Friday, October 24, 2008

Thanks For The Newsflash, Walter Cronkite

The other day, MY WIFE was telling me a story about two people with whom she had dealings. The crux of the story was that their looks were wildly disparate. Being my usual annoying self, I jumped ahead and suggested that perhaps they looked like Mutt & Jeff. This was NOT the case. It was some other sort of odd pairing. I can’t remember what it was, specifically, because from that point on in the conversation, I was already formulating this piece in my head. This means I’ve been mentally absent from my marriage for about ten days now, so I apologize to MY WIFE and hope this at least turns out to be amusing.

(After reading what follows, you could make all sorts of unkind remarks concerning the fact that it took me ten days to come up with it. You won't, though, because you're nice people.)

Anyway, the thing that struck me was that there are certain expressions, still used by some of us, that have little chance of conveying useful information to the younger members of our society. For instance, describing two people as a Mutt & Jeff team.

(A few of you will find the following information superfluous, but so is this whole thing.)

Mutt & Jeff was a comic strip, no longer extant, involving the adventures of two men named, conveniently enough, Mutt & Jeff. Augustus Mutt (you might not have known his full name, so I figured I’d give you a little value here) was very tall. Jeff (he never had anything other than the single name, so far as I know) was very short. So, to describe a pair of people as a Mutt & Jeff team was to immediately identify them as comprised of one tall person and one short person.

I’m not certain when Mutt & Jeff stopped being published, but I’d hazard a guess that anyone born after 1980 would have little idea what in hell you were talking about if you said that two people looked like Mutt & Jeff.

(Reproduction of "Mutt & Jeff" from Daryl Cagle's Professional Cartoonist's Index. Fun Page!)

Other comic strip or cartoon allusions that will make people under the age of 30 look at you strangely include:

Jane! Stop this crazy thing!


Here I come to save the day! (Those who still recognize this know that it must be sung.)

We have met the enemy, and he is us. (This has more-or-less been replaced by “D’Oh!”)

Or, if you're really hankering for a lecture about political correctness, just show them a bunch of "Andy Capp" strips.

There are not only outdated references to comic strips and cartoons, but also to real people. For instance, the title of this piece. It was said whenever someone stated something ridiculously obvious. The more vulgar version was "No shit, Sherlock!" Today, the more economical "Duh!" has become the phrase du jour. There were regional variants for other situations, such as the always-popular "Thanks for the weather report, Don Kent!" That was said if you were standing in the middle of a thunderstorm and some dope felt the need to tell you it was raining. Don Kent was a weatherman on WBZ in Boston. Of course, I probably didn’t need to explain it that fully, so maybe you just said, "Duh!"

(Those from the Boston area who really want to wax nostalgic will enjoy this clip from You Tube that features footage of Mr. Kent.)

Anachronisms abound. I often find that I have to spout them as a part of my work. Since I do voice-overs, I’m often called upon to say something akin to, "For further information, dial 617-555-4646!" Well, nobody dials anything these days, do they? We still say it, though. Silly us! Same applies to "going to the record store" - if there still are such places. I think there are, but I do all my shopping on the internet now, so I'm not sure.

Another one occurs to me. Have you ever accused someone of trying to gaslight you? If that person was under 30 - or maybe under 50 - they probably looked at you as though you had lobsters crawling out of your ears (which I stole from a more recent movie - and no prizes for telling me which one, because it’s one of those movies some people memorize all of the dialogue from and I don’t have that many prizes.)

Finally, there are those things that our parents said to us that didn’t quite make sense. Of course, I can’t tell you what nonsensical things your parents said to you. You might mention one or two in the comments, though (hint, hint.) I do know that the one thing my Mom used to say to me that left me scratching my head was something she told me when I was dirty, disheveled, or otherwise not up to her standards of cleanliness and dress. She would say, "You look like the wreck of the Hesperus!" I’m still not sure what the Hesperus was, but I know it must have looked like crap.

Well, this was hardly worth ignoring my marriage for such a long time. I’m going to go plant a big smooch on MY WIFE. I’ll try really hard to listen to every word she says from now on and not go off on unproductive mental tangents. I’ve been living the Life Of Riley for some time now. I’d hate to end up like The Bickersons.

Soon, with more better stuff.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Rather Sad, Rather Uneventful (Except For Death) Staycation - Part Two

If you were here yesterday, then you know what you’re in for today. If you weren’t here yesterday, then you don’t. It doesn’t really matter, though, as today is likely to be something unpleasant either way.

(If you feel some sort of masochistic need to catch up, then it’s my Christian duty to be your sadist. Go HERE and feel the pain.)

OK. The reason today is likely to be full of misery is because I’m going to publish scads of hideous photos. The subject matter isn’t the problem. I’m not going to show you dismembered bodies or anything like that. It’s just that I’m easily the world’s worst photographer. Don’t believe me? You will soon enough.

Meanwhile, it seems that many of you found the writing about MY WIFE's bra fitting to be the highlight of part one. I won't argue with that. My thinking about how it was accomplished was pretty much the highlight of the entire staycation, so why shouldn't it have been the highlight of the writing? So, in order to make your visit here less than a total waste, I'll explain how I truly, honestly thought such things were done.

MY WIFE went into a fitting room with a decent-looking female sales clerk. The sales clerk took a measuring tape with her. My assumption was that, in order to find the correct size, the sales clerk would have to heft MY WIFE's boobs up, from behind, and sort of wrap the measuring tape around them. Yes, I'm a dope. I really thought that was how it was done. Later on, as I discussed this with MY WIFE, she disabused me of that notion.

I then conjectured that perhaps there were a series of measuring-cup-sort-of-thingies, and the person doing the fitting tries to shove the other person's boobs into the cup that appears to be the closest size, moving on to a larger cup if they hang out the side or something. This was almost as good a picture for my diseased mind to play around with, but it turns out I was wrong again.

It seems that a woman is measured under her boobs, at the thinnest point of her chest, and then measured again around the thickest part, which I assume is nipple-plentiful. Each additional inch is more-or-less a cup size. I think I have that right. If I don't, I'm sure one of you will set me straight. It's still a pleasant thought, but not quite as wood-inducing as the others were.

Enough about boobs. We once again join the staycation. We begin on...

SATURDAY – This promised to be a fun day. The fun would come from attending an open practice for the World Champion Boston Celtics.

As with the World Champion Boston Red Sox, you once again have to understand that this championship team, the Celtics, didn’t play any teams from outside of North America while winning their championship. They are, nevertheless, the best basketball team on the planet. In all probability, most of you can more easily understand this than you did concerning the baseball team. Basketball is enough of a global sport so that even the most optimistic of folks from other areas on the earth know that American basketball teams would trounce the living piss out of their squads.

(I know. That sounds so horribly jingoistic that even I cringed as I was writing it. It’s the truth, though, and we all know it. Sorry! Feel free to tell me something similar concerning rugby or cricket, with your country being the overbearing asshole, and I won’t argue a whit.)

(By the way, as I was writing that, I was watching an ad on TV for Christmas shopping at K-Mart. October fucking 21st. I’ll use that to justify my paternalistic and wholly self-satisfied crowing concerning American [and, more specifically] Boston sports teams. If you want to put me in a happier mood, and perhaps make me amenable to arguments concerning how your crummy, slow, short, sallow-skinned, smelly, and entirely unattractive basketball players could possibly measure up to THE BOSTON CELTICS, then perhaps you’d consider writing a Thanksgiving Comes First post wherein you tell K-Mart that you hope all of their stores explode and the debris lands on their personal residences, which burn to the ground, and then they are plagued with crickets infesting their livers or something like that? I’d appreciate it greatly.)

OK, I’m a bit better now. Where were we? Oh, yes! Fun! Vacation! Celtics!

I am now going to publish the photos. If you’ve been surfing the ‘net without your glasses on, and you think it will help the photos to look better if you put them on now? You are wrong. The photos suck. You'll probably be better served by taking off your glasses, if you're wearing any. Here they are, anyway. You've been warned.

Despite the preceding evidence, the Tsongas Arena is a nice place, totally non-blurry and well-lit. The Celtics themselves look as much better in-person, as compared to the photos, as thoroughbred stallions would be when compared to a bunch of three-legged mangy mules. Or K-Mart executives.

It really was a decent fun time. Our friends, Dan and Mandy Nelson, have season tickets to the Celtics. We are something like minority shareholders in their tickets, having bought a few from them last year and another bunch for this upcoming season. When they found out that they couldn’t attend this practice, which was open to season ticket holders, they asked us if we’d like to go in their stead. Well, sure! The Celtics are far and away my favorite sports team, and MY WIFE shared the joy with me when they won it all last year.

Not much of an exciting nature to share about the actual practice, I’m afraid. It was a lot of running up and down the court, lay-up drills, some interesting defensive sets practiced, and a chance to cheer the team in a relaxed atmosphere.

(The reason the Nelsons couldn’t make it was because their daughter, Maggie, was having her birthday party on that date. We therefore bought a small present for Maggie to thank her – some drawing pencils and fun paper – and MY WIFE wrapped the gift in the paper in which we got our hot dog s that day. That sounds totally horrible, but it was pretty paper, it did NOT smell like hot dogs, and we knew that Dan and Mandy would likely get a kick out of knowing where it had come from. Happy Birthday, Maggie!)

After the practice, we planned on going to a container store, supposedly located in The Burlington Mall. I say "supposedly" because it wasn’t. MY WIFE had heard some local yokel DJ on the radio, talking about this store, and he placed it in Burlington at the mall, but nuh-uh. And The Burlington Mall stinks.

Oh, the mall isn’t any worse than any other mall. But going there on a Saturday at 4pm was easily one of the worst decisions of this entire staycation. We had a bit of fun, of course. This is because we like each other and we can find fun in most places. But it was as crowded as any mall I’ve ever been to and we had to park about a half-mile from the entrance. In addition, leaving the mall and getting onto the highway afterwards was a challenge similar to leaving a game at Gillette Stadium, home of the Three-Time World Champion New England Patriots.

(That was entirely gratuitous. I don’t care.)

After the mall, we went out to eat at a family-owned Italian restaurant in Waltham, The Chateau. It’s a nice place, good food, relatively inexpensive, friendly staff, plenty of parking, and if you live around here, you should go. If you don’t live around here, your basketball team sucks.

(I’m not being very nice today. I really am sorry. Go stuff some really old Roquefort cheese in a K-Mart executive’s heating system and I’ll feel better.)

This really was a good day. My favorite college football team, The Boston College Eagles, won. They are now 5 and 1, and in good shape to challenge for (yes) a championship. In addition, our good day once again matched up with a good day for the (ahem) World Champion Boston Red Sox. They won, 4 – 2, forcing a deciding game seven on...

SUNDAY – After all of the horribly un-Christian things I've written above, my personal recommendation in this next part will not be doing The Reverend Peter Gomes any favors. He is the minister at Memorial Chapel in Harvard Yard. We attended Sunday services there and he preached. He was magnificent.

Honestly. I’m a Christian and he was fantastic. I know I’ve been something of a rotter through most of this, but if I’m sincere about any one thing here, it’s that Rev. Gomes is probably the finest preacher I’ve ever heard deliver a sermon. He is funny, incisive, sharp, funny, deep, funny, and completely not unfunny. He’s not just a comedian, but he had me laughing more during a sermon than anyone ever has before. That, in and of itself, would be worth reporting, I guess, but the fact that he delivers theology that sticks, while also making you happy, makes him outstandingly special.

Here is a link to learn more about him. If you’re from this area, and you have the opportunity to see him preach at Harvard someday, please do yourself a favor and take advantage of that opportunity. If you’re not from this area, your basketball team was denigrated in a similarly-constructed joke several paragraphs ago, so I won’t belabor the point here.

Well, that’s most of the staycation. The only thing remaining is to report the sad demise of the World Champion (but only for about ten days more) Boston Red Sox. They lost game seven to the Tampa Bay Rays, 3 – 1. They fought hard, but the Rays deserved the win. Congratulations to them. As we faced a return to work, the Sox lost the deciding game. This was somehow very fitting. Here is how our fate and that of the Sox intersected during the staycation:

Day Of Staycation Red Sox Fate Our Fate

Friday Sox Win, 2 - 0 Vacation begins

Saturday Sox Lose, 9 - 8 Wrong barber
in extra innings Priscilla ill

Sunday Priscilla died
last night

Monday Sox Lose, 9 - 1 Breakfast with
Yoooooook; funeral

Tuesday Sox Lose, 13 - 4 Wake

Wednesday Funeral

Thursday Sox Win miraculous
comeback game, 8 - 7,
after trailing, 7 - 0. We go to mall, argue,
have overpriced
burgers, then make up
and have a nice and
pleasant night.

Friday Good breakfast,

Saturday Sox Win (forcing game
seven) 4 - 2. Fun Celtics practice!
Good day overall!

Sunday Sox Lose, 3 - 1, and
lose series to Tampa,
4 games to 3. We go back to work

It may seem a somewhat callous thing, to compare the relative unimportance of a sporting event outcome with the death of a loved one, but Priscilla was a lifelong Red Sox fan. Believe me, she would have totally understood this and appreciated the parallels.

Soon, with more better stuff.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Rather Sad, Rather Uneventful (Except For Death) Staycation - Part One

This is a picture of Paddington Bear looking out of our front window. Why? Why not! You might as well enjoy it. It may end up being the highlight of your visit here today.

Here is what we did on our staycation.

Friday – In order to celebrate our upcoming "Nine Days O’ Fun" (trademark pending) we went out to eat at a local steak house. As might be imagined, we had steak. We then went home and I watched the Red Sox win, 2 – 0, behind the magnificent pitching of Daisuke Matsuzaka. The staycation was off to a good start. The fortunes of the Red Sox, as it turned out, would closely mirror our own throughout. If you followed them in the series against Tampa, then you know this doesn't bode particularly well.

Saturday – I went out and did the grocery shopping. This wasn’t on our list of vacation things to do, but some things just need to be done. After breakfast, we went to the library to return some books. As with the shopping, not on the list, but...

Then we actually used one of the suggestions given us when I asked you for suggestions. We went to the barbershop to watch the old men get haircuts, as suggested by Rich. Actually, I was the old man getting a haircut, and MY WIFE was the one who watched. We did this for a reason (aside from my needing a haircut) but it didn’t turn out as planned.

There are two barbers at this shop. One is the fellow who owns the shop, a really nice guy named Bob. He's about my age and, like me, he played softball until this past season, when he decided to hang up his spikes. Unlike me, he stuck to that plan of action and was happier for having done so. Anyway, we always talk sports when I get a haircut from him and it’s a pleasant enough experience. However, as much as I like Bob, it was my intention to let MY WIFE see the other barber, Jay, in action.

See, MY WIFE is searching for a good reliable stylist for herself, and Jay also does womens hair. I told her about his general demeanor and way of giving styles, and suggested that perhaps Jay might be the one for her. She bristled at the idea of going to a mens barbershop, but I told her that once she saw the care Jay took with the scant hair I had remaining, she’d be convinced that he would handle her hair with delicacy and grace.

When we got there, Jay wasn’t on. He had the day off. This was yet another portent of things to come for the better part of the remaining staycation. I got a nice haircut from Bob, we talked sports, and MY WIFE watched. Not much in it for her, I’m afraid.

We went home and I watched some college football. MY WIFE talked to her sister on the phone. Their aunt was very ill – had been for a while, nothing sudden – and they decided to visit with her. Family members felt that Priscilla (the aunt) might be nearing the end, so a visit was in order and a nice thing to do. While they visited, I made a couple of pies for the block party that was going to take place on Sunday. I made pumpkin and mince.

They returned from their aunt’s place, planning to possibly make a return visit that night. Meanwhile, they decided to go to a local diner to grab a bite to eat. I was invited, and got dressed to go, but while putting on my shoes, I decided that I really wasn’t hungry. That won’t usually stop me from having something tasty to eat, but this time it did. I figured the sisters could use a little more time together, anyway, and I could watch some more football.

That was about it for Saturday, except for the Red Sox losing in extra innings, 9 – 8. As their good luck took a downturn, so did ours.

Sunday – Aunt Priscilla died. We got the call early in the morning. The wake would be on Tuesday, with the Funeral on Wednesday.

Priscilla was a wonderful woman, full of the joy of life. She made friends everywhere she went, and went everywhere she made friends. I didn’t know her as long or as well as MY WIFE, of course, but I don’t ever recall seeing her without a smile, even in the midst of serious illness. I’m getting ahead of things here, but her wake was about the busiest one I’ve ever been to. You know how they have those books to sign when you go into a funeral parlor, to give your name and let the family have a record of who was there to pay respects? Most times, there are at least four or five pages empty at the end, sometimes many more. The entire book got filled at Priscilla’s wake – just a couple of open lines left by the end - and we were seriously discussing whether we’d need to have another one put out, just in case. The woman lived life well and left no regrets behind.

Well, with Priscilla dying, this now meant that a couple of days wherein we might have done other things would be taken up by the wake and the funeral. That’s the way it goes sometimes and no problem, of course. MY WIFE was asked to handle a few of the details since she has a strong background in Catholic liturgy. Over the next couple of days, much of her time would be spent talking to priests, funeral directors, florists, and other folks who make their livings from the deceased among us, making sure that all was nice for Priscilla’s sendoff.

Meanwhile, we had a block party to attend. I asked MY WIFE if she wanted to cancel our appearance there, but she said that she still wanted to attend. As it turned out, it was a lovely day for it. The party itself was a lot of fun. We got to meet some really nice people – we’ve been living on our street for seven years, and we really should have known more of them already – and the food was good, the atmosphere convivial, and it was probably just the thing we needed at that moment.

After the party, more good sports news. I watched the Patriots lose, 30 – 10.

Monday – You’ve already heard about My Breakfast With Yoooooook. That took place on Monday. If you read that, then you know that the Sox lost again. Aside from general funeral planning, and naps, that’s fairly much all of interest that took place on Monday.

– Priscilla’s wake. Sad as these affairs can sometimes be, this one was fairly upbeat. As I said, she lived life to the max. There was much laughter as people recounted good stories about her. MY WIFE ran around getting this detail or that detail straightened out with the funeral people and priests. She was getting slightly frazzled, as was her sister, who also handled many things. After the wake, we ordered some Chinese food – we hadn’t eaten all day – and enjoyed that while watching the Red Sox lose again. MY WIFE’s brother, who came into town for the funeral, arrived from New York at about 11pm, and he had some food with us. This actually sort of fulfilled one of the things we wanted to do during the staycation, which was to have someone over for dinner at our place. We expected it to be slightly more festive, of course, but I like my brother-in-law a lot, so it was OK this way, too.

Odd fortune in my fortune cookie – "When the moment comes, take the first one from the right." You don’t usually get such specific advice. If I end up having a critical choice to make in the near future, I’ll have to remember that.

Wednesday – Funeral. No matter how well a person lived her life, there’s no getting away from the tears at these things. I’m usually pretty good at keeping my emotions in check, until I see someone else crying. At that point, I can’t help but shed a tear or two myself, maybe more. And I absolutely cannot get through the singing of On Eagle’s Wings without choking up. It was one of the songs at my Father’s funeral 14 years ago and seems to have been chosen as music at every funeral of a person significant to me ever since. Get to the part where the song goes, "And He will raise you up..." and I become a blubbering mess.

Everything went well - as I prayed it would, so thanks, God – and then we dropped off MY WIFE’s brother to catch his train back to New York. We went home, had a bit of leftover Chinese, and took well-deserved naps.

Odd sort of a vacation, thus far.

Thursday – We went to the mall today.

Actually, it was a bit more interesting than your run-of-the-mill mall. It was a place called The Natick Collections. We went there to eat hamburgers. We had seen a place called The Met Bar reviewed on The Phantom Gourmet, a local TV food show. They gave it a great review, especially the hamburgers, so we decided that we’d hit it some day and try the grub.

We had a bit of trouble finding the place, and, as a result, we were both a bit less-than-nice to each other. I think we were both off because of the wake, funeral, and general lack of vacation-type things we had done thus far. We got there, and we were OK once we did, but we so rarely argue, it was a distinct bummer.

The burgers, on the other hand, were good. Not anywhere near worth the price, though. Our bill for burgers and fries, with drinks, came to $55 with tip. Granted, MY WIFE’s burger was Kobe Beef, but mine wasn’t. She had wine – I had driven her to drink, apparently – and I had a chocolate frappe (or "shake", as it's called on the Met menu, which - if you're from the Boston area - should be all you need to know about this place. Most of you from other places won't understand that putdown, but don't sweat it.) We could have gotten much the same from a good burger stand and a liquor store for $25 tops - and had wine for later, too. The ambiance was pleasant enough, but not worth the extra $30. We expected the toll to be high, though, so we weren’t shocked out of our shoes.

We strolled through some other parts of the mall, going into a couple of chichi shops. At Nordstrom’s (a proud Thanksgiving Comes First participant, by the way) MY WIFE had a bra fitting, which just thinking about how such a thing is accomplished makes it harder for me to walk. While she was having her boobs measured, I flipped through a handy lingerie catalogue that would have qualified as soft porn had it been available behind the counter at 7-11. It was not a totally unpleasant way to spend 20 minutes of my life.

We bought upscale desserts from an overpriced dessert shop and took them home for consumption later on, perhaps as solace for when the Red Sox get eliminated by Tampa Bay tonight. Not that I’ve given up or anything...

Friday, Just After Midnight – And the Red Sox pulled off the most amazing comeback in playoff history, overcoming a 7 – 0 deficit, in the 7th inning, to win 8 – 7. Very nice. They now get to go back to Tampa for at least one more game. Yay! Life is getting better, just in time for the final three days of our vacation.

Friday Morning – We went to an excellent deli in Brookline called Zaftig’s, a funky place with good food. This completed the "Z" category under "Restaurant Names" for our "Breakfast Club" - as referenced in the "Yoooooook" story - and this sentence may have set some sort of record for completely unnecessary quotation marks, but that's alright. I'm on vacation, so I don't see why I sweat should things as such punctuation or grammar.

MY WIFE got French toast stuffed with bananas, a side of turkey sausage, and coffee. I got the corned beef hash, scrambled eggs, marble rye toast, home fries, coffee, and some fruit (which comes with the hash, oddly enough – strawberries and watermelon.) It was very tasty, very filling, and a very nice way to start the day.

After breakfast, we parted. She wanted to go have her nails done and do some other stuff in downtown Boston. I didn't, so I drove home and picked up a newspaper along the way. Now I’m going to enjoy a little peace and quiet, have a cup of good coffee, and read the paper – something I don’t normally do unless I’m on vacation or otherwise have a lot of time.

Friday Afternoon & Evening - More naps, some writing, watched a Deep Purple concert DVD, and generally chilled out. Two days to go and we're just now getting to the point where it feels like an actual vacation.


Tomorrow: I'll tell you about Saturday and Sunday. Saturday was the only day wherein we took any photographs of stuff we did, so perhaps that's a little something to look forward to - or, considering my horrid ineptitude as a photographer, anticipate with dread. Your guess is as good as mine, actually, as I haven't even looked at the photos yet myself. Odds are they'll be pitiful.

See you then!

Monday, October 20, 2008

My Breakfast With Yoooooook

On the third day of my vacation, I had breakfast with Kevin Youkilis. Well, kind of. I’ll tell you all about it, but first a couple of explanations may be needed.

Those of you in England, Australia, and other less-civilized outposts of the world, need to know who Kevin Youkilis is. He is a player with the Boston Red Sox. Where I live - and this is what makes us great, despite our predilection for overspending and occasionally invading other countries - baseball is played. The Red Sox are the reigning World Champions of baseball, and Kevin Youkilis is their clean-up hitter.

(I could explain what a clean-up hitter is, but if you don’t know, you probably don’t care. I could also explain how a team that never plays anyone from outside of North America is the World Champion, but I won’t. If you’re a fan, you know this is true. If you’re not, nothing I say will sound convincing. Just rest assured: It’s a fact.)

Another thing you should know is that whenever Kevin Youkilis comes up to bat, the Red Sox fans all yell out his nickname, extending the "oo" sound of it, thusly: Yooooook! It sounds like booing to the uninitiated, but it is actually a love call.

The final thing I need to explain is how I came to be in the same place as Kevin Youkilis on the third day of my vacation.

MY WIFE and I have this fun thing we do. We’ve been doing it since before we were married.

(I could rephrase the foregoing, so that it doesn’t automatically bring certain dirty thoughts into the heads of some of you, but I won’t. This is a long story and if you’re from England or Australia, you may as well get SOMETHING out of it. Enjoy!)

The thing we do is called "The Breakfast Club." We eat alphabetically.

No, we don’t line things up and then consume bacon before eggs and potatoes, then move on to the toast. What we do is go out to breakfast in towns, neighborhoods, and restaurants via an alphabetic scheme. We first went out to eat in Arlington (or it might have been Acton) and then moved on to Bedford, Chelsea, Dorchester, Everett, and so on. We did the same with the names of restaurants – perhaps it was Al’s, then Bickford’s, then Charlie’s – and the same with neighborhoods.

(I hope that explains it. I could elucidate further, but I’m afraid it might prove as inadequate as the baseball explanations previously given.)

The important thing to know is WHY we do this. Aside from the fact that we both really like breakfast foods, we figured it would be a way to get us exploring new places and things. I mean, if we didn’t need to eat in a neighborhood beginning with "Y", there would have been little reason for us to take the New York subway out to York Street in Brooklyn and eat in a restaurant entirely populated by what looked like crack dealers. Nor would we have traveled to the Suffolk Downs Diner, and gotten to sample fried mashed potatoes, if we weren’t looking for an establishment whose name began with "S". It has been a learning experience.

We started this thing with great gusto some 17 years ago. Since it only takes 78 breakfasts to complete all three categories, you can see that we became somewhat bogged down as things went along. The problem was the letter "X." There are only so many breakfast places in the world whose name begins with "X," not to mention towns and neighborhoods. After much searching of maps and phone directories, we finally got past the X portion of the categories during this past year. We were now looking for a restaurant whose name began with "Y."

MY WIFE and I looked in the phone book and found a place.

(I’m not going to tell you the name of it, by the way. Yoooooook seems to have found a nice quiet place where he can take his family and not be bothered too much, so I’m not going to screw that up for him.)

We drove there, went inside, and took a seat in a booth. We ordered some food and engaged in the sort of small talk a husband and WIFE do. I had my back to the door, by the way.

I heard the door open, and then some people sat down in the booth behind me. They had a child. My first thought was that I hope the kid doesn’t squirm around or kick, since I’d feel it through the back of my seat, which abutted his, and I really hate when that happens.

MY WIFE said something. I didn’t hear all of it, really. I was busy thinking about my forthcoming bacon and eggs. She said, "Don’t turn around, but..." and I didn’t catch the rest of it. For some reason, I thought it had something to do with the kid. I didn’t really care if I saw the kid, so it just sort of slipped past me as I dreamed about home fries. Just then, the kid slipped his hand over the back of the booth and inadvertently touched my head. His mother said, "Watch your hand, Michael! We don’t want to bother the people in the next booth!"

Since she cared – which many parents do not (and if she hadn’t, then I would have been pissed) - I sort of half-turned to reassure her that it was no big deal. She said, to Michael, who was perhaps 3 or 4, "What do we say?" and when Michael didn’t answer – being a bit embarrassed – she said, "We say, ‘I’m sorry!’" When Michael, still embarrassed, buried his head into her shoulder, and didn't offer the apology to me, his mother said, "Well, then I’ll say it, anyway." And she did, which was polite and sweet. I again offered my reassurance that it was no big deal, and turned back around to face MY WIFE, once again dreaming of the breakfast food that would be arriving shortly.

MY WIFE said, in a low voice, "So, did you see him?"

"Who? The kid? Yeah, he’s a cutie."

"No, Kevin Youkilis!"


"Kevin Youkilis is sitting behind you!"


"What did you think I was trying to tell you?"


When the family first arrived, MY WIFE wasn't positive it was him, but then a young boy, perhaps 10 or so, had walked up to Yoooooook’s booth and politely asked if he could have a baseball autographed. Youkilis did so, with a smile. That's when MY WIFE knew for sure it was him and tried to let me know. Now I understood why she had suggested I hold up my spoon and use it as a mirror.

(Talking about this incident later, about the boy asking for an autograph, MY WIFE deduced that the kid, who looked to be with his grandpa, must have been hip to the fact that Youkilis might be coming there at some point. Why else would he have a baseball in his pocket, at this time of year, while having breakfast with his grandpa?)

Well, now I wanted to see Yooooook, but I wasn’t about to turn around and gawk. Luckily enough, Michael had left his seat to look around the small restaurant. It was obvious, from the way they talked and acted, that the counter people knew the family, and liked Michael a lot. He was welcome to roam. Yoooooook, however, wanted Michael to sit down for breakfast, so he got up and went to fetch him, walking by us while doing so.

I don’t know what your impression of Kevin Youkilis might be (if you have one, that is) but sitting at home and seeing him at-bat and whatnot, MY WIFE and I have always thought he looked a bit like Bluto from the Popeye cartoons. Not an ogre or anything, but not tremendously friendly. He looks much nicer in person. The dark beard looks threatening when standing out in relief from his white home uniform, but Yooooook was dressed in a dark t-shirt and denims, so the contrast wasn’t as startling. He is also a bit shorter than I imagined, not much taller than my 5’11". He guided Michael back to the booth gently.

Our food arrived and we dug in. The kid and his grandpa had left. There had been a few old-timers at the counter when we arrived, but they were now gone, too. We were the only other folks in the place aside from Youkilis, his family, and the wait staff (who I believe were also the owners.)

While we ate, we were treated to some insights into Yoooooook’s manner off of the field, via snippets of conversation and the way he interacted with his fiance and Michael. He seems like a nice normal guy. The most endearing thing about this chance encounter with baseball royalty was seeing Yoooooook playfully trying to get Michael to eat his pancakes. I’ll try to explain in a way that casts the conversation in as nice a light as it deserves.

Youkilis said, to the waitress, "So, is that bird still in here, the one from last week?"

I looked up to see if there was actually a bird I hadn’t noticed. MY WIFE rolled her eyes.

We then heard a whistle, sounding vaguely like a bird. It was Youkilis. He said something like, "Oops! There’s the bird! He’s going to eat your pancakes, Michael!"

Michael looked around for the bird. No doubt, Yoooooook took a fork and stole a bit of Michael's pancakes at that point, which is something my father would have done, bless him. Yoooooook then said something to the effect of "Oops! The bird got some of your pancakes! You’d better start eating before he gets more of them!"

It was sweet. The act was repeated, with minor variations, when Michael once again got up to roam about, this time to spin the seats at the counter. We were all smiling at that point, probably because it’s a universal desire to spin the seats at a counter, but only a young kid would act upon that desire, so we were living vicariously through Michael.

One other small bit of talk was memorable. I found out which candidate Kevin Youkilis is voting for in the upcoming presidential election. As with the name of the restaurant, I won’t divulge that information. This is because Youkilis said, to his fiance, after a very brief divergence into political conversation, "Come on, you know I don’t want to discuss politics outside of the house." It immediately became clear to me that, as a public figure, he had no desire to have his intentions become known, as then he might be asked to endorse someone, or be fearful of losing fans who might like another candidate, or something of that nature. His reticence was understandable, so I won’t tell you. But, I know! Feel free to imagine me sticking my tongue out at you and waggling my fingers in my ears.

We finished our meal and got up to leave. I wanted to say "Hi" to him, since I’m a huge Red Sox fan. MY WIFE and I sort of consider him "our" player, too, since we were both watching the game where he hit his first major league home run and got a great kick out of how the players in the dugout studiously ignored him upon his return, only to then all jump up in unison and give him congratulations, a standard "hazing" given a rookie who accomplishes that feat for the first time.

MY WIFE suggested that perhaps he would notice my shirt – I was wearing my Bombers softball jersey – and say something about me being a ballplayer, too. I rather doubted that. I did, however, come up with a decent way to say something, without being too smarmy.

As we walked past their booth, I said, "Hi, Yook!"

He looked up and said, "Hi, how are you?"

I then asked, "Just out of curiosity, what IS the breakfast of champions?"

He smiled and gave a little laugh. I persisted.

"No, seriously, what is it?"

"Sausage, egg, and cheese, on an English muffin."

MY WIFE asked, "Just on game days?"”

Yook’s fiance then offered, with a roll of her eyes, "No, ALL the time."

She sounded as faintly exasperated as MY WIFE does. You see, I order the same thing all the time at the restaurants we go to.

Yook started to protest, but stopped, realizing the futility of doing so. I felt more of a kinship with him than ever before.

I said, "Good luck tonight!", to which he replied, "Thanks!", then we left.

Unfortunately, the Sox lost that night, 9 – 1, and Yook went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts. And, as you know by now, they also lost the American League Championship Series - though not without a good fight. I’d think about going back to the same place again for breakfast, but knowing how superstitious ballplayers are, he’d come in, see me sitting there, and turn around and walk out. The owners seem like nice folks, so I wouldn’t want to cost them his business.

Soon, with more better stuff.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Thanksgiving Comes First

As promised, here are the links to your brothers and sisters who have joined the fight. They're trying to help keep Christmas advertising, schlock merchandise, and way-too-early music from overrunning the previously scheduled celebration of Thanksgiving (as well as Veterans Day, Halloween, and maybe your birthday, if it falls in October or November.)

Before I give out the links, though, please consider the following, one of the comments from this year's original post:

"I was in CVS last Friday night, looking for some of those mallowcreme pumpkin candies that they have out at Halloween time. I went up and down the seasonal aisles several times because I just couldn't find them. However, I was able to find several displays of Christmas wrapping paper, bows, and assorted Christmas decorations. I was more than a little upset, to put it mildly."

This is the sort of comment consistently left by folks who have read my blog (and yours, if you've done one.) Obviously, we've struck a chord. And God bless the good folks who have left their comments. The thing is, though, that just being mad accomplishes nothing. What has to happen, for anything positive to come from this, is for you and I to say something to the folks at the store, or the mall, or the radio station, or whatever other place/thing offended us.

If you're not the type to ask for the manager (so that you can tell him/her that you're leaving the damn store and won't return unless the Christmas paper goes back into the stockroom until after Thanksgiving) then write a letter to the corporate headquarters. Do something, in any case. Even if it seems to have no immediate effect, it might later when they've received a whole bunch of letters or calls.

End of sermon.

Here's proof that we're doing the right thing - Universal Hub. And here's the original posting from that great site.

And here are your individual posts. God bless you all!

First post of the year came from Teresa at Technicalities

Then, the lovely Sarah from Que Sarah Sarah

Followed by...

Nana Net, from Check-N-Out Life

Prudence, from Prudence Ponder, who says she has sold out. Boo! Shame on you, Prudence!

Aside from posting the "Thanksgiving Comes First" logo, there are lots of great Wonder Woman shots over at House Of Eratosthenes. Thanks, Morgan!

My good buddy, Buck, from Exile In Portales.

Kris, at Reflections By Kris.

Thimbelle has written one of my all-time favorite TCF posts at Creeping Towards Normal.

Philmon, at The Clue Batting Cage.

Michelle (my darker gray friend, as I am her lighter gray friend) at The Surly Writer.

Heidi, at Heidi's Moments. And, again at Heidi's Photos.

Dusty Lens (who was pissed about this even before me last year - poor guy!) has promised another piece. When it is published, I'll insert the link here.

Janet, at Adventures In The 32-Aker Wood (who really seems to enjoy using parentheticals almost as much as I do.)

Laurie, at Soldiers' Angels New York (which appears to be a very nice blog in and of itself, as these people try to make soldiers lives a bit more comfy.)

Blogger's Delight picked up my Cousin David's piece from last year.

Apparently, we are creating a buzz. That's all I can infer from the fact that BuzzTracker is tracking us! Woo-Hoo!

In the same vein, BlogNetNews has picked up on it.

Please visit them and share the love.

You'll notice that there are links to 18 sites here. I get approximately 200 visitors a day (I still have trouble digesting the fact that 200 of you have nothing better to do, but I digress.) Anyway, what this means is that 9% of my wonderful readers decided to pass the word along. I hope at least as many of your wonderful readers do the same.

Not bad. It could be better.

If you haven't done a "Thanksgiving Comes First" post of your own, now is as good a time as any. If nothing else, it will make you feel wonderfully self-righteous. Then, when other people are complaining about Santa being at the local mall come Halloween, you can say, "Hey! I tried! What about you, Mister Bitch-But-Do-Nothing-About-It?" And then give him a dope slap.

(That last part is optional, of course.)

Thank you, all. I'll do another compilation of postings in a couple of weeks. For now, MY WIFE and I are off to enjoy our staycation (and thank you, again, for all of the wonderful suggestions concerning that.) I'll be back on Monday the 20th.

Until then, keep the faith and God bless.

Soon, with more better stuff.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Where I'm From

I am from clean clothes, from a warm bed and always enough to eat.

I am from a duplex on a quiet side street, where cats were cohabitants and love was plentiful. Sunshine has never since been as warm or comforting as it was then, dancing with dust motes, on the puffy-beaded white bedspread.

I am from my Mom's rose bush in the backyard, as well as the willow tree we planted when I was seven (and which I cried about 25 years later when the new landlord cut it down.)

I am from always offering food to guests and never afraid to tell a joke, from unconditional love and a never-ending supply of hugs and kisses, from Ma, Pa, Grandma, Grandpa, Auntie Ba, Uncle Jimmy, Uncle Rick, Uncle Jim, Auntie Jeanne, Aunt Loretta, Aunt Pat, Uncle David, and at least thirty-five or forty others who should be mentioned here, but won't be. I am from feeling guilty about that.

I am from the even-tempered Drowns and the highly-emotional Sullivans. I am from the long-lived Barcellos and the lucky-to-see-retirement-age MacPhersons.

From "Clean your plate! There are people starving in Africa!" (to which I replied, "Then send them this stuff!")

I am from Catholics who truly believed, as well as freethinkers who lived as though they did. They all had an inner longing to see the other fellow do well, though, and my own Christianity is backed by that example more than any dogma. I am from an utter lack of jealousy, so far as I can tell.

I'm from Dorchester, by way of Ireland, France, England, Scotland, Spain, and probably one or two other places nobody in my family is willing to admit that my ancestors had sex in. I am from baked stuffed pork chops, beef stew, homemade baked beans, peanut butter cookies and bread pudding.

From Love, Love, and More Love.

I am from almost every open space in the places where I've lived, but especially the wall by the stairs in 14 Caddy Road.

(The instructions said to name the location of family pictures, mementos, archives... I am from a need to explain.)

I am from please, thank you, and you're welcome.

I am from happy. I still live there, as a matter of fact.


The origin of this piece is from, who got the idea from the poem Where I'm From by George Ella Lyon. In turn, I was directed to those things by Sarah. Thank you, Sarah.

Soon, with more better stuff.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Self-Portraits Of The World's Nicest People

This is MY WIFE. Yes, apparently I married a toilet brush.

I asked MY WIFE to contribute a drawing to this collection and that's what she drew. I think she was having some self-image issues this weekend. She said her hair looked like it belonged on a scrub brush, so that's why she drew herself that way.

I told her that I didn't want to publish a sketch of a toilet scrubber that supposedly resembled MY WIFE. I said that I wanted a picture of her as she really looks. So, she drew me this:

Yup. She morphed herself from a toilet brush into a mushroom.

Now, you've got to understand something. I am one sucky artist. All weekend I was attempting to do a drawing of myself. As I'd complete one that I thought might resemble me, I'd bring it to MY WIFE for a critique. Every time I did so, she said it didn't look like me. So, I'd go off and try again. And again. And yet again. All in all, I probably did about thirty sketches of myself.

After she drew herself as a mushroom, I decided that her critiques no longer counted. Whatever I thought might look like me was good enough. I mean, am I going to ask a beautiful woman who feels that she resembles a toilet brush her opinion on my artwork? Hell, no. So, she hasn't seen this one yet.
I think I've captured my essence.

(Even if it doesn't look like me, it looks one hell of a lot more like me than her self-portrait looks like her.)

Meanwhile, here are some drawings that I'm sure look exactly like the people they purport to be.

This is the lovely Sandra Ree.

This is Chris Stone, ice skating.

The above were done by Kevin Smith, of The Angry Fan. Going way beyond the call of duty, he drew himself in the style of five different comic artists. The one in the lower right is his own style. Bravo! Magnificent!

This is My Mom, with her pet cat, Smoky. Interesting choice. She drew Smoky with her, rather than my Stepfather, Bill. Considering how Smoky turned out, this may have been a break for Bill.

This is my friend, Michelle, who calls herself The Surly Writer. That's a lie. She's a sweetie.

This is Hilary, from The Smitten Image. It certainly is.

This is Fat, Frumpy & Fifty. That's what she calls herself. Doesn't look it to me.

This is Chuck. He Simpsonized himself. So did The Beautiful (Yet Surprisingly Inexpensive) Tara, who appears below. I couldn't figure out how to save Tara's picture from the website, so I had to print it out and then scan it, thus the graininess and no color. In addition, it looks as though she has a black eye, which was NOT the case in the original. She looks like she came from trying out for a part in A Clockwork Orange. Trust me on this: She looks much better in person and in color.

This is the lovely Jenn, from Random Lunacy.

This is Janet from Adventures In The 32-Aker Wood. Her blog being named as it is, I was expecting something a bit more like Winnie-The-Pooh, but what do I know? MY WIFE looks like a toilet brush.

Below we have Lime, in two poses. One of them is NUDE! Woo-Hoo!

Well, according to her, she sleeps in the nude, so under the covers, she is.

I think these are all wonderful (even the "Simpsonized" folks, who sort-of cheated.) I am extremely grateful for the time each of these folks took from their day to work on these portraits.

I said that there would be prizes. I wasn't kidding. Everybody who sent me a portrait gets a $10 gift certificate from Amazon. It pays to be nice! You should all be receiving them, via your e-mail, sometime today.

Thank you, all. I would say, "Soon, with more better stuff", but that would be a lie. It hardly ever gets any better than this.

Friday, October 03, 2008

A Gentle Reminder, As Well As An Elucidation

Please don't forget to send me your self-portraits. Come Monday, I'll be publishing all that I've received. Remember: There are prizes for everyone!

(Image courtesy of Thanksgiving Corner)

(Much of the following was written during the Thanksgiving Comes First campaign of last year, but some of it needs repeating and some of it is, I believe, worth repeating.)

There was one important thing I didn’t do in my original post. I didn’t ask you to keep the ball rolling. In order for this thing to have any real effect, it has to keep spreading via others. While I truly LOVE anything you do in response, we have to ask others to do the same. If we don’t, then we’re just ranting. While that might certainly be fun, it doesn’t accomplish nearly as much as making our feelings known and also getting others to make their feelings known.

I firmly believe – and I’m sure you do, too – that the great majority of people are sick to death of the way Christmas has been commercialized. I’d be willing to bet that whenever you talk to anyone about this stuff, they almost always say, “Yeah, me, too!”

Don’t you think we hold the majority opinion on this? If there were some way we could vote on it, wouldn’t we win easily? I sure think so. I think that for every person who loves hearing Christmas music at the beginning of November, there are ten of us who want to blow up the radio it’s playing on. I know that’s the way I feel. And I really, truly LOVE Christmas music. I honestly do. I own some 35 or 40 CDs full of Christmas music. But it has its place, and November (or, God help us, October) really isn’t it.

Are we tilting at windmills? I’d like to think we're not. The response thus far, from all of you kind folks, gives me hope that it’s a winnable battle.

Can you imagine how sour the pusses of some corporate execs would be if they received printed-out copies of blogs that say "Thanksgiving Comes First"? What if all of us called or wrote some radio station, telling the programming director that we decided to stop listening? If we all wrote a “letter to the editor” at our local papers, we could definitely expect some to be printed. Last year, mine was - and I’m not nearly as eloquent as some of you. Who knows how many good people might see something like that and decide that they, too, would like to reclaim the season from the merchants?

If we were to flood retailers with e-mails saying that we won’t shop at their stores – giving them the idea that it will cost them actual profits - they’ll listen. Profit and loss is what they judge by, so if we speak with our wallets and purses...

Sooner or later, if we all do one or two of these things, I honestly think we can have some effect. I’m not saying that we’ll bring the corporate world to its knees, nor would I want that. This isn’t a power trip. But, if we can get them to ramp it down a bit, that would be an accomplishment of which we could be proud.

What this is all about, truly, was brought home to me while I was watching Mister Rogers the other day.

You may already know that I consider Fred Rogers to have been an actual living saint. He really was a nice man, as I detailed in a previous post. Anyway, on one of his shows that aired recently, he was explaining the concepts of noisy and quiet. In order to illustrate the difference, he took his television audience to see a musician friend of his.

Fred had the musician, a percussionist, play his many instruments. Some were very loud, while others were soft and gentle. Afterwards, Mister Rogers looked into the camera and spoke. I have to paraphrase, but it will be close enough. He said, “In music, the silences are just as important as the loud parts.”

That’s a very profound statement. The silences are just as important as the loud parts. It’s true, isn’t it? Without the silences, it’s just noise. The silences – the pauses, the gaps, the unfilled spaces – are what give the notes their power and meaning. And when it comes to a holiday, the silences – the quiet times preceding (or even within) the holiday – are extremely important. They give the celebration its power and meaning. That’s why I care so deeply about this. We all need some silences. They’re just as important as the loud parts.

Please keep writing, as well as asking your friends to write. Send off a letter or two, and let us know what sorts of responses you receive. As promised, I’ll list (and link to) all of your blogs next Friday, a week from today.

Thank you for helping.

For now, Google the phrase "Thanksgiving Comes First" and you'll find many of our postings. That simple act, in and of itself, also helps to spread the message. Getting many hits on Google, for the phrase, will bring it to the attention of some more good people.

MORE from last year, if interested.

See you Monday, with fun artwork.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008


You may recall - with fondness, it is hoped - this semi-Quixotic campaign from last year. At that time, I had become fed up with early Christmas advertising, and so I railed against it in this space. I was pleasantly surprised by how many folks felt the same as I did, as well as tremendously gratified when most of them tried to do something to help the cause.

Well, here we go again.

I haven't seen any Christmas advertising yet, Thank God. However, the problem with trying to bring about social change, when it specifically involves a time period in the near future, is that you might have to start fighting for it earlier than you'd prefer. If you don't start early enough, the results end up as they did last year: satisfying on a moral level, while not an overwhelming success in actually stemming the tide.

Unfortunately, by starting earlier, you run the risk of somewhat defeating your own purpose. You bring Christmas advertising into the forefront of people's thinking even sooner than the greedy sons of bitches whom you're trying to stop.

I'd rather just sit back and not be bothered. So would you, of course. If I do that, though, I'll certainly regret it later on. I have to at least make an effort to have some effect on this situation. If I don't, I'll have no right to bitch and moan later :-)

So, here's an abridged version of what I wrote, last year, at the start of the campaign. I'm open to your suggestions concerning actions we might take. Please feel free to comment as liberally as you'd like. Of course, if you'll help in the ways already outlined within the body of what follows, I'd be extremely thankful.

(Much of this will be lost on my good friends from other lands, I'm afraid. Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving in October, while other countries don't celebrate it at all. If you're not from the U.S., I hope you won't become too bored as I return to this subject over the coming weeks. Thanks for your forebearance.)


When I was a kid, Christmas was magical. The lights were colorful and amazing, making the night a warm, bright, wonderful place to be, even if it was 20 degrees outside and the snow was up to your waist in drifts. When you heard a Christmas carol, it gave you the same sorts of butterflies in your stomach that would be associated with love at a later time in your life. Cities and towns put up decorations on the main streets, with the larger municipalities erecting lovely Christmas trees in central spots.

All of the above worked, on such a spectacular level, because it happened at an appropriate time. No retailer (or city or homeowner) dared to breach the unofficial line of demarcation – Thanksgiving. It was an unwritten rule that one holiday would play out completely before another was allowed to be spoken of.

Now? Nobody cares. Whatever you can peddle, whenever you can peddle it, is the mantra. It matters not a whit how many people’s memories are trampled, nor how irreligious your displays and advertisements. The only thing that counts is that you get into the black. Restraint and taste are passé. The more outrageous the spectacle you make, the better for your bottom line.

Make no mistake about it: I’m a capitalist. I believe in a system wherein the market regulates itself. I’m all for everybody making as much money as they can, as fast as they can, in whatever way they can, so long as nobody is physically hurt in the process. I’m not looking to enact laws against early Christmas advertising, nor am I in favor of jail terms for such nebulous concepts as greed. What I am in favor of is standing up and being counted. If you decry this incursion upon our holiday ground, I hope you'll join me in raising a slight ruckus. My hope is that we'll make enough noise to affect the situation. If we can’t, then I suppose we deserve this despicable state of affairs.

I’m going to give it a try. I hope you'll help.

If you believe, as I do, that Thanksgiving should play out before Christmas; that Christmas carols should not be heard on the radio before at least Thanksgiving evening; that advertisers who dare to encroach upon Thanksgiving with their hideous advertisements should be told in no uncertain terms that you will not shop at their establishments; that malls who put Santa Claus on display before Veterans Day should be made ashamed of themselves; then please consider doing what I'm going to ask of you.

Should you be as incensed as I am concerning Christmas schlock, please post a "Thanksgiving Comes First" entry on your blog. Write from the heart. Everybody who visits your blog will know how you feel. Perhaps they'll also write about it, and so will their friends, and so on. I hope that, if enough of us do this, we might make some small impact.

Please title your post "Thanksgiving Comes First". If we all do that, it will make a bigger impact. If you wish to reference this post, or other posts with a similar title, please do so. It isn't mandatory. I'm not looking to drive people to my blog; I'm just trying to make a difference concerning something that truly rankles me.

If you wish to use the snazzy graphic at the top of this page, either on your blog entry or as a semi-permanent graphic on your sidebar, I'd appreciate it. Having a visual symbol that folks might see repeatedly would be a big help. Here is a smaller version of it, in case you'd like something a bit less obtrusive.

Following are my most personal reasons for wishing to see something positive occur.

I'm a Christian, so I have more than an annoyance factor at work here. I think that cheapening the holiday, by expanding it beyond reasonable bounds, does a world of disservice to my religion. It gives people a false view of it, by making it a greed-fest. However, if you aren’t a Christian, your take on matters is still important; maybe even more so than mine. If you're Jewish, for instance, it might make you mad to see some of your own festive holy days being given short shrift because of this overkill. If you're an atheist? I imagine it doesn't make you happy to be bombarded by this stuff. Whatever your reasons, please consider telling the world that you've had enough.

(I'm not encouraging obscenity, but I won't discourage it, either. Make it funny, or use it to emphasize a point, but I’d prefer that you don’t be gratuitous just for shock value. Obscenity always works better when it is an organic part of the whole. Be creative.)

(Last year, since I started this so late, there appeared here a list of offenders; merchants who were especially egregious in their attempts to separate us from our money via schlock. Since we are early enough to have avoided it thus far, I've dropped that. I'm sure we'll see more than enough as the days pass and we get closer to Thanksgiving. I'll likely report a few as time goes on. I'd like to hear about those you find, too. I'll boycott yours, if you'll boycott mine.)

(Here's my latest idea: I think a good value, given to merchants who forgo early advertising, would be a nice and proper thing to offer. For instance, Nordstrom's was a retailer that specifically advertised, last year, that they would NOT be filling the aisles with Christmas merchandise until after Thanksgiving. God bless them! We should, at the least, patronize folks like that.

Better yet, I would like to offer the combined readership of ALL OF OUR BLOGS as a potential source for retailers who agree not to give the short end of it to Thanksgiving. If we could give FREE ADVERTISING ON OUR BLOGS to those who solemnly swear to hold in abeyance the tinsel and trees and carols and other such stuff, until after Thanksgiving, that might carry some weight. Just a thought. I've always considered it nicer to offer incentives than to promise punishments.)

So, to reiterate:

If you believe as I do, that Thanksgiving Comes First, then please let your readers know where you stand.

If you post a "Thanksgiving Comes First" entry to your blog, please let me know by leaving a comment here. On Friday of next week, I'll write about this again. If we can get this thing rolling, it will be a joyous post detailing all of the successes and pointing folks to all of the other blogs, including yours, that have decided to fight the madness. If it turns out to be a dismal failure, I'll write about that, instead.

Thanks for listening. I look forward to seeing what you do.

P.S. I would suggest, if you are unable to blog about it, that you send letters to the editor of your local newspapers, to other media outlets, as well as letters to the offending merchants. As a matter of fact, even if you DO blog about it, this extra step will go a long way. I had a couple of letters published last year. I'm betting you could have similar success.