Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Lather, Rinse and Repeat. Not One Word about Stop

At the risk of disorienting you, especially on a day whose evening is usually dedicated to deliberate disorientation, I'm resurrecting some previously posted words not so much only because the last time I had an original idea it died of loneliness (though it did; the funeral is Thursday) but I think they bear repeating.

I said-oh, I hadn't realized you were nodding in agreement rather than off. Color me embarrassed. Use the whole crayon.

This is the day, December 31, I always get wrong. Do I look back at everything I failed at this past year or failed to attempt and accomplish? That look back takes care of both the sins of Commission and Omission Father Costello used to warn us about in those excruciating lectures he offered after Mass on First Fridays at St. Peter's Church before we walked back up to school (and we'd endure anything rather than head back. Except his homilies).

My other choice for today is to look forward, but to what and how far? Should I be preparing to celebrate a cure for the heartbreak of psoriasis or having a fruit cup with thick syrup? Don't trivialize my choice of alternatives, okay? But feel free to see them as a cautionary tale for yourself if not tonight then at some future time.

Do you make resolutions and what are their subjects? I stopped a long time ago, before I met my wife, before we had our children (technically, she had them) and before we came to the Land of Round Doorknobs.

The only resolution I can recall ever making, and the one I encouraged our two children to also make and to keep, is to do the best I can do everyday. I'd suggest you be the same and do likewise and I don't care what it is you do, or don't.

We spend too much time every day interacting with people who did us a favor showing up, be it for work or for whatever else the event is. If you have zero passion or reason for doing or being what you are, where you are, spending any amount of time with you is too much work for me with far too little return. In the year that gets here on little cat's feet in less time than it takes to tell you about it, promise to never be that person, never.

The only thing each of us has the power to change is our self. And every day has new chances to do that. We own that choice and we own the  consequences for what we do, or what we choose to NOT do..

Be an exclamation, and not an explanation.
Live out loud and at the top of your voice as more than one person I know is fond of saying. Be happy you are here, because you are but a short time here and long time gone, and make sure the rest of us are thrilled about your presence as well.

Leave nothing undone and even less unsaid.
Each of us knows someone (or more than one someone) who departed from us in the course of this year and there are words still lodged in our throat we never said because we thought we thought we had time to say them. We were wrong, and that's part of being human-being wrong and traveling on.

I hope whoever they were, they were so marvelous and amazing that we shall always feel their absence and miss them for all of our days. Make it a point tonight to toast absent friends, accepting that all of this is a part of all of that and that our dance continues even as partners change because they must.
The same procedure this year? The same procedure as every year.
-bill kenny    

Monday, December 30, 2013

A Grave Matter

I went walking Saturday afternoon and decided to revisit an old favorite, right around the corner from my house, bordering on Lafayette Street, the Yantic Cemetery.

The cemetery is the resting place for all manner of people from nearly every era of Norwich's three and half centuries, great and small, old and young, salt and pepper (checking to see if you were still reading).

I was only there a few minutes when I encountered someone walking his medium-sized dog across the graves and between the headstones. I am often accused of being less than fond of dogs when it's their thoughtless owners whom I dislike.

The thing that most annoyed me was his casual disregard of a local ordinance requiring owners to clean up after their animals. To put it kindly, the biped was less than prepared as I had an opportunity to personally witness.

When I chided him about the disrespect for which he was responsible, he quickly moved from assertive to aggressive, suggesting it was not only none of my business but that I do something to and with myself that were I able to so do would probably mean I'd never take another walk as I'd be otherwise occupied.

That he lacked the brains to be embarrassed or ashamed because of an over developed sense of entitlement is what most annoyed me. I worked hard to use an even tone of voice as I explained if he and his chum didn't leave 'I will beat you with my fists until you bleed very badly.' I paused and stood there.

I'm not sure what I was waiting for. It has been decades since I threatened another person and am certainly not in any physical shape to do so. Rather than fearing whom I was becoming, I felt excitement but then keen disappointment as the man's eyes grew large as his voice grew small. He gathered his animal, making sure to not touch the organic memorial it had improvised atop a grave, and departed.

I haven't seen The Angry Man in a long while and realized I didn't miss him at all.
It took me the rest of the evening to calm down enough to have dinner with my wife, watch some television and turn in for the evening. You can guess whom I blame, right?

On my walk Sunday, I avoided the area around the cemetery. I'm hoping the gates and walls are still strong enough to contain him but to be on the safe side, I'll walk elsewhere perhaps through the spring rather than risk the return to being someone I know and fear.
-bill kenny

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Luckily Bullwinkle Was Otherwise Occupied

I don't think the FBI which tracks (nearly) every kind of crime statistic either of us could ever imagine has a lot of data on assaults with ceramic squirrels. Perhaps Helen Williams is fortunate and this is a first. It's certainly a first for me (and my brother the almost-Pope [or should that be Almost-Pope]?). In any event. let's hear it for pioneer women!

I'd offer to toast her singularly sensational accomplishment with a bubbly beverage of water, barley, and hops but as I read the wire story that's sort of how she wound up in this jam in the first place. I suspect she sees no need to borrow (more) trouble unless it's a set of those pink flamingos some of us like to keep on the lawn.

I wonder if Boris and Natasha might have received a better reception had they dropped in on Helen. Probably not as warm a welcome as Rocket J. Himself would have received, goggles and all, but at least they could have pronounced his name without laughing. Or beer.
-bill kenny

Saturday, December 28, 2013

A Half Full Glass Is Still a Glass

I took advantage of the atypical tropical temperatures for Southeastern Connecticut and my hometown, Norwich (Connecticut) yesterday, middle thirties (Fahrenheit), for a forty-five minute walk from my house near Chelsea Parade to the Norwich Harbor, where the Shetucket and the Yantic Rivers meet to form the Thames which empties into the Long Island Sound.

As walks go it was pleasant enough-I'm getting the knack of dressing in layers so I manage to do a decent job of staying warm without the risk of perspiring when I stride vigorously, which I do, everywhere.

2013 is having a going-out-of-business sale. We've already had the shortest day of the year and we're gathering up snippets and snatches of daylight with every tick of the clock and day of calendar we take towards a mid-summer's night in 2014, but there's a way to go between here and there, wherever there happens to be exactly.

While enjoying the view from the Howard T. Brown Park (I tell people "the 'T' is for savings (but it's silent and invisible)" and they tend to make crazy eyes and back away from me rather quickly so I always have plenty of elbow room) and watching the seagulls pick over every last scrap of detritus near the rubbish bins they've picked over for days, I encountered a fellow happy wanderer who was more a wonderer, and not all that happy come to think of it.

He wasn't thrilled at the temperature, and was very vocal in looking forward to something a little warmer, he told me. I did my usual 'in New England we have pine trees not palm trees' but he was having none of it. The more he spoke, the more animated and angrier he became. I am an expert in anger, so I recognize a member of the tribe when I see one.

I can't fix people like this and don't think anyone can. They are truly the proverbial 'would kvetch if you hanged 'em with a new rope' type from whom I once learned a valuable lesson and which I pass along to you free of charge, realizing the greatest thing about advice you neither solicit nor pay for is there's no obligation to take it.

The only piece of the earth you can save is the one you are standing on and the only person you should strive to be better than is the person whose reflection you saw yesterday in your mirror. When you look again today, see and be the improvement. As someone sang a lifetime ago, the movement you need is on your shoulders.
-bill kenny

Friday, December 27, 2013

Last Tango in Paris

I usually look at the calendar with such hope as the old year is ending and the new one begins. I had a lot more time in 2013, between sequestration and furlough, to cogitate on the politics of the possible just about every day of this soon to be over year. And my already shriveled and blackened heart got a little more of both.

I think my big lesson learned is no one looks out for you like you do and if you voted for anyone in any election at anytime this or in any previous year in the belief/hope s/he was looking out for you, I hope you kept your receipt because you will need it to file a claim for reimbursement, sucker.

That Blinding Glimpse of the Obvious you have had is that no one speaks for us Out Here in the Middle and, as such, a gesture of any kind is of no value or worth and you've already guessed what gesture I mean.

I'm thinking perhaps for those of a let's-make-a-New-Year's-Resolution bent and as a more effective punishment, and punishment's the word I choose deliberately, why NOT vote for anyone (and everyone) with an R for political affiliation this next election cycle.

I concede for me, the rationalization is pretty easy; my heart is on the left side of my body and my thinking reflects my biology. But pragmatist that I am, unless and until the Republican Party rids itself of the TEAliban, the GOP is a lost cause and unfit to be considered for partnership in governing.

You are correct to ask if such willful, arrogant shortsightedness hurts the election of some otherwise very good and kind people? Absolutely. But for those who think it takes two to tangle, tango or talk (you and me), please remember last fall's causi bellum, the Affordable Care Act, was and is the law of the land, NOT proposed rosy-eyed legislation. The attempt to 'defund' it was and remains the epitome of irrationality and spite. 

Meanwhile the current hardship being visited on millions of Americans whose unemployment benefits expired before they did, is totally avoidable, if reasonable and caring people can do both in sufficient quantities to mark the start of the New Year. If not, I remain stuck standing by my proposal of vindictive voting.

Here's my silver lining for you: once we've thinned the herd on the Far Right, we can turn our attention to the nut jobs on the far left of the Democratic Party and plow them under as well. Suspect they'll be a little less obstreperous once they see the political fate that has befallen their starboard leaning companions. 

Then, quite frankly, those of us remaining should be in fine voice to sing a truly National Anthem. Please stand and remove your head cover.
-bill kenny

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Shouting My Hands Off

I was hoping today to offer you words that would carry you through the end of the year and into the next. Not that I'm not going to be here and around and about, it's just that sometimes I feel I owe you more than the by-rote drill of fingers tapping a keyboard or in my case A finger tapping a keyboard.

I'd even done some research on Christmas Day on recent events and how to be current and contemporary and produce an ephemeral essay that would be in tune with The Times, or at the very least, The Post, but I am forced to admit instead it's total failure.

After the hallucinations and recriminations, not to mention the aggravation follows the association of consternation unless, by now, it's a confederation. Happy Boxing Day und Zweite Weinachten.
-bill kenny

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

...the Peal of a Bell and that Christmas Tree Smell...

Merry Christmas, to you and yours, from me and mine.

If you don't observe the holiday, I will apologize for the salutation but most certainly not for the sentiment. As I've gotten older, I've discovered there are various customs and beliefs that can be expressed today and each one, as different as it seems, is in many respects one and the same.

In light of the weeks of frantic preparation and hectic intensity best marked by what seemed to be the simultaneous, spontaneous arrival of every person in the Western Hemisphere standing in line in front of us at the store, today now that it is here is a tonic.

Between you and me, I don't need snow, jingling belles or boughs of holly (or Buddy Holly, come to think of it), though they are all very nice and help make the season even more special. I get as contemplative as I am able to in the glow of the lights from the tree surrounded, as I hope you are, by your family.

I have no words to reflect my gratitude for the love of my life. She promised to love me in sickness and in health, and neither of us is certain, exactly, where Norwich, Connecticut, fits into all of that, but it proves life is indeed what happens when you're busy making other plans.

Today I’m grateful for the presents of the presence of our two children. I have forever memories of a German hospital delivery room and a newborn baby boy, listening intently as I sang "I've Been Working on the Railroad" in English at the very top of my lungs (is there any other way?) for hours, and of holding our infant daughter in the crook of my arm as she clicked her tongue just moments after being born.

He is 31-she is 26 and they are both used to their old man dissolving into a blubbering puddle of tears and smiles as I tell them in detail about their growing up, as if somehow they’d missed it.

The adults each have grown up to be are as wonderful and extraordinary as the children they were who blessed my life when I needed those blessings. Our family, like yours, brings various traditions and celebrations to the Christmas holiday with customs we inherited but have now made uniquely our own.

In Germany, the birthplace of my wife and our children, families open presents on Christmas Eve and that tradition crossed the ocean and remains with us to this day. Today, the First Christmas as the Germans call it, is for family and I hope you and yours are together if not in fact than in spirit, no matter the distance or time.

Tomorrow, or the Second Christmas, is a time for visiting with friends--the phone in our house will ring as my wife reconnects with those from her life across the ocean, wishing them well as I do you, for the coming year, knowing we have given one other the best gift we could ever have, ourselves.

Merry Christmas.
-bill kenny

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Not Even a Mouse

Are you happy the rushing around for gifts for Christmas is just about over? Did you ever get a chance to catch your breath and ponder what the season was supposed to be about before all of this turned into that?

Ride easy, I'm not going wobbly on you. What you believe and how devoutly you do so are your personal matters and i wouldn't presume to assume I should intrude.

As a FARC, a fallen away Roman Catholic, I regard with some envy and not a little remorse those whose faith, especially this time of year, remains strong and steadfast and who truly and deeply wish one another and all others a Merry Christmas and mean it.

I don't have that faith anymore. I traded it for other more 'useful' gifts and beliefs that were, themselves, sacrificed or bartered away in the name of the expedient and the much more useful. I have no idea what became of those gifts but I remember how tenaciously the Magi guarded theirs and rue the path I chose for the price I paid.

People are still lining up in stores to purchase things as if the things they are buying are what makes the holiday. You and I know better-or should. It's taken a lot for us to learn that lesson. Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas.
-bill kenny

Monday, December 23, 2013

(It's Great to Be) Back on Broadway

I watched for the first time yesterday afternoon Disney's A Christmas Carol that featured the voice of Jim Carrey. It was made a number of years ago and some tart and unkind things were said about it at the time of its release.

I have no idea if those comments were merited but would note they came at a mid crest moment in that wave of the "Boy, We Are Sick of Jim Carrey in Everything" critical backlash (that sort of started with The Cable Guy and took on a life of its own), fueled and fed by the fact that the Disney folks had bankrolled it.

That said, I enjoyed it quite a bit. Okay, I was a little sore from muscle groups that had previously been along for the ride still recovering from a session in the fitness center and the couch in the living room was accommodating and inviting. But still.

It was as true to what I understand of the Dickens' tale as anything else I've ever seen and I've seen a lot of this stuff in plus decades on the orb except for my very favorite treatment which is no longer shown on TV but is available here.

I hope you find the time to enjoy it uninterrupted between now and Christmas Day because it's as close to a gift as I could find for you and, without ruining it for you, I should tell you there's no such thing as razzleberry dressing. Sometimes being an adult is a terrible waste of childhood.
-bill kenny

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Get Daffy and Donald on the Horn

Being a person of the liberal persuasion comes with its own set of crosses which is okay because I'm more often cross than any other emotion most days anyway. so fair is fair. For the last couple of days there has been a torrent of what passes I suppose for thoughtful, thought-provoking articles and opinion pieces like this one.

Maybe I'm just Christmased out-or simply a greater black-hearted bozo (NOT my first choice of word, hope you appreciate that) but I'm entirely underwhelmed at the faux outrage of all of this (as I was for Paula Deen, Martha Stewart and at least a dozen other synthetic celebrity calamities) because none of them have anything to do with the world in which you and I live.

This is another air-strike we called in on ourselves. We invented innumerable channels of television, far more than we can watch in this or any three consecutive lifetimes, much less provide programming for, and ended up with shows about people who buy the contents of storage lockers, who repossess items people who couldn't afford them in the first place can no longer pay for, operate pawn shops so that those who are going broke and are about to be repossessed have one last chance at solvency preordained to be an epic fail, get up close and personal in tattoo parlors beyond what would ever be considered hygienic or sanitary and, last but not least, have programs with these guys, who resemble the Smith Bros Cough Drops meet ZZ Top. Seriously?

And we're amazed and disappointed at what comes out of their mouths when they are interviewed? We don't even wonder why they were interviewed because if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck it must be a duck.

I'm amazed it didn't happen sooner, more often, with more violence and virulence. It's goofy TV whose existence Newton Minnow presciently bemoaned sixty years ago. And here we are gathered around watching it like this was some sort of a seance and then Tweeting and FB'ing and Instagramming about it.

Wondering who's to blame? We are.
-bill kenny

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Getting By on 3.39 Million Dollars

This is the first day of winter though here in Connecticut you'd never know it by the weather conditions-I'm not complaining and if this is as cold and snowy as it gets through Opening Day of Baseball Season, I'm fine and thanks whoever is in charge of that.

With less than sixty days until pitchers and catchers report, I came across this report the other day and am now giving some serious thought to packing a suitcase and taking a train heading to the Citrus League because at one time I had a pretty decent curve. Just sayin'.

I don't know about your paycheck, but looking at mine, I don't need a career in Major League Baseball, just a few weeks to cash a couple of contractual minimum paychecks and then with my recently acquired tan, I'll be shuffling North again. Honest.

A lifetime ago I saw a bumper sticker that read 'what separates the men from the boys is the price of their toys.' Baseball is a business and little more to everyone involved in it except those of us who see ourselves as fans.

From the $15 beers and ten buck hot dogs (wait until we get charged for the buns separately) to the GNP of many developing nations for a second baseman with a career OBP of under .300, the great American past time is marked by greed beyond need, for every boy (and girl) of summer.

The last weekend before Christmas and I'm ruminating on what the average Houston Astro gets paid? If that's my biggest worry it's a pretty good dayThis on the other hand should be a much bigger worry for all of us than it has been in this country, at least so far.

-bill kenny  

Friday, December 20, 2013

I Am Going to Take Great Care with the Brussels

I have lights in every room of my house, but have little appreciation for Michael Faraday and Joseph Henry's theory on dynamic transmission of electrical energy. As long as when I flip the switch the light comes on, I'm a happy camper. And when it doesn't, I flip the switch repeatedly because I have no other trick I can do.

The same thing is true with its assemblage of electrons and codes. I have no idea how the things I type here on my computer end up OUT THERE where you are. Not only do I now know, I have just enough intelligence about life on earth to recognize that it makes no sense if I know or not.

I can't see air, but breathe it. I have no idea what gravity is but I can feel it. My acquaintances (I have no friends) assure me I have no sense of humor and I smile at the surprise awaiting all of them at my wake. Turns out I do have patience. Who knew?

Anyway. Here's the thing about Blogger which is how this stuff appears everyday as if by magic without being magic. There's all kids of stuff that goes on backstage that when you shut your eyes as resolutely as I have for all these year (I've been at this for twenty-seven years without surcease; I do know what hyperbole means, if that ever comes up) about which you never know.

Yesterday, I found out. Suddenly, I'm not half the man I used to b--sorry, wrong reverie. What I meant to type was I wound up in the engine room of all this blogger stuff and came across a compilation of comments since I started writing this that the machines behind Blogger consider to be spam. C'mon, you knew that was coming. Much of it reads like machines talking to one another, take a gander and see if you agree.

"You strive disregard would fix than they are near you. After his reciprocation from Rome, Undertake couldn’t discover his gear in the airport baggage area. I'm a believer in punctuality though it makes me lonely. Funny things to write on car windows.

"All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence and then success is for sure. Everything is funny as long as it's happening to someone else. I am not certain if I agree to be the victor of former arguments. A man falls in love just as he falls downstairs. By accident.

"If you want to avoid seeing a fool you must break you mirror. Actors are the only honest hypocrites. And soon became the Pittsburgh Pirates of the National Hockey League. Live webcam weddings. I could not refrain from commenting. I give birth to interpret a few of the articles on your website trendy, and I unqualifiedly like your tastefulness of blogging. Cheers."

Right back at cha. Love among the ruins.
-bill kenny

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Some See Life as a Broken Promise

Today is my father's 90th birthday. He didn't live to see it (of course); I added that parenthetically because if you knew him ( = he allowed you to see some part of his life) you might be more surprised than those who shared his hearth and home about the abrupt ending of his life story.

As you would know had you visited this space but only two of three times in the last half decade plus, our father-son relationship was strained. I smiled as I typed that word and I hope he would have as well. If I were to be honest and he taught me that if little else, I grimaced, but from a distance they're close.

I was the oldest of six children and as near as I can tell, he never was comfortable in his own skin with any of us. I assumed, ignorantly and arrogantly, that he and I clashed because we were so different. It took a picture my wife once snapped of him on the only visit to America he was alive for her to know for me to realize, decades afterwards looking at a photo of myself with my head cocked exactly like his, that we were too much of the same kind.

Dad was 28 years old when his son was born. I was thirty when ours was. I think I learned a lot about life from life itself but I forgot who had prepared me to be ready to learn at all. I'd like to believe had Dad lived he'd have enjoyed meeting our two children as much if not more than I would have enjoyed introducing them to him.

It's part of the movie of my life as it might have been that I'm an expert at making (scoring the soundtrack has proven to be difficult, so far); as long as I don't have to script an ending, this should be cake.

Dad was the smartest person I will ever know though not smart enough to figure out the inchoate rage at life he carried with him every waking moment and that (at least) I inherited is toxic and fatal.

He found that out too late to help himself but in his passing he helped me see it and, I'd like to think, to make some adjustments, though not as many as I should/could, to better catch the second act of our children's lives.

Curtains go up while others are rung down. Christine Rice offered, "(T) purpose of life is to live, laugh and love." I'd like to think we are to light a match against the darkness without being consumed by it on our way to where we need to be. Happy birthday, Dad.
-bill kenny

Wednesday, December 18, 2013


The asterisk, *, is the season’s most in-demand and in-use grammatical marking, be it on a printed page, in an e-mail or on a website posting.

When we’re talking about organizing a neighborhood or school fund-raiser, getting the crew together for sledding or skiing in (even more) snow-covered climes or just sharing an evening with friends in the comfort of one another’s homes, you have one eye fixed on the sky and are always mindful that pesky * which stands for weather permitting is Banquo’s Ghost for all occasions.

 In much the same way as car companies intone ‘your mileage may vary’ as they hawk their latest automotive triumph, almost everything we do in this part of the country from now through April (say some cynics) will include the mantra/disclaimer, “weather permitting.”

I understand where I have chosen to live and am more than familiar with the notion that in these parts we have all four seasons, sometimes on the same day (or so it seems) and that when I look out a window, I’m staring at pine not palm trees.

Folks dress up like Eskimos, as that seasonal chestnut suggests, not so much because we dislike the cold but more because we’re made of sterner stuff and strive to protect ourselves from the sharper edges of the winter season.

Even grinches like me who admit snow isn’t our favorite vegetable do smile, even if it’s only briefly, when/if the first flakes of snow arrive, as they did this year, before Christmas. When they’re still here at Easter….

I long ago traded my sled for a snow-blower and shovel but that doesn’t mean I don’t remember when our children pulled their sleds behind them on a short hike to the hill at the Buckingham School, often covered by so many other sledding enthusiasts you’d have thought the Olympic Bobsled trials were in progress.

Every so often, and it took a lot of organization as those with children at home know, we’d launch an outing that took kids and sleds to the Norwich Golf Course. I have no idea what par is at the fourth hole, but grown-ups among us found vantage points to keep an eye on one another’s children as they raced downhill as quickly as the golf course was covered in white stuff.

Children and those who retain their childlike wonder as adults, I submit, can see the endless possibilities in every snowflake while the rest of us just regard ‘the weather’ as another obstacle on the course of the holiday steeplechase.

I’m not sure when this time of year went from crisp air, tinged with a hint of snow, touched by magic to a checklist of chores that get ticked off as the days darken earlier while we’re making our lists and checking them twice. Always, of course, with the understanding the best laid plans of mice and men, reindeer and Jolly Old Elves, or Three Kings following a Star are always provisional, improvised and changed by that asterisk, *. Weather permitting.
 -bill kenny

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Exorcised or Exercised?

I'm off from work though the new year, though in light of how productive I have been in recent weeks my boss may have assumed I went on holiday from Labor Day and stayed there. Let's keep this our little secret, okay?

I am attempting to maintain my schedule though the big blank block in the middle 'going to work' will have to be repurposed I suppose. I'm also learning the joys of sleeping in beyond three in the morning though I'm not sure how many acquaintances might think half past six is "sleeping in."

I go to the fitness center a lot later than I previously did to the chagrin, I am assuming, of the folks who are there at seven as opposed to the dearth of folks at four in the morning. My routine being what it is is one thing, being God's special creature inadvertently in public is something else entirely.

During the winter, I wear a tee-shirt over my whatever fabric these things are that don't trap the sweat on your body shirts. I have no idea what fabric it is, creepy crepe if I were calling it by how it feels but I'll bet that's not its name. Anyway, I'm not wearing the shorts during the cold months, but I wear long sweat pants.

When I get to the fitness, I hang up the thermal vest and the sweatshirt I wear over the tee-shirt and then take and hang up the tee shirt as well. After my session on the elliptical, I towel off with one of the two towels I bring with me, grab my tee shirt and head for the changing room all the way in the back past the weights area.

I guess I'm still on my early morning rise and shine routine because as I take off the creepy crepe shirt, every morning and towel off before putting on the dry tee-shirt, I have developed a habit of singing lyrics of my own invention to the melody of the beloved Moon River (despite entreaties from Henry Mancini's estate).

I think the estate would be even less happy if they could hear the words, which involve the Dark Side of Star Wars' The Force for reasons I can neither explain nor comprehend. Be grateful I don't know how to work the sound recorder, or you would be praying for deafness in 3, 2, 1. "Darth Vader! Vadering the Darth, and all the other junk you see...." There's more, of course, but why?

I do not have any musical talent or ability but undeterred I make up for my lack of tunefulness (tunoisty?) by singing at the very top of my lungs. Volume has always been an American virtue, I hope. At four oh bright early most mornings that doesn't usually bother anyone within two square miles of the fitness center; at eight or so, however, the population density is considerably greater.

I discovered that as I exited the changing area yesterday and at least a dozen or so folks in various areas seemed suspended in their masquerade pretending I wasn't there or they weren't there or both. That was when I realized the changing room door wasn't sound-proof, not that I was able to catch or meet anyone's eye to be able to ask them.

It was a very quiet and surprisingly long walk from the back of the center to the front door. Sort of like Napoleon's retreat from Moscow but without the wine. I'm hoping I remember there are other folks around and about today as my chances of convincing them my performance is part of their monthly membership dues seems to me to be slim at best as opposed to slimming which, after all, is the object of the exercise, literally, right?
-bill kenny

Monday, December 16, 2013

Tick, Tock

We had some snow this weekend, Saturday mid-morning into early Sunday, though not as much as forecast (or shouted about in loud voices from the TV as if the world as we knew it were ending, as I like to think of it). Maybe two and skosh inches, maybe a little more or perhaps less?

I'm not complaining about the amount. Snow is not my favorite vegetable even though I live in New England. If we had it the way I experienced it in Greenland three and half decades ago, which was by the foot until it was taller than the barracks I lived in, I'd be long gone, but we don't and I'm not.

If you live where it snows, you cope with it. We have a snow blower/thrower that I didn't use to clear the white stuff yesterday because it was wet and heavy and I don't like stalling the beast out when shoveling gets my heart rate elevated and gets the snow just as gone.

Where I live we have an ordinance about snow removal perhaps to shut up chronic malcontents like me who get annoyed when people cannot be bothered to clear the sidewalks. It's Section 19-1 of the code of ordinances and the only one who has ever read is I.

Yesterday afternoon I walked to the grocery store, because I walk everywhere except East until my hat floats, but had to be careful because of the treacherous, man-made conditions along the route. Of the 24 houses and one church past which I walked on my way to the market, nine couldn't be bothered to clear the snow that had stopped falling some twelve hours earlier.

I walked about half of my hike in the street where I shared space with cars and trucks. This snapshot above is the sort of slip-n-slide I got to put up with. Pity I wasn't buying eggs because I have a terrific routine I do as a juggler and, just a tip if you're in the neighborhood, my five o'clock show is completely different from the two o'clock.

Much like you we are very quick in these parts to jump up and down when 'the city' which can mean many things to many people and usually is shorthand for 'not me' fails to do something we expected or wanted. But this one is on us-we are supposed to take responsibility for clearing the walkways so people don't have to end up in the street or go butt over teakettles on ice and snow that wasn't cleared.

Might I repeat this rant at tonight's City Council meeting? I doubt it as I'm sure the mayor and alderpersons cleared their walkways and unlike my egg juggling, there's only the one performance and all of us know the routines by heart, which is sort of The Point.
-bill kenny

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Finger-Pointing and Self-Annoiting

Tom Wolfe called it The Bonfire of the Vanities-Tom Hanks may still call it 'the movie I wish I'd never made' but I like to think of this as the dawning of the Age of the Shameless Charlatan.

Earlier last week, Alyssa Rosenberg made an impassioned plea that Miley Cyrus, not Pope Francis I, should have been Time Magazine's Person of the Year. She'd get no argument from my brother Kelly, though not for the reasons she advanced.

The article was brilliant stuff-read it for yourself-albeit bogus I suspect because her larger point, that weekly magazines here in the second decade of the 21st Century are reading material now found in the waiting room of Jurassic Park, was completely overlooked. No matter.

Over forty years ago George Carlin had the "Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television" (a/k/a the same seven I cannot type here or link to the clip from, without getting my hands and fingernails washed out with Lava soap) and now what's not sacred and to be left unuttered? We are Thoroughly Modern, Millie, and don't care who knows it.

Current contender for Poster Child for We Are the Crown of Creation: Ethan Couch of Fort Worth. I can wait right here while you read it again if you'd like.

I know I needed multiple passes on it because my brain just kep thinking my eyes were playing a practical joke on. Affluenza. Affluenza Seriously? That's the argument offered by the young man's attorneys on all of this.

Yeah, he did it, but it's not his fault, he has an illness and needs treatment. How does the defense attorney who thought this up pull his trousers up every morning considering the size of the set he has to have to have dreamt it up in the first place? Who spoke with the families of Breanna Mitchell, Brian Jennings, Holly Boyles and Shelby Boyles (her daughter), the people this sack of one of those words killed.

Tell me you don't love the last sentence of the story. Jetzt bleibt mir die spucke weg. Talk about making lemonade when life hands you lemons (or somebody runs over your lemon tree).

Stories like this make me want to revisit my tee-shirt business idea from decades ago where you put on the front of the shirt the visage of some despicable person (my current favorite is Ted Cruz but those shirts are available only in 'large, y'all' size right now) and on the back just had I'm a Victim, Too!

Sort of like the Austrians after World War II arguing they, too, were victims of Nazi aggression. Turns out, they said, it was other Austrians who partied at the border crossings as the Wehrmacht tanks rolled through not the ones with their heads in nooses on the gallows at Nuernberg. From a distance all criminals look the same. My problem is I can never get far enough away from them to see if that's really true.

Fred and Tonya Crouch, there's got to be somebody you can sue, too. There's got to be someone else whose failings enabled, nay, coerced you into being the terrible parents who raised this abomination of a child. Stay here while I go off with your crack legal team and see who we can find. Here, put these shirts on, so you'll be visible from space. Perfect.
-bill kenny

Friday, December 13, 2013

What Next? Close an IHOP?

Not too far from where I live is a store I've never shopped in called "The House of Doors." To my knowledge they don't have a Facebook page but I'll bet some people would like it. How many is a matter of speculation beyond the scope of this column, surprisingly, but unlike House of Cards, sometimes the ending can be seen well in advance of the action.

I believe in literature what I just offered you is a variant of a technique referred to as foreshadowing. You're welcome. Have a snuggle. Now you're really welcome.

Sometimes I despair that the American entrepreneurial spirit is gone. Even in bastions of free thinking and other things blowing in the wind like Madison, Wisconsin, 'the man' comes out on top. No pun intended.

So much for hugs not drugs much less tugs, but let's not go there, okay? And I was thinking we were moments away from a whole new answer to 'how do you spell relief?' And now we can't even ask for a show of hands as to who understood the question.

With employment across the country being the way it is, spare a thought for those now out-of-work snugglers. How'd you like to put that down on your employment history especially since there's so little space to explain what it isn't. On the other hand how hard is it to draw a wink? ;-)> [I have a beard for that Mall job.]
-bill kenny

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Your Goal Should Be to Buy Wins

As a small child, I wanted to be a cowboy. And a baseball player. And an astronaut and the President of the United States. Turns out only one of those makes money and since neither of us have ever hired an astronaut to moon walk in a bouncy house, I think we both know which profession is synonymous with obscene amounts of filthy lucre.

Still need a hint? Okay, but just initials, please. Jacoby Ellsbury. I have loved the Yankees since before I was capable of actual thought (I hear the snickers of Red Sox Nation but pay them no mind) and as long as my name isn't typed on the line below the signature on the pay checks, my opinion on this signing is just that, my opinion....but is that American dollars?

Seriously-we live in flamboyant times. We have 'warriors' on the professional football gridiron (just ask the ex-jocks in the broadcast booths who had no clue when they played and less now that they don't) taking Mom and Pop Warner to the bank every week.

I don't follow hockey or pro basketball closely enough to understand those sports' salary structures, but growing up in my father's house, we didn't call the NBA 'millionaires in their underwear' for nothing.

Still. Jacoby. Buddy. Bubalah. Seriously? You'll need a Brinks truck to go on a family outing to the bank. I worried about our children growing up and becoming possessed by their possessions (no real worries; we were, and are, poor but still, you can't be too careful) but this is a deal that makes Scrooge McDuck's money pond look like a kiddie pool. All for a game.

No wonder we still have no cure for cancer or AIDS, no money in it. Learn to hit a two seam fastball and we'll give you the key to the vault. And make no mistake-I don't blame the player, but, rather, the game and those who make it not possible, but inevitable, fans like us.

In the future, beings from another solar system will land on our desiccated and decimated planet and drive past warehouses with desks and books they may eventually guess were schools and that are similar to what they believe were our prisons except there were handles on the insides of the doors.

They will pass our houses of worship and our sports stadia and become very confused, very sad and very frightened so much so they will scurry back to their ships and leave before whatever destroyed us infects them as well.
-bill kenny

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

We Have So Many Different Worlds

According to the calendar, we are only slightly more than waist deep in that most wonderful time of the year where far more than just the halls end up decked with holly (and tinsel and eight different kinds of lights (all LEDs and flashing) and ornaments) and most of us wouldn’t know a fa-la-la-la-la if it bit us on the figgy pudding.

Because of the hectic head noise that is part of our Yuletide preparations for celebration, we end up staring at the trees often without seeing the forest. I hesitated while typing ‘trees’ lest it serve as a trigger that you have yet to get your tree so you add another chore to your to-do list.

Between all the hurried holiday greetings and in the midst of the manufactured merriment, you may wish for a moment you could use to catch your emotional breath rather than another big box store bargain, collect your thoughts and count your blessings instead of gathering your purchases and pocketing your change. Something, anything. Perhaps an activity for just yourself, or for you and your family and friends.

If you need a pause from the holiday if only for a few minutes, I have a suggestion courtesy of the City of Norwich’s website calendar for an event but really more of a moment, this Saturday at noon in Taftville’s Sacred Heart Cemetery.

Perhaps you’ve heard of Wreaths Across America whose three-fold mission is to Remember, Honor and Teach. Every year this national outreach coordinates wreath laying ceremonies on veterans’ graves on a Saturday in December (this one coming up) at Arlington in Virginia as well as veterans’ cemeteries and other locations in each of our 50 states, at sea, and in over two dozen cemeteries in other countries where US military members have been buried.

The wreaths, themselves, are scheduled to arrive today shortly before eleven o’clock this morning at Chelsea Parade and various local area veterans’ groups and volunteers will be unloading their share from the Connecticut delivery convoy, pausing here as one of its stops across the state.

The remembrance itself is Saturday but if you have a moment in the course of today to lend a hand and offer some moral support during the wreath delivery I suspect no matter the outside temperature and weather conditions, you’ll warm the hearts of the organizers, and put a smile on your own face.

I’ve attended the Sacred Heart ceremony and while I admire the power of words, I’ll concede I don’t know enough or the right ones to adequately describe an event that is a heart-felt and homegrown acknowledgement of the lives of our departed veterans (of all services and from every conflict and era of our history). You should experience it for yourself.

It is both a gathering and a reflection of our community in remembering the fallen, honoring those still in service and teaching one another that freedom is free only with sacrifice. I’ll look for you on Saturday at noon.
-bill kenny

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Nearly on Top of the World

I have a habit of thanking imbeciles who drive through parking lots and down residential streets with bone-rattling bass rumbling strongly enough to set off seismic shocks for sharing their music. I'm very lucky they can't hear me otherwise I'm sure I'd have a a few dents and dings than I currently do but I am fascinated by cars (and trucks and motorcycles for that matter) and music.

I've come to appreciate, though don't tell her, my wife's perspective on the pairing, which seems to be that it's foolish and stupid. She doesn't drive so she brings to her side of the front seat a very different point of view than I have and, yes, I am the guy who turns down the stereo (rarely the radio anymore) when he's trying to find a particular street address which is an excellent example of her foolish and stupid paradigm and I wasn't even really trying though she assures I often am very trying.

I am not a fan of Rastafarian country and western music, but I like almost all other kinds of music, except crunk which I cannot define but know it I when I hear it as well as any and all of whatever it is Kanye West, Justin Bieber and others who unload on the public. It matters not to me that in the universe we all share, I am no more than a "who?" to any of them because they remain 'stop leaning on my Torino!' to me.

I devoutly believe employment of Auto-tune should be punishable by ten years in prison and a ten thousand dollar fine and if you spent more money on the production of the video in support of a song than you did on the song itself I think we should take away your birthday. I'll pause for a moment while you compose yourself and recover from that shock.

But music hath charms though it appears, based on this story that if you're wearing an orange jump suit, you may be the opposite of immune to those aforementioned charms. Mune? Is that the opposite or would it be Unmune? Or dark side of the moon?

Each of the songs mentioned in the article makes me smile because I've heard nearly all of them, and so, too, have you (okay, Barney not so much), and hundreds of others on every hike across a mall's macadam.

Just the soundtrack for when you're on top of the world and you can't get any higher. Not so fast, droopy-drawers (Yay, Uncle Paul!), nobody said you could go and quite frankly, everything makes that look big, and I'm not talking about ego.
-bill kenny

Monday, December 9, 2013

Gustav and Rudolph's Brother, Jack

I have wondered about the origins of phrases like "cow puncher." It's NOT the only thing I have wondered about but I mention that one after having fallen over this story in a recent 'you call this stuff news?' news summary generated entirely by computer and during the compilation of which no humans or animals were harmed (unless they were watching while it was compiled).

Quite a stroke of good fortune On Her Majesty's Semen Service, no? (and word play on a James Bond title and a double entendre all in the same phrase? Pay the man!) though I confess the article doesn't address the types of concerns inquiring minds everywhere want to know.

I'll give one to you: pigs' trotters are NOT Rocky Mountain oysters to perhaps the disappointment and chagrin of flatlanders everywhere I suspect but more likely to the uninformed delight of the rest of us who have no idea what these people are talking about or eating.

And since you just went to wikipedia twice in a minute maybe you could go back one more time and look at the top of their page again, the banner, and make an online contribution to keep them solvent as opposed to soluble? I won't type another word until you return.

Welcome back and I lied. Being an interweb liar (caps or not?) isn't as bad as having a career in porcine spermatozoa production and procurement, i.e., a masturbation and ejaculation specialist.

Admittedly, I have no idea how that process would work, with pigs. (Get your mind out of the gutter). An isolated remote in Greenland decades ago while in the US Air Force gave me a background in fowl (don't ask). There weren't a plethora of barns above the Arctic Circle so I don't know if porn magazines are deployed or we seed the slop with Beate Uhse video clips to give the pigs a hard time. I just crack myself up.

And remember, this is science and international economics in support of the New World Order and the Dawning of the Age of Aquarius (and BLT, heavy on the B). And when I say "B," I mean as in Blanc, Mel Blanc.
-bill kenny

Sunday, December 8, 2013

A Sum of Forty Years and Forty-Nine Days. No More and No Less.

I wrote the notes that follow last year to remember John Lennon whose music I celebrate more perhaps than his life at times because while the latter tragically ended on this day thirty-three years ago the former will live always. 

I know in my heart of hearts I cannot improve on what I offered at that time and the anger I felt at his murder all those decades ago, I still feel all these years later, so reprising my words is a combination of both valor and discretion.

Today, for all those who came of age with The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show, marks the anniversary of the murder of John Lennon by Mark Chapman. I'm offering that link in the interests of further proving there are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy. That our two children were both born after Lennon's murder gives me pause about the world I helped give them. 

John Lennon was a part of the soundtrack of my growing up years from teen through adult. If I were being truthful, and today is probably as good a day as any to try some truth, there was a portion of his post-Beatles material that never spoke to me in quite the same way as his earlier solo work or any of the Fab Four material. 

After his five year self-imposed silence, his comeback album (which is what everyone called it at the time) in the fall of 1980, Double Fantasy, was, as I referred to it on the air at the station for which I worked, 'a decent EP' (Extended Play), with some material that didn't work for me at all. 

That said, I always felt "Beautiful Boy" was exquisite (even more so when our own beautiful boy was born less than twenty month later). Obliviot that I was, I just assumed Lennon and his music would always be a part of my life (and that of any children my wife and I were to have).

How perverse that he sang of 'patience' in that song and less than a month after the album's release, he would be dead. His son, Sean, the inspiration for the song was to grow up without his father (as did all of us, though to a different degree) and has worked everyday to live within and without the shadow of the legend and myth his father became. 

The two most challenging moments over which we have the least control are today and tomorrow ("Nobody told me there'd be days like these"), but in looking at the darkness that both often have in such abundance, Lennon's music should help make us more appreciate the light especially in this, The Season of Light and Hope, so that it's much more pronounced for all the days that remain whose number is unknown to each of us.

-bill kenny

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Endings and Beginnings

It was earlier this week that the past returned to the present with a news story about the (re)discovery of the World War II era Japanese Navy submarine I-400 close to a half mile below the surface off the coast of Oahu, the Hawaiian Islands.

Man (and woman) alone of all the beasts of the earth created a calendar, dividing days into seconds, hours and minutes and grouping all of the days into weeks, months and years. Just as you’ve never seen a polar bear with a wristwatch (a bottle of Coke, perhaps, and a smile), you’ll rarely encounter a fellow-traveler not hurrying and scurrying to escape the inescapable.

The timing of the discovery put me in the mind again of discussions and arguments about the presence (or absence) of God (capitalized just in case (s)he does exist-why gratuitously anger the Deity?) and the hours I’ve enjoyed exploring the Clockmaker Theory.

However, I never let the sweep second hand distract me too much from the calendar, especially on a date from a time before my birth when a world as our parents knew it was dying even as the one we were to inherit was being born. And both acts, like so much else connected to our time upon this stage, involve the death and destruction of war.

Today is Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day here in the United States-so insular am I in my rapidly approaching dotage, I have no idea what if any other nation on earth makes of this day but I hope they see it, as do I, as Day One of a Next World Order.

Quite some time ago I had as close to an original thought about it all as I ever have and it nearly died of loneliness so I wrote it down and here it is, again, because I liked it the first time, too.

Everything that had been, not just in the United States, which escaped nearly all of the physical devastation and destruction visited upon every other combatant of the world war, but also around the globe, was swept away and we are still to some degree struggling to sort out what we are and what we are to one another in light of events whose beginnings were long ago.

It was a Sunday morning on the East Coast seventy-two years ago today when the world as we had known it changed, and became the world we know now. On this date, the Imperial Japanese Navy attacked the United States Naval Base at Pearl Harbor.

Most of the rest of the world was already engaged and engorged in what historians now call World War II as German tanks roared across Europe and through Northern Africa and the Japanese Co-Prosperity Hemisphere spread across Asia.

Shortly after eight in the morning, seventy-two years ago, the USS Arizona, taking a direct hit, sank in nine minutes killing its entire crew of 1,177 Sailors. When the attack on Pearl Harbor ended, eight Navy battleships had been damaged and four had been sunk.

Also sunk or damaged were three cruisers, three destroyers, an anti-aircraft training ship, and a mine layer. Almost 200 (188 to be exact) U.S. aircraft were destroyed and 2,459 Americans were killed and another 1,282 had been wounded. Some Sailors were trapped in ships which had sunk.

Two days after the attacks, rescuers found thirty-two sailors alive inside the USS Oklahoma, but it was far too late for those aboard her sister-ship, USS West Virginia. Shipyard workers rebuilding the raised battleship afterwards discovered marks on bulkheads below its decks to indicate some Sailors had survived for up to seventeen days after the attack.

All of those stories are part of the larger story of these usually United States of America, which after its own War of Independence, strove and succeeded more often than not in Splendid Isolation in the world community. Our involvement in World War I, while intense and decisive had been brief in comparison to so many other nations. That was to not be the case in World War II.

Seventy-two years ago today, how Americans viewed the world changed. And as a result of the efforts of our grandparents and parents, after World War II, how the world looked at the United States changed as well.

We emerged in its aftermath as a super power and leader of what we called for decades the "Free World." What we are today is all part of a world that came to be as a result of what happened at Pearl Harbor rather than what could have happened as a result of the successful deployment of I-400.

And we learned as if we could forget the price of freedom is eternal vigilance or as Frank Loesser wrote in 1942, "Down went the gunner-a bullet was his fate. Down went the gunner, then the gunner's mate. Up jumped the sky pilot, gave the boys a look and manned the gun as he laid aside The Book, Shouting Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition!"
-bill kenny

Friday, December 6, 2013


"I have learned that courage is not the absence of fear but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear."

"If there are dreams about a beautiful South Africa, there also roads that lead to their goal. Two of these roads could be named Goodness and Forgiveness."

Requiescat in pace et in corde semper.
-bill kenny

Thursday, December 5, 2013

My Own Banquo's Ghost: The Fit Is Momentary

Electrons are fast but human nerve endings are faster, unless, like me, you become good at the art of looking and not seeing, hearing and not listening. Sometimes I get fixated on a point on the horizon and miss the very loud eighteen wheeler bearing down on me. When that happens I'd like to think I'm not the most surprised guy on the planet but have to concede I'm the most surprised guy in my own skin.

That happened to me yesterday though technically I should admit it happened to you if you stopped by either in this space or at the website of the hometown newspaper that carries my musings (my word, no one else uses it. Ever.) every day and on Wednesdays prints them in its actual, fold it in half, print edition.

If you clicked on the link, the part you should read comes below the article, in the reader comments because of a liberty I took without the knowledge or permission of the newspaper professionals kind enough to let me use their ink and electrons.

I attended Tuesday evening the convening of the new Norwich City Council and Swearing-in of our first woman Mayor with all the pomp and circumstance such a formal administration change requires and deserves.

What I failed to make clear to you, the reader, because in my ignorance I wasn't seeing it as the point but only as a prelude, was that I had written the column you read the day after the ceremony over the weekend. Yes, I was at Tuesday's events but I was, in reality, writing about a future as if it were the past.

I know what you're thinking now 'if only he could harness his powers for good.' Or for good riddance if past events have proven anything. I didn't intend to mislead you but I broke faith with you and did.

There will be a far fuller explanation and better worded apology in the Bulletin newspaper tomorrow by its most senior leader who had better things to do until I precipitated a change of his plans. You'll find all of that tomorrow a lot faster if you bookmark their site now.

But meanwhile in the here and now of today, all the apologies in the world cannot undo a careless action that I used to advance my attempted point about being open in communicating with one another as a new Mayor and Council begin their work on behalf of all of us who live in Norwich.

The irony of that failure isn't lost on me but I am a bit more self-conscious and aware of those feet of clay now firmly attached to my legs. You might suggest that being self-conscious is a vast improvement over being unconscious which is how I too often seem to live my life.

I'm proof that no matter how quick-witted and fleet of foot I may fancy myself to be, I will never be fast enough to outrun the shadow of my own mistakes, fueled by hubris and compounded by self-absorption. There's an extra place set at the table; perhaps someone from whom I can learn a lesson I thought I knew will deign to dine with me.
-bill kenny

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

New Beginnings or Beginning Anew?

Last night in a ceremony I always enjoy even when I may not like the outcome it confirms, Norwich's elected municipal leadership changed. The office of Mayor is now in the hands of Deberey Hinchey, joined on the City Council by some familiar faces, Mark Bettencourt, Pete Desaulniers and Sofee Noblick, a pair of new faces, Bill Eyberse and Terell Wilson and the return of Bill Nash.

Seven people whose shoulders must be very broad to carry the hopes and expectations of so many of us who say we want better days for the city which we all share. Seven people whose backs must be strong to carry many of us in directions we say we want to explore but, in reality, have absolutely no appetite for the adventure such exploration would require.

As they and we already know from encounters with one another across the city in both formal and informal settings, we are all very eager to go to heaven but not especially keen on dying to get there.

I'm not the only one who believes in shared sacrifice, as long as you (whoever you are are) goes first. Then, and only then (and after a decent interval) will I entertain ideas on how I should compromise so we can all get along and go along.

Welcome to the human condition, population: us. I love the pageantry of 'regime change' if you absolutely have to have a term. The three preceding Mayors escort the new Mayor to her place at the Council as friends and family of all the members crowd the chambers and digitally capture every moment forever.

We make history every day in this city but sometimes we do so it more (self) consciously than other days. I smiled realizing that in our four elections since a return to Mayoral governance, we have yet to re-elect any of our Mayors.

I'm not intimating anything in terms of events four years from now, but am putting a mental stopwatch to how quickly we go from calling upon our newly sworn-in alderpersons to calling them out for all manner of failings, sometimes real but  far more often imaginary.

People campaign in poetry but have to govern in prose that has its price and comes with costs, seen, unseen and obscene. One of the laws of physics is that the speed of light is faster than the speed of sound which may be why sometimes people look good until we hear them speak. And by the same token, sometimes the things they do speak so loudly we can't hear what they're saying.

Here's what I thought about last night, aside from elevating one another's blood pressure through unending argument what are we hoping to accomplish in Norwich to (better) grow our commercial tax base which in turn will enhance our community quality of life? While we agree 'we need to do something,' what that something is often is the hardest part.

I could be wrong, and certainly hope I am, but it seems to me the most reticent and reluctant of us to formulate and implement a strategy are frequently the first to loudly point out the shortcomings and weaknesses of those elected to address the very challenges we are complaining about.

Our Mayor and City Council can do anything, but they can’t do everything. Only together with each of us can they, and we, succeed.
-bill kenny

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

More like Must Flee TV

I missed it last night, and I'm thinking I'm not sorry I did. The Learning Channel which has brought so much knowledge to so many for so long has, in my opinion (perhaps only), declined precipitously in terms of stimulating the grey matter.

Remember when Republicans used to use them as the example for why the government could cut PBS loose from taxpayers' dollars? Misty, water-colored memories. Quite frankly, I'm not sure they're even trying anymore.

After all it's TLC who are the goobers with the TV show, Toddlers and Tiaras, about child beauty pageant contestants which is a vaguely oxymoronic description in the first place (who doesn't think her/his child is beautiful? Can you imagine the size of the 'Lost & Found' at the hospitals around the world if we let parents leave ugly babies behind before heading home?).

But just around the time the Algonquin Roundtable was overcoming its mute shock at that piece of video verite, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo (that's what it's called) who/which is something even I, in a fever dream, could not have imagined.

But if you don't keep moving ahead, you fall behind-be it in the arts, sciences, pro wrestling or schlock TV business (and I thought chiller was just about the dopiest of all the cable channels; silly me) and TLC stands for nothing else these days if not Opposed To Stasis (the initials don't line up but their viewers don't care) as last night, possibly in an attempt to keep me up past my bedtime (but not on a school night!) they unveiled Best Funeral Ever.

I don't think it's possible to do gooder than this and I'm very sure 'gooder' is a word that's supposed to be used in this context for just this proposition. In one of the most judiciously worded critiques of a program you will read anywhere, the critic at Media Life Magazine, whose existence is predicated on the dollars broadcasters and cable operators like TLC spend for on-line advertising, pulls every punch with the heaviest weight gloves possible and you can still read between the lines.

You know the folks who invented TiVo are hanging themselves even as DVR units across the country are being set to record this because words fail. I am already looking forward to TLC having enough episodes in the larder to have a holiday marathon though I'm not sure Dia de Muertos is yet on the Hallmark horizon.

Imagine what the ratings could look like if one of the former denizens of Jersey Shore or the Real Housewives of Anyplace were to be interred. Of course, it would cost a fortune in soundproofing to muffle the screams from the casket, but only until they run out of air.
-bill kenny

Monday, December 2, 2013

All Others Pay Cash

Sort of a disheartening story in most newspapers yesterday on the erosion of trust in each other we have here in the Land of the Free. You know it's getting serious when our first question after reading the headline isn't 'oh yeah, says who?'

I'm a relentless pragmatist and certainly no Pollyanna (do people still name their children that and then perhaps offer a chorus of this. I did not know that Morgan Freeman played the banjo) and I hate to say it but it makes sense to me.

When you're a pessimist, you can only be surprised and never disappointed and all you have to do is look at the mess and morass that we have created of our national government in Dodge City to realize we've got some fundamental changes to make or you can put a fork in us now because we're done.

It's okay to blame 'those folks in the Capital' except we, you and me, sent them there with instructions to take no prisoners and they're doing what we told them to do. I hope I don't offend you but some of the people you chose are awful.

Actually, I'm lying in the sense of I don't care if I offend you because each of us has made some terrible choices and while blaming one another is very therapeutic, it's not going to get our ship of state off the rocks we've run it into.

Here's the scary part: the only people who can help us heal is us. Yeah, I was really hoping that would read a lot better than that but it is what it is. We have to relearn how to give one another the benefit of the doubt and to not only assume but also believe that people mean to do well, even if they sometimes don't.

We need a return to the era of the open hand because it's easier to shake and to loan to someone in need of it, and we need to look in the mirror and realize we have one mouth and two ears for a reason and behave accordingly. Trust or bust.
-bill kenny

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Headlong Into the Holidays!

Welcome to the last month of 2013. It doesn't seem that long ago we were standing on the cusp of 2013 and speculating as to what it held and here we are, at the intersection of Thank God and Greyhound You're Gone, already pinning hopes and dreams beyond measure on the year that hasn't yet arrived.

When the new month begins on a weekend, it feels like you're cheating a little bit but only just a little. We've had crisp and clear weather since Thanksgiving which meant yesterday afternoon we had a chance to celebrate one another and the season as part of our annual Winter Fest.

Remember the more fun it looks like the more hard work all kinds of volunteers behind the scenes had to get done. And, yes, we did have fun and I'd hope your holidays got off to as grand a start as ours did.
-bill kenny

Saturday, November 30, 2013

This Time Tomorrow

There's a sense of acceleration if not exhilaration in the air these days. Maybe it's the Christmas spirit, maybe it's the anticipation of however you celebrate the holidays, maybe it's the ending of yet another year and the closing of the age.

Between us, I'm not sure what it is and as the years of my life have sped by I spend less and less time regretting their passing since I cannot stop it, nor, try as I might, can I alter anything that has yet to be.

All I can control is the here and now. And not really all of the now just the split second each of us has before the next moment arrives. But that's okay. As challenging as some times in the past have been, they are in the past and what's to come is unknown and will arrive and unfold whether I worry about it or not.

Had a nice moment last night with my wife (I usually say 'my long-suffering wife' so I should this time as well) Sigrid as we enjoyed the annual Lighting of City Hall at One Union Street in the city in which we live.

We also, as is our tradition, purchased the Christmas ornament produced every year to mark the season. I think Sigrid has one for every year of the celebration and at mid day today I hope we have the time to enjoy the Winterfest Parade that's always a lot of fun as we line Broadway to celebrate ourselves.

You should try it, especially this time of year. It does a body good, and it only takes a moment and then that moment is gone, joining the previous one in unending chain of life on a small planet.

-bill kenny

Friday, November 29, 2013

Back in Black? Ack!

If you're reading this on a handheld device while standing in a line outside a big box store to snag a once-in-a-lifetime-deal that isn't on a television, a new cell phone, a refrigerator-freezer or gaming console, please go home now.

All of us who have the capabilities to read this blather have all the physical possessions we shall ever need-anything you're standing in line for now, or elbowing folks out of the way to get to later in the day as Black Friday accelerates, is sheer and absolute greed.

Thanksgiving, and this is still Thanksgiving my friend, is to celebrate with friends, old and new and not acquire more things to put in the basement or attic with the other things we already own and don't use.

Many years ago in Germany I had an acquaintance who explained Americans as "people who buy things they don't need with money they don't have to impress people they don't like." I really disliked him for that characterization but I always think about what he said when Black Friday rolls around and know I cannot argue with his point.

Where I live, Norwich, Connecticut, a town of about 45,000, if I were to add up all the square footage of all the shops in our downtown, occupied buildings or otherwise, I suspect it's less than the floor space in the average Super Box Store.

I smile realizing tomorrow is Small Business Saturday because, assuming you're not tuckered out from that super deal you got on the 1932 hand-carved mahogany Terraplane at MaxBucks MegaStore, you could support one or more of the local shops where you live, all of whom help make your city or town an even better place to come home to.

Perhaps to help you keep that same small town in each of us, you have where you live a semi-official start of the season such as ours here. Tonight, technically speaking this afternoon at 4:30, starting at City Hall and culminating at 6:00 PM with the arrival of the Jolly Old Elf himself (no, not Will Farrell or Bob Newhart) and the lighting of City Hall, Norwich, once again, establishes its bonafides as Connecticut's Christmas City.

We've given each other some hard knocks lately, and I'd suspect/expect a few more before the New Year arrives but we do this Christmas kick-off stuff really great and will have a terrific parade tomorrow starting at noon at Chelsea Parade. We always have room for more so if you're waiting for an invitation, this is it. And though it's been said many times, many ways.....
-bill kenny

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgivukkah

Some teachable moments are more so than others, I suppose and today has more than its share of both.

As a child, I can remember drawing those turkeys from the silhouette of my hand and bringing them home to my Mom to put on the refrigerator. Considering the size of their tribe, in later years I found it amazing that my parents didn't have a fridge the size of Long Beach Island (whose whereabouts, by the way, I'd never even heard of growing up in Jersey).

No matter how many paper turkeys are adorning various appliances in your kitchen, I hope you have a marvelous Thanksgiving. And if you observe Hanukkah, here's a terrific article I found last week from Long Island's Newsday newspaper that offers a lot of history but even more insight that I think makes it worth the price of admission for those within and without its tradition.

This is as ridiculously appropriate a day as any other to be grateful for everything we have rather than mourn for what we lack. I hope however you choose to celebrate whatever holiday you do choose, it's filled with family and friends and that the afterglow lights the rest of your day and helps brighten our world.
-bill kenny

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Too Many Blessings

This is the time of the year, as the daylight grows shorter, temperatures dip and even the slightest breeze adds a crispness to the air, that many of us grow more introspective most especially as we watch the pages on the calendar signal that the start of another year is growing closer.

As has been so often the case for us in recent years and memory, the pause for the holiday season (and this year Thanksgiving and the first day of Hanukkah both fall on the same day, tomorrow), seems to come at a ‘just in time’ moment as we take stock and recharge our emotional batteries.

Meanwhile across our country, those struggling to make a better life for themselves, their families and their communities seem to have as long a road ahead of them as they did a year ago. Progress, such as it is, sometimes seems to be more in the eye of the beholder rather than milestones on the way to a safe harbor of dignity and safety.

When many of us, sadly not all of us, gather tomorrow to celebrate ourselves, one another and the stories of our histories, we should resolve to use this holiday season to begin to remake the world in which we all live into a better place. Not just for the hungry, the hurting, the homeless or the hopeless but for all of us.

We cannot do everything, but each of us can do something and when you add together all of our somethings, what we will have accomplished is greater than the sum of each individual together.

At our house, I'm looking forward to our son and daughter both joining us for a meal that my wife, Sigrid, will have worked for days to prepare and will be a delicious memory in the time it takes to read this sentence.

I hope you and yours can be together, too. We each know people who can't because they're working-men and women of our armed forces serving in places and situations neither of us have ever heard of, in defense of a way of life we too often take for granted. Remember, too, cops on the corner, emergency response teams and all those assigned to 'holiday staffing’ duty or readying for "Black Friday" sales mania.

I didn’t come over on the Mayflower, but I have seen a lot of John Wayne movies, pilgrim, and unlike the original Thanksgiving, it's not the food or the calendar that makes a holiday. It's the people with whom we share it.

Some of us will spend part of the day counting our blessings, and pining over what we don't have. That inventory and regret makes us who we are as a species, I know, but perhaps in the 86,400 seconds that are the holiday, we can spend one of them being grateful for all that we have. Or perhaps two. 
Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Hanukkah.
-bill kenny