Smoke and Mirrors

In a perfect world . . .

Month: March 2007 (page 1 of 2)

Black & White

Can you imagine a world without it?
I could have lived without ever hearing “Ebony & Ivory”.
How about you?



I will continue to remember you,
Like I always do
Please watch over me,
Like you always used to
I’m missing you, Mom
79 years, if. . .




It’s like an old heartbroken wish, granted
Sacred as a child’s prayer,

A crystal whisper of innocence and vulnerability
long forgotten on the barren playgrounds of a time remembered;
A back and forth parallel crescent, indelible and perpetual

Awakening a slight truth
That is still left in me
Like the painful longing for a child lost to an endless night. . .

A Fiver from Mr. Crippens

The following is a meme I saw at Alabaster Crippens blog and thought it looked like fun and found it oddly creative.
It’s all about what someone wants to know about you.
It’s revealing and quite personal and the charming Mr. Crippens has graciously come up with five fascinating questions.
For those of you that visit me on a regular basis you may think you know how I’ll answer…then again, maybe not.
Be sure to visit ‘Alabaster Crippens Doesn’t Know What’s Going On’ for one hell of a ride.
Now onto the questions. . .

1. When were the last time you cried and the last time you laughed? (I mean really cried and really laughed…a proper belly laugh)

The last time I really cried was the day of my mother’s funeral.
Emotionally, I was fine at the wake and hell; I gigged the night she died.
Knowing her as I did she would have wanted the show to go on.
I learned of her passing on the way to my gig. Read ‘Angel’.
I was doing alright at the church until afterwards when we walked outside into the bright July sunshine.
That’s when I heard ‘Danny Boy’ being played by bagpipes.
That lonely and haunting song on such a day opened up the faucets for me.
I cried for myself, a father who was too far gone mentally to even attend, my wife and daughters for all they’d been through and witnessed.
But most of all I cried for a special woman that didn’t deserve the biological fate that consumed her heart and soul before leaving behind a duplicate husk for us to remember her by.

I was watching TV several weeks ago when I clicked on a stand-up comedian named
Jim Gaffigan.
Usually, I watch for a few minutes before moving on to the Food Network hoping Giada DiLaurentis is doing something creative like jello wrestling with kittens.
But Gaffigan floored me and delivered multiple belly laughs so I continued to watch.
The routine was called “Beyond the Pale” and had me almost crying. (my wife, too)
After the show was over I figured I’d check ITunes to see if they had anything by this guy. Turns out they had the audio for ‘Pale’, the show I’d just watched.
I think I pulled a groin muscle leaping up to get out my credit card.

2. What do you value most in your marriage?

This is difficult simply because there are a vast number of appropriate answers that fit.
If I had to choose one thing it would be the fact that we are each other’s best friend.
We embrace the notion of compromise in our marriage, the day to day ‘give and take’ that any successful marriage must have in order to survive.
On my wife’s behalf I will say that over the years she’s had more to contend with regarding my life. I’m a creative being which makes me moody and a general pain in the ass sometimes, but every time I need her, I turn around and she’s there.
I’ve come to believe that’s what friends do.

3. Your house is on fire…you’re the only one inside…what do you grab before you run outside?

I’m thinking this is the easiest of all the questions. I’d take our three cats: Sherlock, Opus and Guinness. If I had no cats the only thing that comes to mind are a set of rosary beads that once belonged to my grandfather (Mom’s side). They’re archaic but stunning.

4. Would you rather be deaf or blind?

I’ll take ‘blind’ for 1000, Mr. Crippens.
Seriously, if I were deaf this is a partial list of sounds I would never have the chance to hear:
* my wife’s voice
* my daughter’s laughing
* the words “I love you”
* music
* thunder
* the ocean
* the wind
* the sound of rain
* a cat’s purr
* Michael McDonald’s voice
* birds
And on and on and on, ad nauseum
I don’t think I’d be a very happy camper, do you?

5. How would you like to be remembered?

There are the obvious things; a good husband, a fair and loving Dad, a dear friend that was always willing to listen.
I want people to smile at my wake and say, remember when Michael did this or Michael did that…
I would want people to feel their lives were changed (for the better) in some small way because of me.
I hope people will smile if they see a bumper sticker on my casket that reads:
‘Promoted to Subterranean Truffle Inspector’
Hopefully, they’ll laugh and say, “Man, he was nuts.”

~m (atilde)

ps. {AC, the post pic is especially for you. . . grinning}



I’ve waited over 8 years to write this.
My mind just wouldn’t let me do it I guess.
Maybe that’s the way it was supposed to be.
I got a bit misty eyed during the writing of this.
Just a warning.

If you’re new to this blog you may want to read THIS first.
“Home” is the precursor to this entry.



I don’t remember the exact day we physically moved my mother out of the house but I remember how blue the sky was that day.
It was a brutally beautiful day and one that still haunts me emotionally.
My mother never saw it coming, I’m convinced of that.
To this day, it still feels like I was selling her soul to Satan; a sale that desperately needed to happen, for her sake and my father’s as well.

I told myself it was for her safety, her best interest, the fact that my father could no longer watch over and care for her, any reason that would validate my personal termination of her current residence.

My sister and I had previously moved many of her belongings to her room in the waiting facility; the only thing left to move was my mother.

Getting her into the car was no problem, bringing her into the facility was even easier. But leaving her there and walking out the auto-locking door would be a very difficult thing to do.
And God, it was.
Through all this, I felt like Judas Iscariot; you will deny me three times.
I felt I’d denied my mother three to the third power.
This is what it ‘felt’ like not what it actually was.
I think.
I see it now for what it was but it felt so different back then.
20/20 right?

We brought my mother out to the car and told her we were taking her ‘someplace nice’, another white lie spilled out on the bare ground like an unwanted bottle of Boones Farm Strawberry wine.

When we arrived caregivers and staff were waiting for us with open arms.
We checked out my mother’s room and made sure she was settled before we approached the staff and asked, “What’s next?”

Just leave,” they said, “Call us in three days. She’ll be fine.”

Just leave?
This is it?
How can I just turn around and walk away?
How can I deny her?
I can’t just walk away.

Go. Don’t worry.”

Yeah, right, I thought; easy for you to say.
As we were turning to leave I heard my mother saying, “Wait! Where are you going? Don’t leave me here!”


And, we did.
To this day, I still don’t quite know how, but we did.
My father, sister and I walked through the self-locking door and out into the warm sunshine of the free world.
I was cracking inside but felt the need to hide it while my father and sister broke down.

My sister would be alright, she was a long time R.N. used to dealing with intense emotional turmoil.
My dad was another story.
I looked at him and realized he was the farthest thing from a happy ending that I’d ever seen.
And my heart went out to him.
I went to embrace him but his Irish bravado violently pushed me away.
In my mind, for all intents and purposes, he’d just said his last goodbye to a wife of almost 50 years.
Can it get much sadder than that?

Yeah, it can.
Aren’t you glad I’m remembering this? 😉

We drove away lost in our own private asylums of thought; my dad staring thoughtlessly out the window, my sister wondering whether my mother would be alright and me wondering why—period.

My sister and I had previously planned on making my father’s afternoon a light one with a BBQ at my house afterwards.
Dad needed a few beers and some food to get ‘right’ and I was just the guy to do it.
I’ve no doubt my father wanted a cold one as much as I did.

My thinking was indeed correct.

We got to my house and immediately got my father situated on our deck with a cold brew and some munchies. That was most important.
He seemed to relax almost immediately.
The worst was over . . . for now.

I walked into the kitchen as my wife’s eyes began to examine me.
She said, “Are you okay?”

My eyes filled up and I shook my head ‘no’.

She held me tightly as the stress, pain and profound sadness of the day flowed out of me; stormy oceans of regret pounding the waiting and not surprisingly able shoulders of my wife.

My life suddenly felt so wrong and there was nothing I could do to stop the feeling.
I couldn’t solve a complicated puzzle when there were no pieces to arrange, if that makes any logical sense.
My wife said, “Get a beer, start the grill and cook. Forget about it for now. Today is over.”

I couldn’t put my finger on it but there was something bigger than all of us happening here.
Maybe it’s better I never quite figured it out.
I lit the grill and then my cigar and let my inimical thoughts drift up and away in the ethereal clouds of smoke.
Had I known then how many storms were to rain down on my life, this blog may have never been.

Maybe there’s something to be said about guardian angels.
Lord knows, I’m married to one.

Lucky me.






Guess who’s not coming to dinner?

Wednesday is my usual day off and I occasionally cook something I know the girls will eat. Today I’m making Chicken Marsala (Sorry, Sarah) and
something I’ve begun to call ‘Stupid Potatoes’ because they’re so damn easy to make and they taste great.
I asked my wife who would be around for supper when it hit me that it’s sad I had to even ask. I believe I’ve stumbled upon a growing problem in today’s society: the family unit no longer sits down together to share a meal.
There’s soccer, basketball, track, chorus, play, band, SAT Prep and a host of other extracurricular activities that currently take presidence over sitting down at the dinner table.
We wonder why we’re not in touch with our kids sometimes when the truth of the matter is you can’t touch someone that’s been at baseball practice since after school with schoolwork to do when they come home.
There are coaches that believe Sunday mornings are an appropriate time for a scrimmage/practice (and said athlete has to be there, or else).
The subliminal lesson learned by the child: Worshipping God is no longer important.
Just learn to nail those foul shots, throw strikes, run faster, be better (you’re not good enough now!).
30 years ago, if a coach ever pulled a boneheaded move like that he’d be on the first boxcar out of town.
These days it’s all part of the game.
Our priorities (myself included) are disoriented and sadly obtuse.
I see things changing and not for the better.
We’ve dug a hole we will never be able to climb out of and for what?
And at what cost?
I’m trying hard to think of a time when I didn’t sit down and have supper with my mother, father and sister.
Supper was at 5PM.
Be there or go hungry, end of story.
Supper wasn’t served in four or five shifts like today.
What the hell happened?
There was something to be said about breaking bread together; there was interaction and a sharing of conversation, a waging of arguments, a dispersement of knowledge, the telling of jokes, zany explanations of the numerous leaves on the family tree.
I feel we’re all missing out.
By the time we actually figure out where we went wrong, our kitchens will be empty and I’ve no doubt the Burger King’s of the world will be stuffed to the grills with our kids.
So how does it end?
Maybe we just don’t want to know.
And that’s quite possibly the saddest part of all. . .


“The Year Zero” is a new album by Nine Inch Nails.
It was inspired by a daydream Trent Reznor had about the end of the world (which takes place in 2022)
What the hell does this guy eat for lunch anyway?
YZ is a concept album that is far too complicated to even attempt to explain here.
It seems like a game of ‘Clue on Glue’ set to a seething and throbbing Techno/Alternative musical background.
I found a very strange website that contains, among other things, several MP3’s from the new album.
I’ve yet to give them a listen so it’s at your own risk.
This appears to be an intentional internet leak, I presume.
But be warned, Reznor’s apocalyptic vision is disturbing on many levels.
It’s also intensely creative.
If this sounds interesting, click the pic above.
While you’re there check out a few of the links and download a tune.


I downloaded these songs:

*My Violent Heart
*Me, I’m not
*In This Twilight

I should add that they sounded incredible.
Pure NIN.

4 Weeks (or A man’s survival guide to PMS)

Found this video posted at Galvanized.
It’s a bit long (@13 mins) but I had a really good laugh
and thought it was good enough to share.
Click on the picture above to go to the site of the video.
And be sure to visit Galvanized if you’re looking for a cool blog to check out.


Tuesdays with Mitch


“On a traffic light yellow means yield, and green means go.
On a banana, it’s just the opposite, yellow means go ahead, green means stop, and red means, where’d you get that banana?”
~Mitch Hedberg


Cats are just like this.
God love ’em.
Have a great weekend, y’all…


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