Monday, January 31, 2011

Just A Damn Nice Weekend






This isn't likely to be a tremendously scintillating post.

(Did you need to be scintillated? I hope not.)

I just had one of the most pleasant weekends I can remember. Nothing earth-shattering happened. Most of the events will likely be gone from memory in a week or so. That's precisely why I want to write about it, though. Stuff like this is good to remember. If I don't write it down, I won't. If I put you to sleep in the meantime, my apologies.

First thing I'm going to do is list what happened, in rough chronological order, and then I'll expand on two or three of the items. I won't tell you everything because that would be boring in some instances and ungentlemanly in others.

SATURDAY

* I had a really good shave

* The ride down to a kid's birthday party was very pleasant

* The party itself was fun, with nice people present

* The kids were cute

* The ride home was the same as the first ride - pleasant

* I did some laundry

* I read some Mark Twain

* We watched a movie, a fun bit of fluff called "Jumbo"

* I played the bass

BETWEEN SATURDAY & SUNDAY

* I got a really good night's sleep and we got less snow than forecast

SUNDAY

* Enjoyed some TV with MY WIFE

* Had steak and eggs for breakfast

* Played the bass again

* Took a lazy early afternoon nap

* Got a phone call from my buddy, Sean

* Watched the Celtics beat the Lakers

* Had steak again, this time for dinner

* Made love

* Enjoyed a tearjerker movie starring Betty White

* Another good night's sleep

And that's about it. Like I said, nothing that would make a blog post unto itself, or change the course of history, but just a smooth and pleasant couple of days doing nice things with good people.

It started with a good shave. That might not seem worthy of mention, even in a post full of unremarkable things, but it set the tone for the entire 48 hours. Guys - and probably most women, but I won't speak for them - know that a bad shave can linger. If you cut your face to ribbons, it tends to put a damper on what follows. Even just some undue irritation can keep bringing you out of whatever reveries you find yourself in. Well, I had a good shave. No nicks, no irritations, no razor burn, nothing to remind me that I had shaved, at all, except for the absence of any reminders. That was a good thing. It made the ride that followed completely free of any added annoyance.

The ride was from Watertown to Lakeville, about an hour's duration. Along the way, we needed to stop at a sporting goods store to pick up a present MY WIFE had had in mind for a couple of weeks for our grand nephew, whose party we were going to. The thing she wanted was right there, front of the store, we picked it up, and then we continued on a pleasant hour ride filled with the type of good conversation that a man and HIS WIFE of 18 years have when they love each other.

We arrived in Lakeville and went to a birthday party. It was for Darian, our grand nephew, who was turning five.

(Some folks prefer 'great nephew', same as 'great aunt' or 'great uncle', which is what we all are, but I've never understood why grandparents are grand and the rest of the same generation isn't, so I've taken it upon myself to change that. Sorry if that causes confusion, but my weekend wouldn't have been perfect without it, so...)

(Wait a minute. Let me amend that. It wasn't a perfect weekend. There were slight bits of non-perfection thrown in, but nothing worth telling you about.)

(OK, maybe just one. On our way to the party, we drove past a young teenage girl wearing sweatpants with the inscription "JUICY" written across her ass. I know it's a brand name, and I know saying this will mark me as an old fogey, but it seems to me that a teenage girl with "JUICY" across her ass is the equivalent of a teenage boy wearing pants with "BONER" written across the crotch. It may or may not be the truth, I don't want to know about it either way, and it's hardly the sort of thing you want to advertise unless you actually are advertising.)

(And, now that I've mentioned it, some idiot clothing manufacturer will probably think it's a great - or grand - idea, and start marketing them. I'm sorry I brought it up.)

The birthday party was held at our grandnephew's dojo. He's taking martial arts and it's a good thing. He has perpetual energy and it's a great outlet for it. His sensei hosted the party, and he was truly magnificent with the many kids attending, most of whom were not his students. He gave all of them brief lessons in his arts, then devised games for the kids using those arts, and he was patient and loving, yet authoritative enough to herd the five-and-six-year-old cats as needed. There was cake, and that alone would have made it worth my while. The cuteness of the kids was just an added attraction.

Darian's grandparents, Victoria and Joe, are my sister-in-law and brother-in-law, respectively, and they're two of my favorite people. They were the ones who paid for the party. Joe is a truly nice guy, and so is Victoria (except for the guy part, since she's recently dropped forty pounds and is downright foxy these days.)

After a brief apres-party visit to Victoria and Joe's house, we rode home - again, pleasant - and I did some laundry. That may not seem like part of a wonderful weekend, but when you consider that I didn't have to beat the clothes on a rock and hang them out to dry in 20 degree weather (which wouldn't so much dry them as petrify them) it was all good. I enjoyed reading Mark Twain's Autobiography during the time the laundry was doing itself, and later on I plugged in my bass guitar and was in a groove the whole time I played. Somewhere in there, MY WIFE and I watched the Jimmy Durante film, Jumbo, which was goofy and fun.

Overnight, we were supposed to get an inch or two of snow, to add to the 60 inches or so we've already been blessed with this year, but that didn't happen. Yay!

Sunday morning came and we watched some TV, which was just a nice relaxing couple of hours, then I cooked up a big steak and some eggs for my breakfast. I'm here to tell you that steak and eggs is about the best damn breakfast possible. It's even better when you know you'll have steak for dinner, which we did. I'm not sure if this was the first time in my life wherein I had steak for two different meals during the same day, but I guarantee it won't be the last (unless I croak in the meantime, of course, but if I do, I'll die happy, having had steak for TWO meals in one day.)

I played the bass again, got a phone call from my good buddy, Sean (who jokingly asked me which team I thought would win The Pro Bowl, which we both consider the worst all-star game on the planet, so I said the AFC would win 46 - 3, while he guessed it would be the NFC, 108 - 27, and since neither of us watched the thing, we were both winners), and then the Celtics beat the Lakers, which I might have considered the highlight of the day except for the fact that MY WIFE and I made love afterward, or maybe it was after the steak. It's all blended together in a general pastiche of warm feelings, full bellies, and unhappiness for Kobe Bryant, so it's all good.

The weekend ended with Betty White in a tearjerker Hallmark Hall Of Fame presentation called The Lost Valentine. It worked. It jerked half a bucket of moisture from me, as I sat there blubbering like a schoolgirl at the end, tears and snot running down my face. I wouldn't normally consider that a good thing, but it was in this instance. Betty White was truly good as a war widow who lost her husband in World War II yet who returned to a train station to meet his train every year, on Valentines Day, since he went missing in action. If you didn't see it, do so if it's repeated. And bring hankies.

And, finally, after clearing my body of all the fluids one can clear them of, I had a great night of sleep and here I am. As I said at the beginning, nothing earth-shattering. I wrote this more for my benefit than for yours, so I thank you for grinding your way through to the end. I'll try to be as polite someday with one of your boring posts.

Soon, with more better stuff.


Friday, January 28, 2011

Mount Nickencarl



This is my front yard.



What you see foremost is Mount Nickencarl (so named because the bulk of it was put there by our most excellent upstairs neighbors, Nick and Carl, God bless their 20-something selves and May Their Tribes Increase. They've done about 75% of whatever shoveling has needed to be done, much to the relief of my off-season out-of-shape ass.)

For purposes of a height comparison, I asked MY WIFE to stand as near as she could. MY WIFE is 5'1", so Mount Nickencarl has to be at least... well, I'll leave the estimates up to you.


(MY WIFE usually looks much happier. It was quite cold.)

Now, I don't want to brag, but I do believe we have the largest snow mound in the neighborhood. I haven't measured any of the others, but none of my neighbors has a Sherpa camped out in front of their house.

OK, I know you find that hard to swallow, and I'd probably say you were full of sherpa if you told me that, but I have proof. I have a photo of him.

Well, it's not really a photo. Sherpas are amazingly shy. However, I have utilized my artistic abilities and drawn this very realistic representation.

I've worked out a deal with him. For every five brave souls he guides to the top, I get a free yakburger. This winter, as hideous as it is, is not without its compensations.

Soon, with more better stuff.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Hello, New Followers! Here's Where You Begin To Realize I'm A Lazy Slug!



Ever since being named a Blog Of Note, I've been getting something like six gazillion hits a day. Previously, I was getting about 200 (which was swell, and appreciated, but not as nice as being Very Obviously Important & Famous.)

While I dig the added notoriety, it has put an undue strain upon me. Before, I could slack off and expect to keep most of my audience until I got my ass in gear again. Now, I have to come up with new and entertaining stuff every couple of days or else I'll lose all of the newer readers. But, while my numbers have changed for the better, I haven't. I'm still a slug. No matter how much pressure is put on me, I'm always inclined to recline. I think I've hit upon a temporary solution, though.

I now have a brand new audience upon which to foist re-runs. And that's just what I'm going to do. You're new. You won't know any better.

(Except that I've told you up front what my underhanded plan is. Other than that, it was pure evil genius...)

OK, enough semi-funny introductory material. Here's a whole bunch of stuff to keep you busy until I write something new and exciting (which I don't know if I've ever done that, so it may be a while.) It is a selection of what I consider the best things I've ever written. Since my judgment is unfailingly hideous, you'd probably be better off reading everything else I've ever written, instead of this junk.


(The photo above has nothing to do with what follows. I've placed it here to engender your sympathy. Look at that cute kid! He wrote this stuff, you know. Of course, he had no idea that 44 years from the time of that picture being taken his Ronnie-Howard-like visage would be adorning this pile of crap. Pity him!)

THE 23 BEST THINGS I'VE EVER WRITTEN!

The more attentive among you might notice that there are 24 entries below, not 23. That's because one of them is a two-parter, and I listed both parts separately. More important, though - Get A Life! I love you and all that, but counting the entries here means that you've got nothing better to do than check my math. That's just pitiful.

Anyway, here's what a jerkwad like me is relatively proud to have written. None of my relatives are, though.

A Day (5 Of Them, Actually - All Saturdays) In The Life

My life, condensed. If somebody held a gun to my head and told me to choose the best piece of writing I've ever done, I'd probably say that this is it. However, I'd have to assume their gun was carved out of turkish taffy. How deranged would a person have to be to put a gun to someone's head just to ask that question?

Moo

A whole bunch of it, too!

Return To Caddy Road

The story of my return to the neighborhood I lived in for almost 37 years. It is one of the best things I've ever written. Of course, I didn't really need to tell you that. The title of this piece is "The 23 Best Things I've Ever Written". I'm not going to give it a title like that and then fill it up with my worst stuff. MY WIFE would tell you that the reason this is one of the best things I've ever written is because it's one of the few things I've written wherein I'm not, for even a single moment, a wise-ass. Yeah, like she has taste. She married me.

My Happiest Moment In The Subway

Which has nothing whatsoever to do with the subway, at least until you read...

My Happiest Moment In The Subway, Part Two

Which does have something to do with the subway, except it's about the elevated, and before then you have to read all about my experiences as a lead singer in a truly bad band, which is what the first part is about, also, so you may as well start there.

(By the way, if you live in the Northeast of the United States, the weather right now approximates that mentioned here in part two of this tale. I suggest printing it out and reading it outside to get the right feel for it.)

The Gift

A Christmas story. I re-post this every year in the week leading up to Christmas, so you could just wait until then to read it. It's probably better when the actual season is upon us, anyway.

100 Years Old Today

Written on the occasion of my grandmother's 100th birthday (and re-printed on her 101st, 102nd, 103rd, 104th, and 105th.) 100% (and maybe 101%, 102%, 103%, 104%, and 105%) sarcasm-free content.

Smokes

The story of my first cigarette, of approximately a quarter-million thus far. And, if Ricky Feeley is reading this? He should avoid my Mom at all costs.

My First Kiss

The story of (duh!) my first kiss, of approximately a quarter-million thus far. And, if Ricky Feeley is reading this? Not a damned thing to worry about.

All Gone

Pointless nostalgia. Have a couple of shots of Old Granddad and join me in some melancholia.

The Beer Train

A comic look at juvenile delinquency. Oh, boy! My recounting of one of the stupidest things I've ever done - and that covers an awful lot of ground, so you know it has to be really moronic.

Uncle Roy's Wake

A really good actual true story. Really.

Uncle Jimmy And The Puzzle

The story of... well, my Uncle Jimmy and a puzzle. Aside from being a decent tale, it is also an excellent example of how far back my goldbricking slugabededness goes. The stars of the story are my Uncle Jimmy and My Dad, but I can be seen lurking in the background watching TV and otherwise not earning a living.

Dinosaurs, Living Room Basketball, And The Pre-History Of Television

Just like it says. What are you, dense?

The Morning Of The Last Day Of My Mini-Vacation

Wherein MY WIFE is the unwitting star, much as she is in my life overall.

A Recipe

For Disaster!!!

No, just some general goofiness, per usual.

You Are Reading Suldog-O-Rama

Social commentary undertaken with the deftness of a chimpanzee wielding a ball peen hammer.

(Which brings to mind a question: Is there a ball peen anything else besides a hammer? However, I digress.)

Note the title: That was the name of this blog (Suldog-O-Rama) when I first started writing it. Some folks still have me listed that way on their sidebars. Obviously, those folks aren't paying attention. That's OK. They can call me "Ol' Stinky Drawers" so long as they link to me.

Welcome To The WDUH News

More heavy-handed social commentary, with the added swellness of being about three years outdated concerning the politics.

Mr. Suldog's Wild Ride

Wheeeeeeeeee!

Blood, Sweat, No Tears

How the softball season of my 49th year ended, which was one of the many good reasons why I decided to retire after the following year.

(And then I had a really good year. My final games I went 6 for 8, which was certainly a good taste in the mouth to leave on. So, what did I do? I played again the next year, disgracing myself in ways I never had before. AND then I had to play again, in 2009, because I refused to retire after a season as crummy as the one I played in 2008. And by 2010, I had resigned myself to being a softball lifer, even if my skills deteriorate to where I disgrace myself every game and cost my teams any chance of winning. If God has any brains - and I've heard tell He does - He'll smote me with a lightning bolt the first time I step on the field this coming April, saving everybody else a whole bunch of time.)

Solomon The Milkman

My paternal grandfather's adventures as a temporary Jew.


Everything Gets Better


Morale uplift, for those who need it. For those who don't buy it, a whole bunch of hogwash. But, those people are wrong. Everything DOES Get Better (except my writing, but that's just the exception that proves the rule.)

How NOT To Write A Cover Letter

Considering the source (me) this is actually good advice.

Coalie & Tigger

Just some stories about cats. If you like cats, you'll probably like this. If you don't like cats, you're probably a miserable no-good rotten son of a bitch who can't stand anything or anyone who doesn't conform to your priggish standards.

(But I thank you for being here, anyway.)

And that's that. If you haven't read any of these before? No time like the present! If you've read them all before? Read them again! They get better with age, just like cheese!

Soon, with more better stuff.


Monday, January 24, 2011

Road Trip



Thanks for stopping by. Let's all go someplace else!




That redoubtable fondler of waterfowl, Eddie Bluelights, has seen fit to feature me over at his place. In between dressing up like Queen Elizabeth and fantasizing about having an assignation with Stanley Holloway, Eddie found the time to not only re-run my original interview with David McMahon, but also to add a few new questions of his own. In all instances, I have answered the queries - an apt choice of words, when discussing Eddie - to the best of my ability (which means they're all incoherent and useless.)

So, you should go there, NOW.

Eddie's Place

Really, there's nothing more here. Go there.

Eddie's Place

I'll be back, later on this week, with something new and spiffy and shiny and almost interesting (if you're easily amused.) For now, though, there's nothing to see here, folks. Go to Eddie's Place.

Soon, with more better stuff.

P.S. Eddie is actually a lovely gentleman, and I mistreat him with his full knowledge and consent. He does not abuse ducks, nor does he pretend to be Her Majesty, The Queen. I think he actually does fantasize about Stanley Holloway, but I have no proof. Therefore, let's give him the benefit of the doubt.


Friday, January 21, 2011

This Story Has No Point, Nor Does It Have A Climax, And If You Look For Either You Will Be Severely Disappointed






It's 8:30am, Friday morning, here in Massachusetts, and the snow has been falling for four hours. We got 18 inches one day last week, and now another three or four has been added to it, with more expected. Quite a snowfall, but it doesn't compare to...

THE BLIZZARD OF '78!!!

"Sherman, set the wayback machine for Fogeyville."

"Fogeyville, Mr. Peabody?"

"Yes, Sherman. We're going to visit the site of an interminably long reminiscence that has no readily obvious reason for existing."

(Even the reference comes from Fogeyville. You probably have no idea who Sherman is, if you're under 30, nor should you. Mr. Peabody, though... It's not every day you see a talking dog who invented a time machine. And he wears glasses!)

Anyway, there was this blizzard, see? And it happened in 1978? So, like, we called it the Blizzard Of '78. It was awesome, dude! It was, like... like... uh...

It was a big snowstorm.

It was February and I was 20. I was also unemployed. Therefore, I used to go to bed at around 2 in the morning, after a healthy buzz and (sometimes) getting laid, and I'd wake up at 10am or so. That was important, the 10am thing. That was when The Beverly Hillbillies came on.

Being an out of work stoner, I was collecting unemployment benefits and enjoying the heck out of the whole experience. I think my last job at that time had been with Prudential Insurance, working in their office supply warehouse just outside of Brookline. I was probably getting $65 every two weeks in unemployment, but I was under no real pressure to get another job until the benefits ran out. My Dad, bless him, wasn't on my back for any rent, and I bought food and other stuff for the house. My remaining money went for bass guitar strings, trips to the dog track, and bowling.

(I should mention here that the trips to the dog track and the bowling were actually profitable ventures. There was a six or seven month stretch when I went to the track almost every day, with a couple of my friends, and we made considerable money. Also, I was technically a professional bowler, having entered and won a couple of small local tournaments. However, these are stories for another time, having nothing significant to do with the blizzard. I'll tell you all about them, someday, but for now it's just... Digression!)

(You should stick your index finger in the air and say that word as though you were Tevye in Fiddler On The Roof saying "Tradition!" It will be much more satisfying.)

Anyway, I woke up at a bit before 10 and ambled downstairs to grab a bite to eat. My Dad was already on the road. As a salesman for Singapore Airlines, he had calls to make. He had probably left the house around 7 o'clock. I grabbed a sleeve of saltines and a jar of peanut butter, stirred some Hershey's syrup into a tall glass of milk, and carried this stuff back into the living room. I switched on the TV, turned it to channel 38, and settled in to watch Granny whack Jethro over the head with a frying pan.

I ate the peanut butter and crackers while drinking the chocolate milk, all the time immensely enjoying Jethro's comic attempts at trying to make a success of a restaurant called The Hungry Gizzard. Then, I smoked a bone and laughed like a loon while enjoying Barney Fife's law enforcement misadventures. Returning from Mayberry, I plugged in my bass and threw some Grand Funk and Black Sabbath onto the stereo, playing along for an hour or so. After that, I felt like reading a bit. I picked up Twain's Life On The Mississippi, which I was in the middle of at the time, and traveled back to the 19th century for a while.

Understand that I did all of this without ever looking at the outside world or hearing about it in any way. All of the blinds were drawn. The telephone was connected to an answering service for my Dad's job, so I didn't answer it unless whoever was calling gave me a signal (everybody who knew us knew that the code was to ring once, hang up, then immediately call back, otherwise we would assume it was business and let it go through to the service, which would pick up after three rings.) Also, this was before cable and satellites, so unless I got up from the couch to physically change the channel, it was channel 38 all day and they had no news coverage, so...

At about 2 o'clock, I decided to check and see if the mailman had come. I opened the front door and there it was. Lots of snow. Shitloads of snow. Snow up to the middle of the storm door, which was up to the middle of my belly. Snow, which I stood gaping at blankly. So much snow that the street was totally covered with more than two feet and not a living soul was anywhere to be seen.

Far out, man.

I got dressed (I had been in nothing but a pair of jeans since I got up) and pulled on my boots. This was awesome. I went outside and plowed my way through snowdrifts up to my chest. I wanted to see if anyone else was around to enjoy this with.

I trudged through the snow towards River Street, which was the main drag two blocks away. My street wasn't plowed, which was no surprise. The city of Boston sometimes never plowed Caddy Road, it being a side street off of a side street off of a side street. I reached Monson - nope; not plowed. Sturbridge? The same. And as I approached River Street, I saw that it was only slightly navigable. It was a busy street and cars had probably been on it, off and on, since the snow started, but it was still a mess.

I was enjoying the bejeezus out of this winter wonderland. I spotted a couple of my bowling/racetrack/unemployed buddies and made my way towards them. We exchanged amazed words as Mike lit up a joint that we shared. It was obvious that there wouldn't be any racing for at least a few days, so that was a bummer, but we had enough dope to last a while, so no problem keeping a steady buzz while we waited for the streets to clear.

After a bit more conversation, I made my way back to the house. After shedding my boots and wet clothes, I turned on the radio to get some news and see what the prognosis was. The word was that there had been 28 inches of snow and the city of Boston was pretty much shut down. Many people were stranded wherever they worked and would be staying there overnight. A state of emergency was declared by the governor, and there was talk of bringing in the National Guard to patrol the streets and keep down looting, etc., and everybody was advised to stay off of the streets except for emergencies.

I put Ted Nugent on the stereo while wondering if my Dad would be stuck someplace. I doubted it. My Dad was one of the all-time great snow drivers. If anybody would NOT be stuck, it would be him. If he had a Volkswagen Beetle at the Arctic Circle and had to be in Anchorage the next day, I wouldn't have bet against him. Downtown Boston to Dorchester, in 28 inches of accumulation? The only way he wasn't going to be home was if the authorities physically wouldn't let him drive.

The house was well-stocked with food and drink. I had plenty of cigarettes. The electricity was on and there were plenty of sitcoms and cartoons to watch. I had no problem with this storm. Other people weren't as lucky. My neighbor, Stephen Murphy, was stranded at his job. He was a shoe salesman. What in the hell did he do to amuse himself in a shoe store for 48 hours? You can try on only so many pairs of pumps before it gets boring.

(It was a woman's shoe store.)

I heard a motor gunning outside. My Dad plowed his way down the street, slowly, fishtailing wildly but determined to get his big boat of a Chrysler into our driveway. After much maneuvering, he got it into position to go straight onto the slight incline by the side of our house. He rocked the car back and forth for about 25 minutes, while I shoveled, and he damned well got the car into the driveway, where it stayed for the duration of the snow emergency. He was one of the few who could have gotten around the city if he needed to, but he wasn't averse to taking a few days off while his bosses were under the impression that he couldn't drive in these conditions. We both settled in for a slothful couple of days.

And that's about it. I told you there was no point to this. After a week or so, the snow melted and everybody went about their business as usual. Some folks weren't as lucky as me, as some 90+ people actually lost their lives due to the blizzard. The total of property damage was somewhere above a billion dollars, I believe. Beyond those grim statistics, though, the Blizzard Of '78 seems to have existed only so that, whenever there's a storm these days, someone old (like me) can say, "Hmmff. You call this snow? Why, I remember...", and then go into the song and dance above while everybody rolls their eyes and tries to think up an excuse for leaving.

And you? You sat through this whole thing voluntarily, even after I told you what was coming. You poor soul.

Soon, with more pointless old-fart rambling.

[If you had a sense of deja vu while reading this, I thank you. I first published it in 2006, and got three comments - which I treasured, too, as many of my posts in that ancient time got NONE. If you read it back then, I should probably buy you something for sticking around this long. Eh. Maybe when I publish it again in 2016. Come back then, and I'll see what I can do.]


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

I've Been Named A Blog Of Dope!






Oh, wait. That's Blog Of Note. Whatever. I'm always pleased to be singled out for honors and commendations, no matter how insincere, so I'd like to take this opportunity to thank those who made this gimcrackery possible. As with the artwork above, all that follows will be fuzzy and not-quite-right in some undefined way.

First, my humble thanks to my parents. They both encouraged me to read, and I suspect they're both pleased that it led to writing. Well, one of them, anyway. My Dad is dead, and he probably doesn't care as much as he used to. My Mom, bless her, taught me my alphabet before I even went to kindergarten, so she has herself to blame for every embarrassing thing I've said here and for which she has probably blushed in front of her friends, if she still has any.

I'd like to thank MY WIFE. She suggested I start a blog. At the time, I didn't even know what a blog was. It sounded unsavory. Much to her surprise, this one turned out to be just that. The fact that I've taken great pains to hide her true identity should have let her know by now how much I love her, since I've never been reticent about hiding the identity of anyone else when I could get a cheap laugh and ruin their life.

My sincerest thanks to Magazine Man, who is ten times the writer I am. Maybe a hundred times the writer I am, come to think of it, as he's been published, over and over, while the only money I've ever earned from writing came some 20+ years ago when I was paid $8.25 an hour to write an office supplies catalog, and I ended up putting all of that, and more besides, up my nose, so it's probably a good thing I'm not making any money now because otherwise I'd probably be dead, which may or may not have been a benefit for the world at large if it had occurred, so... Hmmmmmmmm. I think I had a point when I began that sentence, but not now. Anyway, MM hasn't written a new blog post since over a month ago, so he no doubt had some inkling of my pending glorification and hightailed it out of town before he could get any of the blame.

I couldn't let this opportunity pass without saying "Hi" to my swell pal, Cricket. When others were telling me I didn't know the difference between a dipthong and a gerund, he assured me that all I had to do was look in the mirror to see one and the other didn't matter.

No acceptance speech, or whatever this is, would be complete without my telling Knucklehead that the Yankees, Jets, Lakers, and Kings, all suck big wet donkey.

Finally - which means the rest of you can stop worrying - I'd like to thank Lime and Buck and Michelle and Ananda and Stu and Hilary and Thimbelle and Twinks and Daryl. They've all been featured on my sidebar for some time now and haven't been ashamed enough to ask to be removed. It's puzzling, but nice.

Oh, and Eddie Bluelights, just because nobody else I can think of would have taken a bashing like I gave him and been a good enough sport to laugh at being called a cross-dressing duck fucker.

[*Jim now inserts self-aggrandizing plug disguised as sincere thank you*]

Oh! And I see he's featuring me in his roast again this Sunday! Yay! I don't deserve it, but Eddie is such a nice fellow, especially if you supply the orange sauce.

Finally, I'd like to thank Blogger. If it wasn't for them, I'd be doing something worthwhile and making a few bucks. Which, by the by, raises a question: There isn't any cash award attached to this, is there? I'd hate to think I just blew it by transgressing some sort of morality clause. However, it was Eddie. I couldn't help it.

To anyone I failed to mention, consider yourself blessed.

Soon, with more better stuff.


Friday, January 14, 2011

Musings, As Promised (The Vitriol Is A Bonus)



When I wrote this post at the beginning of the week, I promised a follow-up. Here it is. I'd like to say it's going to be chock full of marvelous insights and some amazingly heretofore unthought of thoughts, but I'll let you be the judge of that. Grade me on a curve, please. As I write this, I can feel the first touches of a cold or flu coming on. MY WIFE has been battling the same (with laryngitis thrown in for good measure) the past four days, and I fear I've acquired it now.

In any case, what I'm going to do is print some of the commentary I asked for, and which you gave me in great globs, concerning sports and fandom, and then blather on with whatever comes to mind following each bit of your sanguinity.

A fair number of comments, mostly from the fairer sex (whatever that means), stated that sports best purpose, for the most part, is to distract men so that the women can get on with more important things without them being underfoot. I contend that these women (among them Daryl, Jazz, Pat, Red Hamster, Karen, and, to a lesser extent, Shrinky, Hilary, and Maggie May) only think that what they have to do is more important or worthwhile. We men (and those females who have a correct point of view) can tell you that it's far more important to worry about a ball being moved down a field or thrown through a hoop. This is proven by history. Do you have a television network devoted to crocheting? Maybe, but I don't care. However, looking at how sports programming has grown during the past five years, I can say, with the utmost certainty, that ESPN will have 329 channels by 2042, and there won't be a single sporting event now being played, including tiddlywinks and leapfrog, that won't show up there again to fill the schedule. So there.

(I realize I've started things off by being incredibly sexist and condescending, but most of the folks who would be offended stopped reading paragraphs ago. If I've been sexist and condescending concerning you, and you're still here, why aren't you in the kitchen preparing dinner for your husband? Women. Sheesh.)

(OK, I apologize for that. It was uncalled for and rude, especially considering the hot sports babes - Jenn, SueAnn, Ananda, Jeni, Messy Mimi, and i beati, who left sincere thoughts concerning their various sporting appreciations. Girls, you deserved better, unless you're Yankees fans, speaking of which...)

Knucklehead said "... not that you don't know this already, but my teams in order are:

New York Yankees
New York Jets
L.A. Kings
L.A. Lakers (sorry)
"

I'm stealing this, but I can't find the source to credit. Pretend I'm this witty. Rooting for the New York Yankees is like rooting for General Motors. Of course, Knucklehead makes up for it by rooting for the New York Jets, winners of ONE championship during their entire history, although you wouldn't know it from some of the rumpswab sportswriters who pick them to win it all every season.

(By the time some of you read this, the J-E-T-S will have been eliminated from the playoffs once again. Or they will have beaten my New England Patriots, in which case you should start saying your prayers because the apocalypse is most certainly around the corner.)

As for the Lakers... well, I'll let you glory in the triumph from last year. You'll need it, come this June. I'm usually a living jinx when it comes to predictions, so I rarely make them concerning teams I love, but if the Celtics lose to the Lakers in the finals this season, I'll publish this blog with a pinstripe background.

(Unless you're a sports fan, and probably an American sports fan at that, the preceding paragraph is almost total gibberish. Too bad. Get back in the kitchen, foreigner!)

(Great. Now I've added jingoism and xenophobia to the sexism. I'll probably find something else of an entirely different vile nature to say later on, so this here might end up being the good old days. Yeah, I'll go with that.)

Craig said, "Having grown up in a Northern Michigan Baseball Town, I have been a Tiger fan for as long as I can remember. And of course, being 12 when they won the Series in '68 just kinda sealed the deal forever, y'know?

All the Detroit pro teams, really. I'm really not that big a hockey fan, but the Red Wings have been on a pretty incredible roll for a decade-and-a-half. The Pistons (who were terrible when I was growing up) have had two 'periods of excellence', from which they won three championships (and some of those late-80s Celtics-Pistons games were classic). What can I say about the Snoil ('Lions' spelled backwards)? They've been pretty hard to love these last several years, but you just wait and see what happens if they ever get really good. . .
"

Anonymous adds..."I grew up in Buffalo. As a result, I am a lifelong Bills fan. It seems to me its a little like family. You root for the local team even though there is no real tie to the organization."

Both of their comments bring me to a sore point.

When I was a kid, it was normal to root for the teams in your hometown. The only kid in my neighborhood who wasn't a Red Sox fan had been born in Chicago. We cut him some slack for that accident of birth, but if anyone originally from the area had professed a love for, say, the Dodgers or the Indians, we would have beat him up. If it had been the Yankees, we would have emasculated him. Rooting interests, much as your religion, were set at birth in most instances.

Now, with the proliferation of cable, internet, satellite, and other ways of seeing teams from out of town, kids are no more tied to the local franchise than... well, the players themselves, really. They leave town every couple of years, so why should the kids be bound by tradition? Forget I said anything.

Anonymous went on: "It does amaze me how passionate a love for a sporting franchise can become. I moved away from Buffalo long ago. Have married - had a bunch of kids - but, not only do I still follow the Bills closely, my boys have chosen to be Bills fans even though for the entirety of their lives (none of which has been lived anywhere near Buffalo) the Bills have been dreadful. It turns out that watching sports together with my boys (and my wife - although, our daughters don't much cotton to it) is great fun... I take it as a real compliment that the boys have chosen to root for the team that Dad likes. And rooting for the Buffalo teams (The Bills, the Sabres, and remember that the Clippers were once the Buffalo Braves) is an experience in character building and enduring disappointment. It does help to keep some things in perspective..."

Indeed. This is where pro sports have some degree of real value. Show me a long-time loyal fan of the Los Angeles Clippers (or pretty much any team from Cleveland) and I'll show you a person whose loyalties are true and unwavering. If that person is your friend, you can trust him with your life (unless it would interfere with his watching the Clippers, in which case you'd be shit out of luck.)

Getting back to Knucklehead The Yankee Fan, he opined... "It's nice to be a Yankee fan. When you speak of Sox fans saying "Now I can die in peace," I can't help but chuckle to think of this tidbit. There has NEVER been a Yankee fan older than 17 who hasn't seen the Bombers win a championship, and those would only be fans born in November, 1978. They (shudder) had to wait all the way till 1996. I myself didn't experience my first Yankee championship until the ripe old age of 12. Of course, they also won it when I was 13. And 31. And 33. And 34. And 35. And 44."

This puts things into perspective for me, at least a little bit. I'm a Celtics fan, and pretty much the same could be said of us. So, OK, I concede something, although I'm not quite sure what.

Brian Miller said, "I have held my allegiances for 30 years...Pittsburgh Steelers, Carolina Tarheels, Chicago Bulls, Chicago Blackhawks."

I speculate he was born in Chicago, went to school at Carolina, and had a torrid love affair in Pittsburgh. Or vice-versa.

Buck sayeth, "...hockey players are prolly the best modern-day role models for kids; they're what baseball players USED to be. Which is to say modest, hard-working, highly skilled people. The game itself is the most wonderful mixture of speed, grace, and violence. The playoff handshake line is one of sport's greatest traditions, and NOTHING is tougher than winning the Stanley Cup. NOTHING."

And I say he's pretty much right on the money. Hockey players, of all those involved in the major North American sports, are probably the least appreciated monetarily, while they probably should be more appreciated for their general demeanor. ALL teams should line up and shake hands after the match, in my humble opinion. There's no good reason for, say, baseball players not to, in any case. And, while I'd contend that winning other championships may match the toughness of winning Lord Stanley's Cup, I'll gladly concede that nothing is tougher. It's an amazing grind to get to achieve that goal.

TechnoBabe gave forth with this: "Since moving to Nebraska, we are surrounded with Huskers fans, everywhere. It is truly fun to see the enthusiasm here."

Nothing truly beats the purity of fervent college football fandom. I failed to mention Boston College in my original piece, but I attend at least a couple of BC games each season, and watch on TV all of those I can't attend. The atmosphere at Alumni Stadium is entirely different from Fenway, Gillette, or the Garden, where the pros play. If, for some insane reason, all spectator sports save one were to be eliminated, and I had the choice of which to preserve, it would be football, and the college brand at that. Sounds strange coming from a guy who still plays baseball in his 50's, but it's true.

Uncle Skip says, "The first team I can remember cheering on were the San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League."

Damn, Skip, you're old!

(See? I told you I'd find something nastier to say. The only things left for me to make fun of now are religion and sexual orientation.)

Skip, unoffended by my ageism, continues, "Because it is against my nature to be negative, I also root for anyone playing against the Dodgers, Dallas Cowboys, and USC."

Which brings us back to the Yankees, basically. Or the Celtics, if you must. Just as a fan will have loyalty and pride for his or her favorite teams, there are certain organizations that engender fierce hatred. Often, it is born of jealousy. When one team continually kicks your team in the ass, it's hard to congratulate them. It would be the sporting thing to do, but it's not easy. In some instances, though, the hatred is motivated more by a sense of aesthetics. I mean, people outside of Dallas just got sick and tired of hearing the Cowboys referred to as "America's Team", as though we had to choose one since the NFL was being attacked by Iranians. And The Yankees, while certainly not loved across the board during the preceding years, truly came to be hated once George Steinbrenner took over the team and outspent every other owner in a quest to build championships via cash acquisitions. It seemed somehow unsporting to raid other teams.

(I know. The Red Sox are now near as guilty of that odiousness. I don't particularly like it, but as long as their payroll stays beneath that of The Yankees, I can at least rationalize that it's fine, especially if they beat the sons of bitches.)

Urbie expresses an interesting viewpoint...

"I gave up fandom (with the exception of watching the 9th inning of Game 4 in 2004 from my grandfather's rocking chair -- he died in 1979 -- just so the old guy could finally rest) about 20 years ago. I still watch sports, but only stuff like golf, soccer, or other events where I just like the sport itself and don't care who wins. Rooting for a team? Why invest your emotions in something so utterly beyond your control? Might as well root for good weather (whatever that might mean, depending on your taste for sun, rain, snow, clouds, etc.).... "

Since Urbie is actually a professional athlete of sorts, I find it interesting that he eschews any rooting interest. I certainly rooted for him when I went to see a match he had. I had no control over the outcome, but I found him to be a nice fellow, from our private correspondence, and I truly wished for his success.

I suppose the fact that I actually "knew" Urbie adds a mitigating factor, but I don't think it's too much of a leap to feel that we "know" some of the people and teams we have shared time with for many years. Then again, a fellow like Urbie, or any athlete, does have some control over the outcome of his own contests, and that might make rooting for those things we have no control over seem a bizarre pursuit. Not my feeling, but I can see where he's coming from, in a way.

Mariann Simms offers this opinion: "I like when they play football in the snow."

So do I, Mariann. It's probably my favorite sporting thing to watch. I'm not quite sure why, but it is. Maybe it's just the added degree of dementia. And no fan celebration was more fun to watch than when the New England Patriots beat the Miami Dolphins in the snow in 2003.

Lori tells us, "...my husband would say I like sports more than he does."

Well, tell your gay husband to get back in the kitchen and quit bothering you!

(Nah, not really. I just figured it was a good opportunity to see if I could get that sexual orientation insult out of the way. Now I just have to do religion and we can all call it a day.)

Eileen says, "I think one thing that makes basketball so fun and exciting to watch is that the best players actually match up and guard each other, unlike in baseball, where you have to settle for a "pitcher's duel" or in football where Tom Brady never gets the chance to sack Peyton Manning. Because he totally would, you know."

It's true, and this was something I really had never thought of before. Maybe I'm just dim. Basketball is all about match-ups in a way most other sports are not. When someone scores, or is prevented from scoring, more often than not it will involve their counterpart from the other squad. Success and failure become a bit more personal. Even Episcopalians, as slow as they are, would have to agree.

(OK, that's that. If I missed any other sort of insane reason for venom, let me know. I'll do my best to rectify the situation.)

Michelle said a whole bunch of interesting stuff about hockey and baseball, but I've about had it with writing, so I'm skipping down to where she said, "My certain someone [is] into that pot-smoking green leprechaun twirling the basketball that you seem to like..."

Obviously, he is a man of extremely good taste. I'm also glad he likes The Celtics.

(See? I can be nice, too. And Michelle is BLACK!)

Soon, with more better stuff.


Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Snow Fortress






Unfortunately, I don't have a lot of time to write. We here in the Boston area got between 18 and 24 inches of snow, depending upon locale, and that meant that many businesses, including my office, were closed yesterday. I have work to catch up on, of course, so I can't spend an hour or so regaling you with snow-related stories.

However, my upstairs neighbors did something so cool, I can't pass up the opportunity to show it to you. Our duplex has, aside from the usual front walk and sidewalk, a 60-foot driveway that had to be cleared. After sharing a couple of hours of shoveling duty with them, I went inside to watch the Celtics trounce the Sacramento Kings. All the while, I saw them through our front window, shoveling a bit, then packing snow into crates, measuring heights, shoveling some more, and so forth. They did this for the entire time the game was on.

Me? You couldn't have gotten me out there to shovel more snow if you told me there were gold bars under it. They, being younger, took it as an opportunity for fun now that the stuff that had to be done was finished. And, when I came out to go to work this morning, I saw the results of their labors.


[This is the view from our house. It gets better.]



[From the street.]



[Today is trash day, so the depressions are handy.]




Just way cool. It started my day off with a smile, God bless 'em.

Soon, with more better stuff.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Who Do You Root For?






Or, if you want to get all grammatical about it, For Whom Do You Root?

The question concerns sports, so some of you are tuning me out even as you read this sentence. That's OK. Your lives are not as rich as mine, so I won't berate you in a way that will make you even more miserable than you already are. When you totally dismiss sports, you've made a conscious choice to not enjoy some of the most thrilling theater available. If you prefer less excitement in your life - perhaps you have a heart condition that precludes such adrenalin rushes? - then I won't be the one to suggest that you might enjoy what would kill you, you pansy.

Really, why anyone wouldn't enjoy sports is beyond me. It usually conforms to many of the same strictures as classical theater, in that it consists of predetermined segments (acts) with well-known rules (for theater, the major one is that the audience shouldn't usually talk to the actors, unless an actor specifically asks an audience member to speak, but, in sports, you can yell out anything you want to the paid participants, although it's best to remember that the other ticket holders can always yell at you, too.) It's even better than theater since the ending is unknown and improvised, which you certainly can't say about a performance of Romeo & Juliet.

Anyway, you either like sports or you're calling me an idiot, so let's move on.

Integral to much of the enjoyment of sports is the cheering of one side or the other, or - if not a team sport - cheering an individual performer. Games or matches can be enjoyed on a purely aesthetic level, but true happiness or despair only surfaces when you're willing to invest passion on the outcome.

(Or money, of course, but let's not get sidetracked into discussions concerning gambling. That's a whole 'nother subject.)

The fan who has cheered for his or her team for forty years, without seeing them win a championship, has an emotional investment that pales beside all else. Maybe marriage means more, perhaps kids, but maybe not. When the Red Sox finally won The World Series in 2004, after 86 years of NOT winning it, there were fans who declared, "Now I can die in peace!" And, surprisingly, whole bunches of them did just that, too. Their survivors might even have engraved something about it onto their headstones, and there would be few here in New England who would think it strange enough to laugh about, believe me.

I've written, at length, concerning some of my own allegiances. Chief among them are the Boston Celtics, the Boston Red Sox, and the New England Patriots (in that order, too, if you're wondering.) I've also found great joy in cheering on some individual performers, such as Doug Flutie or Steve DeBerg, no matter what team they may have been playing for at any given time.

(For my friends who love hockey, let me say that I enjoy it. Of the four major North American sports, I've played it more than any other outside of baseball. And I do follow the Boston Bruins. At one time, I was a fervent fan. Hockey lost any chance of my remaining a fanatic when there was the lockout in 2004 resulting in the season not being played at all. Combined with the general recent futility of the Bruins franchise, and my love for the Celtics, who play during more-or-less the same times during the year, I found that I did not greatly miss hockey, and it has never regained my allegiance in any way approaching what it was during my younger years. And I don't expect it ever will. Great sport, fast and exciting, but my heart is no longer broken when the B's lose.)

So, if you wanted to read about those whom I like, I gave you references above, and links, and I'll assume you've either done so or have no intention of doing so. What I want to know, though, is what teams or individuals YOU root for? Who are your faves, and why? What influenced your choices? Tell me anything that you want to get off of your chest. I'll listen, even if you're (*shudder*) a Lakers fan. And then, later this week, I'll be back to muse upon your musings, if you don't mind.

Soon, with your better stuff.

[Pic at the top from The Situationist.]


Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Little Christmas Stories




[Stained glass at Parish of St. Helen Witton, Northwich, U.K.]


As I’ve mentioned here before, MY WIFE and I celebrate Little Christmas. That is, while we have our allotment of standard-issue Christmas merriment with relatives and friends during the traditional December holidays, we wait until January 6th to exchange presents with each other.

Some of you may wonder why we do this. That’s certainly understandable, given that January 6th receives little play from the merchants and media. As far as those people are concerned, the Christmas holiday is over at midnight on December 25th. It then becomes time to push Valentine’s Day candy and President’s Day car sales down our throats. However, January 6th on the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar is The Feast of the Epiphany. It is sometimes known as The Feast of the Magi (the "Three Kings" of Christmas carol fame) or Little Christmas. It is the date when, according to tradition, the wise men visited Jesus and bestowed upon him the gifts of Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh.

Are you one of those people who wondered why there were twelve days of over-the-top gift giving in the song "The Twelve Days Of Christmas"? Well, the actual Christmas season, at least in some Western European civilizations, runs from December 25th until January 6th. This being the case, it can reasonably be argued that the 6th of January is a more correct time to exchange presents in honor of The Lord’s nativity.

MY WIFE and I decided years ago that it made eminent sense to delay our own gift giving until the 12th day of Christmas. In that way, we would eliminate much of the stress associated with what should be a joy-filled celebration with friends and family. We would concentrate on others, during the more secularly traditional Thanksgiving through December 25th time period, and then devote our efforts to each other during the 12 days following.

(This is, of course, another one of the reasons why I get so amazingly pissed off when Christmas advertising and holiday music begin in October. Not only does it do a disservice to the wonderful American celebration of Thanksgiving [which occurs on the fourth Thursday of November]; it also utterly ignores the rightful 12 days of festivity that occur at the end of December and beginning of January. My Christmas runs through January 6th, so if I acquiesce to their greedy mercantile demands, I’ll be singing a stretched out and thinned-to-absurdity Hallelujah over perhaps a 75-day period. That’s far too much water in anybody’s holiday soup.)

Since we celebrate on the 6th, I won’t be at work then, nor will I be on the 7th. And, since my only internet connection is at work, there will be nothing new in this space. I won't be spending any of my time during the holiday writing. I'd consider it slightly sacrilegious to do so (aside from the obvious fact of my laziness) and thus nothing new here on the 8th, 9th, or 10th, either. You might get something on the 11th, but only if I've got words inside of me itching to burst through my fingers much as the alien burst through John Hurt's stomach. In other words, this may be the last new entry you'll see until the 12th or 13th. Or possibly February.

I know, I know. I see veritable rivers of tears coursing down your collective faces. Just so you know how much I truly care about you, here are some crummy photos with hurriedly-dashed-off prose concerning each.



This is our Christmas tree. I took the photo without a flash, of course. I rather like it. You can't see the rest of the room, which is a mess.




Not one to leave well enough alone, here's the mess. I do kind of like the whole oeuvre of this shot, though. MY WIFE's mileage may vary. She somehow feels it's a reflection on her housekeeping skills if people see anything less than cleanliness in our place. I refuse to allow anyone to cast aspersions on MY WIFE. I'm her husband. That's my job.




I am one of the all-time worst giftwrappers in history. For some reason, the folding of paper, and application of tape to same, has not made it into my skill set. MY WIFE, on the other hand, always does a wonderful job of it. This is some of her handiwork, and lovely it is, no?




Here we see two festive cows. They appear to have had more than their share of eggnog. The bear in the beret, on the other hand (or paw, or hoof), has filled up on the multiple fruitcakes which have shown up at our door since I was so obviously needy in my pleading for you to send them. Damn bears eat anything that shows up while we're not home (which is good when it's a burglar but a horrific tragedy when it's a fruitcake.)

Even with bears chowing down on our goodies, our far-fatter-then-we-were-four-weeks-ago thanks to my great Uncle Jim (as opposed to my Grand Uncle Jim); Thimbelle, The Twinkie, and The Wrench (a family unit, with only The Wrench being a non-blogger.); and Jackie, otherwise known as Teacher's Pet. That's the order in which the fruitcakes we were able to wrestle away from the bears showed up. Actually, by all rights, Thimbelle, The Twinkie, and The Wrench should get double billing because we received two shipments of amazingly fruit-and-pecan-laden goodies from them, at separate times. And Jackie's was delightfully homemade, so she should get special mention for that. And Uncle Jim's showed up FIRST, which is always a plus, so everybody is special! By the way, I'm open to giving 75 or 80 plugs next year, so don't be afraid to join in. As long as I can still waddle to the front door and pick up the package, I'll be happy to eat whatever you send. You should probably send four or five fruitcakes, just to make sure one or two get by the bears.




This here is Simon Peter Poinsettia. I related the sad news concerning Pointy The Poinsettia's demise (it's way at the end of the story linked, so feel free to skim if you already know the story - and if you didn't already know it, now you know too much of it) and Kim, office manager to the stars, took it upon herself to give us a new poinsettia for Christmas.

Since I am the foremost interpreter of poinsettia on the planet, I asked this plant it's name while riding home with it. He (it became readily apparent he was a he when he spoke) said that his name was Simon. I conjectured that was somewhat cool in a Christmassy way, given that the apostle Peter was originally named Simon, so would he mind if I called him Simon Peter, since it makes it much easier to remember a poinsettia's name if it begins with P? He voiced no objections, so Simon Peter Poinsettia he is (although, since he's become more comfortable in his surroundings, he doesn't seem to mind us calling him just plain ol' Pete.)




Another plant, although you might not know what it is unless I tell you.

My Grandmother planted a little holly bush in front of her home some 50 years ago. This towering monstrosity, which reaches a good five feet beyond her roof, is that same holly bush today. It is as tall as the much older tree also seen in the photo. I have no doubt that, given another 50 years, it will eat the house and everybody in it, then uproot itself and start on the neighbors.




I took a number of photos while at My Grandmother's place, but this is the only one (of people) that was worth showing to you. This is My Stepfather, Bill MacDonald, and My Mom. In the background is my Cousin Scott's wife, Andrea, doing dishes.

Really, I thought I had this picture-taking thing down pat. For the longest time, I was unable to deny being the world's worst photographer, but then some kindly souls set me straight on how to focus and other such arcane necessities. I apparently need to take a refresher course. Out of the eight or nine shots I took that day, the only two that came out even reasonably well were this one and the one of the bush. No Grandma, no Uncle Rick, no Cousin Scott, no MY WIFE, no wonderful table full of pies...

Ah, well. Considering what a social catastrophe it is to have your face associated with my words, it's probably for the best.




And, finally, here is one of my favorite things of all. It is something that delights me every Christmas. It is our door covered in the various Christmas cards, photos, and greetings we've received from friends and relatives.

Every day during the season, we take special joy in looking through the mail and finding a card or two that day. If yours is in this photo, know that we truly love you for making the season brighter.

(And, if you sent us a card, and yours should be in this photo, but isn't, my most abject apologies. One of the bears probably mistook it for a left-over slice of fruitcake and ate it. You know how bears are.)

Merry Little Christmas, my friends. See you (relatively) soon with more better stuff.


Monday, January 03, 2011

Be It So Resolved



I generally don't make New Year's resolutions. That's because I don't really care for New Year's as a holiday.

Don't get me wrong. I like having the day off, and I truly appreciate any day wherein the main activity is watching football. It's just that I find it a very flimsy type of holiday. Wow! We're turning a page on the calendar? Let's get drunk!

(You would think, from some of the stuff I've confessed to, that it would absolutely be my kind of holiday. Well, yeah, OK, maybe it should be. But it isn't. New Year's is amateur night. I went pro years ago, had a stellar career, retired, and was elected to the Hall of Fame on the first ballot. Watching the neophytes stumble around on December 31st is just painful.)

Be that as it may - and if you have more than three on New Year's Eve, but never more than two on any other day, it is - I have decided that this is the year I will actually make a list of resolutions. And keep every damned one of them, too.

I promise to smoke at least 7,000 cigarettes.

Yes, that's a bold one to lead off with, but I'm going to do it. I know it seems highly improbable, and I dare say that there are few of you who could do it, but I'm basically willpower personified.

I will eat at least 100 pounds of red meat.

I could have gone higher - heck, that's only about 1/10 of a cow - but the first resolution was so stunning, I'm willing to cut myself some slack on this one.

I vow to drink 100 gallons of milk, 15 gallons of cream, eat 25 pounds of refined sugar, and swallow at least 3 pounds of chocolate bon-bons.

This will not be easy, but I've got a plan. I'm going to do it gradually, meting out a bit of the task each day. Except for the bon-bons. With any luck, that part of it will be completed by January 4th.

I will spend a minimum of 600 hours on my couch, sluglike, watching other men sweat on my television.

Actually, that sounds as though I'm going to invite guys over to exercise and then drip all over my set, but you understand what I mean. I expect to have a full 5% of this one completed by the end of the first day. Yes, it will take a gargantuan and superhuman effort on my part, especially considering that I'll have to get up every so often to light cigarettes, eat hot dogs, put cream in my coffee, and grab another bon-bon, but I have faith in myself.

Now, some of you are no doubt saying, "Good Lord! This guy is going to be dead before May!" Yes, it may seem as though I'm setting the bar a bit too high for myself, and the stress associated with completing these tasks might kill a lesser man, but I figure if you're going to make resolutions, you may as well make them worthwhile and a true test of your character. If I fail, it will be a noble failure. Anyway, I'll relieve a bit of the pressure by lowering the bar a bit on my next resolution.

I promise to flip the bird to at least 12 other drivers.

That's only one a month. I have no doubt that opportunities will abound, and, if I put my mind to it, I could probably finish this one off in a single day. But, I'll let moderation be my watchword.

I swear to, at least twice, let the laundry pile up on my bedroom floor to a minimum height of four feet.

This one seems rather easy, but the laws of physics tend to work against you. Unless you let stuff get really stiff and crusty, the pile tends to topple before reaching the required height. I'll try my best, though.

I will look at the broken air conditioner, the broken television, the fourteen empty packing boxes, and the frame leftover from the no-longer-used futon in the back bedroom, and think about throwing them out.

Even without making a resolution concerning it, I've done this one at least 100 times over the past two years. I'm sure I can make enough of an effort to do so one more time in 2011.

OK, so some of you (all of you, if you have any brains) have come to the conclusion that I'm being facetious. I can't help it. I was born that way. However, in order to make your trip here something other than a total waste, here are some resolutions that, while actually hard for me to keep, I'll really and truly give my best shot.

During the roughly 52 trips I make to the supermarket to buy groceries, I'll actually NOT buy the cookies 5 times.

Every time I hit the cookie aisle, I tell myself that I don't really need to buy any. This year, I will steel myself and NOT buy the cookies once or twice. No, wait a minute, I said 5 times, didn't I? Whew! That was a fairly rash promise, but I guess it's too late now, having declared it in a public forum and all. I guess I have to do it. 5 times it is!

I will tell myself to start getting in shape for softball season, once every week, between now and April 10th.

You do realize that the expenditure of energy involved in this mental effort will burn a bare minimum of 15 calories, right? I'm exhausted already! And I should note that this will insure that, by the time the season begins in April, I will have done more than 90% of my teammates.

Finally, I absolutely vow to write a minimum of 100 blog entries that will be of interest to nobody, utterly inane, and serve no other purpose than to entertain myself. As a matter of fact, I promise to be so damned lazy that, at least once this year, I'll take an old post from two years ago, change a couple of things in it, and pretend that it's completely new!

Hmmmmmmm. Make that 99, and the other part completed! Yay!

Soon, with more better stuff.