Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Thanks For Reading


I so rarely use this blog space for anything new and original, I might shut it down soon. In the meantime, though, here's another redirection to the Boston Herald. Today I grouse about the way people applaud.

Really. I'm in total old fart grousing mode.

Thanks for reading! I would say, "Soon, with more better stuff" but I don't want to insult your intelligence.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Happy Uncle's Day!


Yup. I start today's column in the Boston Herald by being willfully ignorant (as opposed to obliviously so, as is usually the case.) Then I realize my mistake (which is also a rarity.)

Why not go there and come along for the stupid ride? Here's a link!

As always, thanks for reading this increasingly moribund blog. Someday, I might actually put some original stuff here and not send you careening off into the ether to find it.

Soon, with more better stuff (although you'll probably have to go to the Boston Herald to read it.)



Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Thank You, Republican National Committee


Sometimes, when I'm stuck for something to write about, God delivers an idea.

Well, this time it was the U. S. Postal Service, the Republican National Committee and MY WIFE, in that order. First, mail was delivered to our house. It was addressed to MY WIFE and came from the Republican National Committee. When she read what they had to say, she knew it was something I could write about and maybe get a couple of laughs.

The result appears in today's Boston Herald. CLICK HERE TO READ IT.

Overall, I still have to say it was a gift from God. That's because MY WIFE is, too. And without her giving me the idea, none of it happens. So, thank you, WIFE. And thank you, God.

Soon, with more better stuff (as long as my sources don't dry up.)

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Shhhhhhh!


My latest piece in the Boston Herald takes place in the "Quiet Car".




Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

Soon, with more better stuff.


Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day


What I have to say can be found on the pages of the Boston Herald. I hope you find it worthwhile.

Thank you.

Jim


Sunday, May 14, 2017

Happy Mother's Day!


My Mom, at some various stages during our lives, in chronological order...

Christmas, approximately 1961. My Mom with hands on my shoulders.

First Communion, a Catholic ritual wherein parents buy a white suit that will never be worn again.

During my days as a (barely) working musician. Mom seems tickled. Maybe it was a contact high.
My wedding. Mom with hands on shoulders. Niece Alyssa arguing theology with MY WIFE.

Thanksgiving the year MY WIFE was in the witness protection program.

My Mom eating something, which is what people do on occasion.

Mom with my late stepfather Bill.

Our latest Thanksgiving. Mom on the far left.

My Mom is the best mom. At least, that's what I say in my latest piece for the Boston Herald.

If you disagree, too bad.

Soon, with more better stuff.


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

I Prefer Rabbit's Feet When They're Attached To Living Rabbits


However, all other good luck charms you use in order to give the Boston Celtics an edge in tonight's game will be appreciated.

For a more in-depth look at the subject, please see my piece in today's Boston Herald.

(Oh, who am I trying to kid? There's nothing in-depth about anything I do. It's mostly fun - I hope.)

Thanks for reading (and for any curses directed Washington's way.)

Soon, with more better stuff.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

I Am SOL* When It Comes To Sol


I like a nice warm day - more and more as I get older, actually - but the sun and I are not best buddies. That's the subject of today's piece in the Boston Herald. I hope you'll head over there (or, better yet, buy an actual hard copy) and read what I have to say. By all means, feel free to leave your own comments concerning memories of sun-related stuff.

Thanks for reading!

Soon, with more better stuff.

*Shit Out of Luck, for those fortunate enough to have not run in the same obscene circles I have.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Deja Vu?


Today, my contribution to the culture is a slightly longer form - with edits - of something those of you who follow me on Facebook may have seen a couple of years ago. As is generally the case these days, you'll need to travel to the Boston Herald to see it.

I was going through some older writings, looking for something I might be able to shine up and sell, and I came upon the piece. It was about half the length, back then, as what you'll find at the Herald today. I like to think it now contains a couple more laughs, too. Anyway, if it sounds somewhat familiar? That's because, like I said, some of it was part of a Facebook post of mine a while back.

What this amounts to is that you came here with good intentions and now I'm sending you to the Herald to read something you may have (partially) read on Facebook already.

Yes, I have my nerve.

As always, though, I truly do appreciate you stopping by and you're definitely invited to the after-party when I cop a Pulitzer sometime around 2023. There will be free pork egg foo yung for those able to show an actual hard copy of today's Herald. For those unable to prove they actually bought the paper, there will be a consolation dinner of canned cocktail weinies.

If you enjoy the piece, please share it on Facebook or Twitter or Linked-In or...

(When you read the piece, you'll understand I'm being a hideous hypocrite by asking you to do that. Or I'm just joking. I suppose you'll decide which it is depending upon how much you like the piece.)

Soon, with more better stuff.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Oy Vey?


That's the only clue I'm going to give you concerning my latest piece in the Boston Herald. If that's not intriguing enough to get you to go there, you're a mashugana.

Soon, with more better schmegegge.


Monday, April 24, 2017

The Things I Loved And Miss


(I originally wrote this 7-1/2 years ago. Nothing much has changed since then - I still miss the same things, for the most part - so here it is again. If you weren't here for its first reading, you'll be at least as befuddled as the people who were. The old stuff follows the test pattern, much as was the case in the days of my youth when I turned on the TV at 5:20 am and The Life of Riley came on at 5:30.)




This is something I wrote while under the influence of drugs.

One night, following one of my not-infrequent dental procedures, I was gulping down Percocets while drinking several mugs of coffee. The combination of opiate and caffeine lent itself to a hazy sort of insomnia, somewhat pleasant and especially productive in bringing to the forefront of my mind a raft of nostalgic memories. What follows is my scribbling from that evening.

(It actually WAS scribbling. I usually type anything of considerable length, sitting at our ancient computer sans internet hookup, but I filled four pages of a loose-leaf notebook with this stuff, tightly spaced, while sitting up in bed drinking more coffee, popping more pills, and chain smoking. Considering the circumstances, it was reasonably legible.)

I truly doubt that any one of you will share all of these memories with me. And, no denigration of your mental faculties intended, but I rather doubt you’ll even be able to understand all of them, so don’t sweat it if one line or another is as incomprehensible to you as Sanskrit. Just go on to the next one and the one after that. I’d have the same trouble comprehending your four pages of scribbles. I’m fairly certain, however, that you’ll find at least a few things with which you’ll be able to identify. If I jog a few memories of your own, I’d love it if you’d share them in the comments section.

One final note: These are, as the title says, things. They have little to do with people, at least directly. They are the objects, and the experiences with those objects, which I miss. Had I been in the state of mind mentioned, sitting up and thinking about the people whom I miss, I’d still be scribbling. Memories of things, while inductive to a sort of benign melancholia, reach a point where one has to say ‘enough is enough’ and then you let it go. Memories of actual persons who loved you, but are no longer around, don’t allow such facile closure at 3am.

**********************************************************

The big old Admiral TV.

(Jackie Gleason on Saturday night, Ed Sullivan on Sunday night, The Three Stooges many mornings, and getting channel 10 or 12 from Providence when there was a good show on one of those and it was not being carried on one of the Boston stations. When we got a converter box, and hooked it up to get UHF for the first time, it was damn near magical.)

World Series games played during the day.

The fan-forced heat coming on while I lay on the rug by the vent reading The Golden Book Encyclopedia (which, by the way, is still where most of what passes for knowledge inside of my head came from.)


The knick-knack shelves and their odd contents.

The Welbilt stove & refrigerator. The spelling was weird, but damned if they weren't well built. From my childhood, until I left that house at 37, they worked beautifully and had never had a single repair.


(I got the photo from here.)

Milkmen, bakery delivery by the Cushman’s bakery man, "Any old rags?", Doctors who came to you, and Pete the ice cream man.

Simpleminded comic books where you didn't have to think too hard and just get lost in the fantasy.




















Sunday funnies that were actually funny, rather than misplaced editorial cartoons.

Sports that knew their season.

The days when advertisements weren’t for things so embarrassing that you feel like running away and hiding if you're in the company of a kid.

(Yeah, this is current. I couldn't find the old Viagra ad I wanted, but this will do for uncomfortable.)


The pure joy of the last day of school.

The Sports Huddle. God bless you Eddie, Mark, and Jim!

The little trolley, especially on a hot summer Sunday when no other traffic was making noise and you could hear it coming from two stops away. And the days when the trolley had real leather seats, lusciously padded, and you could open the windows for the breeze.


Sundays that were Sundays.

Here’s one for us bald guys: Going to the barber and getting a real full haircut, not a 5-minute trim.

Real doubleheaders.

The elevated from Forest Hills to Dover, and then again from North Station to Everett.


The smell of Starlite Cleaners on River Street.

(I still get a vision of childhood anytime I pass by a dry cleaner and get a whiff.)



Ice-cold Coca-Cola in a green bottle.








So many candlepin bowling alleys where I sweated and had fun - Lucky Strike in Dorchester, Sammy White’s in Brighton, Kenmore Bowladrome, Wollaston Bowladrome, The Superbowl in Quincy, The Symphony Hall 55, others in Weymouth, Milton, Braintree, whose names escape me now.

Saturday morning television when it was nothing but cartoons.

For that matter, I miss test patterns, sign-ons, sign-offs, morning and evening prayers, the national anthem, and even farm & market reports.

Huge bowls of Quake.


Insight, The Living Word, Lamp Unto My Feet, Davey & Goliath, and similar Sunday morning television offerings.

Saturday matinees at The Oriental (and a "businessman’s special" at The Cathay Village afterward.)

The towers at Baker’s Chocolate.


Being absolutely mesmerized and delighted in the toy aisles of department stores.

The library in Lower Mills – odd little rooms, great children’s section, friendly and helpful librarians.

When the Neponset River Bridge was made of wood, leaning against the railing and just watching the river go by.

Snow at night and going to bed hoping for no school in the morning.

Listening to the "no school" announcements on the radio and hearing "Boston – no school, all schools."

Sitting in the subway at Park Street Under, smoking, people watching, and letting the trains go by.


Friday afternoon educational movies in the third-floor auditorium of the Gilbert Stuart.

(Getting to the third floor was a bit scary for me, being afraid of heights as I was. There was a huge window to pass by on the landing between the second and third floors. If I was unlucky enough to be on that side of the stairs in our double-file march up, I would shut my eyes and hold my breath as we passed it. Looking back, this probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do to increase my chances of not falling through it. But, once we reached the auditorium, it was all good. The films themselves were usually interesting, and, if was something boring, then Stephen Murphy and I would exchange jokes and giggle in the dark.)

Getting a slice of the hideous pizza sold at Park Street station.

(This was on the way home from Boston Latin. Since I hated going to that school, the pizza was the highlight of my school day. How times have changed over such a short span! Pizza was not ubiquitously available then as it is now, so having a chance to get a slice of horrible pizza – and this was easily the worst pizza in the entire city – was still a rush and well worth the quarter spent. Oh, was that pizza bad! You’d sometimes take the first bite and burn the roof of your mouth, concurrently burning your chin when the entire slab of cheese would slide off the hard dough and slap onto your chin. Then, to save your face and palate, you had to spit out the cheese onto the passenger platform. This left you with a piece of doughy cardboard slathered with cheap tomato sauce. Since it cost you a quarter, you still ate it. Hell, if nobody else had been around I would have retrieved the cheese from the floor of the subway. A quarter was a big deal to me then.)

In Concert, Friday nights at 11:30 on ABC.


(The best televised rock music show of my youth. Others preferred The Midnight Special, on NBC – which actually aired at 1am on the east coast –, but In Concert had more metal acts. Also, In Concert was filmed at varying locales, giving it the feel of a true concert experience, whereas Midnight Special had the groups come in and play on a soundstage, introduced by the barely-tolerable Wolfman Jack. There was the syndicated Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert, but the performances on that show were often lip-synched, something I despised.)

Powerline

(This was a religious radio program, airing at 11pm on Sunday as I recall. They played some excellent current metal songs interspersed with a bit of evangelism. Odd, but somehow comforting, listening.)

Exploring my parent’s bedroom closet, as well as the downstairs coat closet.

(There was something entirely comforting about those two spaces in our house. They were enclosed, warm, dark, and full of interesting things. I used to like to sit in them sometimes and just forget about the outside world. One of the major problems with growing up is that you can’t fit inside closets and under tables. Or, even if you can, people look at you oddly when they see you coming out from one of them.)

**************************************************************

I suppose that’s enough pointless nostalgia for one sitting. I’ve got another three pages worth of this stuff in my notebook, but it will wait.

Soon, with more better stuff.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Libertarian Says "More Government, Please!"


The libertarian is me.

What brought me to this sad state of affairs? The recent incident involving United Airlines and their unfortunate passenger, Dr. David Dao.

Where do I connect the dots? The pages of the Boston Herald.

Reasonable people can disagree with my call for action. They might believe the current situation is just fine, or that the necessary corrections will take place organically. I don't.

Anyway, here's where you can find my scribblings (unless, of course, you're near a purveyor of the Boston Herald, in which case you should buy the hard copy and I thank you.)

Soon, with more better stuff.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Happy Easter!


Obviously, some of you have big family gatherings today, while others may be enjoying some early morning egg-hunting with the kids. And, of course, there is church-going and prayer. The number of Christians who said to themselves, "Hey! Let me see what Jim Sullivan has to say this morning!" is likely low. So, I expect more of my wonderful non-Christian friends may be reading this.

I wonder how many of my wonderful non-Christian friends feel like clicking onto this link and seeing what I have to say, about Easter, over at the Boston Herald?

Maybe a few. If you do go there - or if you're one of my Christian friends who inexplicably is visiting with me this morning and you go there - you'll find a fun story about a friend of mine and his lost car keys. Here's hoping you enjoy it!

And with that, I am done here today. Happy Easter to you, if you celebrate it. Heck, Happy Easter to you even if you don't celebrate it. It is a joyous day of celebration and I'm sure Jesus would welcome you to his coming out party if you decide to change your mind someday.

Soon, with more better stuff (from me, I mean; Jesus already gave you His best.)

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Taxes


Not to bum you out, but you realize taxes are due soon, right?


 [photo found at the IRS website, which is quite useful]


I can honestly say I'm not bummed out at all. This is because our taxes are already done AND we're getting a refund from both the IRS and the state of Massachusetts. I was pleasantly surprised. I actually thought we might end up owing, but no, so yay us!

This is not to say that I don't have a few cogent comments to make about taxes. I do so in my column appearing in the Boston Herald, which you can find by clicking onto this red sentence fragment.

Something I did NOT mention in the column is that I've always been treated well by the IRS. In theory, I'm against most taxes, but the people I've dealt with from taxing agencies have always been pleasant and fair to me. I have an accountant do our taxes now, since they've become a bit more troublesome what with my being self-employed, but when I used to do our taxes, I twice made math mistakes and the IRS corrected the math IN MY FAVOR and didn't make a big deal out of it either time. They just sent us a bigger check, with a small note saying something like, "You made a mistake and we corrected it. Your return has been adjusted accordingly." They didn't even say "... adjusted accordingly IN YOUR FAVOR", which I think showed admirable restraint on their part.

That's about all I have to say that I didn't say in the Boston Herald, so you might as well head over there now. Thanks for stopping by!

Soon, with more (allowing for normal use and depreciation) better stuff.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Life Is Good


Two things combined this week to make me realize I’ve got a pretty good life: I went to the dentist and our refrigerator light burned out.

Short history of my dental woes… One side of my family had brutally bad teeth and those were the ones I inherited. Thanks, Dad! About 15 years back, I had most of them yanked because they were gruesome and I had already had enough toothaches to last me a lifetime. I had implant surgery and got a new set of choppers.

My teeth, before

My teeth, after

Since you may be eating breakfast, I won’t go into the details of that surgery. It was amazingly grody. Suffice to say my newer teeth are made of plastic.

Now, you’d think - since I have plastic teeth - I would no longer need to go to the dentist. That’s what I thought, but no. It turns out I still need to visit the dentist every six months to have a thorough cleaning and allow him to tell me my current set won’t last forever and I should invest another nine or twelve thousand dollars for a better-looking new set. I always tell him I don’t have that kind of money to spare, the old teeth work just fine thanks, and I don’t care what they look like because they’re never going to look as bad as my originals did. Then he schedules me for my next six-month scolding.

Meanwhile – watch this transition; it’s so smooth you’ll hardly notice I’m changing topics – our refrigerator light burned out last week.


[Here I wanted to put a photo of our refrigerator without a light.
However, you wouldn't be able to see it, so I haven't bothered.] 

This was the first time such a calamity had befallen me. I didn’t even know where to look for the burned-out bulb. It turned out to be hidden away in a nook on the front of the refrigerator’s ceiling, so I had to reach my hand in at an awkward backwards-facing angle to unscrew it.

Once I had the bulb out, I looked at it with a frown and then shook it next to my ear because that’s what you do. If you don’t hear the “I’m a broken light bulb” sound, you screw it back in because you figure it was just having a little joke with you and now it might work again. It doesn’t, of course, so you unscrew it again, give it another frown, shake it one more time to be sure, shrug when you still don’t hear anything, then throw it away. After that, you realize you don’t have one of those bulbs handy because you’ve never had one burn out before, so you have no light in your fridge until you buy one. This presents no great problem in the daytime, but it surprises you when you open the door at night because you’ve had thousands of midnight snacks in your life and you’ve never had to feel around for the salami and cheese before.

So, I’ve given you five minutes of what are now called, by some, “first-world problems”. What can I say? I have teeth; I have food; I have a refrigerator (with a light); and I live in the first-world, so that’s what I tend to write about. If it helps any, I’m always thankful about it.

You, of course, own some sort of computer or other device on which you can read this, so life in the first-world is probably decent for you also. I have no idea what kind of shape your teeth are in, but I hope you at least smiled once or twice just now.

Soon, with more better stuff.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

My Favorite Team


A few weeks ago, a friend asked me who my favorite Boston sports team was. He supposed it was the Red Sox, but he was wrong. It's the Boston Celtics.

At one time, the Red Sox would have been tied for first. The Celtics, however, have never been any lower than number one. They are my team in a way that the Sox, Patriots and Bruins are not and likely never will be. They are the only team of the four that I have faithfully followed from the first day of my fandom, without interruption, and the only one of the four I followed faithfully while all of my friends did not.

I delve into that, and other reasons for why I bleed green, in today's column in the Boston Herald.




Make no mistake: If you were to ask me which sport is my favorite to play, it's baseball/softball. I've done so for over 50 years, while the last time I actually played a game of basketball was over 25 years ago. But insofar as watching a professional team, I've been to more Celtics games than I have any others. They remain the only team for which I've had a season ticket. They are the only team that I've seen, in-person, during their sport's championship finals. I've attended more playoff games of the Celtics than of the Red Sox, Patriots and Bruins combined.

As I said, there were times when the Red Sox would have been my co-faves. The baseball and basketball seasons didn't overlap in any significant way for many years, so there was no reason to make a choice between the two. Now, however, if it comes down to a Red Sox game versus a Celtics game? No contest whatsoever. MY WIFE will tell you I never miss a Celtics game. If I have to be doing something else while it's on, I will tape it for viewing later and assiduously avoid TV, radio, social media and any other ways I might hear the final score, until I have had a chance to watch.

Well, be that as it may - and it most definitely is - you can read more about my love of the green team in today's Boston Herald. I hope you enjoy it. As always, thanks for stopping by.

Soon, with more better dunks.

(See what I did there? Instead of "stuff", I said "dunks". A dunk shot is sometimes called a stuff shot, so... Yeah, it's weak.)


Sunday, April 02, 2017

Opening Day




Spring officially arrives by calendar in March, but in the Boston area it doesn't really get here until Opening Day. Once we see baseball being played, we know it's safe to go outdoors without mittens and boots. If the Red Sox can run around in knickers, the rest of us can ditch the long underwear.


Baseball was a passion of mine for a long time. Now I find myself, with Opening Day approaching, not as excited as I once would have been.

There are multiple reasons for my state of unexcitement. I delve into some of them in my column in today's Boston Herald. You should go there and read about them (or not, if you hate me and want to see me be a failure as a columnist for a major metropolitan newspaper.)

The reasons I don't explore in the Herald are mostly things that have to do with one of my other jobs. In addition to being a writer, I earn a few bucks as scorekeeper for a fast-pitch softball league in South Boston. In that capacity, I'm at a ballpark over there for about five hours every day Monday through Thursday. Not only does that prevent me from watching the Red Sox on a nightly basis; it also pretty much gives me my fill of guys hitting, pitching, fielding, running bases and doing all the other things the Red Sox do. And the guys in Southie PAY for the privilege to do those things and they pay ME part of that money. The Red Sox charge people to see them play, pull down multi-million-dollar salaries, and don't give ME any of it. No contest.

Really - if you know someone playing the game, and you know they give it everything they've got, AND they care enough about it to PAY for the privilege, pro baseball doesn't come close. And that's the major reason I'm not as caring about Opening Day as I used to be.

But, as I say, there are other reasons and I give you some of those in the Boston Herald.

Thanks, as always, for stopping by. I appreciate it. After all, I'm not unaware of the irony of someone who used to give his stuff away for free now making his living complaining about people making a living doing something they used to do only for love.

Soon, with more better stuff.

P.S. Some of you don't have access to a hard copy of the newspaper and therefore are physically unable to see the dandy head shot of me that graces the actual print edition. For you, here's what it looks like...



  

Sunday, March 26, 2017

I'm Ready For My Close-Up, Mr. DeMille


Well, actually, I already had my close-up. This past Thursday, I went in to the offices of the Boston Herald and had my photo taken. From now on, it should appear whenever you read my stuff over there (like, for instance, today!)


When I was told the Herald wanted a head shot of me, I said they could use this one.
Then they told me it wasn't the sort of "head" I was back in those days. My bad.


Yes, I have a piece in the Boston Herald today. It's about luck and my sometimes lack of same.

I'm blessed, you understand. God always lands me on my feet, for some damn reason.

Maybe that's not the best way to express that. Let me re-phrase. Whenever I truly need something, God provides me with it. However, that comes under the category of God-incidence, as (Not MY Uncle, But He May Be Yours) Skip's MB phrased it.

I am always provided for, but rarely do I have the sort of luck that... well, hell, read my piece in the Herald. I can't give away the whole thing here, otherwise they won't pay me. And, as a bonus, you'll get to see the lovely photo that was the one chosen from the 80 or 90 shots the photographer took.

(True fact there. You've seen scenes in movies or on TV where a photographer shoots a fashion model and he snaps roll after roll of film - click, click, click, click, click, with accompanying flashes with each click - while the model moves around suggestively and smiles and has her hair blown in the wind and so forth? Well, picture me as the model, except I was more goofy than suggestive and I don't have enough hair left to blow around even if it was a hurricane.)

Anyway, I'm glad you're here and I'll be even gladder if you go over there. I told them that sales were likely to plummet, if they put my mug in their newspaper, but I was only joking. At least, I meant it as a joke. And if you folks would head over there, that would help to keep it that way, I hope.

Thanks, as always.

Soon, with more better stuff.

P.S. You'll have to buy a hard copy of the paper to see my mug shot. Thus far, it's not on the electronic version. They may be trying to gauge whether folks are dying of heart attacks before they disseminate it worldwide.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Virtual Reality






When I was a kid, I read a science fiction story that especially horrified me - Spectator Sport, by John D. MacDonald.

The protagonist was an inventor who had transported himself 400 years into the future. He found a society not hard to imagine today. Virtual reality (though not called that by MacDonald, since the term hadn’t been invented yet) was the main entertainment medium. The greatest reward for a lifetime of work was permanent installation into a virtual world of your choosing.

What made the story so horrifying was that permanent installation involved being lobotomized, having your hands and feet skinned so your nerve endings could feed directly into sensation simulators, and then having your head placed inches away from a 3D viewing screen after technicians had removed your eyelids and plugged various doodads into your temples. Our time traveler, having been judged insane by local authorities due to his repeated claims of having traveled from the past, is lobotomized. A high-ranking official, though, finds proof that he was probably telling the truth about being from the past, so to make up for the unneeded lobotomy, he arranges the great gift of a permanent installation for our hero. When last we encounter our flayed, hooked-up and eyelid-less friend, he is imagining himself riding the range on his way to rescue a girl from having her ranch stolen by unscrupulous black-hatted bad guys.

The way I’ve heard some people rhapsodize about recent advances in virtual reality, it’s not too big a jump to imagine them thinking that final scenario might be fun. I’m a tad more reticent.

It’s not that I’m opposed to escapism. I enjoy movies and television; I read fiction; and a few times during the 70s and 80s I certainly managed to escape reality by other means. And virtual reality has some amazing things to offer. For instance, someone could attend a virtual university. Stanford is making steps in that direction. People can immerse themselves in situations frightening to them and perhaps overcome their fears. There are even wondrous medical uses, such as helping stroke victims to recover more quickly or in the training of future surgeons. The possibility exists for people with traumatic injuries, or victims of crippling disease, to live more fully rewarding lives via such technology.

What worries me is that some people, even with the limited options for escape we now possess, have already become so disconnected from reality that they’ve harmed themselves. We’ve all seen video of people walking into poles or casually traipsing off the edge of subway platforms while texting or checking their smart phones. On the political front, I fear that real-world voting won’t matter much for someone who can live in a universe where he’s the emperor and every desire is virtually granted. If you can immerse yourself in such an alternate reality, the things actual politicians say and do might hardly matter to you.

I’m not a total paranoid. I expect most people will use enhancements in virtual reality in a relatively safe manner and I don’t expect we’ll all be lobotomized and have our eyelids removed any time soon. But it might be worth keeping close tabs om Mark Zuckerberg. I’m just saying.


Soon, with more better stuff.



Sunday, March 19, 2017

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!





Yeah, I know it's March 19, not March 17. The real date for Saint Patrick's Day was Friday. However, today is when the Saint Patrick's Day Parade takes place in South Boston.





Today is also the day when my piece concerning the Saint Patrick's Day Parade (as well as a bit of Irish history) appears on the pages of the Boston Herald. Here's a handy link!



The Boston parade has been the center of some controversy for many years now. Inclusion of some groups - or lack of same - has been a hot-button topic. Most of it surrounds whether gay, lesbian, bisexual and/or transgender groups, labeled as such, should be allowed to march. The case went to the Supreme Court at one point, with the parade organizers receiving an unanimous decision stating that they did NOT have to allow such groups to participate. However, in recent years, such groups have marched. This year, the organizers decided, once again, to ban them. However, after a public outcry - and after some of the head organizers threatened to resign - another vote was taken and at least one group (OUTVETS, a group of veterans with non-traditional sexual tastes) will take part.




My opinion? I believe the parade organizers should be able to exclude whomever they desire. However, as I hope I make clear in my column, I also hope that those who are up on their Irish history, especially as it pertains to oppression and discrimination, will be welcoming to EVERYONE who marches today.

Well, I hope you enjoy the read (and I thank you for taking the time to read it.)

Soon, with more better stuff, Bucko.


Thursday, March 16, 2017

Maugers!


Just got back from a first-time meeting with long-time blog buddies Chris and Theresa Mauger. It was an absolute blast.


L to R - Me, MY WIFE, Theresa, Chris.


They're in town for a conference, visiting from California. We made arrangements to meet them at a semi-famous local joint called The No-Name. It's on the waterfront in South Boston and serves a decent fish dinner.

(There are no more photos because MY WIFE and I aren't cell phone people. And we were all having such a good time, Chris and Theresa only though to get one shot at the end of the meal. Waitress took a damn nice shot, though.)

It was like meeting old friends for the first time. We all got along famously, as I assumed we would. I'd followed both Chris's and Theresa's blogs for some time, so I knew about them and they knew about me. The only thing remaining was to physically meet, which we just did and it was swell.

Here's a link to Chris's blog - Knucklehead! He's one of the funniest bloggers ever. Don't stop on the one I'm linking you to. Explore and have some mighty laughs. Trust me.

(For the life of me, I can't find the link I had for Theresa. Forgive me, Theresa! Chris could be a gentleman when he reads this and put a link to your blog in the comments!)

Both Chris and Theresa are fairly awesome for many things, but especially - to me, anyway - for running in damn marathons and stuff like that. I run to first base these days and I need oxygen. Chris was about 110 pounds heavier when I first started reading his blog. That's no joke. The link I gave you is to one of his pieces written just before he got serious about losing weight. If you search his archives, I'm sure you'll be able to find a photo of the old fat Chris (and I'm sure he's thrilled that I've sent you on such a search. Maybe Theresa is glad now that I didn't have a link handy for her!)

Another reason for wanting the capability to take photos (which we could do, if we ever charged our phones, but we don't) is because they brought us a couple of lovely presents - a new bear for our teddy collection and a bottle of sand from an actual California beach (which we're letting the bear keep nearby in case he has any sudden bouts of homesickness.) The bear is wearing a Los Angeles Dodgers shirt. If you know anything about the sports rivalry Chris and I share, what we named him may make sense to you.

His name is Dave.

OK, maybe that needs an explanation. Chris is a Yankees fan. I'm a Red Sox fan. Dave Roberts played for the Red Sox and holds a special place (of infamy for Yankees fans; heroics for Sox fans) for his stolen base in game four of the 2004 American League Championship Series. Roberts is now the manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers. So, we named the teddy Dave. Dave Roberts. Except the last name is pronounced Ro-BEAR. Dave Ro-BEAR.

Well, either you get it or you don't. We all got a laugh out of it and Dave likes it.

(He has an alternate name - LALA - and we're OK with that. We don't discriminate concerning the sexuality of our bears and what Dave does in his off-season is none of our business.)

Anyway, it was wonderful meeting them. That's about it. But isn't that enough? Yes, it is.

Soon, with more better stuff.