I’M READY FOR MY CLOSE-UP, COACH PARSEGHIAN

I’M READY FOR MY CLOSE-UP, COACH PARSEGHIAN

Man Cave movies about sports?

We who love sports like to think we hold filmmakers to a high standard, but as I began to pull together a compendium of great sports films, I realized that critical discrimination is actually least likely to be found among those of us who will gladly watch the first round of Little League playoffs or the Barbisol PBA Players Championship.  Grizzled, hard-bitten sportswriters spit a chewed cigar on the floor and plump for Major League, Caddyshack, The Bad News Bears, The Sandlot,  and Rudy.  

The title of this piece is an oblique reference to Gloria Swanson’s poignantly unbalanced, egomaniacal line in Sunset Boulevard (not a sports film) and Sean Astin’s role as Rudy Ruettiger as the inspirational Notre Dame walk-on in Rudy.  Billy Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard is a film classic; Rudy is schlock, maybe inspirational and emotionally satisfying, but fairly standard Hollywood Horatio Alger/pick-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps/little guy overcoming great odds fare.

OK, maybe “schlock” is a bit heavy-handed; let’s go with intending to “please by playing upon the emotions of the viewer”.  Does that work?  Rudy never fails to put a good-sized lump in my throat.  As the crowd chants his name, I tear up.  Time after time.  Joe Montana, however, who was quarterback at Notre Dame while Rudy was walking on and who knows the unvarnished story, probably will not tear up.  The investigators at the SEC who indicted Ruettiger for stock fraud probably will not.  None of that changes my emotional response to a film about a good guy working hard to chase a dream; the more the world tells our little guy that the dream is out of reach, the more satisfying it is when he reaches it.

Hmmmm.  I have to wonder if there is a group made up of films that are essentially man cave films, pretty much admired and defended by guys because, on some level, they speak to the confusing and unarticulated complex of emotions that emotionally muffled men have a hard time explaining, to themselves or others.

For example, my son and I both started to blubber while watching The Rookie, the true story of Jim Morris, a high school baseball coach whose arm had blown out after a brief stint as a single-A prospect.  He’s coached his team to a state championship by encouraging them to follow their dreams, and, after taking them to the top, keeps a promise to follow his at the age of 36 by trying out with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.  This is yet another of the “odds are against the little guy” tales and particularly rich in the “dreams we’ve kept to ourselves” category.

The real Morris trotted out a 98 mph fastball, got a contract, played his way up to the Bigs, and ended up appearing in 21 games, posting 13 strikeouts, a 0-0 record, and a career ERA of 4.83.  Dennis Quaid, our version of Jim Morris, is on the verge of quitting before the try-out, fearful that he could no longer throw a good fastball. He’s rigged up an old radar gun, and throwing as hard as he can, seems to register pitches somewhere in the low 80’s.  He’s ready to quit when the radar screen splutters, digitally coughs, and adjusts itself to an accurate reading of 98 mph.

Cue the tears.

Where do they come from?  We’re sitting in a darkened room watching what might as well be a digital thermometer, and slubbing in our seats as though our own lives had suddenly been touched by a magic wand.

Films about baseball outnumber the total number of films about any other sport for reasons that probably have something to do with the unique metaphoric resonance baseball has for fans and writers.  Poets write about baseball as Donald Hall does in “Fathers Playing Catch With Sons”:

“We listened on the dark screen porch, an island in the leaves and bushes, in the faint distant light from the street, while the baseball cricket droned against the real crickets of the yard. We listened while reading newspapers or washing up after dinner. We listened in bed when the Tigers were on the West Coast, just hearing the first innings, then sleeping into the game to wake with the dead gauze sound of the abandoned air straining and crackling beside the bed.”

Having listened to ball games on a radio I built from a kit, tented in under blankets so as to avoid being caught after lights-out, I’m immediately back in unquestioning fan mode again when a story or a film catches the kid in me and pulls me into a world I long to inhabit.

I’ve written about Field of Dreams elsewhere on this site and hold the opinion that it is the film that most completely captures the sustaining magic of the game.  It is a movie about fathers and sons, fathers and daughters, opportunities lost and opportunities grasped.  It’s a far better film than Rudy, and one I return to virtually every year, but I won’t even begin to apply the standard critical tools to the film as film.

In my cave, some things are better left alone.

Escaping Norway

Escaping Norway

A bright blue Volvo FH750 stands on the side of the road only miles from Sor Vanger, last town on the Norwegian side of the border with Russia.  The temperature has fallen quickly, and the road, already thickly covered with snow, is increasingly dangerous.  Two heavily muffled men reluctantly leave the relative warmth of the truck’s cab in order to meet twelve men, women, and children, blindfolded so they might never identify Steinar and Oddvar, “praerieulvs” or “coyotes”, who hide fleeing Norwegians in the large sand boxes located under the truck’s chassis, above the wheels.  On nights such as this, only sand dropped from the truck’s entrails will keep the wheels on the icy road into Russia.  Steinar and Oddvar know the roads and know just how much space they have, putting the heavier border busters over the rear wheels where weight is as important as sand.

Steinar, the praerieulv in charge, is a wiry man of about fifty, dressed in conventional Norwegian casual clothing under his winter gear, slacks, blue shirt with open collar, brightly patterned sweater presenting reindeer bowling.  This is not his first rodeo, but the current flood of Norwegians fleeing Trondheim has crested in the past few weeks, leaving him exhausted and his resources worn thin.  He is resigned in describing the work ahead.

“Ever since President Trump opened the floodgates, I have more business than I can handle.  I see twenty or thirty families a day, all trying to bust out of Norway.  I’m not sure I can keep up.”

Oddvar, the younger and more excitable guide chimes in.  “Me too.  I’ll go when I can.  People don’t know what it’s like here.  Medical care for everyone, high salaries.  We got almost no crime here in Trondheim.  A guy got trapped under his van last week.  Big news.”  Steiner nods.  “You think you know dull, but you don’t even begin to know dull.”  Oddvar spits with contempt.  “I get excited, you know, when I hear the president wants us to come.  He didn’t even mention Sweden.  Maybe too many Swedes already.”

Einar Pen, an engineer with Norsk Hydro has waited for weeks for this opportunity and has arrived with his wife and three sons in tow.  Steinar explains the ground rules as Pen shrugs into the jumpsuit he will wear hiding in the truck, as his family will as well. He  grumbles a bit as he is to be  wedged into the few square feet of space above the truck’s right rear wheel.  He is six foot and seven inches of university trained metallurgist with a head the size of a watermelon.  Groaning, his labored breath turning to frozen mist as he labors, Pedersen assures his wife that all will be well once they get to Russia where an easy train ride gets them to Pulkovo airport in Saint Petersburg.

“Yes, sure.  Hardship now, but in only a few months, it will be beautiful.  Just like the Wild West.”  Pedersen coughs broadly, scattering chunks of frozen phlegm onto the dark night.  “Right now, we have it so good, you know?  Good for everyone.  No excitement.  Everybody has a good life.  Money.  You know.”

“Now, Eidar…”  Pedersen’s wife interrupts.  “We do this for the kids.”

The three Pedersen boys stand quietly.

“Sure.”  Pedersen grins widely.  “But we live in Alaska in a few months, hunt bears, have guns.”

Berit Pederson shuffles uneasily; the Pedersen boys fist bump.

Nerves are on edge as the praerieulv hands out parkas and backpacks.. With practiced certainty he separates the Vikings from the victims, the younger from the elders.

Do not fall behind, I will have to leave you, we MUST leave you, there are going to be casualties, but we have to keep going.

Berit slumps anxiously as she is seated in the cab of the truck.  The boys have been placed inside sacks of turnips which will be delivered to grocers in the small towns on the Russian border.    “We thought about El Salvador or Mexico, exciting too, and warm, but Eidar, he wants to be a cowboy, like John Wayne, and he says US is just as dangerous but clean.”

In the wake of the president’s encouragement of Norwegian immigration and the flood of emigrants deserting the Norwegian economy, the Storting resorted to draconian measures, placing guards at the airports and monitoring the highways.  Only commercial vehicles have been allowed to travel into Russia.  In December, Erna Solberg, Norway’s Prime Minister, spoke with grave concern before the Parliament.

“Americans have taken so much from Norway, stolen some of our greatest human treasures.  Yes, certainly, it was hard to see Sonja Henie skate off to Hollywood, but since then, look at who could have been honoring Norway:  Marilyn Monroe, the Olsen twins, Eliot Ness, Knute Rockne, Paris Hilton, Rene Zellweger, Adam Lambert, Kristen Wiig, Roald Dahl.  The American entertainment industry has been built in the broad shoulders of Norse immigrants.

No more.  We keep our people now.  Did I mention Mary Kate and Ashley?”

Then, we are insulted.  This Prairie Companion mocks the Norwegian bachelor farmers in Minnesota.  “Ya, sure” and so forth.  From Garrison Keillor who is not even Danish much less Norwegian.  Canadian and Scottish.  Maybe never even has been to Norway.  Maybe some jokes about Canadian bachelor farmers would be a good thing.  Maybe he jokes not so much this day.

A brittle snowfall continues to cover the highway as the truck rumbles from the dark bypass.  The Pedersens, like countless thousands, will soon land in Anchorage, secure in the knowledge that there, at least, they are wanted.

 

 

 

 

Saint Thomas of Foxboro

Saint Thomas of Foxboro

His Holiness will see you now, but, please, only for a few moments.

Yes, of course.Thank you.  Uh, I brought Francis a …

His Holiness Pope Francis, Most Holy Father …

Ok, yeah.  So I brought a Pats sweatshirt, “You Hate Us ‘Cause You Ain’t Us.”  I figure he’s a large?

I’m sorry, your business with His Holiness?

Well, we figured he’s the guy to see about getting Brady his sainthood early, you know, before he checks out.

Before he dies?

Before he retires.  Like in eight or nine years.

I’m not sure …

It should be a snap.  We’ve been reading up on it, and the miracle thing is pretty clear.

I’m sorry.  The miracle thing?

From what my wife found out, Brady moves from Venerable to Saint when we present the miracles and the Pope drops the hammer.

Are you suggesting that this Father Brady be canonized?  If so, the process begins …

Not Father Brady.  Tom Brady.  Tom Terrific, California Cool, GOAT.

You want to propose the canonization of a goat?

G-O-A-T.  Greatest Of All Time.  Brady.

And he performs miracles?

Does he perform miracles?  Is the Pope … never mind.  Sure, miracles.

Water to wine, I suppose, loaves and fishes.

Fishes?  What?  No,  and not just miracles; he’s been martyred.

So, deceased?

Nah, Remember 2016?  The four games?  Deflategate?

I’m sure I should know what that means.

It means Goodell and the whole league had it in for him … and the Pats.

So, alive then?

Certainly.  According to Giselle… heheheh.

I fear you have misunderstood the process by which a Servant of God is beatified then venerated …

OK, let’s start with the 92.9 completion percentage in the 2007 playoff with the Jaguars.

This Brady was more than 90 percent eaten by jaguars?

No way.  24-20 Pats.  And, how about this?  Brady can’t run, you know?  His 40 at the combine was ridiculous, but 2006, against the Bears …

Bears?

Urlacher’s ready to rip him a new one on the 20, and Brady, Brady jukes him.  Jukes Urlacher!

These are miracles?

Ok, maybe not miracles, exactly, but 2001, Drew Bledsoe is the franchise quarterback, Belichick’s second season, Pats 0-2, Mo Lewis out of nowhere, not only hits Bledsoe, he puts him in the hospital his chest filled with blood …

Oh, we have always considered stigmata indicative …

So, Brady goes in, the Pats go from 0-2 to the Super Bowl.  Against the Rams.  Greatest Show on Turf.  Miracle, right?

Uh….

Yeah, but, listen.  even Madden shut up when Brady takes the ball with 1:21 on the clock, starting at their own 17, no time outs, tied at 17, smart money said go to overtime, but no, Brady takes ’em down to the Ram’s 30 in 5 plays, Vinatieri nails it and second-string quarterback carries the Pats on his back to win Super Bowl XXXVI.

You don’t actually speak in Roman numerals?

I gotta.  But wait, there’s more.  Ok, fourth quarter Super Bowl comeback against the Legion of Boom?

You mean a Legion of Doom, apocalyptic visitation, the horsemen?

No, Boom.  Boom.  The Seahawks hadn’t give up more than 7 points in the fourth quarter all season, then Brady drops 14 leaving room for Butler.

I’m not …

No, ok, no question about this one.  Pats down to the Falcons 28-3.  third quarter, Super Bowl trophy definitely not going back to Foxboro …

Seahawks?  Falcons?

Down by 25 points and Brady has to pick up a long third down running the ball, himself,  start of the fourth quarter, and don’t forget, he’s been suspended for four games, his mom is fighting cancer, he’s the guy who barely got the start at Michigan, picked up by the Pats as the 199th pick in the draft, this guy picks up 19 in the fourth quarter and 6 in overtime.  Game over.  Good night, Falcons, enjoy the trip home from Houston.

This Brady is still alive?

Yeah, sure.  He’s got to play the Eagles in a couple of weeks.

We can’t … well, we don’t actually do anything.  Once deceased, the Servant’s life is brought to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, and then…

New Orleans?

What?  No, Rome.  Rome.  I’m afraid the Pontiff will not able to hear your petition.

So, what?  We have to wait until he’s gone?

At the very least …

Yeah, the way things are going, that might not happen.

Everyone deals with the inevitable process of aging.

Have you been listening to me?  That’s another miracle.

I’m sorry, but I do have one question.

Ok, shoot.

Can we keep the sweatshirt?

It’s Alright to Cry

It’s Alright to Cry

My granddaughter is getting the best of the best  from the Golden Age of children’s educational entertainment :  Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, early Sesame Street, Harry Nilsson’s The Point, and Free To Be You and Me, the project attempting to move the culture beyond stereotypical thinking about the roles of men and women. Conceived by Marlo Thomas and the Ms. Foundation for Women, the all-star cast included Alan Alda, Harry Belafonte, Mel Brooks, Michael Jackson, Carol Channing, Cicely Tyson, Robert Morse, Diana Ross, Tom Smothers, Voices of Harlem, and The New Seekers among other luminaries.  We had the album, of course, and a VHS copy of the televised version of the album, and listened to the cassette tape in the car.

Rosie Grier, defensive tackle for the New York Football Giants and the Los Angeles Rams, appeared in a short skit singing, “It’s Alright to Cry,” a segment that received more attention than many of the other arguably more artful numbers as a pensive Grier endorsed the open expression of feelings, even by a large, physically dominating, man.  Shocking at the time?  Apparently, and the more challenging in that Rosie Grier was a large Black man, the sort of man presented in Shaft or Superfly as a pretty dangerous character.

Cultures change slowly, and Marlo Thomas and friends probably hoped for the more immediate disruption of stereotypical thinking about race, ethnicity, and gender; we’re still encouraging young women to believe that they can do or be anything, but delivering a cautionary note to them in that we find it necessary to bring up the topic.

In the year that Free To Be You and Me was released, Senator Edmund Muskie, the candidate expected to unseat sitting president Richard Nixon, removed himself from contention when he appeared to cry during a press conference.  Real men do cry, but discussion of the subject still makes men uncomfortable, and the public display of emotion (other than anger) is rare.

I cry a lot.  I’m frequently moved to tears by witnessing acts of kindness or generosity.  I cry when ordinary people are treated more gracefully than they expected.  Most of my ordinary crying happens in a movie theater or in front of the television, although the occasional novel can hit home as well.  My behavior would be described as choking up; my voice thickens, my nose starts to run.  I wipe my eyes, snorkle for a few moments, and try to keep that storm of emotion to myself.  I’m not embarrassed exactly, more aware even in the moment that my tears usually spring from unresolved issues of abandonment and powerlessness, issues I feel I ought to have put behind me decades ago.

I cried this week as we brought our good old dog to the vet’s office, knowing we would be driving home without her.  My wife and I and one of my kids held her as she left, loving her entirely. I sobbed uncontrollably.  For a long time.

It strikes me as more than alright to show sadness, and regret, and loss, and love.  We fall in love, have children, adopt pets with the knowledge that we will be inevitably face real pain.  We do it anyway.  We spend much of our alloted time in looking ahead and looking back and relatively little in the moment.  We try to seize the day, but it moves so quickly and I, for one, am easily distracted.

But in that moment, as I felt the enormity of losing a dog I loved, there were no more plans to make; there was no past or future, only immediate nd overwhelming emotion.  I was useless, of course, and did not offer comfort to my wife and son, ordinarily my first instinct, but I expect they understand.

I often catch myself being myself and find my foibles relatively amusing unless they ramble out of control; I endorse mindfulness as a way of life, recognizing that I probably take myself way too seriously.  What I’m after is authenticity and integrity, qualities that can remain more hypothetical and abstract than I would like for much of the time.  Every once in a while, as was true last Thursday, I am simply and visibly what I am.  That comes close to my definition of integrity, and I don’t intend to apologize for being painfully in the present.

I’m not sure where we are in this upside down chapter in the life of a polarized society, pretty sure there’s not as much equality and justice as Marlo Thomas had hoped we’d find in the four decades since Free To Be, but also aware that the culture has changed.  It seems changes of this order take longer to seep into the fabric of a nation than we had expected; “Old ways is best ways,” remains a recurring theme, and we do take a few steps back after leaping forward.  On the other hand, emotions once freed tend to stick around.

It’s alright, I think, to cry.

 

 

 

 

My year as a sports fan ends … not with a bang but a whimper

My year as a sports fan ends … not with a bang but a whimper

You give and you give and you give, and then Michigan blows a 16 point lead in 94 seconds and what the heck was I thinking?

“Hang in there”, I told myself throughout the weeks leading up to the Outback Bowl,   “Surely the second most extravagantly paid football coach in the universe ( seven million dollars a year)  will come up with an exciting game plan after a month off and the return of starting players.”

Well, no.   A plodding, clumsy, pedestrian Michigan team managed to become the ONLY team from the Big Ten to lose a bowl game.  Stupidly.  With penalties and turnovers.

Fa la la la la and so much for the collegiate football season.  The issue today is not whether Michigan’s coaching staff should be:

a.  given a raise

b. fired

c.  tarred and feathered

d.  fired, then tarred and feathered, then fired some more

The issue is that a season such as this, one that began with such promise and ended with such shame, so damages the heart, mind, and soul that some sort of rite or ritual is necessary to preserve the connection between the fan and the team that has abused him (me).  If so, and I believe that the tissue holding me to Michigan football has worn thin, then a formal process of reconstitution is in order.

This is not the first time I have been shaken as a fan.  The Steinbrenner years were brutal for this Yankee fan; he changed managers twenty times in twenty-three years and went through eleven general managers in the same span.  Comparisons with contemporary political characters may be inevitable; these were the years in which the Yankees were under the thumb of a tyrannical and mercurial self-promoting owner, known as The Boss.  It took Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera to entice me into watching the Yankees again, and incredibly gifted rookies to nudge me even closer to something like the first stages of fandom.

Winning is not everything, as my long-standing allegiance to the Detroit Red Wings makes clear.  Yes, there have been glory days for the Wings, but not many in recent years.  And yet, my fondness for them remains unshaken.  They missed the Stanley Cup playoffs last year for the first time in twenty-five seasons; it hurt, but the they had snuck in under the wire for so many seasons that the end of the streak seemed inevitable.  Had they begun the season with fanfare and expectation, the pain might have been unbearable, but they did not and it was not.

Ah, but Michigan.

I’ve been so chippy with fans of other teams and so strident in my Michigan fandom that I cannot in good conscience hop off the Michigan bandwagon (tires flattened, windshield busted out, rusted fuel tanks) in order to flag down one of the currently superior programs.  Tempted.  Tempted.

In addition to principle, decency, all that stuff, what other conference could I endorse?  SEC? Uh, I’m not a Bubba.  Big 12?  Or a cowboy.  Pac 12/15 whatever?  Colorado, Arizona, and Utah are less Pacific than I might think proper, and, although Stanford and Berkeley are in the mix, I can’t get past USC.  ACC?  Have I mentioned Notre Dame?

No, the only conference I admire almost completely is the BIG, formerly the Big 10 , now made up of 14, including Maryland and Rutgers, whose inclusion bothers me during the football season but who are pretty interesting during the rest of the year.  I can root for Michigan State when Michigan is not in the picture, but sliding over to Penn State or Ohio State would be like giving my children to the Manson family, the Galactic Empire, or the Medellin Cartel.

I know, I know.  Cubs fans took it in the shorts for a century.  Red Sox fans brought suffering to a national pastime.  Indians fans, Bills fans, Lions fans – they’ve all shown thankless dedication.  But, all those teams have been good enough to come close, really close, and I know there is heartbreak in almost, as the Lions have found in the last three seasons, but fans of these teams need feel no shame.  Browns fans?  Another story for another day.

As I watched Alabama play Georgia for the National Championship this year I realized that the football these guys play is of a different species than that which my Wolverines have brought to the field.  There were some similarities on defense, but the talent and imagination presented on offense was remarkable.

So, what’s a fan to do?

OK, I’m sticking with Michigan.  Given what I see at the top of the BIG and SEC, I lower my expectations.  Can Michigan beat Michigan State?  Sure, and they will from time to time, not every year.  Should Michigan beat Ohio State?  Yes, and it could happen in the years remaining to me, although I see a gap in recruiting growing larger year after year.  Will Penn State continue to improve?  No doubt, and that side of the conference just gets tougher and tougher.

How’s this for high hopes?  We’ve went 10-3 in Coach Harbaugh’s first two years, 8-5 last season, won one of three Bowl games in that period, and beat Michigan State once.  How about we beat two of the behemoths on the schedule?  Notre Dame (230 days until we play), Penn State, Michigan State, Wisconsin, or Ohio State?  How about we beat Western Michigan, SMU, Maryland, Rutgers, and Indiana?  That puts us at 7-3.  Nebraska and Northwestern have both improved; toss ups next season.  Best case, 9-3 with wins over Penn State and Ohio State; worst case, 5-7 with losses to Penn State, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Nebraska, and Northwestern.

There, I said it.  Michigan could easily go 5-7 next season, and I’m going to have to consider that possibility from the start instead of fantasizing about a playoff bid.  Indiana looked better last season as well.  4-8?  Please, Santa, please.  I’ve been a fan for too long.  No coal in this fan’s stocking.  No need for upsets next season to tame the prideful.

I’m already tamed.

 

 

 

 

 

Resolutions I Won’t Keep

Resolutions I Won’t Keep

Feeling jolly?  Anyone?

The ghost of Christmas just past is visiting me at this very moment as I consider the various excesses the season has already delivered.  Once again I have eaten more than I intended, spent more than I intended, watched more lousy Christmas specials than I intended, and feel even more inadequate as partner, parent, friend, citizen of the world, and physical specimen.  Hence, thus, I grab an unopened piece of junk mail and pencil in the quick survey of acts and attitudes in need of immediate correction on the back of the envelope, starting, of course, with the resolution to find any of the small pads of note paper left by the plumber, the electrician, and the construction company. Which reminds me of the various projects they have taken on here in the course of the past year, which prompts my first resolution.

I resolve not to mess up the plumbing, the circuit board, the deck, the air filters, the garage door, the locks, or the garden again.  

But I will.  I see things that need repair or upkeep everywhere, and I can’t leave them alone.  I could call for help, seek the advice of a professional, say, one who has both knowledge and appropriate tools.  I could, yes, but at what cost?  In abdicating my role as handy problem solver I am diminished and weakened.  I admit that I am a pathetic victim of technology, incapable of taking care of my own lair.

No, best to roll up the sleeves, buy apparati I will never need again, and begin the process of dismantling some portion of our home.  For a professional, any of these projects would be the work of a half-hour at most; I will spend three weeks and many extra dollars fixing the mistakes I make.  Chaos will reign and my emotional intelligence will atrophy as the blinking sander coughs and dies and the newly applied stain on the deck bubbles and peels.

It’s Home Depot, I think, who promises, “You can do it, and we can help.”

Uh, no I can’t and no, you can’t.

Time to organize the photos and documents stuffed into boxes, cupboards, and shelves.

No, it isn’t

I will not eat after seven o’clock at night.

This one came from Oprah as I recall, in a late afternoon conversation about diets that work and diets that don’t.  Not that Oprah and I were conversing; I’m pretty sure she had one of her resident experts explaining that it’s not great to eat junk food while binging on Game of Thrones.  He (Dr. Oz, perhaps?) is surely right, and yet, what’s the alternative?

Do I have greater need of comfort and solace at four in the afternoon or at eleven as the last local news show begins?  And, even if I were serene enough to pass on late evening snackage, we often don’t get home in time for a 6:00 meal.  Since we’re tucking in at about 7:20, and since it’s been a long hard day in retirement, it’s dark outside, and the world is in the shape it’s in, it seems cruel to withhold a few lime infused corn chips from Trader Joe’s.

I’m going to give up lime infused corn chips from Trader Joe’s

See above

This year I’ll send out New Year’s greetings without a xeroxed update on every member of the family.  And the dogs.

Look, it’s not  that I assume my small circle of friends is hovering by the mailbox, yearning for yet another description of my kids’ attainments; that seems improbable.  On the other hand, I miss those friends and want to have a sense of the texture of their lives.  I’m likely to hear about the really big events, but kids learn to swim, and a beloved pet dies, and the knitting project is finally finished, and I want to hear a friend’s voice filling me in on a year full of change and challenge.

So, I’m mailing out the xeroxed sheet tomorrow.

I won’t buy the used red Alfa Romeo convertible available at an unbelieveably low price at a gas station near the edge of town.

Yeah, that one I actually will keep.  Again.