Sunday, September 19, 2010

Which City?

Salem is a great town to walk around in. Fall is a great time to walk around Salem. Salem, Massachusetts has a lot of history. Of course, the big thing everyone remembers is the Salem Witch Trials. Not exactly something to be real proud of. However, Salem took this lemon and made a witch's brew!
Quite a few years ago, the town decided to tie their woeful witch history to Halloween. They came up with a number of spooky events and christened the two weeks before Halloween as "The Haunted Happenings". They had a public relations hit.
They kick off the Haunted Happenings with a night time parade through downtown. A lot of the spectators dress up in costumes and its tons of fun. It's a lot of fun for kids, as long as their not too squeemish. Some costumes can be graphic.
The trouble is, after a couple of decades this witch thing has gone a little too far. It seems that every shop downtown is nothing but witch junk. There's witches, actually folks dressed as the traditional pointed black hat witch, walking up and down the streets handing out brochures to psychic readings, wax museums, horror shows and macabre boutiques. Halloween is fun but, come on already. Did I tell you, Salem has a lot of history?
How about a few more shops that highlight the maritime history of Salem. Salem was a major seaport at one time. Yeah, there is a pirate museum but there could be much more. The town is trying to capture seafaring days by reconstructing Derby Wharf to look as it did in the 1700's. However, there needs to be much more to balance off the witches and goblins. But, you know, that Dracula's Castle is wicked cool.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

I'd Like to Help, Son, But You Don't Even Vote

Hey, did you get out and vote this week? Oh, that's right, this was only a primary. Why bother voting in those things, right. There's no winners in those races. Primaries don't matter, the real election is in November.

Hello, this is part of the democratic process! We call ourselves the greatest democracy in the world and here in the state of Massachusetts less than 15% of the voters turn out to the polls. Turn out was reported to be very light across the country.

As a nation we should be ashamed of ourselves. We tout the advantages of democracy to the rest of the world. We send our young kids to fight wars to uphold democracy and over three quarters of the country doesn't give a shit that elections are going on. This is the shining example of self governing we would like others to emulate?

Be a part of your community. Be a part of your government. Be a part of solutions. Take part in democracy, it would suck to lose it.

Monday, September 13, 2010

A Kid and his Comics

I read comic books. I love comic books. I have had a relationship with comic books for a very long time. I can honestly say that my appreciation for the printed word came originally from the pages of Green Lantern, Aquaman and Thor rather than any book assigned by teachers.

I can still remember as a kid the pleasure of opening up a new comic fresh from the corner store. The labors that went into obtaining that book were great. Comics cost twelve cents at the time and those twelve cents didn't come easy. Soda bottles had a two cent return on them back then and I remember scouring the neighborhood looking for six bottles in order to have enough to secure a new issue of Detective Comics featuring Batman. Of course, every other kid in the neighborhood was scrounging for the same number of bottles. Ah, but that's one of the reasons you made friends.

With a friend, who might be as good a scavenger as you, you could round up a dozen bottles or more and you had a great afternoon of reading ahead of you. The trick was to make sure you made friends with someone with the same tastes in comics.

However, I was pretty flexible when it came to the various titles that were out there. I started out with the typical Superman and Batman stuff. Early on, I stayed with a lot of what DC had to offer. I read The Flash, Green Arrow and Sgt Rock. Later though, it was Marvel Comics that hooked me. Marvel had a different style of writing and characters that seemed more alive. Marvel let you into the thoughts of their characters and damned if they didn't seem to be thinking a lot like I was. Some characters, Spiderman in particular, seem to be going through the normal problems of being a teen or young adult. Yeah, you might have superpowers, but you still have to get a date for the prom! So, I kept reading the comics right along with my assigned reading of Moby Dick, Tale of Two Cities and Julius Caesar. Of course, by now I had to suppliment the bottle hunts with a Sunday paper route. I needed more comics and they went up to 15 cents.

My desire for comics did wane a bit as I went through high school. After all, I needed to line up a date or two myself. Later, when I found myself in the service, I had a chance to rekindle the craving. Servicemen stationed overseas end up with a lot of down time cooped up in the barracks. The Post Exchange store realizes this as well as anyone else. So, they provide a lot of reading material. Yes, men left to their own devices will purchase a fair amount of glossy magazines of a certain genre, however that can only occupy just so much of your time. So, the Exchange also stocks comics, lots of comics. And, there is always a lot of reading, swapping and collecting of comics going on in all branches of the service.

Eventually, you move on and get on with living your life. Work, marriage, mortgage, kids, it takes up a lot of time. And, time seems to get more precious as it moves along. But, recently, I've made it a point to set aside a little time for an old fond pastime.

I still read comics and I still love comics

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Enemy at the Gate

Even though there is a lot of talk about how this country shouldn't be the policeman of the world. The fact is, we go ahead and do it. We go ahead and get ourselves involved in the affairs of other states on a regular basis. We try to make a lot of it look good by going to the UN. We see some other country that seems to be rocking the boat and we drop a dime at the UN Security Council. In a lot of instances we insist on throwing sanctions on the country causing unrest. Sometimes it leads to something more serious.

Currently the big bad guys are Iran and North Korea. These two states seem to be heading towards acquiring nuclear war heads. If these two regimes go nuclear chances are it will cause some instability. And, that's the whole idea about this policeman role we've taken on. Instability is not a good thing in this global community.

Well, if that's deal, aren't we kind of asleep on the job when it comes to our own back yard. There seems to be some heavy instability going on in Mexico and as policeman the US seems to be sitting in the donut shop. Do we know if anyone is running that country? And, who can blame the people there for fleeing to the north. Does Arizona really think they are going to stop them by putting up a No Trespassing sign?

Why isn't the US doing a little more towards stabilizing the situation in Mexico? The drug cartels now have the run of the country. They are knabbing mayors and prosicuters off the streets and executing them. Mass graves are now being found. This is our next door neighbor. You know a bar fight can many times spill out into the street. It is possible that the violence south of the border can spill into the southwest on a much larger scale than it has already.

Being the cop on the beat shouldn't we be checking on what's going on next to the station?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


I visit my mother at a nursing home in Beverly, Mass. on a regular basis. The whole nursing home thing is not a great scenario and something I wish Mom was not subject to. As it stands, its the safest thing for her now and its a pretty damned nice place - as nice as those places can be.
Anyway, I drive by Dunham Road on my way to the home. Dunham Road in Beverly is where the North Shore Music Theater is and it has been great to see traffic coming in and out of Dunham Rd. Not real great for my commute but great to know that shows are going on at the theater again.
North Shore Music Theater closed last year due to financial problems. It was sad to see the curtain go down on this place. I'm by no means a regular theater goer but it was comforting to know we had this place on the North Shore where you could take in a quality musical. The venue also hosted some big name acts in a theater-in-the-round setting. It was always a good night out without having to travel into Boston.
Earlier this year, William Hanney, who also owns Theater By The Sea in Rhode Island, put up the cash to buy NSMT which by this time was owned by Citizen's Bank having acquired the theater through auction. Hanney wants to see the NSMT work on the North Shore. I do, too.
So, take in a show. I know I plan to.

To Blog or Not to Blog

OK, I'm back again. I thought I owed an appearance here to my faithful audience. By the way, I really thank the two of you for checking in occasionally to see what kind of drivel might be expounded here. Hasn't quite been worth the peek, has it? Maybe after the lengthy lapse I can give it another go.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Meals should be Happy

It's always good to know that we have so many groups out there looking after our well being. Just a few days ago, fast food chain McDonald's was put on notice by one of these watchdog groups, that if the hamburger giant didn't stop putting toys in their Happy Meals they would be sued!

Now, Happy Meals have been around for a good many years. These meals are packaged in a cute little box with cartoon charaters on the sides. The themes of the boxes change from time to time and are many times tied into a movie promotion. Inside the box you get a burger and fries and a soda comes with it. Quite often the deal includes a little toy and we're not talking anything fancy here. It's usually a cheap little plastic figure that may be broke or lost before you make it back to the house.

Well, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (Believe me, I'm not making this up) thinks that this is a dastardly practice by McDonald's. "It's a creepy and predatory practice that warrants an injunction." Yep, that was a statement from their spokesman. Now, I never realized there was a Center for Science in the Public Interest but its obvious they are a busy group. They claim that using toys to intice children instills bad eating habits. The soda wth the burger and fries is fine but throw in that five cent piece of plastic and you've got a real problem on your hands.

Years ago, in the early sixties, it was a big deal to stick a little toy in a box of cereal. The cereal companies would market the hell out these cereals. Most often on a kid's TV show. Well kids begged their parents to buy these cereals. I still remember collecting the characters from the Sky King television show.

Most of those breakfast cereals weren't the greatest nutritional meal to be serving the kids. But, you know what, it was up to the parent to make the choice of what to feed their children. The director of this CSPI says, "multibillion dollar corporations make parents' job nearly impossible by giving away toys". Well, no its not nearly impossible to do the right thing for your kids. Yeah, the kids are always going to want to go with those toys. If I carried the family purse back in those sixties, I'd buy a box of that cereal every day to get the Sky King toy I wanted. My parents didn't do that though, they did what they thought was right.

So, maybe the CSPI should look into suing the parents who aren't doing the right thing. Maybe they should find out why some parents think its alright to feed their kids burgers and fries on a daily basis. A Happy Meal now and then should be reserved as a treat for the kids. A reward after a great game of soccer or a well executed dance recital. Oh, and yeah, sometimes the toy can be used to intice the little one to finish up that meal so you can get home to watch The Bachelor.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

I've Just been Wondering...

Sometimes I find myself just wondering...

I wonder how long the project to widen Route 128 through Danvers, MA is going to take. Especially since I haven't seen anyone working on it since they "started".

I wonder why a lot of people dress themselves up in expensive Red Sox shirts and hats then pay a lot of money to get a seat at Fenway Park, a really fantastic place to watch a ball game, and then spend most of the game traveling back and forth from concession stands with enough food for a week. Many of them have no idea what the score of the game is.

I wonder why it is that many of the people complaining about President Obama not doing enough about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico are the same people who don't what the government interfering with business.

I wonder about the future of the country when I go into a Dunkin' Donuts and pick up coffee and muffins, ring up a tab of $16.33, hand the young cashier a twenty along with 35 cents and watch the confused look on her face.

I wonder if Congressman John Teirney realizes that an awful lot of signs for Rebulican Bill Hudak are cropping up in his district and I wonder if he happened to follow the campaign for Ted Kennedy's open senate seat.

I wonder if the Boston Celtics can win one more game.

I wonder if the Boston Red Sox are going to be a serious contender this year.

I wonder if those straight edged knit ties will ever come back in style. I still have quite a few.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Free Market, Not a Free for All

You've got to wonder, how long will media outlets continue to have the underwater shot of oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico. It continues to be one of the top 3 videos every night. Will this last into the fall as they say the leak itself will?

This whole story is depressing and disgusting. It's now coming to light that this was not quite the "accident" that we were first led to believe. It seems that BP cut corners. They kind of fudged on safety in order to pump a little faster. Lives were put at risk because money seems to always be the most important thing to a lot of corporations.

Eleven people who were doing work for BP died because some things weren't done the right way. It was more important to the people in charge to get that oil out of the ground than it was to make sure workers had safe conditions. More oil meant more money and that means happy shareholders.

Well now, a lot of people are going to pay for this new chapter of corporate greed. People who make their living of the Gulf are going to be paying for decades to come. Does this sound familiar? Haven't we traveled down a road like this before? The chairs are still warm in Congress where bank CEO's just got through testifying about their greed. And, yeah, a lot of people are paying dearly for that little "accident" of betting on the market.

You know, capitalism is a good thing. It works better than other systems. However, some people don't always play fair. Some people want to bend the system and that's why regulations need to be in place. It's not a question of more or less regulations. The fact is that regulations that do the job have to be there. The free market can not be free to regulate itself. Sometimes, too much is at stake.

A lot of people in this country are going around screaming about too much government. It's not going to be too much government if the government does the job of watching out that people don't get screwed by companies that don't want to play by the rules. It's kind of ironic that many people who complain about big government start looking for the government to do something when something like this oil spill happens. Well, we do need the government to do something. They need to enforce the laws and regulations we have governing the way we do business. That doesn't mean stopping business from growing. It means making business fair and safe for everyone.

We shouldn't have a fear of too much government, we should make sure we have enough government.

Monday, June 7, 2010

In the Mood

I've been kinda quiet lately. Not much to say, I guess. I've been tending to the yard and stuff but I've just not felt real communicative.

I've thrown out a few quibs on facebook here and there, but I've just not had an urge to put out anything of any substance. And, that's OK! It's not like I get paid for this crap. I wrote a lot better when I used to get paid for it. Of course, I didn't get paid a lot. So, maybe it wasn't that good.

Anyway, I figure the mood will pass and I'll start spewing some nonsense before too long. In the mean time, we've got some basketball to watch.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A Pause that Refreshes

I took a break from my new evening pastime of bicycling, today. I might have continued had the cool front made it to the Northshore already. As it didn't, I figured the leg muscles could use a little down time. So, I went to the Home to visit with Mom.

Mom is fitting in much better than a lot of us thought she would. Maybe something clicked and even she realized that she's probably a lot safer where she's at. Still it doesn't make it any easier to see where she is. Even a really nice nursing home is still a nursing home!

It was a good visit though. She has gotten chummy with a couple of other ladies and with my visits I've become friendly with them as well. The other ladies had their daughters visiting the same time I was there. So we all sit at a table and get to know each other and talk about what the little trio of Moms were up to during the day.

It's kind of weird in a way, but I think we feel almost like our folks must of felt when visiting us kids at our schools or something. When you think of it, our parents made some friends over the years based on us. Our friends parents became friends with our parents because of us. Wow, this is just a little too zen like for me.

Anyway, I think Mom liked the visit, too!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Use It or Lose It

I've toyed with the idea of entering the PanMass Challenge. This is a bicycle ride from Sturbridge, Massachusetts to Provincetown, Cape Cod also in Massachusetts. The ride is a benefit to raise money for cancer research. It's a long ride and it takes two days.

I actually first thought of getting into this bike ride a few years ago while staying at my brother-in-law's place on Cape Cod. Back then when I stayed on the Cape, I always brought my bike. I would get up in the morning and ride 25 miles before breakfast. Then, maybe another ride later in the day with my nephews.

I haven't been on the bike in almost 4 years. Today I took a ride for less than an hour. I'm not going to make that PanMass Challenge this year.

If you used to do something a lot and then you don't do it for a long time well, you seem to lose some of the ability you might have had. Judging from today's ride it will take a while before I get much of that ability back.

But, this was just day one, damn it. And, I am determined that there will at least be a day two!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

We're Working Out the Kinks

Doing business and/or just screwing around on your computer can still get you into trouble. Especially if you go clicking on some of these pop up windows telling you you need updates. The HP can be running just fine but you see this window telling you you should be updating to a new security version of something or that you are using an obselete version of Adobe Reader, so you go ahead and click and your screwed!

So, now your stuck for two days trying to get your setting back to the way you had them. This is time you didn't set aside for this shit.

Computers really haven't made life any easier. Different maybe, but not any easier.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Whoa! Well, it certainly doesn't seem like a good time to be an incumbent. You might say people are fed up with politicians who don't seem to be getting anything done. Normally, I'm all for that kind of thing. If you've got a representative who ain't doing what you wanted her or him to do, and you've got a majority of people thinking your way, by all means get the bum out of office. That's democracy, baby!

It's no secret that things down in our capital seem to be stalemated. Way too much partisan politics. Sometimes a good housecleaning is just what is needed.

I just hope we don't throw the baby out with the bathwater!

Monday, May 17, 2010

I Promise I'll Quit after this Next Post

So, yeah, there's a whole lot of people on facebook. Just about everybody you know is on facebook. Betty White got a gig on Saturday Night Live due to the hype around a facebook campaign. So, yeah, the whole freakin' world is on facebook!

Well, now there's some facebook backlash going on. Is this a good thing that we're all kinda exposing ourselves out there, is this safe to be talking to all these people, was Betty White right - is this just a colossal waste of time? Here's the deal - it is what it is, gang! It's an internet based social network. Is it safe to be giving out information to total strangers? Hell no! Just like in real life, you should network with friends and friends of friends.

Do you think facebook is collecting information from all of us? Of course they are, folks! Do you think they are providing this network because they just want us all to be good friends? They want to make money and they can make money by selling information - your information. So, what it comes down to is if you want to play in the playground with your friends, you do have to give up something. But, you don't have to give away the store. Be smart with your personal information. Only put things on your page that your willing to have recorded in whatever database facebook designs.

Now, a lot of people think this has gone too far. Too much privacy has been taken away. So. now, a big push to quit facebook is on. May 31st is going to be "Quit facebook Day", kind of like an internet version of the National Smoke-Out Day. But, here's the kicker, there using facebook to get everyone on board for this thing. There's a Quit facebook Day page on facebook. You see, you have to be on facebook to become a fan of this page. A page that's telling you to get off facebook!

What happens, sometime later when people think facebook has become safer, how are they going to let everyone know if they all got off facebook. It's a strange new world!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Grass is always Greener

It has really been a fantastic spring weekend here on Boston's Northshore. The weather was great. People were out doing outside things all weekend. Saturday, I took advantage of the sunshine and started sprucing up the yard. It was great weather to do a little weeding, some transplanting, I even got the edger out and redefined a few borders around the yard.

So, after putting in a productive day in the yard, I also surrounded the garden in chicken wire to keep the critters away from the lettuce, I felt Sunday should be set aside for something restful. Sundays have been reserved recently as visiting days with my mother. Mom has set up residency in a nursing home since fracturing her hip last December. I visit a lot of other days, too! It's just that Sunday, well, it's the formal visit day. The weather being as nice as it was, I felt it would be great to get Mom out into the fresh air.

We decided to go for a little drive. I had no destination in mind, I just sort of drove through Cape Ann trying to keep the ocean in sight so my mother had something to look at. The funny thing is I had something to look at. Like I said, this was meant to be restful so I wasn't deep in thought or conversation, just a little light chatter. But what struck me was just how nice this area is.

Sometimes you travel and you see some pretty awesome stuff. And, you might even get comments from your significant other, "Honey, what would you think about living here?" when traveling. But, when it comes down to it, I really like where I'm at. I just need to go out and appreciate it more.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Just Desert?

In the past couple of dozen years, supermarket chains have done a lot to beef up there in-house bakery departments. Years ago, they sold only the prepackaged bread, pies and cakes. Nowadays, you can walk into a Stop & Shop or a Shaw's and get fresh bread, baked on the premises. Many stores are getting pretty damned good at it, too! The bakery section now has quite a selection of many types of breads, cakes, cookies and pies that you would only find in a specialty bake shop years ago.

My problem though, is with their packaging. Specifically the packaging for the pies and cakes. I'm sure you've seen these plastic boxes that the deserts come in today. Like a big clear plastic top hat. The round cover clicks into the base securing the cake within.

Why are these things necessary? Trying to get into these things is like trying to solve a Rubik's Cube. You have to start unclicking the base around the edge while holding one side open so it doesn't reclick on you. Not to mention how loud the foolish thing is when your trying to steal a slice of cheesecake late at night.

And, when you've finished your cake, disposing of the plastic is not an easy task. It doesn't break up or flatten easy. So, it always takes up way too much space in the recycle bin. And, hello, aren't we suppose to be getting away from this plastic packaging. Whatever happen to the nice cardboard package with the cellopane window, you could slide your pie in or out with hardly any sound I might add. The box could be easily flattened and added to the newspaper pile.

There should be a movement to end the use of these plastic coffins! I'll get rid of mine as soon as I can unsnap and release this last slice of caramel swirl cheesecake without waking anyone else in the house!

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Horses are on the Track

I know it's a little early to be getting too deep into the gubernatorial race here in the Bay State but Charlie Baker, the Republican nominee, has caught my ear. This guy is saying a lot of right things and he sounds intelligent when saying them.

Once the race starts getting heated up and the GOP starts shipping money in from out of state, Baker is going to look electable. Unfortunately, the national story is going to be that another Republican takes a big prize away from Massachusetts Dems if he wins. Deval Patrick will be running against Baker and the Scott Brown revolution. But, Baker actually sounds like he wants to put the state's fiscal house in order.

You know, the governor in Massachusetts doesn't have a whole lot of power, there's always too many Democrats on Beacon Hill to allow that. But, having a Republican in the corner office doesn't always turn out to be a bad thing. State government seemed to work a little smoothly when William Weld held the seat.

Baker worked for Weld and maybe that mixture of checks & balances might be what this state needs, again. The bad thing is, if Baker wins the national press is going to play it up as a movement. And, it could turn in to a movement with a life of its own. This is how Martha Coakly's blunder can cause a real problem!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

Apparently in celebration of Mother's Day, Saturday Night Live had Betty White on as the guest host last night. I'm not a regular fan of SNL any more but I found myself up at 11:30 so I tuned in. It's no secret that SNL is not as funny as it used to be. They have had some ups and downs over the 35 year run and I would say the last few years goes into the books as one of the downs. Last night did nothing to improve that trend.

The whole premise of the show seemed to be, let's get Betty White to be as raunchy as we can. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind a raunchy joke or two but raunchy for raunchy sake is pretty old. Lenny Bruce was doing it 45 years ago and after a while, even that got lame. The thing with SNL though is it just ain't funny!

They had Betty in several MacGruber skits. She played MacGruber's grandmother and she would say things to embarass him. MacGruber is a take off on the MacGyver TV show. That show has been out of production for 18 years. The first time I saw a MacGruber skit, it took me a while to figure out what they were spoofing!

Another skit was designed to have Ms. White say the word lesbian several times. Once may have been humorous, by the 5th time, the skit had already died.

Yet another skit was the NPR Delicious Dish, a running skit that ran its course a long time ago. Anyway, they tried to get the same kind of milage they got from Alec Baldwin when he appeared in the skit a few years ago. The Baldwin Shweddy Balls routine was clever. With Betty they replaced balls with muffin and they all would continue to refer to Betty's muffin. It mustered a chuckle but it didn't work as well as Alec's balls.

Betty White is 88 years old. She has a long history in television. And, I think it is great that she is still working and poking fun at her own image. The Snicker's commercial first aired during the SuperBowl was great. I like the fact that she is ok with playing raunchy at her age. But, the stuff they wrote for her last night wasn't really raunchy, it was closer to garbage.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

There's no place like home, there's no place like home.

As great as it is to travel, Dorothy was right, its great to come home. Something about being able to crawl into your own bed or clean yourself up in your own shower, just gives you a real comfy feeling.

Of course, that feeling is short lived once you take a look at your lawn!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Today's World

There use to be this TV commercial for an airline with O.J. Simpson running through a terminal to catch a last minute flight. Remembering this, shows you how much the world has changed. For one thing, O.J. is doing his running in a prison exercise yard. And, also, you can forget about last minute access to an airplane.

It once was that you could show up just a few minutes before a flight. But, since 9/11 we can all forget about that. You've got to plan a couple of extra hours into your travel plans when flying these days.

And, as for O.J., how the hell his he going to find his wife's killer cooped up in the slammer like that. It's a different world!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Don't Look a Gift in the Beak

So it seems KFC or Kentucky Fried Chicken for you traditionalists is stirring up a little controversy. They have this campaign going on where they sell pink buckets of they're famous fried chicken parts. 50 cents from the sale of each of these buckets is donated to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure organization. The Komen group does extensive funding into the research to cure breast cancer.

Well a lot of advocates for curing this disease think this is just wrong. They site the horrible fat content of the Colonel's chicken as being a great health concern in itself. Duh! Do they think that people who normally chow down on yogurt and granola are suddenly going to rush out to KFC for a bucket of wings so they can help the cause?

This is money that Komen did not have before and they have now. In fact, so far it is 2.3 million dollars of money they did not have before. Is KFC chicken bad for you? Well, its not part of the South Beach Diet! Do you think this is a marketing ploy from this fast food chain? Well, yeah, you can bet you chicken rump that it is. But, it is also a donation to a worthwhile organization trying to make a difference in this disease.

Yeah, there's stuff out there that people consume that ain't good for them. A campaign like this is not going to change habits. If your the type that watches what you eat, try to live healthy your not gonna start sucking down buckets of fried chicken. And, you know what, if your already shopping at the Colonel's, enjoy your wings and thanks for the half a buck!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Sometimes I'll go several days without picking up a local newspaper. I tend to regret this habit everytime it occurs. Last week is one of those times.

Joan Gormalley of Salem passed away last week. Had I read that in the paper I could have paid my respects. Joan was my third grade teacher. She was the very first lay teacher at St. Pius V School in Lynn. That means she was this real woman in a school full of nuns! A lot of us little urchins thought this was a cool thing. We also thought we were going to be on Easy Street that year. Well, you can believe me, Miss Gormalley was able to dish out discipline just as well as any of those Sisters of Saint Joseph.

The one thing I will always remember about Miss Gormalley, is how she opened up the world of classical music for me. I had had brushes with the classics before my third grade encounter. I was a huge fan of "The Lone Ranger" television series, so the William Tell Overture was pretty big with me. I can also remember sending a few boxtops of Quaker Puffed Rice off to Battle Creek, Michigan for a recording of Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture. However, Joan Gormalley brought a few records into class and allowed us to do nothing but listen. She had some music by some guy named Edvard Grieg, then something called "A Night on Bald Mountain" and then, Paul Dukas' "Sorcerer's Apprentice" which I remembered had something to do with Mickey Mouse. Somehow I thought this woman wasn't like the other teachers I had. Even apart from the nun's habit, she seemed different.

Joan Gormalley went on to be a member and president of the Salem Chamber of Commerce then, also, a co-founder of Salem's Haunted Happenings. She was always active in local politics. But, I'll always remember spending some magical musical hours in her third grade classroom.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Free Comic Book Day

May 1st is Free Comic Book Day. This is the day you can walk into a participating comic book store and get a free comic. The day doesn't always fall on May 1st but it's always the first Saturday of May.

I've always liked comics. I think comic books have made me a better reader. Along the way, comics have taught me a little about life. But, most of all, they've been fun and entertaining. I really wish my mother hadn't tossed out my collection from the 60's. What a gold mine that would be now!

This past week, it was announced that Archie Comics is going to introduce a gay character to the gang at Riverdale High. Apparently, a new arrival to town isn't concerned with that age old choice - Betty or Veronica. This guy comes out and states, "I'm gay!"

Now, a lot of realism has crept into comics in the last 25 years. And, comics have dealt with some hot topics in the past. Back in the 1960's, Marvel made a little civil rights statement by including a black man as a regular in their popular WWII mag,"Sgt Fury and his Howling Commandos". Drug abuse has been addressed even in the pages of "The Amazing Spiderman". But, come on, this is Archie! A simple little comic about being a teenager and its readership is mostly preteens. Do we need throw the gay thing at them in a comic strip?

Racism, drugs, gang violence and war, these are all issues that are currently in many comics and the so-called graphic novels. And, in some comic books they are handled creatively and thoughtfully. But, just like some of those issues, homosexuality doesn't belong in an Archie comic book.

When it comes down to it, being gay is a sexual preference. And, if that's what floats your boat, then fine but do we have to tout these preferences in comics aimed at young readers. Do we want kids to know that Blondie and Dagwood were heavily into S&M or that Hi and Lois were into wife swapping!

Yeah, kids are subjected to a lot more adult themed entertainment these days. And, its probably impossible to put the genie back in the bottle but, come on, its Archie for cryin' out loud!

Earth Day plus 2

Today was my Earth Day!

The wife and I went out early to pick up some plants and more bags of various types of soil. We got some potting soil, some gardening soil, even a few bags of top soil. That last one especially gets to me. I never thought I'd see the day I'd be buying dirt. But, yet, I have bought a ton of it. Actually, between the two houses I've owned, I have bought several tons.

Still, it seems odd to me. I grew up with a yard that had plenty of good soil and the empty lot next door was on the edge of a swamp and had plenty of pear moss. My old man's garden grew like crazy!

Anyway, we got back to the house and I turned the soil in my garden. I mounted a couple of window boxes on the shed that went up last year. If your like me your asking yourself why the hell do you need window boxes on a shed. Well, the answer is called living together peacefully.

We got the boxes filled with the plants. I trimmed back a rose bush. I cleaned out an area where I want to transplant a peony. All in all, it was a damned nice day!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Global Warming or just Damned Good Seed

I really haven't made a concrete decision on this global warming, yet. I've gone through an awful lot of seasons here in New England and I've seen warm winters and I've seen cool summers. It sure seems like we must have altered something with all the carbon we've thrown into the air. However, history tells us we've gone through a lot of climate changes over the years. Scientists tell us we've had several ice ages along with a few periods of worldwide tropics.

There's one thing I do know. It seems to me, I've been cutting my grass a lot sooner in the past few years. I'm one of those guys who don't mind cutting the lawn. It's kind of a private time where you can be alone with your thoughts.

I like it, its just that it starts so early I get to like it a lot more than I want to. My grass is in good shape but, you know, it could be global warming too!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Toys in the Attic

One aspect of aging is watching your parents pass away. If your lucky you get to spend some quality time before you lose them for good. If your real lucky and the situation allows you might be able to bring a dying parent into your home. Then you can allow them to spend their last days with family. Ideally, with lots of family visiting often and creating a safe, comfortable atomoshere so that your mom or dad can have a feeling that their family is staying intact.

Of course, that's not always possible. Sometimes we have to depend on facilities designed to care for the elderly. It may be the only alternative available at the time, but knowing that doesn't make it any easier. As you watch someone who raised you, taught you, cooked many meals for you, sitting amongst strangers when you wave goodbye after a too brief of a visit.

Another part of this process is taking care of dismantling what the parents acquired and accumulated over the years. If they owned a home its up to you and any siblings to go through that house to prepare for a sale. And, its quite an adventure sorting through the stuff that your folks stashed away over the years. Its interesting trying to understand their mind set of why they felt the need to store dozens of pairs of shoes in the attic. And, while your in that attic, try to figure out what made them hold on to every gift box from every Christmas you can ever remember.

But, then you come across the good stuff. You find that some of those boxes have pictures and letters from not only your lifetime but theirs as well. A few things to remind you that they went through this same process with their parents. So, you see pictures of your parents when they were children. You see your grandparents as young adults just starting out. And, hopefully, you see pictures that show happy faces caught many years ago having many good times. And, you think about somebody climbing up into your attic someday and you hope they find some of your boxes.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Birth of a Nation and a few Bills

Today is known as Patriot's Day. An actual holiday here in ye olde Massachusetts Bay Colony. It's the day that commemorates the kick off of the American Revolution that in turn led to the formation of these United States. I don't think nation building was in the back of the minds of those so-called minutemen on that morning back in 1775. They were a group of craftsmen, farmers, brewers, tradesmen who had had enough.

A lot of talk these days is about how those colonists were fed up with taxation. That was a very big part of it, but this was 1775, the famous tea party was three years ago. They had successfully mounted a boycott of British goods that got the Stamp Act repealed back in 1766. The taxes hurt, but another big factor was Parliment was chipping away at their rights as British subjects. They ended up going to war for the right to govern themselves.

Today, some people are saying that these founding fathers would be outraged at the amount of taxes we pay to the government they forged back then. I wonder about that. You see, after they fired those shots heard around the world that April 19th morning, the die was cast, as John Adams said. They had to go through with it. The most bizarre thing was they won! They got into a match with the biggest superpower of the day and they beat 'em!

Of course, then they had to form a country, with a government, and pay for it. Once they got into that part of the deal, they found out you have to get money from somewhere if you want to lay down a few streets, build a few ships, pay your soldiers. So, they found themselves on the other end of a revolution when they started taxing the guys who made whiskey. And, they did some of the same things the Brits did earlier. They sent the army after these tax evaders.

The thing is they found out you need money to run a country. So, I think they would understand the dynamics going on 230 years later. How to ride that fine line, maintaining a government that can provide what people want and need but, yet, keeping taxation fair and equitable. And, I'm quite sure that they would be quite familiar with the fact that you can't please all the people, all the time. Also, if they had it to do over again, they'd probably want to ease up on the whiskey tax!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


So, this is SuperBowl week. Here in the Boston area, it doesn't seem to be as exciting as it as been in recent years. You might say, being as parochial as Bostonians are said to be, that the absence of the Patriots from the big game takes a little shimmer out of this tilt for the Lombardi Trophy.

Still, it is the SuperBowl and not just some run of the mill NFL game. This is the Big One! This is an event! The all day pregame shows! The commercials! The possible boob shot! Well, no, not anymore, not with the NFL's seven second delay thanks to Ms. Jackson.

But, it is an event. And, this year, the big story line is - The Saints! Just a few years ago, the New Orleans Saints fans wore paperbags over their heads and called their team "The Aint's". That was then, this is now! Now, the Saints are in their first SuperBowl and the fans are frothing and the mouth for a win to coincide with Mardi Gras week. Bring that trophy back home and the Cresent City will party till saints come marching in!

They just have to beat the Indianapolis Colts. Oh, well, I hear funerals in New Orleans are pretty wild.

A Recommitment of Sorts

Well, I may have stated that I would be committed to this blog. However, commitment is a relative thing. The fact that I am making another entry at this point shows that I want to continue some level of commitment. Figuring out what that level is, well, that is yet to be defined.

Monday, January 11, 2010

This is Not Debatable

Massachusetts is having a special election next week. This is to officially fill the Senate seat left vacant by the death of Ted Kennedy. You would think that this would be a big deal and that it would bring out some of the best and brightest from both parties.

Well, it hasn't turned out that way. The state had a primary and the field of candidates didn't exactly stir the minions. A few dozen voters showed up and they narrowed things down to three possibilities. Scott Brown the republican, who doesn't quite look ready for prime time. Martha Coakley the democrat. She's the current state Attorney General in this blue state and you'd think she should be a shoe in. However, it's not going so easy for Martha, maybe it has to do with the fact that she looks like she's wound up way too tight. Oh, then there's the also-ran, independent Joe Kennedy. No, he's not part of clan, just some kid with the same name. The name might actually get him up to 10% of the vote.

So, these three have just had a couple of debates and after watching you'd come away not knowing a whole lot more than if you stayed with Two and a Half Men. The two front runners shouted charges at each other and the Kennedy kid was off to the side probably making up the next day's shopping list.

The trouble is, the moderator let's this happen. Tonight's moderator was Dave Gergen. Gergen is a bright guy. He's been an advisor to a handful of presidents, he's a political analyst on major networks, he's teaching at Harvard, for cryin' out loud. But, he didn't handle this debate well.

It's not Gergen's fault though. Debates in the last 10 to 15 years have gone seriously down hill. It used to be that there were rules in a debate. Participants had a set time to make a statement or answer a question. Then, another, could respond or rebute. But, it was structured and the moderator would control the process.

Debates today have turned into free-for-alls. Candidates try to out shout their opponents while trying to get a great sound bite in at the same time. We really don't get to learn much about positions or platforms. And, of course, its in a front runners best interest to do as few debates as possible. They shouldn't worry though, most viewers are checking out what's going on with Charlie and Alan.