Sunday, October 28, 2007

Happy Halloween, Red Sox Nation!

The Headless Hoarse-Man says...



(Game 4 - Sunday, October 28th, 2007)

Friday, October 26, 2007

Quoth The Raver: "Evermore!"

Every year, for the last three Halloweens, I have developed a tradition in costume of resurrecting The Ghost Of Edgar Allen Poe.

Although, I have not tested this formula here in Austin it was a very popular event in my old neighborhood of Somerville, Massachusetts.

Poe was born and raised in Boston, but settled in Baltimore, Maryland eventually out of disgust with his native hometown (Heh, just like us!). His grave site, near Baltimore, is visited by the mysterious Man in Black every year on Poe's birthday (January 19th - a fellow Capricorn!) whom leaves a bottle of Cognac and three red roses at his tomb in a wildly excellent tradition.

My tradition of summoning the great poet and storyteller of Gothic fame became very popular in Somerville, indeed, and not just because Poe was a famous Massachusetts' native son.

First of all, my garb was fascinating to the kids in its Victorian-style black suit, mascaraed thin mustache, white face paint, a cane & top hat, a black Raven resting on my shoulder, a Tell-Tale Heart pinned to my shirt-coat, and a little Black Cat hanging from one of my jacket pockets.

I would greet doorbell-ringers in a flamboyant and exalting display, "WHO DARES RING THE BELLS, THE BELLS, THE BELLS OF THE GREAT EDGAR ALLEN POE?"

If any of the younger trick-or-treaters didn't know who I was I'd challenge them by offering, "Well then, would you like a trick, a treat or a POEM!"

Now, you'd think kids would just run screaming in terror at the very notion of being offered to be read a poem on Halloween night. You'd think! But, I had more requests for poetry readings than you might imagine! In fact, as the tradition went on the kids that would remember me from Halloweens' past would insist, "Where's our poem!" when they returned to the house. And, of course, Mr. Poe would oblige them with either Annabelle Lee, The Bells or The Raven (the Classics!) and for the sake of brevity the most merciful reads.

Last year one young girl did go as far as requesting The Cask of Amontillado (she even pronounced it correctly!) - sorry, Sweetie, there are other kids piling up at our doorstep - no can do. Although, I couldn't honor the request I did give her an extra dollop of goodies for the sentiment. Head of the class!

I remember in particular one father and his little girl would come to the door and they just seemed to absolutely adore the tradition. She was so sweet and shy, tentative but unafraid, and always dressed as a Faerie Princess in pink with white angel wings. Dad was most excited as he seemed to like the idea that some nut in the neighborhood would actually uphold such a tradition. He gleefully announced to his Princess on one visit, "Looook, honey, there he is! He's here again, it's Edgar Allen Poe!"

I was a sort of minor celebrity I must admit.

That year I had rigged a giant black spider (and called it Boris...) to cover up my bucket of high-end Halloween treats. Strung up via a semi-elaborate system of pulley's and strings I would command my contraption in forte voce, "Up! Up! Release the candy, Boris, let the Princess have as much as she'd like!" And up the wiry little bug would go on its spindly thread lifting a black veil off of the booty-filled treasure pot.

"Oooooh, loook at thaaat!", Dad would gush easing her out of her initial trepidation, "Go on, honey, it's OK. It's Mr. Poe! You know he wouldn't hurt you."

Verily, Mr. Poe would never hurt anyone especially someone as precious as the little pink Faerie Princess.

The real Mr. Poe probably loved children; they were, after all, his future audience (especially on High Street every Halloween!).

Mr. Poe hurt himself, though.

To the point of death, in fact.

He drank himself to his grave (n.b. - agree most theories).

A fate not unfamiliar, nor uncommon, to many a tortured writer's soul. Life was beautiful but it was dark and cold, too. He suffered loss like all of us do. His wife, Virginia, passed away during their love's brief tenure together and it resulted in some of his undoing. And because he had the power of words to lead him through his grief I can only imagine that made him all the more sensitive to humanity's great plight: the awareness of one's own Mortality, now given damningly eternal tangibility by all of that poetic prose of his.

Don't hold on too tightly; it will all be gone sooner than you might want to fathom:

"Quoth the Raven - Nevermore."

See? It's all right there in black and white!

Many of us hoard money away in anticipation of the Grand Inevitability (some solace that!) as if this will ward off Death some how. Edgar hoarded words. He kept them saved in the vault of his fevered mind but would withdraw them, regardless of penalty, for every daring receiver's benefit. I believe, despite his dark sensibilities, that he ultimately admired mankind. Why else would he want to share such shadowy secrets and perverse passions with them?

'Here is what I have discovered, Dear Reader, now take Thanatos' Wisdom with you and change yourselves for the better. Live life fuller, I command thee!'

Well written dramatic "horror" should do just that (although, Poe might argue quite differently that what he wrote were mere horror stories).


When I was in elementary school a favorite English teacher of mine, Mr. Bill O'Shea, introduced his classroom to the morbidly wonderful imagination of Edgar Allen Poe. In the days leading up to Halloween, Mr. O'Shea would close the curtains and turn off all of the lights in our school room's back area and read to us each and every short and long selection from Poe by flashlight. He loved the author and he loved the season of Halloween and all of its questioning of the Western status quo belief systems.

Bill O'Shea gave each reading a special performance, too, tapping his foot in rhythm on the tile floor during The Tell Tale Heart, miming animated vitality into Hop-Frog, the lopsided dwarfish jester, who would exact his revenge on his tormentors by dumping hot oil on them from the rafters above! Bill would scream out imitating the revelers as they were being doused in the sticky scolding misery that was their ultimate doom. He would yowl loudly the remonstrances of the walled-up, brain eating Black Cat (don't get any ideas, Anubis!), and on and on would he channel fresh life into the great artist's gloomy tales ... it dually scared the crap out of the entire classroom.

It entranced me.

My love of stories and words was given bold new light (or dark...) back then. Mr. O'Shea had created a tremendous fan out of me and I wanted to share Edgar Allen Poe with everyone from there on in.

So, it was with no small amount of pride and pleasure that I found myself glowing one year when the Faerie Princess and her Dad came back for their annual visit. As they were leaving the mocked up Melancholy House Of Usher, Princess's Dad looked "Poe" square in his painted visage, and earnestly revealed, "This means a lot to her, thank you. No, really. And, it means' a lot to me, too. Thank you."

No, thank you, Edgar.

But, most of all, thank you, Bill O'Shea; you make Mr. Poe, and me, very proud.

Happy New Year... Evermore!,


Little Orange Cat

Below is an audio commentary I produced for NPR's "Living on Earth" program.

It is a story and an experience shared by Heather and myself from one October evening in 2005 outside of Burlington, Vermont.

It is about losing something small and precious, but gaining something significant in return.

Little Orange Cat Commentary

Written, produced and read by D.Foley Somerville, MA. - November 2005

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Nostradamus's Gentler Side






That is the sound pecans make when falling onto our roof and hitting the ground outside here in Hyde Park. It happens all day and all night long - but not in any mind rattling way. It is a very pleasant sound, in fact.

It is the sound of Autumn in Austin.

You can pick these nuts off of the earth in abundance around these parts and eat them right from the shell. There is never a shortage of Pecan Pies in town.

Should we ever find ourselves in a far away new city in the future I predict this will be a sound I will miss.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Lord Vader Sees The Light

Just thought this was funny, that's all...


(CNN) It may be politically popular in the heart of Red Sox Nation, but that probably didn’t make the admission any easier for Yankee fan Rudy Giuliani.

The former New York City mayor acknowledged at a Boston news conference Tuesday he is rooting for the rival Red Sox to win the World Series.

I’m not saying that just because I’m here in Massachusetts," the Republican presidential candidate said to applause and laughs. “If I’m in Colorado in the next week or two, you will see I will have the courage to tell the people of Colorado the same thing.”

He said that, as an American League fan, he always backs the team from the Yankees’ league.

Giuliani was in Boston to pick up the endorsement of former state treasurer Joe Malone, in the backyard of challenger Mitt Romney — the former governor of Massachusetts.

On Wednesday morning, the New York media took Giuliani to task for his team turnabout. In front page placements, the New York Post called the former mayor a "Red Coat," and the New York Daily News proclaimed him a "traitor."


Welcome aboard, Captain... that other ship was sinking anyway.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

In Medias Res

The term is screenwriter's parlance for "in the middle of the action".

A screenplay uses this device, ironically enough, to begin a story somewhere.



Just be absolutely sure there's something important going on as you take your first steps in assembling your characters journey.

Yes, of course, you can be one of the the main characters...

In Medias Res.

It is what you find yourself in right from the start.

After you first announce yourself by the wails brought on by something as commonplace as oxygen, bright light and smiling strangers faces once you've debuted from your mother's womb.

In Media Res.

When you find yourself understanding gravity for the first time by wobbling uncertainly on your new red bike with slightly off-set training wheels, your father running along side exhorting, "You can do it! You can doooo it! Hang in there, champ!" And finding, indeed, that you can do it as miraculously you and your bike enter a perfectly balanced state of harmony together.

In Media Res.

When you're first testing the art of negotiation on the jungle gym at recess time in kindergarten and everyone is gathering together to play 'Star Trek'. Vladimir Kenevsky insists he be Captain Kirk when you're always Captain Kirk and you just know he'd make a better Chekhov! He's finally convinced by you and your first officer, Rich "Spock" Condon, that, in fact, Vlad, you're not Captain Kirk.

"I am
Captain Kirk!"

In Medias Res.

When you're first learning to process emotional strategies after entering into one of life's many tragic battlefields, because Atlas, your favorite cat has wandered home tonight, his right eye completely torn out and now missing. He is bleeding all over his white fur in a most exclamatory red. He is still valiant in his efforts to groom himself. How could this happen? Your mother lays out that day's Boston Globe by the fireplace in the living room. Atlas will spend the night there, breathing, on his side.

Breathing, as your mother buries her face into his belly and cries.


He will not see morning's light.

In Medias Res.

When you've created your first alliance with Teddy Cochin and Davey Blaker in keeping passing cars in winter fully peppered with hard packed snowballs and, oh, glorious day! The Big Mama of targets is approaching! Elementary school bus #8 with Mad Cathy behind the wheel. Bulls eye! Bulls eye! Bulls eye! Three perfectly directed hits to its side paneling! But what's this? That bus isn't supposed to be stopping! Cathy's getting out. She's seen us! Run!! When she knocks on the house door your father comes out. "Your kid just threw a snowball at my bus! I saw it come from this house!" Jesus, were you in for it or what! But your father becomes your Dad when he says, as if reading from some alternate-ending chapter to a book, "Lady, smokes coming out of my goddamn chimney, too, but that doesn't mean my son made the fire. You don't know what you're talking about!"

He shuts the door on her.

In Medias Res.

When you've entered the alien world of junior high school and you just don't understand this gawky new body of yours. You stand alone at lunch break staring into a puddle. Nick Masey, with a bunch of the "popular kids", comes over to you and says,"Hey, pal, what's up?" What you haven't seen is his friend on all fours sneaking up behind you. You do see Nick's flat, strong palm hit your chest. You do see sky. You do see four kids staring down at you. Laughing.

You do see the Teacher's Aide assigned to lunch break duty turn away after seeing the event and hiding her smile.

In Medias Res.

When you're introducing yourself to the new age of le corps vient premier in your bedroom with your first lover, K., and she knows so much more than you do. Because she is beautiful and she has been with boys before. But for whatever magical reason she is entranced by you. Something wonderful is happening here. "Perhaps we should use protection?" Perhaps you'll just assign your union to unguarded Fate and see what happens. And so you do. It is frightening. It is maddening. It is sad. It is exciting. It is perfect.

It is everything.

In Medias Res.

When you find yourself testing the laws of physics by racing Steve Smith and Chris Flockton down Wampanoag Lane and suddenly you lose control of your car. An orange Mercury Bobcat in panicky, careening distress. The only telephone pole on that side of the street kindly offers itself as a cushion. Your passenger, Mark Edry, is wearing his glasses in slow motion before the impact. Tires wailing. Some neighbor's mailbox just rolled over the top of your hood leaving a broken wooden post and letters specially delivered to the lawn behind you. Collapsing metal pushes itself toward you in an alarming, brutal fury. A steering wheel greets your forehead in a superlative physics equation of time, speed and distance. That bastard sound of crushing metal and broken glass occupying every nerve ending of your being. When you've finally made sense of what has just happened you look to your passenger side windshield. Some giant spider must have just weaved its web inside the glass.

Mark is slumped over in his seat.

'My friend is dead! My friend is dead! I've killed him!'


He is feeling around at his feet for something. "Goddamnit, where are my glasses!"

In Medias Res.

When you discover Faith is relative, and often fleeting in general, after your second year of living in New York City and something takes hold of your soul and rattles its cage so fiercely that you find yourself one day sitting in a rather strange venue known only as 'The Foundation'. You just want to be able to sleep again. You just want quiet inside your mind. Where did Normal go? So, you sit patiently in a neon lit waiting room about to be groomed for a nuptial with brain medicine. A twenty something year old man in his worn jeans and wrinkled white t-shirt sits across from you. He is drawing something on paper with shaky pencil. Circles. He is drawing circles over and over again. Uneven circles, wavering circles, bubbling circles, circles that circle back on other circles. He has a whole set of colored pencils with him so he may indulge different fancies of colored circles. And every time he connects a circle to complete the cycle, no matter the color, he lets out a tremendous heaving sigh.

Then he starts another circle all over again... he is trying to find a way out of his madness. But he cannot.

You want to sit next to him, put your arm around him but not say a word. Not say a word because you, too, know that, "Hey, it will be all right." just won't do, and is most likely a false hope.

But you do want to assure him that he is not alone...

...because you know exactly how he feels.

In Medias Res.

When you find yourself appreciating your relationship with the nature of nature while bicycling across the lush green country side of Donegal, Ireland and it has done nothing but rain for the last two days. You finally decide to take shelter underneath an old farm house's porch. It rains so hard you just know it's not going to stop anytime soon. After a few more moments you decide it best to jump back onto your bicycle and pedal through that unrelenting watery surge. A mile down the road, without any seeming rhyme nor reason, the downpour abruptly ends. The rain just decides to stop and then by supernatural order of events the sun needles itself through a break in the clouds. It begins to dry your swampy clothing and then warm your clammy skin.

The rain is gone.

Then you are tweaked by the oddest of thoughts. 'What happened to all of my rain? If the sun is not normal here, so be it. Bring back my rain!'

You have fallen in love with rain.

In Medias Res.

When you find yourself at a turning point in the middle of the "perfect" Nor'easter snow storm in New England the night of your Great Love's birthday. The woman for whom you made so many important decisions around, decisions that effected so many important outcomes in your life. You had made dining reservations weeks in advance because this birthday will be a particularly special one. But the restaurant you have booked has closed because the blizzard has somehow channeled the Northeast's ghost of February 1978. The famous storm is coming back for its curtain-call. Nearly every restaurant in town has decided to honor this event. But you absolutely must tell this woman something so you will risk life, limb and sanity to make it happen. Your salvation comes in the form of a modest Thai noodle place not far from you. You can both walk there from your home so you will make your intrepid postman's march through ice, sleet and snow.

You are greatly rewarded.

When the ring is revealed her face takes on a look you have never seen from her before. It is new radiance, it is accidental joy and it is beautifully childlike. Something about how she sits up tall as if she were in a classroom; she is the girl with the right answer.

She has two cards in front of her to choose from. She will hold up the card that says, "Yes".

The adventure begins.

The snow falls even harder now to cover up what was the past. It, too, is celebrating this great passage from old to new.

In Medias Res.

New cities are explored, new adventures are followed, new lives are discovered, new words are written, new hopes are revealed, new dreams are pursued, new poetry is created every single day from every single moment.

These details etched into the lucky ones' memories... in medias res.


Nana is lying in her bed at a nursing home in Boca Raton, Florida. She has seen all of these things, too, only the words are arranged differently in her poem.

She is Heather's grandmother. She is Susan and Gary's mother. She is her mother's daughter. She has had a rich life for these reasons alone.

But it gets better, and it gets worse.

She loves her husband, Sid, because he is a good man. He takes care of her faithfully, truly, always, even though he knows she has Alzheimer's.

She will be robbed of him and his loving hands, his good natured laugh, his storytelling and his gentle scolding when she is naughty.

He will remember ... everything.

In Medias Res.

When I first met Nana she was just ending her relationship with lucidity. But she still remembered things.

Certain things just stood out for unexplainable reasons.

I remember I had flown out from Los Angeles to spend time with Heather and her Mother's side of the family. Our first meal together was steak and baked potatoes at famous Stuckey's Restaurant! The food was plentiful and the spirits were high with joking and vibrant family energy. Nana loved being with her family as she sat at the head of the table. Queen for a day! It was her birthday!

When the waiter came with the check Sid and I argued over who would pay the bill. I won that argument. I hoped it hadn't hurt his pride. But I knew he respected the gesture at the same time.

Before we left there was still food left at the table and, by God, it wasn't going to go to waste! Especially that one last baked potato!

"Here, Nana, do you want the last baked potato?" said Heather.

"Oh, no dear, you take it. You take it." she winked.

"But I don't want it. Here, Den you have it!"

"Hey, I don' t want it either. Here, Sid..."

The potato was being passed all around the table in it's shiny tinfoil wrap. Round and round it went until it finally fell back into my lap.

"OK, all right! I'll take Mr. Potato Head!" settling the humorous dispute once and for all.

Nana loved this. She laughed like she hadn't laughed in a long while perhaps. "Oh, dear, you have the potato now again! Do you not want that potato?"

"Actually, no." I smiled and again I would try to pass the potato around. The silliness continued as did the laughter.

It was a very special evening.

It was a very special weekend.

In Media Res.

One year later.

A year of memories ordering themselves out of Nana's head in rapid succession to make more room for the most important things, like eating, drinking, dressing. Holding onto whatever vestiges of dignity were left.

And, holding on to things like, Sidney.




One year later I would come back to visit.

I braced myself for the distinct possibility of not even registering on Nana's personal radar before entering the nursing home.

"Oh, hello, Mr. Potato Head!" she winked.

In Medias Res.

Sidney passed away three years ago.

He fell one day in a bathroom and broke his finger. Nearly sheared it off his skin had become so paper-thin and delicate. Not long after painful stitches, and a tightly wrapped bandage that he would pick at constantly testing its tenacity, he took on the look of a wounded bird.

This event assuredly helped speed up the aging process. Maybe even mercifully.

He died three years ago only a few rooms down from where Nana slept.

Nana still does not know.

In Medias Res.

Gary, Nana's only son, wrote a letter to his family this last Monday.

"Mom's dying, probably today or tomorrow.

I signed the papers to add Hospice care which occurs while she remains in the same nursing home. I sent them a signed "Do Not Resuscitate" although Mom had signed it years ago..."

He went on with many touching details about her life.

Nana & Gary

Heather wrote him back.

"Thanks for letting us know Gary. This is very sad news. Though not unexpected. She'll be deeply in our thoughts these next couple of days, hoping the power of love and caring can ease her out of this world gently. The Nana I knew has been leaving us a little by little these past few years. We want to see her at peace, though the goodbye will be sorrowful."

Later that afternoon Nana passed away in her sleep.

Heather & Nana


Later that afternoon people fell in love.

Later that afternoon, babies cried out because they saw light and breathed oxygen for the first time.

Later that afternoon a war was fought in a far off desert country.

Later that afternoon members of Congress debated bills and argued about who to support in the next election.

Later that afternoon a fire raged in Southern California.

Later that afternoon a father threw a baseball to his young son and talked about a World Series game.

Later that afternoon a mother took her daughter by the hand and made sure they both got across the street safely so there would be other later afternoons.

Later that afternoon stardust entered the atmosphere and lit up the sky very briefly before it burnt into one last incendiary flash.

Later that afternoon... in medias res.


Later that evening Heather and Dennis went out to an Italian restaurant (Italian. Nana's favorite!) on South Congress Street in Austin, Texas to celebrate all the good things that Nana was and would remain to be.

We tried to imagine what Nana would be drinking with us at the table and ordered our corresponding concoctions. Mine an Apple Martini with a bright red Maraschino Cherry. Heather's a full bodied, deliciously red Chianti.

And then we raised our glasses, in the middle of that evening's action, and toasted, "To Nana."

Nana Hugged By Heather - 1980

Monday, October 22, 2007

Bettor's Prism

As a general rule I am not a gambler; I guess I just don't enjoy the spoils as much as some others do.

Every now and again, however, when I feel it's a sure thing, I do indulge myself in the occasional non-lucre style wager.

So do some of my pals...

My friend, David Lynch, an F-15 pilot in the U.S. Air Force is no fan of the Red Sox (I know, weird, huh?).

So he wanted to bet.

The wager was simple: should the Red Sox lose the ALCS I was to become a *Miami Dolphins fan for the day (ouch!).

On the flip-side, if Boston made it to the Series Dave would become an instant Red Sox fan for a day (double ouch! for him).

Now, he's usually pretty accurate when it comes to flying that jet and training those weapons systems on his enemy. However, last night his foe had slightly better aim and a little bit more explosive battering power...

...and so, as a result, I present to you the latest Boston Red Sox super fan!

U.S.A.F. Major David L. Lynch - F-15 Pilot - Red Sox Fan!

Way to go, Dave, we knew you'd come around sooner or later! Looks good in red, too, don't you think?

p.s. - please don't bomb Hyde Park in Austin...

(*Sunday, October 21st, 2007 - New England Patriots 49, Miami Dolphins 28 - Oof, now that's really gotta hurt!)

Pow! Wow!

Red Sox 11, Indians 2

I heard it snowed today in Colorado.

Portentous to the cold front coming the Rockies way this week?

To be seen...

Congrats, Boston Red Sox, you are the 2007 ALCS Champions and you have proved me a psychic once more!

World Series bound ... again!

p.s. - I believe one U.S. Air Force pilot owes me a photograph! ;^)

Sunday, October 21, 2007

My Own Private Azkaban

And in other news...

With author J.K. Rowling's recent announcement that beloved Hogwart's headmaster of wizard ceremonies, Albus Dumbledore, is gay (what page was that on again?), thus outing the poor bastard in front of several shocked and confused Harry Potter fans, it makes me wonder what other unsavory revelations we delicate readers might be in store for about our not-so- humble-after-all cast of magic practicing misfits?

Nay, what satanic personality flaws, sullying half-truths and downright despicable distortions must we guard our fragile youths' Christian sensibilities from next?

Allow me...


Just get a load of some of these in the latest line of unsettling assertions of the most cavalier, character-assassinating kind!

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that maudlin screen idol and Harry Potter portrayer himself, Daniel Radcliffe, is what's otherwise known in some blasphemous circles as a "Zoophile" and has had frequent sex with (gulp!) ... a horse!

Or, that red-headed hapless moppet Rupert Grint's, Ron Weasley, is actually ...

...a tranny!?!

And, undeniably, the most sordid of all horrible untruths being stirred up within the wicked black cauldron's stew that is the world wide web right now - Mom's, you may want to avert your toddlers' innocent gaze and cover their sensitive l'il ears for this next one ...

Witchy vixen Emma Watson's, Hermione Granger, is a ... is a... (gasp!)


The horror ... the horror.

With all of this lewd and lascivious muck-raking casting a hideous spell on our impressionable young scroll scryers might I strongly recommend to Ms. Rowling she carefully consider then the next topic of her EIGHTH and final installment in the Harry Potter series?

J.K., you now must address everything hidden in the Potter-verse closet, no matter how perverse, unseemly or indecorous it may appear on the page.

Yes, that's right, air out all of the wizard gangs' dirty Quidditch soiled laundry, and face head-on these contemptuous accusations by creating a tell-all tale of soul cleansing, written-word-as-ablution epic novel!

May I suggest you title it...

Dumbledore's Whores: Hogwart's Gone Wild!

(It's a Muggle Conspiracy, I tell ya, a Muggle Conspiracy; they've all been framed!)


Anyway, just me trying to help uncover the cloak of invisibility on all of this dark matter.

Not to worry, though, kiddies, whatever happens in the end, rest assured, everything will turn out just...


p.s. - Snape sleeps with Dumbledore!!!

p.p.s. - Ah, Dangit! Forgot to mention: Spoiler Alert! Spoiler Alert!

(p.p.p.s. - THIS IS SATIRE!)

One Schilling Worth Every Pennant

So, just how excited are you, Red Sox Nation?

Does this ball club excel at exceeding expectations, or what now? Even Heather seemed to enjoy last night's game (and that ain't no small franks 'n beans!).

Last night's win made me so giddy I just had to share something completely un-baseball related but that still has a lot to do with playing games, having Faith and watching the onset of miraculous events unfold.

Please click here to enjoy a short video that is sure to get your happy game face on (if we all could only play so well together!).

Oh, and, of course, I am still standing by my Geller-esque prediction from my prior post, natch!


Saturday, October 20, 2007

Spoon Bending

I enjoy looking over the edge and into the abyss beyond; it is why the game of baseball (let's just say it: sports) is so fascinating... it is crystal ball gazing in its most sensational and unadulterated form.

Sports fans should just open up their own psychic shop at moments like these.

Uri Geller-Dennis predicts: The Sox in 7 Games...

Stay tuned; it just might get bloody.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

It Wasn't My Son

Below are lyrics to the song Coming and Going on Easy Terms an example of musical craftmanship in its finest form.

It is a near perfectly penned gem written by musician John Vanderslice from an album called 'Cellar Door'.

This song is as close to authentic musical storytelling perfection that has ever dared to take a listener along for any a dark, uncertain and calamitous ride; it allows you to hold your breath while traveling alongside the agonizing singer and then to breath a deep sigh of relief at its finish, but in that instant of exhalation finding a clenched throat.


Cellar Door

John Vanderslice


window seats on bullet trains
smear land into sky
fear and sorrow coalesce

now I’m trying to find that quiet place
where living is breathing
not knowing is understanding
coming is going
but my heart just beats faster and faster

they asked for me to come
and identify my son
but my son is alive

the life that whispered in my ear
is gone gone gone
window seats, commuter trains
send me headlong

trying to find that quiet place
where living is breathing
not knowing is understanding
coming is going
but my heart just beats faster and faster

they asked for me to come
and identify my son
but my son is alive
in maharishi oblivion

the love that counted back
from ten is gone gone gone
fear and sorrow coalesce

now I’m trying to find that quiet place
where living is breathing
not knowing is understanding
coming is going
but my heart just beats faster

when I got down to the morgue
they pulled back the slab
it wasn’t my son
I wasn’t his dad

they covered him up
I smiled I smiled
the past is cities from a train

now I’m trying to find that quiet place
where living is breathing
not knowing is understanding
coming is going
but my heart just beats faster

(Music & Lyrics by John Vanderslice - Barsuk Records (2004)


I am uncertain whether or not this song is based on an actual event in Mr. Vanderslice's life or not (it's hard to believe that it might not be...); the story telling is simple but transportive, the music goose-bump inducing as it wraps itself lovingly around the lyrics and a voice exemplary in setting the right tone in bringing you to within arms reach of its choking emotion.

I can't seem to get enough of it every time I listen to it.

My "portable music device" (one of, ahem, four...) is obsessed with this song, too, as it typically finds it's way there on shuffle mode often enough to be considered uncanny but stopping somewhere short of the supernatural (n.b. - I have over 15,000 songs on mine).

The revelatory stanzas never fail to send chills up and down my spine, "they pulled back the slab/it wasn't my son/I wasn’t his dad" and " now I’m trying to find that quiet place/where living is breathing/not knowing is understanding/coming is going".

Simple lines that sum up beautifully the constant ache of this mortal coil quite nicely ... not sentimental and with the appropriate portions for the composite tragicomedy we're all connected by:

Finding out it wasn't somebody you loved ... but it was
somebody whom somebody loved.


(* You can hear this song by pressing the play button above - just please don't steal it; that wouldn't be very nice and you should just buy the album anyway - it's that good!)

Monday, October 15, 2007

How Many Is A Duck?

In honor of what's being designated as "Blog Action Day", wherein thousands of bloggers have been asked to post topics about the environment, I figured I'm as good a person as any to comment on the subject. I offer you the following.

As a former employee of the NPR environmental news program, Living on Earth, I have heard my fair share of stories relating to the environment. The "Environment" as a politically charged discussion point has certainly evolved over the years from radically inclined flag of convenience for some to the now very vogue and commonplace vernacular of the many who proudly exult, "Yeah, I've seen 'An Inconvenient Truth." and "Sure, we own a Prius!"

We've come a loooong way, baby!

The stories that most affected me on "LOE" were always the animal related pieces and the preservation of wild places features. I suppose I just enjoy who we share the planet with and all the places they depend on to live.

The following is a short missive about the importance of keeping some already developed lands status quo for the sake of those things wild.


Up in the great Northern Woods of Maine is property owned by family in the town of Forest City. Every summer we venture North close to the Canadian border to escape the carnival that is modern life. Forest City may have a population of roughly fifty people all together. The area is mostly untouched by developers hands but that, too, with the times is sadly beginning to change.

With all that available acreage the larger salable plots of land reveal a newly sprung mansion-esque property or two by the time of our next once-yearly visits. These aberrations mercifully occur few and far between but inevitably are changing the once pristine landscape. The gentle, quietly wooded place of out-of-the-way Forest City is starting to grow up.

People are friendly to a fault there because they rely on each other during the harsh and inevitably cold, snowy winter months. These test of Faith days may call for a neighbors assistance every more than so often. Relationships get tested, though, with the many new comers and their big wallets.

Manly Island, where the Snow family camp resides, has been spared for the most part from the typical Rake's Progress (or, A Shovel's Progress as the case may be...) of developers' whims. True, there are the already established Snow Family and another family, the Morley's, camps, but both are log cabin style retreats mostly devoid of any mod-cons other than gas fired cookers, pump-water sinks and pot-belly stoves. The land surrounding the lots remain forested, blueberry bushed and joyfully erupt with a variety of bird song every morning. Loons will tuck you in with their trilling at night.

My wife, Heather's, grandparents used to spend months up at their part of the island's cabin during the early decades of the 20th Century. Huddled close by a hearth constructed from hand-fashioned bricks gathered from a now-defunct wood pulping mill, they would warm themselves right up on the colder evenings. We continue that necessary tradition whenever the temperatures drop below a comfortable range during late Summer or early Fall evenings (primarily our normal visitation times).

Keeping the island unchanged and in as natural a state as possible now are sincerely important concerns to us. It can certainly be a battle of wills at times to keep it that way, too. One aunt from the family, had she her way, would redesign the cabin for luxury vacation style accommodations and tennis courts, oddly enough. We find ourselves in the unfortunate position of frequently wrestling between environmental sanctity and family politics.

But as a recent visitation from an unlikely guest during our last summer stay up North demonstrates there's more than just the typical reasons for leaving well enough alone.

One morning asleep in the cabin's lake front bedroom shortly before sunrise my wife and I were startled awake by quite a ruckus coming from the commons area. The fireplace is situated in this space and reaches up and out from the green tin plated roof. Families of bats normally make roost of the cathedral ceiling hiding spots throughout the wood beamed nooks and crannies. I figured immediately some of the bats were coming back in rather noisily from a particularly bountiful evening of insect hunting: drunk on mosquitoes again no doubt!

However, when the confused and chaotic scuffling continued for more than a reasonable amount of time we realized it was not any ordinary bat!

I leaped out of bed and trotted into the commons nearly tripping over a tot-sized rocking chair made by the local Passamaquoddy Indian tribe (a gift from Grampy Snow to a young Heather, otherwise, he made his own furnishings from tree limbs and sturdy driftwood logs found around the island!).

A trail of downy stuffing and gray ash had mysteriously wound itself out from the fireplace hearth.

'What, had a pillow exploded in there?' I thought.

Burnt ember dust was still swirling in the foggy pre-dawn light but beginning a lazy descent to the floor around me. All was strangely quiet given the prior commotion.

"What's going on out there?" Heather wondered aloud.

"Not sure yet." I replied in still tired-eyed befuddlement.

Whatever it might have been wasn't going to make itself obvious at first; it was well hidden somewhere now.



Did you hear that?




Those muffled humming-like peeps were coming from somewhere near the right of my feet. Indeed, under the driftwood carved furniture and handmade telescope something was hiding.



Scampering from out under the dining table in a feather-flurried fluster our visitor darted out and ran in a panicked circle around my legs!

"It's a duck!" I exclaimed.

"A what?" Came back the response in disbelief.

"A duck, a little brown duck!"

Indeed, Miss Little Brown Duck had apparently gotten lost in the fog and somehow found the chimney vent on the cabin's roof. Nice choice, ma'am. I suppose it could have looked like a decent enough rotted tree cubby hole making for a perfectly pleasant rest stop. Imagine her surprise, wings a flutter, tumbling down that long, dark, charcoaled shaft to land in a pile of fading but still smoldering orange-hued coals. Youch!

I should mention Forest City is also renowned for its hunting and fishing, so seeing this vulnerable little creature trapped in our cabin made me think of what someone of a more gun-toting persuasion might have done. Real easy target shooting here - if you're foolish enough to fire a loaded firearm in an enclosed living space, that is. Just throwing a net over and bagging it for supping on later would have been easy enough.

But not me.

I felt a compassion and caring for this lost little wayward soul. She would find her way back to the Great Outdoors again if I had any say in the matter.

I grabbed a tattered hay broom stick by the kitchen area for my direction & encouragement tool. I felt silly standing there with this scraggly broom about to go after a duck like it were some rodent with the Plague. Of course, when I did my prods and pushes were of the most gently persuasive kind. Still she would flap her wings anxiously at my every advance kicking up debris and feathers into face and hair.

Heather was now in the room witnessing the Key Stone Cop antics in action.

With dust whipping up into my eyes and me twirling aimlessly around in circles with a broom I did finally manage getting her into a strategic enough location to... to... 'Crap, the front door isn't even open yet! How is she even supposed to get out?'

This took some doing but with both feet asunder I split-leg slid towards the front door, one foot finally hooking a wooden edge and toeing it open while the other balanced me toward the duck stationed broom. At any moment I was certain I would hear the thunderous sound of my shorts ripping in two. In a nutshell, a blasphemously entertaining display worthy of a mentally challenged acrobat.

"Be careful! Don't hurt it. Be gentle. I hope she knows we're just trying to help her. Ohhhh..." cooed Heather.

With a now open doorway in full view Miss Little Brown Duck eventually did find her moment and in a burst of floor dust and puffy down feathers charged the exit and took flight off from the front porch deck heading towards the water. A waddling rocket ship of just ducky majesty.

Moments later she landed gracefully in the quiet ripples of East Grande Lake next to another lone duck taking its morning paddle. Two ducks in a peaceful row.

The both of us were happily dumbstruck at this forest version of a farm rooster's wake up call. We wondered aloud at the notion of where else on Earth anyone could be treated to such a rare and unique experience. Yet wouldn't it be nice, too, if people just forgot about it being here all together?

Deep woods Maine where humanity and nature can still bump awkwardly into one another but with no harm ... no 'fowl'.

I turned to Heather before heading back to the bedroom and declared, "I'm sorry, but there's just no way in hell your aunt's getting her way."

Saturday, October 13, 2007

How Much Is A Life Worth With A Side Of Calzone?

(Note to readers of a more gentle persuasion ... do be advised of some strong and conceivably objectionable language in the following post)

"You go down and get the Calzone dough and I'll start prepping the sauce and vegetables."

Isn't it funny how someone's last words to another person right before they lose their life can be so ... banal?

I was in the early stages of dating this woman, Lillian, many years ago when we decided it was "Calzone Night" at my then home on Highland Avenue. Somerville, Massachusetts had a Bertucci's Restaurant right on the cusp of Davis Square back in the mid-90's. Gone now and replaced by a Subway sandwich shop, I believe. It was an easy place to get to so that's where we decided it best to pick up the fixins' for some "homemade" Calzones. No, we didn't want Bertucci's to make them per se we just wanted them to provide us with the pre-fabbed and uncooked dough so we could create the rest ourselves.

Lillian was a good cook her specialty in Hungarian cuisine specifically. She was Hungarian, after all, second generation to the States, and very much fluent in the language. When visiting with my nieces in Colorado they always referred to her Hungarian as "Martian" anytime they heard Lily speak on the phone with her mother. I can offer no imitation in writing that will do it justice but my nieces weren't too far off the mark. It's a beautiful language (and who says Martian wouldn't be either?) as it's a polyglottish sounding hybrid of Russian, Czech (another very difficult language!) and some unknown Romance Language. If you can speak it fluently it must be a helluva lot of fun to massage your jaw, lips and tongue around with its challenging rolling hillsides of intonation and sometimes brutish Eastern Euro-Slavic edges. Imagine, if you've never heard it, a fiery Rasputin reading a lovely and lilting French sonnet and you'll be somewhere in the right range.

Language isn't really what this post is about, though, unless you believe in the language of violence.

I left the house shortly after making a quick list of other foodstuffs to pick up and then walked down to the restaurant in a comfortable outfit of blue sweat pants and a faded green chamois shirt that I had worn cycling across Europe from several summers past. It was a lazy Sunday and I wanted to feel loose and fancy-free despite the lack of being far out of range of any fashion sense. The temperature was cool as Fall was getting underway on this late September day.

I remember these details very vividly. I remember them as if I were staring at a photograph or watching a short documentary film; it is important to capture the last few minutes of your life.

My mood was good, my step was lively, my manner betrayed nothing short of "I'm going to go get some dough and, MAN!, are we going to have some killer Italian-Hungarian tonight"! You could almost hear the whistling-choir soundtrack as I sprang, light of step, down Elm Street in all of that early autumn evening's resplendence.

Bertucci's had a moderate dinner crowd when I entered and the conversations all familial oriented. A number of folks with kids were all there merrily dining away. Pizza Night! Cheese strands trapese-ing off of chins, sauce streaking down bibs, salsa'ed smiles.

So, I didn't even notice the kid leaning over the counter at first when I came in.

He was just somebody's friend chatting up the girl behind the cash register. Of course, he was. But you're in my way there, fella. I was even a little bit rude at first when I started to place my order because nobody was paying attention to me; everyone had their eyes on the guy chatting up the cute chick at the register. Yo? What gives, people? Service industry remember?

"Hey, can I just order some Calzone dough? Just the dough, though, we don't want it cooked..."

The man who I thought was taking my order looked at me and kept rolling his eyes to my right - to the right - to the right- TO THE RIGHT! He was looking all pale and wide-eyed. And his eyes kept motioning me to ... look to the right!

Handguns are frightening things.

I know because my chatty counter neighbor had one. It was a nasty looking black snub-nosed automatic, protected somewhat from view by his crooked arm and dark folds of a 'hoodie', pointed directly at the stomach of the young woman behind the register. Muscle control had failed her; yes, synapses decided she was not moving for right now. A living, breathing shop mannequin stuck in position with a visage now painted up for Halloween as a BOO-ing ghost.

"Listen, I don't give a fuck how you do it just get me the cash out of the register, okay?" She would not, could not, move. Paralyzed with fear her eyes just kept looking down into some vast, bottomless well. Perhaps there was a key to the register? Maybe there had to be an actual sale transaction first...?

He repeated his demand but this time with far more irritated urgency, "Do I look like I have all day, baby?"

When she failed to respond yet again that's when he took notice of the guy next to him. The frumpy looking pseudo-jock in his blue sweats strolling in 'fer-sum-fahkin'-peeza-duuude'.

What a perfect 'mark' for him.

And, what a bad time and place for me to be.

This gangly 'scarecrow' of a creature was strong for his overall size and appearance. Guns make their bearer's bolder, mightier, to be sure, and their targets into instant putty I can attest. So, when his lanky frame grabbed me, abruptly and humiliatingly by the scruff of my chamois' collar and t-shirt, it was easy for him to hold me up like a dangling show dolly. Here we have it, ladies and gents, one life-sized Super Sports Ken doll at your disposal! Any bidders?

He was making no bones about the seriousness of his request now. He poked the tiny black weapon against my sternum with an aggressive 'thud'.

"Hey, ya cunt, see this guy? He's about to lose his life? You think I'm not serious? You wanna think again about opening that fucking register!?"





The rest of the kitchen staff was fully tuned in by this point. As a rule everyone in the restaurant was his captive (captured?) audience now. No one seemingly knew what part to inherit in this perverse this-is-not-happening theater of the absurd. As to how many restaurant crews are actually trained in armed robbery defense tactics I know not, but the Bertucci's staff either had slept through the class or never bothered showing up. Not that I was really expecting any true intervention (never negotiate with the terrorists, remember?) but at least open the goddamn register!

Nope. Standing there was an easier option.

Like they were watching TV.

Only with no remote.

'Scarecrow' spun me around now so that his back was to the restaurant's front window, mine to the back of the dining room area. I was easy to manipulate. When he twirled me about in his macabre ballet I felt featherweight in his grasp. Why he did this manouevre remains a sort of a mystery. In retrospect, he was left-handed so it did allow a better view of the dramatics for the counter staff. Another thought occurs that he may not have wanted to shatter the front window with any spent rounds and thus draw any unnecessary attention. But, that's about as far as I'd like to venture inside this man's mind, I'm afraid.

Oh, and by the way, if you're at all wondering, there were absolutely no thoughts of any kind of heroism being schemed up inside my head a la Dirty Harry during this whole episode:



(beaming with brandished gun)

Looks like you'll be getting your pizza served ... cold. So, let me ask you this, Mr. Sunshine, who's your daddy now, huh? Huh!? Bee-yotch! Ha, ha, haaaa!



I'm certain the "What I'd actually do" fantasy is just that, a myth that our Hollywood-ized culture instills to the Nth sad degree on the average citizen. In fact, had you put an audio recorder inside my head at that moment you may have heard the sound of crickets and one sole, desperate thought from me, "If you don't move, if you just don't move, you're going to be okay... so just don't move." My body felt rubbery and in an almost yogic trans-meditational state albeit without any of the relaxation part. Downward dog playing dead for his master.

"OK, we're going to play the numbers game now. I'm going to count to three," he raised the little black gun directly at my face; he was about to have his glory, every painful shortcoming this man may have experienced in his young, chaotic life, was about to get its due, "and by the time I get to three this guy will have a bullet in his head."

Directly behind me my peripheral vision acknowledged a family of four sitting in suspended animation at their table. Forks hanging from hands in mid-air, napkins white-knuckled in fists. I remember most of all their little girl with her mouth wide open in just-about-there comprehension of the whole scary situation. Whenever 'Scarecrow' decided to fire the shot there was a damn good chance mom, dad, young boy or little girl would have been struck by the exiting projectile. Never mind the contents of my head.

"Hey, God, please, one thing here. Yeah, me, Dennis, again, remember? You know how everyone says I have a hard head? For the sake of the little kids behind me ... make it extra hard tonight."

As this sorry little man and his weapon were pissing fear and bravado all over the restaurant that evening I recall the most extraordinary out-of-body sensation. Its strikingly similar to how its described in literature and film. You do float. You see yourself standing there detached from self, and in this situation, next to a stranger with his life in your hands. You just observe. I recall a dark shadow silhouette, a self portrait in negative photo image, a long extended tree limb attached at my throat and the mouth of some cold, dark empty hole.

The muzzle of the weapon was never merely an inanimate gun barrel during those moments.


It was a cartoon-sized cave opening as if I were staring down the ass-end of some long droopy, Dali-esque drain pipe. Pitch black, well deep, a blossoming fish-eye lensed hole as it trained your eyes not to look away.


He moved the handgun firmly up underneath where my jaw and neck met now letting the family of four off the hook for the moment. The shot would push my teeth up into my brain and perhaps through the top of my skull I reckoned. It felt blunt and heavy and coldly indifferent. If it were cognizant it would have felt the pulse in my neck it to just cut the shit.

And, yet the whole time I never said a word.


"Here, asshole, here! Take the fucking cash and get the fuck out!" I think it must've been the manager. I recall a ding! sound while he spoke out, the register popping open barely pregnant with its diminutive bounty, "Here, $66 bucks, you want it? Take it! Now get out!"

And so there was the punchline. Green wrinkled paper. Metal buttons. King Money slapped declaratively onto the register's table top with all of its clinking, clanking, clunking vassals rolling onto the floor below.

But it spoke much more loudly than that; it had one more very potent thing to add: here's how much your life's worth today.

Sixty-six dollars and change.

At least that's a lot of Calzone...

"Lie down on the floor, faggot!" Faggot? Whatever. That would come as some surprise to Lillian (Lillian, oh my, God, Lillian...)! My newly designated "faggot" self wasn't going to argue. Down I went.

Scarecrow sauntered over to the counter and scooped up his lucre, gun still very much threateningly in command.

When dollar bills were finally stuffed into baggy black jeans pockets and every speck of change meticulously plucked off of linoleum tiles he backed towards the entrance.

"Now, everyone get on the floor!"

Everyone did.

He liked that.

You could tell he liked this whole experience of being in absolute, unquestionable control.

Coooool as a cucumber as they say.

As Scarecrow backed up into the glass door of the main entrance he left us with one last yippee-kai-yay cowboy line-read:

"Ya'll have a nice day."

He grinned a mile-wide grin and then disappeared into memory.

(You know the expression "there's never a cop when you need one"...?)

The young woman behind the register burst into tears and then fell into hysterics, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I just couldn't move, I couldn't move, I didn't know what to do...!" the manager offering his best firm hand on a shoulder bit and a bunch of "you did the right thing"s all the while. Ha, yeah! Mind telling that to the guy who just had the gun pressed up against his head...?

I know what you're thinking. No shots were fired. Everyone escaped with their lives. Happy ending, right?

Yes and no.

Yes, my teeth remained firmly planted in their jaw settings that night.

No, for that five minute eternity I no longer had owned my life.

Crime victim survivors will often refer to their experience as the ultimate violation. There is a good reason for that. When a person comes to the menacing realization that they really don't "own" their life (or anything for that matter), that life is a privilege and not a right, it brings to the front of the brain queue some serious questioning of old belief systems. Some people insist that this is even a liberating experience.

Here's the rub: I had lost my life that day to a stranger with a gun and now I was just beginning a journey towards some unknown quantity of residual effect.

Figuratively, spiritually, symbolically, whatever scope you'd want to peer at it through, my life was gone as I had known it. To what degree the changes I would come to know thereafter were anyone's guess.

My experience, certainly unique to me - maybe another more tactically trained individual may have viewed the whole affair very differently and with a different outcome - still reveals this damning notion: when somebody decides that ownership, slavery in essence, of another person is in the cards that day, and they have the means to bringing it all to fruition, and you happen to be the unfortunate entertainment ... indeed, your own life in betrayal will unhinge itself from its customary setting. It becomes plainly there for the taking.

Scarecrow got his muse that night and it changed everything for me from that day forward.

"Sir, are you all right?" It was the manager addressing me.

"Yeah, yeah. Listen, can I just get my Calzone now?"

He smiled awkwardly, fetched the dough and dropped it into a To-Go box for me.

"How much?"

He shook his head: "On the house, man."


The walk back home was crippling. It hadn't quite gelled as to what exactly just happened to me, but I knew something was going to tip the kettle inside soon. Just you wait.

When I finally did arrive back at the house Lillian was there, vegetables cut, sauce bubbling, and naturally concerned and curious, "What happened to you? What took you so long?"

"Don't ask." (Really. Don't. I won't have an answer for another several days/weeks/months/years anyway...)

"Okaaaay. Well, then how much did the Calzone end up costing?"

That I knew without any question:

"My entire life's saving..."



It would be remiss of me not to mention that I was later asked to come back down to Bertucci's and help with the criminal investigation. Apparently, there had been a string of very similar styled robberies in the Boston area for about two weeks prior to that incident, the 'perp's tactics fitting Scarecrow's joie de vivre.

To make a long story short I spent the rest of the evening pouring over photo I.D. logs and then eventually riding in a police squad car chasing around leads all night - there was even a gun-drawn commuter bus raid that I watched from the safety of the lead detective's car - a dozen police officers stormed an MBTA bus on a tip that a suspect fitting the description had boarded this particular vehicle.

No deal, but it looked like it scared the crap out of a bunch of people inside.

To my knowledge the police have never apprehended the guy. Not uncommon with these types of crimes.

Personally, though, I know exactly where he's been all this time.

Isn't It?

(I believe this ad might be an endorsement for arming the National Organization for Women, in which case, I couldn't agree more...)

i·ro·ny1 /ˈaɪrəni, ˈaɪər-/

Pronunciation Key - [ahy-ruh-nee, ahy-er-]

noun, plural -nies.

1. The use of words to convey a meaning that is the opposite of its literal meaning: the irony of her reply, “How nice!” when I said I had to work all weekend.

2. Literature.

a. A technique of indicating, as through character or plot development, an intention or attitude opposite to that which is actually or ostensibly stated.

b. (esp. in contemporary writing) A manner of organizing a work so as to give full expression to contradictory or complementary impulses, attitudes, etc., esp. as a means of indicating detachment from a subject, theme, or emotion.

3. Socratic irony:
n. Profession of ignorance and of willingness to learn as one interrogates another on the meaning of a term.

4. Dramatic irony.
n. The dramatic effect achieved by leading an audience to understand an incongruity between a situation and the accompanying speeches, while the characters in the play remain unaware of the incongruity.

5. An outcome of events contrary to what was, or might have been, expected.

6. The incongruity of this.

7. An objectively sardonic style of speech or writing.

8. An objectively or humorously sardonic utterance, disposition, quality, etc.

IRONY: The essential feature of irony is the indirect presentation of a contradiction between an action or expression and the context in which it occurs. In the figure of speech, emphasis is placed on the opposition between the literal and intended meaning of a statement; one thing is said and its opposite implied, as in the comment, “Beautiful weather, isn't it?” made when it is raining or nasty. Ironic literature exploits, in addition to the rhetorical figure, such devices as character development, situation, and plot to stress the paradoxical nature of reality or the contrast between an ideal and actual condition, set of circumstances, etc., frequently in such a way as to stress the absurdity present in the contradiction between substance and form.

(I feel much better now, thanks.)

Friday, October 12, 2007

One Little, Two Little ... Four Little Indian Games?

Not for one shy second do I doubt these 2007 ALCS Games starting tonight will be anything but a complete battle of wills.

The Cleveland "Tribe" (not in mine...) has just had some great practice; they defeated the all-powerful Yankees in four games. The Yankees, a team even when having a sub-par season, easily cruising into the Wild Card Playoff spot. Now merely a footnote in 2007 baseball history all the same.

But their residue remains.

It wasn't at all a walk in the ballpark for the Indians but they overcame the real Eastern Division Menace and now walk away with a little bit of by proxy World Series experience. They've defeated a team, and its masterful coach, Joe Torre (may he rest in peace), that has seen the Series 19 times to their now current nemesis' meager twice winning debuts.

To note, as well, as one sports commentator puts it, the Red Sox are no longer the 'Underdog' team but the newly crowned replacement "Evil Empire".

Everyone will be rooting against Boston this year (minus the obvious).

We have no 86 years of Trophy dry spell misery to spill tears over, no diminutive budget that won't allow acquisition of top players and we certainly no longer have any "Curse" hanging over our caps, bats and mitts to fault should we fall from the Bean(town) Stalk. It all means Jack now ...

"Luke, I am your father."

1948: Cleveland's last magic number still waiting to be retired.

2004: Boston's headstone RIP engraving to the "Bambino"s legacy.

Who wants what more? Who will see the most symbolism in numerics over the next 4 (possibly 7) games in the coming days? The Sox have sure-handedly undone the Indians in past divisional series but every year is a different story. A different team. A different desire. And if the Tribes dominance over the Yanks is any indication of what's in store - then apparently there's a mighty hatchet to bury.

So, Wahoo, Tribe! Red Sox Nation is truly excited to meet you in The Playing Fields during this most important of Octobers; we're always up for a challenge.

Just remember: Do not feel disgraced should you fall; you've played amongst giants.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

What's Brrrrr'ed In The Bone

With the temperatures in Austin having hovered around the mid-90's nearly every single day since we've arrived here back in July I'm beginning to wonder about what to do with all of my winter clothing.

Being a native New Englander I'm having issues with the notion that I have close to twenty years worth of cold weather apparel sitting in my closets with no "wear" to go. Please, I beg of you, don't suggest I donate it all to some well-intentioned organization such as 'Good Will' or 'The Salvation Army' (would they even know what to do with winter clothes down here??).

Mainly, I don't relish the idea of parting with anything loaded with so much bred-in-the-bone regionally-challenged symbolism stitched so deeply into it. We're also talking hundreds (possibly, gulp, thousands) of dollars worth of hiking, skiing, snowshoeing and just plain winter weather themed stuff here, too. Plus, I'm not entirely convinced that I won't be using at least some of it at some point again either - let's just say I decide on that long dreamed of trip to Siberia next month, for example...

Despite being told it will get cold here in Southern Texas it will never get New England Cold. Nor, Colorado cold for that matter where one of my brothers lives. I like my cold C*O*L*D! and I like it when it's "supposed" to be cold not when the State of Texas decides it wants to be cold.

To add insult to injury, after dinner tonight with friends, Kirby, a native Austinite, assured me, while shivering on a frigid 87 degree sidewalk outside of the restaurant, that the climate will refrigerate itself right up again by January. She hugged her arms around herself and theatred-me a killer mocking "brr-r-r-r-r-r" display.

Yeah, save your mime act for the kiddies, Marcel, I ain't buyin' it. And, by... say again? January!?

You mean I have to wait until my birthday for some slightly cooler temps around here? Damn.

Of course, I must remind myself I spent two and half years in Los Angeles long before moving to Texas so I have some professional experience on the old Curriculum Vitae when it comes to year round heat.

There is no such thing as cold in L.A. Cold in L.A. is having your forehead pressed flat against a glass of frozen Green Apple-tini while holing yourself up inside some trendy air conditioned chi-chi palace sitting on a block of colored ice custom fitted to shape your ass. Which, knowing L.A., there is just such a place where you can do exactly that (I believe its in West Hollywood off of Franklin...).

Hot is what L.A. is all about. Because, after all, if you aren't hot then you aren't cool either ... ironically (sigh).

Celebrity aside, Southern California is the land of fire. As in, everything is on fire all of the time -- because its so damn hot! It got to be a real trying experience having all that ash fall into my sushi at lunch time. Especially in December... (I kid you not; the air was thick with it!).

While living in L.A., though, I longed for the days when I was able to fly back to Boston for a brief visit just to experience Autumn again. Watching the leaves return to their schizophrenic melt-downs of orange, yellow, red, and mauve before plunging to their glorious seasonally ordained deaths in the quietest rite of post-October passage. The ripening orchard fruit hanging urgently from bended, leafy limbs screaming 'pick me, pick me before I fall and bruise my perfect skin'! Most excellent of all the crisp cold charged scent of Fall air that never failed to whip-up nostalgia waxing via a melancholy "bon voyage sleepy summer vacation of beaches and mowed lawns, hello colorful crepe paper oak leaves taped to elementary school classroom doors" association. That smell association is, I believe, a color, as well, by the way ... Crayola (R) just hasn't made a crayon large enough to fit all the words on it yet.

My formative pre-Adult years obviously phoned in this evening, the pre-'you all growed up now so start diggin' that grave, boy, dig, dig! we ain't got all day (snnnniiiiffff, hock-pahtuey!)' days are making a pleasant, but still collect, call.

"Will you accept the charges from Massachusetts, sir?"
Ahhh, crap, not again...

Despite many an attempt at escape from my hearth and home of the Northeast, because of any myriad number of damning reasons I won't get into here, it will never hang itself up on me. I will always long for things like cold air come October and snowy winter evenings by December. It has always meant "cozy" to me. In fact, when it was ever not frosty in October, or there was no snow by Christmas time in New England, I would curse the gods for ruining another blown opportunity at having pleasant memories for my rocking-chair years.

Have no fear; this will not turn into some gotcha-rant about global warming. However, if Al Gore could bottle a new line of some "New England Fall Experience" formula at a reasonably priced enough deal ... I'd be the first to buy it.

No, this, instead, is yet another 'what to do about enjoying your new home as much while grappling the preponderance of your native born essence' kind of brain tousling (Waffles, anyone?). Presented here the curious cross roads of being in love with two places (or people or objects or...) at the same time; sadly, one lover must eventually and willingly be left behind to safe-keep your back story while the other one takes you by the hand and leads you towards fresh, unscripted pages.

Without doubt the latter can easily be the most alluring lover of them all.

But, what desire one can have for the well-rehearsed kiss and the knowing and confident cartographer's hands that had previously mapped every contour of your flesh and psyche. Therein lies great comfort to be sure.

So, despite having always longed to leave New England, I regret to inform me, New England was never long to leave me. And, as I attempt yet another clumsy goodbye, I see that I'm forever stuck with the chills that it gives me.

Happy New Year,