A splash of humor, a dash of cynicism, and a twist of skepticism

james poyner

james poyner
Summit, New Jersey,
May 14
A former journalist and stock analyst, I now do custom cabinetry and photography. I also occasionally vent verbally, a throwback to days in the newsroom.


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MAY 11, 2009 5:54PM

Highway to Hell

Most people can recount a story or two about seeing a glimpse of the Grim Reaper. I’ve got a couple involving a motorcycle and a motorized hang glider. Rarer, it seems to me, is being an eyewitness to someone else’s near-death.


After what I saw this past Sunday morning, I realize… Read full post »

MAY 3, 2009 5:28PM

My Son, the Artist

Lebanon, Pennsylvania is about two hours west of Philadelphia. Surrounded by farm land and old-fashioned silos right out of a calendar, it’s not too far from Amish country. It has a shopping mall of sorts whose anchor tenant is Sears. It has a Ruby Tuesday, where I’d advise against orderi… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
APRIL 21, 2009 10:04AM

State of Prey

Maybe I’m paranoid about the government because over the weekend my wife and I went to see “State of Play,” the latest Russell Crowe flick that is a ripping yarn about newspaper sleuths on the trail of nefarious corporate and governmental types. But what I read on Monday h… Read full post »

APRIL 12, 2009 2:01PM

When Silence Is Not Golden

So we may be on the brink of a fix for our economic mess. And it may not cost trillions upon trillions either. In another case of life imitating art, a recent New York Times article detailed how scientists at the State University of New York in Manhattan are researching a/… Read full post »

APRIL 3, 2009 12:07AM

Save Those Mayo Jars

FDR called December 7, 1941 “a day that will live in infamy.” Various pols and media borrowed the phrase to describe 9/11. I think Thursday, April 2, 2009 could also qualify.


Thursday FASB, the Financial Accounting Standards Board, the group that decides in this country how accounta… Read full post »

APRIL 1, 2009 11:50PM

My Lucky Numbers

After scrambling for the past five years with not one, not two but three kids in college, I’m simply stunned by what I’m holding in my hand: a ticket to the New Jersey lottery with the numbers 14, 39, 47, 48, 53, and 29.


I picked 14 because that is how… Read full post »

MARCH 25, 2009 4:13PM

Mr. Atomic

With stories of hard luck abounding in this economy, I ran across a short item in The New York Times today that, I had to admit, gave me a bit of perspective.


A Japanese man, Tsutomu Yamaguchi, was certified by U.S. officials as a survivor of both atomic bombings that ended/… Read full post »

MARCH 13, 2009 3:21PM

Purple Jane

This is my humble submission in response to Verbal Remedy’s Silk  Steel Challenge for the grapiest of purple prose.


The tragedy of Jane’s death weighed on his heart like a pregnant gorilla eating a bunch of bananas. How could she be gone, this queen of the quotidian, this duche… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
MARCH 13, 2009 11:45AM

If Only Frogs Had Wings

So I’ve noted with interest in the past few days the sizable rally in the stock market. Even if you don’t have a dollar invested in it, it’s still worth knowing at least in general what’s going on there, assuming you’re interested in little things like the nation’s… Read full post »

MARCH 11, 2009 8:26PM

Ray Bell: A Reporter's Reporter

Today I heard an echo from my long lost past as a journalist.  After recently joining Facebook, I received a contact from a high-school chum of mine I hadn’t heard from in nearly 30 years. We caught up via emails over the course of several days. Then he sent me an… Read full post »

The economy continues its belly flop; but that didn’t keep my wife, Anne, the high-school theater teacher, from nearly selling out all four performances of this year’s musical, “The Music Man.”


After directing “Les Miserables,” “Titanic,” and &ldq… Read full post »

I haven’t had time to write or read much lately on Open Salon. But I think I have a good excuse. I think so.


February and the first week of March are the insane weeks in our house, a time when the earth’s revolutions around the sun go unnoticed, when we… Read full post »

FEBRUARY 22, 2009 7:05PM

Of Karma and Kids

I was sitting on the bed in our first house in Texas when my wife, Anne, casually told me she was pregnant. After a miscarriage and two boys, one of whom had endured a tense delivery that narrowly averted tragedy, I thought I was set. Two kids 15 months apart, a… Read full post »

FEBRUARY 12, 2009 11:31PM

Twinkies, It's What's for Dinner

One of the best quotes I’ve seen describing our little economic quandary was in the New York Times last week. A management consultant, noting the continuing plunge in retail sales, observed, “For the last 10 years people bought cars and refrigerators and TVs like they were going grocery s/… Read full post »

FEBRUARY 5, 2009 11:23PM

The Pooch Tapes Vol. 1

So, when I caught Duke, the Wonder Dog, my Labramutt of 10 years, talking to himself in front of the mirror in our closet, it occurred to me that there was more to this pooch than met the eye. When people use the phrase “it’s a dog’s life,” they usually meanRead full post »

I took my wife, Anne, into New York Saturday for a belated celebration of our 25th wedding anniversary, the agenda packed with lunch, a matinee performance of “August: Osage County,” a swank French dinner, then finished off with the musical “Billy Elliot.”


But we got of… Read full post »

JANUARY 29, 2009 9:27PM

Light a Candle and Pray for Newspapers

I’ve been pondering for awhile an entry about the sad state of the newspaper industry, the source way back when of my livelihood. But I got a push in reading a recent guest column in the New York Times by two investment professionals who call for the larger newspapers to discard/… Read full post »

JANUARY 28, 2009 10:36PM

The Riches of "Slumdog Millionaire"

So I’m writing a blog entry, a fairly heavy piece on the dire straits of print journalism, when my wife and I take a break to see the Oscar-nominated “Slumdog Millionaire” after my film-school-graduate son told us it was a shoo-in to win Best Picture.


Putting on the movie-cri… Read full post »

JANUARY 25, 2009 2:58PM

Did You Know?

My daughter, Mary Allison, is a 19-year-old sophomore at the College of Charleston, working on an elementary-education major and a minor in theater. A week or so ago she sent me a link to a YouTube presentation called “Did You Know?” that makes the rounds among educators. It’s worth… Read full post »

JANUARY 21, 2009 11:36AM

How I Won the Love Lottery

So today is the day that I, as a young man, wouldn’t have bet would ever occur: My 25th wedding anniversary. Back in 1983, I was scrambling as a neophyte business reporter for a weekly local publication in Dallas, self-absorbed, workaholic, convinced I’d move on from that primitive rag to/… Read full post »

JANUARY 18, 2009 4:54PM

Obama Shop-O-Rama!

 Of the more than two million people who are expected to converge between now and Tuesday on Washington, D.C. for the inauguration, I’m beginning to suspect that maybe 1.5 million of them will be vendors of Barack Obama souvenirs. In fact, Congress may be able to put on hold the release… Read full post »

JANUARY 17, 2009 12:37PM

The Value of Gray Hair

The news locally and nationally is dominated by the telling and retelling of how a U.S. Airways pilot, Chesley Sullenberger, made a split-second decision to belly land his crippled Airbus 320 with 150 passengers and five crew members on the Hudson River with only minor injuries. Hailed as a hero, Sul… Read full post »

The Page One editors at the New York Times either have a keen sense of irony or it was just one of those days when queer juxtaposition won out. On Wednesday morning’s front page there was an article relating yet another horrible aspect of life with the Taliban in Afghanistan. Taliban/… Read full post »

JANUARY 13, 2009 4:33PM

Be an Agent of Truth as Well as Change

 Okay, I’m not liking what I’m reading and hearing in the press in the past few weeks regarding your orientation for your new job, Mr. Obama. Maybe I’m overreacting. But, after telling myself not to expect too much, maybe I do.


One thing’s for sure: I don’t n… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
JANUARY 8, 2009 12:21PM

The Attack of the Killer Bees

Well, I don’t know if the ASPCA includes bees on its list of critters to protect; but something has to be done. If we can tear Sally Strothers away from her triple-cheese Whopper, she should do a TV commercial to raise funds to save the bees:


 “Won’t some of you reach/… Read full post »