Monday, July 31, 2017

Song Remains the Same

I wrote this exactly eight years ago and I am gob-smacked at how even though some of the actors have changed, it is still so much the same movie.

How we react and respond to broadcast and published news reports has a lot to do with us, and not necessarily with what the story is about or how it's presented (that said, you can see HUGE differences in the treatment of the same story when channel dropping between CNN and Fox). And while your mileage may vary, your perception of 'honest and fair' often has a lot more to do with you rather than with the writer or reporter.

On the national stage, the current health care debate (which seems to be more of a shouting match than a debate, or is that just me?) is driven in no small part by how much health insurance each of us has, or doesn't have. The impetus for 'reform' isn't motivated, necessarily, by a desire to make health care more affordable and/or accessible for people who already have it, but for people who do not. 

If you are one of the (about) forty-seven million with no coverage, your interest and desires are in all likelihood very different from someone who has health insurance who, in turn, may feel very different both from you and from someone who is unhappy at the cost and/or the coverage he/she currently has.

Another example, this time at the state level. In Connecticut, the Governor (a Republican) and the State Legislature (Democratic super-majority in both houses) are still poles apart on a budget for a fiscal year that began a month ago. Each side has reached the inevitable conclusion that the other side is awful, uncaring and quite possibly eats bugs. 

Eventually they will come to a meeting of the minds somewhere between the Governor's 'principled' position and the 'citizen-driven concerns' of the Democrats. This happens all the time--doesn't make it a lot of fun just because it's routine, and there is something about familiarity that does breed contempt, I guess. 

At the interpersonal relationship level, the song remains the same. If your significant other, business partner, golf buddy or employer were only as reasonable as you and me, they would do what we want, because when we say 'be reasonable' we mean 'do it my way.' 

In theory, the purpose of language is to better define differences and distinctions but every day and every way we get better and better at using language to obscure and diffuse. Sometimes fewer words can equal more meaning, ask Alice
-bill kenny

Sunday, July 30, 2017

The Week that Was

I have slowed down in my critiques of the Petulant Pantload that some decided to select as the President on ALL of us back in November because I have absolutely nothing to gain from venting except to prove to everyone (left reading) that I am as small-minded a pissant as he is. 

The Trumpster Fire at 1600 Pennsylvania had a week like we haven't seen at the White House, since, well, the week before suggests my evil twin Skippy who knows an asshat when he sees one. And he sees one every day in the mirror. And quite frankly if asshats could fly, the White House would need its own air traffic control tower right about now. 

I know the Cheeto in Chief doesn't read this, actually doesn't seem to read anything at all, but someone get the word to Fox and Friends to tell him he's already on borrowed time and to quit dicking around and be the President those who voted for him need him to be. 

This is all the country we have, POTUS45, and you're screwing it up for everyone. Pick an issue: national health, equal rights, energy, climate change and the environment. You and the GOP can, and would, phuq up a one-car funeral procession in the desert.    

Unlike you, Bone Spurs, I served in the uniform of my armed forces in defense of our country and you're abusing my hospitality and sacrifice, Point of fact: here in the USA, we didn't have #fakenews until we had a #FakePresident. Stop being a Douche, Donny, and try to be the man your father was obviously disappointed you failed to become.
-bill kenny    

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Call Me Ishamel

Everyone in my house has laughed for years and years at my failed attempts to get a picture or a video of ANY of the many hummingbirds who frequent the feeders my wife has put out for them around the back doors of our house, just off the stoop in the short part of the yard between the house and the garage.

But they can laugh no more. Yesterday morning my pursuit was crowned by success though I will concede if you blink, you may miss my moment of triumph so don't.

Next up, the Yeti and maybe some of whatever scary monsters are in that swamp in DC the Petulant Pantload is always so upset about. 
-bill kenny

Friday, July 28, 2017

That Second Amendment Is Second to None

One of my guilty pleasures is watching any number of episodes of "Cops," the more the merrier, and not just for the theme song though that certainly is a  toe-tapper. Nope, the addictive attraction for me is how much better about my life and times I always feel after watching the show.

I mean, and of course you've seen your share of episodes as well, basically everything is the same vignette: somebody, almost always at night, usually with alcohol or another mood elevator or altering drug is engaged in an activity that from across the universe either of us could see would not end well for the person doing the perpetrating. And yet....bad boys.

Except and unless, bad girls (or women), in this case. I can make a meal out of a story datelined "Sandwich" even if I think it's bologna (I can do this all day, because I work nights), but you know this is a dispatch begging for follow-ups and pictures, lots of pictures.

Anytime you come across the phrase "lewd wanton," which sounds like a specialty dish on holidays only offered by a takeout place (with a side order of "lascivious"), you should buckle up, butter cup, because there's a rest of the story somewhere just waiting to paint a rainbow all over your blues. Susan, I'm keeping you in my thoughts and hope you acquire patience and literally as well as figuratively, keep your shirt on this time, 'k? 

My initial reaction: best way to beat a concealed weapons charge in the last fortnight.
-bill kenny

Thursday, July 27, 2017

No Thumb to Ring the Bell

It's a lot different from when we were growing up and used them as essential transportation to get to and from the field (the baseball field, of course, what else was there for a kid growing up in the late Fifties and early Sixties?) or from friends' houses. You might start out with just you and Neil, and then go a couple of blocks and pick up Bobby and then all you headed across the development, to the new Levitt houses, where Tommy lived. 

I'm talking about bicycles and as kids there was Schwinn and there was Royce Union and not much else. These were big, clunky solid yoke metal frame bikes, with balloon tires and white sidewalls. You had a mousetrap in the back, and that's where you kept your glove, baseball inside of it so that the pocket formed just right. Maybe your dad or somebody else's dad would remember to get the little can of Neet's foot oil at the hardware store and you'd work that stuff into the glove before putting it into the mousetrap. 

Twenty-six-inch tires on those bikes and maybe, if you had a fancy one, it had front and rear handbrakes, but ours mostly didn't-you just stood on the pedals hard and the rear wheel broke away and wound up sliding to one side or the other. You stopped all right. We all knew somebody whose folks had gotten them a bike with three gears, think of it! but we didn't have bikes like that. Going up the hill, you pedaled hard-if it got steeper, you pedaled harder. Screw up, you fell off and walked up the hill holding the bike by the handlebars, feeling (and looking) like a dork.

I was thinking about all of that the other day as the bikers, not Marlon Brando and The Wild One raced across parts of France whose towns can only correctly be pronounced by having your adenoids removed. And as always one or more people have gotten hurt, both riding and looking at those who are riding and I keep thinking 'nobody ever got hurt when we rode over to Resko's house' and that was over an hour back in the day (it'd be like three days in 'now' time). 

It wasn't until the LA Olympics in '84, sitting in Germany and watching the highlights of the games the Warsaw Pact boycotted, that I first saw Americans go ga-ga for the most European of sports, in my opinion (unless they make sulking an event). The oval track with the impossible angles of banking, the skinny tires that seemed to be made of solid rubber, the 'Disco in Frisco' skin tight speedo outfits and most especially those 'revenge of the Alien' head shaped helmets, all of it so aerodynamic I thought these guys could fly. 

How often did Lance Armstrong win the Tour de France before most of us even realized it was still a thing? And then all the great back story: the battle against cancer, the birth of the little boy, more bicycle races, more yellow tricots, Sheryl Crow, no more Sheryl Crow, the retirement and then the unretirement and the comeback and then the disgrace. 

The Tour de France ended Sunday and what do you suppose the winner gets? A permanent press yellow jersey? The opportunity to write 'winner of the Tour de France' on the hotel check-in form at the next competition? Do you think Duna could do that?
-bill kenny

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Always Take a Banana to a Party

If your first reaction when I say "Doctor Who" is to check your insurance's approved list of providers, one of us needs to get out a little more often. Hopefully, I'm kidding. It's a wildly successful long running television series that made headlines a couple of weeks ago it was announced that Jodie Whittaker would be the first woman Time Lord.

You're scratching your head. So did I, until I looked it up and read about the show. I visited my local library, though in this case, I'm not just talking about the Otis Library in downtown Norwich but also Kristin's Little Tardis Library between Bean Hill and Norwichtown at 15  Wawecus Street, tucked into the parking lot of America's Best Defense (ABD) Martial Arts

It was created by Kristin McShane and is housed in a sort of 1960's London police box, called a Tardis, which was a present from her husband, Charlie, and a story all by itself but speaking of stories, it's crammed with them, and all kinds: mysteries, histories, adventures, to name a few genres, all kinds of books. They are there for the taking and leaving. Seriously. That's what it says, you can see it for yourself when you visit, "Take a Book, Leave a Book." 

Kristin's Little Tardis Library, is the Norwich version of Little Free Libraries which come in all shapes and sizes and are spread across the country whose mission statement, "Building Community, Sparking Creativity, Inspiring Readers" to me, echoes an early Doctor Who quote, "You want weapons? We're in a library! Books! The best weapons in the world!" 

The Tardis landed just a little more than a year ago and has been a top destination for readers of all ages from the start. Fueled by donations of books from many of the students at the martial arts school, her original focus was on attracting youngsters to books because so often their time is taken up with computers and other electronic devices.

She has had a life-long passion for reading that she hopes to share with everyone whose path she crosses, and has enjoyed swapping books for almost as long as she's enjoyed reading them. 

The Tardis is always open and don't let the outside fool you about what is in store for you inside. There are books everywhere but there's a place for everything and everything is in its proper place. If you wonder who is a typical customer, look in the mirror and you'll have an idea, though the biggest number of readers are fans of kids’ books, especially for ages 8-11, and especially during the summer months. 

Almost as popular is the beginner reading books for Pre-kindergarten through first graders. And there's ample adult reading material as well so you can treat yourself.

Think of the Tardis as your gateway to wherever. As the 11th Doctor Who once said, “The universe is big. It’s vast and complicated and ridiculous. And sometimes, very rarely, impossible things just happen and we call them miracles.”
-bill kenny

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

ReVisit Redux

I wrote this a really long time ago (I didn't have a computer yet so I had to do it in long-hand and tape the papers on to people's windows) and just rediscovered it. I would have told you at that time I thought I was pretty optimistic about who we are and where we were going, especially when compared to right now, but when I read what I wrote, I'm thinking 'maybe not so much.' So much for what passes as a disclaimer... 

I don't remember what the product is; actually, I do, but when the commercial starts I can never recall the sponsor (it's for an Internet bank)-and a grown-up is sitting at a short table with two little girls of less than (probably) five years of age. He asks the first little girl if she would like a pony, and the child eagerly says 'yes' and the man gives her a small pony replica. Smiles all around

The man asks the other little girl if she, too, would like a pony and she responds in the affirmative, at which point he makes a 'chck-chck' sound and out from behind this large dollhouse ambles a real pony, bridle, and saddle. The child is delighted. The first child not so much and we get some close-ups of her face as we hear the squeals of delight from the other little girl. Eventually, she screws up the courage to tell the grown-up very non-judgmentally for a child who just got double-crossed 'you didn't say I could have a real pony.' To which he quickly rejoins, 'you didn't ask.' 

The announcer proceeds to read advertising copy about sneaky is as sneaky does, trust whatever the bank is to do whatever banks are about, grown-ups eat bugs or some such palaver. What I always come back to is the abject hatred on the first girl's face for all things adult. She isn't close to tears or a tantrum; she's close to homicide. Either she is an incredibly gifted actress at such a young age, or the producers of the commercial didn't let her in on the joke and what we are seeing is her actual animus, spontaneous and unrehearsed. 

Sometimes when I follow the news even casually, I expect to see the streets of America littered with plastic pony replicas. We are, I think, the most relentlessly optimistic nation on earth, perhaps unrealistically optimistic. I grew up in a nation that liked Ike, grudgingly extended equal rights to everyone, that went in one generation from a chicken in every pot to two cars in every garage with lots of pot and which now finds itself, for lack of a more elegant term, flat-out broke financially, ethically and morally. 

The part that doesn't have me worried is that we can't fix what doesn't work because two hundred and something years of our history tells me we can. What bothers me is will we choose to repair ourselves? We've conspicuously consumed just about everything this planet has to offer and its riches haven't come close to filling that hole in our hearts. And now the one in our wallet is even larger than that one. 

We've conditioned ourselves to find solutions in fifteen, thirty and sixty-second increments and ideas like universal health care, greenhouse gases, economic reinvestment, equal rights for everyone, don't lend themselves to discussions or explanations that can be jammed in between the blue mountains of a beer can commercial and the soft porn of a shaving cream advertisement. It's not even fair to say we lose interest; we never had any

For our whole lives, guys in suits with briefcases fixed everything. We never asked how, because we never wanted to know. We built armies, we went to the moon, we sold each other real estate everyone at the closing knew wasn't worth the money being paid for it, but no one got upset or concerned because the Suits were there and they were fabulous. We, too, were fabulous. Hell, everything was fabulous, unless it was brilliant.

And now the suits are shiny with wear, and in some cases, there are holes at the elbows and the sleeves are ragged. And the property we used in our cities and towns to build the grand list to elevate the bond rating for the twenty-year municipal debentures we sold to finance the construction of the new transportation hub of the city that we could leverage to elevate all of our property values and sell it off before the whole crashed? 

Well, bad news on that front, cupcake, as the subprime mortgage lenders who shouldn't have advanced us the money they didn't have to buy the stuff no one wanted to impress people we don't know who don't like us anyway in the first place are all flopping and twitching on the beach as the tide of prosperity continues to rush out and no one warned us about the undertow.

Except, of course, we were warned, but we chose to believe they were asking if we wanted a pony. And now we get to choose between two seriously scary philosophies on how to govern that appear, at least to me, to be mutually exclusive and not only that but everyone on the other side of the political divide is somehow some kind of sub-human deserving neither sympathy nor pity. And here we are, with our plastic ponies hoping something great is about to happen, and content to leave it at hope, except hope is NOT a plan, and we have no hope of ever having a plan.
-bill kenny

Monday, July 24, 2017

That Many Candles Are Nearly a Fire Hazard

Today is my sister, Kara's birthday. You can be forgiven for not knowing this but only just barely. It's a holiday (I would hope) at her house and probably should be one on her block as well as across the State of New Jersey, though in light of budget cutbacks, that's unlikely to be the case (and who's that big guy in the beach chair on the front lawn?).

The world is a much better place because Kara is in it and our family is fortunate that she is our relative even if, as Albert Einstein predicated, everything is relative. (Could that mean everything is Einstein? I'm asking that because it would explain the bramble that is so often my hair when I awaken.)

Kara and I shared a small overlapping childhood as I was transitioning away as she was becoming her own person. And in a sense, I suspect, she sees herself more often as Jill and Adam's older sister than as the younger sibling of our brother, Kelly, and sister, Evan, with whom I spent far more years (but only because their luck wasn't as good as Kara's).

Kara and her husband, Russ, have their own family with RJ, Randy, and Jordan all men in motion and on a mission, in different directions at maximum velocity. I discovered long ago the easiest way to track the passing of time is to look at and to your children as they are better indicators of how far we have all come than any mirror can hope to be. I imagine I am not the only one who made that discovery.

Kara should actually be our ambassador to the United Nations as she has a genius for talking people into doing things they would otherwise never, ever consider and, while so doing, convincing them that it was all their own idea in the first place while she is just pleased and proud to help them.

She (and our) younger sister, Jill, can probably actually pull off the Tom Sawyer painting the fence trick, but it's Kara who organizes the trip to the hardware store to get the brushes and the drop clothes. And she'll even help you muscle them into the van. Meanwhile, it's Jill who collects the money and, sorry, even though it's a quarter for a chance to paint and you gave her a dollar, she's out of change.

I wasn't around when our Mother was a kid, or a teen, or a young woman. I caught up with her as a young mother (and was, technically, the first reason why she was a young mother) but I've always thought Kara most resembles what our Mom must have been like when we were too small to really remember.

You cannot help but smile when you are with Kara-I am smiling now as I type this, thinking of her because she is relentlessly cheerful no matter the situation. Her children reflect the values she and Russ have instilled in them and are improving the world on their own terms just as their parents, but most especially my sister, taught them to do.

My brother-in-law has impeccable judgment, excellent taste, and superior good fortune. Happy Birthday, Kara!
-bill Kenny

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Bad Luck Streak in Dancing School

I had an adventurous twenty-four hours earlier this week, actually, a matter of moments separated the incidents (and/or accidents) but cast a pall over the entire day.I had (note the past tense; this is called foreshadowing I'm told. If it were the future past perfect tense it would be fiveshadowing I guess) a fitness wristwatch of sorts that I wore on my left wrist, my 'non-dominant' hand as it's called in the fitness business. 

It told the time and tracked steps and clocked mileage while guesstimating caloric expenditures (I've reached a point where I'd be better off with a device that sends a shock through my hand when I'm holding food in it causing me to drop it before eating it) and at the end of the day I'd slide it back into its recharging holster while double-clicking the app on my phone to download all the information. 

In the late afternoon it shuddered on my wrist which I thought meant it had hit 10,000 steps but this time around meant 'so long, it's been good to know ya.' I have no idea what happened but it expired before I did which always pleases me immensely.

I sat down at the keyboard to search for a replacement, a process three days later that is still ongoing, and the lower case "c" on the keyboard went down but refused to come back up. This alarmed me as I wasn't looking forward to typing one of my favorite retorts with two k's instead of a c and a k but I had to face up to the realization the defective c kept me from logging in to my own computer, or omputer to give you a taste of what I was up against.

Our daughter, Michelle, served as my technical assistant after dinner as I went out to buy a new keyboard for under ten dollars which I think is a bargain but confess to having no idea what things should cost versus what they do cost. I am thrilled to have all this technology to protect me from an unforgiving and pitiless Nature I am destroying through acts of omission and commission on a daily basis. I am very confident the future is bright assuming we can survive the present to get there.
-bill kenny  

Saturday, July 22, 2017

We Are Grains of Sand

My mom died on the first Saturday of June of this year. It was an unexpected death for me (though she was not unprepared), because, like all children everywhere, I think I believed our parents would always be with us even though my dad died thirty-six years plus ago of the last in a series of heart attacks he refused to ever acknowledge. 

Mom's last decades were in Florida where she moved to avoid the snows of New Jersey after decades in the NYC metropolitan area. When we'd talk on the phone more often than not she was either just heading to or returning from "the beach" which in this case was the Atlantic Ocean, which I am told, just across the street from her house. 

I just smiled typing that line but I've not had too many smiles since she passed. I'm very much looking forward to the celebration of her life going on, where else but, on the Jersey Shore four Saturdays from today. I'm hoping to gain an even greater sense of what all of us in attendance had with Mom as a part of our lives. Whatever I gather has to last me the rest of my life so I hope I can choose wisely and well.

I had occasion to read through her death certificate earlier this week in connection with something that only Mom would have had the foresight and thoughtfulness to have arranged in advance and the following day I encountered this article in the New England Journal of Medicine from which, though the situation differs in many respects from Mom's passing, I have derived a great deal of comfort and it helped remind me that she was both the epitome of grace under pressure and a true profile in courage.
-bill kenny         

Friday, July 21, 2017

Revisiting: When Dreams Were What We Did

A barrow full of Full Moon
Yesterday, July 20, was the 48th anniversary of when we walked on the moon for the first time. If you weren't yet born when that happened in 1969, you missed something, you really did. You can read a library of books on how much effort and coordination, time and talents and money such an effort took, and it's staggering, but that's not the thing to remember from 'back in the day.'

Going to the moon was not the only thing we were doing as a country, as a tribe, as a nation-state on Earth. We had almost 450,000 (mostly) men under arms halfway around the world in forests and fields of Southeast Asia in a war that was to be as divisive as any in the history of our nation and whose outcome left us saddened and sullen for a decade. 

Nearly that same number of young men and women were heading to upstate New York during this summer, actually in August, for what was advertised as three days of Peace, Love and Music and almost all anyone can remember, whether they were there or not, is the mud and the incredible performances by so many musicians, especially those whose flame flickered brightly from that stage and was then forever extinguished because of self-indulgence or profound bad luck.

Back at the moon walk, we on Earth watched around the world, with some of our younger brothers and sisters going outside to stand on the porch at Harvey's Lake (Pa) and look up at the moon to see if you could see the astronauts (if wishing could have made it so) as the astronauts seemed to skip and dance across the most desolate place we could imagine. 

As a nation we were faced with challenges all around us-but we found the time, actually, we MADE the time, to watch these extraordinary people do this extraordinary thing that NO ONE in our history had ever done before. And just as no man enters the same river twice because both he and the river have changed, there is no way we can ever again be those people who watched by the dawn's early light what so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming. 

One small step for man who seems to have stopped
We did it then, and we could do it now--not because it's easy, because it's not, but because it's hard and because if we do not repair and restore our country, we will have no one to blame but ourselves when in another generation we cannot remember anything to be proud of since the Moon Walk.
-bill kenny

Thursday, July 20, 2017

This Makes Me Smile

Sometimes, real-life, real-time events have happy endings. I think this is one of those times.

Another time we can argue about the politics and perspective on world events that seemed to add a degree of difficulty in this journey from over half way around the world because it's important, but right now, I'm smiling at the success of all those from the other side of a particular piece of the sky.

We're not going to fix everything that's wrong in the world today, or tomorrow if I'm being honest both with you and myself, but every day we edge a little closer to making things better for everyone. We'd get there faster if we all worked together but it's okay because now I have even more proof that sisters are doing it for themselves. So step back or off and let them work.
-bill kenny

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Food for Thought

Through the miracle of technology, I received my first ‘it’s almost time for the kids to go back to school’ spam email yesterday. Decades too late to help any merchant’s bottom line but thanks for the thought. Except we have lots of summer still to enjoy so cool your jets, merchants everywhere; besides, I want to be serious and I’m out of practice.

George Gershwin wrote it and Ella Fitzgerald made it famous, “Summertime and the living is easy,” a song that captures pretty well that state of mind we flirt with as the mercury rises around here. And summertime living should be easy especially here in Connecticut with the highest per capita income of all fifty united states as recently as the 2010 US Census.

But we all have neighbors who are facing hard times in the land of plenty and who struggle every day to make ends meet and provide just the bare necessities for their families and themselves. 

We all know why food comes first when we’re listing basic needs like ‘food, shelter, and clothing’ and we try to help out the Connecticut Food Bank or our local food pantry with cash and other donations more often around the holiday season, for which everyone is grateful but (and it’s okay to be surprised by this), the highest demand for food is right now during the summer.

It’s been about a month since summer vacation started. Families with children need to provide about 100 extra meals during summer vacation for each child. That’s a lot of meals, and a lot more that are needed.

Here in Norwich, we have, through the Norwich Public Schools again this summer, a school meals program with a broad distribution network and reach (site lists are on the NPS website) for lunch just about every weekday. The meals are free to any child age 18 or younger and the children don’t have to be Norwich residents to benefit from the program.

NPS has the program well in hand but what I want to talk about is reloading and refilling the larder (the community food banks) for all the children and families who are in need now and will still be in need after ‘back to school’ really happens.

At this moment, the Gemma E. Moran United Way/Labor Food Center is looking for helping hands, preferably with fistfuls of dollars or canned and dry goods to fight against hunger and encourages all of us who can to hold our own a 12-hour food-a-thon. They even have a how-to on their website to walk us through it.

There’s a hit list of most needed items to include Ensure, macaroni and cheese, any and all pasta products, canned tuna, and soup. They also have a target date of next Thursday, July 27, to bring those donations (from seven in the morning to seven at night) to the Center at 374 Broad Street in New London. Hunger hurts. We should help. We can help. We must help.
-bill kenny

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Merriam and Daniel Webster

You can find the definition of schadenfreude in any even-below average English language dictionary but it's actually a German word that means rejoicing at the misfortune of others. It's a wonderfully useful word, in my opinion, and the first one that popped into my head when I came across hundreds of variations on this story yesterday, "Ann Coulter Had to Switch Seats on a Delta Flight. Then Came the Tirade." 

All I will say, in a horribly mean-spirited way (that I am frighteningly adept at) in my humble attempt and near-homage to the Queen of Mean in a vein she, herself offered not that long ago when she was sitting in judgment (as I am) on a situation about which she had no first- hand information, "I'm sad that you didn't report that they also dragged you. As far as I'm concerned, it could and should have been face-down over gravel because except for the improvement no one would have noticed the difference."

Best argument for illiteracy in a long time
"I guess being a spite-fueled conservative columnist in the Time of Troubles, Trials, and Trumpulations (see what I did there, blondie?) doesn't generate anything approximating common courtesy. I am sorry your broom was in the shop."

WOW! I can see why people hurl invective at each other! I Feel Great! Thanks, B****!"
-bill kenny   

Monday, July 17, 2017

Because We Can, We Should?

I discovered yesterday morning, too late to do me any good, I guess, that The Wimbledon Channel had been streaming the men's' finals and I suspect every match of the tournament on Twitter, a social media (SM) platform to which I belong and visit on a daily basis, though the more I visit the less I get out of the experience.

I remembered, when I saw the tennis stuff, that perhaps last season, Twitter streamed NFL games, maybe it was the Thursday Night games which (I am told) are the red-headed step children of American pro football but since they all wear helmets I'm not sure how you can tell the hair color. Such is the nature of much of the SM ephemera, the link above may now go nowhere, symbolic of so much of what we as a species are to this planet.

I don't quite grasp how watching a tennis match or a football game or porn for that matter on a cell phone screen is a quantum leap of any kind in any direction at any time. There are cell phone things, and there are desktop computer things and there are television things. 

Admittedly I use my cell phone to take pictures and to listen to music, mostly and have almost never made or received a phone call on it (or any of the cell phones I've owned) nor know how to come to think of it. I have no idea what the ringtone sounds like because I turned it off the minute I got outside of the cell phone store. I have the phone for my convenience and no one else's.

Returning to watching Wimbledon on a cell phone, I find the idea both less than attractive and less than practical. If I'm holding the cell phone in one hand how am I supposed to eat my strawberries and cream while watching the itty-bitty screen? I go from iPhone to I can't in a matter of a moment. Game, set, and match.  
-bill kenny

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Pain in Plain Sight

Suspect this is NOT what the Reader's Digest folks were driving at all those years ago with their notes about 'more picturesque speech', but it's a whole lot easier to remember and more fun to read. 

I've read the news account twice and the summary of the actual study, I'm surprised it's not louder right now in the conference rooms at our nation's Capitol as Mitch and the Munchkins try to twist one another's arms in a race to come up with the most awful, horrible, no-good healthcare plan for all Americans (except themselves) that's ever been.

I'm not suggesting we taxpayers should sponsor contests to see if nationally we can peel the paint from the walls in selected federal or state buildings in terms of the coarseness of the language, though that idea is tempting and oddly comforting.  

Of course, true confession time, when I watch the news reports (I stopped watching C-Span because I hate to see how sausage is made) I do think of some (perhaps) technicolor participles and anatomically difficult aerobic exercises, but I strive to NOT speak them aloud while processing those thoughts-at least not too loudly. 

Like many of us, I have had instances in the past where my evil twin, Skippy, (what my Imp of the Perverse answers to) has too often confused inside and outside voice and my ears have heard my mouth say things that I had truly hoped would remain secret. 

Now, if I can just work hypoalgesia into a sentence, ideally a limerick, it'll be a banner day. 
-bill kenny

Saturday, July 15, 2017

When Blackness Was a Virtue

Graham Parker, decades ago, ranted "don't get me to fill up your empty lives" as the star-making machinery enclosed him in a Cocoon of Cool where real life was notional and, for all intents and purposes, fictional.

Ray Davies of The Kinks wished for "(A) fantasy world of celluloid villains and heroes." And who among us doesn't remember a Golden Child from our youth, some perfect specimen of the species, whose life was so wonderful it hurt our eyes to just look at them? And should we encounter them today and they have something other than that Happy Ending they thought was their birthright, tell me you don't smile just a little (Schadenfreude ist auch ein Freude). 

So what should we make of the examples of what we usually call media feeding frenzy that is so much a part of our lives we think it's normal? With all the bread and circuses and the 'Look at me, I'm Sandra Dee' aspect of our news structures, the day must be coming when reasonable human beings should ask, WTFO? Or, perhaps more elegantly phrased, how did we end up in this hand basket, why is it so warm and where, exactly, are we going?

Not only do we rely on too many dubious sources of information and distraction, we rely on them in order to live our lives through their reports. How many more synthetic celebrities from sports, music and/or reality TV  do we have to have before we can finally look away? What happened to last month's Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan or (you pick one)? If they're not on the cover of AADDd (Adult Attention Deficit Disorder Digest) does that mean they no longer exist?

Show of hands: do any of us shoe shop with any of the people we read about in the lifestyle sections of our local newspapers? That's what I thought. But more of us know about the escapades of someone from RHOBH than can name the Speaker of the House of Representatives. 

Is this stuff news? Is any of it news, and for whom? Who's to bless and who's to blame? We are--that's the short answer, which is good because surveys say we don't have the span of attention required to have a discussion, much less develop a strategy, for better separating the wheat from the chaff. No wonder our world is so screwed up-look at how we gather the information to attempt to make decisions. And if you're hoping all the tumult and head noise will get better with time, let me talk to you about buying a bridge in Brooklyn.

Three question exam, but you have to get all three right. Ready? Probably not.
Who is the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff?
Who is the executive producer of TV's Survivor
Why did so many more know the answer to the second question but not the first?
-bill kenny

Friday, July 14, 2017

Leave Room for Dessert

It's been a long week, hasn't it? Just in general and without even getting into specifics on topics like US politics and Russian interference (or not, though, between us, I think the 'or not' ship has sailed with DJT, Jr.'s tweets and squawks). But I digress. Heat and humidity not just where I live but seemingly across the globe all compounding what a hard time we've been giving one another as a species.  

I have no idea why I didn't see this news item at the time it happened three plus years ago. I usually have a pretty good whimsy-meter and this should have caused the arrow on it deflect wildly if not just circle the dial three or more times and then fly off. Glad I can make up for it now.

I choose to regard this as yet another example of how absolutely nothing is lost forever anymore on the interwebz. Every stupid thing that' been done in the last (I'll guess) twenty of so years is someplace posted in a dark corner where electrons fear to tread, waiting to spring out on an unsuspecting web browser and tickle or terrify. I'm glad so much of my dumb stuff happened when dinosaurs, not terabytes, roamed the earth.

On the other hand isn't it also comforting to take solace in what may also be seen as proof that no matter how rich a repast is offered at life's banquet, there's always room for just one more bite. Or that there had better be.
-bill kenny   

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Don't Touch that Dial

We have a Farmer's Almanac for no particular reason (we are many things in my house, farming is not one of them) and we buy a new one every year pretty much out of habit and custom. It's not the Whole Earth Catalog (but then again what could be?) but it can come in pretty handy on sometimes offering insight into other events beyond its pages.

For instance, the July Full Moon was Sunday. I'm not sure if that occurrence is critical or coincidental to bear in mind as you read this dispatch. Maybe just me and my love of language but I'm tickled at the phrasing in the middle of the third paragraph, "dropping sharp-edged weapons out of the car window." (Roll-up or power isn't noted; the New York Times, the Universe's Newspaper of Record would have noted that in their story had they chosen to cover this.)

I was holding off on posting about this, hoping the police would release the music devotee's identity, but that hope has so far been in vain, so this one is for you, Anonymous Juggalo (wait! that's a great name for a band, innit?), because I'd like to believe you were sending out an S-O-S.
-bill kenny   

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

True Then, Truer Now

Almost exactly two years ago I offered observations about Downtown Wednesdays, the delightful combination of farm-fresh fruits and vegetables for much of the day, followed by some tuneful and toe-tapping music as the evening begins that caused more than one person to chide me about my “Rose (City)-Colored Glasses.”

Yeah, because so many really great things happen when pessimism abounds, be it the start of a new business or the ongoing resurrection of a small New England town that’s seen better days. This time last week, Stephanie Menders offered a report you should have read about all of it.

Thanks to a lot of different people, if you wandered through Chelsea in recent weeks and months, assuming you both look and see the activities going on, you’d agree we are, despite bleatings to the contrary, on our way to being a destination and someplace worth coming home to.

Here’s what I said and still make no apology for: Today, assuming the weather proves to be all that the forecasts promise, is the next installment of the (It's) Great (to be) Outdoors Season at Howard T. Brown Park at the Norwich Harbor (I like to think the "T" stands for terrific, or should).

You know how one of your resolutions for 2017 was to eat healthier? Yeah, me too. How's that working out? Thought so. Here's the bad news first: the year is now more than half over and the healthy still ain't happening.

Come Early and Stay Late
But, the good news if you hadn’t heard is there’s the Downtown Norwich Farmers' Market this morning at ten, running until two, with fruits and all manner of vegetables fresh from the farm to your table, so bring a basket and your appetite. You can stop by every Wednesday into very deep into the fall and enjoy the flavors of the season and get your 'good for you' on.

Eating good in your own neighborhood
You can keep tabs on what's going on in the market by checking out their Facebook page or just going to the park today and staying there until Halloween. If you're worried about parking, don't be. The Main Street Municipal Garage is a block from the Harbor and parking is free (and there's always spaces). You'll have enough time to get your purchases back to the car and to your house before you return because tonight’s Rock The Docks concerts with the 60’s Explosion Band starts at six.

Enjoy the enjoyment
It’s the perfect time to visit with neighbors you haven't seen since we were all dressed up like Eskimos clearing snow. The music's always great and free and there’s more again on Fridays at six with Rockin’ the Greens (at the Norwichtown Green) this Friday with Carrie Ashton.

Wednesdays definitely mark the mid-point of the week, especially at the Howard T. Brown Park. You can come join the fun or stay home and complain about how there's never anything to do. Of course, you'll have to talk loud because the rest of us will be at the park. Having fun.
-bill kenny

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Eighteen Legs and Catches Flies

(I am reprising a previous paean to MLB's All-Star Game to honor it. Sort of.) 

Today's title is the set-up to one of my favorite baseball jokes of all time-'What has eighteen legs and catches flies? A baseball team.' A knee slapper of the first order. 

The All-Star Game is on Fox TV tonight starting at eight and as both they and MLB have been saying in recent years, 'this time, it counts' because whichever league wins the game assures home field advantage for their team should they reach the World Series.

As a child, I remember watching TWO All-Star games every season and those guys played for blood. One year, on a grainy black and white TV, while watching with my dad in his chair the afternoon game, somebody threw at Willie Mays and it really got crowded on that little tiny TV screen (baseball players fight like girls, or like girls of my age fought-not those UFC women). I cannot imagine that happening tonight.

I wish I could say the same for Fox TV coverage of it as well. I don't dislike them when they televise NFL games mainly because I don't watch them. But I adore the ebb and flow, the game within the game, the nuance and the romance of everything to do with baseball and Fox grabs some hip-hop with auto tune music to slide underneath all the pictures, dawg, and thinks it's just off the hook. Nope, ain't dope and I can't cope. No soap.

Even though I know Fox is NOT responsible for it, I blame them (anyway) for the Home Run Derby and something that was streamed (rather than steamed) apparently last night, the MLB Celebrity Softball Game (how did we live without this all these decades?). 

I have nothing kind to say about the latter. As for the former, I know, "who doesn't like Home Run Derby?" No one, to include me but if we continue to allow it to be part of the All-Star Experience then we should have a game of H-O-R-S-E to decide the NBA finals or perhaps moments prior to the coin flip to start Super Bowl Whatever RomanNumeralItWasThisTime, there should have been a punt, pass and kick contest with the winner getting a touchdown and point after to begin the game or a field goal and the ball to start each half. Winner's choice.

Do NOT roll your eyes at me!

Of course, both of my examples are utterly ludicrous but so, too, is the attraction the Lords of Baseball have manufactured. I really can't expect any better from a management model that created the Designated Hitter, another excruciatingly stupid idea created by people who secretly hate baseball and want to kill it.

Coverage of the All-Star Game starts at eight, Daylight Savings, tonight on Fox and goes until somebody wins unless the two teams run out of pitchers. Should that happen I'm hoping we insist that the designated hitters have a Ninja Pants Off Dance-off
-bill kenny 

Monday, July 10, 2017

Grow Old Along with Me

Sigrid and I had the house to ourselves this past weekend and some wonderful summer temperatures and weather as well. At times, it was a lot like BTK, Before The Kids. It was a lot of fun and certainly, as Hudson & Landry might say, a "real memory flogger.

We discovered, despite the accumulation of decades, we are very much the people we were when we met and married. I never had any doubts, and I'm not sure if Sigrid had any smiles at arriving at that conclusion, But, almost forty years on, she's still a very good sport and remains the most beautiful woman I have ever known.

Beautiful women age like fine wine; men age like spilled milk
The photo is from Saturday night's WNBA contest between the Connecticut Sun and the Washington Mystics, won by the Sun after staging a ferocious comeback, 96-92. Date night was a success I think and a preview, I hope, of our lives after retirement. I wouldn't want it any other way
-bill kenny