream at Carnegie Deli at around 3am, and then abruptly burped at around 80 decibels in the middle of a sentence. Classic.
On Monday afternoon, after leaving Noah's westside apartment, Tom and I traversed Central Park, and walked to the nerve center of blogging, the Delino Headquarters on the East side of Manhattan. As Nostradamus has described in brilliant detail in a previous post, the Berger residence is the stuff of childhood little-league blogger dreams. Dan showed me both the original Aleksander Vayner video resume, and the FoxNews broadcast he had recorded. My favorite part was when the leader of the round table WildCard discussion said "Well, we wish him the best of luck, I think." Dan let Tom ease into a comfortable position with Rich's laptop, on Rich's bed, using Rich's pillow to rest his feet on, and then wiping off the occasional druel with Rich's clean sheets. Dan set up a new program on the TV, called FreakShow starring David Cross, but I was too hungry to concentrate. Mrs. Berger stopped in. I must say, what an intouch Mom! Kudos to you Mrs. B, who knew, a Delino Fan, and long-time reader. She knew of my posts before I even introduced myself. Dan led Tom and I into the reading room, where he showed us some us his 3-D puzzles, including an exact reproduction, to scale of Il Duomo. Exquisite craftsmanship.
Finally, at the end of a long day, Rich arrived home. He gently admonished Tom for his transgressions, and changed into some evening wear for a night out on the town. Peter Luger's and then down to the village for some more Jazz at Fat Cat's. As we were walking back to the car at the end of the night, way after David Leiberman had discovered he had left, and sat on, his melted Gold chocolate Gelt from Luger's in his pocket, smothering his keys in delicious chocolatey confection, Rich was on the spot with some directions to a wayward couple seeking the oasis of a Jazz Bar in the neighborhood. Relenting to peer pressure, he issued forth his signature BeRiched! hand gesture, and we were off. Back up First Avenue, past the atrocious Ess-A-Bagel, aka No-Toasting-Of-Bagels-Allowed-A-Bagel on 21st street. And then the evening was over, as the Berger boys, dropped me off at a friends apartment. What a fantastic voyage, and to think of the details I have left out!
On the flight home, I was flipping through American Way magazine. I read over the diagrams of the different layouts of International Airports. Personally, San Fransisco and Charles DaGalle have the coolest designs on first inspection. Then flipping through the pages, I read an article on the woman who does most of the Wall Street Journals Pointalist portraits, also known as Headcuts. I had always if they were drawn by hand, or generated with Computer software. In anycase, it was an exhilirating find, probably tantamount to the thrill experinced in 1922 when Howard Carter unearthed the Tomb of Tutankhamen. By the way, the ancient Egyptians were the greatest of Ancient Cultures, there, I said it.
Here are the links to the WSJ artist/babe. Noli Novak moved to the United States from Croatia in 1984. (New category? Financial Analyst/Writer/Editor/Journalist/Artist Babes? Maria Bartiromo, the Money Honey, is an obvious call.)
1) Main Site: http://www.nolinovak.com/
2) NPR: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4768811
3) Her band's website: http://www.novakseen.com/
From Publishers Weekly
"At the time of his death, Tom was an old man with a barrel chest and a torso as squat as a soup can," writes Brandon, producer of the bestselling phenomenon Unforgivable Blackness, in a brief post that is going to make a huge impact on many hearts and minds. Wearing a work shirt with a patch on the chest that reads "Tom" over "IT Guy," limping around with a cane thanks to an old Squash injury, Tom was the kind of guy everybody, including Tom himself, tended to write off as one of life's minor characters, a gruff bit of background color. He spent most of his life maintaining the computers at DE Shaw, a Manhattan Quantitative Trading Firm, greasing tracks and tightening bolts and listening for strange sounds, "keeping them safe." The children who visited the office were drawn to Tom "like cold hands to a fire." Yet Tom believed that he lived a "nothing" life-gone nowhere he "wasn't shipped to with a Laptop," doing work that "required no more brains than washing a dish." On his 83rd birthday, however, Tom dies trying to save a little analyst. He wakes up in heaven, where a succession of five bloggers are waiting to show him the true meaning and value of his life. One by one, these mostly unexpected characters remind him that we all live in a vast web of interconnection with other lives; that all our posts overlap; that acts of sacrifice seemingly small or fruitless do affect others; and that loyalty and love matter to a degree we can never fathom. Simply told, sentimental and profoundly true, this is a contemporary American fable that will be cherished by a vast readership. Bringing into the spotlight the anonymous Toms of the world, the men and women who get lost in our cultural obsession with flaming and fortune, this slim post, like Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol, reminds us of what really matters here on earth, of what our lives are given to us for.
Dan and Rich gaze upon the highest Heaven; from Gustave Doré's illustrations to the Divine Comedy Bloggo Paradiso.
After an initial ascension, Beatrice guides Dante through the nine spheres of Heaven. These are concentric and spherical, similar to Aristotelian and Ptolemaic cosmology. Dante admits that the vision of heaven he receives is the one that his human eyes permit him to see. Thus, the vision of heaven found in the Cantos is Dante's own personal vision, ambiguous in its true construction. The addition of a moral dimension means that a soul that has reached Paradise stops at the level applicable to it. Souls are allotted to the point of heaven that fits with their human ability to love God. Thus, there is a heavenly hierarchy, but everyone is satisfied with his post, because he understands the fact that he is not capable of any greater experience.
The nine spheres are:
First Sphere: The moon - those who abandoned their vows . Dante meets *, brother of Dante's friend Forese Donati, who died shortly after being forcibly removed from his convent. Beatrice discourses on the freedom of the will, and the inviolability of sacred vows.
Second Sphere: Mercury - those who did good out of a desire for fame. Rod * recounts the history of the Roman Empire. Beatrice explains to Dante the atonement of Christ for the sins of humanity.
Third Sphere: Venus - those who did good out of love. Dante meets Charles Martel of Anjou, who decries those who adopt inappropriate vocations, and Cunizza da Romano. Folquet de Marseilles points out Rahab, the brightest soul among those of this sphere.
Fourth Sphere: The sun - souls of the wise. Dante is addressed by Tom Lehman, a Dominican, who recounts the life of St. Francis of Assisi and laments the corruption of the Dominican Order. Dante is then met by St. Bonaventure, a Franciscan, who recounts the life of St. Dominic, and laments the corruption of the Franciscan Order. Finally, Lehman introduces King Solomon, who answers Dante's question about the doctrine of the resurrection of the body.
Fifth Sphere: Mars - those who fought for Christianity. The souls in this sphere form an enormous cross. Dante speaks with the soul of his ancestor Cacciaguida, who praises the former virtues of the residents of Florence, recounts the rise and fall of Florentine families, and foretells Dante's exile from Florence before finally introducing some notable warrior souls (among them Joshua, Roland, Charlemagne, Godfrey of Bouillon, and others).
Sixth Sphere: Jupiter - those who personified justice.
Seventh Sphere: Saturn - the contemplative. For example, Dan Berger is found here.
Eighth Sphere: The fixed stars - the blessed. Here, Dante is tested on faith by Rich Berger, hope by Saint James, and love by Saint John the Evangelist. Dante justifies his medieval belief in astrology that the power of constellations draw themselves from God.
Ninth Sphere: The Primum Mobile ("First/Best Mover") - angels.
Beatrice leaves Dante with Saint Bernard who prays to Mary on behalf of Dante and Dante is allowed to see both Jesus and Mary. From here, Dante ascends to a substance beyond physical existence, called the Empyrean Heaven. Here he comes face-to-face with God Himself, and is granted understanding of the Divine and of human nature. His vision is improved beyond that of human comprehension. God appears as three equally large rings spinning within each other representing the Holy Spirit with the essence of each part of God, who according to Dante can equally be called a plural and a singular. After this vision, the book ends with Dante's vision growing ever stronger, and the vision of God becomes equally inimitable and inexplicable that no word can come close to explaining what he saw, offering him a vision how Divine Love is the power behind existence. Essentially, Dante described as much as one can in words the experience of the beatific vision.