This Will Be A Little Uncomfortable


The latest in the battery of tests after my spine surgery is called EMG or Electromyography, as it’s known in medical circles. My surgeon said there may be a few more, but he didn’t want to worry me because everything involves needles and pain.

After the surgery on August 31st, I’ve been dragging my right leg and foot around like the Frankenstein monster, an after-effect that may or may not cure itself. However, my wife said I had it down pat if I wanted to try out for any film parts.

The walker from the hospital was a cheap affair with the tennis balls that kept getting in the way; it was so 1980s, so I purchased one of the new walkers with four wheels, a seat, and hand brakes like the old English bicycles from the 1940s. Now I could obtain a speed of at least 5 mph, and dragging the leg and foot didn’t matter.

The older people on the square seemed impressed and gave me a thumbs up when I whizzed by. Next, I challenged an old lady with a motorized electric scooter to a race and beat her to the stop sign. She was reluctant to part with the $20 bet, so I let it slide and bought her a gin and tonic.

While lying on the exam table, I noticed the medical gown had a pleasant aroma of lavender which helped soothe my nerves.

The young technician said the electrodes might hurt a smidgen and make my muscles react involuntarily. Unfortunately, she was correct; as the electricity increased, I jumped around like a frog in a 7th-grade science class hooked up to a 24-volt battery. However, the pain wasn’t too bad because I had taken a 50 mg tablet of Tramadol before the visit, so I was a bit loopy and perhaps more compliant than I should have been.

After twenty minutes of shocking me into submission, she unhooked me and said the Doctor would be in shortly to administer the needle test.

” He’s going to stick needles into me?” I asked.

No one said anything about needles; by now, after 3 years of operations and cancer, I should be used to needles; but I am not.

The young Doctor came in, asked me a series of questions about my spine surgery, then said, ” well, let’s get this over with.” How comforting.

I looked him dead in his highly educated eyes and asked, ” is this going to be a bit uncomfortable,, or will it hurt like Hell?” “Oh, it’s going to hurt like Hell,” he said. At least he was honest.

The first needle was about 6 inches long and went into my calf. It didn’t hurt too bad; the second hurt like hell, the third even worse, and by the time he stuck me with the last one in my lower back, I was telling him I would give him a hundred bucks to stop. Obviously, he doesn’t need the money.

He called my wife Maureen into the exam room and told her everything because she is a nurse and won’t forget. They did their “secret medical handshake,” and we went home.

I got a message from the surgeon’s office this morning that I need to come in next week for some more tests that involve needles and other machines.

Who You Gonna Call?


When the juvenile name-calling has stopped, and the fossilized Republicans gather in their lyre to consider their candidate, who do they have? Trump or DeSantis? That’s it, kiddies. No one left with enough charisma to hold up to being a candidate. Biden can’t run because of a brain malfunction, and Hillary is so damn evil not even a Democrat would vote for her. So, Mr. Hollywood, Gavin Newsome is their only hope.

Trump’s already declared his intentions with a great speech. Instead, whether we like him or not, DeSantis will most likely issue a statement within a few days.

Trump has the bulldog tenacity and sharpest teeth, but DeSantis has the second coming of the “ghostly Kennedy family” working for him, even though he is a conservative. It’s damn right scary. The only thing missing is the compound at Hyannisport and loading up the Mafia with cash.

McConnell is a disgrace, and McCarthy is likely to bumble-dumble all he attempts, even though he has a very nice haircut. Let us hope he has the balls to have Pelosi removed from the building by the Capitol Police. She deserves no better.

I’m going to Half Price Books and Barnes and Noble and load up. At least reading good books will keep my mind off of this clown show.

Camelot 2.0


As a kid, I remember reading Life and Look Magazine about the new Camelot and the youthful president and his family that occupied that white castle. Every woman on the street wore her hair like Jackie.

The Kennedy family was the national portrait of the nation; the youngest man ever to serve as president, rich and with a beautiful wife, and kids, it was almost like a Norman Rockwell painting. Life, Look and Newsweek magazines could report on nothing else.

Gone was the old bald-headed soldier and frumpy wife, FDR, and Trueman was but a memory, and the world had changed in the blink of an eye. The Cold War with Russia was running full speed as was the race for dominance of outer space. We were headed for the moon within the decade; and by damn he kept his word, even though he was not there to share the jubilance. The world was eaten up with The Kennedy family.

Enter 44-year-old Ron and Casey DeSantis and their three beautiful children. You could say “Camelot 2.0” has arrived, but DeSantis is a Republican, as Kennedy probably would have been if he were governing today. I wonder if DeSantis has checked on the availability of the old Kenndey family yacht.?

The Republicans need to huddle and consider this one. Lightning can strike twice and Camelot 2.0 might not be a bad idea.

The current president will soon be cabbage soup and Trump will turn eighty in office, so old does not make one the best candidate. Pelosi will be president within a year, and that was the plan from the get-go.

The poor Republicans are stuck in political Hell and can’t find the ladder.

“Remember The Good old Days?”


Now I’m sounding like my grandfather ” remember the good ole day’s” for whatever point he was trying to make. Now I am him.

Remember the good old days when people actually took the time to set before a keyboard and answer your emails instead of using one word or a stupid little picture of a beer or a heart or some other useless bullshit like that.

I send a lengthy email to a few friends of mine. Nothing that was a novella or a short story, just some questions, and recollections. What did I receive, ” an emoji and “sent on my iPhone” I almost had a stroke. I spent thirty minutes composing an easily readable, edited, and entertaining email, and I get a thumbs-up crap from a smart-ass phone.

No more; I will send one word or a cute little picture and let them figure it out.

When Baseball Was A Kids Game


The padlock on the gate to the baseball diamond would have taken a welding torch to remove, and the metal sign attached to the fence above spelled doom for our summer of pickup baseball games. The sign read, “The Forest Park Baseball Facility is closed to public play. Only organized teams will have use of the diamonds. Call for times and additional rules. JE-74428

 What is this? Our neighborhood team has been playing on these two fields since we were six, roughly 1956 until now. This dirt and grass are hallowed ground, and we had laid claim to it years ago. This was our land and we will fight for it. Damn the Parks and Recreation Department; a bunch of fat old men sitting behind desks.

After a brief discussion, we agreed on, and did what any nine or ten-year-old pack of boys would do; we climbed the fence and started our game.

 Thirty minutes into our play, two Parks and Recreation men chased us off the field. We didn’t take them seriously until a Police car showed up. The officer was friendly but told us if we did this again, he would haul us downtown, fingerprint us and take a nice picture for the newspaper.; we were gone in a flash.

My mother, upon hearing my sad story, which included real tears and wailing, and the possibility that I would be under her feet every day for three months, drove to the Parks and Recreation building and came home with their list of rules. We were desperate, but not as much as she and the other mothers in our neighborhood.

To play baseball, now known as Little League, we need an organized team, a coach, an assistant coach, proper uniforms, and certified safety equipment. The baseball committee will schedule all practices and games with no exceptions. Unfortunately, our neighborhood band of brothers was screwed. Our dad’s worked, and our mothers weren’t about to coach a baseball team, so we went to our mentor and Svengali for guidance, my neighbor, Mr. Mister. He had all the answers.

Mr. Mister read the document and winced, “Looks like they got you by the gonads, boys. We had Little League in California. It wasn’t bad because it evened out the teams by age. I coached a few of the units myself.” Ha! Our problem was solved. Mr. Mister could be our coach. He told us to sit under the Mimosa tree and disappeared into his house. Ten minutes later, he and Mrs. Mister came out with a pitcher of Kool-Aid and a large plate of cookies.

“Here are the rules, fellas,” he said between bites of an oatmeal cookie. “I work at Carswell and don’t get off until 3:00. Mrs. Mister will be your assistant coach and run the show until I get to the ball diamonds. Fred and Ginger, our two Poodles, will be your mascots; no wiggle room on that one.”

He saw the shock on our faces. “Don’t worry, boys; she played in the Air Force women’s league during the war and coached her team to win two championships. She can out-run, out-pitch, and out-hit any of you and has forgotten more about baseball than you mound rats will ever know. Take it or leave it.” We took it.

Mr. Mister found a gold mine of baseball equipment stored on the base. Five years ago, the officers had tried to start a league for their kids, but the brats lost interest. So, as usual with the government, they ordered triple what was needed. Multiple boxes of Rawlings baseballs, shoes with metal cleats, uniforms, caps, and a box of assorted gloves. It was a treasure trove from baseball heaven. The uniforms had the name “Jets” across the front, and the caps sported a USAF insignia. We were hot crap on a china plate. The Air Force was our sponsor, which kept us at arm’s length for their protection.

Our first practice was a rousing success. Mrs. Mister had us shagging balls from every part of the outfield. Holding the bat with one hand, she could put a ball anywhere she wanted with pinpoint accuracy. She corrected some of the boys batting stance and grip and taught Freckled Face Bean how to catch a fly ball like a pro. The team on the adjoining diamond looked like idiots compared to us.

Mr. Mister showed up and immediately took our two pitchers, Skipper and Georgie, to a corner of the outfield and started reworking their pitching technique.

This was the big league, and we became rather full of ourselves within an hour. Mrs. Mister sensed our overstuffed self-evaluation and made us run 20 laps around the field to bring us back to reality. She advised us as we lay on the grass, wheezing and on the verge of death. “This is Little League baseball, and you are nine -year old boys; this isn’t the big leagues, so get over yourselves” She knew how to bust our bubble.   

In June, we won all but two games and were at the top of the heap. Mr. Mister had turned Skipper and Georgie into pitching machines.

Mrs. Mister let it slip one day that her husband used to throw for UCLA back in his college days, something he had failed to tell us, boys.

The gang of hoodlum players from Poly grade school gave us the most trouble. “The Pirates,” and the skull and crossbones were sewn into their jersey. They looked and carried themselves as a group of hard-assed boys from the bowery; their name was a perfect fit. More than a few of the 10-year-old boys smoked ciggies and a few carried switchblades.

Their coach was a chubby sleazy guy that constantly had a cigar in his mouth. He also processed the vocabulary of a one-eyed rummy Pirate. The only thing missing was the peg leg and the Parrot on his shoulder. The boys had been taught the fine arts of cheating and could pull it off because we had one referee, and he was behind home plate.

The first time we played the Pirates, the referee ejected their leading pitcher because of a layer of vaseline under the visor of his cap. The second pitcher had 3-in-1 motor oil on his rag in his back pocket. The third was because the bats they were using had been drilled and filled with pine tar, and the infielders had filed their metal spiked to needles, guaranteed to give any of our boys a nasty injury. Nine and ten-year-old kids don’t think this stuff up. Their coach was a world-class mobster, making the entire team an accomplice. We felt terrible for most of the boys; all they wanted was to play ball, and they got stuck with a little Al Capone for a manager because of their school district. The team was banished from playing for 3 games.

Mr. Mister, our coach, was also an inventor and a world-class engineer that designed jet fighters. He also sent his wife’s two poodles, Fred and Ginger, into the stratosphere with a homemade backyard rocket, so he knew his groceries. He noticed our bats were too long, too heavy, and out of balance for our size. We carried an assortment of old bats from Rawlings, Wilson, and Louisville Sluggers. So he set to work on building the better little league bat.

The folks at Louisville Slugger said he could change the balance, handle and head weight as long as the bat didn’t exceed the approved lengths or carried inserts of any kind to change the weighting.

Mr. Mister sent a redesign for approval and a fat check for $50 per bat. Five bats would arrive if Louisville Sluggers could have them within a week. Finally, we all agreed “The Jets” were about to change little-league baseball.

The new bats arrived the day before our big game with our new nemesis, the “Aces,” the second group of ‘hard guys’ from the Crozier tech area. They were supposed to be nine and ten-year-olds, but a few of them were already shaving and sporting tattoos.

The “Jets” could feel the difference in their new bat’s balance and swings. So Mr. Mister said to line up the wood-burned star towards the top of the bat facing the pitcher; that sweet spot would send that white ball screaming.

The first three batters for the Jets struck out. After that, Ace’s pitcher threw hard and used a slider and a mean curve. He was a long tall knuckle dragging kid.

When the Jets took the field,  Georgie let the Aces get three men on base, two walks, and a bounced line drive off the second baseman. A kid named “Brutus” drilled one over left field and emptied the bases. So the Aces are up by 4. The jets came into the dugout hangdog and hopeless. Freckled Face Bean, in center field, had dropped the ball and then kicked it another 30 feet, trying to retrieve it. Mrs. Mister let him have it with both guns, which were big ones. She was pissed.  

I got a base hit to second. Willy got one to second, which advanced me to third. “Brutus” walked Georgie; the bases were total, and the game was tied. Now the dilemma. Our worst batter, Freckled Face Bean, was next in the rotation. Mrs. Mister pulled him aside for a heart-to-heart and a big hug. He was going for it. The last thing she told him was, “use the sweet spot.”

First pitch and Freckled hit the sweet spot sending the ball over the fence, bouncing onto the street and into the woods. The game was now tied.

Bottom of the ninth, one Jet is on base, and Skipper steps up to the plate. Second swing, the ball soars over the fence into the woods. The ‘Jets win.

We finished the season by playing the ‘Aces’ for the city championship. By that time, the boys in the league were afraid of us. A newspaper clipping of our team and our small trophy is somewhere in a box I hope to find. It was the best year of baseball in my life.

Now we have high-living billionaires playing a kid’s game. It’s all for money and not an ounce for the fun of it.

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