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

Sunday, May 29, 2011

This Is My Yard (I Mean Field)

Feng Shui - 13 year old boy style
“I will grow grass next year, this year I am growing kids.” Unknown

I heard that quote on a radio interview some years ago. I am not quite so poetic, so more likely would have said, “Until the kid’s leave the house for good, our yard will continue to look like hell.”

Buying a house with a big, fenced in yard was important to Bonnie and me. We had a dog and two boys and wanted plenty of room for all three. What was not considered was that we bought the only house in the neighborhood with a big, fenced in yard. (It has become so popular it is not uncommon at all to have neighborhood kids playing there when my kids are not even home.)

Our yard is now a field…and a beat up one at that. It is not lush, full or thriving. It barely supports life. It does support upwards of ten teenagers at a time, and serves as a lacrosse field, football field, a made-up game field. It does not, though, serve as lawn.

That ship has sailed. I didn’t acquiesce easy. I tried to fertilize, but soon realized that fertilizer is not resistant to the thunderous trampling of kids. (“It weeds, it feeds, it causes third degree burns…keeping kids off your lawn for years!”) Conscientious golfers replace their divots; the boys create them…willfully and with malice.

Aside from a flower bed near the house that my wife tends and small garden in the back, the kids have co-opted the rest. Just yesterday, my son Dylan asked if we could buy some field paint so he could line the yard. He was totally serious. Before I said, “no,” I admit I thought the idea was be pretty cool. That is how much I have given it over to them.

And all of that is okay. It won’t be long until they are gone. The grass will grow. The lawn will be lush, full and thriving. I will miss the clover and the dirt and the weeds. I will miss running over the lacrosse balls when I mow and finding the stray hockey stick. My yard looks like hell, just the way I like it.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Insane Religious News Of The Week

I observed two confounding and equally ludicrous religious events this week. And as usually occurs to me as I bear witness to such things, I find myself more amazed at the folks who buy into these shenanigans than the actual source itself.

First, Harold Camping’s rapture, or as I like to call it, “Real World – Heaven” seemed to be complete bullshit. More striking than there being no divine lift off of saved souls, however, was that so many people had such devout hope that this would happen, they gave away their possessions and awaited the witching hour with more anticipation than Arnold waiting for Maria to run to the grocery store.

When a rapture (which I long thought was just a Blondie song) is second fiddle to the real religious news of the week, you can be assured we are walking on shaky celestial ground.

This week, the United Stated Conference of Catholic Bishops released a 140+ page report that largely blamed the pedophilia amongst some of its priests on the sexual revolution of the fifties and sixties.

“That’s it,” the Bishop exclaimed! “It’s not our fault after all!”

Harold Camping has more clout. He certainly has a better PR team. Who is crazier, I ask, the people who cashed in their 401(k) for Camping or the Catholic Bishops who thought this report had any redeeming value?

Back in my “going to confession days”, I never once remember telling a priest, “Yes, Father, I was disrespectful to my parents. But it wasn’t really my fault. I just read No One Hear Gets Out Alive, the Doors biography, and Jim Morrison was a real malcontent. So I figured, what the hell, I might as well be one too.”

It never worked that way. But the Catholic Church is proving that it never let responsibility get in the way of covering their ass.

At no charge, I could have written the real report.

“Dear Flock, we lost our way. Over the past decades, we employed pedophiles. These scumbags preyed on the most innocent amongst us, our children. Nothing can undo that damage. Worse yet, is that instead of assisting authorities in any investigation, we became complicit to these crimes by turning these criminals loose on other children in other parishes. There is no excuse. We have failed in unimaginable ways. Starting today, we have invited law enforcement into our ranks and have opened our doors to prosecutors. Our goal is to root out and bring to justice these pedophiles.”

I could be wrong, but it sounds better than blaming Jim Morrison.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Our Ghostly Misadventure In Savannah

Sorrel-Weed House
 Barry, the affable and southerly guide for the ghost tour my wife and I recently took in Savannah insists there is a difference between a ghost and a spirit. A ghost, he says, “is circular, repeating the same thing again and again.” A spirit, on the other hand, “is linear – and back for unfinished business.” Dave, the affable and northerly blogger insists he is full of shit.

Regardless, we encamped in a “trolley” for the hour tour around nighttime Savannah to be regaled by stories that included (of course): orphans who died in a fire, a woman who drowned (but really didn’t) on Friday the 13th, and the ghost (or spirit, I forget) who walks through the cemetery.

The “highlight” of the excursion (if you discount the drunk who stuck his head into the trolley and yelled “boo!” while we were waiting to leave) was a slow drive past the Sorrel-Weed House. The short story is that Francis Sorrel was caught by his wife having an affair with a slave. The distraught wife tossed herself off a second story balcony. Two weeks later, the slave was lynched and hung in the attic. This was terrible for all those involved in pre-Civil War Savannah society, but great news for the hawkers of ghost tours in 2011.

What really cemented this house in the ghost tour itinerary, however, was the Sci-Fy show “Ghost Hunters,” which profiled the house in 2005. During their time on the property, they recorded, on something called an EVP, the voice of a woman saying, “Get out, get out – help me – oh my God.”

So, for non-believers like my wife and me, Barry played the recording. Admittedly, I have never heard a ghost or spirit. But this I can report, the recording played more like a podcast than that of a ghost. In fact, in some ways it was more intelligible than our guide’s southern drawl.

The only comment my wife made upon hearing this was, “I want to come back here tomorrow and see this house in the day time. It is gorgeous!”

One conclusion I came to is that ghosts and spirits seemed to have largely gone the way of the horse and carriage. That is to say, they are dated. All the stories we heard were well over a hundred years old. Where’s the story about the salesman who died on the treadmill in the Marriott last week and now haunts the hospitality room looking for a bottle opener and a hooker?

Maybe the afterlife has free Wi-Fi and so there is no need to stick around, unfinished business or not. Or maybe, just maybe, ghosts and sprits don’t exist!

The tour did provide us with plenty of sightseeing opportunities that we made mental notes of for the next day. The Colonial Park Cemetery was one of them. Barry told us that a spirit walks back and forth and once sat next to an art student on a bench. (Neither the spirit nor the art student is available to confirm this.) We didn’t see the spirit or the art student, but we did see a dog pissing on someone’s grave. Or did we?