The Green Screen Side Of The Moon

One minute I was pondering how we got here from there, and the next I was arriving at the intersection of Jesus and Caramba. The someplace else I dialed back to was 1980. Okay . . maybe it wasn’t the age of innocence. It was inside a time where disco was on life support. We staggered over the edge of a decade replete with post-moon landing meh, and life without torch song heroes named King and Kennedy and life with Nixon. Before Watergate sent him away in a helicopter. And Vietnam. And Kent State and the hostage crisis and inflation and race riots . . .

But if you were to fix 1980 into a lineup of comparables, welp . . 2020 would be the El Chapo to their Sonny and Cher. We took their Paradise Lost and we doubled down into a Full House of Horrors. Their dearth of heroes became our reality television. Their Watergate became our daily trend, where “gate” gets caboosed to the latest scandal as if it were a wicked smart ensemble piece. Their Vietnam became our patriotic mission to spread truth, justice and the American way by co-opting the best laid plans of our Founding Fathers into a drive through dominion where branding is our inalienable right. Kent State became Columbine and Flint, Sandy Hook, Marjorie Stoneman and Las Vegas, and then things got worse when those days no longer shocked us. Their hostage crisis became our Oklahoma City and September 11th, and Boston. Their inflation became our great big heist. Their race riots, well . .we kept that tradition going.

There was plenty of promise to the way things started off, with a bunch of college kids beating the Russians in ice hockey. We couldn’t have imagined that our sports would morph from that quaint little Norman Rockwell moment into a bread and circuses cinema. And then Reagan lied to us about a shining city upon a hill. And George H. had us focusing on a thousand points of light instead of the stupid economy. Or is that the economy stupid? We got lost in the shroud of the cigar smoke from the Clintonian Era, and while we were busy trying not to inhale, an election went into overtime with the Supreme Court serving as referee. And then W became a four letter word before stepping up inside the darkest days . . before turning back into a four letter word.

The rear view tells me it’s been a hot minute since those days were busy happening. And here we are, the numb OG’s of a feckless age where the modern day proverb- Shit Happens- is mired in the muck of our everyday existence. And this isn’t to say that our mast is hurtling to the edge of the world and that all hope is lost. But . . . . damn!

So this is where the voices in my head make their money. Because yanno . . the questions I get to cooking up possess the kind of riptide that circumnavigates all the logical conclusions we’ve been taught to abide to since grade school. And either I’m Randall McMurphy on a stick or there is something happening here, even if what it is ain’t exactly clear.

Because I really don’t know what to make of this place we currently reside inside of. Are we a miserable scrum of beastly conclusions to which there is no honest to goodness fix, outside of a runaway meteor? Is the global script we’ve been reading from ever since fire led to the invention of the cheeseburger one big lie?  Is this nothing more than one great big romantic tragedy in which the lovers (that’s us) are destined to lose in the end?

When Higgs met boson inside that celestial tryst and then mass showed up nine months later, was Trump destined to be President from that very moment? Was race supposed to be the great divider in perpetuity? Was Joe Exotic supposed to be the elixir to a global pandemic? And is it too late to call for a cosmic rewrite?

Hunter S. Thompson called.

He wants his fever dream back.

Heroes Of The Week! (Old School Edition)

Pop Art

Today Imma take the way-back machine© to the not so way back of times, when the good and the not so good shared this patch of WP grass. Interestingly, none of the plus sides are mine . . which is probably the universe telling me I need to incorporate more fiber into my diet, I’m not sure. All I know is you peeps keep on keeping on with the good stuff, so I ain’t complaining one bit.

And now to this week’s episode . . .

Cardboard cut-outs with portraits of Borussia Moenchegladbach's supporters are seen at the Borussia Park stadium.

We’re starting things off with the beautiful game, and it’s a beautiful story that Peter from over at Cheers, Govanhill brings to us this week. Borussia Monchengladbac (say that one time fast) is a club in the Bundesliga football league, and they got back to work last month inside a new reality: No fans in the stands. So the club went about the task of filling the stands with cardboard cut-outs. The upside is that these faux fans don’t drink copious amounts of alcohol and scream all manner of artful particulars in the doing. This just so happens to he the downside as well, because yanno . . that’s part of what gives the game its soul. So the boys at Borussia came up with a soulful solution by selling the cut-outs to their fans for twenty bucks a pop, with the profits earmarked for local causes.

“When you first come into the stadium, for three or four seconds you don’t realize that it’s not real people,” Borussia player Marcus Thuram says.

And while the stands may not bring the noise, the spirit is alive and kicking. Which makes this idea a game winner.

Image credit: YouTube

Who among us hasn’t crafted a four lettered rebuttal when muscle car owners decide to let everyone hear what’s going on under the hood? But there is such a thing as context, and a Texas woman learned that lesson the hard way recently when she decided to play Sheriff to a caravan of cars in her neighborhood. They had arranged this “cruise” to help celebrate a ten year’s old boy’s birthday, revving their engines in unison as they passed his house. And that’s where the nosy neighbor stepped in to put a stop to the festivities. Which ended up backfiring when word got out that she had stalled the parade and more cars showed up later on, at the request of other neighbors.

Cutting to the chase, the woman’s complaints fell on deaf ears with the local police and now she’s listing her house. So you could say this squeaky wheel got . . replaced?

And speaking of cruising, that’s what Marcus Harvey and Tre’ Jones of Marion, Indiana were doing when they came upon a shroud of smoke. The kids pulled over to find where the source of the smoke was coming from and that’s when they were told that a neighbor’s house was on fire and that a man was still inside. So they went all Superman, breaking down the door and retrieving Guy Tarlton, who was laying unconscious in his living room. Tarlton suffered first and third degree burns and is currently in a medically induced coma, but his chances of survival are entirely the result of Harvey and Jones, who put their lives on the line without a second thought. These young men put the first in responder.

Robert Williams

This next story is what George Orwell warned us about more than three quarters of a century ago. It involves the use of facial recognition in criminal investigation and it speaks to a flawed technology that is more dangerous than it is useful. Forty two year old Robert Williams of Detroit found this out the hard way when police arrested him outside of his home recently. Seems that his drivers license photo matched that of a suspect who stole more than $3,800 worth of watches from a department store.

Williams ended up spending a night in jail before the investigating officers figured out they had made a terrible mistake. Which prompted the ACLU to get involved, claiming “the facts of Mr. Williams’ case prove both that the technology is flawed and that investigators are not competent in making use of such technology.” No. Kidding!

Remember that old saying about being careful what you wish for? We’re there . . .

Malala Yousafzai Celebrates Graduating From Oxford 10 Years After ...

(Thank you to the lovely Dale for providing the capper to her twin bill for this episode).

Most of you know the story of Malala Yousafzai. At fifteen, she was shot in the head by a member of the Taliban. Her crime? Pursuing an education, which is obviously a dangerous proposition in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. The group perceived Malala as a threat, since she defied their archaic rule at every turn; first in writing a blog for the BBC and later for being featured in a New York Times documentary. She was an inspiration to young women in a region of the world where the idea of getting an education is often met with threats of violence and worse.

Malala didn’t leave the world on that horrible day. Instead, she has flourished, bringing light to the darkest corners of the world while spreading her message of hope and empowerment. She spoke before the UN a year after the shooting. She’s met with the Queen of England as well as President Barack Obama. And at 17, she became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.

Almost eight years since being shot in the head and left for dead by the Taliban, she graduated from Oxford with a degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics. And so, what do you give the girl who has done so much for so many? A cake bath, of course. She can have the summer too. To sleep in, binge watch some TV shows and to think back on how far she has come in such a young life. Before her journey begins anew.

“It’s like we have done our activism; we have done enough to raise our voice. And I think the next step is now let’s make the change, let’s be the change-makers, let’s get more involved in this”

And to anyone who has a problem with this sentiment? Let ’em eat cake.

 

 

Sorryless Letters

Dear Sorryless,

I used to be the life of the party until this virus changed everything. Now, nobody seems to want anything to do with me. What gives?

Signed,

Depressed in D.C.

Mr Trump, just do what you always do. Inflate the numbers and conveniently ignore the facts. 

 

Dear Sorryless, 

Am I really as perfect as I think I am? 

Signed, 

Little Miss (Yes!) Perfect

Dear Miss Ripa, 

I’m not sure what world you’re living in, but umm . . . you probably want to stay there. 

 

Dear Sorryless, 

I can’t seem to do anything right! My bosses pull me in one direction while my employees pull me in the other, and everyone else just thinks I’m a talking head. And my dog isn’t even talking to me right now . . .

Signed,

Unsafe at Home

Dear Mr Manfred,

Being the MLB Commish means never having to say you’re sorry. You followed a guy in Bud Selig who pretended that sluggers were getting stronger on fairy dust. And then he followed that up with that “gift for the fans” that keeps on giving in inter-league play. Which is really a gift to the owners, since they get to charge premium prices for regular season games. If you ask me, you’re simply following in his dubious footsteps . . overlooking the pinball game that MLB has become whilst never minding the fans who ain’t getting refunds for the games that were never played. And now you’re pushing through a sixty game season, which would make Joe Dimaggio crap in his dead pants. Yanno what? Give yourself a raise. 

 

Dear Sorryless, 

I feel as if I am trapped inside the Rockwell song “Somebody’s Watching Me”, and when I tell anyone about it, they just shrug it off and tell me it’s all in my head. I know I’m not paranoid, but how can I prove it to everyone else? 

Signed,

Holed up in the Hills

Dear Mr Phoenix, 

Are you aware that some of the most brilliant minds in the history of the world were . . how do I put this gently? Bat shit crazy? Also, not for nothing but you really shouldn’t be eating mayo sandwiches at three in the morning. 

 

Dear Sorryless, 

What in the blessed fuck is up with people? Is it a lot to ask that you wear a fucking mask when you go out in public? For fuck’s sake, I have to wear a glorified house dress all the time . . and you don’t hear ME bitching about it!

Signed, 

Riled up in Rome

Dear Pope Francis, 

I know, right? I guess they really don’t think there’s gonna be a second wave (Already happening) and a third . . . and who knows what after that. But on the positive side of the equation, I don’t have to fake a smile these days.

Hey, it’s something!

 

 

 

 

Heroes Of The Week! (Lampoon Edition)

Top 10 Funniest Superheroes and Villains | WatchMojo.com

This has been the year of living dangerously, and we’re only at halftime. So I thought you kids might appreciate a variant on the tried and true Friday episode. So Imma kick it up with satire, because it’s my middle name. Maybe not my mama given one, but hey . . it still counts.

And now for our . . . umm . . . heroes?

Workers repair the cracked glass panel on Gatlinburg's SkyBridge on Tuesday morning.

Clueless Joe- As I mentioned in my last post, I’m not missing sports all that much. It would be nice to catch an occasional game or have something to talk about . . but the diversion was answered with a Johnny Come Lately of new kid in town alternatives. And besides, you know what I really don’t miss? Fans. Because more often than not, they’re doing stupid shit. And so of course we had an example come to us from Gatlinburg, Tennessee this week . . and he’s a baseball fan.

I’m guessing he’s a baseball fan by the slide he attempted into home plate. Which may or may not have been Soto, but for the fact he wasn’t on a baseball diamond when he did it . . . he was on a glass sky-bridge. Because I don’t know about you but I always wanted to throw my body onto a piece of glass that sits a hundred and fifty feet above the ground. So of course the slide cracked a glass panel and the bridge was closed for repairs as a result.

If this schmo had been a football fan, the Darwin Awards would have been crowning another champion right about now.

Mannequins are placed in spectator seats to cheer South Korea's football club FC Seoul team during a match against Gwangju FC, which is held without fans due to the coronavirus disease

Take me out to the Doll Game- The next story is a month old, but it’s the gift that keeps on, uh . . . giving.

The South Korean soccer team- FC Seoul- was issued a red card in the form of an $81,000 fine for filling their fan-less stadium with sex dolls rather than mannequins. Sex doll , social media users noticed the substitutions, after which the team claimed it was all a “big mix up”. The team’s soccer league responded by claiming the team “could have easily recognized their use using common sense and experience”. And I really wish the team would have responded to the league’s statement but I guess it would have been too easy.

Reports that thousands of single guys converged on the stadium upon hearing about the fans in attendance could not be confirmed . . .

Cruz engages in flame war with 'Hellboy,' in tweetstorm that ...

Ted and Hellboy’s Excellent Adventure- Remember the good old days when the idea of Ted Cruz in the Oval Office was the most frightening prospect imaginable? Yeah, I know the current occupant makes it difficult to remember much of anything, but rest assured that Ted is always happy to remind us.

Senator Seuss decided he was going to chirp in on a Twitter battle between a Florida congressman and actor Ron Perlman. Predictably, the shit got stupid

“Listen Hellboy,” Cruz wrote, “You talk good game when you’ve got Hollywood makeup & stuntmen. But I’ll bet $10k – to the nonpolitical charity of your choice – that you couldn’t last 5 min in the wrestling ring w/@Jim_Jordan w/o getting pinned. You up for it? Or does your publicist say too risky?”

That would be the same Jim Jordan who has been accused of covering up sexual misconduct allegations against Ohio State wrestling team physician Richard Strauss while serving as the assistant wrestling coach for the Buckeyes back in the nineties. The fact that Jordan is a U.S. Representative for Ohio’s 4th congressional district these days is not a shocker. Neither is the idea that Cruz would tag team Perlman by referencing a guy who was involved in a scandal involving sexual misconduct.

The two went back and forth before the former Beauty and the Beast star pinned Cruz down by telling him to leave Jordan home and include McConnell in the steel cage match instead. “All we need is a time, place and a few EMT’s standing by . . .” He tweeted.

Hey, what’s Perlman doing in November?

(If you’ve got a minute, read this piece by Gene Collier of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.)

Two things about the video above, and I’m really kinda serious. For one, why isn’t this a sport? I would definitely watch it on TV for a good three to five minutes. And for another thing . . . the world record is sixteen ping pong balls bounced into a pint glass in one minute. I think I could do this.

Hell, it’s as close as I’m ever going to get to challenging a world record, so there’s that.

Conversely, here’s a world record I have absolutely no chance of breaking . . .

Daniel Thorson outside the cabin where he just finished a 75-day silent meditation retreat at the Monastic Academy in Lowell, Vt.

In my best for last, Daniel Thorson gets the Capo di tutti Capper slot this week for doing absolutely nothing and being oblivious to what is going on in the world. And no, he ain’t running for office . . .

Thorson decided to go all Walden Pond on the world back in March by venturing up to a remote Cabin in Vermont for seventy five days. During which time the world was placed under house arrest, toilet paper replaced gold and platinum and face coverings became haute stuff.

When he made his way back to civilization on May 23rd, he took to Twitter with a query that has become a charmingly inimitable punchline for his friends and family.

“Did I miss anything?”

I know there are those among us (yours truly) who envy his blissful ignorance of our COVID-19 encrusted world. Because it speaks to the peace of mind that was ripped away from us all the way back there. After which the universe got busy reminding us that the the simplest conclusions are oftentimes turned into monolithic equations. And so yanno, taking a deep breath and just being? It’s a priceless commodity.

To borrow from the rock band Sublime, I don’t practice Buddhism and I ain’t got no crystal ball, but if I had a million dollars, I might just spend it all on the rent up at Thorson’s cabin. Tucked into the deep embrace of a Vermont landscape where the amenities possess that thing we need most of all right now.

Peace.

 

The Struggle is Teal, Duct Tape Politics and The Coolest Cat in the Room

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If you Google the color teal, you’ll find that it dovetails nicely with such peaceful propositions as clarity, inspiration, communication and perhaps most importantly of all, healing.

Inside a year where we have lost so much, Imma go with peaceful propositions for the much needed return they’ll supply on the investment. I mean, you really don’t even have to walk out your front door to get sushi rolled. All you have to do is turn on your laptop, log into WordPress and boom . . .

“The New WordPress Editor is Coming” . .

To which my reply is always a succinct Fuck you

I like to think Herman Melville would smile at such a response as that. After which he’d reel in a couple dozen words that say it so much prettier. He was brilliant like that.

I’m simply singing off the sheet of music 2020 handed out. It’s a song sheet that, to borrow from the treasure trove of Yogi (as in Berra) Isms, got late pretty early on. What with the one hundred and one Democratic candidates for President that led things off by punching holes in their own ship. To casualties of a novel virus that held the world hostage. To protests and politicization and a country so polar opposite in its opinions and beliefs that we may just have to get a big old roll of duct tape and pluck it right down the middle of the country.

All you have to do is fire up your electronic device in order to get questions to all the many answers. But wait! There’s more . . .

  • Like, does the MLB understand how repulsive it looks? A multi-billion dollar industry is once again at a loss as to how it seasons its stake while millions of people worry about how to make ends meet. And if there ends up not being a baseball season after all this? Well, let’s just say that if they thought the fan revolt was bad after their impasse canceled the World Series in ’94. Oh . . just wait.
  • And uh . . I don’t miss sports nearly as much as I thought I would. There, I said it.
  • I do miss eating out, which I did for the first time in months last Friday with my kids. Outdoor seating, retrofitted engagements . . but still. I liked not having to think up my dinner for the first time since March happened.
  • Don’t tell anybody, but there’s a Presidential election five months from now.
  • I’m on the fence about starting a food blog. On the fence because it would mostly be me re-blogging real food blog posts. I would contribute my own dishes from time to time as well. And it would all take place off my old blog, Drinks Well With Others.
  • As for my exercise regimen, that’s what I focused on over the last few months. When you suffer from depression and are plenty fine with not being around people . . . but you’re not so fine being told you can’t be around people . . . well, I needed a strategy. So six times a week, I’m going strong with some form of exercise- stationary bike, running, weights, Rob Zombie workouts . . . and it’s gotten me to a better place. Physically, sure. But even more importantly, my brain is being fed some positive chow.
  • Which means that junk food has become that player at the end of the bench. I summon it on “Cheat Day” but otherwise it ain’t got a regular spot in my daily lineup.

And then there’s this. Because 2020 has been the rainy season that keeps on taking. We lost our beloved black cat Mr Speaker a few weeks ago. And for most of the time since then, I thought about all the parts of me that he took with him to the great beyond. His little life was so much more to us. It was big and bold and it spoke countless millions of words in the language of purr. And this magnificent beast will always be the coolest cat in the room to me.

So to this, I had to figure out a way to shake the yesterdays we left behind. And then these two brilliant little messes showed up. My daughter is in Wyoming through July visiting her mother. I plan on surprising her with the dynamic duo in a video call this week. I’ve named the boy Jack, an homage to Mr Speaker. She gets to name the girl.

And as Vonnegut used to say, so it goes. That we move forward. Carrying the things we used to know and love inside this good long while of a life. These things that make us laugh and cry, and think and pray and dream to the stars up in the sky whose lives we used to share.

Good night, sweet prince.

 

 

We’re All In This . . .

I forget why I came here in the first place.

Which is what I think WordPress should really be called, because it’s a modern day version of Rousseau’s theory as far as social contracts go. The sort of place where you plate your propers in whatever kind of gratin you so desire. And for me, it’s been the gamut for the last how many years? Many.

So what have I learned in all that time? Well, I can’t think of anything off the top of my head but I’ll get back to you on that . . .

As you can infer, it’s a fluid list with palenty of hits and misses and even the occasional bruising. But to my way of thinking, if something serves a purpose? That means it has one. And so it goes with our current state of residential purgatory. Where it seems there is a constant onslaught of “We’re all in this together” reminders.

Well, what if we’re really not? What if that bumper sticker sentiment belies the fact that we have myriad ways of looking at this most unique of times? Would it really be so bad to say, you know . . we’re really not in this together but that’s okay. Because that fact is actually a strength and uh, not a weakness. 

Yeah.

It’s kitschy to fuse ourselves to a hypothetical common ground but it’s important to note we are, in essence, divergent beings whose push always resorts to shoving matches when it’s a matter of us versus someone else. When dealing with any sort of collective embrace, it’s best to wear sneakers rather than concrete boots is what I’m saying. Be a part of the team, by all means. But understand the most implicit of obligations is to yourself, which doesn’t mean to say that your stomach and your ass need to be full and wiped over all other considerations. Because looking out for number one means so much more than that.

And guess what? That’s more than just okay. It’s healthy, in fact. Because to marry yourself to a creed without an out clause is like saying Joe Paterno was innocent because you happen to be a Penn State grad. Abject deference to creeds and totems are built on quicksand.

So I tend to treat this time the same way I consider WordPress. We’re all individuals, whose journeys are wholly separate ones. All I know is that we’re all in this and that there was a reason to here and from here. Bumper sticker sentiments aren’t going to get me or anybody else through this time. There’s only one commonality that really gives me the warm and fuzzy feeling of togetherness. And so what if it involves adult beverages.

It still counts.

 

 

 

Heroes Of The Week

Today's Real Heroes - Focus Financial Advisors

I must start things off by thanking Frank for sitting in for me last week. His take on the week’s heroes was a masterful gem, delivered by the Cincinnati Kid himself. If only his home town Reds could bring it with such aplomb, but that’s another post for another time.

As for this week’s heroes? Welp, I have a serendipitous stew of classics. All good ones, because we need to keep mining for memorable conclusions inside our sheltered existences. A reminder that the great big world outside is still humming a worthwhile tune, delivered up by peeps who understand what matters most of all.

And now for our heroes . . .

Yankees' Giancarlo Stanton donating face shields in wake of family ...First things, Bronx. And while the Yankees haven’t played a game this season, their pinstriped slugger Giancarlo Stanton is still hitting home runs. So far, Stanton has delivered up more than 12,000 face shields to medical professionals in New York and Southern California. He has been working with his agents Joel Wolfe and Brittany Peiffer and Voodoo Manufacturing to get the job done for those individuals on the front lines. Plans for more are currently in the on deck circle, to the tune of 3,000 more face shields. So maybe the MLB gets a season, and maybe they don’t. But Stanton? He’s already getting MVP votes from this writer.

Random act of kindness: Man caught on camera mowing lawn for blind ...

Ann Darby is throwing up her hands and saying to hell with this whole social distancing business. But it’s okay, because her hands ain’t balled up into fists, ready to punch someone’s lights out for taking the last twelve pack of TP. No, Darby is looking for the culprit who did right by a family member recently. It seems a mystery man took to mowing the lawn of Darby’s blind mother, Rebecca. And while the random act of kindness was captured by their Ring doorbell, the good Samaritan is still at large. Because he did this good deed? Just to do this good deed. And maybe Darby ends up finding him through her social media hunt, but maybe this case grows cold. But really, who am I kidding? This story leaves us all with a warm feeling inside. Where it counts most of all.

Police called to Maryland Popeyes 3 times since Sunday, including ...

Don’t get me started on which fast foodie franchise serves up the tastiest chicken sammie, because I’m going with Popeyes every day of the week and twice on Sundays (Since that other chicken sandwicheria doesn’t do Sundays). But there’s so much more to love about Popeyes than their spicy dishes. The restaurant recently announced it will be offering struggling musicians a stage to call their own: In their ads. Those with the time and the rhyme can apply their method to the Popeye’s jingle. And if it’s booms, Popeyes will use it in their national ad campaign. THAT is maximum flavor right there. (Thank you to Screen Chow for the righteous get).

And we have our late inning rally brought to us by the lovely Dale over at A Dalectable Life. Who supplies with not one . . not two . . but three (Yeah, count em) stories that round up this week’s gallery. These three beauties in one help to provide us with the necessary propers inside a pandemic whose uppercut would make the legendary Joe Louis shudder.

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Laurent Duvernay-Tardif reached the top of the sports mountain back in February when the right guard won the Super Bowl with the Kansas City Chiefs. It will be a good story for his grand-kids, to be sure. But it’s not going to be the story of his life, because Laurent is a medical doctor; just the fourth such doctor to ply his wares in the league. And while he hasn’t completed his residency yet, he was given the opportunity to man the front lines when Quebec lifted restrictions on medical students and recent graduates. The dude stepped right up, no questions asked.

“I had already wanted to, but when it’s real, it hits you, the gravity involved. Now, the discussion shifts from ‘I want to go back’ to ‘how am I going to go back?’” he wrote. “I discussed with my girlfriend whether we will continue to sleep in the same bed or live in the same apartment. These conversations made me realize even more the sacrifices that people in health care, on the front line, are making.”

Joannie Rochette: from figure skating to med school – RCI | English

And then there’s Joannie Rochette, a former world class skater whose trophy case includes an Olympic Bronze, a World Silver and six Canadian World Championships. Her mother never got to see her win that bronze medal in Vancouver in 2010, having died of a heart attack a few days prior. But Rochette prevailed on that night, thanks to the lessons her mama taught her. And she just recently graduated from medical school and is off to the front lines to make her difference . . inspired by those very same lessons.

“I always wanted to do this, and that’s why I applied to health sciences when I went to CEGEP. My mom was a nurse’s aide and I went with her to care homes when she went to feed residents,” Rochette says. “The way she saw medicine, and doctors, is really what brought me here.”

Hayley Wickenheiser poses for a photograph with volunteers during a donation drive for personal protective...

And finally, we have Hayley Wickenheiser, a four time Olympic gold medalist in hockey for the Canadian national team. She’s widely considered the greatest female hockey player in her country’s history, but it’s what she has accomplished away from the ice that lands her in this spot.

Wickenheiser is a dynamo, having worked as an assistant director of player personnel for the Toronto Maple Leafs since 2018. And oh yeah . . she just so happens to be graduating from medical school this summer. She was working on an ER rotation in Toronto when COVID-19 hit, and has been digging in her skates ever since; coordinating PPE supply drives across Canada.

“It has forced us all, I think, to reevaluate what’s important moving forward. Also just how important being prepared is. I think it just highlights all the areas we forget about in life. But you’re grateful, also, for not having to live on the street or struggle through. Just an overall feeling of gratitude.”

Three kids, whose dreams got put to work inside this wickedly mysterious time. Their steps are simple, precious things, far removed from the roar of those sporting arenas that made them household names. But it’s inside the quiet of their future lives that their most impactful differences are happening. And maybe there’s no box-scores or trophies or trips to Disney World that come with these brave new worlds. But the answers to the questions, those are more abundant than ever. And they’ll push forward in relative anonymity, in spite of the very real dangers. And they’ll do so for the most beautiful reason of all.

Because they can.

 

 

 

Me and Oscar Wilde at a Ballgame

We sit along the third base line as the late summer afternoon puts another quarter in the jukebox of a melodious sky whose lyrics rhyme with every kind of forever after kind of place. And Oscar, he minds to the third baseman, who’s being rather possessive of the mussed up bag he’s responsible for guarding.

“The chap is of a mind to take that thing you call a base home with him, it would seem . . .”

“It’s why they refer to third base as the ‘Hot corner’. Because if you’re looking for the most suspenseful of locales on a diamond? It’s as good a place to start as any,” I explain.

Seven innings down and I’ve explained a lot of the nuts and bolts of a typical game to the old boy. He digests every morsel of information before spitting out literary devices in return, so the bargain? It’s fantastic as far as I’m concerned.

“Why does the fellow on the mound behave in such a fastidious manner? Is it not considered poor etiquette to deny the batter his involvement with this baseball?”

“Involvement with this baseball . . I don’t think Ted Williams could have said it any better than that, my man. Well see, it’s like this. The pitcher is attempting to talk that baseball into doing his bidding. But the batter, he is well aware of the liberties he might be able to take with the very same ball. So the pitcher holds on, as if holding to a lover he fears might quit him,”

“I see. So . . chess with a sidearm?”

“Oh God, Oscar. I can’t imagine Vin Scully could paint a baseball portrait any better!” I say.

“Here, here!” He replies as we clink our plastic cups full of a brand new round of merry.

“And there are how many stanzas to this parade again? . . Nine?” He asks,

“Officially, yes. But unofficially, the game could last forever. There is no clock, there is no time limit. I’m going to lend you a book . .it’s called The Iowa Baseball Confederacy. The author, W.P. Kinsella . . he will educate you as to why the game is like no other game ever invented. Because if both teams are tied after nine innings have been played . . they keep on playing until someone breaks the seal. Home team always batting last . . .”

“Ah, it’s very much like when I penned The Importance of Being Earnest. There were indeed moments that stretched into days and weeks and yes, months . . where I believed the very core of the sun would meet its end before I might conclude! And as it were, I produced several books out of that one . . before business was attended to and the pages were snipped into a more agreeable fashion, as it were . .” Oscar says.

“Because the words are like a baseball game, huh? They have no real end to them. The precarious little buggers,” I say.

“So, assuming this contest does not outlast the sun? Might you have a place for me to settle in, where I may commence with a postlude on the day’s events? It is my solemn wish to share these moments with strangers whose divinity can be found at the bottom of a well apportioned glass!”

“There is a place, across the bridge in fact. Full of firemen whose ancestry goes back to when these streets were navigated by horse drawn carriages. Romantic like that,” I smile.

“Are they the sort to appreciate a good story?” Oscar asks.

“As long as the tap is singing and the company understands the fine art of colorful language . . yes. But I must warn you, they are rascals, the whole lot of them,” I warn him good naturedly.

“I do love a good rascal,”

We toast as the inning ends on a double play, cut clean from the geometrical nursery rhyme of Tinkers to Evers to Chance. And the sun splashes down in one final vertical thrust before bidding adieu.

The visitor’s half of the ninth inning begins with the home team having things well in hand, by a 6-2 score. But with one man out, a rally gets to stepping and the next thing we know it’s 6-4 with two men out, but the bases loaded. And now the buzz of the crowd folds into a single, collective hush as their best hitter steps to the plate with all manner of bad intentions as far as that baseball is concerned.

And now the windup . . and now the pitch . . .

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot Edition of Heroes

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Although I last posted in early February, I haven’t written a blog post since January – let alone put something together on the fly. Then again, the tales of The Painted Lady are the exception.

This past Wednesday evening, Marc invited me to write this Heroes edition. How in the hell is a guy who hasn’t written in so long supposed to write something in place of the host who can write better than most of us on his first draft while asleep?

For full disclosure, I submitted so many heroes for this week, I promoted an idea to Marc for an all-Frank edition of heroes. Unforeseen by me, he turned the tables on me by returning the pile to my lap – and Imma not a talkin’ hemorrhoid piles from sitting on my keister.

What do you get when a newspaper delivery guy, a mailman, and a lady in a Subaru meet a property manager for a meal outside a restaurant that isn’t open because of COVID-19? Yep – the Whiskey Tango Foxtrot edition of Heroes.

My peeps who remember me know that I firmly believe the majority of the world is good. Oh yes – plenty of assholes exist, including the regular ass hats that find their way into the daily news. But the good of the world’s majority is the light of humanity.

Bruno Serato of Anaheim CA is a celebrity chef, restaurant owner, and long-time giver. Since coming to America with $200 in his pocket, he is a self-made success story. He has achieved more acclaim for his long history of feeding unprivileged kids than his highly successful restaurant. Unfortunately, in 2017 a fire destroyed his restaurant – but he kept giving. COVID-19 has pushed him close to bankruptcy, but he keeps on giving meals to the needy because it is his true passion. Watch this short video for yourself.

 

Kyle West is my local connection – a 23-year-old mail carrier in Cincinnati, Ohio. On his daily route of 400 customers, he smiles and talks to them. With COVID-19 changing people’s lives, Kyle included a personal note in each stack of mail. “If you are at risk and need help getting essential items, let me know. I will do what I can to help. Sincerely, Mailman Kyle.” The number of requests surprised him and he surprised them all with action. Here’s a short report from a local television station.

 

Greg Dailey delivers newspapers to home subscribers in his central New Jersey town. A subscriber requested he toss the paper closer to the house. He obliged, then an idea came to him – so (like Mailman Kyle) he wrote a note and included it in the paper. “I would like to offer my service free of charge to anyone who needs groceries.” People called – then more people – customers and noncustomers – and he did what he offered. Watch this short video.

 

Larry Connor owns a company in nearby Dayton, Ohio. The Connor Group owns and manages luxury apartments around the country. Two of Connor Group’s core values are doing the right thing and the belief that people count. Larry’s success has made him a shit-pot full of money. COVID-19‘s economic impact on people has been profound, yet Larry has made more money on the stock market. He thought about the money and the economic situation. Then called a Zoom meeting of employees – and yes – gave it away. Check out the short video.

 

Mary’s story is not directly related to COVID-19, but it is about goodness. While distraught from the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Mary Latham and a friend decided to collect stories about good deeds and post them on a website. Her mother’s illness suddenly turned for the worse. That day she also received a story about a person who lost both parents – then her mother died within two weeks – and that’s when she decided to drive around the country collecting stories about goodness that she would put together into a book to be placed in hospital waiting rooms. Three years later, she returned home from her journey with her stories about that goodness that she knew was out there. But she also returned with many surprises – the goodness that people did for her. Here’s the story I first learned about Mary, plus a short video made during her journey.

 

Keep smiling, have a good week, and thanks for reading. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Truth isn’t just stranger than fiction, it’s dumber too

You know that scene in every other action movie, where the protagonist turns to no one in particular and says “You just don’t get it, do you?”. After which a terminally ill sounding musical score draws the curtains on a formulaic ending? That’s how most of us are low riding this pandemic through the springtime, as we ponder how in the hell some people can fuck up a glass of water’s worth of logic.

Oscar Wilde once said of the truth that it’s never pure and rarely simple. Hell if he wasn’t onto something . . . .

  • Social distancing equals six feet. It does not mean you ride up on my ass in the grocery store checkout line. I mean, if you’re gonna get that close to me? I need flowers and a nice dinner first.
  • I haven’t watched the wildly popular The Last Dance on ESPN yet, because I cut out cable in January. But I have an idea for all the sports ‘journalists’ opining on whether Jordan would make it in today’s game or if LBJ would make it back in the ’90’s. Pray for live games, because y’all can’t figure your way out of a paper bag without em. Jordan and LBJ would excel in any era, because they would be products of . . that . .  time. Greatness is an adaptation,  so please stop snow-globing these hypothetical scenarios.
  • The vacuum of leadership in Washington got me to thinking on Doris Goodwin Kearns’s book, Team of Rivals. And so when I read how Mitch McConnell wants the Senate to get back to business so’s he can hold confirmation hearings for federal judges, because he wants to lay conservative brick? While at the same time bemoaning his lack of suction in the most recent virus-response bill? Well now, M&M doesn’t have a clue as to how out of touch he looks. What I would give for Abe Lincoln to get five minutes in a room with this guy, just so’s he can set him straight on what strength and vision is supposed to look like.
  • So we’re straight on this “opening the country” business. There’s gonna be some deft maneuvering necessary by state and local leaders. One researcher told the New York Times that if the pandemic were a baseball game, “it would be the second inning”. So yanno, plan accordingly.
  • And because we don’t have enough to worry about, now comes word that Asian giant hornets have landed in the states. Also called “Murder Hornets” (how charming), these winged fuckers decapitate honey bees and pose a serious danger to humans. I mean . . . what’s next?
  • Nicolas Cage is going to play the Tiger King himself, Joe Exotic, in an eight episode series coming soon. I have two questions: Number one, do we really need this shit? And my second question is, where can I watch it?
  • Kate Beckinsale is in love. Get back to me on Friday with how it works out.
  • It appears Fifty Cent and Oprah are feuding. And apologies to Mr Fifty, but I highly doubt Oprah is aware of it.
  • Todd Bridges was trending on Twitter over the weekend, and no . . not because he’s dead. It seems his role in a Little House in the Prairie episode like, a hundred years ago, captured the imagination of the Twitterati. Which has me wondering, when they were trying to come up with a name for the site, why didn’t they just call Twitter “Slow News Day”? Makes more sense.
  • I don’t know what’s more concerning to humankind: COVID-19, or the fact that Kristin Cavallari and Jay Cutler are parents.

And coming up in next week’s news cycle of What in the Blessed Hell . . .Trump insists he uses Cialis for high blood pressure. Fox News touts heroin as a possible COVID-19 wonder drug. And the New England Patriots are decommissioned by the NRC.