Heroes Of The Week!

Super Man

Imma try something new this week with my Heroes entry by giving y’all briefs on my heroes and zeros rather than prattling on. I got the idea after reading an article which claimed that readers tend to lose interest if they have to read more than a few paragraphs on a given topic. I forget what the rest of the article said, but I was duly inspired to exercise brevity. I’m sure there will be instances where I will prattle on. Take this explanation, for instance . . .

Mother Nature- The balls on this chick. There was snow in New England this week. Not the movie set Styrofoam shit either. As Lou Gramm opined, head games . . I can’t take it anymore!

Favorite headline from the Globe, or The National Examiner- “It’s not Harry’s Baby!”. Personally, I would have gone with Royal Flush! or Check Mated! But whatevs.

Wise beyond her years- I’ve been a critic of Team Process in Philadelphia, because I think any professional organization that soaks its fans for half a decade and then dresses it up in analytics should be brought up on charges. But the Sixers are fun, and Joel Embiid crying on the court after losing to Toronto touched me, okay?

Leave it to a nine year old Sixers fan named Olivia to sum things up best of all.

Readers ain’t writers (Spoiler Alert)- Palenty of Game of Thrones fans went carazy over how last week’s episode went down, so lemme simplify for the simpletons. Jaime proved you never outrun your past. Dany predicted how this was going to go down ages ago. And all those innocents? Picked the wrong kingdom to buy a house in. War ain’t tidy, kingdoms are won on equal parts guile and brutality and if you want a happy ending, go to Friendly’s. That is all.

A long time coming- Pete Sabedra waited a long time to earn his high school diploma. More than seventy years, in fact. When Pete was in the eighth grade, he had to drop out of high school to support his family. After serving in WW2, he received his GED.

Fast forward to now, where the 92 year old Sabedra was presented with a diploma during the awards ceremony in which his grandson Kace received his diploma. He was named an honorary member of the class of 2019. The moral is, it’s never too late.

Favorite headline from the the National Examiner, or The Globe-
“Betty White’s Wild Life!- Cocktails, Close Friends and Hot Dogs” My God, what a hedonist she was!

When jokes go South(west)- During an hours long maintenance delay on a recent Southwest flight, a passenger’s innocent joke got serious. Quickly. As attendants were handing out water, a passenger remarked “They should be handing out vodka, we’ve been waiting so long,”. Rather than let the joke die a cornhole death, an attendant shot back at the passenger and then informed authorities of an unruly passenger.

The plane did a u-turn and the passenger was removed from the flight, to the protests of all the passengers who had witnessed the exchange. Hopefully, this attendant will visit the website peoplewhoareeasilyoffendedbythestupidestshit.com.

Uncommon strength- Journalist Jayson Greene has written a book Once More We Saw Stars. It’s a memoir which details the anguish of losing a child. Greene and his wife Stacy lost their two year old daughter Greta in 2015 when a brick fell from an eighth story windowsill and struck her in the head. She died the next day.

Greene’s book is filled with painful, sobering images. But it also speaks to the crumbling infrastructure of New York City, and the desperate need for action so that this does not happen to someone else. It always amazes me to find people like this, who contribute to humanity in the face of unspeakable loss. God bless them.

Boycott Alabama- Of course, I ain’t ever visiting the place to begin with. And I don’t know too many folks who are. But it’s time to strike back at legislators who recently signed an abortion bill into law that truly belongs in the dark ages. Shameful.

Favorite headline of the week from the New York Post- “Here Cons The Bride”- ‘Husband’ sues car heiress for faking their wedding

All heroism is local- One minute Duana Owens was sitting outside a Wells Fargo branch minding his own business, and the next he’s getting a Sorryless mention.

Owens watched a man enter and then rapidly exit the bank, brandishing a hatchet on the flip side no less. Undeterred, Owens sprang into action. He ordered the culprit to lower his weapon and to get on the ground. After a few tense moments, he did as Owens had instructed. “(Police) said they really couldn’t find too many citizens like me,” Owens said proudly. No kidding.

Welp, that’s a wrap for this week. Apologies to those who never made it out of the green room, like . . . NYC Mayor DiBlasio turned Presidential candidate #714, the troll who wished cancer on talk show host James Corden’s kid and as always . . Chancellor Trump.

Coffee Shop

The pulp of a genius tasting peach rhymes with her lips as she spills  something evocative of Rita Hayworth . . as if a mad dash of spices on a rustic dish. And as she stitches words into the unspent void, she navigates the stolen moments and I’m thanking the blustery stars Prometheus once painted.

Our coffees swim in milk and paper as I opine on the moon landing being a hoax on account of the dearth of billboards. She argues that Shoemaker gets his mail sent there now so there must be something to it.

I listen as she fixes on something, after which comes the narration of scenes to a particular story. The scenes tumble into a heap of loose thoughts like a runaway mosaic and get ironed out like a Bronte girl talking shop with the girls over black coffee. She dredges a poem out of the tapestry without trying, and it embraces the previously industrial parts of me, turning my inner workings into hot butter. I listen as the missing goes found and the old becomes new inside the honey clench of sound.

We divine in the madness as if enjoying a siesta on Jupiter. The streets are a crush of hopelessly dotted calendars dressed in monotone, marching off to work in the hopes of finding their Broadway . . someplace other than here. The odd songs emanate from wanderers who have managed to loose the purpose of this endless carnival. They buy the time differently, in miniature panoramas of Everest whose peaks adjust the gritty concrete plains with bass. Careless with the elements as ripples of a stream, flirting with Mother Nature because they know she quotes Camus.

Sirens feed the canals with howl as the midday traffic vibrates in needy movements like manic piano keys. Guilt and dejection sprout up from the cracks in a raging blush, captured by the gilded frame of time in the angry sound that forever makes when it loses its way.

There is a distinct flavor to the accent of her classic rock melody as the conversation adjourns to sunsets in speakeasies without ever leaving our Formica booth. We spin a candied dew from borrowed scripts of long distance moons where Warhol lived and died before becoming our superhero.

Bowie’s voice cranks through a shortwave transistor radio behind the counter and he’s telling us we have five minutes to live. We just don’t know it yet. A midnight breeze works its way into the coffee shop as his lyrics nail the landing. And, as if on cue, a baby cries somewhere. To let us know the rumors are true.

All of them.

 

 

Dawn

A golden moon sways inside the endless reach of broken china stars whose wishes read like musical notes, risen from the dawn of time.

Darkness grows into a thick bleed of hard purple varnish, with lonely silver pinpricks of the ancient times roaming hopelessly, like lost lovers.

This celestial ballet is a tangle of poets and rock songs whose asymmetry is a revolution of math equations making babies with angry rhymes.

Serendipity pulses and bubbles in this magical pond. The restless calm before the uprising, when the might of darkness will battle with fire.

Cobwebbed stars shout in their best mighty and pray in their best kneel and get tangled up in storms whose crush is lying in ravenous wait.

Vermilion colored pebbles cobble themselves together in serrated regiments, tasked with the merciless plunge.

Stars weeping as if bent spokes on a broken down bicycle whose journey is a wheezing, desperate wreck of memories.

The sky heaves and swirls as if there is any doubt as to the outcome of its rebellion. Its tears turn to flickers and lashes and then finally, to smoke.

Black vespers of those cosmic scrolls float like ash across the moody canvas. Violet dregs to plush magenta to roasted crimson.

Plump slices of orange drip from this frosted ceiling as the moon runs away and the sky opens up to birdsong echoes and velvet cream clouds.

And dreams paint the newborn sky in sunflower drenched amulets that streak the racing heartbeat of that orange pulp with blessings.

The wind tastes of mercury and wine, with wrinkles of mystery and fate collapsing in a tranquil embrace with the ransom of time.

Morning dew gives way to plush, the chill recedes to a warm and faithful glow and miracles dress themselves in different arrangements now.

Daylight sings its cursive song as steeples sing to blackbirds. As a fresh coat of paint comforts an old house. As stained glass speaks of truth.

Dawn has arrived.

 

 

Sorryless Sunday Morning

I am proclaiming this Sunday to be the intermezzo of my Woodstock series of posts. So in lieu of flower power, Imma post the first in a brand new series that will show up on the regular once I’m finished spilling on my three days of peace and music in the Catskills with the lovely Q.

I used to do a “Sunday Morning Coffee Love” post on my old blog. I don’t want to steal that title, so I came up with Sorryless Sunday Morning because it had a Lionel Richie groove to it. I may change up that title in future posts, but the vibe will remain the same.

Sorryless Sunday Morning posts will feature blog shout outs, quick hits on whatever is dancing in ‘me noggin and a music video that brings the requisite chill to my Sunday morning. I hope you enjoy.

  • My son’s first week of teaching is in the books and it frazzled him. He’s in that new teacher zone where he’s gonna have to learn his rhythm. As with anything else an individual does that is worth doing, he’ll figure it out. A shout out to Frank at A Frank Angle for dishing up some pieces he wrote on teaching for me to give to my son. Frank is a scholar and a gentleman, and I’m blessed to call him my blog neighbor.
  • Speaking of blessed, the lovely Q wrote a beautiful piece at A Dalectable Life about love and friendship- and how it endures. Later on, we had a rather involved discussion about writing and published works, to which I’ve been stewing on ever since. I feel sometimes that I am hopeless in my take on the matter, so her nudging means more than she will ever know.
  • As for published authors, John Howell at Fiction Favorites is back in the lineup after his surgery a couple weeks ago. He’s the Mike Trout of the blogosphere in that he comes to play (write) every single day, and he brings it. Whether he’s writing his weekly mystery series, a prompt challenge or his haiku . . he engages you with his wit and his clever wordplay. Blog life is always sweet when he’s in the room.
  • As far as good tunes go, tune into Tara’s sizzle over at Daisy Smiley Face if you’re looking to vibe on some musical goodness. Tara operates on the same wavelength as yours truly as far as her musical tastes go, but every once in a while she’ll introduce a singer or group I’ve not heard of. And it’s always a slam dunk.
  • And to round out my top five blog shout outs for this week, Imma mention a chica who tells terrific tales about tails. Monika at Tails Around the Ranch also speaks gardening and Colorado and hockey, fluently. And she just started up a new online business called Sam’s K9 Kreations, so make sure to check it out!

As for my quick hit thoughts? I gots a few . . . .

  • I’m cutting ties with Walking Dead after this coming season. Like the old Carole King song goes, the feeling has died (for me) and I just can’t hide, and I won’t fake it.
  • Urban Meyer has been exposed for the phony he is, but winning will prove to be the deodorant of his odorous tenure. So here’s hoping he gets a clue before someone else becomes a victim.
  • One of my favorite Clint Eastwood lines, in an endless sea of ’em . . .
  • Jacob DeGrom of the Mets probably ain’t winning the Cy Young, but I happen to think he’s the best pitcher going this season. And if I’m a Mets fan, I’m pissed that ownership is wasting his immense talent.
  • In response to the peeps who call him overpaid, Raiders coach Jon Gruden threw shade at Tom Cruise; basically saying that no one complains about how much Cruise makes in a movie. Well . .having just seen the latest installment of Mission Impossible, I can tell you that Cruise is the only thing that drew me to the franchise. And if I’m laying down money, Imma go with Cruise over Gruden . . every day, and yes, twice on Sunday.
  • Going to see Crazy Rich Asians with the girl. Yes, the rumors are true. I am all about the rom-com.
  • Going to see The Nun when it comes out in a couple weeks. And no, the rumors are not true. I will not be wearing diapers. I also won’t drink any beverages beforehand . . .
  • I don’t think peeps understand that impeachment does not mean the removal of the President.
  • Braciole, like my lechon, is a dish best served in variations. The stand alone opening night dish is pure gumba-licious. The next day sammy is slamming. And every day thereafter . . it’s the dish that keeps on giving.

Well, that’s a wrap for this Sunday. Be sure to tune in next week for my next installment in the Woodstock series. Have a wonderful Sunday, and an even better week.

Peace, love and music

Never Go Gently

I had a couple ideas roasting nicely when I decided to order out instead. Because to me, Friday dances in rhythm with pizza delivery, frosty brews and righteous vibes. Friday shouldn’t be jumping your mellow, it should be jump-starting the sweet trespass of forty eight hours done up all proper and such.

Now, the stories Imma share with you ain’t all Tasty-cakes and iced tea. These stories are about overcoming the worst of times. They are reminders that when faced with the dying of the light, you must rage. But when you do, rage sweetly.

So apologies to Urban Meyer- the minor league football coach at Ohio State Inc.. I had a “Things to do while serving your three week vacation,  suspension!” list that I could’ve gone with, before realizing that none of this is funny. Not his track record, not his deceit, not his lies. But if you have a couple minutes, check out Dennis Dodd’s column on the Ohio State scandal. It’s one of the best pieces you’ll read on the subject.

Now on to some peeps who deserve to get talked about, for all the right reasons.

I’ll start with an amazing story I heard yesterday. It was about how one woman dealt with her unspeakable grief. After losing her seventeen year old son in a car accident, she felt as if her life had ended too. Dates on a calendar became excruciating reminders of everything she had lost. And then one year, on the anniversary of her son’s death, she reached out to a friend who had been struggling with health issues. And so began her way of coping with the loss; by giving something of herself. And every year, on the anniversary of her son’s death, she sends a gift to someone who is dealing with adversity or worse. It’s how she makes it through a horrible day. By giving back rather than giving in.

And when I think about fighters, Dale Rogerson of A Dalectable Life happens to be on my short list. Because the woman has experienced unimaginable loss, on more than one occasion. If you check out her blog, you can find those stories. After which you’re going to find a great deal many more stories on why life is worth living. Because she ain’t ever met a punch she didn’t answer with one of her own. Her sense of humor, her spirit and her magical ability to grow sunflowers out of the most stubborn seeds is what story telling is all about.

It’s rare that I refer to Dale as something other than “Q”, since that’s what I happen to call her, like . . all the time. But on this occasion, she’s Dale. The writer. She recently told me I am one of her inspirations when it comes to writing. Funny, I say the same thing about her.

And to send us into the weekend, I’ll leave you with this video that was sent to me by my pal, Linds B. It’s about a man named Theoklitos Proestakis, who walked out of one life and into another when he opened Takis Shelter on the island of Crete. Proestakis used his life savings to start a shelter for abandoned dogs and if you’ve ever wondered whether angels walk among us, watch this video and you’ll get your answer.

To faith, friendship and Fridays.

 

 

 

 

Expiration Date: A Writing Prompt

The Mistress of Prompts is at it again. Karen Craven over at Table for One shot off an email to me and Dale from A Dalectable Life last week in which she described a scene she had been privy to whilst on the train recently. As writers, we behave very much like detectives; culling and parsing and piecing together evidence from snippets of conversation and body language. Unlike detectives, our observational skills need not get it right. All we’re concerned with is creating a story out of the scraps.

So I took three simple lines that were uttered by a woman on a train and I constructed a world around it. Apologies for going long, but as writers, we don’t always have a choice. Sometimes we take the story, and sometimes, as in this example, the story takes us.

-“Yes, I really like my box of macaroni.”
-“Give me all my expired things.”
-“I need you to get a job.”

She sits alone on the F train, a flip phone nestled between her ear and her shoulder. She wears no jewelry, not even earrings. To the discerning eyes of a stranger, you can tell this is a self-prescribed departure from baubles and bright, shiny objects. Because the rest of her appearance is moneyed suburbia: Olive green double breasted wool coat with riveted pleats and envelope collar. Black straight leg trousers with rippled cleats frame her figure in an attractive pinch. Black leather pointy toe pumps that reveal a dime sized tattoo of a star on the top of her foot.

“Yes . . yes I know Caroline. I promise not to clash with House Rules. I’m really quite proficient at towing the company line. I was married to your father for thirty eight years, remember.”

“No. No don’t worry, I’ll make sure to speak in code. We can refer to him as Goebbels, how does that sound?”

“Okay . . not even that. Promise.”

“Honey, you know full well I am thankful that you and Bobby were able to maintain an amicable relationship with your father. After all, it’s not your fault he’s a cheating, lying, manipulative cock sucker,”

The chatter on the other end of the line increases in volume and intensity, as the recipient of mother’s bitter pill voices her disapproval in boldfaced adjectives. It seems the invite is being threatened with Olivia’s rant, and she quickly retreats.

“I’m sorry . . .”

In that instant, all the fight is stolen from her face; the scowling mien had been nothing more than a defense mechanism. Her porcelain complexion turns ashen with worry. Her majestic cheekbones become fallow as sunken treasures, and her piercing sapphire eyes become distant lights as she tries to steal back the chapters.

In her previous life, Olivia Trufant had lived a Good Housekeeping existence. She had been the poster Goddess homemaker whose perk was always feisty and whose neighborhood cache was the stuff of legend. These modern day Gucci mamas who get all dolled up to go to Target have nothing on that Mrs. Trufant; The mother whose kids were polished cherubs, whose husband was tall, dark and upwardly mobile and whose perfect ass was something all the other married men wanted to hit.

“I’m sorry for dropping out of your lives . . I just . . I needed some time. After your father left, I realized I had lived my entire adult life for him. I had nothing . . .” 

“I don’t mean it that way, Caroline. But you and Bobby . . you have your families and your own lives. I had your father,”

For better or worse, Olivia received the latter when her husband Stephen came home one day and informed her he wanted a divorce after thirty eight years. She had protested initially, before realizing there was no going back. He fast tracked the process, agreeing to pay her a generous stipend as if she had been one of the employees in his company. She was too numb to fight, too lost to care.

Within six months, he was married again. It had been going on for a half decade and Olivia had known about it for most of that time. She kept silent out of fear and pride, and so once she learned of their engagement, she understood that silence was her only option. It started with Stephen, and quickly metastasized into everyone else.

“Yes, I do understand and accept it. What choice do I have? I hope Bobby changes his mind some day, but he knows I love him,” 

“Okay, let’s change the subject. As for dinner ideas, I am happy with my boxed mac and cheese. You guys don’t need to make a big production for my sake . .”

“All I’m saying is, these mail order meals that are all the rage are really no different from a box of macaroni and cheese!” 

“Yes, I really like my box of macaroni,” 

Olivia turned thirty one in October of 1986 and Stephen had surprised her with tickets to Game 6 of the World Series between her beloved New York Mets and the Boston Red Sox at the old Shea Stadium. They stuck it out when the announced attendance of 55,078 dwindled after the Sox pulled ahead in extra innings. They booed when the scoreboard operator crowned the Boston Red Sox as champions before the final out had been recorded. And they cheered like a couple of kids on the last day of school when Mookie Wilson dribbled a ball down the line and stole back a baseball season. They chased all that magical energy by going to the Palladium on East 14th and dancing the top off of a brilliant fall night that felt to her like a tale penned by Dickens.

“I can’t wait to see them either. They are getting so big . .” 

Olivia’s voice almost breaks with the idea that two years have passed since she last hugged her grandchildren. How cold a person can become when their heart loses its place, she thinks solemnly.

She trudges back into small talk with Caroline, because the familiarity warms her senses.

“I let it lapse since I’m not driving any longer.”

“Where do I go that mass transit can’t get me there, Caroline? I don’t need it, I don’t need a passport either. So as far as I’m concerned . . give me all my expired things and I’ll put them in a photo album for safe keeping . .” 

Olivia laughs at the thought, but her face wrinkles with the recognition that she’s busy throwing chairs overboard to keep it from sinking.

“Yes, we are going to get along swimmingly. I am very hip when it comes to the times. So hip in fact, that I recognize it isn’t hip to say hip. But seriously, don’t you worry, me and the kids will be fine. No talk of Goebbels and no boxed mac and cheese. I just . . I need you to get a job . . this one. I need you to get it, for you.” 

“I had the chance, yes. But I was worker bee mom getting everybody else’s shit straight . . and I know it’s not an excuse. It’s just that . . . well, Caroline . . you just never know. You think your life is going to play out a certain way, and then, well . . you just never know . . .” 

In the spring of 1986, Olivia and Stephen had moved to Armonk- an apple pie hamlet of wraparound porches, community softball games and growing young families. It would be the first of several moves they would make as Stephen climbed the corporate ladder. It had been six months since they’d put their three bedroom apartment in Long Island City on the market, with nary a prospect. The romance of their first abode had quickly given way to frustration, and before long they were cursing its existence.

That is, until a night of baseball and dancing had lasted far longer then they expected. It was five in the morning when they arrived at the seventh floor apartment. They foraged for sustenance in a kitchen once so full of life and schedules and now mostly barren, and then they grabbed a forgotten Pyrex bowl and a couple loose plastic forks and made way for the roof. They watched the early morning sky grow ruddy as it got busy chasing the moon to the other side of the world. They watched the city of Manhattan wake up right in front of them as they feasted on a couple boxes of macaroni and cheese because it was all that was left in the cupboard. And in that moment, Olivia remembered thinking that she had the world by the tail.

She wondered if it would always be that way.

The Story I Prefer

So my forty days without candy are almost up, and Jesus is really proud of me. I don’t know this for certain, since I’ve never actually spoken with the Messiah; he only speaks to televangelists. But I’ve no doubt Jesus is somewhere warm and sandy right now, checking up on all the many peeps under his roof. He’s probably in some remote locale that Trump has no idea even exists, sipping on a long tall glass of Sangria that was water before he held it in his mighty grip.

I think he probably marvels at the complications and wonders how we ignore the miracles on a daily basis. And I really do hope he has a great sense of humor, seeing as how I gave up candy inside this season of reflection. As if pushing away from the candy counter makes us square.

The ephemeral nature of my separation from a sugar rush is symbolic of something greater . . I get it. But that doesn’t mean I can’t find irony and humor in the exchange rate; seeing as how the exchange rate is in everything we do.

Think about the things to which we abide, and how we give them currency. We believe a diet makes us disciplined. That reading about the stoics makes us pure. That attending church every Sunday makes us ready. That praying has two ends of a line. We actually believe that holding on to liturgical observances is a testimonial to the sacrifice of someone to whom Stephen Hawking, the smartest man in the world, believed was a fairy tale.

This isn’t to damn any of it. To the contrary, this is to celebrate the idea that we even try. Because every time we step into an idea and make it ours,  we’re not simply adopting these sacraments, we kinda become them in the trying. We win and we lose and it can be beautiful and ugly . . both. And there’s a magical fascination to that, I think.

Which is why it doesn’t turn me on to think we are simply the progeny of some totally spontaneous thrust in the belly of the universe. The idea that we’re nothing more than one big lab experiment may be the prevalent explanation, but the Shakespeare of it all really sucks.

Who’s to say the math is right? Who’s to say the universe isn’t some gigantic art museum that sprang a leak in the roof one day and let us in? After which the Boss fixed us up with a sweet crib, whose origins are thornier than a rose garden and whose stories are taller than Andre the Giant?

And we made it a home, somehow and some way. We, the highly combustible elements of an epic union, making our way through the great blue yonder in our search for clarity and meaning. We gain and we falter, magnificently. And so what of it? Are we handed a big fat meh of a pink slip when all is said and done? Is that the end of the story?

Or is there a maybe to all of this? The kind of maybe that stands a chance against all our technology and snark and smarts?

Like, maybe there is something else . . and maybe it’s been hiding in plain sight all along . . and maybe there is a star in the universe that belongs to every single one of us from the beginning of us. And when we leave this patch of grass, we get tucked into the sacred blanket, next to Prince and Carrie Fisher and Richard Wagner and Hawking and Bowie, and on and on.

Forty days is a grain of sand inside all the beaches on all the planets in all the universe. But . . it came to mean something to me, the way Pi Patel’s story of a Bengal tiger meant something to him. It’s a favorite book of mine, and I always get a lump in my throat when I get to the part where he asks the interviewer which story he preferred. Because I prefer that story too.

And so, if there is a God . . I like to think his son might actually appreciate the try. Personally, I like to think there is a Jesus. In spite of myself, and because of it. And if so, I like to think he wishes and he dreams, just like us. I like to think there is a day he looks forward to, a day separated by oceans and planets and the forever impossibilities of such a trespass. And I like to think it humbles even him. But still, he keeps walking and wishing and dreaming. And perhaps most of all right now?

I like to think he has a sweet tooth.