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 I typed in 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 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.”