Smoke and Mirrors

In a perfect world . . .

Month: July 2006 (page 1 of 2)

SPF 30, my ass


I’m writing this on our last day of vacation. It’s about four in the afternoon and my wife and daughters have gone shopping leaving me to my own devices.
The room is quiet save for the air conditioner slaving away by the window.
We’ve had wonderful weather this week, perfect beach weather; hot and sunny.
Put the two together and you get an idea as to why my daughters are calling me the “lobsterman”.
The post title should make some sense as well.
I got a bit toasty.
Speaking of toasted, I’m drinking a beer called ‘Road Dog’,
a Scottish Porter made by the Flying Dog Brewery in Denver, Co.
road dog

The artwork on the bottle reminded me of Ralph Steadman.
I’ve loved Steadman’s work forever. Think of a Hunter Thompson book cover and you know who Steadman is.
Anyway, the phrase on the bottle simply said, “good beer, no shit.”
Sign me up, captain.
It’s not as good as my beloved Guinness but it’s cold and wet and hitting the spot right now.

A few vacation/beach observations:

* If you’re a pregnant woman going to a public beach and you’re anywhere near your third trimester, please, for the love of God, lose the two-piece bikini. While I considered my wife subtly sexy when she was pregnant, I consider a strange woman strutting her expanding gut on the beach to be nothing short of a corpulent slob.

* The need/urge for a woman to “pee” is in direct proportion to the amount of traffic you’re sitting in that’s slowing down your arrival at the nearest bathroom.

*Cold beer and a freshly boiled lobster never taste nearly as good as when you’re enjoying them while sitting with a great friend. We watched a burning sunset over a harbor in Hyannis and talked about old times. The beer was colder and the lobster,sweeter.
Go figure.

*My daughters all look like they come from the Tropics because they’re so tanned.

*Horseflies suck.

*I love my bed.

This post wouldn’t be complete without saying thank you to my good friend Writer Chick.
Though she would have loved a bit more feedback, she had alot of fun.
She may be by occasionally to do a cameo appearance if she can find some time as she’s currently at work on a novel.
I thank all that commented and made her feel at home.
I also hope that those that did visit and left anonymously enjoyed their stay.
I plan on making the rounds sometime this weekend to do some catch up on my favorite blogs. Hope everyone is well.
Back to work on Monday…yuck.


Dear Abbey


When I opened my journal this morning a pamphlet fell out.
I read the title: Saint Joseph’s Abbey.
I assumed my wife had put it there for me to find because I’ve said time and time again that I’ve always wanted to go on retreat.
I continue to hold onto the hopes and dreams of rejuvenating my somewhat deflated and bruised religious spirit.

My wife recently went to the Abbey on a field trip with a busload of children from a CCD class she was teaching.
She sent me a text message that read:
How come little kids like to sing on buses so much?

I thought about her comment and discovered something possibly deeper.
As adults, we want to recapture that child-like innocence, unencumbered by the many complexities of our lives; we want, quite simply, to sing.
Though we might not admit that to many for fear of ridicule, I think we yearn for that simpler mentality and way of life.

For too many years, I’ve been angry at a God that I thought didn’t understand me as I traveled down the various bumpy roads of my so called life.
I stepped away from faith in my life and held a clenched fist to the sky while asking the age old question: why?

These days, I try to think more of the Johnny Nash song as I smile;
I can see clearly now, the rain is gone.

Ahh, music, it’s one of my soul’s visceral needs; a most precious gift in my life from a higher power.
I see certain people that have magically surfaced in my life, as if to provide me with some much needed emotional buoyancy.
I can’t help but wonder if they have always been woven into the ever-expanding fabric of my life.

I believe it is through divine providence and grace that I’ve made it to here; a fact I’m sadly realizing right now.
While I’ve never been a big “God” kind of guy, I do feel that it’s time me and Him had some dialogue –uninterrupted.
What better way than to take a trip in February to a sacred and quiet place where I might finally be able to listen to all that I’ve been too busy to hear.
It’s time I rediscovered that crystal silence I knew so long ago as a child; the time in my life when singing was breathing.
It’s ironic that my youngest daughter was responsible for the placement of the pamphlet.
Maybe she understands better than I do that my soul has been living too long in silence.
And it’s time for it to once again sing.
It’s time for me to finally shed the bitterness and regret.
Life is just too damn short and in the end, it slowly eats you up.
Maybe I’m getting smarter in my old age. Yeah, sure…




ps. there may be a guest author taking over the blog for a tiny bit.
I need a well deserved break with my girls. Stay tuned.
If she says ‘yes’, you’re in for a treat.

Letters from the Outpost (II)


Dear Mom-


Sometimes in the morning, I wake up and for a brief time the world is as I once knew it; a world completed by your presence.
Reality seeps in and I acknowledge the fact that you’re gone.
I have to let you know that not a day has gone by that I haven’t thought about you in some respect. As the song says, there’s always something there to remind me.
It might be the sound of your name, or an unannounced summer thunderstorm or maybe the melody of Danny Boy on Saint Patrick’s Day; things too numerous to mention here. Unexpected things come along as well.
I was working south of Boston one weekend and took 93 South out of the city headed towards Marshfield.

I passed a road sign on Route 139 that read: Nantasket Beach.
I thought about a small picture I have of you from that innocent and healthy time in your life that found you on that beach.
I can hear your laughter and see your smile.
Your soul was a happy one then, as I pray it is now.
I only wish that you had seen more of those sunny days.

The Bleeding Hearts and Columbine we planted for you are thriving in the garden and serve as a gentle reminder that in many ways, you’re still here with us. And you are.
Forgetting you is just not an option.

Κύριε ἐλέησον, Χριςτἐλέησον, Κύριε ἐλέησον.


Love you forever, Mom…



7.15.2005 – 7.15.2006 (V.A.M.)

Hit me

hit me

Come on, I wanna see 10K.
(30 seconds later)
Damn, I missed it.
I hit 10K right after I posted this.
Ah, well…

Comic Relief

ass family

I need to lighten up a bit.
Here’s a laugh on me…




i thank You God for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirit of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

-e.e. cummings

the Sadman

Sad man

I was talking to my sister tonight about our father.

We’ve both come to the same conclusion: He’s sad; intensely sad.

He can’t verbalize that to us it’s just something we feel inside whenever we go to see him. He’s at a current stage of the disease that I would classify as the “point of no return”.
For all we know, that plateau could have been reached months ago, maybe years ago; there’s no definitive way for us to know.
Frustration deluxe.
Make that a double please.

My sister and I have grown tired of the one-sided conversations that never seem to go anywhere. But we understand that they accompany the disease; we saw it with my mother and now our brains want to somehow disconnect.
I wish there were someway to reach him, to tell him about the weather or the All-Star game, to say a final goodbye and know that he somehow “gets it”.

I can’t possibly imagine of another ten years of this madness, not only for him but for my sister and me.
Please hand me the white straitjacket. And a double.

I’m listening to the Concord Symphony by Charles Ives as I write this and I’m smiling, simply because I associate Ives music with my father’s muddled and bewildering state of mind; a brain overflowing with dying neurons, dissonant tangles and the persistent plaques solely responsible for the glowing funhouse now raging in his head.

I wish I could turn it all off for him as easily as I can “pause” my Ipod Nano.
But I can’t.

I still can’t believe this is God’s plan nor do I believe in the people that say to me, “It’s all in His plan.”
That’s the ultimate in bullshit.

My dad continues to stand all alone in the pouring rain as I continue my futile search for a decent umbrella that doesn’t exist.

Maybe someday the sun will shine.

Yeah, right…



July Ice

hazy sun

A July sun is searing a hole in a hazy, melon sky this morning.
It makes me think about early mornings six months ago when the burning orb didn’t look so warm and comfy.
To me, the January sun smacks of indifference and haste; an archaic star barely able to melt the white off the snow.
I wonder if my blatant and seemingly pre-determined cynicism towards the winter solstice has anything to do with it.
I find myself woolgathering, thinking about a hot, sultry day much like this one back when I was 10 years old.
The year would have been 1969, a vintage summer for those of us too young to begin to comprehend the violent complexities of the war in Vietnam.
I was innocently unaware of the daily headlines; horror stories that screamed bloody murder from the front pages of every US newspaper.

No, it was summer.

That was my biggest concern back then.

Oh, and baseball…and girls.

I see myself sitting on the sidewalk in front of my house with my best friend, Deg.
We were waiting for the milk truck, a peach-colored vehicle with a red oval and white letters that read H-O-O-D, to take us for our morning ride around the neighborhood. Mr. Milkman would let us sit on the generous back bumper of the truck as he made his deliveries.
If he was in an especially good mood, he would give us each a nice, cold and smooth chunk of ice to suck on.
Most days, we were lucky as we sat slurping and dripping our way from house to house. We talked about girls and baseball, baseball and girls; the two most glorious mysteries in our lives that day.

Little did I know that I’d be writing about that very day… today, writing my way back. Reality says you can’t go back, society does too.
But for just a moment, I can feel the sun warming my skin and the melting chunk of ice sliding from my grasp.
My best friend is still sitting next to me.
For a fleeting sliver of a moment, it’s ’69 and I am there.
And it feels so good to be back.




Michael, Plays

My wife would be the first to admit that my memory is terrible.
It’s even more amazing that I play music on a regular basis.
There are so many things to remember: rhythm, melody, chords, lyrics, string lines, harmony, synth patches, accents, note patterns and midi channels ad nauseum.
I was thinking about memory today and the most obvious that surfaced was that of my mother; my first music teacher, the one that taught me how to love the art deeply.
She knew a tiny bit of my biological lineage; a history where music played a vital role, so it only made sense that she should light a creative fire underneath me—little did she know how widespread that fire would rage.

I remember my sister and me taking piano lessons way back when from the same teacher. The big mistake the teacher made was in giving us the same exact lessons.
My sister could never do the things I could do with the piano.
She had a beautiful singing voice but the ebony and ivory just wasn’t her thing.
We were both working on the same piece called “Prayer”, a fairly simple and innocuous composition.
My sister would actually sit, read the music (Absurd; a travesty!) and play the piece as I stood outside the door “memorizing” the notes she played.
I was too lazy to be bothered with reading music.
Why read it, when I could just listen and go in and play it?

I was, in a sense, beating the system, and it made perfect sense to me.

I think I went for some time committing what I heard my sister playing to memory.
The jig was up when my mother came into the den one day, where I was supposedly “practicing”.
She sized me up, came over to the piano and gently placed her hand under my chin pushing it up so that all I could see was the music in front of me.

Wow, I thought, what the hell are all those little black things?

My mother said one word that put the fear of God into me.

She said, “Play.”


To this day, I swear she taught me, in her own special way, how to develop my ears, a talent (and gift) I still use today. My mother had inside information, I just know it.

As my wife will attest, it’s sometimes a curse as well.

High School choruses are almost unbearable to me.

I can hear one alto voice singing ¼ tone flat…or sharp. Truth.

Sounds fine to me, my wife says.

I just shake my head in agony.

Next Saturday will be one year since my mother died, the woman that originally taught me all about memory; the incongruity of it still intensely tender.
As it was with “Prayer”, the piece of music I “memorized” many years ago, so it is with the memory of my mother.
Her spirit is strong when I play all alone in the still of the night, a rare occurrence these days.

I can still hear her voice from so long ago as she whispers, “Play.”

The music comes from a distant and unknown place, like all music does.

And it’s a comfort to think that somewhere she still listens…



Yo Momma!


Several weeks ago, I entered a Yo Momma Contest.
If you don’t know what a Yo Momma joke is, here’s a sample:


“Yo momma so fat, when she wears a yellow raincoat, people said “Taxi!””

”Yo momma so fat, she fell in love and broke it.”

”Yo momma so fat, when she gets on the scale it says to be continued.”

”Yo momma so fat, when she gets on the scale it says we don’t do livestock”.

I think you get the idea.

The Yo Momma Champion (moi) received an opportunity to post at the West Texas Rocks Blog.
The site is run by Crazy Dan and BigD, twin brothers of Fuzz.

Fuzz posts many wonderful comments on my blog and if you’ve yet to visit his blog, you’re really losing out.

Fuzz calls ‘em as he sees ‘em; it’s an unabashed American view and I love his style. Period.

(& I bet he makes a mean ass chili)

The same goes for West Texas Rocks. It’s a great blog.

No post for me tonight.
Visit the boys from the Lone Star state and tell ‘em Badsneaker sent ya…

Oh, and while you’re there check out my post, “Drive”…

I expect ya’ll to read it!!!!



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