Monday, August 30, 2021

Welcome to the World - Part Two

 I know at your age you don't see  everything too clearly, but at my age neither do I.

I know at your age at times you can find things a little overwhelming, but at my age so can I.

I know at your age you are trying to determine friend from foe, searching for the kindest of touches, wondering who you are happiest to have in your presence. Funny thing is I am too.

So while you think we are very different, we are not. So while you think that I have all the answers and you only have questions, I do not. 

So you think, heck I don't really know what you think, I am just guessing. But then I often am not sure what my next thought will be. The little secret is there is a lot of guessing in life.

But just know that soon your vision will become clearer. And soon those images that appear only in black and white will explode in a rainbow of colors.

Soon you will find days when there is a gentle peace in your surroundings, when the swirl quiets.

Soon you will cherish the touch of your mother and father, the laughter of your sister, the relentless love heaped upon you by those who ache to be in your presence. 

Soon you will hear the birds sing, hear the waters of the stream run, feel the warm breezes in the air caress your face. 

Soon you will understand the same truths as I. Soon you will realize how much alike we are, how much we want the same things, how much we need the same things. Soon you will have wisdom, or at least the capacity for wisdom.

And the one overriding truth is that the capacity for wisdom is all we ever have, young or old, beginning or ending our days. 

We are so very alike, you and I. And I hope along the way, you will be my teacher, will lead me if sometimes I struggle to find the path. That you can be my guide if it appears night is descending. That I can lean on you if sometimes I wobble.

I know it is much to ask of you, but you can ask anything of me and I will move mountains to bring it to you.

You and I. I very much like the sound of that. 
Welcome to the world my little friend. I am so glad you are here. 

Death In Denial

 ("Ron DeSantis, How Many Covid Deaths Are Enough?")

Death in Denial. 

It may sound like the title of an Agatha Christie murder mystery but it is not. It is a killing happening in plain sight, over and over day after day. More like 50 First Dates or  Groundhog Day.

But unlike those movies, life never improves here. Our central character doesn't learn from the error of his ways. There is no happy conclusion to this tale. Not as long as Governor DeSantis is directing this picture.

Death in Denial is playing all over the state of Florida. It is a land of sirens and wails, of overflowing morgues and overwhelmed hospitals, of endless anguish and neverending tortured twisting of  truths. It is a horror film that even Wes Craven could not have imagined.

A Nightmare on Elm Street had nothing on this picture. And the Oscar for worst performance by a Governor in a leading role goes to Ron DeSantis.  

Well deserved Governor. Well deserved.

Friday, August 27, 2021

The Last Plane Out

 Leaving with a whimper and a bang.

This was the screaming exclamation mark on our failure. Our two decade fiasco coming to a terrifying, humiliating, virtually unimaginable denouement. Over the past days, the sights at the Kabul airport serving as storyteller, the images staining the screen blood red.

In the Gettysburg address, President Lincoln said "history will little note nor long remember what we say here, but can never forget what they did here." 

And so it shall be that these days will live in infamy in the retelling, as we depart on the last plane out.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Kill the Umpire

 Below is my response to an article in the New Yorker about some minor league games using robot umpires (like the tennis "seeing eye"machine)

("Kill the Umpire")

Before your time, in 1950, there was a movie (of the same name as your article) starring William Bendix. It was, as one might expect, a movie that lives on in the memory of few. But it captured quite perfectly our hate-hate relationship with the man behind the plate.

Baseball is a game without a clock, meant to be analyzed in slow motion, perfect for dissection of every pitch, every imperfection.

The molecules of this sport have been rearranged recently, the designated hitter now a staple (of one league), a designated runner now appearing, like a magic trick, at second base at the stroke of extra innings. We adapt, like it or not.

And so too, if push comes to shoving the ump out of the way, we will accept this as an inevitable  21st century reality.

But, when that day comes, I will think fondly of William Bendix. And of every ump I have "lovingly" cursed at throughout the decades. And wonder, if striking out the umpire, was indeed a very bad call.

Friday, August 20, 2021

Not a Snowball's Chance in Hell

 ("The Quiet Rage of the Responsible")

There are no words left unsaid. Not a witty phrase, nor one of pure angst. Not a thought that has been Rip Van Winkling, nor one that still lays tantalizing close, situated on the tip of the tongue, or even the nape of the neck.

Neither Paul Krugman nor any other human being on this planet can offer a uniquely convincing unused contemplation critiquing, criticizing, crystallizing the determination of millions of Americans to put themselves, and us, in the direct path of an oncoming train. They are not blind nor deaf. They see it, they hear it. They do not need to be further informed, advised, chastised as to the impending destruction if they don't merely take a step to the side.

We need not continue to waste our breath nor tax our brain trying to locate pithy prose that would prevail, trusty truths that would move an immovable object. 

Please, no more Op-Eds, no more explanations, no more suggestions that there resides the power of persuasion. If death is not a sufficient deterrent, then no lesser concept of yours, or mine, stands a snowball's chance in Hell of changing a mind.


Tuesday, August 17, 2021

At Least I Was Walking

 ("Spoiling for a Good Walk, Golfers Cut Out the Carts")

My game was in tatters. I had four putted the third, missed a one footer on four and hit out of bounds on thirteen. My score was moving in the wrong direction with relentless precision and my mind was racing with myriad unfounded excuses. But at least I was walking.

It was not a panacea, at least not for this round, but it helped. I was able to join a local club in the early part of 2020, just as the reality of Covid was descending upon us. It proved a tremendous outlet, a way to escape the brutal awfulness for a few hours. We were all given certain restrictions, no rakes in the sand, no ball washers, don't touch the flagstick. And the use of carts was (if memory serves me) initially prohibited and then, for the longest period, limited to a single person occupancy.

For the past year and a half I have walked up and down the hills and valleys here, in search of a swing and the ever elusive birdies and pars. But despite the travails that seem to be the 15th club in my bag, I can unequivocally state that the miles I have logged while yelling at my ball, myself and even God on occasion, have been some of the happiest I have spent in over six decades on the course. 

There is a small centering of self that occurs in the time it takes to travel by foot from one errant blow to the next. A calming of the nervous system. And a feeling that, even on the worst of days, in those times where the club resembles nothing so much as a slithering snake in your hands, that you are doing something good for yourself. Exercising your legs, at the same time you are attempting to exorcise the demons that force every putt wide and every swing to be uniquely aberrant, is a small victory of its own.

So, yes, abandoning the golf cart is something I would recommend for everyone who chases after a little white ball and momentary glory. At the least, it can help make your path to the 19th hole a more pleasant journey.


It is an image that will be repeated on endless loop: a scene of utter chaos, people fearing for their lives, masses trying to flee what might be. The absence of control placed squarely on the shoulders of the one blamed for precipitating the moment through his words and deeds.

And as we raised our voices after the storming of our castle on January 6th, and held Donald Trump guilty as the accelerant, so too the man who replaced Mr. Trump will face the slings and arrows for the scene on the tarmac in Kabul yesterday.

I wonder if any of those who compared the siege at the Capitol to a tourist visit will find it in their heart to be so forgiving of this debacle, deeming it merely a question of overcrowding and poor administration of the ticketing process.  

January 6th, 2021 and August 16th 2021, two dates that will live in infamy as the very definition of our democracy and the reach of our ideals, came under brutal attack.

Linking two very different men, two very different Presidents, together in ways that would have been almost impossible to imagine.

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Ted Lassoed

 ("Comfort Zone")

It is so glorious to find characters to love without guilt or remorse. Could anyone not find space in their heart for Roy Kent or Rebecca Welton? And who could imagine that in the cynical 21st century, in a universe filled with betrayals, that Mr. Smith Comes to Washington could still exist in the one and only Ted Lasso. 

The coach who makes everyone he touches a better human being. Who believes that people are worth reclaiming (I'm talking about you Jamie Tartt). Who allows us all to luxuriate for a moment or two in feeling good.

I sat with friends last evening as we savored each moment of the latest episode. As "It's A Wonderful Life" greeted us in both the original (thank you Clarence) and its present day iteration. Jimmy Stewart (no coincidence he graced the screen in both the old movies referred to in this piece) now transformed into our beloved coach.

While Frank Capra is long gone, I am thankful there still resonates the sound of that clanging bell on top of the Christmas tree. That a boy Clarence. That a boy. 

Thursday, August 12, 2021

A Place Where Only Dreams Should Reside

 ("Shoeless Joe Won't Be There. Aaron Judge Will")

Having an actual game here, does, I believe, a fundamental disservice to a  "Field of Dreams." For the passion of this fable lies in memories, in connections to those who are no longer in the stands, and those who no more stand between the lines.

Like Ray Kinsella, I meet up with my dad in this land where the corn is as high as an elephant's eye. This is not a place where back up ballplayers take their positions, Covid and injuries infecting our vision. Not a spot where strikeouts proliferate and paychecks could  sustain poor nations.

Baseball is a sport unlike any other, regulated not by clock, or the demands of a world forever on the move. Here time slows, and we are free to revel in the company of those who bring the most meaning to our life. Here, is where we have a moment to breathe, to feel the beat of our heart. And let our minds roam, unrestricted by the constrictions of time and place. 

So, while today I will root for my Yankees as I do every other day, I will be saddened a bit that they have invaded a place where only dreams should reside.

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

An Unforgettable Journey

She took our food orders with care and precision, writing down each request, repeating them out loud to assure nothing would be amiss. This was a person fully prepared for her task.

When she had completed this assignment, she announced that while our repast was being prepared, she would be reading a story to the assembled. "A bold experiment" I thought.

The entire journey seemed to transpire in but a blink of an eye. First, our host  lined up kitchen chairs, one behind the next. We were invited to take our seats, she being the occupant at the very front. Then she counted backwards from ten, stopping at three and announcing "Up, up and away." Our flight mere seconds, before touching down at our destination.

Having deplaned, we were escorted into the adjoining room, where a hastily constructed pool looked suspiciously like a small blanket, and the ocean appeared to be in the guise of a towel. Our leader's mother waded into the water and then beckoned.  A shout of "are you ready" (apparently standard protocol in this circumstance) preceded a jump into waiting arms. The form flawless, the union between the two an unqualified triumph. Next, she demonstrated her unique swimming technique for our collective review and approval.

Dinner was served in what had formerly been considered the mud room. This was to be the last event of our journey, it being temporarily interrupted by the announcement from one of the guests that there were "five minutes before bath time."

With our trip concluded far, far too soon, the clock informing us that takeoff to bath had all occurred in but 45 minutes, we gave grateful thanks to the master of ceremonies for an unforgettable experience.

I made certain to book my next adventure at once.

Friday, August 6, 2021

Holding on for Dear Life

44 years ago today, she and I exchanged I do's. To her everlasting credit she has. My story has a very different trajectory.

My first recollection of what has become the central theme of our marriage occurred on our honeymoon. I am certain there were earlier episodes, during our courtship, but these incidents were obscured in the fog of romance.

We sat on the freeway somewhere in California, our rental car disabled by a flat tire. As difficult as it may be for some of you to perceive, the concept of cell phones was not even incubating in 1977. Therefore, the wait for triple A was of uncertain breadth. Until then, one's own capacity had to suffice.

 "I have no idea how to change a tire", I announced to my already not so blushing bride. There was no shame in my comment, just a declaration of limitation. Trying to put this end of that foreign piece of equipment into the other, raise the car into the air, compel the nuts, or whatever they were called, off their perch, well I had a better chance of inventing the cell phone.

It should have been a warning, a shot across the bow. Retreat before it is too late.

Her curse is that she is as capable as I am not. She can perform any task put to her. Her mind works in logical sequence. Where I find gibberish in instructions, she can improve the manual, refine it so that even a simpleton could put A into B. Almost any simpleton.

When we first were wed, we resided in a small apartment. There, I could paper over some of my most glaring deficiencies. But not all of them.

I cannot cook. I cannot clean. I cannot change a lightbulb. These are not hyperboles. I mean I dare not turn on a stove without first alerting the fire department and confirming that no small children will be harmed in the making of this movie. Even in college, when my roommate and I were off the meal plan, he decided that, for his own welfare, he would do both the cooking and the cleaning of the dishes. And many a potato went to an early grave as my wife extracted the light bulb shards, lefty loosey, righty tidy proving too intricate a concept for my mind to grasp.

The sheer weight of my incompetence has proven very hard for some friends to bear. This, they have notified me, is an act borne not out of inability but inattention or worse, intent. But I am not that clever, not by half or even a quarter. What you see is, unfortunately, what you don't get. Or maybe what you do. That is not clear as to grammatical connotation.

Through it all, my beleaguered wife has persevered. Like Horton Hatches an Egg, she has been faithful 100 percent. Through the storm of my ineptitude, through the head shaking incapacity, through the seconds, the minutes, the endless monotony of being mother and father to virtually every issue that has erupted over 16,071 days and nights, through the bad, the worse and the ugly, she has been as solid as I have been full of holes.

This morning we were charged with the care of our not quite 3 year granddaughter, as she and we await the arrival of her 3 day old brother, as he escorts his mom and dad home from the hospital. Our granddaughter was working diligently on one of those square peg, round hole puzzles that looked to me as hard to decipher as a Rubik's cube. My wife gently walked our ward through the process until she had turned straw into gold. Meanwhile, I wondered how I had ever managed to graduate from pre-school.

My wife could have taken a different path all those years ago. Could have partnered with someone other than a person whose picture stands astride the word inept in Webster's. Could have not had her picture next to the tale of Sisyphus. Could have had two children instead of an unintended third.

To anyone who asks, I merely inform them that she gave up many years past. That she accepted her lot in life with a grace and dignity of which I am not deserving. That she has carried me around on her shoulders, up and down every mountain that we have climbed together. Correction, that she climbed, while I held on for dear life.

Dear life.