The Zen of Katharine Hepburn, Dragons and Tigers and Canada’s Best

I was watching Bringing Up Baby earlier today and thinking to myself that Katharine Hepburn possessed the rare ability to play opposite any leading man. No matter how aloof (Cary Grant), scene stealing (Jimmy Stewart) intense (Bogart) or intimidating (Spencer Tracy) the personality, Kate made ’em look like pups once the director yelled ‘Action!’ and the match got lit.

For some . . it be that way.

It got me thinking about how damned comfortable some people can be in their own skin, while others spend a lifetime searching for that precious real estate. We’re adaptations whose chapters are constantly being written and re-written. Here on solid ground, we’re graded on the shit. But I like to think the cosmic plan is a tad bit more understanding. As I watched her nail the landing in scene after scene, chasing her pet leopard as well as the man of her dreams, it felt as if Kate and the Universe were on a first name basis. Handling her lines the way Ted Williams used to hug a curve ball. Smiling in a way that made you wish you were the reason for it. As if the secret to life truly was black and white.

Those thoughts of mine begat more thoughts . . .

  • Like, I plum forgot what last season’s Game of Thrones was all about, so it was a good thing I watched the two minute catch-up before tonight’s season premiere.
  • It was an ayt first inning, with plenty of table setting shit happening. And even still, I was literally gawking as I watched the first few minutes with the gang all there. It was like a class re-union, if my class was full of really cool ass kids whose drug of choice was Valyrian steel.
  • The best part is, I didn’t even need my special edition Oreos to enjoy it.

GOT Oreos

  • Just a couple, three fingers of Knob Creek and cold Sams on demand.
  • Oh . . what? Like you don’t treat a season premiere as if it’s a sporting event too? Puhleeze!

Sansa Stark: What do dragons eat anyway? 

Daenerys Targaryen: Whatever they want . . .

  • Yup . . they still got it.
  • Hey, Tiger won a major for the first time since Trump was bossing around interns and not an entire country.
  • I don’t watch much golf, but when my son texted me that Tiger had won the Masters, my official reply was Holy fucking shit!! I missed it??? I mean, I behaved as if I had a set of golf clubs. Imagine that.
  • Oh, and do yourself a favor? Don’t be like me and go chasing Gypsy Blanchard documentaries with Chris Watts documentaries on YouTube. Lest you find yourself watching Rob Zombie’s The Lords of Salem at one o’clock in the morning whilst taking communion with an Italian sub. I do not recommend it . . .
  • Of course, that YouTube spell also introduced me to Billie Eilish, whose wicked hatchet of a voice sings songs of death. Gloriously.
  • And Pluto TV should be called Satan Woo. Which is my way of saying I likey.
  • Every time I see someone vaping, I feel as if I should tell them to donate their lungs while they still got ’em.
  • So the lesson for all the kids out there is to stay in school, and if you’re gonna smoke . . go with nicotine. At least you know how that’s going to work on your insides.
  • I’m not gonna lie, I didn’t know that vines were a big deal until they were no longer a big deal.
  • I had a sausage McGriddle sammy for breakfast last week, and as far as best inventions of all time go . . it’s right up there with the wheel and the light bulb in my book.
  • As you can probably tell, I’m not a tough grader.
  • My new running playlist includes Grandmaster Flash, Salt ‘N Pepa, Public Enemy, Queen Latifah, the Sugarhill Gang, N.W.A, Dr. Dre, and MC Lyte. Its like I’m pumping morphine into my dogs whilst French kissing a turbine. Chill fixed, plunge ready . . coo.

And last but most certainly not least, is a shout out to my blog pal Dale Rogerson over at A Dalectable Life. I call her Q, and she calls me all sorts of names. But I leave her to that, because she’s usually spot on in the doing. And while she doesn’t have maple syrup running through her veins- that’s an urban legend- she is still plenty sweet. And totally real.

She happens to think Les Habitants will one day rule the hockey world again (I hope she’s right), and that George Ezra can sing the daylights out of a full moon and that every kitchen has a soul and that the Universe believes in her, most days. Which gives me a leg up on the great big forever, because I believe in her . . like, all the time.

Today marks the birthday of our Queen to the North. Who celebrates her life, one cup of Joe at a time. With a smile that lingers, and a laugh that prospers and a heart that beats to a rhythm that is contagious and true.

Here’s to Canada.

What’s In A Name?

I am Michonne.

I know, it ain’t the level of bad ass Poe when compared to the likes of Negan or Alpha. But I took a Walking Dead quiz in the hopes I wasn’t found to be their kind of Poe-try in motion. Because let’s face it, once you get past the rock a bye cool shit sounding fascination of saying I am Negan, all that’s left is a frustrated ballplayer who also happens to be a sociopath with PTSD.

Negan has tremendous value as a character, even if Maggie and the gang would beg to differ. It took Angela Kang to flesh out- pun intended- the complicated layers. Here’s a guy who doesn’t flinch when it comes to turning people into mashed potatoes with a baseball bat. And here’s the same guy who goes out into a blizzard to save the little girl of his arch-nemesis. I for one am glad we get both sides of Negan . . . now, and for whatever time he has left. But I’m also a little bit glad I’m not him, from here.

Alpha, on the other hand . . is more evil than an insider trader with a getaway villa. And her backstory tells us she didn’t need no zombie apocalypse in order to become this bitch on wheels. She was already there. She’s more hell bent on fucking people’s shit up than a frustrated Seventh Day Adventist in a shit marriage living in a double wide. The post apocalyptic Alpha harbors not a wit or a wiggle of difference from her previous existence as a serial killer in hiding. She ain’t ever cared. Which makes her the most frightening WD villain yet.

As for these personality quizzes that foretell your apocalyptic self, let’s face it, they’re only collecting intel on a control basis. Because you cannot possibly predict what kind of individual you will morph into once Kraft mac and cheese becomes five star cuisine and prescription drugs replace dead presidents as ching. I relate to Negan in lots of ways- from the leather getup to finding wit in the macabre. And the idea that I might fill out into a sadistic fucker if humanity’s thermostat goes on the blink? I can’t say I would, because I just can’t say.

As for the character quiz I took, I’m Michonne. Which makes total sense from where I am standing presently.

I’m loyal, I keep to a very tight circle and I will cut you loose quicker than Liz Taylor if I feel like you’re messing with the rug that centers my room (Big Lebowski reference). I don’t care what your opinion of me happens to be, until you add dimension to it. After which, we can throw down and I’m sorry, not sorry about that.

My previous iterations were unconventional and yet, there was an abidance to those staples (relatively speaking) just the same. Not anymore. And I dig the fact we can change in such a piecemeal metaphysical fashion as that. Wearing so much more than the one person we were born into. And I dig the idea that we Zen with the one personality, eventually. If we’re lucky.

And if we’re really lucky, we might be good at the one that matters most of all when push finally comes to shove. Because as far as names go?

I like Michonne just fine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heap

The memory of that tricycle, abandoned on a grassy hill. For days on end, it lay in a red blanketed tumble. A perfect heap, its wheels fluttering in a lonesome song whose lyrics dreamed of painting the ground in a million years worth of someone’s childhood. Pristine in its sculpted image, nestled in between the living and the dead.

And then one day I passed that grassy hill and found the tricycle bent and broken. Its entrails spewed across the earth, its melody stolen. And I remember thinking it a tragedy of the highest order, and blaming the whole world and Jesus Christ.

I might have approached it, before it became too late. I could have turned it on its wheels and taken it home to my little sister. But then the lesson, and that image I carry to this very day would not have come along with me. Because when I remember back to that broken tricycle, I remember everything else.

They said it was a bad thing. To remember. To tuck myself into those horrible bed time stories. But I do not believe they were right. It is a gift wrapped inside a curse; A talisman whose resonance speaks to me from shallow graves and long lost stars. It helps me to understand the horrors and the beauty of this world are interwoven scriptures. I will neither concede nor abide to its testimony, but I must respect it.

The memories become a hum in the fading moonlight, a flicker in the stained glass sun. Reminding me of the yesterdays that sleep as if sunken vessels in the deep blue sea. Provoking me to close my eyes and heed the torturous lessons risen from the proverbs of Francisco Goya while Canaan sends me postcards, wishing I was there. I embrace the darkness and the light because to run from either one is to succumb to the villainy of both.

That tricycle was an angel, fallen into a new born snow. The memories are a bleeding horizon of lost and found places, whispering in the breeze from all the way back to that twisted wreck up on the grassy hill.

Promising forever, until the wolves came home.

Running Away From Home

I went for a run yesterday afternoon. It was my first time out since my toe was t-boned by a runaway shelf the other day. I’m thankful that my metatarsals suffered only topical damage, in the form of an indigo colored toenail.

Nothing is less romantic sounding than a broken toe. Think about it, if you break your foot, you’re probably a stuntman; while breaking your ankle elicits pained expressions on a three fingers of bourbon level. Broken ribs provoke theological puns about Eve getting greedy, which is snarky without being demeaning. A broken arm somehow makes us seem athletic. A broken knee cap will have your friends thinking there was some nostra to your cosa.

A broken toe is a punchline. Without the punch. Seriously, if you tell someone you broke your clavicle, they offer to make you dinner for a month. Tell them you broke your toe? You’ve gifted them a running joke that will follow you to your grave.

This was one of the many things I thought about during a particularly brisk run whose Murgatroyd was heavenly. A good run is like watering the soul with Tibetan tap water. Somewhere inside the clipped breathing and rhythmic pounding there exists this wonderfully peaceful dimension in which sight and sound possess a flavor.

And so it happened while I was taking a bite of this glorious run, that mortality became a passing thought. Ditching the tunes invites loose thoughts. As a fifty two year old man who carries an aspirin and his drivers license on these jaunts, thoughts of death are not the preferred in flight movie. Death’s name in this instance, was Jimbo.

I know right?

Jimbo was friends with my pal Big Papi. They began falling out of each other’s loops over the last year and change. This change in temperature came about as Jim got dumber about his health and Big Papi, whose real name is Duane, got sick and tired of lecturing him on it. The last straw came when Jim celebrated a successful heart procedure by going to an all you can eat buffet.

The men both suffered from myriad health problems. But whereas Duane’s are the result of a stroke he suffered as a young man that paralyzed the left side of his body, Jim’s problems were self inflicted.

Truth is, I never liked Jim. He was a caveman whose personality was vanilla ice cream. Jim wore NBA jerseys in public, which I happen to think should be illegal for fat white guys. He drank soda because he didn’t like the taste of alcohol, which was not a sin in and of itself. But judging us for doing so? Was. And the whole Jimbo thing . . I mean, unless you own a bait shop, gun shop or porn shop, there is no fucking way you should allow the bo to caboose your proper name.

Clearly, I’m shitty when it comes to eulogies. Or maybe I’m just no good at dressing things up. But I don’t like that Big Papi had to pretend away the pain since there was nowhere for him to put it now. He’s fifty six years old and he’s going to be borrowing time sooner than later as a result of all the curve balls his body keeps throwing at him.

I attempt to change the subject in my head by assembling a poem on the fly. The cold air is a weep of bricks and the sky feels like a Caravaggio and my run deteriorates from bounding to sodden. The thoughts sometimes, they play for keeps. And death, its real name is time. I’d rather think of nothing at all, but its too late. Barbarians at the gate, the nasty little fuckers. So I push harder now, if only to hurt somewhere else, and it makes me feel as if I have something to lose. I find my rhythm inside the purpose of those twenty minutes.

I’m running away from home.

 

Sunday Morning Post

My pal Jen called me yesterday, out of the deep blue sky of forever since we last spoke. It’s been like, almost an entire calendar year and none of it mattered once we got down to giving each other shit. We somehow became solid friends in spite of ourselves.

Last fall, me and Jen engaged in some horizontal shenanigans. I blamed it on my inability to untangle myself from a married woman who chose her sides based on which social media platform she was using. Jen blamed it on the wine. We both agreed that the holidays would play our foil.

So when the gal I once played human Rubik’s Cube with dialed me up almost an entire calendar year later (Read: More than nine months hence), my mind wandered to a place no dude wants to be entertaining on a lazy Saturday. Until she hit me with the what’s what of her matter of fact.

“I’m engaged!” She coughed.

“What in the blessed fuck girl?! You? Miss . . . I’m never getting married again?”

“I changed my mind, okay? Jesus!” She laughed.

“It’s a damn shame because you were worth WAY more on the market,” I laugh. “But seriously, congratulations,”

“Yeah well . . the market is depressed,” Jen laughs back.

“So I’ve heard,”

“And get this, he totally understands dipping pizza in Nutella,”

“Oh shit, he’s retarded?”

“Fun,”

“As long as you’re both retarded, you will live happily ever after . .”

“Hey, what’s doing today? Wanna grab some coffee and I can show you the rock?”

“Hey . . yeah! Maybe we could go for manicures and chat up The Bachelor too!”

“Fuck you, seriously though. Coffee?”

“Let’s change it up a little bit. I wanna see Aquaman, so bring coffee and I’ll get the tickets,”

“Ooooooh! Jason Momoa, mama likey! Okay . . you got a deal. But they’re not gonna let us bring coffee in . .”

“First of all, you and I both know that some pimply faced ticket attendant is no match for your sweet talking ways . . and besides, not a concern if we get there early and catch up. That way we’re not being those people who chatter over the movie, yanno?”

“Those people suck,”

“Exactly . . .”

So we met up with plenty of time to spare. Jen gifted me a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup hot chocolate, which is way more sinfully stupid than it sounds. After she showed me the ‘rock’, we got down to the business of giving each other shit.

I asked her if Ryan has any kids, and she said he has one son from his previous marriage. “But he’s fifteen, which is kind of a big deal for me since every time I hear some bratty six year old throwing a tantrum in public, I think there’s no way . . .” Jen said.

“That’s very mature. I usually just think that dad’s penis was evil and mom’s vagina was broken,”

“I am at peace with being a selfish bitch,”

“You know what I’m at peace with? The idea of a meteor crashing down to earth while the world is sleeping,”

“Well more than half the world would not be sleeping, and it would be kind of horrible . .” Jen said.

“Yes, and I am at peace with the idea that I would be on the sleeping side of the planet when it happened,” I said.

“I would want to be awake, and at a Dave Matthews concert or something,” Jen said.

“Oh my fucking God,”

“Why do you hate Dave Matthews?”

“I don’t. Because to hate infers an emotional investment, and I don’t invest myself in pretentious monkeys who believe their lyrics should be amended into the ten commandments,”

“Nope, no hate at all . .”

Jen’s phone chimes and it’s Ryan. She puts it on speaker so that introductions can be made in the new old fashioned way. The dude sounds just like a movie star, and Jen’s eyes light up when he speaks.

“My man, first of all . . . condolences. I would like to tell you things will get better but I’m a horrible liar . . .” I say.

The two of them crack up in unison, like little kids who share a secret no one else in the world is privy to. Jen’s face scrunches up and when it irons itself out I can see the little girl she used to be. The one who believed in fairy tales and princes and happy endings. And inside this wonderful moment, flowers are blooming in the middle of winter and the world is making sense. I am smitten with these two, and it turns me into a ball of mush and it steals my snarky retorts.

I hate when that happens.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday Morning Post (A Prompt Challenge)

Happy Sunday kids. I’ve got a prompt post that was issued by yours truly. I shared it with the two other members of the Holy Trinity, The Notorious Q at A Dalectable Life and KC Sunshine at Table For One, so’s they could join in the fun if they feel like it. It’s simple as Simon, really. Take yourself back to the year 1985 (Yes, it’s a hat tip to Zemeckis) and explain to someone from that time what 2018 looks like. My post went in an entirely different direction than I was expecting it to go, so there’s not as much in the way of details as I imagined there might be. This post became about perspective, and how valuable a thing it truly is. 

I’m speaking on the particulars with my old friend Danny, who was taken from the world in the summer of 1985. It was much too soon for him. It was much too soon for all of us. Life always seems to steal the people you can least afford to live without, and now I find myself picking up the pieces of years that never happened and piecing them back together again as if a mosaic. Thirty three years that feel like a smoky mist.

“It’s been so long . . ” I say.

“Well . . I don’t understand time the same way you do. This is eternity, the shit lasts forever . . like velcro,”

“Yeah, how does that work anyways?”

“Velcro?” Danny asks with a sly grin.

“No . . . asshole,”

Danny laughs before tapping open a box of Reds. He wrist shots his Zippo torch and takes an elaborate tug as he ponders my question.

“What? You smoke now?”

“It can’t kill me,” Danny laughs.

“Hey, remember the time . . .”

Yeah I do,” Danny says, cutting me off at the pass. “I was never so sick in my life!”

“You never forgave Joanne for that shit,”

“She gave this impressionable young pup the run of her Daddy’s wet bar and her pack of smokes. That girl was bad news, but you wouldn’t listen,”

“Hey man, that was your fucking lesson to learn. The dude who never smokes or drinks, decides Hey why not do both in the same night because I don’t know any of the girls here and maybe vomiting all over myself will make me look more appealing,

“Screw . . . you, man!” Danny laughs so hard that he spits.

“I can’t believe Patti asked about you after that,” I say.

“Marc . . it’s like this. The bad boys appealed to her, but she was in need of a good man,”

“Well played!” I say, clapping my hands exaggeratedly as Danny takes his bows.

“So . . did Patti take it hard? Me dying and all?”

“We all did,”

“I’m talking about Patti here,”

“She never married. She became a nun,”

“You serious?”

“Of course I’m not fucking serious!” I laugh.

“No respect for the dead, tell you what,” Danny smiles.

“Things went from horrible to worse after you died. There was a grand jury investigation. Me and Matt went off the deep end there for a while and Shereen moved to Florida. I followed her there for a quick minute,”

“It’s all frying pans and fires with you!” Danny says.

“Name of my game, and I’m the one to blame,”

“Okay, since I’ve been lousy with the details since I left, seeing as how they don’t matter any longer . . what’s say you give me some dope on the state of the world. Was Orwell right?”

“Yes and no. Technology is a high wire act in 2018. We use it for everything while hoping we never reach the point where it starts using us. That old Tandy computer you had . . it done made babies. There’s a thing called the internet, and now you can chat with people from around the world. And it’s all about mobility now . . we carry our computers with us and they fit in a small bag. Not that we need ’em all the time, since our phones do everything,”

“You carry your phones?”

“Landlines are antiques. Water fountains too since everyone uses bottled water now. Newspapers and magazines and pizza delivery . . you get it on your mobile devices. We even have Dick Tracy watches!”

“Who’s the President?”

“Trump,”

“Huh,”

“Yanno . . that doesn’t sound nearly as ridiculous to you as it truly is. Okay . . lemme try harder. America’s Dad, Bill Cosby is a convicted rapist serving time. Joe Paterno, turns out . . wasn’t a Saint. He was taken down in a child rape cover-up at the school.  Communism died, and then it came back as something even scarier. Terrorist attacks are happening all over the world, all the time. Kids don’t fight after school anymore, they just brings guns in and kill other kids,”

“Alright . . shit. Sorry I asked,”

“The world’s in a very shitty place, Danny boy,”

“Nah. The world’s just fine, Marc. It’s just some of the people in it who rearrange the furniture and mess up the entire living space,”

“Fucking stardust has game! You were never this philosophical on the A side of things,”

“That’s what eternity will do to a guy,”

“Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of good. We had a black President. The internet has made the world smaller, and for the most part, warmer. And while Prince, Bowie and Freddie Mercury went much too soon, their music is still kicking,”

“See? Good shit happens if you take the time to look for it,”

“You’ve got perspective,”

“Well, I remember all the good times. There’s this one night, we were heading home. We had summer jobs waiting on us in the morning and Marianne decides that going into town is the greatest idea ever. It was closing in on midnight and it was breaking the rules, and nothing made more sense in that moment”

“Shit, I forgot all about that . .”

“I think about it all the time. Going over the Queensboro and the city was just getting down to business, and we were listening to Queen and screaming our lungs out and chasing forever and it didn’t matter that we were never gonna catch it. All that mattered was the try,”

I don’t have the heart to tell him that the city he remembers ain’t there anymore. And it doesn’t matter, now. All that matters is the moment he’s holding onto, and all I know is this.

I want in.

 

 

 

 

Turntable

It was June of ’86 when I hopped a plane for Port Richey, Florida. My former girlfriend had moved out of New York months earlier and I was in chase despite the fact we weren’t in love with each other. Ours was the kind of relationship that wasn’t interested with being in love. Cliches kicked the shit out of you and made you old before you really got going.

For most of the year and change we were together while she was still living in New York, forever had seemed a million miles long. And then it got lost one night when we were involved in a car accident that took my best friend’s life. Everything, every single thing, changed. We stayed together out of a hopeless desperation to save ourselves from drowning. Until the winter took us to different places, and New York, it became a place full of ghosts.

We broke up but stayed in touch. She almost got pregnant to a college football player while I swore I’d found my future wife in a Hardee’s Drive-Thru, and then we kept turning into someone elses until she called to tell me to get there, just for the hell of it.

It seemed like a great idea until I was touching down in Florida and wondering why in the fuck it was that life didn’t come with annotations. And then we were there, trying to catch up on everything we had lost and not having a chance in hell of getting back to what we had been before our lives spilled out in different directions.

The time I spent with her was filled with the kind of education only experience can provide. Among the things I learned was that the girl had more of my stuff than I remembered giving her. There was a half closet full of my clothes, including winter jackets she had no use for in her new locale but took with her just so she could wear them whenever she thought of me. She had a bunch of my vinyl, to which I cursed myself for giving up so easily. Other items of note included a sweet purple and gold Magic Johnson jersey, a Brooklyn Union Gas pylon I had gifted myself after a night of partying and a football helmet.

The more salient lesson happened from the moment I touched down and she ran into my arms. It was blatantly obvious that we tended to disagree. About everything. She thought the world was flat and I knew it was round. I was a Reagan kid and she loved Carter and Mondale. I read books like No More Vietnams and she read books like Phaedo. She was Mets, Chinese take-out, screwdrivers and U2 while I was Yankees, pizza, Corona and Bon Jovi.

It had never occurred to me that we had absolutely nothing in common back when we had been inseparable. But with the passing of time and place, now it was impossible to ignore. Once upon a time, I just assumed we were passionate and fiery. That’s some interesting shit. But the idea that we were just a couple of stupid kids who had nothing in common? Not so interesting.

So we debated who the best band in the world was and we never got back to even and then we argued on everything else. Until she was telling me to get lost and then I was hopping a plane out of there. Without my Magic Johnson jersey, or my two tone leather jacket . . . or my vinyl.

Twenty years later, we reconnected thanks to an old friend. There was zero expectation of anything romantic happening, but I had to admit it was nice to hear her voice again. She told me she was back in New York and she asked me if there was any chance we might be able to catch up over drinks. We were both divorced with kids and life was flying by and drinks with an old friend felt like a chance. To just forget all the things that time had stolen.

I had to get there. If only to ask how my LP’s were doing . . .