Defining Cool: A Celebration of Art, Artists, Artistry

Round like a circle in a spiral, like a wheel within a wheel

Never ending or beginning on an ever spinning reel

Like a snowball down a mountain, or a carnival balloon

Like a carousel that’s turning running rings around the moon

Like a clock whose hands are sweeping past the minutes of its face

And the world is like an apple whirling silently in space

Like the circles that you find in the windmills of your mind.


By SJWNY, a Trail Mix Contributor

The Thomas Crown Affair was filmed in ’68

Steve McQueen & Faye Dunaway were sexy, young & great

When cool was cool they defined it to the max

Robbery’s a crime but the heist’s a game, relax

When love intrudes on lust can law win out, you see

Man flies away & leaves lover in the cemetery

Bring the money & join him -or keep the car & weep.


When you knew that it was over you were suddenly aware

That the autumn leaves were turning to the color of her hair

Like a circle in a spiral, like a wheel within a wheel

Never ending or beginning on an ever spinning reel

As the images unwind, like the circles that you find

In the windmills of your mind.


Creativity & artwork enhance life. The Thomas Crown Affair (1968) is a sexy, creative, adult film. Celebrate the good, expand your horizons.

Thank You, Norman Jewison, Hal Ashby, Michel Legrand, Alan Bergman.

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A Force Of Nature

Roscoe Conkling looked out the window of his Wall Street Law Office & cursed the weather. His home was three miles away. The Great Blizzard of 1888 was enveloping New York City, with 40 inches of snow piling up. I will walk home, he thought. And out into the tempest he went. The date was March 12th.

By SJYWNY, a Trail Mix Contributor

This March 11th marks the 130th Anniversary of the start of the Great Blizzard of 1888. This was a horrible event that claimed over 400 lives in the Northeast, 200 in New York City alone. Drifts of snow were recorded over 30 feet high. The storm finally subsided on the 14th.

Trudge, trudge, thank goodness you kept yourself in shape, Mr. Conkling. 

Roscoe Conkling was a fascinatingly complex figure in our political history, being a kingpin in 1870’s – 1880’s government. He was a Stalwart Republican. Patronage was mother’s milk & he was fighting against the Half-Breed Republicans, who favored Civil Service reforms. Conkling et al supported Ulysses Grant for President. Stalwarts were a political machine.

This storm is very bad. I am having trouble moving forward. Was going out a mistake? Too late now – I must keep going. I do not give up.

Roscoe Conkling & Chester Arthur were very close. Conkling helped Arthur get plum positions in the government. The Election of 1880 saw Arthur being placed on the ticket with eventual Presidential winner James Garfield. After the President’s assassination Arthur assumed office & Conkling thought his old friend would help him out politically. However things had changed. Chester Arthur, a Stalwart, had evolved into a Half-Breed reformer. Their friendship ended – as eventually did the Stalwarts & Conkling’s influence.

Onlookers saw the distinguished man collapse in the snow at Union Square. Please take me home, the stricken man said. I live near Madison Square.

The decision to venture out into the Great Blizzard eventually cost Roscoe Conkling his life. He died of pneumonia on April 18,1888. As with most everything in his life he believed himself to be unstoppable. This time a more powerful force of nature won out.

His breathing labored on, growing slower. Ghosts of long dead friends & enemies visited his brain, James Blaine, Ulysses Grant, James Garfield, old Chet Arthur. Will I be remembered? Of course I will. I shaped those men, brought them great fame, glory, infamy. Power was mine.

Breathe in, breathe out. In …. out.

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Acting President

By SJWNY, a Trail Mix Contributor

Spring is in the air, thoughts of daffodils, robins & Hollywood Awards. Earlier this month I watched Wilson (1944) which really is longer than Woodrow was President. The featured actor, Alexander Knox, is as wooden as they come. I am no fan of the real Wilson but he got the fuzzy end of the lollipop in regards to cinematic biography.

This sorry waste of film made me think of the good portrayals of Presidents in movies & on TV. So for your consideration, my list of winners:

George Washington

Jeff Daniels, The Crossing (2000)

Yes I know this episode in Washington’s life predates his Presidency. Jeff Daniels’ performance of quiet strength & complexity is amazingly good. Why did a ragtag army of farmers & backwoodsmen follow Washington into seemingly unwinnable odds? If Daniels’ portrayal is close to the real man, you have a clue why.

This TV film was made by A & E back when the A actually meant art & the E equaled thoughtful enriching entertainment. It is sad how far that network has fallen.

John Adams

George Grizzard, The Adams Chronicles (1976)

William Daniels, 1776 (1972)

Grizzard captured the Adams Abigail wrote those Love Letters to & Daniels captured the hard headed visionary the rebelling Colonies needed.

Lyndon Baynes Johnson

Bryan Cranston, All The Way (2016)

Cranston set the bar so high in LBJ portrayals I pity the fool who tries to top this.

And the overall winner is …..

John Quincy Adams

William Daniels, The Adams Chronicles (1976)

Mr Daniels was born to portray JQA. It is in his dna. He is this President. I honestly cannot see a picture of the actual President & not think of William Daniels’ performance.

Wait … was the wrong winner announced?

Nah. Just tweaking you. But I do have a bonus winner.

The Absolute Best Portrayal of a First Lady

Joan Allen, Nixon (1995)

Anthony Hopkins did not impress in this film but Ms Allen blew everyone off the screen as Pat Nixon. She made this woman human. Watch it for her performance alone.

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Grounded By Love & Compassion

By SJWNY, a Trail Mix Contributor

Only two Presidents are said to have had no known pets: James K. Polk & the present occupant in the White House.

Only two.

Giving Polk a pass because no one alive today knew him, but we unfortunately know #45. The fact he has no known pets is not surprising, is it? Good pet care means caring & putting the needs of a life before your own. It means unconditional love, commitment.

Would you vote for anyone who never had a pet? This is meant as a serious question. I read a quote from Lincoln where he reportedly said that his cat was smarter than his Cabinet. It is also passed down that when the pressures of the Civil War & wife Mary got too much he would retreat outside & play with kittens, which were always in abundance around the White House. I get what he did & why he did it.

Come 2020 I offer that the first Meet ‘N Greet Debate include a question about pets. I’ll be listening. Says a lot about the person & how they are centered emotionally. This stuff matters. Just look at who we have today.

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I Cannot Vote but I Can Be Voted For

By SJWNY, a Trail Mix Contributor

We’ve come so far in our history. We have far to go, but really, where would you rather live? We can change what is wrong & bad. It is who we are.

I thought of this as I watched the State of the Union Address. President X highlights the good, taking credit wherever it can be taken. Why not. He has the bully pulpit. Then moments after, herald the opposition attack dogs, howling away whether they have good reason to or not. I’m speaking generally, apply whichever Party whatever year you wish. Formula applied = same outcome.

What else was I thinking? Election of 1884. Grover Cleveland vs James G. Blaine. “Rum, Romanism, Rebellion”: now there was a gift to political operatives who saw an opening to exploit to the fullest. Too bad for the Republicans New York was chock full o’Roman Catholic Irish men. “Ma, ma, where’s my Pa?”: Good news for the Democrats that Cleveland handled this like a responsible gentleman. Nasty year, nasty stuff. We survived.

But one nugget from that campaign was Belva Ann Lockwood. She ran for President under the Equal Rights Party & received 4100 votes. “I cannot vote but I can be voted for” she said. This was symbolic but someone had to step up & make a stand, no matter how seemingly lost the cause. Good lesson, good to remember. How else do things change?

We live in a time of doom, gloom, disrespect, division. We’ve always had these unsavory aspects in our national dna. But we overcome our shortcomings & rise above them. Everything is cyclical, the cream will rise to the top again. We had Belva then, we have Belvas today. We just need to seek them out & give them voice & support.

Perhaps You are our Belva? Hmmm?

Why not.

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