Around The Horn: How Free Should Free Speech Be?

When is it okay to yell “Fire!” in a crowded movie theater?


According to the authority figures of my youth, “never.” This question was presented to us as a simplified, kid-friendly way to explain what the limits of free speech were.

Is It Too Late To Jump On The “Serial” Bandwagon?


I think Adnan did it.  I think he killed Hae Min Lee.  I mean, he had to, right?  Okay, I’m at least 90% certain.  Maybe 95%.  Well, I mean, it’s possible that he and Jay did it together, that Jay was minimizing his role by saying he became part of the scheme only after he saw Hae’s body in the trunk.  But why would he agree to help Adnan bury Hae in the first place?  They weren’t even that close, just smoked weed together occasionally. Why didn’t he run away from the car the instant he saw Hae’s lifeless body?  So it’s either Adnan with Jay as an after-the-fact accomplice, as Jay contends, or Adnan and Jay as co-murderers.  Because even after listening to all twelve episodes – that is to say, spending nine or ten hours of my life sifting through host and reporter Sarah Koenig’s interviews, the question remains: if Adnan didn’t do it, then who did?


DUI Advice


I – and hopefully you – won’t have to put this advice to the test, so let’s take a moment to knock on any scrap of wood we can find (for my part, as a bar owner, I’ll be eating a bowl of landscaping bark as an extra precaution).


Both of my business partners and 50% of my staff have spent the night in jail on a DUI charge.  I’ve co-owned the bar for 15 years, and haven’t.

I am DUE.

You Go Molly Ringwald!


The city of Livermore, California is known mostly to non-Livermorians as one of the last towns you pass when driving from the Bay Area to SoCal before entering the vast, agricultural Central Valley.  Once you’ve spotted the tall windmills of Livermore, you know Interstate 5 is just a few minutes away.


On Friday, February 6, at the Bankhead Theater in Livermore, the Livermore School of Dance will perform “The Lion King – A Dance Revue,” and on February 18, Ottmar Liebert will treat viewers to an evening of “compelling contemporary Flamenco.”

And between these two acts, on February 12, there will be a third act: Molly Ringwald.

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Making Money In Havana

“Fredo, we gotta go to Cuba before it’s too late.”



My business partner Nick, who co-owns a dive bar with me, seemed genuinely worried.

“Now that Obama’s opened it up, there’s gonna be this tidal wave, and if we’re not surfing it, we’re gonna drown in the whitewash.”

Normally Nick is a man of few words: he lets his tattoos and notoriety as the president of a local motorcycle club do the talking for him.  So when Nick waxed poetic about the ocean, my ears were pricked.

Why “Nightcrawler” Is A Better Movie Than It Should Be


One of the best perks of being a member of the Writer’s Guild (a union for writers; feel free to snicker here: sitting in a cozy coffee shop typing is sorta like digging for coal or installing sheet metal – we laborers must unite!) are the screeners we receive every December.  The Writer’s Guild holds its own awards, and members are given DVD copies – “screeners” – of Academy Award-type movies (war; holocaust; slavery; Historically Important Stuff) to watch, as the label says, “for your consideration.”

So when Jake Gyllenhaal’s thriller “Nightcrawler” arrived the other day, I had to scratch my head.

Yummy Spam


I don’t think I’m quite yet old enough and I’m certainly not rich enough, but so much of my e-mail spam these days implores me to consider dental implants, yacht rentals and burial insurance.  Oh, and bath tubs that are easy to get in and out of.  Sigh.


And, of course, I can’t go a day – Sundays are no exception – without at least half a dozen e-mails from the Democrats begging me for money.  Donate once to and your in box will never be lonely again.

But occasionally I do get a few servings of spam that bring a smile to my face.

Around The Horn: How Do You Vote?


This last Tuesday, we the people, in order to form a more perfect union, headed to the polls for our mid-term elections.  Estimates vary, but something like 35% of us eligible voters actually turned out (in war torn Ukraine, 60% of voters made a point of casting their ballots).  So I was feeling pretty good about the “I Voted” sticker I wore on my shirt when I went to work afterwards.  There I ran into my manager Diana, who, I’m guessing, is in her mid-twenties.  I asked if she had voted yet.


“Going later today?”


“You’re not voting at all?” I asked.

“I don’t think so.”

Letter To My Son

(10 days ago – after 18 wonderful years – we dropped our son off at college; it is still too raw for me to write about the day itself, but I wanted to share with you the letter I stuck in his hand as I hugged him goodbye and tried not to let him see the tears welling in my eyes)

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(above: on the drive over….below: 18 years before the drive over…)

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My dearest Rafael,

I’m sitting in the London apartment we rented, and am just beginning a letter which I will give you when you leave home for college.

This will be a random laundry list of thoughts – but you are not allowed to throw them away!  (I WILL check!)

Around The Horn: Stop That Thief!

Today I’d like to address a sensitive subject: childhood thievery. 

Not kids being stolen off the street or depressing crap like that, but the stuff you stole as a child (and please, do not tell me you never took a five-finger discount when you were a kid).


Let’s use a cut-off age of ten years old. 

I remember stealing two things: packs of gum (various, but especially Bubble Yum) and the fancy metal caps off car tire valves.  They were the “hip” thing to have for your bicycle tires, and I didn’t have the money for them.   Soooooo….I cruised the parking lot of Sears until I found a car with shiny silver valve caps, crouched down, and stole a pair for my bike.