Monday, October 10, 2011

Dear Dad (10 sentences)

I’m not sure I ever began a letter with those words, but I’d like to take a stab at it.

Can I tell you that I always admired you for your strength, your musical voice and sense of humor?

Can I tell you that I never felt so special than that time you confided in me on the way to Kennedy Airport?

Can I say that I saw your face shine, the first time you saw me in uniform?

Can I tell you that I should have known I could trust you to help me, always?

Can I tell you that I love you?

Well, now it is too late.

I suppose I could have written a letter of which I’d be proud .

Better yet, I could have written a letter to make you proud of me.

Most of all, I just could have written a letter.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Mother's Day (in 10 sentences)

An elegant woman with perpetual blonde hair, she had the hint of a British accent giving her the aura of mystique.

The lady would not stand on ceremony.

Befriending the wealthy, the wretched, the weak and the well off, she was mother to seven, but mothered so many more.

Always time for a laugh, but never enough time for the cooking, laundry and cleaning, the kitchen floor would shine by the last mop of midnight.

She would answer the phone with a voice that any person would love to hear, soothing, as by an Angel, there were times even I would not recognize it.

Her children were always fed, educated and clothed, in that order, leaving herself last in all things.

Five boys, never an easy task for any woman, she would find the time to mentor “strays”.

As she grew in years, she would still show her sons up by kicking a field goal or throwing a “double-bull’.

She could deal out punishment with one hand, and wipe a tear with the other.

Attending to so many with little time for herself, she asked for almost nothing, but perhaps, her final request, “Can we go now?”

Thursday, February 3, 2011


 In 1946 the American Transit Association, through its radio program,
 "Speak to America," sponsored a nationwide contest to find the REAL
 Kilroy, offering a prize of a real trolley car to the person who could prove himself to be the genuine article.  
 Almost 40 men stepped forward to make that claim, but only James Kilroy from Halifax, Massachusetts, had evidence of his identity. 

 Kilroy was a 46-year old shipyard worker during the war who worked as a checker at the Fore River Shipyard in Quincy. His job was to go around and check on the number of rivets completed. Riveters were on piecework and got paid by the rivet.  

 Kilroy would count a block of rivets and put a check mark in semi-waxed lumber chalk, so the rivets wouldn't be counted twice. When Kilroy went off duty, the riveters would erase the mark. Later on, an off-shift inspector would come through and count the rivets a second time, resulting in double pay for the riveters. 

 One day Kilroy's boss called him into his office. The foreman was upset about all the wages being paid to riveters, and asked him to investigate. It was then he realized what had been going on. The tight spaces he had to crawl in to check the rivets didn't lend themselves to lugging around a paint can and brush, so Kilroy decided to stick with the waxy chalk. He continued to put his checkmark on each job he inspected, but added KILROY WAS HERE in king-sized letters next to the check, and eventually added the sketch of the chap with the long nose peering over the fence and that became part of the Kilroy message. Once he did that, the riveters stopped trying to wipe away his marks. 

 Ordinarily the rivets and chalk marks would have been covered up with paint. With war on, however, ships were leaving the Quincy Yard so fast that there wasn't time to paint them. As a result, Kilroy's inspection "trademark" was seen by thousands of servicemen who boarded the troopships the yard produced. His message apparently rang a bell with the servicemen, because they picked it up and spread it all over Europe and the South Pacific. Before war's end, "Kilroy" had been here, there, and everywhere on the long hauls to Berlin and Tokyo. 

 To the troops outbound in those ships, however, he was a complete mystery; all they knew for sure was that some jerk named Kilroy had "been there first." As a joke, U.S. servicemen began placing the graffiti wherever they landed, claiming it was already there when they arrived.
 Kilroy became the U.S. super-GI who had always "already been" wherever GIs went. It became a challenge to place the logo in the most unlikely places imaginable. It is said to be atop Mt. Everest, the Statue of Liberty, the underside of l'Arc De Triomphe, and even scrawled in the dust on the moon. 
 As the war went on, the legend grew. Underwater demolition teams routinely sneaked ashore on Japanese-held islands in the Pacific to map the terrain for coming invasions by U.S. troops, and thus, presumably, were the first GI's there. On one occasion, however, they reported seeing enemy troops painting over the Kilroy logo! 
 In 1945, an outhouse was built for the exclusive use of Roosevelt, Stalin, and Churchill at the Potsdam conference. Its first occupant was Stalin, who emerged and asked his aide, in Russian, "Who is Kilroy?"
 To help prove his authenticity in 1946, James Kilroy brought along officials from the shipyard and some of the riveters. He won the trolley car, which he gave to his nine children as a Christmas gift and set it up as a playhouse in the Kilroy front yard in Halifax, Massachusetts. 

 So, now you know Kilroy 

Saturday, December 25, 2010

What's Up?

There is something to be said for a man’s height in this world. Most of my life, I have been looking “up”. As a child, I naturally looked “up” to my parents, relatives, teachers, et al.. During the course of my life I have found myself at a couple of different jobs, and while sometimes I may have held responsible positions, it seems that unvaryingly my superiors were, well “superior”. Yes, they were all 6 feet ”plus”. While I don’t consider myself to be in the “little people” category, my huge 5 feet 8 ½ inch presence would only be considered “average” say, 200 years ago. Hell, back then I could have picked Betsy Ross up with one hand, while leaning on George W.’s shoulder. I always looked “up” to a tradesman for his ability to build or repair, until I learned to do it myself, or a police officer, until I became one. I have done enough in my lifetime to see eye to eye with a Doctor or Lawyer, a priest or a golf-pro, for I, after all, can do things that they are unable to do. Still, for me, some things are unattainable.

Take the formidable stature of Sonny Liston. At 6 feet 1½ inches, Liston had a disproportionately long reach of 84 inches. Hey, 84 inches is 7 feet!!! Not to mention a 15” fist! 15 inches goes from the tip of my chin to the middle of my “skull cap”. Liston was a professional boxer and ex-convict known for his toughness, punching power and intimidating appearance. He became world heavyweight champion in 1962 by knocking out Floyd Patterson in the first round. That was no easy feat! Liston, of course, had his comeuppance against the “Rope-a-dope” King, himself, Cassius Clay. Did he take a dive? Another story. But do people look “up” to him? Sure they do.

I once stood after having lunch in a Wall Street diner seated next to another man at the counter. We rose simultaneously, and as I turned, I faced toward him and found myself at eye level with his belt. Scary!

Does size matter? You bet yer’ ass it does, we’re not talking about your shorts here, we’re talking stature. People today are just bigger than they were when I grew up, and that was not long ago as evidenced by my being alive at this writing, … just checking to see if you are. In my own family, my older brother is ½” shorter than I. But who’s counting? I always wore a “medium” of almost anything. My 3 younger brothers were, “large”, “extra-large” and the youngest, “double-extra-large”. My mother had to admit that in her many years of nursing, 7 of us, she had seen several changes in “formula” for feeding babies. Apparently, newer formulas (ae) contained more growth vitamins, etc..

A few years back, my mother deciced that the dilapidated garage door needed to be replaced, and contacted a contractor (say that 5 times, fast!) to do the job. My youngest sib’ decided to do some demolition himself. The mechanic arrived and, walking up the driveway, spotted “Danny”, ripping the garage door sections off their tracks over his head, and folding them up like an accordion. Hey, it was a 2-car garage. The man spoke to my mother at the door and asked, “Who is that?” Mom replied that it is her son. He said, “What do you feed ‘im, gorilla biscuits?” “I send 4 Puerto Ricans to do that job.” Well, that’s New York! Dan’s one guy I look up to, for several reasons of my own, and my older (little) brother, well, I look up to him to!

It is a certainty that taller men have an advantage. Think I’m wrong? Ask any corporate “head-hunter”. Say you had to hire 3 men to start as salesmen for your company, tomorrow. In front of you stand 6 men, 3 of average height with MBAs and 3, 6’2”ers with BAs. Who do you hire? No answer required.

Ad: Male, 21, 5’9”, looking to work for the Secret Service.

Reply: How well do you type?

Did you know that you can look up and look down at the same time? Sure, find a tall guy to whom you wouldn’t give the right time of day, or a short guy, who you hold in esteem!

So, I guess what I’m saying is that, it’s not who you are so much as who you look up to, and who looks up to you.

A few years ago, I met a man at coffee, and we’ve been meeting at coffee, 6 days a week ever since. I’ve grown rather fond of him from a man’s perspective. He has become my friend, and I his. Quite frankly, he’s one of the best men I’ve ever known. As a matter of fact he acted as “Best Man” at my recent wedding.

I look up to him.

Not just because he’s tall.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

There is a God!

While enjoying a pleasant few days in Charleston, SC, we were headed to our restaurant for Thanksgiving dinner. Now, if you know Charleston, you know it is a very quaint city, more like a small village. While driving down a street rather slowly, I was taking in all the sights I could, while at the same time, trying to keep my eye on the road. I was on a narrow 2 way street, crawling along now, when I noticed a police car on my right facing the wrong way ... wrong ... way ... SHIT! The 2-way street became a 1-way at the last corner, and now I’m going the wrong way! I’m due for a ticket, ... the hell I am. Okay, Jim, stay calm, you can do this. I approach the end of the block as I look in my rear-view mirror in time to see the roof rack lights start flashing blue and the driver’s partner, who was on the sidewalk, now coming to life, hieing her fat ass to the car door. I round the corner, speeding now, down the block and pull over in front of the parked cars, waiting for the Cavalry to arrive. Nothing. Okay, next corner, another right , parking garage, first spot open, BINGO! I WIN!!! Shucks, I was looking forward to the chase ... not.

Yes, Virginia, there is ...

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Lord Giveth …

Satan arrived in spats, doing his best Groucho imitation. "You're obscene", I cried. The Devil laughed me aside, working his way into the crowd, suckering them into his comic routine. Unwillingly, I had to admit, he was a class act. He was looking for the deal. He always did. That was all he was interested in, the deal. Once he got your handshake, it was forever. No one escaped, except for me. We made a bet on the deal. He lost. I know, you're thinking it's bull! That never happened! "Trust me, Bozo, a deal's a deal."

When you mess with this guy, you mess with the best. "When you mess with the best, you die like the rest." That was his game, a lifetime deal. You would live the life of a king. Omniscience, omnipotence, infallibility, you had it all. There was no stopping you. Or, so you thought. You, unfortunately, were not immortal. Another bit of chicanery began like this, "Pick a number from one to one million". You have just named your own destiny. It was the number of years you had left. If you were high or low, it didn't matter. Either way, you lost. Sure, now laugh. Tell him you want to pick another number. Then he'll laugh. Stop thinking about it. Start planning your party. You can be anything you want, except immortal. Have the time of your life … until it's over.

I know why I'm still around. He keeps me going even though he lost. I will live forever. Damn it! He screwed me anyway. I'll never find eternal rest. All my family and friends will be gone. What is life worth? I have everything … but, I have nothing. All is gone. There are no guarantees with him. He'll screw you at every turn. You have to be one step ahead, and I thought I was. After all, I won the bet. Or did I? Didn't I have it all? Where did it go?
                                                                           ... and the Lord taketh ... .

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


"This is Clarin! This is the center of civilization! Look at all the other planets and subplanets, their failure to maintain order. This is the only subplanet to have a firm set of rulings written by a governing Congress of elected Chancellors. Show me another if you can." Alten, a Chancellor himself, rarely entertained challenges to the Congress, but his brother, a rebel against nearly anything organized or civilized, could always hit a nerve with him. Yes, Valentz, a proponent of anarchy, had his own minions and certainly his own ideas of "rule", or the lack thereof.

Seven generations prior to them, the "Fathers" felt the pressure of, what were then named "intruders", seeking "acceptance" and a new chance to survive and multiply. The older generations realized, that the more the Chancellors yielded to other planetarians, the weaker they would become, but still the new Chancellors with each generation became more and more liberal minded. Should those in power refuse acceptance of any individual planet or subplanet's subjects, there would be an outcry, a threat to their positions as Chancellors. As more planets heard of these new policies they would take advantage of the situation. The majority of the Clarin population realized this, but their voice was not heard. As a result, the minority had their way. The minority being a mixture of Guontans, Helters, Saniples and Alainians. While significantly fewer in number, they would organize, and be sure to occupy as much of the government "transmission" time as possible. It required a superior will for one to turn the transmissions off, a will developed over time and experience. Turning off the transmissions would end in "shut down", or termination of the individual. This would be one's final act.

Essentially, the "intruders" were simply nationals from other planets, seeking refuge from conditions where rule had failed. Failure was often the product of a population growing faster than could even be counted, never mind "ruled". Now, on their new subplanet, they would make up their own rules as they went along, insisting on creating a small sector of their own kind, and disregarding the mores and rules of the Congress. As they did so, they were effectively dividing Clarin into smaller segments, referred to as "planetoids", which would operate in the same manner as their own predecessors, discounting the fact that their rules had failed. Still, they would prefer to live by their own rule and even their own Ruler. As the vast numbers grew, the number of the "rules" of Congress would diminish, eventually leading to utter chaos. Theft, rape, arson, became commonplace. Their planetoid's only "rule" being, survival of the fittest, they were one step above animals.

Alten and Valentz, while polar opposites, always remembered that they were brothers. Clarin had seen many changes over the last decades, and not changes for the better. The subplanet, while dividing by planetoids, was also dividing by rule. Alten, realizing how powerless he had become, had started to lean in the direction of his brother's rebellious nature. Valentz, realizing the result of a lack of a common "rule", felt powerless in his own cause, and leaned toward his brother's conservative nature. Though it had been decades since the two had shared a single thought together, they were sharing one this evening. A nation divided, is not a nation at all. They stood, shoulder to shoulder, facing west, and said "good-byes" to each other, as they turned off transmissions.