Columnists

Joe's Take: Cargo cult trappings won’t bring back casino heyday

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Written by Joe Wilkins Wednesday, October 22, 2014 10:24 am

Floating around somewhere in the vast hinterland of forgotten films is a minor classic called “Mondo Cane,” a 1962 effort by some Italian filmmakers that created its own genre of offbeat documentaries. It is a movie that leaves oddly vivid memories of strange episodes and scenes from unexpected sites around the world. One such scene came from New Guinea, where in World War II people living with very basic technology and little contact with the outside world were exposed to the full rush and roar of modern civilization as American troops pushed back against the Japanese. Tremendous quantities of supplies were airlifted into Port Moresby as the locals watched in awe.

Eventually the war moved on to the Solomon Islands and the Philippines and Japan, leaving the locals with memories of the great silver birds that had once brought food and uniforms and radios and all the goods of America.

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The Mom’s Beat: Confessions of a school paper hoarder

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Written by Laura Stetser Wednesday, October 22, 2014 09:11 am

  The Mom’s Beat: Confessions of a school paper hoarder The Mom’s Beat: Confessions of a school paper hoarder It stays out of sight and out of mind, right up until the moment when I pop open the cabinet and remember why it has remained closed for weeks. I have no choice but to slam the door closed in self-defense, happy to move on to other, more manageable activities.    

Inside that seemingly innocent armoire in our study lurks a sleeping giant: a stack of art and schoolwork representing three years, on paper, of our two children’s school days.

I gave birth to this Goliath, but just as all love stories begin, it started out with the best intentions.

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At Large with Tom Williams: The candidates take a stand

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Written by Tom Williams Thursday, October 16, 2014 02:53 am

  Hughes Lobiondo Hughes Lobiondo On Nov. 4, those of you age 18 or older will vote to select our representative in the U.S. House of Representatives for the next two years. This week and next, Republican Congressman Frank LoBiondo, who is seeking his 11th term, and Democratic challenger William Hughes Jr. will answer eight questions posed to them exclusively for this column.

Here are the first four.

How do you feel the United States should respond to the threat of ISIL in Syria and Iraq?

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The Mom’s Beat: Feel a cuss coming on? Sugared-up swear words are sweet enough for children’s ears

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Written by Laura Stetser Wednesday, October 15, 2014 09:35 am

Feel a cuss coming on? Sugared-up swear words are sweet enough for children’s ears Feel a cuss coming on? Sugared-up swear words are sweet enough for children’s ears

My son sat on the floor, quietly pulling apart those little plastic bricks he loves so much and reassembling them into his latest newfangled creation, when it popped out without warning.

 “Dagnabbit,” he said under his breath as one wrong move brought the whole thing crashing down to the floor.

 It’s not the first time my son has expressed frustration when his building efforts don’t pan out. But it was the first time he sounded like my mother when it happened.

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Joe's Take: Plenty to fix up in ‘This Old House and Senate’

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Written by Staff Reports Tuesday, October 14, 2014 02:43 pm

It is indisputably true that I watch too much of the wrong kind of television. I am constantly accused, by my personal improvement guru who resents my monopolizing the remote, of being a news and political junkie willing to watch anything except commercials and reality shows, and making her endure the blatherings of every talking head that pops up on the screen.

She’s right, of course. I wish I had a good defense to the charge. Truth is I get trapped between the desperation of a blocked writer looking for any excuse to avoid putting words on paper and the nearly irresistible lure of watching the ballyhooed whoop-whoop of rapidly approaching disaster from the diseases of Africa to the murdererous thugs of the Middle East to the latest land grab from Vladimir Putin.

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Joe's Take: Aunt Tess takes on the scare-keepers

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Written by Joe Wilkins Wednesday, October 08, 2014 02:53 pm

We were sitting in the gazebo at the assisted living facility, watching the seagulls swoop over the tidal marshes while waiting for her pal Becky Gottlieb to join us for our monthly lunch date. Aunt Tess is tough old Philadelphia Irish; Becky Gottlieb is tough old Brooklyn Jewish. Between them, those two biddies catch more news and talk shows than anybody. Someday I’m going to hide a tape recorder near their chairs in the lounge. If I could catch their running commentaries on what’s going on, I could set up my own reality show.

“I’m not saying it’s not real,” Tess said with asperity, which in Aunt Tess is as subtle as a jackhammer. “But if you don’t think the TV’s trying to scare you into watching the news, you’re kidding yourself. The more you watch, the more money they make.”

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The Mom’s Beat: I love my dogs like children and refuse to apologize

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Written by Laura Stetser Wednesday, October 08, 2014 11:42 am

Laura Stetser/Simon sits in the snow Laura Stetser/Simon sits in the snow

 I stood at the airport gate waiting to meet my adoptive son, palms sweating and head swirling with all of the excitement and insecurities that go along with becoming a new mom.

 “What if he doesn’t like me?” I asked my dad, who had accompanied me on the trip.

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At Large with Tom Williams > > OCHS Class of 1964 comes home

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Written by Tom Williams Tuesday, October 07, 2014 02:00 pm

The officers of the OCHS Class of 1964 photographed during their senior year. Standing are Treasurer Susan Rumer and Vice President John Cranston. Seated are President Peggy Rossi and Secretary Cherie Peterson.  The officers of the OCHS Class of 1964 photographed during their senior year. Standing are Treasurer Susan Rumer and Vice President John Cranston. Seated are President Peggy Rossi and Secretary Cherie Peterson. When the Ocean City High School Class of 1964 accepted diplomas, Lyndon Johnson and Barry Goldwater were getting ready to square off in a presidential election. The Beatles had left the USA, but the Rolling Stones made their American debut on The Hollywood Palace. And Jim Bunning pitched a perfect game for the Phillies.

A lot has changed in five decades (including a new high school building) and many members of the Class of 1964 – who are not only living all over Cape May and Atlantic counties but all over the world – will return Saturday to celebrate their 50th anniversary. Here is what some of them have done in the meantime.

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Joe's Take: Psyching out the competition is always worth a try

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Written by Joe Wilkins Wednesday, October 01, 2014 01:59 pm

I was in Holy Spirit High running long distance track when Englishman Roger Bannister electrified the world by breaking the four-minute mile for the first time in history. Some of my teammates and I soon let our hair grow longer and started putting on an English accent at track meets hoping to psyche out the competition. We were a small team and willing to try anything to gain an edge. It didn’t work, but getting into the other guy’s head is in every athlete’s bag of tricks to try.

Years later, when Coach Stan Bergman started taking Holy Spirit’s crew to the world-famous Henley Royal Regatta at Henley-on-Thames in England and bringing home the Princess Elizabeth cup, much the same psychological games were still in vogue. Word was passed around the Brits that our guys were so tough that, not having a floating dock, they broke the winter ice on the bay in Ventnor in their stocking feet to put their shell in the water for February practices. It was true, and once word got around the blazers-and-skimmers crowd that July in Henley, our boys were given a grudging respect as really tough rowers. It helped, of course, that they won that world-class competition.

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At Large with Tom Williams > > It takes two to tandem

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Written by Tom Williams Tuesday, September 30, 2014 04:38 pm

Amanda Sheroff, left, and Annie Leslie use the pedal power of two to complete a leg in the City to Shore Ride. Amanda Sheroff, left, and Annie Leslie use the pedal power of two to complete a leg in the City to Shore Ride.   Friends – one with MS and the other recovering from a brain aneurism – use the pedal power of two to complete a leg in the City to Shore Ride

We’ve all experienced it. When more than 7,000 bike riders descend on the area it can throw things off. You might be held up at an intersection waiting for the long line of bicycles to pass. You might not be able to park in front of your house. Maybe a parking lot you use is unavailable.

It’s the Bike MS: City to Shore Ride, which brings riders from miles away to Sixth Street and the Boardwalk in Ocean City. Last Saturday was the 34th year for the outing, which has raised millions of dollars to fight multiple sclerosis.

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The Mom’s Beat: An open letter to our sons about violence against women

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Written by Laura Stetser Tuesday, September 30, 2014 03:14 pm

The Mom’s Beat: An open letter to our sons about violence against women The Mom’s Beat: An open letter to our sons about violence against women

Dear son,

There are more headlines in the news lately than I care to read about the bad things that people who call themselves men do to women.

I have hidden these stories from you because most of them are too horrific for you to hear. But I must make the lessons of them clear to you so when you eventually start hearing them, you will already know they are wrong.

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Blissful Thinking: Scarves are the perfect additions to style up boring outfits

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Written by Melissa Trabbold Thursday, September 25, 2014 12:00 am

Blissful Thinking: Scarves are the perfect additions to style up boring outfits Blissful Thinking: Scarves are the perfect additions to style up boring outfits

I have to admit, scarves are one of my favorite accessories for several reasons.

Let’s start with the most obvious one: They’re comforting. Yes, scarves make for a very cozy accessory in the colder days of fall and winter. They make you feel good. Aside from the obvious, though, scarves can be worn with almost any outfit, and will most likely make it look even better.

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Securing Social Security

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Written by Tom Williams Wednesday, September 24, 2014 03:55 pm

Nearly 1.5 million New Jersey residents receive some sort of Social Security benefits. That is only the 35th largest total in the country. A little more than 50,000 of them live in Atlantic County, less than 16,000 in Cape May County. These are not just old folks – like Joe Wilkins, Bud Rinck, Jim Schafer or Bob Derbyshire. People with disabilities and those unable to work can qualify. So can the blind and orphaned children. Supplemented Income is also available to those below the poverty level.

Almost everybody knows somebody who has benefitted from Social Security. The program was started by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1935 and has grown considerably since then. The first monthly check was issued in 1940 for $22.54. The average check is now around $1,200. The disability program was added in 1954 under the Eisenhower Administration. The early retirement option at age 62 was added in 1961 by John F. Kennedy. The Supplemental Income program was started in 1972 by Richard Nixon.

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The Mom’s Beat: What I have learned from being a room mom

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Written by Laura Stetser Wednesday, September 24, 2014 03:00 pm

The Mom’s Beat: What I have learned from being a room mom The Mom’s Beat: What I have learned from being a room mom

Well, it happened again. I was selected to be room mom by default for one of my children’s classrooms. While I am always happy to help out where needed, I did not sign up for the task because I know I cannot make all of the parties.

But because I did the job last year, also by default, and seemingly made it through unscathed, it looks like I am now on a very short list of parents who are either gullible enough to say yes or happy to take it on. (Apparently in another class, there is competition for the job, but I think that’s a fluke.)

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Joe's Take: Hero Campaign seeks to avert future tragedies

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Written by Joe Wilkins Monday, September 22, 2014 09:41 pm

It was not an interview I wanted to do. Talking to a father who lost his son rips at my own heart because I, too, lost a son. Mark was 33 when he died and would have been in his early 50s now, and I still cannot talk or write about him without choking up.

Bill Elliott has much the same problem. He has toughened up in order to publicize his successful Hero Campaign, but when he talks about the accident in which a drunken driver killed his son John, you can see him struggling. I admire his courage.

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Blissful Thinking: Should you coordinate your accessories with your outfits?

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Written by Melissa Trabbold Friday, September 19, 2014 01:02 pm

Should you coordinate your accessories with your outfits? Should you coordinate your accessories with your outfits?

In the fashion world, coordinating accessories to match particular outfits is referred to as “matchy matchy.” In my opinion, this does not sound like an appealing trend and for years it wasn’t very respected—until recently. In recent years, the trend is making its way back into the contemporary fashion census, as many are matching their bags to their shoes, and other accessories to their overall outfits. I’ve discovered that in recent spring and summer collections, many designers were sending models down the runway with their bags, shoes, and accessories all in matching fabrics. Clearly designers were trying to reinforce this “head-to-toe” trend. 

 I think to an extent, matching your bag to your shoes is necessary and definitely fashion-worthy.   

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