Monday, June 28, 2010

Mark It On Your Calendar: July 1, Bachelor's Day

I realize that with my, oh, baker's dozen of regular readers, I have quite a bully pulpit here. So today I feel like doing some bullying. It's time this country salutes a valuable segment of its population--bachelors. If for no other reason than to goose the economy a bit, and maybe to get some necessary cleaning done, I propose that July 1 be known from now on as Bachelor's Day.

Let's face it, any day now retail stores like my bookstore will be inundated with calendars, Halloween junk, and Jim Nabor holiday CDs. I kid you not. Obviously there's a dearth of things to celebrate for the foreseeable future, now that Mother's Day, Father's Day, and graduations have all gone by the wayside. July 1, immediately after the month of brides, seems to me a fitting day. I'm not asking for much, just a nod or two in the direction of us undervalued and often smirked upon but nonetheless semi-important unattached members of society. Give us express status at the drive-thru at fast food establishments; any man without a wedding ring gets a free stick of beef jerky while he's purchasing his dinner at the local gas station; have the IRS mail us a check for $4.19. Married friends of bachelors can drop by those notorious bachelor pads to offer an hour of much-needed maintenance: cleaning out the fridge, dusting, unclogging a bathroom sink. Hell, if everybody who knows a bachelor bought him one pair of socks every July 1, things would be honky dory in bachelor land, and the economy might get a nice budge out of the deal. It's not like I'm asking for greeting cards, cake, and a hug--whoa, much too intimate. How about it world?

Friday, June 25, 2010

Skipping Wrong Along

I guess it'll come as no surprise to many of you that I'm wired a bit oddly. It seems that while people my age increasingly complain about experiencing "senior moments" (those embarrassing mini-bouts of forgetfulness, incontinence, and inexplicable use of the word galoshes), I, on the other hand, am prone to "junior moments," where for some reason I momentarily revert to toddler/tot/tyke mental status (my doctor tells me not to be alarmed, recommending regular doses of Scotch, prunes, and "Bonanza" episodes to rectify the problem). Usually these lapses go virtually unnoticed by anyone but me, but today, well, today was a doozy. A woman came in the store today looking for one of those naughty crocheting books that seem to be proliferating, and just as I started to walk her toward the section (we're a sophisticated, customer-service-driven going concern; we don't point), I overheard a barista telling a customer that the cream and sugar were located on a counter just a hop, skip, and a jump away. Well, next thing I know, I was skipping, not sashaying, not power-walking, not strutting, but full-blown, kindergarten physical education class skipping through the store back to the crafts section. Well, you'd have thought the ghost of Michael Jackson had chosen our humble (but sophisticated and customer-service-driven) bookstore to put in a one-year-later nude moonwalking appearance. Shrieks, manic coverings of eyes, old men reaching for nitroglycerin tablets, mothers shielding their precious Sharon Draper-summer-reading-shopping children, the mousy woman who hangs out in the paranormal section and whom I've developed quite a crush on projectile vomiting--all of this instantaneously in reaction to the sight of a chunky, pushing-50, hairline-receding-but-in-no-way-balding man merely having a good skip. Thankfully (after gulping down a few lint-covered prunes which I keep in my pocket, just in case, and conjuring an image of Ben Cartwright and Little Joe waxing their saddles [all the while ruing the fact that I had ingested my one-day limit of airline bottle Scotch earlier in the morning when I had felt the urge to demonstrate my somersaulting technique for a crotchety guy looking for Karl Rove's book]), the cops who had been summoned were in a good mood, and figured if I publicly apologized via the store's intercom and offered to spread the sawdust-like gook over the vomit, no charges would be filed.

Which all has begged the question for me ever since: what's so wrong about skipping? Now some people will claim that no man alive over the age of eight should ever skip, except for Danny Kaye, whose whole essence, let's face it, is summed up in the act of skipping, but Danny Kaye's been dead for years, so adult male skipping is right out, end of story. But my gosh, have you skipped lately? Bikini waxing, skydiving, and chucking it all to pitch your tent at a nudist colony* be damned--there is no more liberating body-centric experience than skipping. Now I realize it might look a little goofy (well, I admit, outside of posing for a muscle magazine there is no goofier-looking body-centric activity than skipping; before my skipping episode today [and no, I didn't ask to view the hidden security camera footage, so I didn't actually catch sight of my skip] the closest I've come lately to witnessing a grown man skip is watching the Indians' Grady Sizemore do a kind of high-leg strut during warm-ups, and while Grady, when he puts down his strategically-placed coffee mug and stays healthy long enough to play for a couple games in a row, is an amazing athlete to watch [to see him turn his back to home plate and chase down a would-be triple in deep center field is enough to induce a sports erection {yes, in addition to the more commonly-known sports hernia, there is such a thing as a sports erection; most men don't like to talk about it, but on a day I skipped in public, what the hell; really, that's what this whole LeBron James thing is about in Cleveland--a town full of sports-thrill-deprived males is quaking at the thought of the collective impotence LeBron's (imminent?) departure would effect}], even Grady Sizemore looks kind of ridiculous doing a kind of skip), but who cares, skipping is phenomenal. Tell me I'm wrong, just try.

So do yourself a favor. Forego the mundane hopping and jumping; create your own junior moment and take a good skip around the grounds today. You'll instantly feel less grumpy (it's the weekend, who needs clear thinking? see yesterday's post), even if the titans of the Walt Disney Corp. do slap you with a cease and desist order (see the comments to yesterday's post).

*When proofreading, I noticed that I had initially misspelled nudist as judist. A judist colony? Hmmm. A martial arts camp for Semitics?

Al Kooper-Am I Wrong

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Art (and Science) of Grumpiness

Weird experiments pay off. Months ago, in need of a bit of a jump start, and with my "life coach" having been ejected from the proceedings for vehemently arguing a blatant no-call on what should have been a 5-minute major roughing foul on Fate, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I rounded up my treasured Seven Dwarves action figures, tossed them into a Derby hat, shook well, then plunged my hand blindly into the mix to pluck the dwarf who would lead me on the path to enlightenment. The deal was, no matter which dwarf I randomly picked, I would swear to devote the next six months of my life to his precepts alone. Admittedly, I was a little concerned about what that would mean if I happened to wind up with Sneezy, but you throw such caution to the winds when they're howling in mid-winter Cleveland and your mojo is ebbing. I drew Grumpy, laughed a grunt or two, told myself, "Well, this should be easy," and didn't think I'd think much more about it. But as the hours then days passed, I couldn't help pondering, What does it mean to submit wholly to grumpiness? Well, for a few weeks now I thought I had an answer, but I was too astounded by it all to state it publicly. But now science, God love it, because I sure don't, has arrived with validation. Basically, it all boils down to this twisted little Cartesian koan: I think clearly, ergo, I must be grumpy.

Yes, folks, read all about it here: an Australian psychologist's study claims that being grumpy helps us think more clearly, make better decisions, and be less gullible. Gloominess breeds attentiveness and careful thinking, Professor Joe Forgas (and how can you not trust an Aussie named Joe who's for gas as opposed to being, well, opposed to it?) says. As I have cultivated my daily grumpiness (yes, those of you who deal with me on a regular basis, I indeed do have to work at it; it doesn't all come naturally) lo these past few months, I have noticed a much sharper, more successful, if you will, overall thought process in my life. Whereas in less consciously grumpy times in the past I might have gone ahead with my plan to snorkel June away in the Gulf of Mexico, this past March, when I was making my summer plans, I thought the matter through and said, you know, that Gulf region is a bit unstable, I think I'll just stay at home and look into importing some vuvuzelas; sooner or later the U.S. market for those things is going to skyrocket. Want further proof that grumpiness has bred keen thinking in me? On March 31st I buried my annual euphoric inklings about the Cleveland Indians' chances, and in true all-out grumpiness, shouted into the Cleveland ozone: "The Tribe's gonna suck this year; 105 losses if we're lucky, maybe more like 111." Who you calling a foolish grump now, eh?

And so, with science on my side (and let's face it, whose findings do you find more reliable, an Aussie's or some German guy's?), I can now go public with my grumpiness routine. I'm sure you'll find, if you follow it closely, you'll soon be thinking much more clearly about the world you inhabit.

First, invest in a couple of cheap snooze alarm clocks. Set them for random times during the night, and bury them all around your bedroom. A lousy night's sleep is essential for prime grumpiness. A couple times a week, totally mix up your morning ablutions: squeeze toothpaste into your arm pits, brush your teeth with shampoo, ditch the deodorant althogether, shave blindfolded after a couple shots of Listerine. You'll be feeling most bad and nasty then. Kick your imaginary friend in the shins as you leave the house, then drive to work in reverse with Barry Manilow blasting on the car stereo. Commit to a short, pithy, and completely unfriendly mantra with which to interact exclusively with everyone who crosses your path. Something like, "to hell with it all," or "I don't give a rat's ass, and believe me, I've got a surplus of 'em, but I'm still hoarding 'em," or, "Dick Cheney's my god, outta my way." Charming as hell, all day long, you'll be. Refrain from pleasantries and dole out the acerbities. Case in point. Today, as I was sitting outside on my break, brooding over the cloudless sky/80 degree crock of crap climate day we were having, a three-generation family of women came strolling by, obviously lost. They asked me which way to the beauty store. Now a year ago I would have said something like, "Well, surely you all couldn't possibly be more beautiful, but if you must know, it's two doors down that way." Nada. Today it was pure grumpy gall: "Skin deep gals, ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Contemplate your own mortality in lieu of applying moisturizer--it'll do you all much better in the end, which is nigh, by the way." Well they huffed and puffed disdainfully and actually headed off in the right direction anyway. But by God, it worked. Grumpiness is infectious. Ten minutes later they came trudging back to me, chomping on Hershey bars. "Nothing but snake oil in that pit of chimeras. You're right son." Converts, I love them. So, embrace your inner grump, the bastard will clear your mind and save you lots of gullible grief. It's a fact, just ask an Aussie.

Frank Black & The Catholics-Horrible Day

Monday, June 21, 2010

A Good Pair

So yesterday was Father's Day and tomorrow is my mother's birthday. A good pair indeed. In honor of them, I'm posting one of my mother's favorite poems. I think my father would have liked it too. Like today, it's long, but funny. Read it.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

To Un-Sink A Heart (For Nancy)

A re-acquainted old friend had a great line: "My heart sinks a bit whenever a friend tells me he's started blogging." Especially when a given post is long, I guess. Or, most certainly a poem, I assume. Oh well, here's a poetic attempt (relatively short) in hopes of dredging up a sinking heart.

Ode to Jewel

Poets are meant to live in attics,
So says Pop star and best-selling poet Jewel
(not to be confused with the name
of a supermarket chain in Chicago;
is her last name Osco?).
Well, Jewel, maybe we do our writing in attics,
But we live in backseats
Amid old milkshake containers
Cigaretted upholstery
Funk—the sound and the smell—
Last month’s papers
Broken seat belts
Abused maps.
We also haunt rivers
And we’ve been known to loiter between trains
Waiting for the sound first, always the sound first.
At times you might find us squatting in supermarkets
Sneaking peaks at cashiers and bag boys
And cheating a baker’s dozen rutabagas through the express aisle.
I’m acquainted with a couple who throw free parties
In phone booths.
And one bard I used to know flops his welcome mat
And hangs his anti-bug strip at the mailbox
On the corner of Pepto and Bismal in Kankakee, Illinois.

Of course, you’d know all of this if you were half the poet I am.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Something In The Air This Time Of Year

So I turn on the computer this evening to get back to this blog (finally) and before I can even get to Google to Google my name to find out just where my blog is located, I'm hit with an avalanche of news items that made me think The Onion had usurped my homepage from Just what's going on out there? The controversy over the blowing of the vuvuzelas at the World Cup games in South Africa is threatening to push the BP spill off the front pages. Now I must admit, watching the U.S. vs. England match on Saturday was a challenge what with the swarming bee noise of those incessant vuvuzelas, but once I heard people wanted to ban them from the games, I was all for them. Especially after hearing the name of the horns and actually seeing it in print--vuvuzela. Off the top of my head, I cannot think of a more beautiful, evocative, even suggestive looking word, let alone sounding, in any language I'm conversant with (which is only one, but it's the mighty American English language). Keep me away from the beer, because if I had a couple and sat and stared at the word vuvuzela for a spell, I might just convince myself to say and write nothing but vuvuzela for the rest of my life. And how about this embarrassment of riches? Wiki says vuvuzelas are also known as lepatatas. Makes me want to come up with an exotic joke about two strippers, Vuvuzela and Lepatata. Surely one can stand the noise (100+ dbs, supposedly) and nuisance of anything named vuvuzela, right?

Maybe this guy Jonathan Metz could have saved himself some trouble if he had been wise enough to chant the word vuvuzela in his time of need. Seems that said Metz (foolishly, if you ask me; basements are not to be toyed with) went down to his (what he described as his "underground basement") basement last week to fix the furnace (that's two strikes against the guy, who gets little sympathy from me: going down to the basement and attempting to fix a furnace). Well, as anyone half as paranoid about anything as I am can guess, sure enough, Metz got his arm wedged into/behind the furnace and couldn't get it out. The upshot is he self-amputated most of his arm in order to try to free himself. But don't take my word for it. You have to watch the video of his press conference today:

Is it just me or is this guy a young (pre-balding) John Malkovich, totally in some twisted character, enjoying just a little too much his time in the limelight? Quite frankly, if I get myself into some stupid predicament (and here's a sensible suggestion to everybody--no matter how trivial, before every trip to the basement, unlock a door and call a nearby friend to inform him or her that you're going down to the basement and that if you don't call back within fifteen minutes for them to call 911 for you) where I have to partially amputate anything off my own body, I ain't holding a press conference to tell the world about it, and I'm certainly not going to revel in the gory details like this guy seems to me to be doing.

Now if you've watched the Metz video, you might have seen a couple of interesting items on the crawl: a judge has apparently said poor Gary Coleman's body will be cremated no sooner than Wednesday. This is news? Burn the guy already.

And then there's the tidbit that All-American artist of light Thomas Kinkade has been arrested for suspicion of DUI.

To top it all off, the famous "Butter Jesus" (because it looks like it was carved out of butter; alas, Kinkade had nothing to do with this piece of art) sixty-foot statue of Jesus in southern Ohio was struck by lightning and incinerated last night. The mind reels.

So what's going on here, some infernal harmonic convergence? Nah. It's simple. Tomorrow is June 16th, only the most significant date in 20th Century cultural history. For it was on that date (tomorrow as I'm writing this) that James Joyce's epic Ulysses takes place, in 1904 (which in non-fictive actuality was the date on which Joyce met his future wife, Nora Barnacle [now there's a woman who didn't have to think twice about assuming her married name]), and it was on that date in 1965 that Bob Dylan recorded the equally epic "Like A Rolling Stone" (though some misinformed folks will say it was today, June 15th). What a day. No wonder the world gets a bit topsy-turvy this time of year, to salute the imaginative explosions of Joyce and Dylan, no doubt.

Now I'm no Joyce scholar, but I'd bet he never used the words vuvuzela or lepatata, but that he's spinning in his grave right now for the chance to. As for Bob, there's still time, buddy. Happy June 16th everybody; do something groundbreaking in homage.

David Byrne-What A Day That Was

Saturday, June 12, 2010

11 Outlined Captions

Well, maybe the older a man gets, the only thing that changes is the speed (and relative safety) of his idol's toys. As far as two-wheeled transport, though, things have definitely changed for Bob Dylan, bicycling in Bratislava just days ago (above), and ripping it up on the upstate New York backroads nearly fifty years ago (below).

And so, at the risk of joining all the other bad, cheap punsters out there (damn, somebody already claimed "Bi-psycho Nitemare"), I just can't resist having fun with two of my obsessions, Bob and puns.

  1. The pedaller now takes to the road.
  2. Notify my next of kin, this wheel's got a slow leak.
  3. Positively 4th Street bike lane.
  4. Me, I'm still on the road, headin' for another rest stop.
  5. Coastin' in the wind.
  6. It's alright, Ma, I'm only in first gear.
  7. The bicycle racing-striped legend/Two-wheeled gypsy Zim.
  8. Take me on a trip upon your practical five-speed Schwinn.
  9. Does anybody have an "E" bike horn? An "E" bike horn, annnyyyybody? Just throw them all up.
  10. You brake just like a little girl.
  11. Lord, protect my child.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Hey Barber, How About Giving Me A Bieber?

It's official, today at the bookstore, as I hauled out another batch of new magazines, I came to the conclusion that teen singing sensation/heartthrob Justin Bieber is the new bane of my workaday existence. For what seems like an eternity, hair magazines have been that professional bane, but today, with no new hair magazines to put out, but two new Bieber mags, the scales have been tipped. Let me explain.

Until I got mixed up in the day-to-day vagaries of the magazine world, I didn't really know hair magazines existed. Yes, for those who are blind, deaf, and dumb like I was, there are actually magazineS that contain nothing but pictures of women's hairstyles. And they're not some weird fetish magazines (though the one guy with yellow Crocs and the automatically tinting bi-focals might beg to differ). They're simply magazines for women looking to find a new hairstyle. That's it. Imagine the editorial staff meetings at those magazines: what's the big question every month--um, 325 pictures of women with different hairstyles, or 340? What do we put on the cover this month? Uh, how about a woman with a cool hairstyle? Sounds good to me, Roger, anybody gotta better idea? No? Consider it done, then.

Now why should I despise these magazines, you ask? Well, nobody buys them, they just look at them, constantly. So the mags never go away, but they're always out of place--all over the store, not in their correct section, etc. And there aren't really regular issues of a given hair magazine; no Hair Monthly, really. Just a bunch of "special" issues that come out all the time, so dealing with them isn't as simple as dumping the new issues on the rack and yanking the old ones. And they're also the types of magazines that rarely have that nice little fine print message, "Retailer, Please Display Until June 9, 2010"--maybe a bothersome piece of copy cluttering the cover of your favorite magazine, but for those of us in the biz, a damn necessity. So I've got all these magazines whose titles and covers all look alike, I'm constantly having to re-shelve them and re-organize their little nook in the rack, and they rarely go "off-sale" unless I simply say, I've had enough of this chick in this blond 'do, she's gone.

But now the Bieb has arrived. And arrived and arrived and arrived. Every day he shows up on the cover of at least two magazines, I swear. I want somebody to do a count: I don't know what it will say about the state of America, but I'm willing to bet that Justin Bieber will appear on the cover of more magazines in the calendar year of February 2010-January 2011, than Obama did from February 2008-January 2009--no mean feat.

And maybe the cute Canadian lad with the easy smile and ever-engaging eleven-going-on-twelve singing voice (a bit odd for a sixteen-year-old, but who knows, maybe like the whole American dollar/Canadian dollar difference thing, there's a difference in the puberty age exchange rate between us and our dear neighbors to the north) deserves the media hype, what do I know? But my God, we don't have just a Bieber nook on the magazine rack, we've got a Bieber enclave threatening to annex itself into a genuine fiefdom. If the kid gets a cooking show or takes up knitting or quilting, the FCC and the SEC are going to have to look into matters.

But why, why does this kid's grinning face grinning at me (and not with a hint of a smirk--the kid seems squeakily wholesome) from the cover of every other magazine I handle irk me so much--that's the question I've been dealing with all day. Is it those little taglines next to his picture ("Is Justin Boyfriend Material?"; "Could Justin Be Your BFF?"' "Is Justin A One-Girl Guy Or Is He A Playa?" [just one time I want to see one of these magazine hacks be brutally cynical: "Does Justin Have More Money Than You'll Ever See In Your Life?"]) that make me pine ruefully for the (obviously) misspent days of my youth? No, fifteen years of therapy have got me over that hump. It's the hair, plain and simple. I despise the young man's hair.

Now I thank God every day that I push closer to fifty that I still have enough follicles on my head to make me look (more?) unkempt every two months, and a trip to the barber is now a sacrament of Thanksgiving for me, but God almighty, Justin's head of hair gives me the insecure creeps. What would happen, I wonder, if I strolled into the barbershop next time with a picture of the Bieb and said, "Hey barber, could you make me look like this?" Would I be instantly fitted for a straightjacket? Would I be told not to say "cheese" in my mug shot? And what if, somehow, miraculously, the barber could wrangle my thin, brittle follicles into a genuine Bieber helmet? Would people fawn and envy? Would girls of all ages and dispositions swoon and twitter my name? Would the world collectively make that oh so cute heart symbol with their hands?

Maybe...nah. I've never prayed so fervently for a boy's voice to change and for him to experience the onset of male pattern baldness as I do now. Enjoy it, Justin, enjoy it all. Father Time's licking his chops.

Monday, June 7, 2010


I'm hardly what anyone would call an outdoors type; I commune with nature generally only to get from one sheltered place to another. On the whole, animals scare me deeply. Still, though, sitting on my back porch the last few weeks basking in this beautiful spring has opened my eyes toward the animal kingdom. Thus, my field report:

Chipmunks have to be, unquestionably, the most paranoid, anti-social creatures I've ever witnessed this side of a racetrack bar. The other day, just looking out the back door, I spied a chipmunk peering over the outer wall of the porch. As soon as he sensed me merely looking at him, from behind a door, he disappeared quickly (do chipmunks do anything slowly?). Later, while sitting on the porch, the same chipmunk, I guess, started to climb up onto the porch. Once again, on first sensing me, whoosh, gone again to wherever they go (to chill out?). Even finicky rabbits that hop around outside, even the large, bulbous, big-tailed, off-white homunculus thing I see only late at night--these creatures will at least freeze to look at you and size you up a bit (by which time I'm usually scurrying like some most-wanted chipmunk with a banshee complex) before moving on. The only time I've ever seen two or more chipmunks gathered at once has been on some cartoon I never liked, or even got. And yet they're so cute, from what I've been able to see in a flash; I could abide with one as a pet. An anti-social pet, my kind of pet.

And then there are skunks. Is there a more universally despised animal? At least rats can be subjected to all sorts of scientific experiments that someday might benefit me and you. But skunks? Does anyone love them? Even tolerate them? If any animal should be paranoid and anti-social, you'd think it would be skunks, no? Well, maybe it's the knowledge that they possess the ultimate weapon, but I've never seen a skunk running away from anything. They just kind of trundle around like there's nothing to worry about except where their next meal is lurking. You spy one in the middle of the night, and instantly you freak, but they just look at you kind of dumbly, alter their course a bit, and keep on trundling. I deeply respect skunks; if anything had an ax to grind with the world, it would be a skunk. But they just seem to mind their own business, for the most part.

Over several weeks I've watched the goings on at the robin's nest creatively constructed on the remnants of an old spotlight attached to my neighbor's garage. First a robin or two painstakingly built the thing twig by twig. Then for a couple weeks I watched one robin--day and night--do nothing but fly back to the nest with a worm or something dangling from its mouth, hold it out until a few tiny beaks peeked out from inside the nest and took the food, then immediately go scare up some more grub. Worm by worm that robin, just as it built that nest twig by twig, built those young robins until I could finally see their full heads above the walls of the nest. Then, for the last week or so, the nest was empty: no activity. Those little birdies discovered they could fly, I suppose, and looked around and said, 'what the hell are we doing sitting in this scratchy, tiny thing perched precariously on a garage,' and took to flight. Then yesterday, I watched a robin, flight-hindered once again by twigs, flying back and forth to the upper, deeper depths of a big pine tree across the driveway from the garage. In my mind, naturally, I knew it was the same robin, retired now that the kids have grown and flown, building its dream house in a beautiful tree. The tree, by the way, is about ten paces south of the garage. No birdbrain that bird.

Creedence Clearwater Revival-Lookin' Out My Back Door

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Spring Cleaning

Yes, it's almost summer: time for some spring cleaning. Today I spent my time cleaning, cleaning my brain. As some of you might have suspected, cleanliness is not necessarily next to Danliness (the first year I decided to clean my brain, I accidentally downloaded the instructions for brain washing from; suffice it to say, I eventually freed myself from the airport, though I did keep the beads), so when I do commit myself to some cleaning, I go the whole hog. I started out with some light lifting, clearing the brain of some now-obsolete numbers and such that have been hanging around too long. For example, jettisoned were 876-5309, 10 Downing Street, 36-24-36 (not, alas, someone I once knew, just an old locker combination), Spitter007, 60'6", 68. I found an odd switch inexplicably turned "on." We'll see how many times a day I wash my hands this year. I forcibly removed a song I couldn't get out of my head for months now; an old ELO one, I believe--I've already forgotten. The shopping list I made sixteen years ago for my maiden voyage to Bed, Bath and Beyond I finally shredded. Maybe I'll get there next year. I was all set to don the EPA suit and dump the contents of my guilt vault, but then I spied, right next to it, the memories of twelve years of Catholic education, and I reasoned I might regret messing with the whole thing. Do you think that's okay? I rummaged through my dream cache, laughed once again at that one involving Janet Reno and the ring master, then cleaned house, putting up for sale on e-bay a rather juicy re-occurring one about Obama and an ear transplant. I did myself the favor of completely zapping my Cleveland sports memories for the past six months (BTW, it's NBA Finals time: the Cavs still in it? Mike Brown and Danny Ferry already concocting summer plans to make next year's team even more of a juggernaut? Is the Tribe hanging around first place long enough to put some post-July 4th excitement into the old hometown?). I dusted off my Bob Dylan shrine in my frontal cortex, re-tested my knowledge of every song he's ever written and sung, re-lit the votive candle, set the alarm and the multi-layered booby trap, and locked it all up for another year. Totally re-energized, I jogged my memory not once, not twice, but thrice around the block. Among the beads of sweat such activity produced were these gems: Thurl Ravenscroft was not only the voice of Tony the Tiger, but also sang the Grinch song. Flaghoople is Wilma Flinstone's maiden name, May 16, 1975 was the day I got my first zit. Stay away from Philadelphia. All in all, a very satisfying spring brain cleaning. Now if only I could remember where I left my glasses, keys, and raison d'etre, I could go out to Wendy's and celebrate.

Talking Heads-Artists Only

Thursday, June 3, 2010

You Expect A Perfect Call With This Guy Umping?

Like most people, I shook my head in disbelief that the first base umpire in last night's Tigers-Indians game blew this call...

...preventing the Tigers' pitcher, Armando Galarraga, from throwing a rare (not so much this year, but in terms of baseball history) perfect game (even though the blown call did prevent my Indians from suffering a great deal of ignominy). But when I heard that the umpire's name is Jim Joyce, well, then, it all made sense. James Joyce as a baseball ump? Come on. The guy had about four eye surgeries for every novel he published! He was probably crooning "Take Me Out To The Ball Game" in Swahili or something when the ball was hit. Either that or he was unconsciously "streaming" gibberish about moocows and dying mothers and lapsed Catholics. I bet when the Tigers manager Jim Leyland came out to argue the call, Joyce just said, "Yes, I say, yes yes yes!" Don't tell me, the home plate ump was Sam Beckett, who, rather than calling balls and strikes, just shrugged his shoulders at every pitch. Was Al Ginsberg the third base ump, winking at the batboy, patting the butt of everyone who ran by him, and chanting William Blake poems in an effort to levitate the pitcher's mound? And was that Bill Faulkner at second base, nipping bourbon and calling everything foul? And let me guess, the three-man referee crew at tonight's NBA Finals opener will be Ed Poe, using a ladder to toss the jump ball, Frank Kafka, whistling charging fouls on everyone sitting on the bench, and Marc Proust, sniffing everybody's sneakers and launching into three-hour narratives about his boyhood shoes? True, sports and literature are two of my biggest passions, but the powers that be don't have to mix the two for my benefit. I certainly don't want to read a post-modern novel written by Carlos Zambrano, and if some pasty-faced guy named Tom Eliot starts giving out yellow cards at the World Cup, I'm giving up reading for good.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Beyond the usual--checking out the person's shoes, odometer, and choice of beer--when I really want to get to know someone, I ask them the following three-part, three-part question: You're just getting to know the person you think you might want to spend the rest of your life with. What three CD's, movies, and books would you give to this person in order to say, if you really want to know who I am, experience these. Not necessarily all-time favorties, but cultural stuff that means a lot to you in some kind of personal way. People are always intrigued by the question, but rarely are they able to come up with answers for all nine parts. For me, the answers change by the quarter hour, which might be telling. But as for this quarter hour, these are my picks (explanations can be provided if you send a SASE or simply e-mail me; what are yours?):


The Replacements, Let It Be

Van Morrison, Astral Weeks

Bob Dylan, Blood On The Tracks


The Big Lebowski

Dr. Strangelove

The Last Detail


Herman Melville, Moby-Dick

Flannery O'Connor, The Complete Short Stories

David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest

The Replacements-Favorite Thing

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A-Z, In No Particular Order.

Y O Y? I tried to make A concerted effort to mind my P's N Q's, but in doing so I seemed to have forgotten to cross my T's N dot my I's. What the L? G, M I going crazy, I wondered as I absentmindedly forgot my ID N had to make A U turn, N almost killed A J walker who screamed, "AAAAA, I'm F-in walking here, can't U C?" I was so flustered by almost X-ing the guy out, I forgot about my ID N figuring I might B late, I made another U turn, which I guess qualifies as A W turn, and hoped the CHPD didn't C me and arrest me for suspicion of DUI. "R U OK," the J walker asked as I whizzed by him again. "E's nuts," I heard another guy yell, who was waiting for the RTA. "E couldn't spell sober if you spotted him the S!" So, F my P's N Q's, I need some Z's ASAP.