The Midnight Clear

North Star Metric: The Most Important Number for Your Company's Growth  [Updated]

A westerly breeze swept across the plain of finely hewn shards, setting the crisp night air ablaze with mystical pinpricks whose echo spoke the language of the ancients.

Jacob’s feet struggled to negotiate the brick-like sand as his tired eyes remained fixed to the North star, as if his mortal bones held no consequence in this journey. As if his spirit had learned to walk on its own and was carrying him now.

“Crazy fucking ideas . . you wasted your life on crazy fucking ideas,” Jacob muttered, his words dissolving into an icy wreckage as his soul warred with demons as his mind raced over myriad possibilities. And yet his feet carried on, delivering him down a road less traveled, without food, without water. But with a strength whose muster did not wane in spite of it.

“Hey! Hey you!”

Jacob turned to find a young girl with black, short cropped hair walking towards him. She wore a blood orange sundress and a faded blue jean jacket, her brown sandals whisking the sand as she strode. Her skin was a brilliant caramel with a dimpled chin, natural cranberry lips, eyes chiseled from an emerald flower and hair that rode off her shoulders like wildfire.

“Marian. I’m the girl, from the bus . . .”

“What are you doing here?” Jacob asked.

“I’ve been walking for days . . no food . . no water. All because some guy at a service station gave me directions that go through a desert. Crazy huh?”

“Gabriel . . .”

“Wait . . you talked to him?” Marian asked.

“He told me to follow the North Star, and it sounded like a good idea at the time. I didn’t think to ask him why, because it’s in my nature to jump first and . . .”

“So he told you the same thing?” Marian repeated herself.

“Yes!”

“Hey man, don’t be jumping on my ass, okay?”

“Sorry. Shit . . I think I’m in shock. That’s got to be what this is. The accident . . I remember the accident. And then I remember Gabriel telling me the way and the steps since then . . I remember this . . because I’m in shock. This is a dream is what this is. But my mind! It’s processing all of this, so there’s a cognitive ability to that, right? . . .”

“Mister, stop . .”

“The road . . we crashed . . head on. Fucking shit! I saw you lying there . . .”

“Mister . . stop!”

“It was . . it was like everything, my whole life was spinning away from me in that moment. Everything was happening in slow motion. You . . you were lying there in the middle of the road . .”

“Mister, STOP!”

“What?”

“Uh? Fuck . . you. How is this your dream?!”

“Name’s Jacob . . and okay, fine. Of course you exist. I mean, you’re here right? And this road . . we’re both here, walking it. And that star in the sky . . it’s there because we’ve been following it for days. And I say we keep following it,”

“Now you got me thinking. Maybe THAT is the light . . didn’t anybody ever tell you to stay away from the light if some seriously bad shit goes down?”

“Alright Marian, it’s like this. Have you even bothered to ask yourself how you can go for days without food or water and not feel hunger? Or thirst? Have you slept since you began this walk? At all?”

Marian shook her head silently.

“No, and yet . . you’re not tired. In fact, your body feels more alive than ever. And you have no blessed idea why that is, and yet . . you won’t turn away. And you tell me not to follow that light, but what have you been doing?”

“I’m scared, Jacob,” Marian said.

“Here, take my hand. Nothing to be scared of, not anymore,”

“How can you be so sure?” She asked as they walked along hand in hand.

“I . . . I don’t know. But I am,”

They walked in silence as their feet brokered a hill painted in the mosaic of brimstone and water with magically incandescent plumes of moonlight showing them the way. When they arrived at the top they saw it. A manger down below with an ethereal light stealing out from inside of its humble structure. Their steps became more certain as they moved closer to discovery, and then Jacob stopped in his tracks.

“What?” Marian asked.

“It’s . . . beautiful,” Jacob said as he began to cry.

“Let’s go see,” She said.

No Virginia, There Is No Santa Claus (From The Archives)

I wrote this piece back in December of 2006 for a banana republic of a blog that loved getting itself in all sorts of trouble. We were a parody party, and we lampooned the hell out of life, liberty and the pursuit of breaking news.

Every now and then, I would take my way back machine for a ride when the news went cold. So it was one night that I took to skipping backwards in time, armed solely with my vagabond wit and a starched martini.

On this particular evening, I settled inside the year 1897, after which I got to stepping all over the words Francis Pharcellus Church once wrote. Church was an editor for The Sun, which was a big deal New York City paper back when Damon Runyon was a pup. Old Francis had no idea that a hundred and six years later some asshole was gonna spray graffiti all over his classic editorial. Don’t you just love progress?

Church’s piece was in response to eight year old Virginia O’Hanlon’s letter to The Sun in which the little girl asked if Santa Claus was in fact, legit. He responded with what would become a holiday classic titled “Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus”.

So . . of course I had to imagine what kind of response little Virginia O’Hanlon might have gotten if she’d been born in this day and age. The results were, umm . . less romantic. 

Dear Virginia,

Your little friends are right. They are the glorious progeny of a pragmatic generation. They understand the value of status and deride the notion of some antiquated alms giver delivering unto them their precious I-Pods. They do not believe except they see. A valuable commodity in this day and age; and one I would advise you to obtain. Their minds may be small, but their ability to filter out the ridiculous notion of a jolly old man bearing gifts is commendable. Indeed, they dare not marginalize the corporate benefactors that are their parents by spewing folly about Santa.

No Virginia, there is no Santa Claus. He does not exist as certainly as faith, hope and WMDs do not exist. Alas! How dreary would the world be if there truly was a Santa Claus! His existence would rob us our autonomy; our secularly gifted right to seek truth and define our uncertain world rather than color it with vagaries. Be warned, to subscribe to such a childlike faith is dangerous, one might even say prohibitive. Its nexus is borne of classic outdated American literature and ecclesiastical dogma. We should expect no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. Leave the childlike enabling to Hollywood producers.

I urge you dear girl, do not believe in Santa Claus! Just as you do not believe in fairies or honest politicians. You might contract with a privately owned security company to verify the hard wrought, commercialized fancy of red suits and magical sleigh bells. But imagine the cost of such an endeavor. And to what end? To simply disprove what is already common knowledge? Your sole discovery will lie in the fact that chimney sweepers are vastly overpaid. You will find no sign of Santa Claus. And then you will understand that the most real things in this world are those which you can wear, play and drive. Imagine how inefficient a world it would be if we gave credence to the unseen; think of the abject ignorance which would predominate our lives if we believed in miracles rather than science.

You dissect a nursery rhyme and you can see why non-fiction sates the publishing houses bottom lines. Because there is no unseen world where fiction holds dominion. Neither the wealthiest philanthropist, nor even the bi-lateral thrust of a UN-led invasion can unearth a place that does not exist. Let the evangelists proselytize about some supernal place; let the vagabond poets abscond to their sacred patch of merry. Resist the temptation to be led to Shangri-La. Is any of it real? Um, Virginia, of course not.

No Santa Claus! Thank goodness for that! Do not fret, nothing lasts forever- except for disposable diapers and Dick Clark. This vicious rumor which has scarred so many children and resulted in an incalculable number of therapy sessions will see its end. Ten years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10 years from now, when the world becomes an uninhabitable swamp thanks to global warming, there will be no Santa to fool our hearts and remind us of our dysfunctional childhood.

The Rushmore Series- Crazy Little Thing Called Love

A person’s taste in music is very much like their fingerprint, no two are the same.

So when me and Dale (Check out her femme finale here) decided to carve out a musical Rushmore, we knew such an undertaking would be met with plenty of Yeah, but what about? . . . But rather than deter, it made us that much more determined to deliver up our vision of what Rushmore would look like if it was set to music. The truth is, I would have had an easier time with just about any other Rushmore related exercise- from sports to art to superheroes.

Music is different, and so I had myriad decisions to make if I was going to whittle down to four. I took faces off and I put faces on and then I did it all over again. Until the finished product was left with Jackson, Bowie and Prince. Of those choices, the only slam dunk was the last choice. Until today, that is. Because this final installment had his face on it from the first conversation about a musical Rushmore.

It was late May of 1980 when me and a bunch of friends screamed our lungs out to a song that would pin itself to the rafters at Nassau Coliseum for years to come. The New York Islanders had just defeated the Flyers to clinch the Stanley Cup, ushering in a dynasty. It would be half a decade before a kid from Edmonton would begin re-writing history. But the song, it still brings me back to that time.

I had this idea that I was Romeo until a girl named Alisson showed me that love is never that easy to figure out. And damn if Main Ingredient hadn’t warned me that everybody plays the fool sometimes, even if I’d never planned on listening to that sage advice until it was too late. So thank God for Freddie, playing wingman as I ventured back in to that most dubious of romantic entanglements. The rebound.

Me and Shereen drove to Moon Lake with a couple of friends. A case of beer, a boombox and the idea that I was moving to Florida to be with her. Until I wasn’t. And it was just another song that played itself across the moon that night, or so I thought. But to this day, that song unspools itself into a photograph that collapses in a waterfall across my brain every time I hear it.

I’m possessed by love, but isn’t everybody?- Freddie Mercury

I was living with that girl who wore the raspberry beret. Her Venus was liberal and artistic and my Mars was not. My younger days felt as if they had happened inside another universe as I found myself far from the madding crowd of screamers and boomboxes playing “Thriller” and Queens logic.

November of ’91 was an unforgiving one for headlines. First came Magic Johnson’s announcement that he had HIV, and then a few weeks later with the news that Freddie Mercury had died. The first had proven damn near impossible to process while Freddie, well . . he’d always lived his life as if rocking chairs were a waste of time.

I made dinner for me and my girl on that last weekend of November, and we broke open a bottle of wine and had at it. We debated politics and then settled on music.

“Greatest band ever . .” I asked her.

“U2 . . .” She said.

“No way!” I laughed.

“Oh yeah? So what say you? Huh?” She said, sipping at her wine.

“Well, Bon Jovi . . of course,” I said, since it always got a rise out of her.

“Oh . . my God, you can’t be serious,” She said.

And then the wine started paying off and then the music started making all the sense in the world. It was as if Freddie was shaking his fist in triumph as two young lovers surrendered themselves to that magical drug called rock and roll, shouting his famous last words from the moon.

“You’re bloody fucking welcome,”

 

 

 

 

Heroes Of The Week! (24 Days Of Christmas Edition)

Super Santa Claus - Imgur

As the last Heroes episode of 2020, Imma dish up twenty four heroes and zeroes of the week as well as the year that was. This little intersection of Friday and the weekend has become a pretty cool place to be thanks to you, the readers. Because while I supply the stories, it’s you who gift the heartbeat with your participation. So as we bid adieu to a trying year, I wanted to take a moment to say a heartfelt thank you. Because without you, this Friday spot would be just another post.

For the final lineup of the year, I’ve gone red for the zeros and green for our heroes. So let’s get to ’em . . .


. . . To Ron Jacobsen, a 75 year old Vietnam veteran from Ronald, Washington for providing volunteerism with keeps. He’s logged more than 900 hours mentoring students at Cle Elum-Roslyn Elementary and was recently named a spokesman for the VFW’s #StillServing- which highlights the many contributions of our nation’s veterans.
. . .San Antonio Spurs guard DeMar DeRozan played the most important defense of his life last month when he chased an intruder from his Los Angeles-area home. The perpetrator- who shall remain nameless because I say so- was arrested and charged with felony burglary. Thanks to DeMar, his neighbors can rest easy this holiday season.
. . . The Los Angeles Clippers won last offseason, after which they provided an epic collapse in the playoffs, with plenty of excuses to go around. After which they committed an obscene amount of money to Paul George, who has made a career of coming up short when it matters most.
. . . To first responders in Australia and California. The ones who lived there and the ones who traveled from across the map to get there and help, round the clock, any way they could.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg - HISTORY
. . . Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a trailblazer for gender equality who brought grace, dignity and a brilliant mind to her role as Supreme Court Justice. Her loss is a resounding one, but also a clarion call to others that her life’s work must be continued by this generation and the generations to come.
. . . To the thousands of volunteers who agreed to take the experimental vaccines, in spite of the risks, in order to ensure the safety and well being of millions.
. . . Rudy Giuliani has gone from “America’s Mayor” to the Penguin, acting as the shill for a President whose final act has proven to be every bit as graceless as the last four years.
. . . Army Ranger Patrick Payne signed up after September 11th because he wanted to make a difference. And he’s been doing just that ever since. He was recently awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for rescuing seventy five hostages during a firefight in Hawija, Iraq in 2015. He is what these Fridays are here for.
. . . Big time props to Tyler Perry, who was honored with the “People’s Champion of 2020” award last month at the E! People’s Choice Awards. Perry has shown up on our Friday edition a time or two, thanks to his philanthropic work. Here’s to a champion worth rooting for.
. . . And to soon to be former President Trump. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.
. . . And a big thank you to the lovely Dale for the next three feel good stories, starting with Edmonton Oilers defenseman Ethan Bear, who wore a special jersey (check it out here) in honor of his indigenous heritage. It’s a lesson for our sports teams on this side of the border.

Henry Zavriyev Friendship Circletoys
. . . When Montreal businessman Henry Zavriyev came across a stash of toys in the basement of a building he was interested in buying, real estate took a backseat to his Christmas spirit. So he laid down a cool thirty G’s and then donated the toys to Friendship Circle; a non-profit that provides support to children with special needs. And somewhere, Santa is taking notes.
. . . And we’re sending out birthday wishes to Major Wooten, whose family threw him one heck of a party earlier this month. The WWII Army veteran was diagnosed with the coronavirus in November. And won. Just in time to celebrate his 104th birthday. We salute you, good sir.
. . . Disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein was convicted of rape in February in what would prove to be a watershed moment for the #MeToo movement. May he never see the light of day again.
. . . The American Voters. They spoke in record numbers with more than 161 million people turning out to cast their ballots, which adds up to 66 percent of eligible voters. It was a resounding display of what democracy is all about.

70-Year-Old Veteran Battling Cancer Hailed as an 'Angel' After He Charged into Burning Home to Save Neighbors
. . . Marshall Helm is a seventy year old Air Force veteran who worked on B-29’s and fought in Vietnam. Now he’s fighting a very different battle, this one with cancer. And yet, the Salem Illinois resident did not hesitate when he spotted a neighbor’s house going up in flames. He ran in and woke up the couple, who’ve taken to calling Helm their “angel”. Clarence Odbody would be proud. (A shout out to Cincy over at “Beaches” for this get). 
. . . To all the scientists who have been working tirelessly in their quest to develop a coronavirus vaccine.
. . . To the mask-less marauders among us who make the already difficult jobs of retail, service and health workers that much harder. They come up with myriad excuses- from defending their ‘rights’ to having a ‘medical condition’- but this dog and pony ate my homework show is not only lame, it’s dangerous.
. . . Another big thank you to Frank “Beaches” Angle for supplying the story about a Secret Santa who will be doling out $100,000 dollars this holiday season to essential workers. In these trying times, it’s heartening to know there are plenty of peeps who understand what the season of giving is all about.
. . . MLB Umpire Brian O’Nora- along with thirteen other men in Youngstown, Ohio- was arrested last weekend and charged with soliciting and possessing criminal tools. The arrests were part of a human trafficking sting by law enforcement officials and is further evidence of this frightening shadow world.
. . . To all the essential workers out there who have been getting it done in the middle of a raging storm. Their dedication and commitment serve as an inspiration, now and always.
. . . And here’s a two for one Hero/Zero for you . . . To Alex Trebek, whose legacy goes far beyond the set of a game show thanks to a lifetime of philanthropic pursuits. And to be replaced, even on an interim basis by former Jeopardy champion Ken Jennings? Nope. The dude has shown himself to be a champion creep, and unworthy of the seat Trebek once occupied.

Heroic Nurses Stay Behind To Rescue 19 Babies As Hurricane Laura Hit Hospital | Goalcast
. . . When Hurricane Laura bore down on Lake Charles, Louisiana back in September, there were 19 residents who could not abide by the official order for a mandatory evacuation: The nineteen babies in the neonatal intensive unit at Lake Charles Hospital. So a team of twenty hospital workers stayed with them. If ever there was a microcosm of 2020, this just might be it.

Welp, I hope you enjoyed the last installment of Heroes for the year. May your Christmas be merry and bright and may the new year bring us to the end of what has proven to be a long, dark tunnel.

Here’s to the light.

Raspberry Beret

She sat on the park bench, freshly painted in mint with brass handles made handsome by the patina of weather and time. Her peach shaped lips hummed a song full of words with a mystical perch as she watched a squirrel negotiate the limb of a wise old oak tree whose stories travailed the living and the dead.

The sun lowered itself in a magnificent bow, an anguished daily cry playing out across a nervous jumble of clouds that very much resembled a pile of used laundry. The indigo spill of night began to drip across a canvas made of ocher, its theater of war spoke of seasons fighting for their chance at forever. As if on cue, a lonesome breeze brushed at her face with tiny pin pricks of invisible frost, chasing away the blanket of warmth that had been gifted her by the ancient sun moments earlier.

Poetry came easy to her most times, but not this one. She reckoned it was because her heart was too full and her body was too anxious and her soul was reaching . . recklessly, uncertainly, sublimely, reaching. Time was shedding itself to her now as a solitary tear held ransom on her ivory cheek, as if the vesper of a long forgotten star whose body was small but whose purpose was mightier than Venus itself.

Words of a poem that was busy never getting born presented themselves like splinters as her fingers shook in anticipation. She laughed at the thought that a boy could have this effect on her. But he did. The particulars of him, when broken down into a mathematical formula, did not equate with white picket fences, two and a half children and a hallway teeming with chronological snapshots. He was very much a here and now proposition, but it didn’t matter because to her way of thinking, tomorrows were too perfect to be interesting. She wanted, no . . she demanded to be spellbound by something, if only for a moment. And that, he supplied.

She checked the time. He would be here soon, riding up on his small change chariot built of chrome and curse words. He would set his eyes on her, and in the process thieve every last retrievable part of the girl she was walking away from. The language he would carry on his tongue would be equal parts Longfellow and fire. And then she would hop on and then they would take a ride up to old man Johnson’s farm, to the secret lair he had constructed inside a barn.

They would fall in love for a moment’s time, and no more than that. And really, what else was there to life but the moments? The ones you would not trade for all the promises of Solomon. The ones that made you feel as if the world made the most sense of all when served in small slices.

Some day, a million years from now, she imagined looking back on the moment they would paint across that loft and she would smile the smile of an innocent virgin girl; the one with pretty wishes in her painted fingernails and all those jukebox dreams in her restless bones. She would look back in fond remembrance of how determined she had been to make him remember her. In the wherever after of his future, he would buy time for her cranberry and red wine lips and the poetry they made. And he would paint a raging storm with that name.

Hers.

The Rushmore Series- Sign Of The Times

As far back as I can remember there were fences that separated us.

The line for us was the Patio Deli on Linden Boulevard. This was the demarcation your sneakers needed to be on the friendly side of come night fall. There was an ‘us’ and a ‘them’; two uniquely compelling sides to this fiery equator that had been sewn by previous generations, and who were we to question it? All that we knew was that we had a side of the fence, and we had to own it.

Sports and music had no use for fences. In these worlds, black and white kids were teammates. We rooted for the Yankees and the Knicks. We spoke the same language. And perhaps no musical artist fused that gap better than Prince. His quixotically extravagant lyrics and moodily amorous melodies tore right through our restless spirits and pushed us to imagine the world differently.

Prince was the electrical storm that shattered the disparate entanglements of our black and white world with lyrics that riveted themselves to our wildest imaginations. It loosed us from stereotypes inside an abject bliss whose momentary lapse was full of reason and righteousness; all the things we somehow could not muster inside the day to day.

When you discovered Prince, you had arrived at the musical equivalent of a moon landing. He sang the words of Milton with an indefatigable funk, and you knew . . you just knew that you were listening to music that would book passage into history. And he existed, right there in the great big middle of disco jeans and bubble jackets and designer sneakers and multi-plexes.

I moved away in the fall of ’86, so I was almost a year removed from the place I had called home when it achieved notoriety for what would come to be known as the incident at Howard Beach. This nuanced reference provided the veneer for the worst case scenario of those fences when a bunch of white kids formed a lynch mob, with baseball bats in tow, chasing three black men from the neighborhood late one night. They put one of those men in the hospital and they chased another down onto the Belt Parkway, where he was struck and killed.

It would be several years before I went back to visit with my girlfriend. I showed her all my old hangouts and we grabbed lunch at New Park Pizza on the Boulevard- a place that had become famous for all the wrong reasons as it was where the chase had ensued on that horrible night years earlier. The sadness of the place stuck to my bones as we sat there and talked about better days and old friends, and ghosts.

And then I took her to the narrow little alley behind my old apartment building where me and my friends used to play stickball, pretending  it was Yankee Stadium because it felt that way to us. Back then. Before the fences ventured away from that field of play and into our real lives. Everything was different now, every single thing. And it was as if Thomas Wolf was busy telling me that maybe he was wrong . . maybe you really shouldn’t try going home again.

I took my girlfriend by the hand, holding tightly to whatever came next, chasing the ghosts to the other side of the fence. Her smile carried me home, to the one I’d found away from all this madness. And as if Prince had enlisted the lyrics to lift me from the rain of a melancholic afternoon, she was wearing a raspberry beret.

The very same kind you’d find in a second hand store.

(Check out Dale’s female choice over at A Dalectable Life. And no, Debbie Gibson didn’t make the cut.)

Heroes Of The Week

The only superhero movies still coming out in 2020

With another round of shut downs set to take place across the country, my compound in Montana is looking more enticing every day. I’ll need to come up with a name for our cult, so if y’all have any ideas, please send them my way. In the meanwhile, Imma dish up another episode of the better and the worse that tucked itself into the news cycle.

So let’s get to it . . .

A Florida man just paid off the past dues for 114 families at risk of having their utilities shut off - CNN

Michael Esmond is the owner and operator of Gulf Breeze Pools and Spas in Pensacola, Florida, and while business has been good, he knows how fortunate he is. This meanest of seasons has not been nearly so kind to many of his friends and neighbors. So Esmond took his good fortune and he paid the past due utility bills- totaling more than $7,600- for 114 families who were about to be disconnected.

The 74 year old experienced his share of trying times in the past, and so he felt it was only right to give what he could in order to help others see their way through.

“I have been down on my luck like people are today, where I had trouble paying bills and raising three daughters,” he said. “The gas company shut the gas off and we didn’t have any heat . . . People can’t afford to pay their bills and put food on the table, so I hope doing my part and paying some bills for these folks takes a little bit of stress off of them around Christmas time,” he said.

In dark times, it’s people like Desmond who shine brightest of all.

Kyrie Irving and Nets Fined $25K! 2020-21 NBA Season - YouTube

Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving says he will make himself available to the press when he damn well feels like it and not a moment before. Seeing as how this is the same dude who insisted the world was flat and LeBron James is simply an okay player, I think he’s doing everyone a great service by not sharing his scary genius. Seriously, if you’re giving a penny for Irving’s thoughts, you’ve drastically overpaid.

Dairy Queen customer in Minnesota sparks 2-day 'pay it forward' chain - ABC13 Houston

If you’re a fan of Fargo, like me (and Joe Pesci), then Brainerd, Minnesota already holds a special place. The city the Coen Brothers once described as “Siberia, with family restaurants,” is back in the news again . . for all the right reasons. It seems the peeps of this county seat have taken the idea of paying it forward to new heights.

What began as a simple act of kindness has warmed the heart of this small town to such a degree, that Jack Frost took a weekend trip to Miami Beach until things cooled down again. I’ll let Dairy Queen manager Tina Jensen provide the what for this what?

So (a customer) pulled up and I said ‘just to let you know the gentleman in front of you paid for your order. If you like, I can pay it forward and you can pay for the order behind you and we can keep this going.’ She’s like ‘really, why would he do that?’ I said ‘we just have it every once in a while where someone will take care of the person behind them and today is your lucky day.’

The customer was duly inspired to pay for the order behind her. And then so forth became so on. And on, and on . . . until the pay it forward chain was finally broken three days, nine hundred vehicles and ten thousand dollars in sales later. Jensen says it’s not the first time her DQ has gotten all caught up in such a beautiful chain as this, and it’s not likely to be the last.

Which means Jack Frost best be taking a week in Aruba the next time.

Coach O recaps National Signing Day for LSU Tigers

It feels like I just got done ranting about the low down dirty shame of a college football program LSU has proven to be when this week happened. And with it, a hot new pile of forgettable to sink the former darlings of the sport.

The university announced it was imposing a one year bowl ban on its football team due to violations which included former Tiger Odell Beckham Jr handing out cash on the sidelines after his Alma mater beat Clemson for the national title in January. The other charges include school boosters doing the same as OBJ, albeit not quite so prominently.

Did LSU suddenly find religion? Not hardly. See, when a football factory like LSU penalizes itself, this means the violations we know about are a cupcake sale compared with the shit we do not know. But seeing as how none of the violations pertain to the multiple rapes committed by members of the football team, any right minded individual should be outraged. Too bad the school, and the NCAA for that matter, don’t much care for the safety and well being of women.

And to add further injurious insult to this bread and circuses program, with the team’s record currently at 3-5, they would have been lucky to score an invite to the Marshmallow Fluff Bowl. And any revenue they might lose because of the ban? Some booster not under investigation is sure to write that check.

And the beat goes on.

Elementary School Teacher Donates Kidney To Her School's Custodian | FaithPot

I’m not going to lie. The Christmas spirit that’s supposed to be running through my veins right about now, well . . it hasn’t shown up just yet. And I know I ain’t alone in this respect, not by a longshot. Which means that Erin Durga is right on time in this, the season of giving, with a story that would take Santa’s breath away.

Things were looking bleak for Patrick Mertens inside a year that has already proven unforgiving for so many. But the sixty four year old custodian at Kimball Elementary School in Minnesota was facing a much different health crisis. Mertens was in need of a kidney, and he was running out of time.

The teachers at Kimball had pitched in with fundraisers to help pay for his dialysis treatments, but mortality was busy rapping knuckle at his door until Erin Durga- a third-grade teacher at Kimball- made certain that 2020 wasn’t going to claim someone else. Once tests confirmed that she was a match, she drove to Mertens home to deliver the news that she would be his donor.

“I felt in my heart, from the very beginning, that this was my thing,” Durga said. “Once I decided that, yes, I’m going to donate to Pat, I felt really good about it, and I was at peace with it throughout the entire thing.”

The operation was a success and both Mertens and Durga were able to return to work in August. He calls her his angel, for being the messenger who delivered him the best gift, like . . ever.

Turns out maybe I don’t need the Christmas spirit after all. Maybe the human spirit will do just fine.

 

The Rushmore

In honor of the month long joyride me and Dale have been taking on the road to Rushmore, I just had to dish up some eats to go along with all the great music we’ve been poring over as we carve out some history, one note at a time. And so here’s a sandwich that I’ve attached its namesake to.

The Rushmore Sandwich:

The dream began with some fried chicken I’d made the night before. You know how some of the best sandwiches are made? Leftovers, and good ones. So the provocation became inspiration . . and then good fortune started riffing when my daughter made a delicious loaf of oat bread with sunflower seeds. Because once you have the bread, there’s no excuse not to go building something tasty.

My chicken has a first name . . .

And it’s breading, for real. Be eclectic, and really . . you can’t get more eclectic than Zapp’s Voodoo Potato Chips, ground into a fine mist and tucked across the surface. From there it was all disco.

Bread is more than just a classic rock band from LA . . .

It’s the quintessential piece of the sandwich puzzle. Without the bread, all you have is the leftovers. And that’s fine when you cook up a piece of chicken on the level of disco. But you want a side of dynamite to go with that magnificent ball? The bread . . has to bring personality. My daughter supplied with hers, as she’s been doing since she was a wee little lass. Girl has mad skills.

Come a knocking when you hear the rocking . . .

Because if you don’t have the bandmates, it’s not a sandwich for reals. So I had to create a succinct (or is that succulent? . .  let’s go with both) list of talented rhymers to go along with my main event rockers. And so muenster cheese supplied me with the creamy sidekick, without hogging the spotlight. Tomato, because I love the color and the cool, very much.

How do you top this? . . .

An egg. Everything, and I do mean everything- except peanut butter ripple- tastes that much better with an egg on top. It takes a sandwich from “Damn that’s good!” to “Damn! What’s my name again!?”. It’s seriously that importante . . .

Speaking of importante, how about that crescendo? . . .

Glad I asked. It happens after you’ve toasted the bread on a pan to achieve those delightfully seductive grill marks. And then you add your chicken and cheese and tomato and finally . . that glorious egg. Now, you can cook up the egg any way you wish but for yours truly, I like to glaze the yolk without taking away that sunshiny ooze that happens when you bite in. It serves as the condiment for this party, and it’s why I show you a capture open faced. And it’s also why the avocado didn’t make it in the doors. Besides, it looks so sexy walking in on Rushmore’s arm, doesn’t it?

What more can I say, other than . . .

Frites. Hand cut by yours truly and done to a crunchy turn. There’s no substitute for DIY when it comes to this side. So take the extra time, and you’ll be happy you did.

Welp, that’s it and that’s all till next time kids. Dish up and dine well.