If Reincarnation Is Possible …

Fish tank bourbonThe bar at Al J’s Conservatory in Louisville is a fish tank. There are dozens of live goldfish encased in the 30-foot or so glass bar topper that serves as the resting spot for your beverage. It’s a heck of a conversation piece and one of the unique features of the bar between the buildings at the Galt House, a legendary, historic hotel on Louisville’s river front.

I sat at said bar on Wednesday after a presentation at the hotel, waiting for a meeting, when it dawned on me:

If reincarnation is possible, and you’re a bourbon drinker, the worst possible thing to come back as would be a fish in this tank.

Having stumbled upon this revelation, however, I simply laughed at the torture I was potentially putting our ancestors through.

Cheers!

April 2, 2014  Leave a comment

Looking Out

Standing in line at McDonald’s Monday, I noticed a teenage boy who walked behind the counter, grabbed a cup and served himself a drink. Apparently arriving for his soon-to-start shift, the young man came around to the customer area and seemed to be waiting to talk to one of his co-workers.

He was dressed as most teenagers his age are these days — fly tennis shoes, black socks, dry fit shirt, Beats By Dre headphones and calf-length shorts pulled down below his butt. I’ve become rather ambivalent to how young people dress and it’s not my place to say anything, but the pants below the waist thing just makes them look stupid.

And then a funny thing happened.

A UPS driver who was finishing his meal and putting away his tray came over to the young man and whispered something. The young man pulled his pants up and apologized to the man. A few minutes later after the pants had fallen back down below the waist, an elderly gentlemen standing beside me got the young man’s attention and said, loud enough for me to hear at least, “Pull your pants up, young man. Have some pride.”

Again, the young man obliged and respectfully apologized. He didn’t even appear to have an eye-rolling, begrudging compliance. He was respecting his elders.

While obvious to some of you, it’s fair for me to point out that all three men in question here were African-American. Typically, I don’t think race has anything to do with stories I tell. But this time it does.

A white person would never say something like that to young white man. I even pointed out in the story that it wasn’t my place to say anything. Perhaps I feel that way because the young man was black and I am not. But even if he were white — and I’ve seen plenty of young white men dressed the same way — I wouldn’t have said anything. I would have just rolled my eyes (at most) or ignored him (at least).

But these two older, black gentlemen care about how young, black gentlemen represent themselves. They care about their community. They know that history or circumstance already works against them, why exacerbate the problem by letting young people give society more reason to pile on?

While what I noticed was a distinct difference in their race versus mine, it made me feel more proud to be a part of the same community as them rather than different.

I envy those two older men. They have a more pronounced sense of community pride — or perhaps it’s racial pride, but I don’t wish to confine it that way — than I. I also envy the younger man. Because he has a community looking out for him.

Here’s hoping we all see and appreciate that more, regardless of what color we are.

April 1, 2014  2 Comments

I Hate Poodles

Frankly, I’m surprised Child Protective Services didn’t see them. They were deep gashes across each ankle and big, bloody pokes along my heel. Every time I returned from my grandparent’s house, I was barely able to walk. It was clearly abuse.

By my grandfather’s poodle, Louie.

I hated this fucking dog.

Piece of shit Louie

Granted, my grandfather was a decorated veteran of World War II, severely injured in service to his country. He was a stoic man who, while personable and friendly in crowds, lived most of his life in his head, in his bedroom, watching satellite television before any of us had it, while petting Louie. The dog kept my grandfather calm and happy, and probably from blowing his head off.

But that doesn’t mean I didn’t want to slice its off with a jagged yard spade.

If you got within six yards of my grandfather’s bedroom — which happened to be the radius that skirted my bedroom, the den where I watched TV and the bathroom — Louie would erupt into a barking fit, snarl and spit and snip at you until you left. It didn’t matter if my granddad swatted or yelled at him to stop, he would just go into attack mode.

When I ventured in to granddad’s bedroom to watch Red Sox or Celtics games with him, Louie would hide under the bed until I got down and bite the living shit out of me.

Yes. When granddad wasn’t looking, I kicked the shit back out of him.

I hated that fucking dog.

You’d think I would have mellowed over the years. Louie died of natural causes around 1987. I like to think as he took his last gasp, he was only thinking of one thing: Me kicking the shit out of him. I haven’t mellowed. I hate that little ratty ass, butt nugget as much now as I ever did. Only I have something Louie never had:

Besides opposable thumbs.

I have the Internet. And the ability to file for an LLC.

All I’ll say about my new project is this:

Poodles are the piraña of canines and should be eliminated from  existence. They are a public nuisance, neighborhood menace and threat to national security. The breed originated in Germany, allegedly when Adolph Hitler had sex with a sheep. They are the official pet of France, which has a history of thumbing its nose at International peace by refusing to allow the U.S. military to fly through it’s less-than-sweet smelling air space. Thus, it is honorable and lawful to eliminate the poodle.

More to come, Louie. You fucking piece of dog shit.

March 25, 2014  1 Comment

When Adjectives Are Wrong

Writers write writery things. Many of us, especially journalists, are taught to be concise but descriptive, to choose words carefully. Simple is better.

For many, this means removing many adjectives and adverbs. That’s a lesson both writers and non-writers could use in certain contexts, too.

Wouldn’t it be nice if the following adjective ceased to be important?

  • Black
  • Asian
  • Hispanic
  • Gay

I’m not sure how educated you are about sports, but I’d be willing to bet my family jewels who Michael Sam loves has no effect on how many tackles he makes come fall. My confidence is equally as bold to say that not a single gold, silver or bronze medal will be determined based on the gender of the person the medalist finds attractive.

Several years ago while having a conversation with a friend who was raised in the deep south, he told me a story of a guy, but then paused to look around, then whisper, “he was a black guy.” I stopped him and said, “Think about what you just said. Does that qualifier have anything to do with the story?” He said, “No, not really.” So I said, “Then get rid of the adjective.”

No, it’s not the adjective that is wrong. It’s the prejudice behind it. But if you find yourself using these adjectives when you speak or write, do the world a favor and get rid of them. It’ll help cover the fact that you’re wrong.

February 10, 2014  Leave a comment

The Age I Hate Facebook

Today is my 41st birthday. Before you go all, “Happy Birthday,” in the comments, please know that I have reached an age and disposition where I hate my birthday. Call me cranky, call me a spoil sport, call me cynical but whatever you do, don’t call to wish me a happy birthday.

This means that Jan. 18 has now become the one day a year I really don’t like Facebook. While I realize the intent is good and am genuinely humbled that so many people take a moment to post a birthday message on my wall, I’m smart enough to call bullshit on them . If it weren’t for the fact that Facebook beats them about the head and face, telling them it’s my birthday as soon as they login in the morning and several times more throughout the day, not a single Facebook friend would know it is my birthday.

This doesn’t mean these friends are disingenuous in their wishes. But what kind of pat on the back are you willing to give someone who just blindly follows instructions?

fb-birthday

Nobody ever buys you a gift. Which is fine. You don’t deserve a prize because it happens to be the same day on the calendar your mother’s gynecologist induced labor. But a bunch of people will write on your wall. It’s quick, easy and, let’s be honest, enough.  More than 90 percent of the friends we have on Facebook are just people we know well enough to want to know how they’re doing and what they’re up to, but not well enough to want to ever actually talk to them.

Facebook has made high school class reunions obsolete. Now, we can get a snapshot of everyone’s life without the burden of having to show them how much weight we’ve gained or hair we’ve lost. My 48 X 48 avatar will have to do, dammit. They don’t need to see the effects of early onset liver disease.

Unfortunately, it’s also making birthday wishes annoying. God forbid you have text or app notifications turned on for Facebook on your birthday! Not only will you not be able to sleep in, your phone will go off every 32 seconds to alert you someone else has posted on your wall. The best you can hope for is front pocket, on vibrate and a sustained string of them all in a row.

The wall post is Meh. You want to do something for my birthday that I’ll really appreciate? Send over a stripper. Want me to never forget that it was you? Have her write your name on her ass. I promise I’ll never forget you remembered my birthday.

January 18, 2014  7 Comments

The Lights of My Life

I have this thing about lights. I don’t yet know if it’s part of a topic-based OCD or just the happenstance of the two dominant women in my life screwing with lights when I’m around.

Hey?! This is my blog and my neuroses. If you don’t like them, go watch another fucking cat video!

First example: Several times over the last few years, I’ve been in a room doing something — most likely in the kitchen washing the dishes — and my lovely wife will walk out of the room and turn the lights off. Mind you, I realize she doesn’t want me to be there — that’s a given — but I actually am there, and under the circumstances in need of vision considering the task I’m performing. Drives me fucking nuts.

Second example: This week, my mother has been visiting. My mother fucks with my lights. In each room, I have adjustable lighting. In the kitchen/pantry, I have a panel of three adjustable lights. Now, I didn’t install adjustable lighting. It came with the place. I like my lights on or off. On a rare occasion, I’ll set a mood with a middle setting, but for the most part, all the sliders are pushed all the way up and only the on-off switch is used to light the place.

Mom apparently doesn’t know that an on-off switch turns the lights on and off. She seems to have grabbed every slider on every switch in the joint and played rap deejay with it. I went to replace three different bulbs today only to find they weren’t burned out. Mom just had the adjustable slider all the way down. Drives me fucking nuts.

For the record, if you ever come over, it’s ON or OFF. If, when you turn the lights ON they’re on the middle setting, that’s your sign things are gonna get freaky.

Or that mom’s been over.

January 17, 2014  1 Comment

If There Is A God, He Spoke To Me Today

If there is a god, He spoke to me today. I’m as certain of this communication as I am anything.

No, I didn’t hear a chorus of angels or harps. No, the clouds didn’t part and rays of sunshine accompanied this revelation. But I heard it, loud and clear.

This morning, I paid a visit to a life-long friend who is hospitalized for yet another setback in a long battle with breast cancer. Not only is she as strong and beautiful as ever, but I was in that room for two minutes and knew right away that cancer doesn’t stand a chance. She’s going to kick it’s ass, again.

She was talking about how happy she was that the latest surgery will allow the doctors to correct  reinforcements in her spine. She told her husband to plan a spring trip. She looked at her doctor and inferred  she needed to get this over with because, “I’ve got things to do.”

She used words like “wonderful” and “happy” and “amazing” over and over again talking about everything from her kids to her situation.

I got on the elevator to leave and thought for a moment about all the things I find stressful and painful and negative about my life — and I’ve been focused on a lot of those more than not lately — and then it happened. In as clear a voice as I’ve ever heard anywhere, God said, “Shut your pie hole, you puss.”

January 12, 2014  3 Comments

Quick! Hide! They’re Onto Me!

Most of my time is spent in one of four worlds. Home, work, “the show” and my head. Home and work are obvious. “The show,” is kind of what I use to refer to the public speaking circuit I’ve been a part of the last six years. My head is a combination of dark, inner arena where my demon battles happen, and a twisted target range where I tack subjects against the wall and shoot darts of humor at them, ever seeking a bigger laugh.

It’s not too often the first three worlds collide with the fourth. Sure, my family is aware of my efforts in humor and battles with what I’m certain will one day be some degree of mental illness. Everyone related to me has, at some point or another, read me the riot act for something I’ve written on the Internet. If I had a dollar for every time my mother yelled at me about something I’ve written online, I could afford to have a mute button installed on her forehead.

Work mates think I’m odd and sarcastic, but seldom read The Rocker and certainly never read the real Rocker material (long since removed from the Interwebz). The only people in “the show” who know how demented I can be are the ones I’ve chosen to show.

Then along came Facebook.

While standing on the sidelines of my son’s basketball game Saturday, a fellow player’s mother mentioned how funny my little tome about Katie and her boyfriends was. For about a minute, I smiled, satisfied that someone thought I was funny. Then I realized what really happened.

The Catholic School moms are onto me.

This means one of two things. Either I’m soon to be the underground sensation nobody will admit to reading or I’ll be excommunicated.

Either works. Heh.

January 11, 2014  Comments Off

In Search of Art

I fancy myself a writer of things. The creative process is baked into just about everything I do. While I’ve not yet had quite the success publishing my fiction or humor to match the marketing and business writing I’ve done, there’s still an artistic bend to my approach. There is with any good writer.

Yet when it comes to consuming art of any kind, I have a bit of a problem: I don’t see what the fuss is about.

To be certain, I appreciate art. Paintings and sculptures certainly do make me feel one way or another. A good musical composition can elicit emotions or even physical reactions as well (dancing, not convulsions), and I don’t limit myself to rock or pop. I enjoy a good classical piece and while I’m not a big fan, I can follow and understand the emotional storyline of opera as well. Good literature always gets me and I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve cried watching more movies than most men would care to admit.

But when I talk to others about their reaction to art, in general, I feel like I’m missing something. That, or they’re completely full of shit.

“The passion that stirs in me when I see this painting is remarkable,” was something an art aficionado once said to me. I did a double-take at the piece and thought, “Well, there’s a lot of red in it.”

The Catcher in The Rye is the greatest novel ever written,” was a quote I came across recently. I re-read it over the holidays to make sure I didn’t miss something and it was as I remembered in high school: A spastic stream-of-conscious narrative from a spoiled kid who hates the fact he’s a spoiled kid. The novel only worked because of the universal appeal: You either hate spoiled kids or you are one and unknowingly hate your own qualities in other people.

“Stanley Kubrick’s movies need to be viewed dozens of times to uncover the subtexts he inserted about the holocaust,” is another opinion I’ve heard. I can think of 150,000 things more important than re-watching a movie looking for hidden meaning, including subjecting myself to a scrotum waxing.

Quick: What was the hidden meaning in that reference?

Don’t get me wrong: I enjoyed viewing the painting in question. I like The Catcher in the Rye and appreciate the royal “fuck you” it gave to uppity, private school jaggoffs back in the day. There are few directors I like more than Stanley Kubrick.

But art, in my opinion, is there to distract and entertain. Beyond that use and you’ve entered a sub-reality you’ve created because you likely fear facing the fact the rest of your life is dull.

Of course, far be it from me to prevent anyone from polishing their dull with imaginary import placed on someone else’s creativity. I certainly hope someday my writing can spawn a wild sub-breed of overzealous aficionados. Or at least enough enthusiasts to support my financial needs so I can write all the time.

But sadly, I’m not likely to be one of them. I enjoy reading stories I wrote long ago. But analyzing them? Discussing the finer points? Searching for greater meaning?

I’d rather go write something else for you to figure out later.

January 7, 2014  5 Comments

Early Onset of Teen Angst

In the midst of one of my daughter’s never-ending monologues of jibber-jabber the other day, she got overly dramatic and said she had a problem. “Daddy,” she said, sheepishly. “I don’t know what to do. I have a boyfriend, but I like my old boyfriend. I want him to be my boyfriend again.”

My daughter is five.

I’m sure most parents would shrug it off or laugh and move on or even say, “you’re not allowed to have any boyfriends,” and be done with it. I chose a middle ground between acknowledging her angst and my natural inclination.

First, I insisted that she was five and could not be in love or have a boyfriend. That was a rule set forth by Big Bird in the second season of Sesame Street. However, in a situation where you have one boyfriend but want another you need to think of three things:

  1. Your current boyfriend has feelings. I realize he’s a boy and that statement is kind of laughable, but if you were to break up with him, he’d probably be mad for about nine seconds until your best friend asked him to be her boyfriend. So, you must think about that. Do you want to be responsible for nine seconds of torment and hell? You could scar him for recess.
  2. The other boy may not want to be your boyfriend. He’s already broken up with you once and if we know anything about boys, it’s that they do the same dumb stuff over and over again expecting a different outcome. He is an “ex,” Katie. And therefore, you must treat him as exes should be treated: Call and hang up on him incessantly and tell all his friends he has chlamydia. Don’t worry, they won’t need to know what it is, either.
  3. Your current boyfriend may not take you back. And as I’ve told you before, this one in particular is a relationship worth tending to. He’s cute, sweet and, most importantly, his father played in the NFL. I think you know what to do.

After talking my daughter down off her boy problems, I sat satisfied. I’m sure it won’t last. This thing is going to play itself out over and over again until one day I have two 17-year-old punks beating the shit out of each other in my front yard over my daughter.

If only we could reach these boys earlier in life and explain to them that girls like Katie never stop talking. Ever.

January 3, 2014  1 Comment

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