Tuesday After Christmas

The passing of Michael Vale, the actor who was Dunkin’ Donuts’ “Fred the Baker” – the man who made the line “Time to make the donuts” to remind us that Dunkin’ Donuts toiled long and hard for us.

Goodbye to Monday Night Football, at least in its broadcast network format, as we have known it. New England Patriots v. NY Jets, 31 to 21. Jets ending it, the way they began MNF 35 years ago – and with the same score too. Yeesh.

US Attorney/Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald is National Law Journal’s Lawyer of the Year.

In Washington State, a lawyer is found guilty for having tried to murder his opposing counsel, Kevin Jung.

Law.com posted a fascinating article on Justice O’Connor – who’s in the unusual position of being around to watch her historical position be evaluated before she leaves the Court.

Oh, and here’s a link to the Fareed Zakaria interview on NY1.com — awhile ago, but a good one.

Remember those old NJ tourism commercials, where you had Governor Tom Keane waxing poetic about how “NJ and You: Perfect Together”? Well, NJ is trying to change its tourism motto, in light of its latest self-esteem problems. Uh yeah, that’ll make you feel better:

“New Jersey: We’ve Got Three Really, Really Big Roads” apparently failed to capture the joys of driving to Atlantic City. “New Jersey: What’s That Smell?” seemed downright mean. And would “New Jersey: You Got a Problem With That?” really attract tourists?

Acting Gov. Richard J. Codey officially rejected all of these slogans – and many more – before unveiling five finalists in the state’s tagline contest last week. He said he believed the five were as majestic, charming and light-hearted as New Jersey itself.

Two of those slogans seemed to tilt toward romance – “New Jersey: Love at First Sight” and “New Jersey: The Real Deal.” Mr. Codey said he wanted the finalists to reflect the state’s “big heart” and “passion for life.”

“If nothing else,” he added, “it should get us a second date.”

And yet, if the final five slogans are a Rorschach test, New Jersey, despite its nickname “The Garden State,” does not seem to have fully overcome its awkward struggle with low self-esteem. Residents said that the three other finalists – “New Jersey: Come See for Yourself,” “New Jersey: Expect the Unexpected” and “New Jersey: The Best Kept Secret” – open the state to a wide range of stinky or driving or “Sopranos” jokes, which are already far too common among visitors and bad comedians. [….]

Several people also toyed with what visitors might discover if they came to see New Jersey for themselves and were to “expect the unexpected.” Some said they would most likely run up against the state’s high insurance rates and property taxes. Others predicted heated encounters with drivers who beep their horns at the first sign of a green light, and perhaps, in the cities, violent crime.

“When a person says ‘unexpected’ in my neighborhood, everyone says, ‘Uh-oh, what’s that mean?” said Julius Simmons, 31, who was hawking DVD’s on Market Street here. Since outsiders already have a negative image of New Jersey, he said, some of the slogans “might give people the wrong idea.”

Even the two sentimental taglines, evoking the cherished “I Love New York,” seemed ripe for humor. Darrell Armstrong, 28, who was on Broad Street here with a smile and friendly banter as he sold hats, gloves and stuffed bears, took one look at the list of finalists and laughed.

” ‘Love at first sight,’ ” he said. “Yeah right, until you find out how expensive it is to live here. It’s definitely not a deal.”

Like many people in New Jersey, Mr. Armstrong said he doubted that any of the slogans would bring many more tourists to New Jersey. That would be just fine with Mark DeMarco, 49, a shopper at the Mall at Mill Creek in Secaucus. “We have enough people here as it is,” he said. “You ever try to put a towel down on the beach at Atlantic City?”

Other residents, however, observed that the slogans’ supposed flaws were somehow appropriate because they allow for interpretation. New Jersey, they said, is characterized less by an individual city, like Philadelphia in Pennsylvania, or a specific tourist destination, like Cape Cod. What sets the state apart is its range of places to visit – from beaches to orchards – and its attitude.

This is a place where people rarely put on airs, where they shout from car windows, gobble pizza while wearing a tuxedo, sing and joke about getting out even as they fondly recall why they have stayed home. [….]

Taking a nap on the public furniture of NYC. Yeah, right. But, if they make the benches looks as comfy as they do in this photo in the article – well…

Let’s make the last week of 2005 a good one…

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