The Annoyances Post (Volume . . Mucho)

You Want Me To Turn Where? On The Annoyances–And Dangers–Of Bad Street Signs – WAMU

Back in the day, I used to pen my annoyances on an almost monthly basis. The hope was that in expelling these inner turmoil ridden snake bites from my system, perhaps I would lighten up. Needless to say, Vietnam was a romantic comedy in comparison. I would love to blame this epic failure of a stratagem on my therapist but we broke up during the second Obama administration, long before I started writing these fuckers up.

Hey, it seemed like a good idea at the time. These posts . . not the relationship.

Anyways, with the goal of self-improvement no longer serving as a hindrance, Imma dish up another edition of “Shit that annoyed me this week!”. If you find yourself playing along at home . . well, I’d seek help immejiately.

Aaron Rodgers- He spent the summer singing songs of woe is me, making State Farm commercials and wondering if his career was in . . wait for it . . Jeopardy. Okay, so his bosses are disingenuous schmucks who made it clear he is replaceable. Wow, like . . that never happened to anyone before.

Vladimir Putin- More insufferable than Chevy Chase, colder than Chrissy Teigen (too soon?) and smugger than a gossip scribe’s twitter page. All that and he rides horseback without a shirt. Who does that? This fucking guy, that’s who.

Jersey Mike’s Subs- No one, and I mean no one in the history of ever has exclaimed “Mmmm, New Jersey makes the best bread!”. It’s not a thing!

Pumpkin Spice- Their attempts to colonize every single food- from Cheerios to Chobani yogurt to Peeps and pancakes and pretzels is bad enough. But their attack on Milano cookies is an act of war.

Cracking my phone screen- Two decades, many phones . . and so 2021 became the year when I went broken china on my screen, and what’s worse? Tupac ain’t around to rhyme it back to life. Jesus, Mary and Martin Cooper . . . why???

Pants with drawstrings- The physics of this seemingly harmless invention is destined for tragedy, and still I return to the scene of this fashion crime. Shame on me.

People who say “What’s on your plate today?”- In a world where most phrases have the shelf life of a mayfly, why won’t this one just die?

Applebee’s commercials- To borrow from Tessio in The Godfather. . for old time’s sake.

The Miami Dolphins- If this sad excuse for a football team that should really be sold for parts were a person . . it would write a screenplay that feels very much like Capra in the magical first act . . and then turns into a Family Guy episode. After which, it punches you in the face . . and then steals your car and your house and your girl and your cats and your dog . . and then takes your identity, leaving you penniless, forcing you to rob a bank which leads to your arrest and conviction and the next thing you know, your cellmate is a three-hundred and fifty pound guy named Stumpy who’s serving two life terms and thinks you have a perty mouth. And then Miami comes to visit you every Sunday . . and he brings you a Jersey Mike’s sub.

 

 

 

To The Heavens, They Obliged

The History of the Twin Towers Design and Architecture - Bloomberg

“Good Lord . . . there are no words . . .” CNN Anchor Aaron Brown as the north tower of the World Trade Center collapsed.

Something hit the World Trade,” My wife told me as I was shaving.

Of the myriad thoughts that scrabbled through my brain, I never approached the reality of what had just happened. As I listened to the news coverage, describing the event as a small plane crashing into the North tower, I knew this wasn’t true. I’d been to the twin towers and gotten lost inside the mighty shadow it cast on my every step. They were double imaged testimony of man’s ability to dream big and build even bigger; One hundred and ten stories tall and almost three-quarters the length of a football field wide. A twin-engine Cessna would’ve resembled a pock mark on the side of this massive structure.

“It wasn’t a small plane . . no way,” I said.

9/11 documents detail bravery and fear - Deseret News

It was a few minutes before nine a.m., minutes that separated us from a sinister new normal and the worst kind of evidence that our world had gone sick with madness. I listened as the news reports kept getting it all wrong, and I prayed for the uneasy feeling that wouldn’t quit my bones to leave me be.

I stepped outside to take a call from my sister and lit up a smoke as we talked about what we didn’t know as if it meant something. The sky was a pristine ocean of blue that held forever in its mighty reach, as if Andrew Wyeth had paid God a ransom for the privilege. And then those precious minutes stopped separating us from the truth and then the second plane hit the south tower and then that peaceful blue sky went black and then a quiet Tuesday morning on the cusp of autumn became the meanest winter.

Ohio State studying effects of WTC dust on 9/11 first responders

It wasn’t long before Washington was hit, after which every major city across the country braced for the next attack. And then reports of a plane going down three hours west of us, and then the waiting as time got stuck in this insidious clench of hopelessness. By Tuesday night, I feared sleep as the threat of more attacks continued to prevail. And when I woke early on Wednesday, it was as if midnight had visited us and decided to stay.

I walked my kids to school at the end of the week. I felt an intense need to propagate simple moments out of the unseen world, and I was struck with an even deeper sense of humility. I visited the principal to offer my apologies. I had engaged in a heated argument with him on that Tuesday morning when I insisted on picking up my kids from school because I wanted them with me. I remember the exhaustion on the faces of every adult I came across. We couldn’t turn back time, we couldn’t undo all the horrible crimes that had been perpetrated on us. The calculus on a new millennium had morphed into a frightening new reality, where every person, place and thing could be the end of days.

NYC first responders, non-profit rush to save 9/11 tribute - New York Daily News

The weekend was full of shutting out the world around us the best we could, but it was no use. There were calls from my sisters who had just gotten home from Maine and calls to my cousin, who had been in the north tower, and calls to friends who still wanted to talk about the one thing we were trying to get away from but never would.

I went to church that Sunday. It was something I rarely did by that point, but it felt like the right place to be since I was desperate to gain a peace of mind that wasn’t happening in the days since the attacks. The house worked for me in the way I assume it’s intended to work because I prayed as if I had a direct line to Mother Mary’s ear. I prayed for the heroes who were lost and I prayed for the heroes who kept digging for signs of anything at all. I wished for that deep blue ocean of a sky to return those precious minutes back to them . . . the minutes that came before a raging storm stole their forever away. I wished for a different somewhere, a place where that brilliant sky might get to finish its work for their weary souls.

Wherever they were.

Heroes Of The Week!

Three-year-old AJ recovering well after being lost for days as NSW police continue investigation | New South Wales | The Guardian

Welp, it’s good to be back in my Friday parking space for the first time in a fortnight. I must kick off the festivities with a tip of my eleven-gallon hat to the inimitable Frank “Beach Walks” Angle and the lovely Dale for doing a bang up job in my absence. Muchas? Meet Gracias . . and take a bow, you two!

We kick off this episode with the story of Anthony Elfalak, a three-year old Australian boy who was found after a harrowing four day search of the family’s rural property north of Sydney.

AJ, as he is called by family and friends is autistic and non-verbal, which made the search for the young boy that much more challenging. The prospects of finding the toddler safe and sound diminished with each passing day, given the more than 700 acres of wilderness that comprise the property. One person described the landscape as a “maze” of canyons, cliffs and bushland.

Thanks to the efforts of police officials as well as a search party of more than 385 people, the massive undertaking had a happy ending when AJ was found a third of a mile from his home. While some feared the worst, the men and women responsible for his safe return never wavered. A paramedic who treated AJ referred to him as a “little survivor”, but we shouldn’t forget the lesson in all this.

It took a village.

ESPN announcers blasted Bishop Sycamore in IMG-Bishop Sycamore blowout

We don’t expect much from ESPN, and for good reason. But they have officially jumped the shark with their latest embarrassment.

IMG Academy- a finishing school for top prospect football players funded by the agency of the same name- played Bishop Sycamore High School on the four-letter network a couple weeks ago. If it was purely a matter of ESPN laying a wrecking ball on high-school athletics in the name of ratings dollars, we’d shrug, since they do that all the time. But this game, it was different. How different, you ask?

Well . . umm . . Bishop Sycamore . . isn’t actually a high school. When real journalists- as in, not ESPN personnel- started asking questions about the alleged accomplishments of the Ohio based school, the ruse was uncovered. It was yet another pay for play scam crafted by their ringleader/head coach Leroy Johnson, who has an arrest warrant out on him for “fraudulent misrepresentation, conversion, and unjust enrichment,”.

As for the game, IMG routed Bishop Sycamore by a score of 58-0, but the good news is that none of the not ready for varsity players was injured in what was a seriously dangerous situation. Add that to the fact that the faux school had played a game just two days before facing off against IMG . . another little fact ESPN somehow missed.

Shameful just doesn’t say enough.

McKenzie Milton, Brian Kelly steal FSU vs Notre Dame spotlight - Sports Illustrated

A quick shout out to McKenzie Milton for achieving what many believed impossible in a game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish last weekend. Milton is the quarterback for Florida State these days, but in his last football life with UCF, he suffered a devastating leg injury that put an end to his playing days.

Milton didn’t see it that way, and almost three years later he was back on a football field, completing a 22-yard pass on his first attempt. His team came up short on the scoreboard, but Milton was the biggest winner of the night just by showing up. At the time of the surgery that would save Milton’s leg, his surgeon said the hope was that one day the kid would be able to walk without pain. “Anything above that would be a bonus,”

Dr. Bruce Levy was there on Saturday night for the bonus round.

Peter Mutabazi now shares his home in North Carolina with four kids and two dogs.

The lovely Dale is chiming in with two stories this week, one of which serves as the capper to this episode. Imma start with this tale about a foster dad who brings a new and wonderful meaning to the idea of a full house. And not for nothing, but he’s loving every moment of it.

Peter Udabazi ran away from his home in Uganda when he was just ten years old. He fled an abusive father and lived on the streets for a time until someone took him in. It was a lesson he never forgot, and he vowed to give back in that very same way one day should the opportunity arise. After moving to the states after college, he went to work for World Vision- a non-profit organization that helps children. In 2017, he became a foster parent and in the time since he has fostered more than a dozen children.

It was 2018 when he met Anthony- an 11 year old boy who had been abandoned by his adoptive parents. And that’s when the lesson he had carried with him, all the way from Uganda, showed up. “Anthony would always ask me, ‘Hey Dad, when will I be officially adopted?'” Mutabazi said. “And of course, with foster care you never know when.”

In November of 2019, it became official. After which COVID happened to the world and Peter witnessed another dilemma taking place at agencies across the country.

“With foster care, they are overloaded with kids and I could not imagine a kid wanting a safe place to be loved in the midst of this . . . I could not say no,” Mutabazi said. So he had to find a way to give more. Because people like Peter always do. And so, as of this publication, the Mutabazi household is now home to four kids and two dogs . . and counting.

It’s a stay tuned kind of deal, but nobody’s complaining.

Frank “Beach Walks” Angle sent me this next story and I’m going to provide the link (right here) since I wasn’t able to fetch the video for it. The video above is from a GMA piece that ran shortly after one of the deadliest mass shootings in Greater Cincinnati.

Whitney Austin is a mother of two who became a casualty of gun violence on September 6th, 2018. As she was walking to her job at Fifth Third in Cincinnati, a gunman opened fire; killing three people and wounding two others, including Whitney, who was shot twelve times and yet, somehow survived.

She refuses to call herself a victim though. She started Whitney Strong as a way of educating others while pushing for legislation that could help stem the tide of gun violence in this country. Listen to these two videos and I’m sure you’ll come away with the same opinion I did.

We have to do better.

Tomorrow marks twenty years since a clear blue sky turned ruinous. Twenty years ago, morning became night and it changed this country forever. For those of us who lived through that day, September 11th does not feel twenty years removed from our memory banks. Because when we think back on the day, we are right back inside the shock and anguish, the horror and grief.

As we have learned many times before and since that Tuesday morning, all of our first responders have one thing in common. They show up every day with the idea that they might not be going home. They fight fires, they respond to mass shootings and they care for the injured and the sick, putting their lives on the line in the service of their communities.

When a 15-year old lab mix named Zoey went missing in Arlington, Texas recently, the neighborhood got to stepping in their search for her. From social media engagement to knocking on doors to calling out her name countless times even though they knew it was fruitless because she’s deaf. In those desperate moments, all that mattered was finding her safe and sound.

Two days after she went missing, city water crews located Zoey in a storm drain. They set up a camera to monitor her condition, after which the city’s first responders went to work saving her. Firefighters, police officers and paramedics worked tirelessly; using everything at their disposal, from jackhammers to pneumatic saws. They worked in the extreme heat for almost half the day until they were finally able to pull the lab to safety.

Zoey is going to be just fine thanks to first responders whose mission it is to overcome any challenge and help anyone who needs their help. And it brings to mind the last passage in the firefighters creed, which, truthfully, speaks for anyone who puts on a uniform in the name of service.

‘ . . I shall endeavor to be one of His noblest works . . .”

God bless all our heroes.

The Big Business Of Name Calling

NFL Fines Washington Football Team $10 Mil After Sexual Misconduct Probe

Remember when winning made headlines? Yeah, that shit’s over.

Take the Washington Football Team (I’m thinking they stole this moniker from the classic video game, Tecmo Football), which has announced they will have a new name in 2022. Last year it retired the nickname Redskins; a name it carried since 1933 when they were still based in Boston. After years of refusing to do the right thing, team owner Dan Snyder finally came to his senses. Or maybe it was because his reign as King of the Iron Deficient Throne was being threatened and he needed him a positive news day . . either or.

Washington Football Team vs Eagles - Week 1 | Tecmo Super Bowl 2021 - YouTube

The once perennial contenders have won a single playoff game since the turn of the millennium. Which is one more playoff win than the Washington Sentinels. Seeing as how the Sentinels are a fictional team from the Keanu Reeves movie The Replacements, that’s no bueno.

None of this matters because the football team in Washington (the realish one) is as relevant now as it was back in the time of Gibbs and Theismann and Lombardi trophies. Don’t get me wrong, they’re a decent football team as things currently stand. But for most of the past two decades they’ve been winning headlines without winning much of anything else, which, come to think of it, makes them a perfect fit for that town.

Game of Thrones' 101: Who's Left from House Bolton?

We’re talking about an organization whose work environment was on par with anything the Fox News skirt hounds had going on. Washington was fined $10 million in January of this year for its “highly unprofessional” treatment of women. Which makes all the talk about banishing the derogatory nickname Redskins quaint in comparison. But since this post is about a more positive form of name calling, I will stay on message. For once.

A few ideas? On it . . .

Filibusters- Because the games will feel as if they’re never going to end, and yet . . nothing gets accomplished.

Vetos- For the team that has delivered rejection to its fan base for more than a quarter century. It’s perfect, really.

Scandals- I’m sorry, but it’s a slow news week without a good scandal in our national’s capitol.

Pork Barrels- It’s more dramatic than “The Hogs”, which was under consideration.

Motions- I really dig this one. It merges Congress with Motown.

Parliamentarians- Okay, maybe it’s a tad long, but it can always be abbreviated. Call them “The Parliars”.

Presidents- When they lose, they’ll make a federal case out of it. Never mind.

Luncheons- If you want to pack the stadium, this name will get ‘er done.

Monte Cristos- Can you imagine the concessions? It would be the best part of the game!

Hashtags- It merges a contemporary term used on social media with the term for lines on a football field. As an added bonus, slap a hashtag on the helmet and you’re trending, just like that.

Buckaneers- Add the k so as to avoid any legal hassles, and maybe . . just maybe, someone will confuse them with a Super Bowl champion this year.

Hollabacks- It’s a song from back in the aughts of 2000, fashioned in brass knuckle pearls by the great Gwen Stefani. I’m not gonna lie, I always thought this would be a cool team name. If I ever play Fantasy Football again, Imma go with it. And as the Pina to this Colada milkshake, an homage to girls wouldn’t be the worst idea for this franchise.

Of course, this entire exercise is a moot point since the new nickname for the team formerly known as the Redskins has already been chosen, probably. In the event there is still time and someone from the Washington front office is reading this and sees something they really, really dig? Have at it. All I ask in return is that you don’t offer me season tickets in return. I’m good.

Washington has some company when it comes to name changes, as the Cleveland Indians will also roll out a new nickname in 2022. Unlike their gridiron counterparts, however, the Tribe didn’t wait to unveil theirs. They will be going with the Guardians, and I cannot wait until they play the Angels for the first time. Think about it . . .

If you’re wondering what happened to all the Redskins merch, check Trump’s website.

 

 

 

 

The Death of Swagger

Mets players let their booing fans 'know how it feels' with strange thumbs down celebration - CBSSports.com

There was a time when people showed their lack of hip by spewing antiquated proclamations meant to denounce the impetuous qualities of progress. Old timers castigated the kids of my generation for not schlepping through five feet of snow for miles just to get to school. We didn’t dare complain during a heatwave, because to do so meant we had to endure stories about a time when houses were nothing more than giant microwave ovens. Our parents took every opportunity to tell us how lucky we were to have playtime, since their lives consisted of chores, working odd jobs and avoiding polio.

Us kids didn’t get it, probably because we were too cool for old school. As Generation Xers, we got high on Tang, we got educated by Schoolhouse Rock and we got religion via 8-track players that ushered in an audacious expansion of music delivery systems. We were iconoclasts, leading a rebellion against an establishment yearning for a return to the days of Ike and Holy Hours and the Jitterbug.

We dreamed of third-parties, we gloried in the solidarity of the pet rock and we became soul proprietors of the Hustle. Not only did we make nerds relevant, we made them giants of industry. And it was during this glorious time that spanned the Beatles to Bon Jovi, where swagger was redefined. From the protagonist hegemony of John Wayne to the proletarian movement of Charles Bronson to Clint Eastwood, who obtained the patent.

Swagger wasn’t something you stuck a hashtag on. Simply put, if you had swagger it meant you walked your talk. You got shit done. You didn’t brag about having swagger, because to do so meant you most certainly didn’t have any. And so here I am, wondering what the hell the current generation has done to a venerated principle? Shit. these days all you need is some provocatively placed body art and an Instagram page to rate.

Which brings me to the present day New York Mets. As things stand, they are the baseball equivalent of the pet rock; a 200 million dollar paperweight with no definable purpose. They head into today’s action with a record of 63-67, 7.5 games out of first place and 7 games out of the wild card.

In all fairness, they have dealt with the injury bug in 2021. In more fairness, so have the San Francisco Giants and Chicago White Sox; and that hasn’t prevented them from staying atop their respective divisions. Injuries and bad luck happen to every club . . every season. Nobody gets a mulligan just because the baseball gods decided to piss on their chances. You either overcome or you get to stepping on your Christmas shopping.

Now, the Mets are a team I have a soft spot for thanks to my grandfather, who loved his whiskey and his baseball with the very same passion. I predicted the Mets would win their division this season because they had a roster I happened to dig on. They’ve got some swagger to them, sure, but up till a couple weeks ago it wasn’t getting in the way of the results on the field.

In early July, Pete Alonzo was defending his Home Run Derby crown, the team was talking up moves to bolster their playoff lineup and they were in first place, hell bent on stealing back the town from the Yankees. Today? They’re buried under two also ran football teams on the sports page depth chart.

In no uncertain terms, they have shit the bed, going 8-19 in August as they fight for their playoff lives. And hey . . whatever, that’s why the baseball season is an unforgiving crucible. I have zero problem with a club that falls short of expectations, seeing as how it happens to more than half the league.

What I have a problem with is when swagger meets stupid, and it happened this weekend when several players mutinied against booing fans by introducing a “thumbs down celebration” during their 9-4 win against the Nationals. Javy Baez is the ringleader of this clueless rebellion. While supremely talented, he also can’t be bothered to run out ground balls or hit the other way and God forbid his manager ever asked him to bunt. Baez is a feast or famine player who glories in home runs and shrugs off his many strikeouts. The Mets weren’t ignorant to his tone-deaf game when they acquired him from the Cubs at the trade deadline. Maybe they hoped for better, but thus far, Javy has lived down to his one trick pony act. Meanwhile, shortstop Francisco Lindor, who inked a $341 million dollar contract in the spring, probably has Steve Cohen wishing he had bought the Tampa Bay Rays instead.

I realize it’s a thankless game and so I didn’t have an issue with the less than stellar results, until they broke out their inane celebration on Sunday. After which Baez talked about how the booing makes him feel bad, while in the very same breath saying it doesn’t really get to him. Hence, an orchestrated attempt by Baez, Lindor and Kevin Pillar to exact revenge on a fan base that is paying stupid money for even stupider results. But wait, there’s more! (Or less, depending on how you look at it). Hours after Baez and Lindor explained how the thumbs down gesture was their way of booing the fans, Pillar sent out a tweet telling fans not to read anything into it.

You cannot make this shit up.

The good news for Mets fans is that there is a month of baseball left to be played. That also happens to be the bad news. And no, booing the club ain’t making things any better, but it’s not making things worse either, no matter what a few players might think. Because last time I looked, the Hall of Fame is filled with players who heard their fair share of boos and somehow prevailed.

I wish the Mets well but I’m dubious, seeing as how some of their best players are more intent on choreographing rebuttals to all that booing than actually working on the fundamentals. This Shakespearean tragedy of a baseball team is a sad reminder that swagger has become the domain of posers. Hell, in my day we would never have booed these guys.

We would have stayed home instead.

 

Heroes Of The Week!

Imma supply you with a quick heads up to let you know that I will be stepping away from WordPress for a week, as in zero-dark nada. Next Friday will keep on keeping on though, thanks to Frank “Beach Walks” Angle, who will be guest hosting for me. Big thank you to Cincy for his pinch-hitting prowess, and big hugs to all my Friday peeps who keep me coming back for more with your wonderful thoughts.

And a tip of the hat to the lovely Dale at A Dalectable Life as we begin this episode with track and field superstar Allyson Felix, whose exploits in the arena only tell half of the story. The thirty-five year old Felix is the most decorated Olympian in the history of track and field- 6 golds, 11 overall- which is a remarkable achievement when you consider the names that have occupied that universe. But it’s her role as super mama that finds her on our podium.

When her relationship with Nike was not extended, it was a slap in the face to the woman who had given the company so much. The swoosh refused to make accommodations to an expectant mother, instead offering her a 70 percent pay cut as their way of saying thanks. It didn’t get any easier for her at the first World Championship meet after giving birth. She was assigned a roommate even though she had requested her own room since she was breastfeeding and didn’t want to distract a peer who was also competing.

Felix didn’t get mad, she simply got better. In 2019, she wrote an op-ed for The New York Times in which she talked about her treatment by Nike- “I was tired of asking for change. I knew I had to create it,”. In June, she announced the launch of her own footwear company, Saysh. She has also created a $200,000 fund to pay the cost of child care for moms competing in the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Here’s to winning the right way.

Naomi Osaka Donating Prize Money to Haiti's Relief Effort after Earthquake

Naomi Osaka has announced she will be donating her earnings from a recent golf event to the relief effort in Haiti.

“Really hurts to see all the devastation that’s going on in Haiti, and I feel like we really can’t catch a break,” she tweeted. “I’m about to play a tournament this week and I’ll give all the prize money to relief efforts for Haiti. I know our ancestors blood is strong we’ll keep rising.”

A 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit the island nation last week. It has claimed at least 2,000 lives thus far with officials estimating that the number will rise drastically in the days and weeks to come. To make matters worse, tropical storm Grace’s arrival has further hampered rescue efforts.

Ms. Osaka is putting her money where her heart is, and bless her for doing so.

Jaylo Miles knows that the worst part about hitting rock bottom emotionally, is that return visits are commonplace. Mental health isn’t a sometimes thing, to maintain and to overcome requires a daily regimen for those affected. Which is why Jaylo loves climbing mountains; because it speaks the right language when his soul really needs to hear it.

And when you have a climbing partner like Jaylo’s pal Louie- a PTSD owl- it makes the journey that much more fulfilling. The father of three has set up a Facebook page Many Downs, Time To Get Up. It’s a community where Jaylo and others share their mental health stories and connect for challenges and meet-ups. “I have built this page from a desperate battle with my own mental health and suicidal thoughts in the hope to make a difference and leave a legacy to create & inspire.”

Mountaintops inspire the soul, but the journey is what feeds it.

Mary and Benjamin are proof that even in the most trying of times, flowers will find their bloom. Theirs grew during the time of COVID, when social distancing and sheltering in place learned us a lesson in perspective. Because it’s how these two came to understand that the fence which separated them wasn’t a barrier but rather, a meeting place.

Ninety-seven years are tucked between these two pals- Mary is approaching her 100th birthday while Benjamin just turned two- but you’d never know it when they get together. The Minneapolis grandmother says the company keeps her spirit up, since she lives alone and her family is out of state.

C.S. Lewis believed that while friendship has no survival value, it gives value to our survival. These two friends are offering up one hundred and one years worth of validation to that sentiment.

As we get ready to high five another Friday, I’ve come up with a return visitor to our Friday episode, and in the name of transparency, it’ a Vegas winner of a chicken dinner that he’s gonna be making yet another appearance . . . I’m thinking by the fall.

Max Woosey, remember him? He’s the kid I wrote about back in April (You can read it here) who was camping out in a tent gifted him by a neighbor with terminal cancer. Rick Abbott lost his battle, but Max’s family never forgot the efforts of a local hospice in North Devon. They made it possible for Rick to remain in his home to the end, and Max? Well, he remembered that.

Thus began a campaign by the 11-year old, to help out since all the fundraisers planned by the hospice were canceled during the pandemic. Max took his tent to the backyard and began a one kid fundraiser with the goal of raising 100 pounds. At the time of my original posting, he’d shattered that goal and had collected more than five hundred thousand pounds.

Reading back, I mistakenly wrote that Max was camping out in a sleeping bag when it’s actually a tent. But truth be told, it wouldn’t matter with this kid, who was determined to sleep on a blanket if it came to that. He’s had company a time or two. His dog Digby is a regular and his father stayed with him during Storm Bella as they braved 70 mph winds. He had to replace the old tent when it sprang a leak, but through it all, he’s still going strong.

He recently passed 500 days and the tote board is still smoking, currently sitting on 770,000 pounds. His goal achieved long ago, he’s got a million reasons to keep this thing going. And no, I’m not sure that’s what the kid from Braunton, England has in mind. But it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if he’s thinking about it. Even though he could go inside right now, tonight, and his achievement would be nothing short of remarkable. To be this young and this compassionate, it’s transcendent. It’s a higher power tapping us on the shoulder and whispering, “Hey! I know there’s a lot that sucks about the world, but if you’re not paying attention to THIS kind of thing . . you’re doing it wrong!”. And this kind of thing is what Max Woosey is gifting us. His dedication to a goal that keeps on giving is a reminder as to what matters most of all.

When we share the good things inside of us, we get to hold forever in our hands.

 

Joe Pesci Movie Review: Jolt

DSC02425.ARW

Lemme start by issuing the oh so important spoiler alert before a certain blog owner with a stick up his ass for such things texts me one more fucking time about it. I already threatened to kneecap him but he doesn’t scare easy, which is typical of stupid assholes.

Spoiler alert . . da fuck.

Many people ain’t aware of this, but I think women can do anything us guys can do. Run for President, be an astronaut or a basketball player? Sure, I mean of course. But in this instance I’m talking about every day stuff. Yanno, like hiring an escort on a business trip or murdering their significant other.

Lindy Lewis- played by the lovely Kate Beckinsale- has the kind of temper that will wake you out of a sound sleep just to let you know she’s gonna kill ya. So I was hooked on the chick while the opening credits for the movie Jolt were still getting in the way. That British accent and those titanium high heels work on my last hormone and I mean that literally, since I got one left.

Lindy has the kind of temper that has its own term- intermittent explosive disorder. And just like explosive diarrhea it will make the unlucky bastard who pisses her off shit his pants too. When she gets pissed, she turns into a cross between Chuck Norris and my Aunt Julia.

Stanley Tucci plays her Mr. Miyagi. He’s her psychiatrist and life coach, because with the issues she’s got going, he’s gonna be rich. Get this, he rigs this electrode device that she wears, and whenever she feels like she’s about to lose it, she pushes a button and it shocks her. Don’t ask me why that doesn’t piss her off, but I’m not a writer so what do I know?

Anyway, Lindy meets an accountant (Jai Courtney) who says he works for one guy. That always means there’s some crooked shit going on and sure enough there is, because a day after meeting him, he ends up dead. Now she’s really pissed because they had a great second date that ended with breakfast. So watch the fuck out, bad guys, because the British are coming.

Before you know it, Lindy is killing bosses, because there’s always way more than one boss. Of course, the cops gotta get involved so’s they can take the credit when she cracks the case. Laverne Cox and my pal Bobby Canavale play the cops, and not for nothing, but he plays good cop so well that Lindy’s got breakfast eyes for him before the flick is over.

Oh and get this, the accountant who got knocked off ten minutes in? Turns out he faked it so he could be the boss. What a stupid fuck this guy is, because she’s already killed more bosses than a hitman for the Gambinos. This chick already rearranged the face of a shitty waitress so what do you think she’s gonna do to a guy who doesn’t just kick her to the curb but fakes his death to do it? And then comes back later to torture her with her own device as he laughs at her?

She turns him into meatloaf by handing him a bag with a bomb in it, which proves she musta really liked this guy a lot, the lucky bastid. So after he’s gone she goes back to her apartment to find Susan Sarandon waiting for her. She’s pretending to play a creepy doctor but she’s really there to let us know there’s gonna be another movie.

On a scale of 1-10, I give dis movie an absofuckinglutely.

 

Play It Again Spam (Case File # Mucho)

 

Good day,

I am Stephen Li, a project facilitator working and funding projects with numerous investors worldwide. I would like to know if you have any project(s) that requires funding. We are ready to fund Such projects or businesses. We also offer business loan, personal and home loans to finance new projects as well as expansion capital. Kindly get back to me with your project(s) brief so I can share full details with you.

Thank you!

Sincerely,

Stephen Li

Good day back atcha,

I really can’t thank you enough for reaching out to me with this amazing business opportunity. It saved me from having to borrow seed money from my Uncle Sal, who can be a little heavy handed when it comes to loans. He wanted twenty-five percent on a $20,000 loan, in thirty days! The SOB wanted Beverly D’Angelo’s number too, which I haven’t had since she used me for a rebound weekend in 2005.

As far as projects are concerned, I have a few ideas I’m cooking up that could use a generous slice of butter.

M. Night At The Movies Generator: This app utilizes all of Night’s feature-length films in order to create a generator that compares them with a new release. Upon the debut, the script for the new movie is downloaded to our cloud, after which it undergoes a rigorous comparative analysis. This process will remove the guesswork, letting movie goers know in advance whether M. Night’s latest is more “Lady in the Water” or “Sixth Sense”.

Oreo Flavored Chocolate Milk- When you’re on the go and don’t have the time to sit down for milk and cookies.

Weight Loss Supplements- Hey, everybody else is putting one out. And the best part is, it doesn’t even have to work for us to make bank!

Let’s Bring Professional Baseball Back To Baltimore!- I don’t know how much cabbage you’re looking to boil, but if you’ve got the wherewithal and a few wealthy pals, we can make this dream happen for the great fans of Charm City . . . even if that’s a secondary consideration. Hey, it’s not our fault that most young people in the region haven’t a blessed clue that Camden Yards is a baseball stadium. So let’s do what any megalomaniacal rich guy would do in this situation: Let’s bring another team into the equation, thereby convoluting the market with not one, but two teams that can’t compete. And it won’t matter a fig because in five or six years, what with the average return on investment being what it is in the MLB, we’ll be doubling our money at the very least. Then we sell to some other megalomaniacal rich guy who wants to move our team to somewhere the fuck else. It’s the new national pastime!

Two words: Edible Tofu

That’s all I got for now, but I’d be willing to talk jerky if you’re serious about the salt mines you have at your disposal. Until such time, I’m trusting that you won’t bogart any of these ideas for yourself. I was raised to trust the internet and all the many strangers who come courting on the thing, so don’t break my heart unless you really can’t help it.

Sincerely,

Billy Ray Valentine

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heroes Of The Week!

The Olympics, Jesse Owens, The Munich Massacre, & Hitler

With the Olympic games officially in the rearview, it’s back to the regular grind of good meeting better for this Friday the 13th episode. And as per usual, there is plenty of both to fill us up for our ride into the weekend. This week’s roster was a convergence of sadness and hope, heaven and . . . Kevin Costner? . . well, sort of.

The image above commemorates the 85th anniversary of Jesse Owens winning four gold medals in the 1936 Olympic games in Nazi Germany. With Adolf Hitler looking on, the track and field legend stood tall in the face of evil. Many credit Owens with delivering a blow to the myth of Aryan supremacy. Michael Wilbon opined that the further away from this defining moment we get, the fewer people remember how very important it was. We can’t accept such a fate as that, we just can’t.

Let’s get to Friday . . .

Modern Family' star Julie Bowen helps save NJ woman on hike

Many of you (yours truly) may know Julie Bowen as the hot mama from the long running show Modern Family. Welp, she made news recently after coming to the aid of a hiker along Utah’s Arches National Park trail. The hiker, Minnie John, had started feeling dizzy as she set off with her husband and son, so she told them to carry on without her. As bad luck would have it, she lost consciousness once they were out of sight, falling to the ground and bashing her nose.

As very good luck would have it, that’s when Bowen and her sister Annie- a doctor- happened along.

“All I remember is sitting there with my head in my hands secure on the rock. Next thing I hear someone with a familiar voice kept asking me questions. I wondered if I might be watching TV,” she wrote. “My eyes were closed and they said I will be fine and they were cleaning my face and bandaging me up. I heard that familiar voice saying I am going to be okay, a doctor is cleaning me up.”

Score another one for mom.

What Yankees thought about 'Field of Dreams' atmosphere

Thank you to the MLB for having a clue about something. The sport that has effectively been stripping its unique patina from the former national pastime in favor of progress (translation: greed) went back to class last night. Across nine innings, the sport returned to its golden age as the Yankees and White Sox played a game in the cornfields of Iowa. The “Field Of Dreams” game in Dyersville, Iowa- near the site of the iconic motion picture of the same name- became the first MLB game ever played in the state.

It began with Kevin Costner walking out of the cornfields to get the festivities started and it ended with Tim Anderson of the White Sox smashing a two-run homer off Zack Britton to win it 8-7. In between, it was an old fashioned slugfest with a hand operated scoreboard and throwback uniforms and an idea whose time has finally come. After seeing the enthusiastic reception, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred announced the game will return to the site. So basically, they built it . . and they will come back.

I’m not sure if it was heaven, but I’m thinking W.P. Kinsella was keeping score from above.

To paraphrase the great William Butler Yeats . . there are no strangers here, only a group of individuals who haven’t saved your life just yet. Which is what happened when a woman’s car plunged off the Eau Gallie causeway and into the Indian River in Melbourne, Florida in the early morning hours of July 21st.

Upon witnessing the car lose control, flipping upside down into the water, a couple pulled to the side and gave chase on foot. While the woman called police, the man jumped in the water and kept the driver’s head above water best he could until officer Peter Dolci arrived. After extricating her from the vehicle, the couple, along with officers Dolci and Luke Drummer administered CPR. Check out the police bodycam footage above, because it speaks to how precious every human life truly is; and how hard people, even complete strangers, will fight to keep that light from being extinguished.

Waitress in Tears After Receiving Thank You Note From Widow Eating Alone

Kindnesses are like wildflowers. They color our world while reminding us that beauty is everywhere if we just stop to take a breath and drink it in. Such was the case for Megan King- a waitress at Perkins- who took a few minutes out of her busy day to talk with an elderly woman who was dining alone.

“She [the customer who left the note] came in about halfway through my 17-hour shift, and it was on Sunday, which is always pretty busy,” said King. “About halfway through her meal, it started to slow down so we chatted for a few minutes. Small talk, nothing too deep. She told me she was almost 70 and has been slowing down a bit,”

Once the woman had left, King retrieved the check and her tip, beside which was a handwritten note which read as follows . . .

Thank you very much for your kind service. This was the first time eating out alone since my husband passed. I was hoping I could get through it.

Needless to say, Megan needed a minute. She excused herself from the floor and she did what any of us would have done in the same situation. She cried, hard. And after taking a few deep breaths, the great big world outside was feeling more like a hug than a hot mess. Because the greatest thing about being kind?

You get it back.

Martha Tucker, 94, trying on a wedding dress for the first time.

Martha Tucker was twenty four years old when she met a man who made her feel as if she was dancing on the moon. To be young and in love would seem to be a gift sent from the stars above, excepting for the fact she was a black woman living in the deep south at the time.

In 1952 America, like most black people, Martha found herself on the outside looking in. She married Lehman Tucker in Birmingham Alabama, without ever stepping foot into a bridal shop as a result of segregation laws.

Martha and Lehman Tucker after they were married.

“During that time, we couldn’t just walk in those stores,” She says. “I tried not to think about buying a wedding dress because I knew I wouldn’t even be allowed inside. I was very upset about it, but it’s not like there was anything I could do.”

A dream denied, but never forgotten. It was that dream that came back to life recently as Martha was watching the wedding scene from the 1988 movie Coming to America with her granddaughter Angela Strozier. She confided that it had always been her dream, to be able to try on a wedding dress.

“I never thought of my grandma’s dream of wearing a wedding dress because I didn’t even know it was a dream they were denied,” Angela said. “Women like my grandmother sacrificed so much for us to have the liberties we have now. For someone to be denied the simple opportunity of purchasing a dress of her choice really shone a light on the reality of our history,”

Martha Tucker being fitted into her gown, veil and garter belt.

On July 3rd, the ladies went to brunch before heading over to David’s Bridal in Hoover, Alabama. That’s where Martha Tucker turned back time, sixty-nine years worth of time, when she donned a V-neck gown with embroidered sheer sleeves and sequins throughout. And then she walked down the hallway, imagining Lehman by her side even though she lost him to a heart attack in 1975.

For a moment in time, this moment, she was that twenty-four year old girl holding forever in her arms. “I wish he was here to see me in the dress. When I got married, I promised myself I would wear a wedding dress one day, and at least I finally did.”

Love always wins.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aZRn4auk4PQ

Clowns To The Left Of Us, Danger To The Right

Is it possible to have too much information at your fingertips?

The question came to me as I was watching two sports analysts go at it on a debate show recently. The topic of conversation had to do with the best NBA player of all time. This isn’t something the vast majority of the population gives a flying Wallenda about, to be honest. But these guys deliberated until they had created a dually believable narrative, whittling it into a potent mash. Of course, well enough wasn’t left alone for very long, and as often happens inside this time of nonsense and instability, the shit went south. Further south than a Lynyrd Skynyrd Key West tour.

The succinct nature of their respective points soon gave way to a volatility whose pitch was a bitch, on wheels. And so the evaporative nature of modern discourse held sway until I stopped trying to figure out whose opinion was most valid and started wondering who was going to break out a “Yo mama!” first.

Of course, I recognize that information doesn’t fool people . . people fool people. But armed with enough information, anyone with half a brain can paint their argument into Van Gogh. And half the room will toast the bold and dramatic brushstrokes while the other half of the room reaches for a carving knife with which to cut off their ears.

The touchstone, regrettably, has been bastardized. As if Rob Zombie got hold of the Constitution and turned our fundamental principles into a kill count. Educated opinions have given way to a zealotry that seeks to deify even the most corrupt of men. Meaningful dialogue has been relegated to the ash heap thanks to dissociative politics that attempts to guilt us into confessing to crimes we didn’t commit.

What good is having all this information at our fingertips if we’re going to dis- it and mis- it into an interpretation?

During this sports debate, as the decibel levels increased, so to, did the tells; those easy to miss points of entry that had been glossed over initially were now much easier to hear. Both sides, using their information not as a map, but as a boxing glove with which to punch out their opponent. Much the same way a peaceful transfer of power might stage a coup, or a state might flout the concerns of a pandemic, or a city council might consider me the enemy because I’m an aging white dude.

I don’t know how we can possibly achieve a middle ground, because to quote Buffalo Springfield, nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong. And I have not a blessed answer residing under my cap, except for one.

Michael Jordan . . . duh.