Saturday, May 31, 2014

Lots Of Asterisks!

Once again, the Boston Herald (the 53rd biggest newspaper in the United States!) has done itself proud by putting my words on the editorial pages.


A note concerning the text (which will not make any sense until you've read it, so go do so): My fee would be commensurate* with how far I have to travel. For instance, I live just down the street from Harvard, so I'd only charge them $100.** If Beijing Jiaotong University wants me, it will cost them 600 million yuan.***

Hey, here's some footnotes!

*That's the sort of word you wouldn't expect from someone who never went to college, but I used it anyway. Just wanted to squelch the trepidations of anyone considering hiring me (which you don't know what for, unless you've read the piece, so you should do so, if you haven't. Excelsior!)

** If they throw in an honorary doctorate.

*** Yes, there is such a place. And if they'll give me a Peking duck for lunch (if they still call it a Peking duck over there) I won't make fun of the school's initials.

Soon, with more better stuff.****

**** Outright Lie

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Shoes (According To Both Sexes)

Generally speaking, men simplify and women tend toward finer distinctions. A scene from the classic movie, Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, illustrates this point.

Mrs. Blandings describes, to two contractors, how she wants her rooms painted.

“I want [this room] to be a soft green, not as blue-green as a robin's egg, but not as yellow-green as daffodil buds. Now, the only sample I could get is a little too yellow, but don't let whoever does it go to the other extreme and get it too blue. It should just be a sort of grayish-yellow-green. Now, the dining room. I'd like yellow. Not just yellow; a very gay yellow. Something bright and sunshiny... if you'll send one of your men to the grocer for a pound of their best butter, and match that exactly, you can't go wrong! Now, this is the paper we're going to use in the hall. It's flowered, but I don't want the ceiling to match any of the colors of the flowers. There are some little dots in the background, and it's these dots I want you to match. Not the little greenish dot near the hollyhock leaf, but the little bluish dot between the rosebud and the delphinium blossom... Now the kitchen is to be white. Not a cold, antiseptic hospital white. A little warmer, but still, not to suggest any other color but white. Now for the powder room... I want you to match this thread... As you can see, it's practically an apple red. Somewhere between a healthy winesap and an unripened Jonathan...”

She leaves the room.

Contractor: You got that, Charlie?

Charlie: Red, green, blue, yellow, white.

Contractor: Check.

I think I've made an important discovery, though. There seems to be one exception to the rule of men being generalists and women being specialists. It is footwear.

The other day, I'm watching Family Feud with my wife. Steve Harvey says, “We asked 100 men: How many pairs of shoes does the average man own?"

I immediately say, "Three".

My wife gets an incredulous look on her face.

The number one answer was "Four". My wife was amazed, but I explained to her that no matter how many pairs of footwear a man owns, we guys only count SHOES as shoes. Ask a man how many pairs of shoes he owns and he will count only those made of leather and able to be worn with a suit. We do not count sneakers as shoes, we do not count boots as shoes, we do not count sandals as shoes. If it's a pair of SHOES, then we count it as shoes. Women, on the other hand, seem to count everything that covers their feet, aside from socks, as falling into the category of “shoes”.

I tested this theory, by positing the question on Facebook, and the answers returned almost wholly along sexist lines. Men categorized their footwear into sneakers, boots, cleats, whatever else and SHOES. And the women were almost uniformly unbelieving of our abysmal ignorance.

It is an anomaly; the only instance I've ever found that contradicts the usual pattern of man-woman thinking. I might apply for a grant to study this phenomenon. In the meantime, I'm going to watch some Three Stooges while my wife tries to figure out why she married me.

Soon, with more better stuff.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

William Robert Caddy

This appeared in the Boston Herald a couple of years ago, in slightly different form.

Caddy Road is a side street off of a side street off of yet another side street. It's the Dorchester Lower Mills street I grew up on in Boston.

One year, when I was 8 or 9 and Memorial Day neared, I noticed that our street signs were decorated with small American flags. Until that time, I had never given much thought to the name of our street. It was just a street. When I saw the flags, I knew that our street was also a memorial.

I found out, via some research at the local library (this was waaaaaaay before The Internet), that our street was named after William Robert Caddy, a war hero. That's all I found out, though; just that one fact. I didn't know what war, or what he may have done in that war. Nevertheless, I felt proud to live on a street that was named after a hero.

A little later in life - I believe it was when I was 20 - I was driving in Quincy and I pulled into a parking lot near Wollaston Beach. There, I discovered a marker, denoting a little park that existed just beyond the parking lot. The marker read "Caddy Memorial Park".

Yes, it was named after the same person. I now came to realize that he was an exceptional hero. You don't get the Congressional Medal without having displayed great bravery and valor. However, aside from the fact of his death, there was little additional information.

Then computers arrived, Google was born, and searching for things - and people - became much easier. I finally found out the story behind the man for whom my street had been named.

He was born on August 8th, 1925, in Quincy. He died March 3rd, 1945, on Iwo Jima.

He served with Company I, 3rd Battalion, 28th Marines. While in action against the Japanese on Iwo Jima, Caddy and two other men in his platoon (a sergeant and a lieutenant) were advancing against enemy machine gun fire. Seeking cover, the three Marines dropped into a shell hole. After unsuccessfully attempting several times to advance, Caddy and the other men engaged in a hand grenade battle with the defending Japanese. An enemy missile landed in the hole where the three men were taking shelter.

Caddy covered it with his body, absorbing the full impact of the explosion.

The Medal of Honor was presented to his mother on September 8, 1946.

William Robert Caddy is buried at National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Honolulu, Hawaii. He had not yet reached his 20th birthday.

I never met the man, of course, but I lived on his street for 37 years. He is the one I remember every Memorial Day.

Perhaps you have an actual relative or friend who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. In any case, this Monday, while you enjoy a burger or a hot dog, and perhaps a few cool drinks, would you please take a moment or two to remember, with gratitude, a man or woman who made such enjoyments possible for us all?

Thank you. 


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Oddness & This Week In Softball

We'll open the festivities with a piece of weirdness.

I signed on to do a meme. I usually avoid these things, as well as awards, because there are too many obligations attached. You have to link back to somebody, you have to hand it off to so-and-so many people, you have rules to follow, blah blah blah and yada yada yada. But, I decided to do this one for a simple reason: I really like the person who tasked me with it AND she asked me so sweetly I would have felt like a true cad had I said "no".

The person who asked was Barbara Shallue. She's mentioned on my sidebar already, but here's another link to her place. She's an absolute sweetheart and I like to visit her place because she almost always reminds me of things for which I should be thankful. That's a kick in the butt I definitely need every now and again.

I should explain, before we go any further (or farther, or mother, and I promise this is the last time I'll ever use that joke), that Barbara asked me to answer four or five questions then send the meme on to three others. I asked three others to participate. One of them answered in the affirmative. One of them told me "thanks, but no thanks". One didn't answer me at all.

So, since the person who said she would do it deserves better than to be ignored and tossed aside, I'll mention her here even though I am not going to do the meme per se. She is Hilary of The Smitten Image. She is a fantastic photographer. As a matter of fact, I think she's the best photographer alive. I mean that. Her stuff always draws me in, amazes me, shows detail that I never would have noticed had I come across her subjects in real life. I've been after her to publish a book of her stuff for years now. I'd buy five or six copies, at least, both as Christmas presents and for my own enjoyment.

I have now fulfilled my self-imposed obligation to those two fine ladies, even though I am not doing the meme. I feel good about that. Now on to what happened in softball this week.


BOMBERS - 12  Courtesy Flush - 2
BOMBERS - 22  Courtesy Flush - 0


Hawks - 17  BOMBERS - 9
BOMBERS - 17  Drive - 11

M Street

HARP & BARD - 15  Cranberry Cafe - 1
Lincoln Tavern - 11  HARP & BARD - 8

That's a lot of ball. I'd generally go on and on about each game, but I'm just plain tired of writing.

 Me catching in The Fens last week

I expect the Sunday version of the Bombers to finish no worse than tied for first. I don't think there's any team in the league, aside from the defending champions, who can beat us. The team is really that strong this season. I fully expect to be back in the finals at season's end, and I think this is the best chance I've got this year to finally be on a championship squad. And, while I'm trying to get done with this without a lot of detail, I have to mention Brian Pacheco. He pitched both games, giving up 5 hits in 10 innings work. Wow.

The Bombers squad that plays in The Fens (the area of Boston near Fenway Park, for those who don't know) is a decent team, and certainly has a shot at the championship, but a lot depends on a number of factors that are still iffy. Most of it depends upon who shows up for any particular game. If we put our best 10 out there, we can play with anybody. We'll see what happens there. It's called the Bombers, but has only five or six guys from the Sunday team.

The Harp & Bard team is my new team at M Street. It's a dynamite line-up of hitters, at the least. Robby Costello is the main man pitching, and this is his big test in the "A" division in this very tough league (lots of players in this league travel out-of-state to play in prestigious tournaments. There are literally some world-class players, guys who have competed against the best from other countries.) Robby has more heart than anyone I know, but he's a work in progress as a top-flight pitcher, and he realizes that. We may or may not have the 1 through 9 great line-up that is needed to truly compete in such a league. I haven't seen enough of the guys to say for sure. They certainly aren't bums (like me) so I wouldn't rule out a decent run at it.

(We were originally placed in the "B" division. I can say with certainty that we would have ripped that division a new one. NOBODY in that division would have beat us, in my very humble opinion. OK, maybe one team would have given us a true run for the title. But, otherwise, we would have won most games by slaughter. So, it was the correct move to place us in the higher division, but it remains to be seen if we are good enough to take it. We'll need to play mistake free, which we did NOT do in the second game of this past week, a loss.)

My playing? I'm the #1 catcher in The Fens, the only catcher who showed for the Sunday team thus far - an assist from Pat Atton, who is more an infielder/outfielder, saved my knees in game two - and I haven't seen the field at M Street. Brad Morrill is very much the #1 there and I am for emergency use only. I hope to get into a couple of games here or there, but I have no problem whatsoever being behind Brad. He's a dynamite hitter, a fine defensive catcher, and he'll be better for Robby in the long run; able to teach him a lot.

The upcoming schedule has a game at M Street today (Thursday) which I don't expect to get into unless things get out of hand one way or another, no Sunday games due to the Memorial Day holiday, and then two games at The Fens where I will likely be the starting catcher.

Sunday stats

Fens stats

M Street website

And that's that (whatever that was.) Enjoy the weekend, remember the folks who fought and died for your freedom, and I'll be back to tell you about any pieces of writing I have published. Visit my friends Barbara and Hilary, and God bless.

Soon, with more better stuff.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

As You Read This, I Am Still A Contemporary Of Dave Barry (But Another 4,000 Paid Publications Or So & Maybe He'll Be A Contemporary Of Mine, Damn It)

I have a piece in the latest issue of Funny Times. As you might have surmised from the title of the publication in which it appears, it is allegedly funny.

I am pleased to be only 7 spots from Dave Barry in the front cover blurbs. I'm just 5 spots from Roz Warren! I'm 8 spots from Bruce Cameron, though. I think, in order to move up, I need to get some kids and write about them. Anyone have any for sale who won't mind being ridiculed in print? I'll go as high as ten bucks if they're particularly dumb but adorable.

You can go to the website and see my name in bigger print (but 9 spots from Barry, and 11 spots from Andy Borowitz; on second thought, I like the cover better.) You'll have to actually buy the thing to read my stuff. You should do that, of course. Not only will you get me (and Barry, Warren, Cameron and Borowitz) but there are scads of funny cartoons, other funny things that aren't cartoons, and even a publisher's statement and very few ads! All for just $2.99! My personal guarantee: Your money cheerfully refunded if you're a humorless grouch who doesn't laugh at least once.

(Well, not 'cheerfully'. I'd say more like 'begrudgingly, and don't expect it before 2017, you grumpy bastard, and I'll deduct for postage, too'.)

So, there you have it (and what more could you want, aside from unlimited wealth and peasants groveling at your feet?) As for me, I'm going to take a nap. It's exhausting being a contemporary of Dave Barry.*

Soon, with more better stuff.

* Small solace is gained via the knowledge that it's probably even more exhausting being Dave Barry. But, when I win my Pulitzer, I'll invite him over for pizza. That's more than he ever did for me.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Bruins & Softball

Before I get into the recap of my softball week, I have a few words to say regarding the Boston Bruins.

The Bruins, as you know if you follow hockey, were eliminated in seven games by the Montreal Canadiens. More power to Montreal. They won, the B's lost. But the way some Bruins fans are talking makes me wonder just what series they were watching.

I've seen folks on Facebook cursing them out for "not wanting it" and "not playing hard enough". I'll grant you that a couple of guys had a bad series (Brad Marchand would probably top the list; maybe Bartkowski for inopportune penalties) but I rarely saw a lack of desire on the ice.* The amount of pressure the B's put on Montreal, as compared to what Montreal put on the B's, was ridiculously weighted toward Boston. Barring power plays, I'm willing to bet a favorite body part that the large majority of play was in the Montreal end. And did anybody count the posts and crossbars hit by the B's? I'll guess it was 9 and 4 respectively; maybe a lot more. Give the B's anything near a fair share of goals from those posts and the series was over in 5 with them winning handily.

This series was largely decided by snakebite (and some opportunistic passing from the Canadiens resulting in breakaways on a couple of odd shifts and releases from the penalty box.) It was not decided on a lack of desire, IMVHO. If you're a Bruins fan who thinks it was, I think you're deluding yourself for some strange masochistic reasons I don't even want to know. And one other thing - P. K. Subban is a beast. I'll take him on my team any day of the week. I hope his brother (whom the Bruins have drafted) is as good as he is.

* I didn't see the first period of game seven. I was playing ball myself at the time. Maybe that was a stinker.

OK, on to softball.

Fens league

Syndicate - 15  BOMBERS - 12
Hawks - 17  BOMBERS - 9

M Street

HARP & BARD - 15  Cranberry Cafe - 1


No games yet

If Frankenmask can take one more year of beatings, so can I

Let's get the obvious out of the way first: I'm old. In softball years, I'm about... let's see... if one year equals seven for a dog, then what does one year equal for a Suldog? Divide by five, carry the two... I think it works out to "older than the dirt I'm squatting in when I get behind the plate."

(The field in the Fens league is artificial turf, so I know for a fact it's true on that field.)

Anyway, showing the wisdom that has accrued to me via living on this earth for 57 years, I signed up for THREE fast-pitch softball leagues this season. I have the possibility, every week, of playing catcher in 7 games. As the young kids say these days, #stfuoldkneesorIwillgetnewones

I did three nights in a row this past week. I think I'm getting in shape, but I won't know until my legs stop aching. We won only one of those games, so that doesn't help my aches and pains.

The Sunday league starts this weekend and I may be catching both ends of the doubleheader; we'll see. I hope so. And I hope I go about 7 for 9. I need much more happy.

Soon, with more batter stuff.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

My Mothers Day Card

Being the sort of son that I am, I did not mail a Mothers Day card to My Mom. Instead, I got the Boston Herald to print it and also pay me for the privilege.


(I did get her a couple of presents for which I actually paid and we went out to dinner. I'm pretty sure I still came out ahead on the deal, though.)

(And some 100,000+ readers are now aware of what a swell Mom I have; there's that.)

Soon, with more better stuff.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Discover Or Softball

There's my career and then there's softball. Let's see... The thing that brings in money so we can keep our heads above water and don't starve vs. the thing I do that takes up almost as much time, costs me money, leaves me banged up and sore, and then probably sends half of you scurrying for the exits as soon as I mention it. Which should I write about?

Yeah, you know me by now. It's softball.

But first, since even a dope like me knows I shouldn't totally disregard a chance to improve my standing with one of my employers, I'll tell you where you can find the latest nice thing for which I've received a check. The current issue of Discover (now on newsstands everywhere!) contains an article by yours truly. If you go to the website and scroll down to the "Hot Science" section, you'll see my by-line under "Hot Tech". It's a neat little story about a soccer ball that generates electricity; a real boon for peoples without ready access to electrical power. You'll have to buy the issue to read it, but you'll get lots of other neat stuff to read aside from my piece, so why not splurge a little?

OK, now that I've done my fiduciary duty, we can talk softball.

I'm playing again this year. That should come as no surprise to most of you, I suppose, but I'm 57 and signed up for THREE leagues. The possibilities are as follows: I will either be in the best shape of my life by season's end or I will be dead. I am hoping for the former.

I will be playing a doubleheader every Sunday in Brighton. In another league, I will have a game every Tuesday and Thursday evening in The Fens. Then, just because I figure why not give another bunch of guys in their 20's and 30's a chance to laugh like hell at me, I'll be playing Monday, Wednesday and Friday at M Street in South Boston.

In reality, it's a fairly cheap form of entertainment and exercise. Between all three leagues, I'll get between 55 and 75 games, depending upon how deep we go into the playoffs in each, and the total cost is about $300 (exclusive of gas and parking, the occasional after-game meal, and if some lunkhead slugs me in the chops on a play at the plate, wrecking my implants and putting me into debt forever.)

The first game in The Fens happened last week. We won, 11 - 4, behind a great performance from pitcher Robby Costello. In 5 innings of work, he struck out 9 and gave up zero earned runs. It was my great pleasure to be his catcher that evening. For my part of the offense, I went 1 for 2, also drew a walk, and scored a run. That's about as nice a way to start the season as I could have wanted.

I know about half the team from previous seasons in various leagues around town. The rest of the guys seem like good fellows, too, so I'm sure it will remain fun. For those who care about such things, the team's statistics can be found HERE.

That's about it for now. The Fens league probably continues this Thursday (we lost a couple of games due to NCAA lacrosse playoffs being played on our field, which is owned by Emanuel College), while M Street opens on the 14th and the Sunday league begins on the 18th. By the time September rolls around, I hope to be alive and celebrating a championship or two.

As you know, if you've been coming here for any appreciable length of time, I'll be going into greater detail as the season progresses. If you haven't been coming here for any appreciable length of time, now you've been warned.

Soon, with more better stuff.

Saturday, May 03, 2014

You're Here? Go There!

Here's hoping you have a great weekend. Mine got better this morning when I saw that the Boston Herald decided to run one of my columns today.


Not only is it a payday, but it gives me a quick chance to put something else out here instead of that dreadfully boring housekeeping rant from yesterday. Yay!

As always, your kind comments and letters to the editor will earn you an extra serving of pistachio ice cream when I throw my apres-Pulitzer-party.

Soon, with more better stuff.

Friday, May 02, 2014

Notes Concerning This Blog

As though it mattered to the world at large, I'm going to tell you about a few things I've done to this blog. I hope you're bored to begin with, because then you won't realize how bored you've become by the end.

1 - I've trimmed the sidebar

That is, I've pruned away links that don't go where they used to or which are utterly dead.

(If you don't find yourself where you think you should be, let me know. I've been known to make mistakes.)

I've also moved some folks into the "relegated" category. If you haven't posted in the past 30 days, you're probably there, unless you haven't posted in the past year, in which case you're in the ether - and it truly hurts me to ever send anyone into the ether. A couple of my very long-time friends are now there; both damn fine writers. It's just that I don't want to clutter up the possible places where folks could go, after here, with links that haven't been updated in ages. Nothing personal.

Here's where it gets personal: If you post casual sexism concerning males (of which I am one) then chances are good I'll erase your link. I have nothing against jokes, but you had better be an equal opportunity offender. By that, I mean you need to denigrate yourself as well as others. For instance, I may sometimes say crummy things about women, people not of my skin color or ethnic background, folks younger or older than me, and whole bunches of other inferior people.* But, when I do, it is always with the understanding that I am willing to hit myself over the head with the same stupid cudgel. Ladies, if all you do is post "Men suck! Why do we put up with them?" jokes, without some sort of self-referential humor, at least occasionally, to even things up, I will not maintain a link to you.

*If you had to wait until you got to this asterisk to understand I made a joke there, you should never blog again without adult accompaniment.

Now that I think of it, that's about all I've done. There really wasn't any need to number this list. There isn't a list at all; just the one thing. Sorry! I'm a dope!**

**See? That's how it's done. Call yourself a dope every once in a while and everything will be peachy instead of preachy.

Oh, one other thing: If I have provided a link to you, I expect you to reciprocate (but, for God's sakes, lock the door first so nobody bursts in on you unexpected.) If a link to me doesn't exist at your place, I feel no overwhelming compunction to do you the favor you weren't willing to do for me. By the same token - whatever that means - if you've linked me at your place, but I haven't done you a similar good service, write to me and let me know. I'll immediately rectify the situation.

What a bunch of self-righteous unfunny crap this has been! I'm a dope!

Soon, with more better stuff.***

*** There is not, nor has there ever been, a good explanation for this.