First Draft Horoscopes- Capricorn

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This is the year when you get in sync with friends and family. Like . . seriously. It’s going to matter to you this year, so brush up on names and new spouses by making a chart.

And not to sound like a greeting card, but can you try and keep some cheer in this new year? When the shit hits the fan, try and suppress your desire to shoot the fan . . . twelve times. The way you shot your ex twelve times when you found them in bed with someone else. Thank God your Uncle Sal has a soft spot for you and was able to rig the jury, but yanno . . he ain’t getting any younger so chill with the firearms?

Here’s a novel thought. Why not simply enjoy the company and wisdom of your posse, and while you’re at it, impart your wisdom on them as well. Or take them out to dinner once a month and don’t be a cheapskate with the friendly drinks. Either or.

Make vivaciousness your jam, just hold the histrionics. February might be a challenge when it comes to cash flow, but you can navigate the ebbs without skimming ATM’s for your cream and sugar. As for exercise, practice moderation and sensibility. No more staying out all night and then signing up for a marathon in the morning because “it was calling me,”. Just remember those EMT’s who were calling you away from the light when you didn’t make it out of mile three without collapsing, coo?

October will bring great challenges and worthwhile lessons . . so think jello shot contests and DUI checks and maybe practice some temperance for a change. November will bring increased responsibilities at work, unless that meme you posted about your boss on Facebook gets found.

This can be a magnificent year as long as you don’t fuck it up!

A Love Scenario For My Favorite Team

The following is a simple thank you to my beloved Miami Dolphins. For being the most relevant 5-11 squad in the history of the league. They somehow out-won the mighty Patriots down the stretch by going 5-4 after that 0-7 beginning; capped by an upset victory in the final week to knock New England off its perch. Last night may have been the end of the Patriots dynasty, and maybe I’m being a tad bit hyperbolic . . but I like to think this wonderful bunch of miscreants played a small part in the final breaths of a dynasty.

Thank you to Monika for suggesting Justin Herbert in the starring role as Miami QB. Not sure if it’ll work out this way, any of it. But who cares? All I know is that I found reason to believe inside this lost cause of a season. And while there is a long road ahead, there is a lot more hope involved than I had bargained for at the get. Sometimes, a season can be that way; it can give you something you never saw coming. Where one minute you’re throwing your arms up in disgust, and the next, you’re uttering that most magical of sporting refrains, and meaning it.

Wait till next year.

New Orleans 2024- Brian Flores sits in his makeshift office inside the New Orleans Superdome and scratches out an idea, whittling it into precise measurements as if a master carpenter. He is a craftsman of sorts, having built the foundation of a championship club from the rubble of obsolescence along with general manager Chris Grier.

It’s as if the moment Flores walked in the door, those couple decades of mediocrity that preceded him hitched a ride to someplace else. He paid scant attention to the collective shrug that accompanied his introduction as Miami’s field boss in February of 2019. And he paid little mind to the vitriol heaped on his club due to the clumsy maneuvering that led to a mass exodus of their most talented players in the name of draft capital. The overpaid suits said it was morally reprehensible that a football organization left its players in harm’s way by fielding a prohibitive skeleton crew.

Their criticism was temporarily vindicated when Flores’ Dolphins team lost his first game 59-10 to the Baltimore Ravens. It reached Chernobyl status when they began the season 0-7. The critics were only too delighted to break out their “Told You So” material, to which Flores responded with three simple words: We’re not tanking.

He was parodied for this, but he never minded that too. All he concerned himself with was drawing up a game plan that would give his fledgling outfit a fighting chance. And just as importantly, changing an organizational culture that was equal parts Caddyshack and Animal House.

Five years to the date when he was named head coach of the Miami Dolphins, he’s sixty minutes away from the Holy Grail of professional football. His opponent- the Arizona Cardinals- present myriad complications for Flores and his defense. But they’ve been up to the challenge all season, and on through January in wins over the Vegas Raiders and then, the defending Super Bowl champion Ravens.

There is irony in that Baltimore was the team Flores beat to get his squad to the Super Bowl for the first time since ’85. But he hasn’t got time to dwell on it with MVP Kyler Murray next up on the docket. Later today. About ten hours from now, to be exact, as evidenced by the bustle of doors and chatter that is making its way to his office now. His guys, come to keep their coach company.

“Hey coach,” Justin Herbert says as he sticks his head in the door whilst munching on a power bar.

“What’s up ten?” Flores says, referring to his quarterback’s number.

“We’re here to kick ass and chew bubblegum . . .” Herbert smiles.

“AND WE’RE ALL OUTTA PATIENCE!!!” The guys whoop and holler as Herbert leads them to the field. Flores grins as he moves out of his chair for the first time in several hours and stretches out before moving towards the tunnel of the North end zone. His Dolphins will be the ‘home team’ today- dressed in their dark aqua old school threads out of the time of Shula and Marino. And it’s appropriate, since the feeling is of yesterday once more.

“I can’t believe we’re actually here . .” Justyn Ross, their third year wide receiver out of Clemson says as he looks out over the field.

“Not yet JR . . .not yet,” Flores says.

Heroes Of The Week! (2020 Edition)

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With a new year comes a new meme. We are already three days into a new decade, so trash that crash diet, ditch the money pit matchmaking sites and make sustainable resolutions that actually pay you back instead. A top five list from yours truly? Sure why not . . .

My 2020 . . . Umm . . . Resolutions

-Swear smarter
-No Speedos
-Sign any petitions involving the dissolution of the Hallmark Channel
-No kale
-No Chick-fil-A

That’s how you resolution, kids. And now your heroes . . .

The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s deputies who made Christmas possible for a little boy and his mother when they learned the two have been going through some hard times. The deputies showed up with lights flashing. They gifted mother and son a Christmas tree, shoes, clothes, toys and some gift cards. They were delivered straight from the North Pole, of course. Straight from the heart? Absolutely.

US Army veteran Jamie Willis has been raising cane since 2016 when he started Canes For Veterans Central TexasThe dude served eight years before becoming permanently disabled and unable to work. The cane Veterans Affairs gave him wasn’t doing the job, so he reached out to the Florida organization Free Canes For VeteransThe founder- Oscar Morris- told Willis they had run out of canes, but he taught him how to make his own. An idea was born.

“I do this so I don’t sit home all day feeling sorry for myself,” Willis says. “This is all out of kindness. I do everything out of pocket and from donations.”

Willis recycles donated Christmas trees, and so far he’s delivered more than two hundred canes to veterans around the world. Home Depot donated more than four hundred trees to his effort, with another hundred coming from the community at large. It really is the gift that keeps on giving.

Needless to say, incarceration isn’t exactly a resume builder. So what to do if you’re a former felon who wants a job and a normal life but can’t find it? Greg Boylea Jesuit priest out of Los Angeles, set out to provide an answer to that question. In 1988, with the help of his parish as well as community members, Boyle started Jobs For A Future. The hope was to provide a bridge to a better life for young people who had gotten caught up in the gang culture that dominated the landscape.

Thirty years later, Homeboy Industries is a global force; hailed as the most successful gang rehabilitation and re-entry program in the world. It provides help for more than ten thousand men and women looking to pick up the pieces and start anew. Jacques Deval once wrote of how man’s love of birds led him to build cages. Whereas God’s love of birds led to the invention of trees. (Thank you to Frank for this story).

The restaurant biz is crazy enough without being left to run the place yourself. Especially if your gig is at Waffle House . . at some time past midnight . . with a restaurant full of hungry patrons looking to get their waffle on. Which is what happened recently to a kid we’ll call Ben- because that’s his name.

Thanks to a scheduling gaffe, Ben was left to run the place all by his lonesome. Now, I don’t know about you but if you ask me to make a waffle, Imma be preoccupied with doing that and only that. Which doesn’t include waiting tables, making coffee or running register. So the kid was in a panic, and can you blame him?

And then a customer grabbed an apron and began helping with orders. And then another customer began making coffee and waiting tables. And before you know it, the place was fully staffed. A crisis was averted and Ben was gifted a moment he’ll not soon forget. The moral of the story is that when your patience is wearing thin, make waffles. (Thank you to the lovely Q for this story).

Pixie Adams believes in healthy competition; the kind to which you bust it every day in a race to win the day. But ‘healthy’ means mindful . . as per the context of real life issues that transcend bottom lines. Adams runs the Moonlight Coffee Cafe in Oak Grove Portland, and when she learned the plight of one of her competitors, she went to work. For them.

Dave McAdams runs The Local Coffee Company with his wife Tina. At least until he was diagnosed with cancer for the third time. It’s inoperable and it’s terminal and now he will be put into hospice to live out the remainder of his days. So Pixie donned an apron and kept the place going while Tina tends to her husband, because she didn’t want her to lose the business.

“It’s supposed to be friendship over business, community over competition,” Pixie Adams says. “I am here supporting them, trying to generate attention for their business to help make sure that after Dave is gone, they still have the ability to keep the coffee place open.”

For some people, winning doesn’t preclude humanity. It welcomes it.

Plus vs Minus

On my old blog, I used to dish up an annoyances post. It was a Molotov cocktail of inelegance aimed at all the many things that tend to piss me off. And if you didn’t know better, you’d have thought I was some kind of misanthrope who had an issue with every single thing. And you’d have been half right.

For this rebooted “Annoyances”, the sunny side of the street gets the primo parking space. Because my therapist thought it was a good idea if I stress the positives and minimize the negatives. Here then, is the pilot episode of something I’d liked to call “Plus vs Minus”.

Plus- Homemade Mac and Cheese takes some time, and more butter than I’m comfortable admitting, but it’s so damned worth it. I do mine up with butter (never margarine), milk, heavy cream, cheddar and one other cheese (I used Jarlsberg this time). To make the roux, you need to grate your cheeses . . . no shortcuts. I top it off with thinly sliced tomatoes and then sprinkle bread crumbs dredged in olive oil and grated Parmesan on top of that.

Minus- As much as I dig it, I have to steer clear of boxed mac and cheese for a good month after partaking of the real stuff.

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Plus- Peloton Mamas with Ryan Reynolds riding shotgun. 

Minus– Peloton Mamas riding solo.

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Plus- Adult beverages.

Minus- Bud Light Seltzer. Because they didn’t fuck up beer enough.

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Plus- The movie Cats. I went to see it with the girl and we loved it. It’s the musical and okay, it goes heavy on the CGI, but this did nothing to detract from the fact that it’s the musical delivered up in theater format.

Minus– Not sure what the peeps who bashed this movie were smoking. Because did I mention it was the musical?

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Plus- Trump’s impeachment defense ain’t gonna be a cakewalk with the revelation that he was freezing military aid to the Ukraine.

Minus- He’s probably gonna get off the hook anyway.

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Plus- Christmas movies. It’s the only time of the year when I’ll suffer Chevy Chase in those inane Vacation flicks, or Jamie Lee Curtis in a cardigan, or Vince Vaughn . . . at all. And this year brought a reboot of one of my favorite holiday movies ever- A Christmas Carol, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Minus- Hallmark Christmas movies. If you’ve seen the one with the big city exec who goes home for the holidays and falls in love with an old flame . . you’ve seen them all.

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Plus- The Miami Dolphins just had the most enjoyable 5-11 season ever. And they wrapped it in a bow by taking down the Patriots in the season finale; denying New England a first round bye for the first time in ten seasons.

Minus- The Patriots are still alive. And just like Michael Myers . . you gotta kill them, and then you gotta keep killing them . . just in case.

Welp, that’s just about a wrap for the 2010’s. May your pluses be plentiful and your minuses minimal inside the new year.

Peace and love . . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heroes Of The Week!

Unbreakable

Merry Friday after Christmas, kids. I’ve somehow come up with yet another loving spoonful of good vibrations inside this holiday week. And while I contemplated adding a single lump of coal to one of my entries in honor of Ebenezer Scrooge, I thought better of it.

And now our heroes . . .

Daniel van Amstel doesn’t see his parents through the lens of some tired old description of what parents are supposed to look like. He sees his parents for what they supply, and how they teach and what they mean. To him.

In November, Daniel’s fifth grade class at Deerfield Elementary in Cedar Hills, Utah was asked what they were thankful for and when the 11 year old remarked that he was thankful for his adoptive dads, his substitute teacher decided it was a good time for a homophobic rant. She proceeded to bully the kid until three girls in his class let the teacher know she had crossed a line, after which they marched out of the classroom to tell the principal. The teacher was promptly escorted from the building and later fired.

Those girls have more compassion in their size four sneakers than you’ll find in the entire West Wing. And maybe the kids table is the right place to begin anew, because Lord knows there are too many adults out there who simply don’t have a clue. (Big thank you to Frank for this story).

Katelynn Hardee says she got the idea for a fundraising bake sale after overhearing a parent of one of the students at Breeze Hill Elementary School in Vista, California talking about how she was unable to afford an after-school program for her child. Katelynn runs a lemonade stand in the summer, so she decided to expand her business venture into the late fall in order to help some kids out. In the span of three hours, she raised enough money to pay off the lunch debt for 123 students at Breeze Hill.

A businesswoman and philanthropist, Katelynn is all of five years old. And this dynamo of a kindergartner ain’t done yet. Now she’s planning out ways to pay off the outstanding lunch debts of her entire school district. From the minds of babes . . .

Brenegan McNulty is no stranger to hard work. As a single mother of a one year old boy, the Canadian born waitress works two jobs in the hopes that someday soon she will be able to afford a place of her own. So working over the holidays goes part and parcel with this dream of hers.

Her weekend shift at Yellowknife’s Nova Hotel restaurant in the Northwest Territories was starting to look like the stuff that migraines are made of, on account of the fact they were short staffed for the evening. And then a party of ten came bustling in- a birthday party, Brenegan assumed, by the way the women were passing a greeting card around the table for all to sign. And then they presented her with the card, in which they had tucked $1,100.00 in cash. Turns out, “They wanted to do something nice for someone who was working hard during the holiday season,”.

Eat your heart out, Ellen DeGeneres. 🙂

Seamus is a nine year old pit bull mix who has spent more than half of his life at the Fresno Bully Rescue- a breed specific no-kill rescue in Fresno California. This lovable dude has earned an extra soft landing in the hearts of everyone at the shelter.

“As Seamus has been aging, he hasn’t been able to handle the weather as well, we were really hoping that he would be able to finally be in a warm home this winter season — and escape the heat of the summers. Sometimes we worried that he would be with us for the duration of his life,” Says Bridgette Booth, the shelter director.

On December 21, Seamus found his forever home. Booth considers the timing of this adoption to be a “Christmas miracle,”. His new parents are just thankful Seamus chose them.

April Doster is a nurse whose profit lies in the positive difference she tucks inside the desperate hours of people’s worst case scenarios. In 2016, that worst case scenario came calling on her. Doster was the nurse on duty the day J.T. Weyant- then six years old- was admitted to Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

J.T., along with his sisters Savannah and Hailey (four and five years old at the time), had been the victims of one of the most horrific abuse cases in state annals. Their parents Josh and Brandi of Halifax, Pa were arrested and charged with multiple counts of aggravated assault, conspiracy, false imprisonment, unlawful restraint and endangering the welfare of children. They were later convicted and sentenced to thirty years in a state prison.

When the children were found by law enforcement officials inside their home, their hair was matted with feces and urine. Their core body temperatures were 94 degrees and they appeared as if they had “just walked out of a concentration camp,”

Doster was heartbroken when she learned that the children would have little to no chance of being adopted together, so she spoke with her husband Rubin about changing that. Three years have passed since the day those three children walked out of hell and into a brand new life. And now they are a family of five; April and Rubin, J.T., Savannah and Hailey. April says the kids are thriving in school and at home.

Merriam Webster considers spirit to be a preternatural dynamic; as some supernatural being or essence which provides life to physical organisms. And somewhere in Central PA, a supernatural being wears her lanyard and blue scrubs to work every day.

They call her Mom.

 

Silent Night

North Star

They sit on the top of a hill overlooking Bethlehem. The air is thick with frost but they are warmed by the light of a single star. Vonnegut, Hendrix and Van Gogh spin on the prayers that are being answered inside a manger down below.

” . .  so there I was, watching this butterfly weave its sacred messages into thin air . .  and I just wept for the miracles that happen inside the quiet . .” Vonnegut says.

“You sure have a funny way of talking,” Jimi laughs.

“And you have a funny way of wearing that suit. And old Vincent here has a funny way of painting stars. And what made us this? Believing. That’s what,”

“Yeah, but to believe . . and I mean to really believe is to know you’re gonna lose. And that’s what makes it the most beautiful thing in the world. Because you do it anyway,” Jimi says as a tear runs down his cheek.

“Being born is losing. The minute you’re born into this world, you start losing things. You lose innocence and teeth, friends and lovers and car keys and memories and recipes. But you keep waking up anyway . . .” Vonnegut says.

“And it’s called faith. Like my paintings of farmers, who worked the lands of their mothers and fathers with the intent to make miracles happen,” Van Gogh observes.

“To think, there came a day when we got too smart for our britches. It seems that progress can be a four letter word if you let it run wild on you. And that’s the sticky part of the label, really . . . the idea that we became too smart to believe in the things we could not see,” Vonnegut says.

“Well, I could have told them differently. If my music taught me anything, it was to believe in that which you cannot see . . .” Says Hendrix.

“Because in the doing, this allows you to appreciate the things you can,” Vonnegut finishes, before digging into another memory. “As a young boy, I would sit in church and try to figure out why dressing up in suits and dresses stood for piety. To me, it was the moments nobody was looking at or preaching on that provided me with the proof of His existence. To me, God was speaking inside the shine of that thick varnish. To me, he was smiling inside the perfectly tweaked stained glass windows that allowed the sun to sing a million different songs,”

“And what did he say?” Jimi asks.

“Don’t take life so seriously,” Vonnegut laughs.

“Easy to say, much more difficult to live,” Van Gogh opines.

“Ah yeah Vincent, but it’s in the trying that you find your soul. I never wrote a song that didn’t write me first. The lyrics mothered me and the melody fathered me and I must’ve created a thousand songs just to get to the one that made vinyl,” Jimi says.

The three men contemplate the mysteries tucked inside a well spent moon as the wind sings in harmony with dragonflies and plums. The ground beneath their feet is a finely stitched applique of grass and soil and water, nipping at their heels with the infinite wisdom of the ages.

“So whaddaya say, fellas? Wanna go down there and see what all the fuss is about?” Vonnegut says whilst chewing on the moon with his eyes.

“I would very much like to stay right here and figure out that constellation,” Vincent says. “But it would take me a million years to figure out its math, but for that star . . that bold and valiant thing that floats on top of the heavens . . .”

“It’s calling to you too, huh?” Jimi says.

“Ah yes, the reason for all that heavy lifting God was doing . . once upon a time,” Vonnegut says before turning to his friend. “What about you Jimi? You in?”

“I wouldn’t miss this for the world,” Jimi smiles.

 

 

 

 

‘Twas The Night Before Christmas- By Christopher Walken

It was the night befah Christmas and all through my place,

Not a sound could be heard, nobody was showing their face;

My shotgun was hung over the chimney with care,

it was a prop from Deer Huntah . . . it looks really sharp there;

My cat Bowtie was snuggled all safe in his king sized bed,

because it’s good for his posture is what the wife said;

So my wife in her Burberry and me in my Gucci,

were watching some flick starring Stanley Tucci;

When out front in the yahd there arose such a racket,

I jumped out of bed and grabbed my leatha jacket;

I looked out the window but I couldn’t see a thing,

so I turned on my phone to check the app for my Ring;

My driveway looked like the fucking North Pole,

I’d have to call for a plow, and I hate that asshole!;

Then, what to my half drunken eyes should appear,

but some fat guy in a sleigh . . and horses . . that looked like something out of a musical;

With a snowy white bee-ahd that looked like St. Nick,

and a red bath robe that made him look like a total dick;

His horses were beauties, even if the antlers didn’t quite fit,

and then one of them decided to take a shit . . in my koi pond!;

Then the fat guy shouts, “Now! Dasher, now! Dancer, now! Prancer, and Vixen!”,

and I hadn’t felt that crazy since the time I voted for Nixon;

“To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall!”,

which meant my roof. Why the fuck didn’t he just say . . the roof?;

There were dry heaves before the the hurricane in my stomach got ready to fly,

So I grabbed some antacids because I felt like I was gonna die;

That’s when the nightmare musical landed up on the roof,

with a sleigh full of toys and this bearded fat goof;

My homeowners insurance was working overtime now,

and then the fat bastard yelled something like “Ow!”;

Next thing I know, he’s hurtling down the chimney and into my living room.

So I shot him.