Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Those Things For Which I Am Thankful

1 - My wonderful relatives and friends.

2 - The ability to use this space as a device for copping out.

During the 6+ year run of this blog, I have had many wonderful people leave comments, or send me e-mail, or even write me via old-fashioned snail mail; send me nice little gifts, or, in some instances, send me rather large and expensive gifts; favor me with artwork of their own invention, including photos, drawings, and original musical recordings; contribute to causes I asked them to contribute to, with some going to considerable expense in doing so; and otherwise make my life a joy by going out of their way to do nice things for me.

In return, I have been a slug.

Not always, of course. It's possible you may be in possession of an actual writing of some sort from me, wherein I said "Thanks!" for whatever it was you did. If so, lucky you! However, if I have NOT thanked you for some kind deed you've done for me, I have been the aforementioned slimy creature from the garden. Please let me take this opportunity to assure you that I have not only received whatever it was you sent, but I have reveled in it.

I mean it. There has not been a comment, letter, gift, kindness, or other good deed done, that hasn't made me smile. I live for that stuff, and if you've contributed to the great pile of it, I adore you.

3 - I have my health. At least, my spleen appears to be working rather well.

4 - Really, I always fully intend to reply to everyone who comments or otherwise writes in response to something I've written, but sometimes I have something else come up and I forget. That's not a good excuse, but it's the only one I have at the moment. And I hope, if you've ever felt slighted in any way by my lack of reply, that you'll accept this as an apology and forgive me.

Of course, the possibility exists that I pissed you off so much by not replying to your heartfelt message that you stopped reading me ages ago and, if so, you aren't seeing this at all and I'm wasting my time writing it. Oh, well. I deserve to have my time wasted if I received something wonderful from someone and I didn't thank that person.

5 - Thus far, I have not been trod upon by an elephant.

6 - You see, sometimes I just plain lose an e-mail, or misplace an address, or otherwise lose the ability to give thanks in return for your kindnesses. And I really feel bad about it, too. Another thing to consider is that I have an actual full time job and I have to at least appear to be doing it full time or else I won't get paid, so I can't spend all day at work (since I don't have internet at home) replying to every damn thing that comes to me via e-mail.

(Well, I don't mean "DAMN thing that comes to me via e-mail", as though you've ruined my day by writing to me. I like the stuff, but... ah, you know what I mean. Let's drop it.)

7 - Since I'm bald, I'm the first one to know when it's raining. Or when someone is spitting on me. On the other hand, I wasn't born a salamander, so there's that.

[A tiger salamander, which I am not, but the more I think of it, maybe I'd be better off.]

8 - It just now occurs to me that if I had spent as much time searching for your lost e-mails or letters as I'm spending in writing this tripe, I probably could have saved both of us some time and actually said a proper thanks to you. This thought probably occurred to you, too, but you were just oh-so-polite, in that way you are, and decided not to say anything, so you just let me go on and on and on making a fool of myself.

9 - My socks only have a few holes in them, and as long as I line them up to miss the holes in my shoes, it's not too bad when it rains.

10 - I've got to be honest here and tell you that it really cheeses me off the way you just sat there and let me continue making an ass of myself, OK? You could have stepped in at any time and said, "Jim, it's no trouble at all!", but instead I've been blathering for ten minutes without a single peep out of you. What the hell.

11 - My eyeballs aren't currently bleeding.

12 - You know, you've really got a nerve. Just because you mailed me a fruitcake, or played a few bars on a song I wrote, or sent me nude photos of yourself, you think I've got nothing better to do than thank you for making me fat and horny!

13 - Judas Iscariot on a rocket-powered skateboard! Yes, YOU made me fat and horny! It wasn't my fault! The crappy bass playing was my fault, I admit that, but a real friend would have told me how shitty I played and kept me from disgracing myself in public, you asswipe!

14 - Oh, really?!? Well, I'd like to see you try it, you sorry sack of shit! I didn't get to be this old and decrepit by letting half-witted dopes like you get the better of me!

15 - Warm fluffy kittens who cuddle with you on a cold winter night.

16 - ... and if you don't like it, you can shove it up your big fat ass! Like I need this crap. Just because I won't get down on bended knee, worshiping the ground you walk on, while spouting effusive gratitude for your favors, you think you can walk all over me? Well, let me tell you something, bub: It's a free country, I pay most of my taxes, and I don't have to take this shit from the likes of you!

17 - I'm even thankful for the folks who will have read only the first few lines of this, scrolled down to the end while thinking it was a straight-ahead post about being thankful for the mundane things in life, and who then left a comment along the lines of "Oh, how sweet! Your poops must be made of sunshine and rainbows!" They mean well, even if they're morons.

18 - So take your fruitcakes, guitar solos, nude photos, Thanksgiving Comes First blogs, letters to my Cousin Dorothy, well wishes for my softball teams, and congratulations on being published in a major metropolitan newspaper, and put them where the sun don't shine, you fu... you... uh...

19 - Well, now that I think of it, you have been pretty nice and I have been a slug. So, in conclusion, let me say thank you, and rest assured that I love my life, I love you, I love God, and I am the luckiest man on the face of the earth. My life couldn't possibly be more blessed!!!

Soon, with more better stuff.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Best Day Of The Year

This, as long-time friends would soon know without aid of this silly preface, is a repeat. I always publish this one during my last time at work before taking Thanksgiving week off. If you've seen it before, feel free to skip to the end and leave a generic polite comment. If you do that, though, you'll miss the extremely slight re-writing I've done concerning the Detroit Lions.

I feel I should note that this will be the first holiday family gathering since My Grandma's passing. She was a large part of our Thanksgivings past and, even though she hadn't been able to physically attend the past couple, her not being at table this year will still feel a bit odd for us, I think.

In going over this piece looking for bits to tighten up, I found she was specifically mentioned once by name in a way that would have made it sound as though she was still with us bodily, which she isn't. It would have been awkwardly dishonest to leave her name there, so I excised it. Her spirit, however, will always remain, and the other spots wherein she appears (in a photo, and in the pleasant little story concerning a Dane and some turnip) remain, as they should.

OK, that's enough new material. On with the turkey rehash!


fris‧son / Pronunciation [free-sohn; Fr. free-sawn]
a sudden, passing sensation of excitement; a shudder of emotion; thrill.

(Random House Unabridged Dictionary, 2006)

Let me tell you about the holiday I like best of all – Thanksgiving.

I like all holidays. Any day you get off from work, or during which people get together to celebrate, or when you get (or give) gifts? In my book, that’s a good day. Some days are more special than others, though.

Christmas used to be my favorite. When I was a kid, I went straight from one frisson to another during the week leading up to Christmas. The celebration of Christ’s birth was magical and there was no end to the ways that the world delighted me. As I’ve grown older, that magic has ebbed. I haven’t changed, though; it’s the world that has.

When I was a child, nearly every house in the neighborhood sported pastel lights of red, yellow, green, blue and orange, either as decoration outside or via a candle or two in the windows. The streets were bathed in an embracing warmth, a welcoming glow. Nowadays, the lights of choice are mostly cold; icicles and clear starbursts. I guess a lot of folks like them – otherwise, why would they have them? - but all they do for me is make the night streets too much like daytime. Those bright white lights don’t do anything but remind me of how cold it is in winter. The colorful lights of my childhood made me feel warm, even during the meanest of snowstorms.

(Photo from Photos From My Life. Isn't it a beautiful tree?)

I love Christmas music. I always have. I always looked forward to it beginning, sporadically, after Thanksgiving, and then building bit by bit until there was an entire glorious day and night of it from Christmas Eve through to Christmas Night. It played on the radio all day, but only all day on Christmas and most of the day before. In the morning, while opening presents with my Mom and Dad, we played the two or three vinyl Christmas records we had at home. It was special.

Now the trouble is in trying to avoid it. Even as of today, November 17th, there have been radio stations playing Christmas music 24 hours a day for the past couple of weeks. Seriously - and I mean this - if you like that sort of thing, God bless you. To me, though, Christmas music is like chocolate. A few pieces, rich and creamy, are delightful. Feed it to me non-stop for sixty days? All that is, is a sick stomach.

(My job, as good as it is, doesn’t help matters. I’m a voice-over guy, and I also do production work, but my actual job title is “Music Director”. Therefore, in the course of my duties, I sometimes have to use holiday music for background in pieces I complete for clients during September and October. I try to remain detached while doing so, but...)

The final nail in my Christmas coffin is driven in by the greedy merchants who just plain don't have the common decency to wait for Thanksgiving to be over before they start spewing forth their hideous advertisements. Every year, they start earlier and earlier. I rail against it every year, too. MY WIFE tells me to relax, that I can’t change it, that there really isn’t anything all that bad about it. I love MY WIFE dearly, but on this she’s dead wrong. I’ll go to my grave cursing those bastards for draining the innocent joy out of a lovely day. I try to ignore it, and I try to keep the spirit I believe in, but they keep throwing haymakers at me and a few do connect. I keep getting up off of the canvas, but it isn't easy.

I can’t even begin to imagine how hideous a time it must be for those who don’t share my faith. No wonder some of the atheists keep trying to run it out of town. The money-grubbing parasites, who see it only as a time to reel in a profit, have turned it into something even I want to partially get rid of.

Ah, I suppose that’s a bit over the top. The day still has charm. The real importance of it, for someone like me, is spiritual, and the sons of bitches can’t rip that out of me unless I let them. The people I share the day with, and with whom I eat good food and exchange lovely and loving gifts, are dear to me. They still make it a wonderful day, but that frisson I spoke of earlier, that I used to have in multiples during the season, hasn’t been felt in quite a while.


The only holiday I can always count upon to deliver a frisson is Thanksgiving.

(I’m trying to set the world record for frisson mentions in one blog. Am I there yet?)

I have never had a bad Thanksgiving. Not one. As a matter of fact, not only have I not had a bad one; I’ve had nothing but good ones for as long as I can remember.

For every other holiday, I can dredge up at least one bummer. There have been New Years Eves with toothaches and New Years Days with hangovers, Washington’s Birthdays with flu, Memorial Days with sunburns, July Fourths with car accidents, Labor Days with the dread of returning to school, Halloweens with stolen candy, and even Christmases with “Dear John” letters thrown into the mix, but never a bad Thanksgiving.

(I’m hoping I’m not the victim of selective memory. Somewhere in the past there may have been one horrible incident I’ve tucked into a corner of my mind under lock and key. If so, and you know about it, don’t tell me. I’d rather be ignorant and happy.)

You know one of the reasons why it’s so easy to have a good Thanksgiving? Nobody’s trying to sell you anything. It’s just good company, some football, great food, and maybe a nap with your belt loosened. The biggest thing anyone can put up for sale is a bird. There are no bogus guilt trips laid on you by manufacturers trying to make you feel as though you haven’t done right by your loved ones. All you have to do, to do right by your loved ones on Thanksgiving, is show up.

Oh, the smells of Thanksgiving dinner cooking! There is no perfume in existence that matches the fragrance of turkey, stuffing, gravy, squash, turnip, sweet potatoes, hot rolls, pumpkin pie, and all of the other mouth-watering aromas that emanate from the kitchen on that day. It is the smell of pure love. The one doing the cooking isn’t doing it because he or she is guilt-ridden. It’s being done because the people who will eat the feast are near and dear; as simple and lovely as that.

MY WIFE and I have hosted Thanksgiving at our place for the past sixteen years. It is the most sublime pleasure of my year to plan that meal and then prepare it. I’m the luckiest man in my family. I get to enjoy those smells longer than anyone else. And I get the lion’s share of the leftovers, too.

I remember lovely, huge tables full of food at my grandparent’s apartment in Roslindale, the vegetables served in great green ceramic bowls and topped with big pats of yummy sweet butter. I remember other times of waking in my upstairs bedroom to the smell of a turkey roasting in my childhood home in Dorchester. Later, after my parent’s divorce, I ate TWO huge dinners every Thanksgiving – the first cooked by my father and the second served at my Grandma’s in Weymouth, where I would eat with my mother. It wasn’t easy, but I loved both of them too much to disappoint either one of them, so I did my duty. I even ate a couple of pieces of pie at both places, just so they’d have no doubt about how much I loved them.

I try to remember what the name of the holiday calls for – the giving of thanks. I look upon my preparation and sharing of food as a sacred rite of sorts. There’s no skimping on this meal. If money’s tight, it’s a way of showing my faith in the idea that God will bring better times. Always, it’s a time to be thankful for the good people who are sharing the table with me (even if some of them don't like their picture taken.)

There are lovely constants at Thanksgiving. For instance, every year the Detroit Lions play football. Well, at least they try, and they ought to get credit for that. And the same stories get told at the table. There's one that never fails to get mentioned, concerning turnip and a Danish friend of the family .

Seems that one year, when this Dane was a holiday guest, my grandmother was preparing the food and one of the vegetables was turnip. The fellow laughed and said, in his Danish accent, “Turnip! Ha-ha! Very funny!” and when he was asked why he was laughing, he said, “Ho-ho! Yes, the joke’s on me! That’s a very funny joke. OK, you can take it away now.” Seems that they only served turnip to pigs in his region of Denmark. He thought it was a joke for his benefit. When he found out that it was something we actually ate, and enjoyed, he became somewhat indignant, if not sick to his stomach. Every year, when I bring out the turnip, that story returns for it’s annual telling. And I love it. There is also usually a mention of turducken as though it were just invented the previous week.

When the meal is over – well, at least the part of the meal that doesn’t involve pie – my stepfather and I turn our attention to the end of the Lion’s game. Meanwhile, the other folks have good conversation, coffee, tea, and, yes, pie. If the Lions win, Bill and I have a piece of pie to celebrate their good fortune. Since this rarely happens, we console ourselves with a piece of pie if they lose. It’s all good.

(This year, for the first time in ages, the Lions actually seem to be a decent squad with a chance to win. Unfortunately, they'll be playing the Green Bay Packers, who may be the best team the league has seen in a decade, so the Lions will probably lose again. Oh, well. Pie!)

Soon, it gets to be late afternoon and folks start leaving. First, my Cousin Scott and his wife, Andrea, because they go visit some other relatives. Then my Uncle Rick. Finally, after all others have gone, Bill and My Mom hit the road, and then it’s just me and MY WIFE, all alone in the house. At that point, I do what any red-blooded American man would do. I take a couple of the leftover rolls, slice ‘em open, stuff them with turkey and dressing and gravy, and eat them while I watch the end of the Dallas game (and if they'd lose as often as the Lions, I'd be a happier man, but, once again, Pie!)

I love this holiday so much, I take the entire week off each year. That way, I can very leisurely clean the house and buy the food and decorate and do prep work for the feast, taking those chores completely off of the hands of MY WIFE, who deserves at least as much of a restful, enjoyable feast as I’m giving everyone else. I love every moment of that busy, yet still somehow slothful, week. And, since I only post from work, that’s why this is the last post until December 1st.

I wish you a Tremendously Happy Thanksgiving. Say your prayers, eat much, show love.

Soon, with more better stuffing.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Thanksgiving Comes First - The Last Round-Up

This past weekend, I threw a brick through my TV screen.

No, not really. But that's what I felt like doing, and often. Every time an ad came on that featured Christmas music, or touted some chintzy Christmas-themed sale, or tried to convince me to run down to some damn store to stand in line with red-and-green-clad troglodytes buying the latest cell phone (you know, the one that sings Beautiful while it scrubs your balls?)... well, if a brick had been handy, it would have been the end of my TV. Luckily for my home life (which would have been severely injured had I destroyed the TV, since MY WIFE considers television on par with food and water as an essential) two things enabled me to keep my sanity:

1 - The Remote Control

Whenever I heard the first notes of far-too-early Christmas music, or saw the beginning of another ad from a jeweler warning me to spend two months salary for a diamond because otherwise the woman who loves me won't love me, I changed the channel. It helped that it was the weekend and multiple football games were on the air at the same time. I was able to avoid all but a few seconds of pain.

2 - You

Whatever else may have been driving me around the bend, you wonderful people kept me from careening over a cliff. So many of you have written sterling pieces about Thanksgiving and contributed your voices to the annual fight against the Christmas Ho-Ho-Whores! Just thinking about those who, for instance, sent me the following cartoon...

... kept me smiling.

(I was sent this cartoon by eleven or twelve different people, and every one of them said, "See, Sully? You're not alone!" You have no idea how much that cheered me up. Thanks!)

So, the TV did not perish via blunt trauma and my sanity (such as it is) was saved. And you know what else? I think I have the will to do this again next year. And the year after. And the year after that, too, if need be. A couple of weeks ago, I wasn't so sure. I was thinking maybe it was time to give it up, put it to rest, admit it was a losing battle and just try to ignore as much of it as possible. Now? Target can kiss my ass. I refuse to let bastards like they are win.

(Why am I singling out Target? They're opening their Black Friday sale at Midnight on Thanksgiving itself. Even the worst offenders have usually waited until 5am or so on Friday. What this means is that everybody who works at Target will have to be at work by 10:00 or 11:00 on Thanksgiving night. And, in order to do that, most will have to get some sleep during Thanksgiving Day and miss family gatherings and dinner. So FUCK TARGET, the greedy sons of bitches.

If you'd like to join me in another effort of shoveling shit against the tide... excuse me, join me in signing a petition to try and get them to change this policy, go HERE.)

So, anyway, they can keep knocking me down, but I'm going to get up every time. And knowing there are so many of you who share that conviction (though perhaps with varying degrees of obscene venom) is what will keep me going.

And the least I can do, by way of repayment, is give a link to you folks who have written stuff.

(The most I could do is send each of you a check, but that's not happening.)

Following are the newest Thanksgiving Comes First entries.

Lisa McColgan

A Broad With A View (Part One)

A Broad With A View (Part Two)

Growing Up In Waldron

A-Bloggin :-D

Lindsay's List

Living By Heidi Metro

The Christmas Conspiracy

Messy Mimi

Indigo Girl

Here's something interesting: It's a website totally devoted to the idea of TCF (although it has a different title - TBT!)

Take Back Thanksgiving!

And here's a funny article, from the prestigious monthly magazine, The Atlantic, with the same title!

Take Back Thanksgiving!

And now, as is my custom, those who previously wrote articles and blogs this year, and who were mentioned here before, will again be listed. It pays to get on the bandwagon early!

As you might expect from someone with my ego, I'll blow my own horn first. I had an op-ed published in The Boston Herald. You can read it HERE.

The less-ego-driven (and probably more valuable because of it) souls, are:

Ivan Toblog

Long Hollow

The Surly Writer

Down Silly Rabbit's Hole

By God's Good Grace

Postcards From A Broad

Out & About In New York City




The Fifty Factor

Seeking Sanity

HOT Takes

The Smitten Image

Eternal Lizdom

Tilting At Windmills

The Best Of Times In A Moogie's World

Exile In Portales



Teacher's Pet

Uncle Skip

Messy Mimi

Tara Dharma

Matt Conlon

Down River Drivel

$12 A Day, And A Baby On The Way

Sick Bitch

Finally, as a special treat for you (if you've lasted long enough to get down to this remote section of the posting, you deserve a special treat...) here are some links to the very best writings I've ever seen concerning Thanksgiving and TCF.

One of the main joys of my undertaking this otherwise only-slightly-rewarding battle each year is that I am often privileged to be the first person to read heartfelt and beautiful pieces written by kindred spirits. I went back through the many postings from other years and selected my all-time favorites. Here they are. Every one of them is well worth whatever time it takes to read them. Trust me.

My wonderful friend, Thimbelle, wrote one of the best. As a bonus, it contains actual knowledge gleaned from having worked in retail.

Melinda hasn't blogged in quite some time (at least not at the blog to which I'm sending you) but her posting was, and is, one of those I have enjoyed re-visiting. She deserved many more readers than her lack of comments, overall, would indicate that she had. In any case, enjoy her words at From One London To Another.

One of my favorite semi-obscenity-laced rants of all time was done at Diaryland. Not for all tastes, I assume, but neither is some of my stuff (maybe including my Walmart rant above.) This makes me laugh out loud, anyway.

Janet, at Adventures In The 32-Aker Wood, is another of my favorite blog buddies. And she more than earns her keep with this wonderful reminiscence/tirade.

My Cousin David's piece is no longer available via his personal blog, but I did find it HERE. I'm still proud to have him as my family member.

Desmond Jones (who is actually Craig Desmond, but that's another story) wrote a wonderful piece concentrating on the Advent season (which is probably a more correct starting point for the "Christmas season" than Black Friday, but I figured getting retailers to actually acknowledge the religious aspects of the holiday was an even longer shot than getting them to hold off beating us over the head with their blasphemous ads until after Thanksgiving.)

(Craig will probably publish the piece again, later this year, and I think that would be great.)

Doctor Grumpy was (and, I assume, still is) magnificently twisted.

Oodles Of Funch gives with the righteous indignation and the family memories! A win-win!

Lime is among my most-visited and favorite bloggers year-round, but THIS made me love her all the more dearly.

Finally, I will once again send you to visit Cricket. His is my favorite piece of all. Find it HERE (and if you're finding it for the first time, I envy you. It is not only one of the best writings about Thanksgiving, it is one of the best writings on the 'net, ever, period.)

All of the above are tremendously good, so what follows below may be a lie. Still, it's tradition, and that's part of what Thanksgiving is about, so...

Soon, with more better stuff.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Thank You To A Gentle Man

This is from last year on Veterans Day, but worth repeating.

I wasn't planning on writing anything special for Veteran's Day. I certainly know some vets, and am especially proud of some family members who served - My Dad (Navy), My Uncle Jim (Air Force), My Uncle Rick (Army) - but a couple of things I read yesterday changed my mind and prodded me to write this. I'll give you a quick bit of back-story and then send you to read about a fellow I admire.

My swell friend, Cricket, wrote about some vets he knew. It's a good piece - as is everything he writes - and worth a look. You can find it HERE. After having read his post, I decided to leave a comment.

Another comment, by another friend, Thimbelle, prompted me to say something concerning Bill MacDonald, my stepfather. Here's what I said about him, which, I'm sorry to say, included what seems to be a mistaken notion concerning his military service.

My Stepfather, Bill, received a bronze star for his World War II service - quite a high decoration - and he never ever speaks of what he did to earn it. When anyone asks him to do so, he specifically refuses. I know he was a prisoner of war, but that's as much as I know. I respect his wish to not speak about it, although some try to prod him to talk. He's a true gentleman - a gentle man - and someone pushing him to speak about his military career is one of the few things about which I've seen him get truly angered. I've just told him "Thanks" once or twice, and even that seems to be more than he would like to hear about it.

I admire that reticence to cast himself as a heroic figure, a lot. Doesn't mean he wasn't (or isn't, for that matter.)

Before I go any further, I need to let you know about my mistake. It seems Bill was NOT a prisoner of war. I guess I had heard someone else say that he was, and Bill, being who he is, just didn't want to talk about his service, period, so he never corrected that person. As a result, I had always harbored the notion that he had been. As I've since found out, that appears to not be his story. The actual story is, to my mind, much more interesting.

After leaving that comment, I decided to see if there might be anything about Bill, and his military service, on the web. I specifically wanted to see if there was a listing of Bronze Star recipients, and see whether or not Bill was on it.

Don't get the wrong idea; I had no doubt that Bill had received that medal. I just wanted to see if there was someplace where he was receiving some recognition for having done so, and perhaps I'd also have some light shed on what his actions were during his time of service. I've never pushed him to talk about it, but that doesn't mean I wasn't curious to find out.

Well, I put his name in Google, along with "Bronze Star", and I found something. It wasn't a listing of recipients of the award. It was a newspaper account of how My Mother had prodded him to try and get another medal he deserved - The Purple Heart.

The Purple Heart is awarded for being wounded in action.

While Bill does not seek the spotlight, My Mom is not one to sit idly by and let a person, especially her husband, not get credit where it is due. I have little doubt that Bill kept on saying it didn't matter whether he got the recognition, but My Mom, extremely gentle woman that she is, is like a pitbull when she feels that some wrong should be righted. She won't let go of it until it happens.

And now, please go to the link below, and read Bill's story. I'll finish my part of this by once again, on this Veteran's Day, saying "Thanks, Bill." The difference is, this time I know why I'm thanking him.

Bill's story.

Soon, with more better stuff.

[2011 update: Bill has still not received his Purple Heart. His scars, however, remain.]

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Dorothy & The Ingrown Toenail

I had another visit with Dorothy on Tuesday. I'll share a story she told me, in just a minute, but first let me update you on her condition.

Not much change, which is a good thing. She's holding steady, which is probably the best that can be hoped for considering her panoply of maladies. The cards and letters from you have most definitely had a cheering effect. She loves receiving them, and she is the hit of the nursing staff because of them. She tells me they fight with each other to bring them to her bedside and read them to her (as I've mentioned before, Dorothy does not have good vision, so she needs to have most of the writings read to her. She can see the drawings, photos, and other large visuals well enough, though.) She (and the staff) are continually amazed at the variety of places from which the mail has come - across the U.S., from Canada, from Europe, and this week Malaysia made the list.

Her spirits are high. I'd like to think she's that way all the time, and not just when I'm visiting, but she lights up so much when I walk in, I have to think she might not always be so bright and peppy.

(I'm not saying it's me, specifically, who makes her so cheerful. I think any visitor would do it. It has to get somewhat tiring just laying there in bed. That's why the cards and letters are having such a great effect. They break up the day.)

As for her physical condition? Her weight is alarmingly low, but she has always been thin. Hard to tell, visually, if she's lost any more weight. She has the translucent skin I've also been "blessed" with, so aside from skin and bones she is all veins, but she has been that way for most of the recent years, even before this hospitalization.

Anyway, I am blessed to have so many wonderful readers who have gone out of their way to drop her a line. I'll give the address again, in case anyone else wishes to join in. For further background on Dorothy, in case you have no idea who or what I'm talking about, go HERE and perhaps HERE. The address:

Dorothy Luff, Room 103
c/o Milford Care & Rehabilitation
10 Veterans Memorial Drive
Milford, MA 01757-2900

And now, here’s the story I promised you.

If you’ve ever had an ingrown toenail, you know how painful that can be. I’ve never had one, myself, so I have no idea. I’ve been told it’s sort of like a toothache of the foot. If that’s true, I can imagine it quite well. I’ve had more than enough toothaches. But, before I start rambling on about my former teeth, this story isn’t about me. It’s about Dorothy. It takes place during the summer of 1940, when she was thirteen years old.

Dorothy, as you may have already guessed from the idiotic preface I’ve provided, had an ingrown toenail. It was on the big toe of her left foot. Having never had an ingrown toenail before, however, she didn’t know that she had one. All she knew was that her foot hurt.

She soldiered along for about a week, wobbling a bit here and there, until her older sister, Patty, saw her limping and grimacing. Patty asked Dorothy what was the matter. Dorothy said her foot hurt. Patty asked Dorothy to show her the foot. So, Dorothy did. She sat down on the edge of her bed and removed her shoes and socks.

What Patty saw was a big toe swollen to about twice its normal size, discolored almost to the point of being purple. Since Dorothy had the world famous translucent and very white skin that many in the Sullivan clan were favored with, this was even more pronounced a discoloration than it might have been on someone of a darker complexion. Patty became alarmed and called for their mother.

Anna, her mother – and she was the Sullivan side of their heritage, thus a woman who didn’t believe in sitting around when action could alleviate a problem - came into the room, took one look at the toe in question, and told Dorothy to put her shoes and socks back on. This wasn’t because she wanted the toe covered up (although she no doubt did) but because she had immediately decided a trip to the doctor was necessary. They dressed and went out to Hyde Park Avenue to catch the streetcar.

The streetcar came and they boarded. It was a warm summer afternoon in Boston. As she and her mother rode the slowly moving crowded streetcar, Dorothy began to feel a bit queasy. The prospect of going to the doctor, the hot streetcar swaying slightly on the tracks, the sweaty patrons filling the seats around her, and not least of all the toe itself, all added up to make Dorothy nauseous. Dorothy tried thinking cooler thoughts, but it didn’t help much.

Anna and Dorothy arrived at the doctor’s office and were checked in by a nurse. They were ushered into an examination room and told to wait for the doctor. In those days before widespread air conditioning, the close confines of the windowless exam room offered no respite from the heat. Dorothy was still nauseous.

After several minutes of warm waiting, the doctor arrived. He asked what was the matter. When he was told about the toe, he instructed Dorothy to hop up onto the examination table (as best she COULD hop, given the circumstances) and he then removed Dorothy’s shoe and sock.

There was the ugly toe, still swollen and purple. The doctor gingerly touched it. Even that little bit of pressure made Dorothy wince. She also felt slightly faint. She let her head drop a bit, and, in so doing, she found herself looking directly down at the doctor, who was kneeling in front of her as he examined the toe.

The doctor saw that the best immediate action would be to release some of the pressure on the toe. He reached into his pocket and took out a small scalpel. He lacerated the toe, releasing an arcing stream of yellowish and foul-smelling pus.

Dorothy vomited.

Voluminously, and with great color.

Right onto the doctor’s head.

One good thing: she immediately forgot about her toe hurting.

When she was done retching, Dorothy was mortified. Even BEFORE Dorothy was done retching, her mother was doubly so. The doctor, to his eternal credit, kept his calm. He told Dorothy not to worry. He straightened up, and left the room to change clothes (and possibly professions.)

There’s no kicker to this (Hah! Kicker! It’s a foot joke!) except to say that the doctor came back and excised the toenail from its painful position, trimmed it back, and then Dorothy was A-OK shortly thereafter.

You may be wondering, though, about how it came to pass that Dorothy told me this story. She didn’t just come up with it out of the blue. You see, she was telling me about how she had requested some scissors from the nursing staff at her residence, to trim her toenails, but that they wouldn’t give her any because they feel that some patients are so despondent they might use the scissors to do harm to themselves or another patient. So, Dorothy feared getting another ingrown nail, and she told me about what had transpired when she had her first one.

If I were on that nursing staff, I’d give her the scissors. Anything she does with them would, to my way of thinking, probably be preferable to what might happen if Dorothy did get an ingrown nail and they had to end up treating it. I’m just saying.

Soon, with more better stuff.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

I'm Suldog, They're Dickens & Fenster.

I ran a contest here, about a millennium ago (OK, a week ago), and some of you have been waiting mighty patiently for the winner to be announced.

(If you wish to read the post that announced the contest, gave the rules, and then went on for about another 2,000 superfluous words, go HERE.)

The winner is...

Well, actually, the winners are Andy, Daryl, and Craig. Since they were the only three with the correct answer, I decided to be a sport and give all of them a prize.

And what do they win?


I loved this show as a kid, and I'm all for getting as many folks as possible to watch it. I'm anxiously awaiting my own copy (which I won't get to watch until sometime in January, as MY WIFE is buying it for me as a Christmas gift.)

(I suppose I should make it clear that I am paying for the prizes. I have received no compensation from the producers of the DVD. That's just so you know what little integrity I have left has not been compromised.)

So, congrats to Craig, Daryl, and his other brother Daryl... no, I mean Andy. The DVD is scheduled to begin shipping on or around December 6th, so expect it soon thereafter.

Thank you to everyone for playing.

Soon, with more better stuff.

Monday, November 07, 2011

The Next Sound You Hear Will Be That Of Me Blowing My Own Horn


On Friday, I was published in The Boston Herald. So, I got an ego boost. More important, though, is that what was published was my editorial concerning Thanksgiving being given full play before Christmas is shoved down our collective throats.

Read it HERE. Then go thou and do likewise.

Seriously. Maybe you won’t have an editorial published (unless you try for it, as I did, because some of you certainly have the talent) but you could consider sending off a letter to the editor. I’m willing to bet that your local newspapers will not be averse to running a concise and polite plea for having Thanksgiving come first.

If you need more inspiration, here are some writings by good folk who have joined the fray since my previous update.

I’ll lead off with my swell pal, Cricket. His piece is perfect. I mean that. Nothing I have ever read on the subject of Thanksgiving has captured the spirit of the holiday so fully and with such love. I would appreciate you reading all of the entries here, as they were all written from the heart and all deserve attention, but if you only have time for one...

In order to make the rest of your journeys easier, I’ll lay off the excess verbiage (which, since you know me, you know that’s not an easy thing for me to do. I love to hear myself type.) I’m going to list the blogs where you’ll find the writings. Read one, please, then pop back here and hit another link for more reading enjoyment!

Long Hollow


Down Silly Rabbit's Hole

By God's Good Grace

Postcards From A Broad

The Surly Writer

Out & About In New York City



Eternal Lizdom

Tilting At Windmills

$12 A Day, And A Baby On The Way

The Best Of Times In A Moogie's World



The following folks put the graphic on the sidebar or as a link:

Sick Bitch

Teacher's Pet.

Those were the newer writings. Since it should pay to get the word out early, here again are all of those bloggers to whom I previously gave links. If you didn’t visit them then, please do so now.

Uncle Skip

Messy Mimi

Ivan Toblog

The Fifty Factor

Seeking Sanity

Tara Dharma

Matt Conlon.

Down River Drivel

Exile In Portales.

HOT Takes

The Smitten Image

And that will do it for today. Please keep writing, whether on your blogs or to other areas of possible publication. Even if nothing else is accomplished, the fight for what you believe in will leave you feeling marvelously clean, something the folks who blast us with ads and such in October and November will likely never feel.

Soon, with more better stuff.

Friday, November 04, 2011

My Happiest Moment In The Subway (Part Two)

[This started yesterday, where I explained it was a re-run from 2005, while it is actually a story from 1974 or so. Confused? Welcome to the club!

Anyway, here's Part Two, which some of you will be happy to know is the final part. Back Monday with something relatively new and relatively exciting.]


My Happiest Moment In The Subway (Part Two)

When last we left our hero, he had just had his life saved by the Malden police. However, he was oblivious and ungrateful, as usual. Return with us now to those golden days of yesteryear... Red The Head rides again!

That's how I was known to some of my friends, by the way - Red The Head. Y'see, I had red hair? And I smoked dope? Yup. Usually, everybody just called me "Red", except for the ones calling me "That Asshole Over There".

And, before we go any farther, if you're completely lost and don't have the slightest idea what this has to do with subways? You should read Part One, which you can find a link to somewhere over on the left. You still won't know what this has to do with subways, but at least you'll only be as confused as the other folks who already read that part.

So, to pick up the story kind of where I left off, we played some other gigs. Most of them were unmemorable except for their utter crapitude musically. I'll tell you about one more.

We had another high school dance to play. This one was at St. Francis's, which I think was in Everett. Now, Duane, whom you may remember as our "guitarist", was employed at Stuart's, which was a department store in Malden. It so happened that he was scheduled to work at Stuart's on the same evening as this dance. Naturally, one would assume (at least the rest of us in the band did) that Duane would ask for the night off so that he could play the dance. If you assumed that, then you don't know Duane. He decided that the money was better for working a four-hour shift as a stockboy than it would be for performing at this dance. Either that or his father told him to buckle the fuck down and do some real work instead of wasting his time seeing how many different ways he could make a Les Paul sound like an animal undergoing unneeded radical surgery. In any case, he wasn't going to make the gig. What to do? What to do?

Well, it was too late to cancel and it was too late to teach another guitarist our arrangements (such as they were) so the rest of us did what we figured was the best we could do under the circumstances. Our bass player at the time, Sean, was taking six-string guitar lessons, so he borrowed Duane's gear and became our guitar player for the night. Since we had two drummers, one of them was more-or-less expendable, so Mark, who had taken about three weeks of piano, moved out from behind his kit and took over on keyboards. Chuck, being the good drummer, stayed where he was. This left me.

If you recall, I was the vocalist and keyboards player. Since Mark was taking over the keyboards, that freed me up to be the bass player. It's important at this point to know something about me. I had never played the bass before in my life. Some folks might have seen that as an insurmountable obstacle to the success of this endeavor, but not me! I was the guy who called entire auditoriums full of drunken louts "cocksuckers" and figured I could get away with it. What was this compared to that? I assumed I could fake it enough to get by. And, if I couldn't play, I could certainly chew on the scenery.

Which is what I did. After a few hurried lessons from Sean, I played on just the E string for most of the night and I climbed all over the furniture, making an ass of myself and distracting a goodly portion of the crowd from my abysmal failings as a musician. At one point, providence stepped in and gave me a hand. Well, actually, providence stepped in and gave me a bloody nose.

I was standing on top of a cafeteria table, jumping up and down to the beat, when my nose started bleeding. I don't know why it did, but I made the most of it. Blood was steadily pouring from one nostril onto my shirt and onto Sean's bass. I kept on playing, knowing that this was about as cool as it could get. These were the days of Alice Cooper and Kiss and other practitioners of "glam" stage shows, a goodly part of which consisted of the use of stage blood. Hey, I just discovered I had a supply of the real thing at my disposal and I wasn't going to let it go to waste. I wiped my nose with one hand and smeared the blood all over my face and wiped the rest on my pants. The girls in the audience mostly gagged, but all of the guys were nodding their heads and mouthing, "Far out, man!"

(It helps if you read that as though either Cheech or Chong is saying it.)

The song ended and I had sense enough to sit down and throw my head back for a minute. Sean played a few power chords and leaned into the amp to produce some feedback, so that bought me some time while I snuffled up the yucky stuff in my nose. The bleeding stopped almost as quickly as it had begun. I probably popped a polyp or something; who knows? It was the highlight of the show, though.

As a coda to this episode (Notice how I slipped in an actual musical term here? Clever!) Duane finally showed up about 30 minutes from the end of our last set. Like a musical god from Olympus deigning to associate with some mere mortals, he strode in, grabbed the guitar from Sean, and assumed his rightful place as ***THE GUITAR PLAYER***. The rest of us mere crustaceans scuttled back to our respective support positions while he assaulted the audience with his own particular brand of aural defoliant. Some of them probably never had kids as a result. I wanted to make my nose bleed again, but I couldn't quite will it to happen.


I should mention here that a couple of us did go on to become decent musicians.

Soon after the nosebleed gig, I took up the bass seriously and played in another 4 or 5 bands over the course of the late 70's and early 80's. Since the bass is much easier to transport than keyboards, I actually practiced daily. I still play, but just for fun. I haven't played an actual gig since 1989 or so.

Sean continued taking guitar lessons and today he is an extremely accomplished jazz player. He plays in Boston-based ensembles and occasionally tries to get the hard-core jazz guys to understand why he likes heavy rock.

Bruce, who replaced Sean and was our bass player at the time of the "cocksuckers" incident, lives in New Hampshire and still plays. He is quite good.

Duane and Mark both became cops. Whether this was because they had their lives saved by cops in Malden or because their dad was a cop, I don't know. I suspect the latter. I totally lost touch with them long ago. Or they totally lost touch with me on purpose, which is always a possibility. In any event, I don't know if they still play. And, Mark, if you're reading this? It's all in fun - you weren't a bad drummer. You just weren't the better of the two.

[2011 Update: I found Mark on Facebook recently. He's a good guy, always was, and after reading this he told me how much he fondly remembers those days. His brother, Duane, is a lawyer. I tried to open communications with him, but never heard from him. Maybe he's considering suing me for defamation of character. If so, he'll lose. I still have tapes from those rehearsals.]

As I mentioned near the beginning of this story, the other drummer, Chuck, has been dead for many years. He was a backseat passenger in a car that was totaled when a drunk driver ran a red light. He was 17. I'm sure I speak for every member of World's End when I say we still miss him.


So, what in the name of the Amazing Kreskin does any of the foregoing have to do with the subway? Well, not one hell of a lot, but now I'm going to tell you the subway story and you'll see that it's not much and I really had to pad things out, so I did.

Mark and Duane, as I may have mentioned, lived in Everett. We were good friends outside of the band, so I occasionally hung out at their house. On Saturday or Sunday, I sometimes watched TV with them and their dad until 10 or 10:30, and then I'd start heading home.

Well, one Sunday evening in early 1975, it was as bitter cold as I ever remember it being and it was snowing. In order to get home to Dorchester, I had to catch a bus from near their house and take it to the Sullivan Square station on the Orange Line of the T, which at that time was an elevated line. I then would make a connection with the Red Line to Ashmont and, finally, take the trolley from there. It was a fairly long trip, especially on Sunday evening when trains and busses ran about once every hour.

I stood outside in the vicious cold and snow, with winds blowing at 20 or 25 mph, waiting for the bus to Sullivan Square. I waited and waited and waited some more. I was out there for a good 30 minutes and I was not dressed warmly. I was chilled to the marrow by the time the bus came, shivering and shaking and with wet feet. My nose was frozen and my eyes were watering. My ears hurt like hell, even with my long hair of the time covering them somewhat.

The bus came and I got on, but I discovered to my dismay that it wasn't much warmer. There was no wind or snow inside the bus, of course, but the heater wasn't working, either. I didn't warm up much on the 15-minute ride to Sullivan Square.

The bus pulled into the station, which was basically a huge wood-and-cement barn open on both ends, so the wind whipped through it making me entirely as miserable as I had been at the bus stop before. I heard a train. I reached into my pocket with frozen fingers to get some coins, paid my fare, and ran upstairs to the elevated platform just as my train pulled out towards downtown.

This was even worse than the bus stop. The elevated platform was completely open and perhaps 20 feet in the air. It stood alongside a section of I-93, so while you waited for the train, cars would go by at eye level. It also was very close to the Mystic River and there wasn't much of anything near that platform to cut the wind. It was perhaps the coldest spot in the entire city that night.

I stood there on the platform with the wind whipping and the snow blowing and my nose frozen and my feet wet and feeling very sorry for myself. Then, something caught my attention.

If you're a veteran of public transit, and perhaps subways in particular, you know that, at one time, many subway and elevated railway stations had waiting rooms. These were places where someone could get out of the elements for at least a short while while they waited for a train. At the time of this story, these waiting rooms were already pretty much a thing of the past. Too many winos used them as urinals or bedrooms, and the liability risks had become such that the T always kept the doors to them locked. This night, though, out of the corner of my eye, I saw that the lights were on in the waiting room at Sullivan Square.

Could it be? Might the doors actually be unlocked? Would I be able to go inside and get out of the bitter cold wind? I pretty much ran over there to check it out.

YES! YES! YES!!! Not only were the doors unlocked, but when I stepped inside the room it was as warm as Miami in July. Some wonderful, blessed angel employed by the T had turned the heater on full blast. My face began to melt. My nose, as it defrosted, dripped both inside and out, but snot was a small price to pay for such relief.

I should mention that, in those days when dinosaurs roamed the earth, it was perfectly legal to smoke in train stations. As a matter of fact, some people were still pissed about not being allowed to smoke in the cars themselves, as had been legal up until recently. So, to make my circle of happiness complete, I plopped down on a wooden bench and lit up a Kool, inhaling the menthol deeply. I had never been, nor have I ever been, more happy in the subway than I was at that moment. It smelled like piss, there were a few spiders crawling around, my clothes were still wet, and I had a post-nasal drip that wouldn't quit, but I was pretty much in heaven.

And that was my happiest moment in the subway. The End.


(Note to aspiring writers: If you don't know what "allegory" is, you should. The weather and the bus and the subway are life, while that smelly dirty waiting room was the band. To an outsider, that waiting room was just a piss-ridden bug-infested pit. And the band was a catastrophe. But my happiness was immense, and very real, in both situations.)

Soon, with more better stuff.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

My Happiest Moment In The Subway

[Truth in advertising: This is a re-run. As a matter of fact, it's a two-part re-run. Reasons? I don't feel like writing anything new for the rest of this week, I consider this one of my best pieces, and it originally ran in 2005 when I had about six readers. The likelihood is that you haven't read it before, but it's worth re-reading. Just like cheese, it gets better with age (or becomes crusty, smelly, moldy, and inedible, I forget which.)

If you did read it before, and hated it so much you never want to read it again, you could always enter the contest or write a TCF post to fill your time. In any case, I thank you for being here.

Here comes the old stuff!]

My Happiest Moment In The Subway

(Note to aspiring writers: The first sentence of this piece is what is known as a "compelling lead". It promises excitement and adventure. It entices the reader to begin, assuring a superb return for his or her investment of time. You should always use something similar in your own stories.)


This may turn out to be the most dreadfully boring thing ever written, but I'm going to write it anyway.

When I was 17, I was in a band. The name of the band was World's End, which should give you some idea of the type of music we played. Think Black Sabbath, but not quite as cheery. And when I say "music we played", that's a bit of poetic license. You might want to read that as "re-creation of the sound of a burlap bag full of cats being hit with a baseball bat which we inflicted upon the general public while calling it music".

The band had five members, two of whom were drummers. That's right - five guys and we had two drummers. Make that a burlap bag full of cats being hit with two baseball bats. The only guy in the band who could really play was one of these drummers. I'm not going to say which one, since the other drummer might be reading this and I wouldn't want to hurt his feelings. However, the good drummer died many years ago, so that sort of gives it away.

We thought we were THE NEXT BIG THING!, but we sucked harder than a Hoover factory. The guitarist had one asset - a wonderful cherry-red Gibson Les Paul. However, never in the history of music has such a beautiful instrument been made to produce such god-awful noise. This guitarist sometimes played with both a slide and a wah-wah pedal. When he did so, the result was... well, imagine a fire engine whose siren has had a potato jammed into it. The band included four different bass players during its run, and they encompassed the full range from competent to uninspired. And then there was me. I was the singer/keyboardist and I was the worst of the lot.

I'll give you some idea of how dedicated I was to my craft. We practiced once a week - if everybody wasn't doing something else important like going to a movie. Since I lived in Dorchester, and rehearsals were in Malden, and my keyboard weighed about 60 pounds, between rehearsals I usually left my keyboard at the house of the two guys who lived in Everett. This is why I am now a bass player.

The two guys who lived in Everett went to Malden Catholic High School, which was actually just a couple of blocks from their house. Somehow, they convinced the school to let us use one of the classrooms as our rehearsal space. We'd go there on Saturday morning, set up, and proceed to annoy the hell out of the neighbors for two or three hours. Then came the highlight of our rehearsals. That was the break, when we would smoke a bone and go to Papa Gino's to gorge ourselves on pizza.

(I am still amazed at how much food I was able to put away in those days, stoned or not. I'd order a large pizza for myself and accompany it with a plate of pasta with meat sauce. And bread and butter. And a couple of large Sprites. I weighed about 145 then. And I stayed that way well into my 20's. Now I weigh 190 or so and two slices makes me feel like I swallowed a small anvil. Whuhthefuh?!? However, I digress.)

After pizza, we'd go back to the school and listen to the tapes of what we'd practiced during the first part of rehearsal. This was so we could all yell at Duane, who was the guitarist. "For God's sakes, Duane, we've got two drummers but you can't hear anything except the guitar. You've got to turn it down a bit." To which Duane would reply, "Huh?"

We actually played quite a few gigs - high school dances and whatnot. How we got these gigs is still a mystery to me. I was never one for the business end of things. I was too busy believing I was a rock star. After all, I was the singer and I wrote the lyrics to our original tunes. Here's the first stanza of "World's End", from which we cleverly took the name of the band:

Now the time has come
World's become undone
Fire rains down and there is hell all around
Powers above black out the sun
Split into trillions of crystals
Heat rising from the core
Man is burning - Burnt away!
The Earth is no more!

I was full of all kinds of bright sunshiny thoughts in those days.

I can only recall two or three gigs where we didn't either get stuff thrown at us or otherwise hear the (righteous) wrath of the crowd. One was our first show ever, at Brookline High, April 26th, 1974. I've still got a ticket from that dance at home somewhere. It says, "Come Dance To The World's End!", which was also on the posters advertising our appearance. Amazingly enough, this blurb drew a crowd of 400 or so. This was the early 70's, though, and anybody heavy enough to contemplate death in their music was, like, profound, man!.

I know how we got that job. I was sleeping with the girl who booked the bands for dances. She fancied herself a singer. In exchange for booking us, she got to sing on one of our songs. That was fine. We were both using each other for our mutual benefit. I think the band got paid something like $60, split 5 ways. And four of us had to pitch in for Duane's gasoline, since we hauled all the equipment in his dad's station wagon.

We opened with an original tune called "Feed Your Head". Can you guess what that one was about? I bet you can! Aside from the originals, we did whole bunches of really bad covers. Mostly Clapton and Allman Brothers, for some reason. It didn't really matter who the songs were by, though, as they never sounded anything like the originals when we finished with them. If we didn't announce beforehand which song was coming up, for all anyone knew it was another one of our own compositions.

Despite the execrable nature of our performances, I truly believed that we'd get a recording contract. How we were going to get it, I don't know. Looking back, I think we would have had to have mugged a real band.

I vividly recall another night when we played at a high school in Malden. After the first band finished their set (yes, we were the headliners...) we took the stage. About halfway into our second song, a lit cigarette flew past my head. Then another one. Then a beer bottle hit Chuck's bass drum. I calmly took charge of the situation. I made motions to the guys to stop playing. I grabbed the mic and said, "Alright, you cocksuckers, that's enough. You want to fuck with me? I'll kick all your asses!"

That's what being (or thinking you are) a rock star will do to you. You weigh 150 or so soaking wet, but you truly insanely believe that you are the center of the universe and you can fight an auditorium full of drunken football players and gang members. Thankfully, there was a police detail on duty. As soon as the word "cocksuckers" was out of my mouth, the two officers had stepped in front of the stage and they then literally stopped the crowd from charging and killing us. They dispersed the angry mob and made us wait for close to three hours inside the auditorium before they thought it was safe enough for us to pack up our equipment into Duane's dad's car. Meanwhile, I fumed the whole time because my genius wasn't appreciated. I don't think I even said "Thanks!" to the cops. What a friggin' dope I was.

Hmmmmm. It doesn't appear that I'm getting anywhere close to the title of this piece, eh? Well, I will, but it will have to be later. I've got a buttload of work to do and I can't waste any more time reminiscing about my idiotic youth. See you soon!

Tomorrow: Part Two of my adventures in teenage wasteland.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011


No, that's not me saying "Hello". Those are the call letters of my imaginary TV station.

[waits a beat for your reaction]

Oh, come on! You mean you've never thought about owning your own TV station, or about what you'd put on it for programming, or where it would broadcast from, or...

[waits another beat, then decides to go on despite the reaction]


Yes, I know. It's not a very common fantasy, but I thought you might have indulged in such a flight of fancy once or twice. Maybe I missed seeing your hand go up amid the fleeing crowd. In any case, I've actually gone so far as to make up a programming schedule.

OK, maybe that's slightly loony, but I assure you it's a fun way to waste an hour and less harmful than most drugs (although more fun to do if you're on them. Besides, there are a few thousand people who actually make their living doing this crap. Maybe if one of them dies, and his boss sees this...)


You should read all of this because it's part of a contest. I'm giving away something of actual value, and you'll have to read what's here in order to win it. I'll give the directions on how to enter at the end (but don't skip down there now because you'll just have to come back up here and read again, anyway, if you do.)

And now, since there's little I can do at this point to change your opinion concerning my sanity, here's the Monday - Friday programming schedule for:

WOOF-TV, Channel 29, Thornton, NH
(with explanatory notes interspersed for those psychiatry students who will need the annotation for their class projects.)

5:22 - Test Pattern, Sign-On, National Anthem, Morning Prayer, PSA, Community Bulletin Board, PSA

(Yes, a test pattern. There is a disappointing lack of them these days, as everybody broadcasts 24 hours and nobody needs them. I like them, always have, and there will be three or four minutes of the one with the Indian chief on it every morning at 5:22 am.

I've always liked morning prayers, too, so there will be one. Since I plan on being the announcer for my station, I'll probably read it. I would have included a Farm & Market Report but, since I know nothing about how those economics work, it will have to be a Community Bulletin Board, instead. That's almost as good. I'll enjoy telling folks about church suppers and blood drives at the local library.)

5:30 - The Life Of Riley

(When I was very young, this was the first show that would air in Boston following the test pattern, national anthem, morning prayer, etc., so it will be the first show of the day on my station, too. This whole exercise is basically about me recreating my viewing habits from age 3 through age 25, and to give you some idea of the main reason why I am the way I am, and for you to therefore decide if TV is a good thing for your children or not.)

6:00 - Cap'n Jim's Morning Funhouse

(Guess who Cap'n Jim is? Yup. I'm going to be the kiddie show host. Scary, eh? And this will be a three-hour festival of Warner Brothers cartoons, Three Stooges shorts, Mack & Meyer, Laurel & Hardy, The Little Rascals, and maybe some Edgar Kennedy and Leon Errol for good measure. Just the thing to get the kids all hyper beyond belief before they head off to school!)

9:00 - Mister Rogers' Neighborhood

(For the little ones who don't have to go to school. Since PBS stations hardly carry this wonderful show now, my station will. In perpetuity.)

9:30 - Leave It To Beaver (2 episodes)

(What else would you have following Fred Rogers? Most Embarrassing Porn Star Goofs & Blunders?)

10:30 - The Andy Griffith Show

(Likewise, what could possibly be better for continuing the wholesome-yet-funny theme?)

11:00 - The Beverly Hillbillies (2 episodes)

(Back in my days as a stoner, I used to get up around 11 and watch The Hillbillies. I always wanted there to be another episode after the first one. Now there will be.)

Noon - The Comedy Team Movie

(Gotta keep the laughs coming. This will be a showcase for The Marx Brothers, Abbott & Costello, Wheeler & Woolsey, The Ritz Brothers, The Bowery Boys, more Laurel & Hardy and The Three Stooges, and maybe a few Hope/Crosby road pictures, along with rarities from Rowan & Martin, Allen & Rossi, Clark & McCullough, and other lesser lights. It might get a rating of 0.3 some days, but I'll watch every one of them. I'm a sucker for comedy teams, even if they stink. I just love the mechanics of that particular art form, no matter how bad the material. If it's actually well-written and well-played, that's gravy! If the movie runs short, my favorite cartoon comedy team, Tom & Jerry, will fill the remaining time.)

2:00 - Dobie Gillis

Maynard & Dobie

(Great sitcom that will likely never see the light of day again in the real world, but will play forever on WOOF.)

2:30 - Gilligan's Island

(What better way to follow Maynard G. Krebs than with more Bob Denver?)

3:00 - F Troop

(Larry Storch. Need I say more? If so, Forrest Tucker and Ken Berry!)

3:30 - The Addams Family

(Aside from this being a very funny show, Carolyn Jones was about the sexiest woman ever in a sitcom. Speak French to me, Tish!)

4:00 - The Three Stooges

(Yeah, I know. This makes, like, three timeslots with The Stooges featured. Too bad. This is my TV station. If you don't like it, get your own.)

5:00 - Mister Ed

(Suitably cartoonish and dumb enough to follow The Stooges, I think.)

5:30 - Burns & Allen

(Little known fact: George Burns was one of the investors in Mister Ed. Therefore, he gets to follow him. Also, he and Gracie were fantastically funny, and this show deserves better than to be lost forever. One of the plot devices had George watching the show on his own TV in the den and commenting upon the action. That alone is surreal enough to put it into my hall of fame.)

6:00 - You Bet Your Life (2 episodes)

(What better person for the family to eat dinner with from their TV trays than Groucho?)

7:00 - I'm Dickens, He's Fenster

(One of the all-time funniest shows ever to air on American TV, and if you don't want to take my word for it, take Stan Laurel's; he loved the show. It hasn't been seen on anyone's home screen in over 45 years. I will show it every damn night at 7:00. It starred John Astin [Gomez, in the previously-mentioned Addams Family] and Marty Ingels as two inept but loveable handymen. Great slapstick comedy, the 1960's successor to The Stooges and other greats. It was cancelled after only one season even though it was winning its timeslot when it went off the air. ABC had decided to cancel it earlier in its run, when it wasn't pulling the great ratings, and by the time they realized their mistake, John Astin had already signed to play Gomez in the other show.)

7:30 - Car 54, Where Are You?

(Ooh! Ooh! Francis!)

- Sgt. Bilko

(Which was never the actual title of the show, even though that's what everybody called it. The show had two titles. When it first came on the air, it was called You'll Never Get Rich. After a short time, it was re-named The Phil Silvers Show. Doesn't matter. It is Bilko to those who love it, now and forever.)

8:30 - The Dick Van Dyke Show (2 episodes)

(Timeless comedy classic. Definitely worth watching back-to-back episodes.)

9:30 - Jack Benny

(Sadly, Benny is becoming less and less known as the years pass. The combination of his comedy style being of a nature that required patience in waiting for a big payoff, and of much of his best work having happened during a time when commercials for the sponsor [and sometimes cigarette ads, at that] were sometimes worked into the main body of the show, precluding rebroadcast by major American outlets, will likely leave him as one of those entertainers recalled very fondly by one generation and almost unknown by those succeeding. Never fear, though! He'll always have a spot on my imaginary TV station!

10:00 - The Outer Limits

(The only dramatic show on the schedule, for what it's worth. Truly thought-provoking sci-fi/fantasy/horror. Good show for 10pm when the night has quieted down a bit and the ghosts of conscience start floating about.)

11:00 - The Honeymooners

(One o' these days, Alice! One o' these days... Bang! Zoom!)

Thus ends the WOOF broadcast day (well, there'll be an evening prayer and the national anthem again, but you know what I mean.) I could give you a Saturday or Sunday schedule, too, but I'll wait until some other time when you've almost forgotten what a lunatic I am.

(Oh, one note of major importance: My TV station will NOT accept Christmas advertising before Thanksgiving. You probably knew that, but it never hurts to be clear.)

And now, here's the contest:

I am giving away a sixteen-episode DVD of one of the shows listed above. It will be brand new, shipped direct from the manufacturer, so even if for some strange reason you don't want it, you could still give it as a very nice present to the old-time TV fan in your life. Rules for the contest are simple:

1 - Leave a comment. In the body of the comment, tell me which of the above shows is your favorite. If you name the show whose DVD I'm giving away, you win!

(In case of a tie, I will do a random drawing of all those who named the same show. Therefore, if you wish to increase your chances of winning, it might pay to name one of the more obscure shows. Or it might not.)

2 - ONE comment (that is, ONE entry) per reader. If you leave more than one comment, I will use the FIRST comment as your entry. Feel free to talk about as many shows as you wish - the more, the merrier - but remember that you need to tell me which is the show you have as your entry!

3 - Deadline is Thursday, November 3rd, 4pm Eastern, United States.

Good luck!

(You'll need more than good luck, since the deadline for the contest is long gone. However, even though the contest is done, you can still have some of these wonderful shows. There are savings for most of these old shows through Target.)

Soon, with more better stuff.