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Tonight We’re Gonna Party Like It’s $19.99

I never quite understood what “if memory serves me right” meant, until now.

When I borrow the term, it means I’m applying a hedge to my guess. I’m slapping a plus/minus to a given year since my memory ain’t what it used to be. I guess it’s true that the more time you blow through, the more expensive it becomes.

October of 2014 was (probably) the last time I considered Halloween parties a good idea. Which makes me an insufferable bore, thereby ensuring my omission from future entanglements. That’s how win marries win without anybody getting hurt in the process. I’m nothing if not a simple Samurai.

Parties have become a perilous excursion for me as it is. Outside of family or close friends, I no longer attend get togethers that require an RSVP. And I’m less inclined to consider one that involves costumes, alcohol and strangers. Except that I am. Considering it. Only because the hostess is fun and not an ex and . . well did I mention she wasn’t an ex?

Of course, this means I have to dust off “Marco’s Party Rules”, to which I’ll employ my power five. . .

The 3 Person Rule- If you can wrangle up three people you would spend a couple hours with, no problemo. This list cannot include the host/hostess since they will be preoccupied. And it cannot include someone who does not drink or someone who drinks too much. And no Scientologists.

Don’t Get High On Your Own Supply- Don’t partake of the bottle you gift. You’re not a Scientologist!

Tunnel Vision- Make certain to focus on the familiar. Dwelling on strange faces will make the evening feel like a Dario Argento flick.

Lie, Humorously- A great way to break the ice is to introduce yourself with a lie. I’m talking devil-may-care shit like “Nah, I don’t know the hosts, I was passing through and saw all the commotion and decided to grab a quick bite!”.

Be Unapproachable- Fuck breaking the ice, it’s better not to engage in the first place. A helpful yardstick is for your personality to reside somewhere between a member of the Taliban and a Sandinista on holiday.

So I’m trying to build a posse for this party, and my recruitment began with Nicole. She’s a farmer’s wife whose hobby is harvesting pollen from honeybees. She clearly lives a dangerous life and I need that kind of firepower for this operation.

“Barry’s definitely going,” She assured me, as if she was selling me a baby blue Cadillac Eldorado, which he most certainly is not.

“He doesn’t drink, he loves Jesus and he’s got a new girlfriend, so . . nope,”

“Is Brandon going?”

“Too young,”

“Jane?”

“Too Catholic,”

“Did you ever think maybe you’re too particular?”

“All the time, but that’s beside the point. What I want to know is, are you going?”

“Halloween parties always feel like a good idea,” She began.

But . . .

“. . but it never works out that way . .”

She’s right of course. Halloween parties are like that summer blockbuster (all of them) that you can’t wait to see, after which you curse yourself for having been born in a country that encourages such atrocities.

So if my memory serves me right, I think I’m busy that weekend.

If I had the bread, this would be my circus

Roman colosseum 3d model

After having given this some thought . . (Nineteen seconds worth), I have decided that my fandom is more middle of the road than Josh Duhamel at the Academy Awards. I care, but not enough to invest any kind of serious time or money to the situation. Which would make me the perfect owner, according to me.

And if Imma represent, I’d choose the NFL, only because I want to see the inside of Jerry Jones’s secret bunker. Outside of family and college pals, the only peeps who have clearance to this end of the world jungle room are NFL owners, Tony Romo and interns.

My team would hail from Montana, because while I want to see the inside of JJ’s bunker, I ain’t planning on shacking up there in the event of a real emergency. Hell no, I’ll have my own bunker. In Montana. Several stories beneath my compound, which will be an exact replica of the Corleone’s old place.

Team name? That’s easy, the Sentiments. It’s got a rhythm and blues coolness to it, and hey, I take care of my guys. Being a big league athlete who plays in Big Sky Country for a team with a cool ass name like the Sentiments? They’re going to score more dishes than a busboy on Mother’s Day. And as a result, I’ll never have to buy liquor again.

I would call my joint “The Boneyard”, flouting any commercial leashes in favor of the esprit de corps that will provide the requisite connection between fan and player. Because I find the best stadiums and arenas have a dialect known only to the regulars, which is why home cooking is most advantageous.

Also, never utter the word ‘stadium’ around me. If you must reference the locale in which we do business, call it an arena. The term has been bought by winter sports but it will always be the province of gladiators; These palaces are the progeny of a once mighty Europe, where the games people played were far from neat affairs. We ain’t that, but we’re looking to greenlight the production to make it appear as if war is being waged, hell is being unleashed and all that other macho bullshit. Hey, it’s theater in cleats, yanno?

That said, I’m not going to be in the business of hiring actors. So if a player has a social media account of any kind, he best keep it civil and smart. Putting dumb shit out there will result in a one game suspension. Conversely, putting good shit out there will result in fun little bonuses, just because. So . . . keep it coo.

As for the pie I’m slicing? While it’s easy to shake our collective heads at the exorbitant wages granted to those who play the game, well . . it’s a little late to be writing country songs about it. As an owner I must abide by the updated manual or wither on the vine. However . . .players who want a restructured contract a year after signing a new deal will be asked to find trade partners and/or a new agent. I don’t have time for divas or dummies on my roster. Want a little more of the what’s what? K . . .

  • Odell Beckham Jr., who has made a lot of coin off a single one-handed catch . . will never play for my team.
  • Urban Meyer, who is the biggest phony in an industry full of them . . will never coach for my team.
  • There will be no “free concerts” before our home games, even if our TV daddies insist upon it. We’re in the business of football, not music.
  • Safe and affordable parking. Fans shouldn’t be afraid of getting beat up or going broke when they come to our place.
  • Alcohol sales cut off at half-time. Because this ain’t a frat party and “fans” don’t get to escape their miserable lives by wrecking my house.
  • Any “fans” caught throwing shit on the field will be arrested and their name will be posted on our website.
  • So basically . . you best be an actual fan or you will be sorry you came to my place.
  • We have a home uniform and an away uniform . . we don’t have a million different alternate jerseys meant to soak our fanbase out of more of their hard earned dough.
  • When we ain’t playing games, we will rent out the joint to other events . . as per. But we will also loan the place out to schools and charitable organizations, free of charge. If a team is part of the community, it only stands to reason they do community things.
  • Concessions will feature small businesses on a rotating basis. Give the fans local flavor, give local business owners a chance to grow.

My team will be more entertaining than Kung Fu disco, mightier than a Chuck Norris handshake and cooler than Paul Newman. And when Roger Goodell decides to pay a visit, he can buy a ticket like everyone else.

I think Jerry Jones would dig that just fine.

The Annoyances Post (Volume . . Mucho)

You Want Me To Turn Where? On The Annoyances–And Dangers–Of Bad Street Signs – WAMU

Back in the day, I used to pen my annoyances on an almost monthly basis. The hope was that in expelling these inner turmoil ridden snake bites from my system, perhaps I would lighten up. Needless to say, Vietnam was a romantic comedy in comparison. I would love to blame this epic failure of a stratagem on my therapist but we broke up during the second Obama administration, long before I started writing these fuckers up.

Hey, it seemed like a good idea at the time. These posts . . not the relationship.

Anyways, with the goal of self-improvement no longer serving as a hindrance, Imma dish up another edition of “Shit that annoyed me this week!”. If you find yourself playing along at home . . well, I’d seek help immejiately.

Aaron Rodgers- He spent the summer singing songs of woe is me, making State Farm commercials and wondering if his career was in . . wait for it . . Jeopardy. Okay, so his bosses are disingenuous schmucks who made it clear he is replaceable. Wow, like . . that never happened to anyone before.

Vladimir Putin- More insufferable than Chevy Chase, colder than Chrissy Teigen (too soon?) and smugger than a gossip scribe’s twitter page. All that and he rides horseback without a shirt. Who does that? This fucking guy, that’s who.

Jersey Mike’s Subs- No one, and I mean no one in the history of ever has exclaimed “Mmmm, New Jersey makes the best bread!”. It’s not a thing!

Pumpkin Spice- Their attempts to colonize every single food- from Cheerios to Chobani yogurt to Peeps and pancakes and pretzels is bad enough. But their attack on Milano cookies is an act of war.

Cracking my phone screen- Two decades, many phones . . and so 2021 became the year when I went broken china on my screen, and what’s worse? Tupac ain’t around to rhyme it back to life. Jesus, Mary and Martin Cooper . . . why???

Pants with drawstrings- The physics of this seemingly harmless invention is destined for tragedy, and still I return to the scene of this fashion crime. Shame on me.

People who say “What’s on your plate today?”- In a world where most phrases have the shelf life of a mayfly, why won’t this one just die?

Applebee’s commercials- To borrow from Tessio in The Godfather. . for old time’s sake.

The Miami Dolphins- If this sad excuse for a football team that should really be sold for parts were a person . . it would write a screenplay that feels very much like Capra in the magical first act . . and then turns into a Family Guy episode. After which, it punches you in the face . . and then steals your car and your house and your girl and your cats and your dog . . and then takes your identity, leaving you penniless, forcing you to rob a bank which leads to your arrest and conviction and the next thing you know, your cellmate is a three-hundred and fifty pound guy named Stumpy who’s serving two life terms and thinks you have a perty mouth. And then Miami comes to visit you every Sunday . . and he brings you a Jersey Mike’s sub.

 

 

 

To The Heavens, They Obliged

The History of the Twin Towers Design and Architecture - Bloomberg

“Good Lord . . . there are no words . . .” CNN Anchor Aaron Brown as the north tower of the World Trade Center collapsed.

Something hit the World Trade,” My wife told me as I was shaving.

Of the myriad thoughts that scrabbled through my brain, I never approached the reality of what had just happened. As I listened to the news coverage, describing the event as a small plane crashing into the North tower, I knew this wasn’t true. I’d been to the twin towers and gotten lost inside the mighty shadow it cast on my every step. They were double imaged testimony of man’s ability to dream big and build even bigger; One hundred and ten stories tall and almost three-quarters the length of a football field wide. A twin-engine Cessna would’ve resembled a pock mark on the side of this massive structure.

“It wasn’t a small plane . . no way,” I said.

9/11 documents detail bravery and fear - Deseret News

It was a few minutes before nine a.m., minutes that separated us from a sinister new normal and the worst kind of evidence that our world had gone sick with madness. I listened as the news reports kept getting it all wrong, and I prayed for the uneasy feeling that wouldn’t quit my bones to leave me be.

I stepped outside to take a call from my sister and lit up a smoke as we talked about what we didn’t know as if it meant something. The sky was a pristine ocean of blue that held forever in its mighty reach, as if Andrew Wyeth had paid God a ransom for the privilege. And then those precious minutes stopped separating us from the truth and then the second plane hit the south tower and then that peaceful blue sky went black and then a quiet Tuesday morning on the cusp of autumn became the meanest winter.

Ohio State studying effects of WTC dust on 9/11 first responders

It wasn’t long before Washington was hit, after which every major city across the country braced for the next attack. And then reports of a plane going down three hours west of us, and then the waiting as time got stuck in this insidious clench of hopelessness. By Tuesday night, I feared sleep as the threat of more attacks continued to prevail. And when I woke early on Wednesday, it was as if midnight had visited us and decided to stay.

I walked my kids to school at the end of the week. I felt an intense need to propagate simple moments out of the unseen world, and I was struck with an even deeper sense of humility. I visited the principal to offer my apologies. I had engaged in a heated argument with him on that Tuesday morning when I insisted on picking up my kids from school because I wanted them with me. I remember the exhaustion on the faces of every adult I came across. We couldn’t turn back time, we couldn’t undo all the horrible crimes that had been perpetrated on us. The calculus on a new millennium had morphed into a frightening new reality, where every person, place and thing could be the end of days.

NYC first responders, non-profit rush to save 9/11 tribute - New York Daily News

The weekend was full of shutting out the world around us the best we could, but it was no use. There were calls from my sisters who had just gotten home from Maine and calls to my cousin, who had been in the north tower, and calls to friends who still wanted to talk about the one thing we were trying to get away from but never would.

I went to church that Sunday. It was something I rarely did by that point, but it felt like the right place to be since I was desperate to gain a peace of mind that wasn’t happening in the days since the attacks. The house worked for me in the way I assume it’s intended to work because I prayed as if I had a direct line to Mother Mary’s ear. I prayed for the heroes who were lost and I prayed for the heroes who kept digging for signs of anything at all. I wished for that deep blue ocean of a sky to return those precious minutes back to them . . . the minutes that came before a raging storm stole their forever away. I wished for a different somewhere, a place where that brilliant sky might get to finish its work for their weary souls.

Wherever they were.

The Death of Swagger

Mets players let their booing fans 'know how it feels' with strange thumbs down celebration - CBSSports.com

There was a time when people showed their lack of hip by spewing antiquated proclamations meant to denounce the impetuous qualities of progress. Old timers castigated the kids of my generation for not schlepping through five feet of snow for miles just to get to school. We didn’t dare complain during a heatwave, because to do so meant we had to endure stories about a time when houses were nothing more than giant microwave ovens. Our parents took every opportunity to tell us how lucky we were to have playtime, since their lives consisted of chores, working odd jobs and avoiding polio.

Us kids didn’t get it, probably because we were too cool for old school. As Generation Xers, we got high on Tang, we got educated by Schoolhouse Rock and we got religion via 8-track players that ushered in an audacious expansion of music delivery systems. We were iconoclasts, leading a rebellion against an establishment yearning for a return to the days of Ike and Holy Hours and the Jitterbug.

We dreamed of third-parties, we gloried in the solidarity of the pet rock and we became soul proprietors of the Hustle. Not only did we make nerds relevant, we made them giants of industry. And it was during this glorious time that spanned the Beatles to Bon Jovi, where swagger was redefined. From the protagonist hegemony of John Wayne to the proletarian movement of Charles Bronson to Clint Eastwood, who obtained the patent.

Swagger wasn’t something you stuck a hashtag on. Simply put, if you had swagger it meant you walked your talk. You got shit done. You didn’t brag about having swagger, because to do so meant you most certainly didn’t have any. And so here I am, wondering what the hell the current generation has done to a venerated principle? Shit. these days all you need is some provocatively placed body art and an Instagram page to rate.

Which brings me to the present day New York Mets. As things stand, they are the baseball equivalent of the pet rock; a 200 million dollar paperweight with no definable purpose. They head into today’s action with a record of 63-67, 7.5 games out of first place and 7 games out of the wild card.

In all fairness, they have dealt with the injury bug in 2021. In more fairness, so have the San Francisco Giants and Chicago White Sox; and that hasn’t prevented them from staying atop their respective divisions. Injuries and bad luck happen to every club . . every season. Nobody gets a mulligan just because the baseball gods decided to piss on their chances. You either overcome or you get to stepping on your Christmas shopping.

Now, the Mets are a team I have a soft spot for thanks to my grandfather, who loved his whiskey and his baseball with the very same passion. I predicted the Mets would win their division this season because they had a roster I happened to dig on. They’ve got some swagger to them, sure, but up till a couple weeks ago it wasn’t getting in the way of the results on the field.

In early July, Pete Alonzo was defending his Home Run Derby crown, the team was talking up moves to bolster their playoff lineup and they were in first place, hell bent on stealing back the town from the Yankees. Today? They’re buried under two also ran football teams on the sports page depth chart.

In no uncertain terms, they have shit the bed, going 8-19 in August as they fight for their playoff lives. And hey . . whatever, that’s why the baseball season is an unforgiving crucible. I have zero problem with a club that falls short of expectations, seeing as how it happens to more than half the league.

What I have a problem with is when swagger meets stupid, and it happened this weekend when several players mutinied against booing fans by introducing a “thumbs down celebration” during their 9-4 win against the Nationals. Javy Baez is the ringleader of this clueless rebellion. While supremely talented, he also can’t be bothered to run out ground balls or hit the other way and God forbid his manager ever asked him to bunt. Baez is a feast or famine player who glories in home runs and shrugs off his many strikeouts. The Mets weren’t ignorant to his tone-deaf game when they acquired him from the Cubs at the trade deadline. Maybe they hoped for better, but thus far, Javy has lived down to his one trick pony act. Meanwhile, shortstop Francisco Lindor, who inked a $341 million dollar contract in the spring, probably has Steve Cohen wishing he had bought the Tampa Bay Rays instead.

I realize it’s a thankless game and so I didn’t have an issue with the less than stellar results, until they broke out their inane celebration on Sunday. After which Baez talked about how the booing makes him feel bad, while in the very same breath saying it doesn’t really get to him. Hence, an orchestrated attempt by Baez, Lindor and Kevin Pillar to exact revenge on a fan base that is paying stupid money for even stupider results. But wait, there’s more! (Or less, depending on how you look at it). Hours after Baez and Lindor explained how the thumbs down gesture was their way of booing the fans, Pillar sent out a tweet telling fans not to read anything into it.

You cannot make this shit up.

The good news for Mets fans is that there is a month of baseball left to be played. That also happens to be the bad news. And no, booing the club ain’t making things any better, but it’s not making things worse either, no matter what a few players might think. Because last time I looked, the Hall of Fame is filled with players who heard their fair share of boos and somehow prevailed.

I wish the Mets well but I’m dubious, seeing as how some of their best players are more intent on choreographing rebuttals to all that booing than actually working on the fundamentals. This Shakespearean tragedy of a baseball team is a sad reminder that swagger has become the domain of posers. Hell, in my day we would never have booed these guys.

We would have stayed home instead.

 

I Think, Therefore I’m Medicated

Fidel Castro | Biography, Cause of Death, Brother, & Facts | Britannica

I was reading an article about all the bat-shit crazy conspiracy theories that have loosed themselves upon social media since the winter of last year. Yes it’s true, not even a global pandemic with casualty rates in the millions can keep the crazies from their appointed rounds.

Of course, I’m one to talk. Some of the thoughts that float through my head would have Elwood P. Dowd going Bra, you need to check your shit! And since I’m all about transparency, lemme ‘splain.

There was a period of time in which I would have wagered a year’s worth of pizza money that Fidel Castro died in 2008. This is because I had the strangest dream regarding the (now officially dead) Cuban dictator; it was a dream whose residual effects went all Chernobyl on my brain.

For the sake of shits and giggles, here’s some context . . .

I was visiting Chicago in 2008, which is where the living and the dead merge as a matter of political survival. Add to this, it was a national election year and promises of an ideological sea change were gripping the nation, and I just so happened to be in the epicenter of its wake, with Obama sweeping in and out of town as if he was the starting center for the Bulls. Oh yeah, I was also self medicating with an 80 proof IV drip. Copiously.

As far as that dream about Castro? Welp, in the dream I received an anonymous call informing me that Castro had died in New York City while attending the Letterman show. I was told to keep the news to myself since the US was planning an invasion of the island led by . . get this, Neil Young. Regrettably (or is that thankfully?) I don’t remember anything else.

My problema began when I fused this dream state with reality. I truly came to believe that Fidel Castro was dead. I went so far as to share this belief with other people, and believe me, I paid for it.

Turns out, my republic is fairly bananas, seeing as how this momentary lapse of reason ain’t so momentary when it comes to the thoughts that ride the local through my brain. A few por ejemplos? Como no . . .

  • I never order milk when I go out. The reason being, the idea of spittle making its way into my glass of milk is painfully repulsive to my senses. Somehow, ice cream is spared the same restriction since I deem it to be more robust, and thus, able to withstand stray spittle.
  • When the driver in front of me is going really slow, I wait till the last minute before putting on my turn signal in order to throw them off. Yanno, in the event they are trying to slow me down in perpetuity?
  • Every time I choose a horror movie on Prime, I swear it’s going to be a cult classic and not a high school art film. I am always wrong.
  • When I go near the edge of a building, I have the overwhelming urge to jump. Which is why I don’t go near the edge of a building.
  • Why do I feel like I’ll go to hell if I ever eat a Pepperidge Farm cake? It’s the icing . . it’s gotta be the icing.
  • Applebee’s is always finding new ways to annoy the hell out of me. So much so that I almost wish they could be charged with crimes against humanity.
  • Never keep a butcher knife in the dish rack overnight. It gives an intruder an unfair advantage.

I could go on (and on) but I fear this post would turn into a Castro-esque rendition of attrition by subtraction that would put the space-time continuum to sleep. While it may be physically impossible to do so, I’m sure anyone who witnessed Castro’s four hour and twenty-nine minute speech at the UN in 1960 truly believed time was standing still.

Now that is crazy.

Heroes Of The Week!

Manny Machado, Fernando Tatis Jr. opened dugout to protect fans | Yardbarker

In this week’s “Four Letter Beasts and Where to Find Them”, I mentioned the heroic exploits of the San Diego Padres. And here’s why. Because when all manner of really bad shit was going down outside Nationals Park in Washington D.C., which resulted in three people being shot, the visiting team was making certain that every fan inside the stadium would make it home.

One minute, the details of a baseball game were all that mattered and the next, people were running for their lives. So Padres stars Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis led them into the visitors dugout, where they would find shelter from an attack.

“The situation changed immediately,” Tatis told reporters. “There’s no longer players, fans. Everybody’s just people, just human beings out there.”

Padres manager Jayce Tingler says he couldn’t be any more proud of his guys, and with good reason. Because while it’s really easy to whittle these athletes down until they achieve the dimension of a baseball card, humanity still counts most of all. And in the darkest of moments, they weren’t playing a baseball game thousands of miles from home.

They were home.

As with many great ideas, when Finnish and Norwegian artists Riitta Ikonen and Karoline Hjorth collaborated on a conceptual photography project, they had no blessed clue as to the path it would lead them on. Titled “Eyes as Big as Plates”, it was to be an intepretation of traditional Nordic folklore.

What had begun as a way of fleshing out regional mythology soon turned into something much bolder and far reaching than that. To quote the American philosopher Yogi Berra, when they hit the fork in the road, they took it.

The project is going on ten years now, and it has taken the artists from the United States to Japan, and all points in between. They work with seniors- farmers, artists, plumbers, academics, opera singers, housewives and zoologists-, “dressing” them as sculptural elements of nature. They work with the elderly in order to show us how our cultures have pushed them aside, to our detriment.

It is an immersive exploration that merges fantasy with reality, creating magical translations in the landscapes. The intent is to highlight how vital our living histories are to future generations, and that we shouldn’t dismiss the lessons we can learn. And the fact that they transform the earth into a rendering whose celebration is knee-high to a grasshopper’s moon walk? That’s just bonus round.

Giannis Antetokounmpo wins NBA Finals MVP, dubbed 'new king of the NBA' | Fox News

All this talk about heart and home ain’t gonna be complete until I give a shout out to the Milwaukee Bucks and the other worldly Giannis Antetokounmpo. Their Game 6 win on Tuesday night over the Phoenix Suns clinched the city’s first NBA title in fifty years. It also vindicated a decision Giannis made last year when he re-signed with the team that drafted him. In an age where superstars go ring chasing from one zip code to the next, Giannis declared his loyalty to the team that believed in him from the get, and it paid off in the dream scenario. And so while this Miami Heat fan will always wonder what the big guy would’ve looked like on South Beach, I gotta admit, this story is better. Good for him.

Cyclist donates kidney to complete stranger

Have you heard the one about two guys walking into a bar? Complete strangers, these two, the one guy confides that he’s on dialysis ten hours a night after he went into kidney failure. And get this, the guy he confides in? Offers him a kidney.

Thing is, this isn’t a joke . . it actually happened when Mark Scotch, 64, paid a visit to Natchitoches, Louisiana. That’s where he crossed paths with Hugh Smith, 56, and learned of Smith’s plight. And yes, Scotch let this total stranger know he was all in. But that wasn’t that because after the two men were tested, it turned out they were only a thirty percent match.

Tell you what, happy endings ain’t easy. But as these two would prove, they’re worth chasing, and so the question became, how did Scotch plan on seeing this good deed through? Well, by paying it forward, of course. And so he decided he would donate his kidney to a stranger . . another stranger. Through something called the “Voucher Donor” program, this moved Hugh to the top of the transplant waiting list. And this past February, he got his new kidney. To celebrate, Mark just completed a 1,500 mile bike ride from his home in Madison, Wisconsin to Louisiana in what he dubbed “The Organ Trail”. And at the end of that ride, those same two guys met up in that same bar.

And get this, they’re the best of friends now.

WATCH NOW: Getting brighter - Blood drive held in honor of Columbus girl  battling leukemia | Local | columbustelegram.com

I struggled with this last story, mightily. Because it’s incredibly heart wrenching to read about a six-year old girl who is in the fight of her life, and then you find yourself scrolling through images and you’re crying without even knowing it. But of course you are, because it doesn’t make a damn bit of sense. And so you keep reading, because you have to connect with those smiles . . you have to understand the hope they carry with them, and why.

Violet Jackson is six-years old and she has the kind of smile that could talk the sun into working overtime. Just last month she was diagnosed with B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. She has been undergoing treatments at Omaha’s Children’s Hospital, where she receives blood and platelets to feed her body since the chemotherapy stunts her blood cell production.

Her sister needed blood and platelet donations to survive. It inspired this  teen to launch a blood drive - CBS News

“I was thankful the blood was available for Violet when she needed it,” said Violet’s mother, Wendy. “And I wanted to pay that gift forward, so I scheduled my blood donation.”

This inspired Violet’s sister Eden to organize a blood drive, and the timing couldn’t have been more vital, seeing as how blood banks across the country have been running on empty since the pandemic. It wasn’t long before big sister had reached goal .  and then kept right on going.

WATCH NOW: Getting brighter - Blood drive held in honor of Columbus girl  battling leukemia | Local | columbustelegram.com

When you come to the end of the story, you pray there is a new beginning and that all those smiles will have been prelude to a dinner table in the distant future; all those same faces, having written chapters of a book that just keeps getting better with time. Their smiles the only evidence of the fight they once shared. Their lives a passage from the long ago pen of Dylan Thomas, come to life once more.

They caught and sang the sun in flight. 

Heroes Of The Week!

Non-Muslims Love Burkinis, But Why? | The Muslim Skeptic

It’s almost the weekend, and with temps soaring across the country, we’re going to take it nice and easy this week. I was going to title this episode as the “Big Chill Edition” but I was afraid it would be mistaken for an ’80’s Movie Trivia post. Which, believe it or not, is not my wheelhouse. Nice and easy? Is.

Let’s get to our lineup . . . .

We storm out of the gates this Friday morning with a story dialed up by the lovely Dale. It’s about a Buddhist daughter and the mother who taught her the most important lesson of all; the one that teaches us how the act of giving replenishes the soul.

It happened when these two decided to sell Joanna Lavelle’s mobility scooter since the ninety-year old mom is homebound these days. And so it was that she got into a conversation with an elderly gentleman who just so happened to be in the market for, you guessed it . . a mobility scooter.

Lavelle just so happens to be a lousy saleswoman, because when she had a chance to close the deal, she let him off the hook . . by giving it to him. Free of charge. Because sometimes the oldest lessons really are the best ones. And this was one . . with everything.

MLB All-Star Game Uniforms Not Drawing All-Star Reviews – NBC Chicago

In honor of the 91st MLB All-Star Game, Imma dish up a traditional double-header of a Yea and a Not So Much. I’ll begin with the latter, which came in the form of those putrid All-Star uniforms that resembled something out of a beer league softball game. Players and fans were in agreement that the uniforms were a bad idea. The sport’s mid-summer classic has long been revered for allowing its players to wear their own uniforms, which creates a beautiful mosaic of unique threads. So of course the MLB, once again, had to play like the other leagues rather than embrace what makes it different from all the rest. How lame.

Live coverage of Shohei Ohtani at the MLB all-star game - Los Angeles Times

Thank the baseball Gods for Shohei Ohtani, who made history by becoming the first All-Star to be tabbed as both a starting pitcher and a position player in the same game. While he went hitless as the American League’s leadoff hitter, he did get the win by tossing a perfect first inning. And big props to AL skipper Kevin Cash (I can’t believe I’m giving props to the Rays here) for understanding the moment and giving Shohei the starting nod.

Amy Polly, Gloria Settelmayer and Amanda Greenberg grew up in the same small town of Goshen Township, Ohio. As the years went by, their relationship grew. In 2017, Polly volunteered to be a surrogate for Settelmayer after Settelmayer had trouble carrying a viable pregnancy. Recently, Greenberg volunteered to do just the same.

Cincy “Beach Walks” Angle makes it back to Friday with a story about family and friends, and how Gloria Settelmayer of Goshen Township, Ohio has merged the two in a very special way. Four years ago, her sister-in-law Peggy made the decision to be her surrogate when it had become painfully clear that Gloria would not be able to have another child. It was a selfless act that is being repeated, this time with her friend Amanda Greenberg. While Gloria and her husband were discussing what to do with their frozen embryos, Amanda made the decision easy.

“You know I’ll carry a baby for you, right?” Greenberg said.

Just like that. Because when people think beyond the constraints of their own little universe, whole new worlds are born. Just ask Gloria Settelmayer. She knows.

We put a bow on this puppy with a love story about a man and his dog. (With yet another HT to Dale for the get).

Brayden Morton from British, Columbia would do anything for his Shar-Pei named Darla, and he proved it recently when she was taken from their home. The frantic dog papa was on social media within minutes, sharing the details of this dognapping, which was shared more than 30,000 times. He also posted a $5,000 reward.

And then he received a call that changed everything. The woman was crying and panicked and it didn’t take long for Brayden to realize she had taken Darla. He reassured her that all he wanted was the safe return of his dog, and so they met up in a parking lot where Brayden was re-united with Darla. She confessed that she had stolen her with a friend in order to collect the reward money to buy drugs.

Morton is a recovering addict who has been clean and sober since May of 2015, so rather than anger, he brought understanding. He offered to pay for her rehab treatment. And while that outcome is still being worked out, there’s even more to this story.

When he met with a tipster who had given him information on another suspect, he learned that the man was homeless. So Brayden paid for a week’s stay at a hotel and when he posted about it on social media, the homeless man was gifted another week’s stay at that hotel, and a job to boot.

You wouldn’t blame Morton for being bitter, but it doesn’t matter because he’s not. He chose hugs over hate, and in a world where it seems as if we have an overabundance of the latter, how can you not love that?

“I would say honestly, more than anything… it was exactly what I needed in my life at that point in time. Those people helped me immensely. [They] really warmed my heart and humbled me,” Morton said. “I’m just as grateful for those two relationships that I made in this whole ordeal and I’m happy that I was able to meet [them].”

When you slow the world down, the lessons are everywhere.

Heroes Of The Week!

(The above capture is Harry Kane and his England mates celebrating their 2-1 win in extra time against Denmark. With the victory, England reaches its first major final since 1966. It will face Italy on Sunday in Euro 2020 at Wembley Stadium.)

I figured since I’ve been on summer hiatus, I’d summon up a special sum-sum for this mid-summer morning’s thrill ride through Hero-Land USA upon my return. No zeros . . which means I can’t talk about that dope whose sign wrecked all those cyclists at the Tour De France or those warring ESPN’ers or Trump’s latest lawsuit. And yet somehow . . I’ll think we’ll survive.

Welp, let’s get back to our regularly scheduled programming . . . .

Canadiens lose Stanley Cup Final, playing from behind among reasons

We begin with a hat tip to a classic lover letter that played out on ice this summer in Ville-Marie, more commonly known as Montreal. The Habs awakened the echoes of Richard and Beliveau, LaFleur, Plante and Dryden by making it all the way to the Stanley Cup finals. In a season where they were supposed to be happy just to be there, the Canadiens of Price, Caufield and Suzuki did much better than that. And while they fell short of the dream scenario, they reminded us as to why we root so passionately. Because it’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you love the game.

Anonymous kindness: Customer leaves $16,000 tip for restaurant employees :: WRAL.com

If ever there was a year that made us eager to turn the page, it was 2020. It was the year that kept on taking, stealing our lives, our occupations . . stealing our everyday. Bars and restaurants across the country can attest to this fact all too well. More than 100,000 of these establishments were forced to close as a result of the pandemic while others are barely holding on. Now multiply that with all the workers whose lives have been turned upside down and you’ll see why this feel good moment made my roster.

It happened at the Stumble Inn in Londonderry, New Hampshire when an anonymous customer left a generous tip on his $38 bill. How generous you ask? Try $16,000 worth of the stuff. Which is going to be split between eight servers now, allowing for bills to be paid and summer vacations to be had.

That’s how you turn the page.

One of the (few) things I learned in my short time as a Boy Scout, was that textbook knowledge doesn’t prepare you for real world scenarios. Acing a test is all well and good, but it’s a controlled environment that presents little challenge to your true mettle. So it is that 15-year-old Dominic Viet and 16-year-old Joseph Diener of Columbia, Missouri can honestly say they’ve passed not only the written test, but the driving test too. Or in this case, the swimming test.

They were passing by a basketball court that had basically been transformed into a water polo swimming pool when they heard the screams of a young woman who was drowning in the flood waters. So, they jumped in. Never mind all the wrong answers that flood waters provide- such as the threat of sunken power lines, sewage runoff and the sheer force of mother nature wreaking havoc. In spite of all that, they were able to pull the woman to solid ground. After which Dom sent a text to his mother that read “Coming home soon, just saved a woman’s life,”.

I think that’s called extra credit.

Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter: Love story of the longest married presidential couple

Politics and love don’t usually end up in a story together. Unless you’re Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter, who just celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary. The pair have known each other since they were old enough to walk and talk. And they fell in love inside the last days of WW2, when he was 20 and she was 17. Jimmy was home from the Naval Academy and Rosalynn had just completed her first year of college. And while the former President cannot remember the movie they saw, he remembers the only thing that the truly mattered was the girl sitting next to him. In his 1995 memoir, he wrote this.

“I’d pay to sit behind her, blind to

what was on the screen, and watch the image flicker

upon her hair.”

What more can I add? Other than Happy Anniversary, you crazy kids.

Shohei Ohtani pitching and hitting plans for 2021

Okay, how do you know when a player just might be working his way into the pantheon of the all-time greats? Well, when you can say something like “Not even Babe Ruth did that . . “. It’s where the California Angels Mr. Everything, Shohei Ohtani, finds himself these days after being named to the All-Star Game, as a pitcher and a hitter. On the mound, he’s 4-1 with a 3.49 ERA while also hitting .279 with . . are you ready? 32 home runs. He’s staring 10 plus wins and 50 long balls right in the kisser.

Hey Babe, there’s a new Sultan in town and he works on the left coast.

Crews work in the rubble Champlain Towers South condo, Tuesday, June 29, 2021, in Surfside, Fla. Many people were still unaccounted for after Thursday's fatal collapse. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

By now you’ve all seen the sobering images of that collapsed condominium tower in Surfside, Florida. The heart wrenching stories that have followed in the two weeks since this tragic event offer a haunting reminder of just how fragile this thing called life really is.

It is damn near impossible to believe in a higher power at a time like this. And then you start reading about how a community of first responders and volunteers are finding those places in the heart where forever spreads its lonesome wings. These are people who come from every walk of life: From first responders who have shown up at the site every day to volunteers who have taken to renting food trucks to feed them, to sports teams doing whatever it takes to make a difference, to neighbors who have opened their doors to those in need.

Robert Martinez talks with a law enforcement officer after handing him a hot meal from his food truck in Surfside, Fla., Tuesday, June 29, 2021. A small army of volunteers mobilized to deliver bottled water and energy drinks, chicken tenders and pizzas to law enforcement and emergency crews working long shifts after the deadly collapse of a condominium tower in the city, near Miami. (AP Photo/Russ Bynum)

The end result of all this time and energy might seem a hopeless cause, excepting to those people who find themselves there day after day. They remain fixed in the spot where nothing good will come in the way of news, because that is no longer the point of this expedition. Now, they seek something much more significant than any idea they ever might have mustered before the end came in the middle of the night, taking countless souls with it.

Death toll in Surfside building collapse rises to 64 after searc - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

This place they keep to, it’s sacred ground now. The labor is of love and its advent is a dedicated will, consumed with breathing life into that which possesses none at all. They forge ahead with rolled up sleeves and a belief that life is not defined by the beginning or the end, but by the middle we pen into being.

Their efforts are testimony to a religion that is not contained inside a leather bound book or houses with steeples or solemn hymns. Their actions are living proof that deities exist in the real time of every single day. And they spell the love and the purpose we devote to the most important things.

The Surfside community gathers for a memorial as search efforts turn from rescue to recovery

Where so much has been lost, these people provide what they have so that families can have closure. Their work is the indefatigable light of the human soul that refuses to go gently into that dark night. And when it looks as if God just isn’t going to show up, they provide us with the truest of necessary truths.

He’s already there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yesterday Once More

Canadiens-Golden Knights Game 6 score, live updates: Artturi Lehkonen's OT goal sends Montreal to Stanley Cup Final - The Athletic

There’s a line from the movie Miracle in which the legendary Olympic hockey coach Herb Brooks lets his young troops know what’s really at stake inside the sixty minute crucible of the biggest hockey game of their lives against the Russians. He tells them the name on the front of the jersey is a hell of a lot more important than the one on the back.

The Tampa Bay Lightning may not be confused with the Soviets powerhouse of a hockey team, but the Bolts are pretty damn good in their own right. And it’s going to take everything this young Canadiens team has to raise that Cup. And unlike that American hockey club at Lake Placid, these Habs have to do it four times in a couple weeks. So where you might be helped by a lucky bounce or a bad game by a superior line in a single game elimination, those chances dwindle when you’re talking about a seven game series.

These Canadiens are good with that. They came into this Stanley Cup playoff season with 500-1 odds to make the finals. Of the four Canadian squads with a dance card, they were given little to no chance of being the first team north of the border to get this far since Vancouver did it in 2011. And when they fell behind to the favored Toronto Maple Leafs three games to one in the first round, you wouldn’t have blamed their fans for toasting to last rites. And then the Canadiens pulled an Ali and got up off the canvas and punched their way through the Leafs, the Jets and the Golden Knights. And now you’ve got a group of kids with a whole bunch of tomorrows in their back pocket, intent on making today the beginning of a brand new chapter in their proud history. It’s been twenty-eight years since the Canadiens were last in the finals, and yet their twenty-four titles are still far and away the most of any team in the sport. Where some might find such a task daunting, this group seems to feed off of it.

These Habs bring a solid mix of veterans and kids to the party. From Brendan Gallagher to Cole Caufield, Tyler Toffoli to Nick Suzuki. And then you have Carey Price in goal, who happens to be in the middle of a playoff run for the ages. He’s been around long enough to know what to expect, and it’s a fine hockey blessing that he gets to sit at the high stakes table now. You want to see guys like Carey Price doing their thing on the sport’s biggest stage, getting his chance at immortality. And now Carey Price has the one thing, the only thing, a competitor really wants. He has his chance. And so does a Canadiens squad that doesn’t know what it doesn’t know, playing for history.

The Canadiens have made June a magical place to be, awakening the echoes of a once mighty empire as they topple the modern day giants of the sport. And now there’s one heavyweight champion left in front of them, looking to defend their belt, after having dispatched the Islanders in a seven-game nail biter.

Tomorrow in Tampa is where past meets present, and all that’s at stake is every single thing these guys play for. It’s when the names on the back of the jerseys get known and it’s where the name on the front of the jersey counts most of all. For this Habs squad, it’s a halcyon dose of recognition for what they have achieved thus far. And they’re well aware tomorrow isn’t promised.

It’s earned.

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