First Draft Horoscopes- Leo

A change that is muy importante is taking place as we speak, so pay attention. It seems that the moon in Aries (another fire sign) is throwing down with Pluto. These are the kinds of details you will overlook, since you happen to think that astrology is the study of the rectum. Thing is, this battle could very well leave you stranded if you choose to ignore the warring signs. Yes, that was an astrology pun . . and no, you probably didn’t get it because you’re more clueless than a Seventh Day Adventist at Christmas mass.

The punchline to this internecine battle between Aries and Pluto is that you are supposed to watch out for control freaks. I’m figuring that maybe those signs didn’t get the memo about Leo, because if they had, they’d know that you come face to face with a control freak every time you look in the mirror. So maybe don’t look in the mirror today. Just kidding . . you can’t help yourself.

Alas, the forecast is not entirely gloom and doom. Mostly yeah, but not entirely. The moon does make a harmonious connection with your ruling planet, the Sun. It’s the astrological version of shagging, without the bottle of bub or the R&B cranked up for good measure. This connubial convergence of the cosmos should inspire you to be brave and to do something completely different along your path. And by different, we mean to say that maybe you can stop being so self involved. Try it on for size a couple minutes at a time and see how it feels. If it’s too painful, just go back to your regularly scheduled programming of being a selfish twit.

Matters Of Little Consequence

As far as breakups went, ours was Chernobyl.

I thought I’d navigated every kind of romantic scenario, until the Dame tried breaking out the Estella Havisham playbook on me. She torched my curtains and shotgunned my floorboards, most impressively.

It was a couple days after the breakup when Dan told me she was writing all manner of crazy shit about it on her blog. Her Venti vitriolic provided ironic symmetry to our relationship, seeing as how I’d fallen for her writing inside another rant about another guy. I was shocked, annoyed and pissed. I’d called the whole thing off, after which she provided me with every single good reason as to why I was right to do so.

I had no desire to get into a war of words with someone who was using our relationship as the battering ram for everything that had come before it. I wasn’t fool enough to believe her rantings were all about me. I had simply provided her with the necessary antagonist for her latest act. I knew that before long, she’d expend herself, find someone new and move on. Me? I’d use all that emotional fuel to write like a madman. Which is exactly what I did since passion is a muse, no matter the emotion it gets dressed up in.

To say this was a heartbreaking time in my life would be a lie. The proverbial ‘broken heart’ is how we portray bad shit in heart form. And for the purposes of bacon cheeseburger brevity, I use it interchangeably here. But it wasn’t that, it was more significant than that. What it had done was introduce me to the real me. I was a romantic journeyer, searching for the temporary salvation of another but unwilling to pay sticker price. If things hadn’t gone sideways, would I have spent the rest of my life with her? At the beginning of us, I would have issued a resounding yes. But as time went on, it became a very hard maybe.

After it was over, I stopped reading her. Cold turkey. Curiosity kills more than cats, and peeking on someone you’re no longer involved with always struck me as creepy. Instead, I drank wine, I listened to love songs and yes, I cried a few times. There was no use in letting the toxins fester, I had to loose them.

As for the blog, Dan had returned. Of course. He jumped back in with a vengeance, as if expecting me to kiss his ass for coming back. All it did was remind me how important I had become to this fledgling enterprise. Dame had called our blog a “sparrow shit operation” in one of her last emails to me, and I liked that one a lot, even if her intent had been to knee cap me with it. The moniker fit.

The blog karate kicked its way out of our old dojo. We had been gifted a brand new, interactive theme- by one of Dame’s pals ironically. He did it for us gratis while Richie kept planning some grand design for us from his bachelor pad bunker in Jersey. And now we had a podcast to add to the mix. This is where Chris came in. He was Dan’s pal. We’d gotten off on the wrong foot when I refused to post his stuff on the blog. But shit if his writing wasn’t wooden and predictable.

The podcast brought out his Dr. Jekyll. Chris’s voice was the kind of butter that had the girls swooning, and his delivery was a Greg Maddux diamond studded fastball. I would write up a script for the show and email the guys and then we would broadcast from two different locales- Me from my crib and the fellas from Chris’s place.

I remember being a complete disaster in the early innings of our first show. I had zero timing and none of the heat I possessed on the blog. Chris picked up the slack and made it all work, perfectly. During a commercial break, I scarfed down a cigarette and a couple shots of tequila I didn’t know I had. Beer wasn’t going to do the trick, so I made some haste and got back to it. Provided with a salty launch pad, I settled in and found my rhythm. Dan played better on the podcast as well.

Drinking and smoking became a weekly tradition on the podcasts. We expanded to an hour after a couple shows because we were stretching out the material with all the improvised banter that was happening. As with the blog, no topic was off limits. Well, except for one: I’d issued a moratorium on any talk of the Dame.

As the blog’s popularity bled into the podcast, with listeners and our own interactive chat room during podcasts, things were looking more promising than ever. I kept busy, writing more than ever before. I’d also procured the phone number of a girl who tended bar at the Irish pub we frequented. She was my Till Tuesday insurance policy in that she was too young, too nice and she had two young kids. But she made a strong drink, she had a great smile and we clicked. And besides, there was no crime in keeping my options open. I’d have been ashamed at myself for not taking the chance when presented.

It was New Years Eve when she sent me a text wishing me well, and I shot one back in patent fashion. I decided not to follow it up, instead dropping in on a family get together on my way home. It was a couple minutes after midnight when I received a phone call, after which I started formulating excuses as to why I couldn’t meet Till Tuesday. And then the area code punched me in the face. Chicago.

I should have let it go to voicemail. Or turned my phone off . . changed my number . . burned the fucking thing until it was goop. Any of those options made more sense than the one I was about to choose, but it didn’t matter, because I was doing it anyway.

Just like that.

Heroes Of The Week!

Laurie Jupiter

The quick shots episode #21 was so popular (with me) that I’ve decided to adopt this fortuitous fling going forward. I’ve got a full on 100 percent Heroes post coming up at some future point, and I’ll probably have a battle of the sexes Heroes post as well. Since sexes don’t battle any more, they just scream and holler.

Pols, jocks and celebs only posts might happen, but I’m not sold on it yet. A throwback Heroes post is very much in the mix, though . . as soon as I find my time traveler kicks. An all kids Heroes post? Never. An all fifty or older Heroes post? Definitely.

Let’s get to stepping.

Clown Sign

Something is afoot in Oakland- So last week, Antonio Brown made this space for his frozen feet. This week, he threatened to retire if he couldn’t use his original helmet design rather than an updated version. It was a transparent attempt to buy some time for his blistered dogs. Next week, AB will make this space when he sues Cleveland for using his last name.

Trump at the Catskills back for 144th week- 45 got into it with CNN’s Chris Cuomo after a video of the news anchor losing his cool went viral. Cuomo went off on a man who called him “Fredo”, and the Trump campaign was there to pick up the pieces. And turn them into a merch moment by selling “Fredo Unhinged” t-shirts for $34 on its website. Cuomo apologized for the meltdown but this didn’t stop Trump from tossing in a “red flag” joke about the incident. How can a President have more free time for social media than a middle school teenager?

I don’t know who Andrew Yang is, but I do know he gives the Democrats a candidate from every state now, right?

Tiger Shark Mama- Miranda Perez is reason #5,613 why not everyone should have kids. She threatened to shoot up Barton Elementary School in Lake Worth, Florida when her kids were transferred there as the result of a school board resolution looking to address overcrowding. I guess it could have been worse. She might have decided to home school them.

Vera

Soulful harvest- Larry Yockey is a fourth generation farmer from Ritzville, Washington. In February of this past year, he was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer. The chances that he would be able to harvest a wheat field which was his only source of income while undergoing treatment weren’t good. When word of his plight spread, neighbors, farmers and volunteers showed up to harvest his fields for him. They finished a three week job in eight hours. Yockey’s daughters intend on making this a fifth generation enterprise; thanks to the lessons of their father, and a little help from their friends.

Kandi’s Gentleman’s Club in Omaha, Nebraska is looking for stay at home moms who want to earn some extra cash. No word as to whether daycare is provided.

No tea party- The mother/son team of Carol and Scott Dawson are The South Yorkshire, England branch of the Manson family. They shot Gary Dean, a marathon runner, with an air rifle over a dispute over the use of their footpath. Then they beat Dean to death with tree branches and stones. Proving that America ain’t cornered the market on fucked up peeps.

Twenty five years ago this week, Major League Baseball went on strike. It led to the cancellation of the World Series for the first time in 90 years. Bud Selig and his pals would make up for it a few years later with an artificially enhanced home run chase that ushered in the steroids era. Sacred records would fall, player salaries would skyrocket and new ballparks would be built on a lie. With the fans who’d been screwed out of a World Series footing the bill. And to think, they keep Shoeless Joe out of the Hall . . .

Random act of beauty- Lamiyah Jabbar is an Uber driver by day, but an angel the rest of the time. Christmas came early for one financially strapped passenger who shared her checklist wishes with Jabbar. “Can you imagine waiting till Christmas just to get a robe, house shoes and a outfit for church?” Said Jabbar. “We tend to take things for granted, but why not help someone else if you can?” So she gifted the woman a new dress and a $50 Visa gift card for the robe and shoes. That’s just how she rolls.

Now that Jay-Z has teamed up with the NFL, Colin Kaepernick has his last best chance at making an NFL roster. I think the Eagles would work just fine.

Good medicine- 17 year old Micah Wooten had just completed three months of boot camp at Parris Island and was on the cusp of fulfilling his dream of becoming a U.S. Marine, when he was rushed to Beaufort Memorial Hospital for surgery. His condition wasn’t life threatening, but it did cost him the chance to stand with his fellow cadets at the graduation ceremony.

Laurie Harvey, who is an R.N. and the assistant director of the OR at Beaufort Memorial wasn’t going to take the unfortunate turn of events for the kid sitting down. “My heart just broke for him,” said Laurie. “We can’t let this day end this way.”

And so Laurie and her co-workers arranged a graduation ceremony for Wooten. She lined up all the physicians and nurses in attendance along the walls outside of the operating room. And when Micah was wheeled out in his hospital bed, the Marine Corps hymn began to play.

Micah will be back at it before too long, after which he will begin living out his dream. He’ll take along a poem gifted him by the Beaufort staff titled “Don’t Quit”, and a stone cross by which to remember his impromptu graduation. Heartfelt reminders that what he’ll do in service to his country will never be forgotten by the people of a United States. We are always supportive, always thankful . . .

Always faithful.

God Maps, Dressed Down Gaga and 50 Shades of Grey Goose

The other night I was stopped by this lovely young lady who handed me a pamphlet titled “Where Are You Headed?” It was religious paraphernalia, and it really got me thinking. See, I was headed out to the bar when I received this trinket from God. So I had to wonder if the Big Guy™ was really talking to me in that moment. I ordered a gin martini, with big fat stuffed olives. Just in case . . .

The gin martini is a wondrous invention when constructed to its optimum particulars. When I partake at the crib, I tuck my gin/vermouth concoction and the glass into the freezer for a good hour. Then I rinse the inside of the frozen martini glass with vermouth. And then it’s time to build. Cocktail . . lime squeeze . . . blue cheese stuffed olives. Back in the aughts of 2000, I would have stapled a couple smokes to the delegation. But nowadays, I work without a net because I am so fucking brave.

I played it neat, and the verdict was Hi Ho Silver. The key to the win? Location. We sat close to the bar, so I was able to study the bartender for a few jingles. This particular gentleman was of a certain age, bushy mustache, New York accent. This wasn’t his first shimmy into Gin City, so it clinched my decision to go straight up on the Old Blue Eyes standard. In matters of plumbing, law and mixology . . call on a professional.

After which, I got down to the business of loose change thoughts with my running mates. And Jesus, the things you learn when you ain’t even trying.

  • Like, did you know Tumblr- previously known as the blogging community not named WordPress, became a destination for porn? Until they banned it and peeps started jumping ship as a result. Years back, I had a Tumblr account that I got rid of because the site bored the fuck out of me. I guess it’s all in the timing . . .
  • There is a Black Eyed Susan cocktail. And I don’t think I knew that. Shit . . I don’t remember if I knew that and forgot it, or just didn’t know that. But I’ve never tried it. I don’t think.
  • Billie Eilish’s real name is Billie Eilish Pirate Baird O’Connell. That’s not a name so much as a continent.
  • Ray Bradbury wrote Fahrenheit 451 in nine days. Meanwhile, Trump hasn’t written a coherent sentence in seventy three years.

What do you order for a last meal? 

Contestant #1: Cheeseburger and fries
Contestant #2: Paella
Me: Bistec empanazado with arroz con frijoles and platanos

Winner: Cheeseburger and fries. No prison cook is going to know how to cook up paella. And they’re probably going to fuck up the breaded steak and plantains too. So the cheeseburger is your safe bet. And if they mess that up? Look on the bright side, you’re gonna die anyway.

And then there was the stuff that occupies my brain rent free. Like . . .

  • What happened to ISIS? Did they like, call off the Holy War on us? Or do they figure we’re doing their job for them, so fuck it.
  • A plant based version of the Whopper? What, the original idea wasn’t bad enough?
  • Superman works with journalists, and yet, nobody catches on to the fact that he’s Superman?
  • I miss seeing Lady Gaga at the grocery store. Back when she was canoodling with a local boy, she frequented the same supermarket as me. She was always dressed down and on the sly. In a world where YouTube ‘celebs’ scoff at baristas “Do you know who I am?” . .  that shit is refreshing.
  • I think I understand now. I went to a party in November of 2016 and I took the red pill. But a three year trip is fucking ridiculous . . .
  • Back when Tarantino was a video store clerk writing screenplays in his spare time, he intentionally failed to pay parking tickets so that he’d have to go to jail. He wanted to hear how the guys in there talked. That, is dedication to craft.

Best Rolling Stones song.

Contestant #1: Wild Horses
Contestant #2: You Can’t Always Get What You Want
Me: None

Winner: None

  • I’m sorry, but I ain’t tuning in to this Beverly Hills 90210. I just can’t.
  • Giving electric cars front row parking spaces runs counter to saving the earth. Shouldn’t the cars that are sucking the life out of our planet get the primo spots? Thereby lessening their negative impact?
  • When one of those kiosk peeps at the mall engages you in a conversation you want no part of, just say “Sorry, I’m a communist”. That should do the trick.
  • The Lorena Bobbitt case should have been a sign of things to come. The fact that officials rushed to a field to retrieve this asshole’s dick after which he underwent a nine and a half hour operation to have it re-attached tells you everything about how fucked our priorities had become. All I’m saying is that if you get your business cut off, there’s a better than even chance you shouldn’t be carrying that thing around to begin with. And a lot of people with real need don’t get meds or surgeries. So yeah . . that’s what was up then. And now.

Okay, I don’t think there is a legitimate segue for that last thought so I’ll leave it right there and say hasta to whatever vista you’re looking out from this morning. Remember to be kind to strangers and to let your family’s phone calls go to voicemail.

Hey, it works for me.

 

Matters Of Little Consequence

Into every life, a little rain must fall. So bring some olives . . and vermouth. 

She could write the starch into a martini with the kind of intuitive manipulation of words and space only a born writer comes to know. And for the rest of the summer after my visit to the windy city, I tried to keep up with her wicked divinity as if I had a chance. I’d never tried to match wits with a writer before she came along, but I couldn’t help myself. She was larger than life when she got to hammering away, making copper laced pastries out of the penny for her thoughts and platinum out of tinfoil minutiae. And when she went deep, she was Mary Shelley in knee high boots. I wrote like a maniac but really, I was playing checkers.

She was playing chess.

The Gorilla was an ass kicking mosh pit of a freak show by now. We had t-shirts made up for the local bars, we had a sparring match with some loose change writer who trashed us in a piece for the Philadelphia Inquirer’s website, and we started talking up a podcast. Having the Dame frequent our place mattered more than any of it. For me. Dan didn’t mind in the least since she brought followers. Smart minded peeps who were eager to peek in on the unlikeliest of lovebirds singing their misbegotten songs of love in between rants about parking lot hegemony, Westboro Baptist bumper stickers and Panic at the Disco sex.

As with every love gone wrong song, there were warning signs. Some were post-it-notes while others were banners, and then further along, the shit went full neon. Early on, it was a harmless series of speed bumps that, standing alone, were like zits on a moon beam. Stuff like . . how agitated she became when I took my kids to Disney World shortly after returning from Chicago. And later on, when she used my term- harsh my mellow– rather pointedly, in a post. And how she would call me by my last name whenever she got pissed at me.

The more rodeos you’ve been involved in, the more adept you become at wrangling up the meaning of the most seemingly innocuous circumstance. And it doesn’t hurt one little bit when you’ve been raised by women who taught you the formula. For example: Using my term- harsh my mellow– in an obviously derisive manner was a passive aggressive jab at my super cool (pretend) veneer. See, certain phrases center my room, much the same way that rug did for the Dude in The Big Lebowski. And the last name thing? It’s roll call, Boss Cop stuff. These weren’t warning signs so much as pesky little drips, but for the purpose of context Imma call them the post-it-notes stage. We’d not yet graduated to banners and neon. We were in love, after all.

By the fall, Dan was contemplating taking a break from writing on the blog. Never mind that we were directly inside the eye of a hurricane that hadn’t achieved jack shit yet. My particular opinion was Thank Fucking Christ, since he wasn’t contributing in any kind of meaningful way. Shit, the fucking guy wanted a podcast while we were still burnishing a destination. And he’d started chatting up a brand spanking new look that he and his asshole friend Richie had been working up for the blog.

To that point, me and Dan had navigated the appreciable divide that separated us quite well. We did so by creating a satire hotel, replete with low class amenities whose peculiar renderings both shocked and amazed our visitors to such an extent that we developed a healthy following. But the truth of the matter was, me and Dan weren’t friends in the “I’ll help dig the ditch for your mistake” sense. He was NRA and I was NWA. He was military documentaries and I was a romantic comedy junkie. He was a half ass writer impressed with our numbers while I was a writer impressed with writers who gave a fuck about writing.

I wrote Dan a tongue in cheek come back soon post in early September and then little more than a week later I followed it up with a post celebrating our 300,000th hit. That one was my door, hitting his stupid ass on the way out. I wanted to score another 100 thousand hits before he decided to come back, just to shut him up.

“You do insane numbers,” Dame said to me one night while we were chatting up life’s box scores over Sams on a phone call whilst watching a movie together.

This woman was an IV drip of Carly Simon Kung-Fu Theater. She could turn a simple word into a plum bath, and she was talking to me about numbers that didn’t count for anything. So I told her what I really felt as if I was stepping foot onto Venus, with sandals and a 3-wood.

I told her she was the medulla to my oblongata, the Cher to my Sonny and I told her how I wanted to fly her in a Winnebago all the way to Kathmandu. And okay, so I didn’t say it that very way. But I felt it, more strongly than that. Because the blog and her notorious ex-husband and the distance of seven hundred and eleven miles that separated us didn’t mean a blessed fig newton to me. All that was ever going to matter to me was the smile that launched me into orbit every time it looked my way.

And then the banners made the scene, with the neon glow of something wicked trailing close behind. And then November turned to rain. And that’s just the way it goes sometimes. You get all dressed up in this magic carpet ride of a future, and the next thing you know?

There’s nowhere else to go.

 

Heroes Of The Week!

The Flash

Last week’s Villains post was such a hit, I’ve decided to go with another idea for this weeks Heroes. Imma dish up stories in quicksilver fashion, as if I was a USA Today table setter. Okay, yeah . . the Villains post was well received, but that’s not why I’m dealing up quick shots this week. Truth is, the week flew by and I had nothing stapled to a draft with which to build a story as zero hour approached. Don’t worry, you won’t regret it in the morning. Probably not . . .

Clueless, classless and cold- Mitch McConnell has used his powers as majority leader to block bills that would call for background checks for all gun purchasers (including internet and gun shows) and extend waiting limits for would be gun buyers who get flagged. It’s been twenty years since any meaningful gun legislation was passed and in that time there have been more than fifty mass shootings.The lack of progress in this national epidemic isn’t just shameful, it’s criminal.

Cold Feet? Try FROZEN!- Antonio Brown of the Oakland/Las Vegas/ Hawkins Indiana Raiders has frostbitten feet on account of not wearing the proper footwear during cryo-therapy (Gruesome pic here). Something tells me the train wreck that is Gruden’s gang is just gonna get stupider from here.

Texas . . Twitter . . Trump . . what could go wrong?- Rep. Joaquin Castro, brother and campaign chairman to 2020 presidential candidate Julian, posted a screenshot of Trump donors on Twitter. Now, the list is public record, but the stunt is still dangerous, given the current climate. There’s a way to do things, and this ain’t it.

Fighting hate with love- Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is pleading for anyone who has fallen “in the grips of hatred and white supremacy” to right their ways. And she says there will always be room at the table for those willing to try. She’ll probably be trashed for this, but I happen to think it’s a positive chord to strike at a moment in time when we need something positive. Good for her. Good for all of us.

J.J. is Dyno-might!- J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans digs the Green Bay Packers tradition where the players ride kids bikes to the practice field during training camp so much, he decided to take part in it himself. When Houston visited Green Bay recently, Watt borrowed a young fan’s bike . . and proceeded to bust the seat. He carried it the rest of the way, after which he gifted the kid a new bike. Not to mention a hell of a story.

If you build it, ratings will come- The MLB finally got a gimmick right when they announced the New York Yankees and Chicago White Sox will play a game in Dyersville, Iowa next season: On the same site used in the movie Field of Dreams. It will seat 8,000 fans and . . get this, the right field wall will feature windows so you can see the cornfield. Maybe Boss Manfred could use the moment to fast pass Shoeless Joe into the Hall . . .

Ralph Kramden is rolling in his grave- A driver for Peter Pan Bus Lines was arrested after she locked a passenger inside the luggage compartment. Police were notified by the imprisoned passenger, who dialed up 911. They eventually caught up with the bus during one of its stops. What. The. Fuck?

Badass baby rescuer- Danny Trejo of Machete fame played the good guy in real life this week. The 75 year old jumped into action when he witnessed a two car collision. With the help of a female bystander, he was able to pull a baby from the vehicle which had overturned. Now that is badass.

Sickening display- A 39 year old Army veteran has been charged with felony assault after he slammed a thirteen year old boy to the ground for not taking off his hat during the national anthem. The boy suffered a concussion and a fractured skull as a result of the attack. Which is why you don’t need to be tweeting out the Trump voters. They make themselves known plenty well enough.

The Beer Diet is a thing, and I am there- When Pistons center Andre Drummond gave up red meat, he had to substitute the calories with something else and he chose . . . beer. I love this guy very much.

Wonder Girl- 7 year old Abigail Arias got to live out a dream job on Tuesday night, thanks to the peeps at the Blue Lives Matter Foundation. They organized a trip to New York City for Arias and her family so she could don the uniform of an MTA police officer. Abigail and her family also met with the NYPD Police Commissioner James O’Neill, and they visited other units across the city.

Arias has an incurable form of kidney cancer and so time is no longer something she or her family take for granted. Instead, they are grateful to borrow as much of the stuff as they can get their hands on. This little girl was sworn in as an honorary police officer in her hometown of Freeport, Texas back in February. And now this. And tomorrow, they’ll get to stepping on something else. Because in Abigail’s world, there is no time for hate or divisiveness and all the ugliness that comes with it.

There’s only time enough to dream.