Monday, September 30, 2013

Biggest Mistake

Still digging Bigger Bang. By The Stones.

Got a song on there called Biggest Mistake.

Mick sings about mistreating his woman and walking out on her and realizing as he's doing it that he just made the biggest mistake of his life.

This song is the sound track of my decision to take the job I am currently trapped in.

"I think I just made the biggest mistake of my life."

That is undoubtedly the truth of where I am right now.

It hurts to know this. But it is also cathartic and the ultimate chance to learn a lesson.

I am contacting employment agencies as we speak. Soliciting jobs from unsuspecting potential future employers.

I think I just made the biggest mistake of my life and I aim to extricate myself from this suffering hell that I burn in every day.

The Most Dificult Decision

I made the most difficult decision of my life last night.


Last night was the final episode of Breaking Bad. A magnificent show that Carol and I have invested an enormous amount of energy in.

We made the commitment at the beginning of the year to watch all 5 years of the show chronologically through Netflix. Through the mail.

Because we did it through the mail, and because life is relentless, not smooth, it took many months to get this done.

But it was worth it.

So the set up is, last night is THE final episode AND THE PATS are playing the falcons on Sunday night football.

Understand my love of football. Understand my love of THE PATS.

Ultimately I could not delay the final episode. I could not DVR it. For one thing I work with absolute morons, people so incredibly stupid that they would not hesitate to give away the final outcome.

In addition, after so much effort expended, such a beloved commitment, it just did not seem right to watch the finale on tape delay.

However, please note: I am being robbed of many opportunities to watch THE PATS live because of my hideous job. This is an unprecedented position I find myself in. I know I am going to be screwed out of a certain number of opportunities to watch my beloved PATS over the season because my job is the worst of the worst. I have a chance to watch them live on a Sunday night when The Asylum is closed but Breaking Bad butts up against that situation.

Hard luck, baby - hard luck.

I opted for Breaking Bad. And I do not regret it.

Watched most of the first quarter of THE PATS and then made the switch.

The show delivered. So emotional, so final, so meaningful. Breaking Bad gave me what I wanted. As opposed to The Sopranos which chose an artsy ending and left the world hanging.

The final episode of Breaking Bad answered questions and ended in truth. And sadness and heartbreak.

Tuned back in to THE PATS who were in quarter 3 and rooted them on to the end. Which turned out to be difficult because the game came down to the wire.

But I made it. Stayed awake. And watched THE PATS go to 4 and 0. Along with only 3 other teams in the NFL.

Heady stuff.

I am amazed I am awake to even write these words. I got to bed at midnight and rose at 5:30 to head on in to stupid city.

But here I am.

It ended up being a hell of a night. Breaking Bad doing what it needed to do to me and Carol, THE PATS going 4 and 0.

My emotions were all over the map last night.

But at least I had emotions.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

A Great Rock 'N Roll Story

Carol has a big hand in finding books for me to read.

She reads book reviews in the paper and refers to me the ones she knows I'll like. Not thinks she knows I like, absolutely knows I'll like. She is right 99% of the time.

Thirty five years of the Joe Circus has honed her understanding of me to a razor sharp edge. Why she never took off for Mexico with Raoul the pool boy is beyond me.

 I would never know these reviews even existed if it wasn't for Carol. I don't read the paper. Not because I have anything against newspapers. I think people look cool reading newspapers. Something cool about getting your news that way. Carol does it every day, in fact I hear it rustling right now. Her Sunday ritual. She loves it.

Every time I see that ad for the New York Times weekend subscription I ache to sign up for it. Those people look so intelligent and relaxed reading The Times.

I don't read newspapers because it is too hard to figure out how to fold the pages. I can't do it efficiently. They flip and flop around in my hands and I can't get the seams right.

When a story is continued from Page 2 to Page 9 I am really out of sync. I want to get there quickly but the newspaper develops a stiff spine and the pages won't bend. I get frustrated and throw it against the wall.

In addition, most of the time when my ass is in the recliner, a cat is in my lap. You cannot efficiently negotiate the pages of a newspaper with a cat in your lap.

But that is all a story for another place and time.

One of Carol's most recent recommendations is an autobiography by Graham Nash. I gotta have it.

CS&N ( and sometimes Y) were and continue to be an amazing group. Beautiful harmonies beyond description. We saw them a few years ago at Meadowbrook on a gorgeous summer night. As the last song came to an end there were tears in my eyes. It was the perfect melding of exquisite music on a beautiful night in a magical place.

Anyway, when you write a book, the publisher's legal department reviews it before publication to make sure nobody gets in trouble. Nash tells a great Crosby story in the book and here's his summary of how it went.

Graham Nash: "The only time legal ever called me was about the story I put in there about Crosby selling his Mercedes to a crack dealer and the guy OD's and Crosby breaks into the house, while the body is still warm, and stole back the sales slip for the car.

Legal wanted me to check with Crosby one more time to make sure that happened. He said, "Not only was it true, but I re-sold the car."

Truth In Obituary

When Marianne Theresa Johnson-Reddick died, her kids let her have it.

They wrote her obituary and they spoke bravely and truthfully.

In part: "Marianne Theresa Johnson-Reddick born January 4, 1935 and died alone on August 30, 2013. She is survived by her 6 of 8 children whom she spent her lifetime torturing in every way possible. While she neglected and abused her small children, she refused to allow anyone else to care or show compassion towards them. When they became adults she stalked and tortured anyone they dared to love. Everyone she met, adult or child, was tortured by her cruelty and exposure to violence, criminal activity, vulgarity, and hatred of the gentle or kind human spirit.

On behalf of her children whom she so abrasively exposed to her evil and violent life, we celebrate her passing from this earth and hope she lives in the afterlife reliving each gesture of violence, cruelty, and shame that she delivered on her children. Her surviving children will now live the rest of their lives with the peace of knowing their nightmare finally has some form of closure."

Lest you think her children are ungrateful wretches or mentally unstable, please know that this abusive woman's horror stories prompted Nevada to become one of the first states to allow children to sever parental ties.

This is good stuff. We need more honesty in death. Actually we need more honesty in life but it is a lot harder emotionally to confront somebody in life than it is in death.

We have a tendency to make saints out of the dead. Overlook the bad, puff up the good into zeppelin sized memories.

I am not 100% sure why this is. Maybe we are trying to be kind in death. Maybe we don't have the balls for honesty even when our adversary is dead. Maybe we are just plain afraid of death and feel that if we respect it, it will leave us alone.

Too bad it isn't that easy.

It seems that death is a good place to start in the honesty department. Most people deserve a considerate obituary, most people deserve to be remembered lovingly.

But for the exceptions to the rule, it is probably healthy to trash them out. Cathartic. If the children of Marianne Theresa Johnson-Reddick delivered a eulogy similar to the obituary, I'll bet whoever was gathered around, drinks in hand, would start nodding their heads. The nodding would pick up rhythm, escalate into hand clapping and eventually lead to story telling.

Evil story after evil story would be told, and MTJ-R's soul would blacken and shrivel up and lose elasticity and careen faster and faster along the highway to hell.

It would be immensely satisfying to have a hand in shepherding someones twisted soul speedily to hell along as efficient a route as possible.

I once read a book that was a collection of suicide notes. Some of it was dark and some of it was humorous.

A collection of vitriolic but truthful obituaries would be equally as entertaining.

One more book for me to read.

My god there is not enough time in the day.

All Of Dashiell Hammett

Started the morning off in grand style. Cracked open a collection of Dashiell Hammett stories.

It is a beautiful book that I bought in The Toadstool Bookstore in Peterborough. The Toadstool is my kind of place. A place where hippiesh looking people work there for the love of books. There are a couple of prune faced people there, people who don't appear friendly while giving off more than a hint of pretentiousness, but the overall vibe of the place is book worship.

Humans are a fascinating lot. Some book lovers work in a place like that and feel they have to be consdescending and cold because of their extensive knowledge of literature. Picking and choosing who they will be civil to based on pre-determined prejudices.

Others, I'm sure, are no different than me. Disgusted that their life has steered them to a fate of working, probably part time, in a book store. Not their dream as a child.

The good ones are the ones who naturally love reading. They absorb it, they salivate over every new reading experience, they are overjoyed to just be around books, to be able to touch them and sniff them.

They don't try to be anything. Their love of books oozes out of them naturally and connects automatically with any other true book lover who wanders into the shop.

I am lucky enough to have met a couple of them. People who come into The Asylum. They know me through booze hawking, I know them through book hawking.

These guys are gentle souls and they calm me when we talk.

Very cool stuff.

There is a music store in the back and the first time I walked into the place they were playing the Beatles white album in its entirety.

That made a pretty good impression.

When I first started my hideous job at The Asylum, I explored Peterborough. It is a  funky town nestled in New England beauty.

When I became bitter at my employment fate, I stopped touring the town, even going so far now as to flip the bird when I pass the Welcome To Peterborough sign.

This is unfair. It is not the town's fault that The Asylum is stocked with morons, psychopaths and mental defectives, present company excluded of course.

I'll have to get back to enjoying the town. It really is a cool place.

The book is a compilation of the only five stories Dashiell Hammett ever wrote. It is one of those beautiful books, hardcover, with a gorgeously decorated inset on quality paper, with the page edges rimmed in gold.

I paid $7.50 for it. Almost 700 pages of Dashiell Hammett for $7.50. Amazing.

I read The Thin Man a while ago  and was turned on to this guy. Now I got it all.

It is a very cool thing to hold the collected works of one author in my hands. His entire life's work. A respected and revered author.

I was in church this morning with this book, a cup of coffee and Maka in my lap.

Sometimes life is so sweetly simple, so uncomplicatededly beautiful, that all you got to do is exhale in peace.

Gonna be a helluva day.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Lessons For The Modern Wife

In May of 1955, Housekeeping Monthly published an article called The Good Wife's Guide.

It was enormously informative and every bit as relevant to today's female spouse as it was in 1955.

It provided tips on how a good wife could comfort her man when he got home from work.

Some examples:

"Be a little gay and a little more interesting for him. His boring day may need a lift and one of your duties is to provide it."

".............. After all, catering for his comfort will provide you with immense personal satisfaction."

"Greet him with a warm smile and show sincerity in your desire to please him."

"Let him talk first - remember, his topics of conversation are more important than yours."

"Make the evening his. Never complain if he comes home late or goes out to dinner, or other places of entertainment without you."

"Don't complain if he's late home for dinner or even stays out all night. Count this as minor compared to what he might have gone through that day."

"Don't ask him questions about his actions or question his judgement or integrity. Remember, he is the master of the house and as such will always exercise his will with fairness and truthfulness. You have no right to question him."

"A good wife always knows her place."

This is more common sense than advice. Any woman should know this intuitively. It is the natural order of things and it is right.

I'm not 100% sure Carol gets this, but then again she is a woman and it is impossible to savvy exactly what the hell she is thinking.

I get home and I tell her my day was brutal, filled with remarkable stupidity and selfishness on the part of the lazy, brainless idiots that I work with. I say it with exasperation and a whiskey in my hand.

She says "Big deal big boy, my day sucked too. What are you going to cook me for supper?"

I think maybe the tables have been turned on me but I am not sure. So I spend the next hour whipping up for her a meal.

After we chow down I begin to delineate item by item the incredibly stupid and vicious things my idiot co-workers pulled that day, and she pretends to be deaf in her right ear.

And she responds "I am so happy Jacoby Ellsbury is back in the lineup. Can you grab me that box of dark chocolate truffles?"

She is crocheting and has 213 rows of work draped over her lap so, even though I have two cats sleeping on me - one by my feet, one on my chest, I disturb them to stagger up and grab the truffles.

As I sit back down, one of the cats scratches my hand as the other purposefully knocks my glasses to the floor next to the recliner.

Instead of saying thank you, Carol says: "There are only two truffles left. Did you eat the others? Did you pick up another box on the way home?"

I think she is basically on track about being a good wife and knowing her place. I think all she needs is maybe a little tweaking in her approach.

I have blown the Housekeeping Monthly article up to poster size and Monday, after she leaves for work and before I do, I am going to paste it up on the living room wall right next to the TV.

For easy reference.

I am also going to buy her flowers on the way home that night and clean the bathroom when I arrive and cook her favorite supper and wash and wax The Peace Mobile before we eat.

Just in case she takes all this the wrong way.

Although I can't imagine it happening.

The article is informative and relevant.

Every bit as much as it was in 1955.

The Most Pleasant Of Days

I'm trying to slow things down. This hideous job that I have is robbing me of time, robbing me of health, robbing me of perspective.

Too much, too fast, too hard.

However. Got today off. Got tomorrow off.

There's two people we dig. Enormously. Paula & Bill. Paula is Carol's aunt but she ain't no stereotype of an aunt. She is cool. Cool to the max.

Bill is one unique dude. He is a guy with his own perspective on life which tends to be rather negative, rather worrisome. BUT he has a sense of humor. A quirky, unique, one of a kind sense of humor.

This is what sets him apart. Just when you are at the point where you want to say "Jesus Christ, Bill do we have to talk about stents? Are you that worried about heart disease? Do you need to worry about heart disease when you show no signs of heart insurrection?" Just when you are at that point, words on the tip of your tongue, he says something that makes you laugh. Something that skews your perspective in a bizarre way that allows you to see his perspective.

And you have to love the man.

They made the long drive up today to spend some time with us on a picture perfect, absolutely gorgeous, late September day.

To negotiate a corn maze. Not maize. Maze.

Carol has had a wish to visit this joint going back a ways. It is a beautiful, family owned farm that in the fall creates a maze through corn stalks to entertain. You get a questionnaire to fill out with answers supplied by postings within the maze as you wander.

In the past, not necessarily my cup of tea. But I have opened my mind to understand that my happiness is not the only happiness that matters. And truthfully as we staggered and stumbled through the massive corn stalks on a gorgeous, blue sky, puffy clouds, 70 degree day, I was perfectly content to be doing that rather than falling asleep on my recliner watching college football.

We did it, the four of us, we talked, we laughed, we walked. We enjoyed each other's company as we always do.

Prior to the trek we gorged on fine home made ice cream courtesy of this fine establishment. Their ice cream is real and it excites your taste buds. I digested graham cracker flavored ice cream with graham cracker crumbs and chocolate chunks.

When is the last time you had graham cracker crumb flavored ice cream? NEVER.

It was delicious.

After stalking the stalks we made our way back to the Testa homestead and enjoyed munchies, drinks and beer on the screened in porch with the cats. Perfectly comfortable in the temperature and the company.

It was a day. It was a moment in life. A very simple day that brought peace and laughter and conversation and blue sky and sunshine and 70 degrees and donkeys and miniature horses and a corn maze. A day that brought all these things together and created a life cocktail and opened our eyes to how simply beautiful life can be.

I won't allow myself to think about Monday (?) because I will be thrown back in with brainless, lazy, backstabbing idiots and I will be wrenched outside of myself once again.

I will savor today for the rest of today and I will sample tomorrow for the precious moments it has to offer me.

I am at peace.

I love Carol, I love Paula & Bill.

This is a very fine place to be.

Friday, September 27, 2013

More K

"Most men pursue pleasure with such breathless haste that they hurry past it."

Soren Kierkegaard

Define Expert

Listening to NHPR the other day on my way to The Asylum.

I could not believe my ears.

They had some expert, some doctor of something, talking about a study that he did. I don't know what the origin of the study was, I don't know what he was trying to prove, but here is what he came up with.

He was talking about sports fans and he concluded through intensive research and study, that when your team wins you eat healthier because you are now future oriented. In other words you feel good about your team and you look forward to more victories, so you subconsciously eat healthier because you are looking to the future.

When your team loses you eat junk food because you are looking for instant gratification to escape your present misery.

Are you kidding me?

This guy probably has 14 post graduate degrees and this is what he does with his brain.

Why not focus on something useful? Like finding a way to force idiot girl to look in the mirror.

I don't know, man. There is so much of this kind of stuff in the world. So many people are struggling. The vast majority of humans on this planet are struggling to just get by, so many struggling to just stay alive.

And you have Dr. Sports Fan Diet Dude getting paid to do this kind of research. His education was probably funded on scholarships too. He got a free ride and he is still getting a free ride.

I am jealous. I went to college. I could have worked up some sort of faux intellectual scam.

Instead I spent five years ( it was a work study program; I am not an idiot) drinking beer and playing pinball.

I got pretty good at pinball.

Now here I am, 36 years down the road after graduation, working as an assistant manager in a state run liquor store. Baby sitting brainless, lazy idiots, being condescended to by wine snobs and being dictated to by the state that Angels Envy bourbon should be placed directly to the left of the 375 ml Gentleman Jack.

As I wrote "state run liquor store" the thought popped into my head that state run used to be a term associated with insane asylums. I am reeling with the implications of that.

The only solace I can find in this is that a big night in college for Dr. Sports Fan Diet Dude probably involved a large bowl of Fritos and copious amounts of ginger ale while watching foot fungus documentaries.

I had a hell of a lot more fun than that. This was in an era when porn was considered art. I saw Behind The Green Door, and Deep Throat in Northeastern University's  movie theater.

And I drank a lot of beer and played a lot of pinball.

I got pretty good at pinball.

Idiot Girl

Wow. TGIF, baby.

It is relatively rare that I get to say and feel that because I'm in retail and weekends are not held sacred. However I do have Saturday and Sunday off this weekend. And I left The Asylum today at 2:00.

There's a story there.

The reason I left at 2:00 today is because yesterday I worked 9:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. The reason I worked 12 and 1/2 hours yesterday is that one of the lazy, brainless idiots that I work with decided that she was sick. Of course she was scheduled to close.

This idiot is a piece of work. She lives in her own world where the truth is whatever she says it is regardless of the facts.

She came in at 1:00 and told me right off the bat that she had just seen her doctor, that she had a sinus infection and fluid in her lungs and that she would have to take it easy.

Right away my antenna were up with dread. She has pulled this crap before. The situation is compounded by the fact that she does not care about anybody else but herself. She does not care who she inconveniences with her lies, she does not care how badly she disrupts the work flow of the store.

Right on cue, after about an hour, she decides that she feels terrible and has to go home. I pointed out that if she left I would be forced to cover, backing me into 12 and 1/2 hours of hell.

She shrugged her shoulders.

Today's everything in triplicate atmosphere compounds the problem. What do you do when somebody says they are sick? You can't just fire them, you can't force them to stay.

Even if they are a lying sack of shit like this idiot.

It would be so satisfying to pull out and gun and shoot her dead right after saying "Let me put you out of your misery."

The hilarity in this is that she doesn't even try to look or sound sick. She just brightly announces that she is sick. Almost with a smile on her face.

I stewed for a couple of minutes. She was still in the store. I walked over to where she was and got right in her face and told her exactly how I felt about her lying bullshit.

I felt better for about 38 seconds and then I suffered through the long ass rest of the night.

I should have shot her.

I opened the store this morning which meant I had to be back there at 8:00. I got there 10 minutes early. Who shows up at 8:00, 1 hour early?

Idiot girl.

I jumped right down her throat because the store was not open and I could really let loose.

That felt really good.

This is a daily occurrence in The Asylum. This store is staffed exclusively with morons, psychopaths and mental defectives, present company excluded of course.

I bought a cattle prod today.

I am going to light idiot girl up like a pinball machine the next time she messes with me.

And then write up the incident in triplicate.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Another Gem From Mr. K

"People understand me so poorly that they don't even understand my complaint about them not understanding me."


What You Don't Know About Keith Richards

He writes a lot of ballads. Sensitive love songs that reveal his heart in his own unique way.

Back in the cassette days I made a compilation of Keith songs. From The Stones and from his solo recordings.

I love his songs. I loved that tape. I shall have to do the same with my magical iPod machine.

Digging a song on Bigger Bang. The CD was released in 2005. I am not one of these Stones purists who insist they have never made a better album than Exile On Main Street.

I love all their new stuff too.

On The Stones albums all the songs are credited to M. Jagger/K. Richards, but you know who had the heavier creative hand by the tone of the song.

There is a song on this album called "This Place Is Empty."

"Walk right in, sit on down, and make yourself at home, come on baby you're just like me and you hate to be alone."

"It's funny how things go around, but go around they do, this place is empty, empty, so empty without you."

"Come on, simmer down and treat me sweet and cool, at least by now you have learned how to love a fool."

"It's funny how things turn around, it's crazy but it's true, this place is empty, so empty, so empty without you."

A lot of Keith's ballads reveal his vulnerability and are self deprecating. This is in exact opposition to the tough guy image he projects.

This is very good music from a complicated soul.

Give it a try. It might change your image of the man.

Post script: There is another song on this album called She Saw Me Coming. This one is all Jagger and I love it because it is Jagger upside down. He usually projects the ladies man, hot lover, I own the women image.

"She saw me coming, she saw me coming, yeah, I didn't see a thing, I wasn't looking, I just walked into it, sucker for it, I'm a sucker, thought I was so cool, she saw me coming, boy did I get screwed."

"She saw me coming, yeah, yes she did, she saw me coming, right on the grid, right on the grid, she saw me coming, oh what a stupid jerk, she saw me coming, she was a piece of work."

These guys are talented. This rock 'n roll thing just might work out for them.

My Pappy Said..................

"My pappy said son you're gonna drive me to drinkin' if you don't stop drivin' that hot rod Lincoln."

Got The Big Ride back today. What a tumultuous beginning to  a new relationship.

Fell in love with the car, bought it, drove it for a week, then the rear end dropped out. Air suspension failed.

When the air suspension fails you might as well be driving a trampoline on wheels. Practically put my head through the roof.

Gave the car up for a week waiting for parts, got it back today. Feels like starting all over again after a fight with your lover.

I realized that I had not completely accepted the car first time around. I had not given myself over completely to the experience.

Maybe I felt like I didn't deserve it. Maybe it seemed like a silly decision. I drove with one eye on the gas gauge because I was so afraid it would get 3 miles to the gallon. Eight cylinders and all. And the damn thing digitally counts down the miles to empty.

Turns out it gets better mileage than my truck did.

So I never relaxed in the ride. The car sensed it and decided to punish me. I thought about this a lot over the past week.

My thoughts were all over the place. Ranging from I don't deserve the ride to I should have bought something more economical to the evil vibe at The Asylum is so intense it will destroy anything good I bring into my life.

Today I drove out of the dealership for round two and I was flying high. The car and me are one. My mind is exactly where it needs to be. I felt so damn good driving down the road with The Stones Bigger Bang CD rockin' the sound system.

I never once looked at the gas gauge.

The car makes me happy. Not in a greedy materialisitic way, not in  a faux superiority way. The car makes me happy to be driving something nice. To have something nice in my life as a reward for many decades of hard work and sacrifice.

I don't understand happiness. It is a foreign emotion in me.

I am happy around my sons. I am happy around their magical women. When my head is not up my ass I am happy to have my beautiful wife sitting next to me at home every night.

Unfortunately my head is so frequently deeply rooted up my ass that when it is not, it takes my eyes three hours to adjust to the light.

I am happy in the company of my brother.

Other than that, happiness is a foreign experience to me.

You know how you feel when somebody bounces a sixteen pound sledgehammer off the side of your head? You know how it feels when somebody smashes your teeth in with a ballpeen hammer?

That's how happines feels to me. It is shocking. Dizzying. Uncomprehendable.

If this car can take up a little space in my head with happiness and crowd out a piece of the evil stuff, then it really is a good thing.

That's all, man. That's all I really want.

Some outside happiness, a different happiness that I can feel and adjust to as a new experience.

Why not?

Life is one second long. All of us deserve the love of a good family.

All of us deserve just a little more.

I got lucky.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

My Buddy Soren

" Because it is possible to has anxiety. One would have no anxiety if there were no possibility whatever. Creating, actualizing one's possibilities....................always involves destroying the status quo, destroying old patterns within oneself. Progressively destroying what one has clung to from childhood on, and creating new and original forms and ways of living. If one does not do this, one is refusing to grow, refusing to avail himself of his possibilities; one is shirking his responsibilities to himself."

Soren Kierkegaard

I love this guy. Absolutely love him. Chris Stevens knew what he was talking about.

I have to take the plunge. Gotta buy some books.

It won't be easy reading. Ain't no Stephen King. But goddamn it will electroshock my brain.

How cool is it that thoughts and philosophies given birth in the early to mid 19th century can resonate with me today.

How incredibly insightful and perceptive this man must have been.

Are there fewer people around like this today or is their genius being drowned out by Duck Dynasty?

We live in sad times, people.

A Junkie Without Football...................

OK, look. Last Sunday I missed THE PATS game. I missed  THE PATS game because I was working.

I despise this situation. Not only did I miss THE PATS  game, I only saw about an hour of football in total on Sunday. In part because we had to watch the second to last episode of Breaking Bad. Which I missed a lot of because I kept falling asleep. I only got 4 hours sleep the night before and I worked a 10 hour day on Sunday. I have to watch Breaking Bad on demand; my prime time attempt was a wasted effort.

I missed THE PATS, only saw an hour of football on a Sunday. This is unnatural. It is an affront to nature.

But I survived it.

I honestly expected that at exactly 1 o'clock on Sunday my heart would explode in The Asylum. That I would just drop dead from missing the game.

It was even worse because I brought a radio with me so I could at least listen to the game and I COULD NOT GET RECEPTION.  I tried every channel, every antenna position, I stood on my head, I invoked Jesus' attention just like football players do when they score, but nothing worked.

Yet I survived it.

Instead of despair I felt and still feel a steely resolve to deal with this situation.  I have been on the job for 7 months now. Had I put in maximum effort to escape this hell over this time period I would be out of there. I would not have missed THE PATS.

I am not chronically unemployable. I got skills. I can snag jobs. I am not hopeless.

I did not put in maximum effort - I am still suffering. It's on me.

Lately it has become clear to me how much this job steals from my life. It is not worth it. The money does not justify my pain.

However I reiterate - it's on me. I accepted the job offer and I have stumbled my way blindly, angrily, futilely and often drunkenly through the past 7 months.

I know absolutely nothing, but I can guess that blind anger and whiskey abuse do not pave the road to solutions.

I am left with steely resolve. Another change to my internal workings. Steely resolve feels much better than despair.

I am thinking with maximum effort that the possibility exists for me to watch the second half of the NFL season in peace. And to NEVER be in this situation again.

Part of my anger is derived from idiot co-workers who I have decided to take on in combat. Lazy, brainless fools who expect to do nothing and get paid for it. Lazy, brainless fools who I have allowed to do nothing and get paid for it. Lazy, brainless fools who have taken advantage of me.

Until now.

I have turned up the heat and they are fighting back like the kindergarten children their mentality emulates. So there is a lot of tension, arguing and discussing and my popularity has plummeted.

I have steely resolve to break these fools. I get the last word and if they push me far enough the last word will be "fired."

So the kindergarten co-worker thing came into play at the same time that my love, my passion, football, got taken away from me.

I am becoming dangerous.

I recognize my faults. I accept the blame for all of it.

But my guts have tightened up. I am fighting back. Adversity has given me determination forged in steel.

Everything happens for a reason. This job did not come along to free Carol and me financially.

It came along as a crucible to evolve me into the man it will take to enjoy ten good years.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Dig This (Two A's?)

"To dare is to lose one's footing momentarily. Not to dare is to lose oneself."


The more I read this guy's quotes, the more I want to dig into him. I like his perspective.

Besides, on Northern Exposure Chris Stevens used to quote him all the time. That's a good enough authority for me.

I need to get back to flexing the brain again. Did it for a while and it felt good. Really muscled it up.

Then I got away from it. This job is so far all over the map sccedule-wise that I am more like a ping pong ball than a human being.

Every time I try to establish a discipline, I get knocked sideways into the nearest parallel dimension and then I spend months trying to find my way home.

How bizarre, how bizarre.

I like my brain. I like it's capabilities. When I actually use it, a sense of satisfaction prevails.

Learning is good on it's own merits. It's good to cram your skull with information.

In my case I have a storage problem. There are so many song lyrics in my head that sometimes the basic operations of my body get overlooked.

My heart will stop beating as my brain attempts to dig out a lost lyric from "Within You Without You" by The Beatles. The brain begins to gloat when it successfully emerges from the archives, only to temporarily panic when it realizes it has forgotten to monitor my heartbeat.

In the nick of time..................................and I am back in black.

Learning is good also because it stimulates thought. The more info your brain has to sift through, the more opportunities for insight. The more opportunities for new thought directions.

Thinking about soaking up some Kierkegaard. It's probably a good sign that I can now spell his name without looking it up.

I'll leave you with this.

"Our life always expresses the result of our dominant thoughts." Kierkegaard

That spooked me a little. Maybe I should get off this decomposing cadaver thing.

Ciao, baby.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Excellent Lyrics

"I had a gun pointed at my head on several occasions, yeah Nadine I was scared. Something about a black man with a machine gun make you wish you said your prayers."

"God's waiting room is full of painters and poets, and old black jazz saints in pork pie hats."

"Criminology" - Tom Russell.

"Well, I went to the doctor, I said "I'm feeling kind of rough." "Let me break it to you son - your shit's fucked up." I said "My shit's fucked up? Well I don't see how." He said "the shit that used to work, it won't work now."

Warren Zevon - "My Shit's Fucked Up".

Just Another Day In Paradise

Pretty down tonight.

Why not?

I watched my beloved Lincoln getting towed out of my driveway.

After one week. One goddamn week.

I debated whether to write about it or not. Lots of fools sitting out there waiting to pounce - "See what happens when you get extravagant? You should have bought a Smart car, you idiot."

You can all screw yourself. I stand behind my decision. I stand behind Phillips Auto Sales.

Driving home from hell - The Asylum - 10 minutes from home - and the hot rod Lincoln starts bouncing like a trampoline. I am not kidding. The rear end was bouncing up and down like a four year old kid celebrating the approach of The Ice Cream truck.

By the way, if you want to see a cool ice cream truck man and an interesting story that revolves in part around an ice cream truck - watch Trees Lounge. Steve Buscemi. That's all I'm gonna say.

Have I ever steered you wrong?

Cars were backing off behind me. Must have looked like the rear wheels were gonna fall off.

Air suspension failed.

I'll keep you posted.

My dark mood compels me to consider the decomposition of cadavers.

The first thing you need to know is that putrefaction is the proliferation of microorganisms within the body following death and also encompasses the breakdown of tissues brought upon by the growth of bacteria. You will notice discolorations of the body varying between green, blue, red or black.

This is known as marbling.

Proliferation of bacteria throughout the body is accompanied with the production of considerable amounts of gases due to their capacities of fermentation. As gases accumulate within the bodily cavities the body appears to swell as it enters the bloat stage of decomposition.

Gastro-intestinal bacteria are also capable of migrating from the gut to any other region of the body by using the lymphatic system and blood vessels.

And you are wondering how long it takes for a body to decompose.

If a body is buried in a coffin deep in the ground, it could take a s long as fifty years for all of the tissue to disappear. But if it is exposed to the elements, it will decay very quickly. And, as a bonus, animals and insects will feed on the tissue if a body is exposed, quickening the process.

The immediate aftermath of death is fascinating. Stiffening of the muscles - rigor mortis - sets in after about 3 hours. And by the time 24 hours have passed, the body will have lost all of it's internal heat.

Kind of like me during the interminable 10 month long New England winter.

The muscles will begin to lose rigor mortis after about 36 hours, and the stiffness will be completely gone after 72 hours.

So there's a kind of symmetry to the whole thing.

Anyway, there you go. A brief synopsis of how fragile and vulnerable the human body is at death.

Thought that might cheer you up.

I look forward to tomorrow at The Asylum with the moron crew.

I look forward to Sunday and missing my first ever PATRIOTS game because of work.

I look forward to picking up my hot rod Lincoln and driving the goddamn thing like I stole it from now on.

At least I am looking forward.

What the hell are you doing?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Quotes And Thoughts That Make Sense To Me

Watching an episode of The Sopranos last night. One of the family bosses says to Tony: "You gotta be a better friend to yourself."

That is a simple statement with a world of weight. Many times we are better to our friends than we are to ourselves. Heavy duty, baby.

A statement on NYPD Blue that I always loved: "I'll have a good thought." When somebody was sick or going through a tough time, instead of saying I'll be thinking about you or I will say a prayer for you, it was "I''ll have a good thought."

In the book I am reading, The Bartender's Tale, the son of the bartender says "I realized that money makes a difference in life." This was after his dad was able to sell off some stuff and buy them some breathing room.

This is the point I try eternally to make. Not that money should be worshipped or that money buys happiness. Just that money makes a difference in life.

If you can get enough of it to drastically reduce the number of times you are forced to look over your shoulder, then it has made a difference. Bought you some dignity. Created space for the seed of peace of mind to be planted.

Last Night

Last night Carol and I watched the most intense episode of a TV show that we have ever seen in the history of our lives.

And collectively I am talking about 118 years between us.

Breaking Bad. The show aired on Sunday night but I was watching football and medicating intense allergy symptoms, so I knew I would not stay awake until 10:00. We DVR'ed it.

Got home last night and dialed it up when the time was right.

We have invested a lot in this show. I used to watch it randomly on Tuesday nights. Tuesday night is my free night. Carol bowls on Tuesday nights so I get to watch all the sick and twisted shit that she does not enjoy.

I make a religion out of it.

I stumbled across Breaking Bad and watched random episodes. Somehow I got Carol to watch an episode or two and, surprisingly, she dug it.

Actually it is not surprising. The show is not all about violence, the story is unique and the acting is fantastic.

At the beginning of this year we made The Commitment. We decided to watch all five years of the show in chronological order.

It took forever because we did it through the mail with Netflix, but we got it done. And we enjoyed it tremendously.

Which set us up for the finale. This year is the final year. Eight episodes which began in August.

We are six episodes in now and blown away entirely. After last night I am almost afraid to watch the last two episodes. If the intensity level keeps ramping up I will be left with my head lolling against the backrest of my recliner with blood running out of my eye sockets.

The Sopranos finale disappointed me. It was too artsy. Left too much up to the imagination. Up until then I worshipped that show. The last episode left me asking WTF? As it did millions of other fans.

That ain't gonna happen with Breaking Bad. Episode six raised the bar so high that episodes 7 and 8 have to be positively transcendent. I think they have made a commitment to blow the fans' minds and I believe that is the way to go out.

Leave you with your tongue hanging out, your mind blown and your emotions twisted around upon themselves.

Carol and I were exhausted after watching episode 6. Every time we squirmed uncomfortably at what was going on, we were slapped in the face with even more intense emotion. We were talking to the screen. "What the hell is Walt doing?" "Is the evil bad guy really going to kill Hank?" "What the hell are they going to do to Jesse?"

That was entertainment. That is what I want when I watch a movie or a TV show. I want to be so wrapped up in what's going on that I cannot even imagine returning to my dull and boring life when it is all over.

Breaking Bad has been and continues to be an amazing show. If you have avoided it because of your Puritanical stand against violence, you have missed out on a unique story and premium acting.

In short, you are a fool.

The next two weeks will blow my mind. I know it. I expect it. I relish the anticipation and I fear the final outcome.

I have theories about how the story will end but episode six proved to me that I cannot take anything for granted.

That is what entertainment is all about. When you are not sure if the good guy will win or the bad guy will win or if innocent family members will die or if justice will be served or avoided, then you are where your mind needs to be to make you feel alive.

I love this show and I will miss it hugely.

A Bizarre Animal Vibe

There is a bizarre animal vibe in the air today and I don't know what to do about it.

I walked out onto the screened in porch a little while ago to let Maka out. The cats love the screened in porch because it is their version of outside. But at this time of year they are bewildered because they go out and suddenly realize it is cold and they say "Holy shit let me back in."

I let them out early this morning and they were right back in before I could say insufferable New England winter.

Which was cool because Maka curled up in my lap while I read and Lakota curled up in her bed.

So it's warming up and I decide to give Maka another shot.

I am standing on the porch talking to her and a bird suddenly bounces off the screen in full flight. Falls to the bushes below stunned.

I was horrified. I am standing there looking at this magnificent creature lying on top of the bushes wondering what the hell I was going to do.

There was no way I was going to leave it there. If it couldn't fly I was going to tend to it somehow, someway. I envisioned Channel 9 news running a feature story on how Gentle Joe nursed a helpless bird back to flight.

It took about a minute or two - which felt like a lifetime - when suddenly the bird just took off and flew up into a nearby tree. I waited a while longer to see it fly confidently out of the tree.

I felt better.

Maka came back into the house.

Later on I let Maka out again, closed the door behind her and fixed me some lunch. I'm standing there chowing when I heard a weird noise.

I walked to the sliding glass doors and looked out horrifed to see Maka OUTSIDE on the porch. She had burst through the screen on the door and was chomping on one of Carol's plants.

Please understand - our cats have NEVER been outside. We love them too much to play Russian roulette with their lives.

What the hell made her do that is beyond me. It took some effort for her to escape Stalag 13. I don't know what the motivation was. Must be one helluva tasty plant.

 I opened the sliders slowly, then opened the screen door slowly, praying that she wouldn't run off. It would have been heart attack time if she did. My heart was already pounding to beat the band.

She looked at me and casually walked back onto the screened in porch dragging a branch from the plant in her mouth.

I scooped her up and brought her back inside.

Man I do not know what is going on here but I am going to lay low for the rest of the day.  I am getting some kind of message from the animal kingdom and I am not sure it is positive.

Then again the bird did fly and Maka came back in.

Maybe its all about triumph over adversity.

Just the same I am going to take it careful for the rest of the day.


The use of the word gravitas occasionally annoys me.

However, Johnny Cash had gravitas.

Merriam-Webster defines gravitas as: "high seriousness (as in a person's bearing or in the treatment of a subject); a very serious quality or manner."

The talking heads on the cable news shows frequently use the word gravitas. They annoy me because sometimes it comes across as pretentious. Like "Listen to my vocabulary. Ain't it impressive?"

It is used on MSNBC a lot and there, maybe, it is fitting. These are intelligent people who exercise their vocabulary on each other. I also like to think that they assume their audience has a solid vocabulary as well, since they do not dumb it down. They expect you to understand.

Somehow, though, it still comes across as pretentious.

The word is used on Fox as well but there you know they just went to the dictionary and picked out certain words they thought would hide their shallowness, which is ironic when you think about it.

Or, more than likely, they heard an MSNBC talking head use it, which prompted them to look it up and decide that they could use it to.

The only flaw in the logic there is that the FOX audience can only comprehend two syllable words. I can picture Buck and his wife Flo repeating the word as an educational exercise and then using it thusly: "Flo fix me up some gravitas for supper. If it's good enough for W, its good enough for us."

To be fair, I love vocabulary. I have an extensive vocabulary filled with $20 words but it is atrophying because I dumb myself down to get through the day. The people I work with, if you are not quoting an Adam Sandler movie line, you are not communicating. You get the picture.

But I digress.

Country music is generalized as cry in your beer simplicity. My dog died, my wife left me, I lost my job, I lost my home,  I'm doin' time.

Today's country singers cannot pull that off with sincerity. They are a bunch of wimpy ass wannabes trying to come off as authentic country tough guys. When they sing these sad songs they are working a formula like a mathematician. And worrying about whether or not they look pretty enough. I'm talking about the guys.

They make me puke.

Johnny Cash was the real deal. As was Waylon Jennings, as is Willie and Kris.

I was listening to "Johnny Cash American IV: The Man Comes Around" yesterday. Got a song on there called "Give My Love To Rose." Johnny comes across a stranger near death on the road. A man who just spent 10 years in prison and was trying to make it back to his wife and son. He's got a sack of money which he asks Johnny to get to his wife. Asks him to tell his son he's proud of him and to give his love to Rose. And to tell Rose she should marry someone else because she doesn't deserve to be alone.

I am getting goosebumps retelling the story. Cash made it so real, so genuinely sad, so life is unfair true.

If Brad Paisley were singing that song I couldn't skip the track fast enough. With Johnny Cash I hung on every word.

Another song called "I Hung My Head." 'Bout a guy who was practicing sighting his rifle on a man on a horse in the distance when it accidentally goes off, killing the stranger. He panics, doesn't know what to do, so he runs. Eventually he is caught and hangs his head in shame as he faces the gallows.

If a country newbie were singing the song, I would laugh knowing full well the only gun he ever handled was the six shooter mommy bought for him when he was five years old.

With Johnny Cash I felt soul deep bad for this dude.

On top of that Cash does a bunch of covers on this album. "Bridge Over Troubled Water", "First Time Ever I saw Your Face", "Personal Jesus", "In My Life." To be more exact he covers Simon and Garfunkel, Roberta Flack, Depeche Mode, and The Beatles.

That is an incredible range of songs and artists to cover. Especially when you contrast their styles with Johnny Cash's style.

And he does it with class. And direct, unflowered emotion that goes right to your heart.

He pulls all this off because he was a man who experienced life down and dirty. He LIVED his life. He didn't decide to become a country singer and go to the country outfitters store to pick out the perfect hat and flowered shirt.

He was born a country singer.

Today's country singers cannot even spell gravitas, let alone understand or project it.

Johnny Cash dared you to not take him seriously.

Johnny Cash had gravitas.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Early Morning Improv

I am just shucking and jiving this morning and going with the flow.

Got an early gig at The Asylum and The Stones lined up for the ride. In fact they are standing outside my house right now, shivering. I won't let them in because they are hooligans ; who knows what damage they will reek on my house.

Somehow I am developing a more mature attitude about things. I don't know where this is coming from.

I am realizing that although my job sucks and the people I work with suck, still, it is a paycheck and a mediocre to good one. I can ride it out until I put something better together.

A small portion of my diseased brain is realizing that writing may not save me. I won't give up on it; I still believe I have enough talent to at least make a little money on the side. But there are millions of people who had dreams and died with those dreams.

How am I different?

I am going to get back to exercising if I can make sense of my insane schedule. I have been out of breath at work lately and this perturbs me because I wasn't out of breath when I started this gig. I have allowed this job to destroy my health and I have helped that destruction along quite willingly.

I am facing down sixty and I am not going gently into that 7th decade.

I have cut back on the whiskey lately. I am trying real hard. It has been my go to solution for a very long time even though it solves nothing. However numbness does come in handy when your life is a psychedelic nightmare.

I am motivated, suddenly. I feel energetic, I feel like I can get stuff done.

Ten good years. I am looking at ten good years. maybe. If I am lucky.

That may be part of this new found motivation. It is in the back of my mind, lurking. I am contemplating a poem or commentary to be revealed on my birthday, January 1, 2014, titled Ten Good Years.

It really means something to me.

But that is only a part of what is going on. Real change is happening at a molecular level and I am digging it.

Are you kidding me? When my iPod didn't work up at Old Orchard Beach as I sat serenely on the porch staring down the sun and taking in the ocean, the old me would have thrown the damn thing into the sea and fumed and whined and ruined the rest of the day. Instead I calmly returned the device to the hotel room, walked down to the beach and had me a talk with the sun.

It was a transcendent moment on more than one level.

I am changing. Internally. In my soul, in my brain. I am changing in the right way and maybe in the nick of time. The changes that are happening are the right ones. No bullshit. Somehow, suddenly (? - after 59 years?) - pieces are falling into place and I am starting to see myself.

That's where my head is at as we coast like lambs to the slaughter towards another frightening, glacial-like, 10 month New England winter.

In a bizarre way I have been trying all my life without trying all my life.

My mind has been working feverishly for decades to try to figure out what the hell is going on. To try to alter my course and my approach to match the road that was laid out for me at birth.

At the same time I have coasted down the road of responsibility like a blind man, going where I was expected to be, doing what I was expected to do.

Maybe, just maybe, I can arrange things so that I get to taste what it is like to live my life in sync with my soul.

Bet it tastes like chocolate.

Gotta go. The Stones are getting belligerent. Banging on the window. Actually Keith and Ronnie are banging on the window, Mick is adopting a pose, and Charlie is standing back with a wry smile on his face.

Maybe I'll share a pot of coffee with them.

Sunday, September 15, 2013


On August 6, 1945 the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. It killed or wounded almost 130,000 people.

On August 9, 1945 the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Nagasaki. Out of a population of 286,000, 74,000 were killed and another 75,0000 sustained severe injuries.

I don't know what the numbers are for subsequent health issues for following generations in Japan but I'm sure the numbers are high.

And today the United States feels compelled to make an example of Syria for using chemical weapons in war.

The logic escapes me.

But then again the logic of sacrificing innocent lives for political gain escapes me as well.

The Big Ride

The Big Ride is so big:

1) I had to buy binoculars to see the back seat. I chose Leica Silverline 10X42 at a cost of $1,899. It seemed only fitting.

2) It has no rear view mirror. It comes equipped with a spotter who sits in the back seat and keeps me updated on traffic movement. His name is Slugger and he doesn't eat much. I throw an occasional pint of Canadian Hunter his way from time to time.

3) When I sing, it echoes.

4) It has a Sopranos trunk. I can fit three bodies in there comfortably. I have already written down  the names of prospective occupants.

5) The music system is not powerful enough. I have to hire bands to travel with me. Got The Stones lined up for the Monday commute.

6) It can contain my ego, which has swelled with this magnificent purchase.

Actually Number 6 is the only lie. There is no ego involved. For a guy who hates this whole "being grateful" fad, I feel humbly grateful to be driving this car. It feels like some sort of reward for a lifetime of sacrifice.

I traded my truck  in for this beast. The truck was a 1997 Dodge Dakota Pickup with an 8 foot bed.

The 8 foot bed was a hilarious accoutrement. I am not a truck guy. I did not even need the standard 6 foot bed that comes with this truck. It had an 8 foot bed so I drove an 8 foot bed.

It was great for dump runs though I was never able to fill it up.

Fittingly enough I had to call AAA the day of the trade-in because the truck wouldn't start. It had been giving me trouble for months. In fact we had poured a lot of money into the truck in 2013 and the latest problems were the last straw.

But in the last three months or so, just starting that baby was an adventure. Sometimes it would click like a tiny machine gun, maybe two, three, or four attempts, and then turn over.

The next step was to get it to the point where it wouldn't stall when I took my foot off the gas.

This involved trickery. I had to turn the air conditioner on to trick the engine into thinking it was time to raise the idle. But it didn't happen quickly. I had to sit for minutes gently feathering the gas pedal until I could take my foot off the gas. I sat there looking at the tach as I gently released pressure from the accelerator.

Sometimes I would lose it to stall and have to start all over again.

Eventually I would coax it to performance level and the truck would get me to where I needed to go.

On the fateful Tuesday night after work, the Dakota would not start. Called AAA and after extended attempts, the dude got it running. I drove home with my foot perpetually on the gas, which was amusing because I was forced into  two unscheduled stops. Once for two deer to cross the road, once for a bunch of turkeys to do the same.

I took this as ethereal encouragement.

I sat there with one foot on the gas, one on the brake, as nature mocked my anxiety. But I did smile. Twice.

We went away for a long weekend and on Monday visited the greatest used car people in the world - Phillips Auto Sales in Chichester, NH, where I fell in love with The Big Ride. Rented a car that same day and arranged to pick up the Lincoln on Wednesday.

The Dakota would not start on Wednesday morning. Had to call AAA. The dude got it started and I took my last ride in front of an 8 foot bed.

I talked to the truck a lot. Patted it on the dashboard repeatedly. Thanked it for taking good care of me, which it did for three and a half years. Thanked it for bailing me out of a tough situation created when I totalled my Sunfire at a time when we could barely afford a loaf of bread.

I have not been in this situation in decades, that of trading in a car, and it was surprisingly emotional. Even during the tough times this year the Dakota kept coming through.

Right up until the last day when, after a AAA nudge, it got me to my new ride.

I pulled into the lot and left it running so the Phillips clan would not have to deal with a jump start.

A little while later I pulled out of the lot in The Big Ride.

Life is so strange, so unpredictable at times.

Even though I am not a truck guy, I will miss my 1997 Dodge Dakota pickup with the 8 foot bed.

We made a lot of memories together.

Right Between The Eyes

I am reading a book called "The Bartender's Tale" by Ivan Doig.

It is set in the  mid-west in 1960.

The following sentence dizzied me up this morning for it's stark truthfulness:

"Canada Dan was only one of the more habitual of the many who passed through the Medicine Lodge in the course of a year, the saloon and the Top Spot cafe and cheap rooms at the back of the hotel their way stations before the last stop of all, the cemetery on the hill overlooking Gros Ventre."

Hard, lonely lives summarized in a sentence.

Powerful stuff.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Dig This

"Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards."


Ndamukong Suh

Ndamukong Suh is a defensive tackle for the Detroit Lions and he is the scum of the earth.

He has been repeatedly involved in situations in the NFL where he has been fined for overly aggressive play designed to hurt other players, and that is putting it nicely. What he has been really doing is going out of his way to brutalize other players..

The NFL has fined him upwards of $160,000 for these incidents, the last time being the most costly - $100,000 - the highest in NFL history - and it is meaningless. That is pocket change for this chump and it is merely a gesture on the part of the NFL.

The guy has a $9.25 million contract. You want to hurt him? Fine him $9 million.

The most infamous incident was one where he repeatedly banged another player's head into the turf and then got up and stepped on his hand.

He should have been banned from football at that point.

I don't have to prove to you this man is scum. The evidence is right before your eyes. YouTube this jerk. He is a maniac.

What I am even more pissed about is the ball-less way his teammates, former players and sportswriters talk about him.

I was indulging my addiction, the NFL network, and listening to a discussion of whether or not Suh should be considered a dirty player.

A teammate of his said he wouldn't call him dirty, he would call him nasty. He said he meant nasty in a good way. He called Suh a competitor and said that sometimes what he does fires up the team.

Of course part of the deal here is the spineless code of ethics adhered to in sports that says you don't publicly criticize a teammate.

I get that, but not when your teammate is a psycho hose beast who explodes in anger and deliberately hurts other players. In that case his teammates should be saying "This guy is a lunatic, he is dangerous and he should be run out of the league."

Maybe they are afraid of him.

An former player, now a commentator, on the program went out of his way to raise the question of whether Suh was being singled out for punishment or whether the NFL was establishing a consistent policy that could be applied in every violent situation like this.

In other words he refused to admit that Suh is a dangerous man who is not good for the game and should be publicly executed.

Refused to admit it because he is a former player who allows his skewed loyalties to override what his brain is telling him, which is that what this man is doing is not good for the players or the sport.

A sports writer on the show went a little further, repeatedly highlighting the fact that the $100K fine is based on prior violent history. He hinted at the fact that Suh is not being singled out but that he deserves exorbitant fines because he keeps repeating this brutal and unacceptable behavior.

But even he would not come out and call Suh a dirty player.

Apparently he wants to protect his locker room access.

All of this cowardice exposes a dark side of the NFL. Violence is part of the game and even deliberately hurting other players is tolerated, maybe even celebrated.

I don't get this because they are all in the same boat. But then again they didn't graduate college because of their intelligence.

The irony is that football players project tough guy images. They are celebrated as The Ultimate Man. The toughest of the tough.

But when it comes down to exposing a vicious truth, they shy away like ball-less wimps.

Ndamukong Suh is a piece of crap. He deserves to be banned from the league.

What will probably happen is that he will end up signing an endorsement deal with Pampers, which will prove to the public what a gentle lamb he really is.

Until he bites some guy's ear off and turns to face the camera as he calmly chews and swallows the thing like he is eating a wholesome snack designed to replenish electrolytes.

Goddamn it I love football but I despise hypocrisy.

Dig This

"I don't care what a man is as long as he treats me right. He can be a gambler, a hustler, someone everybody else thinks is obnoxious, I don't care so long as he's straight with me and our dealings are fair."

Joe Namath

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Pretty Jazzed

I'm feeling pretty jazzed today. So I turn to music.

When don't I turn to music?

All That You Can't Leave behind - U2 - is one of the most inspirational albums I own.

Just listened to Beautiful Day. The song makes me want to run out of the house and look into the sun as I turn in circles on the lawn chanting "I am alive. I am alive."

"It's a beautiful day, sky falls, you feel like it's a beautiful day, don't let it get away."

There's a line in there - "what you don't know, you can feel it somehow." That is where I am at. My tiny pea brain is struggling to understand, but it doesn't know. But I am feeling what I know. It is bubbling to the surface.

It's a beautiful day, don't let it get away.

Just listened to Stuck In A Moment You Can't Get Out Of.

"And you are such a fool to worry like you do, I know it's tough and you can never get enough of what you don't really need."

The first part of that is Carol talking to me. I love my beautiful wife. The second part of that is me abusing myself, physically and mentally.

"You've got to get yourself together, you've got stuck in a moment and you can't get out of it, oh love look at you now, you've got yourself stuck in a moment and you can't get out of it."

Says it all, baby.

Just listened to Walk On.

"You're packing a suitcase for a place where none of us has been, a place that has to be believed to be seen."

I have always loved that line. But it startled me with clarity this morning.

I have never believed I could be happy. So I could never see it.

I am starting to believe.

Guess which album I will be listening to this morning in The Big Ride?

A Dog's Ass

Even the sun shines on a dog's ass some days.

Yesterday was a glorious day for me, maybe a glorious day for Carol.

Yesterday I picked up my new ride -  a 2004 Lincoln Town Car. This is a beautiful car, a car that makes me happy, makes me feel good. It even has a CD player.

67,000 miles on this beauty.

I have gone somewhere in the neighborhood of 7 or 8 years without a CD player, and the cassette players in my vehicles did not work. I need music just to be able to draw breath. I essentially just bought 4,000 pounds of car to house my mobile CD player.

This is the first car I have ever owned that I am excited about. The first car that I truly love. That I am proud of. That feels like me, that feels like it is mine.

A car I did not have to settle for.

I came close once before. Bought a Trans Am when our business was failing but I bought it with blood money. Money that should have been used to save the business or smooth out our life. I was delirious at the time. Predictably the car eventually blew up on me. I never really felt good driving it.

You are saying: "Joe, you idiot - you finally get a decent paying job, a chance to dig out, and you blow it on a ridiculously expensive car."

You are dead wrong, brother.

My 1997 Dodge Dakota pick up was dying on me. Had to make a move. We figured out what we could afford and I went to the website of the only place I would ever buy a used car. Phillips Auto Sales in Chichester, NH. This is the fourth car we have bought from them. They are a family owned business and they are trustworthy. We don't even ask questions anymore. Drive the car, if it feels good - buy it. We have never had one bit of trouble with any of their cars.

Saw the Lincoln and I was immediately intrigued. But I didn't think it could happen. All the practical triggers kicked in. Gas mileage, too much car, expensive maintenance.

Went to the lot, drove it, I was a dead man. Had to have it.

The catch is we were able to finance it within our budget. No stretch.

Now I know you are saying: "See, Joe - look what the new job did for you."

You are dead wrong, brother.

The new job enabled me to buy a car. True, if I was still a part timer I would have had to buy a 1972 Pinto with 476,136 miles on it.  The new job enabled me to do better.

Karma is what brought the Lincoln into my life. With our budget you would never expect to buy a luxury car. Especially with low mileage.

This car is all about timing, all about reward, it is all about good vibes coming back around at precisely the right time and in precisely the right direction.

Carol will not enjoy reading this but when this all came together part of my brain said: "If this job is going to kill me then I am going to have some fun before I die."

That is an overly dramatic and overly romanticized sentiment. The truth is I will transcend this job and come out the other end driving a Lincoln Town car.

I have been experiencing foreign feelings of positivity lately. Coming from within. Don't know what's going on but I like what's going on.

Maybe, maybe, maybe, after all these years I am figuring it out. From the inside out, which is the only way to do it.

First CD in the Lincoln as I drove to work from Phillips yesterday - Shades of Two Worlds. Allman Brothers. The CD was particularly meaningful to me because I listened to it a lot this summer whenever Carol graced me with The Peace Mobile.

Listened to it on many mornings and many nights when I was in agony. Confused and anxious and angry.

It lifted me up. It was the appropriate CD to listen to as I drove this amazing good thing in my life.

The ride home - Sign No More - Mumford & Sons. My new passion.

I sang spiritedly to and fro. In pure happiness and gratitude.

Even the sun shines on a dog's ass some days.

I am looking to get my ass absolutely burned over the next ten years.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

It's All In The Delivery

Listening to NHPR a couple of weeks ago.

They were interviewing a religious dude. Priest type, preacher type, minister type guy.

A holy man.

First of all, this guy is actively pursuing sainthood.

This repulses me. If you are proclaiomed a saint because of the amazing life that you have lived, that is cool. I'm pretty sure I am on the shortlist to sainthood myself.

But if you campaign for it like a politician, you should be condemned to Hell in a room with Fox "news" people.

This guy had that obnoxious priest intonation when he spoke. You know that quiet I know something you don't know faux pious bullshit tone.

I hate that.

The only holy dudes I like are the ones who talk to me like a man, not like an imitation god.

He was talking about people and hope and becoming more connected as humans. Instead of being pushed apart by today's technology.

I am with him on that. Every time I see someone walking down the street with a smart phone pinned to their ear I want to hop the curb and pin them up against the nearest Starbucks.

They look like idiots.

Every time somebody texts or answers a text while I am talking to them, I want to super glue their fingers together and jam them six inches deep into their ears.

He referred to people as little lamps. Said that if he could inspire hope in one person their lamp would be lit. He envisoned lamps being lit one by one around the world, bringing more and more light into being, until we became one.

I almost vomited.

Then it hit me smack dab in the face.

How is that message different than what The Beatles said? All you need is love. A lot of people consider that message simplistic.

I was temporarily rocked until I realized what the difference was.

The delivery.

The Beatles were real. They were not pious, they did not affect a preachy tone. They just said it. They sang it. You could believe in it.

The priest dude made sense too, but I could not stomach the message because of the way it was delivered.

If religious types want more money, I mean converts, they should consider making it real. Talking to people as people, instead of condescending to them.

Personally I think The Beatles were closer to being religious inspirations than any preist could ever be.

They brought beauty into the world, they made people smile, they made them sing.

That is more precious than hollow words and eternal threats.

But that's just one man's opinion.

And So This Is Football

Week One is in the books.

I had to say that. Just had to say that. It has probably already been said 43,000 times on sports talk shows so I am rolling with the cliche.

I have a theory. People who don't get the football hype, people who think it is stupid, are people tamed by life. People who are grateful for their peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Football is the definition of intense. One game a week, short season, lightening fast score changes, violence and beauty.

Which reminds me - the Talking Heads had a song called "Sax and Violins." That was a band with a sense of humor.

Players pounding their chests, bumping helmets, jumping up and down, shifting from foot to foot. And it ain't just the amphetamines.

These guys are alive. With river rushing adrenaline, the intensity of the moment, determination and fear.

You cannot convince me there is no fear on the gridiron. Just look at the wide eyes of a running back as he breaks one off.

Which reminds me. You see a guy break off a long run and as he is running down the field he is looking over his shoulders. First the left, then the right. Continuously if the run is long enough.

It struck me Sunday that this is a perfect metaphor for life. No matter how good you are doing you better be looking over your shoulder.

So here we go. Football is comforting to me as I slip into the death-like ten month cold of another long suffering New England winter.

I can watch it on Monday nights, Thursday nights and all day Sunday. If I want a jolt of college ball I can throw Saturday into the mix.

The job will compromise my football passion this year. The job will take away some of my Sunday PATS. Make me late for Thursday night games. Wipe away Saturdays.

I despise that.

It occurs to me that the job is another life metaphor. For everything it gives me, it takes a lot more away. It has improved our financial standing so we can add marshmallow fluff to our peanut butter and jelly, and not much more than that. This disappoints me painfully.

The job is destroying me emotionally and harming my health. But I am going to have to man up and sacrifice football.

That's life, baby.

I will just have to take what I am given. There will be enough football available for me to get my fix.

My only advice to you is that on the days I am forced to miss PATS games, leave yourself a wide berth around my psyche.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Proof Of Evolution

Earlier I spoke of how I am evolving in pieces. How I know change is happening because I feel the change inside.

I am now going to torture you with proof.

Typically our Old Orchard Beach weekend fills me with as much anxiety as it does joy.

I hate to leave the cats. Its really hard for me to say goodbye and I usually obsess about them for the first half hour of the ride. Even though I know my magnificent son Keith will visit them on Saturday and break up their loneliness. I also tend to think of them many times during the weekend with worry in my heart.

On Friday just before we left I got down on my knees and kissed both of them on the head and explained quite carefully that we would be back before they knew it.

There was no worry in my heart. None. I was at peace and I knew they would be all right.

I enjoyed the ride in laughter and conversation and I thought of them over the weekend with a smile.

I typically obsess over time during the weekend, worrying about how fast it is going by and thinking about how quickly I will be returned to drudgery. I poison the fun with worry.

Not this weekend. I went with the flow. I let the weekend wash over me naturally, I didn't push anything or worry about anything and I felt my soul throb alive as I did it.

I enjoyed everything so much more.

I am usually suicidal on Sunday morning. Feeling like "reality" is right around the corner and I will not be able to handle it.

Not this year. I felt content. I felt that the weekend had worked its magic and that I was open and receptive enough to get maximum benefit from that.

These seem like small things to you. You say: "Joe, just how limited is your intelligence?"

Doesn't matter what you think. These are huge changes in me. These changes improved my enjoyment of the weekend immeasurably. And I knew I would feel this way well in advance of the weekend.

Because I am changing and I know I am changing.

I feel it.

"There's something going on here and you don't know what it is, do you, Mr. Jones?"

There is change going on in me and I don't know what it is. I can't put a finger on it, can't name it or label it.

But I do know it is positive change and that it is softening my life.

I feel pretty good about that.

Another Weekend

Today I am a pinata stuffed with words. And this keyboard is the bat that will beat those words out of me.

Went away for the weekend. The annual trip.

This is the only vacation Carol and I take. It's not really a vacation, it's a getaway. Hit the road Friday morning, return home Sunday afternoon. Early. Before Game #1 of THE NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS new season.

We need to make our lives larger. We need to get away more. Work sucks the spirit out of you and if you don't escape it enough it will dry you up like a goddamn prune.

Old Orchard Beach in Maine. That's where we go. Same destination, same core group of people for the last six or seven years.

We tried to figure out how many years we have been doing this but none of us are good at math.

The trip is short but always magnificent and we hit it right. Friday was cool and windy but gloriously sunny. Saturday was toasty warm and gloriously sunny. Sunday got cloudy but who the hell cares - it's time to hit the road, jack.

Its laid back, we relax, we talk, we laugh, we eat, we walk, we people watch, we sit on the beach a lot. It truly re-charges the soul.

The ocean, man. You cannot beat the sound of ocean waves caressing the sand. Reminding you that there is a scope of life that is huge and stretches much farther back than the puny six decades you have been on this earth.

It reminds you that millions of souls have stood before that ocean in tears, in smiles, in peace, searching for some release from their troubled minds.

I had a moment on Saturday morning. Awake at 7:00, out on the deck by 7:15, iPod in hand.

However the iPod was dead. I was stunned. Last year I sat with Leonard Cohen in my ears and tears in my eyes as I worshipped sun and sea. I planned on recapturing the emotion, only this time with John Prine.

I was calm. I put the iPod back in the room and walked barefoot down to the beach.

I went one on one with the sun.

Up on the porch the sun was angled to my left, slanting across the ocean. For some reason I was obsessed with meeting the sun head on so I walked aways down the beach until he and I were face to face.

It meant something to me. I have been through a meat grinder over the last six months and I will return to it tomorrow. I needed light, heat, power and inspiration.

A plane flew overhead directly towards the sun and I found that prophetic. I need prophetic. I am scrambling to make a life as time flows faster miles an hour.

I was that plane.

I settled in to looking around. Absorbing.

Couples walking the beach. You always see couples walking the beach. Are they in love or are they doing what they feel they have to do? The beach walking obligation.

Maybe they are rejuvenating their love. That's what I prefer to think.

I saw a teenager walking alone and wondered what was going through his head. Are my thoughts any more profound than his because I am 59? He has his whole life ahead of him, I have only what is left.

Because he was alone and free from peer pressure, I am sure his thoughts were pure. And honest.

I wish him luck.

Kids asking dads questions. Heard a little one ask his dad why the sand castle people did not build them bigger. Dad said they didn't have enough time.

Dads have to have answers and they always come through. Up to a certain point, up to a certain age.

The only questions my kids ask me now are like: "Dad, didn't you say you were going to the bathroom? Why are you heading for the screened in porch?"

People and their pets. Lots of dog walkers.

Dogs are so happy on the beach. They prance. People carrying little dogs content to nestle in their owners' arms.

I am into the relationships. Saw an older gentleman on Saturday and Sunday. His hair was pure white and perfectly matched his little dog's hair.

The guy was walking slowly and the dog even slower. The guy would stop every once in a while and look back to allow the dog to catch up.

I bet they are close friends. I see them snuggled down together during the cold winter, the guy with book in hand and brandy by his side, the dog content at his feet.

That is a beautiful piece of life.

And the little ones. Little kids running with wild abandon into the water, rolling in the sand, absolutely free in this wild expanse of land and water.

They know something about life that we have forgotten.

It's the same every time we go, it's different every time we go.

And it brings Carol and I great peace.

We need to work at expanding our life together. I don't think it is healthy for a whole year's release to revolve around 45 hours, and only that. We got there at noon on Friday, we left at 9:00 a.m. on Sunday.

Tiny progress was noted this year because it was the first year we could actually afford the getaway. My torturous job has made our life 1/2 of 1% easier.

I guess that's a start.

Me and the sun had a serious talk. He challenged me, I asked for inspiration and strength. I'll see where that leads.

In the meantime appreciation goes out to Paula & Bill, Paul & Debbie, Lorraine, Sarge and Cori, Kevin and Tonya, and John for helping to make Carol and I feel at peace and loved and safe and happy for a little while.

The weekend was worth everything in the world to us.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Scene In A Parking Lot

I had a quiet moment at The Asylum last week, the morons were not around and I was temporarily alone.

Standing at the cash register looking out the enormous window that looks out over the parking lot.

I enjoy this window because it offers me a perspective. I watch real life happening out there. People coming, people going. The Asylum is located in a large plaza and there is a lot of activity.

The perspective comes from the fact that I am shackled to Bizarro World, an upside down world filled with morons, psychopaths and mental defectives. Working in this place and searching for logic is like breathing under water and expecting to live.

It just ain't happening.

The perspective comes from knowing that these people are living their lives as I drown. They are most likely not coming from or going to work, they are most likely running errands, taking care of business, maybe shopping for fun, you know, just doing life's little things.

So I look out there and try to quell my murderous instincts.

Last week two cars pull up, park side by side,  a man gets out of one, a woman out of the other. They talk a little, laugh a little, it's obvious that they know each other well. Youngish, maybe late twenties, early thirties.

They start transferring stuff from the guy's car to the woman's car. Boxes, knapsacks, a two foot small imitation Christmas tree. A fair amount of stuff.

In the middle of the activity the woman stops, draws the guy towards her and kisses him the way every man wants to be kissed.

Passionately. Intensely.

They linger a little, close, and then get back to loading up her car.

When they are done she pulls him in again and kisses him passionately. He, being a typical male, runs his hand down to her ass which she promptly relocates to her back.

Again, they linger, talk a little, then finally climb into their cars.

They drive up to the parking lot's exit side by side. When the traffic allows, he turns right and peels out, burning rubber, screeching tires.

She turns left and drives quietly away.

It was an intense experience. There was nothing voyeuristic about it. I was mesmerized by the scene because I knew something heavy was going down.

I witnessed lives changing. Lives changing right before my eyes. An ending, a beginning.

There was love there,  anger and disappointment, there were dashed dreams and hope.

Somebody made a mistake, somebody made a bad decision, somebody made a life changing decision.

Took me a little while to settle down, thinking about how we humans interact. How intentions are pure but get twisted, how we think we know our hearts and then act in contradiction to our nature. Our emotions.

Our best interests. Our own welfare, physically and emotionally.

I watched because I was seeing real life being played out right before my eyes. The heart stuff, the soul stuff, the real deal. Not the superficial shit we have to deal with every day.

It was a tough scene in a parking lot.

I wonder how many other parking lots had their asphalt melted by emotion that day.

Endless Loop

Two songs you should put on an endless loop in your mind right now and for the next two weeks:

"Summer's Almost Gone" - The Doors - To recognize the death of The Summer of 2013.

"Here Comes The Sun" - The Beatles - To look forward to the birth of Spring 2014.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

What I Need

I need my life to be larger than it is.

MUCH larger than it is.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Attempting Normal

Just finished a book by Marc Maron called "Attempting Normal."

If you don't know who he is, look him up. I love this guy. He has a podcast called WTF, he has a show on IFC called Maron, currently on hiatus but you can dial up the show on demand.

He dedicated the book as follows:

"For everyone who is successfully defying their wiring."

You will be hearing a lot more about him from me.

You know you will.

That's A Bold Statement

Just made a bold move.

I just flipped my calender to September.

From May. Yeah, the calender in this room has been sitting on May and I don't know why. Not sure what has been going through my head but it has definitely been a raspberry swirl.

Maybe denial. Maybe trying to hold back time.

I flipped the calender on September 1. The day you are supposed to flip the calender.

There is something going on here.

I did it without angst. Normally September 1 is a time for intense depression for me. The beginning of another 10 months of raw, unforgiving New England winter.

When I landed the job in February one of my first thoughts was "we are in for an excellent summer". We would have money, we would do things.

We did nothing. I worked too much, I whined too much, I beat myself up too much.

Summer is now dead. It is officially dead.

I know this because the cats have been spending a lot of time in my lap over the last two weeks. The weather may have been warm but they know, they know in their bones that it is lap time.

Given the fact that we pissed another summer away, you would expect me to be suicidal.

I am not.

Because I am undergoing change on a molecular level. I know it. I feel it.

I hunger for a nuclear explosion of change within me but I am beginning to realize it may never happen.

I evolve in pieces, little by little. Changes that others may not be aware of but that are loudly evident to me.

I am beginning to realize that I evolve piece by piece and these pieces are starting to add up.

In the past few weeks I feel another change worming its way into my heart and into my soul. It is an absolute fucking fact.

2005 marked the starting point. The Bartending Dream. It has been 8 years and I have been through the meat grinder.

I have experienced more change in my life over these last 8 years than I did in the previous 142.

I tended bar at the legion for a good chunk of it, I tended bar in an inn, I worked for a food distribution company, I became a part time employee of the NH State Liquor Commission, now I am assistant manager of a NH state liquor store.

Lots of change, lots of pain, lots of confusion.

Lots of internal evolvement as a result.

A few times during this period I felt as I feel now. That something was going on. Something inside my head was changing forever.

It is a good feeling for me because I could not go on the way I have gone on for the last 142 years.

I would rather die.

I turned the calender today after a three month hiatus from calender flipping. I turned the calender to mark the beginning of ten cruel months.

And I feel good. I feel confidant. I feel change.

I may get the feel for this thing called life after all these years.

Maybe that's how it works.

Gourmand vs Gourmet

Do you know the difference between a gourmand and a gourmet?

I didn't. I thought a gourmand was an offshoot of a gourmet. You know, the world's leading expert on one specific food or class of foods.

Like Jacques was the leading gourmand on the topic of chilled monkey brains.

Turns out I was wrong.

The definition of gourmand is: "One who is excessively fond of eating and drinking. One who is heartily interested in good food and drink."

The examples given are: "a finicky gourmand who vacationed in Europe every year simply for the wine. The kind of gourmand who swallows food without even pausing to taste it."

In my mind I am seeing Jabba The Hut.

These definitions are from Merriam-Webster by the way, not Wickipedia.

The definition of gourmet is: "a connoisseur of fine food and drink; epicure. A person who cultivates a discriminating palate for the enjoyment of good food and drink."

Epicure is one of my favorite words. I use the phrase epicurean delights often. Seriously.

I decided to look that up to make sure I have it right.

Epicure: "Devoted to the pursuit of sensual pleasure, especially to the enjoyment of good food and comfort. A devotee to sensuous and luxurious living."

Turns out epicure has a broader definition than I thought.

What I am getting out of this is that a gourmand will shove anything down his throat that pleases him, regardless of taste, texture, sensory delight or nutritional value.

Seems like an awfully fancy word for your common garden variety glutton. You know, the type you see motoring around malls and country fairs in those scooters, with enormous amounts of flab hanging over both edges of the seat.

I threw the country fair in there because we walked around the Hopkinton State Fair yesterday and I was repulsed by the number of obese people I saw scooting around the dirt in their little carts, usually heading up to the fried pickle stand.

There were also a large number of obese people waddling around on their abused feet,  people to whom a complete meal is comprised of three corn dogs followed by deep fried Oreos.

There are an awful lot of gourmands in this country.

I got to wondering if these shameless blobs of cellulose are more prevalent in NH, or if you would encounter them in equal numbers in any state fair in any state in the country.

Are there pockets of highly concentrated obesity in this country or is it evenly distributed?

If it is evenly distributed than we might as well wrap up this country's future in a Taco Bell Doritos Locos Tacos shell and call the paramedics.

Gourmet suggests the opposite end of the spectrum to me. Pretentiousness.

I think it is a good thing to be an expert in something but it seems to me that expert knowledge generally results in an air of condescension.

I have noticed this in the wine tastings I have attended in connection with my phony baloney job.

I dutifully walk to the table, swish the wine around my mouth and then spit it into the spit bucket (which is completely foreign to my nature).

You would think they would have a classier name than spit bucket, but that is what they call it.

While you swish, the expert is explaining to you how the climate, the soil, the grapes and the vintner's spiritual aura combine to create this divine sensory delight.

I feel like I am being condescended to, like they have to say the words but they know I know nothing and that I will do nothing with the information. It is right there in their eyes.

And to a certain extent they are right. It has become a source of amusement at The Asylum when I give wine recommendations, explaining how delicious the wine is. As the customer walks away a co-worker will ask if I have ever tasted the wine to which I almost invariably reply "No".

In my defense I do read up on wines so I am not completely without knowledge.

I strive to be an epicure. I am a sensuous guy. I am into sensuality. I think emotion and sensuality are somehow related.

I concentrate on the texture of my food or the feel of a wine. Carol laughs at me because I sniff food and drink before I consume it. I do not apologize, it adds to my enjoyment.

After 16,457,989 glasses of Crown Royal in my life, I still take a sniff before a sip. It makes the experience whole.

Except on stressful days when I gulp. I do feel guilty about that, such a waste of a fine whiskey. But a wonderful stress reliever.

I do not feel compelled to do any studying to consider myself an epicure. All I need is awareness and experience.

I would rather be considered an epicure than a gourmet because an epicurean aura seems to come from the soul and to address the essence of life.

"Devoted to the pursuit of sensual pleasure, especially to the enjoyment of good food and comfort. A devotee to sensuous and luxurious living."

Seems like a fitting approach to life.

A hell of a lot more meaningful than obesity and pretentiousness.

And what do you do with someone who is obese and pretentious?

That is a topic for another time and place.