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Saturday, February 28, 2009

The First Church of Smith and Wesson

The world moves so fast I struggle not so much to keep up (that's pretty much beyond me now) but to not fall so far behind that I can no longer see the tail lights of the slowest moving vehicle in front of me disappear over the horizon.

I thought I saw a news item the other day and I did, but my brain just caught up with my eyes, so I apologize if you've already chewed on this: a state Senate panel has rejected a bill that would allow concealed handguns in Arkansas churches. I grew up in New Jersey and have now lived in Connecticut for seventeen years. I mention those two facts because I have a (I suspect) typical Northeastern attitude of smug superiority towards a part of my country in which I have never traveled to or been in, ever.

Instead I fall back on stereotypes and caricatures not only about Arkansas but about guns. I don't like guns and think they're a goofy way to settle an argument. But did I mention I don't own a gun or possess a license to own one, and aside from firing an M-16 for familiarization during basic training while in the US Air Force (and I was such a dweeb, the recoil knocked me down and the M-16 has very little recoil), I have no contact with guns of any kind? You're right; I should mention that, so all of us, but especially me, can see my biases and prejudices.

However, in fairness to my sense of the absurd, take a look at the AP story again and if the idea, advanced by the person who introduced the legislation that this is 'a question of religious freedom' doesn't leap out at you, I'll eat a bug. When you read deeper into the story, the AP reports there are two states, unnamed, which do not permit the carrying of concealed weapons--and that of the 48 who do, 42 of them let churches make their own rule, leading me to wonder if I should be reassured or disquieted.

As I said, I have no familiarity with guns, concealed, congealed, revealed or any other kind. Pistols or rifles or whatever else--no appreciation and no history of use. I have actually cut myself washing (technically, trying to dry) an apple-corer (so deeply I had to go the emergency room and get stitches, sort of; it was medical super glue) so I avoid all contact with firearms and as many kitchen utensils as is practical and, if I say so myself, I have a decent enough track record fifty six years on. I wouldn't trust me with a spoon--weapons would not be a good idea, but only for me.

I suspect another mixed blessing of these nifty thumbs and the big brains we hope always goes with the thumbs is sorting out which time is the right time to Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition.
-bill kenny

Friday, February 27, 2009

All Things in Moderation, including moderation

Depends on the time of year. When it's summer and I'm driving someplace, I think whoever invented air-conditioning for cars deserves a Nobel Prize, or sainthood (depends on how hot out it actually is; and no, I do not want a fried egg sandwich). During the winter months, I champion the cause of whomever invented seat warmers.

If I had to pick something, the one thing that demarcates (is that even a word?) the difference between 'why, yes I am an American--did you want to see my Gold Card?' and basically all the luckless, lunchless, little ones (I always forget how much I love TK and I'm not all that sure exactly where the cat is) across the globe---and I'm NOT allowed to use Paris Hilton as my example--I'd be tempted to use car seat warmers (or vehicle seat warmers, I guess, if you drive something other than a car. I'm automatically assuming motorcycles have such a thing; as a matter of fact, it follows as day the night, they'd have had them years before the rest of us).

I admit having the little washers and wipers for the headlights is pretty spiffy, as is having the side mirrors that automatically redirect when you put the vehicle in reverse, but there's a level of usefulness that dulls the edginess of those nifty options. I want something closer to a disco ball hanging from the rear-view mirror; something that says 'HA!' in the face of the question 'what do you need that for? ' and I'm thinking seat warmers are a good fit.

Let's be blunt and candid. Of course, they work when no one is seated on them, but they're not really seat warmers, they're backside (or other words beginning with B) warmers. Some cars, though not mine, have a type that warms you in the winter and cools you in the summer. Talk about 'let them eat cake'! Now, we have a drive-thru for that, and pie as well.

My seat warmers have two temperatures (I almost typed 'speeds'), toasty and well-done (I think) and as I've aged, I've concluded 'toasty' is like using 'regular strength Tylenol' as opposed to Extra-Strength ('Nope,' I say, 'I don't want that headache to go completely away, really fast. I'd like the pain to linger a little bit so 'regular strength' is just fine, thanks!'). Now I go directly to the 'yipes! That does get hot, doesn't it?' setting since the winter cold isn't exactly letting up anytime soon.

And, because what were once vices are now habits, I already know, should I ever seek out another car, I'm planning on seat warmers with heated backs AND headrests. After all, if it's NOT conspicuous consumption, is it still consumption?
-bill kenny

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Initial Success

Interesting story yesterday on Channel 3's website about some one in the employ of the CT Department of Correction rescuing his family from carbon monoxide poisoning, but NOT for the reason you might think it's interesting. This is the season, unfortunately, when a lot of times, just that type of accident can happen and it's good luck for everyone that this time tragedy was avoided.

I found it interesting because the employee in the story is referred to as a DOC Officer, as in "What's Up?" as opposed to 'Wazzup?', one of which makes me smile while the other makes me cringe. And on the State of Connecticut's website, if you'll notice, it's a little o not a Big O (Oscar Robertson says 'hello'). I'm not sure how this inclusion of O as its own initial works and it doesn't seem consistent.
Take for example a news story on anyone's Department of Children and Families, but since I'm here in Connecticut, I'll use ours. Invariably that agency is always called DCF and never referred to as DOCAF or DoCaF (let's face it, neither 'of' nor 'and' are especially important words), so what's the dealio with DOC?

My country, tis of thee, is the USA, and NOT the USOA (or USoA). We don't hand the 'of' in that one a pride of place, do we? One reason why I never resented being a liberal arts major at Rutgers is because I came away with a BA instead of BS, though technically it might well be that I have a B0A, feathered and otherwise.
-bill kenny

PS: not sure you can have a PS on a blog, but assuming you can and you still haven't had enough of the SFB (Sender Freies Berlin? Ich denke nicht dran! I'm talking about the Sachem Fund Board), that has everyone in Norwich, CT just buzzing, you'll want to catch a very-quietly-posted public meeting (ala last Thursday's informational workshop on Ethics? Sure smells like it. What should we make of a government that plays keep away with its own citizens on information? ) slated for this afternoon at 5:30 in Room 335 where a little more than a month ago (and it's recused; not sure what reclused might refer to) three yes votes on a seven person board became a majority recommending a release of one hundred and twenty thousand dollars to support a volunteer effort, that somehow was created as a Limited Liability Corporation for the 350th Anniversary of the Founding of Norwich, that in its almost two years of existence still hadn't been able to develop a budget for the celebratory events for which it decided to ask for $120,000. The agenda suggests this may be a rather interesting meeting, if they have a quorum, and whether or not they do may depend on who's counting. And as we all know by now in Norwich, not everyone counts.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

More than just your mileage may vary

The last cup of coffee I made yesterday, I ran out of the liquid whitening stuff. I hesitate to call it 'cream', since I suspect, it's not and I don't want to read the label too closely just in case I'm right.
I had a container of the powdered whitening stuff (I drink coffee for the effect, which in my case, is very much a coals to Newcastle situation; "Owls to Athens"? I never heard that in all the years I lived in Germany, not once. I wanna know who says that. Who? What? Oh, never mind!) and I was (unpleasantly) surprised as to how much I had to pour into the cup to get the coffee off of pitch black (or vice versa if you're being catty).

On the bottom of the container is a 'best by' stamp that I realized was actually from a while back. Technically, it was from the last millennium, but what's a decade between friends and amateur chemists. I haven't had a car for as long as I've had this coffee creamer. When I bought it, William Clinton was President and now, it's Barack Obama. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was in the Seventh House and NASDAQ aligned with Mars and now most of our investments wouldn't cover the cost of a Snickers bar.

I wonder if I'd have used it up or more of it and faster, had I paid more attention to the 'best by' date--and, thinking larger for just a moment, what if each of us had a 'best by' date. I shudder to think of what mine might be, but would all of us not be better off if this were the case? That old admonition to 'stay away from so-and-so, he's having an off day' could become much more exact and precise.

My kids have long suspected(I think) that their old man is past it; a quick check of my 'best by' date would confirm that and remove all doubt. Admittedly, I fear at any given moment, there'd only be about a dozen and a half folks on the entire planet who'd be on top of their game, but that's not the scary part. That none of them would speak English is causing me to wonder:
Τι χρησιμοποιεί για το δόλωμα για ένα Babelfish? I hope the owls leave me enough worms.
-bill kenny

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Speaking in Cliches

It finally hit me the other day after a TV spot with some one standing in a red circle telling me "I am so there" was followed immediately by some one else eating a slice of pizza while enthusing that "I'm all about the multi-grain!" Please. If you must speak in tongues, make at least one of them your own.

We use Madison Avenue to create a language we can use instead of having to think original thoughts at all. From "I'm Lovin' It" to "You 'Kin Do It", the words and ideas belong to others and aren't we lucky there's no royalties involved otherwise we'd all have to learn to mime.

It used to bother me I had to buy cards to express my feelings for special days in the lives of my spouse or my children. I could rationalise it by arguing (with myself) that I am an emotional cripple and need Hallmark moments to allow me to connect (I'm not sure that explains the Star Wars card for my brother's birthday so let's just move along shall we?). We use tag lines and catch phrases as rallying cries everyday and as the clincher in discussions and debates.

"Yes We Can" helped propel Barack Obama into the White House but I'm so old I still think of The Pointer Sisters (but judging from recent events, I'm alone). Could we all go a day and NOT use someone else's words when we speak? How long a day would it be and would it feel a lot longer? And how afraid should I be when some of this stuff gets recycled and comes back for other people? I think I can remember a phone company (a 'land line' phone company, come to think of it) who had a Friends and Family Plan (not that I would have qualified) and now it's back but it's a different company and they're a cell phone operation.

Not that long ago, I passed a message board for a church in Norwich (the one down by the Sweeney Bridge; I don't know which one but I'm sure God does) that had, I think rather cleverly, borrowed a sales line to help Praise the Lord (ammunition optional): "Life is Short. Pray Hard." Can I get an Amen?
-bill kenny

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Situation's Always the Same

Actually, I'm speaking about Sara Bareilles but you can be forgiven for thinking I was referencing the relationship politics has to public policy in Norwich, CT. Hand on my heart, I've lived in enough 'elsewhere places' to know that it's not just the Rose of New England that has thorns and pricks (from those thorns. What did you think I meant?).

Quick recent example: last week the City Council for any number of reasons held a workshop on recommendations on a municipal code of ethics developed by a Committee (a preceding Council) had created two years ago and who'd turned in their report last March 17th (ask me why, with my last name I'd know that). Two members of the 'public' attended the workshop last Thursday as we were the only people (I guess) who had read the two news articles in the local newspapers and pulled the link on the city's website. For reasons never explained at the workshop, the Mayor, himself, didn't attend. Meanwhile it never occurred, maybe, to any of the alderpersons to make sure (at the least) the Chairperson of the Committee knew about the meeting. Oops! as it turned out was the operational word.

My point? If I continue to wear this hat you won't see it, but in a larger sense, I think we'd agree knowledge is power. When your town or city, wherever you live, has a presence on the world wide web to inform citizens and residents (and literally anyone who stumbles across it) about the meetings and hearings and goings-on that are going on, each of us owes it to ourselves and to one another to learn about these events and get involved. We have more tools to inform and persuade than at any point in our history as a species and a lot of us spend all day e-mailing one another knock-knock jokes (and they're great jokes-thanks!).

Communication involves sender and a receiver. When you don't understand the silences, you won't understand the words. So this week in Norwich there are 6.2 metric tons of municipal meetings and there are a lot of folks working to make sure if you want to go, you'll first get to know, which is how they get posted in the first place.

In terms of dollars and sense, and you make your own decision-if I had children in the school system, I'd be in Kelly Middle School at 5:30 Tuesday afternoon as the NPS Superintendent outlines her proposed budget to the Board of Education. In much the same way as you wouldn't let your kids go off to school without doing their homework, don't you head to Kelly without having first reviewed this. And if you've 'never seen it before!' I'd suggest keeping that nugget to yourself.

If you've followed the discussion and shouting in recent weeks about the Norwich Semiseptcentennial, you might want to visit the Rose City Senior Center, across the street from Kelly, starting at Six as the newly reorganized Executive Committee of the 350th offers an update on the status of the celebrations. This meeting may mark the first time an actual dollar figure is offered on the budget for this event. I find it odd that there's no mention of this meeting anywhere on the City's website and even more so that it's NOT on the Semiseptcentennial's website, but the Russian Mardi Gras Dinner is listed (albeit after Lent has started).

Speaking (or technically, typing) of things in the newspaper recently, revaluation is a hot button issue for many and Wednesday night at seven in Room 335 of City Hall is another chance to talk to and with those who did the revaluation. Or, perhaps you prefer to read the local newspapers on line and offer an opinion on what happened to your house's value in the comments section on non-related stories because that approach is always so successful.

Check out the full week's calendar and you'll find something you're not only interested in, but passionate about. Believe me, your neighbors (because that's who's on the advisories, boards, commissions and committees who make a difference in our town) will be happy to see you, so roll up a sleeve and lend a hand.

The situation's always the same. You got your wolves in their clothes whispering Hollywood's name. Stealing gold from the silver they see; But it's not me."
-bill kenny

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Prepping for the Ashes and the Palm

Because it's 'movable', Easter doesn't so much 'sneak up on me' as it steals a march and surprises me. Reading some notes from around the world on line, I realized tomorrow in Mainz, Germany (and elsewhere) is Rosenmontag followed by Fastnacht Dienstag. Meanwhile on this side of the pond it's Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

There are many variations of an 'eat, drink and be merry' mentality as we rush towards Ash Wednesday. Tradition has it, that the ash placed on your forehead by the priest who reminds you to 'remember man, that thou art dust and unto dust thou shalt return' is actually made from burning the palm that remained from the previous year's Palm Sunday (the day that starts Holy Week and marks the triumphant arrival of Jesus into Jerusalem).

As a loyal son of Holy Mother Church, I know all the rituals and the words that accompany them--my memory isn't the problem, my heart is, but that's not my point today. As kids, and even as adults, we sometimes lose sight of where we might best concentrate on the calendar in terms of whatever you might wish to call spirituality. It's easy to celebrate Christmas and to believe in its importance and of course, the Birth of the Saviour should more often that not pass the "huh?" test.

But I think the defining points that make me a Catholic and a Christian (or the other way around, I'm never sure which is a subset of what) is the death of Christ and His Resurrection. I'm not sure how we in The West (capitalization? Why Not?) have managed to balance the passion of the Christ, His Crucifixion, burial and His Resurrection with pieces of chocolate and the Easter Bunny. I'm not sure this entry will get reposted in the Cadberry Factory newsletter or be read aloud on Easter Monday in Hershey, Pennsylvania, but that's how I see the world.

I'm not Cotton or Increase Mather, early colonial ministers one of whom purportedly noted that 'the purpose of life is to prepare us to be dead for a long time.' Talk about harshing your buzz. Maybe that's why you never saw a Pilgrim smile or maybe, if you have that as a perspective, life isn't quite as much fun as it could be.
-bill kenny

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Attitude of Gratitude

I've mentioned I feed the squirrels where I work. In recent weeks, as the winter weather set in and made life difficult for all (or most) creatures great and small, I've returned to feeding the birds. For many months, I had those squares of suet with bird seed that I placed in a cage that would hang from a feeder with suction cups holding it to the window, a free standing type of device.

That worked fine for all the little birds until some of the larger birds, I called them grackles because that's what my wife's people called them in Germany (my accent wasn't as good of course), took over the feeder--dive-bombing the suet cages and scaring off the smaller birds. The simplest solution became to stop putting suet out in the cages, and then, finally, removing the cages altogether. After awhile, the grackles took the hint and moved on.

In the meantime, my wife had gotten me a small plasticine feeding shelf with a roof. It secures to the window with suction cups with hooks and the feeder itself is attached by the hooks. It's all clear so the birds can see the seed, and in this case, because it's on my outer office window, the biped in the dress shirt and tie on the inside, where we keep the carpeting and the fluorescent light, looking at them instead of my computer screen.

As I said, in the colder days of recent weeks I've had waves of little birds, and some not so small ones, landing and gobbling seed (which my wife and daughter buy in those forty pound bags) and birds aren't the neatest of eaters. My favorite birds remain the male Cardinals--I'm not sure if birds see in color (Animal Planet is a premium channel on my cable system) but I suspect they can, and the Cardinal is one reason why. I get the Lady Cardinals, too, and I'm impressed with how well they seem to coexist with the other birds at the feeder.

Not so the Blue Jays. They're more or less a special creature since, according to the pamphlet that came with the feeder, it was designed specifically to thwart their efforts and to discourage them from using the feeder. When I read that the first time after putting up the feeder, the pamphlet made me feel bad, except, the birds themselves are unable to read and will not sit still long enough for me to read the pamphlet aloud to them. Ignorance is bliss with feathers.

All day long, there's a coming and going at the feeder and a pattern of hustle and bustle on the suet cages as a sort of waiting area forms there to get at the feeder and grab some seed. Except, it may be closing time and this time around it will be because me. I came out last night to head home and the usual gaggle of little sparrows are in the area of the feeder and the sidewalk flanking the parking lot in front of the building where I park and there, on the hood of my car, are three or four separate piles of bird poop-white against the black clear coat paint job.

As a card-carrying Auto-American, I felt compelled to turn to the little birds sitting on the sidewalk more or less looking in my direction and warn them 'not MY car! I'm the biped who feeds you! Poop on the Armada or on the Ram truck (he eats chicken for lunch. Where's your sense of solidarity?) Put leave my car alone." I'm more of an input kind of a guy than an output one and I don't take a lot of shi(p), so to speak, from my fellow bipeds. The feathered friends had best learn or otherwise learn to eat elsewhere.
-bill kenny

Friday, February 20, 2009

Lost in the Supermarket

See? The power of suggestion. Now, like it or not, you'll have The Clash stuck in your head for the rest of the day (you could do worse, you realize). Wednesday evening, my wife and I vamped for time in the Massive Mart while getting filled two (more) prescriptions that I'll be taking before my surgery (I like to live on the edge).

One is to 'protect' my heart, my Primary Care physician, Dr. E., told me Monday. I've already started that one. Sure wish I'd had it years ago when Genevieve F. and Marie R. (in rapid succession. come to think of it) broke my heart into thirty-five pieces back when my hair was(n't) short. The other medication is from my orthopedic surgeon, Dr. G., and I take it the morning of surgery to help lower the chances of infection. He patiently explained to me that my odds, as a diabetic, of developing infection are far higher than those of 'a normal person.'

You'd think, this close to two large casinos, I might actually be able to use 'elevated odds' in my favor; if not for the slots, then how about a table game? Heqq, how about the CT Lottery? It doesn't need to be a grand prize, just a nice prize. So much for the Prize Patrol. Instead make way for The Masque of the Red Death.

Anyway. I needed (= really wanted) to get softer socks. Do NOT laugh. We diabetics have a drill we do everyday with our feet and I'm grateful I can still see them when I look down, and they seem to still be attached, so I go through the drill every morning. However, "X" number of times through the washer and drier and the socks start to head South in terms of softness (and it's not helped by an idiot like me not knowing the difference between Dacron or cotton and acrylic and Cyrillic (I think. Komrade Tootsie, haven't seen you since Lenin's Tomb!)).

My wife knows all about everything useful (and more) and has such superlative judgment and taste in so many areas, that, left to float in the air like a bad smell, is the unasked question of how the heqq did she end up with me? I've theorized, it was a Bad Luck Streak in Dancing School (mine, for obvious reasons) and I'm impressed with he spirit of generosity.

In short order (we had about a fifty-minute wait at the pharmacy to fill the two scripts), she had found the 'just right' kind of socks and so impressed was I that I vowed to remember the type and share it with you and it's amazing I remembered to even write this, so guess what happened to the rest of the pledge? Yeah, Gone with the Socks (or barefoot, either, Scarlett and let's not talk about pregnant, okay?).

She grabbed them up in every color available (I used to wear only white socks more or less in honor of Raymond Douglas Davies of The Kinks and then I heard he wore them in my honor and that was just too creepy), so now I have a rainbow collection that will be seen every day for exactly the amount of time it takes me to get my shoes on after I put the socks on.

At the checkout, I realized I've finally arrived--these are the high class article! Each pair comes on its own teeny, tiny hanger. With all that we're learning to live without or cutback on, it's nice before I shuffle off this mortal coil to look for my comfortable socks not jammed into a sock drawer in my nightstand but rather, like the rich and vacuous, in a closet, on the rack just above the cruel shoes.
-bill kenny

Thursday, February 19, 2009

And so it starts

A number of years ago I was diagnosed with degenerative arthritis in both knees ('oh, yeah?' I said, 'there were a lot of other folks at Rutgers doing that stuff, too! It wasn't just me.' And then the doctor explained the difference between degenerate and degenerative) and was told that replacement might be an option I'd consider.

Sure enough three summers ago I awoke in my hospital room from partial right kneecap replacement surgery as Hurricane Katrina was taking deadly aim at New Orleans. Not necessarily excelling at cause and effect and being a bit more superstitious than most, I've had arthroscopic surgery (cleaning up the loose junk) on both knees since then, but have avoided even thinking about replacing the left knee.

Some of it is purely sentimental. I've had the left knee a long time. It's between my left hip and my left foot and helps keep me from flopping over when I try to stand up. But late last summer, after more cortisone shots (I discovered as a diabetic, cortisone is not the most fun your blood sugar can have with your clothes on) continued to fail to bring any relief, I promised my doctor (who must be wondering how he could have so angered God that He sent me to to him as a patient. It's never crossed your mind, Dr. G., that perhaps God is punishing me with you?) that 'when the snow looks like it's over' we would do it.

It looks like we've come to the place where the road and the sky collide. We started on the planning and the blood work and the medical permissions with the magnetic resonance imaging etc ad infinitum that I'll need in order to, with (good) luck, go under the knife on 9 March and have the knee fully replaced with an Otis knee. The brochure is very nice, and my doctor and all the physicians in his practice highly recommend the procedure and I even went to the Backus Hospital a while back on a Sunday to see what it all looked like when they take it out of the kit. I'm pretty sure Shuggie has no involvement in it, and though I didn't ask, I think the elevator folks are not involved either.

When I see 'we' in terms of planning and work, I, of course, mean the doctor with me playing the role of the G(r)eek chorus. I always appreciate my caregivers spending all this time explaining things to me, and they certainly have had some splainin' to do, but as they speak I make horror movies in my head and have to talk myself down from a ledge someplace rather than jump all the while sitting across from the doctor and nodding nearly imperceptibly as if he and I were comparing notes. I'm probably not the only boob they see like this, so at least they're not shocked when I behave as badly as I often do when 'showtime' arrives.

Not this time, though. I cannot get comfortable with my left knee at all-standing , sitting, lying down, kneeling (no chance at all). I used to control my blood sugar levels by hitting the tread mill for thirty minutes a day, not Melrose Games' speed mind you (I just see a brief clip of my attempting the high hurdle dash, yepper), just a brisk pace and then spending upwards of two hours icing down the knee. It's hard to sleep or do anything really and my physician pointed out to me that I sound like I'm ready.

Considering how terrified I am now, and I'm weeks away from the surgery, I sure hope so. It has to be less daunting this time because so much of this I already know about. When they replaced the partial on the right knee, I thought I'd be back to work by the following Monday. I was, shall we say, a little optimistic about the recovery and rehab so this time I'm thinking more like ten days (kidding!). Actually, the thing that I should find amazing, except I'm sickeningly self-absorbed, is how routine this type of surgery actually is.

Each of us knows one or more persons with a successful joint replacement though we needn't make this an outtake from one of those classic Lark cigarette commercials--and I cannot believe I found it on line (even though you can find the Shroud of Turin on line)--Stan Freberg's classic parody of that spot. Medical miracles just keep happening and if you live long enough, perhaps science will see that you can live forever (Down! Alex Chiu! Fame and infamy are first cousins, I suppose). In light of the scar I still have on my right knee from 'back then', you won't be catching me in shorts this summer, but I'm hoping to be in my prime when the fall auditions for next season's Dancing with the Stars are announced. After all, as John B said, "I'm a Dancer."
-bill kenny

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Forever Young

If I told you P. T. Barnum would weep for joy, would you care? If Ponce De Leon had only searched elsewhere but the future home of Disneyworld, would you be as startled by what I'm about to share? I think not.

Bethel (CT)'s favorite son, couldn't and doesn't hold a candle to the oh-so-amazing Alex Chiu (not the younger brother of the famed Christmas Carol, but famous in his own mind, nevertheless) with just the product you've spent your whole life looking for. And much like Ponce, I stumbled upon it, quite by accident.

I first encountered a mention of Alex inside a reference to my favorite 'leading medical authority' (in his own words) Kevin Trudeau. To be honest with you (and with Kev), I tend to always think of him more as this guy, than as any of the personae he has become in his own infomercials, as amazing as they, too, so often are. It's almost funny how often I confuse perineum, which is what he really is, with premium which is what Kevin thinks he is.

So when a heavy-weight like KT raves about a fellow trailblazer whose own website promises "More advanced than Star Trek technology!", I don't know about you, Buck Rogers, but I say 'bring it!' And Alex does, and it's not just the preposterousness of the product claims, it's also the full frontal assault mode of pitching them that has me and you, too, right now, bookmarking this guy's site and adding it to my favorite places, in the categories of both 'humor' and 'dangers of drinking (too much) Sterno'.

And you can't say he didn't warn us. Right there, on the front page of his site he tells us, "I am risking danger from FDA trying to bring my technology to light." What a man! On the same page with Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla and Albert Einstein, Alex has tamed the powers of cellular magnetic flux, which, when applied correctly, will result in all of us living forever(!) This must be real science stuff because my brain hurts just reading about it.

He not only has an immortality device, but as a second act, so to speak, he's hawking the Gorgeouspil that will "make you prettier and more beautiful every morning." I owe Martin Sargent a debt I could never repay, even if I, too, lived forever for sharing his conversation with Big Al. I hope you'll use your added years to think of ways to express your undying gratitude as well. Of course, if we all live forever, it may start to get a bit crowded around here. "Can you imagine when this race is won. Turn our golden faces into the sun. Praising our leaders, we're getting in tune. The music's played by the madmen." All that's missing is a toll-free number. No rush, though, we've got plenty of time to get one.
-bill kenny

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Boys of Summer Add Voodoo Chile to the 40-Man Roster

My favorite time of year is here (just in time, again!) Spring Training. Technically, it's not a separate season, we already have four (plus the winter of our discontent) but emotionally it's a season of hope and unbridled optimism. My current favorite example would be Tampa Bay Rays fans of years past--how futile and forlorn were they until last season? And how wonderful was that ride for everyone who'd ever rooted for them?

No, they didn't win the World Series (and how arrogant are we in the Land of the Round Doorknobs to call it that? Just look at the World Baseball Classic and, more on point, look at which country didn't win it. Still think what we do around here in the fall should be called the World Series?) but maybe a better story, the Philadelphia Phillies, representing (after fish and what they do in water) the best W.C. Fields's line ever, did. And now we've gone round and round in The Circle Game and it's time once again for brave beginnings.

Here down the Interstate from Muddville, in Norwich, CT, the joy of the approaching minor league baseball season is leavened with the bitter realization that we probably only have seventy-one home games left in the history of the Connecticut Defenders. The latter part of last week, both local newspapers were buzzing with news stories on a possible purchase and relocation of the team to Virginia, and for me, the eye-opening part of the online reports became, far too frequently, the curt comments of purported readers and fans.

Inside the body of this nearly fifty-seven year old man (and there's certainly plenty of room in here, believe me) is a seven year old boy who doesn't want to accept that baseball, as all professional sports are, is a business for everyone involved in it, on and off the field. Last week, Alex Rodriguez became the latest poster boy for 'those cheating ba$tards', but some small part of me still thinks him and me could still have a game of catch, or shag fly balls if I could just talk my way past the security guards and the chain link fence.

And it's the business, at least at the minor league level, that has caught up with our Eastern League Double-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. Hand on my heart, it's always seemed to be a match made in Secaucus, so to speak. After spending about half a decade after moving from upstate New York as an affiliate of the New York Yankees, the team ended its association with the Bronx Bombers the day after winning their (so far) only Eastern League Championship (with Luis Sojo as manager). To be candid, the night the team captured the championship, there were probably close to two thousand empty seats at Senator Thomas Dodd Stadium--interest in, and attendance at, ballgames had already started to slide within three years of the team's arrival.

Perhaps young men pursue a major league career for the love of the game--but it's unfair to those who own a piece of those farm teams that are rungs on the ladder of that career progression that they can't break even. And as one, and then another, ownership group learned, being a professional sports team in the smallest market of your league can deal a body blow to your cash flow. "Now I don't understand what happened to our love. Now baby, gonna get you back. Gonna show you what I'm made of..."

And it's the business part to which we fans often turn a blind eye. Around here, where we've elevated 'It's not my fault' to a mantra, we've got more excuses than Tall Ships at Fleet Week.

We spent years blaming the Defenders' affiliation with a West Coast National League team for why we stayed away in droves (to include the night Willie Mays, my childhood hero, was at Dodd Stadium and it wasn't even half filled) except the seats are still empty when the Portland Sea Dogs and the Trenton Thunder (affiliates of the Red Sox and Yankees, respectively) come to town despite our insistence that if only the Defenders could get a Player Development Contract with one or the other we'd all go to the games.

We also blamed where the stadium is located--sometimes I think just me and Uncle Bob liked where it was, though it was less than a half hour from just about anywhere (or so it seemed). I always find it interesting that the same bozos who'll drive for two and three hours, one-way, to Fenway or Yankee (or Shea) Stadium and spend hundreds of dollars on tickets and warm beer and cold french fries and hot dogs, whine so much about the drive to Dodd and paying two bucks a car load to park (after I spent closer to forty dollars for a Yankees-Rays game in the Bronx) and eight bucks for box seats where you can order food and drink from your seat. Please....

And now, we're sort of angry with the team itself, for even thinking about jumping ship as if we had really noticed. Not that I would have wanted to have seen it happen, but if the local newspapers didn't start reporting on possible deals and, assuming one is consummated, don't report on any more activity, how many years might go by before people noticed the team wasn't at Dodd Stadium? "Hey, Dave--when was the last time anyone saw what's-his-name, the mascot? You mean 'Tater', Bob? Nah, the other one, 'Cutter', I think..."

"Well, I taste the honey from a flower named blue/Way down in California/And then New York drowns as we hold hands. Cause I'm a voodoo chile/Lord knows I'm a voodoo chile. Yeah!"
-bill kenny

Monday, February 16, 2009

Sing this all together (see what happens)

I'm wondering if we might not have better and (or?) more productive meetings, from the local municipal level right through to hearings in the Senate or House chambers if we staged them as musicals. If we were Singing the Dolphin Through, perhaps our actions would make more sense, or then again, perhaps not-but they'd be more entertaining. At least here in The Rose of New England, Norwich, CT , where we, on more occasions than we'd like to admit, seem more like a cast party from a Gilbert and Sullivan production.

On tap for tonight at 6:30 in the DAV room of the Buckingham Memorial (near the Otis Library) will be an effort to resuscitate the Greater Norwich Veterans Council. I heard it about in an email from State Representative Christopher Coutu and imagine if you need more information, you can contact him. Our international adventures in recent years are producing Sailors, Airmen, Soldiers and Marines who are returning to CivLife with very different needs for reintegration than any generation since Vietnam. If you are a veteran or have an interest in how we treat those who serve in our defense, this could be worth your attention be it for you, a family member or your city.

Tuesday night at seven is a meeting on the Commission of the City Plan that among other topics looks like the next chapter in the discussion on the Bentley Avenue "Sober House" that started out below the neighbors' radar (but didn't stay there) as well a request to start the bonding process to buy the 'old' Simon Ford property (and take it from the tax rolls) to build a new police station we don't have the money to construct (yet. But that Powerball investment could pay off at any time. Gluck auf!)

I'm still trying to understand why, at their last meeting, the City Council went into Executive Session to talk about this property purchase. As I understand the rules for Executive Session, everyone has long known this is the #1 site for the new police station and that we can bond up to 800K without going to a referendum (and we sure aren't planning on doing that, are we?). So, with all the elements already known, why the secrecy of Executive Session? There is no other location and 800K is all the money we have. I'm assuming we did out of force of habit. As I read the CCP agenda there is NO provision for public comment except during public hearings and there are NO public hearings listed.

Also Tuesday at seven (which is a theme), it would appear there's a meeting of the Downtown Neighborhood Revitalization Zone (all of whose members are, I assume, in the Witness Relocation Program because they're not listed on the city's website) perhaps in the Otis Library and perhaps not because aren't any recent meeting minutes or agendas. Helps explain some of the questions I've always had about goings on, and lack thereof, in "Down City."

At seven (there's a surprise, right?) in room 206 of City Hall, is a regular meeting of the Personnel and Pension Board, whose efforts, in light of the continuing economic turbulence, are, I'm sure, appreciated by those whose investments and pensions those efforts protect (btw, minutes of your meetings on the city's website would not only be nice, it's also the law).

The City Council meeting, normally on Monday has been rescheduled for (wait for it) Tuesday at seven because of the President's Day holiday and starts with an informational session at 6:30 on an item that shows up as resolution five on the agenda. I mentioned earlier the purchase of property for a new police station. On the council's meeting agenda as a Petition and Communication #1 is a different approach to policing from the "Community Committee" (I googled "Ferris By the River" and came up with zilch).

Oh yeah, quick critique: the draft minutes of the 2 February City Council meeting are superb!! The rendering of remarks delivered by two aldermen, under a suspension of the rules early in the meeting, is one of the finest editing jobs I've ever encountered. Not one scintilla of cloying self-pity or feigned injury in getting caught red-handed by the local newspaper (which was really what both speakers were all about), clearly evident to anyone watching the council meeting, remains in the draft at all. A casual reader would conclude we had just another night in the Rose City Circus.

At 8:30 Wednesday morning it's a meeting of the Southeastern CT Regional Council of Governments, whose agenda isn't posted, but whose minutes from special meetings with Senator Dodd and Representative Courtney are. "Regionalization" and "Sharing Resources" are the 2009 fiscal buzzwords--and these folks have been walking the walk while the rest of us have been learning the talk for a long time. Sorry we took so long to get here, and thanks for waiting.

Also Wednesday morning at nine o'clock (okay, a different Wednesday and a different o'clock), in the meeting room of the Dime Bank at 290 Salem Turnpike is a meeting of the Norwich School Readiness Council (Children First). I guess the name encompasses both the agenda and the accomplishments, but it would be nice to have some specifics, though none are presented. I am quite taken at a listing of past and future contributors; I'm not sure how they know what they know, but I hope their confidence is contagious.

Thursday, at 5 in Room 210 of City Hall is a regular meeting of the Historic District Commission. I know the members are our neighbors, but wouldn't it be cool, just a little bit, if they held their meetings in costume, sort of as an homage to the Semiseptcentennial (without the Tall Ships, of course), complete with powdered wigs? Just a thought as you review the draft minutes of their 22 January meeting.

Later Thursday, at 6 in their conference room at the Ice Rink is a regular meeting of the Ice Arena Authority. Perhaps due to global warming, neither minutes of previous meetings nor a copy of this meeting's agenda are on the city's website. Were those polar bears I just saw drinking a soda? One of them was smiling!?! Good Lord, did he eat Bill Cosby? (The line between the South Pole and South Park grows ever thinner, as I well know.)

And coincidence being the way it is, the chairperson of the Norwich Ethics Review Committee which turned in its final report to the City Council eleven months ago, and sat with the alderpersons in September in a workshop that accomplished nothing, has been tireless in pressing the City Council to do something about this report. Meanwhile, we've all spent recent weeks reading local newspapers as the 350th Anniversary looked less and less like a civic celebration and more like well, I don't know what, but it's rather messy and hard to pronounce. Perceptions of reality are reality, a professional porcine wrestler once told me and I believe him.

That being the case, perhaps because of, or maybe despite that, Thursday night at seven the City Manager and the City Council will hold a workshop, seemingly with one another in room 335 of City Hall (the big room with the lousy acoustics where no one on the Sachem Fund Board last month could hear any of Lottie Scott's misgivings. How will Claire B. be able to hear anyone sing her 'Happy Birthday'? ) for a discussion of the Ethics Report. Congratulations Mr. Larry G on never giving up.

I'm sure whoever attends from the Ethics Review Committee will be helping a grateful (if admittedly reluctantly grateful) Council. To me, in light of the effort made by the Ethics Review Committee already, this workshop is like deciding because you need to lose weight, I should take up jogging (and you look marvelous, really you do). "Sun turnin' 'round with graceful motion.We're setting off with soft explosion. Bound for a star with fiery oceans. It's so very lonely, you're a hundred light years from home."
-bill kenny

Sunday, February 15, 2009

And a parade of the gray suited grafters...

I can remember as a kid we had off from school on both Lincoln's Birthday and on Washington's Birthday (we also heard from the sixth graders 'they don't celebrate Lincoln's Birthday in the South because of The War'). Children of the Baby Boom, and part of the cohort that was in the first part of that boom, I'm not sure all my classmates understood which 'the war' the sixth graders were talking about.

We had, after all, learned to duck under our desks and turn away from the windows during the air raid drills we seemed to have on a daily basis. I wasn't that old when something happened in Cuba, or near it, that scared the willies out of the grown-ups and we started having drills at school almost every day. Still, I didn't understand what war "the South" was angry about until catching a TV show (I think on ABC) on Saturday afternoons about the The Civil War. It turned my world upside down.

I think we're all similar in that we are, each, the center of our own universe, and we assume the world as it is, is how it's always been. The idea that some of my classmates in Mrs. Hilge's 3B would have been considered furniture a hundred years earlier struck me as surreal. As I grew older (not matured) and I learned how prevalent and historic the slave trade was, and in some places still is, and how much carnage the so-called Civil War created (fought for many different reasons as I was to learn), the more profound became my admiration for Mr. Lincoln.

Who didn't already admire the Father of Our Country, George Washington (though I never did figure out who the mother is)? The chopping down of the cherry tree, the crossing of the Delaware, "first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen'. It was amazing to me as a schoolchild to have had two Presidents born in the same month with such a profound impact on our country.

And now, see how we run. We have a Monday holiday to honor all of those who have been President to include Warren Harding and Millard Fillmore and John Calhoun. I'm sure each, well and lesser known, has had a hand in making us who we are today. So far, all we've elected to the Presidency are men, and it was less 120 days ago that we, as a nation, finally broke the color line which is, and was, historical unto itself.

I still believe I live in a country when anyone can grow up to be President and that, more than any specific person who's ever been President, is why I celebrate this holiday. It's not a reason to go to the mall and clean up on the post-Valentine's day stuff at Victoria's Secret (in light of those outfits where would she keep anything secret?). It would be nice to spare a thought for the tens of thousands of our best and brightest young, and not so young, men and women we have across the globe in places that make the news every night (like Iraq and Afghanistan) as well as places whose names we probably struggle to pronounce who protect, among other things, the rights of daydreamers to imagine they, too, could grow up to be President.
-bill kenny

Saturday, February 14, 2009

I'm driving a big lazy car rushin' up the highway in the dark

Today is Valentine's Day and while I appreciate the history that the link provides, I'm struggling with the meaning which remains probably more personal and individual for each of us than anything else we do or ever have in our lives.

I have an unfair advantage in appreciating this. I had a chance this week to attempt a little skating away on the thin ice of a new day leaving my bride of thirty-one years, Sigrid (K. geboren Schubert) to sit, somewhat ashen-faced squeezing the life out of the armrests of a chair in the Cath Lab on the first floor of WWBackus Hospital, as she braced for the next installation of Wild Billy's Circus Story.

Self-absorbed ba$tard that I am, it wasn't until the following day that the heartaches I have caused the love of my life really hit me. We live in Norwich, CT, in a home we once shared with our two children, one now grown the other thinking she is already grown (and she's closer than I'd like to think she is) far from where either of us grew up, her far more so than I.

I'm from a couple of hours down the turnpike, New Brunswick, NJ (whose current Mayor was my classmate from 3rd through 8th grades. Sometimes it's the journey and other times the destination, I guess) while she came of age in Offenbach am Main, a city in its own right in the shadow of Frankfurt am Main, (West) Germany (it's hard to realize the number of years that have passed since we no longer needed to make that distinction.)

And of all the places she or I thought we might have been had we stayed married, where we are now is not one of those places. We met and married in her country at the height of the Cold War (that raged without waxing or waning even as GI Joe shook hands with Ivan at the Elbe River as World War II ended not with a bang but a whimper) and I never really gave any thought to living anywhere else.

We, or at least, I, lived without plan and for the most part, without care. In many respects, I guess, we are the Ant and Grasshopper of married couples and she has always defined who I am and whom I could ever hope to be. Knowing that she will, and always does, love me despite the egregious stupidity of life with me, ranging from not knowing how to properly close the hallway closet door after hanging my jacket up to the kinds of vapid thoughtlessness that only a spouse can commit, is all the incentive I need to be who I am and do what I do for my livelihood (that can't really be a surprise to the folks who pay me, can it?) and with my life (and you thought I was kidding about being the Thorn in the Rose of New England? Check a phone book for a roster of those who will tell you otherwise).

I've always admired Robert's note to Elizabeth Barrett, "Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be, the last of life, for which the first was made. And I wasn't alone in my admiration--in both of those instances I wished for half the eloquence that each of those men showed to the women they loved, because I feel that way about my wife but lack the gift to express it.

And awakening with a start in of Backus Hospital Wednesday near midday, checking my watch (because that's a reflex of old deejays) and hearing her ask me me 'do you have someplace to be?' I realized, "I woke up in the darkness scared and breathin' and born anew/It wasn't the cold river bottom I felt rushing over me. It wasn't the bitterness of a dream that didn't come true/It wasn't the wind in the grey fields I felt rushing through my arms. No, no, baby, it was you/ So hold me close, honey, say you're forever mine. And tell me you'll be my lonely valentine." Happy Valentine's Day, my love.
-bill kenny

Friday, February 13, 2009

Can You Tell a Green Field from a Cold Steel Rail?

I had someone the other day, I'm sure with the best of intentions, tell me they liked to stop by and read this stuff, but I needed to understand 'people who tend to read blogs don't really like to read.'

That's okay. I think people who like to write blogs don't like to write, and especially don't like to write for people who don't like to read. Somehow that makes us even though I am rather odd.


He suggested radically shortening everything, condensing it and reducing it; sort of like haiku for IMs or Twitter. He is of the opinion we, as the crown of creation in this food chain, are much akin to goldfish, with memories and attention spans that last all of thirty seconds. And when I read how we whine about our environment, our economics, our national and international relations (or you pick a subject), it's certainly popular to feel that way. Except that doesn't make it right. So stop being a lost soul swimming in a fish bowl year after year. Never mind Wish You Were Here. We are here now. Be. Do. Soon enough we'll be gone.

Here goes: it's Friday the 13th and exactly ONE month from now we'll have another one.
"What have you found? The same old fears."

You said keep short and punchy. I did. Now go play in traffic.
-bill kenny

Thursday, February 12, 2009

So now we'll call him A-Roid?

Just in time for spring training, the greatest time of the year for any baseball fan (except for Opening Day, because for just a moment anything is possible. Just ask Tampa Bay) Alex Rodriguez has been shamed into coming clean, literally.

It's been everywhere, except the Home Shopping Network, in the last three days, A-Roid is a cheater (technically was a cheater) using steroids while a Texas Ranger from 2001 through 2003. His conversation Monday night with ESPN Peter Gammons was a little more self-serving than I would like, but I have to be honest, I've never warmed to A-Rod in pinstripes.

I never really cottoned to Roger Clemens as a Yankee or to Randy Johnson, either. For a guy who owns zero % of the most storied sports franchise in the history of the planet, I'm very persnickety as to who wears my colors.

I'm not even sure I actually care if he, or any of these guys are, or were, juiced. All sports are more entertainment of the bread and circuses variety now than a Sport with a capital "S". The line between MLB and WWE is thin at best, and I'll give the WWE operators this: they never pretend to be anything they're not.

To underscore how screwed up this all is, Curt Shilling, the blowhard and/or savior of the Boston Red Sox (another guy I don't like but for three reasons: he beat the Yankees as a Diamondback (twice in the same Series); he beat the Yankees in a miracle start to get the Red Sox to the Series and he announced when he was a free agent he'd sign with anyone, except the Yankees) wants all the names of all those who were tested (and popped positive) in the earlier part of this decade to be publicized and I agree with him.

I'll also point out that a recently-retired teammate (of Curt's, NOT mine) Sean Casey, raised a really good point when he wondered how Sports Illustrated who 'broke' this story Sunday afternoon, got their hands on the secret and confidential results. The dirty and honest answer is because somebody sold those results to the magazine for thirty pieces of silver, or whatever the going rate is these days.

So while we're all wringing our hands and tsk-tsking A-Roid (I like that, I really do) for being a 'bad role model' (is there an endorsement deal for a bong riding on this? I think not) which is NOT what he signed ten year contracts to do, let me make this niggling point about how cheaters never prosper. Yes, A-Roid is a disappointment as are all of the professional (and other) athletes who use chemistry to better themselves. However, Sports Illustrated and all practitioners of checkbook journalism are no better than the freaks whose antics they report.

What if Damon Runyan huffed? What are the chances of that and what would that mean for two hallowed American traditions? We'd need the intercession of the Madonna--no, Alex, the other Madonna.
-bill kenny

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

All these empty places

I'd like to think it's a Valentine's Day special, except that shouldn't happen until Saturday and today is Wednesday, so I guess I have to admit it's a down payment on a life lived a lot faster and harder than the Manufacturer's warranty stipulated.

I'm in William W. (stands for woo-hoo! Sorry WaMu; we hardly knew ye) Backus Hospital this morning for a heart catherterization. When I met my physician, Dr. N. last week, via a referral from the nephrologist, Dr. C., he explained the background and the reasons for why I'll be somewhat more uncomfortable for awhile today and, best case scenario, for the next couple of days.

I'm a science experiment, of sorts, this morning as millions before me have been, but not as a plaster of paris (why is that stuff called that, anyway?) volcano filled with baking soda. I asked the doctor if the catherterization were actually needed since I did cry watching Beaches, though probably for a different reason than everyone else. (Wind Beneath My Wings is right up there with The Rose as a Bette-Midler-Song-I-Wish-Never-Existed).

I attended a class Monday afternoon on what happens this morning since I do so love coming attractions at the drive-thru. In my case, we're all better off with surprise as an ally. The longer I sat in the lab Monday and got a preview, the more I eyed the exits and the distance to them.

I'd tell you I'm a little concerned for the squirrels to whom I feed peanuts out of my office window because I don't know what they're going to do today, except as we both know, I am so lying it's pathetic. I'm a little tight right now and, with apologies to Robert Frost (Jack's dad, judging by the look of him), I hope I have miles to go before I sleep. And maybe it's the fact that it probably won't be the Sleep of the Just, should it happen, that most bothers me in all of this that has my sweat pumps operating at max efficiency right now.

Genetic inheritance being what it is and lifestyle helping give it the rest, between my father and with my own eyes wide shut, I have, as the doctor explained last week, ALL the indicators he looks for when analyzing stress test results (I studied, I really did). The only silver lining in a canopy of grey sky was that I had stopped smoking three packs of cigarettes almost thirteen years ago. That I had been at it, however, previously for over two decades, as I followed his explanation, pretty much cancelled out the 'hurray!' part of that equation.

I'm planning on being here tomorrow--as I've planned on it everyday for almost fifty seven years, even before I was aware of much more than my fingers and toes. And I'm intending to write something (you may not share my enthusiasm for what I do and that's understandable), but I may work to write ahead just in case stuff goes South Wednesday morning.

It's been a bit of a wrench to share with my brother, same Dad same genetic inheritance, that I could be a shape of things to come for him. Or for me to look at my two children and know that they now know both of their grandfathers, "Opa" with whom they grew up in Germany, and Dad's Dad who died before they were ever thought of much less conceived, both died of heart failure. And that, through the magic of that same genetics, they may have more than just my smile in their DNA.

Haven't ever contemplated my own mortality before, which, egotist that I am is sort of surprising, even to me. When your life flashes before your eyes and it's lots of people you don't know, or know well, it's a little too late for course correction. Just happy to be here, I think, (even if no one else is too happy about that), and I hope as dark as this ride may be today, and I did appreciate the candor of the explanation last week even though I realized later I sure didn't act like it, if life is a raffle, I hope to continue to be present to win, or at least play for a tie.
"The days slide by/Should have done, should have done, we all sigh."
-bill kenny

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Two of Five

Maria Muldaur sang decades ago, 'It Ain't the Meat, It's the Motion' itself a cover of a decades old song by The Swallows (who knew butchers were so popular even while so many sported 'I Like Ike (and center-cut pork chops)' buttons?). And it was she I thought of the other night while flipping through the TV stations (I'm a hunter, not so much a gatherer, when it comes to video offerings).

Don't remember which cable channel it was but it was two people, turns out they were sitting in the settee area of a bowling alley (in the background you could see a lane and full rack of pins (is that what that's called? You know what I mean). She had way too many teeth for her mouth and he must've been working on an illegal smile (there was NO swimming pool anywhere that I could see) because he was just too happy.

It was time for the wrap, where the on-air talent (there's a kind description) summarizes what we just saw (gives you an idea of the regard in which they hold the viewers when they feel the need to tell me what I just saw, unless I just ended up here on this station in which case, it's wasted because I didn't see it), urges me to come back the next time and says goodbye, the more memorable, the better.

She was pretty straight-forward and I have no idea what he spoke about except it ended with "It's on like Donkey Kong" at which point he stood up and walked away from the camera, towards the lane, grabbed a bowling ball and flung it down the alley where he didn't knock all the pins down. At no point did the camera move-to include zoom out (or in) tilt or pan. Leaving me, the viewer, to stare at the TV with a blank space on the left side of the screen where he used to be in the foreground while she sat there, screen right, looking into the camera like Nipper on the RCA Records label and boy, did all of that seem awkward.

Later, actually hours later, I realized I had heard the phrase before, in a TV commercial from one or the other Manning Football Brothers, or Football Brothers Manning (or some variation thereof), though I don't recall the product (and it's left a void in my life) and, thanks to the Internet, I now know what it means. I can shout it out myself, loud and proud, confident in its meaning while throwing down with my peeps (whatever that is), if I had any (which I don't).

As opposed to Donkey Kong, I'm a big fan of bowling, though I don't actually bowl. I love the idea of rental shoes designed to be so ugly that no one is tempted to steal them, and what other sport lets you drink beer while playing? Chess? I think not, Bobby Fisher.
-bill kenny