Saturday, August 31, 2013

A Penny for Your Thoughts

Being raised a Catholic, I'm very comfortable with believing in things I cannot see. That's how I am with technology-much of what modern man (and woman) hath wrought remains well beyond both my intellectual reach as well as my understanding grasp. 

I just assume stuff operates on FM with the "M" standing for Magic and the "F" being a given. We haven't bought more paper checks in years. Mostly because we have no money and the judge said calling them 'wish notes' doesn't make them less illegal when there's nothing in the account. So much for that rose by any other name jazz. 

Actually I pay my bills on-line which, as you know, is a little like a magic show. I go to my bank (in my case, credit-union) website and do a secret handshake and a little dance and then am ushered into a back room where dollars are doled out to those folks I tell the bank to pay.

Our son got me into this a couple of years ago and now the post office is hemorrhaging money. You do the math. I have an alibi. 

For a long time, I assumed all the transactions were electronic. The money was zapped from my checking account to the account of whomever I was paying but I've since learned some folks aren't set up that way and in those cases my payer (notice the banking lingo there? I picked that up on YouTube-actually I picked this up which is why I use a credit union, like a Bailey Building and Loan Association but with less Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed)) actually writes and mails them a physical check. 

I'm in the process of repaying Sallie Mae for a parent's loan for college-it's moving right along and by the time I'm seventy-five I should have it repaid especially with the wizard book-keeping they do on their side of the ledger. 

My credit union started this past Monday by transferring to them the previously-agreed upon sum of money. It showed up as a debit in my on-line account and I entered it into the check register, or what I call my Prayer Book (it's really my check book but you get the idea). 

Sallie Mae advised me this past Saturday by email they had received the money. I appreciated the note. What I didn't appreciate was the delay and the lack of understanding where the money had been since Monday. 

I didn't have it and as since the transfer was electronic, unless the servers were powered by Twenty Mule Teem Borax, I didn't get the five day delay. I also didn't really appreciate getting a notice on a Saturday but when I called the customer service numbers, no one was there on weekends. I'm thinking the Keebler Elves have some 'splaining to do.

Spoke with "Sid" earlier this week-am not sure if he answers to "El" or not and decided to NOT push it. By the time I was done on the phone, "El" would not have been what I would have called him anyway. I ran head on into circular logic which often resembled a circular saw. 

As best as I got it from "Sid," the reason why it took five days for my payment to post is because it took five days. Pause. Subject to my questions that concluded his briefing. 

I was unable to overwhelm him with my charm (yeah, I smiled too as I read that; stop laughing now dammit!) or bring him over to the dark side. He was impervious to logic, reason, chocolate or pony rides all of which I offered in varying amounts for the duration of the call. 

That it took Sallie Mae sixteen days to post a payment the previous cycle and only five this time, one of us thought should be considered practically instantaneous. I was NOT the one who thought this way, but did understand the appeal and admired the attempt.

I kept asking for a reason; he kept giving me a history. It sounded like discussions with our dad when I was a kid, 'why? 'because.' Game-Set-Match. 

I chuckled as he reached, by himself, a conclusion we had successfully concluded our discussion on this item as he asked if there was anything else he could help me with. Considering he hadn't helped me at all, I found the use of else touchingly brave and kept smiling as he went through a thirty second farewell in which he wished every single person in my family a pleasant day without knowing how many of us there were or are, and not actually caring, I'm sure. 

As for the Moneygoround, I'm looking forward to the next fourteen years. 
 -bill kenny

Friday, August 30, 2013

What?

I'm thinking as we start a three day weekend except for me who took today off so I could have a four day one instead that today might be a good time to examine the Secrets of the Illuminati for some ideas about ------ LOOK BIKES!!! 

Yeah. It happens to me and it happens to you, too. We start across a synapse with the best of intentions: I will construct a sentence about a specific topic and SHINY OBJECT ALERT! Or some such Florella. 

Suddenly we're trapped in a non sequitur or an intellectual cul de sac and have lost the train of thought from the locomotive right through to the conductor with the pocket watch. That reminds me about ---- SEE WHAT HAPPENS!! 

Here. Read this, but just a a bit at a time, maybe a paragraph or two, otherwise you'll forget that you're reading it in the first place. I started on it last year and then, suddenly....WHAT? DRY CLEANING BAGS FILLED WITH MARS GAS!

That was close, maybe a little too close. 
Glad I wasn't doing any home repair work. 
-bill kenny

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Andy Kaufman in the Wrestling Match

I’ve decided one of the things I hate about maturing (to include avoiding the phrase ‘getting old’) is how if you live long enough your past disappears. 

I can remember the Cuban Missile crisis, Vietnam, the moon landing, the First Gulf War (what are we up to now, X? They're like Super Bowls, aren't they?) among the other paragraphs and pictures in that imitation of a history book your local junior high school has gathering dust in a janitor’s locker room.

I didn’t read about those events-I was on the planet for them. Okay, I was a wee slip of a lad for the Cuban Missile Crisis but I recall the air-raid drills at school where we ducked our heads under our desks and looked “away from the (atomic) flash at the windows.” 

It never occurred to me that none of that wouldn’t help me at all. I was a kid and I didn’t know any better. What was John Foster Dulles’ excuse?

And slowly all those moments fall away as each day more of us who had first-hand recollections of these and other events faithfully and/or otherwise depart. I, for one, keep tripping over all these mortal coils that have been shuffled off. It requires big steps and watching where you walk.

In a way, it’s sort of like walking on the moon and that’s too bad because Neil Armstrong, the first man to really walk on the moon, died Tuesday leaving a lot of us who sat up and watched that happen on TV feeling even older these mornings as we sip our Tang, scan our Kindles and wonder what the hell happened to all the years in between.

Another piece of the ‘we can do anything’ mosaic has gone behind the couch of history where it’s too hard to retrieve. I and a generational cohort were Cold War Kids who went toe to toe with the Rooskies (kinda) and Gorby blinked first. 

When the Berlin Wall came down (I have a piece of it in my basement) I felt like I’d won the World Series. Now I feel like I'm watching the World Series (of Poker) on ESPN along with spelling bees like those are actual sports. And if you’re younger than thirty you don’t know the difference.

Have another slice of Ritz Mock Apple Pie-it’s a perfect way to celebrate Sir Isaac Newton whose discoveries, to include gravity, fueled and fired humanity’s imagination for centuries and helped get us to the moon. Just Don’t Interrupt the Sorrow.

-bill kenny

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Neither Dead Nor Denied

Today, a half century ago, The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stood on a hastily-constructed platform in front of the Lincoln Memorial at The National Mall in Washington D. C.. For a moment on that day, America stopped to listen. Today we can be forgiven if some wonder how much any of us have heard. 

Dr. King was the final speaker at, to that time, the largest day-long civil rights rally in American history, a rally that demanded, not asked for, "jobs and freedom." It attracted a quarter of a million people who heard a powerful declaration of purpose that King, himself, had entitled, "Normalcy-Never Again." 

The normalcy of the United States as our nation's capital simmered in the late summer heat fifty years ago was very much a separate and even more different nation than the one in which we awoke this morning. And yet it is very much the same. 

While for some of us, the events of 1963 could just as well be that of 1863, because they seem so long ago or, for some, before we were born, it is for many just the turning of a page, a look back both in sorrow and in anger at broken and battered lives as well as at missed and misspent opportunities. 

The United States of 2013 struggles to re-establish its own middle class after the longest recession since The Great Depression. What we have learned is that poverty, of the soul or of a bank balance, has little interest in or use for race, creed or color. Money doesn't talk; it swears. 

And with a decline of economic fortunes, many of us have become harder people, less willing to give, to share and even less interested in caring about the rights of those like, and often unlike, us who are our neighbors and fellow-citizens. In some ways, the snapshot has yelllowed but hasn't changed all that much in fifty years. 



Dr. King's America on that August day in 1963 had, as it did every day, despite fine-sounding and high-minded efforts in ten decades since the Civil War's end, black people who were still systematically disenfranchised with more than two-thirds denied the right to vote; where 'separate but equal' was still more prevalent throughout our country than the right of access to integrated schools, public washrooms, drinking fountains or buses and trains. 

We were then, as difficult as it seems to those looking at recent Supreme Court rulings on voter rights or who struggle with the hurt and heartache of Stand Your Ground having taken a young man's right to life and liberty, two nations who rarely spoke with one another about our shared goals or common ideals. 

Instead, too often fueled by fear and ignorance, we were two tribes who scrupulously avoided dialogue and discussion on an ever growing divide of desires and aspirations. 

For those of us whose children just started/returned to our schools earlier this week as another academic year begins, Dr. King's speech and the society and nation in which he spoke are a distant half-remembered historical dream of a long ago that disappears in the harsh daylight of Hard Times in the Land of Plenty with which so many of us must contend every day. 

It was only after Dr. King chose to speak from his heart and less from his notes at the podium that afternoon that the power, the longing and the joyfulness for which "I Have a Dream" became famous became apparent. 

His oratory soared, carrying everyone to new heights, those present in The National Mall and the millions more who watched on televisions across the country because while TV didn't know exactly what was happening, they did know it was important. 

Fifty years later, Dr. King's dream is our dream. We are, at our best, a nation whose struggle in pursuit of our dreams lights the souls of those around the world and for whom we are a last, best hope. 

King never said our journey would be easy and it isn't; nor is it over. Far from it. We have come a long way and yet we have a long way yet to come. We cannot get there by ourselves but only by taking the hand of the person to our left while offering ours to the person on our right-and stepping forward, together. And always
-bill kenny

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

In This World of Troubles

This past weekend was quite an earful for news and notes on contemporary music, not all of it good (the news, not so much the notes). 

As a card-carrying BOF, I had to look up 'twerking' (how would I know) in the online dictionary of urban slang and then wash my hands for a couple of minutes from having touched the keyboard. Talk about a goofy word. But you know what? I think I am showing my age. 

A quick on-line flip through the LA Times' photo gallery from Sunday's MTV Awards show at the Barclay Center in Brooklyn produced 'huh?' at least half the time for me. 

I wouldn't know a song from Lady Gaga if I fell over her (and she did one that had Clarence Clemons in her video and I bet her fans went 'huh?') while people like Kanye West and his Auto-tune, do less than nothing for me. If they gave Grammys for self-aggrandizement he would get one, it seems, but I have no idea how his music sounds or why he does what he does, whatever it is. 

Some of the photos lead me to conclude I was better off to have gone to bed rather than stay up and watch. Another (c)rude question from beyond the Great Chronological Divide: what exactly are 'Mob Wives' and why would anyone connected to that be on a music awards show if that is, indeed, what the MTV show was about? 

I mean, all the music, which is what the 'M' in MTV originally stood for is now on their other channels. Most of the time on MTV they're just twerking off or twerking each other off. (You know, I have changed my mind. That is a delightfully useful word. Think Beatles' "We Can Twerk It Out" you're welcome.) 

And the folks who are famous or being famous-and they know why they are-aren't all that different from my rock and roll roots years with creatures like Twiggy whose entire function was always unclear and whose fame was as fleeting as fog on the Tyne. 

Of course she also has an album for sale! Why was I so surprised to see that? It's a miracle she doesn't have a sex tape and a workout video or perhaps something available for "only $29.95" that serves as both. Postage and handling are extra, of course. 

Amongst and Betwixt all the Miley Cyruses (don't you suppose her folks are proud?) and Robin Thickes (actually beneath my contempt and I have low standards) was news that would reverberate with my generation. 

Governor Jerry Brown's old flame, and one of the most original female voices of the California Cosmic era of rock, Linda Ronstadt, has Parkinson's. Maybe it's just me but that 'happily ever after' is starting to get shorter and shorter, innit? Gute Besserung, Linda. 
-bill kenny

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Real Boys of Summer

All hail the Little League World Champions, Tokyo! The purity of the game these young people (boys and girls) play more than makes up for the asshat multi-millionaires who ply their trade at the "professional" level of the sport. 

Yes, Ryan Dempster, you cowardly custard I'm talking about you and you, David Ortiz, are an enabler because you could have called the brat on his behavior last weekend in Boston against Rodriguez but you didn't. I am also very proud of myself for not referring to Dempster as Dumpster. Until just now. Oh dear.

The kids from Westport, Connecticut were thisclose to being in the championship game of the Little League World Series, LLWS, but as Sly might argue what wasn't to be, just wasn't. Adversity builds character-ask President Karzai of Afghanistan. 

What's not to like about the LLWS? Great competition and singular athleticism-superlative sportsmanship on the field, in the dugouts as well as in the stands. I think of it as a sort of Woodstock with mitts and bats, minus the brown acid or any other stimulant or performance enhancer. 



I was struck watching by how wholesomeness abounds and I am confounded by how we let the purity of the game at one end of the spectrum get so corrupted by the time we get to the other and all the difference I can see is the dollars. 

Major League Baseball isn't so much a sport as it is a business-the product is whatever goes on down there between the white lines. And pass me a beer and whatever snack product is endorsed during the half-inning break.

If we could remember that first catch, the first feel of the bat in our hands when we made contact with the ball--none of that is at the same level as that first kiss and I'm not suggesting it is, but if we could recall that, we'd have zero tolerance for the Ryan Brauns, Melky Carbreras and the Ryan Dumpsters of the sport. 

Why didn't I mention Alex Rodriguez as an object of scorn? Not because I don't dislike him, far from it, but because he's innocent unless/until proven guilty. So much for the rush to judgment, Ryan. 

And should the day come, tough guy, when either the American League does away with the designated hitter or you find yourself in a National League game batter's box, perhaps at that moment you'll have a better appreciation of the game. The kind the kids display in Williamsport this time of the year and across the USA all season long display. 
-bill kenny 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Leather Trumps Skid Marks

We've all seen the "Share the Road with Motorcycles" bumper stickers and billboards, etc.. At the risk of being (correctly) perceived as snarky, I'd note at this juncture that in my years driving a four-wheeled motor vehicle I'm doubtful if many motorcyclists have seen the ad campaign. 

I'm sure I am being mean and unkind. That is to say, when I'm not driving on the interstate or the main drag in my town, every single motorcyclist observes each and every rule of the road fully and completely. Probably (if I were honest) to the same extent that I do. 
Ha, ha! I just crack myself up. 

I admit I could be a little jealous of motorcyclists. I have trouble riding a bike, that old saw about learning to ride one not withstanding and a motorcycle is well beyond my reach and grasp in terms of balance, attention and coordination. 

But as someone who watches them whiz by him on a daily basis, I concede to no small amount of envy of the freedom of the road they have, though not on rainy or snowy days, but then again the amount of protective clothing and safety gear they need to wear would seem to be both constrictive and restrictive. And, sadly, necessary. 

Though perhaps not all the time
If there had been a second bare-chested motorcyclist, the pair would have had to ride behind one another because no state in the Union allows cyclists to ride two abreast. 

See previous 'I crack myself up' observation. 
-bill kenny

Friday, August 23, 2013

We Swim the Laughing Sea

I realized with more of a jolt than I'd thought possible this past Wednesday evening that summer 2013 is rapidly disappearing in the rear-view of this ever increasingly fast sports coupe of a life I'm leading. 

And except for the characterization of my stay here on the orb as a 'sports coupe' that's a sadly straightforward characterization of who I am. 

For most of this summer, as was the case last year, I trooped down to the meeting of the rivers, the Shetucket, Thames and Yantic, to Howard T. Brown Park at the Norwich Harbor to sample local bands, visit with neighbors, take in the summer evenings and enjoy life. 

It hasn't gone on forever-actually this year's concert series, Rock the Docks (we bought shirts so named last night, my daughter and I, for all three of us, to include my wife/her mom who never goes because I walk too fast, she insists) just started the week after the 4th of July holiday but I confess to being shocked to discover it was over for this summer already on Wednesday. 


Admittedly, already is a relative term. If you were the organizer or one of the sponsors of the concerts, you may have a very different attitude on the end of the season, I suspect, but for me, the summers seem to get shorter and the winters colder every year and there's already a feeling of frost in the air when I leave for work at oh-bright-early that I find disquieting because I know what happens next. 

And in this case knowledge is NOT power. Not helping, by any means, were the torrential rains with peals of thunder and flashes of lightning we had yesterday- a sort of meteorological exclamation point on what had been a sedate and somewhat desultory discussion about the 
dwindling down of the summer. 

Exactly thirty days from now, summer ends. In ten days, says the calendar, it's Labor Day and after that, no more wearing white at least to work until after Easter, I think. The fall will be here in an eye blink followed by Thanksgiving and then the long, cold, dark days of winter.

But then spring returns followed by summer. But for this year in this place, Summer's Almost Gone
-bill kenny

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Three Foot Rope and a Six Foot Drop

There are optical illusions-information your eyes provide that your brain incorrectly processes. The oasis in the dessert that proves to be nothing more than the reflection of sun off the sand is well-known. 

In an environment where image retouching is ubiquitous and universal and Photoshop is more commonplace than coke spoons in a Pepsi plant, you have the digital manipulation of imagery and its sometimes failure to also filter through.

Probably just me, but how ironic is it a culture which among those innovations and customs it helped give the rest of the world were Arabic numbers they themselves failed to successfully use to count to three, or 3 or III. 

And then you have this-something your eyes read and your brain REFUSES to comprehend. Jingles 51, I'm not sure bungee cords wouldn't be even more appropriate. 
-kenny

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

School Daze (Slight Return)

Like most adults, I enjoy learning even if I don't always appreciate being taught. 

Those of us with children at home all summer get a chance starting this time next week to appreciate the sounds of silence as here in Norwich and across the region, the new school year begins. The rhyme and reason for a late summer start to the school year probably can be traced all the way back to agrarian society when all hands were needed in the fields, for planting, for growing and for harvesting. 

Book learning was important, it was good to have someone read the family Bible together after supper,and having someone who could do their figures in the ledger and more than make their mark when we went to market was very important but the farm and the family came first (No, I'm not wearing bib overalls as I wrote that but thanks for the visual).

We are different from the people who tamed this continent, felled its forests and harvested its bounty for ourselves. We had closer ties to one another, perhaps, and a different interpretation of the word 'community.' But the more things change.... 

Earlier this month, in the city where I live in Connecticut the Norwich Human Services "Back Pack It To School" volunteers and the programs they work with were doing what they could to help families with a little less still have a little more when the first school bell rings. 

 They collected and distributed supplies and other school items for about 850 Norwich children in all grades who'll be riding the buses or waiting at the intersection for the crosswalk guard to signal them as our nearly 4,000 children across the city leave the bricks and hit the books. 

For a lot of us, aside from the City budget deliberations in the spring, this is about the only time all year we think about the cost of education and, I'd hope, its worth and value as well. Our two children while they will always be our children are now, themselves, adults but both spent years in classrooms at Buckingham, now torn down, and in the hallways of Kelly Middle School, before the renovations and improvements. 

They made friendships that will last them the rest of their lives and learned as many lessons outside the schoolroom walls as within. And wherever in this world they go and whatever they choose to do, they will be very successful in part because of the time and talent dedicated to their development from teachers and staff throughout the public school system. 

Not forgetting the harried and often hapless neighbors who volunteered to be on the Board of Education, then as now, not the safest of harbors and the most contemplative of ports of call. Residents, taxpayers and parents and some of us are all three and others not so much, can intellectually accept that we cannot buy education the way we buy hamburger but sometimes the more teachable moments of educating our children (and all those who start and returned next week are our children, directly or indirectly) gets lost in the noise of Connecticut Mastery Test scores, a Network School or who's a member of an Alliance District. 

What is important and who is to say? All of it and all of us. Before the leaves start to build up on the lawn, find the time to attend a school PTO meeting -who cares if your kids go there or not. It's the same movie it's always been just with a different cast, maybe. The speaking parts are all about the same and remember there's no (still) talking in the hallways. 

What we as the shareholders in our limited corporation here, Norwich LLC, or where you live, choose to do or to NOT do in terms of dollars, energies and expectations for our children and their schools is a reflection on all of us and a signal to the wider, bigger world of which we are a part. 

We may not have the plow horse and the farm fields anymore but it's still true you can only reap what you have sown. So next Wednesday as you read your paper while across the kitchen table, the seeds of Norwich Next are bolting breakfasts and running for school buses, why not promise yourself that this is the year to learn more about not just what goes on in your child's classroom, but why. Make every minute a teachable moment
-bill kenny

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Doubt Without an Exit

We've had a remarkable run of superlative weather here and about in The Land of Steady Habits and I hope where you are as been all blue skies and green lights as well, though if otherwise aside from suggesting relocation (Guantanamo is quite lovely this time of year, just avoid the orange jump suits), there's not a lot I can do (except sympathize). 

This has definitely NOT been the summer of discontent though it scares the dickens out of me every time I check a world news summary and realize the depths to which we are capable of descending in how we treat one another (which is another thing over which I have no control). 

As the old joke goes, I've gotten so upset reading about the sad shape we're in I've stopped reading newspapers. I still put some down around the high traffic areas just in case... While browsing vice carousing the other day, I came across an arresting visual made more so by the choice of expression in only black and white.


I borrowed from the words of the artist who offered the image, Jose Bandiera, who shared he "worked at rollercoaster driving and other arts" for today's title because it's difficult for me to say which impressed me more-the visual capture of his concern or the expressiveness of the language he used to ensnare the image. 

In either case, something I found differently delightful and delightfully different to share with you. Enjoy. 
-bill kenny

Monday, August 19, 2013

Isn't That the name of a hotel chain?

I don't mean to complain but it's getting a little crowded again here on the Big Blue Marble and we're not helped by the discovery of small, sweaty (I'll bet) furry things we didn't know about earlier this week

Never seen before by humans and this is the picture we're starting with? Obviously this creature doesn't have a Linkedin account or a Facebook Group (meaning no instagram pictures of whatever it eats, while it's eating it). 

The little guy is an olinguito and is, intending no disrespect, a little cross-eyed at least in this picture. I think it's great that no matter how many nooks and crannies we explore (and you can guess which of the two expeditions I'd like to lead) across the universe, there are, indeed, more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than can fit in one episode of CSI Miami. 

Americans have been interested in the Andes and its products (okay some of them) since, well, since Crockett and Tubbs got their first cigar boat so it's amazing (and not just to me) that no one on earth had ever seen this creature before. Wow. 

Did you read all of that link? If so, you are a better man than I, Gunga Din. You have to be pretty smart (or really bored) to slog through all of that taxonomic tap-dancing but it's our formal introduction to the Olinguito (of the Hamptons' Olinguito's, I wonder forlornly (I fear)). 

Think of all the years we've wondered where in the world is Carmen San Diego. We couldn't see the forest, or at least the tops of the trees, for the foliage. What the heqq happened to us? I thought we were hunter/gatherers! 

All this modern life and Hulu on demand making us soft in the middle while our lives are still so hard? I say we've been so preoccupied with sorting out where's Waldo, this little guy got overlooked. Put him in a red and white striped sweater and he's as cute as a bug's ear! Plain, without toppings, not so much.... 

And do NOT get me started on all the places aliens could be hiding. I don't want to think about it. I'm just not that smart even if I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night. 
-bill kenny

Sunday, August 18, 2013

We have the Runcible Spork in Sonderangebot

Welcome to a quick demonstration of how I think, assuming you have any belief I actually think at all. And thank you for the extension of that kindness or if you have doubts but are remaining silent, for that courtesy as well. 

It starts here which reminded me of a marvelous piece of nonsense by Edward Lear that I had to memorize as a child and willingly remember to this day. 



The Owl and the Pussy-Cat went to sea in a beautiful pea-green boat. 
They took some honey, and plenty of money 
Wrapped up in a five-pound note. 

The Owl looked up to the stars above, and sang to a small guitar, 
"O lovely Pussy, O Pussy, my love, What a beautiful Pussy you are. 
You are, You are! What a beautiful Pussy you are!" 

Pussy said to the Owl, "You elegant fowl, How charmingly sweet you sing! 
Oh! let us be married; too long we have tarried: 
But what shall we do for a ring?"

They sailed away, for a year and a day, To the land where the bong-tree grows; and there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood, With a ring at the end of his nose.
His nose, His nose, With a ring at the end of his nose. 

"Dear Pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling Your ring?" 
Said the Piggy, "I will." So they took it away,
And were married next day by the Turkey who lives on the hill. 

They dined on mince and slices of quince, Which they ate with a runcible spoon; And hand in hand on the edge of the sand They danced by the light of the moon, The moon, The moon, They danced by the light of the moon." 

Subject to your briefing that concludes my questions. For now
-bill kenny

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Raisin' It Up

I must begin today with a disclaimer: American jurisprudence is second to none, except perhaps that of British Common Law, upon which it is based (I am told), and the presumption of innocence is the cornerstone in our justice system. 

I've never understood why innocent and not guilty aren't used interchangeably but I'll bet there's a heck of a reason. Just remember the presumption of innocence part, okay? 

You probably think I'm riffing on Whitey Bulger who has given everyone on earth ever named Whitey a bad name (as if it weren't already a bad name) except Whitey Ford. I'm not. Bulger had his day in court after decades on the lam though with or without Green Eggs and Ham has never been clear to me (or to Sam I Am). He is part of the past and will remain there, and in jail for the rest of his life and all of human memory. 

I'm thinking more like this guy, here in my neck of the woods who popped up in the middle of my local newspaper's front page earlier in the week. You're staring at the picture and saying to yourself, 'Jeepers! Is it just me or does that orange jumpsuit make his butt look big?' How would any of us know that? Seriously. 

That picture can barely contain his head and a tiny, little bit of his shoulders. But it's still a good question. Here's another one: why is he, and so many other people whose mug shots you see in newspapers on a daily basis, smiling at all? 

Don't get me wrong. It is a lovely smile, is it not? His dentist should be very pleased because, as you read the article you'll learn this for yourself, good oral hygiene in prisons, state or federal, isn't really the priority you or I, here on the outside, might think it should be. And this fellow has seen a fair number of places of incarceration. Rinse and spit if you're feeling me. 

I doubt he has regular access to a Water Pik since the original arrest and can well imagine that negotiating bail has taken priority over getting a steady supply of dental floss (could it be tied together like sheets so very thin prisoners could shimmy out between barred windows?). Still-what does he have to smile about?

And if he's grinning like this at the time he's being charged with a not insignificant number of offenses, what might he look like when something really makes him happy? And what might that something be? Finding out the Prize Patrol van from the American Dental Association just pulled up in front of his cell? 
-bill kenny

Friday, August 16, 2013

When Monkeys Fly

I have very accomplished brothers and sisters-not in the communal sense of the word but the familial. One of my brothers, Kelly, came thisclose, we believe, to being elected Pope despite being married, having children and grandchildren. 

Or perhaps because of all of that. That God, what a joker! 

Had Kelly been elected Pope, I think we might have seen NECCO wafers at Holy Communion, a prize wheel as part of Pick Your Own Penance and Holy Mother Church would have a whole new growth industry in models for stained glass windows at all the leading cathedrals in our franchises around the world. 

And if you think Joan of Arc was a tough act to follow, meet Don/Dawn/Done.

Somewhere what's ever left of the Four Seasons are investigating copyright infringement. It will be of no avail or Valli though Steven Tyler senses a promotional push unlike anything Aerosmith has seen since hooking up with Run DMC. 
-bill kenny

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Fish and Whistle an Octave Higher

I suppose it could be tied to global warming or the flouride in the water or letting that zany whackadoodle Jenny McCarthy sit in on The View (did you know plaid polyester pantsuits can cause blindness? Bet she does), but things are starting to get awfully crowded and very warm in this hand basket we call Mother Earth. 

But rather than be a strident alarmist let me also point out with the various incarnations of converging connectivity or connective convergence ('every dollar of it') it may be we think there's more alarming and disquieting news in our world these days because we have so many different sources for that news. 

You can watch basically the same event on Fox and on MSNBC and think we have live on two different planets (I'm so proud of myself for not smacking Hannity or O'Reilly; okay, until just then). 

In markets with more than one daily newspaper, such as the District of Columbia, the contrast between the Washington Times and the Washington Post is very clearly demarcated (and now the Post has a smile on the side of its masthead). 

 In New York City, where the Grey Lady, the New York Times, has chatterboxes like the Daily News and the New York Post sharing news stands, the tabloids tend to go from zero to nuckin' futz in an eyeblink or less. Add in Newsday and aside from another argument to not live on Long Island, I don't know what you have. 

That's why between Zombie Apocalypses (if it started in Jamaica, would we call it Zombie Apocalypso?) and objects in space being WAY larger than they appear while hurtling towards us at catastrophic speeds, news releases like Diet Dr. Pepper tasting more like regular Dr. Pepper get lost in the churn. 

 Actually, I still wish Dr. Pepper would get lost in the churn. My fault, really; childhood trauma I guess. When we lived on Bloomfield Avenue in Franklin Township, New Jersey (I was in 3rd grade), our next door neighbors the Giffins, were from Texas. 

They drank Dr. Pepper by the gallon it seemed in short, clear glass bottles with a drawing of a white clock face with only three numbers on it, 10, 2 and 6. I never grasped the correlation between the drawing on the bottle and the odd-tasting soda inside of it. To this day every time I hear Chicago, I think about Dr. Pepper. 

So I'd encourage you while reading this news story, to remember Francois La Varenne as well as John Prine both of whom went to different high schools together and had this fella for lunch in the cafeteria on Fridays during Lent.
-bill kenny

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

As Not Necessarily Seen on The History Channel

This will sound like I'm trying to Tom Sawyer you into painting a fence, but I don't actually have a fence, or paint or brushes, come to think of it. Not that lacking any of that would in normal circumstances deter or discourage me.

I will plead guilty to attempting to entice and incite you into beginning a relationship you might not have otherwise found yourself in for quite some time, if ever at all.

And, no, I'm not talking about eating broccoli competitively or raising dental floss for fun and profit (assuming the latter is possible for any reason at any time).  

For the last year or so, there have been desultory discussions that on occasion rise to earnest and well-intentioned conversations about historic tourism, its impact, its execution and the potential challenges and rewards involved with it.

I don't mean that side-of-the-road out of the trunk of a car hucksterism like 'antiques made while you wait' but a genuine opportunity this region, most especially has to better realize that "Still Revolutionary" slogan the Connecticut Tourism Board feels can best tell our story to one another and to out of the area visitors. 


As a young friend of mine once offered on a stroll across Norwich, 'we certainly have a lot of old things' but history and telling our story are two different concepts very often joined at the narrative and in the presentation.

This Saturday morning at eight, rain or shine, snow or monsoon, tidal wave or permafrost (I just got a subscription to the Weather Channel. Can you tell?), please join with your neighbors and friends at the Leffingwell House Museum-you pass it all the time on the way to Norwichtown Commons (when was the last time you stopped in?), and bring work gloves, your best rake or other gardening implement as the One City Forum spruces up the grounds and landscaping. 


Consider it your chance to remake history. Imagine how many of the fast food wrappers we may dig out of the hedges were discarded by Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys as they marched against the Crown during the Revolutionary War. 

Just think of how many fallen branches and berserk bushes the Forgotten Founders stepped over we'll have a chance to clean up and clean out. I'll warn you now, we need lots of helping hands so do more than just think about it. Be a part of it.


It's only for a couple of hours this Saturday morning and it's you chance to get up close and personal with a local landmark, the Leffingwell House Museum, that's tailor-made to be a cornerstone for any serious historical tourism in this part of Connecticut, and situated as it is right off the highway, could also serve as a sparkling gateway to where we live, The Rose of New England.

So often, too often, we say  to ourselves or one another 'somebody should find the time to ....' Well, here's a nearly-historic opportunity for you coming up Saturday morning. It's not everyday we can say George Sleptington Washed Here and that will certainly be the case on Saturday.
-bill kenny 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

TV Is King

I stumbled across an advert at youtube the other day for Direct TV, which is a service I think my brother, Adam, has, aimed at the tens of millions of American professional football fans starring most of the Manning Family. Think of #FOYP as a cautionary tale admittedly one where, content, in this case pro football, is wagging the dog. 

We do not have this provider in my house-we used to have Comcast back when they strove to make the experience Comcastic and continually fell short. They then rebranded themselves to take all of us to Infinity and Beyond except not so much or so often.

About two years ago we switched over to U-verse and I now have more channels on one box than the Lord has angels dancing on the head of a pin (and I know this because I have eight or more religious broadcast outlets) while getting a haircut.  

I like it. So far (I don't rush into anything anymore). It does everything I understood it was supposed to do without getting goofy, though against the Mannings, it's hard to compete. 

This past weekend I discovered I could order through On Demand, an arm-wrestling championship for under twenty dollars. I'm not sure if you only want thumb wrestling if the price is pro-rated and, between you and me, I cannot imagine how much Jell-O incredibly beautiful but naked women would have to be standing in before I could offer Andrew Jackson a night out of my wallet. Perhaps if I can pick the flavor?

I think I can top the Mannings with Channel 96, a Karaoke application. There's not enough liquor in this hemisphere for you to drink in order to think I would sound good while singing, especially the stuff the channel offered as selections. 

I'm not saying it would sound like one of  levels of Dante's Inferno, but the stuff they pipe into the elevator that takes you there? Yeah, that's about right. #SMH.
-bill kenny

Monday, August 12, 2013

Dr. John Would Have Winced as Well

Coming  out of a shop yesterday in the early afternoon. 

Because I'm a wuss and I bought a case of water (I'm now a big bottled water guy-as long as I can put  some kind of flavoring in it), I used a shopping cart to transport it through the parking lot. 

So after I get to the car and unload it I've got to return the cart to the corral (or korral; I figure whatever you begin the first word with, a "c" or a "k", the other word should follow), because I'm That Guy the one who doesn't abandon stuff in place when he shops. I'm thinking if it turns out there is a God and S/He's keeping track, perhaps some of these little gestures will prove helpful when we hit The Total Key at The Pearly Gates. Or not. 

Anyway. It wasn't that far to the corral and there weren't that many carts to shepherd which was just fine by me. As I'm walking towards the corral a guy who had just returned his cart is turning around and walking away from it and right by me. 

I saw his face first, and the left side looked he'd had the worse part of the business end of a tenderizer. Then I saw his shirt. Let's see if you reach my conclusion. His shirt read: "I don't use Google. My wife already knows everything."  

No, I didn't see the wife. And no, I didn't look for her either. Would you?
-bill kenny

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Martin and Stephen

With apologies to Three Dog Night, I've never been to Sochi and will, in all likelihood, not get there for the 2014 Winter Olympics.  

They've been busy little bees in the Russian Federation legislatively in recent months, putting the finishing touches on a ban of "propaganda of non-traditional family values" that would make the crypto-fascists of the James Dobson Fan Club envious with the righteous indignation of The Lord As They Perceive Him

There are widespread reports this law is being treated by the thugs and scum of Russian society as a license to kill those different from themselves. 

Stephen Fry, a very talented man in a number of disciplines, makes one of the most eloquent cases you will ever read for why he wishes his nation, Great Britain, to return to greatness and boycott the Sochi Olympics of 2014 as it should have boycotted the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

So far, there are no takers. Not in Britain, not in the United States who led a principled boycott against the Moscow Games of 1980 and certainly not by the International Association of Athletics Federations.  

As an American who twice voted for Barack Obama, I am frustrated to tears by his ambivalence and hesitation on boycotting the 2014 Solchi Olympics. The situation in the 'former Soviet Union' is not nuanced and garbed in a thousand shades of grey. Bad people are hurting and killing people who have done nothing to merit being hunted and persecuted except to be.  

Maybe we just don't pay attention or are no longer concerned about that which we choose to forget. If that's the case for you in either circumstance, I would say I'm sorry if this is the uncomfortable or boring part of today's screed, except I'm not.

The world turned its back as the National Socialists unleashed their reign of terror and imposed the Endlosung  (Final Solution) on a helpless and hapless citizenry by singling out undesirables one minority at a time. Nevertheless and keenly aware of what was happening, the world held its nose and participated in the Olympics in Germany. That certainly worked out well for everyone didn't it?  Shame on us! 

This time around it may have more to do with the hundreds of billions, with a B, of dollars spent in advertising by multi-national corporations than with the moral repugnance any one (or more than one) nation or or its athletes feels. 

Am I suggesting if McDonalds, Budweiser, Archer-Daniels Midland and a dozen other behemoth uber-national combines in restraint of humanity no longer saw the Solchi Olympics as an attractive marketing platform, the games would move? 

Yes I am, because yes they would. But will they? In all likelihood, no. Because it's easy to do nothing and hard to do something, to do anything, especially for some nameless and faceless person half way across the globe. 

Until everyone, every single human being, is free to be whomever they were and are destined to be, NO ONE is free and the Hate Crimes Putin's regime not only countenances but encourages are sins that will and must weigh on us all. 

Instead, we get along by going along. You today, me tomorrow. All we can do is wait on the tolling of John Donne's Bell, knowing the toll we won't hear is for ourselves.
-bill kenny  

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Putting the ET in Secret

I really live in a dreamworld, I guess, populated by surreal and cereal figures of sorts but in their own way they make sense. 

Take the infamous egg of Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking-Glass, Humpty Dumpty, and the adroitness with which he manipulates language to advance his position. "'When I use a word,'" Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, "'it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.'" 

No sense in this case makes eggselent sense. His Eggness might want to consider a career in diplomacy and start with a stint in Kabul as that sad little 13th century nation continues to wobble and weave its way across the dance floor of the current world history disco without ever getting within five hundred years of being contemporary.

I'm still trying to understand both this headline and the story from a recent edition of Stars & Stripes. Sorry for being obtuse, but how do you have secret discussions when they are the subject of newspaper story? It's like eating kosher ham or being slightly pregnant, perhaps even both at the same time, I think. 

We've been engaged in the same kind of pointlessness for decades with the Rock Soup eaters of North Korea on the shape of the napkins to go on the negotiating table once that shape is agreed upon in the negotiation center once its location is agreed upon, etc, ad nauseum. 

I admire our patience but suspect it's just attention deficit. And a decade after blithely wandering into a nation so bereft of infrastructure that chaos is a capital improvement, sacrificing thousands of American military members' and countless other peoples' lives in the meanwhile, we'll sit quietly by now as two of the Robber Clans figure out how to divvy up the booty. 

It's interesting if also a little disquieting what some call peace. Sometimes it's the same thing others call obscene. Damn words and their meanings, again. 
-bill kenny

Friday, August 9, 2013

Congressional and Calendar Pages

Too soon it's too late and smart enough is not yet. I was trying my hand at Rastafarian haiku, an obscure art form that no one who practices either of its primary disciplines is even aware of. Think of me as a ninja poet, mon. 

Good that I'm here now but it would have been gooder early in the week. Did you know Monday was National Underwear Day? I confess that I did not know that and let's just gloss over the circumstances in which I don't explain how I found it out. Mainly because there are some parole stipulations that I sometimes see as mere suggestions and I'd rather not revisit those issues. At least not with witnesses. 

I have a New Yorker magazine cartoon desk calendar I always tell people my wife got me for Christmas-except she didn't. I bought it myself but I was allowed to buy it only because I promised to not buy another Far Side or Dilbert one because those are my favorite desk calendars. 

Someday, Dilbert and his (my) two best buddies, Calvin and Hobbes, are going to move to the Far Side and then no one will ever care again what day of the week it is, me especially. 

According to that calendar, Monday was also Picnic Day in Australia, Northern Territory (which could be Japan if you go far enough North, 'recalculating'). This is why the Internet is so wonderful-you can find this stuff out in two clicks of a mouse tail, unless you have an Apple. As I live and breathe, so far, at least.

Around here, we'd just say 'day off' but other places get fancy and make it all special. "Picnic Day"-sounds like something Yogi and Boo-Boo should be trying to outwit Ranger Smith about. Except Jellystone is NOT part of the Northern Territory, though, again, depending on the map, Indonesia could be. 

My wall calendar, printed in India, listed Monday as "Civic Holiday (Canada)" and I thought it was kind of lazy to not tell me which holiday until (you guessed it), I looked it up to discover it's actually called Civic Holiday even by people who drive Corollas. I love the admonition "so please don't work!" in the explanation. 

Sometimes, I think Canadians are a whole different race with their boots instead of trunks and their lovely manners and Celine Dion. If you close your eyes, slightly, while in Detroit panhandling and squint, you can almost see Windsor, Ontario, as a Northern Territory. That's sort of what William Hull did, but badly. 

Today, marks the end of intimate apparel week though you'll probably want to disrobe in the privacy of your own home unless my suggestion on Tumblr to make this #FullFrontalFriday catches on. 

Thirty-nine years ago today, Gerald R. Ford became the 38th US President as Richard M. Nixon resigned. Ford proceeded to trip over his wife, Betty's, dressing gown just to stay in practice. She was wearing it at the time. 

And today is also Philippines Book Lovers Day which is just a disturbing enough image for those of us with idle minds that I, for one, hope we're using the Roberts Rules of Order interpretation of Northern Territory. 
-bill kenny

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Coincidence?

We are over half way through Shark Week on The Discovery Channel.
I tend to watch inordinate amounts of House reruns, and Law & Order: Criminal Intent with Vincent D'Onofrio or rewatch the latest episode of HBO's The Newsroom each time adding an older episode, perhaps from the first season (because there are more of them) to my mini film festival.


But I am aware of Shark Week, it's just not on my liturgical calendar, or doorstep if this story is to be believed. I know people who look forward to Shark Week all year long-not just lawyers, but normal people (that was doubly snarky and I apologize; I'm not backspacing and erasing it because (just guessin' now) I'm not that sorry I guess). 

This year, Shark Week began just as The Office of the Commissioner of Major League Baseball declared war on Alex Rodriguez. Notice how I didn't identify him as 'Yankee third baseman, Alex Rodriguez'-mainly because even though NONE of my money was used to pay him, I never thought we should have signed him. 

It's starting to look that if This Bud's For You, The Commish, has his way, Rodriguez had better start to believe in reincarnation because that's the only way he's getting back on the field in pro baseball. And I get it, but I really don't. 

The baseball I watch now isn't the same game I watched as a kid. I've got Joe Buck and Tim McCarver instead of Mel Allen and Lindsey Nelson (proving not all change is good). The season is longer, the players are in better physical condition and baseball itself is more strategy and math on the level of Game of Thrones (I fell in love with that turn of phrase; I have not watched one frame of one second of one minute of a single episode of that program-it is for me, more Shark Week, but this time in costumes). 

American sports has become entertainment and, none of us believe that aspect of any of it is real, so I'm not sure I could or should care about A-Rod and the others PEDarests much less about the 'purity (or sanctity) of the game.' (And you've noticed I'm not hyper-linking these cretins, right? And you know why? Yep.)

I will concede Ryan Braun bothered me a great deal because he dropped the kid from Fed-Ex in the oatmeal last season to save his butt, even though he knew he was guilty of 'cheating.' 

He was really guilty of lying and of being a bully who framed a blameless, faceless, luckless, lunchless little guy whom he knew couldn't fight back and I sort of hope a building falls on him which, if implemented across professional sports as a general penalty could signal the start of a resurgence in the construction trades. 

But instead, this is for you, Ryan Braun and you, Roger Clemons, while I'm thinking about self-aggrandizing tools and fools (and Mark McGuire, if that's okay with you and especially if it isn't). Just imagine, you cheaters, Jose Canseco turns out to be Diogenes of Sinope. How tragic is that?
Hey! I just realized I'm nearly topical (or tropical, I get confused)! This is quite a red letter day for me, fish sticks for everyone! 
-bill kenny

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

In the Moment, For the Ages

Tonight at six, weather permitting in Howard T. Brown Park at the Norwich Harbor it's the weekly Rock the Docks concert series, tonight with Fat Cats who were up at the Norwichtown Green not that long ago and who were, and are, great. 



Across the street in the lower level of the garage will be a somewhat informal classic car show-Child of the Sixties that I am, I love the machines. 

You can get some great food, thirst quenchers of all sorts, buy a tee shirt to support the Norwich Harbor (I don't see the direct connection but was raised a Roman Catholic so I'm used to believing in things I can't see) and help out the Young Marines with a small donation.  

The Downtown Farmers Market was in the Park earlier in the day with some food wagons and it's a weekly event that continues to grow an audience. I know 'I've read all this before, right here in this space.' 

And, yes, you have; but while we're really good at the here and now in The Rose of New England at the risk of reconfirming my status as a resident thorn in the side, or even lower, of the local body politic, let me note in my least annoying manner that we're lousy at tomorrow and the day after tomorrow. 

This November we'll have municipal elections for seven seats (including the Mayor's chair) on the City Council and for all nine members of the Board of Education. In the last two and half weeks, the Republican and Democratic Town Committees, laboring under the delusion that they run Norwich, nominated slates of very talented people for all of those positions, just not enough of them by my math.  

Based on the turnout here for the previous two municipal elections, I realize I'm only talking to about 16% of all the registered city voters when I mention any aspect of this at all. And let me be clear on something: I care deeply about this city, though from space it's probably less obvious and the space between my ears is cavernous, and I am passionate about those for whom I will choose to represent me on Election Day.

However, I will never inflict those opinions on you because, like the choices you will make for yourself, they are personal, private and inappropriate to share. That will not stop two or more different folks tonight, while we're all enjoying Fat Cats, from sidling up to me or to you to offer an observation on the 'sad state' we are in, in terms of choices. 

And yet if that same person had wished to seek office all they needed to do was file a petition, signed by (only) twenty-nine registered voters with the Connecticut Secretary of State by four o'clock this afternoon and they would be on the November ballot. But carping and complaining about the car stuck in the ditch, to include blaming whoever is behind the wheel, is considerably easier to do while standing on the sidewalk than when you're knee deep in the muck helping push.

So when you're listening to the performance analysis of those who did choose to offer themselves as candidates by someone who did not, ask the critic about the 26th President of the United States. Because they not only know everything but know everything better they'll realize you're speaking about Teddy Roosevelt and his speech, "Citizenship in a Republic" a/k/a "the man in the arena."

It should get very quiet after that and we'll all enjoy the music without further interruption. Would that I could say the same about the city.
-bill kenny