Reporting, Recording and Relaying - But Always Telling It As I See It

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

My News Year's Wish with quotes from Adam Duritz, a total stranger and Neil Cassidy

“A long December and there’s reason to believe, maybe this year will be better than the last.” Adam Duritz


About ten years ago I was golfing with a guy who was getting ready to retire, and I asked him where he planned on moving. He thought for a minute while he picked up his wedge from the edge of the green and said, “I am going to put a snow shovel in my car and drive south until I find someone who doesn’t know what it is.”

As much as I hate to cry foul in my blessed life, 2009 has had its share of challenges. I’ve been too close to death (my mother-in-law, my neighbor), have had a family member contract cancer and several other personal and professional challenges. I turned forty and found my cholesterol is a little too high and when I complained to my wife that the print in the magazine was really small…she said maybe it was just my eyes. (And, I had my first prostate exam!)

But you know what? Life didn’t end. Strangely, as I look back at the last twelve months and ahead to 2010, I realized that through adversity you can find peace. You take stock in your blessings. The process can be arduous and trying for sure. But when you are faced with challenges, the essence of what lies most importantly in your heart will provide the strength and resolve to clarify even the foggiest of life’s issues.

I know I risk sounding preachy, so I will stop. Take your snow shovel; whether it is loss, grief, anger, sadness, and find that place where you never need it again. But remember, if it wasn’t for shoveling out your driveway, you’d never know how much you would enjoy not needing to.

“Just when you think you’ve learned your lesson, and swear to watch your step, a single moment off guard will pop up and hope springs high as ever.” Neil Cassidy, letter to Jack Kerouac December 17, 1950.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

On Society and Survivor (with a quote from A Few Good Men)

Not long ago, a trusted friend said “Remember when we used to watch TV to escape reality?” True dat. Now, it seems we watch TV to assume an alternate reality…if it is reality at all.


I need to make a confession. I became hooked on this season’s Survivor. Beyond the normal deluge of fake boobs and outrageous self-aggrandizing behavior emerged Russell, an oil company owner. Russell led his fellow contestants like lambs before a feral dog on the Navajo reservation. He managed to manipulate each and every one along the way, casting them aside when needed like old oyster shells. However, his ability to game plan back-fired when it was time to face the same people he earlier tossed off. In their desultory tone, the contestants one by one dismissed Russell for basically being an overbearing bully and snake. Russell countered that he played the game “strategically better than anybody, maybe in history.” And he was right.

But here is where things got interesting from a social angle. There were two other folks vying for the million bucks…a feckless doctor and a goofy blonde. They seized upon the fallout from the “jury” and continued the bandwagon jumping…pointing to Russell’s brand of manipulation as to why he was not deserving of a million bucks. Russell immediately pounced, stating emphatically that the two were more than happy to ride along on his coattails, all the way to the point of putting themselves at a one in three chance of winning the money, and never complained once while he was taking bullets.

So I ask…who is the opportunist here? The scenario reminds me of the line from A Few Good Men. “I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it.” Well said Colonel. Russell went on to lose to dippy blonde. Was it sour grapes that cost oil-man his money? Was it jealousy? Was it Russell’s heavy-handedness or Predator Drone-like stealthiness?

The lesson here is this. This was not about right or wrong. No laws were broken in Russell’s ascent…he was just better. This is about perception and envy. When people are outsmarted, even on a goofy reality TV show, they want revenge for being made the victim. Even if they became the victim not because of a wrong done to them but because they feel that they are deserving of their pound of flesh. Hunter Thompson said “He who is taught only by himself has a fool for a master.”

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Hamsters and Hazards - A PSA from Dave Meyer

Recently, the Zhu Zhu Hamster nearly found itself added to the list of endangered animals. Seems as though the toy was thought to have had high amounts of antimony, and a consumer group thought that if a child accidentally started eating these toys like hamster McNuggets, we were on our way to a fate not unlike H1N1. After additional testing, the Zhu Zhu Hamster was spared.


However, the whole episode got me thinking about home safety. It also made me realize that our homes are patently unsafe, and yet there seems to be no scrambling to protect us from these glaring catastrophes that are lying in wait like lions in tall grass. As a public service this holiday (or for you old-schoolers, Christmas) season, I’d like to submit my own list of recalls.

1) Knives. We all have them in our home. They can kill and maim and yet not one official has found fault with their presence. Get rid of all knives in your house. (The TSA has deemed plastic knives safe, of course these are the same people who let me on a flight in New Orleans without a driver’s license or credit card and even extended me the courtesy of not having me go through the gate and had me use the side door. True story.)

2) Electricity. Our walls are coursing with it like blood. It is dangerous to anyone, especially given the fact that homes have upwards of 300 different AC adaptors for all of our electronic gadgets. Get off the grid and be safe.

3) Stairs. Any parent worth their salt has yelled more than once, “Stop playing on the stairs!” I want to take this one step further…stop using the stairs. Just stay the fuck off them, they are death traps.

4) Doors. If you haven’t had your finger slammed in one you are missing a real treat in watching your nail turn black. If you have kids you have no privacy anyway. Curtains make a fine substitute…of course they can be a choking/hanging hazard. On second thought…no curtains or doors.

Stoves (burns), sinks (scalds), bathtubs (drowning), refrigerators (not sure, but that was a popular hazard for a while), bed posts (toes), glassware (cuts)…and of course, flag poles (Christmas Story).

Get rid of it all and stay safe my friends!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Turbulence and the Toll Booth


By all accounts, turbulence doesn’t cause airplanes to crash. You keep telling yourself the rattling is just the beverage cart. You know it is not the peanuts…there are no peanuts on airplanes anymore. There are, however, applications for credit cards, but they don’t make much noise. This is what I was thinking about at 35,000 feet last night.


Then of all things, this happens. The guy sitting next to me ordered a coffee with a lot of cream and sugar and says, “Otherwise it tastes like coffee,” and cues his chuckle. I of course want to cry and scream at him, “Don’t you read my blog! Maybe coffee isn’t your drink!” I decide to let him live although I am dying to ask him “Then why in the hell are you getting coffee?” I consider that the answer to that question may hold some profound philosophical statement.

For instance, what if his answer was “it’s not the taste, but it’s not NOT the taste.” That answer would stupefy me. In fact, It might cause me to reconsider my whole philosophy on life…whatever that may be. But I would think that if I was outsmarted on the coffee issue, I may have tacked wrong coming out of the Marquesas Islands en route to Enlightenment Through Latte Bay.

Then I thought…maybe he did that to specifically irritate me. Maybe he does know me. Maybe he does read my blog. Maybe that stupid little hit counter is actually in hundred millions and I am close to a billion hits. Maybe when he gets home he is going tell his wife, “Honey, you will never believe this. I sat next to that asshole Dave Meyer on the plane, you know the one who whines and bitches on his blog. I told the flight attendant I needed lots of cream and sugar because I didn’t want my coffee to taste like coffee. You should have seen the look in his eyes…it was pure fear! I loved it!”

(One more minor airline observation. I think landing surprises some people. I say this because when it comes time to disembark, many seem completely baffled that they must now get all their shit and get off the plane. It’s sort of like when people pull up to toll booths and seem to say, “Oh, I have to pay? How much? Let me look around for some loose change.”)

Friday, December 4, 2009

This Punk Took My Soul!


I was the victim of an illegal act of identity theft. OK, it probably wasn’t illegal at all…but it still has me pissed off like when Sid Bream scored that run against the Bucs to advance the Braves to the World Series…that pissed off, deflated then depressed feeling. Granted, my name and SSN seem secure. Other than a few charges on my credit card from that Myrtle Beach trip that I am a little foggy on, all assets seem in order. This theft went to the core…down to the seeds that when you were little you actually believed that if you swallowed an apple tree would grow in your gizzard.


When I was a freshman in college (and good God if that doesn’t sound like the start of a Penthouse Forum letter, “I was a freshman at a small mid-western college and I never thought this would happen to me.”) a guy Pete on my floor started calling me Hotfire Meyer. The nickname was pretty cool sounding but alas its origins were less than nefarious. Apparently there was a boat in Cleveland where Pete was from that had “Hotfire” stenciled across its stern. Well, all these years later, it has stuck. I have friends who use the name, or even a nickname for the nickname, HF, a preponderance of the time.

But, onto the pillaging. Tooling around the internet one day (ever hear that joke…if they took porn off the internet the only website would be bringbackporn.com) I typed in http://www.hotfire.com/. I have to tell you that if was available, I was going to snag it. Behold, up pops the website of one Dino Antoniou. Can someone tell me what the fuck he is doing with the website hotfire.com? After a little investigation, it appears well-coiffed Dino is quite the thespian…actor, model, voice-over dude, musician; and all around jack of all things that usually lead to a career in waiter-ing. To top it all off, Dino doesn’t have an email address! To get in touch I have to write, on paper, a letter to one of his two agents, one in the US and one in Canada.

I plan on keeping it short and sweet…and definitely sending it to Canada. “Dear Jagoff, unbeknownst to you, I am Hotfire. Cease and desist the use of my name on your girly looking website so I can use it to post links to cool things like hockey fights and Coldplay bashing. Ignore this warning I will curse you with a week without a brush and hair gel. Sincerely, Hotfire Dave Meyer.”

Sunday, November 29, 2009

From The Random Thought Generator And One Important Tip

• If you were playing a drinking game whereby you had to drink every time you heard the name Tim Tebow in yesterday’s Florida game, you would have been stone cold drunk in two minutes. I did hear that Tebow will forgo the NFL draft in order to solve the financial crisis, kill Osama Bin Laden and make the world carbon neutral.


• Geoff Tabin has done more than you. He isn’t happy being an ophthalmologist. Oh no. He is on a mission to cure preventable blindness…in the entire world. Read his incredible story here.

• If you wake up in the middle of the night in a crypt like hotel room and grab your Blackberry to find out what time it is…do not, I repeat, DO NOT have it pointed at your face when you turn it on. It has the brightness of 80 suns.

• Also in that same hotel room, if you have to get up at night to go to the bathroom, just smash your toes immediately into the bed leg…at least you will know it is coming, then wait several agonizing seconds for the pain to seep into you and wish you only suffered the fate of having an anvil dropped on your foot.

• You haven’t seen a master craftsman until you watch an ER doctor install two internal and nine external sutures into your son’s forehead in such a tidy manner that it leaves you feeling really inadequate that you have a hard time with a fishing knot.

• Let’s face it, there are only two things that caused Tiger’s crash…he was drunk or fighting with Mrs. Tiger. In the words of Chris Rock, “If you haven’t thought of murder, you’ve never been in love.”

• Would you want the power to know every time someone had a dream that you were in? What if it meant your spouse would also find out? I was thinking of that after i wrenched my toe in that hotel room on my way to the bathroom. I woke from one of those weird “in a school bus that was also a fancy restaurant that was both parked and driving to Kabul while out the back door I was on a beach chair surrounded on one side by the ocean and the other a junk yard all while sharing coffee and deer steaks with people I haven’t thought of in twenty years” dreams.

• The people you care about aren’t going to be around forever…don’t miss a chance to tell them how you feel. Really, don’t miss a chance.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

My Woman Of The Year And Advice On How Not To Getting Arrested.

MY WOMAN OF THE YEAR 2009



Carrie Prejean is brilliant and is living proof that salacious sex tapes are sometimes the most advantageous way of self-promotion. Not since Vanessa Williams was crowned Miss America in 1983 (and subsequently dethroned thanks to her lusty photos) has anyone been able to turn a worthless title into serious bank. Really, can you name even one Miss USA or Miss America? The title carries with it little more than being crowned Miss Artisanal Cheese…maybe a better sash. However, speak out against same-sex marriage, get a sex tape leaked, file a lawsuit or two and try to walk off Larry King (I say try because she literally couldn’t seem to get away from the chair…she stood up and got, well, stuck) and KA-CHING! Granted, this cash cow may be short lived, but kudos to my woman of the year, 2009, for proving conclusively that the only way to parlay a Miss USA crown into real cash is to invest early in life in a camcorder. Lesson learned.

A TIP ON NOT GETTING ARRESTED


Bonnie and I were watching the Fox hit COPS, last night, which has been on since 1989. (Inner Circle performs the theme song, Bad Boys, wonder what the residuals are for that?) Anyway, I was always aware that drinking seemed to increase your odds of getting arrested and that seems to hold true. Almost every scene involves alcohol…almost, but not all. What seems to really increase your odds of getting arrested is the decision to not wear a standard article of clothing, and by standard I mean shirt, pants and shoes. Fully 2/3 of the people arrested in last night’s two episodes were without at least one of these items. Now, not wearing pants is a crime in and of itself, so that is sort of a no brainer. And going topless in conjunction with drinking seems to really increase the odds of getting a call from the Broward County Sheriff’s Office. However, two of the six people arrested last night were shoeless…who would’ve thought? One guy stole (or stole back if you believe him) a car, and when he ditched it and ran he didn’t have shoes on. A girl got arrested for being drunk (but parked) in a church parking lot. Now, although she was barely wearing a shirt (or a “top” as my wife would say…and who would also say “who the hell would go out dressed like that?!”) she definitely was not wearing shoes.

Where does all this leave us? Well…how about “Nudity…it’s all in the timing.”

Sunday, November 15, 2009

In Defense Of Quitting

I didn’t even flinch when I threw away the $20 worth of white powder. I tried it out a few minutes before, didn’t like it, and thought, “I will never be happy with this.” I grabbed my old standby, chalked it up to a mistake, and took a long drink. It was perfect.


See, as I have gotten older, I am beginning to have less tolerance for the things that don’t make me happy. No more soldiering through my life in some wild, me against the world ego trip. I have downsized. It’s the same reason I don’t read bad books…there are too many good ones out there and the clock is ticking. During my ill-fated golf excursion described in a previous post, I picked up my ball at least a dozen times. I didn’t pick it up out of disgust; I picked it up precisely because I didn’t want to be disgusted. There was nothing on the line, nothing to be gained by hitting another shot from the rough. Was it the easy way out? Maybe it was. But a really nice cigar, a Heineken and good company seemed to carry the day just fine. I will gladly take an eight with a smile on my face any day.

There are things in this world you can absolutely never quit on; family and friends, and there isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for either of them. Think of who is going to be at your funeral? Do you really think the guy you had the great networking lunch with is going to give a shit when you are gone? Are you going to care about him? Really, are you? Maybe my cynicism is getting the best of me…but hey, it’s my world.

The thing is, there are a million things you can get wrapped up in, but how many of them really count? My wife and I sat with our two sons and actually had a nice family dinner tonight. We talked about their upcoming basketball season; their teammates, the coaches, the practices. Yeah, that counted. I have to sit through an audit tomorrow. Do I care, absolutely…is it important…for tomorrow it is. But it’s minor league.

This isn’t the promotion of forsaking things; in fact just the opposite. We should know what we want and work every minute for it. Our legacy will be built on many pillars, but should not be built at the price of being awake at three in the morning feeling like you want to crawl out of your skin. Many things will wait on your happiness, but your happiness will wait on very few.

Now a few words about that opening paragraph. If any of you thought I was talking about cocaine…HA! Fooled you…and what the hell do you think I am? Nope…not nearly that nefarious. For the last few years after working out I have been downing a protein shake. Anyone who has been unfortunate enough to see me without a shirt will undoubtedly think two things; 1) Protein shakes obviously don’t work, and 2) Dave works out? Well, I decided this last week to buy a powder and make my own in my “the man is not going to get the best of me over-charging me for the pre-mixed kind” spirit. Well, it sucked. I realized I was never going to be content with a lumpy, syrupy concoction. I dumped it in the sink and threw the bag away. Like I said, I have no time to be pissed anymore.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

I'd Rather Eat Goat

Chipotle. What the hell is that and how has it made its way into the American lexicon with the ravenous guile of flies feasting on horse manure in 1900 Manhattan? So I get this part…it’s a pepper. A roasted jalapeƱo from what I gather. The question is when did it become fashionable to include this culinary bullshit term into every other dish in every other chain restaurant in every asphalt drag shopping strip in this great country? The only thing that would piss me off more is seeing chipotle lattes at Starbucks. But knowing what I know, this wouldn’t surprise me.


Maybe the bigger question is; why are we so susceptible to wanting our chipotle mocha chicken? (Nonsensical but tasty sounding isn’t it?) Naming food dishes almost takes on the strategy of picking a good porn name. Betty Green probably won’t be bringing in the dollars from the credit card you keep hidden from your wife as much as Jenna Jamison nor cause you to go through as many Kleenex. Chipotle…Jenna…fun names to say.

And if there are two things we like it is a) fun and b) being part of the crowd. Of course it is very possible that the problem rests with me, and I am never really sure whether or not I am cynical or just miserable (please post your thoughts on this in the comment area below). So I say to myself, “Go out and get a big plate of chipotle salmon ceviche or chipotle beef tartar.” The problem is, most of the places that lather you with a barrage of chipotle menu options are the same places that require you to walk around with one of those coaster/beeper/pagers that light up like a hooker at an AFL-CIO convention when it is your time to get seated. Ever see a group of people when one of those goes off? How happy they are to get trotted off to get their hands on the french fried onion dome appetizer before mainlining the chipotle. These are also the people that grab the fancy drink menu to order the Blue Marga-Jito.

Maybe I am missing out, and far be it from me to be the voice of disdain for pop-culture. And really, chipotle is pop-culture. Think about it, does anything in these restaurants really taste any different than it did 20 years ago? Twenty years ago you used to get peppered chicken, then “blackened” chicken and now CHIPOTLE chicken. One of my most memorable meals was also one of worst I had. I ordered goat. I received a black hunk of sinewy gristle. It wasn’t that great but I remembered it, far longer than I would ever remember the chipotle-tofu-enchilada-chicken-mex.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

This Is Myrtle Beach, Not Minnesota

The story of our Myrtle Beach trip is both long and storied. It is full of bad jokes, alcohol and egregious behavior. In lieu of a rambling 1,500 word screed, I thought I’d try out the idea of bullet pointing some of the highlights. I would say these are in sequential order, but honestly, we were drunk and sleep deprived most of the time, so they are inserted in random order. All except this first one, because it happened before we left.


• I get a message from Z on Wednesday before we leave. He tells me John has vertigo. Big fucking deal, I think, I have it too but in that restrictive MP4 format that iTunes is so fond of but that renders it impossible to use with many other software applications. But he actually has the head-on-a –baseball-bat-spinning-in-circles kind. Z tells me not to worry; Mud says he is coming if he has to get to the airport in a wheelchair.

• Three double screwdrivers with Mark at the Charlotte airport after my plane made a rapid decent due to a medical emergency on the plane. Amazing how many medical personnel are on a flight. Never found out what happened, I just know we got to Charlotte in 40 minutes instead of an hour and ten.

• First round of golf sans John while he goes back to the condo to do whatever the hell you do to get rid of vertigo. Three six-packs and three cigars and I amazingly shoot 101, my lowest round of the trip.

• We finally unpack at the condo and try to get drunk before we leave for dinner, we mostly do. As we get out of the Excursion (cause we be big pimpin’) I state very clearly that we should pour ourselves out of the Ford. Somehow, Mark thinks I meant the beer, so he gets out and dumps out the beer…much to my dismay.

• We entertain our waitress at dinner, other waitresses and the couple sitting behind us while we discuss, loudly, acts that are largely forbidden by scripture. This is the first time John brings up his disdain for Fergie’s face.

• We spend the rest of the night at a “club” with no windows, a cover charge, and a DJ who keeps saying things like “Alana to the main stage.” We get home at 3:30AM

• Five minutes later, John barges into our room to announce we have to get up for golf. I tell him to fuck himself and to leave without me. OK, it was more like two and a half hours later but it felt like five minutes. I wake up a few hours later to Mark snoring through this mouth guard thing he wears to prevent such a thing and realize we threw in the towel on the morning outing.

• Round two had me score a personal highlight reel shot by driving a fairway iron shot out of the rough (where else would I be) on one hop into the moving cart of Mark and John.

• We spend the rest of the night at a couple of bars, notably an Irish place drinking Irish Car Bombs because John says “there is an element of Jamison’s” in them. We sing ourselves hoarse. We get back at 3:15 and Erik decides it is in our best interest to go back out to Magoo’s, the bar near the condo. John stays behind and we order three beers, I fall asleep sitting in a barstool, Mark disappears, comes back and we leave. I don’t think we touched our drinks. Somewhere I accuse Mark of being un-Italian for hanging out at the Irish place.

• Golf Part III ends in controversy as the dickhead starter bitches at us for not returning the carts the right way. He tells us that he wants them in groups of five and that now we have fucked everything up for him. We are further insulted because the clubhouse is locked (we were the second to the last group to come in) and we can’t piss. We consider taking a leak on the Jack Nicholas statue out front.

• We go for the trifecta of later-than-three-AM nights by going back to the Irish place. We declare the place full of douche bags and switch to Jager bombs and Heinekin in protest . Well, I do. John goes heavy with the Crown Royal and ginger ale. We stick around to hear a really great band cover both Stone Temple Pilots and a countrified version of Snoop Dog’s Gin and Juice.

• The boys head out on Sunday for the last round while I head to the airport. Bonnie has promised stuffed peppers…I don’t miss out on those. I board the plane and wake up to the stewardess talking. I think we are getting ready to take off. We are getting ready to land in Charlotte.

So that’s the summary. We redefined fun. But there is one more tidbit. When I was at the airport I went outside before going through security. A van pulled up with four old guys in it. The sliding side door opened and one of them moaned and groaned getting out.

His friend said, “Don’t hurt your back getting out of the van you old fuck.” Ball-busting never ages…I hope that’s John, Mark, Erik and me in thirty years.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Myrtle Beach - The Preamble

Going away with four friends, golf clubs and disposable income can go a lot of ways. As much as I think of the really good times we have had away together, my mind keeps racing back to images of; police in Virginia Beach (amazing how much noise you can make with a baggage valet in a top floor suite at two in the morning), a possible broken foot in New Orleans (followed almost immediately by me showing up at the airport and realizing I had neither my credit card or my license but still managing to get on a plane post 9/11), almost not making it out of the Circus Circus in Vegas (the comped drinks are very real in Vegas, and you can lose a shitload of money when drunk), and desperate men running naked from the shower (and that was before we even left Pittsburgh.) Of course, there was also the really scary stuff.


In the past, we were usually celebrating somebody’s something; bachelor party, everyone being in town, etc. Sometimes, it was just an excuse to bail for a few days. But this time, we are rallying around us, all of us. All of us turned 40. FORTY! Our combined years for knowing each other, just the four of us, is about 312 years. If you lined those years up, end to end, like a science experiment, and went backward, you would be at the year 1697. Turns out, 1697 was a bad time to live in Haverhill in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Seems some Indians from Quebec raided the village and killed a bunch of folk and took many more hostage. One hostage, Mrs. Dustin later escaped by killing ten of her captors and returned to Haverhill where she turned in their scalps for a bounty. Shortly thereafter, the phrase “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned,” was born. For more on the year 1697, and where the above anecdote was pilfered from, please go here: http://www.answers.com/topic/1697

We will of course be assuming our aliases for this trip, Mr. Baby, Z, Mud and Hotfire. You can’t possibly go head long into this inferno bearing your real names. After all, protocol is protocol. Neither will this be a trip for the thinned skin. Every misstep taken will be pounced on like a wounded gazelle in the Serengeti. Spill a beer and hear about it for every second for the duration of the trip. This isn’t tough love, its brutal love. Its beat your friends down to within an emotional inch of their lives love. But it’s also “outsiders, mind your fucking business love” or the beating you get will not be emotional and require a very careful analogy of the extradition laws between South Carolina and Pennsylvania.

So I go into this expecting to be ridiculed and drunk. I will not shoot under a 100 and fully expect to buy my share of rounds at the bar. Someone, quite possibly me, will puke. This I know. I will laugh my ass off and count my blessings. Stories from this trip will come, the most important of which has already been told. I’m one lucky SOB to be in such good company.

(AFTERWARD: An intersting note on the internet.  When I Googled "What happened in 1697" it came back with an astounding 54,500,000 hits.  I thought it would be, I don't know, maybe 3.)

Friday, October 30, 2009

Halloween and the Nun's Apple

(Author’s Note: I have been advised by a really good friend that I should post some sort of “feel-good” entry. When I do, it takes me out of my Polish Holden Caulfield frame of mind. In deference to him, though, here is my attempt at a “feel good” story. As always, your comments are welcome.)



I’m not even sure why we walked out of our way to go to the convent on Halloween. Being good Catholic boys, I guess we felt it our obligation. So, through the Church parking lot we went, up the back staircase, behind the school and across the street to the big brick house that was the last one on the block. And just as you could count on seeing Monsignor Gehring loading his golf clubs into the back of his Olds Delta 88 on a nice spring day, the Sisters would give us our Halloween apple.

Maybe even at ten years old, we knew whose asses to kiss. We were ruled by these nuns. Sister Norah and Sister Patricia presided over us like the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse over Diamond Shoals. They taught us to read and write and were the judge, jury and executioner when it came to discipline. Corporal punishment was meted out faster than acid at Woodstock. Looking back, I realize the paddling on the ass and the rulers across the fingers were not meant so much for the victim as they were for the surrounding and suddenly tuned in kids. I heard a guy talking about torture one time, and he said the best method he knows is to shoot the guy next to the one you want to get to talk. Well, when the kid next to you just got his knuckles snapped for not holding a pencil correctly, it sure as hell gets your attention too.

One of the most interesting punishments came on the heels of an en vogue game where a bunch of us started bringing in cut-off straws to school and were spitting little purple berries out of them. It wasn’t long before the Sister’s picked up on this and the offenders (me included) were ordered to bring in two handfuls of these purple berries. That morning we all assembled in the front hall of the school and Sister Norah put all the berries in a shoe box, then in one sweeping motion sent them scattering all over the tile floor. Our punishment was to get on our hands and knees and pick up these berries…one at a time. Any attempt to pick more than one at a time would result in a do-over. Smartly, we picked up one at a time, our knees aching from the hard, cold tile. Excellent.

But here’s the thing, they were always right. Granted, as kids we didn’t always see it that way. We laughed at the smell of the cheap perfume and cursed them for the spankings. We never did understand why anyone would give a shit about how we held our pencils or if we could do the Irish Jig. But now, all these years later, it is crystal clear to me that outside of my family I am quite sure no one played a more important role in my life. Maybe they were even smart enough to know that if nothing else, they would give us some good stories to tell our kids. But what we never understood was this. Not only did these women give their lives over to God, they gave whatever was left to us kids; which turned out to be an awful lot.

We didn’t want apples for Halloween and we probably didn’t even eat them. So while we chuckled on our way back down the stairs and through the church lot, we were unknowingly outsmarted again…the Sisters gave us what we needed.



Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Contest Winner With Expert Commentary By The Author

Let’s get through a couple of the bullshit entries first.


“Anonymous” tried to get up in my grill with the Coldplay reference. I am having the NSA track your ISP right now so I suggest you get all Roman Polanski (less the ill-advised trip to Switzerland) right now. Dead last.

Another “anonymous” said basically I was asking an impossible question and somehow she (cause I know who you are) is bent on driveling on instead of firing the synapses. That’s OK, but definitely no winner.

Now…in no random order;

Two entries on the Beatles…an obvious choice, almost like saying, “Name your favorite weather!” Let me guess; sunny. While I do not question Joe and Mr. Baby on their dedication, I often wonder if many people are as enthralled with the Beatles as they say they are. I can vouch for Mr. baby since we used to lip-synch to those boys in my basement when we were kids…specifically to the album of greatest hits, 1967-70 where the Fab 4 are leaning over that balcony. I also think they are like a reverse super group; when they split up, they made some of their best music. Like Elton John said (actually Bernie Taupin said) in Empty Garden, his sad and great tune about Lennon, “Some say he farmed his best in younger years, but he'd have said that roots grow stronger if only he could hear.” For proof of this, check out George Harrison’s solo material. If John and Paul weren’t such ego-maniacs, they would have realized the most melodic Beatle should not have been relegated to back-up singer.

An interesting entry on Milli Vanilli. They have two things going for them that I love; 1) they had their Grammy taken away, which is a cool rock move, and 2) Pilatus OD’d, an even cooler rock move. Little did he know, his name would live on as an exercise routine at gyms across the country.

I will get this Donny Osmond thing out of the way now. I can see how he gripped young girls in the 70’s, some even buying pillow cases with his likeness on it. And I do give him credit for re-working (and banking) himself all these years later. The SOB has held up well and has some pipes. So, while the Osmond entry gets an “A” for effort, and even without holding the Mormon thing against him, I’m not sure he will get the nod.

Kris’ entry tried to encompass every singer/songwriter/acoustic guitar players from the 60’s and 70’s, then dumps Steve Perry in. Listen to the real Journey with Gregg Rolie. Before starting Journey he played with Santana and was at Woodstock. When you get your hands around this pre-Don’t Stop Believing stuff, you will wonder if you are listening to the same band, then realize you were listening to the wrong one.

Jeff Beck. I haven’t agreed with Sean since Mr. Quinn’s English class, and had we done this back then, his entry would have gotten him and A. Any discussion of the top 3 or 4 rock guitarists of all time that does not include Beck is probably being had by the same people who think The Who have a song called Teenage Wasteland…if this confuses you, go here, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baba_O'Riley

The King Of Pop…Michael, may he rest in peace and may someone remember to feed the llamas. Chuck Klosterman said that just because Phil Spector killed someone doesn’t mean that he wasn’t a great producer, which he was. So, we are left with the enigma that is MJ. A great, and I mean great, pop music icon. If you say you didn’t listen to something off of, or all of, Thriller or Off The Wall, you are lying like when Clinton said “I did not have sex with that woman,” when what he should have said was “I did not have vaginal penetration with my penis sex with that woman. Now, can you please define is?” The problem is of course, we get all that funky, post-“I’m cool enough to have Eddie Van Halen to play on Beat It” scene and then the Jesus Juice and snuggling in bed with Macaulay Culkin action. But, if you can get past that, you have a significant force in not only pop music, but pop culture (come on, you know you have tried to moon walk.)

Anyway, I am going to render my subjective judgment. Winner: Beck (plus he makes a good beer.) Sean, I will be contacting you for your swank Vegas address, and of course will be waiting for my Cheetah’s comp lap dance certificate like you promised.

Feel free to leave me your “you don’t know WTF you are talking about” comments below. But keep in mind; I am the musical genius among you, so take caution in your tone.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

As Only Hunter Thompson Could Say

I have given over to one of the greats...Hunter S. Thompson.  Here are some of his best lines...


Hunter S Thompson on work ...


"Absolute truth is a very rare and dangerous commodity in the context of professional journalism."

"The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side."

"Publishers are notoriously slothful about numbers, unless they're attached to dollar signs - unlike journalists, quarterbacks, and felony criminal defendants who tend to be keenly aware of numbers at all times."

"I have no taste for either poverty or honest labour, so writing is the only recourse left for me."

"I've always considered writing the most hateful kind of work. I suspect it's a bit like fucking, which is only fun for amateurs. Old whores don't do much giggling."

"I have a theory that the truth is never told during the nine-to-five hours."

... on drugs ...

"You can turn your back on a person, but never turn your back on a drug, especially when its waving a razor sharp hunting knife in your eye."

"I have always loved marijuana. It has been a source of joy and comfort to me for many years. And I still think of it as a basic staple of life, along with beer and ice and grapefruits - and millions of Americans agree with me."

"There is nothing more helpless and irresponsible than a man in the depths of an ether binge."

"Good mescaline comes on slow. The first hour is all waiting, then about halfway through the second hour you start cursing the creep who burned you, because nothing is happening...and then ZANG!"

"I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they've always worked for me."

... on America ...

"America: just a nation of two hundred million used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns and no qualms about killing anybody else in the world who tries to make us uncomfortable."

"We cannot expect people to have respect for law and order until we teach respect to those we have entrusted to enforce those laws."

"We have become a Nazi monster in the eyes of the whole world - bullies and bastards who would rather kill than live peacefully. We are whores for power and oil with hate and fear in our hearts."

... lifestyle advice ...

"Going to trial with a lawyer who considers your whole lifestyle a crime-in-progress is not a happy prospect."

"The person who doesn't scatter the morning dew will not comb grey hairs."

"He that is taught only by himself has a fool for a master."

"Anytime there's a big sporting event, go to either the winning or losing town; there'll be riots in both of them. Riots are fun."

"Avoid being seized by the police. The cops are not your friends. Don't tell them anything."

"Have an objective to give your bender a theme. For instance, stalking and killing a wild pig with a bowie knife."

"Register at a hotel under a pseudonym, and then rent two convertibles - a Porsche and a green Cadillac - so you can switch cars when things start to go bad. Be sure to launch one of these cars off a steep hill."

"Don't have sex in the lobby - it's usually awkward."

"Call on God, but row away from the rocks."

... and finally ...

"The Edge ... there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over."

"For every moment of triumph, for every instance of beauty, many souls must be trampled."

"A word to the wise is infuriating."

"When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro."

"Some may never live, but the crazy never die."

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I Want To Stimulate You


Since many people (especially you FB wing nuts) think you know so much about music...especially in reference to what is good or bad, here is your chance to prove it.  In 100 words or less, give me your best argument for finishing the following "I think ---------- is the best band/artist ever because..."  Since I know more than most of you, I will be the sole judge.  (I will even consider Coldplay entries...you heard it right)

Please post to the comment section below and be sure to leave an email address.

The winner will receive a $10 Starbucks gift card.

Contest ends October 28.

Here is a little Starbucks humor to get you going...only click if you want to laugh your ass off and are not afraid of the "f" word.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6APROqglxLE

Friday, October 16, 2009

Wordsmithing Does Not Effective Communication Make

I opened an email at work today.  Actually it was forwarded to me by a customer, she wanted me to read comments a consultant had sent her.  This "consultant" opened with this line..."The attached letter is predicated on a condition that is not otherwise verified."  It reminds me of when I hear a really good joke and I can't wait to find someone to tell it to.  I feel, in my heart of hearts, this consultant heard this line once, was baffled by it, but became determined to use it again.

I can imagine his delight when he had this vexing dilemma in front of him (turns out what he was looking for was detail MISC-009, which I found and forwarded in minutes) and thought "Egads!  I have the perfect place for this line I have been storing in my brain like nuts in a squirrel's cheek!"  He dumped it in the opening, maybe trying to impress young Melissa (who can be quite testy in emails, but very nice on the phone.  I chalk this up to the fact that her emails are CC'd to about 326 people in order to show her bosses and her boss's bosses all the way up until I think the last is obama@whitehouse.gov that she is "all over it" or something.

Maybe this was clever wordsmithing, but it annoyed me.  I mean a great opneing is "We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold."  And to think Hunter Thompson only got started with that line.

(author's note:  The above email is probably not BO's and I apologize to the NSA if this causes any problems.  The photo is a collection of stuff Hunter Thompson sent me in response to a letter I wrote him.)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

UFO or Cloud?

This picture makes as much sense to me as the rest of Palm Springs.  Both are beautiful and interesting but you are not sure what they are doing there.  If nothing else, Palm Springs is idyllic.  Tucked into the Cochella Valley, surrounded by mountains and dotted with golf courses, it would seem the perfect place to spend a few days.  It isn't.  Like the cloud in this picure, it seems to lack any real soul.  It floats around, you get tired of looking at it, and it is eventually gone. 

One thing The PS does have is medical clinics and doctors offices.  Drive down Country Club Road some day.  They are lined up like hookers at an AFL-CIO convention.  Buildings and buildings worth, all catering to the elderly demographic.  Oddly, in the midst of all this was a Planned Parenthood office.  I'm pretty sure you can get an appointment there a little easier than one of the 7,000 Centers For Joint Pain.  What they need is a Planned Hip Replacement office.

As much as it sucked coming home to the first days of a long winter, I was glad to leave that place.  It was my thrd visit and it was a charm; reminding me to never go back




Saturday, October 10, 2009

From the "Thanks but you have no idea what you are talking about file."

Stopped at Steamers, the local chain coffee store for my medium latte. Don't know the girls name who works there but I have been going long enough that she knows my order. The cute little thing says, "What's going on?"

"Well," I tell her, "I'm going to Palm Springs tomorrow." It's always fun to share that sort of thing.

Anyway, she tells me she would love to have "just a sliver" of my life.

Nice gesture, but she has no idea.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Coffee Is Flavored

So this morning, as I do every morning, I stopped at the local 7-11 for my coffee. A 16oz, $1.37 coffee. I am a big fan of coffee station observation. To wit, there are two things that I find disturbing.

1) The Flavor Maven - This is the person who routinely empties packets of various flavored creamers into an otherwise fine cup of coffee. Here is a bit of info...coffee is flavored! It doesn't need mocha-vanilla-hazelnut-ginseng to bring it to life. This especially goes for guys. No flavoring boys...man-up for God's sake.

2) The Over Sugar-er (and Creamer-er). Cream and sugar in coffee is like salt and pepper, a little. Today, I kid you not, I saw a woman emptying so many sugars in her coffee, it took her longer to do that than it did for me to get my cup, fill it, add my splash of cream and a half sugar. When I got to the counter to pay, she was still fucking around with the packets.

If you are doing any of the above, coffee may not be your drink. It's OK. Go get yourself a 164oz Mountain Dew (seen that too in the AM - people bring their own giant cooler/cups for this). Suck that down on the way into work and pray you don't get stuck in traffic less you end up taking a piss in your ash tray, and that your employer maintains your dental coverage for the new teeth you are going to need.

So, no flavors in coffee and lighten up on the cream and sugar. There are Guatemalans and Colombians and Sumatra-ians (?) working very hard to get you coffee. Stop pissing me off and embarrassing yourself.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

To Fell A Playset


It was said once that to a man with a sawzall, everything looks like an old play set. There is something primal about tearing something down. We spend so much of our lives building things: relationships, families, careers, our 401(k)'s. Hours and hours we toil to develope and improve and foster. Sometimes, we need chaos theory. Sometimes we need to get our hands on a sawzall and rip shit down. Tear it apart with little regard for order. We need to break and cut and throw. We need to pry and pound...we need to destroy.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

I know what's wrong with health care, and I can fix it

I recently had surgery to repair a hernia. Having now some fist hand knowledge of the health care industry I can safely say I know what is wrong. It is not the pricing, the quality of care (excellent by the way) or docs who have no time. The problem is the paperwork.

Since my procedure we have been inundated with mail. We get letters that are described as "Explanation of Benefits," "This is not a bill" and "this is a bill, so pay it or you are going to a collection agency and you can fight with them. If you don't think you owe this, well, good luck contacting us let alone speaking to someone who actually gives a shit about your problem and may accidentally hit a wrong keystroke while typing in your information that may cause us to realize you didn't pre-approve the procedure so now, instead of the $247.00 you owe us $22,000."

My wife and I are both college educated, fairly intelligent people, her more than I, of course. But for the life of me, I cannot get my head around all the fucking paperwork. We get separate bills from anyone who even looked at me in the hospital, even the nice older lady who helped me on with my hospital socks.

The idea is simple. The hospital will be have one shot to get your billing straight. They get one first class stamp per patient, so they have one chance to get it right. None of this submitting claims to the insurance carrier who pays whatever the hell they want after some huge-ass discount, leaving you with a balance. This will be done over and over. Then, the hospital/doctor sends this balance onto you, all while you are trying to understand the explanation of benefits and letters that are not bills. AAHHH!

The problem with this of course is that it would cause millions of layoffs for the paper-pushers, as I'm sure their are mid-west towns built around feeding and housing these people, like the old mining towns in Idaho. Oh well, we need some more places to visit and what better than an old insurance town.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

It's Not A Protest If You Don't Get Pepper Sprayed


The G20 reared its head in Pittsburgh last week, and I was front and center for the best non-violent, no-protester showing event of those glorious 48 hours. Some people blow off work to go golfing, I blew off work to see someone meet the business end of a water cannon.
Alas, hundreds of local and state riot police, with a smattering of federal agents set up skirmish lines like Civil War re-anactors at Gettysburg. They formed in abrupt skirmish lines, practiced putting on their gas masks (this, much to the dismay of myself and 50 or so other onlookers who thought we were going to be getting a nose full) and jockeyed us spectators around from one block to the next.
A small group of protesters showed up, about 50, and were festooned in their best black t-shirts. I believe they were the feared and dreaded "Anarchists". I also feared and dreaded the idea that they were completely unaware of what anarchy meant, let alone actually believed their song of protest..."No Banks, No Borders." Huh?
Anyway, when faced with armed confrontation, they quickly dispersed like scattering bugs. They only committed people were the police and the onlookers and we got bored with each other. We dispersed ourselves, besides, I had to get to the bank.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Change Blows

"I change by not changing at all." Eddie Vedder

Ever wonder why stores, every once in while, decide it best suits its customers to move shit around to different spots? This happened about a year ago at the Giant Eagle. since I don't shop much, it took me a while to get my hands around where things were and then they up and re-arranged things. I blame it all on the "organic movement. It seemed as though they needed space to include a big "organic" section...hence, the logical thinking must have been, "Listen, we need to make room for the organic, soy, free-range, pesticide free llama burgers, so lets move the canned carrots from aisle 3 to aisle 8."

More recently, the local Barnes and Noble had posted a sign that read "Parden us while we re-arrange all the sections of our store so that you will wander aimlessly looking for the area you can no longer find and you can ask one of our friendly sales associates to assist you." Or something like that. So now, while looking for a book by AJ Jacobs, I find myself accidentally looking at books with titles like "A Gay Man's Guide To Employement Policy," or, "Eighteen Ways to Lose That Baby Fat."

I mean really, what the fuck? At least the Giant Eagle added something, even if it was overpriced arugala grown by dirty hippies. B&N did nothing but move things...and in apparant random order.

Sometimes things are fine the way they are...don't fuck with them.

Monday, September 14, 2009

OK

I think it is obvious there is no way in hell I can write on this fucking blog everyday! Look at the last few posts...they suck! This will slowly meld into a huge year-long crap if I don't find a direction for this behemoth!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Damn...things bore me!

I may never get one single solitary word ever published...but I will not be boring!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Wednesday 9-9-09

Made some Roasted Tomato Soup with tomatoes from the garden...a last ditch effort to salvage some of the last from a bumper crop.

Now, if I want to play poker I can drive by two PA casinos to still go to WV to do it. How the fuck does the state get away with such stupidity?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

We survived Obama's Speech

Much ado about nothing is the phrase of the day. President BO delivered the hitherto controversial speech to the school kids today. For some reason, SV did not participate. I can pnly hope it was a scheduling issue and some stupid conserva-nazi agenda. The speech was very motivating.

The swtich to First Niagara from national City went anything but smooth at work. The direct deposits didn't deposit, the remote deposit didn't deposit.

I am stuck thinking about who in God's name I can write about for my next writing assignment. What makes it tricky is that the person I choose, not only do I have to write about their good and bad qualities, I have to then write about an "experience" with them. Hmm. So, if I write about someone who has distinct good and bad qualities, I need a good experience with them. This leaves out most of my friends, not that they are perfect, but hey have few bad qualities. I was thinking about flipping a coin and doing it about one of the kids ut that may be mean spirited.

The Pirates now have the longest season losing streak at 17 consecutive seasons...what an achievement! Steelers start on Thursday. Early prediction...11-5.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Labor Day

This is my goal...try to write something every single day for a year. 'Nuff said about that. (Well, one more note, I am going to do this without editing much...actually I will not edit at all.)

Big news today at the house are these baby gerbils. Supposedly we were sold two males. Well, unless one underwent a sex change, this was not the case. We now have, at last count, six gerbils including mom and dad. One baby died at some point and he is now in the outside garbage can, My wife asked Chris if he wanted a box to bury him in. Thank God he said no, so the little guy is in the garbage. It took us until this afternoon to figure out who in the hell the mother was. But seeing Blackjack standing outside her purple house with two babies sucking on her teets solidified that.

It was an animal day with a trip to Living Treasures...other than that the rain fucked up just about everything else.

I am going to rate this day a C...it could have easily been a solid B but the other B was in a bad mood.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Day Trip - Ocracoke, NC


The Hatteras to Ocracoke ferry zigzags up the last, thin remnants of Hatteras Island before a brief jaunt through the inlet. A few minutes later, it tucks itself into the docks on Ocracoke and disgorges the twenty or so vehicles in an expedient and efficient manner. The caravan proceeds south on Highway 12 like camels across a desert, taking its occupants down the slither of blacktop that slices through the narrow island with the Pamlico Sound on the right and the Atlantic Ocean on the left. The thirteen mile drive to the village is punctuated by a few beach turnoffs, a campground, an airstrip and the famed but now corralled Ocracoke ponies. The ponies, former Spanish wild mustangs, managed to roam the island freely for upwards of 200 years before Highway 12 was paved. After this, the National Park Service penned the ponies in 1959. If your interest is in seeing what basically amounts to farm horses, it is worth the stop and free of charge.

At islands end, the tiny but vibrant village of Ocracoke greets visitors with small and quant shops that range from touristy to island trendy; OBX t-shirts are sold next to locally made jewelry. The village meanders in a crescent around Silver Lake Harbor which channels through “The Ditch” into Pamlico Sound. The harbor is home to fishing charters, parasailing and wave runner rentals. The narrow main street (still Highway 12) and several side, tree lined roads (with great monikers like Back Road and Lighthouse Road) offer limited parking but plenty of small village charm that encourages you to get out and walk.

The islands most famous and notorious tourist, Edward Teach, aka Blackbeard was killed near the island in November 1718. Not to miss a marketing chance of a lifetime, the village boasts a Blackbeard Lodge, Edward’s Of Ocracoke, Pirates Quay Condo Hotel and Teach’s Hole Blackbeard Exhibit to name a few. Skull and cross bone flags are, needless to say, readily available.

A short walk up the aptly named British Cemetery Road leads to, you guessed it, the British Cemetery. In May of 1942, the HMS Bedfordshire was torpedoed by a German U-Boat off the coast with all hands lost. Four British Sailors, 2 identified and 2 not, washed up on shore and were interned at this small, well kept cemetery on Ocracoke beneath the British flag.

The 75 foot tall Ocracoke lighthouse, perched just southwest of the village proper was constructed in 1823 for a little under $12,000. Its white exterior is due to its coating of lime, salt, Spanish whiting (a type of chalk), rice, glue and boiling water. The lighthouse is the 2nd oldest in the United States and the oldest in North Carolina. Though it currently rests on private property, a boardwalk slips through the grounds next to the lighthouse keepers former residence and provides a close up view of the lighthouse and adjacent buildings.

Situated on Silver Lake Harbor is the Jolly Roger Restaurant, an outdoor eatery complete with sea gulls and docked boats. With a nice selection of micro-brew beers, my wife, two boys and I settled into a table and I ordered the 22oz Fat Tire Ale. The seafood is so fresh that the Bluefish sandwich advertised as the daily special had in fact not yet been brought in from the boat. Local mahi (not long ago still called the eco-unfriendky dolphin) was duly substitute and my wife pounced, though she was disappointed that there was only beer and wine served. I ordered the fish tacos which tasted of the sea and were augmented with wasabi mayonnaise. At $60 for the four of us for everything including a side order of hushpuppies, we were full and happy visitors.

We clipped along north back to the ferry dock and fed a few seagulls while we waited the ten minutes or so for the next batch of tourists to debark, then eased the van onto the deck for the 45 minute ride back to Hatteras. Ocracoke does not offer great adventure and thankfully it does not have go-cart tracks or splashy restaurants. It does possess island charm uncharacteristic of much of the east coast. Its gentle mix of tourist shtick and laid back, southern elegance makes it the perfect destination for a day trip from the outer banks.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

I'm a Dad, I'm a Loser

Not so long ago, I could whip my kids at everything. I was physically dominating and intellectually superior. I was faster, stronger and smarter. Of course, these were also the days when my boys, twins, would still tell me they loved me and would jump in my lap on Saturday morning while I sat in my recliner and watched Sportcenter. Still, I gave them breaks. I played with them and let them beat me. Not all the time, but certainly quite often. Back then I was a loser by choice. When we played football, I’d fall to the ground with ease. I’d tumble down in a heap just to hear their pleasing, little boy laughs. When we played cards, I would be sure to let them win enough to keep their interest, peeking at their hands or tossing away winners while we played Go Fish. In our room I’d give them a good toss onto the bed, watching them bounce up and flail back down before I lay prone while they piled on. “I submit!” I’d yell, and they were the champions. When we played video games I’d maneuver in a way that let them get the best of me.

As I write this I consider my current standing and wonder if I was perhaps a bit overzealous in my desire to lose, as I fear it might have hindered my ability to ever reclaim my paternal, silverback role in the home. Right now, my boys (I say “my” but I really mean “our.” My wife, who deals with more bathroom humor than Alcosan does sewage, has managed to teach these two hellions grace, humility and kindness, and she gets many voluntary “I love yous.”) are in the back yard chucking a lacrosse ball around with their friends. I am quite certain they are not even aware I am here. I am also quite sure that their friends would speak to me before they would. Just today I was painfully reminded of how uncool I could be. We were walking across our cul-de-sac and I purposely grabbed my one son’s hand, just like the old days. He was so distracted that I felt his hand actually hold mine. After about two seconds, he realized his egregious error, and in one deft motion as if a caiman had sprung from a swamp and sunk his needle like teeth into him, ripped his hand away while spinning to face me and delivered a right legged kick to my shin. He laughed, his brother laughed and like a baby I said “Don’t kick me!”

My dilemma is now this; I have a hard time winning even when I want to. When we wrestle, I am in essence tangling with a 200 pound man with four arms, four legs, four knees and four elbows who possesses dexterity that is unparalleled, resilient stamina and no comprehension of his own strength. Multiple blows rein down on me with a ferocity of a young Mike Tyson. A favorite tactic is for one of them to distract me, or better yet choke me while the other runs at a full sprint from down the hall and launches himself kamikaze style into my rib cage. I become completely defensive and generally curl up in a ball until the beating stops or worse, when my wife says “Boys, you are going to hurt daddy!”

The last time I played Madden football on our game station against one of the boys, I was schooled to the tune of 88-0. That’s right; my son scored eleven touchdowns, and while he was at it, figured he should go for the two-point conversion every time. I ran three plays every series before punting and totaled about 25 yards. There wasn’t a beating like that since my 6th grade basketball team was thrashed by forty points at St. Malachy’s tournament and I threw up at center court after the game. After his fifth fade route touchdown off of play-action, I foolishly inquired as to how in God’s name he did it. He replied, “circle, triangle, triangle, R1, square, L2, circle.” I asked him if I couldn’t do it by simply hitting “square” on the controller because I had no idea where those other buttons even were, let alone being able to hit them in that exact order in under a second. While his fingers glided over the buttons like Yngwie Malmsteen’s over a fret board, mine fumbled about like tourists after a booze cruise in Barbados (I know of which I speak.)

I could go on but the point is this. They are eleven years old now and already do many things better than their old man, and in eleven more years will probably be doing everything better. They are tall, smart, athletic and handsome, and while they get supreme enjoyment from making a fool of me, or hurting me or otherwise just beating me, they never fail to show mom the attention she deserves. They may not sit on my lap anymore, but we still watch Sportcenter Saturday mornings. All of that is fine, because in eleven years and eleven after that I still get to be their dad. So there, tough guys, try to beat that out of your old man!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Title Madness


I had wanted to call this blog "Enjoy Every Sandwich." Someone else is obviously a fan of Warren Zevon as this was a quote he gave Dave Letterman on his last appearance not long before his death. So, I briefly considered "Sludge Factory," the title of an Alice In Chains song but decided the copyright lawyers would track me down. Looking around the kitchen desk I was sitting at for inspiration, there were three choices; 1) Class Picnic On June 9th (letter from school), 2) 1,789 Life-Changing Health, Fitness, Nutrition and Styke Tips (the cover of Men's Health Magazine), and 3) Deluxe Mixed Nuts (the empty jar sitting next to me.)
I was in a hurry to title this beast because I wanted to get out and drink with my wife and neighbors, it was Friday night after all. Looking around now, I guess I could have also gone with "Estimated Personal Savings Analysis