Sunday, August 2, 2015

NFL & FWP

I’m glad I waited a few days before reacting, and I certainly hope the interval was decent. What am I talking about? See if you can guess and then see if you actually care. 

It was a challenge of course, as the waves of news and commentary washed over all of us for the last few days and it’s only now, here on Belichick Island in the aftermath of Tom Brady and the Most Excellently Inflated Footballs, that whatever flotsam and jetsam remains of the New England Patriots’ 2016 season can be somehow painstakingly pieced together so that fans, not only of the game of NFL football but of the integrity of the game can assess what happened and what happens next.

I’m trying to type all of this with a straight face. Sorry, little buddy. I’m kidding of course. Not sure what Patriots’ fans and players thought the endgame on Deflategate would look like, but when you have the reputation that their Skipper, Hoody B, has for skirting close to the edge, how surprised can you be when just beyond the runway out behind Gillette Stadium there is a large, flaming hole about big enough to hold an airplane’s worth of Super Bowl Title defense dreams?

And proving you learn something new every day I’ve just learned “Coach” is ten days older than I am; thank you, Wikipedia! That we are so very different (and I’m thinking of myself on the plus side of ‘better’), thank you, mom and dad!

Considering the billions (upon billions) of dollars wagered legally on any aspect of the National Football League (why do you think there are disclosure requirements and deadlines on team injury reports? So those of us so inclined could send ‘get well, soon’ cards to defensive tackles and 3rd down running backs? Pshaw! Vegas, baby, and all the other gin joints you can make a wager on the sport) my face hurts in trying to keep it straight while saying ‘the integrity of the game.’

A game’s worth of integrity where off-field spousal abuse gets a two game on-field suspension. Narcotics busts get you extended, and extensive, quiet time despite all the bozos in the booths in stadia across the USA calling the Roided Ragers ‘warriors’ while the TV camera lights are on.


If you’re a Middle East Christian fleeing for your life from the ISIL crazies, or refugees of a dozen different stripes struggling to find refuge on just about every continent of our shared planet, or (less dramatically) one of the millions in our nation working two and three and more part-time jobs to make ends meet (and then the ends move) all of this tumult about a game played with a ball so stupidly shaped it’s impossible to kick like a soccer ball or bounce like a basketball must seem like another First World Problem to you. 

And you’re right of course, except where you live doesn’t have or offer NFL Sunday Ticket or Red Zone or a dozen other pay-through-the-nose-per-view money laundering operations whose function is to transfer treasure in mass quantities from the wallets of viewers to those of the billionaires who own the teams the millionaires toil on. 

Greed is our true national sport and come autumn, it’s time for the football version of it. Do you hear what I hear coming from the NFL Shop and TV commercial sponsors? They’re playing our song-to you it sounds like cash registers, but to the rest us, it’s the sound of a freedom you’ll never have
-bill kenny

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Incurring the Wrath of The Other Donald

I don’t pretend to know where, but somewhere in the Old Testament probably in Genesis is a passage about the Lord giving mankind dominion over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky and all of the creatures that move along the ground. 

No, I’m no longer sure if it was Genesis with Peter Gabriel or with Phil Collins on vocals; I suspect in any event Steve Hackett controls the copyright.

I certainly don’t intend to tell the Lord Her/His business, since in terms of creation, well-done! But perhaps that dominion over all thing should have been whispered rather than shouted. I mean what am I to make of this unhappy happenstance.

I mean the story, not that photo of John Scott Falbo, II. I’m assuming the Roman numeral is to keep him from being confused with a first someplace. I’d just look for a pile of feathers to tell them apart, but that’s me.

We have so many BIG problems in this country in how we don’t get along with one another that I often despair we shall never address much less solve. And then you stumble across this specimen of homo sapiens, JSF II. 

If mug shots could speak, I’d expect him to be asking George to tell him about the rabbits. As it is, Lenny was a saint and JSF II leads me to hope there’s no third edition anywhere. 

Such venal and petty mean-spiritedness incites me to nearly the same response, as I wonder how well that first jail campfire will go when the inmates sit around with their s’mores telling each other what they did and how they got caught and then all eyes and ears slowly turn their attention to JSF, II. The reaction could be epically biblical but should be taken with a pillar of salt.

-bill kenny

Friday, July 31, 2015

The Clapper in Donne's Bell

This time a month from now we’ll be gearing up for the Labor Day holiday, the last hurried and harried hurrah of summer 2015. Today is already the last day of July. Except…. 

I’m not really done yet with this month or with this season. Hell, I’m not done with anything now. Less than five months ago the Winter of 2015 very nearly killed me and now I’m supposed to start to practice braking and stopping at a safe distance behind the flashing lights on those little yellow metal boxes on wheels taking your kids to school? 

I think not. Screw the calendar (today is the 212th day of 2015; only 153 left to go. Yippee!) and those indicators of the changing seasons we see around us. Not interested in the diminishing daylight earlier in the evenings and later in the mornings. I just step on the leaves that have fallen off the trees; if I had Elmer’s I’d try to glue them back on.

And as for me, the birds are welcome to stay as long as they’d like; just don’t squat on the tree limbs overhanging my car.


We are, as near as I know, the only species that cuts a day into ever smaller increments and then torture ourselves with some, part, or all of them. Cannot claim to have ever seen a rabbit with a pocket watch (Alice, stay seated) and I don’t imagine starlings are all that concerned about nanoseconds.

And yet despite all of our cunning and derring-do with watches, hourglasses, clocks, and calendars, time gets away from us faster than we can possibly gather it and hold it fast. That sound, right there, that one. All the promises we made to ourselves and one another for all the deeds we’d do when we had the time. Now dashed and destroyed. Damn you, John Donne!
-bill kenny

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Bungalow Bill and Buffalo Bob

There are days I’m tempted to use these opposable thumbs to poke out my eyes so I don’t have to read a story like this one: How a Minnesota Dentist allegedly killed Zimbabwe’s most beloved lion

The headline is from yesterday morning and maybe has been repaired in the meantime not that most of us have the attention span to hold that thought, but quick note to the otherwise sadly sane and sober editors and headline writers of the Christian Science Monitor: the asshat who did this admitted to doing it so allegedly is a courtesy fig-leaf on his naked guilt he does NOT deserve.

I admit the closest I have ever gotten to animals of prey such as Cecil are in zoos, the Frankfurt Zoo is a marvel as is Central Park in Manhattan and Great Adventure (a number of years ago when Sigrid and I with our two were with Adam and Margaret and their kids). Consider me a voyeur of sorts-I like looking at wild animals, and that’s where it ends. No petting and, Doc, no poaching. Only movie intros, can we agree on that?  

What would Daktari say? 

I’m hoping some education is undertaken to train gorillas (in the mist or in plain sight) to use bows and arrows, so that they can help drill Dr. Palmer (you’re welcome) for what he did before dipping him in gazelle scent and allowing him to wander naked across the Hwange National Park. Others have reacted with more measured eloquence than I shall ever possess. 

Suspect he’d soon appreciate how fine the line between Serendipity and Serengeti actually is; I fear for the health of any the beasts who might partake of him as we now know the depths of thoughtless hedonistic hooliganism the Great White Hunter is capable of. No excuse for his abuse, but here’s a hopeful step in the right direction: donate.  

As the stewards of The Lord’s Creation as that seems to be one of the job titles we’ve bestowed upon ourselves, we might consider new business cards identifying us as “unprepared food.” 

And when the scavengers are done with the big pieces and the hyenas have filled up all their Tupperware containers with leftovers, Burt Lahr has a lecture about courage he wants to share
-bill kenny       

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

They Say It's Your Birthday

If you’re looking for an easy twenty-seven points word score in a Scrabble game, especially between tomorrow and Sunday (and even more especially if you’re in Taftville), try ‘sesquicentennial’ on for size, because that’s what the anniversary celebration going on in Taftville is all about. 

One hundred and fifty years at the same location, so to speak. Somehow, ‘congratulations!’ doesn’t quite do all that history and all those people and progress justice but I think a four-day birthday is real close to getting it right.

Despite what many believe, I wasn’t here when Taftville sprang up around a cotton textile factory built on the Shetucket River. That factory, once called the Taftville Cotton Mill but now better known as the Ponemah Mill, was, in its time (shortly after the Civil War and for decades that followed), one of the largest textile mills in these United States.

Ponemah Mill is still a dominant and prominent point of pride and frame of reference for many Taftville residents who regard it in much the same way as the fingers on a hand look to the thumb. And hopefully, sooner rather than later it will be a superlative example of successful historic restoration and community repurposing, not for just Norwich but for all of New England.

That’s a piece of the past and a peek at the future but here in the present, there’s a 150th birthday celebration that will be talked about for the next one hundred and fifty years with a lot of the activities at or near the Wequonnoc Arts and Technology Magnet School and the Taftville Volunteer Fire Department on Providence Street.

Taftville so heavily influenced by waves of Irish and French Canadian immigration will mark its birthday by drawing closely from that heritage as well as adding attractions galore such as a carnival and a community parade stepping smartly Saturday morning at ten. 

There will also be stage entertainment on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, large craft shows over the weekend, community booths, nightly dinners on Friday at the American Legion/VFW and on Saturday at Sacred Heart School and, of course, an extended and extensive opportunity to get up close and personal with those residents, famous and maybe not so much, who helped form Taftville from its beginning to its here and now.  


With so much going on, you owe it to yourself and to those call the Village of Taftville their home, to stop by, enjoy the hospitality and be a part of the party. And if you want to cap your Scrabble game with thirty-two points that usually comes with a party-hat, noisemakers as well as cake and ice cream, be sure to wish Taftville a H-a-p-p-y B-i-r-t-h-d-a-y!

Image by Scott Boenig
-bill kenny

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Woodn't It Be Nice?

I was off yesterday to take care of some of the medical mystery tours that I'd put off so long they went from 'when you get a chance' to 'get your behind in here now' which is my least favorite way to interface with the medical community.

I'd forgotten it was the annual physical which means all clothes are off and I get one of those gowns that ties in the back. Here's a tip for all of you who are young at heart, present company included: if you put the gown on backward and then tie it, it's sort of like a cape.

And if you stand on the examining table with your cape while the wall-mounted five-blade fan is turning, it may look like you're flying like superman to people, in my case, waiting at the bank drive-through window behind the examining room whose window blinds aren't as fully drawn as one thinks. Not that any of this actually happened.

While rummaging around in my own back pages, I found a story I'd forgotten that highlighted some of the follies and foibles of fellow travelers on spaceship Earth, helping me (sort of) put into perspective what was happening in my life, sitting on crinkly paper, my legs off the ground at a singularly unattractive angle, wearing an air-conditioned gown.

Have no doubt my friend that while we may see ourselves as the Crown of Creation we are, too often to count, also the Butt of the Cosmos (if it helps, it's a fine but clear line between butt and butt and a suffix of the universe and we make out okay in this deal).

Despite what could be their envy of our big brains and opposable thumbs, there are times the rest of the animal, vegetable and mineral kingdoms find our pratfalls humorous though I'm not sure how I'd know an igneous rock is guffawing or how big a smile a wild rose could summon.

If you, too, believe that there are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt in your philosophy, trust me; the next time you stroll through a copse of trees and nearly trip over a root in the path, there will be giggles that can be heard but not explained. How else to react to a truly West Coast news story that, as a child of the Sixties, makes me sad?

Truly, the dream is over.
-bill kenny

Monday, July 27, 2015

No Longer Stuck Between Stations

I had someone offer the other day, unsolicited since I did nothing to either provoke or encourage him, that 'life's a funny old dog, ain't it?' Pausing for a moment, rather than then, or zen, for that matter, I cannot say with certainty he was speaking to me, through me or for me, but these are the days we were warned before those of miracles and wonder, so I’m uncertain even as to the very things I am uncertain about. 

'Sure is,' I replied because I had no idea where this was heading and then he just kept walking down the hallway and was gone. Leaving me with mental movie of a Great Dane, an Irish Setter or one of those Please-Don't-Eat-the-Daisies dogs (never a greyhound, or a whippet or whip it good) all because he was filling up that couple of seconds it took him to pass my office threshold and he didn’t want to NOT say anything at all because that would be rude. Thanks for nothing, Old Roy.

My wife and I have two children (now adults) who, when they were younger (I used to say 'small' as if she and I were in the miniatures business or something) had pets, fish for the most part along with the occasional turtle (a great name for a band, IMO). 

Sigrid wound up taking care of the pets because the children, being adults in training, didn’t care about anyone other than themselves, especially a species that couldn’t talk or attract attention until the moment it shuffled off its mortal scales and went belly-up.

We had our share of burials at sea. Did you know that most Americans believe the water in the toilet swirls in a counter-clockwise direction in Australia? That’s true, but what isn’t is the swirling; it’s in the same direction though some settling of contents may have occurred during shipment. Science, eh? 

We're not pet people--not that I know what pet people are or what they look like. I have enough trouble taking care of myself and really don't. My wife does, and I don't want to burden her any further. Besides why would I invite competition?

I could see having a horse, at least once a year for that ride for my birthday (at my age, riding on a pony, my feet would still touch the ground whereas a horse…) but then what? Perhaps an ocelot? I'm not sure what they are, but they sound cool, don't they? Maybe a marsupial--I just like the name--or a koala (what happened to the one who used to be the spokes bear for that airline?). 

We have mascots for sports teams, from junior high through professional, all named for animals. We drive Mustangs and more and sometimes we compare ourselves to animals (feel free to supply your own example). 

“We didn’t go back to her place, we went to some place where she cat-sits. She said, ‘I know I look tired, but everything’s fried, here in Memphis.’” 
-bill kenny