Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leaping for Leap Day!

So, as if life wasn’t complicated enough, we now have a whole extra day to deal with…

Today is Leap Day!

Leap Day….


Say it again….

Leap Day….


Makes you feel like…well, leaping.

But be careful not to turn an ankle.

Apparently this Leap Day is needed, every four years, or else the calendar gets all screwed up and we won’t know when to plant our vegetables or change our towels or something.

And for me, it pretty much means I have to come up with one additional entertaining theme before we can put these brrrrrrrrr and wary months behind us.

Kind of weird though, don’t you think?

No…I don’t mean my coming up with an entertaining theme, although that is always suspect. 

What I mean is, just adding an extra day to the year…and nobody questions it…well, except me; but I question everything…or so I’m told.

Hey...if not me who? 

See, another question.

For the most part people are just too busy with their day to day lives to question much of anything, unless it has something to do with their cable bill.

But what if we just added an hour to the day every so often…or take one away while we’re at it.  What would we do then?

Oh wait…we do that too, every spring and fall.

Geez…can’t we get anything right?

Who’s in charge of this stuff?

So what happens to February 29th next year…and the year after that?

Where does it go?

What happens to all the people born on February 29th?  Do they only exist in this limbo world of Leap Years, where one “Leap” year equals four regular years?

After one Leap year birthday are they really only four…or are they really sixteen real years, and only four leap years?

Kind of makes your head hurt.

Or maybe anything you do on February 29th only matters during a Leap Year. The rest of the time it doesn’t exist.

And by the time the next Leap Year rolls around again…you’ll probably have forgotten all about it.

This is probably why one of the legendary traditions that occur on Leap Day is that women are allowed to ask men to marry them. 

Yep…get right up in the guy’s faces and pop the question.

There’s some tie in to St. Patrick and a deal he made with some Saint named Brigid, and all the snakes in Ireland, which aside from the obvious analogies, you just knew this had to have something to do with the Irish, of which I am half.

Leave it to the Irish to make a convoluted situation even more convulted-er.

I think the drinking of green beer is also involved, or if it’s not, it should be.

Now of course the ladies, forgettable Leap Day or not, are putting themselves out there with this so called tradition, because men being men, probably won’t be able to pay attention long enough to even understand what is being proposed to them, let alone notice who’s doing the proposing. This being the case, there are some safeguards built in to protect these brave women with a form of compensation.

Apparently, if the dumb Goober rejects the proposal, or sleeps through it, he must reward the spurned lady with a kiss and possibly a silk gown.  So it’s not a total loss for the ladies…except maybe the kiss part.

It’s also traditional to placate the slighted damsel with a pair of gloves, supposedly to hide her ringless engagement finger from the inquiring world.

 So be careful what you wish for ladies…unless you need a new pair of gloves.

Anyway, enjoy your Leap Day…it only comes twice a decade. 

Ladies…the ball is in your court.

Men…the glove store is having a sale.

Personally, I keep a ready supply on hand, so to speak, since I regularly have to fend off these proposals three or four times a week, Leap Day or not.

Proposals...and woodpeckers that seem to be attracted to my head for some reason.

Not sure why…..


Have you picked up my new book “The Kingdom of Keys”?
No....what's up with that???

Better hurry before they're ALL GONE...which is a lie because they'll never be all gone...never....

So why not buy one just to reward my forthrightness..ness...ness?

You might even enjoy it.

And spread the word...cuz nobody else is....

Just sayin....
Available now at -  Click Here

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Monday, February 27, 2012

Connecting Pieces

Last week I wrote about Reincarnation and cockroaches.
Z said she didn’t see that coming…the cockroaches, I mean.

I told her I didn’t either; you never see cockroaches coming…they just sort of happen.

She said “Ahhhh…I thought so.”

Yeah…that’s what happens sometimes with these things, at least to me, and not just with cockroaches. You start out, heading in one direction, and before you know it you get turned around and end up somewhere else before you even start on the path you had intended.

But that’s okay…you always end up where you’re supposed to be anyway.

The thing is, I do have a sort of metaphysical bent to me. However the doctors say they can straighten that through surgery.

Oooops…sorry. Did it again.

I guess I like to make fun of it because a lot of people think if you dabble in the unknown, there’s a little bit unknown about you too. Like if you’re really somebody they want to pet their dog.


I admit to having certain empathetic qualities, somewhat stronger than other folks.  Like, I can always tell when something out of the ordinary is affecting someone in my small circle of friends.  I suppose that can be attributed to just paying attention and observing them, day to day.  But I also seem to know when something’s a little “off” with people I’ve never met before. 

And I don't mean the chili dog they had for lunch that day.

I can also tell when they're being disingenuous or their outer persona belies what they’re really thinking or feeling.

That sort of thing.

Which is not always such a good thing.

Especially if you want to keep your friends.

But it can be a good thing in the proper circumstances…actually a very good thing.

Like when you pass a stranger on the street, meet their eyes and just know this person holds some significance to you…maybe in some life, if not this one. 

I’m not talking about romance or in a “cupid’s silly arrow” kind of way; I just mean there’s definitely some sort of connection there. It isn’t related to gender or age or anything really. It could even be a baby in a stroller.  There’s just something there that joins together in that moment and sends some sort of subtle signal. So subtle that most of us just ignore it and keep on walking, most likely never to see that person again…at least in this life.

And then there are those people that you do experience this connection with and they are in your life—this life—in some form or another…to some extent or another.

It’s these people…the ones you feel so comfortable to be with, who always make you smile on the inside, even when you want to smack them on the outside, that I’m talking about. Whether it’s just sharing a pitcher of beer in a bar, talking sports or dinner in a restaurant at a table of ten, talking colonoscopies, you know you’re where you’re supposed to be, with who you’re supposed to be.

They can be the people you fall asleep with every night, or the people you only talk to on the phone or e-mail once in a while. You might see them all the time or you might only see them at barbeque once or twice a year...or maybe never at all. If, for whatever reason, you don’t see these people for a long period of time….even years…you don’t think about the time lost when you do, you just connect the last second with the one at hand and never miss a beat.

Just like the stranger passing on the street…you know…there’s something rare and precious there. Your molecules stick and your DNA dance. And if you’re lucky enough to be in each other’s lives, in whatever form that takes, you never want to let that go.

Connections…they’re rare but they’re there.  Are they from a past life or a future one?

I don’t know and I don’t really care. I’m just happy to have them…even the ones I don’t know about…yet.

If you enjoy the Retort, do me a favor and click on the "Like" button, up top on the right, and "Like" the FLR Facebook Page. Things have picked up considerably from a week ago and now with a few more "Likes" I'm hoping to cash in on the Telescope. 

If you don't like it, please click the same button...but with a negative attitude. Thanks....

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Friday, February 24, 2012

Mall Walk

Z says you she can always tell when I have nothing to say because I usually start talking about the weather.

She says it’s an old man thing…

I tell her that’s soooooo unfair…and definitely not true….

First of all, I don’t consider myself old…or all that old.

Maybe just a little old.

Or old-ish…maybe.

And second of all, I rarely have nothing to say.

I can always think of something…..


So the last couple of days have been pretty spring like.

There’s a definite scent in the air of dormant earth awaking.

Either that or the breeze is coming from the south and blowing over the compost pile in the park again, which is just as nice, if not as poetic.

The Robins have returned…also a sure sign.

But not as much as the Rennicks and the Myerson’s, from down the block, returning after wintering in Palm Beach since late November.

So all that’s positive.

Well, except for all the fat squirrels who’ve been stuffing their faces for months, expecting the ground to freeze up any day now, only to find out that winters nearly done.  The ground is never going to freeze, and that pesky winter weight is there to stay.

I tried telling them to watch it.  This was not your typical winter.

But you know squirrels…so opportunistic. See a grub…eat a grub.  

But all winter?

Hey…it happens.

Who knew?

Z was excited to discover the first sighting of snowdrop lilies, last week, and then even more delighted when we came upon a bunch of yellow daffodils, in full bloom, at the beach over the weekend.  And I was excited that the hot dog guy was there.

So it’s been a nice break from the past couple of frozen Februarys.

Still, we’re not completely out of the woods; not yet.  There’s still a bit of a bite in the wind, now and again. Like right now, where it’s whipping itself up to about 25 mph, rendering the 53 degree temp somewhat negligible.

That’s how this past Monday, Presidents Day, was as well. The temp was up but so was the wind, making it feel like a hard 30. So instead of going out for our usual neighborhood walk, Z and I decided to head up to the mall and wheel around there for a couple of circuits and give ourselves a break from the wind chill.

Now, in the past, I’ve discussed summer walking and winter walking, comparing their subtle differences…but mall walking is a whole other sort of experience unto itself.

First of all, we kind of stand out from the rest of the mall crowd.

Don’t get me wrong. We don’t look odd or out of place like we’re members of one of those early morning mall walking groups that resemble the cast from that first sequel to the “Night of the Living Dead”.

We dress much better than Zombies…at least Z does.

No…it’s just that we’re pretty much the only people there actually walking for exercise.  Everyone else is pretty much just strolling and shopping, so you have to be adept at weaving and bobbing in and out of traffic.

Sometimes you even have to be willing to sacrifice a body or two in order to make it to Macy’s by your split time.

I know that sounds harsh, but the little old ladies usually bounce right back up and those baby strollers practically right themselves.

Obviously, there’re no hills or any wind or weather of any kind in the mall, so you pretty much just slice along at a nice comfortable pace, usually a lot quicker than your outside walking pace.

This is good since it makes up for the time lost stopping for pretzels and perusing the latest iPad at the Apple store.

Well, that’s just me.  Z takes half my pretzel and keeps moving, but I usually catch up by Talbots, which holds a certain allure for Z.

Of course the various sales clerks, in the assorted department stores, throughout the mall, look at us a bit strangely, since we breeze right by them, even before they can get their perfunctory sales greeting out. 

We’ve pretty much got it down to, “Hi…welc…” and were gone.

And since we do the route twice we try to avoid an embarrassing repeat interaction by walking the opposite path through the store so it looks like we’re just returning from whence we came…or even thence.

And the beauty of the mall walk is that at the end of your excursion, you end up right at the movie theatre, where you can pick up some popcorn and a package of noisy Twizzlers and catch a matinee.

And if you’re dull and unaware like us, you don’t even need to know the name of any specific movie. Just say “We’re here to see the new Denzel…” and you’re good to go.

You can’t go wrong with Denzel…and there’s always a new Denzel.

Just open the Twizzlers before you sit down.

Hey…don’t blame me.  It’s February….

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Reincarnation’s Not For Everybody

Reincarnation’s not for everybody.

Mostly if you’re still alive.

If you’re still alive, reincarnation can wait awhile…or else it might get too confusing.

We’ve all seen and heard about people who talk about having had a past life; about having certain memories or talents that have passed over into their current lives.

There’s always some young 3 year old prodigy who can play Mozart like, well…Mozart…or your cousin’s 2 year old who strangely knew exactly where to find that wad of cash your great grandmother hid in that old sofa in the basement.

 So I guess it must be true.

The thing is, how come most people, who talk about their past lives, always think they were someone famous, like Michelangelo, Joan of Arc, Cleopatra, George Washington, Amelia Earhart or even Maury Amsterdam.

No one was ever just some guy from Idaho who grew beets in Oshkosh for a living.

Could it be that, maybe, you weren’t really Pythagoras, after all. Maybe you were just the guy who did Pythagoras’ laundry. The guy who actually worked up the famous theorem but never got credit for it because he mistakenly wrote it up on the back of Pythagoras’ laundry bill it and gave it to him by mistake. 

Why couldn’t you be that guy?

Or the guy who told Lincoln “Go on…go out and see a show tonight!  It was a long war…you’ve earned a break”.

You could be him…right?

And of course no one ever considers that maybe—just maybe—they could have been some sort of a cockroach or something. 

I mean somebody had to be…right?

Do you think the cockroaches just come back, as what…flies?

Or maybe you’ll be a cockroach in your next life.

Ahhhh…never thought of that huh?

But you’re thinking being a cockroach would be a major regression. 

Not necessarily true; maybe it’s a step up.  For one, cost of living expense for cockroaches are almost non-existent.  They don’t own…and, for the most part, don’t pay rent…and if they do it’s negligible. 

Cockroaches are not fussy eaters. They’ll basically eat anything that’s put in front of them, much like most of my in-laws…especially the guy-in-laws.    

But everyone appreciates a good eater.

Crime in the cockroach community is among the lowest of all pests.  You just don’t see a cockroach taking a crumb that doesn’t belong to him. It’s part of their strong, moral, cockroach code.

And that’s another thing…food. There’s always plenty of free food left behind by over indulgent humans that a cockroach rarely has to order in, which is good cuz cockroaches are notoriously bad tippers.

Cockroaches aren’t concerned about fashion.  Just about any kind of exoskeleton suits them, and when they get tired of it they just molt and grow a new one. 

And don’t forget about that whole cockroach survival thing. It's said that after any sort of Armageddon like event, which folks seem to like to predict every few months or so, the cockroaches are the most likely species to survive.

Them and Newt Gingrich. 

Not sure why. 

I think it has something to do with the levels of radiation cockroaches are able to tolerate.

With Gingrich, I think it’s more about a well-developed defense and denial mechanism.

In either case they’ll both probably mutate over time and grow to enormous proportions with large heads and egos.

Maybe even run for president.

So cockroach…Gingrich. 


See, the cockroach scenario isn’t looking half bad right now…is it?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Forlorn February

Trying to find things to write about in February is like…trying to find an appropriate analogy about February.

There's just nothing there....

I mean once you’ve covered the groundhog and cupid, there’s not much more to talk about.

I suppose there’s President’s Day, which is today, and if you subscribe to, means you have to honor ALL the presidents, and let’s face it…there’s a few clunkers in there no one wants to even remember, let alone honor.

But we’re happy for the 3 day weekend, nonetheless.

Lincoln and Washington used to have a corner on February presidential holidays, until another president in the early 70’s, who shall remain nameless, wanted in on the notoriety and combined the two days into one, creating a jambalaya of chief executive honorees.

And, as I said…we’re happy for the 3 day weekend.

February is also the only month with an indeterminate number of days, being already fewer than any of the other months, indeterminate or not.

So why is February so chintzy and fickle when it comes to its supply of days….and how does it get away with it?

You don’t see July trying to pull that kind of crap. Then again, who cares if February ends a day or two or three earlier than all the rest?

I think it has something to do with the sun and the moon and the availability of summer rentals at the Jersey Shore.

Got all that?

I also think the guy who was working on the “Julian Calendar”, way back when, was out sick for a while, and since everyone was getting antsy because they were missing all their favorite TV shows since no one knew what day it was, let alone what day the shows were on, they brought in the guy who was working on the “Julian Fries” to finish the project.

They figured if he was good with cooking potatoes, he was probably good with counting potatoes, which turned out not to be the case, since he couldn’t even spell potatoes, which accounts for the silly “e” attached, but not needed. Makes it sound like a “pot of toes”, which is neither appetizing nor appropriate.

Needless to say, potato boy, minus the “e” screwed it all up, which was discovered when Christmas literally “came early” that first year…sometime in October.

So when the “real” calendar guy came back from his mysterious absence (some say there was a calendar girl, or girls, involved), he took a couple of days away from February, but gave one back, every fourth year, which he called “Leap Year” since “Long Year” was already taken by the guy who married that loopy Kardashian chick...and this somehow fixed the whole thing. 

However, legend has it, the calendar maker was so incensed. “You gave this to a short order cook to finish?” that he insisted on adding Presidential elections and the Olympics as well.

So, the best that can be said about February is it creeps toward March, which ushers in spring.

Spring in turn drops us off on summer’s doorstep.

Which everyone likes… and there’s lots to write about.

But , like I said, there’s nothing to write about in February, which I just did for about 500 plus words….


Friday, February 17, 2012

If I Could Live Like Merlin

If I could live like Merlin, how much happier would I be?

To grow young with the wisdom of a sage?

Reveling in the warmth of spring renewed, remembering the bite of winter?

If I could live like Merlin, would the stars dance to my every whim, sing whatever song I choose?

If I could live like Merlin, would the knowledge of an age not born be carried on my shoulders?

Every story's ending completed before begun?

Would knowing all the answers, before the questions asked, bring a life of smiles, fulfillment and success?

To understand intention before the words are spoken; eliminate confusion fear and doubt.

Living backwards…wondering how the story begins instead of ends.

Rowing against the rushing tide instead of flowing easily along its natural stream.

If I could live like Merlin, how much happier would I be?

Is a story better told from outward in? Is it better understood knowing the mysteries solved?

Unraveling in reverse, appreciating origins over outcomes?

But…a mystery understood, is a mystery no more; no point to the story when the ending’s not in doubt.

No game, no challenge…no fun.

No fun, no happiness, no joy.

Joy comes wrapped in a package whose contents are unknown.

Anticipation is the handle that we attach to it.

Hope is the tool with which we open it.  

Disappointment or acceptance is the manner in which we receive it.

Knowing there’s more unseen than seen, more unknown than known, more to find than lost….

More to learn than forget….

More to live than regret….

If I could live like Merlin, how much happier could I be?


"Happiness is like a butterfly.
The more you chase it, the more it eludes you.
But if you turn your attention to other things,
It comes and sits softly on your shoulder."
Henry David Thoreau

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Sun is Angry

The sun is angry…apparently.

It’s been kicking up quite a fuss lately, stirring up all these cosmologic storms and spewing a bunch of solar particles down on top of us, here on earth.

I know….

Kind of scary, although they say there’s nothing for us to worry about, for the most part.

I don’t know about you, but when we’re dealing with astral particulate from the sun raining down on us…I want to eliminate “for the most part” from the equation.

You know?

Anyway, I’m not taking any chances so I’m only going out at night or, if I have to, only when it’s cloudy during the day.

You could get a nasty burn

So like I said...I’m being careful.

You should see the hole it burned into my neighbor’s lawn.

You know?

They say this is a perfectly normal phenomenon, these solar flares.

But of course they say a lot of things, whoever they are.

Like 4 or more Mallomars at a sitting is good for your heart.

Well, they actually don’t say that…I do.  I have to justify why I’m sitting here downloading half a box into my stomach.

But they’re Mallomars.

You know?

Anyway, they say they’ve been expecting solar eruptions like this one to become more intense as the sun enters a more active phase of its 11-year cycle, with an expected peak in 2013.

Sort of like my writing career in the nineties, which had its peak in 2003.

They also say, in recent years, the sun has appeared quieter than normal, leading scientists to speculate that it was going into an unusually down cycle that seems to happen once a century or so.

Or after it discovers it’s “sun girlfriend” had been stepping out with some young stud supernova.

Supernovas…so full of themselves…so showy.

But that’s how it goes with women suns. They always go for these young flashy types, mostly for the excitement factor, then after that initial burst of light and energy they’re left to wonder what they ever saw in this empty black hole in the first place. 

And in the end, they always go back to the same safe, boring sun they always knew. I mean you don’t just walk away from 4 and half billion years of experience.

You know?

So I’m thinking that’s what this whole thing is all about…a woman sun. 

So silly.

However, the one good outcome from all this solar angst is the amazing show of northern lights that illuminate the sky…in the north…I think.

Magnetic solar wind slams into the Earth's magnetic field, excites electrons of oxygen and nitrogen, thus creating an amazing aurora of green and red.

But you knew that.

I was actually out on my deck the other night and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Wide bands of color dancing through the clouds. It was as if the sky had opened to allow a small glimpse of heaven.

Then I realized it wasn’t the northern lights at all. Just my back door neighbor’s new 80 inch 3D TV shining through the big picture window in his den.

My backdoor neighbor…so full of himself…so showy.

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Valentine Conspiracy

Friday is Valentine’s Day.

Cupids and hearts abounding.

Roses and candy…sweetheart dinners all arounding.


Now I have to go and buy a card.

Maybe a box of candy.

Maybe a cute little cuddly stuffed animal.

Valentine’s Day.


And that’s just for my doctor, who I've only met once, but seems like a nice guy.

Still, that’s the last time I make a doctor’s appointment on Valentine’s Day.

I don’t know what I was thinking.

I guess I wasn’t thinking; that’s the problem.

To be honest, I’m not sure if he’s expecting anything, but I don’t want to take any chances.

You never know.

It’s a funny holiday.

Some people think it’s silly and pointless; just another occasion promoted by the card companies and candy people.

A chance to quadruple the price of red roses.

Others place great significance in it, thinking it speaks volumes about how you feel about a person.  Or they just like getting candy, cards and flowers.

I fall somewhere in the middle. I don’t think it’s a bad idea to take an opportunity to show someone that you love and appreciate them and in turn, value their love and support.

But why do we have to designate a day to that?  Shouldn’t we do that every day?

Do we really need to make a big show of it? 

Are a dozen red roses worth anything to a person just because they’re expected…especially if they don’t even like roses, red or otherwise?

Wouldn’t they prefer to receive a basket of what actually are their favorite flowers on a Wednesday in March…for no special reason other than the sender was thinking of them…which had nothing to do with their great grandmother's antique ceramic cat with those big creepy eyes that follow you wherever you go, even when you’re not in the room with it, that coincidentally just happened to fall off the shelf and onto the floor and smashed into a billion pieces.

Wouldn’t that be a nice surprise?

Or instead of going out for a fancy dinner, at double the prices with triple the crowds, how about ordering in some Chinese take-out and eating alone in front of the fireplace, while College Game Day whispers ever so subtly in the background?

Wouldn’t that be a nice change?

Or instead of spending $6.75 on a talking musical Valentine card, with a sentiment created by some bored freelance writer for $15 bucks a throw, how about leaving a little note of appreciation by the coffee maker on a Tuesday in June. 

How about that?

Always a nice gesture—even with the gentle reminder that an extra half scoop of coffee always enhances the flavor, except in the store bought brands, which nothing helps.

Or telling your spouse that replacing the 40 inch flat screen that was purchased just one month before with a newer 50 inch 3D model is perfectly fine with you….

What greater expression of love and affection can there be than that?


But no…instead we’re held hostage to the great “Valentine Conspiracy” of red roses, cards and candy.

Such creatures of habit and convention, we humans be.

And despite what people say, none of this has anything to do with the bitterness I harbor from the first grade when Marybuttercup Pennyloafers sent everyone in the class a Valentine, except me.

Really…it doesn’t.

Sure, that stung a little when my stack of V’s was one card shorter than everyone else’s.

Do you know how long it took me to go around counting everyone’s pile? Especially since our basic math skills were still in the developmental phase?

But, no… I’m way past that now; especially since Ms. Marybuttercup has not seen a single card from me in years.

That’s right….uh huh, uh huh.

Besides, by now I’m sure her pony tail has long since been restored to its former glory…and how long can glue hold a person's foot in their shoe?

I mean really…how long?

So that’s where I come out on Valentine’s Day. It’s a nice idea gone way too commercial, like everything else that starts out with good intentions.

Z understands my feelings on this and my feeling about her. She doesn’t need all that Valentine fuss and muss.  She doesn’t want nor does she expect me to go to all that bother…hasn’t for years.

She’s okay with it, which is why she lets me stop by our house on Mondays and Thursdays.

Sure…that also happens to be the night the garbage has to go out…but that’s mostly coincidental.

Gotta go…the mails coming soon. 

Maybe there’s a card….