Sunday, August 31, 2014

Will Be Even Better in My Memory

I hate to jinx a three day weekend half-way through but our weather has been perfect for my favorite hobby, doing nothing. I am a champ at it and I don't brag about it lightly having studied under some of the finest talents in the hemisphere.

I started my Saturday (which since I took Friday off was half-way through my four day weekend) with continuing to corrupt the wild animals that live in proximity to our house. We have squirrels the size of small dogs. I'm thinking I know why.

I walked a trail we have that parallels the Yantic River to where it joins the Shetucket to form the Thames River at the Norwich Harbor and the high clouds looked like the proverbial cotton balls against a sky so blue it could have been paint by numbers, but wasn't. Just lovely.

Came home to recharge (cell phone not my spirit,  which is and always shall be indefatigable) and then took a quick wander to my absolutely favorite place, The Falls, and realized how dry a summer it's really been when i saw fish with snorkels, or so it seemed.

Still the view was lovely and we have all day today and all day tomorrow! I cannot wait-hope your days are as wonderful as mine.
-bill kenny

Saturday, August 30, 2014

There Was No Promise Made

My wife feeds the birds. Our daughter feeds the squirrels. I can barely feed myself. Sometimes a summer breeze becomes an  Idiot Wind. (I'm excited (maybe you can tell) Dylan is emptying his archives and sharing (=selling) all of his bootleg sessions with The Band)

We're using some of the Labor Day weekend to put the yard in order for autumn and everything that is to follow and that means the days are drawing down for the hummingbird feeders as they hit the highway and become a very much limited time offer in these parts. And happy trails, ladies and gentlemen.

Their crystal meth is sugar water with red dye (though I've been told they are color blind so why red is more attractive than other colors I know not why, just that it is) but they are not the only creatures attracted to it or to the dispensers that hold it.

I came across this little guy this afternoon and watched as he walked up the giant wrought iron holder, you can't see it in the picture but the hook at its top is what holds up the cage that houses the feeder, down the wire that secures the feeder to the housing and directly to the feeder opening from which the hummingbird sips.

What the ant can't see, I'm assuming as I don't know how good their eyesight is, are all the ants who worked their way through the dispensing nozzle and ended up in the feeder reservoir where the nectar is. Once in there's no way out. That's the clump of small black dots floating at the top of the nectar.

This ant eventually gave up attempting to get in and if it's possible they have feelings, may have felt defeated and discouraged as he retraced her/his steps back to the nest at the end of another shift on behalf of the colony.

He never realized how close he'd come to death from the very thing he was chasing. Just me, or does that sound like everybody we know?
-bill kenny

Friday, August 29, 2014

Crossed the Line Around the Changes of the Summer

My walk after dinner last night came the closest yet to ending with darkness catching up to me. I know I don't have a lot more daylight at that time of day and have known since the June solstice what was coming. Autumn.

This weekend more or less marks the end of summer (and completely closes the book on wearing white) which, it seems to me, we were longing for fervently not that long ago. Seems like only last week we were getting ready for Memorial Day, a solemn observance that, at least in my lifetime, has come to be seen as the 'gentlemen, start our engines' signal for fun in the sunshine.

And here we are on the weekend that ends with another holiday, to our nation's working men and women (far too many of whom aren't working regularly at all or working for subsistence wages for companies scheming on ways to lower their corporate taxes, and succeeding), ending another summer and turning the page and corner as we gather speed and head to shorter days, darker nights and dream of the next spring and summer. Even closer to the edge.
-bill kenny

Thursday, August 28, 2014

20/20 Hindsight

From the moment I saw the headline on the bulletin flash on-line, I sort of expected what I would read at the bottom of the on-screen page
I wasn’t disappointed, just dismayed.

There will be a time and a day for a reasoned discussion on guns and their place in American society. This is not it. 
This is a time to feel sad for two families and for our nation.

-bill kenny

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Freedom of Choice or from Choice?

In a sense, summer ends tonight, (even) before Labor Day as Tom Foley and Dannel Malloy meet in a debate hosted by The Bulletin's Ray Hackett in Norwich Free Academy's Slater Museum at seven. Every seat in the building was spoken for before last weekend began so for those, to include me, concerned about an engaged electorate that's good news.

Of course, I can't lose sight of the fact that it's a long way to November and I'm more concerned that we finish strong in terms of energy, engagement and involvement. In recent elections, regardless of the offices being contested, voter turnout has been polite, and I'm being (very) kind with that descriptive.

When you consider the number of threats our democracy has faced and faces at any given time throughout our history and how often we have asked family and friends to defend with their lives our liberties, to include the right to vote, you, too, must concede the level of voter turnout is and remains disappointing.

We’ve all read news accounts of villagers across Afghanistan braving death to cast a ballot because as impoverished as they are in every sense of the word, they know how important the right to choose is.

Meanwhile and I have no data to prove this, but you have none to disprove it, more of us know the names of every member of the Kardashian Family than of the six members who make up our Connecticut Congressional delegation.

Actually I'm being sneaky when I say six, because the census of 2010 confirmed a reduction in our state's population and we lost a Congressional representation as a result and only have five. And yet we're more knowledgeable about the members of the bread and circuses brigade because more of us watch E! than CT-N or CSPAN.

There will in all likelihood be more than two candidates seeking the office of Governor and we should maintain open minds on those who seek our support, as we weigh their positions on where we are and where we should be gong and their respective plans for getting us there.

I'm told those of us with tickets for tonight's debate should plan on arriving early in order to have better seat selection and I'd like to go that one better. Whatever time you were planning on heading over, make it fifteen minutes earlier, thirty if you didn't vote in our mayoral election last year and an hour if you skipped the previous presidential ballot.

Use that time to stop by the monuments at Chelsea Parade to the Norwich natives who've died in our wars from the founding of the Republic to the Global War on Terror and  explain to those memorialized on those stones how and why it is you can't seem to find fifteen minutes on Election Day to cast a ballot.

Sometimes I get confused and downhearted because I'm unsure as to whether we want freedom of choice or freedom from choice. See you tonight at Slater.
-bill kenny

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Remaking the World with Words

Today, as you’ll be reminded any number of times and places to include here and now is Women’s Equality Day. It’s an observation marking the adoption in 1920 of the Nineteenth Amendment to the US Constitution, that stated simply and elegantly, “(t)he right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”

If you’re under forty it may be hard to imagine an atmosphere of bi-partisanship and attitude of cooperation that allowed and facilitated our House of Representatives and Senate to work in partnership with the President of the United States for the common good. It's hard to believe, I know, but at one time such collaboration was seen as desirable and the nation, as a whole, benefited 

I was much younger then and my memories have dimmed with time and distance, but we did do things together that today would be regarded as impossible to accomplish alone. Maybe that is what’s meant by the Good Old Days. For women of the United States, not just those born before 1920 and for many in every variation of socio-economic strata we have, there are no such as Good Old Days.

It never ceases to amaze me how a planet, which from space presents all of us upon it as looking so much the same, can be broken into so many synthetic divisions. Together, despite the insanity of our national, ideological or religious vanity, we are so much smarter and gooder* than we are separately that it defies logic why we continue to subjugate one another based on the color of skin, an accident of economic achievement, religious belief, genitalia and/or sexual preference.

You don’t have to send anyone a card to celebrate Women’s Equality Day-you just need to continue to strive to see individual persons as people, fellow travelers on the Big Blue Marble, orbiting the Sun, hanging on for dear life and each hoping we’re not flung to the far corners of the universe before our appointed time.
-bill kenny     

*it should be a word

Monday, August 25, 2014

We Can Twerk It Out

It’s just as well that I don’t hang out at the water-cooler at work (W.C. Fields disincentivized me from so doing) as I’ll stick to the bottled stuff with packets of flavor because naked water tastes so ordinary especially today since I didn’t watch the Video Music Awards, VMAs, last night on MTV. Cynic that I am, most of the music these days on MTV is in the commercials for skin creams and cell phone companies.

Talk about feeling like a football bat. I came of age when rock and roll was white noise on AM radio and now we each have personalized music services on soundclouds (or clowns, I’m never sure which; it makes as much sense, or as little, either way) making me a musical fossil as I still buy vinyl and compact discs and if I do buy a download (not to be confused with downlow, I’m told), I always burn, or rip as the kids call it, a CD.

At the moment in the car’s CD player is Field Mouse, Jess Klein’s recent release, Learning Faith, Ramblin’ Dan Stevens, my most favorite Joni Mitchell album, Shine, and reasonably new (for me) music from a fine band, the Old 97’s (NFSW! I just learned the other day what that means-I am so pleased to be able to use it appropriately. Word to your mother). 

Of course, at this moment, the Field Mouse CD is literally stuck in my car's CD player and short of drilling through the engine fire wall to remove the player from the dashboard there’s no easy means of listening to a whole lot of anything. If you have an idea how to solve this, feel free to holler.

I’m a child of the napalm-scented “we had to destroy the village to save it” generation (can you tell?) which trumps the patchouli-oil aromatic of ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ which, as it turns out, still doesn’t happen as the little boogers run wild in the street and the parents self-medicate

I didn’t bother to watch the VMA’s, it's a tradition of mine. I missed them last year as well and never quite caught up to Miley Cyrus and whatever her antics were about. I have no doubt, since there’s no such as ‘bad’ publicity, something of sorts went on last night with luminaries (I suppose) such as Sam Smith, Taylor Swift, Jessie J, Nicki Minaj and Ariana Grande, slated to perform. I almost can’t wait to not find out all about it.

Of course the Emmys are on tonight so I'd better bring a canteen tomorrow and stay in my office. Would someone please pass me the zirconium encrusted tweezers? I think I can get an angle on that stuck CD from here. Are those rotors I hear and tell me again, what does victory smell like?   
-bill kenny

Sunday, August 24, 2014

What's In a Name?

There was some good news for one of the genuine good guys of American professional football earlier this week, when the physicians for former Buffalo Bills’ quarterback Jim Kelly who’s been in a much-publicized battle with sinus cancer, gave him a clean bill of health.  

I grew up a fan of Broadway Joe Namath and to this day I can’t muster a lot of love for the Jets’ upstate cousins in Buffalo but Jim Kelly has always been a class act and his willingness to share his trials and travails (and those of his family with him) made me better appreciate what me and mine have and how quickly it can all disappear. His grace under pressure while the trials of Job were being visited upon him is singular and amazing.

I smiled when I first heard the descriptive “Kelly Tough” about his mindset towards his illness because I’m thinking that maybe that attitude has something to do with the name. And by that, I mean another Kelly, probably with her tootsies in the sand even as I’m typing this, oblivious to how much awe she inspires in her own children by always bending but never breaking in the face of enough tribulations to fill three lifetimes. And all she says is “how’s it going?” and then keeps going herself.

Yeah, with all due respect to Jim, I can substitute Joan, and still get to Tough. And the good thing about that is I don’t waste any time helping Thurman Thomas look for his helmet. For all the good it will do him once we find it.

-bill kenny 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Once and Future Diamond Dogs

This is one of my favorite weekends of the summer and not just because I get to watch so many other people’s kids get dragged to stores for back to school clothes, though (of course) that is looming at least around here for next week.

Nothing warms my heart quite as well as watching a gangly young person who elevated barefoot to an art form since school let out in middle June having to get used to wearing shoes and socks again. As an adult with a list of required wear apparel longer than Bush’s reasons for invading Iraq, I say ‘welcome.’

No, today are two very intriguing baseball games that will determine who meets on the morrow in the middle of the afternoon for the 2014 Little League Baseball World Series Championship.

I love professional baseball beyond any beats and bounds and I am always loyal to where the wellspring of the game actually is, on the sandlots across this country and around the world. 

With all the hell and hurt going on just about anywhere you stick a pin on the globe, I am looking forward to this afternoon’s contests (the International division faces off first at half past twelve with Chicago and Las Vegas in the US division at three) as my “gone fishing” sign to everyone and any care for the remainder of the day.

There are/were so many great aw shucks stories and magical moments again this tournament and I hate to see it end, not only because I enjoy the energy, enthusiasm and engagement these young people bring to my favorite sport but because someone, somewhere ultimately has to lose for someone else to win.

The dog pile that goes on at home plate when the last out is made (on Sunday afternoon) is balanced by a sadness from the other dugout whose team struggled through all season to come up just short at the final moment. There’s no shame in losing-only if you didn’t play every second of every game to win and when you get to Williamsport, there’s no danger of that.

Little League baseball, in my jaundiced opinion, is how life should be. People take turns and say please and thank you. They respect the rules and those who enforce them. They try their hardest and give their all. They say ‘way to go’ to team-mates and competitors alike and really mean it and when an umpire says ‘that’s a ball’ or ‘that’s a strike’ they say yes, sir, and nothing more.

Little leaguers are us before all that adult stupid stuff gets installed. You should check it out this afternoon and remind yourself of the way we were when summer days went on forever and you played baseball until mom called us in for supper. Don’t let anyone say that it’s just a game. Batter-up.

-bill kenny          

Friday, August 22, 2014

Nietzsche Nailed It

I neither knew, not knew of, James Foley except in an abstract sense of the word. As someone who devours news and information on and from any number of platforms I am aware of the veritable army of people across the globe engaged without surcease in reporting on the actions and activities of this world, which we call news. 

Mr. Foley was engaged in pursuit of inconvenient truths wherever in the world he found them and wherever in the world they took him. We all know what happened but I’m not sure that any of us have any confidence in what happens next despite opinions masquerading as facts from any and all political persuasions.

There is sadness for his family and friends and the knowledge that the space in their lives he occupied will always and forever be filled by ineffable and unending sorrow and an ache that cannot stop but there are no words for them, him or for us. Just the realization that pure evil exists in our world and that it always has and always will.

-bill kenny

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Ay Carumba!

As promotional stunts go, this one from the FXX (cable) network borders on a public service. I’ll make this quick as I don’t know what time it is wherever you are, but as of 10 this morning and running through the final moments of the Labor Day holiday, FXX is running a marathon of every episode of The Simpsons ever made, in order *.

Should definitely make for some quiet streets in neighborhoods across the country as some of us struggle to answer Bart’s age-old question, “What if you're a really good person, but you get into a really, really bad fight and your leg gets gangrene and it has to be amputated. Will it be waiting for you in heaven?”

Rumor has it that may be the tie-breaker used by the next College of Cardinals to determine who becomes Pope. (Having your own hat will no longer be enough, Kelly; just sayin'.).

I can’t imagine watching all of it (actually the people I work for have told me they can’t imagine it as I’m supposed to be at my desk at work for at least eight hours of it every work-day , so I, too, can’t imagine it) but I can imagine there are plenty of folks who will do exactly that and post about it on Social Media Uber Alles as it’s happening.

For my part, I’ve always loved Bart’s scribbling on the school blackboard as punishment though never more than when he scrawled “I will not surprise the incontinent.” We’re all gonna die, Lis.

-bill kenny

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Slow Motion Riders Fly the Colors of the Day

I used Saturday's glorious weather to visit Mohegan Park on what I believe to have been one of the ten best days, weather-wise, we've had all year. Judging from the numbers of people I encountered at the picnic tables, the beach and on the walking path around Spaulding Pond, I wasn't alone.

You remember Saturday-light breeze, low humidity and high clouds? Walking around Spaulding Pond, I'm always intrigued by the canopy the tall trees, mostly oaks I think, form over the pathway, sometimes completely obscuring the sky above while on the pond banks, maples and what we used to call poplars where I grew up, hug the shore.  Intermingled of course are also pine trees which I'll notice more as the colors of the leaves on all the other trees start to change.

Everyone I met in Mohegan were very friendly, much more so than when we cross paths elsewhere, but in fairness that's as true of me as it is for them. Perhaps that's why we go there-to recreate and to re-create ourselves, our hearts and our souls.

I always take peanuts with me to feed the chipmunks and squirrels I may encounter. On my first pass around the Lakeside Pavilion on the path that forks nearest the pond, my way was blocked by a squirrel who darted in front of me, halting for a moment and then racing two more steps ahead until I finally bribed him with a peanut. I was surprised he didn't scamper away but waited until I gave him a second peanut.

Satisfied, he gathered them both up and darted into the woods. On my next round, I had two squirrels waiting for me. Blabbermouth. I paid my toll and they let me pass. Farther along, I spotted a dad and his two sons, one about eight the other closer to three, fishermen all. The father explained the younger one loved to fish but didn't like to hurt the worms they used as bait and was content to dangle his naked hook for hours just as long as he was near his father and brother.

Elsewhere, walking in the opposite direction, I came across a trio, eyes averted, with a medium sized bag of what looked like bread in small pieces but since there are signs depicting Canadian geese with the admonition "Don't Feed the Wildlife," I knew they surely wouldn’t have.

I couldn't help but notice a raft of ducks in the pond quietly shadowing them at a discrete distance as they hiked, all wearing tee-shirts reading "Not a Canadian Goose." In both English and French (or not).

I almost got to be a wedding guest as nuptials were moments away from beginning as I made my exit. I smiled watching the happy guests arrive and applauded the couple, whoever they were, for the reward of their faith in the elements when they chose an outside ceremony. They and their guests could reflect and relax in a perfect setting on a perfect day.
-bill kenny

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Homeward Bound (Rotary Wing Model)

There’s a popular saying (here in the Geezer Hood) that if you can remember the Sixties, you weren’t there. Well I can and I was so I smile as we go through I’m not quite sure what to call it at this moment in commemorating the 45th Anniversary of “An Aquarian Exposition”, the Woodstock Music and Art Fair.

Do I really need to warn you to stay away from the brown acid? Too late, I concede, for those in the House of Representatives, as near as I can determine, but worth a try for the rest of us. I wasn’t there but I was on the earth and enjoyed many of the people who made much of three-days of music that went on there, and who then left without getting any of Yasgur’s Farm on them.   

This is the most iconic moment of those three days of peace, love and death. But it’s not a part of my story about Woodstock, because my story isn’t about Woodstock but a prison in Munchen (West) Germany, called Stadelheim and two inmates, lovers I always assumed, Magnus and Marchy.

It was Marchy who used to write to me with requests either she or Magnus wished to hear when I worked very late at night for American Forces Radio. I had the impression they were incarcerated for serious (vice recreational) drugs, cocaine or heroin (more likely the latter) than hashish or cannabis.
Her command of English made Marchy the ambassador.

I worked hard, though not as hard I should or could have, to honor requests even if they were from what we called “the shadow audience” (not US troops, employees or their family members for whom we were a ‘Voice from Home’) but the natives of the countries we were stationed in and to whom we were  accidentally bringing American culture, even if it was spelled with a “K.”

I’d get a ridiculously large number of rock and roll song suggestions and developed a deep appreciation of Rik De Lisle, the host of Old Gold Retold (on before me) and his ability to manage a deluge of requests without drowning in somebody else’s favorite songs and still please his legion of fans.

I never had that many ear witnesses-I referred to the show in the office as “Diving for Dopers” since I had little illusion as to who was up at that hour and what they were doing. I’d play no more than three audience requests a show but still had a waiting list that stretched for weeks. Marchy and Magnus were repeat requesters and always had amazing taste.

When I got her card with a “Birthday Greetings Wish for Magnus” (I can still see the blue ink scrawled across the white prison postcard and the initials of whomever (I presume) allowed the card to be mailed to the Armee Sender in Frankfurt), for Ten Years After, “I’m Going Home By Helicopter” I was amused as how he had misheard the title, but when you listen to Alvin introduce the song, you ,too shall realize, Magnus nailed it.

If fast guitar playing had been an Olympic sport, Alvin Lee would be on the medals podium; he was fast and he was loud. And people who loved him, loved him; and people who didn’t, shrugged. I did a lot of shrugging when I saw the card, but I worked the Live at Woodstock version of the song into a set and wished Magnus a happy birthday (though privately I wondered how that would have been possible).

A couple of weeks later a card, signed only by Marchy, came thanking me for playing Alvin and TYA, assuring me  Magnus would have really loved it, except he’d committed suicide by overdose the night of his birthday.

Probably not quite the Woodstock story either of us had hoped for and certainly not the one I’d have told you had I a better one, but as I suggested earlier if you remembered Woodstock, you weren’t there. And I’ve spent a lot of time in the ensuing decades wishing I had been somewhere else instead. 
-bill kenny

Monday, August 18, 2014

Orange Is the New X on the Forehead

Everything old is new again, some of us more so than others, I suppose.

Take Chuck for example. You probably know him better as Charles, Charles Manson. The man who put paid to the "All You Need Is Love" mindset forty-five years ago.  I was brought up in a religious faith where you hate the sin, not the sinner but Manson makes it easy to forgo and forget that concept.

I hadn't thought about him in years-I suspect almost none of us who were alive at that time have. And then I came across this news item. No matter how many setbacks and disappointments you have suffered as a parent, at least you're not Afton Burton's parents. That's what I call a reason to be cheerful.

Afton, or Star as she calls herself now, has this as her point and purpose it seems. I'm loving the idea of a "tax-deductable (sic) donation" to the Charles Manson Legal Trust. Ignoring the creative spelling across the website, I'm impressed by the single-mindedness with which she pursues her advocacy.

I'm not worried that this malevolent miscreant will ever be released, but am a little sad to think about what Afton Burton could've done in and with her life for herself and for others, and instead chose this path. You're only fooling you; look at your game, girl.
-bill kenny

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Livin' Large

I may start to take more Fridays off to better enjoy my actual weekend. Yesterday I got up and went to the bakery and bought much many yummy and warm things that made the inside of the car smell wonderful.

Since everything I'd normally have as an errand on Saturday was done on Friday, I was able to enjoy a wander through Mohegan Park and had, quite frankly, almost the perfect weather to do it in.

When I returned I snagged an invitation from my wife to join her and our daughter Michelle on a Thelma and Louise-like sojourn to The Whaling City, New London, for an oh-so-exotic Food Truck Food Festival at the State Pier.

It was held where the ferries and the train intersect-if anyplace could use an Intermodal Transportation Center it is they-and the city had surprise (to me) guests staying over as company.

New London is known as the home of Eugene O'Neill and that's a statue of him in the foreground with America's Tall Ship, the United States Coast Guard Academy Barque Eagle in the background. Sweet.

As for the food, we were spoiled for choices until we came across Spuds Your Way. Baked potato, butter, chives, sour cream, bacon and steak. Yum.

I was so full I could barely hold on to the helm. And if I had been able to get my hands (and mouth and lips) around one of those grilled cheese sammiches from a little farther down the pier, I dare not guess as to who would be in this picture, except it wouldn't be me.

-bill kenny

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Victims of Higher Math

The season was over last week, all that was left was playing for pride and a bit of a spoiler role. Pride survived, but the four points we were trailing by at the half proved to be impossible to recoup as the Connecticut Sun lost to the Washington Mystics 71-67.

With the victory, the Mystics whose current head coach is the Sun's former head coach, clinched the last play-off slot and swept all four games with the Sun this season. That's the part that hurt the most. The play-off ship had sailed long ago for the Suns.

My most lasting memory will be an olfactory one, so to speak, as the guy in front of us, in addition to having to use a shoe-horn (nearly) to get into his seat (which he never left, how could he?), he smelled like a basement after a long stretch of rain.  It would have been perfect had he been named Rose-I'd have settled for Pete, though I suspect he wasn't and isn't.

The Suns' 2014 season ends Sunday at home against the Atlanta Dream and then we start to scheme and dream for next year. It'll be great.
-bill kenny

Friday, August 15, 2014

Mystery Achievement

The platform that enables me to write this screed every day shared with me as one of its functions when I began this time around, that this is exactly the 2,500th  entry. Sometimes my need to tell you will exceed your need to care. This is in all likelihood one of those moments. And we’ll always have Paris.

I started this as an attempt to sort out my relationship, physically and perhaps philosophically, with what I regard as my universe (you might be tempted to call it something far less elegant and more succinct, but reasonable people should be able to agree to disagree) and by now could easily serve as an exhibit or more at an involuntary commitment hearing.

I think that’s progress; your mileage may vary. Truth to tell, I have no idea how much of the ride you have been along for and I may well be better off not knowing. I had someone who has a professional interest in these words ask me to explain to him one time what motivated me to offer drive-by observations on the world at large seemingly undeterred by an absence of information on the subject about which I am writing.

I assured him that I’ve never allowed a lack of facts to hinder the formulation of an opinion and, like so many with whom I seem to come into daily contact, once my mind is made up there’s no point in confusing me with facts. His reaction led me to conclude my effort at explanation had fallen well short of the mark, and David, too.

Actually, I know why I write this (because I have to) but have no idea why you choose to stop by. I’m grateful you do since being the sound of one hand clapping gets real old real fast (and well before hitting 2,500 entries on the blogodometer). If you don’t like it, I’m assuming you’ve clicked and moved on and (much like during my radio days) I have no idea you and Elvis have left the building.

Maybe I could offer a prize, though aside from no longer actually posting the entries I write I suspect there’s no offering to entice you to stick around. Tell you what:  if, after the next 2,500 you still don’t like this stuff, I’ll help you get your money back from that Literacy Volunteer.

-bill kenny

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Another Moment that Flashes into Nowhere

Rothman, Schekman, Sudhof and Kardashian. Show of hands. How many know anything about the first three? More specifically, how many know that the trio, two Americans and one German were awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine last October for their work in “solving the mystery in how the cell organizes its transport system” (i.e., when and where to deliver the molecules the cells produce)?

The fourth name is famous for being famous which is only possible at this moment in our cultural evolution because of the convergence of technology and emergence of a level of self-abnegation and empty lives heretofore unknown to our species.  And now she’s adding author to her resume.

I actually read through the story looking for the redemptive angle of “a share of the proceeds” (the book is $19.95 a pop) will go to ….insert a charity name here (and not Botox for Buttocks, though that is kinda  catchy especially if we place Bimbos after for). Nope, not happening. If the dying children around the world want help, let them write their own damn selfie book.

We are why these things happen, dear Brutus. We eat this pap, rhymes with crap, up with a spoon and clamor for more. And don’t think this tome won’t be at the top of the N. Y. Times Bestseller List next April when it’s published.

So order today if you want to get behind in your reading (didja see what I did there?), operators are standing by. Send your cash or money order by midnight and we’ll get it even faster.    

-bill kenny 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Waiting for Godot or Someone Like Him

There was almost a blank hole here today. I was so wrapped up in other projects that the deadline for writing and submitting the newspaper version of this screed was upon me before I was fully aware. I know, you almost can't believe your good fortune. Sorry to disappoint you and better luck next time

However, if I were to be honest with you and it costs me nothing to so do, it's not that I'm likely to run out of things to write about even if sometimes I sound more like I'm scolding than exhorting. Admittedly, from a distance it can be hard to tell them apart. Quite frankly, in terms of scolding and finger-wagging, Norwich is a target-rich environment.

There's never a shortage of folks, be it on a street corner, or in this section of the Wednesday newspaper, who not only know everything but who know everything better. I'm here almost twenty-three years and am amazed at the hundreds of us who can do a better job than any individual city leader, appointed or elected, you'd care to name.

Of course, unlike those hapless, helpless victims of higher criticism who just don't listen to our sage advice (which we provide so freely and frequently), few of us offer ourselves as candidates for office or (more's the shame) lend a hand as a volunteer on the dozens of volunteer panels ranging from advisories through boards to commissions and committees.

Instead we wait around for someone else to take the lead without ever fully realizing we are someone else's someone else. Sometimes all the help you can ever count on is at the end of each arm-and, to be fair, more often than not, that's all you need.

Of course, if you never risk anything, you never lose anything, but you also never experience the delight of winning either. You can spend an entire life waiting for the storm and you'll never experience the sunshine and who among us would want that?

I would imagine, based on my own observations of the crowds who've turned out that we've had close to 5,000 people each of the last two summers for those Wednesday evening Rock the Docks concerts at Howard T. Brown Park.

Not sure how many of us thought much less believed those shows would be as successful as they are, but somebody else did, and worked to make it happen instead of standing on the sidelines.

The 2014 Rock the Docks season was supposed to end tonight but the bad weather has slid the grand finale to next Wednesday, the 20th, with Malaena, whose slogan is "is music that makes you want to dance." And even if you dance the way I do, which is not to, you should still applaud the civic mindedness and hard work that made these concerts a destination in the middle of a city where we all seem to wait for something to happen.

I don't know about you, but I can't wait for the fall and to see what happens next and who makes it happen.
-bill kenny

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Flawed and Fragile

In the end, that bastard SGM Dickerson won.

Robin Williams, who made millions laugh from his work in Mork and Mindy, Patch Adams, Mrs. Doubtfire as well as Good Morning Vietnam, and dozens of other major films, succumbed to his own pain and was consumed by the same demons that compelled him to devote his life to making  us smile.

Charles Colton once wrote, "Death is the liberator of him whom freedom cannot release, the physician of him whom medicine cannot cure, and the comforter of him whom time cannot console."

Nanu, Robin.
-bill kenny

Monday, August 11, 2014

Hold on to Faith

By the time this day has ended it's probable, because it's also inevitable, that our nearly hometown Women's National Basketball Association, WNBA, team, the Connecticut Sun will be able to start making their post-season travel arrangements unencumbered in any way by their league's play-offs.

For the second year in a row, the Sun will have failed to achieve a berth in the post-season. I don't know enough about basketball of any level to "know" why this happened, except the obvious: they didn't win enough games to qualify.

I saw them Sunday afternoon with our daughter, Michelle (we've attended all but two of this season's games, and they were playing against the Washington Mystics, whom they had failed to beat on three previous occasions this season.  But this time....

In double overtime, because there literally wasn't enough time in regulation to triumph, the Sun topped the Mystics 89-81. Mathematically, the Sun are still a possible playoff team especially if two of the teams ahead of them get lost heading to their next three games and have to forfeit.

This hasn't been the season the team had hoped for. On the other hand, for a lot of us it hasn't been the summer we would have liked. That the team never gave up on themselves was pretty obvious Sunday afternoon, at least to those of us in the upper deck. When it becomes obvious to themselves, we'll see the beginnings of the next phase of their growth. As it is, that's why next season was invented. And that's where we'll see them.
-bill kenny

Sunday, August 10, 2014

As Fast as I Can

Heading out for home the other work-day, I glanced into my desk drawer where I stow my keys and was a bit surprised.

Yeah, that's four sets of scissors. I'm not Johnny Depp's stunt double and I don't do a lot of running in the first place so I'm not quite sure what to make of the picture or how so many of one item came to be there. I've since checked and I don't have any huge quantities of other office supplies hiding out in cupboards or drawers. Just the scissors.

I mention this should you ever need to borrow scissors, I'm your guy. And there's no need to thank me or probably even return as I look like I'm set for quite a while.

Don't forget there's a Super Moon tonight-I hope where you live you can see it. I know about this Super Moon because the former mayor of where I live it mentioned it to me Friday evening as we were both enjoying Ramblin' Dan Stevens (always looks more authentic with the apostrophe, don't it?) down in Howard T. Brown Park in Norwich.

Friday was the start of what I hope today continues to be a great weekend of weather, even as the summer starts to wind down. I find myself sometimes not enjoying the moment and being in it as much as I should because I am already fearing the end, or the next, and I'm not sure those who espouse carpe diem don't really have it right.

And if you need to cut either the carpe or the diem into smaller pieces, sort of a 'pass-around pack', borrow my scissors and cut to the chase.
-bill kenny

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Tricky Dick's Last Kick

In a culture where knowing the nickname of the boyfriend of the housekeeper on Keeping Up with the Kardashians is considered current affairs, we have become a nation of sheeple with the same sense of history as a cat. I say that not just because I am old, though I am, but because we are.

Forty years ago, today, Richard M. Nixon, re-elected by one of the largest pluralities in the history of Presidential elections, less than two years earlier, resigned the office of the Presidency before he was impeached and removed from office by Congress.

Here in the digital era, it may seem odd that so much could have been made of tape recordings, but as what had been on the miles of tape Nixon had secretly recorded in his own office started to become known, Nixon’s defenders started to bolt for the exits.

I had just concluded my senior year at Rutgers College or Rutgers University as Nixon was boarding Marine One, the Presidential helicopter at the White House. He turned to face a small coterie of well-wishers on the White House lawn as he reached the top step of the ladder to the chopper and offered his final V for Victory wave as a farewell. Stepping into the ‘vertical transport device’ he flew off.

A couple of Sundays ago, one of the local newspapers shared a long conversation it had had with former Senator (and former CT Governor) Lowell Weicker, the sole surviving member of the Senate Watergate committee, on the impact and import on the lives and times of those in DC then, and now, of some truly historical moments.

As someone who watched in fascination hour upon hour of the televised hearings, I found the Weicker interview fascinating perhaps as much for the memories of mine it summoned as well as for the dark corners and recesses of whispered events it illuminated. I’d hope you’d find the time to read it.

I may have intended that last line sardonically as we seem to have no time to read anything anymore. Which may be why I find this so helpful and yet so sad that we would need it. With all due respect to Theodore Dreiser, for my now-grey-and-often-gone generation, RMN (as Nixon called himself) was our American Tragedy.

Four decades later, when national voter turnout hovers at 40%, when more people know the names of the judges on America’s Got Talent than on the US Supreme Court and a complacent and compliant  corporate media offers its glassy-eyed and slack-jawed “consumers” pre-packaged, cross-platform pablum that does little to disturb the zombie-like trance with which so many somnambulate while vested interests on both sides of the aisle malign one another and manipulate those in the middle in a continuing effort to circumvent the Constitution and circumscribe our personal liberties, it’s like Nixon never happened.

“The common sense I sometimes lack has opened up a seismic crack. We've fallen in and I can't pull back and I guess we'll have to stay.” Especially since I fear we’ve lost our way and the reason why we set off on the journey in the first place.

-bill kenny

Friday, August 8, 2014

Take Up Thy Stethoscope and Walk

I’m still thinking about the humble brilliance of David Walker whose professional bad break, literally and figuratively, I was ruminating about at length in this very ether yesterday (and wondering where the (Detroit) lions are). Talk about the Prayer of Saint Francis-he sets the bar pretty high for the rest of our species, gotta tell ya.

Quick personal inventory, ethical, intellectual and moral, wow not doing so well; I have these opposable thumbs and not much else in my favor and some days I’ll all thumbs. Sure hope if The Rapture is today, we’re grading on a curve.

Then you travel not all that far from NY Giants’ training camp, actually to Stamford, Connecticut another cautionary tale along the Merritt Parkway for what I can only assume is a medical miracle-nothing more and nothing less. Submitted for your inspection, Raleigh Rolex and the EZ Rider.    

Want to just double back for a moment on this project that the Merritt Parkway Conservancy is up in arms about. I came to ‘all stop’ as I was reading the CT Department of Transportation proposal, not only because that tends to happen a lot to me while driving on it, especially as I near the state line with New York and the Tappan Zee Bridge, but out of disbelief that one person would suggest another could hike along the shoulder of that roadway (and a third person would give him over a million dollars to find out what people think of it). Since I promised Mom many years ago that when I can say nothing nice about a subject to say nothing at all, how ‘bout dem Mets?

On the other hand, assuming this scallywag is apprehended (getting air in the tires of his not-needed-except-as-a-prop chariot) I think we should let Rollie make the maiden voyage along the trail perhaps  outrunning a mall security guard, Paul Bart?, zipping along on a Segway. As for the speed of his getaway, no worries. He’s got a Rolex, he can time himself.

-bill kenny

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Down to the River

I’ve a well-deserved reputation as misanthropic pragmatist-I find the terms complementary, others less so. As dazzling as I see us and our accomplishments as a species and nearly as often as a national collective (‘Murikans!) I tend to watch almost every transaction large or small and wait for the other shoe to drop. 

I admire people for their achievements and aspirations even when their efforts in pursuit of the latter aren’t crowned by what convention might term ‘success.’  As someone who grew up wanting to be a cowboy, a baseball player, an astronaut and the President all at the same time (and still my trademark application for multitasking was denied!) I’ve watched out for David Wilson, a professional football player for the New Jersey Giants (not a typo; they share a playing surface with the Jersey Jets) even though it’s not really a sport for which I have an aptitude or affection.

Wilson was in the news a LOT for an injury he suffered last season and from which he had hoped (believed) to have made a full recovery so as to resume the pursuit of his dream career. Earlier this week, that dream ended as he was advised the nature of his chosen sport is such that he risked permanent disability and/or worse if he continued, so he retired.

What moved me was the way he handled not only the news but himself in the public arena, with the members of the working sports press, in reacting to it all. I’m NOT a NY Post guy-Daily News was more my morning jacket, and way easier to read on the bus and subway than the NY Times. I mention this because go back to the Post link and look in your browser window. The Post website guys couldn’t be bothered to slug a new page, but rather, dropped the revised text onto the previous url.

Yeah, you’re amazed I’m being snarky after I've marveled at Wilson’s eloquent expansiveness and expansive eloquence. Sue me. 

Decades ago, I fixated on a song from Bruce Springsteen, who has never pretended to be “New York” anything, and his sprawling masterpiece, The River, where he wondered aloud on the title track ‘is a dream a lie if it don’t come true?’

I think, for this moment at least, while I may not have an answer I can live with for the rest of my days, I now know someone who can and, more importantly, will.
-bill kenny

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Another Place We'll Never Be

You may have missed-I confess I did but social media was all abuzz-last weekend's activities all part of the  First Friday Downtown Norwich, ranging from the Otis Library to Norwich Arts Center, Artspace as well as the Gallery at the Wauregan and Reliance House Gallery plus live music in multiple locations to include the steps of City Hall and in a recently opened destination shop on Main Street, Encore Justified.

From what I read and heard, people came from within and without the city to admire the art, enjoy the music, patronize the restaurants and were having so much fun enjoying themselves and each other, no one had the time to complain about how there's never anything to do in Norwich or how when there is something to do, there's never any parking. Funny, eh?

Everywhere I go, I run into people who chide me about my "boosterism"-Norwich is NOT Mystic, they remind me. Thanks for the geography lesson and glad we got that straight, but why stop there? There are literally billions of places Norwich isn't; I'll pause while you silently list them all.

I'm kidding-I don't have that kind of time and neither should you. I will confess and concede what you probably already know, I wasn't born here like so many who claim to have such concern about my so-called enthusiasm.

I chose to live here with my family as have many others and that's got a lot to do, perhaps, with why we see Norwich differently than do you. Between discouraged experts and enthusiastic beginners, we can be whatever city we decide to be. But first we must decide to decide.

Weather permitting, if you're at Rock the Docks tonight for the Fat Cats tonight pay attention to how many other people are at Howard T. Brown Park. Some will have stopped off to grab a bite in a local place before the show, others will have something at the show while still others will save their dinner for dessert, so to speak, afterwards.

A lot of folks, our neighbors and friends (a/k/a "local businesses"), worked hard to make all those choices happen. They might take exception to your 'there's nothing to do here' attitude.

If you like Rock the Docks come back this Friday with more music at the Elsie Brown Gazebo when Ramblin' Dan Stevens plays at six. I caught the first installment of "Friday Night Acoustics," last month with Bohemian Picnic and there were folks and fans in lawn chairs across the park and on the benches with boat owners at the Marina all enjoying the sounds.

It's another night of free music in a city with nothing to do that's certainly not Mystic. Of course, at one time, not even Mystic was Mystic so I'm thinking there's hope for us yet. But hope is NOT a plan just like happiness is a choice and not an accident.

-bill kenny

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Physics more than Friends

There's no reason to hurry off to a Hallmark store today as I doubt they have any cards for us to send to anyone for tomorrow's sixty-ninth anniversary of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Many cities around the world and across our nation will mark the moment or, like us here in Norwich, will do so on Saturday to commemorate the bombing of Nagasaki.

I've never really understood the name we came to call the effort to develop the weapon, the Manhattan Project, but as much reading as I've done on the era and epoch that created the circumstances where the notion of such a weapon's existence was posited and then created, I'm grateful to have been born in the decade that followed it.

J. Robert Oppenheimer, whom we've called the 'father of the atomic bomb' for decades in popular history, was probably not comfortable with that sobriquet and spent much of the rest of his life attempting to create a world where such weapons, that we now call Weapons of Mass Destruction, would not/could not ever be used.

We are an amazing species capable of hunting other species and one another to the point of extinction while expending more time, energy and money on weapons of death and destruction than on anything that might in any way enhance our quality or quantity of life.

I've read varying opinions on whether or not war is the natural state of homo sapiens and I've never grasped how we can think waging it in any of the varieties in which it is done helps us prove who is right when all that remains is who is left.

I served in the US Air Force for eight years, and like everyone you or I will ever meet in any branch at any time, I've never met anyone who wasn't a pacifist, because we know who always bears the concrete consequences and costs of that grand abstraction, a declaration of war.

Look at all the places in the world where at this moment we have armed conflict and it's impossible to understand how we can continue to believe unconditionally that we will never again feel ourselves so provoked and/or otherwise bereft of choices but to turn Oppenheimer's Deadly Toy on one another.

And when all those who can, have indeed done so, who will be left to bury the dead and console the dying as what's left of our world descends into a final darkness of the last night as the unending winter of despair envelopes us all?
-bill kenny

Monday, August 4, 2014

This Isn't Who It Would Be

I have the good fortune of rarely remembering my dreams which would be a disappointment to oneirologists everywhere if I were a public figure of any import whose existence mattered to anyone at anytime anywhere.

I say 'good fortune' because I'm wrestling with one I had recently that I can remember all too well and that disquieted me a great deal. My wife and I were home in her country, though I don't know where and actually don't know how I know that as in the dream we never left an apartment in which we lived with a third person whom I never managed to identify.

In the dream we had no children-just one another though I have no memory of whether we were young(er) or old(er) than we are now. And everything in the dream was in shades of brown.

I'm not sure in the dream if I realized it was a dream which, I'm assured, in itself means something though what or why I do not know. That I could have a dream guide on my cell phone 24/7, IPhone or Android, is curiously of little solace to me but does speak volumes about the entrepreneurial spirit and greed of code writers here in the early part of what I fear is becoming the last century.

Nothing looked familiar to me causing me to wonder if I'd become Pirate Prentice as I kept looking to the skies for Gravity's Rainbow, somehow feeling better that if I had seen it but never heard the roaring across the skies, I was safe until Tyrone Slothrop returned from an outing. And even then it could be a stairway to the stars.
-bill kenny

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Silver Pockets Full

When is 823 the same as 11? When it comes down to a little ditty we've all seen in recent days on-line, Silver Pockets Full, through any number of social media.

It's remarkable, intriguing and completely specious. Not that I would ever have known this by myself (in much the same way as I'd have never known about the Silver Pockets Full in the first place) but I did enjoy the casual coincidence that thinking such a thing could exist afforded me.

I find comfort in a universe that operates like a Great Clock since I'd like to think that the existence of such a clock predicates the presence of a Great Clock Maker. While I no longer believe in the church in whose faith I was raised through my childhood, I'm unwilling to abandon all hope and belief in an omnipotent, invisible Friend, just in case S/He does exist and holds grudges (see Lot's wife and the opposite of a salt-free diet).

I'm keeping my reawakening under wraps since I'm not really convinced it'll take and if it does, I'd hate to provoke a stampede. A parade, on the other hand, is another matter entirely; truth is I love a parade.
-bill kenny

Saturday, August 2, 2014

On the Sunny Side

I've been struggling to regain my equilibrium in recent weeks as my routine and somewhat cocooned version of the world got buffeted by events that I've always known are beyond my control but I somehow seemed to have forgotten.

Out walking the other night and came across this scene and am hoping that it's a harbinger of better things to come.

I'm working on being more upbeat-not so much a smile visible from space as a more receptive attitude to the failings and foibles of my fellow travelers in much the same manner as they extend that courtesy to me. See you on the sunny side.
-bill kenny

Friday, August 1, 2014

Standing Solo in the Sun

I’ve taken today off from work.  My boss, whose cross I am to bear, was very amenable to my request, and to the other twenty-six or so that I launched on the same day, seemingly a man on a mission possessed by his purpose. ‘twould be nice were it to be true but the motivation is far more prosaic.

 Historically, I end up with truckloads of earned vacation time at the end of the calendar year that I lose because I haven’t taken it, and it’s never upset me. Actually, it still doesn’t, but I’ve had incentives in the last few months, some not-so-gentle prodding, really, to re-examine my nearly-lifelong perspective of defining who I am by what I do for a living. For a FARC, I’ve been a terrific WASP.

I’m not really playing hooky since I asked for the day, though I hope I can be forgiven if I hope a little too loudly for nice weather as part of what (for me) will be a three-day weekend. I see it as a head start on another road marker on the highway of life that runs through our Ant Farm with Beepers.

A colleague, he was working in the organization I joined after we arrived from Germany in October 1991 (I am resisting the urge to italicize and underline the month and year because it is really quite some time ago), called it a career yesterday at close of business. As I recall, when he mentioned months ago that he was retiring, in a galaxy far, far away, he had started working on the first of August and he’s always been a fan of symmetry.

We shared the same first name and worked on the same floor of the same building for much of the past twenty-odd (and often, oh were they!) years, dealing on a regular basis with sincere and earnest folks popping up before our respective desks actually looking for ‘the other Bill’ which is how we eventually took to referring to one another.

He was much more organized and vastly more polite and thoughtful than I am or shall ever be. I offer that in the interest and desire for accuracy; I’m not jealous, nor am I competitive. That on Monday when I return to work, there shall no longer be an or the other Bill will slowly sink in and by next week’s end there will be no sting of absence at all. Well, hardly any.

I took my leave of him and he of me yesterday with mutual assurances to take care and be well of the kind that two men in their sixties offer to one another. I extended my best wishes to him and to his family, more or less notionally, as I have always assumed he’s married and has/had child/ren though I have no personal knowledge of any of that because neither of us existed outside of work.

I’m realizing that we will never see one another again, at least in this life, after having seen one another for practically every working day of the last twenty-two years. That's taking a little more getting used to than I thought it would. People often change but memories of people can remain.
-bill kenny