Friday, May 31, 2013


What's on my mind? The following things...

 [Bombers, 2012. Big Jay is the one in the back row looking for post-game snacks.]
[photo by Grandma Skip]
[OK, that's a link to (not my uncle) Skip, but he'll tell her about it.]

1) The Bombers (my fast-pitch softball team, and not people who blow things up, in case you're new here) get back into action this coming Sunday. We're 2 - 0 thus far and tied for first place. Since our coach, Jack Atton, has a previous engagement that day, I will be the interim coach.

I was coach of the team for ten years, but that was a while ago. I was 3 - 2 in this interim capacity last season. I don't mind coaching, at least for a week, but we're already shorthanded, losing not only Jack (p), but also Robby Costello (p), Eric MacDonald (1b), and Mark Preziosi (ss, and big power bat).

(There may be others missing by game time. Those are just the definites as of Friday morning.)

Robby was hit in the leg by a line drive during a game in his weeknight league. He suffered a hairline fracture, but the good news is the docs tell him he'll be back up and running in 2 or 3 weeks. The bad news is I was looking forward to him keeping me entertained, as he's one of the funniest sons of bitches ever, but now I guess I'll have to get my jollies just from winning. In that regard, with Jack and Robby missing, I'll be leaning heavily on Big Jay Atton. He's our ace. If need be, I can utilize Drew Atton or Joey Baszkiewicz or (heaven forbid) myself, but Jay will probably start both ends of the doubleheader. With temperatures expected to climb into the 90's on Sunday, and with Big Jay being BIG Jay, I think my main task as coach will be to see to it that he keeps himself well hydrated. Also, as incentive, I'll promise him a steak-and-cheese with BBQ sauce and hots, if he wins both games.

(I will not, however, pay for his ulcer surgery.)

As usual, there will be a report on the games come Monday. Pretend you're interested and I'll do the same for you some day when you write about your favorite thing that I don't give a rat's ass about.

2) The Boston Bruins take the next step on the road to The Stanley Cup on Saturday.

The B's will be playing the flightless waterfowl of Pittsburgh. My Darker Grey Friend, Michelle, is a Pittsburgh resident and fan. When it looked as though our teams might meet, I suggested that perhaps a bet might be in order. She was amenable. So now, because I couldn't keep my trap shut, I am involved in a wager wherein I am definitely on the short end without compensating odds. As a man who prides himself on his knowledge of all things gambling, this was not a smart move.

Any reasonable handicapper will tell you that the tuxedo-clad birds should win the series. They are the #1 seed, while my Bruins are #4. In addition, the fat smelly fisheaters won the three meetings between these teams during the regular season. The Bruins haven't beaten them all season.

What in hell was I thinking?

Anyway, loser has to post something wonderful about the winner's city and team, as well as display the opposition logo for a couple of days. I have no idea what I can possibly say about a bunch of short, wobbly, smelly things whose biggest claim to fame may be their prodigious farting, nor do I know what to say about the hockey team, but I suppose I'll come up with something.

OR maybe the Bruins will win?!?

Nah. Every time I make a bet of this sort, and then shoot off my mouth about it, I lose. I'm the ultimate jinx. There is no hope. I predict Pittsburgh in a sweep.

In the unlikely event that the Bruins win and the L.A. Kings win their semi, I will then make a similar wager with Chris Mauger on the finals (unless Mauger is gun-shy, since the last time we made a bet of this sort he ended up displaying the Red Sox logo and having to write a couple hundred complimentary words about Rico Petrocelli.).

3) Some of you might still be wondering how I'm coming along with e-cigarettes in my attempts to quit smoking.

Not bad. I've cut my actual burning leaf sort of cigarettes down to about half of my usual consumption. I'm doing 10 or 12 a day now, as opposed to a full pack or more. I've reached a point where I don't automatically grab a smoke and light it first thing when I wake up. I now go the first 90-minutes or two hours without having one at all, so that's progress.

The benefits are obvious: no tar and other noxious crap into my lungs, as the e-cig delivers nicotine in a water vapor. I've definitely noticed myself coughing less.

If I improve on this, I'll keep you updated. If I backslide, I'll tell you nothing and hide myself in a corner with an ashamed look on my face.

4) As usual around these parts, we have gone almost directly from winter into summer.

 [Willis Carrier, inventor of air conditioning. God bless you, Mr. Carrier!]

We had about a week of pleasant spring temps, but now it is 90 degrees and expected to stay that way for the next three months. The electric company will be pleased to know I'm going to install our two window air conditioning units later today. If I don't have a heart attack doing so, I think I'll reward myself with a ham-and-cheese sub with tomatoes, possibly followed by a real honest-to-God smoke. If I do have a heart attack while installing them, I probably won't make the doubleheader on Sunday and Big Jay will have to fend for himself.

Soon, with more better stuff.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

What's Your Entrance Music?

Wrestlers have entrance music. Most use chug-a-chug heavy metal.

Some entrances use classical music.

I think everybody should have entrance music. You walk into the office for the first time each day? Entrance music. You enter a restaurant? Entrance music. You go into a public restroom? Entrance music.

Come on! You can't tell me you wouldn't dig it. If your entrance music is Iron Man by Black Sabbath...

... you know every person taking a whiz will turn to see who just came into the room.

I've given a lot of thought to what I'd like to have as my entrance music.

(I have. That's why I'm the tremendous success I am today,)

For a long time, I thought it would be Highway Star by Deep Purple.

Why not? It's my favorite song by my favorite group. It's fast, loud, gritty, has a couple of great solos, really stoopid lyrics... What's not to love?

Then I thought about it some more. Everybody and his brother has something hard and heavy for entrance music. If it's not hard and heavy, it's pompous and classical. So, I decided I'd go with sexist and confusing!

Yup. That's my entrance music. And I do think everybody should have one, so there.

If you could have entrance music, what would it be?

Monday, May 20, 2013

A Beautiful Morning In Bomberland

My job these days is writing. I've been published in both the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald. I have been contracted by Discover Magazine to write a piece for an upcoming issue, and I have also been doing fact-checking work for them (which, aside from doing what the job title suggests - checking facts - also involves a bit of writing and reporting.) I have 14 or 15 different pieces currently under consideration by various publications, and I have received word from a couple of editors concerning tentative good news. The point is, I can write. I tell you this because I'm somewhat at a loss for words concerning Sunday and I don't want you to think I'm that way because of a general inability to express myself.

We won two games. I can describe every bit of the action involved. I can easily give you detail about who made the important plays in the field, who got the clutch hits, who reached back for the big pitches when they were needed, and other physical parts of what happened on the field. What I'm having trouble putting into words are the feelings I had before, during, and after the games.

Let's get the technical stuff out of the way. Here are the scores.

BOMBERS - 8    Renegades - 7

BOMBERS - 15  Renegades - 5

We start the season 2 and 0, tied for first place after the first week; can't ask for better than that. Everybody on the team contributed something valuable. A few guys had spectacular days. In particular, I'll single out Robbie Costello and Ron Johnson.

Costello went 5 for 5, including a double and a triple. He also drew a walk. He scored 4 runs and had 2 RBI. He pitched the first game and picked up the win. In addition, he kept the bench loose with some of the funniest stories I've ever heard. None of those stories will be printed here because they were filthy, racist, vile and obscene (none of which I have a problem being, on occasion, but you had to have been there to get the full impact of him relating how his gold-toe socks were stolen by his in-laws. Nor will it do you any good for me to tell you how he talked about how much his son poops, everybody on the bench making disgusted faces and going "Ewwwww... Oh, geez, Robbie...", and then him saying, in a matter of fact way, "Yeah, we feed the kid nothing but raisins." )

Ron Johnson wasn't as gut-bustingly hilarious, but it's just a pleasure to still be sharing a field with him after all these years. We're the only two original members of the team remaining (this is our 19th season together) and yesterday he had a perfect day at the plate, going 3 for 3 in game two, with a double and 4 RBI, and made a couple of swell plays defensively. Ron turned 60 this year, and I suppose as long as he keeps playing, I'll have to do so, too. At 56, I'm a youngster by comparison. If I quit and he keeps playing, I'll feel like a pussy.

As I said, though, everybody did something to make the two wins happen. If you want the details, you can probably infer them from the team statistics. Find them HERE.

So, what is it that I'm having trouble putting into words? It's just the overall feeling I get stepping onto a ballfield for the first time each season, and most especially for a season so late in my career. I know I'm on the downside. I have been for a while now. I think I still bring value to my teams, otherwise I'd stay home. Still, I'm coming to terms with the fact that I'm no longer a guaranteed starter. This year, I'm realistically the third-string at my positions. And I'm mostly cool with that. Sure, I'd still like to be the guy who knows he's going to get the start. Every athlete wants to be that guy. But it would be silly for me to think I bring more to the table than Joey Baz, Nutter, Eric or Big Jay, who are the guys likely to start at my positions. They're all younger than me, they all possess strengths in areas in which I've recently declined, and - most important - they're all good teammates who deserve me rooting as hard for them, playing in front of me, as they would root for me if the positions were reversed. I'll be ready anytime Jack calls on me, and if I show I'm good enough to start, great, but I'm OK with being a bench player on a winner. When the team wins, we're all winners.

Even more difficult to describe is how great it feels before the game, especially when I'm the first one to arrive at the field (which I often am.) Sunday morning is a time for religious observance for many people, and some of them would probably give me the stink eye for playing ball instead of being in worship, but I truly find myself as close as possible to God when I'm on a ballfield in the early morning, clear blue skies above, the smell of the dirt and grass in my nostrils, seeing the animals who live on the field (I'm not talking about Joe The Wino - I mean rabbits, geese, hawks, possum, maybe an occasional fox) still going about their business and not worrying about this old geezer doing his stretching. I hold a vast thankfulness in my heart for living, at times like those, and I honestly think it's more valuable, as prayer, than most of the times I've spent Sunday morning dressed in a suit inside of some building listening to a preacher. A ballfield in the sun speaks truth to my soul.

OK, I guess I'm probably being overblown about this, but it's honest feelings. Your mileage may vary. I hope not, though, because if you're a ballplayer and it does, you're not getting as much happiness out of it as I am.

Next week, we're off for Memorial Day. Until then, we're undefeated and in first place (and maybe after then, too, because the team looks good and I think we have an excellent shot at taking it all this season.) Back in two weeks with more fast-pitch softball ruminations.

As for other things, soon, with more better stuff.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Mom at 80

Today is My Mom's 80th birthday. I hate to think how old that makes me. I must be at least 23 by now; maybe even 24 or 25. I'll ask her when I see her this weekend.

This is a rerun, of course. You faithful readers have seen it 5 or 6 times already. If you're new here, however, ignore those previous two sentences. It's all brand new and spiffy and surprisingly delightful! Anyway, whether you've seen it before or not, I expect you to read every word of it. It's My Mom's birthday, damn you, and it's the least you can do.

Being the crummy son that I am (despite how sharp a dresser I am) this is pretty much the best present she will be getting, although there will be other things in boxes with wrapping paper and ribbons. I'm just saying. However, one of the reasons I adore My Mother is because she's OK with my seeming ingratitude. And, if she is, I don't expect any guff from the likes of you.

Cripes, I'm really not being very nice to you. You probably like me a lot less than you did when you first got here today. Oh, well. My Mother loves me. And that's the point of this.

No, wait. The point is that I love My Mother. Even if I don't make it readily apparent (Ha! A parent!) by doing anything more than re-printing the same damned tribute to her that I've published several times before, except I threw in a few different photos this time and also polished up this hideous introduction. Happy Birthday, Mom! With each passing year, it becomes more obvious why I'm an only child, and the world thanks you!

My Mom always goes out of her way to have eclairs for me on my birthday. Meanwhile, I... Did I mention she always has eclairs for me on my birthday? Yes, she does. Someday, I'll let her eat one.

My Mom and My Stepfather, Bill, both getting stoned, as usual. No, no, no. This was at the rehearsal dinner for the wedding of MY WIFE and myself. Knowing the two of us, they had every good reason to get soused, but they didn't. I sometimes question their intelligence.

My Mom, showing off the acting skills that have won her numerous Tonys, Emmys, and Bills. Hah! She's been married to two guys named Bill, see? It's like I almost made a joke there, if any of you knew. I won't embarrass My Mom by talking about the Tonys, and the less said about the Emmys, the better.

That's My Mom on the left. I wasn't born yet.

I'll shut up now. Here's the stuff I wrote a few years ago and which I'm trotting out here again.

[My Mother, left, and her sister, Jeanne, Easter 1950]

You know how some people have a birthday on or around Christmas and it kind of gets lost? It just sort of gets melded into the larger holiday and that person gets a little cheated out of two special days? My Mom's birthday is like that. She was born on May 16th, so her birthday always falls within a couple days of Mothers Day. As a result, some people believe she gets the short end of things from me.

However, I'll tell you that my mother isn't all that worried about it. A shallow person she is not. She is very intelligent and she understands the situation. This is not to say that she wouldn't want two parties or two bunches of gifts or two of whatever; everybody likes twice as much good stuff if they can get it. But she understands. And I love her all the more for understanding that I love her just as much, even though I sometimes may not show her how much twice in the same week.

This is my birthday card to my mother. You may or may not "get" everything I write here, but she will and that's what matters. These are mainly just short fond memories of times I treasure; times I had with my mother and things we did together. The greater parts of them are from my childhood. So are the pictures, which look the way they do because I only barely know how to use a scanner and photoshop. If I waited until I knew what I was doing before publishing, this space would be blank for about a decade.

I suppose it makes sense to start with the usual Mom-type stuff.

She wiped my tears and bandaged my scraped knees and kissed my boo-boos and made them better. She vacuumed and made the beds. She did the laundry - early on with an actual washtub and scrub board and wringer - and she hung the clothes to dry on the clothesline in the backyard (or, in the winter, on a clothesline we had strung in the cellar) and a bit later we got a dryer. She did the ironing while watching Loretta Young and Mike Douglas. She was almost always ironing when I got home from school, it seemed.

She nursed me through all the usual illnesses and gifted me with my first copy of MAD magazine during one of them, and thank you for trusting me at such a young age with such revolutionary material, Mom. She put patches on my pants, as I needed them.

(Does anybody put patches on pants anymore?)

She gave me eggnog to drink for breakfast - an actual egg stirred into a big glass of milk, perhaps with chocolate syrup. Those were the days when it was considered healthy to feed your child eggs and milk every day, even raw eggs - maybe especially raw eggs. She gave me vitamins.

(One time, I decided that if a single vitamin tablet was good for you, then taking a whole bottle might turn me into Superman. Mom was the one who called the doctor.)

She packed my lunchbox with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, slices of apples or oranges, usually a cookie or two, and always a thermos of milk.

(How many thermoses did I break? Many. You'd drop one of the things and hear that shattering of the insides and you knew without checking that your milk now had big shards of glass in it. Mom always bought me a new one.)

She made dinners of swordfish or fish sticks or tuna casserole. My Dad did much of the cooking, and he hated fish, but when he wasn't around Mom made sure I got enough of the seafood that I loved. She would buy salmon and tuna just for me to eat straight from the can - something I still do often, although now I might spoon it out onto a plate first. She made me macaroni and plain tomatoes, still one of my favorite simple dinners - and one that, as it turns out, is quite healthy.

We would do some cooking together. We made peanut butter cookies. We made bread pudding. She would bake a cake and I would graciously help out by licking the bowl clean. I was always glad to do my part.

Sometimes, we would go out to eat, just Mom and me. We might go to the Liberty Deli in Lower Mills, or perhaps we would end up at a restaurant called Colstone's in downtown Boston. Both of these would be places we visited after we had been to church to say a prayer and light a candle. The Deli after Saint Gregory's; Colstone's after Arch Street. She would put a coin in the poor box at church and let me light the votive candle. She taught me to pray and she taught me reverence for holy places. She gave me a great sense of God as benevolent and likely to listen to me. It was, and is, a good thing.

She sang, always. She loved to sing; still does. She sang standards around the house. She had a lovely voice; still does. She and her sister, Jeannette, actually had their own radio show when they were teenagers, on WJDA in Quincy. The story, as I remember it, was that they had spoken to the station manager and complained that there wasn't enough programming for teenagers. He told them that if they thought so, maybe they could come up with some themselves. They said, "OK" and went on the air. Pretty gutsy stuff, that.

I owe my livelihood to my Mom.

[2013 Editorial Comment: Oddly enough, even with losing my job this year, this next paragraph still works. I have gone from one job with which it fits - announcing, and voice-over work, and producing commercial recordings - to another that I'm trying to make a go at - writing, fact-checking - that requires most of the same skillset.]

Even before I went into kindergarten, she was teaching me to read. I was always the best reader in my class in school. I am still one of the best readers I know and I work with professional readers every day. Without that early acquisition of knowledge, provided by Mom, I wouldn't have the job I have today. I am very grateful for that.

She taught me an absolute love for the written word and she taught me that acquiring knowledge doesn't have to be a drag. She would buy me books at every possible opportunity. I still have a half-shelf of Golden Library Of Knowledge books, which she bought for me - one at a time - from a store downtown every two or three weeks. I learned about dinosaurs and the planets and insects and the elements and animals from far off lands, and learned about them before I had to learn about them in school. I glided through much of elementary school because my Mom gave me such an enormous head start.

While I was in school, she kept a scrapbook. It is in my possession now. Entitled "Jimmy's School Years", it is an amazingly embarrassing collection of inept crayon drawings, declining-in-quality-as-I-moved-into-high-school report cards, class photos (who are half these people?), and other assorted ephemera from my times at the Gilbert Stuart, Boston Latin, the Woodrow Wilson, Boston Latin (again), and finally, Boston Tech. Grades K through 12 wrapped up in one overstuffed segmented package. While it is embarrassing, even for me to look at in private, I am so very thankful she did it.

I remember something I wasn't thankful for and which non-thankfulness I have been ashamed of ever since. One day, when I was perhaps four or five, Mom came home from a trip downtown and she had a small present for me. It was these two small replicas of phonograph records, one reading "YES" on the tiny label in the middle, and the other "NO". I don't know what their actual purpose was, but I suspect they were part of some advertising gimmick. I seem to remember that they came from Filene's Basement, but I may be mistaken.

Anyway, she had had a small little nice thought when handed them by whomever - "I'll bring these home and maybe Jimmy would like to play with them". My Mom came in and handed them to me, saying something to the effect of she wasn't sure if I wanted these but, if I did, I could have them. I behaved like a bratty little shit and said I didn't want them; why would I want them?; something entirely ungrateful. Maybe I was expecting something else from her for some reason? I don't know.

(Silly thing to remember, but I do. And I am ashamed about it. I was ungrateful for a gift given with love. I'd almost guarantee my Mom doesn't have the slightest idea what I'm talking about. She remembers good stuff about me and forgets bad stuff. Well, I apologize anyway, Mom, and now I feel better.)

Well, you see, I'm getting into small weird things here and, if I keep on like this, it will be a book before long and even then it won't feel like enough. In the interests of getting this thing published by her actual birthday, I'm going to just list a few things now, things that - if you aren't my Mom - may well sound bizarre or psychotic or both. She'll read each and every one, slowly and lovingly, and have memories - perhaps many memories, and strong - conjured by each.


You were the savior of Davy and the unfortunate bearer of bad news concerning Tippy.

You were Sugar's midwife, twice, and every cat's best friend, always.

You were the teacher and player of Fish, Casino, Rummy 500, Chinese Checkers.

You were my pass to the cafeteria at Prudential and then to shuffleboard in the employee lounge afterwards.

You are the gatekeeper of the "For Now" room.

You were the grower of the rose bush, the tiger lilies and my willow tree.

You gave me a box of kitchen matches and a bowl of water.
You were the magician who made stars appear on my bedroom ceiling.

You allowed my jumps down the stairs and piled the pillows to land on.

You put up with marbles in the bathtub.

You made me believe that the second half of The Wizard Of Oz was in glorious color even though I was watching it on a black-and-white television.

You came to see me play at McCarthy's and you actually stayed through the second set.

You were the buyer of South Station bowling.

Your room had the jewelry box filled with shiny things and a Kennedy/Johnson campaign button, the atomizer, the radio that played Jess Cain every morning, and sunbeams that never were as warm after you left.

You were the person with me as I watched The Flintstones, The Addams Family, Camp Runamuck, Hank, Bewitched, That Girl, Fractured Flickers, The Hathaways, It's About Time and I'm Dickens, He's Fenster. At the very least, three of those were shows you could barely stand, but you watched them with me anyway.

You brought me to a brave radical church and I gained a new circle of friends.

You introduced me to MY WIFE.

You were the saver of newspapers - "Kennedy Assassinated", "Man Walks On Moon", "Red Sox Win Pennant" - and I wish to hell I had been the saver of them, too.

You were the person I reported the Dow Jones to every night. Why? I haven't the foggiest notion.

You were the person who brought me the news of a death of a person I knew; the first death I actually felt and understood the finality of. "Ma died", you said. And you held me close and I knew that in this world where people I had imagined as permanent were not, your love was.

You are possibly the fairest person in the world. At the very least, you always listen to everybody and give serious consideration to their thoughts and feelings. I've inherited some of that, but not nearly enough.

You were my traveling companion on the railway in the sky that took us to Ma and Pa's for Easter.

You are the child at heart who played miniature golf and skeeball, took swings in the batting cage, ate ice cream sundaes and candy bars, and did assorted other young things with great relish and panache, on your 65th birthday.

All things considered, you're probably the best mother I've ever had.

(Hey, I got some of this sense of humor from you, you know, so stop rolling your eyes.)

Something like this could go on forever, but I'll close with this:

I've described a large number of idiotic episodes of my life on this blog and will no doubt relate many more. I've done things that were illegal, immoral, stupid, and that otherwise seemingly reflect badly on my upbringing. Every single one of those things came about through my own volition.

Meanwhile, every good quality I possess - and every good thing I've ever done - came about as a direct result of how I was raised. That may sound like hyperbole, but it is the absolute stone cold truth.

Thanks, Mom. Happy Birthday!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Important Ephemera

Here's the stuff that piled up inside of my brain during the past week. Thanks for being my mental Ex-Lax.

1) Chris Mauger completed the Orange County Marathon in record time. Here's proof.

(That's hardly the best joke possible, but it's the best you're going to get. Meanwhile, the TV weatherman, whom MY WIFE is watching in the background, is predicting that today will have "below average highs". Given what you've read so far, I suspect you already knew that.)

Chris was running his first marathon ever, so it had to be a record for him. Nevertheless, it was an accomplishment of enormous proportion because Chris is no longer of enormous proportion. He lost a person over the past year, dropping about 100 pounds of In-N-Out Burger from his now svelte frame. The most weight I've ever dropped is twenty pounds, and it took withdrawal and major depression for me to do so. To lose 100 pounds, I'd have to chop off some major body parts.

As nice as Chris' accomplishment was, what he did during the race was even nicer. As a tribute to those people who lost their lives during the Boston Marathon bombing episode, he wore a Boston Red Sox baseball cap for his run. Inscribed on the cap were the initials of those four people. Since Chris is a proud New York Yankees fan, this was no small sacrifice.

(For those unfamiliar with the Red Sox - Yankees rivalry, think England vs. Germany in World War II. Most of the early victories belonged to Germany, but England kicked ass later on.)

(I used that analogy, rather than a more American one, because I have to assume you're from outside of the United States if you have to have Red Sox - Yankees explained to you.)

After the race, Chris had no earthly use for a Red Sox cap, so he sent it to me. That was sweet of him. I'll wear it proudly.

(The first thought I had when I took it out of the box was, "Hey! Now I can compare the size of my head to Chris Mauger!" So I tried on the hat. I'm here to tell you Chris Mauger has a gigantic squash. As could be inferred from any sampling of my writing, I have a swelled head. That hat, however, slipped down over my eyes when I put it on. I would estimate Chris's head to be about the size of a small watermelon. He's probably lucky he can stand upright, let alone run races. God bless him.)

One other thing to tell you connected with this: The modern world has once again gained the upper hand in its battle with me. I am unable to post a photo of the hat itself because I have no clue how to download the photo I took of it. The combination of my ancient camera (which contains a removable card) and my second-hand computer (which, much like me when it comes to prostate exams, refuses to accept insertions) has thwarted any and all attempts at bringing my photographic skills to this piece. Considering my past attempts at photography, this is some of the best news you're likely to receive today.

2) So, I was going to paste a photo here of a bottle of V-8 I purchased, but since the camera thing has me buckwheated (excuse me, stymied) ...

(Some jokes just aren't worth it. I mean, how many of you got that? Probably one or two, and it's hardly a guffaw; more of a weak chuckle, maybe. For those of you without a clue, enter "buckwheat stymie" in Google. I'll wait.

See? Those were two of the character names of the black kids from "The Little Rascals" films. And I pretended to be getting them mixed up with the words one would use to display one's ignorance concerning cameras! Ha-Ha-Ha!)


Anyway, my bottle of V-8 had this to say on the label:

Original - Now Better Tasting!

That's right up there with the e-mail MY WIFE received from a cosmetics company. In an attempt to sell her something, they promised a "Free gift with purchase of fifty dollars!" Well, no, that would not be free, nor would it be a gift. And combining the two words is redundant as well as repeating yourself, too.

3) The softball season of my 56th summer begins this coming Sunday.

That means this coming Monday you will be subjected to some sort of writing having to do with it. Just thought I'd give you fair warning.

4) Speaking of sports, The Boston Bruins!

Wow. Hard to imagine a more exciting ending to a playoff series. Game 7 vs. Toronto. The Bruins trail 4 - 1 in the third period. They rally to tie the game (the B's scored two goals in the final minute-and-a-half of regulation), send it into overtime, and then win it on a goal by Patrice Bergeron (and even though I've watched the guy play for years, and I know he's a he-man, I still picture someone skating in a skirt when I hear that name. Of course, I'm the guy who made the Buckwheat-Stymie joke up above, so I'm hopeless.)

We now get to play the New York Rangers in the next round. Woo-Hoo! While I don't look forward to the possible stoning we'll receive from Henrik Lundqvist (and there's a name with all sorts of joking possibilities) there's nothing more fun for a Boston sports fan than a series against a New York team. This city will be happily vitriolic for the next week or two.

5) Here is the most depressing news story I encountered yesterday.

It seems a woman assaulted a restaurant worker because she put too many pickles on her sandwich.

Apparently, things are back to normal around here. After being all buddy-buddy, what with the bombing deaths and mutilations, we are now punching each other because of overuse of condiments. I'd shoot myself, but I have a doubleheader Sunday.

6) Soon, with more better stuff.

Some lies never change.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Low-Post Mortem

 [photo of KG & Pierce from Celtics Life, a cool place if you're a C's fan]

You had to know that, sooner or later, I would bore you to tears with a post about sports. I apologize in advance to those of you utterly uninterested in such things. I am physically unable to resist the temptation to spout a few thousand words when someone actually asks my opinion, especially when it's a relative. One of my nephews (name withheld to protect him from ridicule concerning his basketball-nerd uncle) wrote to me with the following questions:

-----Original Message-----

From: Suldog's Nephew
To: Suldog
Sent: Sat, May 4, 2013 12:27 am

Subject: Celtics
I'm a bit confused, emotionally, about this season for the Celtics. What are 
your thoughts? Do you feel bad for them?

My reply (with a few thoughts I had since then mixed in):

Yeah, I do feel bad for them. Well, maybe all of them except Jordan Crawford. Here we were after game 5, having won two in a row and back to within a game of the Knicks, we had the entire country thinking the Knicks were punk-ass pussies because we whupped 'em on their home court after they pulled that "We're dressing in black because we're going to the Celtics funeral" shit, but he decided he had to mouth off and trash talk 'Melo and that shifted a whole bunch of public opinion (and momentum) back to New York. Real loser move. I bet Garnett dope-slapped him in the locker room.

Anyway, I was as proud as could be with the comeback they made in the final game [for those who didn't see it, the Celtics were down by 26 points with 8 minutes left in the game, but they sliced and diced the Knicks over the next four minutes to cut the lead to four, the most amazing comeback I might ever have seen.] I was almost sitting there with a stiffy watching it happen.

(I said almost, OK?)

And I would have liked nothing better than to have had Pierce drain a couple of threes to put them away, once the team got it down from 26 to 4, but it just wasn't to be. He looked his age last night; for most of this series, actually. My Celtics fan soul wants nothing so much as to see him come back for another year or two. He deserves to retire as a Celtic. But I don't know if it's going to happen after that series he played. The club has an option for one year, but it's for a load of cash. I think they may unload that money off the books, grab a couple of high draft picks, and start the rebuilding while Rondo heals up.

As for Garnett, I believe he has two years left on his contract. And he was awesome for much of the series. He played like freakin' Bill Russell in games 4 & 5. He averaged 15 rebounds and 15 points for the six games. Pierce has said he'd like to retire when Garnett does, and they both want to retire as Celtics. If I'm Pierce...

(Which I'm not. Duh. I don't resemble, in any way, a 6' 6" black millionaire.)

... I'd go to Danny Ainge and say, "Look, Danny, if you're willing to guarantee Kevin and me won't be traded, and we can both retire together at the end of the 2015 playoffs, I'm willing to play TWO years for the money you'd have to give me for ONE year if you exercised your option. Give me the league minimum for year two, basically, and allow us both the awesome dignity to walk off the floor together at the end of our careers."

Pierce has to have more money than he can use for the rest of his life, so why not? With a move like that, he'd own this city forever. Right now, his legacy is excellent player, sure hall-of-fame selection, one championship, became a team leader and less of a dick with every year he's been here. Folks will remember him fondly. Take a "hometown discount" to unselfishly retire with your best bud on the team? He'll get a statue someplace.

(I'm terribly bothered by what I've heard on sports talk radio, both from fans and commentators. The argument seems to be whittled down to whether keeping Pierce for a year outweighs the value we could receive for trading him. Not a single person has espoused the moral side of things. I don't care about improving the team so much as I care about loyalty. I'm willing to sit through a year where perhaps the team is not a mortal lock to make the playoffs, IF that's what has to be done to ensure Paul Pierce plays his entire career with Boston. Nobody cares more about being a Celtic, about his legacy within the history of the team, than Paul Pierce does. If fans can't embrace that, possibly setting aside the desire for a championship, then what's the point of being a fan? Is the only thing that matters the shirt that somebody wears, and exchanging bodies within that shirt is always acceptable if the player now wearing the shirt is younger and faster? Pierce stuck around during some awfully lean years when he could have easily gone elsewhere. I think the team, and the fans, owe him for that. Anyway, it's not as though Pierce is inevitably sliding downhill at a breakneck pace. He is a former Finals MVP, still one of the top 25 players in the game, quite possibly the best natural scorer the team has ever had, and I think he has one more run in him, especially if Garnett is still around to push him. Even coming off the bench would be fine. If anyone would embrace that downplay of individual stats for a shot at another title, he's the one at this point.)

Aside from wanting to see that display of loyalty (which is 100-1 against happening) what do I want to see? I want one full season of Rajon Rondo running backcourt with Avery Bradley before I die (or before Rondo blows out his other knee.) So far, they've had parts of seasons as the starting backcourt (a very small part, this season) but when they finally have a full year together, other NBA teams are going to have to put ankle bracelets on them to keep track of them. Those guys running the fast break in tandem will be basketball nirvana. Tommy Heinsohn would be odds-on to splooge all over his microphone.

Other players? Jeff Green had his breakthrough. One year after major heart surgery, he came back in a way that finally makes me somewhat happy about the Kendrick Perkins trade.

(Something that received surprisingly little ink this season: The Celtics were, so far as I know, the first professional sports team to have TWO players on the roster who had both undergone open heart surgery. How amazing was that? When I was a kid, heart surgery of any kind was almost unheard of. To have said out loud that somebody could have had his chest spread open, his heart cut up and patched, then actually play a strenuous sport such as basketball, at a professional level, would have been a ridiculous enough concept to have you committed. Chris Wilcox and Jeff Green are amazing stories.)

The core of Green, Rondo, Bradley, Pierce, Garnett, Brandon Bass, and (here's hoping, back from injury) Jared Sullinger, is one with which I'd be very comfortable. If Jason Terry has another year left in him, I'll take him off the bench. Courtney Lee is a swell defensive player and can stick a shot when needed. I don't think we saw enough of Shavlik Randolph to know if he's as good as he looked on occasion. He was considered a blue-chipper at one time, so I think he's worth keeping to see if he can still be what many folks thought he would. Wilcox has great heart (no pun intended.) The other pieces - Terrence Williams, D. J. White, Fab Melo - I can't say I'm overly-thrilled about (although Williams had a nice game in the Knicks series.) As for Crawford, I already said what I needed to say about him.

Is there anything the C's can do to upgrade, aside from a trade involving Pierce, Garnett, or both? Yeah, they could be absolute idiots and trade Rondo. If that happens, I'll personally go to Danny Ainge's house and burn him down (not his house; HIM.) Maybe a trade of their draft choice packaged with Bass to move up into the top 5? I don't know if there'd be a taker for that. I suppose if we're really looking to upgrade immediately, we're going to have to give up something to get something, but I truly don't have much here that I want to give up, whether for sentimental reasons or because I just believe the guys we'd give up are too valuable to give up.

Bottom line? I'm willing to see this same team come back for another year IF everyone can stay healthy. It's a playoff team, for sure, but I think about twenty variables would have to break right for them to win a championship. I'm OK with that if that's what it takes to let Pierce and Garnett retire here, as well as have Rondo, Bradley, Green, and Sullinger to build around.   

So, be confused no longer, nephew! I have imparted my basketball wisdom unto you. Go forth, have a drink, and groove on the Bruins until next b-ball season arrives.

Soon, with more better stuff shots.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

More Laughs Than You Can Shake A Stick At (If That's Your Idea Of Fun...)

I have a friend who needs a laugh. I'm not going to give a name here, but if you think it's you, you're right, and if you think it's someone else, you're also right.

So, anyway, I'm trying to come up with something really funny for this person, but I have nothing particular in mind to write about. I'm trusting that I can improvise well enough to do the job.

"But, Bullwinkle, that trick never works!"

"This time for sure! Nothing up my sleeve! Presto!"

(Outdated cartoon reference. Good start.)

(Actually, here's about the funniest thing I can come up with, which is to tell you the truth about me. I'm a self-involved self-important self-abusing ex-doper, with little real direction or ambition in life, so it's no wonder I'm floundering. I should just clam up. I'm probably giving you a haddock, but it's nothing personal. I'm just doing it for the halibut. Surely, salmon cares enough about me to keep on reading, even if it is getting hard to figure a trout. I know you're being scrod, and I didn't even buy you dinner first. Sorry! But I'm just flexing my punning mussels, so stop being such a crab.)

Yikes! I've got to come up with something better than that or the person I'm trying to make laugh will commit suicide instead. How about a succession of punch lines with no preceding jokes? Yeah, that will do the job, one way or the other. Here goes!

"I'm sorry. I can't hear you. I've got a banana in my ear."

"“That's why it's the meanest animal in the jungle..."

"I don't know, either, but there's one crawling on your shoulder."

"That? That's the beer that made Milfamey walk us."

"Your mother's on the roof."

"You don't eat a pig like that all at once."

"OK, you're a taxi."

"To hold his pants up."

"He wanted to make time fly."

"A newspaper."

"A sunburned zebra."

"A nun falling down some stairs."

"A penguin being ripped to shreds by a polar bear in a tuxedo."

"To get to the other side."

"To prove to the possum that it could actually be done."

"Because she was safety-pinned to a punk rocker." 

"$25 an hour, if he's in the union."

"About three pounds, on average."

"Cut off his nose."

"And at these prices, you won't get many more, either!"

"Maybe I should have said 'DiMaggio?'"

"Not so fast, Johnson."

"Silly Rabbi! Kicks are for trids!"

"Because it's so hard to get the cows to squat over those tiny cartons."

"And such small portions, too!"

"Yeah, next year we're going someplace else."

"I make it up in volume."

"Well, I said 'Kidleys', didle I?"

"I'm a bus driver, lady, not a doctor. Try soaking it in some cold water."

"Oh, goodness, you can't see him from there! You have to stand on the bureau and turn your head just so..."




"You don't call him anything. He's not going to come to you anyway."

"Look at the elephants coming over the hill!"

"He didn't say anything. He didn't recognize them."

"By the footprints in the Jell-O."

"Anywhere he wants to."

"Two 400 pound canaries."

"No, I'm mad at my neighbor."

"Then don't do that."

"Well, sure, it's a great act, but what does he do for an encore?"

"Why? Is there one missing?"

"Well, it's infected and my doctor told me to soak it in warm liquid."

"Shhhhh! Everybody will want one!"

"The backstroke, I think."

"Well, why not? That's what you served me yesterday."

"I got a tapeworm and it's good enough for him!"

"A stick!"

"What do you think? Mr. Fink presses pants for free?"

"Hi. I'm the viper. Vere's the vindows vut need viping?"

"Compared to his brother, he was a saint!"

"So the bartender says, 'Why the long face?'"

"He had a hat."

"He stays up all night wondering if dog exists."

"So I bit him."

"Thank you for bringing my husband home, but where's his wheelchair?"

"If I could walk that way, I wouldn't need the talcum powder..."

And if I had any better way to end this, you wouldn't need that gun. I will now tell you a complete joke. The reason I am doing it, rather than just giving you the punchline, is because just about all of you would ask me what the joke is that goes with the punchline if I only gave you the punchline.

A man is on a business trip in the far east. He's lonely one night, so he calls up an escort service and has them send a girl over. She doesn't speak English, but his intentions are clear and his money is good, so soon enough they're undressed and in bed together. They're both enjoying themselves mightily, she's panting and moaning, and then he consummates the situation. She starts screaming and saying, "Dahwoo Rishicki! Dahwoo Rishicki! Dahwoo Rishicki!"

The guy thinks to himself, "Wow! She's really getting into this! I must be really good!"

The next day, he's on the golf course with a client. The client tees up his ball, gives it a mighty whack, and it flies onto the green, takes two bounces, and goes right into the hole, an ace! The man, remembering how good he was the night before, and wanting to impress his client, says, "Dahwoo Rishicki!"

The client turns to him and says, "What do you mean 'wrong hole'?"

Soon, with more better stuff.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

A Day In Lockdown In Watertown

[Published by The Boston Globe on 4/22/2013, and re-posted here by request of Hilary.]

We stood by the window in our living room, watching the SWAT team S-L-O-W-L-Y travel down our street. Men uniformed in camouflage or in black, helmeted, jacketed, carrying large weapons. They fanned out into yards, our yard, up to doors, our door, knocked. I opened the door. A smiling team member, carrying what looked like a portable cannon – and it was the right thing to smile, because it certainly helped to put us more at ease – made sure we were secure and that the suspect they were seeking was not in our Watertown home.

The previous night, my wife had heard the gunfire and explosions. I was asleep. I awoke and went into the living room. The TV was on, news reports of what had just transpired in our city. My wife gave me a quick rundown. Then we settled in for the next 23 hours. She would not sleep, I caught about 45 minutes during it.

The suspect was here, then there, then possibly moving toward us. We watched the news reports, along with the rest of the country, but we were in the middle of what we were seeing on the tube. We switched feverishly between channels, trying to catch the latest bulletins.

We were informed, via reverse 911 call from Watertown Police, that we should not leave our house, do not answer the door, stay away from windows. We were not happy, but we did what was asked.

It seemed like they might have had him cornered on Quimby Street, but it wasn’t so. There were numerous press conferences, continuous loops of film, much conjecture, rumors, guesses. A man was on the ground on Upland Road, many rifles aimed at his head. He was taken into custody, stripped naked. It wasn’t him. We waited some more.

The SWAT team came and went. The reports continued, some hopeful, some discouraging. We were told, by the Chief of Police, that we might be under order to not leave our houses for two or three days. We were downhearted, but understood.

As the evening came again, we were told that the “stay inside ban” had been lifted. We stayed in. We figured it wasn’t really prudent for everyone to go running outside as though we had just been sprung from prison. I espoused a theory to my wife. I said that perhaps they lifted the ban in order to see if he might venture out in some way. While the ban was in effect, nobody was on the streets aside from police and guardsmen. With it lifted, maybe he’d be bold enough to try and get lost.

Not long after the ban was announced as lifted, more gunfire rang out in Watertown. Shots were being fired in the vicinity of Franklin Street. Reports came in, various sources, saying he was cornered. He was – maybe – in a boat in somebody’s backyard. Finally, that was stated as fact. And they moved in, got him, captured him, gravely wounded but alive.

And the final scene, the one that will stay with me and give joy to my heart for a long while, was that of the citizens of Watertown coming out by the hundreds, lining Mount Auburn Street. They cheered every police vehicle, National Guard truck, EMS unit, bomb squad, and other official vehicle involved in the capture. They cheered heartily, lustily, and with a sense of relief that was palpable and fully understood by both of us.

It was the Watertown Marathon. We were cheering those who finished the race.


Wednesday, May 01, 2013


Here's just what you need to make your day a joy: a collection of odds and ends I feel a need to get out of my mind and into yours. You're welcome.

Item 1

My good friend, Chris, of Splits 'n Giggles, is running in the Orange County Marathon on May 5th. It will be his first marathon, ever. He has done amazing things with his body over the past year or so, dropping something like 100 pounds and otherwise making me feel like a lazy slug for losing two pounds in preparation for running out of breath on my first trip around the bases in my Sunday softball league.

In honor of the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings, Chris will be wearing a Boston Red Sox cap. The initials of the four people killed in connection with that hideousness were written onto the hat by Chris. This is no small thing for him. Chris is a lifelong proud New York Yankees fan. It truly is special for him to wear a Sox cap during his run and I thank him for the gesture. He has graciously offered to send the cap to me following his run. I'll do a follow-up when I receive it.

Item 2

A few of you were kind enough to read through a long screed of mine some ten days ago. In it, I expressed a number of self doubts, made some scattershot comments concerning reasons to hate humanity, and otherwise opened up a vein to bleed all over this page. I had published it here, but pulled it down immediately when the Boston Globe asked to buy a piece of mine which was included as part of that screed. Everyone who read it and had something to say was wonderfully kind. Thank you for that.

One thing I meant to include in the screed, but didn't - since it was a screed written under some mental duress, I hadn't written an outline and forgot until it was too late - was a quote from Robert Paul Smith. Some of you may have no idea who Robert Paul Smith was. If so, go to the link. Or you can just go to the next paragraph here because I'm going to tell you a little about him.


Robert Paul Smith was a writer. Robert Paul Smith was a tremendous writer. As a matter of fact, I think Robert Paul Smith is my favorite writer of all time, aside from Mark Twain, and it's a damn shame he isn't more remembered.

(I'd like to give credit to the person who turned me on to Robert Paul Smith approximately two years ago, but I'm ashamed to say I'm not entirely sure who did me that favor. I think it was either Cricket or Craig. They're both prime candidates since they're well-read and eclectic, have both stopped blogging, and both have names beginning with C, which may not mean much to you but to me it represents a good reason for my confusing them. In any case, and whoever it was, I owe you one. A big one.)

If Robert Paul Smith had died before I was born, I might now be a believer in reincarnation. I might seriously have considered the possibility that I had been him in a past life. His style and choice of subject matter are about as close to my own as any writer I've yet encountered. As such, I find him irresistibly charming. And, since you seem to have an unnatural fondness for my scribblings, I have to assume you'd like him, too.

Anyway, here's the quote, and the reason I wanted to include it in my screed is because I find it particularly prescient concerning our current state of affairs:

We seem to be having a contest now that I never anticipated - a convulsive effort to make ourselves so loathsome that when we slip the trigger and exterminate ourselves we will have been morally right to do so.

That comes from a work entitled Crank. I have to believe the subtitle will send you on a dead sprint to your local library in search of it. Here it is: A Book of Lamentations, Exhortations, Mixed Memories and Desires, All Hard or Chewy Centers, No Creams. If you can't find it at the library, I'd suggest picking up a used copy somewhere. From my investigations (granted, none too exhaustive) it is apparently out of print. That fact alone tells me all I need to know about the sad state of the world. Then again, if my estimation is correct and I really do write like he did, then the gap left by his being gone leaves more room for me to be published, so there's that.

Item 3

A couple of weeks ago, I asked you to name some comedy teams you enjoyed. I told you that I would say a few syllables (utter a few adjectives) concerning each. I've decided not to follow through on my promise (which is par for this course, but still no excuse for disappointing the 2 or 3 of you who, for reasons known only to yourself, expected better of me.)

I'll give you the bottom line. I like comedy teams. All of them. Any people who try to bring a few more laughs into the world are OK by me. I could have given you some specifics, i.e., the next time you watch Laurel & Hardy, pay attention to Oliver Hardy's hands. They are quite possibly the most graceful and balletic hands in the history of motion pictures, and probably the only hands that, by themselves and with no words or facial mannerisms, have ever reduced me to helpless gales of guffaws, so I guess that would have been worthwhile to say - and so I just did - but, at present, I don't feel like writing a few thousands words about most of the teams you mentioned. Sorry! Maybe later.

(I suppose there are one or two comedy teams I'm not particularly enamored of. Nixon & Agnew come to mind. Their plumbers sketch was far too derivative of Bagel Street for my taste. I do have to say, however, that few could top them for patter. Nattering Nabobs of Negativism was a classic.)

[Dick and Spiro after accepting the award for Best Spoken Word Recording at the 1975 Grammy Awards]
Item 4

There is no Item 4. It is the Sanity Clause.

And with that, I bid you fondue.

Soon, with moe better stuff.