I watch ‘Dancing with the Stars’.
There. I said it.
American Idol? Nope.
The Voice? Nada.
The Bachelor? Puuuhleeesse. I have standards.
The Kardashians? They need to find a new planet to inhabit. Soon. And hopefully don’t pro-create.
The Biggest Loser? Whoever watches this stoopid show.
If you need a power tool to get your fat ass out of a chair . . . just sayin’
The Amazing Race? I personally know Max of ‘Max and Katie’ and I have never once watched the show.
It’s not that I don’t like Max, it’s that I don’t watch much TV.
New England Patriots.
It’s a short list.
My list could go on but I will spare you.
Get my drift?
DWTS came on tonight and my wife drew me into the living room in the only way she knew she could.
“Come here! Michael! Come here! Kellie Pickler is on! You have to at least watch her.”
My wife is telling me to watch a hot, sexy, gorgeous blonde that is half my age.
Did I like it?
What do you think?
Pickler has pickled my pickle since American Idol.
Okay, yeah, I watched some AI.
I feel dirty.
It does make me smile when Pamela makes me watch a bit of a show as I did tonight.
What kind of wife does that?
I think she also knows that her face is much prettier than 1,000 Kellie Picklers.
It’s not only her face but it’s her unfailing heart and soul.
I love ya, Kellie Pickler but Pamela owns my heart.
And that, my friends is the end/beginning of the story . . .
Can’t wait to see what KP will be wearing next week.
I’m sure Pamela will tell me . . .
A year ago about this time the talk around town (and Facebook) was all about Pamela and me going to Australia.
It seems like yesterday but it feels like years since we were talking about it.
That said, here I am still reminiscing about the 2 weeks in time that I will not soon forget.
I began writing about our journey a while back and stopped short for reasons that now elude me.
Let’s just say that life sometimes gets in the way.
Please forgive me.
My last post got us to Townsville in Queensland where Moe and Mark live.
I remember descending into the small airport and thinking, “So, this is where we Skype every weekend,” not knowing that there was much more than meets the eye behind this place called Townsville (aka, Paradise).
After taking a badly needed shower, Pamela and me proceeded to do what you do on holiday.
We sat our asses in the backyard and had a few drinks, a few cigars and talked about our flights over.
The QLD sun was hotter than I thought it would be and I found a slice of shade to sit in.
I kept mentally pinching myself as if to notify my tired brain that I was really sitting in Oz;
being that far away from home can disorient you into believing you’re not really there.
I got the piss taken out of me 244 times that afternoon. (yeah, I counted)
The plan for the day was to chill out for a bit and go to Mel and Steve’s
(Moe and Mark’s daughter and son-in-law) later that day for our first authentic Australian barbecue.
The details of our first afternoon are a bit foggy but I do remember shitting my pants on our drive over when Mark went into the first Aussie roundabout I had ever encountered.
I mentally made the sign of the Cross knowing I was about to die because he was going the opposite way that people in the States go.
After getting through the roundabout I once again made the sign of the Cross and began a deeper understanding of the phrase, ‘DownUnder’.
Please pass me the vegemite.
We arrived at Mel and Steve’s and got a tour of the place which was under some serious renovation.
With the help of Caleb and Lucas (M&S’s sons) we toured the house which was in a transition phase.
In about six months this place would be a palace.
I still badly want Mel’s kitchen which was any true chef’s dream.
Appetizers came out; Prawns (huge ass shrimp for you folks in the Northeast, but they’re sweeter than shrimp), Cabana and cheese (Cabana is like a really nice mild but spicy kielbasa), fruit, veggies and more than one could ever eat. [just you wait for my description of the amazing Brie in Victoria]
But Steve had a plan for me in terms of Australian beer.
XXXX Gold: (rat piss in a can, and Steve told me I could just toss it, which I did)
Toohey’s New: (not bad but reminded me of Sam Adam’s lager, which I hate. I drank it though)
VB Victoria Bitters; once again not bad but not much better than Toohey’s.
James Boag; a total winner for me, hands down. A great beer with flavor and strength to boot.
With multiple beers under my belt I watched in amazement as Steve grilled our food.
The smell coming off the grill should be made into a MAN cologne. [truth]
Snags, lamb chops, steak and grilled onions made my stomach yearn for some food.
Snags, btw, are beef sausages and not available in the US.
The aroma of grilled snags is simply wonderful.
Steve also made some snags w/ vegemite.
How do you spell AWESOME?
We sat and ate a BBQ that just blew my mind (and our caloric count for the day)(like I was counting, right?)
Life was very good that night at Mel and Steve’s.
To them we were in a sense strangers but they made us feel like family.
And maybe we were; I like to think that.
The blazing sun had set hours before we got done eating and it was time for yours truly to look at the Australian night sky.
Me, Mark, Steve, Caleb and Lucas went out into the front yard.
“There it is,” Mark said.
As he was pointing, I saw it.
I’ve loved stargazing for as long as I can remember but never have I wanted to see something as bad as this.
“The Southern Cross.”
I gazed at it, totally spellbound, tears forming in my eyes.
My first night in Oz was now complete.
That was until Mel brought out the Pavlova.
to be continued . . .
ps. Snags and eggs? I love you.
*a repost from a time I can’t seem to forget
This morning, the highway was filled with a multitude of disembodied headlights, each one searching through a seemingly inexhaustible mist, an optical illusion a bit tough to handle at 6AM when you’re still sleeping.
I made it onto the train and stared out the window at the relentless sheets of rain.
The dark and rainy skies made me think of a night many years ago when I went to my parent’s house after a slew of frantic phone calls from my mother.
She would freak out on a fairly regular basis back then.
At the time, she was in the late beginning stages of Alzheimer’s and I was still in total denial.
I pulled into the driveway and saw her silhouette standing in the open doorway.
I remember thinking she looked peaceful standing there
and not the frantic woman I’d just spoken to on the phone.
I called her name.
As I walked up the stairs, I could see her staring off into the distance, detached and trance-like.
I stood next to her to try and see what she was looking at when she said,
“Look. There’s million’s of them.”
“Millions of what, Mom?” I asked.
“Stars,” she said, “Can’t you see them?”
In the front yard there was an old oak tree, the leaves still dripping from the heavy rain.
Behind the oak, I could see the front porch light from the Jacobson’s house
up on the hill illuminating the thousands of falling raindrops.
Stars, I thought, it’s raining stars.
I took off my glasses to see the world, if only for a moment, through my mother’s eyes.
A simple oak tree was being transformed into an impressionistic masterpiece right in front of me, thanks to a few misfiring neurons located somewhere in my mother’s brain.
“It’s beautiful, Mom.” I said.
“Yes. It is…” She replied.
I didn’t realize it at the time but the raindrops falling from the tree closely echoed the neurological avenue my mother was currently traveling down.
The drops of rain falling and disappearing into the waiting earth were so much like her failing memory,
a collection of antiquated shooting stars ultimately destined to crash and burn, their celestial beauty gone all too soon.
As we stood silently on the porch, an internal cog clicked inside me.
It was a frightening moment of absolute realization.
My phase of denial had finally come to an end.
Grab a coffee, English Breakfast tea, Chai, cognac, scotch, bourbon, water and maybe a smoke,
all depending on where you are in the world of time zones.
Plug in some decent headphones and give yourself 7:40 minutes to just . . .
This is ‘Both Sides Now’, Herbie Hancock from River: The Joni Letters
Hancock is and has been a jazz piano God to me.
And believe it or not he is 70 years old. (born in 1940)
At any rate, get a drink, perhaps a smoke and just
for 7:40 . . .
Your brain will thank me.
This is musical/cerebral Zen at its finest.
I am all about the stars.
Just downloaded ‘Stellarium’ tonight.
Had to share.
Even the desktop icon is cool for this program.
If you like stars and the night sky this program is nuckin’ futs.
It’s a big file (@40megs) but totally worth it.
I’ve been trolling the sky for the past half hour.
Click on the picture above and enjoy.
Any guesses as to the constellation up there?
(Moe, don’t bother)
Enjoy . . .
Fred Armisen can out-Barack, Barack.
I thought this was actually quite funny considering Obama is a bigger rock star
than the pretentious Bono of U2 will ever be.
Short clip but funny as all hell.
Yes, Obama is the quintessential King of Cool.
The jury is out as to whether that’s actually cool or not . . .
Hit me up a year from today.
Did anyone see this coming?
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
-Ryan’s loveable way (and awesome jumpshot)
-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
-Guinness (or any fairly decent dark beer like Porter or Stout)
-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)
-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
-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?
The first guitar I ever received was in 1964.
It was Christmas and I was five years old.
It was one of those Roy Rogers guitars made out of some unknown kind of wood with shitty nylon strings.
It came with a rope strap as well which gave me some pretty serious neck burns after wearing the guitar for more than 5 minutes and trying to act like Elvis Presley.
The guitar itself didn’t last very long though because supposedly they don’t like being stepped on or dropped.
I ended up doing one or the other. Ooops.
I destroyed the thing.
I‘m thinking it must have sounded like crap even though I didn‘t even play guitar back then.
It was six or seven years later that a song on the radio would ultimately change my pre-pubescent musical life.
I can remember the first time I heard, Vincent, by Don McLean and how I heard every single note he played on his guitar.
I was going to teach myself how to play that song no matter how hard I tried.
Problem was, I had no guitar.
The internet now has webpages of the actual tablature. Click here.
But Sears & Roebucks sold guitars at the time (a scary proposition, knowing what I know now) and had one for 30 bucks, and I loved everything about it . . . well, from what I could see in the catalog anyway.
It looked just like the guitar that McLean actually played (in my mind) though it wasn’t even close.
Sometimes if you wish hard enough the universe co-operates.
And co-operate it did.
New England was covered in 8″ of snow the very next morning and I had no school.
I put on my snow boots, grabbed a shovel and entered the working world of shoveling driveways.
Jesus Krispies, it was hard work.
Shoveling driveways didn’t pay too well either, maybe four or five bucks per.
Looking back on it, I should have made more, for cripes sake.
Maybe the neighbors were just cheap bastards, I don’t know.
I shoveled all morning and went home at noon to eat lunch before heading back out for the afternoon.
By the time the sun was dripping into the lavender and salmon horizon, I trudged back home, physically and mentally beat.
It felt like I’d shoveled 500 driveways when in reality I probably shoveled 6.
I sat in the dining room and counted my money.
“27 bucks?” I muttered.
I hung my head in disgust and sheer exhaustion.
My shoulders hurt.
And my feet were wet.
I hate wet feet.
“That’s great, Michael! How much is the guitar?” My mother asked.
“Thirty, I’m almost there,” I said, still pissed.
A few days later she took me to Sears & Roebucks and paid the balance I couldn’t afford.
The one thing I’ll always remember about my mother was her uncanny understanding of my intense love for music.
Little did she know she’d lit a fire that still glows, though not as brightly as when I was 13, but it’s still there burning inside me.
Her lasting gift to me, perhaps.
If you’re curious, I did learn Vincent, note by blessed note and can still play it to this day.
I went through two 45’s to learn it but it’s amazing how much it taught my ears.
Maybe it’s not so ironic why the starry, starry night sky reminds me so much of my mother.
And sorry about the mishap with my Roy Rogers guitar, Mom.
I really didn’t mean to do it . . .
*On a more personal note, while writing this story, I was trying hard to think of what brand the guitar was and as I listened to my Ipod Nano (thanks, M) ‘Harmony’ by Elton John came on.
The guitar I got was a ‘Harmony’.
Roy Rogers is riding tonight . . .
No one knows what it’s like,
maybe even him
the days are like carbon copies of days gone by, yesterdays passed;
more of the same, the blooming of a thousand shades of grey
And life is grey; maybe it’s the only shade he knows . . .
No one knows what it’s like
maybe even me
as I take in his awkward smiles, I wonder just who they’re really meant for
Does he miss her?
Yes, he does, and he tells me so, in sotto voce syllables
I’m still unsure of what I must believe and choose to believe in him because
what’s left is all I have to believe in
No one knows what it’s like
Perhaps, God does, but He is forgetful too;
like the saving grace of His mercy, of dignity and compassion,
the sadness of detail, the complexity of why
And He cries,
for all fathers present and past, but maybe for a world He ultimately created
in love . . .
My father knows what it’s like
when it’s time for me to leave and
long forgotten tears of understanding reach his tired eyes,
tears I can no longer wipe away
because unlike him,
I already know what it’s like to say goodbye
And I do . . .