Sunday, March 26, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks, as always.

Soon, with more better stuff.

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

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Virtual Reality

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Soon, with more better stuff.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

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

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

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

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

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

Soon, with more better stuff, Bucko.

Thursday, March 16, 2017


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

His name is Dave.

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

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

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

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

Soon, with more better stuff.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Snow Time Like The Present

Yesterday, Boston got 10 or 12 or 14 inches of snow; something like that. It just kept coming and coming and coming until the entire metro area was covered in the stuff.

NOT the result of yesterday's storm. This was my street when I was about five or six.
Still, it's about what our street in Watertown looks like now. Woo-Hoo.

Or you could break my heart, go someplace else, and totally ignore what I have to say about snow.

However, I know what kind of person you are. I have faith in you. So, I thank you in advance.

(If it turns out you're a rotten bastard who will leave me crying in the snow, forget the thanks.)

Soon, with more better weather.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

The Non-Existent Hour

Depending upon when you read this, it is either before or after my least favorite time of the entire year. And what time is that you might ask? It's between 2:00 AM and 3:00 AM on the second Sunday in March.

And why is that my least favorite time of the year? Because it doesn't exist. The idiocy known as Daylight Saving Time makes the clocks go directly from 2:00 AM to 3:00 AM without any 2:01, 2:02, 2:03, 2:04, 2:05 and so on.

 [The Sun is happy. Fuck The Sun. Like he even needs a watch.]         

Well, anyway, losing an entire hour is one of the reasons I hate Daylight Saving Time. For some others, I direct you to the Boston Herald, where I'll go on and on about how truly awful it is.

If you don't like it as much as I don't like it, you'll probably like it. That doesn't make much sense, but I never promised you anything of the sort.

OK, that's my usual weak-assed plea for you to go and read the drivel for which I get paid (as opposed to this free drivel) so my work (if you can call it that) is done.

Thanks for stopping by here. If you go there, too, I don't deserve it but I appreciate it.

Soon, with more better stuff (but less better time.)

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Back To Usual

[MY WIFE's emoji self-portrait. I personally think she looks better in real life.]

I'd like to thank MY WIFE for the lovely tribute she gave me here. She is, of course, the love of my life and I was overwhelmed to receive such kind words. Your responses were also appreciated, by both of us.

Now, however, it's back to normal. I have something for you to read, but you'll have to go somewhere else to read it. Today, in the Boston Herald, I talk about how we've spent the past week - sick as dogs, mostly - and how nice it is to be (mostly) over it.

(Well, that pretty much tells you the story, so you don't actually have to go to the Herald. I mean, if you'd like some details, you should go, but if you're one of those people who got through school by CliffsNotes, then you can feel free to skip it and just go about life as you always have - with enough knowledge to pass a course, but none of the joy that comes from actually having read the material.)

I'll be back soon to send you somewhere else again, no doubt. In the meantime, thank you for coming here and going there.

Soon, with more better stuff (somewhere).

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Guest Blogger

Today, MY HUSBAND is 60 years old. There---I’ve admitted it, I’m a cradle robber. [ (That is if two year olds can go around robbing cradles—but I digress.) (That’s one of the things we have in common, btw)].

I asked him the other day if he would like a card for his birthday, or the $6.99 plus tax it was going to cost to buy one. I love him, and he’s worth $6.99 plus tax, but c’mon, for a card? There is one other thing though. Did you ever notice when buying a “Spouse” birthday card, that all the good things it can say about the recipient is who they are in relationship to you?

“You’ve been there for ME”

 “You always support ME”

 “All the things you do for OUR family”,

 or the trite, “You help ME out with the cooking”

 What the What? I don’t even want to know I have a kitchen in my house. If there is one, I want to pretend it’s Hazel Burke behind that closed door.

Even cards to “My Son/Grandson” say something along the line of how proud they are of the Man you’ve become. A standalone person, not just a spawn. But try finding a “To my Husband” card with the same sentiment.

Growing up Catholic, there is a tradition, (Well there are many traditions, but I get it) ahem, there’s a tradition where, whenever you visit a Catholic Church you’ve never been to before.(This is where Jim would write “Wow, I didn’t even know there is a Saint Ralph, did he get canonized for his bus driving or his bowling?) As I said, when you go to a Catholic church you’ve never been to before, you get three wishes. All my adult life, they’ve been the same three. “Find a good job, lose weight, have a boyfriend”. The last one we can scratch off, the 1st two are eternal.

Throughout my tearful late 20’s early 30’s I had a very specific list of qualifications for said boyfriend. The inspiration was from the little know prelude to the song, “Smoke gets in your eyes” from my 2nd favorite movie “Roberta:

                Lovely to look at, delightful to know, and Heaven to kiss,
                The combination of this, is a most impossible scheme come true, imagine
                Finding a dream like you”

And to this I added that he had to be a “good man”.

A Good Man, in Yiddish, is a Mensch.  Jim is a Mensch. (Not to be confused with his little chum Fred who is a Goodman, but also a Mensch.)  Anyone who has ever played in a Softball team with him, knows Jim is fiercely Loyal. It would take A LOT for him to miss a game. I often equate him to Charlie Brown, standing on the mound in the pouring rain, mitt in hand, saying “It’s not that bad”. The current M Street commissioner lives out of town part of the year and leaves it up to statistician Sully to decide if a game should be called. Mark, you’d have better luck making the call from Florida.

Jim isn’t a “phone” person, and don’t even mention texting or tweeting to him. So, apart from Facebook, he doesn’t communicate with friends and family members much. That doesn’t mean he is any less of a good relation. He just doesn’t do the daily triad reporting I do with my siblings. An only child, if there are any faults, Jim believes Compromise is “just a word for letting the other fella get his way”. But if you ask him to do you a favor, he’ll be there with bells on (insert wisecrack imagery).  He is NOT a fan of Hospitals, yet when his 2nd, or 3rd Cousin Dorothy was in a Nursing home, and had no other relatives, Jim visited with her, making the 30 minute each way ride every week. He also made sure the feral cats she had been feeding were taken care of.

He likes animals---but doesn’t think baby animals are cute---unless on Youtube doing some dumb kitten learning to be cat thing. He won’t kill bugs or mice, rather releasing them outside, even after HIS WIFE got cellulitis around her eye from a spider bite. –CUE SECONDARY YIDDISH EXPRESSION.

I refer to our home a “Luftmensch Manor”.  From what I can gather, a Luftmensch is still a good man, but somewhat of a “penniless fool”. His desire to good exceeds his common sense or his ability to do so.

The 1st time this example was shown to me, was about a month after we met, I was going to Ireland for a week to visit my brother at University there. He offered me a ride to the airport---no one had ever done that---what a mensch---but when my flight home got switched to an evening arrival, he picked me up even though his car did not have working headlights. He couldn’t afford to get them fixed because he spent his check on a Vet’s bill for an abandoned cat he found. Ahhh…Luftmensch—he’s endangering my life, but he helped that cat he found!!!

He is also a loyal die hard Boston sports fan, at least in between games, while watching them, he can tend to be a little, shall we say, bossy, towards our television, most notably a recent football game.
He rarely gets angry at people, and if he takes his anger out, it’s usually on inanimate objects, like punching a door off its hinges because he had a tooth ache. Or, when the new Selectric typewriter I bought him wouldn’t cooperate and I found the pieces of a kitchen chair in the back yard.

“Why’d you break the chair?”

“Because I was mad at the typewriter”

“So, why’d you break the chair?”

“Because the typewriter is new”.

 One day I came home and saw some chocolate cake bits on the floor. It was July 1st. With a wife’s intuition, I asked, “Did you kick a cake? ”….sheepishly he admitted he did, and pointed to the Canada Day cake he had made and flung out into the yard after beating it up. But he’s a Luftmensch, he had already made another cake, using cups of powdered Slim Fast when he ran out of cocoa. (man, that cake was good, if not very very fattening).

He doesn’t fancy babies much, because they can’t talk and therefore he can’t reason with them. When they are older, he comes right down to their level and he loves to play with them and they love to play with him. May I repeat, he comes right down to their level. Never leave your children alone when playing with Jim Sullivan. Pleas of “Uncle Jim, can I have some sugar?” may result in a 5-pound bag being handed to your 4 year old.

Jim is also very very smart. How do I know this? He came in second place on a Game Show on PBS, and PBS doesn’t even have a national game show!! (any more). He’s tried out for the Original “Who wants to be a millionaire” and if our phone button didn’t stick, he’d be on the show when the 1st million was won. He tried out for the daytime Millionaire in NYC and did great, except for the personality part, after which he was sent home. Buy hey, we’re not talking personality, we’re talking smart. He has tried out for Jeopardy a few times, and he will get there someday if he can conquer their odd  online testing system. Meanwhile, he’ll just answer most of the questions on TV, yelling at them when they don’t make the right bet going into finally Jeopardy. “Not everyone can do math in their head” I tell him. “Grrrr” he responds. Able to Count Cards, yet not doing it in Vegas for fear of getting caught, it’s not illegal, but very frowned upon, so he would be embarrassed if he got caught. See, Luftmensch.

He’s a talented, witty writer. But you know that. I am blessed that through him I have been able to get to know you, some in person, some in warm spirit. He was even asked by the daughter of a blogfriend from across the pond, whom he had never met, to write an obituary because the mother always enjoyed the way he wrote.

I could go on, about his deep spiritual beliefs, that he doesn’t bite his nails, he only smokes in one room of the house and the car, that the cashiers at the Stop N Shop love to flirt with him at 6 AM on a Saturday morning, how he once, when cashed strapped used a Credit card to send some kids to the Circus with the Jimmy Fund. Luftmensch. Good Man.

He may want to add some more stuff, because he’ll have to edit this. I have no idea how to get this from a word document into a Blogspot. I know one thing, next time, with more better stuff, because it will be written by MY husband.