Saturday, December 31, 2011



That's the sound of me blowing my own horn again.

(This was the first instance.)

I've been published in The Boston Herald for a second time. God bless them for being such poor judges of talent that I was able to bamboozle them once more!

This time around, the horn I am tootling is a New Year's Eve party horn. Go, read, enjoy (or, at least, pretend to do so, by leaving a comment that lets them know they have discovered the most spectacular writing talent since Mark Twain fathered Ernest Hemingway.)

(I suppose I should let you know that Mark Twain didn't actually father Ernest Hemingway. I figure if you're gullible enough to buy into the notion that I'm a writer worth paying, you probably need to have such things made unambiguously clear.)

HERE is where you should go to read my latest desecration of the language. My byline will be there someplace.

(However, if you'd like to learn how to draw things, such as the horn at the top of this page which I stole, go to How To Draw Cartoons Online! All in all, I'd say that would be a better use of your time.)

Soon, with a brand new year of idiocy!

(And I'll be back writing some more stuff, too.)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Roddy's Christmas Miracle

[Roddy The Wondercar]

It was a small puddle.

And Green.

A small green puddle. Under my car.

Every morning.

A small green puddle under my car every morning. For the last month.

It was a small green puddle under my car every morning for the last month.

I noticed it, and MY WIFE noticed it. It bothered me a little. It bothered MY WIFE a lot.

"Daddy doesn't care about you, Roddy", she would say, as she got in on the passenger side.

"I check his fluids every day", I would reply, "And I only have to add water once or twice a week."

To which, she would query, "Well, do you remember the story of The Boy Who Didn't Get His Radiator Repaired?"

"Yes", I would say, shamefaced, because I did.

Back in 1995, we owned a different car. It was a Chevy Cavalier with a leaky radiator. I checked the fluids and kept adding water. Then MY WIFE's Father died. While driving to his wake, the leaky Cavalier died, too.

(I believe the car was only acting in solidarity. During the previous twelve months, my father died, MY WIFE's mother died, and now her father had passed away. The Cavalier was just trying to be one of the family.)

The engine seized on the Southeast Expressway. As a result, we ended up driving her father's pick-up truck to his funeral. It had a bumper sticker that said, "Follow me to Bub's Barbecue!", which was humiliating enough to MY WIFE, she being a woman who doesn't eat anything with her fingers, let alone having everyone else in her family know she was married to a doofus who could have saved about $2,500 if he had only brought his car in for a simple check of the radiator for leaks.

Anyway, we had to have the engine replaced. It was either that or buy a new car. Since I was still paying off the Cavalier, I decided I'd rather send off two payments a month for a car we still had, as opposed to sending $350 a month into the ether for a car that was living in a junkyard.

And now, let us return to the present day (more or less.)

It is December 24th. We are preparing to drive to Weymouth, in order to celebrate Christmas with my mother's side of the family. It is a drive of some 25 or 30 miles each way. As we get in the car, Roddy has his usual small green puddle underneath him. MY WIFE says something about getting him into the shop to be checked out. I say something about it will happen in a couple of weeks, don't worry, I've checked the fluids, etc., and she says, "A stitch in time...", etc., which I know she is right about, but it's Christmas Eve, for goodness' sakes, and I really don't want to think about that sort of stuff right now.

Then, as we are on Route 128, still about 20 miles from Weymouth, the "check engine" light comes on.

(You should know something about Roddy [aside from the fact that Roddy is his name, and if your car doesn't have a name, then one of you has no soul, and it ain't the car.] His instrument panel does not function. It hasn't for about six months. I could get it replaced, but it isn't a necessity. The odometer and trip meter still function, being mechanical rather than electrical, so I can always tell if I need gas. I can judge speed fairly well, so I don't really have to have the speedometer. And I check the fluids regularly, so most of those idiot lights aren't needed. Anyway, a car doesn't need a functioning instrument panel to pass inspection, and if I get a different one, it will not have the true mileage reading for Roddy. I'm not at all sure why this matters to me, since I am never planning on selling Roddy, but it does. So there you go.)

When the "check engine" light comes on, I am amazed. NOTHING on the instrument panel has functioned for six months, but now the "check engine" light flashes on? On Christmas Eve? Just after I've told MY WIFE, for the umpteenth time, not to worry?

Now I'm worried.

If Roddy's engine seizes, I may just as well hop out of the car and commit hari-kari in the breakdown lane. It would be a financial tragedy, but, more important, it would also mean that I never again would have any chance of convincing MY WIFE that I knew, in any way, shape, or form, what I was talking about. The be-all and end-all of any argument would be, "Do you remember The Story Of The Boy Who TWICE Ignored Green Puddles?"

So, having no better option as I drove, I said a prayer. I said, "Dear God, please get us to Weymouth. And then to church tonight. And then home again. And then to Brookline on Christmas. And home again. And I absolutely promise I will take Roddy in for a check-up on Tuesday morning."

(It was probably a bit much to ask for five successful trips, rather than just one safe arrival to our current destination, but I knew we would have to make all five. Those were the plans, and too many people were counting on us, and getting repairs on Christmas Eve or Christmas would have been near-impossible anyway.)

We made it to Weymouth. We had a wonderful time. We made it to church that evening. It was a beautiful service. We made it home, uneventfully. Then, when we were on our way to Brookline on Christmas Day, Roddy gave up the ghost.

Of his "check engine" light, I mean. It went out. And, lo, the driver (me) was mightily relieved. And thankful. And he said, "Thank you, God. I am still most definitely bringing Roddy in for a check-up on Tuesday, though, as promised!"

Fast forward to Tuesday. As usual, there is a small green puddle under Roddy. I am feeling a bit lazy, though, so I say to myself, "Self, the check engine light went out of it's own accord. I know Roddy has enough fluids. I'll definitely bring him in for a check-up, but maybe next week."

And I get into the car, put the key in the ignition, and start it up.

But Roddy doesn't start. He cranks, but sputters. I try a couple more times. No go. There is power, but it appears to be diminishing steadily with each attempt. I know I am going nowhere. I know I need to call AAA, to get a tow to the repair facility. Whether I like it or not, I am being made to keep my promise.

God will do that sometimes.

And I have nothing to say, other than "Thanks, God!"

Roddy could have crapped out on any number of highways. If so, our Christmas celebrations would have taken a hideous hit. So, also, would my wallet. Had Roddy died on the road, it no doubt would have been because of something far more hideous than a belt tensioner and a dead battery, which is what turned out to be the case once Roddy was inspected by someone who knew a bit more about his workings than whether or not he had enough water. As for the radiator leak, it wasn't a radiator leak at all. It was only a loose clamp on a hose. All in all, the repair bill came to under $300, which I consider a major victory any time a car goes into a garage.

Roddy failed to start in the best possible place, his own garage at home, and the only inconvenience I got out of it was making a call to AAA and missing about one hour of work. And this morning, no green puddle, and I drove with peace of mind and a knowledge that God likes me enough to have allowed me to get through the celebration of His Son's birth with no true inconvenience, even though I was The Boy Who Hadn't Learned His Lesson, Twice, But Now I Am (I Think.)

Soon, with more better stuff.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Gift

[Christmas, 1965 or thereabouts]

The boy was very young; perhaps 7 or 8 years old. He loved everything about Christmas - the lights, the music, Santa Claus, the trees covered in tinsel and shiny ornaments - but especially the snow. For as long as he could remember (which wasn't very long, but it was a lifetime) there was always snow at Christmas. The whole thing was magical.

He walked down the street, on his way to a store near his home, and it was beginning to snow again. There was already an inch or two on the ground from yesterday and it was shiny, bright, white, and made everything it covered pretty. He opened his mouth and turned his face to the sky, trying to catch a couple of snowflakes on his tongue. He thought he succeeded, but it was hard to tell because snow melted as soon as it hit your tongue, so you couldn't collect a mouthful of it to prove that you caught some. He jingled a couple of nickels in his pocket, sliding his green rubber boots along in the snow as he walked with his face to the sky.

He was on his way to the store to buy a gift. He enjoyed receiving presents, of course; what child doesn't? However, he also very much enjoyed giving them to others. He loved to see people's faces when they opened their gifts. It was another magical thing about this time of year. He rarely saw anyone unhappy around Christmas and he never saw anyone unhappy when they opened a present.

Being very young, the boy didn't have much money. He received an allowance, but only one dollar. He had already bought presents for his mother and father. For his mother, it was some cheap perfume. For his father, it was some cheap cigars.

(Realize that when I say "cheap", I don't mean to imply that the boy had gone out of his way to buy inexpensive and shoddy presents. He hadn't. He had lovingly picked them out, albeit within his modest budget. The cigars and perfume were cheap, though. Being a young boy, he had no appreciation of perfume and thought they all smelled pretty much alike - stinky. He also had no idea that some cigars, when lit, smell like innertubes burning. However, these had come in a package with a big white owl on the front, and he did know that his dad liked owls.)

He had ten cents leftover from his original dollar, which will give you an idea of the value of the cigars and perfume. In any case, he now wanted to buy a present for his aunt.

His aunt was the older relative closest in age to the boy. She was around 19 or 20. She had lived with the boy and his parents for a short while when the boy was much younger. They had grown very close during this time. She was close enough in age to have been the boy's older sister and, in some ways, that's what the boy thought of her as.

The boy reached the main street. The store was on the other side, so he pressed the button that made the light red to stop the traffic. He loved how even the traffic lights joined in with the season, flashing red and green and yellow just like the lights on a Christmas tree. He looked both ways and then crossed the street.

He walked through the parking lot of the store, again noticing how people were so much happier this time of year. Everybody had a cheery "Hello!" for the people they met. As he entered the store through the automatic door (how did it know?) he heard Christmas music playing over the store's speakers.

He felt great. He was in love with the world.

Now he had to find a present for his aunt. He hadn't really given thought about this part of the task. He just assumed that he'd be able to find something nice. After all, a dime would buy a comic book, or two candy bars, or even twenty of those 2-for-1 Mint Julep candies. Certainly he'd be able to find something his aunt would love.

What sorts of thoughts go through the mind of a small boy? Many and varied, of course, but some are unfathomable. As he was walking down one of the aisles, he spotted something very colorful and pretty. He had always liked how these things looked. They were useful, too. And, when he checked the price, it was ten cents - just right! This is what he would get his aunt for Christmas.

He brought the gift up to the checkout and paid for it. Now there was nothing to jingle in his pockets, but that was OK. His Christmas shopping was done.

He made his way back home, enjoying the big colored lights that were on just about every house in the neighborhood, again catching (or trying to catch) snowflakes in his mouth.


When he got home, he took off his boots (which was always troublesome – he always seemed to leave one sock inside of a boot) and then ran upstairs to his room, to wrap this newest gift.

He was an only child. He spent many hours by himself, in his room, and he very much enjoyed that privacy. He didn’t dislike other people - far from it, in fact - but he did enjoy dreaming and using his imagination. He discovered early on that it’s almost impossible to dream when someone else is in your room. Someone else almost always wants to talk, and you can’t carry on a decent conversation with someone else and dream at the same time. Anyway, as a result of spending much time alone, he became fairly self-sufficient.

(Whenever anyone asked him if he wouldn’t rather have a brother or sister, he would firmly say, “No!” and he hoped that the people asking him these questions would see to it that the proper authorities – whoever was in charge of bringing brothers and sisters – did not make any deliveries to his house.)

Being such a self-sufficient boy, he mostly wrapped his own presents. He had already wrapped all of his other gifts for family. Many of his relatives got handmade gifts of one sort or another. For instance, every year since he was able to handle crayons, he had made his grandfather a hand-drawn calendar, which his grandfather treasured receiving. Now, he wrapped the gift for his aunt in colorful paper, once again admiring how colorful the gift was, too.


That night, Christmas Eve, he did what most Christian boys and girls try to do. Almost immediately after dinner, he went to bed. He tried to go to sleep at an abnormally early hour, hoping to thus wake up sooner and make Christmas come quicker. Before going to bed, he hung his stocking on his bedroom door (since there were no chimney or fireplace in his house.) He turned on the little transistor radio he had received as a gift on his last birthday and searched out a station playing Christmas music. In those days of his youth, it seemed the only time they ever played Christmas music on the radio was starting on Christmas Eve and he loved hearing all of the songs he heard (and loved) a year ago. His favorite was “Silver Bells”, and they played it not long after he lay down, much to his delight. Slowly, to the strains of “Do You Hear What I Hear?”, he drifted off to sleep.

(A curious thing about being a boy is that sometimes you can will yourself to dream what you want to dream. Not always, of course, but sometimes. You might think it an odd thing to dream, but the boy had dreamed of Yogi Bear and Huckleberry Hound every Christmas Eve [that is, every one in the memory of his short life] and he hoped that he’d have that same dream again this night, as it was great fun running around with cartoon characters. He did.)

Since he had gone to bed so early, he awoke at 3 am. He got up to go to the bathroom, but when he opened his door, he felt the heaviness of a full stocking on the other side of it, so thoughts of peeing suddenly took a backseat to seeing what Santa had left. He gently took out the tack that was holding the stocking to the door, making doubly sure he had a firm grip on the stocking and it wouldn’t fall on the hall floor (in case there was anything in it that might break) and he took it back to his bed, flipping on the bedroom light switch as he did so.

He wasn’t a greedy sort of a boy and so he didn’t just dump everything out on the bed in one fell swoop. Instead, he took the items out one at a time and carefully, lovingly, examined them. There were candy cigarettes with little bits of red food coloring on the ends to simulate their being lit; a set of jacks with a small rubber ball; a wind-up dog that did backflips until there wasn’t enough wind-up left (so then it landed on its head); a pinkie ball (great for three-flies-out on the front steps); one of those puzzles that you have to move around the pieces until you get it to read 1 through 15 in order; and a pencil with his very own name engraved on it! He attempted to solve the puzzle for a little bit, but then he remembered that he had to pee, so he did.

(He went to the bathroom to do so.)

After washing his hands and brushing his teeth, he went downstairs and plugged in the Christmas tree. He considered a Christmas tree the most beautiful thing on earth, and this one was filled with enormous colored lights, ornaments of all shapes and sizes, big handfuls of tinsel on every branch, and a long garland of popcorn (which he and his mother had strung one evening last week.) Topping it off was a white star with a red bulb inside it. He sat down on the floor and just stared at the tree for ten minutes, bathing in its warmth, both real (from the gigantic lights) and metaphysical.

He probably would have stared at it a bit longer, but his cat came along and started playing with one of the low-hanging ornaments and that broke him out of his reverie. He loved the cat very much and he loved watching her play - even more than he liked looking at the tree. After she failed to defeat the ornament - it still hung on the branch and she now wriggled on her back, enjoying the pine needles that had fallen - he went out to the kitchen and opened a can of cat food. Hearing the opener whirr, she came running like a shot - for a cat will take food over ornaments, every time (thus proving, once again, their innate intelligence.)

The boy poured himself a glass of milk and added some chocolate to it. He then took this back upstairs, drank it while eating a candy cigarette, and went back to sleep, listening to “The Little Drummer Boy” and imagining himself a poor boy playing drums for Jesus. The cat came upstairs and joined him in sleep, though what she dreamed of remains a mystery.


When he awoke again, it was 7am and his mother and father were also awake. They all went downstairs and opened presents, enjoying some cocoa while they did so. The boy received wonderful presents of games and toys, as well as a couple of shirts and such that he knew he should be more thankful for than he was. The cat received a catnip mouse (from Sandy Claws) and was very thankful for it. The parents exchanged gifts with each other and were thankful for those, and they received the stinky perfume and the smelly cigars with warmth at the thought behind them.

Now it was time for mass, after which the family would head over to the aunt’s to exchange gifts, before heading off to the house of the boy's grandparents.

Mass was as mass usually is – something which cats are thankful not to have to attend. It wasn’t that the boy didn’t want to wish Jesus a happy birthday and all – he really loved the bible stories very much, and he admired to no end someone who would lay down his own life for that of his friends – but the priest saying the mass this morning just went on and on and on and on. Even though he had slept close to ten hours, the boy could feel his eyes drooping as the interminable homily crept, s-l-o-w-l-y, towards a conclusion that had stopped being meaningful to all but the most die-hard some ten minutes before. Finally, after the homily died its excruciating death and communion was served, and after everyone had sung a rousing “Joy To The World”, it was time to get on the road and go exchange presents with other family members. After a 15-minute drive, the boy and his parents arrived at the aunt’s house.

They went inside to a warm welcome from the aunt and the rest of her family gathered there, which included a few other adults and a couple of infants, the boy's cousins. After a few minutes of small talk (mostly complaints from the boy’s father concerning the length of the homily at mass) it was time to open presents.

The boy watched with delight as everybody opened packages and smiled. Here was the magic again. Everyone oohed and aahed in the appropriate places as they received the presents that others had purchased for them. And now, his aunt had his gift in her hands and she carefully removed the wrapping paper, revealing the gift for all to see.

There were some smiles. Not that the boy noticed, but there were also a couple of glances exchanged by the grown-ups with some muffled laughter included. The aunt regarded her gift and looked lovingly at the boy. He looked back at her with love in his heart.

She said, “Oh, Jimmy, they’re just what I needed! Thank you, darling!”

She reached over and kissed him. He blushed and said, “You’re welcome.”

Never before had a package of red and green kitchen sponges brought such joy to two people.


True story.

My Auntie Ba could have laughed at such a ridiculous gift. Some of the other adults might have joined in and then I would have been mortified. Instead, she taught me a marvelous lesson that Christmas, and she did so just by being her wonderful loving self. She taught me that there is no such thing as a bad gift, so long as there is love behind the giving of it.

My Christmas wish for all of you is that the gifts you give, whether large or small or precious or ludicrous (like sponges) be received as lovingly. My Christmas request to all of you is that you receive with love every gift given you. You never know how profoundly your love might affect someone.

My Auntie Ba is gone now, and I miss her, but her spirit lives on with me every Christmas because of the love she showed a well-meaning boy and his silly gift.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Uncle Jim's Christmas Stocking

Grand Uncle Jim

First things first: This is a story about an Irish family. While my name is Jim, and I’m an uncle, I also have an Uncle Jim of my own. There is an Uncle Jim mentioned in this story, but he’s not that Uncle Jim, although that Uncle Jim is the one who told me this tale of the other Uncle Jim. Actually, he’s Uncle Jim’s Uncle Jim, making him my Grand Uncle Jim (and some folks prefer the title 'Great Uncle', but let’s not open that can of worms.) It’s very confusing to the uninitiated, I suppose, so if it will keep you from getting a headache, feel free to think of the main character herein as Uncle Aloysius.

Anyway, when my father was very young – five or six - his Uncle Jim taught him a very valuable lesson.

My father had hung his stocking on Christmas Eve, as did all of the family. This included the older relatives, and that group included his Uncle Jim. Come Christmas morning, everybody took down their stockings and looked inside to see what Santa Claus had brought them.

The usual things were found inside the stockings - little toys, tasty candies, and other such trifles. Nice, of course, but nothing unusual. That is, until Uncle Jim inspected the contents of his stocking. He turned it upside down, and out rolled a lump of coal and an onion.

While good little boys and girls receive toys and candies, a lump of coal and an onion are, by tradition, what bad boys and girls receive. Seeing those things come from Uncle Jim’s stocking, my father laughed and laughed. Uncle Jim was a bad boy! He got a lump of coal and an onion!

While my father was laughing, Uncle Jim said, "Oh! This is wonderful! A lump of coal and an onion? These are just what I needed!"

My father thought his Uncle Jim had gone round the bend. How could someone be happy to have received a lump of coal and an onion in his Christmas stocking?

Uncle Jim picked up the lump of coal, then took my father’s hand and led him to the basement. They stopped at the furnace. Uncle Jim said, "It’s so cold today, this lump of coal is the perfect gift. I can put it in the furnace and we’ll be nice and warm all day!"

Uncle Jim then led my amazed father back upstairs. They returned to the family parlor, where Uncle Jim now picked up his Christmas onion. He led my father into the kitchen. While my father sat and watched, Uncle Jim chopped up the onion, and then mixed it with celery, bread, and spices. During all of this, he went on rapturously about how his stuffing for the turkey would have been no good whatsoever without an onion.

Later on, as my father sat in a warm house eating delicious stuffing with his Christmas dinner, the lesson was permanently burned into his memory: It doesn’t matter what you’re given. It’s what you do with it that matters.

Soon, with more better stuff.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Commercial Christmas

[From Amazon. As you'll hear later, I underestimated the price.]

I've set it to music (or a reasonable facsimile thereof.)

Hmmmmmmm. Some of you seem puzzled. Oh! You're asking me what I've set to music. Why, this, of course!

Commercial Christmas

Up your bum with sugar plums
It's November, when Santa comes!
He's bringing you a credit card
And he wants you to charge it hard
It's Christmas
It's Commercial Christmas
Jesus Christ got nothin' to do with this

Friday's black, they're on attack
At Wal-Mart, Costco, and Radio Shack
They won't stop until you've bled
They need your green to get out of the red
It's Christmas!
It's Commercial Christmas!
Jesus Christ got nothin' to do with this

It's Veterans Day! Put up your tree!
Slide on down the chimney with me!
We'll go on a spending spree!
Bend over nine times, the tenth one's free!

(lots of stuff - crummy solo, spoken words, etc.)

Hey, hey, Rudolph! Whaddayasay?
Are you all set to pull that sleigh?
I'll drink until my nose gets redder
Then we can light up the sky togedder
It's Christmas!
It's Commercial Christmas!
Poor old Christ, up on his cross
His eyes bulge out, He's at a loss
He remembers bein' in the manger
But He can't remember anything stranger
Than Christmas
Commercial Christmas
It seems He died for your revolving credit account!

Yes, it's a good old fashioned Christmas Carol. You can hear it in all it's putrid glory, if you click this here thing.

Tell all your friends. In the true spirit of the commercial season, I want to see this thing go viral and make me a million bucks. I'm not quite sure how it will do so, but I expect the cash will just flow into my pockets magically in some way. Isn't that how things work on teh intertubes?

Soon, with more better stuff.

P.S. Some production notes for those who care (I think they may be the same people who stand in line at midnight on Thanksgiving waiting for Target to open, but...)

My partner in this production was Dan Nelson (who, considering his reputation in our industry as a really fine producer, is probably pissed that I'm doing him the disservice of attaching his name to this, but that's just the kind of guy I am.)

All instruments were made to produce their noises by me. It is a fine example of what happens when a bass player is left alone in a studio with guitars that have more than four strings. The lone exception are the drums. I didn't play them. I did, however, string them together in such a way as to make them sound they way they do, so there.

Finally, I would like to dedicate this tune to whatever greedy bastard decided that making a replica of Charlie Brown's Christmas Tree, and selling it, would be in keeping with the "Christmas is too commercialized" message of that show. Way to go! You are, without a doubt, the person who didn't get it most of all (and you no doubt would like to figure some way to sue me over this song, and I can't say that most folks who have listened to it would blame you.)

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

O, Christmas Trees!

MY WIFE bought me a Christmas tree. It is silver and shiny and I love it.

There will be a photo later. Be patient. In the meantime, here are a few of the Christmas trees I've known and loved.

This is not my new shiny silver tree. This is a really old shiny silver tree. It belonged to my Grandma and Grandpa, on my Mother's side, and the first time I saw it, I thought they had both lost their marbles. My eight-year-old brain could not process the idea of a tree that wasn't green, smelling of pine, and otherwise real and traditional. I was a staunchly conservative eight-year-old. Anyway, there it was in their living room, with the only lights on it coming from one of those spinning disks of color (which is not seen in that photo, but here's one, anyway...)

(MY WIFE also bought one of these for use with my shiny new silver tree. You'll see the whole shebang later, I promise.)

Well, once I got used to my grandparent's weird aluminum tree, it was kind of cool and I looked forward to seeing it each year. Having such a thing in a house full of people who love you - and give you presents - will tend to make you like it more, I think. I've had fond memories of it for many years, but the last remaining vestige of the thing is the photo I showed you. The tree itself is long gone.

(But, I have a shiny NEW tree of silver, AND a color wheel! Hang on, pardner! We'll get to it.)

The person standing next to this somewhat odd-looking bush is Aunt Pat, my great aunt, sister of my grandfather on my father's side, a.k.a. Aunt Agnes to some others in the family. You may ask why she was Aunt Pat to me and Aunt Agnes to others. It seems that she did not actually care for the name Agnes, and had decided that she would prefer Patricia. I never knew she had the name "Agnes" until I was a teenager, so she was apparently pretty successful in convincing me that her name was Pat.

(Aunt Pat had an outstanding physical characteristic that I found utterly fascinating as a child - one of her eyes was a milky sort of light blue, while the other was hazel or brown. This came about via an accident at the eye doctor. He mistakenly put ether into her eye and she was immediately blinded on that side, permanently. To show you the non-litigious nature of things in those days, she did not immediately sue him for everything he owned, which she no doubt would have had a chance at if she had sued, but instead just chalked it up to a human mistake and went on with her life. Can you imagine that happening now? No, neither can I, not even at Christmas.)

This Christmas tree was at my paternal grandparent's apartment in Roslindale. From the curtains, the wallpaper, and the date on the back of the photo, I'd say it was 1961.

One of the things I always liked about the Sullivan side of my family is that they were mostly not sticklers for symmetry. Whatever branches the tree came with would likely remain with the tree for the duration. Also, if a bigger clump of tinsel was on one of the branches than was on any of the others, so what? Live and let live (and if you don't like it, drink until you do) was the motto. Notice the clump of branches hanging over the doorway. Waste not, want not (especially when it comes to the drinks) was another motto.

(I don't want to leave you with the impression that they were a bunch of total drunken inebriates. They weren't. They were wonderful people whom I dearly loved. Many of them did enjoy their alcoholic beverages, though, and that sort of thing does tend to bring out the beauty in sparkly things and perhaps lead to pinning up the trimmings over the door frame. For what it's worth, I think it's a lovely tree, and I'm disgustingly sober at the moment.)

From my childhood in Dorchester comes this photo of the best use for any tree, as a giant toy for a cat to play with. Another shot of the same thing...

I could watch that sort of action hours at a time when I was a kid. Heck, I'd love it now. I'm still easily amused.

A tree of more recent vintage, perhaps 1995. You'll notice that I took the classic Sullivan approach to things like trimming off branches and distributing the tinsel evenly.

Actually, I did prune this tree a bit. When I got it home, I discovered that it was too tall for our room. I had to cut about six inches off of the trunk. The problem was, the only tool I had to work with was a coping saw. If you're not familiar with what a coping saw looks like, here's a photo of one.

Notice the very thin blade. A coping saw is used to make intricate cuts in mostly thinner pieces of wood. It is not meant to take the place of a rip or crosscut saw, the types usually used to tackle such things as logs, which is basically what I was cutting. Also, a coping saw blade builds up heat very quickly and snaps very easily because of it.

It took me a good 45 minutes and I went through four blades. I think I lost two pounds in sweat and five years off of my life due to the aggravation. My hands were covered in pine resin and as sore as if I were a 112-year-old arthritic. Of course, I could have hopped down to the hardware store and bought a big cheap saw for about ten bucks, saving myself a half-hour, but what's the fun in that?

This was the year that we used Pointy The Poinsettia as our Christmas tree.

Some of you may be wondering why I haven't re-run that story yet, as is my wont, and instead only gave a link to it here. I hate to break the news this way to those of you who may be fans of Pointy and who hadn't yet heard the news, but Pointy, alas, is no longer with us. He went to poinsettia heaven, a couple of years back, due to a case of root rot. I had been so successful in anthropomorphizing him, even to myself, that I actually cried when I put his remains out for the trash pickup. Anyway, it just seems wrong to re-run the story, with its happy ending, since I know he's gone. What can I say? I'm a sentimental goof.

My office manager, Kim, knew how I felt and she gifted me with the altogether wonderful replacement, Simon Peter Poinsettia...

... who is, I'm happy to report, still living (but will not be the Christmas tree this year since I have a SHINY NEW SILVER TREE, which, yes, sooner or later I'll get to here.)

Last year's bunch o' tree. And here are a couple of previous incarnations...

MY WIFE once worked in retail. She had an opportunity to snag five trees of varying heights that had been in window displays. For most of the past ten years, we've used those five trees (or random combinations of them) for our Christmas tree. But now, I've got a SHINY NEW SILVER TREE!!! and I guess it's about time I showed it to you, so here it is!

Sorry... My shiny old silver digital camera bit the dust somehow over the past few days. Even though I've scoured the manual, I can't figure it out. It won't take a charge, it won't do anything at all. It flashed an error message once, but before I could read it, it conked out completely. So, no photo. But now you know something you could get me for Christmas, if you feel the desire, so this whole thing was worthwhile, I suppose.

(I would have preferred ending with that sorry excuse for a joke, but I have the sinking feeling that, if I leave you with that last line, one or two of you might actually go out and buy me a camera, or maybe send me one you have lying around. While I would certainly appreciate that generous gesture, please don't do it. With my utter lack of skill as a photographer, it would be similar to sending sheet music to Roseanne Barr. I don't want that sort of pressure for future ignominy.)

Soon, with more better stuff.

P.S. I almost forgot! Inspiration for this post came from Growing Up In Waldron and Down Silly Rabbit's Hole. So there.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

A Christmas Carol

This is a Christmas carol I wrote this morning. These are just the words, but I think you can imagine the music, an up-tempo blues rock sort of thing. Hope you like it!

Up your bum with sugar plums
It's November, when Santa comes!
He's bringing you a credit card
And he wants you to charge it hard
It's Christmas
It's Commercial Christmas
Jesus Christ got nothin' to do with this

Friday's black, they're on attack
At Wal-Mart, Target, and Radio Shack
They need your green to get out of the red
And they won't stop until you've bled
It's Christmas!
It's Commercial Christmas!
Jesus Christ got nothin' to do with this

It's Veterans Day! Put up your tree!
And we'll go on a spending spree!
Slide on down the chimney with me!
Bend over nine times, the tenth one's free!

(yackety sax solo)

[spoken, over steady beat]

Hey, there's Charlie Brown! I love that pathetic little tree! I sure wish I could buy one just like it...

I can? And only $10.00? Excellent!

Hey, why is Linus spouting that shit about shepherds? What the fuck does THAT have to do with Christmas?!?

(guitar solo)

Hey, hey, Rudolph! Whaddayasay?
Are you all set to pull that sleigh?
I'll drink until my nose gets redder
Then we can light up the sky togedder
It's Christmas!
It's Commercial Christmas!
Poor old Christ, up on his cross
His eyes bulge out, He's at a loss
He remembers bein' in the manger
But He can't recall anything stranger
Than Christmas
Commercial Christmas
It seems He died for your revolving credit account!

(glockenspiel solo, and fade)

Soon, with more better stuff

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Those Things For Which I Am Thankful

1 - My wonderful relatives and friends.

2 - The ability to use this space as a device for copping out.

During the 6+ year run of this blog, I have had many wonderful people leave comments, or send me e-mail, or even write me via old-fashioned snail mail; send me nice little gifts, or, in some instances, send me rather large and expensive gifts; favor me with artwork of their own invention, including photos, drawings, and original musical recordings; contribute to causes I asked them to contribute to, with some going to considerable expense in doing so; and otherwise make my life a joy by going out of their way to do nice things for me.

In return, I have been a slug.

Not always, of course. It's possible you may be in possession of an actual writing of some sort from me, wherein I said "Thanks!" for whatever it was you did. If so, lucky you! However, if I have NOT thanked you for some kind deed you've done for me, I have been the aforementioned slimy creature from the garden. Please let me take this opportunity to assure you that I have not only received whatever it was you sent, but I have reveled in it.

I mean it. There has not been a comment, letter, gift, kindness, or other good deed done, that hasn't made me smile. I live for that stuff, and if you've contributed to the great pile of it, I adore you.

3 - I have my health. At least, my spleen appears to be working rather well.

4 - Really, I always fully intend to reply to everyone who comments or otherwise writes in response to something I've written, but sometimes I have something else come up and I forget. That's not a good excuse, but it's the only one I have at the moment. And I hope, if you've ever felt slighted in any way by my lack of reply, that you'll accept this as an apology and forgive me.

Of course, the possibility exists that I pissed you off so much by not replying to your heartfelt message that you stopped reading me ages ago and, if so, you aren't seeing this at all and I'm wasting my time writing it. Oh, well. I deserve to have my time wasted if I received something wonderful from someone and I didn't thank that person.

5 - Thus far, I have not been trod upon by an elephant.

6 - You see, sometimes I just plain lose an e-mail, or misplace an address, or otherwise lose the ability to give thanks in return for your kindnesses. And I really feel bad about it, too. Another thing to consider is that I have an actual full time job and I have to at least appear to be doing it full time or else I won't get paid, so I can't spend all day at work (since I don't have internet at home) replying to every damn thing that comes to me via e-mail.

(Well, I don't mean "DAMN thing that comes to me via e-mail", as though you've ruined my day by writing to me. I like the stuff, but... ah, you know what I mean. Let's drop it.)

7 - Since I'm bald, I'm the first one to know when it's raining. Or when someone is spitting on me. On the other hand, I wasn't born a salamander, so there's that.

[A tiger salamander, which I am not, but the more I think of it, maybe I'd be better off.]

8 - It just now occurs to me that if I had spent as much time searching for your lost e-mails or letters as I'm spending in writing this tripe, I probably could have saved both of us some time and actually said a proper thanks to you. This thought probably occurred to you, too, but you were just oh-so-polite, in that way you are, and decided not to say anything, so you just let me go on and on and on making a fool of myself.

9 - My socks only have a few holes in them, and as long as I line them up to miss the holes in my shoes, it's not too bad when it rains.

10 - I've got to be honest here and tell you that it really cheeses me off the way you just sat there and let me continue making an ass of myself, OK? You could have stepped in at any time and said, "Jim, it's no trouble at all!", but instead I've been blathering for ten minutes without a single peep out of you. What the hell.

11 - My eyeballs aren't currently bleeding.

12 - You know, you've really got a nerve. Just because you mailed me a fruitcake, or played a few bars on a song I wrote, or sent me nude photos of yourself, you think I've got nothing better to do than thank you for making me fat and horny!

13 - Judas Iscariot on a rocket-powered skateboard! Yes, YOU made me fat and horny! It wasn't my fault! The crappy bass playing was my fault, I admit that, but a real friend would have told me how shitty I played and kept me from disgracing myself in public, you asswipe!

14 - Oh, really?!? Well, I'd like to see you try it, you sorry sack of shit! I didn't get to be this old and decrepit by letting half-witted dopes like you get the better of me!

15 - Warm fluffy kittens who cuddle with you on a cold winter night.

16 - ... and if you don't like it, you can shove it up your big fat ass! Like I need this crap. Just because I won't get down on bended knee, worshiping the ground you walk on, while spouting effusive gratitude for your favors, you think you can walk all over me? Well, let me tell you something, bub: It's a free country, I pay most of my taxes, and I don't have to take this shit from the likes of you!

17 - I'm even thankful for the folks who will have read only the first few lines of this, scrolled down to the end while thinking it was a straight-ahead post about being thankful for the mundane things in life, and who then left a comment along the lines of "Oh, how sweet! Your poops must be made of sunshine and rainbows!" They mean well, even if they're morons.

18 - So take your fruitcakes, guitar solos, nude photos, Thanksgiving Comes First blogs, letters to my Cousin Dorothy, well wishes for my softball teams, and congratulations on being published in a major metropolitan newspaper, and put them where the sun don't shine, you fu... you... uh...

19 - Well, now that I think of it, you have been pretty nice and I have been a slug. So, in conclusion, let me say thank you, and rest assured that I love my life, I love you, I love God, and I am the luckiest man on the face of the earth. My life couldn't possibly be more blessed!!!

Soon, with more better stuff.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Best Day Of The Year

This, as long-time friends would soon know without aid of this silly preface, is a repeat. I always publish this one during my last time at work before taking Thanksgiving week off. If you've seen it before, feel free to skip to the end and leave a generic polite comment. If you do that, though, you'll miss the extremely slight re-writing I've done concerning the Detroit Lions.

I feel I should note that this will be the first holiday family gathering since My Grandma's passing. She was a large part of our Thanksgivings past and, even though she hadn't been able to physically attend the past couple, her not being at table this year will still feel a bit odd for us, I think.

In going over this piece looking for bits to tighten up, I found she was specifically mentioned once by name in a way that would have made it sound as though she was still with us bodily, which she isn't. It would have been awkwardly dishonest to leave her name there, so I excised it. Her spirit, however, will always remain, and the other spots wherein she appears (in a photo, and in the pleasant little story concerning a Dane and some turnip) remain, as they should.

OK, that's enough new material. On with the turkey rehash!


fris‧son / Pronunciation [free-sohn; Fr. free-sawn]
a sudden, passing sensation of excitement; a shudder of emotion; thrill.

(Random House Unabridged Dictionary, 2006)

Let me tell you about the holiday I like best of all – Thanksgiving.

I like all holidays. Any day you get off from work, or during which people get together to celebrate, or when you get (or give) gifts? In my book, that’s a good day. Some days are more special than others, though.

Christmas used to be my favorite. When I was a kid, I went straight from one frisson to another during the week leading up to Christmas. The celebration of Christ’s birth was magical and there was no end to the ways that the world delighted me. As I’ve grown older, that magic has ebbed. I haven’t changed, though; it’s the world that has.

When I was a child, nearly every house in the neighborhood sported pastel lights of red, yellow, green, blue and orange, either as decoration outside or via a candle or two in the windows. The streets were bathed in an embracing warmth, a welcoming glow. Nowadays, the lights of choice are mostly cold; icicles and clear starbursts. I guess a lot of folks like them – otherwise, why would they have them? - but all they do for me is make the night streets too much like daytime. Those bright white lights don’t do anything but remind me of how cold it is in winter. The colorful lights of my childhood made me feel warm, even during the meanest of snowstorms.

(Photo from Photos From My Life. Isn't it a beautiful tree?)

I love Christmas music. I always have. I always looked forward to it beginning, sporadically, after Thanksgiving, and then building bit by bit until there was an entire glorious day and night of it from Christmas Eve through to Christmas Night. It played on the radio all day, but only all day on Christmas and most of the day before. In the morning, while opening presents with my Mom and Dad, we played the two or three vinyl Christmas records we had at home. It was special.

Now the trouble is in trying to avoid it. Even as of today, November 17th, there have been radio stations playing Christmas music 24 hours a day for the past couple of weeks. Seriously - and I mean this - if you like that sort of thing, God bless you. To me, though, Christmas music is like chocolate. A few pieces, rich and creamy, are delightful. Feed it to me non-stop for sixty days? All that is, is a sick stomach.

(My job, as good as it is, doesn’t help matters. I’m a voice-over guy, and I also do production work, but my actual job title is “Music Director”. Therefore, in the course of my duties, I sometimes have to use holiday music for background in pieces I complete for clients during September and October. I try to remain detached while doing so, but...)

The final nail in my Christmas coffin is driven in by the greedy merchants who just plain don't have the common decency to wait for Thanksgiving to be over before they start spewing forth their hideous advertisements. Every year, they start earlier and earlier. I rail against it every year, too. MY WIFE tells me to relax, that I can’t change it, that there really isn’t anything all that bad about it. I love MY WIFE dearly, but on this she’s dead wrong. I’ll go to my grave cursing those bastards for draining the innocent joy out of a lovely day. I try to ignore it, and I try to keep the spirit I believe in, but they keep throwing haymakers at me and a few do connect. I keep getting up off of the canvas, but it isn't easy.

I can’t even begin to imagine how hideous a time it must be for those who don’t share my faith. No wonder some of the atheists keep trying to run it out of town. The money-grubbing parasites, who see it only as a time to reel in a profit, have turned it into something even I want to partially get rid of.

Ah, I suppose that’s a bit over the top. The day still has charm. The real importance of it, for someone like me, is spiritual, and the sons of bitches can’t rip that out of me unless I let them. The people I share the day with, and with whom I eat good food and exchange lovely and loving gifts, are dear to me. They still make it a wonderful day, but that frisson I spoke of earlier, that I used to have in multiples during the season, hasn’t been felt in quite a while.


The only holiday I can always count upon to deliver a frisson is Thanksgiving.

(I’m trying to set the world record for frisson mentions in one blog. Am I there yet?)

I have never had a bad Thanksgiving. Not one. As a matter of fact, not only have I not had a bad one; I’ve had nothing but good ones for as long as I can remember.

For every other holiday, I can dredge up at least one bummer. There have been New Years Eves with toothaches and New Years Days with hangovers, Washington’s Birthdays with flu, Memorial Days with sunburns, July Fourths with car accidents, Labor Days with the dread of returning to school, Halloweens with stolen candy, and even Christmases with “Dear John” letters thrown into the mix, but never a bad Thanksgiving.

(I’m hoping I’m not the victim of selective memory. Somewhere in the past there may have been one horrible incident I’ve tucked into a corner of my mind under lock and key. If so, and you know about it, don’t tell me. I’d rather be ignorant and happy.)

You know one of the reasons why it’s so easy to have a good Thanksgiving? Nobody’s trying to sell you anything. It’s just good company, some football, great food, and maybe a nap with your belt loosened. The biggest thing anyone can put up for sale is a bird. There are no bogus guilt trips laid on you by manufacturers trying to make you feel as though you haven’t done right by your loved ones. All you have to do, to do right by your loved ones on Thanksgiving, is show up.

Oh, the smells of Thanksgiving dinner cooking! There is no perfume in existence that matches the fragrance of turkey, stuffing, gravy, squash, turnip, sweet potatoes, hot rolls, pumpkin pie, and all of the other mouth-watering aromas that emanate from the kitchen on that day. It is the smell of pure love. The one doing the cooking isn’t doing it because he or she is guilt-ridden. It’s being done because the people who will eat the feast are near and dear; as simple and lovely as that.

MY WIFE and I have hosted Thanksgiving at our place for the past sixteen years. It is the most sublime pleasure of my year to plan that meal and then prepare it. I’m the luckiest man in my family. I get to enjoy those smells longer than anyone else. And I get the lion’s share of the leftovers, too.

I remember lovely, huge tables full of food at my grandparent’s apartment in Roslindale, the vegetables served in great green ceramic bowls and topped with big pats of yummy sweet butter. I remember other times of waking in my upstairs bedroom to the smell of a turkey roasting in my childhood home in Dorchester. Later, after my parent’s divorce, I ate TWO huge dinners every Thanksgiving – the first cooked by my father and the second served at my Grandma’s in Weymouth, where I would eat with my mother. It wasn’t easy, but I loved both of them too much to disappoint either one of them, so I did my duty. I even ate a couple of pieces of pie at both places, just so they’d have no doubt about how much I loved them.

I try to remember what the name of the holiday calls for – the giving of thanks. I look upon my preparation and sharing of food as a sacred rite of sorts. There’s no skimping on this meal. If money’s tight, it’s a way of showing my faith in the idea that God will bring better times. Always, it’s a time to be thankful for the good people who are sharing the table with me (even if some of them don't like their picture taken.)

There are lovely constants at Thanksgiving. For instance, every year the Detroit Lions play football. Well, at least they try, and they ought to get credit for that. And the same stories get told at the table. There's one that never fails to get mentioned, concerning turnip and a Danish friend of the family .

Seems that one year, when this Dane was a holiday guest, my grandmother was preparing the food and one of the vegetables was turnip. The fellow laughed and said, in his Danish accent, “Turnip! Ha-ha! Very funny!” and when he was asked why he was laughing, he said, “Ho-ho! Yes, the joke’s on me! That’s a very funny joke. OK, you can take it away now.” Seems that they only served turnip to pigs in his region of Denmark. He thought it was a joke for his benefit. When he found out that it was something we actually ate, and enjoyed, he became somewhat indignant, if not sick to his stomach. Every year, when I bring out the turnip, that story returns for it’s annual telling. And I love it. There is also usually a mention of turducken as though it were just invented the previous week.

When the meal is over – well, at least the part of the meal that doesn’t involve pie – my stepfather and I turn our attention to the end of the Lion’s game. Meanwhile, the other folks have good conversation, coffee, tea, and, yes, pie. If the Lions win, Bill and I have a piece of pie to celebrate their good fortune. Since this rarely happens, we console ourselves with a piece of pie if they lose. It’s all good.

(This year, for the first time in ages, the Lions actually seem to be a decent squad with a chance to win. Unfortunately, they'll be playing the Green Bay Packers, who may be the best team the league has seen in a decade, so the Lions will probably lose again. Oh, well. Pie!)

Soon, it gets to be late afternoon and folks start leaving. First, my Cousin Scott and his wife, Andrea, because they go visit some other relatives. Then my Uncle Rick. Finally, after all others have gone, Bill and My Mom hit the road, and then it’s just me and MY WIFE, all alone in the house. At that point, I do what any red-blooded American man would do. I take a couple of the leftover rolls, slice ‘em open, stuff them with turkey and dressing and gravy, and eat them while I watch the end of the Dallas game (and if they'd lose as often as the Lions, I'd be a happier man, but, once again, Pie!)

I love this holiday so much, I take the entire week off each year. That way, I can very leisurely clean the house and buy the food and decorate and do prep work for the feast, taking those chores completely off of the hands of MY WIFE, who deserves at least as much of a restful, enjoyable feast as I’m giving everyone else. I love every moment of that busy, yet still somehow slothful, week. And, since I only post from work, that’s why this is the last post until December 1st.

I wish you a Tremendously Happy Thanksgiving. Say your prayers, eat much, show love.

Soon, with more better stuffing.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Thanksgiving Comes First - The Last Round-Up

This past weekend, I threw a brick through my TV screen.

No, not really. But that's what I felt like doing, and often. Every time an ad came on that featured Christmas music, or touted some chintzy Christmas-themed sale, or tried to convince me to run down to some damn store to stand in line with red-and-green-clad troglodytes buying the latest cell phone (you know, the one that sings Beautiful while it scrubs your balls?)... well, if a brick had been handy, it would have been the end of my TV. Luckily for my home life (which would have been severely injured had I destroyed the TV, since MY WIFE considers television on par with food and water as an essential) two things enabled me to keep my sanity:

1 - The Remote Control

Whenever I heard the first notes of far-too-early Christmas music, or saw the beginning of another ad from a jeweler warning me to spend two months salary for a diamond because otherwise the woman who loves me won't love me, I changed the channel. It helped that it was the weekend and multiple football games were on the air at the same time. I was able to avoid all but a few seconds of pain.

2 - You

Whatever else may have been driving me around the bend, you wonderful people kept me from careening over a cliff. So many of you have written sterling pieces about Thanksgiving and contributed your voices to the annual fight against the Christmas Ho-Ho-Whores! Just thinking about those who, for instance, sent me the following cartoon...

... kept me smiling.

(I was sent this cartoon by eleven or twelve different people, and every one of them said, "See, Sully? You're not alone!" You have no idea how much that cheered me up. Thanks!)

So, the TV did not perish via blunt trauma and my sanity (such as it is) was saved. And you know what else? I think I have the will to do this again next year. And the year after. And the year after that, too, if need be. A couple of weeks ago, I wasn't so sure. I was thinking maybe it was time to give it up, put it to rest, admit it was a losing battle and just try to ignore as much of it as possible. Now? Target can kiss my ass. I refuse to let bastards like they are win.

(Why am I singling out Target? They're opening their Black Friday sale at Midnight on Thanksgiving itself. Even the worst offenders have usually waited until 5am or so on Friday. What this means is that everybody who works at Target will have to be at work by 10:00 or 11:00 on Thanksgiving night. And, in order to do that, most will have to get some sleep during Thanksgiving Day and miss family gatherings and dinner. So FUCK TARGET, the greedy sons of bitches.

If you'd like to join me in another effort of shoveling shit against the tide... excuse me, join me in signing a petition to try and get them to change this policy, go HERE.)

So, anyway, they can keep knocking me down, but I'm going to get up every time. And knowing there are so many of you who share that conviction (though perhaps with varying degrees of obscene venom) is what will keep me going.

And the least I can do, by way of repayment, is give a link to you folks who have written stuff.

(The most I could do is send each of you a check, but that's not happening.)

Following are the newest Thanksgiving Comes First entries.

Lisa McColgan

A Broad With A View (Part One)

A Broad With A View (Part Two)

Growing Up In Waldron

A-Bloggin :-D

Lindsay's List

Living By Heidi Metro

The Christmas Conspiracy

Messy Mimi

Indigo Girl

Here's something interesting: It's a website totally devoted to the idea of TCF (although it has a different title - TBT!)

Take Back Thanksgiving!

And here's a funny article, from the prestigious monthly magazine, The Atlantic, with the same title!

Take Back Thanksgiving!

And now, as is my custom, those who previously wrote articles and blogs this year, and who were mentioned here before, will again be listed. It pays to get on the bandwagon early!

As you might expect from someone with my ego, I'll blow my own horn first. I had an op-ed published in The Boston Herald. You can read it HERE.

The less-ego-driven (and probably more valuable because of it) souls, are:

Ivan Toblog

Long Hollow

The Surly Writer

Down Silly Rabbit's Hole

By God's Good Grace

Postcards From A Broad

Out & About In New York City




The Fifty Factor

Seeking Sanity

HOT Takes

The Smitten Image

Eternal Lizdom

Tilting At Windmills

The Best Of Times In A Moogie's World

Exile In Portales



Teacher's Pet

Uncle Skip

Messy Mimi

Tara Dharma

Matt Conlon

Down River Drivel

$12 A Day, And A Baby On The Way

Sick Bitch

Finally, as a special treat for you (if you've lasted long enough to get down to this remote section of the posting, you deserve a special treat...) here are some links to the very best writings I've ever seen concerning Thanksgiving and TCF.

One of the main joys of my undertaking this otherwise only-slightly-rewarding battle each year is that I am often privileged to be the first person to read heartfelt and beautiful pieces written by kindred spirits. I went back through the many postings from other years and selected my all-time favorites. Here they are. Every one of them is well worth whatever time it takes to read them. Trust me.

My wonderful friend, Thimbelle, wrote one of the best. As a bonus, it contains actual knowledge gleaned from having worked in retail.

Melinda hasn't blogged in quite some time (at least not at the blog to which I'm sending you) but her posting was, and is, one of those I have enjoyed re-visiting. She deserved many more readers than her lack of comments, overall, would indicate that she had. In any case, enjoy her words at From One London To Another.

One of my favorite semi-obscenity-laced rants of all time was done at Diaryland. Not for all tastes, I assume, but neither is some of my stuff (maybe including my Walmart rant above.) This makes me laugh out loud, anyway.

Janet, at Adventures In The 32-Aker Wood, is another of my favorite blog buddies. And she more than earns her keep with this wonderful reminiscence/tirade.

My Cousin David's piece is no longer available via his personal blog, but I did find it HERE. I'm still proud to have him as my family member.

Desmond Jones (who is actually Craig Desmond, but that's another story) wrote a wonderful piece concentrating on the Advent season (which is probably a more correct starting point for the "Christmas season" than Black Friday, but I figured getting retailers to actually acknowledge the religious aspects of the holiday was an even longer shot than getting them to hold off beating us over the head with their blasphemous ads until after Thanksgiving.)

(Craig will probably publish the piece again, later this year, and I think that would be great.)

Doctor Grumpy was (and, I assume, still is) magnificently twisted.

Oodles Of Funch gives with the righteous indignation and the family memories! A win-win!

Lime is among my most-visited and favorite bloggers year-round, but THIS made me love her all the more dearly.

Finally, I will once again send you to visit Cricket. His is my favorite piece of all. Find it HERE (and if you're finding it for the first time, I envy you. It is not only one of the best writings about Thanksgiving, it is one of the best writings on the 'net, ever, period.)

All of the above are tremendously good, so what follows below may be a lie. Still, it's tradition, and that's part of what Thanksgiving is about, so...

Soon, with more better stuff.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Thank You To A Gentle Man

This is from last year on Veterans Day, but worth repeating.

I wasn't planning on writing anything special for Veteran's Day. I certainly know some vets, and am especially proud of some family members who served - My Dad (Navy), My Uncle Jim (Air Force), My Uncle Rick (Army) - but a couple of things I read yesterday changed my mind and prodded me to write this. I'll give you a quick bit of back-story and then send you to read about a fellow I admire.

My swell friend, Cricket, wrote about some vets he knew. It's a good piece - as is everything he writes - and worth a look. You can find it HERE. After having read his post, I decided to leave a comment.

Another comment, by another friend, Thimbelle, prompted me to say something concerning Bill MacDonald, my stepfather. Here's what I said about him, which, I'm sorry to say, included what seems to be a mistaken notion concerning his military service.

My Stepfather, Bill, received a bronze star for his World War II service - quite a high decoration - and he never ever speaks of what he did to earn it. When anyone asks him to do so, he specifically refuses. I know he was a prisoner of war, but that's as much as I know. I respect his wish to not speak about it, although some try to prod him to talk. He's a true gentleman - a gentle man - and someone pushing him to speak about his military career is one of the few things about which I've seen him get truly angered. I've just told him "Thanks" once or twice, and even that seems to be more than he would like to hear about it.

I admire that reticence to cast himself as a heroic figure, a lot. Doesn't mean he wasn't (or isn't, for that matter.)

Before I go any further, I need to let you know about my mistake. It seems Bill was NOT a prisoner of war. I guess I had heard someone else say that he was, and Bill, being who he is, just didn't want to talk about his service, period, so he never corrected that person. As a result, I had always harbored the notion that he had been. As I've since found out, that appears to not be his story. The actual story is, to my mind, much more interesting.

After leaving that comment, I decided to see if there might be anything about Bill, and his military service, on the web. I specifically wanted to see if there was a listing of Bronze Star recipients, and see whether or not Bill was on it.

Don't get the wrong idea; I had no doubt that Bill had received that medal. I just wanted to see if there was someplace where he was receiving some recognition for having done so, and perhaps I'd also have some light shed on what his actions were during his time of service. I've never pushed him to talk about it, but that doesn't mean I wasn't curious to find out.

Well, I put his name in Google, along with "Bronze Star", and I found something. It wasn't a listing of recipients of the award. It was a newspaper account of how My Mother had prodded him to try and get another medal he deserved - The Purple Heart.

The Purple Heart is awarded for being wounded in action.

While Bill does not seek the spotlight, My Mom is not one to sit idly by and let a person, especially her husband, not get credit where it is due. I have little doubt that Bill kept on saying it didn't matter whether he got the recognition, but My Mom, extremely gentle woman that she is, is like a pitbull when she feels that some wrong should be righted. She won't let go of it until it happens.

And now, please go to the link below, and read Bill's story. I'll finish my part of this by once again, on this Veteran's Day, saying "Thanks, Bill." The difference is, this time I know why I'm thanking him.

Bill's story.

Soon, with more better stuff.

[2011 update: Bill has still not received his Purple Heart. His scars, however, remain.]