The Latest Call To Harms

The point of no return? Oh, we passed it a while ago. . .

I’m old enough to remember the good old days when people were getting in fistfights over toilet paper. At least that old fashioned bare-knuckled brawl with our mortality possessed tangible evidence that the world was falling apart at the seams.

Today all we get are rumors of the apocalypse, delivered to us in piecemeal by myriad news agencies, the Twitterati and a whole bunch of independent contractors whose journalistic integrity accepts Venmo. We’re the  consumers of a gross tonnage worth of uneducated guesswork that buries the lead because in the Bradburian Era, it’s more important to chase those trending trophies than the true shit. We’re anesthetized to the worst possible scenarios by now, so while North Korea stands on a stepstool to announce to the world that 800,000 of its favorite sons have signed up to fight the United States, all that really matters are those ballistics tests they’ve been conducting for the past forty-years under two dollar store regimes. And yet, that forgettable parody of Kim Jong Un starring James Franco and Seth Rogen got more press than the nuclear arsenal he’s packing in real time.

Meanwhile in Kasha-ville, we’ve been waiting for the next iron shoe to drop for so long that it feels less like a global catastrophe and more like a Kardashian divorce at this point. Putin’s war in Ukraine exemplifies the Negan Rules of Diplomacy: Attack first and punish indefinitely. But we’re bored with all of that here in the states, so we turned Ukraine into a political football. When pressed to name a crime Putin has committed during his Soviet remodeling job, most Americans would reference that video of him without a shirt.

Reading the news these days is akin to vaping in that you’re doing an immense disservice to your health. But that’s okay, because we have become expert at normalizing the seriously bad shit, or better yet, pretending it never happened in the first place!

Take our former president (No, I’m serious. Can someone please take him?). The expectation is that he will be indicted tomorrow by the Manhattan DA’s office. The charges involve a hush money payment made to former adult movie star Stormy Daniels in return for her silence regarding an alleged affair with Trump. All this happened ahead of the 2016 election.

Let’s face it, Trump ain’t going down for an infringement of campaign finance laws. But he’s already using the hell out of this indictment by calling it an “arrest” in order to chum the water. He’ll get his button men like McCarthy and Jordan to transform this into a political witch hunt and he’ll have his adversaries squirming too, since the GOP still runs on Florida time.

Trump won in 2016 because he pilfered a rudderless political party and he gamed a sick political system. Those who voted for him formed a collective beta reading group as a means of retrofitting our past so it would jibe with their warped narrative. Those who voted against him brandished their ideological swords in order to detonate our past, never stopping to consider all the lessons that will go missing as a result.

Missing, like the one word that is missing from the statement he posted on his website last week . . . .


His pejorative was showing when he left peaceful out of the equation, because he knows exactly what he’s doing. Here’s a guy who has convinced his people that the January 6th riot at the Capitol never happened.

What’s to stop him from stealing the peace?


Trading Shots At The Last Dance Saloon

Having made my thoughts on March Madness crystal clarion, I met with some resistance from the hardwood posse. They Luca’ed my Brasi on the matter by refuting my faluting with the kind of trash talk that gets my Hemi humming; all cheek, no meek. Buried in the vitriolic wreckage, however, was a genuine misconception about my opinion of college basketball in general and their postseason tournament in particular.

I don’t hate it.

There was a time when I actually loved the stuff. And then progress transformed the sport from a Gene Hackman matinee to a Gene Simmons midnight rager. Where rosters once went five deep, now most clubs are lucky if they have two all-stars, and they’re even luckier if they get two seasons out of them. The talent pool is dispersed like never before thanks to cable deals that expand the number of destination campuses exponentially. There’s also the matter of NIL, which allows highly sought after recruits to create their own brands rather than build their professional equity on the shoulders of a big brand school. And let’s face it, the lure of next level dinero is hard to pass up if your comps are collecting NBA paychecks. It can be argued, and I’ve heard these arguments all week long, that the sport is more interesting this way. And maybe it’s true . . . but not enough for me to tune in.

Nonetheless, I have taken the pushback to heart and so, for the haters, Imma extend an olive branch. Sort of.

Here then is my bracket for March Madness 2023, hot on the heels of my office pool win last year. (Editors Note: My office pool win last year followed the Congressional blueprint of total guesswork and dumb luck). I filled that fucker out the way George Santos fills out his resume, so anyone who uses my choices for the purpose of wagering? Well, you must really hate your money.

My bracket works a little differently from all these big name, overhyped prognosticators out there in that I have automatically deleted more than half the field because I feel like sixty-eight candidates is ridiculous. This ain’t the GOP presidential field, people!

Some of the more prominent names I kicked to the curb? Sure why not . . .

Alabama– If you ain’t up on this awful story about how society values wins and losses more than it does human life, read this piece by Candace Buckner.

Purdue- I recognize this name for chicken, not hoops.

Kansas- I prefer the rock and roll band.

Houston- The Astros call it home, so nope.

Okay, so the top seeds are out in my ball breaking bracket busting scenario but I’m not simply ganging up on goliaths here. There are several lesser regarded clubs I can’t be down with either. Like Iona, because that’s what you name a kid you can’t stand. And Drake, whose songs possess as much appeal as root canal. Oral Roberts reminds me that televangelism was the father of ‘QAnon and Indiana is the mother of Bobby Knight and . . and . .  KentuckyTennessee and Arkansas are a bunch of kissing cousins who keep the cheap beer industry going.

Teams I dig include . . .

Furman- Because I’m sure OJ doesn’t have them in his bracket. See what I did there?

Charleston- Alumni include Darius Rucker, Art Shell, Lauren Hutton and Stephen Colbert. Plus, they are home to the River Dogs. Sold!

Creighton- This happens to be the name of the love child I had with Vera Farmiga back in the eighties. Oh shit . . I said that out loud?

Colgate- Nine out of ten dentists surveyed have this school in their brackets.

Grand Canyon- I loved the movie with Kevin Kline and Danny Glover.

Miami- Duhhhh!

Kennesaw State- Mark Twain would’ve picked them. I’m sure of it.

As for my Final Four prediction, in the Thelonious Monk bracket . . .

I’m going with Georgetown even though they ain’t in the dance. Because I’m old enough to remember when they were a fixture in the tourney with the legendary John Thompson. The Hoyas will face off against Duke: the 1990-92 editions who were delightful villains and my favorite college teams ever. Obviously, they ain’t in the dance either so I’m putting them there.

In the Michael Jordan Is The Goat bracket . . .

The Pittsburgh Pythons might be a fictional professional basketball team from the 1979 flick The Fish that Saved Pittsburgh but so what? With the great Julius Erving in the role of Moses Guthrie, the team turns to astrology in a last ditch effort to save the moribund franchise. They change their name to Pisces and make a title run. Top that Jim Nantz! The Pythons will go against the Miami Hurricanes, because this is MY bracket and my dream scenario. I realize there isn’t much chance that a bunch of college kids are going to beat Julius Erving in his prime, but hey, that’s why they play the games, right?

As for crowning a champion, I tossed with calling it a tie since I love all four contestants but that would be entirely unrealistic. So Imma go with my Hurricanes to ring in April with their first ever hoops title. Their magical run proves such an inspiration that the Heat also make an improbable run to the title. After which the Dolphins make it a hometown trifecta by winning the Super Bowl, and the Marlins? Are in attendance!

Welp, I sincerely hope this will serve as an apology to any college basketball fans I may have offended. And as an added bonus, this post doubles as a drinking game: For every ridiculous prediction, shot! Please make sure to drink responsibly . .

. . .ish.






And The Award Goes To . . . Madness!

We are hot on the tail of the troublesome ides of March, when the moon and the stars and the spirit of Caesar’s ghost come out to challenge that pain in the ass groundhog to a winner take all title fight for the rites to spring. So I decided to marry the Academy Awards to March Madness, since I didn’t shimmy to their gimme this year.

In lieu of the some somethings of gold and hardwood, I settled a few meddlesome debates that had been taking up residence in my brain once and for all now. And no, I won’t be discussing the Lebron vs Jordan debate since that was never a debate to begin with. Jordan wins!

Let’s get down with it . . .

Academy Awards Host: Bob Hope vs Billy Crystal

Imma place these two Hollywood icons at top of the list because their names are synonymous with the event; Hope hosted the Oscars 19 times to Crystal’s 9. The next closest celebrity in terms of appearances is Johnny Carson with 5, so there’s that.

Hope and Crystal are Emcee Squared.

Honestly, this is sort of like pitting the Yankees against the Dodgers, because there ain’t a wrong answer. For yours truly however, there is a right answer and it’s Crystal. He made the thing his job, practicing months in advance for the big night, and it showed. And whereas Hope oftentimes shared the hosting duties with other luminaries, Crystal went solo every turn. And in an age where comedic dialogue was becoming infinitely more complicated, Crystal never once stepped on a mine. He was old school meeting present day and he always framed the evening perfectly.

Winner: Crystal

Best late seventies debate that wasn’t: Rock vs Disco

I loved them both, but the truth of the matter is there wasn’t much debate outside of the pockets of dead heads who were simply looking to pick a fight with disco lovers. I loved to point out how Bowie and Pink Floyd, among many others, incorporated plenty of disco into their rock classics.

Winner: Both

Best Super Bowl bet: Miami Dolphins vs Dallas Cowboys

I chose these two since they’re so adept at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Over the past quarter century, these franchises have gone from gold standards to snake-bitten also rans. And . . . stop me if you’ve heard this one: They’re chic picks to make the Super Bowl next season.

Before this week, Dallas was looking at 16-1 odds to make it to Vegas for Super Bowl 58 while Miami was at 35-1. But whereas the ‘Boys have to knock out the NFC Champion Eagles, the Dolphins will be facing a Bills team that very well may have peaked. Beyond that, Dallas has a much easier road to Vegas if they beat Balboa, and I don’t care. Because I think the Dolphins are going to clinch home field, and I think they’re going to go against the script this year and actually win it all.

Winner: Miami Dolphins

Best Pizza: Chicago Deep Dish vs a New York slice

There was a period of time when I actually switched allegiances to the deep dish after discovering Edwardo’s Natural. Their spinach pie is still one of my favorite foods, like . . ever. But if we’re talking pizza and not a casserole dish, it has to be New York. Add to that the fact that Edwardo’s was the only pizza joint I really frequented in Chicagoland. In New York, my pie chart had many branches to choose from.

Winner: A New York slice

Best James Bond: Sean Connery vs the field

It’s one hell of a field to be sure, with such marquee fashion plates as Roger Moore, David Niven and Pierce Brosnan. But I’m bringing a different perspective to this debate since I never cared for the franchise until Daniel Craig made the scene. All Craig did was turn Bond into Jack Bauer with a much more impressive wardrobe. Apologies to Connery fans but this one was easy for me.

Winner: The field (Craig)

Best Chicken Sammie: Popeyes vs Chick-fil-A

For transparency sake, I should let you know I boycotted Chick-fil-A for good after Dan Cathy publicly condemned same sex marriage before the 2012 national election. He can believe whatever he wants, but it was wrong to air that shit out, especially when your company serves everyone, gay people included.

That said, Chick-fil-A makes a hell of a sandwich and yes, I found the loophole to my boycott by partaking on someone else’s dime, which I have done three or four times since my self instituted boycott. And I would be plenty fine choosing them if I felt their sammie was the best, but here’s the thing. Their nuggets are way better than their sandwich. Popeyes wins this one rather easily because their selection is a better crunch and a way more delicious munch.

Winner: Popeyes

Best President Ever: Lincoln vs Trump

That is my way of saying I’ve run out of shit to debate with myself. My apologies to Honest Abe and common sense.

Winner: Stupid people everywhere

The Last Hours Of Annie Flynn

She kept an honest miracle in her pocket.

This was her understanding, her personal amends to a finely slimmed future of being. Her mind was a tomb of stolen ironies painted in the reverie of psalms, her thoughts residing in that sacred creche whose language resembled ethereal spells birthed by runaway stars. The fates swam through her bloodstream in long toothed vespers whose notes breathed fire and whose meaning willed the night into being.

Annie’s face got stolen in the days and weeks preceding. It was collapsed inside that endless night even as her words tried to disguise themselves in daylight. Everything she promised was a lie shepherded into being by the clouds that were slowly drowning her. The harm of invisible renderings would peek out from behind her ivory stare in miniature portraitures of crimson and fire, but the moments were scant evidence of the plan she had been hatching.

The truth is, she was gone from us before she ever left. Where once her eyes behaved like almond sunsets whose joyous dance allowed us to believe in foolish hope, they were now empty tenements that teetered in the dust of memories. The lyrical voice that had once summoned the most harmonious compositions our brains had ever known had been reduced to a ghastly coil.

Our last walk was in moonlight as the shore lay to our sides like flattened mountains teeming with green ink whose hocus swept our bodies clean of temper. A quiet wind caressed our skin with its warm breath full of shipwrecks and dragons unseen. We constructed small talk as our naked feet teased the sweat of cold foam before retreating to the damp and blunt granules that stretched time into nothingness.

I think I sensed that the world was moving in the wrong direction for the girl with the Tiger lily bangs made of topaz. It was in her bearing, closed off yet bereft of a mood that might have explained her reticence more punctually. Being in her company was akin to watching the first act of a play and being able to foretell its denouement. Hers was the unspeakable mission whose language was written in the silence of shadows.

We banished these thoughts from our consciousness as human frailty had taught us to do when it comes to such matters. Our defiance of the awful truth fed the impermeable clutches of darkness, abetting its ravenous tide until the only thing that survived the fire were the agonizing relics of all those evidential moments we had chosen to ignore. Our destinies no longer belonged to us.

By sunrise she was gone to the lonesome void. Her existence had been transformed into a mist whose Godly reach cried inside our stomachs like sour wine. She achieved her absolution in one small dose while we were left with the bad habit of growing old. And now the inscription on her mortal bones reads of a tortured poetry whose end has no beginning, and whose beginning has no end.

The haunting is ours to keep.

The Secret Reign Of Cats

“I believe cats to be spirits come to earth. A cat, I am sure, could walk on a cloud without coming through.” – Jules Verne

For a man who shook poetry from the trees and made profit with the value of extraordinary journeys, it’s obvious that old Jules grasped the divinity of felinity when he uttered those words. He understood that cats possess mystical abilities which transcend our mundane existence. The fact that they haven’t let us in on their slinky secrets by now is proof that when humankind is done crunching this cosmic taco, cats are going to own the the title on some primo real estate.

My history with cats didn’t get started until I was a young adult, in keeping with my scattershot family tradition of going pet-less for great stretches of time. I was fourteen when we adopted our first dog: Penny was a Vizsla who was delightfully unapologetic about her disdain for strangers. It was no wonder I took to this wondrous hybrid, seeing as how she possessed the soul of a cat who happened to play a mean game of frisbee for good measure.

The next family additions came when I was eighteen. Ralph and Norton were a couple of hooligans my mother and sister found. The former was scared of his own shadow and the latter, well, he was that shadow. These miscreants were a rebellion unto themselves with their abhorrent lack of manners when it came to dining, as well as their disdain for upturned noses. They were cats in name only . . . which counts for much. Lady Chestnut was a tortoiseshell beauty who went from rags to royalty, and she kept the boys in line.

I became a cat daddy by proxy when I was in my late twenties and married. I’d rented a refurbished barn to sell antiques out of and that’s when I met Sheba. Imagine Uma Thurman from Kill Bill in a jet black fur suit. She was a feral cat who had little use for life on the inside. I built her a little abode out back so she could keep me company when she felt like it. She was a huntress of biblical proportions and the first time she jumped up into my lap, I knew I’d achieved street cred in perpetuity.

Joe was next. He was yet another feral black cat who was a CIA agent in a past life. I got his name from the Jimi Hendrix song. Joe was a fascinating specimen in that he possessed the most extraordinarily placid demeanor until something fucked with his Zen, after which he went all Bruce Lee. His human inner circle consisted of me and my daughter. As with Sheba, we lost him to the streets.

Storm was our first inside cat. She was a gray and white longhair whose equanimous nature belied the struggles in her brain. As with Sheba and Joe, she was the product of an Amish ‘upbringing’, and that is a dubious trait to be toting between your tail. We brought Storm and Sweeps inside, but her brother- the coolest black cat in the history of ever- died during his orchidectomy. Storm suffered from a cognitive decline at a young age. She was our Crazy Queen, the lone heiress to the throne in what would become a bittersweet reign.

I hadn’t stopped to consider the royal lineage of cats I had lived under until the reign of Mister Jack Speaker. He became the coolest black cat in the second book of the history of ever. He was a polarizing figure, fiercely loyal to his round table of peeps and unforgivingly savage to everyone else. As a King, he was imposing and uncompromising. It was purr meeting fection, damn straight.

After Mister Speaker’s passing in 2020, I knew the next cat to hold the throne would have an extraordinarily large set of pawprints to fill. That’s why I adopted two.

Jack- named after his predecessor- is a marmalade tabby who happens to be one of the buffest cats I’ve ever known. If he was a professional athlete, he would be getting drug tested on the regular. He was a dog in another life because he greets me when I come home, sleeps at the foot of my bed every night and is always there to wish me a good morning.

Wednesday- a tortoiseshell with white patches that pop- possesses a Picasso-like half mustache that speaks to you in languages that haven’t even been borne yet. She observes all the etiquette of a proper young lady and as with Lady Chestnut, keeps her reckless brother in check. She’s a cat in the most magical sense of the word and so her gaze is the only currency she is ever going to need.

The Empire is strong.





Atomic Fireballs, Seinfeld Skits and Spring Baseball

My doctor told me to watch my drinking, so I'm off to find a bar with a mirror | Weekend Ecard

Life comes at you strangely.

I wonder what would happen if we could slow the world’s spin by half? Seeing as how humankind ain’t a lab experiment, rather than provide a definitive answer to our what’s what, the manipulation is likely to create even more questions. And we have enough of those as it is.

So Imma mine some minutiae before supplying a few thoughts regarding the splendor that is spring baseball.

Retro Atomic Fireballs" Poster for Sale by tangerinespeedo | Redbubble

I tend to engage in brief skirmishes with candy these days. I have a fifteen-year chip for breaking its evil spirit many moons ago during Lent. When I went back to the sweet stuff after forty days, it just didn’t cocoa my puff in the same way.

The candy in my crib is scant these days. I mostly partake when I’m at work and I tend to dabble in the shit that never turned me on back when candy- specifically chocolate . . dark chocolate . . anything that rhymed with chocolate- was my crush. I’ll consider licorice and I’ll even go for sour, which I once considered an affront to common sense. And this past week, I did me some hot.

Enter the Atomic Fireball. At 3500 Scoville units, it musters the same kick as your average jalapeno, with a cinnamon finish that keeps the brush fire in your mouth interesting enough. But there’s some peligroso to this round mound of resound. The dubious deed occurred to me when I popped the candy marble- which measures almost an inch in diameter. This immediately triggered my worst case scenario list.

Top 5 Dumbest Ways to Punch Your Cosmic Ticket? N’kay . .

1- Being shot with a nail gun
2- Getting flattened by an air conditioner window unit
3- Death by birthday candle fire
4- Drowning in a puddle
5- Choking on hard candy

What makes these ignoble exits truly frightening is that if you happen to buy one of them, the collective reaction will most definitely include laughter. That luck, as Twain would say, is an ill gotten shower I want zero part of. So I’m officially on a forty-days plus forever diet when it comes to the hard stuff.

Laughing Jester - Wikidata

That Seinfeld skit I mentioned in the marquee came to me as I was discussing my mother’s recovery with someone. Me and my son have this neurotic habit of applying Seinfeld to the most ordinary situations. The skit goes something like this . . .

Jerry and George run into an old friend who fell out of touch. He explains the reason for his absence had to do with a ‘health scare’, leaving the boys to speculate on the matter. They come to learn their friend’s relative was the one with the health issue, after which they call him on it. Because he was obviously hijacking someone else’s health and using it for his own personal gain.

British artist Andy Brown captures essence of baseball through paintings | The Japan Times

You can have your March Madness©, with its never ending supply of brand coaches and felonious freshmen looking to turn their hot collegiate minute into a baller bank account. For my swing at the spring, baseball is where it’s at. Because in spite of the Manfredian Empire’s occupation of the game’s most sovereign qualities, poetry still reigns over the sport when push comes to glove.

What begins with a flicker in the spring, transforms to a raging fire in summer before getting tucked into bed by Longfellow’s pen in the fall. And across this three act production that spans three of the four seasons, there exists the very same magic I felt the first time I laid eyes on a big league diamond. The new curriculum doesn’t change the math when a pitcher is painting corners with the brushstrokes of a master painter. That harmonious mystery of two pounds worth of maple turning cowhide into one of Dante’s circles remains intact. And when nine innings become the page turning matters of life and death, you’re thankful for the chance to read it’s three-dimensional ending.

Spring is where every team has a chance, maybe not to win it all, but to do something that will convince the universe that old Abner Doubleday deserves a raise.

I’m there for that.

No Apologies

Kurt Cobain cardigan sells at auction for $334,000 - BBC News

To paraphrase Herman Melville, it was a pretty great fucking trip.

I cut the ties with my Kurt Cobain sweater jacket this week. No, it’s not the weathered cardigan made famous by the Nirvana front man on MTV’s Unplugged back in the Clintonian Era (for you kids playing along at home, that means thirty-years ago). Nah, Cobain’s iconic threads fetched a cool $334,000 pennyroyals at an auction in 2019, whereas my humble getup was gifted to Goodwill.

That beloved sweater spent a solid quarter century in the starting rotation for yours truly. In the time from there to here, it lived several lives while always coming up jackpot for me, because I was on the value added side of presentable whenever I heaved that jacket into place. It could heist a dress down day and make it seem so much cooler than it actually was.

Versatility is easy riding for most guys (me) when the very idea of clothes shopping resides in Dante’s cul-de-sac. My sweater jacket always spoke up for me and it never clapped back at another part of my ensemble. It jibed with just about anything, the way a righteous pair of Ray Bans can make the scene in any season, like all weather tires, and they’ll be cool and dependable in the doing. Both. The thing happened into my wardrobe at a time when sweater jackets weren’t simply a phase for me, they were a state of being. And it outlasted all of them.

Alas, this mohair masterpiece didn’t deserve to be relegated to the sidelines. Which is where it ended up over the last couple years. In my closet, alongside a couple pair of jeans I’ll never fit into again unless I were to simply stop eating, a ski jacket that I won’t fit into again unless I never stop eating and a couple of suit jackets that I keep in the event that someone either dies or gets married.

I couldn’t let my Tonto go to tatters without giving it the chance to live some more of the A side, after having spent the last couple years of its life in hiding. In what should’ve been its golden years, I would mostly break it out when I was lazing around the house, but it had been a hot minute since I took it out anywhere past the front porch. So yeah, I’m glad it’s going to get the chance to get back out there, even if that’s going to have to happen somewhere else. Because all that matters is that they’re can be a somewhere else for it now.

Alls I know is that I’m glad I came under its spell when I did, because it ended up being the accidental rock star in my fashion lineup. And while I could never carry a tune or play a lick? It never made me feel as if that mattered in the least. With its earnest fit and its humble pledge, the thing was Zen to my senses in all the ways that matter most.

Stay gold, Ponyboy.



The Martini

Martini glass cocktail glass martini household kitchen glasses clip art - ClipartixWhen General Sherman burned Atlanta to the ground, it was all about making sure the enemy wouldn’t get high on his massive supply. His plan was peach in that it knocked the old railroad town on its ass while achieving a symbolic victory for the Union; but it didn’t cancel out a return engagement.

Atlanta came back.

Like most American cities, Atlanta collected plenty of bruises in its journey to modern times. The arduous road included a transient collection of facelifts and a personality shift whose sea change spoke to the mighty strengths and curious flaws of our most imperfect union. From Sherman to Margaret Mitchell, Martin Luther King to Ray Charles, Little Richard to James Brown, Hank Aaron to Jimmy Carter, Ted Turner and Tyler Perry. The town exemplifies the struggle and its sacred worth.

On my first trip to Atlanta on business, I pinched the remnants of late afternoons into tourist trappings the likes of which included the CNN center tour, Centennial Olympic Park, Underground Atlanta, World of Coca Cola, The Varsity and Sylvia’s Soul Food. On my final day in town I woke up with a head cold from Hades that canceled my libations playlist for the evening. I would catch up with the Martini a year later, or more to the truth, it would catch up with me.

At the turn of the millennium, I had engaged in a handful of dalliances with the Martini. Each gallivant had one common denominator; it was cheap on substance. Because the reality is that not every bartender is a scientist dedicated to the craft, and I had come across a collection of short order cooks up to that point. The only thing I knew full well was that my tastes ran counter to the traditional gin version made famous by Sinatra. Old Blue Eyes’ remedy was gin with a splash of vermouth, on the rocks with a twist of lemon. My method was vodka in a straight up spill with plenty of starch (Yes, extra dry), and olives for the win.

This particular crush wasn’t the standard, so I guess it was only right that my first serious dance with the Martini happened in Atlanta, seeing as how the 404 understands full well how to turn second place into a win. And so it was Morton’s Steakhouse on Peachtree Center Ave where I gained an audience with the stuff of legend.

The provocation was patiently sublime as my senses were ministered by the rhythmic flow of a mathematical equation whose gravity was borne in the thick of a cold and moody darkness. It was proverbs meeting original sin, with three olives tucked inside its harmony for safe keeping. Each sip was an exquisitely structured lesson on how atoms become snow storms.

I was halfway across the finish line when my clams arrived, after which I grubbed like a truck driver breakfasting at the end of a long haul. I finished my lap in the pool with a smoke before ordering the second round while waiting for my New York strip. And then I began dreaming up testimonials to the religious experience as my brain achieved hula. And it was inside this hazy shade of a winter’s night that I decided what I would say to Sinatra if I met him somewhere between Jupiter and Mars.

I would apologize for having been right.


The Rundown

How a Chinese 'spy balloon' prompted the U.S. to scour the skies : NPR

It’s been days since the last spy balloon sighting and the world is going cuckoo for cocoa puffs as a result. The cabal news industry is Jonesing for some more and those poor little weather balloons that keep getting shot down in a case of mistaken identity don’t rate, because we don’t care about science! We want to get scared witless over the prospects of China or Russia or ET bum rushing us into a dystopian future, because let’s face it; anything’s better than having to pay ten bucks for a dozen eggs.

Without more spy balloon sightings, Dick Cheney is gonna have to go back to shooting lawyers on his ranch. Not that there’s anything wrong with that . . .

Let’s get down to bi-ness . . .

Nikki Haley Calls Out CNN's Don Lemon Sexist Comments on Twitter - Bloomberg

Don Lemon is aptly named.

The CNN talkie made news recently when he claimed Nikki Haley- who is 51- wasn’t fit to run for President because “she isn’t in her prime, sorry,”. According to Lemon, a woman’s prime is kaput by her 40’s. When Poppy Harlow- who happens to be 40- challenged him on the ridiculous assertion, Lemon blamed it on his Google search. Because . . . journalism! And proving once again that no bad idea goes unpublished these days, Haley is now selling koozies on her website which read “Past my prime? Hold my beer.”. Because . . . politics!

  • My early Super Bowl 58 pick is Dolphins over Lions. And no, I wasn’t drinking when I wrote this. However, I might have been drinking when I thought this . . .

Home - Ozzy Osbourne Official Site

Yanno, lost in all the hoopla of the Brady retirement sequel was the fact that Ozzy Osbourne retired from touring on the very same day. The pickled piper just can’t do it any more, but the fact that he was still doing it at 74 is a crazy train of thought. Whereas Brady is a health nut who played in a league that treats quarterbacks the way steakhouses treat the mayor, Ozzy has been at the top of a lot of dead pools over the last five decades.

Now that’s the GOAT!

  • George Santos admitted he was a terrible liar on the Piers Morgan Show and finally! We can believe him!

Putin promotes Russian escalation in annual speech - BBC News

Vladimir Putin keeps showing up at closing time.

The Russian President announced he was suspending his nuclear arms treaty with the United States on the anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In a scathing speech before the Russian Federal Assembly, Vlad labeled the west and NATO as hypocrites whose agenda is global domination. Remember when the most frightening thing about this putz were those clips of him riding his horse shirtless? Okay, they’re still the most frightening thing about this putz. But this latest turn of events is shitty in its own right.

  • I made myself a three egg omelet with bacon and I kinda felt like Paris Hilton shopping for truffles at her boujiee market.

Tár (2022) - IMDb

If music and psychological dramas are your thing, then you best check out Tar, starring Cate Blanchett as a renowned conductor who finds her perfect life coming apart at the seams. It’s a story about the infinite possibilities borne out of genius and the shadowy corners we visit that can steal it all away. I know it’s early, but this very well might be the best film I see this year.

  • Aaron Rodgers went on a four day “darkness retreat” to get away from it all and he taped it. He craves attention the way I crave pizza.

Ohio train derailment vinyl chloride disaster is another painful reminder of PVC plastic's toxic lifecycle - Toxic-Free Future

Nothing is sacred.

The derailment of a Norfolk Southern freight train carrying hazardous materials on February 3rd is proving that sad fact all over again. Because every day since then has devolved into a mess of political grandstanding and corporate backpedaling.

Listen, President Biden didn’t have to go to Palestine, Ohio to make what would’ve been little more than a photo op while taking resources away from the myriad issues at hand. But he should’ve canceled his surprise visit to Ukraine maybe? The optics, as they say, ain’t doing him any favors. And what of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg taking more than a week to even address the disaster? Considering all the misinformation coming out of Ohio early on, he has to be ahead of that.

Of course, Florida guy showed up with his own brand of water and a shitload of McDonalds. So not only do area residents have to worry about the air they breathe and the water they drink . . now they have to deal with this toxic act as he tries to capitalize on the devastation. I bet you he didn’t mention all those regulatory rollbacks he orchestrated when he was in office. He let companies like Norfolk Southern skate on requirements for faster breaks on trains carrying highly flammable materials, and he ended regular rail safety audits of railroads. We already know whose side he’s on.

The people of Palestine, Ohio don’t deserve this. Neither do we.

The more things change, the more I believe Michael Jordan was the greatest basketball player that ever lived.

I don’t need to debate this. Not after witnessing his brilliance first hand. He turned Madison Square Garden into a Broadway play every time he visited. He transformed ninety-four feet worth of polished maple into a symphony that was equal parts Mozart and James Brown. And when he took matters into his own hands, it was judge meeting jury with the executioner standing by with a hot mic.

And yet, the greatest thing about this American icon is happening off the court these days. It’s happening in hospitals and homes across the country, thanks to exploits that far exceed anything the man ever accomplished on the hardwood. Because as far as philanthropists go, he’s in that conversation too.

Jordan recently donated $10 million to the Make-a-Wish Foundation, which sets a record for the organization. That’s how Jordan celebrated his 60th birthday; by giving something back to those who need it most of all. And this latest gift comes two years after he donated $10 million to Novant Health for the opening of two children’s hospitals; a network to which he has now donated $17 million. And he’s done plenty more than that, only we never get to see it because the networks won’t cover it and arenas don’t get filled when charity and kindness is the main event. But it turns out that Jordan’s best work is only getting better.

In a hundred years, maybe they will have forgotten about Michael and the Bulls at the Garden. Maybe those six world titles he brought to Chicago will have gone rearview to the accomplishments of future generations. And maybe there will have been another maestro who made those ninety-four feet feel like outer space. But if there’s a time capsule for Jordan and the only thing in it was that photograph up top?

That’ll work just fine.


I Ain’t Paying For That

From the blog that has produced such classic hits as The Vibe and Speaking Of, comes the latest look inside the sick mind of its content wizard. Apologies in advance, and please, if you find this piece to be objectionable or ill suited to anyone with common sense, feel free to register your complaints here.

This article of my constitution has to do with big league sports and why I refuse to pay in. I haven’t been to a Yankees game in years while my consumption of the other three sports has rendered me anorexic. To paraphrase Dickens, I don’t have anything against big league sports and I have everything against big league sports.


NFL commissioner Roger Goodell signs contract extension

Roger Goodell- He’s the NFL’s rain maker. By 2027, the league will be raking in approximately 25 billion pigskins annually; only two years late on Goodell’s projection all the way back in 2010. That’s some primo caviar cake if you’re an owner, but just another bill if you’re on the other side of the ticket window.

Europe has become a thing, with several games a year played on the other side of the pond. Which is great news if you live in Frankfurt or Great Britain, but not so great news if you’re a season ticket holder stateside and they’re stealing one of your Sundays.

The Commish once proclaimed PSL’s as “good investments. These personal seat licenses are annual fees you pay in order to own a seat. and can range from $500 to $100,000. For a seat. Your safety isn’t guaranteed and neither is the starting time if the league decides to flex your 1 o’clock game to prime time for the cash. If you live in a cold weather city, sucks to be you!

I ain’t paying for that.

Kyrie Irving Covers Nike Shoe Logo W/ 'I Am Free' Sticker After Split From Brand

Kyrie Irving- The dude ain’t evil, but he is a schmuck on wheels. The media culls for content and Kyrie is trough-ready, with clueless and sometimes hurtful commentary that shows how insular his privileged world truly is; he’s a poster man-child for the baller brats who wish to maximize their bank accounts sans the sweat.

Irving might’ve been an all-timer if he had put in as much work in the gym as he does out of it but the narrative of his career will speak to all the talent he left on his cutting room floor. He might play lights out for the rest of the season and lead the Mavericks on a deep playoff run. Or he might decide to take a vacation to clear his head. You never know with Kyrie.

I ain’t paying for that.

Behind That Bonkers Golden Knights Pregame Show: 'We Threw Everything On The Wall' : The Two-Way : NPR

The Coolest Game On Earth Lost Its Mind- The NHL is as close as I’ll come to extending an olive branch to watching a live performance. It’s the most exciting of the four major sports in real time and you mostly get what you pay for. But the very fact that a team such as the Las Vegas Golden Knights can live and breathe in their league really turns me off. If you’ve not seen their pre-game show, don’t. It would make Wayne Newton cringe.

I ain’t paying for that.

This used to be my playground- I’ll still take in a baseball game so long as it’s minor league or independent in nature. But the MLB will remain in my rearview until doubleheaders, day World Series games and bunting become a thing again. In other words, nah.

The game can still captivate me, but these days it’s in small doses. For every Ohtani. there’s a Tatis, whose boundless talents get snagged in a perpetual cycle of bad decisions. For every Steve Cohen who- love it or loathe it- will do anything to make the Mets a winner, you have Reds owner Phil Castellini, who has threatened to move the team out of the town they’ve called home for more than one hundred and fifty years. For every team like the Rays, who milk every last penny out of their roster in order to field a winner, you have the Marlins, who didn’t get that memo.

And now we’re getting change for our dollar’s worth. But all the artificial sweeteners the league has added to a sport that is damn near unrecognizable won’t cure their ills. We’ll get pitch clocks when making the batter stay in the box and the pitcher stay on the mound works better. And oh yeah, fewer commercials (Peter Ueberroth forbid!) would shave palenty off the average game.

If you’re waiting for baseball to return to its roots, take a seat because it’s going to be a while. For that to happen, the sport would have to buy into the fundamentals. They would have to choose substance over swagger. They would have to stop emulating the faster, meaner sports and get back to churching with Kinsella and Kahn and Angell. It would be an abrupt departure from the coordinates they are currently following. And they would have to admit their glory days are entirely in the rearview. Unless or until they get down with some common sense?

I ain’t paying for that.