By BOB URBAN

rurban@tnonline.com [1]

Some thoughts to warm you on a frigid winter's day.

JP Morgan Chase recently cut the pay of CEO Jamie Dimon by more than half, to $11.5 million from $23 million. Does this make him eligible for food stamps? Poor guy's going to really have to bite the bullet surviving on only $11.5 million a year.

I'm all for the Tamaqua School District, and for any other district for that matter, enacting a concealed (gun) carry policy, providing the people they select to carry concealed weapons undergo thorough firearms training and are subjected to a strict mental health evaluation.

Al Pacino is a great choice to play Joe Paterno in an upcoming movie about the legendary late coach. The movie will be based on the final years of Paterno's life, and expect a lot of details about the Sandusky scandal.

It was the mid-1950s. I was about 11. My father took the family to New York City for a long weekend. It was my first trip to the Big Apple. We stayed at a big hotel, took the Circle Line boat tour around Manhattan and went to a ballgame - Cardinals against the Giants in the old Polo Grounds. Willie Mays against Stan Musial. It didn't get any better.

Stan Musial died at age 93 last weekend. Gone is one of the greatest players to ever wear a uniform. He also was one of the sport's greatest ambassadors. Wish more of today's players were like Stan the Man.

Baseball suffered another significant loss, when Earl Weaver, the feisty former manager of the Baltimore Orioles, died last weekend at age 82.

Earl was one of the best managers, and the most entertaining. His temper tantrums and run ins with umpires are legendary. The Duke of Earl, as he was know in Baltimore, was not only a showman, he was a winner. He took the Orioles to the World Series four times, and still ranks fifth among all time managers in winning percentage.

At first, I was indifferent about who I want to win the Super Bowl next weekend. As a Steelers' fan, a San Franciso and Baltimore matchup didn't exactly catch my fancy. But the more I read about it and think about it, the more interested I'm becoming. Why? The thought of two siblings, the Harbaugh brothers, matched up against each other in what is being called "The Brothers Bowl" is a great story line.

Maureen O'Donnell Rice and my wife, Mary, have been best friends forever. Ever since they were tykes growing up next door to each other in the six hundred block of East Bertsch Street in Lansford, they have been as close as two peas in a pod.

Several times a week they talk on the phone. And even though they are miles apart (Maureen lives in Ambler), The closeness has endured for more than six decades.

Maureen's husband, Bill, a Tamaqua native who died unexpectedly on January 2, often participated in those telephone calls. Sometimes he wanted to discuss politics, as he was very strong-willed in his conservative convictions.

But the last time we spoke was on Christmas Day when he and Maureen called, and Bill serenaded us with a Christmas Carol.

Titled "Black Christmas", it was sung to the tune of "White Christmas", the Bing Crosby classic.

It went:

I'm dreaming of a Black Christmas.

Just like the ones I used to know.

Where the coal banks glisten,

and children listen,

to hear colliery whistles blow.

I'm dreaming of a Black Christmas,

with every Christmas card I write.

May your days be merry and bright,

and may all your coal be anthracite.

I remember the song from my youth. But Bill and I, in our last conversation, disagreed on the origins of the carol. And we never had the opportunity to resolve the issue. He thought it was written by a Tamaqua teacher. My contention was it was penned by a nun who taught at St. Mary's in Coaldale. Does anyone out there know its origins?

I have a feeling Bill is in heaven proclaiming, "I know I'm right."

He probably is.

You'll be missed, my friend.

It's perfectly legal to spend as much as you want to play the Pennsylvania Lottery. But it's technically illegal in the Commonwealth to participate in games of chance that include Texas Hold'em Tournaments, Chinese Auctions, Nights at the Races, Paddle Auctions, Casino Nights, Pools - football, baseball, basketball, NASCAR, etc. plus other games too numerous to list here.

Doesn't anyone out there see anything hypocritical about this? Bill Rice, who was the second best poker player in his family (next to his wife Maureen) would think so, I'm sure.