Friday, December 25, 2015

Boston Travelogue - Baseball

Like most baseball cities, the ball park sits in a sketchy part of town and that is where I am heading. The streets become dirtier, newspapers on the sidewalk, empty lunch wrappers, bottles, cigarette butts. I do not have the benefit of GPS or a map so I follow the general direction south veering west from time to time on back streets and alleys. Eventually I emerge onto a wider street. I am now on the southwest corner of Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox. Looming up, up, and up before me is the left field fence – called in baseball circles, the Big Green Monster. I don’t know why I wanted to see it so badly. The history of it maybe? This is the same ball park Carl Yastrzemski, Carlton Fisk, Babe Ruth, Cy Young, Roger Clemens, and Ty Cobb played in. 

I played baseball as a kid. I loved the sport. The uniforms, the high stirrup socks, the long sleeve under shirt contrasting the color of the uniform shirt, the ball cap shaped just right, the heavy leather glove on my left hand, the sure feel of the cleats upon my feet. The sounds – oh the sounds – leather popping leather as the ball hits the glove during the warm up. The crack of the ball against ash or aluminum. The chatter of the players, the restlessness of the crowd in the stands, the lineups being announced on the speaker; the thump of cleated feet running across the earth. The smells! The smell of freshly cut grass, clay, hot dogs and popcorn, the smell of fresh autumn air, the smell of the leather in my glove. I loved playing at night. All of these things and at night, I trot out of the dugout to my position at second base or in center field, under the lights, in a fish bowl, everyone watching. Half watching to see us succeed, half watching to see us fail. During the game I am constantly thinking. As a kid, in happier times, Dad and I would watch the Cincinnati “Big Red Machine” play on television. Always the coach, Dad would ask me what should happen given a certain situation in the game.
“Man at 3rd, 1 out, ball is hit to you at second. What do you do?”
“Look the runner back at 3rd, quick throw to 1st. Be thinking about the throw to first all the time.”
I think through all the scenarios with every pitch. What am I going to do if I get the ball? It is total immersion into something outside of myself. I am a part of the game.
This is what I am thinking about now. Standing outside Fenway Park looking up at the Big Green Monster. I miss those happy days.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Bette Noir to the Romantic Heart #4 - LOVE

This was no starry-eyed damsel looking dreamily into his eyes and declaring, "It just doesn't matter, no matter where we go, no matter what we have, no matter what happens, as longs we are together, that's all that matters."

Meg Ryan said it to Tom Hanks throughout the eighties and early nineties after all. Bergman said it to Bogey fifty years before that., but Bogey knew better, and put her on that plane.

No. This was a definite reversal of that. The look, saying without words, "You, your presence, your touch, your voice; it's not enough. I am not willing to go through that struggle with you."

 I wander between two thoughts. What was he thinking? Was it because he knew she would always regret staying in Casablanca? Or was he really thinking that putting her on that plane was best for her and he would be the one to suffer and that she would get over it in time. I can make a judgement, that I don't want to believe, that he was using her all along and with the seeming lack of concern as he walked into the fog with Claude Rains. He could have easily walked into the fog with Bergman - a much happier ending - a Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks ending - that neither fit the time nor the place.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Bette Noir to the Romantic Heart #3 - WAR!

The Romance of War died along with General George C. Scott*. He said "Wonder weapons? By God, I don't see the wonder in them. Killing without heroics? Nothing is glorified? Nothing is reaffirmed? No heroes, no cowards, no troops, no generals. Only those who are left alive, and those who are left...dead. I'm glad I won't live to see it."

He did not. Having never been fired at, I am the least qualified to comment, but it seems to me that war is ugly and always has been. It's only saving grace, if it could be called that, is the romance that used to be attached to it. It meant something beyond the living or dying. Soldiers would not agree having been through it, but for others, at the very least, the ideals of honor, courage, and sacrifice, perhaps even the idea that the cause is worthy, was a coping mechanism we could draw on to get through the terror of a loved one coming home injured, maimed, partially alive or not alive at all. Now there is only the pushing of buttons or the pulling of a trigger in far away lands.

 Image result for patton movie

*yes I know George C. Scott is an actor and not a general. He played General George S. Patton in a very long movie. But I could not find an actual quote from Patton so I merged the two. Besides, from what I can tell, Patton, was not all that heroic in his own right. 

Monday, December 21, 2015

Bette Noir to the Romantic Heart #2 - VENGEANCE!

Comeuppance for a deed done wrong is one of those romantic notions, a Monte-Christ-ian trope, that peace can somehow be attained by yanking another's tooth after they had yanked yours. Superficially, that burn to lash out, to get back at, to inflict a mutual misery seems to provide that peace, that relief. But really, with the benefit of being fortunate enough to look back, it only serves to provide a distraction in the consuming purpose it provides.
Once vengeance is complete, there is an emptiness remaining where purpose once dominated time and space. For a while, this void appears to be a sort of peace; but reality shows that it is only depression disguised as serenity. He put your eye out. You put his eye out. In the end, vengeance and the hatred that comes with it leaves us all blind and toothless.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

JOE DOES IT AGAIN! - Muddy Wolf at Red Rocks

Bought a new CD to add to my collection of all things JB:

It's a tribute concert to Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf live at Red Rocks. Everyone knows Joe sounds best live...the disc opens with either Muddy or Wolf talking about the blues, Joe adds his two cents worth too. Hearing these two blues players talk about what they feel when the play, or what they feel that MAKES them play is absolutely fascinating.

One feels the Mississippi Delta in tracks like Mississippi Heart Beat. And in a couple of tracks the songs start out with Muddy or Wolf singing and playing - old recordings sounds like - and then a few bars in JB cranks up the Gibson and finishes it off. One must turn one's volume up to 11.

Tiger in the Tank, Double Trouble, All Aboard (Mean Ole Frisco!), Spoonful (yes that spoonful), All Night Boogie, and Evil are the most notable tracks in my opinion. At the end of the set JB says goodnight to the crowd and to Colorado but, if you read the liner notes, you know there's more. His encore is introduced with "We thought we'd end the night playing some of our own tunes." Crowd erupts. "What harm could come of that?," he says.

Love Ain't a Love Song starts it off. Then the very best version of The Ballad of John Henry- JB gets all distorted and Jimmy Hendrix-ified on the solo. The ubiquitous Sloe Gin, a slightly different take than his acoustic version or the Live From Nowhere In Particular disc. Clearly a crowd favorite.

Then there's Oh, Beautiful!

JB singing. No music.

Oh beautiful, if you were mine
I would write you letters and pour you sweet wine
Oh beautiful why you so blue?
If you can only see the way I see you

That was nice I think. Different from the typical JB, even Mountain Time was a much happier love song. This is mysterious - a good kind of dark shadowy thing. Then just as you are expecting the next chorus, JB and MuddyWolf band crank up a hard driving riff that spins you 180 and then back again to the next verse.

Oh gravity weighing on my soul
Keeps bringing you round back to me
Like dirt to a stone
Oh gravity don't you ever go to sleep
Might wake up in the morning
and she'll be gone from your reach

The vocals come to a silent end, a pause, 2,3,4...and
That damn guitar again!
Last verse same as the first, song ends with the elipses just like in the lyrics below.

Oh beautiful, if you were mine
I would write you letters and pour you sweet wine
Oh beautiful, why you so blue?
If you only can see the way I see you.....

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Bette Noir to the Romantic Heart #1

There is a great black beast that mauls, to death, the romantic heart. I think it is called reality. From the cries of "Chivalry is Dead" in the 70's to "Love Ain't A Love Song" in 2015, the hopeless romantic has been disappearing as the world realizes that real life has no end like the movies or our favorite love song. There is no Hallmark ending...perhaps there is no ending at all; perhaps life goes on in a singular, painful straight line, punctuated by the occasional euphoria of the hope of a happy ending. Maybe, just maybe, my heart is just broken and I will soon get over it. Maybe I am so happy I feel sad. Maybe, after all of this, it's just indigestion.

This is a new series of posts called Bette Noir (Black Beast) to the Romantic Heart - it is sad. Sorry.

Home Didn't Change While I Was Gone; I Changed Before I Came Back

Going Home
"You can't go home again?" Why? I've often pondered this question, usually, shortly after trying to go home again. I usually end up assuming that home had changed. "Why can't it all just be as it was?" After talking to a good friend, I've had a change of mind. He said, "Home isn't where you were, it's where you are and home changes with you. When you go back home you find that it has changed because you have changed because you've carried it with you the whole time."

I think he was right. The home I see and touch and hear and feel changes because I change. The drift between what I remember home to be and what it now, is because of the changing perspective I have during my absence. I can "see" home from the outside. But I can't "see" the "me" from the inside. As I drift on the inside, by degrees, it goes unnoticed by me and I assume I am standing still. I also expect Home to be standing still with me. But I am not standing still. I am drifting. Now separate yourself from home, for a year, two years, or more and come back. You've drifted. Home has not. Home now seems foreign and we ask why it did not stay as it was? It did.  It's me that has changed.

Life, if I recall my favorite but all too often forgotten philosophy, is meant to be lived in a straight line. Circling back is wasted motion.

"There is no such thing as a decision. There never was. There's whether you've had a good day or a bad day, there's going forward because there is nothing behind. And running forward- because if you stand still any longer you'll fall over. There's movement or there's stagnation, there's the past that drives you..."- John le Carre, The Night Manager

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Mass Shooting, California, SEC Championships, Saving the Lost, Body of Jesus Found

Welcome to my 1st, and  possibly last, multimediacal, social mediacal, on line experiment...

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Friday, December 4, 2015

The Dark Matters - fragment that went nowhere #1

"Night is, as it were, a hand placed on our soul. At certain hideous and solemn hours we feel that which is beyond the wall of the tomb encroaching on us."

- Victor Hugo, The Man Who Laughs

Chapter 1
I awake at two thirty in the morning, heart racing, sweat soaked, and in a panic. I had not been dreaming, or at least I do not remember a dream. But I am convinced she is there, knocking at my door.

"I will not let you go!" she says.

Within just a few minutes as my vision clears from sleep and the vortex of a rapid rise from my bed slows and the room once again stands still, I realize that this is not so. There is no one at my door. No camper upon my steps. No way She could ever find me even in this technologically advanced world where information on anyone and everyone is just a Google away. I lie back down and quickly succumb to deep exhausted sleep.

At three thirty, it happens again.

Thump! Thump! Thump! this time it is not She standing before me. It is her minion, side-kick is an altogether too comical and flighty description. It is He, a handsome rugged man when viewed in the physical; a stumpy, imperfect amalgamation of stubborness and pride when viewing the soul. His thick middle finger extended from the stumpy, thick muscled fist is pounding my chest. The thumping I took for a knock at my door was in reality the echo caused by this grotesque finger tapping firmly on my chest. There are two things that haunt me. This finger and then the face, stoic but for the turned down mouth as if He were going to weep. This face comprised of eyes that pierce me through my adam's apple, a fear inducing, projectile. Thoughts are projectiles and his were megaton bombs, their whistle and sonic boom make me able to understand his message before the words proceed from his twisted mouth.

"I am your father. You can't change that!" Thump, thump, thump.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015


 "Show me a man who is absolutely sure of his place in the universe and I will show you a bigot and a zealot - or a liar." - Anonymous

These observations are only useful if "one is ready to see the universe the way it really is, and recognize that the thoughts of man eventually work their way out through the motions of his actions and the words of his tongue" - Francis Schaeffer

The smallness of man when viewed against the largeness of nature is insignificant compared to the greatness of man from within it. - Anonymous

Nothing can be created unless it is first conceived. Even if we believe we are being random and taking a chance. The conception of randomness is, in itself, non-random.

Jackson Pollack attempted to demonstrate the randomness of the universe in his art. But even in these attempts, in his conception that randomness can be demonstrated visually, this creation of his showed him, and by some accounts sent him into deep depression, that the act of "setting up a test of randomness", is not random. And the seemingly random nature of this work of art, shows signs of an over arching order. Many believe his suicide was a result of the universe proving him wrong and the despair he felt in trying to live within this dichotomy. But either way, this painting could not have come into being unless, Jacksonn Pollack conceived it to be so. His attempt to reproduce randomness failed because the universe would not allow him to do so.

Man is a duality. He is like nature in many ways, but so unlike it in others. Apart from literary devices which are useful to enrich our imaginations, no one walks upon this earth and really lives like the tree, the deer, the flower, the bee, or the earth itself is operating with a conscience. And while mankind is forced to live in the cruel reality that is nature, he constantly endeavors to transcend nature and act its opposite.

We may say Nature is a cruel mistress. But I have never heard anyone say, and really believe, that Nature has done something wrong. Contrarily, we often attribute the "sin" in this case to the humans that build trailer parks in tornado alley; or the manufacturer's of these homes for profiting upon the backs of the poor. But let's look at this picture from the other perspective. What if I were to tell you that a human wreaked this destruction with one of his machines? Naturally we would make the assumption the man was


So why the difference? This is a question that has been on the minds of philosophers since philosophy was a thing. Could it be that it is because, we as humans, in spite of our similarities to, are by our very nature and the way we think and act, different than the natural world we inhabit? I believe this is so.

We do not walk around in this world like we believe it is completely random.

Empty Words

John Cage's Empty Words (1974) is a marathon text drawn from the Journals of Henry David Thoreau. This is one of Cage’s most sustained and elaborate moves toward the “demilitarization” of language, in four parts: Part I omits sentences, Part II omits phrases, and Part III omits words. Part IV, which omits syllables, leaves us nothing but a virtual lullaby of letters and sounds.

John Cage is an interesting study of man trying to force randomness into the universe but being unable to do so. The universe, simply will not let him live his philosophy. The resultant dichotomies in his theories leave me no alternative - the world is not random. Above is a quote from his website describing one of his works where he attempts to liberate language from its structured form of letters making sounds, conjoined with other letters making sounds; joining to form words which, joined together, produce phrases; which joined together make sentences; which joined together make paragraphs. These letters, words, phrases, sentences, and paragraphs, if placed in proper order, create content: real communication. Without this order, John Cage proves, there is nothing but silence - or babbling. It is interesting to me, that the description of John Cage's Empty Words, is not at all random. Why? Because he could not communicate his theory of randomness, indeterminacy, the militarization of language without, himself, using the order and structure; the only method the universe has given us to communicate our ideas.

I am using John Cage as an example to paint a broad stroke of humanity. Again, this is the only thing the universe allows us to do when speaking of our philosophies. I believe this is so because there is no evidence for a random universe. We simply have no choice, ultimately, but to fit within the framework of what really IS.

When asked about his other passion; the hunting of mushrooms and the philosophical ramifications of randomness in the hunting of the fungi, Cage famously said, "It would be foolish to apply my theories of indeterminacy to my hobby. I would not be long for the world if that were the case." Mr. Cage's dichotomy is yelling loudly.

Don't get me wrong, I am not mocking Pollack or Cage, or anyone with philosophical dichotomies - I certainly have my own. In fact, Mr. Cage's philosophy has many interesting and, indeed, beautiful, sentiments.

"The first question I ask myself when something doesn't seem to be beautiful is why do I think it's not beautiful. And very shortly you discover that there is no reason."

"If you consider something boring, consider it for two whole minutes. If it is still boring, then consider it for four minutes, then eight, then 16, then 32 minutes. You will eventually find that it is not boring at all."

It is interesting to me, that in this quote, the time he asks us to wait when considering something boring increases exponentially. Exponentially increasing time intervals is not indeterminate, it is not random, it is further proof that even the philosophers can not escape the universal order that is our language.

I believe I came from somewhere. In fact, I am almost sure of it.

I refuse to use the image of Rodin's The Thinker sculpture. It is trite at this point. Furthermore, I refuse to even quote the caption frequently accompanying it. However, one can not escape the very real position it puts us in. The greatest philosophical dilemma, according to Francis Schaeffer, is the fact that we exist. To go one step further, it really doesn't matter where or why exist - we have the ability to ask the questions- that is what matters at this point. Our theories, as plausible or as insane, as they may be are just that. Theories, born out of a need, by most, to know what comes before or what might come after. If we stay rational, then we must admit, that what we do means something. It must. Let us recap. Nothing is created unless it is conceived. We are in nature but despite our similarities-we are different than it. The universe is not random. And I came from somewhere.

And now, here, I am stuck. Taking the next step requires asking the next question. So then, if there is order in the universe,that is, something we can rely on to repeat itself, some way, based on past events, to predict what is to come, or to explain the present, then one needs ask the most controversial of all questions. Which of the many philosophies, religions, or world views is the true one?

It is here that I stop. Because to go further would immediately enjoin the support of at least one group of zealots and bigots or liars and the disdain of the other zealots, bigots, or liars. It is here that I stop because to go further will stop all useful communication unless, unless, we can come to agreement on these few ideas:

An artist can't create art unless he first thinks the art.
The universe is not random (though perceived randomness may take place within it)
Man is different than the natural world he inhabits.
We mean something and we came from somewhere.
There is such a thing as kindness.

If we can't get there; we can't go on. And do not be mistaken in thinking that I have gone further in this discussion than I really have. - C.S. Lewis

 I have not yet even begun to speak of that.

"I make little account of victory. Nothing is so foolish as to vanquish. The real glory is to convince."- Victor Hugo, Les Miserable.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015


Go ahead. Schedule a meeting with me. Because, obviously, you need something FROM me. Because, you know, I don't really need anything from you. I'm okay. I'm pretty independent. Don't really need much. So, that's right! Your office is two blocks away. And, I guess you really need a whole hour with me. Must be important. It's cold and raining? No problem, you know, because I'm just that kind of guy. Squeeze me in between a 9AM meeting and a 10AM meeting both on the other side of campus. Sure! Why not?

It's 9AM. I'm here. Ran the whole long way. What did you want to talk about? Wait, you aren't here for the meeting you needed to have with me? Hmm. I'll just wait. 5 minutes. Hmm. I'll give you another 5. Still a no show? 30 minutes later...well I'll just get back to my day and try to recover the 30 minutes I just lost. No, don't be silly, it won't show up in the productivity numbers I have to report to you at the end of the month....

The whole world is being held together by just a few punctual people. The rest do not even realize it. The few "holders" stand in amazement, wondering why we do it....

Sunday, November 22, 2015

New Orleans Continued (What Top Shelf Really Means)

A steady rain was falling in New Orleans that Sunday morning as we stepped out of the front door of the Lafayette Hotel. A 15 minute walk to the east later, thoroughly soaked, one of the party was smiling, on the inside...the other was thinking very loudly, "I told you we should have taken the car."

Cafe Du Monde: packed with soaking wet tourists and aging hipsters who had been out all night for the Halloween party/parade. We could tell this was true because of the large number of distinguishly dressed vampire men and scantily dressed vampiresses seated at the small, very small tables packed too tightly together. Both vampire-genders with the requisite painted on blood streams emanating from the corners of their mouths.

The air was thick with water from the incessant rain, humid in October, peanut oil and powdered sugar from the beignets, coffee, sweat, and the pitched battle between the differing notions about what is the most romantic New Orleans setting:

1) The Cafe Du Monde, hot coffee and beignets, on a sunny day after a nice leisurely walk


2) The Cafe Du Monde, hot coffee and beignets, on an overcast day after a nice hurried walk through the rain.

An old man sat just outside the over hang with his trombone. He played Happy Birthday for a man and woman touristy couple. Yay! Let's all sing happy birthday so these people can have a wonderful memory. Ironically, he led us all in a chorus of "You are My Sunshine". Rub it in old man.

Patt tipped the waiter who brought us our beignets and coffee a little more than she should've because we got the distinct impression that he suspected us of pocketing the tip from a previous couple when we sat down to the dirty table (the only empty dry one we could find). He had failed to bus it prior to our sitting down.

The walk back was  a little better, it had finally stopped raining but the humidity and the aroma of rotting fish wafted in from the Mississippi River. We stopped at a few times on the way back to the hotel,- the cigar shop where one can see authentic looking brown people hand rolling cigars and the candy shops.

14 pounds of fudge and pralines later we were back at the hotel preparing for the highlight of the evening- Reservations at Emeril's just 4 blocks away.

Remember when I said it was raining? Well it had now really started raining. What had been periodic bands of steady rain interrupted by slightly longer episodes of misty drizzle had now turned to deluge. It was because of this, and not Patt's constant insistence that we ask valet services to retrieve our car, that I asked the hotel valet to get the car. To make sure we were not late we left an hour early.

In part 1 I mentioned that we were almost out of gas, so the first thing we did was try to find a gas station. The previous night there were no gas stations anywhere in New Orleans. None, But this night, when we had a whole hour to kill, there were gas stations magically deposited on every street corner. Marie Laveau  is NOT DEAD! Thank you very much! I am convinced there is some voodoo magic in play when tourists low on gas in their car, and high on gas in their bellies enter the city. Magically there are two Canal Streets, magically there is a parade right through downtown, magically there is not stop rain from a hurricane named Patricia, magically, there are no gas stations anywhere. Magically, the city is trying to trap you there!

"There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in our philosophy, Horatio" - King Hamlet of Denmark.

Getting refueled provided us the ability to drive around in circles in a downpour in the middle of New Orleans until the restaurant opened. About 15 minutes prior to our reservation we had both had enough of seeing the same buildings over and again that we decided to pull up to the valet space at Emeril's. The Valet met us there; he opened the door for Patt and provided an umbrella'd walk into the establishment. We were invited to sit at the bar - the restaurant staff were still in their pre-open staff meeting/pep rally in one of the back rooms- Patt ordered a Blood Mary. As it turns out, the Bloody Mary was a safe conservative drink on that night. I applaud Patt for her conservatism...(do not read too much into this statement, it is entirely possible to be conservative without being Conservative).

Wait, what?
I, on the other hand, being on vacation, and wanting to experience it to its fullest ordered something quite different. Patt sat next to me at the bar and noticed way up behind the bar on the top shelf a row of Glenlivet bottles.

"Oooh a Glenlivet 25" I said. So when the bartender approached me I ordered a "Glenlivet 25, neat"

Because when "I drinks whiskey I drinks whiskey, when I drinks water I drinks water." - Micheleen Flynn, The Quiet Man.

So, at this point ensued a battle of wills in our efforts to control our facial expressions. The bartender tried very hard not to insult me but I could detect the slightest hint of a "you are too big for your britches" expression my dad used to give me.

Of course, I could not back out now, so I confirmed my order. I will admit that I began to worry when the bartender pulled a ladder out from behind a column and began to climb. Could it be that those were, indeed, NOT display bottles and the Glenlivet 25 I ordered was so scarce, so precious that it had to be kept safe on a shelf 15 feet in the air, behind a solid oak bar defended by two tenders?

Yes it could be. Because as he was pouring out the shot he explained how the top shelf bottles were remnants of a Glenlivet Tasting the restaurant had recently had where patrons paid through the nose for the priveledge of tasting whiskey at a private party at Emeril's.

It was at this point I decided to sip my whisky and actually had enough left to sip with my dinner!

Okay, so, now it was my turn to try to be cool and not give away anything with my facial expressions when the bartender brought me the bill. I reviewed the line items contained therein.

"Bloody Mary, $10.50. Check"
"Glenlivet 25, $132. Check..." - you are now entering into my Stream of Conciousness Discussion with Myself  -  'wait, what? must be the wrong bill, nope, right bill, Patt's bloody mary, my whiskey, with tip that's going to be just south of $200, my God! Better show Patt, no don't show Patt, but which card are you going to use?, it'll be embarrassing if you have to ask her which card to use, because you really don't pay attention to how much money is in which bank because you do that everyday at work and just let your wife handle the money, and, geeesh what kind of man are you anyway? Don't look worried, just take another sip of the whiskey, NO! Don't sip the whiskey, savour it! No don't savour it, keep it, keep it forever, YES YES YES, I keeps it forever, it is my PRECIOUS!!!!"

Paid for it. Asked the bartender if I did a good job of hiding my concern in my facial expressions. He said I did and then he asked me if he did a good job of hiding his. I said he did. He then poured Patt and I a small shot of a much cheaper whiskey to try on the house.

Our name is called as the bar was filling up with patrons waiting on their own reservations. We are escorted to our table, a secluded table in the corner at the far back wall of the establishment. Waiters! Waiters! Everywhere, dropping napkins in our laps, moving and replacing various odd dishes, turning over wine glasses, introducing the specials. And me holding The Precious, sipping gently.

"So", Patt says, as she peruses the menu, "I have about $170 to spend, let me see..."

I ordered the Ceasar Salad - it was real! right down to the natural-state of the anchovies. The pumpkin soup - excellent!, and the quail. Patt got the gumbo, the charred kale salad which, she says, was the best part of the meal, and the duck.

Emeril's Banana Cream Pie for me and the Salted Caramel Cheesecake for Patt and I could not have had a better night! and I now know what Top Shelf Really Means.

Thursday, November 19, 2015


If you know me; like if you really know me; there is no way you believe that this list will be short.
pet peeve
plural noun: pet peeves 
                                      something that a particular person finds especially annoying.
  1. Using the word "like", like every other word, like using "like", adds emphasis to, like, something you really like, like the word "like" really means like.
    2. Peeple who have a peace of paper the prooves someone taught them something assuming because I dont have a peace of paper that prrovves some one taught me somthieng makes them some how supeerior.
    3. Bad grammar and spelling. Poor grammar you idiot! I am always doing that. Getting better, because now I cringe as this is coming off my tongue, instead of not realizing it has done so.
    4. Run on sentences that do not use the awesome semi-colon; the colon is seldom used as well: not like the overused comma.
    5. Floating obliviates- you know what and who you are. Maybe you don't?
    6. The guy, you know who he is, who is always talking about work-life balance and how he keeps it all together. Because, chances are good, he is the reason your work and life is now out of balance.

     8. Words that have consecutive "u"s in their spelling: continuum, for example. I mistruust them. And do youu have any idea how many there are in the English Languuage? And do youu know how hard it is to write words like this in cuursive!?! I always seem to end uup with 3 or 4 "u"s, like, youu know, continuuuuum.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Eastward into Big Easy or (Never Pass Up an Opportunity to Get Gas or Use the Restroom) or (How to look like you did the nasty when you didn't) Part 2

Let me set the scene. Downtown New Orleans. I don't know where. W****gr**** pharmacy. Two bathrooms, both with combination locks - because, I had forgotten, in big cities, if an establishment has public restrooms, they are locked because of what big city folk do in them, and a half dozen zombies in pharmacy uniforms.

Patt and I walk in quickly, very quickly, scan the back wall of the store for the restrooms. We find a Pharm-zombie and he points to the restroom. "they're locked" he says, "I'll have to let you there in a minute."

Patt stands by the ladies room door. I stand by the men's room door, legs crossed, stomach gurgling, a look of urgency on my face. Pharm-Zombie comes around the corner and in my heightened phase of awareness I asked him to let us in "her in there!" pointing to the ladies room door. "Me in there", pointing to the men's.

A quick 4 digit code that took about 6 and a half weeks to punch in and the doors were open. As I entered I could sense, and apparently my bowels could too, that relief was almost there. But, things slowed down, I could count the flickering of the fluorescent lighting, 60 times per second, I checked. My voice dropped an octave, my enunciation was slurred, and the phrase I screamed, seemed to take a week.


This would not normally be a bad thing; in fact I would prefer a one hole toilet just for the privacy. But when Vicksburg MS, Cra**** Ba***** (VMCB) is crawling out of one's colon, a one hole toilet with a drunk reading the Times Picayune perched, obviously for the long term, does not stop the train leaving the station (see an early post detailing a severe stomach virus), in fact, it steps on the accelerator.

I left the men's room and waited while the VMCB decided it's current southern route should be abandoned for one up north until Patt exited the ladies room.

"Is anyone in there? let me in. Stand guard, don't let anyone in."

Patt is awesome! She let me in and took her post at the door.

I remember thinking as I entered the stall furthest away from the door, "Wow the ladies have 3 stalls! Why don't we men have three stalls?". Just a side note ladies, treat us like animals and we act like animals. I'm just sayin'.

Belt Buckle. Check
Zipper...Button Fly Jeans! I am too old for button fly jeans! One button, two button, three button, hold on there fella you can do this!
A quick little dip and flip and the back alley is open for deliveries!
Flop on the seat.....

We interrupt the graphic description that follows with a single innocuous image that, we hope, will accurately convey our message without causing this post to receive an R rating.

* this scene from Dumb and Dumber used without permission.
 Anyone that has ever been in this situation will know there is a roller coaster ride ahead, intense nausea and gurgling becomes more intense until one thinks he is going to die, then at the apex of this displeasure, one actually wishes to die, and then a bombastic release and then a sense of immense peace; until, that is, the roller coaster cart begins its ascent up the next hill of "wishing for death". It was during the second of such "cycles of despair" that I heard the door to the ladies room open.

Apparently the Pharm-Zombie punched in the code and swung open the door so quickly to let another patron in that Patt could not block her way.

Now, I am a pretty reasonable guy. Not too much in this crazy mixed up world really gets to me. But one of those things applies to movie theaters, restaurants, and, yes, restrooms - men's and ladies.


Several very, very awkward moments elapsed where I alternated between gentle release and heroic efforts to hold back the flood until finally the lady in the stall next to me flushed and I heard the stall door unlatch and swing open. Of course, I waited for the requisite washing of hands and a few more seconds to allow the lady to exit.

I then began a very hurried clean up and re-robing, flushed myself, and swung "my" stall door open to make a quick exit. As I did I saw Patt standing there...wait for it.... the lady who was still preparing herself to leave the restroom!

Patt and I opened the restroom door to make a break for it and what awaited us there? Pharm-Zombie and a line of men and women waiting for their turn in two of the most secured restrooms on the planet. While no one said anything out loud, we did get the definite vibe from the looks on their faces that we had, indeed, been doing a little more than voiding bladders in the ladies restroom.

We searched the pharmacy for some Gas-X or Pepto to go but had to weed through Pharm-Zombies and shopping zombies, shelves of prophylactics, cigarettes, beer, and whiskey.

The next hour was spent finding the correct Canal Street and finally heading in the correct direction only to find that New Orleans was holding its Halloween Parade. Canal Street blocked off, traffic! all of it going in our direction, a zig zag or two through the business district to St. Charles we finally pulled up in front of the Lafayette Hotel, checked in, handed the keys to the valet and eventually to our room.

Did I mention that the outer bands of hurricane Patricia were dropping a constant misty rain on the city?

But let's top off the night shall we?

The Lafayette Hotel's Desi Vegas Steak House
Patt had a bloody mary - I had a 15 year old Bowmore (tasted leak peat moss-it was excellent)
Center Cut Filet Mignon Oscar
Shared potatoes au gratin and creamed spinach
The picture on their web site is taken from the table at which we dined.

part 3 continues in my next post where I find out what Top Shelf really means.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Eastward into Big Easy or (Never Pass Up an Opportunity to Get Gas or Use the Restroom) or (How to look like you did the nasty when you didn't) Part 1

The story really starts just a little north in Vicksburg Mississippi. At a well known road side destination for octagenarians driving vehicles way too long for them to drive, flaunting their inflated retirement accounts in mobile houses. One could park 3 cars in the same space these establishments dedicate to the RVs. Anyway...

We stopped to eat lunch in preparation for our final descent to the bottom of America and our vacation in New Orleans.

Having lived in New Orleans for a couple of years in the late 90s we were familiar with the city's layout and reasonably confident of our ability to find our way around. But we made a mistake. We approached from the west having driven down I55 to the west end of Lake Ponchartrain and entered the city on I10 through the swamps. We had always approached from the East in the past.

Just about an hour from New Orleans, the lunch I had eaten; please excuse the graphic details; was trying to climb its way out of my butt. Patt could hear the rumbling in my belly and she surely could see the odd way I shifted from cheek to cheek every other mile or so.

Did I mention that we were almost out of gas?

Did I mention that there are no gas stations in the swamp, except of course, as Patt reminded me, the 3 or 4 I had passed back there some ways?

We took the correct exit off of the interstate that should have taken us East to Canal Street then a right on St. Charles and oila! the Lafayette Hotel, just a 15 minute walk to the Cafe Du Monde.

Did I mention that we were out of gas?
Did I mention that it we drove directly into the Halloween Parade?
Did I mention that there are at least 3 Canal Streets in New Orleans?
Did I mention that East, West, South, and North get all jumbled up when one is navigating the bowl of spaghetti that is the downtown New Orleans road system?
Did I mention that many of the streets no longer have road signs to let you know which road one is on or which road one is turning onto?

Grumble, Rumble, shift a cheek, let out a sigh. Something bad was going to happen -- and soon!

(to be continued)

Saturday, October 17, 2015


Image result for know it all

The Age of Data is upon us and it has pummeled us near to death. Was a time when what I didn’t know didn’t worry me. Now I am expected to know too much and my brain is full. I now have to make a conscious decision about what I am going to delete from my brain to make room for the latest thing I must remember. This decision is not made arbitrarily. Not at all! I have a risk based algorithm I use to determine what will happen if I forget the last thing I was supposed to remember after I delete it from my memory bank for the newest thing I can’t fail to remember. What I did not realize until well after developing this algorithm, is that the algorithm itself, this mathematical formula I needed to clear the memory banks, was, indeed, something else I needed to remember. Anyone with me here?

So, I did what the rest of the world seems to be doing: exporting all the things I have to remember to an external databank, so I have room in my brain for things I used to enjoy: like 19th century French literature, Patrick O’Brian and John Le Carre novels, and memorizing poetry. The benefit to this, and the only benefit I can find, is that it takes up space somewhere else, though I find I am getting stupider as the days go on.

Internet thou art my memory, thou art my knowledge, thou art my sage, thou art my oracle!

There is a secret to maintaining one’s humanity when relying on the internet to store one’s memory and answer one’s questions. If one can do that; maintain one’s essential humanity whilst enjoying the ability to present the illusion of omnipotent wisdom, one can become truly wise.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed but there are essentially three types of people using the internet: only one of which should one want to become.

The internet is replete with people who have nothing better to do than to tell the world how much they know about everything. This is the first kind of person and without them the internet would be empty.

The second kind of person is the kind that is too lazy to read books (books require work and are full of all sorts of extra things like…words?) or to experience things themselves (like looking at pictures and headlines for a political rally rather than really attending the rally). Without these people, the internet would be full but not used by anyone but the know-it-alls telling no one how much of everything they know.

Regardless of the search engine one elects to use, the main one, or the dozens of others, type in any question into the magic window and one will get an answer. Seriously, try it. Here are real questions searched on the internet (courtesy of

If I eat myself will I become twice as big or disappear altogether?

I ate 52 pizza rolls am I going to die?

Why do black people call say Monica to each other?

What is the phobia of chainsaws called? Answer: Common Sense.

Each of the questions by the second kind of person was, of course, answered by the first kind of person.

Here’s the third kind of person, and the kind I endeavor to be. I want to leverage the first two kind of people, without giving preference to either one, without them knowing about it, and as often as possible. If I am going to have to live with this internet thing, I am going to get as much out of it as I can.
I had to take a service call at a local health care facility where they were having problems with a battery back up to a large instrument they were using. "It keeps beeping" they say.
I looked for the user's manual, really I did. See I tried to read.
I searched through menu after menu of the back up system until I final stumbled upon the error code log. See I "experienced" in real life, the real thing that was there in front of me.
Then, not knowing what the error code meant, because the makers of the battery back up couldn't do something like give me real words to read, they had to put in a special code. I searched the internet.
Here's what I typed: "What does error code 199 on an Eaton 9130 powersupply mean?"
Of course, someone who had nothing better to do, wanted to show the world how much he know about everything, posted the answer to this very question. The question, by the way, had been asked before, because the search engine, popped the question up onto my screen before I finished typing.

Be the third person not the other two. Somewhere, someone has asked the internet a question and somewhere there is someone who thinks they have the answer. By taking advantage of this symbiotic relationship between the know-it-all and the lazy…you have your answer.

Now go search the internet for the definition of “symbiotic”.