Friday, September 28, 2012

Why I Debate Politics: No Political Conversations Will Be Found In This Blog

Anyone who has the awful luck of being my friend on Facebook has realized that I love debating anything. Politics is at the forefront right now and it's a daily battle, usually with the same people.  Someone usually posts something completely outlandish and false, that despite my attempts to refrain, I can't resist.  The initial comments start slow, but then it's a free for all.  Tons of comments and barbs are thrown and it's usually in good fun, but a few people recently made it personal and paid the price.  I was unfriended by one friend who made a personal attack and found out how quickly, as much as I didn't want to, I can dish it out.

Here's my thing about politics and why it's fun for me.  In any other category, it's an even playing field and despite coming across as a pompous ass, I can usually destroy my opposition with facts and figures.  The key to all successful debates. Sure, there is everyone's personal take on what these numbers mean, but in the case of, say sports, it's pretty cut and dry.  Why politics?  Why do I revel in it?  I do because of the challenge.  We're debating on Facebook, which makes it public. Making it public takes all my power away. A little confused?  OK, let me hash it out for it.  Nearly everyone I argue with, has an Achilles' heal. Some may work off the books, some may evade taxes, some may claim dependents that aren't truly there and some may hire illegal immigrants to work for them.  Some may have been handed their situations, be outright racist or deal in illegal activities for money. Some may quite simply, not be mentally up to to the task to debate with me or anyone else who brings facts into an equation.  Some just don't seem to realize their argument contradicts their needs and desires.  I can say without a shadow of a doubt, that everyone I debate with falls into one of these categories.  I myself am in a tax quandary myself.  Not from evasion, but simply put, an inability to live on what I've made recently and pay my full share.  My honesty is one of my weapons, so I'm throwing it out there.

In the last weeks, I've pretty much proved almost everything false that's been thrown at me.  I've backed it up with good sources to refute my counterparts flimsy propaganda info and for the most part, know I'm winning the debate.  There are no moderators or judges, so I assume those who sling their comments feel the same as I.  Here's the thing.  I wonder...truly wonder how many of them have had these things happen.

  • Had upwards of 40 people write me privately to ask my where I find such dumb friends to argue against me. 
  • Had phone calls and texts sent warning the others not to get into a battle of wits with me.
  • Had their friends, who I don't even know, tell me how dumb their friends are and not to bother with them (multiple times). 
  • Had someone tell me the same person contradicted themselves in another argument with someone else.
  • And my favorite.  Had people argue with me publicly and agree with me privately...simultaneously.
All the people I debate with are good people. If I needed a favor, I know they would help.  At times it becomes personal and we usually take a break and walk away.  Sometimes we don't and I believe we all suffer from that.  I know I mean them no harm and definitely don't want to out their flaws and don't want mine outed either.  It happens when blood boils over any topic.  Sometimes, I simply take the higher road and walk away.

I've said a lot, but the true reason isn't any of this. The true reason is quite more complex, but I will state the short reason.  After the 2008 election, I asked someone if they voted.  They said they did and told me they voted for McCain.  I didn't judge, but asked "what made you decide to vote for him."  She said, "my parents are republicans and we've always voted that way as a family."  I let her know that I accepted this as a reason, but followed it up with, "So you must be pissed Obama won."  She paused and said "Nah, he's probably a better choice, I watched one of the debates and he wiped the floor with McCain."  I couldn't let this go. I asked "So you think he's the better choice?" She paused again, "Yeah, probably."  I let it go.  How on earth does someone vote against their own feelings?

In the upcoming election, we will be forced to make a choice.  The choice is whether to vote for something that is taking place now or something we had in the past.  Regardless of credit or fault, we need to make a decision.  Liberals, historically want to change everything and conservatives have wanted things to stay the same.  This election is the epitome of these basic principals. Regardless of your political position, I hope you educate yourselves and vote. It's truly the basis of our independence and out freedom.  To waive that right is irresponsible. I didn't vote in 2008 and I'm kicking myself for it.  Circumstances out of my control played a part, but I should have found time.  This election, might be the most important as any we've had in the last 50 years.  As I said, this blog isn't about the politics, but about my passion for this decision.  Whatever the outcome, we all have to live with it.  Make sure your voice is heard. If you feel the need to voice it on my page.  The floor is always yours.  I look forward to it, no matter what side of the ballot you are on.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Ithaca: A Year Later

Last June, I came to Ithaca and spent a week with my 98-year-old grandmother.  She was using a walker, but was quite spry.  We'd have breakfast in the morning and then she'd disappear to get dressed. We'd then spend time sitting on the porch, she reading and me at the computer.  We'd have lunch, spend and hour or two telling each other stories of the past, then she'd usually take a nap.  She'd normally be in bed reading, but would hop up around 4:30-5:00 for a cocktail or two.  Cheese and crackers and some laughs were had before we started thinking about dinner.  We'd have dinner, then coffee and dessert and finish the night with a movie or maybe even a baseball game.  Around 10:30-11:00 she'd retired and we'd repeat the process the next day.

One year later and I'm back filling in for my father.  The routine has changed and the moments have slowed drastically. It seems almost comical to mention time when discussing someone who is now 99.  She awakes earlier in the morning, demanding coffee.   She doesn't seem to savor it like before.  Asking constantly if her when her aid is coming.  Three of the seven days, she's helped by someone who gets paid to do it.  She revels in the attention, but picks apart every nuance that irks her about each one.  She does the same for my father and I, so they should feel accepted.  It's now 11:30 and she's getting dressed. Multiple calls to help are met.  She's dressed, but now exhausted. She lays down for what she says is a minute, but it turns into hours.  She awakes sometime between 1:00 and 2:00 and asks for lunch.  She wants what she wants and she wants when she wants it.  A silly sentence, but something she actually recites.  A half a sandwich, a small bowl of soup or the occasional omelet. I make hers and mine.  She asks me multiple questions. Some I answered during breakfast or the night before.  Some minutes ago.  We eat and talk.  She asks me my plans for the day.  She knows I have none.  She retires to her room.  It's too cold out she says. She's always cold. Her frail body doesn't feel heat.  On some days, she beckons; a call for ice cream. She steps out of her bedroom, devours it. For anyone else, it's not healthy, but she needs the calories.

The day is beginning to wind down. The Autumnal Equinox signalling shorter days. I'll resist use if any corny metaphor here. She calls at 5pm, like it's instilled in her, we joke it's distilled in her. She wants a drink.  A scotch and seltzer on the rocks.  It better be made right.  She will complain loudly.  She sits and watches the news, speaking to them and wondering who they are.  They are talking of places like Ithaca and Syracuse. 96 years she lived in Philadelphia.  Where is the report on Central High and the Liberty Bell. I joke that she remembers it before it was cracked.  She laughs and nods in approval as she sips her drink.  We've mastered some trickery to alleviate a difficult dinner.  We make a weak drink, stir it vigorously, then float a little more on the top.  The first sip proves to her she isn't being cheated.  Some nights she wants another.  She demands crackers. She eats four or five, despite being told, like a child, it will ruin her appetite.  Some night she tells me to go to hell, soon forgetting and telling me how great it is I'm here.

I cook dinner and all the while she doesn't understand where I go and why I can't sit.  Why I can't socialize and let the help do the cooking.  There never has been any help, it's just a pace she's grown accustomed to that seems to be moving to fast to comprehend anymore. The sun starts to set as I stir and baste.  She calls, over and over. Every time, asking me to come sit.  I wish I could without burning dinner.  I explain. I walk away and she calls again.  The same question. Frustration starts to mount, but I walk away.  I finish cooking. Another ten or fifteen minutes, accompanied by no less than ten or fifteen calls for company.  I tell her to come to the table.  Dinner is ready.  She still sits, waiting to be called.  I call again.  She arrives and points out her dinner is getting cold.  "Why didn't you call me before you brought it out."  My mistake, of course.

I try to relax.  Age, fatigue and memory is taking it's toll. I take a bite and I glance over.  A fork moving food around. Not sure if she wants it.  She's sleepy and wants to go to bed.  I explain she has to eat.  She tells me she did nothing but eat all day.  In her mind it's true, the reading, the phone calls, the naps, all just intermissions between her meals.  She tells me how much she looks forward to watching a movie, followed shortly after by her desire to retire.  I quickly eat my food.  I don't want her to start to leave and my food to go cold.  At home, I'd do half this work. Swordfish, with orzo and fresh steamed broccoli.  She raves about how good it is after only one bite. If she takes another, I'll be happy.  I make coffee and grab the dishes.  She calls to me, thinking I've abandoned her.  I poke my head out from the kitchen, she smiles and yells to come in.  I explain what I'm doing.  We repeat the process, like some warped game of geriatric peek-a-boo.  She sings verses of songs to keep her company. The same ones over and over.

Coffee comes, accompanied by pills and dessert.  She marvels at the flavor of the coffee.  She takes her pills and lets me know when she is done.  She is ready for bed.  The last three hours have felt like ten for me.  I'm 42, drained and needing the couch.  My father is 77, soon to be 78.  How does he do it?  We walk to the bedroom.  I'm warned not to go to far.  It's seconds before I'm called.  We go through our evening routine. She is finally in bed.  She makes sure I know she's appreciative.  She promises we'll enjoy coffee in a few hours.  She just needs some sleep.  Some nights we express our love, some nights it's as pedestrian as her asking me to leave her and turn off the lights.  My family, while loving, has never felt that need to say it all the time.  We know it.

She drifts off quickly.  I finish in the kitchen and head to the couch.  I turn on the TV.  My eyes grow heavy. It's not that taxing a day, but it's the responsibility.  It's the worry.  Stress is tiring.  I'm reminded of my mother and her illness.  How tired she was at the end of the day and how exhausted I was every second of the day.  It's not the doing, it's the thought of doing.  It's sticking to a familiar routine that absolutely terrorizes me.  I'm not someone used to a schedule.  Even when I was, I'd purposely alter it, in some Frostian attempt to change  my altogether monotonous life.  I start to fade, thinking about the funny things she's said.  Thinking about how at some point during each day she reminds anyone who will listen that life is a pretty good thing.  I'm young and don't share this sentiment often.  I don't have kids and grand kids calling me.  I don't have great grand kids sharing lunching with me. I don't have people who I've know for seventy years calling me to say hello.

I make my way upstairs and fall into bed.  I lay on my side and think back to my childhood.  I think about visiting her in Philadelphia.  Arriving on a Friday night to a bowl full of spaghetti and meatballs and a huge salad.  Going to sleep in her bedroom.  I'd awake in the morning. Her tapping my shoulder to get up. She'd tell me to put on my robe and slippers, warning of the cold kitchen floor.  I'd sit as she made coffee.  I'd have my juice and cereal.  She'd make hers and we'd talk before the others joined.  She'd tell me about her time in Cape May with her friend Nat.  Thirty-five years and nothing has really changed.  The only difference is the person making breakfast.  Life is good.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Patriotic America: Read This

I am called all kinds of names, because of my left leaning views, despite having some more right than most.  Regardless of my political beliefs, there is one thing I am not.  A flag waver.  I'm patriotic in the sense that I respect our military and what they do and I realize this country has a lot to offer, but that's where my patriotism ends. You will never see me painting my face red, white and blue or waving a flag.  I stand and place my hand on my heart during our national anthem out of respect, but I think God should be taken out of our pledge of allegiance.  Before you jump on me and think your shit don't stink and you're a true 'Mercan, listen to a couple of things which might point your disdain stick right back at yourself. 

We all love fourth of July, right

A quarter of a billion dollars in fireworks are shot off each 4th.  Almost entirely imported from China.
Of the 150 million American flags bought in this country.  Less than 10 Million are made in America. 
Mexico buys more of Old Glory than we do.

We all know when we buy American it's better, right?

Budweiser is now a German company.
Chevy Silverado - 61% of it is made in America.
Coors Light isn't even close to 100% American anymore.
Ford didn't take bailout money...they just stopped making cars here. Dropped American built from 90-60%.
Rawlings which makes Major League baseballs,started in Puerto Rico, then Haiti, now Costa Rica.
Our Major League pastime hasn't had a baseball made in American since 1977.
American Girl dolls - made in China.
Don't get me started on Craftsman tools!
Apple products, including the iPhone, almost entirely made in China.

Our 2012 Summer Olympic uniforms were made in China.

Now here's my favorite for the people who bash me.  Especially you holier than though right wing nut jobs, who call Obama a socialist, because you're not really sure what it means, but it sounds bad.

The Pledge of Allegiance, which every hardcore, God-fearing, conservative American feels is the essence of our country, was written by Francis Bellamy. A devout socialist.
The original version, read as such: 'I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.  Bellamy had wanted to include "equality," but knew that would be interpreted as including women and blacks and that the school superintendent wouldn't allow that. 
The words "my flag" was changed to "the flag of the United States of America," despite a protest from Bellamy.
In the early 50's, the words "under God" were added, making it a salute and a public prayer.  His granddaughter said in interviews; Bellamy would have detested this change, due to his fallout with the church (He was a minister, before working for the National Education Society).
Bellamy has once said, he wanted to include "Liberty, Equality and Fraternity," taking from a slogan derived from the French Revolution, which was an admired by Thomas Jefferson. Bellamy wrote, it was "too fanciful, too many thousands of years off realization.

So the pledge that is so admired by so-called die hard Americans and whose verbiage is fought over was: 
Written by a socialist.
Never intended to contain any religious connotation.
Was meant to include everyone, regardless of race, creed, color, gender or religious affiliation.
Inspired by the French.
And while this came long before Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, below is a picture of the original salute

God Bless America and our complete misunderstanding of everything.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Random Thoughts: Pop Culture

Everyone has their views about Kim Kardashian's sex tape, but does anyone realize she was married when she made it...and not to the guy in the video?

Other than news clips, I have never watched one second of The Jersey Shore.  I am pretty sure my life is better for it.

Rihanna is an absolutely beautiful and talented woman, but since Chris Brown beat her up, Chris Brown has been more popular.

The sections of Fifty Shades of Grey that I have read are some of the worst quotes in literature I have personally ever read.  Women complain that men don't understand them and this book has made me thankful.

When you mention Liam Neeson to anyone under 30, they mention Taken, The Grey and the Star Wars movies.  Over 30, they mention Kinsey, Michael Collins and Schindler's List.  If ever the roles are reversed, the world will explode.

Jennifer Lawrence is the hottest thing since sliced bread.  Almost nobody that adores her has seen Winter's Bone.  Her only good movie to date.

Most people know Michael Fassbender as a contender for the Christian Grey role and his role as Eric in X-Men: First Class. He was in Shame, which might be the best movie of the last five years.

It took me nearly three weeks to realize that "Big Ang" was not someone who lived near and was friends with girls I know.  Now that I know who she is, I'm ashamed of them.

I might be missing out, but I have no idea who Skrillex is.  Or is it a what?

Remember nearly two years ago, when you were blown away by Adele?  Yeah, that was me five years ago.

Has anyone ever sat down and looked at all the "finalists" from American Idol and said "they're a pretty good judge of talent?"  My apologies to Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood and, yeah, that's about it.

Remember about 6-7 years ago, when magazines were making fun of girls and their muffin tops. Girls, that was 2005, and the key words there was "making fun."

Over the last ten years, Sara Rue (Less Than Perfect) and America Ferrera (Ugly Betty) were inspirations to young women all over who weren't a size zero?  Look at the names of those shows and look at pictures of them now.

Sadly, I can't go on, because I know so little about recent pop culture I had to look up some of the people's names just for this tiny blog.  Let's start getting a grip and educating ourselves, because if you're offended by anything I said, you're part of the declining moral fiber of this country.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Message to an Ithaca College Girl: You Are Beautiful

Yesterday I made my venture to Ithaca via bus. Starting in White Plains, we made our stops until we reached the destination of our transfer.  While waiting for second bus to arrive I noticed and incredible amount of young people.  The second bus was going to Binghampton and Ithaca, so it made sense.  I sipped my iced tea and noticed a girl, like me, standing with one bag at her feet and one draped over her shoulder.  She was short, about 5'1, with long brown hair.  She was wearing a purple shirt, jean shorts and short black boots.  She had the most perfect athletic legs, but due to her petite frame, they looked with some movements, almost muscular.  I noticed she had fair skin and wore no makeup to speak of.  She was the typical girl I would have gone crazy for in high school or college.

As we boarded the bus, she took the very first seat on the right. The bus looked packed, but I started to make my way to the rear.  Apparently, many of those previously on it, had fallen asleep and were taking up most of the seats.  A few of us retreated to the front and I took the first available seat in my return. For a split second I regretted not taking the empty seat next to her, but I figured, it's better not to appear like the creepy old guy.  When they bus stopped in Binghampton, most of the riders exited.  The person next to me left, and I took her seat, closer to the window.  The girl in the front had her neighbor leave as well, quickly scooting into the aisle.

On the first leg of the trip, she sat still as can be, texting away while listening to her iPod. She barely moved, almost playing possum, as not to make any inadvertent movements that may have attracted the Chatty Cathy sitting to her right.  On the second, she was directly in front of some Plexiglas that shielded the driver.  Occasionally, I'd look up from the games I was playing on my phone and glance over. Every time, she was clawing away at her eyebrows or picking at some invisible blemish.  She was fixing her hair. Her face never seeming to show any emotion other than annoyance.

This went on and on, with her frustration mounting.  I was confounded by the situation.  Here was this attractive young woman, on her way to college during what some may call, the best years of her life, acting like her own reflection was a trigger for feelings of disdain and anger.  A younger me might have done something.  A younger me, would have been sitting next to her, stealing glances when she was unaware.  The older me was helpless. Too old to have any of my actions taken with sincerity, due to societies ills and how age differences are perceived.  I did not lust after this girl. I did not have any thoughts that could be deemed impure or inappropriate. I just wanted to grab her hands, look her in the eye and tell her, "STOP!  You are beautiful!"

I'll never see her again and I'll never know why she was feeling the thoughts and insecurities she was.  I just wish I had reassured her, it wasn't her. If for any reason she felt inadequate, it was others shortcomings, not hers. I hope her problems are merely due to age and social factors and that they never reach levels exceeding this.  I don't know her, but I wish her happiness in her life.  I wish nothing more for her to look in the mirror one day and see what I saw.  Maybe I should have done something to insure that, but I didn't.

Friday, September 14, 2012


I've normally been so open about myself on here.  The last three nights, I've written blogs and erased them.  I've been so down lately, that I don't know if I really want people knowing all the minute details of my life.  When things are good, it's funny to bitch and moan, to point out the atrocities of life and to try to offend.  When things are rough, I can use this to vent and give myself a little dose of self therapy.  It usually helps.  These days things are dire.  I try to keep up a good front, but I'm scared about things for the first time in my life.  I'm flat broke, work (part-time) doesn't start up for another two weeks and I don't get paid until sometime early November.  I broke a deal, inadvertently with the IRS, so my first paycheck, which is usually pretty nice for what I do, is gone.  For the first time since I was a stupid 21 year old getting myself in trouble, I've had to borrow money.  It's embarrassing.

I've turned my attention to bitching and moaning about politics and religion, while at the same time building frustration about my work situation.  I'm scouring online adds, but the job situation sucks.  I don't want a job, I want a career.  I've always been the one, to do something silly to pay the bills, so I can do the things I like for a side gig.  I've worked with kids now for fifteen years now and I don't want to stop.  I want that to be my full-time job, but when the school thing stopped, the reality of being a teacher ended. I can't afford to go back now, but maybe I have to?  I just found out, I've horribly misread my student loan bills over the last couple of years and it threw me for a loop.  I basically owe double what I thought I owe and if I pay off the suggested amount, that scary number doubles.  Basically in my head I had it at about $35-40 when all is said and done, but the real number is closer to $100k.  That's with no degree mind you!  Can I afford to add to this and put myself into further debt?  I don't think my life starting over at 45, can handle that.

I keep thinking about where things went wrong.  I don't blame, but damn when I hear others complain it angers me, when I hear of their so-called woes.  Some of them are sickening.  I think about what I like now and what I'd like to do.  I like to cook, but I'm not nearly as good as I'd like to be and have way to many bad traits and ADD moments to be able to follow a recipe day in and day out.  I love to write, but I'm not good enough at it to get a job doing it and I don't have the backing to hunker down in a cabin in the woods to fulfill my days to it, all the while writing my masterpiece.  Yes, I have the time, but the stress doesn't allow the creative juices to flow as I like. I like kids and love working with them, but even I feel my body breaking down halfway through the season and have to give myself pep talks.  We used to call this the six-week slump in PCB.  Don't's not important.

I'd love to be a stay at home dad and that's not a knock on any parent that stays home. I am not saying it's easy, but damn it would be great.  To get to spend time with the people you love all day, would be a dream come true. I first need the wife and then the kids. I'm a lifetime away I believe.  I look at older people who are alone.  I fear that now like I've never feared it before.  I think about how alone I feel some nights here, sitting in the dark, typing away.  I think about it when I sit down to a home cooked meal with nobody to share it with.  I feel it especially when the breath of someone next to me, isn't the comfort that allows me to drift into a slumber. I feel it in the morning, especially in the winter, as I finish my coffee and crawl back into bed, with nothing to warm me.  I feel it a lot.

I keep telling myself things will get better.  That moment will come along, when everything shifts back to normal.  The problem is, normal was never that great to begin with. Normal was getting by and having all the things I now lack, on occasion.  Normal was arguing and struggling to get by.  Normally was being surrounded by pain and suffering.  I want better than normal. I don't want great.  I want comfort.  I don't want a big house with a yard. A fancy car.  A golf membership.  I want to be able to wake up on a Sunday, having my greatest stress be, whether to stay in bed and not worry about waking her or heading to the kitchen to make her breakfast.  That, simply enough, is all I want in life.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Weekend, 9/11 & People - Tons of Thoughts

I tried not to post on Facebook or Twitter yesterday, out of respect for all those affected by the events eleven years ago.  I personally think that posting pictures of the destruction of the Twin Towers is not only disturbing, but slightly disrespectful. If your loved one died in a car accident, would you want to see a picture of the wreckage every year on the anniversary of their death? Please don't think I'm judging anybody else's manner of showing their appreciation or respects, it's my personal feeling.

Monday, I got to play golf.  I was lucky, because it was free.  The day was great and I appreciated it.  In the morning, I missed getting over to a friend's house in time and they had left for breakfast, so I missed out on some eggs and bacon.  I had made a joke, thanking them for picking me something up and just laughed about it.  One of the players, who I barely know, walked over and handed me half a bagel. I declined the offer, not wanting to take his food, but he insisted. Things like that make my day.  Oh, and it definitely hit the spot.

I talk a lot about politics online and it truly amazes me how little facts matter to some.  Today, I abstained from commenting, but the shit that was being thrown up on people's pages was ridiculous. The report that Obama snubbed Netanyahu was all over.  Very little mentioned about how the men spoke, as they do regularly, for what was reported to be over an hour.  Lots of people, mostly republicans were flabbergasted that NBC interviewed Kris Jenner instead of showing the moment of silence.  While a completely ludicrous decision, was it more offensive than Paul Ryan speaking about the first responders today, when he has voted against the Zadroga Act?  The posts about the attack on the Embassy in Cairo and Romney's false claim Obama apologized.  There were no cartoons or memes about a report that the actual unemployment rate (U-6) is actually lower today than it was when Obama took office. No snippets about how Obama has shrunk government, but his opponents is claiming the opposite. Should be interesting to see if Obama mentions Bain Capital invested millions in a company that disposed of aborted fetuses come the debates. Enough of politics for now, because sadly, I can, have and will, go on and on.

I ran into some people I enjoyed being with this weekend and some I did not.  I was very clearly reminded, that from this point on, I must avoid drama.  I must also not create my own.  This is essential.  I realize that with the exception of some good times, I have wasted a good part of the last few years, surrounding myself with some people that brought me down.  Down while I was already down.  Is this their fault?  Without a doubt, it is not.  They are living their lives as they see fit and I abandoned many of my beliefs to "fit in."  I paid the price and it's a price that brought me a lot of heartache. I was talking to a truly good person this weekend.  A person who always has my back and tries to steer me away from these potholes life throws us. I think he's the one person I truly don't take for granted.

As I was walking home last night. Someone saw me.  I was exhausted, a little drunk and it was late.  The person didn't know me, but saw something. She called over.  Are you OK?  I told her I was fine.  She asked me again and I explained I only had to walk one block.  She laughed and told me to have a nice night. A complete stranger, being decent.  Made me laugh, when I think about all those I come across who aren't strangers and aren't decent.

I did a lot of reading the last few days.  Tons of different topics. Read an article about intelligence and religious beliefs.  The results were obvious to me, but it still amazes me that people argue this fact, or even worse, don't understand why.  I was going to write an entire blog on this, but I believe I have already and it wasn't so well accepted.  Sometimes, even I don't want to offend.

Some of the other interesting things I read (I'll list in case people want to do some research of their own):
FBI Agent John O'Neill - known basically as the Al-Qaeda hunter.  Ironically, he died in the WTC bombing in 2001.  He also was one of the corroborators on stories that the Bush administration new well in advance.  What's so amazing about this man, is he one told a friend he thought they would try to finish the job, but he took the job as head of security for the Towers anyway.

Mike Trout, OF, Anaheim Angels - very quietly this young phenom is having one of the greatest seasons in major league history.  Buster Olney says "the best."  It's arguable and missing the first month of the season might hurt him for MVP, but the numbers are staggering.

The TV Ratings for the RNC & DNC: The ratings for the DNC were much greater, which to be honest, is quite a surprise.  One, the DNC went up against the opening football game of the year with two huge market teams.  The other is that the DNC was on when school had just started.  That all being said, I have read that ratings have absolutely no bearing on the outcome.  Of everything I read, there was one glaring number.  Ten million less people watched Romney & Ryan as did McCain & Palin!

I also read some poetry this weekend.  I read Thomas, Plath, Cummings & Bukowski to name a few.  It truly amazes me, how some people are able to use language.  Well I'll end this babble.  Not that interesting, but it's better than the crap I have going on in my life that's serious, so this is all I can muster.  Maybe tomorrow someone will inspire me.   I can hope.

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Upcoming Election & Those Pesky Conventions

Over the past two weeks I've been debating with friends over the upcoming election.  The debates have given us all fodder and we've gone to town on it. One thing should never be forgotten about these conventions.  They are held in huge buildings and the speeches are made to cater to a specific audience - their particular party.  If you are a Republican, you somehow find a way to blame Clinton for Bush's debacle and if you're a Democrat you blame Bush for everything Obama inherited.  There might be a right or a wrong to this method of logic, but that's not what interests me.

What has me seeing red, but not in a right wing way, is the severe divide in this country and it's principles.  A lot of people have been bringing up the Reagan question recently, "are you better off than you were four years ago?"  What people forget is that this question, while appearing harmless, was used to prey on our fears.  Reagan cleverly wove a tale of America being a soon to be victim of atrocities.  He was able to do this due to the Iran Hostage Crisis. The one that conveniently ended as he was being sworn in. What Reagan did was ask ourselves to question our safety.  The problem now, is we've experienced true terror and we know we are more prepared.  So Romney is asking us this same question, but failing one key ingredient.  We are better off.  We don't have a country in a recession.  We have unemployment moving downward, not upward.  We have jobs being created at a pace that might seem slow, but let's also remember, almost that same number were lost during Bush's presidency.  Not his entire presidency, but his final twelve months.   Almost a million in his final month in office alone.  Are we better off?  Yes Mitt, actually we are.

The conventions are all hoopla, with some pretty good speeches.  Talk is cheap though.  It's also very subjective.  I myself did not watch any of the speeches live.  I didn't want to be swayed by cheers or someone's delivery.  Instead I read their words.  The only speeches I went back and watched were Ryan's and Bill Clinton's. Why?  Honestly, because these are the two guys, both parties put up as their "smartest guy in the room."  In a pissing contest, Paul Ryan couldn't hold Bill Clinton's dick.  Clinton is to speeches what Snooki is to meatheads.  A beacon of light.  That being said, they all talked and talked and talked.  And the next day I argued and argued and argued.

Four years ago, I wasn't on Facebook or Twitter.  I wasn't even on my computer that often.  I talked and texted and that usually steered clear of political debates.  This year, I'm entrenched in daily squabbles and I must admit, I'm a little upset.  You see my counterparts, well many of them, have taken to the same tactics that their conservative leaders have.  They have made the arguments personal. They've brought up my employment status and my desire to work (is there really such a thing as a desire to work?).  They have brought up my affinity for cocktails at the bar.  They have brought up my collecting unemployment and being one of those who "accepts" what they deem to be handouts.  Here's a few things they don't know.  I left my last job because of a lack of work and in many ways to save a friendship which meant more to me than a paycheck.  In retrospect, some might say I cut of my nose to spite my face, but I value money very little compared to the things in life you can't buy.  The other thing they don't realize is that I've worked part time almost the entire time, I was collecting and claimed that. I also wasn't receiving the max unemployment anyway, which would have given me over $22,000.  I received less than half of that after claiming the days I worked, sometimes making as little as $80 and paying $26 in cab rides.  Finally, my going out is greatly exaggerated.  I was called an alcoholic by about four people in the month of August. I drank once the entire month.  Many of these people, come home from work and crack open a beer.  In my entire life, between living at home and with my parents, aside from a glass of wine occasionally with dinner, I have probably drank at home less than ten times in my life. In the eight years I've lived at my current address, I've drank three beers, two bottles of wine and one half of a bottle of limocello, ever.  Hardly qualifying me for alcoholic status.  This however plays right into my point for this blog.  Perception over reality.

Friends of mine hemmed and hawed over the speeches last week at the RNC, but I knew they would.  They had decided before ever sitting down to watch them, they were great.  They were able to overlook the blatant lies, which fact checking websites were abuzz with during the night and the following day. They didn't see the amateurish style or the nervousness in Paul Ryan.  They saw Anne Romney as the suffering wife, but were able to erase from their brains, that she attended private schools and lived with Mitt off his stock options or in a house her father-in-law paid for.  These facts aren't important.  They then turned on the DNC and found it nauseating. They couldn't believe the spectacle and the outright lies (many of which weren't untruths at all).  When there wasn't anything to pick on in the speech, they picked on how it was spoken.  Remember, last week, they had a demented old man come out and ad lib a speech to a chair, but our nations vice president said literally, 64 times when he meant figuratively and he's got dementia.  Here's the thing.  None of this surprised me.  For months now, I've been talking about this and when I mention someone on the blue team their frustration turns to hate.  Reagan sold arms to the Middle East, but Obama is a terrorist?  Paul Ryan has lied more in a month than I have lied in my life and he might be the second in command of this country.  Joe Biden had a stutter as a child and young man, ashamed of it he avoided speaking in public.  So he pauses a bit too much.  Talks without thinking (which is what can cause a stutter) at times.  And invariably puts his foot in his mouth.  Joe Biden is human.  I once saw a girl wearing and ugly necklace.  I laughed at it and asked "What'd someone give that to you the day before they died and you feel you out it to them?"  The girl, looked up and smiled. "Yes."  In a million years, I never wanted to hurt her and I did.  About 15 years ago and I'll never forgot how bad I felt.  You know what though.  I'm friends with her to this day.  Our words don't always mean as much, when someone knows you are good at heart.  I truly feel Joe Biden is a good person.  I do not feel that way, personally, about  Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.  They are both liars and honestly, not very good at it.

I value honesty in a person more than anything.  I myself have not been honest at times and I have lost sleep over it.  I have lied to people to make myself feel better and I've lied trying not to hurt some.  I don't do that anymore.  I've grown. I've almost lost to much.  I don't lie.  I don't cheat. I don't steal.  I don't take what's not mine and I give what I can. I'm not better than anyone, but I'm definitely not worse.  Every man should have a code.  Mine is honesty and when I see it in a person, or in this case, a candidate, I value it.

In the past weeks, I have had friends call me names personally while defending liars they probably will never meet.  They have said awful things and I have at times responded with personal remarks, but it should be known at times I haven't because I could really screw someone if the wrong person reads it.  I don't ever want this or anything I write to cause someone money or a relationship and believe me I could do both in seconds if I wanted to.  I know people who call me a left wing lunatic and preach their conservative ways, but hire illegals and cheat on their taxes.  I know people who say awful things about people...terrible things and are intimate with them.  I know people who screw people over constantly and talk about virtue.  I got accused of a blanket statement today, but I started thinking about all the people I know who do bad things.  I started thinking about those who get by on getting over on someone or the government.  I made a mental list quickly in my head and it was nearly all conservatives.  Not only that, but conservatives who are flag waving, Bible thumping, politicos. I started thinking of those I know who stepped into their careers.  Those who have sat back and had things handed to them.  All of them, every last one, a conservative.  It's that hypocrisy that angers me.  That fuels the fire when I argue.  The problem is I have some shred of decency that doesn't allow me to out them.  Doesn't allow me the leverage to fight the fair fight.

Today I read Joe Biden's speech.  A speech I was told was absolutely awful and a garbled mess.  I didn't listen to the man, because the applause breaks I find nauseating.  I read a speech about a man who loves a woman.  A man who is honored to serve his country.  A man who respects his boss.  A man who seems to sincerely believe America is on it's way back.  I read Obama's speech and saw much of the same. A man who knows now what he didn't know four years ago.  A man who is realizing hope and change is only possible if everyone wants it.  Four years of realizing not everyone wants that has been rough. Listen to the numbers that these men have thrown out.  Listen to that of their competitors.  Then look it up.  It doesn't take as long as you think.  There are even websites, unbiased websites, that do it for you.  Almost across the board you see Romney and Ryan are not true or partly true.  On the Obama and Biden side, it's almost true or mostly true.  You might not like what you hear, but I guess in November, you have to hold that lever in your hand and decide, are you someone who values honesty and truth or would you rather be sold a bridge?

If you think I am right or if you think I'm full of shit, isn't really that important.  What's important is that you let your voice be heard.  Sitting back and saying "they're all the same" or "he's going to win or lose the state with or without me" might have been what got George Bush elected in 2000.  Remember that. More people voted for Gore and he lost.  Two states were decided by a few hundred votes.  Here's the crime.  49% of the registered voters in this country did not cast a vote in that election.  Twelve years later, all 100% are paying for that decision.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Wire & America

I recently watched the television series The Wire.  I basically watched five seasons in a matter of six weeks.  In all there were about 60 episodes and I probably watched them in the course of about 15-20 evenings.  The series is a pretty impressive collection.  What sets it apart from most series, is that while the characters stay very much the same, the angle of the story changes drastically, all the while concentrating on the urban setting of Baltimore. 

The first season takes the perspective of the cops and the street thugs.  The second looks at the dock workers and unions.  The third if local government and it's corruption.  The fourth is from the public school systems view and there struggles to make a difference.  The final season is set from the view of the media, primarily the print media: Newspapers.  The whole magical journey centers around a handful of cops, politicians and drug dealers.  Some of the faces change, but the main characters stay the same.  It's well written and has a very specific concentration for each season.  It works.

It's been two days since I finished it and it suddenly dawned on me that there is so much irony in people's love of this show and their every day life.  Since getting into the show, I've talked to many people about it.  Almost across the board, there is something a little off.  Something wrong morally with some comments and feelings.  It was hard to put a finger on it while watching, but now that I can step away, make my own judgments, it makes sense.

The first thing I find troubling, is that across the board, nearly everyone's favorite character is one of the drug dealers. The funny thing is, the show never makes you really root for them.  You empathize with them, but even that is cause for concern.  You're shown that there is no escape from this life for some, so we accept it. The whole point of the series is to show us we've accepted it; and it is wrong.  

The other concern is what we like and dislike about it.  I consider myself political, but didn't like that season. The dirty politicians annoyed me more than the crooks, because they were only looking out for themselves.  They were lairs and cheats and we saw every minute of it.  Ironically, most people liked this season and liked the characters.  I couldn't stand them.  Hated them even in the following seasons.  It's what's wrong with our government and even when confronted with it, we let it slide.  They are simply politicians, doing there thing, we tell ourselves.  Sad.

Most people's least favorite season was the second.  The dock workers.  Is it because our unions have become so corrupt and so illegitimate that we can't bare to watch?  Or Maybe it's because we look at these guys, working to make a buck, losing pay for lack of work, while criminals make money hand over first and we feel guilty.  Maybe it's because we champion the little guy in public, but the reality is, we look down upon the uneducated men and women who do all the dirty work 

The final season takes us inside the news room.  It also has a very clear message. That a lie, even one that seems harmless, can take on a life of it's own.  As I've said, during numerous debates with people about the current election, "Just because you tell a lie over and over doesn't make it true."  Sadly, we're a lazy people in this country.  We like to be told our news and we assume the facts are true.  We have our trusted paper or channel and we swallow without question, any info they feed us.  We assume we're not being duped, but the reality is, if we are, it's our own fault, because so many of us accept lies.  The show lays out for all to see that those little lies aren't just affecting us.  They affect our co-workers, our friends, our loved ones and in the end, they tear at our very being. Those who can continue the lies without remorse are shown to be the scariest of all.  

Seeing a bunch of kids on a corner killing each other might not seem like reality.  Seeing dock workers bend the rules for a buck, might seem like a harmless maneuver. Seeing a politician take money for favors, might not even remotely sound unethical by today's standards.  Seeing a school teacher trying so hard to educate, in a system that doesn't allow for it, might seem commonplace.  Seeing a cop, a reporter or a drug dealer tell a little lie to make a situation better, might not sound that awful in the grand scheme, but the reality is all of these things are signs of our country's failure.  A failure to protect the innocent, the laborer, the child, the loved one. A failure to hold those who should be accountable for their actions.  A failure in all of us, to accept these failures and brush them under the rug as commonplace. 

We live in a world where we accept liars, thieves and cheats.  We allow them into our homes and our bedrooms.  We may even have crossed over and become those people we look down on.  When does it end.  If you can't be faithful to your family, how can you be faithful to your friends?  If you can't be faithful to your friends, how can you be faithful to those who you work with?  If you can't be faithful to those you work with, how can you be faithful to those who you serve or who serve you?  How if you can't be faithful to those  people, can we ever be expected to truly care about those we don't know or don't see?  We've become a society that allows for bad things.  We revere it at times.  There was a time when honesty was a virtue.  Now it's seen as a sign of weakness.  How did we fall this far?  

A TV show called the Wire represented all that is wrong with society from multiple points of view.  We watched and were entertained.  Entertained by a world most of us don't know.  A world where a large number of people live every day. We cared about all those characters on that screen, but how many of us cared about who they represented?  My guess, in today's world, not many.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

2012 NFL Football Predictions

Well, it's that time of year again.  That time where I act like a genius and then invariably get slightly more than half my playoff teams correct and then don't even come close to the Super Bowl match up.  Although I do believe I had two of the correct final four last year.  Didn't check. So here it goes.

East - New England Patriots 13-3
North - Baltimore Ravens 11-5
South - Houston Texans 10-6
West - Kansas City 9-7
WC: Pittsburgh 10-6 & Denver 9-7

Wild Card
Houston over Denver
Pittsburgh over Kansas City

New England over Pittsburgh
Baltimore over Houston

Baltimore over New England

East - New York 10-6
North - Green Bay 13-3
South - Atlanta 11-5
West - San Francisco 12-4
WC: Chicago 11-5 & New Orleans 10-6

Wild Card
Atlanta over New Orleans
New York over Chicago

Green Bay over New York
San Francisco over Green Bay

Green Bay over San Francisco

Super Bowl
Green Bay over Baltimore

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Text Message

I had a bad night on Saturday.  It started of good, but then someone did something and it really hurt me.  Not so much the action, but when someone who hasn't seen you in a while chooses to embarrass you instead of saying hello, it makes you question if they were ever really a friend to begin with.  I won't mention the other things about this person, because most people would wonder what the hell I was friends with them in the first place for.  This is not the point of the story.

The point is. I feel like people have really just started to let me down.  New and old friends alike just never seem to step up.  It seems like nobody cares about anyone else anymore.  The world has become so self absorbed that doing for others has become a dirty thought. Well this morning I woke up and I was angry.  I was angered more when I read a text basically defending the person, then turning it around onto me as if this was caused by an anger issue I have.  The most ironic thing about it all is that his excuse for being a jackass is the thing the person sending me the text got mad at me for. Needless to say, the world sees it as my fault, because I like to occasionally be respected.

So as I laid in bed stewing, I received a text from an old friend.  It mentioned a movie he was sure I'd like and told me to see it immediately. He then asked how I was, told me to keep my head up and then paid me one of the highest compliments anyone can give another person.   He ended it with "Keep writing - how about that 'everyone has a price' screenplay?" Now it might seem trivial to most, but this question was made regarding a conversation over more than a few beers many years ago.  The fact that this seemingly insignificant conversation stayed in his mind shows that sometimes when people talk, their audience not only listens, but hears.

I can't say I will ever write that screenplay, or any for that matter, but it made an impact reading those words this afternoon.  It made a difference, because it came from someone who shares many of the same passions I do.  From someone who has their bumps in the road, as I have, and can relate.  Neither of us has achieved what we're capable of achieving and I think it bothers us more than anyone could ever know.  Life isn't about money, but it's funny how the two of us can sit and talk of great works of literature, film and art.  We can discuss our passion for the finest foods and our desire to cook. We can talk all we want about all these wonderful things, but we can't to find ways to obtain them.  Maybe that's the way it's supposed to be.  Maybe that's what makes them so important to us and makes them a passion.  The carrot held in front of us, but just out of reach.  I want to reach the carrot before I die, but have enough time to enjoy it.  Life has taken me on a strange course.  I hope to one day meet my friend at a better place for both of us and when we meet, I'll steal one of his lines and say to him, "Well, we sure did take the circuitous route."

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Robbie Died Yesterday

Got a text today.  It was a friend telling me of his cousin's death.  Robbie was 51.

I met Robbie through my friend on a trip to Boston.  We stayed in his one bedroom apartment and took over the living room, the hallways and where else we crashed on a drunken weekend.  We at junk food, farted a lot and laughed our asses off.  We got Robbie kicked out of his local bar on on other trips we got kicked out of quite a few places. We became famous, or infamous one trip as being the "Wassup" guys.  Remember those awful commercials?  We embodied every ounce of awfulness they inspired.

I only hung out with Robbie a handful of time.  Each time was different.  One he wasn't around for much of our stay.  Once it was just the guys.  One it was a larger group, guys and girls on St. Paddy's. Once it was the guys and my friend's girlfriend. Once was at a bar crawl in Boston. Once was at a Bar Crawl in NY. Once was at a party.  Once was while I visited Boston with a girlfriend.  A few times, that was it.  We weren't close, but Robbie was a friend.

Robbie would give up his bed, so his cousin's wife didn't have to sleep with the Neanderthals. Robbie would take us to all the best places in Boston.  For Robbie, those were places we'd fit in.  Dive Bars. We'd eat and drink all day and the focus was always on the drink.  Robbie could talk, which is why I liked him.  He was a bright guy and was fun to be with.  He's tell us a story, his eyes beaming, full of excitement and then we'd all laugh and ignore him.  He'd take us to Faneuil Hall, Harvard Square and all over Boston pointing this and that out.  He was a fountain of information.

On one occasion after downing way too many Scorpion Bowls, I ran down the flight of stairs at the well known Hong Kong's and into the street.  I ran until I found a wall and pressed one hand against it proceeding to vomit all over the sidewalk. People passed by, commented on the wreck before them and made their way.  In the middle of my endless regurgitation, I heard a voice.  The vomit spewed from me like there was not tomorrow, but the low toned voice continued, "Do you know on this spot, Paul Revere..." I looked down and saw underneath the splatter of neon puke, a plaque built into the sidewalk.  Robbie rambled on for another minute.  I gathered myself and we walked back in.  We walked home a few moments later and Robbie seemed chipper. I was miserable.  Robbie couldn't stop talking about how I had run from a bar, across a street and chose that spot, a landmark, to get sick.  He was utterly gleeful.  That was Robbie.

Robbie's death didn't only remind my of the fragility of life, but also the moments we can never have back.  a text from a friend reminded me, we all haven't made the effort to see each other.  Another reminded me of simpler times.  Better times. Robbie was a friend I hadn't seen or had contact with in years.  I had no reason to be emotional, but I was.  He was a good person and I keep losing good people.

I cried tonight for a few reasons. I cried because I lost a friend...a friend I just assumed I'd see again.  I cried, because I remembered the times we had their, all of us laughing for days.  I cried because of the people I've let slip away from my everyday lie.  I cried, because I miss being able to run away for a weekend and just let go. I cried tonight, because the reality is, those times are behind me. Those times will never be again.  Not with those same people. We all are at different points in our lives and we can't go or look back.  We can all get together again, but it won't be the same.  We're not the same.  We're not the same and Robbie's not here to join us.

R.I.P. My friend