Aug 312012

Short and sweet this morning as I stayed up late last night—it was my annual fantasy football league draft (“Draftmas,” as it’s referred to in fantasy football circles). It’s a magical time, one of my favorite nights of the year as I get together with my eight of my good friend and Senior Smoke, immerse ourselves in football and eat a lot of food.

And even though we’ve been doing this more than a dozen years, I still am learning things, such as these

Five Things I Learned at My Fantasy Football League Draft

1. We’re all going blind. Okay, I’ve been fortunate to have 20/20 vision my entire life, but now that I’m 107, it’s been getting tough for me to make out small type in low-light situations. Apparently, I’m not the only one as both my buddy Bob and Senior Smoke both had reading glasses last night. Even sadder, when I tried their glasses on, I pretty much realized that I might benefit from having a pair of my own. Ugh.

2. We’re getting old. Yes, we’re all going blind, getting thicker around the middle and grayer on top, but just listening to some of the banter and jokes around the table, I realize that a lot of it is based in 1970s & ’80s pop culture, which according to those damned pesky, clearly lying calendars I keep around, were somehow more than two decades ago. I felt bad for the whippersnapper in the league, Easy E, who was born when most of us were in high school, I think—he had to have no idea what the hell all these old fat guys were laughing about most of the night: “Why in the name of Bieber H. Christ do they keep singing ‘It’s the final countdown,’ every time someone says, ‘you’re up’?”

3. Still, boys will still be boys. I don’t care how old we all are, there were still plenty of gross comments, bad jokes, foul language and farts—and we liked it!

4. My buddy Pisci—our gracious host of the evening (thanks again!)—is a terrific cook. All right, I already know this, but it’s always great to be reminded. In case we weren’t manly enough with all the football, random grunting and raunchy humor, Pisci grilled bacon cheeseburgers and whipped up some of his awesome chili, which is so damned good that Channel 8 actually had to have him in to the studio to make it. To paraphrase “Talk Soup:” Sooooo meaty!

5. The New York Jets may be the worst offensive team in the NFL this year. As you no doubt know by now, I’m about as big a Jets fan as there is out there, and even I couldn’t convince myself to take any Jets offensive player. I even purposely left them off my draft lists just so I wouldn’t be accidentally tempted to take any of them. I mean, I hope I’m wrong, but after they went through the entire preseason—four games—and scored only 1 touchdown (which came last night with their backups against the Eagles’ backups), let’s just say I’m not expecting to see a lot of Tebowing on the field this year.

I did, however, take the Jets defense as my fantasy team defense because I think that unit will be among the best in the NFL. Not that it will matter.

As always, after the draft was over, I hated the team I assembled, but that’s how it goes—there’s always the team you want to draft, the team you do actually draft and then the team you wished you had drafted. I only hope the team I actually drafted provides me as much entertainment as hanging out with my buddies, although I don’t it’s possible.


Aug 292012

Here’s one you really can’t make up, a person who will no doubt also win a Darwin Award in addition to being named JERK OF THE WEEK!

This week’s “winner” is:


I don’t have a picture of the late Mr. Tenley, so this will have to do.

What is this, you ask? It’s a ghillie suit, a 3-D camouflage outfit sometimes used by military snipers. Apparently, the 44-year-old Tenley was wearing one at the time of his unfortunate demise. And no, he wasn’t mistakenly shot by a hunter—he was run over by two cars out in Big Sky country.

I’ll let the NBC news affiliate in lovely Kalispell, Montana, tell the story.

Troopers say [Tenley] was in the right-hand lane of Highway 93 South when a 15-year old Somers girl hit him.

“He probably would not have been very easy to see at all,” said Montana Highway Patrol Trooper Jim Schneider.

Another car swerved, and a third car, troopers say driven by a 17-year old Somers girl, ran him over.

“It appears the pedestrian was well into the driving lane,” said Schneider. Officials closed Highway 93 for two hours on Sunday night, as firefighters directed traffic and officers investigated. What they found is troubling.

“According to his companions, he was out there in the ghillie suit attempting to incite a sighting of Bigfoot, to make people think they had seen a Sasquatch.

But, dispatchers received no calls of the sort, just the one that sent emergency crews rushing to the scene. Sunday night’s investigation is ongoing. Troopers say Tenley likely drank alcohol yesterday, but they’re still waiting on toxicology results to see if he was impaired.

Poor Sasquatch—why do we continue to besmirch your noble name? Somewhere, Bobo weeps …

Seriously, although your first impulse is to laugh about how this possibly drunken idiot got himself killed—and really, you probably should—the tragedy here and why Tenley is the jerk of the week is because not one, but two teenaged girls are most likely absolutely traumatized for life by accidentally killing another human being with their motor vehicles. Yeah, it was a joke gone awry and certainly neither one’s fault, but I’m pretty sure they’ll never forget that nightmarish, sickening feeling of hearing a body slam against your car as the life is knocked out of it. Just an awful experience.

It can’t really compare, but I ran over a woodchuck on the Taconic Parkway about 15 years ago and I can still vividly recall the sick thuds as it bounced between the pavement and the car floor as I passed over it. Ugh.

And yes, posthumously calling Tenley a “jerk” is absolutely a case of “speaking ill of the dead,” which is ideal as my Speaking Ill of the Dead: Jerks in Connecticut History comes out in on Sept. 18. Rather than wait for a Bigfoot to show up with it, you may just want to pre-order it now at

Aug 262012

Okay, this little fictional jaunt was inspired by a dream that I had recently …

Looking back, it wasn’t exactly the best decision I’ve ever made.

But if we had to do “another Saturday night” aimlessly killing brain cells with whatever was on tap at Fat Man’s, I’m pretty sure my head would’ve exploded on the spot.

So when Billy said that a few girls from Ellenville he knew had invited him and a couple of his friends to a prison party, we were all in before any of us thought to ask what the fuck a prison party was.

Turns out it was pretty much what it sounded like: a party at a prison.

Well okay, not exactly a prison—an old, abandoned juvenile detention facility on the outskirts of Grahamville, which is already out in the middle of nowhere. Sure, now it doesn’t sound like such a good idea, but at the time, we were (a few months) younger and stupider and desperate to do something different. Although engaging in the recreational use of alcohol, pot and sundry illicit pharmaceuticals wasn’t really all that different than anything we’d been doing for the past few years, it was at least a new way of going about it, or so it sounded. What could possibly go wrong?


Anyway, Toby volunteered to be the designated driver, which no one contested. When 11 p.m. Saturday night rolled around, the rest of us—Billy, Katie (Toby’s “girlfriend,” although neither will ever formally acknowledge that they’re been exclusive for the past four years), Katie’s bff Kelly (“Every party needs a Kelly,” as she likes to say), my bff Fred and I—all piled into Toby’s beat-up Suburban and headed out to Grahamville.

Even though I’d have to (begrudgingly) describe them both as “attractive,” and neither makes me want to stab my eyes out when I’m alone with them, I’ve never really been all that big a fan of Katie or Kelly. Fred has been crushing on Kelly for years, but his reluctance to make a move had backed him into “just a friend” purgatory, and he hasn’t been able to escape it (yet). With them along, the good news was that we weren’t a total sausage party rolling into the place.

Or what we thought was the place. Toby had the GPS and Billy appeared to have gotten the directions right for once, but when we pulled up to the gates of the former Sullivan County Juvenile Detention Facility, it certainly didn’t look like it was a happening party spot. In fact, it pretty much looked like the overgrown, broken-down, vandalized and undoubtedly tetanus-infested blight that it would turn out to be.

Continue reading »

Aug 242012

So this past week, we loaded up the family truckster and headed out on the holiday road—

Unlike the Griswold clan, however, we weren’t headed across country to Wally World (nor did anyone die and get strapped to the roof), but instead we went a bit south on I-95 to a different sort of vacation playground, one that we had previously never visited.

That’s right, we went to the lovely Jersey Shore!

No, not that part of the shore—no tan, laundry, gym—we actually went to Spring Lake, which is an upscale, well-to-do respectable family place. And we had a great time!

Actually, it provided

Five Things I Learned During My Summer Vacation

1. All the televised stupidity aside, there’s a reason why people go to the Jersey shore. Nice beaches with real waves, long, well-maintained boardwalks ideal for strolling, lots of entertainment options, plenty of waterfront access and all very easy to get to. Even with multiple bathroom stops (someone’s wife likes to drink a big cup of coffee before every long car ride—don’t ask me why), it’s less than a two-hour ride from Shelton to Spring Lake (just south of Asbury Park), which is about an hour-and-a-half less than a trip to Cape Cod. The beaches are just as nice and the ocean is the same, and with more places open to the public and a bigger coastline, there’s just more to enjoy.

Speaking of Asbury Park, my grandparents took me there once when I was a kid, and I was happy to see the same kind of cheesy arcades with skee balls and other games of chance are still available along the shore (we went to Point Pleasant boardwalk, just a few minutes south of Spring Lake). We even got authentic frozen custard, which I remember my grandparents raving about but, to be honest, wasn’t all that impressive this time. Still, it’s always fun to indulge in a bit of nostalgia.

2. Spring Lake, New Jersey, is a lot like Connecticut’s gold coast . . . in that it’s full of really huge houses and very wealthy people who want nothing to do with anyone. Seriously, it was midweek before anyone said “hi” to us on the street. It was also a bit of a ghost town—one of our friends who lives a few towns over says most of the large, well-manicured houses in Spring Lake are only weekend retreats for the rich. It also has pretentious rules that sound like they could be straight out of Greenwich: “No parking on streets at night!”

Our inn was on the edge of gorgeous tree-filled park in the middle of town, with a scenic pond, paved walkways and a kid-friendly playground. If it was in the middle of Shelton, you probably couldn’t get near the place on any given evening but when we went for walks at night, we were practically the only ones enjoying the park. Weird.

3. Even if it seems like another world, it’s still New Jersey. That means lots of Jets fans (good by me!) but also times where you can see—as I did—impatient drivers lean on their horn and out of their car window to shout, “WHAT THE FRACK ARE YOU FRACKIN’ DOIN’, YOU FRACKIN’ IDIOT?!”

There’s also lots of goons looking to hook up, as my wife can attest to. I won’t embarrass her with the whole story; let’s just say that anything ever happens to me, she won’t want for baked goods if she moves to Jersey.

4. The sun is still hot. We had perfect beach weather this week—low 80s and almost no humidity—which lulled me into a false sense of security. Usually, I lather on about a gallon of sunblock before venturing out just to cut the lawn, but for reasons I still don’t understand, I didn’t fully apply lotion to my stomach and freshly waxed back. My shoulders and nose didn’t burn, but those other spots—a nice bright summertime lobster red. Well, I guess that just gives something else for Dr. Noonan, my dermatologist, to slice off somewhere down the line. Yay for that.

5. Even with all the sand, I still love the beach. As I’ve previously detailed, I enjoyed large portions of my youthful summers at the shore in Connecticut, but Long Island Sound just can’t compare to a true ocean beach. With more powerful waves and smoother white sand, I had an absolute blast just playing in the surf with my sons, watching them learn the fine art of bodysurfing and generally just goofing about in the water.

It’s amazing how the smell of the ocean and the taste of salt water on my lips can evoke such simple happiness, but it does. There truly is no vacation like a summer beach vacation.


Aug 222012

This week’s JERK OF THE WEEK is a no-brainer—

Todd Akin

Like, in that it takes no brain to say something as idiotic about pregnancies from rape as, “It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

Yeah …. not much more to say about that. I mean, if it’s “legitimate” rape—as opposed to that pesky “illegitimate” kind—then somehow a woman’s body will figure it out and not get pregnant. That’s Health 101 stuff right there, that is …


Unless you live under a rock, you’ve probably already know that the six-time Republican congressman from Missouri has now become the new poster child for “Open Mouth, Swallow Leg.” But what really cinched this week’s “Jerk of the Week” for Mr. Legitimate Rape Face—running for U.S. Senate in Missouri, lucky them—are comments like this from Akin’s Twitter feed:

“We can’t be intimidated by the liberal elite. I will continue to standing for life. Will you?”

“Donations are pouring in. Thank you for standing up against the liberal elite.”

And my personal favorite—

“I apologized but the liberal media is trying to make me drop out.”

Really? Didn’t realize that Mitt Romney is part of the liberal elite, but hey, I guess a Republican like Akin would know better than us. You know, unless he had no brain.

In case you’ve misplaced your brain, let me remind you that Speaking Ill of the Dead: Jerks in Connecticut History comes out on Sept. 18. If you’re worried about forgetting, then pre-order it now at

Aug 192012

So as we count down to the launch of Speaking Ill of the Dead: Jerks in Connecticut History—why yes, it’s still available for preorder via Amazon, thanks for asking—I’ll be continuing to ramp up the jerk promo machine. In addition to “Jerk of the Week,” I’ll have a few other CT jerk goodies.

In that vein, I couldn’t include every bit of research and every jerk story in the book, so there’s some bonus material, so to speak. And no one who I wrote about provided more great material than William Stuart, who it turns out, is *by far* my favorite jerk. If you decide that you only want to read one chapter, then I implore you to make it Chapter 15, “William Stuart: The (Allegedly) Most Celebrated Jerk in Connecticut History.”

My primary source for Staurt’s story is his autobiography, modestly titled Sketches of the Life of William Stuart: The First and Most Celebrated Counterfeiter of Connecticut, As Given by Himself. I read the entire thing from cover to cover, and it’s just wonderful as he’s an amazing storyteller. I don’t know if everything he wrote is true—and I’m sure there’s more than a healthy amount of embellishment—but even if a tenth of his stories are true, that’s enough. A true “rogue,” as he constantly refers to himself.

I was able to find a photocopied version of the original book, which was published in 1854—apparently there was a project where someone took old texts, photocopied the pages and bound them together. It’s okay for reading, but I needed an image of Stuart, and there’s one on the cover page. In the photocopy version I have, it’s blurred beyond use, but I found out that the Connecticut State Library had an original version in its archives; I arranged to take some pictures of it—

Ol’ Bill was a handsome devil, no?

For the record: I’ve never had an urge to steal anything in my life … until I had this book in my hands. I truly wanted to run out of the library with it, I love this story so much.

Anyway, as it’s now in the public domain you could probably find some versions of it around, but I thought I’d share a little excerpt from it to give you an idea of what a rascal Stuart was. This passage comes right after he was jailed for being caught trying to swallow one of his counterfeit bills and sent off to the jail in Danbury.

I was kept here through the winter, and all of the succeeding summer, until September. Of a truth I was active in something, and proved to be a great annoyance to Mat. Curtiss, the jailer. I would hoot in the night season, rouse him from sleep by hideous noises, and disturb him in any way I could. I contrived to cheat him in diverse ways, and he often told me that he wished I was out of sight and hearing. The rats annoyed him beyond measure, and they would gnaw all night, making as much noise as a dozen buzz saws. Curtiss told me that for every rat that I would catch, he would give me a gill of rum.

Through the plank floor of the prison the rats had gnawed a hole, and every night they would come out and work about the room. I set an Indian trap by the rat-hole and tied the bait upon on long stick in the middle of the room, and the first evening the rat came out, went to the bait and sprung my trap so as to shut the rat hole. Next morning I called to Curtiss that a rat was caught, and he brought me the gill of rum, requested me to kill it, and throw it out of the grates’ window. I had a box stove in the room, in which I put the rat, fed him well, and next morning, let him in the room and cried out to the jailer that I had caught another rat. He told me to kill it and cast it out of the window, and then brought the gill of grog. I put him into the stove for the next morning, and then reported another rat, and received my gill of rum. So I managed with the rat for a whole month, had my grog regularly every morning until one night I left the hole open and the rat escaped.

I tried in vain to trap another, but this old fellow had given his rat brethren the hint, and not another entered my cell. I had become attached to the roguish creature, and he was good company and enabled me to cheat the jailer out of my grog, although I had money enough to buy with. Men in confinement are always pleased with any living animal; their presence seems to while away the tedious hours. Perhaps I valued my rat friend more because the whole race of them get their living by roguery and cunning. At any rate, he was a favorite, and I would not have lost him for money.

I contrived further to busy myself  by constructing an Indian bow, and made an arrow to fit it, with a hooked barb in the end. When Mrs. Curtiss washed the clothing of the family, she suspended them on the line in the rear of the jail. I fasted a cord to the arrow and shot it into the clothes, then drew them in through the grates. In two hours I brought everything from the line, and put them under my bunk.

In the morning there was a great outcry that the clothes were stolen, and Curtiss raved and spoke harshly. While he was in the yard swearing, I asked him, “What will you give me to tell you where they are?”

Said he, “I will treat you.”

“No, no,” I replied, “Give me a gallon of rum and I will tell you.”

“I will give you a pint,” said Curtiss.

“Give me the gallon and I will tell you, nothing less.”

With much reluctance he brought it in, and poured it in a tin pail, saying, “How do you know who stole them?”

“Ah,” said I, “I keep guard about your house while you sleep, for the rogues would have carried you off long ago, and given you your desserts, had it not been for me.”

“Now,” said the jailer, “tell me where the clothes are, or pay me for the rum.” I lifted up my bed, and there they lay. Curtiss said, “Oh, you devil you, who handed them in to you?” I showed him my bow and arrow, and the string attached to it, and gave him a specimen of my Indian skill. Said he, “You are the greatest curse that ever lived.”

But not, I replied, “the greatest fool in Danbury.”

Curtiss said, “Stuart, I will chain you!”

“That’s right,” said I, “I hate to be neglected!”

“Blast you,” you said, “I will not let you go on in your way.”

“That’s right, that’s right,” said I. “You are a good, kind man, and ought to be in Congress instead of staying here in this old rotten, stinking jail.”

He took up the bundle of clothes and went out with a loud laugh saying, “I never heard of such a provoking devil as you.”

Or such a wonderful jerk.


Aug 152012

Gotta say right up front, I find the story of this jerk pretty damned amusing.

This week’s JERK OF THE WEEK is

Csanad Szegedi

Who in the blue hell is that? you’re no doubt asking yourself (you know, if you talked to yourself like you were The Rock).  Well, that makes sense. Unless you’re a member of the Hungary’s Jobbik political party—or deeply anti-semitic—chances are that you’re not familiar with Mr. Szegedi.

Here’s a description of him from The New York Times:

As a rising star in Hungary’s far-right Jobbik Party, Csanad Szegedi was notorious for his incendiary comments on Jews: He accused them of “buying up” the country, railed about the “Jewishness” of the political elite and claimed Jews were desecrating national symbols.

Szegedi is also “a founding member of the Hungarian Guard, a group whose black uniforms and striped flags recalled the Arrow Cross, a pro-Nazi party which briefly governed Hungary at the end of World War II and killed thousands of Jews.”

Charming fellow, right?

The real key here to all this is the word “was.” In a turn of events that seems as if it was orchestrated by M. Night Shayamalan or came straight out of an Alanis Morissette song, it has come to light that Szegedi himself is actually Jewish.

Again, from the Times.

Following weeks of Internet rumors, Szegedi acknowledged in June that his grandparents on his mother’s side were Jews — making him one too under Jewish law, even though he doesn’t practice the faith. His grandmother was an Auschwitz survivor and his grandfather a veteran of forced labor camps.

Apparently, Szegedi’s grandparents hid their heritage from their family to protect them from persecution from narrow-minded hateful bigots such as their own grandson. Awkward!

Of course, I immediately thought of Clayton Bigsby from “Chappelle’s Show” (Warning: Absolutely NSFW language).

When Szegedi was confronted with the evidence—and after he got his jaw off the floor and the shpilkes out of his genechtagazoink—he immediately tried to hush it up, offering cash and political favors to make his bitter truth go away. No such luck.

After being publicly exposed, Szegedi then tried to claim that he’s never made any disparaging comments about Jews, despite an abundance of evidence—TV interviews and his own speeches, for examples—to the contrary.

The good news is that because of everything, Szegadi has been forced to give up his political party power, and is currently being called on to resign his seat in the European Parliament. Of course, I don’t quite understand why he would be asked to step down now—it seems as though the anti-semitic agenda would’ve been frowned upon from the start, rather than after this startling revelation—but the fact that somehow karma and/or irony has come back to kick him in his jerk ass, is all good by me.

So to Csanad Szegedi, I say congrats on being named JERK OF THE WEEK!

Oh, and mazel tov!

And coincidentally, Speaking Ill of the Dead: Jerks in Connecticut History hits bookstores on Rosh HaShanah, Sept. 18. Or if you want to be a mensch, feel free to pre-order it from Amazon.

Aug 142012

(Shhh … it’s misspelled on purpose—you’ll see later.)

So this past weekend was family time—we got together with my wife’s siblings, their spouses and children at a campground up in Massachusetts.

As much as I love hanging out with my brothers- and sisters-in-law (and my four nephews—can’t anyone in this family pop out a chick?), when I saw the hot, humid and stormy weather forecast, I wasn’t exactly looking forward to the weekend. If there’s any activity that is made remarkably “not fun,” by rain, it’s camping.

We got a reprieve Friday night when, after seeing stormy weather in the forecast, we decided to stay at my sister-in-law’s house rather than go directly to the campground (only about an hour away). My sister- and brother-in-law decided to stay at the campground because they have one of the pop-up campers that also has a stove, a fridge, a shower, a toilet, running water and air conditioning. (Apparently, it’s called “glamping,” although with the humidity, my wife said it was more like “damping.”) We just have a tent and sleeping bags—old school, baby! Still, not ideal when facing potential downpours, so we chose a more comfort-friendly option, a.k.a. “wussed out.”

Anyway, we got to the campground on Saturday, and it was a little different than I expected. [*hikes up pants, goes out on front lawn, shakes fists at clouds*] When I was a kid and my parents took us camping, most people used tents and there was usually a good deal of woods involved; you might even see a woodland creature or two. This “campground” was more like, as one of my sister-in-law’s described it, a “shanty town.” The sites were not clearly marked and on top of each other, and in almost every single one, there was some sort of oversized RV—with TVs, full stoves, running water, etc. As for woodsy creatures, there were a few mosquitoes, and that’s about it. It was closer to trailer park than state park.

Still, there were certainly a lot of things to like. The bathrooms, rather than the festering spider-infested holes of my youth, were sparkling affairs that I’m pretty sure were cleaned three times a day. There was a video arcade, a mini golf course, a pool with a splashpad and even WiFi. I guess maybe it’s fairer to classify it as more of a resort than a true campground.

Ultimately, it didn’t matter all that much—we were there to be with our family, and there was plenty of that despite the humid and occasionally rainy conditions. We eventually pitched our tents and got to the business of “camping,” which is pretty much loitering in the woods as I see it. The kids played and went swimming, the adults hung out and ate, and everyone was pretty well entertained.

Of course, I was put in charge of making fire, which even though it was 85 degrees and humid, was something WE ABSOLUTELY NEEDED TO HAVE … uh, you know, for the kids … uh … so that they could make s’mores. Yeah, that’s the ticket. Not because I need to burn stuff. No.

For the record, I did restrain myself—it was pretty hot, and we truly didn’t *need* a conflagration (although I could’ve whipped one up in about 37 seconds, if anyone had asked!), so I focused on making a quality fire. It turned out well—for me, the best part of any trip is sitting around the fire after dark, watching the glowing embers, talking and just enjoying each other’s company. A campfire (when properly contained) is still a communal experience.

So despite my misgivings—and an humid night in a tent (ugh!) followed by a Sunday morning of torrential downpours as we were trying to pack up—I wound up having a good (if damp) time overall, which I now appreciate after sleeping in my own bed, which didn’t slosh when I rolled over.

I have to say that one of my favorite parts was on Saturday, watching my younger son fish. He’s been asking to go for a while—I’ve never been much a fisherman, so I’ve never really taken him, and certainly at no point in the last few years. I think my father-in-law has taken him maybe once, and once he was at a camp where they did it one afternoon.

As a kid, my dad took me a handful of times, and once I got older, there were three or four occasions that I went with Senior Smoke, who is a three-time Connecticut bass-fishing champion. Most times, I was occupied untangling lines and staring at bobbers and lures that no fish would touch.

So as my son has asked, I’ve always sort of thrown the “Oh yeah, some day” response at him. But since my brother-in-law is an excellent fisherman (who knows what he’s doing and can actually bait hooks and the like), this was the perfect opportunity, and we took advantage.

Being the supportive dad that I am, as we ambled over to the lake, I set the bar low. “Now, I don’t know how many fish are going to be around, but at least you’re getting a chance to finally fish,” I say. He simply nods because, as it turns out, he’s a freaking fishing natural!

I always say that I believe that everyone has one special talent that they may or may not ever know about. For example, I may be the greatest bobsledder of all time, but I’ve never been on a bobsled, so who knows? To me, the lucky ones in life are those who somehow discover that special skill and get to enjoy it. Evidently, for my son, it’s angling.

It was remarkable—as I said, I’ve never really shown him how to, but he just knew how to do it—on his first cast, he reeled in a fish! “Okay, begginer’s luck,” I thought. Except he kept reeling in fish after fish after fish!

I don’t know how, but he was just flicking out casts and *really* into it. At one point, he threw his line about three feet from the shore and almost into some bushes. “What happened there?” I laughed. “Miss cast?”

“I saw some movement,” he said quietly, and then bang! A second later was reeling in another! He was like the fish whisperer or Fish Fishburne or Orlando Wilson. (Okay, here’s the scary part—I didn’t need to google either of those guys, I already know who they are. Why would I know that?! How?! I’ve never fished more than six times in my life! Why would I—or anyone—know that off the top of their heads? But yet I can’t help out with the cure for cancer?! Help me … please.) He kept just tossing his line to the spots that he thought fish might be, and he kept catching them. It was uncanny, really.

I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised—fishing matches up well with his skill set as he’s patient and enjoys activities that involve figuring out strategies.

Anyway, in about an hour, he reeled in about a dozen fish, and would’ve landed more if I hadn’t wasted so much time in unhooking them because I don’t like touching them. (*See aforementioned wussy admission*) It was crazy. His cousins were also catching fish—maybe the pond was stocked?—but just the way he went about it was what really made such an impression on me. For a kid who has struggled with his confidence, it was awesome to see him so calmly competent at something.

As we finished, he smiled big and said, “Wow, they were really biting today.”

And despite how comfortable I would’ve been if we hadn’t gone “damping” this weekend, we were there to make memories like this.

Of course, the one good image is of the smallest fish he caught. Really. I’m not just telling fish tails!


Aug 102012

I was perusing Twitter yesterday, when I saw this trending #truefactsaboutme.

As you may have noticed, I have no problem talking about me, so here are

Five True Facts About Me

1. I’m right-handed but I throw a Frisbee left-handed. I don’t how this came about—maybe I thought it’d feel like someone else if I did it that way.

2. I was born with a birth defect. Pyloric stenosis, actually, which is a thickening of the pylorus or the valve that allows food to go from the stomach to the small intestines. It manifests itself in the first few weeks of life—lots of vomiting is usually is the first sign—and can cause all sorts of issues, including severe dehydration. Once diagnosed, it’s easily corrected with a simple surgery; even though it now is done with minimal invasion, back in the day when I got it, they had to make a good-sized hole in my abdomen. If you ever were to see me with my shirt off (you’re more likely to get hit by lightning while riding on a unicorn with Bigfoot and Amelia Earhart during the Derek Jeter Appreciation Day parade in downtown Boston), you’d see the three-inch scar on my abdomen that runs along the bottom of my ribcage.

3. I have never seen Titanic or Avatar. Nothing against James Cameron (I really liked Aliens and The Terminator), but something about those other two movies just turned me off, possibly all the hype preceding each of their releases, or possibly just knowing beforehand that [*SPOILER ALERT FOR AN EVENT THAT HAPPENED A CENTURY AGO*] the fracking boat sinks.

4. I used to collect matchbooks. I don’t when this started or ended exactly, but for about a decade (from the ’80s into the ’90s, I think), I took matchbooks from all the places I visited. What’s even odder is that I’ve never smoked (although I do have an unabashed love of fire) and never had a job or a glaring need to have fire on the spot. But yeah, somewhere in my house is a good-sized case with dozens of matchbooks in it. Weird, but true!

5. I have a personalized autographed letter from Dolores Hart hanging in my cubicle.

Who is Dolores Hart, you ask? Well, she was an up-and-coming actress in the early 1960s—she starred alongside Elvis Presley in King Creole and Loving You as well as in the original Where The Boys Are—who suddenly gave up her career and ran off to the Abbey of Regina Laudis in Bethlehem, Connecticut, for a life of secluded religious reflection. It was a stunning story at the time: a young starlet abandoning a life of fame and fortune in Hollywood to become a cloistered nun (as in “You’ll have ‘nun’ of that now!”), which seems even more remarkable in an age where everyone and anyone is trying to be a “celebrity.”

According to Regina Laudis’ site: “I just knew that this was what God wanted from me,” she said years later.

Mother Dolores continues to live at the abbey, and has risen to be its prioress. She also has stayed involved in the motion picture industry, regularly voting for Academy Awards.

So the letter you see above—yes, she misspells my last name in it—she wrote to me in appreciation for sending a message along to her. We had written an article about her, and afterward some fan wanted to contact her; rather than giving her direct info out, I just sent it along to her.

It’s a nice little souvenir, and puts me only a degree of separation from Elvis. It’s true!

Aug 082012

Who among us doesn’t love a pussy riot? Apparently, this week’s JERK OF THE WEEK!

Vladimir Putin

That’s right comrades, Russian president Vladimir Putin (in red, because he’s a commie, obviously) is this week’s jerk.

Although Putin has a long history of tyrannical rule and generally being oppressive in areas regarding civil liberties, he has taken his jerkery to a new level recently, for attempting to impose his will by imprisoning three members from the Russian all-girl band Pussy Riot.

They look like harmless little ladies, no?

Anyway, three members of the band—Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Yekaterina Samutsevich—have been in jail for five months, and now face seven years in prison for “hooliganism” for their music, which is anti-government, and more specifically, anti-Putin.

Yes, they have been imprisoned for singing songs against the mighty Russian president.

Here are some of their lyrics from one song:

Virgin Mary, Mother of God, put Putin away.
Put Putin away, put Putin away.

And here’s a refrain from “Putin Got Scared”:

Revolt in Russia — the charisma of protest
Revolt in Russia — Putin got scared
Revolt in Russia — We exist!
Revolt in Russia — Riot! Riot!

Okay, with lyrics like that they could be accused of crimes against humanity but so could anything the Black-Eyed Peas have written and you don’t see Will.I.Am in shackles. (Yet.) Maybe it loses something in translation, da? Still, they’re only singing songs, granted, ones that inspire a revolutionary spirit. I suppose it’s possible that they don’t have the old “sticks and stones may break my bones” adage in Mother Russia. They do like bears on bikes, so it’s not an all-bad place.

Regardless, Putin is a jerk for encouraging this to happen, but what locks it up for him is this (from this AP story): Putin said last week that the punishment should not be “too severe.”

Too severe?!! How about “Putin says, ‘Geez, they’re only a bunch of crazy musicians expressing themselves—maybe there SHOULDN’T BE ANY PUNISHMENT AT ALL!”

Then again, if he did say that, then he wouldn’t be a jerk, now would he?

And remember little blogeroos, Speaking Ill of the Dead: Jerks in Connecticut History (sadly, pussy riot free), comes out on Sept 18. Express your freedom by pre-ordering it from Amazon.