Monday, April 29, 2013

My Body, My Self

The always-delightful-yet-reasonably-priced Daryl has written a post concerning a couple of odd little body quirks she has, unfortunately, become accustomed to have happening to her. She asked about whether or not her readers had similar things happen to them. Being my usual loquacious self, I answered at length. By the time I was done, and had posted my comment, I realized I probably had enough material for a post of my own, so here it is.

My body plays the following tricks on me:

1 - My left ear will suddenly become hot and painful for no apparent reason. When it does, nothing I do makes it go away. I just have to wait for it to stop of its own accord. This usually happens in 24 to 48 hours. As you might imagine, this is a particularly irritating thing for someone who has done so much work with headphones over the years. Luckily, it only happens perhaps once every six months.

2 - This began happening just about two years ago, but it's nasty. My right foot will all of a sudden go totally spaz. It's like the arch just stiffens completely, painful as all hell. It only happens when I'm sleeping, so I've been jolted awake with searing pain in my foot a few times. Lovely.

3 - The other thing that happens has been happening my entire life. My right eye (you know, I think it's my right eye, as it hasn't happened in a long enough time that I can't recall with certainty) will start "ticcing"; that is, a nervous tic will start the eyelid fluttering or shaking. It is barely noticeable to anyone else (I know this because I've looked in the mirror while it was happening, to see how it looked, and I saw almost no movement; certainly none that anyone not looking for it would notice) but it feels as though I'm wildly winking and grimacing and otherwise presenting a lunatic face to the outside world.

So that's all I told Daryl. Since then, however, I've scanned my body and come up with the following thing I'm going to complain about whether you care or not.

4 - One spot under my right arm - that is, running from about my armpit to a spot a few inches onto my chest - becomes itchy as hell every few months. Before you get all high and mighty on me, telling me to be more solicitous in washing my armpits, I'll tell you that it positively has nothing to do with being unclean. I know this because it has happened within a couple of hours of having taken a very thorough shower. And it has nothing to do with soap, either, because I've had it happen other times when I've been without a shower for more than a day. It has happened when I've worn deodorant and also when I've not worn any deodorant. No explanation for it (except that's the side of my chest where MY WIFE says I have a vestigial third nipple - I say it's a birthmark - and maybe I'm vestigially lactating? Oog. If that's true, I think I've had enough of this world, thanks.)

So, leave a comment telling me all about the things your body is doing that make little sense. Or not, if you don't feel like encouraging me, which would be completely understandable.

Soon, with more better stuff.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Happy News

My piece concerning the manhunt in Watertown, in connection with the Boston Marathon bombings, has been published. The Boston Globe bought it, and you can go here to read it. As you might suspect, anything nice you have to say about it would be appreciated.

Thanks for all of your kind words and encouragement over the past few days. MY WIFE and I surely do know who our friends are - YOU.

Soon, with more better stuff.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Going Sleepy-Bye

To wrap up the day's events quickly, he was captured. We are fine and OK and thankful. We are going to sleep.

I wrote it up and submitted it to a local paper. It's obviously somewhat time sensitive, so I hope they take it and let me know quickly.

(If they don't, I think I may give up this writing thing. It's good, IMVHO.)

Thanks for sticking with me folks. If it's published, I'll let you know.

This is Radio Free Suldog, broadcasting on about thirty cups of coffee, signing off.

Work Release

We have been allowed to leave the comfy prison. The "stay indoors order" has been lifted. We'll both be staying in for the evening, though. I don't expect the police and guardsmen and such need every idiot in Watertown to suddenly run outdoors yelling "Free at last! Free at last!"

It is literally work release for MY WIFE. She, as most everybody in the area, did not go to work today. As a result (since her department is staffed by very few, but performs functions deeply necessary) she will be going into work tomorrow to do the work that was left from nobody being there today.

In all probability I will not get the opportunity to write the most self-centered story ever to appear in any print media: "Terrorists Forced Me To Quit Smoking!"

More as I get bnored and feel the need to pass it on to you.

Comfy Prison

Earlier today - visit from SWAT.

Now - 4:45pm on Friday, as I write - this is the damnedest thing. We're in what would be termed "lockdown" if this was a prison (which it fairly much is at this point, albeit a comfy one with the company of MY WIFE, good things to eat, TV, and I can get twenty minutes of sleep every four hours if I'm lucky.)

No traffic is being allowed in or out of Watertown. Nobody allowed out of their houses. The local police chief was on TV earlier saying that it could last through the weekend. Aside from the search for the bomber, there is a major crime scene nearby where the other one was killed. That will be examined with a fine tooth comb and God only knows how long that will take.

The important thing is that - despite the possible imminent danger we've been warned of - I don't feel especially threatened in any way (other than not having enough cigarettes or e-cigarette substitutes to get through this thing if it goes through Sunday, so they might have more than one madman on their hands by then.)

(Headline for Monday: "Irritated Smoker Shot Down By SWAT Team"  The Boston Globe reports that Jim "Suldog" Sullivan, the mad smoker of Watertown, has been gunned down by SWAT team members. He had last been seen climbing an oak tree, grabbing a bunch of leaves, and trying to light them. "It's really a shame", said Captain Nick O'Tine of the ATF, "I had a pack in my truck. He could have bummed one." Sullivan's spouse, known only by the code name HIS WIFE, is still at large and considered extremely dangerous. She was last seen headed for WHDH-TV, and it is rumored she was out for blood due to the fact that Family Feud was preempted the last three days while they showed the same loop of film that had previously been shown 708 times since the lockdown began.)

OK, I'm still way goofy from not enough sleep. Later.

SWAT Team Just Left Our House

Some 10 to 12 SWAT team members are now on our street, mostly in camo fatigues, some in black, an armored vehicle, going door-to-door, S-L-O-W-L-Y, searching every house, yard, garage, and wherever else they want because when you have the cannons they're carrying nobody's going to tell you "No, please don't go in there."

Honestly, I'm glad they've made the sweep here. That means there's a good probability the suspect is NOT here, and now I can truly get some sleep.

I won't soon forget the sight of two smiling men with machine guns on our front porch.

(They were smiling, yes. They were obviously trying very hard to keep folks as calm as possible.)

Soon, with something or other.

Update From Watertown, For Our Friends

As you probably know, we live in Watertown. One bombing suspect dead from a shootout here, the other still being sought. We are OK, please don't call. We have been up all night, we are now going to nap as the excitement allows.

I will update later, probably.

Thank you for your concern.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

For The Woman Who...

... is often my conscience, giving me a gentle nudge to do what I almost always find out later was the right thing and what I should have been doing from the beginning.

... has never, not even once, doubted my ability to be more than I am.

... knows how to get a laugh from me even during those times when laughter is the furthest thing from my mind.

... makes me happy to be alive on those days, that happen to all of us, when getting out of bed has become a chore for one reason or another.

... has more consistently been in my corner than Bundini Brown was for Ali (and who, upon reading this, will ask me, "Who is Bundini Brown?")

... now knows more about The Three Stooges than she ever thought she would, ever wanted to, and ever would like to admit.

... has never, not even once, during the entire course of our more than 22 years together, tried to stop me from taking a nap.

(You may not consider that item to be on par with the other things I've mentioned, but I consider it of paramount importance.)

... despite all of the evidence I've given her to the contrary, still thinks I'm the greatest catch she could have made.

... makes sure that every birthday of a friend or relative is remembered in some way even though I barely ever remember when they're due to happen.

... despite the obvious convenience of not having to spell her name every time she has to give it over the phone, still chose not to become a Sullivan when we were married.

(And which I completely understand, by the way. Had the situation been reversed, and my last name was something like Mxzyptlk, I would have kept the same name I came into the marriage with, too.)

... who would be very mad at me if I gave you her age here, so I'll tell you she's the square root of 1521, divided by Delonte West's uniform number when he was with the Celtics, plus the number of American League Championships won by the Red Sox (even including those when they were called the "Americans", and not the "Red Sox"), times the combined final score of the seventh game between the Bruins and Montreal in 1979 (the bastards...), minus Tony Conigliaro's home run total to win the league championship in 1965, plus Doug Flutie's retired uniform number at Boston College, divided by Tony Conigliaro's uniform number (which should have been retired long ago), plus Rick Robey's uniform number while he was with the Celtics (which, if you need a clue, was Delonte West's number times 4, plus the number of times in my life I've left a professional baseball game before the last out.)

(And if you can figure out how old she is from that, you deserve to know. If you tell anyone else, however, I'll have to come to your house and kill you. On the other hand, she won't be able to figure out her own age if she tries to do it from those clues, so there's that.)

... deserves a better birthday card than this (but isn't gonna get one because I'm a slug.)

... is MY WIFE, for better or worse (and she's probably wavering as to just which category this falls into.)


With any luck, I am now standing to your left with a present of some sort. Despite the many requests you've made through the years, it is NOT a fully-let-out ranch mink. Maybe next year. Meanwhile, you should read all of the wonderful things people have wished you. They appear below (this would be a hint to the rest of you, and thanks.)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

We Know Who Needs To Be Fearful

What we saw Monday, in this area I call home, was evil in its pure and unadulterated form.

The evil came from the usual source. As I write this, we don't have a person's name or any organization with which to link it, but it is the usual source nevertheless. It came from so little moral sense that the destruction of innocent lives serves as validation of a miserable and pitiful existence. It came from senseless violence that somehow seemed the right thing to a disordered and diseased mind. It came from an intellect that lives under a rock, a slimy and squirmy thing that hides from the sunlight. It came from a filthy and cowardly animal who would like to see us fearful, but who deserves - and will receive - nothing more than our contempt.

We also saw good, the best that people have to offer.

The good also came from the usual source. It came from those who run toward an explosion, to help those injured, rather than doing the wholly natural thing and moving away from the danger. It came from those who immediately set up webpages for people to offer help to those who needed it. It came from medical personnel who worked feverishly to save who and what they could, and who also made the hardest decisions in deciding that a limb must go in order to save a life. And it came from the police, national guard, armed forces, and others, who searched out, at risk of their own lives and limbs, the remaining explosive devices that were detonated harmlessly instead of causing further suffering.

My good friend, Michelle Hickman, reminded me of something I've pointed out here on occasion. She posted this photo to my Facebook page.

The good came from the helpers.

The evil may or may not be found. Obviously, it would be better if it were, and then excised like the cancer it so readily is; destroyed, with a vengeance. The good, though, always appears immediately. And that is what keeps me from giving up on the world, even at a time when giving up seems, at first glance, the most reasonable option.

This is what Boston has said in response to evil: We're not running away. We're moving toward you. And there are way more of us than there are of you. You are the one who needs to fear.

Monday, April 15, 2013

We Are Fine

Just a quick one to let anyone wondering know that we are OK. Thank you to those who already checked with me to find out.

I don't often find myself at a loss for words, but this is one of those times. Maybe later.

God bless.

Sunday Bunnies

In my continuing effort to avoid doing what I promised you almost two weeks ago, today I decided to conduct an experiment.

I'm not sure why I'm finding it such a chore to make good on that thing. I usually enjoy spouting off and portraying myself as some sort of expert. I think this unemployment is affecting my self-confidence. And if I'm suddenly becoming humble, that's going to make everything I've previously written truly sad. Be that as it may - and it's only April - the experiment I decided to conduct today came about because the previous experiment I've been conducting, since losing my job, has been such a success. That experiment involved finding out how long it would take for me to become a big tub of out-of-shape goo if I sat on my ass in front of a computer most of the day getting no exercise at all and eating twice as much as I did while working, so today I decided to get off my ass - literally - and take a walk.

I went out the door and took a jaunt down the block. It was a nice morning, weather-wise, so I figured I'd do a mile or so before coming back to the house, having a cigarette, eating a huge hunk of the lovely banana cornbread MY WIFE was baking, and then plopping myself down on the couch to watch the final round of The Masters (which, in my present physical condition, would probably prove to be a fairly strenuous sort of a workout.)

After going three blocks, I noticed movement out of the corner of my eye. I turned my head slightly (becoming short of breath from doing such a rigorous sort of thing on top of my walking) and I saw a bunny. It was a little brown cottontail. He saw me at about the same time I saw him. He stopped in his tracks and apparently thought the same thought which has been thought by rabbits the world over since time immemorial: If I don't move, you can't see me.

(Because of that behavior, arguments can be made both for and against evolutionary theory. The argument against is that an animal with such a stupid thought process should have been wiped out long ago. The argument for is that they have become prolific breeders due to the fact that if they didn't have so many babies, the species would never have survived. Of course, the same arguments could be made concerning red-headed Irishmen who smoke, so skip it.)

I stood still to see if the bunny would start moving again. No go. Bunnies don't think things through. I mean, if you were a bunny, and you believed that not moving made you invisible, wouldn't the thought occur to you that if you saw some other creature standing still then that other creature could probably see you even if you were standing still? No, of course not. You'd be a bunny and therefore incredibly stupid, but prolific (and perhaps fairly happy because of that part of the equation.) So, like I say, the bunny didn't move. I decided, after about a minute of standing there being as dumb as the bunny, I should probably get moving again because I wasn't getting much of a workout staring at a rabbit.

I walked another block or so and a thought occurred to me.

(No, it wasn't the first thought that had occurred to me during the walk. I had also considered picking up a ball I saw on the street, and wondered how long it would take for a wad of bubble gum I had seen to actually biodegrade, and took under consideration the theory that even if I didn't get much exercise from my walk, I might at least find something interesting to write about, but I think I'm disproving that with extreme prejudice.)

Anyway, the thought occurred to me to test the theory of whether or not having a bunny cross your path is good luck or bad luck. I figure since cats of a certain color are considered to imbue luck of some sort when they happen to be in your general vicinity, why not a bunny? So I decided to buy two lottery tickets at a store situated at about the halfway point of the distance I planned on walking.

(Yes, you're right. I have just said something even stupider than what a rabbit might say if rabbits talked. That should probably invalidate any findings I present here, but I've already written too much for me to turn back now.)

After about a half-mile on my walk, I entered the store. I saw a sign advertising electronic cigarettes. I had been wondering about such things, as being an unemployed sluggard gaining weight and not getting enough exercise has not been my only concern of late. I've been coming to the realization that I'll not really be able to play fast-pitch softball this season unless I also do something about my smoking. At the very least, the combination of extra pounds and smoke-filled lungs does not an effective catcher make. I decided that as long as I was doing something idiotic such as buying lottery tickets, I may as well try to do something halfway intelligent and see if it helped to even things out so that God wouldn't whack me with a lightning bolt on general principles.

I left the store and completed my walk by heading home. When I got there, I gave one of the lottery tickets to MY WIFE. She scratched one of them and I scratched the other. It apparently makes little difference regarding luck if a bunny happens to cross your path. While my ticket was a losing proposition, the one MY WIFE scratched was a winner for exactly one-half of what I spent in acquiring both tickets. Since this is about what one might have expected one way or the other without taking into account chance encounters with rodents, it is a wash.

As for the electronic cigarette, it is now about five hours since my walk. I have not had an actual cigarette in that time. I would usually have had three or four. It seems to be satisfying the cravings fairly well. If it turns out that this is what finally works to help me quit smoking after over forty years of it, I'll consider the bunny very lucky indeed. We'll see. I'm not holding my breath, so to speak, but it seems like it might be more effective than any other stop smoking aid I've tried, so I'll give it a fair shot and see how I feel by the end of the day.

Soon, with less rabbiting.

Friday, April 05, 2013

Northern Wisconsin Captures Invitational

“We’re number 69! We’re number 69!”

That was the exultant cheer raised by alumni as Northern Wisconsin University defeated Boise Southern A&M, 53 – 39, to win the basketball tournament nobody aside from degenerate gamblers and die-hard alumni cares about, the N.I.T. (National Inivitation Tournament). The cheer stemmed from the fact that the NCAA “March Madness” tournament includes the top 68 teams. The N.I.T. field is made up of the remainder, all fighting hard for the honor of being declared the 69th best team in the country.

“I’ll probably get to keep my job, so I guess it’s better than nothing”, said NWU head coach Moe “Larry” Curley.

The Pickerel were led by star center Mustafa Scheinblum-O’Shaughnessy. The 7’ 6” player, an animal husbandry major until he found out it didn’t mean what he thought it did, was passed over by all other Division One schools due to 37 outstanding arrest warrants and an inability to spell his name correctly on the SATs. He scored 41 of his team’s 53 points, as well as sixteen of Boise Southern’s points when he became confused concerning which basket was his and threw down eight separate thunderous dunks on the wrong goal.

“He’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer,” said coach Curley, “but he generally scores more for us than for the other team if we keep him pointed in the right direction.”

Boise Southern’s leading scorer (aside from Scheinblum-O’Shaughnessy) was freshman point guard Jud Jenkins, with twelve points. Immediately following the game, Jenkins declared himself eligible for the next NBA draft.

“I most likely don’t have a hope in hell of making an NBA team, but if I go to training camp and get cut, I can probably fool some Italian or French league into thinking I’m worth signing,” said Jenkins.  When asked if remaining in school and getting his diploma might not be a better option, he said, “Not a chance. All I have to do is fool one European millionaire into thinking I’m hot stuff and I’ll be set for the next ten years. The best I could get with a diploma from this place is a job selling sheep door-to-door.”

Scheinblum-O’Shaughnessy was asked whether he might follow a similar path and declare for the draft.

“Don’t know nothin’ ‘bout that. Coach say put a ball in the hole and he get me pile o' burgers and shit.” He then stood up, walked toward the showers, and knocked himself cold when his head crashed into the top of a doorframe.

“Oh, Jesus, not again…”, said coach Curley.

A tournament official, under promise of anonymity, said that it is getting harder and harder to find teams willing to divest themselves of all dignity in vainglorious pursuit of a championship with less meaning than a bucket of warm spit. He said that next year they may begin inviting mail-order diploma mills.

“I hope we can keep Mustafa conscious long enough next season to make the NCAA’s,” said Curley, “Otherwise, I might have to take that job down at the DMV my brother-in-law keeps telling me about. I don’t know how much more of this humiliation I can take.”

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Give Me An Answer, Get Some Rambling

For a couple of reasons, I feel like writing about comedy teams.

1) My niece, Avaroo, seems to have taken a liking to Laurel & Hardy. Here's what her mother said about it, on Facebook, a week ago.

"Ava's up watching Laurel and Hardy. She finds them to be hysterical. I find them creepy."

I, on the other hand, opined that Avarooo had superb taste. After reading the rest of this, should you have any brain remaining, I would like to hear your opinion.

2)  My wonderful friend, Daryl, and her husband, Ray (who gets no link because he has no blog, but he'll get a link below, because... well, you'll see) made my Easter pleasanter than it otherwise would have been.

Here's the thing: MY WIFE and I picked up nasty colds on Good Friday. We're not positive where we picked them up - our best guess is at breakfast, which we had outside of the house - but we both came down with a cold at the exact same moment on Good Friday. As a result, we did not travel to visit relatives on Easter, as we had planned, but instead stayed home and snuffled up snot.

It was a rather miserable weekend, all things outside of Our Lord's resurrection considered, and would have been much more miserable except for Daryl & Ray. I'll let the following e-mail I sent to those two fine people tell you the story: 

Daryl, Ray:

So, this morning, we're watching CBS Sunday Morning, and it comes to a commercial break. We've both been sick since Friday; very bad colds. I decide that I'll step outside to have half a cigarette, get a little fresh air (I know; talk about oxymorons!), and feel the sun on this Easter morning. Since we're sick, we cancelled going to my cousin's place, which we always enjoy tremendously on the holy day. We're both feeling pretty down. The Easter Bunny did not make his usual rounds to our place... :-)

I step outside the front door and I see that some mail has been left on the porch. Since mail had been pushed through our mail slot, into the house, yesterday, this was a surprise. The mail is an envelope too big to fit through the slot, and it has a return address with which I'm not familiar. I light up my smoke and open the envelope.

And then I am thrilled, and delighted, and happier than I've been all weekend. It is something sweet and special in the envelope.

So, I thank you both (and Andrew) for being our wonderful Easter Bunnies, delivering this wholly unexpected mitzvah.


You may be asking yourself a few questions, such as...

a) What was in the envelope? 

b) Who in hell is Andrew?

c) Pray tell, what is a mitzvah?

Here are the answers:

a) Inside the envelope was a DVD.

b) Andrew is Ray's comedy team partner.

c) A Mitzvah is a favor, and that's what you'll be doing yourself if you go to You Tube and view the many wonderful short films that Ray Edelstein and Andrew Johns have made together.

There are more than twenty such films there, and each one is a small gem of comedy team magic. Andrew Johns is a tremendous writer. Both guys have tremendous timing. And I personally guarantee at least one laugh-out-loud moment per film (there will probably be many more than one, but I'll stake my reputation - what little there is of it - on at least one.)

So, I expect you to go there, watch some films, enjoy yourself, and then leave a comment or two saying how much you enjoyed the films (feedback is the best way to get them to make more, I think, unless you're connected in some way to HBO or Showtime or some other outlet that should be snapping these guys up to do a regular series of some sort, in which case that would be the best way to get them to make more and I only want the job doing the voice-overs if this actually results in that happening.)

So, go there, do that. Before you go, though, here's what the title of this piece means. I want to know your favorite comedy team(s). The next time I show up here (heaven only knows when that will be, given the spotty way I've been popping in here lately) I'll try to have something to say about every team you mention. If that threat isn't enough to make you dread the future, I don't know what would be.

Soon, with stuff (but only if you leave a comment here) and more better stuff (if you leave a comment there, probably.)