Wednesday, July 31, 2013


[Image from HERE. Obviously, she had a mouthful of arrows.]

When someone sneezes, what do you say?

Lots of people say "Gesundheit". That's German for something, but I'll be damned if I know what. Anyway, I don't know why we Americans are using foreign words when a perfectly fine alternative such as "God bless you" exists. Not only does it let the sneezer know you care, it let's them know you're not German and it also pisses off any atheists in the general vicinity. Win-Win-Win!

Actually, MY WIFE and I were discussing this the other day, and...

(Oh, heck, I guess I have to tell you that I don't really have anything against Germans. They're swell folks. Could I possibly not like any country that gave me sauerbraten? No. And, also, yes, MY WIFE and I really were discussing sneezing. We live an exciting life.)

Anyway, one of us - I forget who, but it doesn't matter unless you're thinking of having one of us committed - said, "I think it would be really cool if, instead of 'Gesundheit!' or 'God bless you!', people said 'Woo-Hoo!' when someone sneezed."

First Guy: "Achoo!"

Other Person: "Woo-Hoo!"

Wouldn't that be excellent? Imagine you're in a public setting, say in a subway car, and someone sneezes. Currently, a few people would mumble "bless you" under their breath. But, if it was OK to yell "Woo-Hoo!" almost everybody in the train would do it, there would be smiles all around, and everybody's day would be brighter. Tell the truth. You'd actually look forward to people sneezing. You might even fake one once in a while just to hear people let loose with a bunch of "Woo-Hoo!"

(Yeah, true, we might still want to use 'bless you' at funerals, but, then again, maybe not. I'm willing to bet that a whole slew of "Woo-Hoo!" might even cheer up a grieving widow. It's worth a shot.)

Go ahead. You know you want to. When someone sneezes today, give them a "Woo-Hoo!" What's the worst that's going to happen? You'll probably get a smile or two, and maybe we can start a movement.

Soon, with more better [*snuff*]

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Mr. Happy Softball

Sorry about the other day. Every so often, government gets under my skin. In most instances, I exorcise myself by playing ball (it's about the only form of exorcising I can stand.) When I haven't played ball in a while, I have to release my pent up frustrations by writing about whatever's bothering me. And, more often than not, I use vile language in an attempt to release my demons as quickly as possible (the demons seem to like dirty words, so I spew them and the demons follow them out of my mouth and everybody's happy for a while.)

I had two softball games rained out last week. That's what led to my being so unreasonably sour. Now that I've played two, I'm much more relaxed. I'm once again a happy sort of dog; relaxed and basically uncaring that the feds might be listening into my phone conversations and reading my e-mail and...

I'd better get on with the softball before I fall back into my evil ways.

SOUTHSIDE TAVERN vs. The Warehouse - Rained Out
SOUTHSIDE TAVERN vs. Telegraph Hill - Rained Out

It's all an evil plot. The Feds are in league with mad scientists who made it rain in South Boston! They did it just to prod me into writing stuff they can use against me in a treason trial later on, the basta... sons of guns.

Moving right along...

BOMBERS - 22  Renegades - 4
BOMBERS - 14  Renegades - 6

We run our record to 16 and 2, clinching first place in our division, and we now will receive a first-round bye in the playoffs. We have two regular season games remaining. Those are next Sunday, against the Titans, and may be a preview of the championship series. The Titans are currently undefeated, at 18 and 0. If we can hand them their first defeat, it would go a long way toward proving that we can win this whole thing. It would also give them a bit of doubt for their heads to wrap around if we meet them in the finals.

I had an interesting day. I drew 5 walks, giving me 17 on the season and a tie with the all-time single-season club record. Unfortunately...

(Well, actually it's very fortunate. It means the team is kicking ass, which is the important thing.)

... Pat Atton had four walks of his own, giving him 19 on the season, breaking the record (formerly held by Mike Martin, 17, in 2004). At least one of us should easily get 20, maybe 25. That's called smart hitting; take what they give you.

(The team, as a whole, has plain SICK walk-to-strikeout numbers. 112 walks, 5 strikeouts. That's too ridiculous to even think about. We're the most patient team in the league and it's paying off.)

Pat also stands only 6 shy of the record for runs scored in a season (35, by Scott Sarro, way back in 1997.)

Mark Preziosi continues to annihilate opposing pitching. He went 7 for 9 in the doubleheader, two triples, a home run, and most of it done with a sore hammy. He's a beast.

(For those of you wondering, that's a good thing to call a player. It's not a good thing to call your wife or girlfriend, though.)

BOMBERS Statistics

We have outscored the opposition 227 to 75 so far this season. That's an average of about 14 to 5 each game. Next week we get to find out if all these amazing numbers we're putting up mean anything. It's time to take the field against the big boys.

Soon, with more better stuff (I hope).

Friday, July 26, 2013


Which, of course, stands for "No Softball Anywhere", because I promised you that and (despite all evidence to the contrary) I am a man of my word. Actually, today it will be two words, followed by some initials.


I have no doubt this will put me on their A list. I hope so. The more I can keep them busy with my bullshit, the safer the rest of you will be from their prying eyes and ears.

So, now that Congress has sold our right to privacy down the river, the feds want to gather up all of our passwords and start checking our e-mail.

If they get my passwords, I'll be glad to let them look at some of my mail. They can handle all of the penis enlargement ads. Of course, those sorts of ads would do the folks at the NSA no good whatsoever. They're already the biggest dicks in the country.

Perhaps they'd like to finance their unconstitutional activities via the many billions of dollars being offered to me by Nigerian lawyers?

Am I being too harsh? Is there a good reason for them to root through my personal thoughts and my private letters and my intimate conversations? Maybe allowing them to do so will avert some sort of terrorist plot. If lives can be saved, I should just shut up and stop being such a wise ass, right?



This country has a Bill Of Rights for a reason. And that reason is the same for every single bit of that document. It is in place and in force to KEEP THE ASSHOLES IN GOVERNMENT FROM INTERFERING WITH OUR PRIVATE LIVES. Every sentence in The Bill Of Rights was put in there for the specific purpose of limiting the powers of the government. If you don't believe that, then you haven't actually read it. For those who doubt, or perhaps need a refresher, here it is, complete and unabridged. Read it that way while you still can (and I'd suggest paying particular attention to Amendments I & IV. Of course, Amendment II is what holds the entire thing together; without it, we rely on the good faith of those in power.)

Before you read, though, I'd like to make a suggestion. If you believe as I do - that the government is far overstepping its bounds these days - how about letting them know how you feel? Write something similar to this, for instance, and post it, then ask all of your friends to do the same. Or do something truly fun, such as answering your phone with "Hello! If the NSA is listening, Fuck You!" Or maybe just forward all of your junk e-mail to the government and see how long it takes before some goons with guns come to your door.

We're truly approaching the edge of the cliff, folks, and we're being pushed there. If we don't start pushing back, you know where we're headed.

Soon, but I guarantee nothing.


Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Amendment II

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Amendment III

No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Amendment V

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Amendment VI

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

Amendment VII

In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Amendment VIII

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Amendment IX

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment X

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Sully's Corner

I write a semi-regular feature over at the M Street Softball League website. It's called Sully's Corner. I take a few hundred words to describe recent happenings in the league or something interesting about softball that tickled my fancy.

This week, I wrote about the state championships which were held at M Street Park last weekend. If you feel you aren't getting enough softball here, hop over there and get your fix.

If you've had more than enough softball, take heart. I promise you something non-softball on Friday.

Until then, keep your eye on the ball, clear your hips, and follow through.

Soon, with less batter stuff.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Softball Week In Review!

I know. Some of you want to run away. That's OK. I understand. Go to The Boston Herald and read about my encounter with a shaved black cat. While this is going to be all about softball, that only mentions softball a little bit.

All right. If you're still here, I have to assume you want to find out about every little detail of my life in softball this week. Bless you. We'll start with the M Street Softball League.

(By the way, if you just plain can't get enough of me writing about softball, here's my article that appeared in South Boston Today last week. If you come here regularly, you'll probably remember most of it. Don't let that stop you. My writing is like fine wine. Take in enough of it and your head spins, then you puke. No, wait a minute - that's not what I meant to say. It gets better with age, just like old smelly cheese!)

SOUTHSIDE TAVERN - 13  Lincoln Tavern - 5
Playwright - 9  SOUTHSIDE TAVERN - 8
Shenannigans - 13  SOUTHSIDE TAVERN - 1

Obviously, the opening game is what I would like to see every time. Everything worked. We got good pitching, good fielding, timely hitting, it was a coach's dream.

The second game was one we should have won without too much trouble. We had one of those innings that gives a coach nightmares. In the third, we literally gave Playwright 8 outs. There were 5 errors in the inning. Playwright scored 7 runs, only one of those runs was earned, and we trailed 7 to 2. Playwright made it 8 - 2 on another unearned run in the 5th. We got that one back in the bottom of the 5th, but also left the bases loaded. In the bottom of the 6th, we rallied for five runs. Pat Pickup's two-run homer tied it. Then the next batter walked.

At this point, we have a runner on first with one out and you need to understand something. We had drawn 8 walks so far in the game. I had been telling every person on the bench to make the pitcher work, take a strike, this was not a guy who was going to blow it by anyone and if we gave him enough rope, he'd hang himself. That's exactly what he was doing, too. If one of our guys worked the count, he might not draw a walk, but that wasn't necessarily the goal. If you draw the walk, great, but the goal is to get the pitcher so paranoid about walking you that he starts lobbing huge cream puffs over the heart of the plate and then you go to town. So, what do the next two batters do, with the go-ahead run on first and they're facing a pitcher who is ready to either walk the ballpark or deliver a big fat pitch when you work the count to 2 - 1 or 3 - 1? Yeah, of course. They swing at the first pitch. One delivered a grounder to short that was close to a double play, and then the other guy popped up.

I said, "Goodness gracious, guys! That was a bit of hard luck! We'll get them next time, old chaps!"

Uh, no. I almost popped a vein and spit out my dentures with the force of the swears that left my mouth. I had only been saying, for the last three innings, make him work, take a strike, and on and on and on. No sense going into any more particulars. I'm sure you understand.

(For folks who are reading this blog for the first time, I want to make sure you notice I mention no names. I never give names of people who do bad things. I only give names of players who do good stuff. All bad stuff is done anonymously in this blog. So, if you were one of the guys I'm talking about, nobody reading this will know it's you unless you're truly stupider than a bag full of rocks and you decide to talk about it yourself, thus giving away your identity.)

Of course, Playwright scratches out a run in the top of the 7th, taking the lead, and we were unable to get the equalizer (although, in our half, with a runner on and two outs, Pat Dolbeare hit a shot to left that I was sure was going to at least tie the game, probably win it, but their left fielder made a fantastic diving grab going to his left and that was that. Great catch to end it and all you can do at that point is line up and shake their hands. We had every opportunity to win that game, it didn't happen, and ARRRRGGGGHHHH.)

The third game was just Mike Hoadley stomping on us. He's a pitcher for Shenannigans, and one of the best. We were missing our biggest guns (some guys are competing in multiple leagues at the moment and there was a scheduling conflict.) A few of my players had never seen pitching of the sort Mike showed them. He struck out 13, gave up only two hits (one of them a home run by Billy Botting, accounting for our lone run), and the game wasn't really in doubt at any point.

(For what it's worth, I made my actual playing debut at M Street this season during that game, giving Billy Botting the 7th inning off. I caught that inning, then relinquished my spot in the batting order back to Billy, since he had hit a home run his previous at-bat. So I still show no at-bats for the year, but I have played.)


For the Bombers, life continues to be good.

BOMBERS - 19  Moe Howard Club - 1
BOMBERS - 14  Moe Howard Club - 7

That puts us at 14 and 2. A win in any of our last four games (or one loss by the Renegades) clinches first place in our division (and a bye in the first round of the playoffs.)

Lots of good stuff happened. Everybody did something that made the wins happen. I'll talk about a couple of the guys who were outstanding.

Big Jay Atton ran his record to 7 - 0. That's a great won-loss record, but the most impressive thing about his pitching thus far is his 1.97 ERA. By all rights he could have three shutouts this season, but he has none. He gave up one run in each of those outings, only one of which was earned (today's).

Mark Preziosi continues to rip the ball. He had 4 doubles to go along with his team-leading 5th home run. And his play at shortstop is just as impressive.

Pat Atton continues to pile up the OB%. Five bases-on-balls, and 3 for 4 when he swung the bat.

Robbie Costello came in to throw four innings of shutout relief in game two, earning the win there.

And Joey Baszkiewicz again got whacked in the knee while catching. Here's the thing about that. We have three catchers on the roster, basically - Joey, Dave Nutter, and me. Dave Nutter has missed two weeks. Each time he's been unavailable, Joey has been crippled and I've had to take over behind the plate. And each time, something has happened to me, also. I had a small train wreck in the second game, when a throw to the plate arrived just a fraction of a second too late for me to grab it and put on a tag, the runner sliding into my ankles and sending me down for a nine count, while the ball itself hit me just below the rib cage. I think Nutter not being there is somehow responsible for this carnage. It's some kind of catcher karma. He should buy Joey a six to make up for his having to limp through his mail route this week.

My day? I was 1 for 3, with 4 walks, couple of runs scored, an RBI. Nothing outstanding, but good enough to keep things moving around to the top of the order.


Bottom line for the future? Things will get better in Southie on the weekdays. As long as we don't implode on Sunday, we're looking good. As always, getting to play at all, at my age, is a blessing.

Soon, with more batter stuff.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Meanwhile, Back At The Herald...

I did! I did! I did taw a puddy tat!

You know the drill. Go there. Read. If you like it, leave a comment saying so. If you don't like it, sneak away quietly without them noticing. And I thank you.

Soon, with meow better stuff.

(Yeah, I know. I just used that one a couple of days ago. What can I say? It fits.)

Thursday, July 18, 2013

I Can Die Happy Now (I'm Not Going To Die, So Don't Send Flowers, But If I Wanted To, I Could)

DISCLAIMER: I suppose I'm going to die sometime. Just not today (unless God has a wicked sense of humor, which I believe He does, so I'll just shut up and get on with it.)

Today, I received the latest issue of Funny Times in the mail. My name is on the front page. It is also listed on the back page, under "Features". This is because some of my writing appears on page 14.

You, of course, should run out and buy a gazillion copies.

The reason I can now die happy is because my name is in both of the previously mentioned places along with Dave Barry, Andy Borowitz, and other of my heroes in the field of humor. There are only 8 pages separating Dave Barry and me. That practically makes us roomies as far as I'm concerned. If nothing else ever happens in my life, I can now have my gravestone say, "Contemporary of Dave Barry."

I will also have a piece running in the Boston Herald this weekend. It will probably run in the same general vicinity as something by Bill O'Reilly. Even though I'm a big-time well-paid humorous contemporary of Dave Barry, I'll let you make your own joke.

I am now going to spend the rest of the afternoon basking in my glory. I'll be too busy admiring myself to answer the phone, so don't call (unless you're Dave Barry, because you are my equal, after all, and - I'm not making this up - you aren't Bill O'Reilly.)

Soon, with more better stuff.

P.S. I have nothing personal against Bill O'Reilly. However, is he in this month's issue of Funny Times? No. So I win.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

If You Don't Find This Amusing, Have Some Cookies

In honor of a couple of things, I present you with the following.

Thing #1...

An internet acquaintance was looking for suggestions concerning foods for his cat. I suggested watermelon. I was NOT being facetious.

I once owned a cat who adored watermelon. Any time I would have a slice, he would sidle up next to me and meow for some. The first couple of times he did so, I more-or-less ignored him. I said, "Silly cat! You don't want watermelon! I'll give you some mackerel after I'm done."

Finally, perhaps the third time he jumped up on the table and meowed for the watermelon, I said, "Okay, dopey, I'll give you a little piece, but you're going to be disappointed."

I broke off a tiny bit of the fruit and held it out for him. He gobbled it up, then meowed for more. I sliced off a couple of larger hunks and proffered them. He chomped on them greedily, even licking up the juices after the solid stuff had disappeared down his gullet. It was so much fun to see a cat lusting for watermelon, I gave him half of my slice, rind and all. He attacked it, devoured it down to the rind, and then he gnawed on that for a while, too. When the watermelon was completely gone, he seemed to be as sad as I was (and I was pretty sad, too, because I had given half of my watermelon to him.)

After that, whenever I had watermelon, I would cut him up a small bowl of it, and he'd dive into it with the sort of fervor usually reserved for female cats in heat. I've never seen another cat with such a taste for watermelon.


Speaking of cats, I once tried smoking catnip.

This was during my more experimental drug days, as you might imagine. I was temporarily out of the sort of weed I usually smoked, and the catnip was handy. I figured, what the hell? Cats seem to have a great time with it, maybe I'll discover something really excellent and a bargain besides. I rolled a small catnip joint, lit it up, and took a cautious toke.

After waiting a minute, and seeing that I didn't die or go into a fit, I took another draw on it. The taste wasn't entirely unpleasant - nor was it something I'd do again just for that aspect of it. I checked all of the usual suspects for signs that something useful might be happening - paranoia; obsession with small details; unfunny things becoming hilarious; the delights of music multiplying exponentially. I came up blank. Nothing.

Well, I shouldn't really say "nothing." I had the strangest craving for watermelon...


Speaking of watermelon, you're familiar with Murphy's Law, right? In case you need a refresher, here it is:

Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.

Since the time when Murphy first uttered those words - probably after downing eight or nine pints, and then finding that his zipper was stuck - there have been a multitude of additions, addenda, and analyses from other philosopher types. For instance...

O'Toole's Commentary on Murphy's Law - Murphy was an optimist.

... which has always been my favorite.

I recently unearthed a few more.

Klink's Theory of Relativity - All tragedy, no matter how horrendous, will eventually become comic material.

Ramone's Law of Reduction - Everything can be simplified, and usually to good effect.

Moe's Dictum Regarding Free Speech - Just because you're free to say whatever you want, that doesn't mean you won't get a ripsaw dragged across your noggin for having done so.

Curly's Corollary to Moe's Dictum - N'yuk! N'yuk! N'yuk! Ow!

Fluffy's Valid Observation - There's a reason they call it catnip, Jim. As a matter of fact, it's the same reason why they call the stuff that gets you off, "dope". Hey! Is that watermelon? Yum!


Speaking of segues, I don't have one. However, let's finish this off with...

Sullivan's Suggestions for Happy Living

Never stand if you can sit.

Never sit if you can lie down.

Never run when you can walk.

Never walk when you can ride.

If somebody is perfectly happy pulling your wagon, it makes little sense for you to get out and push.

Cookies make everything better.

And, if you find yourself with the opportunity to take a pee, what are you gonna gain if you don't? Of course, if you ate less watermelon, you wouldn't have to pee so often.


Speaking of Google, if you enter "Cat Watermelon" in a search for images, you will come up with an amazing assortment of photos to choose from. Who knew? The one I chose to adorn the top of this page came from Epic Pics Of Win. I would have assumed LOLCATS, but I smoke catnip. What do I know?

Soon, with meow better stuff.

P.S. Thing #2 is that I will have a piece in the Boston Herald this weekend (unless they come to their senses between now and then.) The tenuous connection with what appears above is that it is a story involving a cat. I should also warn those of you who were delighted to find out I wasn't going on and on about softball that I do mention it, but only a smidge. Anyway, I'll give a link here when it actually sees print.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

M Street

Tonight is the opening night of play in the M Street Softball League. This marks the 43rd season since it began. From the league website...

The league began play in 1970 when Ray Flynn [later Mayor of Boston, beginning in 1983, and I bet you'd be hard-pressed to find another softball league that can boast that - Jim] and "Bucky" Feeney came up with the brilliant idea of starting a league for returning South Bostonians who had served in Vietnam. With the guidance of Flynn and Feeney, M Street Softball grew beyond belief in the late seventies and into the early eighties. In fact, the league was so successful that on many a night one couldn't find a seat in the packed grandstands.

It has been my pleasure to be a (minor) part of the league since 1999. I'll be in the stands tonight. I'll be on the field tomorrow.

Since this is July, and such things as baseball and softball usually start in April or May, you may be wondering why the season is beginning on such a late date. Play at M Street usually begins much earlier, but the field was completely dug up by the city, re-sodded, given a new drainage system, and other cosmetic improvements, and wasn't ready to go until last week. It will be a somewhat short season. It will be contested just as fiercely as any other season, though, I can guarantee you that.

M Street may be the best fast-pitch softball league in the state. Certainly, some of the best talent in the state competes in it. Many of the players who participate at M Street travel out-of-state to play in prestigious tournaments of one sort or another. Folks who have trod the field at M Street have also participated with teams vying for national championships.

There is quite a history associated with the league. That is, there are actual records to refer to if one has a penchant for such things. I enjoy that sort of stuff. For instance, I like browsing the lists of past champions and Most Valuable Players. Some quick stats:

The L Street Tavern team is credited with the most championships in league history - 6

The most consecutive championships won has been 4, with Sidewalk Cafe taking it from 2000 - 2003, and Shennanigans (that's the way they spell it) having tied that record last season. They will be back this year for an attempt to break that mark.

Larry Lucas, an amazing pitcher, holds the mark for most MVP awards - 4

(I batted against Lucas once, in the twilight of his career, and he set me down on three straight swings. He had a vicious rise. I'm pretty sure I swung under all three pitches.)

I look down the list of former MVPs and see that anywhere from 5 to 7 of them will be competing this year at M Street (I'm not completely sure of a couple of them being there.) I know that one of them, the living legend, John Gregorio, will be pitching for my squad this year (Southside Tavern). John won the award three times. He has been a dominant pitcher in the league for years. Here's hoping Johnny G can crank it up again for at least one more title run.

(Here's where I get to brag a little and make up for the Lucas story. It will be at John's expense, but we're teammates now and I hope he won't mind. My first game batting against John resulted in a 3 for 4 night for me, including a triple. After the triple, a teammate of mine asked me how in hell I hit the nasty curve John had thrown. I was honest. I said, "I closed my eyes and swung as hard as I could just in case I connected.")

 [George Pratt, who had two of the most dominating seasons I have ever seen.
Check out these stat lines, then remember this is softball, not baseball.
Year Team          W  L IP   H  R  ER BB  K  ERA
2002 Sidewalk Café 21 3 149 167 81 52 33 100 2.44
2003 Sidewalk Café 18 0 133 116 48 37 21 117 1.95
That's a combined 39 - 3, with 217 strikeouts. Phew!]

This is no toss-it-in-over-the-plate-on-an-arc league. This is mens modified fast pitch (and barely modified, believe me.) The league leader in strikeouts has topped 100 often. No-Hitters will be thrown occasionally. On most evenings, it is damn good ball being played.

I wrote a sort of 'love letter' to the league and it was posted on the website. If you'd like to read about some of the more personal reasons I have for loving it, why not travel on over and give it a read?

My Love Letter To M Street

I could go on, but if you want more you know where to go. And if you can't stand any more you know where to go, too.

Games are at 6:30 and 8:15 on Wednesday and Thursday this week. See you at the park?

Soon, with more better stuff.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

The 4th of July Parade

With Independence Day coming on Thursday, I thought I might tell you about the parade I saw last year.

I found myself in the small town of Areola. It's a quaint little burg, the sort you see on picture postcards of New England. It has the requisite white steeple of a Protestant church peeking over leafy green trees; local businesses - an ice cream parlor, a barber shop, a locally-owned pharmacy, a hardware store that smells like a hardware store – lining Main Street; a two-story brick schoolhouse containing all classes from kindergarten through eighth grade; and a Little League baseball field sitting just off to the side of the school. The surrounding countryside is dotted with farmland, and it was quite pleasant to drive into town with the windows down, listening to the occasional "Moo!" from a cow, while the melody of chirping birds carried on the warm summer breeze.

I was hungry, so I decided to stop and eat at a joint called Tom's Diner. It appeared to be the sort of place where one might get a decent roast beef sandwich, side of mashed potatoes, savory brown gravy, maybe a nice slice of blueberry pie for dessert, and then some strong coffee for the road. I pulled into a parking spot, went up to the door, and found, much to my dismay, that it was closed for the July 4th holiday. I was on the way back to my car when I heard the sound of a marching band. I walked toward the sound. Two blocks over, I came upon a street lined on both sides with people waving flags and cheering. It seems I was just in time for Areola's Independence Day Parade. I stood transfixed as various floats, bands, military formations, and other parade participants came by, each with a message concerning freedom.

First up was a flatbed truck loaded with people denouncing various members of state, federal, and local government. They shouted obscenities and racial epithets at one another while flipping the bird to we who were spectators. While quite vociferous, they did not come to blows, nor did the people being given the finger seem to take much offense. As a matter of fact, they smiled heartily and returned the gestures with some vehemence. As the rear of the truck came into view, I saw that it sported a sign saying "Sticks And Stones May Break My Bones, But Words Will Never Hurt Me!"

A float, festooned with lovely pink and purple flowers, followed behind. Twelve people occupied the float - 7 men and 5 women - and it was divided into four separate areas made to look like the insides of various buildings. In one of the mock buildings, a man and a woman were being married by a Presbyterian minister. In another, two men were being joined in civil union by a Justice of the Peace. The third little building contained two women being hitched by a Wiccan. The remaining three people, in the fourth building, showed neither delight nor distaste, carried no placards or banners showing favoritism toward one religious practice or non-religious belief system, and in general gave the sense that the practices of the others, so long as they did not foist their beliefs on them, affected them not in the least.

Next up was a cadre of marching backyard barbecue chefs. They were deliberately serving very rare hamburgers accompanied by fries cooked in trans-fat-laden oil. Meanwhile, vegetarians strode alongside, munching tofu burgers and enjoying plates of delightfully crunchy crudités and dip. Some of each drank beer, while others sipped wine, downed soft drinks, or enjoyed milkshakes variously made from whole milk, 2%, 1%, and soy. There was some good-natured ribbing concerning the supposed health risks (or benefits) of the other participant's food choices, but everybody seemed to understand that so long as they weren't being force-fed what they didn't want to eat, it was really none of their business what somebody else put into his or her mouth.

Fifteen bearded and bell-bottomed hippies came running up the street. They scattered among the crowd, flicking lighters and burning every American flag in sight. The crowd of citizens did not cheer, nor did they try to enact laws forbidding the practice. However, fifteen veterans of war followed behind, somberly replacing every flag that had been burned. As they did so, they gave a very short speech about how they had specifically fought so that the freedom to do such things as protest via flag burning would be allowed, but that they were very proud of their flag and would see to it that each burned one would be replaced by a new one. Seeing that both sides of an argument could easily be made without interference from government or legislation, the veterans and the hippies marched off arm-in-arm as the assembled throng cheered lustily.

Speaking of lust, next up was the Salute To Pornography float. A large movie screen adorned each side, and extremely graphic images were being continuously shown. However, those people who had no desire to see such things could turn away and ignore it. In order to be fair to the more prudish members of the audience, a loudspeaker on the float blared out: "Here comes the porno! If you don't want to see it, shut your eyes! If you don't want to hear it, go "Lalalalalalalala!" for the next minute or so! If you don't want your kids to see or hear it, tell them to shut their eyes and go "Lalalalalalalala!" for the next minute or so! Please move to the back of the crowd and face the other way while doing so, though, since you don't want to ruin the enjoyment of anyone else! Thank you!"

The float rolled by without major incident (a few teens were reluctant to follow parental orders, but were dragged away before they could be gratified to a greater extent than their parents wished.)
I was enjoying myself immensely. A cigarette, I felt, would make my circle of happiness complete. I asked the person to my right if she minded if I smoked. She replied, "I don't care if you burn!" Having gotten the go-ahead from her, I turned to the person on my left and asked if he'd mind. He said that he had a slight asthmatic condition and would prefer that I not light up near him. Totally reasonable response, so, rather than inconvenience him, I removed myself to the back of the crowd and lit up there, blowing my smoke away from everyone.

(On the way, I tapped a few "Lalalalalalalala" folks on the shoulder and let them know that the porn float had gone by. They thanked me for thinking of them, and then asked me if they had missed anything. "Not too much," I responded. "There were some folks walking unlicensed dogs, and a car full of people making jokes about TSA's.")

After I finished my smoke, I returned to my spot at the front (graciously saved for me by the man whose asthma I didn't exacerbate. Ironically, I didn't get to see the Burning Leaves Without A Permit float, and he had to use his inhaler twice while it went by.)

Another loudspeaker announcement was heard: "Here come the women who believe they should have the same rights as men! They're wearing no tops! If you don't want to see titties, turn your heads!" Most of the folks who were returning from not having watched the porno float sighed and walked back to their former non-viewing spots at the back of the crowd. I felt a bit sorry for them, but then my attention was drawn by the marching boobs. Hubba-Hubba! Sure, there were a few grannies with droopies (and more power to them) as well as a few folks whose breasts were smaller than mine (I'm a 42-A) but the lovely variety of sizes, shapes, sways, bounces, and colors was absolutely dazzling. It was one of the best troops of tits (that's the scientific term) that I've ever had the pleasure of seeing in action.

After the breasts came a collection of Priests, Rabbis, Ministers, Imams, Monks, Practitioners, Nuns, Ascetics, and other assorted religious folk. They were all saying prayers of one stripe or another, with each one realizing that, since his or her deity was the only real one, it didn't matter a whit what the other folks were saying since it was all just talk, so why not let them babble as much as they want and who is it going to hurt? 
Some atheists tagged along behind. They joked a bit about those in front of them, but not to the extent that anyone had reason to get angry.

The parade was nearing an end. I could see two more floats coming.

The first was filled with AK-47s, pistols, slingshots, canisters of pepper spray, nunchuks, rifles, nail guns, ice picks, machetes, cricket bats, and knives. All of the various weapons were NOT in the hands of people and thus were entirely harmless. Those riding the float were explaining to the crowd that expertise with these implements could be an effective deterrent to violent crime, dictatorship, and other assorted nasty and selfish acts. A copy of the Second Amendment was prominently displayed, and the riders took great pains to point out that it's always better to actually know how to operate your weapon safely - loading and unloading the guns in a safe fashion, taking apart the more complicated weaponry and putting it back together, knowing how such things as safeties worked, sheathing the knives without cutting off any body parts, and also not inadvertently putting out someone's eye with the slingshots, for example -  than to rush out, willy-nilly, to buy one while thinking there's no chance that you won't destroy a loved one with it.

The last float was done up in tie-dye, with lava lamps strewn about, and had humongous speakers blasting Led Zeppelin, Bob Marley, and Snoop Dogg. The riders on the float were tossing huge fatties of marijuana into the crowd. Those folks who liked pot were lighting up (after first asking the folks next to them if it was OK, of course) and those who didn't like the effect just ignored the joints in the street.

(A few people in wheelchairs and hospital beds followed behind, some being assisted along the route with the aid of friends. They gathered up the leftover weed, toked up, and had some of their most heinous pains and ailments relieved almost immediately. I tossed them the handful of bones I had picked up.)

At the very end of the parade was the Mayor of Areola. He was riding in a 1997 Chevy Blazer, not a limousine, and he was doing the driving himself. His paycheck, equal to the average net income of all residents and thus inexorably tied to the prosperity his administration brought to the town, was proudly displayed. I hadn't noticed the reviewing stand across the street from where I stood. The Mayor pulled up to it and got out, then mounted the steps to the stage. He stepped up to the microphone and said...

"Fellow citizens of Areola, Happy Independence Day! I'm glad you've had a good time at our celebration, but, as you know, true freedom must be coupled with personal responsibility. We are really only free if we are willing to accept the consequences of our actions. If you get drunk, you have no right to piss and moan about the hangover you might have the next day. And none of us is truly free unless we are willing to extend to our fellow men and women the same freedoms we truly crave. So, please go forth, with love and respect, for all whose beliefs and actions may differ from yours, understanding that they are likely to afford you that same love and respect if you do so. In other words, do unto others as you would have them do unto you. And know that every time you build a jail, the possibility exists that someday you might be the one thrown into it. Thank you!"

The crowd reacted with hearty applause, then dispersed peacefully as fireworks erupted in the background. I had to be in Perineum before nightfall - it's almost exactly halfway between Boston and New York City - so I walked back to my car, got in, and drove off.

Later that evening, as I lay in bed in my motel room watching the 11 o'clock news, I saw that every last citizen of Areola had been arrested and the federal government had declared martial law in the town. It seems that what I thought was a fireworks display had actually been the local Internal Revenue Service office being blown up.

Oh, well. I still say it was the best 4th of July parade I've ever seen.

Soon, with more better stuff.