Monday, May 23, 2011

Acid Hockey

[I did not spend my weekend writing. I thought the world might end, so I did the sorts of things one might do when faced with oblivion. I watched TV, played a couple of games of softball (the less said about them, the better), ate copious amounts of pizza... pretty much everything it said to do in Revelation, if I haven't misinterpreted it. And then, much to my chagrin, Saturday evening arrived and it did not bring The Apocalypse with it. I now needed something to fill this space. And, since my last two published pieces here were an unwarranted attack on a well-meaning young woman and a 'funny' religious polemic, I think I need to do something to restore the reputation I have among the weaker-minded of you as a writer of value. Thus, I've decided to once again tell you about my adventures playing hockey on drugs. Not only will it restore my rep, but it actually ties in with something current, the Stanley Cup playoffs!]

[If the Bruins win the Stanley Cup this year, which they have a chance at doing, that will be a sure sign of the end of times...]



The other day, in connection with Canada Day greetings to our friends from The Great White North, I mentioned playing hockey. No big surprise there, I suppose. It’s near impossible to mention Canada without mentioning hockey, too. However, I also told you that I played it at 3am, while on acid. True story.

I grew up in Dorchester Lower Mills, a neighborhood of Boston. Ever since I was a little kid, the Boston Bruins owned the city during the winter. I was a big Celtics fan, but nobody else in my neighborhood was. Boston was a hockey town. Even when the Bruins were fighting to stay out of last place, they packed the old Boston Garden.

In my early youth, the biggest stars on the team were Johnny "The Chief" Bucyk and Teddy Green. Bucyk had Indian blood, thus the nickname. He was the scorer on the team, netting 25 or 30 goals a season. Green, though, was probably the most popular player. He was a defenseman. He was also the team’s "enforcer." Terrible Teddy would always be among the league leaders in penalty minutes. With the team constantly finishing in the cellar, watching Teddy Green whale the bejeezus out of someone was the big draw.

The fortunes of the Bruins changed pretty much overnight with the addition of one Robert G. Orr to the team.

You’d be hard-pressed to find another athlete as revered as Bobby Orr is in Boston. Bobby Orr achieved (and continues to hold) a sort-of civic sainthood.

Orr, so far as can be divined, never did anything to even remotely tarnish his legendary status. He started his career with the Bruins and he became part of the business community of the city after his retirement. While he played, he was utterly electric. He truly revolutionized his sport. Nobody had ever seen a defenseman with such amazing offensive skills. His end-to-end rushes are still amazing to watch some 40 years after the fact. He was doing stuff nobody had ever seen before and his opponents hadn't a clue on how to stop him. And he was truly loved. There are still grown men around the city of Boston who will tear up when discussing the travesty of Orr finishing his career as a Chicago Blackhawk rather than as a Bruin.

Anyway, after Orr joined the team (along with other great players like Phil Esposito, Gerry Cheevers, Fred Stanfield, John "Pie" McKenzie, Wayne Cashman, and Derek Sanderson, who was probably the biggest hero in our neighborhood because he appeared to be as much of an unrepentant addict as anybody had ever seen on a major league team) they became the "Big Bad Bruins". They were a perennial NHL powerhouse, two-time Stanley Cup champions, and local gods. They fought, swaggered, drank hard (except for Orr, it seemed), and ignited a hockey frenzy in Boston. Whereas before the town had been a hockey town, it was now an insane hockey town. Every kid between the ages of 2 and 20 owned skates. Municipally-owned ice rinks were booked 24-hours a day, 7-days a week. TWO expansion teams (The AHL Boston Braves; and the upstart World Hockey Association's New England Whalers, who raided the Bruins for much of their roster) came to life, giving those who couldn't get in to see the Bruins another place to spend those hockey dollars burning a hole in their pockets. And both of them did brisk business, too.

We were like any other group of white kids in Boston. We strapped on the skates and played hockey. When it was cold enough, we skated on the Neponset River. The river was free, so that was our first choice. When the river wasn't frozen, and we could afford it, we booked ice time at one of the rinks. This was almost always done in conjunction with kids from some other neighborhood nearby. We'd pool money, rent the rink, and have at it neighborhood versus neighborhood.

The difference between our neighborhood and the other neighborhoods was that we were usually completely blasted on some substance or other when we hit the ice.

(The other guys might have been, too. I didn't take any surveys.)

Here's the thing: All of the rinks, as I said, were booked solid. The reasonable ice times were taken mostly by organized leagues - school teams, pee-wees, and such. When a ragtag group of neighborhood kids like us (that is, a street gang) wanted to rent ice, the only times left were in the wee hours of the morning. So, when we got the ice, we skated at 1am, 2am, or 3am, and were thankful, too.

Here's the other thing: Drugs were not seen as anything weird or unusual in our neighborhood. By us, I mean. Our parents were your usual good folks who didn't condone their kids ingesting illegal substances. However, we thought absolutely nothing of it. So, in order to stay up through the games, we'd often take stuff that would wire us. Sometimes, some of the guys took black beauties, which were amphetamines. Other times, we would all do some street "mescaline", which wasn't really mescaline, but PCP (an animal tranquilizer) laced with speed. And, as noted, we sometimes played on acid.

As you might imagine, playing hockey on acid is a strange trip. Acid (LSD) was usually seen as an introspective sort of drug. It was something many folks took to explore their inner consciousness. The usual acid-taking setting might have been a comfortable pad with happening music and all-around good vibes. Other times, we took it before a concert. However, we were quite adaptable. Just because we'd be sliding around on ice, being bashed at by guys carrying big sticks, being slammed into the boards, and possibly getting a big hunk of hard rubber flying into our faces at 100-mph was no reason not to enjoy the colors, man.

Watching a slap shot come off of your teammate's stick while on acid was definitely something intriguing. As it flew towards the goal, you saw the trail it left in the air - or, you imagined you saw it, anyway. The lights reflecting off of the ice surface were dazzling and beautiful. And when you checked someone - or were checked BY someone - you wondered if you might have your substance pass right through theirs. The contact didn't hurt in the least and, in fact, just made you feel that much more alive.

We won, we lost, we didn't care.

If you've ever seen the movie Slap Shot, then you might have an idea of how our games went. Those of us sharing ice time (as well as windowpane) were more-or-less The Hanson Brothers, except there were 9 or 10 of us. I say this not because we played only for the fights, but because we were completely innocent of anything other than pure enjoyment of the moment. If that moment included a fight or two, so be it. In any case, the games certainly weren't artistic gems.

And that's about it. As many of those Bruins retired, the team got worse, and we grew up. I don't expect to ever again see as hockey-mad a time in Boston as the 1970's. And to expect such a time to coincide with a time when drug usage was at such a peak is asking for a huge longshot, so that's why I felt this snapshot of that time in my life might be worth viewing. Such a confluence of events is very unlikely to occur again, so the history is worth noting, I think.

(Disclaimer: Luckily enough, we suffered no casualties, either on the ice or in the drug war. None of us ever did drug-related time, nor did any of us die or become irreparably impaired mentally - unless I am and nobody is telling me. Your mileage, and that of others, may vary greatly. By no means would I dismiss the pain of those who weren't as lucky or as blessed.)

Soon, with more better stuff.

Take that whatever way you wish.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Suldog's Handy Hints For The Apocalypse!

As a Christian, I...

No, I need to rephrase that.

As a sane Christian, I feel it is my duty to tell you that The Apocalypse probably won't happen this coming Saturday. There are a number of folks without many of their marbles who believe that May 21st is the end of the world. When the world doesn't end at 6:00 pm this Saturday, the rest of us Christians will have to endure the world at-large giving us a big middle finger because of the few who have little brain. So, if we're all still here at 6:01pm, I'd appreciate it if you'd cut the rest of us some slack.

However, just because somebody has performed math from the eighth dimension and determined we have only two days left, that doesn't mean it definitely won't happen. The possibility exists. It could happen while you're reading this, or it could happen a couple million years from now. It might be Saturday. Who knows? So, since our imminent doom actually could be imminent, here are some tips to help you get drafted by God in the first round instead of becoming a left behind free agent. I'll also give you a few helpful suggestions should you follow these tips and still be among those NOT raptured.


1 - Read The Bible And Pray

I suppose this seems rather obvious. If you had been doing this already, though, it stands to reason you wouldn't be reading me. I mean, if a Catholic priest listens to your confession, and you tell him, "Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It's been two weeks since my last confession. I missed mass, I took The Lord's name in vain twice, and I enjoyed reading Suldog's What I Learned In High School", he won't bother giving you two Hail Marys and three Our Fathers. He'll excommunicate your ass on the spot (and call you a no-good twisted son of a bitch, to boot.)

Since time is limited, I'd suggest The Gospel Of Mark. It's the shortest one. Of course, if Saturday is the end of the world, you don't have to pay any attention to the part that reads...

"No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father."

... because, hey, Harold Camping will have proven that wrong. Or, if it isn't wrong, it would mean that Harold Camping is God, in which case I'm very doomed.

2 - Stay Dressed

Do you want to stand before Jesus, to be judged for all eternity, in your birthday suit? Of course not. If you did want to, then you'd be guilty of pride, and we all know what that goes before. Anyway, even the worst criminals in the world wear a nice suit when they're going on trial, so you should probably dress for the occasion. I'd suggest at least business casual.

It should go without saying that being in the middle of sex (or, even worse, in the middle of sex with yourself) would be a tremendous breach of etiquette.

3 - Watch Your Language!

If you toss off a "Jesus Christ God Damn It!" at 5:59, you might be in deep doo-doo a minute later. Play it smart. If you're a clumsy type, don't be hammering any nails. If you're a democrat, watching FOX News probably isn't a good idea. If republican, avoid CNN.

(Actually, I don't know that either democrats or republicans can do anything to save themselves at this point. My personal belief is that Heaven will be full of non-partisans and minor party members, while the Dems and Reps will be drafting zoning laws in Hell, but the track record of Libertarians being among the elect is rather anemic, so history may be against me on this one.)

4 - If Your Parents Ask You To Do Something, You Probably Should

Unless, of course, they ask you to curse, steal, lie, kill someone, or do anything else that contradicts one of the other commandments, in which case you can tell them to go take a flying fuck at a rolling donut. Or, now that I think of it, you could politely point out the error of their ways and hope that they, too, will be saved. Yeah, that's probably better all around. Go with that.

5 - Don't Kill Anyone

Unless it's The Anti-Christ. I think it's OK to croak him. If you kill someone else, however, just because you thought he might be The Anti-Christ, and it turns out he wasn't really The Anti-Christ, you're screwed. Best to leave the killing to God. Why get your hands dirty taking a chance you don't need to take?

6 - Quit Coveting Stuff!

That especially goes for your neighbor's wife. Yeah, I know she's hot, and she gave you a wink over the taco dip at that block party last summer, but we're talking an eternity of burning and maybe dripping pus-filled sores. Also, you might go to Hell.

7 - Don't Witness Any False Bears

Teddies are cute, but it says so in Deuteronomy, so...

Oh, wait a minute. Don't bear false witness? That makes more sense. No lying, then (which is why the Democrats and Republicans are in trouble, but I digress.)

8 - For Goodness Sakes, Get Rid Of Your Buddhas & Ganeshes & Other Bogus Gods

This isn't self-explanatory? Christ!


Finally, a tip given me by my good buddy, Daryl.

9 - Stock Up On Air Freshener

One of the things that's supposed to happen is a great earthquake that will be so enormous it will open up every grave on Earth and throw the contents of said graves out onto the ground. P-U! You'd better have some Glade handy, just in case you're one of those who's sticking around. Also, it might be a good idea to keep Fido indoors for a while, otherwise he might eat a relative.


1 - If You See Someone Riding A Cloud In Glory, Ask Who He Is

Hah! Tricked you! If you ask Him who He is, that's a dead giveaway (and I do mean a dead giveaway.) Just say, "Hi, Jesus! How's it hangin'?", and play it cool like you knew all along. If you see someone riding a regular cloud, without glory, feel free to ask him anything you like.

2 - Go To The Home Of The Holiest Rich Person You Know

That way, if he gets taken and you don't, you can have all his stuff!

3 - Have A Bite To Eat

What, you should starve just because the world is ending? Who knows how long it's going to be before your next meal? What with all of the bodies popping out of graves and whatnot, it's likely to get grody. The food supply might become contaminated pretty quickly. Fill up while you can. Just to be on the safe side of the dietary laws, though, you might want to skip the pulled pork and fried clams.


1 - Hide

If you're left behind, you know what? Everybody else who got left behind with you is either a liar, a thief, a murderer, or some other type of sinner. It probably won't be pleasant. I'd stay inside and watch Gilligan's Island re-runs or something. If you're lucky, maybe you can find a couple of adulterers to pass the time with.


I hope this has proven helpful. I rather doubt it. In any case, here's the best advice of all, and it's for real. If you live your life as though you expect Jesus to return at any moment, it couldn't hurt. Bake some cookies. I think He'd like that.

Soon (if we're all still here beyond the weekend) with more better stuff.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Whips, Arses, Thanks

I surrender.

I tried to stop cold turkey. I tried to kick the habit. Some of you, however, insist on my being as hooked as you are. You want me to drag my ass back here to tickle the keyboard and spew words onto the electronic page.

(Ew! That isn't a pretty picture at all!)

I've been able to ignore most of your entreaties to return, but this...

The Most Ridiculously Slimy Award Ever Given!

... just won't let me sleep until I say something.

You may remember a dope who calls herself Sweet Pea. A few months ago, she gave me an award. At that time, I took a whip to her bum (figuratively, as I'm wont to do, although I might literally want to do it, if I ever actually meet her) and the thing is, she thoroughly enjoyed it! So, in order to get me to spank her again, she gave me this:

Understand something, please. This is not one of those awards that sprout on the internet like a pus-filled boil on a wino's nether regions...

(Hmmmmmm. The imagery isn't getting any better. I'd bail, if I were you.)

... and which she then passed to me because she couldn't think of anyone better to torture. Nope. Some others have tried that trick, in an attempt to get me to return, but I was strong enough to thank them kindly in their comments sections and then go about my non-blogging business as happy as the proverbial clam (which begs the question of why clams are so damned happy, but we'll leave that for another day.) No, Sweet Pea invented this atrocity in her own diseased mind, specifically to award to ME. Nobody else has been given this award. Nobody else will ever be given this award, I assume.

Hooray for me.

(I have a theory about why clams are so happy, by the way. It's because they're not oysters.)

(Hey! Have you got a better theory? Shut up.)

So, we were talking about Sweet Pea. If you used one of the handy links above and went to her place, it should be clear to you that she wants me to slap her around a bit. She has literally asked me to figuratively do so. What sort of gentleman would I be if I didn't?

(Figuratively, of course. I'm not so sure I'm a literal gentleman, nor do I really hit women.)

(Unless they hit me first.)

(Or unless they ask me to hit them. So far, nobody of the female persuasion has asked me to hit her. I suppose the possibility exists that it could happen, though, so should you desire to have yourself slapped around, just let me know and I'll try to clear some time with MY WIFE. Maybe she'll even join in. She probably wouldn't like the idea of some other bimbo making time with her husband.)

(Hmmmmmmm. That sounds as though I'm calling MY WIFE a bimbo. I don't think I worded that very well. Ah, screw it. I can't possibly word it in a way that would make her happy when I'm talking about putting a whip to some woman's ass.)

(Or, in this case, arse. She IS from the U.K.)

(Sweet Pea, I mean. MY WIFE is from Duxbury, Jamaica Plain, Roslindale, and Beacon Hill. Yes, it took four different locales to make MY WIFE what she was when she met me, which is to say terribly confused, and that's why she was amenable to my blandishments, whatever in hell that means.)

Anyway, look at that photo.

(It's the only one available on her site, so far as I can tell, so I have no choice but to extrapolate upon it. Don't worry, though. I'll clean up afterward.)

I can only imagine that she's naked in the part of the photo we can't see, her butt sticking up in the air just waiting for the whip to crack across it.

(Well, maybe it's not the only thing you can imagine, but you're not me. Thank God for small favors.)

See that hint of anticipatory smile? Oh, yes.

(Obviously, somebody already popped her one in the eyes. You don't get shiners like those from bumping into a door, although that's probably what she told them at the National Health Service.)

You know, I said just about everything I could possibly say about her photo the last time I whipped her bum. And, if I keep on going on about beating her, some folks are going to think I mean it. I don't mean it. I don't get my kicks from that sort of stuff.

(At least, I don't think I do. I've never actually tried it. Maybe I'd enjoy tanning her English posterior. I'm pretty sure the Irishman in me would, anyway.)

(I bet you didn't know I had an Irishman in me. The son of a bitch has been trying to escape for about fifty years now, but the Hispanic, French, and Scot in me keep him in his place.)

(It's crowded in me.)

Anyway, never having actually tried slapping someone on the bum, I'm not certain if I'd like it or not. And I have no idea if she'd particularly enjoy it, either. But, if she would, and I denied her that pleasure, that would be sadistic on my part. What sort of a person would I be if I denied someone such painful pleasure? I'm so confused!

(But, hey, I don't even know if she has a butt. For all I know, her body ends at her shoulders, the poor kid! Maybe, in the same way that blind people sometimes develop amazing hearing to compensate for their loss of vision, Sweet Pea's blinkers have become so big because she has no lower body at all and, to make up for her lack of mobility, she has developed prehensile eyes that can reach out and grab stuff.)

Well, now, this is just getting weird. But not as weird as Sweet Pea! Did you know she was invited to the Royal Wedding? It's true. She couldn't go, though. She...

Hmmmmmmm. I could give you the punch line, but something just occurs to me. Now that I think of it, I'm not truly sure she IS from England. I've been laboring under that assumption (among other things I've been laboring under) but I can't find proof of it anywhere. I think I may have just built up this picture in my mind of a butt being whipped and just naturally associated it with the United Kingdom for some reason. Probably something to do with Eddie Bluelights.


Geez. Now that the possibility exists that Sweet Pea is from around here, that takes some of the thrill out of it. Well, at least for that Irishman in me. The Frenchman is still up for it, but he's always up for it. As Winnie Le Pooh says, "Zut Alors!"

This has deteriorated into something I wouldn't feed to my dog, if I had one. Hey, thanks a lot for telling people I'm hilarious, Sweet Pea. If I can ever do you a favor, like, say, severing your jugular, just let me know.

(If you want to make it up to me, you could pretend to be a young girl from England who wants her bum whipped. Send me photos.)

(No, wait! The Apocalypse is scheduled for this Saturday, and I'd better be on my best behavior. Tell you what... If we both get left behind, then you can send me the photos.)

(Photos of your left behind! Hah!)

Before I go, which I'm sure you're all wondering when that will be now, I'd like to thank the following people for taking the time to say nice things about me when I supposedly retired from blogging. They would be Knucklehead (if you go to his place, you'll find all sorts of deluded people bidding me a fond adieu, and there are links to their places, too. You could just go on and on and on with visiting the links, and maybe by the time you reach the end of the internet I'll be done here) and Expat From Hell (who wrote a poem and stuff, which he probably wishes now he had sent me some anthrax, instead.)

(There were others who wrote nice stuff, but there's nobody reading this damn thing by now, so probably no great loss if I don't mention you by name. Suffice to say, I love you, such as I'm able to express it.)

(Or even ground-ship it.)

Whatever this was, it is now done.

Well, except you should go HERE.

Soon, with more bugger stuff.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Mom (Yet Again)

[I am re-running this piece, but I still expect you to read every word of it because it's about My Mother, damn it. I trotted it out here last year around this time. I expect to do so, somewhere around May 16th, for as long as this blog stays alive. Maybe some of you have never seen it before. If so, where in hell have you been? I expect the rest of you to be polite and pretend it thrills you. It's about MY MOTHER!!!]

[Anyway, today is My Mother's birthday. MY WIFE and I took her to a play on Saturday, then out to dinner. Last year I played softball on her birthday. It's a hit-or-miss proposition having me for a son, but My Mom is OK with that. And, if she is, I expect the rest of you to be OK with it, too, you bastards.

Oh, boy. I'm not exactly endearing myself to you here, am I? Well, My Mother loves me. And that's the point of this.

No, wait. The point is that I love My Mother. Even if I do play softball on her birthday. So, Mom, here's the same tribute to you that I've published a few times before, except I threw in a few different photos this time and also fluffed up this hideous introduction that I used last year. Happy Mothers Day! Happy Birthday! You knew you were getting the worst of it when you had me.]

[My Mom always goes out of her way to have eclairs for me on my birthday. Meanwhile, I'm giving her this crummy post, and... Oh, yes, I've already gone over that ground, eh? Mmmmmmmmmm. Eclairs!]

[My Mom and My Stepfather, Bill, both getting soused, as usual. No, no, no. This was at the rehearsal dinner for the wedding of MY WIFE and myself. Knowing the two of us, they had every good reason to get soused, but they didn't.]

[My Mom, showing off the acting skills that have won her numerous Tonys, Emmys, and Bills. Hah! She's been married to two guys named Bill, see? It's like I almost made a joke there, if any of you knew! I won't embarrass My Mom by talking about the Tonys, and the less said about the Emmys, the better off we'll all be.

Oh, OK, I'll shut up now. Here's the stuff I wrote a few years ago.]

[My Mother, left, and her sister, Jeanne, Easter 1950]

First, an explanation.

You know how some people have a birthday on or around Christmas and it kind of gets lost? It just sort of gets melded into the larger holiday and that person gets somewhat cheated out of two special days? My Mom's birthday is like that. She was born on May 16th, so her birthday always falls within a couple of days of Mothers Day. As a result, some people believe she gets the short end of things from me.

However, I'll tell you that my mother isn't all that worried about it. A shallow person she is not. She is very intelligent and she understands the situation. This is not to say that she wouldn't want two parties or two bunches of gifts or two of whatever; everybody likes twice as much good stuff if they can get it. But she understands. And I love her all the more for understanding that I love her just as much, even though I sometimes may not show her how much twice in the same week.

This is my birthday card to my mother. You may or may not "get" everything I write here, but she will and that's what matters. These are mainly just short fond memories of times I treasure; times I had with my mother and things we did together. The greater parts of them are from my childhood. So are the pictures, which look the way they do because I only barely know how to use a scanner and photoshop. If I waited until I knew what I was doing before publishing, this space would be blank for about a decade.

But, wait! Never mind that static! Hillary, one of the most marvelous photographers in the world (and I mean that) did me the favor of re-cropping the following four photos. Yay!

[Mom and me on a plane. My Dad probably took the photo.]

[Mom and me feeding some seagulls in Florida. It was the damnedest thing. You threw the bread straight up and one of them would pick it off in mid-air!]

[San Juan, Puerto Rico. I'm not sure of the year.]

[Taken at 14 Caddy Road, my childhood - and 37 years total - place of residence.]

I suppose it makes sense to start with the usual Mom-type stuff.

She wiped my tears and bandaged my scraped knees and kissed my boo-boos and made them better. She vacuumed and made the beds. She did the laundry - early on with an actual washtub and scrub board and wringer - and she hung the clothes to dry on the clothesline in the backyard (or, in the winter, on a clothesline we had strung in the cellar) and a bit later we got a dryer. She did the ironing while watching Loretta Young and Mike Douglas. She was almost always ironing when I got home from school, it seemed.

She nursed me through all the usual illnesses and gifted me with my first copy of MAD magazine during one of them, and thank you for trusting me at such a young age with such revolutionary material, Mom. She put patches on my pants, as I needed them.

(Does anybody put patches on pants anymore?)

She gave me eggnog to drink for breakfast - an actual egg stirred into a big glass of milk, perhaps with chocolate syrup. Those were the days when it was considered healthy to feed your child eggs and milk every day, even raw eggs - maybe especially raw eggs. She gave me vitamins.

(One time, I decided that if a single vitamin tablet was good for you, then taking a whole bottle might turn me into Superman. Mom was the one who called the doctor.)

She packed my lunchbox with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, slices of apples or oranges, usually a cookie or two, and always a thermos of milk.

(How many thermoses did I break? Many. You'd drop one of the things and hear that shattering of the insides and you knew without checking that your milk now had big shards of glass in it. Mom always bought me a new one.)

She made dinners of swordfish or fish sticks or tuna casserole. My Dad did much of the cooking, and he hated fish, but when he wasn't around Mom made sure I got enough of the seafood that I loved. She would buy salmon and tuna just for me to eat straight from the can - something I still do often, although now I might spoon it out onto a plate first. She made me macaroni and plain tomatoes, still one of my favorite simple dinners - and one that, as it turns out, is quite healthy.

We would do some cooking together. We made peanut butter cookies. We made bread pudding. She would bake a cake and I would graciously help out by licking the bowl clean. I was always glad to do my part.

Sometimes, we would go out to eat, just Mom and me. We might go to the Liberty Deli in Lower Mills, or perhaps we would end up at a restaurant called Colstone's in downtown Boston. Both of these would be places we visited after we had been to church to say a prayer and light a candle. The Deli after Saint Gregory's; Colstone's after Arch Street. She would put a coin in the poor box at church and let me light the votive candle. She taught me to pray and she taught me reverence for holy places. She gave me a great sense of God as benevolent and likely to listen to me. It was, and is, a good thing.

She sang, always. She loved to sing; still does. She sang standards around the house. She had a lovely voice; still does. She and her sister, Jeannette, actually had their own radio show when they were teenagers, on WJDA in Quincy. The story, as I remember it, was that they had spoken to the station manager and complained that there wasn't enough programming for teenagers. He told them that if they thought so, maybe they could come up with some themselves. They said, "OK" and went on the air. Pretty gutsy stuff, that.

I owe my livelihood to my Mom. Even before I went into kindergarten, she was teaching me to read. I was always the best reader in my class in school. I am still one of the best readers I know and I work with professional readers every day. Without that early acquisition of knowledge, provided by Mom, I wouldn't have the job I have today. I am very grateful for that.

She taught me an absolute love for the written word and she taught me that acquiring knowledge doesn't have to be a drag. She would buy me books at every possible opportunity. I still have a half-shelf of Golden Library Of Knowledge books, which she bought for me - one at a time - from a store downtown every two or three weeks. I learned about dinosaurs and the planets and insects and the elements and animals from far off lands, and learned about them before I had to learn about them in school. I glided through much of elementary school because my Mom gave me such an enormous head start.

While I was in school, she kept a scrapbook. It is in my possession now. Entitled "Jimmy's School Years", it is an amazingly embarrassing collection of inept crayon drawings, declining-in-quality-as-I-moved-into-high-school report cards, class photos (who are half these people?), and other assorted ephemera from my times at the Gilbert Stuart, Boston Latin, the Woodrow Wilson, Boston Latin (again), and finally, Boston Tech. Grades K through 12 wrapped up in one overstuffed segmented package. While it is embarrassing, even for me to look at in private, I am so very thankful she did it.

I remember something I wasn't thankful for and which non-thankfulness I have been ashamed of ever since. One day, when I was perhaps four or five, Mom came home from a trip downtown and she had a small present for me. It was these two small replicas of phonograph records, one reading "YES" on the tiny label in the middle, and the other "NO". I don't know what their actual purpose was, but I suspect they were part of some advertising gimmick. I seem to remember that they came from Filene's Basement, but I may be mistaken.

Anyway, she had had a small little nice thought when handed them by whomever - "I'll bring these home and maybe Jimmy would like to play with them". My Mom came in and handed them to me, saying something to the effect of she wasn't sure if I wanted these but, if I did, I could have them. I behaved like a bratty little shit and said I didn't want them; why would I want them?; something entirely ungrateful. Maybe I was expecting something else from her for some reason? I don't know.

(Silly thing to remember, but I do. And I am ashamed about it. I was ungrateful for a gift given with love. Now, I'm almost willing to guarantee that my Mom doesn't have the slightest idea what I'm talking about. She remembers good stuff about me and forgets bad stuff. Well, I apologize anyway, Mom, and now I feel better.)

Well, you see, I'm getting into small weird things here and, if I keep on like this, it will be a book before long and even then it won't feel like enough. In the interests of getting this thing published by her actual birthday, I'm going to just list a few things now, things that - if you aren't my Mom - may well sound bizarre or psychotic or both. She'll read each and every one, slowly and lovingly, and have memories - perhaps many memories, and strong - conjured by each.

You were the savior of Davy and the unfortunate bearer of bad news concerning Tippy.

You were Sugar's midwife, twice, and every cat's best friend, always.

You were the teacher and player of Fish, Casino, Rummy 500, Chinese Checkers.

You were my pass to the cafeteria at Prudential and then to shuffleboard in the employee lounge afterwards.

You are the gatekeeper of the "For Now" room.

You were the grower of the rose bush, the tiger lilies and my willow tree.

You gave me a box of kitchen matches and a bowl of water.
You were the magician who made stars appear on my bedroom ceiling.

You allowed my jumps down the stairs and piled the pillows to land on.

You put up with marbles in the bathtub.

You made me believe that the second half of The Wizard Of Oz was in glorious color even though I was watching it on a black-and-white television.

You came to see me play at McCarthy's and you actually stayed through the second set.

You were the buyer of South Station bowling.

Your room had the jewelry box filled with shiny things and a Kennedy/Johnson campaign button, the atomizer, the radio that played Jess Cain every morning, and sunbeams that never were as warm after you left.

You were the person with me as I watched The Flintstones, The Addams Family, Camp Runamuck, Hank, Bewitched, That Girl, Fractured Flickers, The Hathaways, It's About Time and I'm Dickens, He's Fenster. At the very least, three of those were shows you really were not terribly fond of, but you watched them with me anyway.

You brought me to a brave radical church and I gained a new circle of friends.

You introduced me to MY WIFE.

You were the saver of newspapers - "Kennedy Assassinated", "Man Walks On Moon", "Red Sox Win Pennant" - and I wish to hell I had been the saver of them, too.

You were the person I reported the Dow Jones to every night. Why? I haven't the foggiest notion.

You were the person who brought me the news of a death of a person I knew; the first death I actually felt and understood the finality of. "Ma died", you said. And you held me close and I knew that in this world where people I had imagined as permanent were not, your love was.

You are possibly the fairest person in the world. At the very least, you always listen to everybody and give serious consideration to their thoughts and feelings. I've inherited some of that, but not nearly enough.

You were my traveling companion on the railway in the sky that took us to Ma and Pa's for Easter.
You are the child at heart who played miniature golf and skeeball, took swings in the batting cage, ate ice cream sundaes and candy bars, and did assorted other young things with great relish and panache, on your 65th birthday.

All things considered, you're probably the best mother I've ever had.

(Hey, I got some of this sense of humor from you, you know, so stop rolling your eyes.)

Something like this could go on forever, but I'll close with this:

I've described a large number of idiotic episodes of my life on this blog and will no doubt relate many more. I've done things that were illegal, immoral, stupid, and that otherwise seemingly reflect badly on my upbringing. Every single one of those things came about through my own volition.

Meanwhile, every good quality I possess - and every good thing I've ever done - came about as a direct result of how I was raised. That may sound like hyperbole, but it is the absolute stone cold truth.

Thanks, Mom. Happy Birthday!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Now, With Old Sad Stuff

[Blogger ate this yesterday, then regurgitated it today. If you commented before, it has not yet been vomited back in place. Feel free to tap your keyboard again. I'm listening.]

Here I am again, more-or-less.

I won't be here for long, and what I've got to say probably wasn't worth your making a special trip here to read it. As a matter of fact, I'm willing to bet that most of you probably read it the first time around. I so rarely get it exactly right, however, that I feel justified in re-posting what follows.

The Boston Celtics lost last night. They were eliminated from the NBA playoffs. The reason for this is because Danny Ainge cut off their collective team balls back in February.

Here's how I felt about it then. I'll return below with a small postscript.



[Image of Kendrick Perkins, looking as bewildered as I am, from THIS PLACE, where there's a really fine analysis of what I'm writing about.]

If you find today's post boring, blame Danny Ainge.

In deference to the majority of you, who don't give an owl's hoot about basketball, I haven't written much about the Boston Celtics this year. Even though I've lived and died with them forever, I've resisted the urge to go in-depth concerning anything green-related. And I was all set to give you the funny today, but Danny went and made a bunch of trades that, as it now stands, don't make sense to me at all.

Here's who the Celtics gave up: Kendrick Perkins, Nate Robinson, Semih Erden, Luke Harangody, and Marquise Daniels.

Here's what they got in return: Jeff Green, Nadad Krstic, 3 future draft choices, and some money.

Here's where I tell you why these trades suck. Even the most ardent of my apologists will probably be bored, so I won't love you any less if you leave. Come back on Monday. I guarantee it won't be about sports, and I think you'll have a laugh or two.

Kendrick Perkins was the Celtics starting center. During his tenure in Boston, the Celtics never lost a playoff series when their usual starting five were healthy. It is generally believed, by almost everybody in Boston - except, apparently, Danny Ainge - that if Perkins had not hurt his knee in Game Six of the championships last year, versus the Lakers, then the Celtics would have won that series. His presence, as a rebounder and a defender, has been crucial to their success.

After hurting his knee in that game - exploding it, basically - his return was estimated as sometime in February of this year. He worked his ass off and came back about three weeks earlier than expected. And that's the kind of team guy he has always been, and will continue to be now for the Oklahoma City Thunder. The fans in Boston understood his commitment, desire, heart, and guts. The first time he entered a game this season, he received as loud and long a standing ovation as a Larry Bird might have gotten. And he deserved it.

Aside from that sort of perseverance, he made an immediate impact. Any basketball fan with eyes saw that the C's were a better team with him than without him. His defensive skills, and most especially his rotating to where he is needed for help, are apparent to anyone with even minimal knowledge. And a team, such as the Celtics, who had been struggling for rebounding all year, were provided with a presence on the boards that was immeasurable.

Now, without him, they are left with an aging and unreliable Shaquille O'Neal as their starter, with Jermaine O'Neal (currently injured, and possibly never returning) as back-up. This glaring lack was exacerbated when Trader Ainge pretty much gave away Semih Erden, the only other Center on the roster.

(Last night, against Denver, the team had not a single NBA-level center to play for them. Glen Davis, a fine power forward but too small to play in the middle for more than a few minutes, was the starter. They called up a D League player, Chris Johnson, a total of TWO major league games on his resume, to fill up the bench. He played decently, and credit to him for that on short notice, but he's certainly not the answer. So, for the short term, we saw what might be the dilemma going forward and into the playoffs, if Shaq retains his penchant for being disabled and the other O'Neal doesn't return from the injured list - a basketball team with no center. Brilliant stuff, Danny. If that's what happens, and this team wins a championship, I'll kiss your ass in Macy's window at high noon.)

OK, the C's should not have let go of Perk. I firmly believe that, but I'm willing to see why it might have been done and the good that could occur. His contract was up at the end of the season, and they were supposedly far apart on talks concerning a renewal contract, so they wanted something in return for his expected departure. They packaged him with Nate Robinson - MY WIFE's favorite player (and is she ever pissed about this...) and a good guy, but expendable - and in return they get a fine forward in Jeff Green and your standard European center (very tall, but prefers shooting jump shots as opposed to banging inside) in Krstic. They also receive a future first-round draft choice. Not a horrible exchange, IF WE HAD ANOTHER HEALTHY CENTER REMAINING. Which we don't.

In the most inexplicable part of the day's activities, Ainge traded C Semih Erden and F Luke Harangody to Cleveland for... well, for something, but I sure can't figure it out. They get Cleveland's second round draft choice in 2012.

Squeeze me? Are you cereal? You give up the healthiest center remaining on the roster after Perkins' departure, a guy who has given you some decent minutes and shown that he will have, if not a starring career, a decent life as a role player, at the least, and you also ship out of town a rookie forward with some skills, and you get, in return, a draft choice two years down the road, and a second-round draft choice at that.

I am befuddled, flabbergasted, mystified, and please feel free to consider my mind boggled. But, wait, it gets better! Marquise Daniels was traded to Sacramento for (be still my beating heart!) a second-round pick in...

(No, this has to be a joke. Somebody's yanking my chain.)

... in 2017.

2017! That means this future Celtic might just now be entering middle school. I know you want to build for the future, Danny, but trading Marquise for a pre-adolescent is just slightly odd.

(I joke, and - as Homer Simpson is fond of saying - it's funny because it's true, but I actually understand the reasoning on this one. Marquise is seriously injured, may never play again, and his contract is actually up soon, so if he comes back and makes the roster next year, the C's will have received a future draft choice for nothing.)

All of the above is as it now stands. The thinking among some is that Ainge has cleared room on the roster, and given himself monetary breathing room, in order to make another addition, soon, of a decent player, perhaps Troy Murphy or Rip Hamilton. The team may be better set for the future than it was before. However, whereas before I considered the Celtics favorites to win the championship this year, I now have little doubt they've killed that opportunity. I can only hope that my usual track record concerning predictions - lousy - holds, and I have the opportunity to kiss Danny Ainge's ass come summer.

Godspeed, Perk. You're a beast and you'll remain one. I wish you had remained a Celtic.


Kendrick Perkins and his newer teammates in Oklahoma are still alive in the playoffs. As a matter of fact, it wouldn't be totally outrageous to predict that they'll win it all. I won't go that far - I think Chicago will take the title - but they have a decent shot at it, for sure.

Last night, following the C's loss to Miami, Danny Ainge was asked if, knowing what he knows now, he'd still make the trade he did. His answer?

"Yeah, I’d still do it. You don’t think Perkins has anything to do with where we are, do you?"

What's that definition of insanity? Doing the same thing and expecting different results? Maybe we're not talking quite that level of delusion, but it's close. Either that or Ainge thinks we're all idiots in the stands.

Going forward, the Celtics are in deep trouble. They still basically have no legit starting center for next year. The core trio of Pierce, Garnett, and Ray Allen, will be one year older and slower. Rondo is something special, but there's no telling how permanently damaged he might be following the last two-and-a-half games of his playing after suffering a dislocated elbow in game three of the series. And, above all else, the man who will be trying to fill the gaps and rebuild this team is utterly oblivious to the importance of team chemistry, obtuse to the point of ridiculousness concerning the importance of defensive prowess versus offensive, and, from all available evidence, it appears he cares more about the team wallet than he does about trying to hang another championship banner in the rafters. That's part of his job, of course, so no surprise, but here's one Celtic fan who won't be bullshitted into believing that "It's All About 18" the next time Danny Ainge tries to sell me that load of crap.

Thanks for dropping by. Probably not what you expected for my next appearance, after my previous one, but most things usually aren't, despite our expectations.

Soon? Unlikely. Better Stuff? Odds On.

[And if Blogger eats this again, and it re-appears some other time, I'm going to deny ever having written it.]