Monday, April 30, 2007

It's Not Easy

I'm trying to put it delicately, without seeming like a poor sport, that in all of Jason's contests, my name has never even been mentioned. It takes me a couple days each time to get over it. Not only is it a blow to my self esteem, but I think it damages my image with my fellow writers, who at one point may have thought I had some talent.

This isn't a pull for sympathy. It just is what it is. I know for a fact when I enter that I won't be recognized, and yet I put myself out there, telling myself that I don't care, but hoping secretly that this time will be different.

This business, the one that I hope to be part of someday, is all about rejection. I have to be able to take it. But it isn't easy.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Scarlett Johansson is Too Funny

My wife and I were totally blown away by this Saturday Night Live skit. Check it out.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Big Papi

This weekend was Jackson's first day of rookie league baseball practice. I basically had to drag him there.

That will probably make a lot of parents cringe, and there are several of us that had parents that were rabid sports fans, that basically did the same thing, forcing their boys to play sports they had an interest in.

I get it. I really do.

But instinct is telling me to make him play.

Here's my thinking. My son is a negative thinker. I have to work on that, but his answer to almost any question is the opposite of what he thinks you want him to say. Unless he is wholeheartedly convinced that the upcoming activity is one that he will love more than a hot steaming stack of pancakes, he will refuse to do it. And nine times out of ten, when he does it, he loves it.

It doesn't always work that way, but if you were the kind that plays life by the odds...

The first time I hit a home run, it took me totally by surprise. I wore the green uniform of the Jaguars, a fifth grade little league team in Akron, Ohio. Everyone else had been playing since they were in tee-ball, but this was my first year. I didn't realize that when the ball goes into the deep weeds, it was an automatic home run. As I rounded third base, the base coach laughed himself to coughing as I booked by at top speed, he trying to tell me to slow down.

I shared the home run title with Mark McKenzie.

There might be better feelings in the world, but if I had to choose one to hold on to, that might be the one. Your team meets you at home plate, and suddenly, where you were just one of the guys, for a while, you are the only guy, the hero of the moment.

I've hit others since, and of course now I've learned to trot, and treat it like another day at the office, but it still feels great.

I can't explain that to my son. But I know in my heart that when he takes that first stroll around the bases, he will know. He might not thank me right then, but somewhere in the back of his mind, he will remember the time that dad dragged him to practice.

Or not.

That's the gamble.

So during practice, Jackson, like all the players, filled out a questionnaire, determining how much he knew about the game.

Oops. I watch football, and can't really be bothered with watching baseball, though it's my favorite sport to play. I felt like I had failed him in a small way.

Name: Jackson
Nickname: Dominick (I scratched this out and wrote: Jax)
Thing you like least about baseball: Red Sox
Favorite baseball team: Red Sox
Favorite baseball player: Tom Brady

He heard me telling his mother about this and said defensively, "Well I don't know anything about baseball!"

Great, I was making fun of my son. "No, Jackson," I said, "I thought it was really cute."

He seemed mollified by this. I continued, "It's my fault because I've never once even watched a game with you."

I turned on the TV, and wouldn't you know that the Red Sox were playing the Yankees. Perfect.

I paused the TiVo when they showed the line up and explained everything that we saw. He snuggled next to me on the couch, and I was surprised to find that he was getting into it. Not to mention that, being in first grade, he is able to read progressively harder words as the year goes by.

"What does DH mean?"

"Designated Hitter." I looked at the player name playing DH, and it was none other than David Ortiz. "Now if you want to have a favorite player, you could do a lot worse than Big Papi. He is always smacking homers in clutch situations."

And then, as if by divine intervention, Big Papi crushed the ball over the right field fence, putting the Sox ahead, where they would stay for the rest of the game.

Yesterday he told me that he wants to see a game, and that maybe we could bring our mits, catch a ball, and have Big Papi sign it.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Never Eat the Worm

Update: It's up!

Here is my entry, entitled Never East the Worm, soon to be up on Jason's blog.
Back aching, he woke on a cold linoleum floor. His brain seemed over inflated, throbbing in his skull, threatening to burst.

Sitting up too fast, the hot hand of nausea clenched his guts. A belch erupted from the pit of his stomach, spewing bile into his throat, raking as if he had coughed up a cactus.

No mistaking the day-after taste: Mezcal.

One eye felt like it was glued shut. Peering through the slit of the other, glaring sunlight scorched his vision like a point of light from a child's magnifying glass.

He lifted the object in his hand before him. Something was caked onto his arm, cracking like eggshell as he moved it.

His good eye popped wide open.

He held a cook's knife, covered in the same dried-on blood that spanned the length of his arm.

His shirt was ripped.

A garbage can was tipped.

A curtain was torn from the wall.

In a haze, he stumbled along a trail of blood and broken glass into the next room, where it led to the lifeless body of the girl he suddenly recognized.

Sobbing uncontrollably, he tossed the knife and collapsed to his knees beside the girl he had hooked up with the night before.

The room exploded with laughter.

He whirled to see a group of his frat brothers, braying like donkeys.

The corpse couldn't hold it any longer. Sitting up and putting a hand to his shoulder, she chided, "The look on your face is just priceless!"

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Unlucky Friend

After a fair amount of hair pulling, I've finally convinced a friend here at the office to start her own blog. She's had an interesting life to say the least, so I am expecting to read some great stories from her.

Check her out at Life of the Unlucky Girl. Her emails at work are rife with personality, so I can only imagine what she's going to do with this blog as she learns how to give it some pizazz. She won't learn it here, that's for sure!

Also, Jason is sponsoring the latest of his writing contests, so be sure to check it out. I have participated in all of them, and I have taken something from each one, even though I haven't placed--not yet anyway. Maybe this will be the one.

As much as I would like to win, I have to stress that Jason has created a community, and is a fair judge and skilled writer in his own right. So enter if you will, but I speak for all the entrants when I say that any comment made is greatly appreciated. Writing is an exposure, and anyone who does it is vulnerable to the void. So fill it with words of encouragement if you have the time.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


I had an interesting thought this weekend.

Have you ever wished you could know more about your parents throughout their lives? The way they used to think when they were your age, how they met, who they voted for in past elections, who the bully was in their school, what they thought of you when you were born. How about your grandparents, and their parents?

It's sad isn't it, that our lives pass in obscurity, leaving only the faintest of clues behind for posterity. My mother for instance, will be totally forgotten when I pass away. My kids only know her from a picture on a wall, and from the few stories I've told that are rated G for general audiences.

In the old days, before the telephone, before email, and even before the telegraph, the only way to say I love you to someone far away was by mail. A lot of what we know about George Washington is based largely on his correspondences with friends and relatives.

Here is an excerpt of a letter he wrote to Martha Washington upon learning some big news:
My Dearest,
I am now set down to write to you on a subject which fills me with inexpressable concern-and this concern is greatly aggravated and Increased when I reflect on the uneasiness I know it will give you-It has been determined by Congress, that the whole Army raised for the defence of the American Cause shall be put under my care, and that it is necessary for me to proceed immediately to Boston to take upon me the Command of it.
If I could only read a single paragraph from a family member's point of view on any subject of the past, I would feel connected in a small way. But technology took that away from us. How cool would it be able to listen to past phone conversations, for instance. But barring some miraculous national wire tapping and archive scandal, that's not going to happen. History of that nature is just not available to us.

But what if your parents had a blog? Could the internet be taking us full circle?

Natalie, aka the Magnetbabe, claims that she is not a writer, but her readers would certainly beg to differ. The mere act of writing itself technically makes one a writer, and as with any kind of exercise, constant repetition makes one better at it.

I find it ironic that the same technology that isolated us from the community is pushing us back toward it, hearkening back to a time when words were the footprints on the paths we once walked.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Thinking Blogger Award

Jaye Wells has once again proven herself a blogger of impeccable taste by including me in her list Thinker Blogger Award favorites.

Here is what she had to say:
My favorite part of Scott's blog is when he talks about his life. He has a warped sense of humor that I appreciate. He's also painfully honest about himself, which is refreshing. Not sure if Scott and I could be related. Instead, he'd be more like that slightly nerdy but cute guy I might have dated in high school. The one I still wonder about.
Thanks Jaye.

The Thinking Blogger Award is an effort to build a network of blogs linked together outside of the usual search engines. Here is how it works (sort of like a meme):

1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that tickle your grey matter.

2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme;

3. Optional: Proudly display the 'Thinking Blogger Award' with a link to the post that you wrote (here is an alternative gold version if silver doesn't fit your blog).

So now it's my turn to award my own favorites. This is where it gets difficult. If your link is on my sidebar, then you can consider yourself a winner. My new policy is to keep only those that I visit and participate with, if only sparing in the days of late. But that would be a cop out of weenie proportions.

Scott's Thinking Blogger Favorites

1. The Schprock Report - No surprise here, for anyone that has been with me for any length of time. He's been busy lately, so we don't get treated with the trappings of his brilliant mind, but Mr. Schprock has to be the most talented writer I know. Why he isn't a sports writer or a humor columnist for the Boston Globe is beyond me. He has a photographer's eye for life's funny moments.

2. The Perfect Neurotic - I've been with Beth since my own inception. Speaking of brutal honesty, Beth can really lay it out there. The first post I read of hers related the story of her first sexual experience with a boy who basically followed the tenets of the four F's. Find 'em, Feel 'em, (you know what)'em, and Forget 'em. I can't stress enough that, when Beth gets in that mood, no matter the length of the post, you will be glued to your seat.

3. Magnetbabe - Natalie will someday be a Nobel Peace Price winning scientist. Sure, today she is but a student, but watch out for this one. She writes from the heart, whether about caring for stray dumpster kitties or a good friend that she recently lost to cancer. Natalie has the word power to make me regret the loss of a man I have never met.

4. Meanderings in Hicksville - Feel free to reuse this one Mr. Schprock, as Trina is the author of his top shelf blog. And it's no wonder. Trina creates phrases that have heft of popular expression, and has a personality that leaps from the screen. How she does it day after day is a mystery to me. Perhaps Trina is really a panel of writers under common direction.

5. Zombieslayer - Recently back in the game, Zombie is all about political incorrectness and spirited debate, but ever the consummate gentleman. Do not let the look of his avatar fool you. He is a deep thinker, and has my vote should he ever run for office.

There are so many more, I promise you.

Now, I'm off to the Big Apple Circus and am almost out of time. Sorry if some of my tributes seemed rushed. But, you know, they were.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Glad to be Home Again

I'm realizing with some regret that I've moved on from my family. Physically of course, but philosophically as well. My dad has always had dreams of becoming rich, but he has always lacked the common sense it takes to harness the momentum that he has made an art of building. I used to look at him with three-d glasses, but now, without them, he's just a fuzzy mess.

God, I feel guilty.

He's all promise and no delivery. Like when I was a boy. He waxed poetic about college, how I was going, and he was paying my way through. But when the time came, we were living in a trailer without the proverbial pot to piss in. Far from having any money saved, he took from me what little I had. Not that I would have spent it wisely. I was too much like him to think ahead.

And still, part of me can't bear the thought of sacrificing a thing for tomorrow. I thrive on the last minute save.

My family is just like my wife's in one aspect. Both dump the entire weight of a failed and frustrated life upon their children. This weekend we spent Easter at my grandma's home, which politically is a controversial move. Dad figures that he's the head of the family now that Grandpa has passed away, but we will not stay with him.


Let me count the ways.

On our last visit, his St. Bernard bit my youngest son. It turns out, thankfully, that the dog was only posturing. I blogged about it when it happened. But the scare at the time, the helplessness I felt… All just to make my daddy feel loved.

He swears that the house is ready for visitors, but it only has one bathroom, and the access is through the master bedroom. They gave us the master bedroom and slept upstairs, and used a porta potty, the kind that kids use for the first time.

To complicate matters, my dad's wife's son is staying with them, who as it turns out, pisses out the window to avoid having to go through their bedroom at night.

Wow. I can't wait.

I am starting to totally fucking resent the pressure.

So this weekend, dad said he'd come for the day. But when I told him we were going to visit a few relatives, he made a lame excuse for the morning and said he'd be late. With that time off, so to speak, we did a little sightseeing. When he showed up and found out that we still hadn't visited anyone, he made an excuse and left early.

His wife told me it was a "sharing" thing.

Tell me this: am I going to be this pathetic? If so, then take a gun and shoot me through the skull.

Why is it pathetic? Because the man has lived his entire life and made nothing of it. He lives in a home in the middle of Amish country that is barely adequate to sustain life. And that's fine. But he thinks it's an oasis, a paradise retreat, and expects everyone around him to tell him so. He wants me to subject my family to his delusion, and I won't do it.

Man, sometimes I just want to disappear.

I mean it. There's something wrong with him. Something seriously wrong. I used to think it was sorta cute how he would tell the same story over and over, each time growing it just a little. I think he actually believes the stories now. He told one about me this weekend, while I sat there and nodded, affirming the total bullshit.

Basically, what he said, was that I fell down a three story elevator shaft and survived it by grappling all the way down with the various protruding implements. The truth is that I fell one story from atop a wall in a house he and I were framing. Sure I grabbed a few things on the way down, but even if I didn't, I would have been banged up but living.

He told another. When I was a boy, there was a wall -- and I remember this -- that had large bricks with deep hand holds that tempted me to climb it. It was a two story apartment building to my recollection. When dad first told the story, he caught me on my initial ascent, grabbing me by the collar and pulling me off. This weekend, I was three stories up, and he had to run up the stairs and reach around a corner to get me.

You could see as he told it, something behind the eyes. He was working out the logistics. You see, the reality only called for him to reach up and snag me. The story changed even as he told it this time. It was two stories, then there was a stairwell, and oh yeah, it was three stories.

And then! All the men in the family sit around like big fat Buddha kings, waiting for the women to serve them, milking from that experience the only self-esteem they'll ever achieve.

And then all the pissing and moaning about the diseases they've endured, the spouses they've buried, and the death that will surely come soon. The white pallor and the bloated bellies, and the various groups of people in the world that have kept them down, as if they somehow deserve better than they got.


I'm just glad to be home again.

Thursday, April 05, 2007


Our Pinewood Derby Car

On vacation until Wednesday. Until then, here is the Pinewood Derby car we made for Cub Scouts.


Monday, April 02, 2007


I was just wiping the shaving cream remnants from my face, inside my head -- thinking about how, on Friday after work, having drinks with coworkers as a sendoff to one of our number moving on to another dead end job, the new girl accurately guessed my age as forty two -- when it happened.

My wife's voice, accompanied by a two-boy chorus of sniffles and sobs, quietly beckoned from behind me, "Daddy, we have two very upset boys."

Oh my God. "What happened?" I asked, braced for the worst.

"Timmy just died."


"Timmy," she repeated, "their dog."

We have a dog, and her name is Roxie. I wrinkled my eyes to let her know I was waiting for clarification. The boys were on the bed. Emmett's back rose and fell where he lay curled into a ball, face in mommy's pillow.

Jackson looked at me through reddened eyes; in control, but clearly upset. He held out the Nintendo DS, which at one point shown brilliant ebony, now smudged and dull with fingerprints. I understood. The boys had been playing Nintendogs for the last three days, in which you adopt a dog and care for him.

"We donated Timmy," Jackson explained.

My wife added, "They didn't understand the finality of it. Now they can't get him back."

"I just miss him," Emmett wailed as he rolled over and reached his arms up for me. He rested his head on my shoulders as torrents pulsed through his little body.

Jackson continued, "When we gave him away, Timmy looked down and looked so sad." Then he was crying too.

I attempted reparations. "Jackson, you gave the dog up for adoption. Timmy isn't dead. Some other family has adopted him now that will take care of him and give him love. See?"

"You mean Timmy went outside of my DS?"

He believes in Santa Claus, doesn't he? "Sure." But my face had "LIE" written all over it.

"I don't believe you."

"Ok, listen. Timmy is still inside your DS, but it has a little world inside it. And in that world, you just gave Timmy to another family to take care of because you already had enough dogs to take care of. So if you think about it, you did what was best for Timmy. The family that has adopted him will take better care of him."

That seemed to do the trick -- for Jackson. Emmett, on the other hand, wasn't buying any of it.

This morning, Jackson searched around until he found a dog just like Timmy, and showed him to Emmett. "You see," Jackson said, "Timmy is alright."

We think that has done the trick.

Note to self: break out the old board games.