Friday, January 25, 2008

Closed For Vacation

"Things At King's, Life On North Franklin" is closed for vacation. We hope to see you back here on or about February 7.

In the meantime, check out our cruise diary online:

Click on "Live From The Noordam With Tomc" and follow our adventures daily.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Point After For Driving Down It?

A friend of mine lives on Goal Post Lane. Generally, I’ve noticed that new streets in equally new developments are named for what used to be there but ain’t no more.

“Bunny Run Road,” for instance, when we’ve chased all the bunnies out of there. “Quiet Spring Drive,” all paved over. But “Goal Post Lane”; is it near a school’s playing field? Or does it cross where the field used to be?

One time, while looking for something else, I discovered a seminary out in Wisconsin was on South Lovers’ Lane Road. Hmmm. One can only assume the street name was there first. Or was it? We’ve a street right at the end of town, as you climb the Poconos, which has a name I forget at the moment, called by everyone “The Baby Road.” One can only guess how many angels came down from heaven on that backwoods lane.

There’s a place in Danvers, Mass., called “Witch Trot Lane,” where they used to hang the old gals back when. In those days, Danvers was part of Salem and that hill was the spot to get rid of witches, real or otherwise. All otherwise, as it turned out. I can’t imagine witches trotting there, unless the dysfunctional people of Salem got it into their minds that the dear old ladies were traipsing around the area. We may never know.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

My Account Has Been Suspended?

The National Credit Union Administration has temporarily suspended my account due to fraud attempts. If I call them, I can have everything straightened out.

Who? I have no connection with NCUA and the number they sent does not match the NCUA’s actual contact number. So I called their fraud hotline and heard a message about fraudulent e-mails going out.

Some bank in Kentucky sent me a warning. Kentucky? My bank is down the street three blocks. I sent them the message to the fraud hotline address on their real website.

I’ve also learned to place my cursor on the message’s e-mail response link and see what actually turns up on the task bar down at the bottom of my screen. It’s amazing what you learn. The @whatever down below, when pasted into a URL, directs you to some odd place that just screams “fraud.”

Everybody has a story.
Agnes Seiler is celebrating her 92nd birthday. She is one of 10 siblings. Her father was a coal miner and was killed in a coal mining accident when she was a young girl. This left her mother to raise ten children alone. At a young age, Mrs. Seiler married a coal miner who was also killed in a coal-mining accident and left her a young widow. After this horrific time in her life, she moved to New Jersey with her sister.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Starting Off Ahead Of The Game

I went to get what passes for my suitcase. It’s more like an oversized gym bag and, for all I know, may actually be one. Anyway, I looked inside and there was one of those little flat plastic money envelopes. It had $130 in it – to which I said, “Yes!”

When I travel, I usually have two or three of those; one in my inside jacket pocket, one in my bag and one somewhere else. Generally they have about $125-150 in each, so if one gets lost or something, I’ve got enough to do whatever I went there to do.

Well, now I can do more. $130 more. Of course, those who know me also know that I live on the far side of frugal, somewhere close to the border of cheap. Maybe completely and irrevocably inside The Kingdom of Cheap. The kind of guy who, once, came back with *more* than he brought; but that’s another story.

I can use it to buy Internet time on the ship, mostly to do my daily posting to the thread I run while I’m on a cruise. It’s a combination of a running commentary of the cruise, people-watching, a little exaggeration on the day’s events and some good joke lines. Worth the price of admission, as they say.

So now that I’ve found Captain Kidd’s treasure chest (which, by the way, is supposed to have been buried not far, feet or miles, from where I used to live), I can start to pack now, happily aware that I’m $130 ahead of the game. Of course, being terminally cheap, I’ll most likely return with those same bills in that same plastic holder.

Monday, January 21, 2008

"Things At King's" Is Going On Vacation

The last post will be on Friday, the 25th; I'll pick up again either on Wednesday, February 6, or the next day. Between those times, you can follow my adventures on Holland America Line's ms Noordam by going to the Cruise Critic's Holland America board at: (and clicking on "Live from the Noordam with tomc"). Bookmark it and check daily for a running report of life onboard.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Sunday Meanderings

>What I spent on my regular meds this month is slightly more than what I spent for a 11-day cruise on a nice ship. Is this a sign of growing old, when your meds cost more than any of your other activities? I can remember when an aspirin was a big thing and the first time I had to take something for a cough in school (I think the nun gave me a hard candy to suck on), I felt as if I were the star of the show.

>I believe in global warming; hard not to, as it’s staring us right in the face. But where is it when the temps are going to be in the single numbers? Can’t our greenhouse gasses at least bring us up into the twenties? Overnight, it’s going down to 3F (up from yesterday’s prediction of 2F – big deal) and the daytime high of 25 later in the week is starting to look pretty good.

>I used my cell phone to report a 2-car accident and almost had one myself while in the process. Don’t know why the Powers That Be are against hand-held phones but ok with hands-free phones; it’s not how they’re held, but your mind being focused on talking rather than driving. A guy in the middle of the city drove into the back of a parked bus and said he never even noticed it, he was so engaged in talking on his phone. When I do have to call, I pull over to dial, even if I can continue talking on a fairly vacant road. My car isn’t much, but I like to keep it in one piece.

>I can snap all four fingers with my thumb in one quick movement. No doubt others can do that too, but I offer this as a bit of trivia to fill out the blog for today.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

A Week From Now

My vacation starts in just one week and I think I will be visiting St. Vincent and the Grenadines, islands in the Lesser Antilles.

Being a sensitive soul, I don’t think it would be proper to remind them that they are the Lesser Antilles and will never be the Greater Antilles. (“Ha, ha, ha; Jamaica has greater antilles than you lesser shrimps.”) That could cause some sort of uprising, possibly causing people to line up behind the Ward Island brothers, Lee and Wind. You can’t break Lee, as he is strong, but you can break Wind at your own risk.

There’s also Grenada, not to be confused with Granada. Gre-(with an “e”)-nada, pronounced something like “grenade,” is an island in the Caribbean, whose mental hospital we bombed one fine day and apologized weakly with a, “Sorry; my bad.” Gra-(with an “a”)-nada is in Spain and also in a song favored by tenors who think that have The World’s Finest Voice. You hear it as “Grah-nah-dah,” as in (very loudly at this point): “Then moonlit Granada will live again, The glory of yesterday, romantic and gay.”

Grenadine syrup, favored for flavoring drinks both hard and soft, comes from the French word “grenade,” but I don’t think it has anything to do with the explosive. It seems to be connected more with the pomegranate, from which the liquid comes, and not at all with the island under consideration.

Anyway, I think I’ve digressed a bit much. I just wanted to say I’m going to St. V. and the Grenadines.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Stupid Questions; No, Dumb Stupid Questions

Sometimes I wonder; occasionally, I really wonder. Like this:

We had three World War I vets left in this country and one of them passed away recently at the age of 104, or something like that. The obituary notice said that the cause of death had not been determined. The cause of death, as far as I can figure out, was this: he was 104. That’s cause enough; why look any further. Did you think he was poisoned, or maybe shot? He just plumb wore out.

I’ve got my coat and hat on, car keys in hand and, inevitably, someone will ask, “Are you going out?” I stay nice and say, “Yes, doing some errands,” instead of, “No; I’m sleeping in my car tonight because the bed in my room is too comfortable.”

Or you are in conversation and someone asks about a subject with which you are familiar. I’m well-read and it occasionally happens that I can steer them in the right direction to learn more about it. “Oh, when did you get your degree in (whatever)?” Many’s the time I wanted to say, “I read widely and don’t get stuck in a rut like some. people. I. know.”

A lady came into our chapel during a choral performance and asked if the concert was here. I just pointed to the singers.

Then, again, I have to watch what comes out of my mouth. Do I see someone with a case of cat food cans and ask, “Do you have a cat?” (“No, I’m an abusive mother and feed this to my baby.”)

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Earth: Population 0

The History Channel has an interesting program coming up on Monday (Jan. 21), about life on earth when there aren’t any people around.

Could happen, I guess. I don’t know how, but it’s an interesting premise. What happens to our infrastructure when we aren’t around to maintain it? How long before our roads disappear under grass, weeds, bushes and, eventually, trees? What about our towers? I’ve heard the Empire State Building could last for 500 years, with proper maintenance, but suppose there is none? Would it stay up for a couple hundred and then be devoured by the vines?

A long time ago, I read that the Firth of Forth Bridge has a crew dedicated to simply painting it. When the workers are finished at one end, it’s time to start over at the other. They have to keep ahead of the weather’s effects, the rust and the constant wear. Without such maintenance, even this mighty bridge would eventually collapse into the water.

So, there aren’t any people left on earth but, somehow, there are animals and other living things with feet. How they survived hasn’t yet been explained, but I’m sure we’ll find out on Monday. Anyway, that’s not the main point of the show; it’s what happens when we aren’t around and nature takes over.

As it eventually, and most certainly, will. As with the vast majority of species of the past, now long gone, we are probably just temporary inhabitants of this planet.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Behind, Behinder, Behindest

My Wednesday blog, written on Thursday . . . and lucky for that. You’d think the days would fly by in mid- to late-December, but it’s mid-January when crunch time comes here in the land of Things At King’s. Why?? Beats me.

My laundry is going in my little apartment; I have my radio show to prep; my higher instincts tell me I should really have a hot, steaming mug of tea at the ready. I have a cruise to think about in nine days, although I think I have things well in hand.

My brother was going to come down from the Quebec City area, but as the weather is closing in, a Spring visit looks much wiser. They have nothing to prove, no Mother Nature to overcome and win; it’s a visit and not a win-lose deal.

Now it’s even later. I’ve done my radio show, it’s been snowing much earlier than anyone expected and I’m waiting for The Daily Show and The Colbert Report to start.

What’s nice, and took up about a half-hour, was chatting with my brother on Instant Messenger. It’s great to have such quick back-and-forth chatter about anything or nothing at all. For us, it’s like sitting on the beach, looking out to sea and letting the conversation go whichever way it goes.

That mug of tea I was talking about much earlier is long gone; the laundry is done and dried. It’s time to publish this blog entry and think about the next.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

What's A Million Years Between Friends?

I’ve been watching a program about the universe on The History Channel, where the narrator and people being interviewed toss around time frames of a million years here, ten billion years there. A thousand years doesn’t exist in their vocabulary and it’s difficult to hear the phrase “a million years.”

We have this huge –and I mean huge- cloud heading toward our galaxy. Not only heading toward it, but about to collide with us in only forty million years. That’s all; only forty mill. The astronomical equivalent of a few minutes on our clocks.

When you figure the universe is about thirteen billion years old, maybe more, what’s forty million between friends?

We who are into Instant Messenger and its fast two-way communication might not have the patience to send a signal to the Andromeda galaxy, two million light-years away, and wait another two million years for a reply. And that’s a nearby galaxy; something way out there would be a twenty-five billion year round-trip.

If we do hear a signal, and we have been listening intently for one, the civilization which sent it out may be long dead by now. It may have been long dead millions of years ago, maybe a billion years. The signal went out, kept going out through the immense space between galaxies, and over the eons the planet died. Someone eventually heard the message and replied to a receiver that had been lifeless before we were created.

Monday, January 14, 2008

How Long Ago?

Some college regularly sends out a list of what the incoming first-year college students will remember, have lived through, or will have no knowledge of. I haven’t seen this year’s mailing, so I’m out of the loop.

Let’s see . . . 17 at entrance, that would be born in 1990. Figure that we aren’t really aware of stuff until we’re about eight or so, which means our new students haven’t mentally reached out to the world until about 1998. I don’t remember what happened then and don’t feel like researching it right at this moment, but it was only two years later when our calendars made that momentous change to a century starting with “2.”

Some of the people who read this blog will remember black & white tv, the introduction of both FM radio and automatic transmission cars. We also had phonographs (self-contained record players); but for the incoming students, compact discs were already eight years old when they were born and the 42-year-old vinyl long-playing records didn’t know they were about to drop out of favor.

For them, the thought of living in the 2000’s is a yawn; for the older generation, it’s something we used to see in the future and never think would come about. We have now seen people who were born on, or before, December 31, 1899, who were alive after January 1, 2000; they have lived in all or part of three centuries. We will not see this again, although some eight-year-olds might be in the newspapers in 2100. (Is my math right?)

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Preventing Snow Storms

It’s supposed to snow tonight, overnight. That is, to my mind, quite remarkable and against all odds. You see, a friend of mine just bought a snowblower, small though it might be, and we all know the deal: buy a pair of skis or a snowblower and you won’t see the white stuff for the rest of the winter.

We’re not supposed to get much, but at least it’s a chance to use the blower and check out how it works. Also, where my friend lives they usually get two or three times the snow we get down here.

I’m no longer in the habit of looking forward to snow storms (age??), but this time I’d like a few inches just to see how see how the machine works. I know; new toy.

Everybody has a story.
Jack Brod, 98, passed away the other day. He was the Empire State Building’s last original tenant, as the Empire Diamond and Gold Buying Service. He liked to say he was on King Kong’s greeting committee and used to offer an engagement ring that “costs you nothing if she dumps you within 60 days.”

John Mattie wanted a 32” television set. So he forced his way into Scott Gemberling’s residence and stole his tv while he was sitting in front of it watching a show.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Two Weeks Till Open Ocean

Ten days of my vacation start in just two weeks from today. Where am I going? Don’t really know and, to be honest, don’t really care. I’m one of those cruisers for whom the ship itself is the destination and the ports of call are just interesting daytime stops.

Some folks are port-intensive when they book a sail, while a good percentage are like me and just want a relaxing trip, regardless of where we call along the way. I know we are going south into the Caribbean and it’s one of the last trips my cruise line will be making from New York City. Pity; it’s so easy for me to make the pier by bus from where I live.

But, when it’s a little more than two days’ straight sailing from NYC down to the first island, and the same distance back, the cost of coal (or gasoline or oil, whatever) is pretty steep. Much cheaper to start the cruise from Fort Lauderdale and battle the pirates on the first day out, rather than waiting two days before we hear, “Arrrr, mateys!” from deadly people on the dock who look suspiciously like the ship’s photographer and assistants.

My next proposed trip, to be or not to be, is in the first half of September. There is a new tangle over a long-standing act dealing with carriage of passengers in/out of, and between, US ports. The cruise line and I see my trip from Boston to Montreal and back as two separate bookings; the Feds see it as one cruise and just got in the mood to mess up people who do that without their ship staying in some foreign port for 48 hours. It looks to some of us as if there are interests (read: $$) at play here and palms may have been greased. For people like myself who will no longer put up with flying, stay tuned.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Their Wedding Photo Is Beautiful

“A garden wedding and reception for 65 guests was held November 4 in Bradenton, Florida,” the marriage photo caption reads.

And it is a wonderful photo, indeed; the bride is in a pink, full-length gown with a pink veil which does not cover her face, while the groom is wearing a tuxedo with a purplish flower (I can’t tell exactly what it is) and exquisite cuffs.

“The bride and groom exchanged friendship charms.” (I’m not sure what they might be, but anything in Florida is fine with me. I’m not even sure who officiated, or if it was a civil ceremony; you never know with these things.)

“The bride is Bambi Balaska” (uh-oh, I think we’re in trouble here) “and the groom is Tavi O’Hara” (I think the Old Irish side of the family is going to wonder about this Tavi stuff).

“Dr. Edward O’Hara stood up for the bride and groom. Dr. and Mrs. O’Hara are former Scranton residents. Tavi and Bambi will honeymoon in Mount Cobb PA.”

These two, Tavi and Bambi, are dogs. Dogs. Canines. Pooches. You know, things that pant with their tongues out, drink from toilet bowls and jump all over you when you walk through the door. The freakin’ newspaper printed a color picture of two dogs getting married. Now they’re going to honeymoon over in the Poconos, where they will probably sniff the @ of every other dog they run into, as close to adultery as you will find.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Thoughts Late On A Thursday Night

Item:-- Sir Edmund Hillary, who gained worldwide fame after he and guide Tenzing Norgay became the first people to reach the summit of Mount Everest, has died after suffering a heart attack. He continued exploring -- reaching the South Pole by tractor in 1958, joining the first group to climb Antarctica's Mt. Herschel in 1967 and boating east Himalayan rivers and the Ganges. Prime Minister Helen Clark paid tribute to Hillary, describing him as the best-known New Zealander ever to have lived. "Sir Ed described himself as an average New Zealander with modest abilities," Clark said. "He was an heroic figure who not only 'knocked off' Everest but lived a life of determination, humility and generosity."

Item:-- Wilson, Kansas. A small-town police chief was fired this week after he was convicted of stealing beer from the fire department's refrigerator. Brian Hill was arrested August 1 after a surveillance tape showed him taking the beer. Authorities did not disclose why it was in the fire department. The two departments share a building, and the door separating the offices usually was unlocked, officials said.

Item--Des Moines, Iowa. After finding alcohol in her son's car, Jane Hambleton decided to sell the car and share her 19-year-old's misdeed with everyone — by placing an ad in the local newspaper. The ad reads: "Totally uncool parents who obviously don't love teenage son, selling his car. Only driven for three weeks before snoopy mom who needs to get a life found booze under front seat. Call meanest mom on the planet." Hambleton has fielded more than 70 telephone calls from emergency room technicians, nurses and school counselors.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

One Day, Benny Goodman Performed

It was in January of 1938, pretty close to today (but I’d forget to blog on the right day, the 16th), at Carnegie Hall. The program was typical Goodman swing music and he arranged for it to be recorded. In those days, however, concert recordings had little interest among fans, as people wanted perfect studio records and not anything with mistakes, background noise or applause in them.

It wasn’t until 1950 that Columbia released the discs on a long-playing record, a bit edited for space. The album has never been “out of print” since then, which must be some sort of record, so to speak. What’s remarkable about this is a concert given 70 years ago, released on discs 58 years ago, is as readily available as anything recorded in the last few months. I guess that fits the definition of a classic.

Recently, Columbia released the entire series of the original acetates on a double CD set, every moment of that night is now available and with minimal audio processing to preserve the high notes (missing in previous sets to eliminate surface noise).

“Benny Goodman At Carnegie Hall 1938” is on Columbia Legacy C2K 65143. It’s a good companion to “Benny Goodman On The Air (1937-1938),” Columbia Legacy C2K 48836, a series of recordings made from his tour dates at various hotel ballrooms. It’s a re-release of a long-playing album which I urged Columbia to do for their Legacy series.

Doesn’t hurt to ask.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Someone Else Can Do It

Part of my vacation is starting to get very close. Close, as in, “Start looking for what you’re going to wear and, while you’re at it, find a suitable bag to put everything in.” This part of vacationing is very important to me; so much so that I have a drawer in my desk labeled, “Next Cruise” and all the important necessities (as opposed to merely necessities) are in there.

What is neither important nor a necessity is cleaning my room. That used to be a big thing; get the room in order so (a) when I came back it would be all neat and in order, (b) in case I didn’t come back, due to a freak of nature, airplane crash or ship sinking, people would be neither whelmed or overwhelmed at the task of cleaning it.

“After us, the deluge.” (An old proverb put in the mouth of Louis XV, according to The Quote Verifier, by Ralph Keyes.)

But I digress.

I, personally, won’t care what they think or how it affects their opinion of me. There’s nothing scandalous in here, nothing repulsive. Let them talk, let them gossip, let them gaze with amazement and wonder on the meaning of the Donald Duck dolls, the photos of me as a very young lad doing young lad things.

The more astute will say, “He had a good and interesting ride through life.”

Monday, January 07, 2008

Indian Winter

“Been warm around here,” I told a friend, as we spread a blanket out on the field.

“Sure has,” she agreed, setting down the picnic basket while I put up the beach umbrella. “You’d think it would be a lot colder the first week of January, but the temps have been in the 60’s and nearly to the 70’s.”

“Indian Winter,” I said, pulling out a sandwich. “But it’s only for a few days, so enjoy it. In four days, we’ll be down to the 30’s and into the freeze by Monday. Pass me the iced tea, will you?”

This has been an odd winter, with no chance to harness horses to sleighs for trips to Grandma’s house. I’m half-surprised that the jingle bells we normally hear about this time of year haven’t been on the Mister Softee trucks, but they’ve probably been in the garage for a couple months now.

We complain about the snow, especially those of us who live on the top of a hill and don’t like the idea of skidding down. But up north here, we seem to have some sort of primal need to have the stuff falling, for our cars doing a little fishtailing and for us to be pushing (not lifting) snow from our sidewalks.

Indian Winter is nice, of course; we’re not all bundled up and we won’t slip on anything. But it just doesn’t fit; it’s not right. No one will say it, but we really want some snow.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

The Nuns' School

I received the newsletter from my grammar school, a place that opened around 1945; I was in the third graduating class, that of 1956. In these days of closing Catholic schools, St. James keeps perking along. I went back once, maybe 28 or so years ago, and noticed how small the stairs were, how low the drinking fountains. I guess I’ve gotten a bit taller since then.

The web site has its list of “Help Us Find Our Missing Alumni”:

Kevin Condon. We used to mess around so much that we regularly had to stay after school. We just could *not* stay serious when we were near each other. I remember asking Sister if we could be separated, but she said we’d just have to learn to behave.

Joyce Fedak. I remember her as a nice girl whose house I passed while I walked to school. We did that in those days, walking to school. There weren’t as many lawyers with too few clients then to scare parents about what might happen. Anyhow, Joyce was neat and I never got to know her that well; not sure why.

Peggy Snow; think of a tall Carol Burnett. We used to have a lot of fun together and she is one of the “what if’s” of my life. I see she has a married name now, so that one’s out the window.

Mary Ethel Bowe, my first girlfriend from our stroller days, gone now to God.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Everybody, Put Down Your Pencils

There is a writers’ strike going on, mostly in New York and Hollywood, for the past two months now. As far as Mr. and Mrs. General Public are concerned, it’s “Oh, there’s a writers’ strike? That explains why the late night shows are in reruns.”

Wait until it hits the prime-time shows. “Grey’s Anatomy” will look as if you flunked the course and had to take it over again; “Law and Order SVU” will be “Law and Order Déjà Vu.” As for the soaps, which run without repeats (Run? How about “Crawl”?), when the scripts already written run dry, you will see non-union folks stepping in or, to the Guild’s dismay, union writers dropping off their scripts in abandoned cars.

I write for a strike paper, one formed from the turmoil (think of a bomb going off under a large gasoline tanker truck, a major riot, Krakatoa) of a fiercely anti-union company taking over a newspaper in a fiercely union city. Our paper began just days after we walked and is still publishing daily 29 years later. The unions, one by one, were decertified by the struck paper and the strike officially over years later, but both papers still exist for the purpose of putting the other out of business. The animosity has not lessened.

In our first edition, we optimistically front-paged that this was only temporary and we’d be back to work at the old address in, probably, six months or less. Our demands were few and fair and, as we learned, the public supported us. Wow – did they! It’s been 29 years and three months and, while the public now looks upon this as a two-newspaper city, we still have the support of those who would eat monkey crap than buy the other paper.

Friday, January 04, 2008

"Forward If You Love Jesus"

Whenever I get a FWD: FWD: FWD: e-mail, I drop down to the bottom to see if I'm supposed to return it to the person who sent it to me. If so, I dutifully hit the "reply" button and then delete it unread. I mean, it didn't say "read this piece of glurge"; it said, "return this to the person who sent it to you." I am nothing if not obedient. They're happy, I'm happy and it's time for tea.

I'd prefer that notation be at the top of the message, so I could get through the process quicker and not have to scroll all the way down to see what will happen to me if I don't follow up on the instructions.

Suggested format, right at the top:

[ ] Send to five people in the next five minutes
[ ] Forward if you love Jesus
[ ] Delete if you love the Devil
[ ] If you are not a Christian, send it anyway
[ ] Send it back so I know you read this
[ ] Annoy everyone on your address list
[ ] Something bad will happen if you don't send this
[ ] I tried this and it works!
[ ] Other

Thursday, January 03, 2008

That's Where The Money Is

Someone held up a nearby bank yesterday. I forget how long it took the cops to catch him, but it was fairly quick. We had a bank up in the next township get knocked over and the perp was caught two streets away. Someone in another state didn’t get far at all, because the bank put a little GPS unit in the bag. A stranger out here in the Back Mountain was acting suspiciously and the fire chief, who knew everybody in town, went into the bank, told the manager to lock the doors and call the cops; the guy is a guest of the county for attempted bank theft.

There are many things for which the possible result is not worth the attempt: beating a train to the crossing, DUI, driving too fast for conditions, anything that follows, “Hey, watch this!”

One of them is bank robbery. You’re going to get caught, bet on it. Sooner or later, and “sooner” is the operative word here, a cop is going to knock on your door and request that you put your hands together to make the job of handcuffing you that much easier.

They’ve several ways of rounding up the bad guys (or girls, if your name is Bonnie), and I’m not about to find out what they are. Although, and maybe this has occurred to you, there are times when I wonder if I could pull it off. I’m there in the bank, lots of money all around, I pull off a heist and get on the New York City bus just in time to take a cruise to the Caribbean. Sure, I’ll get caught and land in jail for ten years, more or less. But the memories of that trip and the islands!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Hanging With The Wrong People

There was a fellow who used to hang out with Bugs Moran’s gang in Chicago in the great days of the Chicago gangs. As far as I know, he never did anything wrong; he was an optometrist and just liked the feeling of being around the gang. There’s a certain amount of excitement when you rub shoulders with the Big and Famous after working at a rather dull job day after day.

Anyway, there was supposedly a big shipment of high-grade hootch coming into Moran’s garage one Valentine’s Day. Well, you know the rest. Dr. Eyeglasses got full of lead same as the actual gangsters. A person’s got to watch who he associates with and if your life seems dull, find other ways to pep it up.

So here we are in the earliest days of 2008. A local priest found it nice to be hanging out with the late Russell Buffalino, head of a certain crime family. This family, now headed by another gent, seems to be tied in with a fellow who, himself, has certain ties.

Being a priest has its dull moments, its times when you carry many secrets. It’s nice to have a little excitement going on the side, just to add a bit of spice. I’m an entertainment writer and have spent years in the business; I know some names and it’s nice to hear from them. I’m listening to a cd from one now.

But you gotta be careful. Fr. Friend of Mob was led out of the courthouse in handcuffs for bearing witness that was not terribly accurate. At least it wasn’t Valentine’s Day.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

The Bucket List

Local newspaper interviewed a bunch of people to see what they have on their “Bucket List” – things they’d like to do before they kick the bucket (based on the new movie, “The Bucket List”).

Their lists included: “I think about stuff throughout the year that I want to do, and I try to make sure I do those things … I try to do things I want to, as they come up … I’m sure when I was 4 years old I had a lot different ideas of what I wanted to do. Things change and they might change again … I want to do anything that’s out there to do.”

I used to keep a sort of mental “Laundry List,” much the same as the Bucket List. Mine wasn’t things I wanted to get done before I kicked the container; it was somewhat more positive, accomplishments I wanted to achieve during my lifetime.

Piano; I wanted to play the piano. So I taught myself and, sometime later, took two years’ lessons. Trumpet, about fifteen years later, only because I found one before I located my first choice, the trombone. When I was a kid, I wanted to be a disc jockey more than anything; that came in its own time.

As I crossed items off this mental list, I’d be adding others. Some will never happen, for one reason or another, but others will take their place and I will never be bored. What won’t happen? Private pilot’s license, for one; paragliding, or whatever it’s called, for another. What’s up? Cleaning my apartment.