Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Boston Herald Likes Me! They Really Like Me!

Excuse me for going all Sally Field in my headline, but it's appropriate. One day after my public display of depression, the Boston Herald (may their tribe - and their readership - increase!) published my piece about baseball and family.

Here it is for your reading pleasure!

Thank you, Herald! And thank YOU for your continued support!

(As usual, kind comments at the website are appreciated. When I receive the Nobel for literature later this year, everybody is invited to my place for pizza!)

Soon, with more better stuff.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

My Coffee Does NOT Deliver A Check

Here's how this freelance writer thing works:

1 - I write.

2 - I send what I wrote to an editor I think might appreciate it.

3 - An average of about five times out of six, the editor doesn't.

4 - I become extremely depressed, then repeat step 2 until I sell the damn thing.

If, after a reasonable number of attempts at selling it result in continued depression, I move on to step 5. I pull the piece from circulation and to hell with it. However, if I still believe it has value, I will sometimes publish it here.

The following is one of those pieces. It was returned to me just moments ago accompanied by a rejection slip. I still think it's good, but I'm not going to send it to any more editors. I hope you enjoy it.

It is called...

My Coffee Delivers a Check

Tragedy has befallen me, but I'm going to attempt to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.

Here's what just happened: I was making coffee and I somehow managed to pull the entire works – glass carafe, boiling hot water, coffee grounds, filter, metal tea kettle, etc. - onto both myself and the kitchen floor. There is wet coffee and broken glass everywhere, spreading out from the point of impact like some sort of insane caffeinated Jackson Pollack canvas. I have burns on my arm and my tuchus.

(Yes, even Irishmen have tuchusses and mine was burned because my reflexes were good enough to make me turn my back while the coffee pot was in midair, thus avoiding burns on a different Yiddish word I have no doubt my editor won't allow.)

As I write, most of the carnage remains in place. I will let the coffee and water and glass just sit on the linoleum, thank you, until it has cooled and I no longer risk further heat-related injury. In the meantime, I have no coffee to drink. That is a far greater tragedy to this writer than burns and broken glass.

(Here comes the part in our story wherein the sow's ear may miraculously undergo a transformation.)

In the split-second while I was scrambling (mostly) out of the way of flying grounds, hot water and shards of glass, these were the thoughts I had.

  • “Wow! I still have pretty good reflexes!”
  • “Ouch! Not good enough!”
  • “It's a glass coffee pot, so why haven't I heard it br... *CRASH* Ah, that's better.”
  • “Ow! My tuchus!”
  • “Geez, I'm glad that wasn't some other part of my anatomy!”
  • “@$#*! It can sit there all night as far as I'm concerned!”
  • “There's coffee all over my arm, too? I better get out of these clothes and survey the damage.”
  • “I hope I don't get a blister. A blister on my tuchus would be a pain in the ass.”
  • “Hah! That's pretty good!”
  • “Shoot... Now I don't have any coffee...”
  • “Hmmmmm. I wonder if I can get 500 words out of this?”

And that, dear reader, is how a writer's mind works. I am sitting here naked and scalded, typing, and it is now up to my editor to let me know if I have a silk purse. If you're reading this, yes, I do. I shall now go clean up the mess and apply some ointment. When the check arrives, I will thank God for weirdly-delivered favors.


Obviously, the part about "if you're reading this" was meant for a newspaper audience. This has remained a sow's ear. Well, I thank God, anyway. With all due respect to my various editors - and with absolute thanks for the checks they have delivered - you are my first love.

Soon, with more better stuff. I'm going to go have a mug of coffee and hope history doesn't repeat.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

I'm Still Alive

I know some of you had to be wondering. I haven't been making the rounds much lately. For that, I apologize (but my apologizing for being a bad blog buddy is getting old, I'm sure, so I won't offer any excuses; I'll just say I'm sorry and I hope to be around more soon.)

The head cold, which became a chest cold, is now just a pain in the ass. Not literally, I'm glad to say, but in a figurative sense. I'm fine for most of each day, but have violent coughing fits two or three times a day that last five minutes each. It's partially about getting up the crap that settled in my chest (which I'm happy to report to those of you worried about me having pneumonia or something, the phlegm is mostly clear and non-threatening) but mostly about a tickle in my throat, like constant hay fever, that is annoying hell out of me. When this is gone, I think I'm going to wear gloves and a surgical mask everywhere I go. I am so frickin' tired of coughing. I've been doing it so violently for the past few days that I get a headache from it and my stomach muscles are cramping.

Part of it is my lack of exercise, too. I want to kill winter. This has been the crappiest cold weather ever. I want to get out a take some long walks, just to get my lungs pumping, but the combination of cold air and having a cold have made that an impossibility. We're expecting temps in the 50's soon (and about time) so I hope I'll walk, clear my lungs, and be back to what passes for normal around here.

OK, enough bitching. I've got paid work to do (the main reason for my not making myself visible at your place.) That's a good thing, he said, even though he was a lazy sod who preferred to lay on the couch watching Three Stooges movies.

Soon, with something or other.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Monomaniacal Coughing Machine Has Rantings Published!

My head cold has left town, but only on a short journey. It has migrated to my throat and chest. I am now hacking like a barking seal.

This is a good thing, believe it or not. All of my colds follow this pattern. They start at the top of my head and move ever southward. When it reaches the final stages, I'll spare you the details.

Meanwhile, the Boston Herald has been bamboozled once again. Despite ample past evidence of my inadequacies, they have decided to see if they can sneak another one of my pieces past an unwitting public. This time, I am blathering about Lent, softball, and other things I ran through the wringer in this space 7 or 8 years ago. If you have a burning desire to numb your brain, you can find it THERE.

(As always, your kind comments may make them think I've actually done something worthwhile, so you might want to think twice before leaving any.)

Meanwhile, I am going to go breathe steam and hope what I'm coughing up aren't actual pieces of my lungs.

Soon, with more better stuff.

Friday, March 07, 2014

A Pleasant Birthday

We were in New York City for my birthday; also for another four days distributed unevenly on both ends of that day.

I would normally tell you many things. I am a man of many words, usually. Since returning home, however, I have been enjoying a runny nose, a sore throat, a hacking cough and a head that generally feels as though it had its brains replaced by oatmeal (and goopy oatmeal, at that.) In other words, I have a cold. And I don't feel like writing.

I will not leave without telling you about my actual birthday, though, because that was an awesome day. That's because MY WIFE and I visited with Mr. & Mrs. Edelstein of the Upper West Side. You may know them as Daryl & Ray (or "Toonman", in Ray's case) and that's how we know them, too, so I have no idea why I just wasted a sentence being so formal. Not only did we get to hang out with those two wonderful folks, but we also had the pleasure of meeting Andrew Johns, playwright, artist, and raconteur extraordinaire.

You may know Andrew & Ray as Slim & Cody or Micky & Patsy. If you don't, you should. Both men are wonderful comic actors and Andrew writes tremendously funny stuff. Everything they've done as a team is vastly entertaining and there are some 25 or 26 videos featuring the two men on YouTube, ALL of which you should watch.

Anyway... We were treated to brunch, witty conversation, a tour of some of Daryl & Ray's building (including a space containing a permanent installation of some of Andrew's artwork), and a visit with the best cats in Manhattan, Harry and Jack. It was all a hoot and I wish I was feeling a bit more up to the task of an honest blow-by-blow account (but I'm not; I have a miserable cold.)

So there you have whatever that was. Thanks, Daryl! Thanks, Ray! Thanks, Andrew! Thanks, Harry! Thanks, Jack! Thanks, MY WIFE (who has some serious cat dander problems, but who loves Harry and Jack and wishes she could spend a longer time with them, but she is physically unable.)

Soon, with more better stuff.

(No, that's a lie. My writing has an infinitesimal chance of being improved in the next go-round, but the time we had certainly couldn't have been any pleasanter.)