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The Legend of St. Brendan’s, er, St. Patrick’s Day.

The Legend of St. Brendan’s, er, St. Patrick’s Day.

St. Patricks Day is upon us. What does that mean besides drinking beer died green to excess?

There seems to be much confusion as to why we celebrate but of course we shouldn’t let knowledge or lack thereof get in the way of a celebration.

One theme with a lot of support is that some saint by the name of Patrick is involved. After that premise, the details are up for grabs. Many people are in agreement that, once upon a time, there were way too many snakes occupying the Island of Ireland. One friend of mine expressed that she suspects that Leprechauns may have been part of the cleaning crew. I suspect she may be closer to the truth than any of us realize.

Brendan awoke to the sunrise throwing golden rays across the fields of clover, the heather on the hills and the peat in the bogs. He had no idea what any of that crap meant but he had heard it so often from the local giants it permeated his reality. His perspective of the scenery was slightly different and mostly in shadow. Being eight inches tall and a leprechaun will do that for you. He really had no idea what anything looked like in the morning. The sun in the morning blinded him to tears. Well, it was either the sun or his hangover. He had been looking forward to this day and celebrated early.

Today was the first day of a snake free Ireland.

The buggers had made life for him and his kind a living hell for as long as he could remember. Heck, they had even had an impact on his folk’s apparel. Who in their right mind would constantly wear green unless they were 8 inches tall , living among grass and trying to hide from something.
He had worked hard to see this day come. He put his life of mending shoes and tricking the locals during his off hours on hold. He had even dipped into his life savings, read pot-o-gold, to help convince the rest of the wee folk into forming a fairly well oiled snake driving machine.

He had sacrificed a lot but today was the first day of many snake free days to come. He could now cross open fields without listening both ways for telltale slithering. No longer would he have to cobble shoes hidden among shadows, shrubs and trees. He could actually live his life in the open as he was meant to.
A nice side affect of living a snake free life would be the glory. Oh sure the idea was not entirely his own. There was a local, fairly religious guy, by the name of Patrick who may have expressed the same wish for a snake free Ireland but Brendan is the one that got the job done. He was the one they would remember. He was looking forward to the day when there would be parades in his honor. He longed for at least a day when no one would have to wear green. Heck, he had even died his beer green to hide it. For some reason the snakes had loved beer.

He was greatly anticipating drinking green-free beer. That would a great reminder of his achievement.

Years later, as Brendan bitterly reminisced upon his folly filled past and drank his god awful green beer, he thought that In hindsight the snakes really weren’t that bad.

Note: Today is my blogs second year anniversary at WordPress. Yeah!

RIP Terry Pratchett

Farewell Sir Terry Pratchett. Thank you for the laughter. 

Lovable Winners (Go Cubs Go)

Lovable Winners  (Go Cubs Go)

Sports teams are mostly remembered in the won-loss column. Whether it is fair or not is inconsequential. That is just how it is. Athletes are judged by similar guidelines. How good was the fielder? What was their batting average? How many yards from scrimmage did the running back accumulate? How many league rushing titles did they have? Unfortunately, the same kind of judgments made every day in the real world do not escape those of the sports arena.

Once in a while there is transcendence. Players of all qualities can win humanitarian awards. Sometimes when worlds collide, teams do the right thing.

The passing of Ernie Banks highlighted what he meant to the city and the neighborhoods of Chicago. The memories shared by friends and family highlighted his sunny disposition and revealed that yes he really was that happy.

His passing also highlighted the fact that he was human. In his twilight years he became estranged from his wife. When he passed, another women lay claim to his assets stating that Ernie gave them to her in a new will. The legal fight that ensued may or may not have threatened the last wishes of Mr. Cub.
In the skirmish, the funeral home that performed the burial services waited to get paid and in turn filed a claim against his estate. Many internet comments urged the Chicago Cubs to do the right thing. Perhaps I am foolhardy to believe otherwise but I do not believe some comments on the internet persuaded the Cubs to settle the matter. I think when the need presented itself they did not hesitate to settle the bill for the man who had given so much to the Cubs and the city of Chicago.

We all know the last time the Cubs won the world series was 1908 and most of us can calculate that it has been 106+ years since those games. We don’t need the math wizards behind the mikes to remind us of that every time there is a break in the action and the talk turns to the “lovable losers”. I for one do not put the Chicago Cubs in that category. Their recent play for Ernie in the game of life puts them in the all too lonely Lovable Winners category.

Go Cubs Go!

That’s The Sound…of a Man Milking On The Chain Gang

That’s The Sound…of a Man Milking On The Chain Gang

Chain Gang. The word conjures up visions of prisons in the deep south marching out their population into the hot sun to toil on the sizzling blacktop or in the scorching fields . These days the words conjure up a different scene.

The sun beat down on the prison yard demanding submission but the yard nor the prisoners working in it would yield. Occasionally a complaint would echo across the yard. Something about their hands were getting tired or they needed some water and a guard would come by with a ladle of water to quench their thirst.

They would love nothing more than to sing the hours away but that would disturb the goats. Goats?

Today , somewhere in Colorado, a prison farms out some of its population to milk goats. This isn’t your grandpa’s chain gang. There is no repairing roads or working the fields in stifling heat for these convicts.

The prisoners are hired by a small company that produces craft goat cheese. Yes, you read that correctly. Craft goat cheese. The State that gave us the Home Brewers Association and sparked the micro-brew/craft beer phenomenon now gives us prisoner assisted Craft Goat Cheese.

The company that hires them says that they cannot find enough workers other wise and that they are providing the prisoners with a work skill they can use after prison.

I guess it beats the default vocational plan of turning first time rookie offenders into more skilled future offenders.

One can’t help but wonder if the craft craze will influence the convicts towards other vocational pursuits in the future.

“So Vincent, You are here for some career advice?”

“That is true Mr. Delaney”

“Please call me Nuckles”

“Ok Mr. Nuckles”

“Just Nuckles. So what is it you want?”

“Nuckles, I’m getting out soon and I’ve been wondering what I’m going to do on the outside.”

“What are you good at? I’m assuming what got you in here is not on the list.”

“Yea, I wasn’t much of a boost, I had no effect on theft rates in my neighborhood.
The vandalism rate was another story. I did a lot of damages to those cars before I gave up. “

“Well, that’s something.”

“While I was in here I got pretty good at icing guys.”

“Really? How many?”

“About eight.”

“About?”

“Well, one guy slipped on some soap in the shower before I had a chance to do anything but I took the credit.”

“You must have been good since I didn’t hear nuthin about it. It sounds like you have a vocation already.”

“I’m thinking about it but there are so many guys in here that will get out and do the same thing. I’m not sure I can make a go at it.”

“What you need is a hook. Does the term craft killer mean any thing to you.”

“Sounds like a murderer with a cheese fetish.”

“No, but I think there are some of those out there too. The kind of guy I’m talking about
is a killer that cares about the quality of his work. A guy who uses the finest weapons, high grade chloroform and duct tape to get the job done. A guy who you would be proud to have kill your best friend.”

“Wow, I’d like to be that guy.”

“You could and I’ll show you how. It will only cost you a carton of cigarettes a week and not those cheap generic ones. I want top shelf quality.”

“Ok, I can’t wait to start.”

“You already did.”

“Huh?”

“Top shelf quality is lesson one.”

Modern Chain Gang picture by Patrick Denker.

The Fading Echoes of ’69

The Fading Echoes of ’69

Most of my memories of the summer of 1969 are composed of the sounds of the crack of a bat and the calls of the Wrigley Field venders. I was a seven year old living on the Northwest side of Chicago. Naturally, I was* a Cub fan.

1969 is remembered as the one that got away from the Cubs. They were 9 games up in their division going into September before going on a disastrous road trip.

Some say they should have just thrown away their return tickets and kept on going.

1969 never got away from me. The bus extravaganzas my friends and I took to Wrigley. The contests to see who could eat the most 50 cent pizzas. The beautiful ‘lets play two’ days spent in the bleachers of the friendly confines are events deeply embedded in the joyous memories of my youth.

One by one the heroes of my youth are passing from this world but the joyous memories from that magical summer only gain strength.

The voice of Ron Santo no longer echoes the joy and sorrow of the days game on the radio but my mind continues to replay the image of his heal click celebration of another win.

The gorgeous summer days in Wrigley that inspires ones thoughts to “lets play two” will still occur with regularity but Ernie Banks, the author of that sentiment, will no longer express that desire. My soul however will continue to do just that.

The authors of that wonderful summer in Chicago may pass but the chapter they wrote will continue to contain memories that live in my heart until I too fade into echoes.

My sincere thanks to Ernie and Ron for being a wonderful part of my childhood.

*I only use the term ‘was’ because of grammatical correctness. Outside the realm of grammar the past tense of ‘to be’ does not make sense when paired with any form of the term ‘Cub fan’.

A Catharsis Is Required (cont) : Twas The Night Before Christmas

A Catharsis Is Required (cont) : Twas The Night Before Christmas

Well , I thought I was on the brink of a holiday epiphany but it hasn’t quite happened yet.

Perhaps it is  because the temperature in the land of Oz approached 40 degrees and the chance of snowflakes looks to be nil.  I thought perhaps since my drive last night was a bit treacherous due to wind, snow and ice that holiday weather may make its way a bit more east but that was not to be.  The next and final installment of my Black Friday series and the accompanying mountain snow image  should push me over the edge and into holiday-palooza-land.   Three hyphens there folks so that word is totally legit.

“Black Friday: Twas The Night Before Christmas”……ooh I can feel the joy already…or perhaps its the rum…..

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house
were toys on display including a vintage Mickey Mouse.
There were games, there were gadgets, displayed in glass cases.
The collector was wary and kept his guests at fifteen paces.

The collector had food and drink to serve in his lair.
He would bring out his Pong to show off with fanfare.
The party was happening and many carols they did sing.
Until a band of toys appeared and a door bell they did ring.

The collector opened his door and failed to see
a band of toys underfoot as they scurried with glee.
With a major their leader so authoritative and quick
I knew it was Matt Mason, gosh he was slick.

More rapid than beagles his bandits they came
He whistled and ordered and called them by name.
On, Jan! On, Stosh! The Robots there were two.
On Yo!, On Larry, and perhaps a cow who did moo.

On Major! On Batman, who joined in the fun.
To rescue their friend, a brand new Xbox one.
To the top of the shelf and back towards the wall
Steal away! Steal away! Steal away all!

There was noise, there was chaos as the the batman yelled things not so holy.
He had a right to be upset for he landed in the guacamole.
When their friend was collected and their mission near over.
They all made a getaway in Major Mason’s moon rover.

The party lay in ruins, guacamole tracked across the floor.
The collector was convinced he would collect toys no more.
The band was merry and oh such a sight
as they danced and they darted off into the night.

So let that be a lesson to toy collectors all
prepare for uninvited guests at your next christmas eve ball.

So I in my kerchief all snug in my bed
decided my vision was just a dream in my head.

I finished off my Scotch and curled up in a ball.
With thoughts of good cheer and a Merry Christmas for all!

A Catharsis is Required (cont): The Gathering

A Catharsis is Required (cont): The Gathering

Doing some holiday shopping seemed to set me on the road to non-humbugery. There is a high probability that is not a word but if there is one thing I have learned is that a hyphen heals all.

The snow falling on me while shopping didn’t hurt either and  discovering some new restaurants and coffee shoppes certainly helped. Who knew Boulder could support a few more. With the micro brew industry and the coffee cabal this town has cornered the market on depressants and stimulates.  So before I wander over to my espresso maker I will post the next installment of my Black Friday series. It seems to be uplifting my mood and I believe it’s attracting new fans,   people who are too exhausted to click on the remote and whose browser just happened to stumble by this blog.

Without further ado I give you  “Black Friday: The Gathering (Vintage Vendetta)”

Larry had been moping all afternoon. Xena was gone and he could not fill the void left behind. No matter how he reconnected his pieces he still had a big gap somewhere.

Yo had to listen to Larry whine all afternoon and it was killing him. It was time for some action, besides the only lubricant he had only worked on Yo-Yo(s).

“All right Larry quit your belly aching. It’s clear you are not going along with my ‘there is another XBox just around the corner’ philosophy. Besides I admit you were right,  Xena had that certain whatever the French say she had.”

“A certain I don’t know,” replied Larry.

“Yea I don’t know either but you know what I mean,” said Yo.

“Um, sure.”

“My point is we need to go get her. You’re not the only one who had a narrow escape from that vintage collector Larry.”

“If I recall correctly his name is Vince,” said Larry.

“Vince? Like short for Vintage? Your kidding me,” exclaimed Yo.

“Hey I don’t make these names up . That’s some other guys job,” replied Larry.

“Well this Vince guy has put the fear of Mattel in a lot of old toys I know and quite a few would be willing to help,” said Yo.

“You don’t say. And you can round them up in a moment’s notice?” asked Larry.

“Yep,” said Yo as he winked. “They’re also living here on the down low.”

“How come I don’t know them?”

“ Because as a box Larry you tend to be, um how do I put this, mobility challenged.”

“Fair enough. So who are these toys?”

“I’ll tell you what. I will go round them up and introduce you to them,” replied Yo.

“Ok Yo. I’ll be here moping.”
 said Larry.

“Ok, but you better snap out of this funk by the time I get back or you won’t be able to inspire the other toys to march into the mouth of danger.”

“Mouth of danger?” asked Larry.

“Hey I don’t make up these metaphors. That’s some other guys job.” laughed Yo and added “I’ll be back.”

“Was that an Austrian accent?” asked Larry. But Yo was gone. I could have sworn that was an Austrian accent.

Yo soon returned leading a parade of refugee toys. Larry took one look and thought he was suffering from flashbacks. If he listened carefully he could have sworn he heard either Wagner or maybe the theme to the three stooges playing in the background.

“Form up on me everyone.” ordered Yo.

It was clear he was either getting into the proper spirit of the moment or suffering from delusions of grandeur. Larry was voting for the latter.

There was a clatter of chaos and then from under a pile of what appeared to be every popular toy of the 70’s the voice of Yo could be heard screaming “I meant literally folks.”

“I think that’s figuratively Yo,” shouted Larry.

“Yea, they know what I mean.”

“No, it’s obvious they don’t. That’s why you are currently buried by them.” replied Larry.

A few moments later the pile had broken up and had formed a nice neat line.
Strutting in front of the line, as much as a Yo-Yo can strut, was Yo.

“Alright Larry, let me introduce our volunteer army or what I like to refer to a Yo-Yo’s little helpers.”

“Yo, you are starting to suffer delusions of grandeur.”

“What? Grand Illusion?” I didn’t know you were a Styx fan?” asked Yo.

“Um, up until they became a love ballad smorgasbord but I meant that you are starting to let your ego run away with you. Besides, you make them sound like elves and that is not going to inspire fear in anyone let alone Vince the collector”.

“Vince the collector. Sounds like a hit man.” laughed Yo.

“Well it’s definitely scarier than Yo-Yo’s little helpers.”

“Ill give you that. We can come up with a name later. Let me introduce them to you. Starting from your left and proceeding to your right…”

“Yo, I’m a box of legos I have no hands.” interrupted Larry.

“Yea, but you know what I mean. This here is Major Matt Mason. He is an astronaut toy from the 60’s. 1966 I believe. “

“He looks to be in good shape considering his age,” stated Larry.

“Larry, may I remind you that your shape is a box and you don’t have a right to comment on the shape of others”.

“Yea, that’s fair Yo.  So what can he contribute to the effort?” asked Larry.

“Ahem, Let me answer that,” replied the Major as he step forward and saluted.

“I have years of space training at the Mattel Space Camp.” stated the Major.

“Well that’s nice Major but we won’t be going into to space,” replied Larry.

“Well I have a moon rover and a really cool Jet Pack that can move us along a zip line,” added the Major.

“Welcome aboard Major,” said a smiling Larry.

“Next we have Betsy Wetsy,” said Yo pointing to a baby.

“But Yo ,” whispered Larry. “She’s a baby and need we go into whether her name is literal or figurative?”

“Hmm, you have a point,” said Yo and added “Sorry Betsy. I think you could help us better on the home front.”

“Our next volunteers are brothers Jan and Stosh the Rock’em Sock’em Robots.
They’re Polish and they claim to have inspired a generation of Polish boxers. I don’t know if that’s true but I’m not going to question them. I think they will come in handy if we get in a bind and need some muscle.”

“That’s a good point Yo. Welcome aboard gentlemen.” Larry did a double take and asked Yo.” “Is it me or is his neck unusually long?”

Yo looked at the robots and said “Hey Stosh, or Jan, whichever; Please re-engage your neck spring. It’s freaking Larry out. Don’t worry Larry it goes back down. It’s part of their design.”

“Yo, who is that box there,” whispered Larry.

“Oh that there is Spirograph. He’s an artist.”

“We will not have time for art on this mission Yo,” stated Larry.

“Yea, I knew you would say something like that.” interrupted Spirograph. “No body appreciates art.”

“That’s not true,” uttered Larry. “I would love it if you could whip something up to inspire the troops.”

“You got it,” replied the Spirograph. “Do you have any drawing paper?”

“We’ll find you some in a moment,” replied Yo

The introductions carried on for a while and when they were done they had assembled a nice unit of specialists ready to mount an assault on Vince the collector and take back Xena.

“Larry I think you left out Mr. Potato Dude over there,” whispered Yo.

“Yes on purpose. We can’t afford the law suit that would entail,” replied Larry.

“Oh yea. I see your point.”

“Yo. You mentioned that several of these toys had some problems with Vince. Do they know where he lives?” asked Larry.

“You mean his lair,” replied a Batman action figure (of the Adam West variety).

“Um, yes I guess you could call it that.” replied Larry.

“Robin and I were once a captive of the one you call Vince the collector. I can lead you to his lair in the dark if I have to”.

“Yo, Who is this Robin that he speaks of?” asked Larry.

“Keep it down will you. That is a sore subject. They parted ways and it wasn’t pretty.”

“Oops, my bad,” said Larry and then added “That would be great Mr., um, Batman.”

“It’s just Batman my boxlike friend.” replied Batman.

“Very well, Batman. You will lead us to the collector’s lair.”

Larry looked upon the rag tag group of toys that represented his last hope of seeing Xena again and shuddered. They’re not the dirty dozen but their all I have, he thought.

Will Spirograph finally be recognized as a true artist?                                                              Can Batman find Vince’s lair and if so will Xena trust her future to this collection of stooges?                                                                                                                                                  Do Jan and Stosh speak english or will the author have to translate?*                                 What will Vince do when he finds out that Xena is not a vintage Pong game?These answers and what ever the author dreams up after a late night snack to follow.

* He can if they just want to order lunch in a diner with soda water and/or beer.

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