Friday, November 30, 2007

Forget Reactionary Nostalgia

I saw the Drudge Report's synopsis of the contents of Pat Buchanan's book about the end of civilization or whatever he's on about. What a turd. He seems to want to fill the slot that Robert Bork had for a while, writing books chock-a-block full of "widening gyre" and the "lamb slouching towards gomorrah" or whatever the hell the reference is.

Apocalyptic visions can be a sort of dumb fun, I guess. Between him and Al Gore I'm surprised you can hear yourself think at the intellectual bus stop with them both shouting at the passing traffic with visions of DOOM, DOOM, I SAY!

You know, all in all, The Road Warrior was a lot more fun.

The world changes all the time and people don't like it. They certainly don't understand it. Neither side. As I get older, I realize that if I'm going to talk about Old Bastid stuff, I have to be careful not to drift into just being cranky. If I was under the age of thirty, and I saw Pat Buchanan and his Legion of Doom Factoid Brigade approaching, I'd cross the street to avoid him. Even if he was right, he's a jerk. If your doctor ever tells you that you have cancer, and while you're trying to wrap your mind around that fact he adds: "And you're ugly and your wife is fat," you should get another doctor. Even if he knows less about cancer.

If you have experience about a period of time, and it was bad (hello, Jimmy Carter!) you should point out that things were lousy to anyone that might be tempted to try it again in their ignorance. (Hello, current crop of presidential candidates!) But it would be so much more useful to employ your first hand knowledge of time gone by to point out whatever things are glittering in the big pile of woe and sorrow and detritus we call life. They're always there. Help people to see them for the first time, or remember them kindly.

As I was saying; the seventies sucked. Do not reproduce them. But stuff like this used to come out of the jukebox in the highschool cafeteria thirty-five years back. Pat Buchanon was listening to Four Freshmen albums and freshening Richard Nixon's drinks back then. Why pay attention to him? Pay attention to this:

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Italian Negotiating

-Excuse me, sir.
-Not now, kid; I'm busy.
-Please, sir. Won't take but a minute.
-Time is wastin' junior; whaddya want?
-I want to join your carnival, sir.
-Souls in hell want icewater, kid.
-I can do something spectacular. Mom says we really need the money.
-You look like the short end of nothing, sharpened, kid. I need to attract the eyeballs.
-I can do a stunt.
-What could you possibly do?
-I could dive off a thirty foot ladder into my mother's washtub half full of water.
-Kid, if you could do that, I'd pay you a hundred a week.
-Just watch me...





-Kid, if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes, I never would have believed it. That was fantastic. I'm a man of my word. A hundred a week it is.
-Nope.
-A hundred and fifty.
-Nope.
-One seventy-five.
-Nope.
-Look kid, you're backsliding on me. What's the idea of holding me up for more money when we had a deal fair and square from the get-go?
-Oh, no sir; it's not that. It's just that I never tried it before, and I didn't really like it.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A Thousand And One

Granpa told me all about the genie in the lamp.

It's the oldest story ever and came from the land of the sand and the women with only eyes. It's in there, the genie of everything, but you have to find him and let him out. Then he's out and you have to figure what to do with him. Granpa says he's wonderful but as dumb as a stump, just like all of us. He can do anything but doesn't know what to do. He needs guidin'.

The lamp is always hidden in plain sight he says. Men go prospectin' all over the landscape for the easy riches but they're generally layin' right there on the ground but you step over them in your hurry and scurry to look for them. Granpa points to the men through the door of the grog shop and they're playin' cards and Granpa says what good does it do for them to find the riches anyway.

Granpa would take the books down from the high shelves that the kids weren't supposed to get because the treasure in them was too dear to waste on such as us. He told me to run my hands over the cloth on the cover to see if it was the real deal inside there. They don't waste the nubbly cloth on the fakers.

The lady wouldn't like it but Granpa would shush her and we'd go home and open that book but only so far. A book is like a man, Granpa would say. You can only bend him so far back until he can't take it no more and then his back breaks. People always put the book back on the shelf but you can always tell because neither the man nor the book can stand up straight any more after that.

Scheherezade told that Sultan all those stories and it kept her alive and me too.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I'm Mr. Blandings --Only Without The Book Contract, A Maid, Or Two Girls; And Mr. Tissander Won't Return My Calls

[Editor's Note: Written in 2005. ]
{Author's Note: I guess I hadn't figgered out the Intertunnel doesn't pay by the word yet. There is no editor.}Let's be positive today. Nary a discouraging word, as they say.

O.K. I'm positive that Hollywood hasn't made ten movies as good and entertaining as "Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House" in the intervening 57 years since it was made. Yup, I'm positive.

Hollywood is in a slump, according to Variety. People don't plunk it down reflexively at the box office any more. Lots of head scratching up and down the Sunset Strip. Well, let me give you some hints, over there on the west coast, about why we're not buying as much of this piffle as previously: It's because it's crap.

It always was crap, I know. When I was a kid, TV was in black and white, and had three or four channels. You watched whatever was on it. Period. And if you were home sick from school, propped up with pillows in the bed, fortified with those wonder drugs, aspirin and ginger ale, the one treat you got was the 11 inch black and white TV at the foot of your bed, and bad movies all day long.

TV, with only those three or four channels, still didn't know how they could possibly fill all those hours. They'd show any drivel: Candlepin bowling for a couple of bucks, or maybe just a gift certificate. Community Auditions. Anyone who's ever seen Community Auditions can't watch American Idol. Once you've seen the spectacle of an overfed adolescent in a tutu twirling a baton to a lounge combo version of a Sousa march, nothing else will do.

But of all the dreck, Dialing for Dollars was king. Dialing for Dollars was a local show, where a bad radio announcer would host an interminable movie in the afternoon, and occasionally pause to pick bits of a shredded phonebook out of a rotating basket, and call the phone number on the scrap. At first, the available technology didn't even allow you to hear the person being called, making the tableau seem even stranger than it was. If the person was home, and watching the movie, and could identify the movie, and knew the exact amount of cash they were giving away, they won a few bucks. Think of those odds. The unintentional comedy factor was pretty high; picture watching, watching mind you, a bad emcee count on his fingers and intone: One ring. Two rings. Three rings. Four Rings...

People would actually answer their phones back then, and talk to whoever was on the line. No call screening. No unlisted numbers. No cold call salesman. No answering machines yet. Hell, the host would still reach party lines occasionally back then. For you youngsters, a party line was a phone circuit that served several homes, because phone lines used to be precious, and expensive. The phone would ring slightly differently for each user, and your neighbors could pick up their phones and listen to your conversations if they felt like it. And so occasionally the host would be talking to three shut-ins at the same time, none of whom were watching his movie.

The host would mostly get elderly ladies, who didn't know what day it was, never mind what the movie was, and started talking to the guy as if they were restarting a conversation they had started in 1936, and he'd sit there, politely trying to get an interjection in edgewise, always failing, and looking at the camera like it was an oncoming freight train. Finally, he'd get the question out, and the women would say:

"What did you say your name was, again?"

And he'd always say: "Buh Bye" sweetly, and they'd add ten bucks to the till, and he'd PUT THE PHONE NUMBER BACK IN THE BIN. Try, try again, indeed.

The more upscale local station tried a bit of class by showing the same dreadful movies at midnight on the weekends, but with a host in a tuxedo. He'd stand on a set reminiscent of a Busby Berkley musical, in bow tie and tails, and try to find something interesting to say about the movie. There was a problem. The fellow hosting the show used to be Bozo the Clown on Saturday mornings, and we all knew it. And try as he might to be urbane, many of us would always look at him and smirk. That poor fellow spent his whole rest of his life trying to be suave and sophisticated, but the greasepaint and fright wig always showed somehow, like a tattoo you got when you were young and drunk, and regretted for every waking moment for the rest of your life.

Off topic perhaps, but I met his son once. I attended a party at the local junior college, the summer between high school and college. The college had always had the reputation as a place where wealthy people send their ne'er-do-well children to dry out and be babysat by the faculty, until they could ram them back into the real college that had expelled them for partying too much. My friends and I were just the poor local schlubs, very out of place, and must have looked like the dead end kids to these little inebriant fauntleroys. We were the guests of a lovely young lady who was dating a friend of mine. The movie host's son was there, drunk as a lord, and began hitting unmercifully on my friend's girlfriend, right in front of him. My friend could have disassembled the little blighter into his component limbs, and stacked them like cordwood if he'd had the mind to, but he was a gentle sort, and slow to anger. The little cretin eventually brought out what I'm sure he thought were his big guns: Do you know who my father is?

I butted in: "I sure do. He's Bozo!"

This was not the answer he was looking for. He withdrew.

Anyway, eventually you saw every movie ever made- good, bad or indifferent. Occasionally they'd show a good movie like "Blandings," by mistake perhaps. And you got a perspective on how hard it is to make a really good movie. It must be difficult, there's so many of them, but so few worth watching.

What I suspect, however, is that recently they're not really trying to entertain us anymore. They really don't seem to care that a vast majority of potential viewers, me included, don't need to see another movie about a hit man with a heart of gold. Forty five of them a year for the last ten years has fulfilled my need for comic murderers, thank you. I'd rather see stories about interesting and attractive people, like the Blandings.

"Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House" was made in 1948. It was essentially remade in the 1980s, with uneven effect, but still with enough of the original's luster to shine on through, as "The Money Pit." Tom Hanks and Diane from "Cheers" made a good comic team, and we own that one too and wqtch it occasionally. But Blandings is king.

Cary Grant is da bomb. Cary Grant is a movie star. Picture Tom Cruise sitting on a couch across from Jay Leno. That's a very small picture, even if you have widescreen television. Now picture Cary Grant sitting across from Johnny Carson. They're both too big for the screen, no matter how big it is.

Everybody in Hollywood is a homunculus compared to Cary Grant. He's dead, and in black and white, and my wife still reminds me: "You know, Cary Grant is a babe."
Grrr. Yeah, I know.

And unlike modern actors, he can act. Not Olivier acting. I mean, "Hamlet" isn't in danger of breaking out in the middle of one of his movies. But you only need so much Hamlet in your life; somebody tell a joke, will ya? Cary Grant knew how to.

And Myrna Loy was a babe. She had the looks of the woman you would marry, and stay that way. She started her career as a vamp, but morphed into a matron eventually. The vamp always showed, though, like a glimpse of garter, and I still remind my wife: "Myrna was a babe, you know."

Grrr. Yeah, I know, she says.

And Myrna knew how to deliver her lines for their full comic effect. Most actresses today sound like they're reading that shredded phonebook I mentioned earlier, aloud. Without their glasses.
The story is and interesting cultural artifact about city folks building their house out in the countryside. It's funny to hear them talk about Western Connecticut like it's out on the prairie, and bucolic as Vermont. Mr. Blanding's house would fetch tens of millions of dollars today. But the story is universal, for anybody that builds a house, and raises children, and works at a job. The humor is the sort that's a lost art these days. It's quiet, and self effacing, and subtle. Mark Twain used to rail against people that "told jokes." He knew how to be funny, which is to tell a story in a humorous way, and avoided punchline fodder. And a movie, a comic movie, is just telling a story in a humorous way, isn't it? It should be. This one is.

And it's interesting to look through the actors who have small parts in the movie. They all know what they're doing, and push the story along nicely. Only a a fetishist would recognize more than a few of them by name, but they all look familiar. Then you look up their resumes, and are amazed:

Louise Beavers, who plays their maid, and comes up with the advertising slogan that pays for that house, was in 163 movies!

Harry Shannon, the well driller, who has the best scenes in the movie, appeared in 149 movies. I vaguely remember him shooting at John Wayne, or shooting at the someone else with John Wayne, a few times.

Nestor Paiva, who plays an appraiser for 30 seconds in the movie, was in 186 movies.
And Jason Robards (Senior) knew how to work. He appeared in no fewer than 206 movies, and then had a son to be in a few hundred more.

And you know why they worked like that. They were professional, and people that knew how to write and produce movies knew enough to use accomplished and dependable actors, and tried mightily to entertain us. They still do entertain us, though they're all dead now.

It's the live people in Hollywood that have forgotten how, or never knew.

Monday, November 26, 2007

I Need Old Lessons (Still, Again, Whatever)

[Editor's Note: Re-run from so long ago you can't recall it or didn't see it anyway]
{Author's Note: I'm busy and there is no editor and even if there was I'd have him sanding things instead of editing}
I'm not old, really.

I don't mind the idea of getting old -- I guess. I hate many of the early manifestations of it, of course. I don't like waking up feeling worse than when I went to sleep. There was some creaking in the hips after pulling my toddler son in a wagon all over creation on Hallowe'en. The calendar really does have a sense of urgency now; it never did when I was young and dumb.

So I'm ready to learn. I'm in the market for Old Lessons, but no one's selling. Everybody justs acts like overgrown teenagers until the day they die. And I'm not interested.

You see, I'd like to be dignified, at least a bit. Is that so hard to understand? Forget the calendar; just hanging around long enough to see bell bottom pants come and go and come again is enough for me to think: I'm getting off this crazy train.

I don't want a second wife. I don't need any Viagra.

I don't want to listen to Jay-Z records... I mean discs... grrrrr... downloads.

I don't want to dress like an effeminate Frenchman and wear a helmet to ride a bicycle. I don't want to wear sneakers to funerals.

I don't want to get married on a beach by a Vegan Wiccan mail order minister, while releasing doves. I don't want to go to Disneyland - and leave my children home. I don't want to get dressed up for Hallowe'en.

I don't want to watch television. I don't want to paint my face to attend sporting events and run on the field. I'd prefer to dress like Tom Landry. I think all the coaches should dress like Tom Landry, too.

I don't want to drink out of a great big sippie cup all the time, like a gigantic infant, just because you've all decided that you're dehydrated.

Note to the world: Coca-Cola, and all its brethren, is candy. It's sugar dissolved in fizzy water. Only latchkey children eat candy all day long. Note also that Diet Coke and all its brethren are diet candy. Diet candy is for diabetics. What kind of person eats diet candy all day long? I don't know, but they're not going to be giving me any adult lessons. I'll have a glass of water, thanks. In a glass. A glass glass.

I don't want to see Lindsey Lohan naked. I don't want to see Lindsey Lohan clothed. No bungie jumping. No fantasy camp. No Zima. I don't want a Dodge Viper. I refuse to walk around with things stuck in my ears to listen to rock music that I could recite from memory anyway. I don't want a tattoo. I don't want an earring. I don't want a Harley.

I don't want to give anybody a high five.

I like it when the clerk at the bank calls me "sir". But then again, I always did. I'm not "dood." I don't want anyone to ask me for my driver's license when I buy booze. There were 48 states when I was born, and one telephone company, kid. Give me my booze.

And no -- no diet beer. That's for little girls. I'm a man. And I'm going to be an old man someday...

If it kills me.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Wait For It

Cary Grant Versus Marvin Gaye


What did I do before the internet? Oh, yes. I watched Cary Grant movies, and listened to Marvin Gaye records.

Friday, November 23, 2007

The End Of History




A few years ago, a pack of morons who shall remain nameless remarked that we'd come to "the end of history." Since we're gettin' history, full-bore and in spades every day, I think that remark and all the people who seized on it need to be ridiculed as the myopic narcissists they were, and are. BTW, electing people that claim that problems stop because they're in charge is unwise. I indulge my children by closing the closet door at bedtime because they're afraid a monster might be in there looking at them. If there really was a monster in there, I wouldn't tell them to go to sleep and close the door anyway. There's no monster scarier than Dad.

Sam Cooke has one of the loveliest voices in the history of lovely voices. It was fun to hear it lilt over that compendium of things. I've been around for a while. These people are not my contemporaries, but none of them are obscure to me, either. What a rollicking half-century it's been, chock-a-block full of history, really. Did you know everybody in there? They made some history for themselves, instead of stickin' their fingers in their ears and going lalalalalala.... Try it, it's fun. The history, I mean.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Have A Pleasant Thanksgiving (You Jerks)

[Editor's Note: This was written a year ago. I was Thankful I could run it again instead of being original]

{Author's Note: This should run tomorrow, the day before Thanksgiving, but I know you guys aren't going to work tomorrow, and won't see it. Happy Thanksgiving. And there is no editor}
There are lots of news stories available --the majority of them, I think-- expounding on the horrors of Thanksgiving. "Send us your dysfunctional family Thanksgiving disaster stories" is the lede on every radio program I can find, that hasn't jumped the gun entirely and started with "Tell us your Christmas horror stories."

I'm not having it. Thanksgiving is lovely. Or it should be.

Thanksgiving doesn't beat around the bush; right in the name it tells you it's a day to be grateful. Complaining about it seems to me to be like going to the art museum and complaining that the paintings are obscuring your view of the walls.

Hmm. Perhaps that's a bad simile. I've been to many museums where the dropcloth daubs they hang on the walls aren't as interesting as the off-white paint, now that I consider it. So please insert "Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy" in the preceding paragraph where "art museum" appears. Thanks.

Anyway, it's not about you. For one day, at least, I don't want to hear about your crabby attitude towards your assembled family and your overcooked turkey. I don't want to hear about the lousy TV you've got to watch the football game on. I don't care if you don't like the floats that drift by Macy's like garish barrage balloons. Put a sock in it. It's not about you.

It's not about any of us. It's about remembering that everything we have is a gift, and we could lose it, and we should take time out from our lives for one day a year and acknowledge that.

Have you ever been in a soup kitchen on Thanksgiving? I hate the preening socialites and politicians that visit there on Thanksgiving to get face time on TV. I think much more kindly about the people that feed those poor souls on November 22nd and November 24th, when the cameras aren't interested.

There's a look on a person's face, when someone gives them something they need that they might not have otherwise. It's the look on the face of the man in line at the soup kitchen. It's gratitude.

I'm going to give it a try tomorrow, that look. It looks like Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 19, 2007

I Hate Politics


I refuse to discuss politics or my bathroom habits here. Since the melding of politics and bathroom habits have come to their glorious acme with the activities of a certain Senator from Idaho, I really don' t know what's left to say about them, anyway.

It's impolite to talk about politics in social setting where they are not the reason for the gathering in the first place. Political gatherings should be few, far-between, and decisive. You, know, like pumping out your septic tank. With the same results, generally. Get rid of the old turds to make room for the new ones.

Anyway, I've written something vaguely political, but to my credit it's in a place where people go looking for that sort of trouble. Pajamas Media.

“I don’t want to stay vertically integrated until I’m horizontal, thank you very much.”

It's not really political, actually. It's a plea to be recused from politics as much as practicable, which is my usual, misunderstood position. Someone calling themselves "Grumpy" left a comment right away describing it as :

"...a little convoluted but the point being made is crystal clear."

Grumpy, I pray that will be chiseled on my gravestone someday.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Modern Marriage Template (Electric Boogaloo)

[Editor's Note: This was originally offered in November of 2006. The future former Mrs McCartney is still banging her leg on various talk show interview desks, so it hasn't aged a minute, really.]
{Author's Note: There is no editor}



A lot of people don't like Paul McCartney.

That sounds silly, a little, I know. I've been alive to see Elvis, and Sinatra, and everybody else who thinks they're a big deal in music in the last forty years. None of them ever approached the popularity of the Beatles.

No one ever will, either, as the moment for the great mass of people to pay attention to one thing, coupled to the ability to experience it, will never come again. They were the guys standing in the right place at the right time. Attention is atomized now, along with the ability to indulge our atomized tastes. When there was only three TV networks, the Beatles were on all three. I distinctly remember an AM Top Ten List in 1964 with eleven Beatles songs on it, as one slot was a tie. Beat that.

I'm too young for the Beatles, sorta. It was people my older brother's age that went loopy for them. Fifty something now. I was a kid, watching them on Ed Sullivan in my footie pajamas, after watching grainy video of bandaged, bloody men in fatigues, half a world away, being lifted onto choppers on the news. The yin and yang of the trivial and the life and death washes over a six year old. It gets in, but in a diffuse way. You gain impressions.

Well, here's an impression: Paul and Linda McCartney are the template for the modern marriage. You heard it here first.

Poor Paul is getting the second wife treatment now. Or his second wife is. Or they both are. At any rate, they're saying dreadful things in public about one another in an attempt to get the dough or the kids or the kid's dough or notoriety or something. But it wasn't always that way for Paul McCartney.

The hipsters hated Paul, if you asked them. It was John Lennon they adored. John Lennon was kind of a nasty guy. They liked that. They couldn't sing like Paul McCartney, but they could be as antisocial and rude and mindless and addled as John Lennon. Paul was just a music hall musician, lost in a modern time. He sought to entertain. Why settle for that?

But how they aped him. They looked for a handsome spouse -- not a golfer's wife, but a woman like Linda Eastman. They acted bohemian. They didn't do a bed- in. They indulged their ideas of back to nature living, in a sort of Vermont version of Marie Antoinette's peasant house, and played farmer. They grew Paul's beard and gave wildflower immortelles to their beloved, after they married them in a ceremony only official, not official looking. And the women part of the audience went looking for a sloe eyed scruffy rich bohemian guy to sing songs to them and give them handsome children. Their husbands volunteered to change the diapers and wash the dishes as often as they did. Which was never, they had nannies and housekeepers, but the intellectual exercise was performed to everybody's satisfaction.

They attempted to give the appearance of never soiling their hands by grubbing after money, all the while being quite well off. They had ferocious intermediaries looking after their finances while talking ragtime about socialism. They included their family members in all their affairs, because they could, and ascribed it to being familial, not nepotism. And they were immensely casual about the appearance of all their affairs.

Tell me the vast majority of married people didn't emulate the family scene shown there accompanying Paul McCartney's magnificent first effort as a solo artist. Pretty much everything after that was a joke.

They really did love one another, and their children, and seemed happy. That's the rarest of things in popular entertainers. And then she went and died on him, and left him to the machinations of the world, and it ate him up.

He's still a Beatle, you know. But he's not the husband of the woman he loved any more. I wouldn't trade places with him for anything. There was a time, I assure you, that a great many people would have.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Satuhday Morning Funners



Thankfully only half-full of Queen, but chock-full of hope and insouciance and bonhomie and several other words that are difficult to spell and may or may not require italicization--which is another word like that but rarely is italicized. What's not to like?

Friday, November 16, 2007

What It Was, (And Is) Was Football

[Editor's Note: I wrote this a little more than a year ago. My son plays organized football of the flag variety now]
{Author's Note: There is no editor. Hi Ruth Anne!}
When we went out to vote on November 7th, my wife and I had to drive by our son's elementary school. We were mildly amused to spy him, out for recess, playing football in the schoolyard with his classmates.

We parked across the street and watched for a few precious minutes. Since we were not a butterfly, or a jet contrail, or a candy wrapper, or a penny, he didn't notice us there, so we got to see him in that rarest of settings: "somewhere else," without his parents or guardians present.

The football activity was hilarious. It alternatingly resembled an algae bloom and an ayatollah's funeral-- first a kind of milling around in an amorphous blob, then a kind of wild melee over a leathery old totem. We watched them drift back and forth for a pleasant minute, with the odd missile launch of the forward pass rocketing rudderless out of the scrum and landing any old place but that most rarified of targets: a teammate.

It was wry to consider that playing tag is verboten at his school. I'm not joking.

The school is getting comical in this regard. They were terrified of the food the little ones were eating, so they tinkered endlessly with the school lunch menu to make it so healthy that no one purchased it anymore. Now everybody eats fluffernutters they bring themselves.

They built an elaborate and very expensive handicapped playground. That's a kind and thoughtful gesture. But it is merely a gesture, as there are no handicapped children to enjoy it. There just aren't that many children of any kind in a little town like ours.

And no tag. Someone could get hurt. Someone could be left out. Someone could sue is the real reason, and the powers that be always point that out right up front.

Tag isn't allowed, so one of the kids brings a football, and they play that. And football isn't banned, because no one thought of it yet. And the absurdity of allowing mobs of pre-teens to chase one another if one is holding a ball, but not if their hands are empty, seems to be lost on the school administration. At least for now. And I, for one, am glad of it.

I'm not as worried about my son being injured playing football as I am in contemplating the little straitjacket world he's being fitted for. Those children decided on the rules, supplied their equipment --a ball-- and played their game without any adult supervision; and I saw a lot less kvetching among them than at any organized sporting event they participate in. I'm leery of them being told that someone will always tell them exactly what to do, and simultaneously unerringly protect them from not only from harm, but hurt feelings. One aspect of that tandem of supervision is repugnant, and the other unlikely.

I'm living in a strange world where people for whom I have no regard draw finely calculated and ultimately meaningless distinctions about everything, down to the scope of activities allowed for pedophiles to roam the earth, while at the same time they ban children playing tag in the schoolyard. Such distinctions are meaningless because anyone who is prepared to commit a great offense is not concerned about the rules governing small ones.

I dread the day, which is on the horizon now, not over it, when I'm forced to tell my children that the only sensible course of action is to ignore the rules, as there are so many of them that they become gibberish. And what the hell, the rules only seem to apply to those who wish to live worthwhile lives anyway --who never needed them in the first place.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Hey! Disco Didn't Suck. Well, Maybe A Little. OK, Maybe A Lot.



I lived through disco, boys and girls.

That means I lived through the seventies. And the title "lived through the seventies" is not a meaningless soubriquet. It was harder to do than anyone is telling you.

I see lots of movers and shakers in this world who are nostalgic for the 1970s because it was their salad days. Anyone surprised that Al Gore chose a year in the seventies as the benchmark for capping CO2 emissions isn't paying attention. Like all really grim times, people who have money or a sinecure love it when times are crummy for the average folks. Poor people smooch bums and hustle to get the door and tug their forelock when people of quality go by in a depression. That's why those seventies salad days types also like going to Europe on vacation. It's a continent filled with elois for them to chat in prep-school French with, while the morlocks freshen their drinks.

I was a morlock in the seventies, in a big way. Sometimes you forget what that's like. I attended a small gathering of people that scribble on the net, and mostly said nothing and listened. I found it fascinating to hear that one pleasant lady had lived in Boston, same as me, in the 1970s. But not the same as me. She took mild exception to my supposition that Boston was a grim, humorless, desolate, dangerous place to live in the mid seventies. She thought it was swell. I hadn't thought about it in so long; but it never occurred to me that there was any other way to see it. I couldn't even picture a route you could have navigated through it that would allow you the luxury of thinking it wasn't a shambles, at least for many other people if not youself.

When you are shipwrecked and swimming far from shore and grow weary, the beach sure looks like redemption. When you are sunbathing, it's easy to think the water can't be anything but inviting and refreshing. When life is bad, you want happy music. So, youngsters, were the seventies the shiznit or a travail? Should Jimmy Carter be put on Mount Rushmore, or in the stocks to be pelted with produce well past its fresh sale date? Did the musical hood ornament on that jalopy of a decade -- disco -- did it suck?. It was pointless and stupid and trite; and when it came blaring out of the nightclubs when you walked past, it sounded foolish and mindless and never once yelled at you how grim everything was.

Thank god for that.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Housecleaning

Got lots of mail about the essay about my Dad. He's much more interesting than me.

I wonder if my son will say that about me someday. In a way, what people are always trying to accomplish is making the lives of their children less interesting than their own. I hope I succeed in that, too.

I found a YouTube video clip that might actually have my father in it. Long odds, but that's exactly the place he was in and the the type of plane he was flying.



There's what appears to be a "friendly fire" massacre in that clip; it looks as if the bombs from one plane cut another in half. People need to keep in mind that it's sometimes dangerous to sit and have a glass of water in the military, never mind fighting. My friend's father was a cook in the military. In my mind, there isn't a lot of difference there. That's the reason I can't stand wide receivers dancing around like fools in the endzone, while ignoring the other 10 men that put them there.

Some more housekeeping:

Commenter Billy Beck pleasantly points out that the plane in the picture is not a B-24. He's correct. It's a B-17. There were three planes at the airshow, including that one. It was just the best picture I got of him there.

Here's a YouTube clip someone made of the actual B-24j that we saw at the airshow:



I wrote that essay more than a year ago, and re-ran it for Veterans Day because it was appropriate and I'm busy and lazy and obstinate and obtuse sometimes. The (Still) at the end of the title was all the hint you get if you're a regular reader. I'm an essayist, not the New York Times.

Come to think of it, the facts and sentiments in my essay are all accurate, appropriate, and timely, so it really is nothing like the New York Times.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Not Even A Concierge Can Save You Now

I am grateful to everybody that reads, and comments, and links, and especially everybody that buys the furniture over in the right hand column and helps me to feed my family. We're up to two meals a day now.

I happen upon my name and pseudonym here and there on the intertunnel, many times in funny little places. The blog "Never Yet Melted" has an interesting list of links, and a fantastic masthead quote from a man that understood Americans a little.

The essential American soul is hard, isolate, stoic, and a killer. It has never yet melted. — D.H. Lawrence


Well, some Americans. We'll get to that. Isolate, used as an adjective and not a verb, is a word I use all the time. I feel it separates me from other people to use it.

That's a joke, son.

Anyway, Never Yet Melted has me in their roll, for which I am grateful; but that's not the end of it. Their roll is neatly partitioned: News; Culture; Astronomy, you name it. They've parsed it by continent and country alike. And there I am in the middle, with the most accurate and welcome assessment of my offering I've ever seen: "Defies Categorization." They don't pay for ink and paper on the internet, or perhaps they would have shortened it to: "Dude, WTF?" At any rate, I adore it.

I'm ten miles of bad road in a five pound bag of mixed metaphors. I'm a rabid ladybug. I'm an interior decorator with a machete. I'm the left cloven foot of Satan's My Little Pony. I'm a limp-wristed UFC champ. Learned barbarian. I'm a mess, neat. But what I'm not is: afraid to go outside. If you need a laugh, read this, from an article in the New York Times my D.H.Lawrence-loving friends have linked to:

When Evan Gotlib and his fiancĂ©e, Lindsey Pollack, bought a three-bedroom cottage surrounded by pine trees in rural Sharon, Conn., they couldn’t wait to flee their cramped Manhattan studio on weekends to spend their days dozing in a hammock and barbecuing on their brand new 42,000 B.T.U., 60-burger-capacity Weber grill.

But being city people, they did what anyone looking to “get away from it all” would do first, before they even spent the night: they paid $3,000 for a home-security system complete with motion detectors, a one-touch intercom that connects to fire and police dispatchers and an emergency hand-held remote-control device they could leave on the bedside table at night. “I know it sounds ridiculous now that I talk about it, but I just feel safer sleeping with the remote control,” Mr. Gotlib, a 32-year-old corporate sales director for Time Inc. Media Group, confessed, “because those deer are aggressive.”

For many urban sophisticates who trade the big city’s drunken crowds, blaring sirens and claustrophobic living spaces for bucolic second homes on weekends, the very solitude of mountains and forests that drew them in the first place can turn into a nerve-jangling — and sometimes costly — source of anxiety. As much as they adore their country houses, these harried homebodies quail at the thought of stepping out into the pitch-black night or meeting some wild animal or armed local in the woods.



Some armed local? Oh brother. In Sharon, Connecticut? People -- in Sharon Connecticut you lock your doors so your friends will know you're not home if they come over unexpectedly and you're out. They know where your key is anyway. William F. Buckley was born in Sharon Connecticut. Do you really think he's coming in the window at night with a dagger in his teeth and darkness in his heart for you because you're so Vegan you only eat things that don't cast a shadow? Get a grip. Of course it's true that a fish out of water works both ways; but when those "armed locals" go to the big city, they are timid and suspicious in return, but only because they're worried they're going to be charged fourteen dollars for a cup of take-out coffee if they're not careful. They don't wet themselves if they see a pigeon acting hinky.

I'm not a farmer or anything. But I do live out in the country. Let me offer you nice folks afraid of your own shadow some perspective. Nature is messy and unpredictable and maybe a little dangerous and that's the point:

The Woodpile At Night:


You're out there on the edge of it, you know.

You can smell it of course. The winter's just a hand on the shoulder, not a fist in the face, and the dull swampy flavor of the place washes over you when the wind shifts. Rotten and fecund. When it freezes over, the wind tastes like metal, or an ice cube that's been in the freezer too long.

It rustles from time to time. A bird in a branch. A squirrel in the leaves. A possum or a raccoon or a bear or a griffon or a tyrannosaur, for all you know. They never announce themselves.

The good wood clanks when you drop it on the splitting stump. It sounds ceramic. You know it'll split along the medullary rays in one quick stroke, a few stringy tendrils left to cleave the splits together until they tumble to the hard packed dirt and wait for the stack, the gentle arc of the bark side always up to shed the water that sneaks under the pile cover.

The raptor goes overhead. In the winter the sun is too low in the southern sky to put you noticeably in their shadow. The first you know of them is the shriek they emit, cruising way over the tall pines. No fish today. Something soft and furry that the cat missed.

Come out here at night, with the chilly stars pricked in the slate firmament, the wind abated. Come out to the edge of the forest and fen to the woodpile. That edge has moved with the sunset, and you realize the new edge of the wild was the doorknob. You're in it now, not at the margin of it.

You can stand there a quiet minute, and all the sound is gone but the blood in your veins. The air is redolent of woodsmoke already, but something else, too. You're just another beast, without claw or tooth to speak of, and you're among them. You're not afraid; you're attuned to the place your kind once kept in the order of things. You turn back to the path you crushed in the frosted dormant turf, and know the stuff of the cave.

If you want me to stay I'll be around today to be available for you to see. I'm about to go and then you'll know for me to stay here I've got to be me



The Internet doesn't understand me. Sly Stone understands me.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Incantation (Still Fresh)

I can't think of anything else.

We're going to be out on the Banks for another week, easy. I've got to get it out of my mind.

I can't. I keep rolling it around in there, like a prayer or nursery rhyme. I can't think of any damn thing else. It's a haunt.

How could I be so dumb? What made me do that? What was I thinking?

Chaves was talking to me. Man, that guy talks all the time. I wasn't thinking straight. He distracted me.

Nah, it's not Chaves fault I did it. It's Chaves mother's fault he's a yammerin' fool. It's my fault I listened.

The easy rhythm is gone. Left foot finds the deck, in a spot the ice didn't find yet. Plant it firm. Right hand pulls hard. Left hand guides. Spin it. Show the hoist the fist. Dump the scaly prize. Step back straight, now, and watch the roll. Ready again.

All I can think of is my hand. Who puts their hand on a frozen line without a glove on? Bring a woman on a boat for bad luck, stand in the bight of the bowline, play mumbletypeg with a blind man, but don't take your glove off.

It's nothing but pain. It won't scab over until we're back in New Beige and I have a glass under my nose. I don't care about pain. It's the shame of it I can't stand. My hand is like a bad wife. It stands off to the side and reminds me how dumb I am. It never shuts up. It hasn't got the mercy to get better or worse. It's just the same, over and over and over until I want to kill the world with the noise in my head.

"Gangi! Pay attention, you ass, you almost put me over!"

I went forward. I took a pail of ice, and a pail of salt. I dumped the salt on the ice. I pulled my glove off and plunged my raw, bleeding hand in there.

There, that's better.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Creating Something (Again)


Do you labor in the vineyard of creativity? Most people do, whether they consider it that or not these days. There's a lot less drudgery in the work world lately, and take it from someone who's actually dug ditches: a modern ditchdigger is driving a backhoe that costs more than a Lexus, is conversant in simple geology, hydraulics, physics, mathematics, explosives, and small engine repair, and he's talking to his brethren on a cell phone while laying out the ditch with a laser level, or perhaps Global Positioning Satellite data. He's usually aware of both current and ancient water, sewer, drainage, telephone, electrical and data line burial practices. And if something unforeseen and unfortunate happens, he knows CPR too. And he knows the spread of the Ravens/Giants game to boot. What does an Ivy League Liberal Arts professor know, exactly?

I make furniture. There's drudgery there too, like any job, but you can use a complementary mixture of your head, heart, and hand more than you can in most work. I prefer the tangible arts, because there's a framework that you improvise inside, and it actually allows a greater range of expression than if their are no rules, even though that seems counterintuitive.

At least it seems to seem counterintuitive to that Ivy League professor I mentioned earlier. A football game has lots of rules, for instance, mountains of them, many obscure. The teams prepare game plans for a week at least, to work within these rigid guidelines against a known opponent. They script their plays, and try to predict their opponent's script. Then they blow the whistle, and all hell breaks loose. The rules don't stop inprovisation, and no two football games look very much alike, not for very long. If there were no rules, people would have to stop and decide everything, and so nothing much would happen, and very little would happen in quick succession, except fistfights over the "decidin,'" and that's hockey, not football.

Furniture has rules. They boil down to three: Is it sturdy? Is it comfortable? Is it beautiful? Some call it: commodity, firmness, and delight. There are many subsets of rules, of course; the average human is 18" wide at the shoulder and kitchen counters are hard to make bread dough on if they're higher than eye level. But never mind complexity, get the three rules right, and you're in high cotton.

There's a mindset that's de rigueur these days that rules are for schmucks. (See Ivy League Professor) Do your own thing, man, be creative. My little son's teacher demands that he write complicated and flowery prose, while refusing to teach him to read or write or spell. The rules will just get in the way of creativity, she thinks.

What utter bosh. Michaelangelo Buonnarotti Simoni painted some interesting things, and he labored under plenty of constraints, including: don't piss off your patron, he can have you killed AND excommunicated. It didn't seem to take much off his fastball. But let's give the Rousseau "Noble Savage" wannabes the benefit of the doubt. Let's imagine we let the old chiseler off the hook from Pope Julius. Paint what ever you want, Mikie. Do you really think he'd paint something better than the Sistine Chapel? Why stop there? Let's take it as far as modern artists do. Why not have Michaelangelo paint with his feet, using yogurt instead of paint, and a toilet brush for his stylus? That should free up his creative juices, huh? Don't like the sound of that? What are you, square?

As I was saying, commodity, firmness, and delight. Sounds easy enough. Let's see you do it. It's easy to blaze a trail if you start out by saying wheels should be square instead of round, or made from spaghetti. You'll get Yoko Ono sized plaudits in the art magazines for that, but the cart still won't go. Your mission, if you live in that world, is to find a patron that wants an odd useless cart. And has a trust fund too.

Forget all that. Let's see you carry the rules on your back lightly, like an angel on your shoulder, or heavy, like a rucksack filled with brass knobs-- whatever is your lot in life -- and make the trip to creativity. Let's see you do it for a price. Let's see you make another person -- or even better - many people, happy and comfortable and safe for a little while. Let's see you do it on time. Let's see you please yourself, and the rest of the world, and maybe throw your little all into the mixer of meaning that is posterity, and have it stick, maybe just a little.

Sometimes, I think I did it a little, and it makes me content.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

I Got My Mojo Too (Slight Reprise)


Bad luck and trouble.

I used to hear about bad luck and trouble a lot when I supervised many people. After the total of persons who are supposed to call you when they can't come to work that day reaches about a dozen, pretty much every day you get at least one telling you about bad luck and trouble.

I'm a soft touch in action, and have a very hard heart in my very hard heart. That is to say, I'm likely to give a bum five bucks, and think he doesn't deserve it the whole time. It ain't about deservin'.

Bad luck means something different to me than other people, I gather. Bad luck to them appears to mean that the eminently predictable results of their endless foolish behavior is impinging -finally- on their 24/7 self-gratification. To me, bad luck is being hit by a meteorite.

I was hit by a meteorite once, sorta. I was driving to a job I had. I drove a van. I was driving on a large highway early in the winter night, doing the speed limit with my seat belt buckled. My vehicle was in good repair. I was paying attention. I was sober.

On the other side of the road, a battered pick-up truck was approaching. It was not in good repair. The driver, who was not sober, was likely not driving in a safe manner. And his left rear wheel left his axle. Not the tire. The whole wheel.

Now, I know he was drunk because he fled the scene on foot, and the policeman and I found a whisky bottle on the front seat of the truck. But what maneuver he was trying that elicited the loss of a wheel from the axle beggars imagination.

Anyway, that wheel kept rolling along at 65 MPH, right across the grass median strip, and straight down the lane I was in. It was dark, and the tire was black, of course. Do you think you'd see that coming? Since I was going 65 MPH in the opposite direction, I imagine it was coming at me at around 120 MPH. A meteorite.

I'm a funny person. I have a tendency to freak out over small annoyances, and yet am calm generally when all others are panicked. A character defect of some sort. And seeing that object at the last second before I hit it, or it hit me, didn't faze me. I didn't swerve -- just as well, as it was too late and my truck would surely have overturned. I didn't do much of anything, as there was nothing to be done. I held on to the wheel, and whoop-de-do.

I remember distinctly what seemed like a long time spent in the air, the nose of the truck finally arcing to face the windshield down at the pavement, the wry feeling of watching the pavement pass by on the glass like movie credits. Then the front hit the ground again, and I was suspended in the seatbelt like a parachutist, the huge yellow and purple welt already rising across my shoulder from the strap stopping me from being launched through the windshield to be mashed between the truck and the pavement. I held the wheel straight, and thought: if the airbag goes off, I'm dead.

I bounced down the road like a hobby horse for a good long while, the heel/toe gyrations slowly abating, until all four wheels were under me again, and I drove to the breakdown lane and sat for a minute to collect myself.

A policeman came, and asked me why I was just sitting there. I told him to look at the front of my truck. The truck looked fine from three sides, but on the front, there was a sort of trench burrowed out of the undercarriage from bumper to bumper where the wheel had hit and I'd rolled over it.

We walked across the highway to where the three wheeled pickup truck was, and saw the whisky bottle on the front seat. The policeman declined to pursue the driver who had run away on foot.

The policeman inspected my driver's license and registration for any flaws, and finding none, insisted that I make arrangements to remove my truck before I could leave. I called AAA, and my wife.

They arrived about the same time. I loaded my equipment into her car, watched the wrecker hook up my truck, and I went to work.

I have no doubt, the driver of the other truck called his boss the next day -late- and told him all about his bad luck.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Listen, It's Not Bahstun; It's Bawstin!


You know the places that end up in movies. Los Angeles and New York and Chicago and Miami and did I mention New York and Los Angeles? Hell, nowadays it's Toronto more often than not because it's cheaper to film there. The Farrelly Brothers have a sort of Providence, Rhode Island franchise going now, but that's just a cool icy rock orbiting around Boston.

Let's have a list, shall we? VERY BOSTON MOVIES.

The rules:

"Rules? In a knife fight?"

Sorry, wrong area, wrong movie. The only rules are that the movie encapsulate the local vibe here, with bonus points for local sights and extra special bonus points for successfully attempting a local patois; or more likely to be efficacious: avoiding attempting a local patois without drawing attention to yourself. John Ratzenburger need not apply.

Let's make it an even ten:
10. The Thomas Crown Affair- It's a lousy movie, really. But it absolutely looks like Boston and environs in the sixties. It's mostly of places the vast majority of working class people in Boston never dreamed they'd be allowed to sweep, never mind mingle at, but what the hell. Faye Dunaway eventually married local favorite and J Geils Band frontman Peter Wolf. Steve McQueen wisely avoided attempting a cultivated Boston accent. His face would have broken.
9. The Boston Strangler - When I'm done with you, you're going to figure Boston is the most depressing place in the world. Let's get the mass murderers out of the way, right away. Albert DeSalvo sums up the crime in Boston forty years ago: There's plenty of it, and we have no idea what to do about it. My friends and I always do imitations of Tony Curtis in Spartacus and The Vikings, talking like, well, Tony Curtis the whole time. Yondah is da cassool ov my faddah. He makes a surprisingly believable weirdo murderer, which might tell you something. All kind of Boston area in there.
8. Tie
7. Tie
Paper Chase
Love Story -
You know, before Al Gore invented the internet for me to make fun of him on, he went to Harvard where the Socratic Method is used and had the greatest love story ever told about Ryan O'Neal based on Al's life. Some persons who are of a more skeptical bent than I doubt the likelihood of these happenings. I don't. Al Gore is just as big a self-absorbed and shallow jerk as the people portrayed in these movies. Enjoy.
6. Jaws- Boston's no where near Martha's Vineyard, where they filmed this thing, but who cares? Everyone in Boston goes down Route 3 every Friday in the summah and goes to the crummy cold beaches on Cape Cod. Who cares? They don't go anywhere near Martha's Vineyard, which is just a pile of rocks and t-shirt stores out in the Atlantic. Who cares? No one has a Massachusetts accent of any kind in this movie. Who cares? They caught that tiger shark, the one they hang up on the dock and do an impromptu autopsy on, off Montauk -- and that's Long Island! Who cares? It's a good movie. The only part that strains credulity is where they get all those people in the water at the beach. On Memorial Day. Try it. There'll be some shrinkage.
5. The Last Hurrah -Not much Boston to look at in it, and they changed everybody's name, of course; but you're never going to understand Boston until you understand James Michael Curley. Curley the mayor used to get kickbacks from contractors for public works projects. Once, a highway overpass collapsed, and his "partners" were in trouble. Asked about the calamity, hizzoner calmly remarked that it appeared to be "an injudicious mixture of sand and cement." Anyone surprised that the Big Dig tunnel fell in on some poor woman and crushed her to death must be new around here.
4. Charly - Made that street in South Boston famous. It didn't help. The trajectory of every poor Boston schlub: Born dumb, get a little education, lift your eyes up from the mud to gaze for a moment at the bright horizon, and then land face-first back in the mud again. They blame it on mental retardation in the movie, but I think it's the Guinness, myself. Triple points for the scenes in the Kasanof's bakery.
3. Good Will Hunting -There is manifest affection for the whole of Boston and Cambridge in this movie. It's silly, but who cares? They understand the local zeitgeist. Around here every airhead thinks they're a genius, so why not run with it? I punched my fists right through the drop ceiling in my basement room when Fisk hit that home run. A sterling moment in an ultimately losing effort (The Reds beat us the next day to finish it.) -- yeah, that's Boston. Lose proud. I've heard rumors that Robin Williams is a skilled mimic. Where did he find a mentally challenged Vermonter to imitate for this one? One of life's great mysteries. Gives Cliff Clavin a run for his money for crash and burn attempts at Bawstin Tawk. And Will is always on the wrong train. No wonder he doesn't show up on time for work very often.
2. The Verdict -Sidney Lumet made this movie, and you could see he hates Boston. He even drags the characters to New York City for no discernible purpose; maybe he wants to get decent deli or something, which is impossible in Boston. David Mamet's screenplay has people saying very Boston things. The seedy bar where Newman hangs out across from the common is perfect. Pre-Cheers Boston was just like that, trust me. Newman doesn't even attempt an accent, thank god, but Milo O'Shea, the judge, is the ne plus ultra of the successful rogueish Irish twang. The whole mess of a proud city gone to seed is in there; the scene of trying to pull a grip and grin at a funeral is very Boston -- it's usually a politician, though, not a lawyer. They even got the Sarni dry cleaning bag hanging behind Newman while he slurs his words into his apartment phone exactly right.
1. The Friends of Eddie Coyle -Everything about Boston is small-time, except our egos. Small time crooks with small-time concerns and small-time dreams drift around a bunch of small-time Boston area haunts. Robert Mitchum tries a mild local accent, and doesn't sound like he's from Nebraska. The bowladrome's still there; the Garden's gone.

Honorable Mentions:
Moby Dick - We're all that crazy in New Bedford.
Malcolm X - I was born in Dorchester, too, but I'm keeping my last name, thank you.
The Last Detail - They're all drunk in Boston, for a while. Aren't we all?
The Brinks Job - Looks like old Boston, sounds like old Peter Falk.
State and Main - Supposed to be New Hampshire, I think; screams Manchester-By-The-Sea to me.
Outside Providence - That's where Massachusetts kids go to meet girls with big hair, when Saugus is too far to drive.

Friday, November 02, 2007

In Good Time

Oh, how the clocks would fight.

When you sit in the parlor on those long late-summer afternoons, with only yourself for company, you'd hear them go at it. The deep tones of the grandfather clock in the hall; the insistent tick,tick, tick of the mantel clock; the faraway sort of clicking the kitchen clock makes. They'd fight for primacy in the background as you traced your finger around the frame of the picture.

They'd never align, those ticks and tocks. They all kept the same time, more or less, but in their own way, it seemed. The hours and days and weeks and months and years would pass and they'd run their race, but finished all tied. You couldn't root for one over the other, for to win was to get there first, and then you wouldn't be keeping time.

Tracing your finger again around the frame over and over, in the soft afternoon light. The little faces fighting for your attention, jostling in the frame, but captured forever. All running ahead a little, or behind the others a bit, needing winding or resetting from time to time. All arriving at the same time.

Your beloved is in the yard again, outside the window, pulling the dandelions out of the lawn. Too late. They've gone white, and scattered themselves into the breeze, to rise again in good time.

[Thanks to reader and commenter Alison for sending along the lovely picture]

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Life Changes As They Get Older. Mine, I Mean.


My little boy said "Trick-or-Treat" and "Thank you" like a trouper last night. He still held my hand and I had to carry him home. Fantastic. It'll last a little longer, and I'm glad for it. You're always proud and pleased every time you notice some advance in the sophistication and intellect of your children, but it's a hard heart that doesn't mourn the passing of the infantile coo and the bouncy coltish gait.

My older son ran around in a pack of pre-teens like hundred pound locusts, and I'm sure he'll be be too old to Trick-or-Treat next year; a portent of things to come for me. But then again, things have already changed around here. Before he went to bed last night, he looked at me and said: " I read your blog. Leave my candy alone."