Smoke and Mirrors

In a perfect world . . .

Category: Red Sox (page 1 of 2)


Many a hot summer night will find me on the back deck with my laptop,
a cold Guinness and a nice warm cigar.
It’s what I choose to do during this season.
I dream about it at work, on the train back home and make the dream come true when I get there.
I’ve been known to choose the back deck and a cigar over a Red Sox game. (oh, the horrors!)
My daughters will come and go during the night passing me on their way in and out of the house.
They usually wave their hands in a back and forth fashion in front of their face to let me know
that my cigar stinks like poop.

I usually turn and say, “Someday, when I’m gone-” (and I get cut off)

“We know Dad, when you’re dead and buried we’ll be walking down a street and smell a cigar and think of you.
How nice. That thing stinks.”

“Gee, thanks, hon. Love you, too.”

I usually utter that to an empty backyard because they’ve already gone back into the house.
I smoke some very nice cigars, folks.
I have 12 year old Cubans in my humidor, for God’s sake.
These ain’t your Daddy’s Phillie Grape-flavored Blunts.
I’m thinking Pamela actually likes the aroma of at least a few of them.

Last Sunday, a woman came into the store,
stopped in the middle of the floor and closed her eyes, inhaling deeply.
She opened her eyes, smiled and looked at me.
She was crying.

She said,
“I hope you don’t mind but I’m taking a walk down Memory Lane here.
Places like this just remind me of my Dad. It’s almost like he’s here.”

“He is,” said I.

She looked around as she was leaving and almost lovingly said,
“Thank you so much.”

If I had a dime for every time someone said, “this place reminds me of my grandfather,”
I would be a very rich man.
I usually smile, nod my head and think, same old, same old.
Been there, cut the cigar, smoked the cigar and bought the T-shirt.
For some reason, this woman seemed different to me.
Maybe it was the fragments of truth that seemed to hang on her every word.
She was moved to tears by the aroma of a century old cigar shop.
Maybe I shouldn’t have been so surprised.
I can only hope that years after I’m gone, my daughters can still find a special shop that offers up the unique and precious memories that mine currently does.
They may just have to settle for the aroma of some fine Cuban cigar wafting through the air
of some distant and special summer night in the distant future.
That will be Dad, girls . . .  that special kiss on your cheek.
It’s me.


Christ, breaking bread, communion, religion, Alzheimer's

Sarah and I went to visit my father yesterday to feed him lunch and sit with him for a while.
Lately, he’s been overly emotional for reasons I may never be privy to.
The minute he saw us, he broke down completely.
I feel terrible saying it but I’ve almost gotten used to it now.
I had to.
My empathy for him that once seemed to be an impossibility to avoid feeling
has now turned into an acceptance of sorts that boggles my mind.
He was in the rec room that overlooks the city waiting to be fed.
I wheeled him to his room where I know it’s quiet and had Sarah get his lunch.
He’s a finicky eater these days around everyone except my sister and me which makes total sense.
His diet is now 100% pureed making his meals look more like and artist’s palette than a meal.
I learned yesterday that spinach makes my father cry.
On his plate were potatoes, spinach and something that would resemble pasta and meatballs in the ‘baby food’ format.
20 years ago, the thought of drinking an Italian meal through a straw had never occurred to me.
My father’s daily nutritional needs are now thrown into a blender ala ‘Bass-O-Matic’.
And I wonder why he cries?
I can’t get away from the feeling that a small part of him is frightened.
Not of me or Sarah or Maureen or Pam and the kids but he seems almost Fear Factor scared.
My sister says he’s a tortured soul and I would have to agree.
There are so many things that run rampant through my mind as I feed him, spoonful by blessed spoonful . . .
(I’m looking at a rainbow hovering over Boston as I write this. Truth)

there was the day we brought my mother to assisted living and took my father back to our house for a BBQ.
That may have been one of the last times that I actually ‘had’ him.
He was making sense and I could talk to him and he could understand me.
He was profoundly sad about bidding farewell to his wife for two weeks but at least he still liked the taste of beer (something he’s since lost long ago)

Spoonful by blessed spoonful . . .

the soft, cool grass beneath my feet in the backyard as we played catch after he got home from work.
We never talked when we played catch but there was conversation that he and I understood.
Especially when he threw a ball with some mustard on it, smiling as I caught it.
That was my own personal field of dreams.

Spoonful by blessed spoonful . . .

the Christmas night I went to the facility he was staying in and found him in a self-induced sugar coma after polishing off an entire bag of Dove’s chocolates that someone had given him.
There were candy wrappers everywhere, discarded like wrapping paper on Christmas morning.
He seemed ready to do jumping jacks, for Christ’s sake

I keep praying for a rainbow in his future but he’s having one hell of a time seeing through the gauzy reality he’s currently living in.
I finish giving him lunch and to my surprise he’s eaten everything save for the Popeye spinach soup.
I’m happy because he has a belly full of food but he’s the farthest thing from a happy ending because he knows it’s time for me to go.
I kiss his forehead and say, “I love you, Dad,” to which he replies, “Yeah.”
Sarah and I walk to the door and she says, “Bye, Grampa.”
More Wally tears.
We walk down the corridor to the elevators in silence as I allow myself to cry a bit on the inside
wanting badly for the seemingly inconsequential goodbyes to finally end.
It’s then that I have an small epiphany; as I feed him lunch, he’s actually feeding me.
It’s a Communion of sorts between my father and I.
I change my mind then and there.
And all of a sudden I don’t want the goodbyes to end.

Cape Cod (*may not be ready)

It’s always a daunting task starting a new journal; all that virgin white space,
the absence of anything resembling a word or thought, and the cackling cynic inside me all trying to sway me towards more menial things like cutting my lawn (which needs to be done, btw) or re-grouting the tile in the bathroom.
This soft leather-covered journal was made in Italy and given to me by my daughter Jenna.
It’s really gorgeous.
I began to wonder what will be written on these pages by the years end.
In 7.23 days, me, Pamela and the girls will be spending a week on Cape Cod with
Annie, Maureen, Mark & Evyl (and Joyce!)
The location will not be disclosed so please don’t ask.
We’re celebrating Christmas in July because my wife thought
December was a silly time for all the folks involved to visit.
This is going to be one of the most amazing weeks of my life while on this spinning blue ball in space.
There will be many things: laughter, tears, music, incredible food, stories, Rum Swizzle,
bourbon, Guinness and enough fine cigars to smoke out an army of stogie veterans.
Oh, and there will be stories.
I know I already wrote that but it needs to be repeated.
Honestly, where would we be without our stories?
If someone had told me 10 years ago that I’d be spending a week of my life with people I’d never met I’d say they really ‘lost the plot’.
All of us talk on the phone and Gmail chat on a fairly regular basis so no one is a complete stranger here.
I’ve known Annie since our writing days at WVU.
And Evyl has been a true bud since I first started this blogging thing back in 2005.
As far as Maureen and Mark, I’ve known them from some previous life, or so it seems.
I could go on and on about my personal expectations regarding this most special of holidays but I prefer to record some actual memories in this very special journal.
Stay tuned for some truly awesome posts starting around the 18th of July (our first day on the Cape)
We have some blogging hijinx planned as well, actually more of a blog hijacking, so to speak.
All will be revealed in time.
We’ve all waited well over a year for this moment.
What’s 7.20 more days?
And it now looks like my new journal isn’t so new anymore.
Stay tuned.
As far as the post title goes . . .  my dear Pamela is pretty damn sure *she may not be ready.
Just watch her ‘Twitter’
for more details!
Ready or not Cape Cod, here we come!


Did anyone see this coming?
Poor Manny.
Oh, shit, I mean, rich Manny.
I’m struggling to pay my mortgage and this lying asswipe is making how much a year?
I’m going to bed.
Maybe I should look into some hypodermic needles.
Or not . . .


I began reading the new Natalie Goldberg book  ‘Old Friend from Far Away’ a few days ago.
It’s a book custom-tailored for writers of memoir.
So far the book is quite good (like all of her books).
Page 14 has a prompt that I’ve decided to turn into a post.
The chapter is quite short:

Tell me what you will miss when you die.

When I die there will be many things that I will miss.
This list went on for quite a few pages but I’ve chosen an abbreviated version for your perusal.
If I included food you’d be here for a few days.
I mostly chose things from the category ‘matters of the heart’.
Feel free to steal this as a ‘meme’.
For you writers visiting, it’s a wonderful exercise. Do it.
Even if you don’t consider yourself a writer, it’s worth your time.
You can look at some of the things that really make your life worthwhile.
Here I go.

I will miss:

-Whispers in the dark
-Pamela’s eyes, voice, face and beautiful soul
-hearing the phrase, “I love you, Daddy,” whispered in my ear
-my three beautiful girls
-the sound of little footsteps coming down the stairs on Christmas morning
-my sister, my twin, the other part of my very soul
-Caitlin’s smile
-Ryan’s loveable way (and awesome jumpshot)
-Billy’s laugh
-All the people I truly love (if I’ve talked to you in the past year, consider yourself on this list)
-a warm and gentle rain
-the silent beauty of falling snow (yeah, I wrote that)
-the sound of surf at the Cape
-the smell of freshly cut grass in late spring
-stars (especially the constellation Orion, someday possibly the Southern Cross)
-my cats purring
-Cuban cigars
-Guinness (or any fairly decent dark beer like Porter or Stout)
-Makers’ Mark
-writing with a nice fountain pen on some fine quality paper
-the feeling of creating
-entering ‘the Zone’  (artists of all kinds know about this one)
-music (playing and listening)
-my piano
-weekend phone calls to a country far, far away with two incredibly special people
-memories of the Camp
-the aroma of an apple pie baked by my grandmother from summer’s long ago
-Blue Cheese
-Bill Hicks, Denis Leary, Sam Kinnison, George Carlin, Lewis Black and Dave Chapelle
-most importantly, my blog

And yes, I will dearly miss sex and exceptional breasts.
I’m not a freak.
Truthfully, what will you miss?

My father’s hats

On most days my father wears a baseball hat.
Even when he was well if he wasn’t working he was wearing some type of baseball hat.
It was an intrinsic part of his daily get up.
It was usually the Red Sox, maybe the Celtics but NEVER the NY Yankees, God forbid, he would rather die than to be caught wearing one of those.
He still wears a hat these days although he would be hard pressed to tell you which hat he was wearing.
Truth be told, on any given day lately I’d have a tough time telling you what hat I‘m wearing.
I was talking with my sister Moe the other day and
she told me a very interesting story about our father and one of his ‘hats’.
She came down last weekend to see ‘Dad’ and wheeled him down to the quaint chapel in the nursing home for Sunday morning mass. She had called ahead to ask that he be cleaned up and shaved and dressed nicely, the proverbial cherry on the sundae, his baseball hat.
They got to the chapel where I’m assuming my sister knelt and said a prayer or two (thousand) . . .
As she sat back she noticed that Dad’s hat was sitting in his lap.
She swears she did not take it off, she was sure of that.
He took it off himself.
My sister took it as a sign that our father still acknowledges the fact that he is in a place that’s sacred and taking off your hat is something you do out of reverence and respect.
Maybe she’s right.
I took it more as a sign that says she and I will never be alone in this shattered ordeal that’s slowly nearing its very blue end.
Either way, I know that I wanted to remember the moment even though I couldn’t be there.
And though it’s doubtful that our father said one single prayer that morning, I’m confident that he left the chapel with more blessings than anyone else in the place.
And I’m positive he put his baseball cap right back on as he left.

Home Run for Dad

I have a very busy weekend coming up so I wanted to post something tonight.
This Sunday is Father’s Day and it will be a very emotional one for yours truly.
For those that visit here often and have been with me for sometime I think you understand why.
This will undoubtedly be the last such holiday that will find me actively participating.
I’m surprised my father is still hanging in there but if he can, so can I.
I plan on being there on Sunday to feed him lunch and will hopefully get my hands on some kind of special dessert; preferably something soft, sweet and chocolate.

I’ll tell him a few stories about the Red Sox and the Celtics and feel kind of sad because I know I’m doing it more for me than I am him, or so I think. Anything that will make the moment seem more normal is what I’m shooting for. I’ll take the inevitable stroll down Memory Lane and . . .
I’ll remember him after my sister’s wedding when we had a party back at the house.
He was in his glory that night. His daughter was married earlier that day to the love of her life and the wedding went beautifully. He was healthy and happy, as was my mother.
There were people everywhere and there was nothing that could soil his mood.
One of the groomsmen had a few too many drinks and happened to walk right through the screen door of the den (it was a hot August night) and I think Dad pissed himself laughing.
We all did.
It was the laughter that I remember from that night, his happiness, my mother’s glow.
These are the things I’ll think about when I see him on Sunday, trying hard to forget about the sadness, the loss and the many tears.
Upon leaving him, I’ll have a moment to myself because in my heart it will be one of the last.
This Father’s Day, I’m dedicating my world to the man that never missed one of my baseball games, stuck by me through thick and thin (though he knew I was probably wrong), loved me even though I was, at times, a mischievous and unruly son.
I pray to God that he always knew how very much I loved him and wanted to make him proud.
In my mind, it’s the bottom of the ninth with 2 outs, no score and no men on base.
This one’s for you, Wally.
And I’m hitting this one out of the park.
All I need now is an “after game” burnt hot dog with mustard and all will be right with the world . . .


On Disabilities Awareness Day at Fenway Park, an autistic man was chosen to sing the National Anthem.
Halfway through he gets a case of the giggles.
Watch what happens. I still have goosebumps.
Thanks to Annie for the wonderful link.
Videos like this make me believe there’s still hope for the world.
Red Sox fans are alright . . .


Boston meme (4Lass)


Lass hit me with a tag several weeks ago to do a meme.
And though I’m not big on meme’s I figure I owe her one.
Lord knows, I’ve managed to snake my way out of a few of them but this one was actually interesting in many ways.
And the fact that Lass is a good friend and has been on my blogroll since I started this whole blogging thing.

Without further ado here are a few of the “bests” in my area.
I’ve decided to give you a tour of Boston (my second home).

Best Place to Eat:

This one is almost impossible to answer in a city like Boston.
There are just too damn many great restaurants.
If I had to pick a few I’d have to say L’Osteria on Salem Street in the North End. This is your quintessential Italian bistro. When the warm crusty bread and salad make you think you’ve died and gone to heaven, you know the meal will knock your socks off.

After having the Veal Piccata, I’m still searching for my socks.
Another incredible restaurant is the East Coast Grille in Cambridge @ Inman Square.

It’s mostly a fish type of place but beef dishes are over the top (ask my wife).

This funky little place is unique. Period.
I had Grilled White Pepper Crusted Tuna with House Pickled Ginger, Aged Soy Sauce, Pacific Farms Fresh Wasabi, Grilled Vegetables & a Spicy Bok Choy Salad.
This meal had me moaning (once again, ask my wife).

I can’t wait to go here again. My birthday is in January so . . .

There’s the Rattlesnake on Boylston Street with the best damn catfish Po’ Boy I’ve ever had in my life.

I’ll wrap this up with Al’s State Street Cafe with their State Street Special: prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, fresh basil leaves and thinly sliced plum tomatoes, drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar served on a crusty French baguette.

Hungry yet?

Best Shopping Mall:

Not really a mall but a wonderful place to hemorrhage multiple Franklin’s; Faneuil Hall
Click on the link and take a “virtual tour”.
If you’re a woman, send hubby to the Union Oyster House.

You’re going to be a while . . .

Famous Landmark:
Should be plural for Boston.
Driving into the city via the Mass Pike the Citgo sign in Kenmore Square greets you (and every other Red Sox fan).

After that the Pru (Prudential Center) and the John Hancock buildings can’t help but catch your eye. They’re huge and stunning. I take them for granted. Shame on me.

There’s Paul Revere’s House, the Old North Church and last but not least Fenway Park.

Best Tourism Attraction:

The Freedom Trail

Symphony Hall


Fenway Park (again)

This list could go on ad nauseum.

Best Place for Kids:

Museum of Science
is a pretty safe bet.
It’s huge, loud and a ton of fun.
(once you find the effin’ place)
The frozen “Duck Pond” on the ‘Common” is great in the winter months for skating, the summer months for swimming.

Popular Outdoor Activity:
Walking, running, skiing, snowboarding, skateboarding, ice skating, roller blading.
It all happens here.

Breath-taking views:
Top of the Pru doesn’t suck on any given night and a four hour ride north of the city will put you in North Conway, New Hampshire in the heart of the White Mountains.
On a clear, fall day the view is spectacular.
Ever seen leaves explode in technicolor?

Only Found In:

Yawkey Way (Fenway Park)
You haven’t lived until you’ve walked this stretch of pavement on a Red Sox gameday.
The smell of simmering sausages and onions is a sacred thing.

The Zakim Bunker-Hill Bridge is a magnificent structure that connects Boston to Chelsea and beyond; awesome during the day, a religious experience at night.

Berklee College of Music; my alma mater. Scary. Cool school.

Newbury StreetBoston’s very own “Rodeo Drive”.

Though this list could turn itself into a book, I’ll stop here.

Should ever you find yourself in Boston, drop me a line.

I’ll meet you at Foley’s for a Guinness or three.


Dirty Water

“Well I love that dirty water;
Oh, Boston, you’re my home . . . ”

Not much more to say except the Boston Red Sox absolutely rocked the Rockies.
I’m going to friggin’ bed! {12:15am}
Oh, and Eric Byrnes? (pre-game host, Game 1)
You really suck, dude.


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