Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Small Victories For a New Year

Another year draws to a close and after a lot of decades spent chasing dreams, I’ve finally figured something out.

Life is about the small victories…not the big.

You know...the little things that stitch together your personal world, every single day.

Staying healthy.

Having a roof over your head.

A bed to sleep in.

A premium cable package with HBO, Starz, Encore…and Showtime…plus on demand.

Instead of spending your days fretting if you’ll ever write that life changing novel, how about being happy with that long overdue letter you finally wrote to your long ago best friend that made him or her cry...even though it was supposed to be funny and you thought they wore those odd socks on purpose.

Instead of beating yourself up over how long it’s taking you to get into that corner office, how about being happy you actually have a job...and doesn’t everybody love the fry guy.

Instead of envying your friends who can afford to jet off to warmer climes, every winter, how about being happy that you were able to squeeze another winter out of your boiler...despite the constant squealing from your CO2 detectors.

Friday, December 25, 2015

An Early Christmas Morn

So the Christmas Eve feast is complete and the stockings are hung by the chimney with some amount of care.

The air is still, the only sound, chatter from the stars, which leaves me here, alone, at 1 AM, on a more than mild, night before Christmas, scanning the skies, with the hope that something might appear, maybe even Santa Claus...even if it’s only the one I still conjure in my head.

Just something I like to do on early Christmas mornings, digging up magic that just for a moment, once again, I can believe; like the kid I once was, believed.

When I was that kid, the excitement of Christmas morning was overwhelming.

I mean, really...all one had to do was write up a list of things I...I mean one...wanted and this fat old guy named Santa would deliver them under my...I mean...your tree.

Who could make something like that up?

It had to be true!  There was no other explanation!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Of Longer Days and Shorter Nights

Longer days await us...once we get past this, the longest night of the year.

Winter Solstice occurs today at 11:48 PM EST, or at the exact time I’m posting this account of the topsy turvy, seasonal event.

So, if you’d like to take this story and stand it on its head, it should balance perfectly on one end or the other, due to the equidistant placement of the earth’s poles...or something like that.

Or you might start clucking like a chicken.

Not sure which

I don’t know...I’m just making stuff up I think I may have heard one time, somewhere on some TV station that was asking for money, so don’t blame me for inaccuracies

Besides...it’s almost midnight, the sun is standing still in the sky...someplace...for the next few days...and you expect me to research this stuff?

In any case, the good news is...now the days will begin to get a little longer, one day at a time as the nights get a little shorter, one night at a time, just like my old Aunt Mabel, who claims she’s lost about 4 inches since the 90s.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Tis the Season: Cozy Christmas Warmth

There’s been an extra special warmth attached to Christmas this year.

And I don’t mean in a raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens...bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens kind of way. 

Or even a brown paper packages tied up with string...thing.

No, I mean an actual warmth...as in temps in the 50s and 60s more days than not...way.

And I have to admit, it takes a bit away from all that cozy snow flaky sweater bundling and snowman scarf wrapping...not to mention all the hunkering under ice-skating penguin blankets while cradling hot chocolate and toddies between our icy cold frostbitten palms.

Plus the jolly old fella up north is finding that heavy red suit to be a little on the steamy side, this year.

So it’s hard to imagine that Christmas is only a week away.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Tis the Season: The Mall the Merrier

I went to the mall the other day...a rare trip, unaccompanied, not so much to shop, but to pretend to shop and look at the things or variations of things that I’ve already bought on-line.

I’m not sure if any of that makes sense, but hey...when has that ever mattered and it’s never stopped me before.

I find if I don’t at least make an attempt to do a little mall shopping during the season to be jolly, I feel as if I’m missing out on something.

I mean, other than the overpriced parking.

So I walk the mall, which to be honest is not all that crowded for a late, rainy weekday morning in the height of shopping season, which normally would be just fine with me, but during the Holidays, the more the merrier, especially if you’re hoping to experience super pre-Christmas stress.

There wasn’t even a hint of a line at the hot pretzel counter.

I mean, what’s the fun in not being able to wait on the pretzel line for 35 minutes only to find they don’t have any plain un-buttered, but they can make you one, fresh, if you wait another 10 minutes?

You know....

No wait annoyance just doesn’t cut it.

Nuh uh...not during the holidays.

Not only that, but the so called “festive” mall decor leaves a lot to be desired, these days.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Tis the Season: Lessons in Lighting

I’ve been doing a lot of Christmassy type stuff, lately. 

If you celebrate Christmas or just acknowledge the season, you’ve probably been too.

If you don’t celebrate Christmas or just acknowledge the season, you’ve probably been watching the rest of us doing a lot of Christmassy type stuff, lately...shaking your head and having a good laugh about it.

Because to a distant observer, I imagine it must seem somewhat odd to see your neighbors—the same neighbors who spend the majority of spring, summer and fall, mostly laying out in the backyard sipping margaritas, at least until the new Netflix schedule comes out—suddenly dragging out and climbing ladders to hang decorated wreaths high on their houses, and untangling, or attempting to untangle, string after string of festive, holiday light bulbs the size of a small legume.

Especially if said string of festive, holiday light bulbs the size of a small legume, hung, laboriously with care, blazes with good cheer...but only for a few seconds...before it then goes completely dark...or worse, only half dark...leaving you to wonder what to do with the half that’s completely blown out.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving: Everything Happens for a Reason

It’s been said that everything happens for a reason.

It’s also been said that everything happens in its time.

And, in my experience, while this may or may not be true, these things are often said by people who may or may not owe you money...and the guy down the street whose kid just put a hockey puck through your driver’s side window.

But since today we’re celebrating our annual day of Thanksgiving, which means I’m feeling the effects of an overabundance of abundance—not to mention tryptophan—I’m inclined to take the less cynical view—for once—and think: Yeah, things do happen for a reason and in their own time.

And who can’t use a little optimism these days, given all the things in the world we can’t control...which includes standing on an endless line in the middle of a box store of your choice hoping to score one of the last 900 inch HDTVs going for $29.99...even before you use your 30% off coupon!

This past summer I told you about our impending trip to the Emerald Isle to search for Leprechauns...plus visit the Irish half of my ancestral roots and the old homestead where my Gramps, Sargent Jim Moloney of the P.C.P.D—circa 1920s thru 1950s—grew up in a rather large family that resulted in nearly a couple of hundred descendants, scattered all over the world.

And back in June most of those descendants actually “descended” on the town of Loughrea, County Galway to re-connect, and in many cases, myself included, actually connect for the very first time.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Half Brain Will Travel

Sitting here on a rainy November morning, trying to write something that will stick to something or someone is, I guess, a lot better than sitting there on a rainy November morning, trying to write something that will stick to something or someone...because at least here I don’t have to smile all that much.

Hmmmm...I don’t think that’s it.  No sticking there at all.

Which is odd because one would think that a gloomy fall morning would foster a thread of introspection and open up the door to a plethora of thoughtful ideas.

But that’s how one is, always the optimist, whereas two is just thinking maybe that bagel would have been better if it had been toasted a little bit more.  

Two...never satisfied, no matter what the season.

Nahhhhh...that doesn’t do it, either. Besides, I’ve done the one/two thing more than once...or twice...maybe even thrice. 

I don’t know, well into Retort year 5, it’s becoming harder and harder to share stuff that anyone with even half a brain would find interesting, let alone compelling.

Not that I think any of you have half a brain...I don’t.

Wait...that came out wrong. I mean I know most of you have more than half a brain...way more.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Halloween—Trick or Treat? - Again

Another Halloween is upon us....whether we want it or not. 
Luckily, not much changes with Halloween from year to year, except for the measurable inches of snow we sometimes receive.

I'd like to stay and chat some more, but I'm having trouble locating one of my mouse ears and one mouse ear just doesn't fly, especially with the witches next door who are sticklers when it comes to potion preparation. 


From the Archive of Retort - October 31, 2011



Trick or Treat!

Where's the snow shovel?

Hey Dude, you’re stepping on my tail!

Ho Ho Ho!

All things you normally hear on Halloween…except maybe the Ho ho ho.

Actually, now that I think about it, there’s probably going to be a Christmas commercial running somewhere the minute you turn off the lights on the Trick or Treaters.

Can’t start too early.

Halloween is one of those “holidays” that you either love or hate. To the uninhibited among you, you love it and begin plotting your costume-ware as early as July…maybe sooner.

I’m thinking you’re also a big fan of practical jokes. Can’t get enough of those fart cushions at parties!

To the inhibited, of whom I count myself, the thought of picking out some self-conscious bunny eared costume complete with cotton tail is…well…not pleasant.

Okay…sure… I had a bad experience once. But that officer was way out of line.

Luckily, Z looked so adorable in her little baby doll outfit that she was able to talk him out of using the cuffs...at least the metal ones.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

I’m a Met fan! - From the Archive of Retort

Seemed like a good day to resurrect this one from July 2011.

Not sure why....


I’m a Met fan!

I’m not ashamed
to say it.

I’m a Met fan!

There I said it again…

It’s not like it’s my choice. 

No…there’s no choice involved.

Who would choose to go through what a Met fan goes through in a lifetime?

No…it’s not a choice. It’s a way of life.  It’s who we are; how we were born. 

It’s genetically pre-determined.

Like other traits that wrap around our DNA: loyalty, truthfulness, trustfulness, kindness, grumpiness, pragmatist, fatalist, pessimist…even how we tie our shoes. 

None of it’s our choice; it’s just who we are.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

What Happened to the Future? - Again

I've put this one up a couple of times, now. But I suppose it's a bit apropos today since I keep hearing about all this "Back to the Future" stuff and what did and didn't come true. Some version of it might have, but most of it didn't.  Plus, I've never been satisfied with my hover board and I still haven't paid off my credit card bill from 1985.... 

Here from the past, 10/5/2011, into the future, 10/21/2015....


What happened to the future?

 I mean the future everyone was talking about when I was a kid back in the 60’s.

The one where we all lived propped up on mile high towers in near-space where the stars shone all the time. We drove, or flew rather, on skyways in tiny little space cars enclosed with synthetic see through bubble tops. 

Hi-tech machines and robots took care of all of our menial chores, including bathing, brushing our teeth and even dressing ourselves.  All you need do was push a few buttons and off you went down a conveyor belt and into some sort of electronic phone booth where, within seconds, you emerged from the other side fully clothed and ready for your day at the sprocket factory…but not before saying goodbye to Jane your wife…daughter Judy and your boy Elroy.

What happened to that future with all the cool toys that were promised, like wall size 3D holographic interactive TVs, indoor dog walkers and robots named Rosie to keep your sky pad up and running in tip top button pushing shape? 

Friday, October 16, 2015

Of Leaf Blowers and Men

It’s fall, which means its leaf blower season.

But when isn’t it leaf blower season?

In the height of summer when there’s nary a wayward leaf to be found, a gaggle of landscapers whoosh away worms, ants or anything else they can or can’t see, including small pets and wayward children, off the affluent lawns left in their charge.

Even in winter, some Yo Yos are out blowing snow off their sidewalks.

But fall...fall is when the leaf blowers really come out in force, attacking in coordinated precision each leaf before it even touches down onto a single bend of grass.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Still Summer for Zombies

Unlike me, the Zombies across the street have definitely not embraced the fall.

In fact, they’re very much still in summer mode...which is disturbing, even in July.

You know, because of the skimpy European bathing attire they favor.

I mean, even on the best of bods, that kind of thing makes conversation, let’s say, uncomfortable...and most Zombie bods—at least what’s left of them—are far from the best of anything.

Not that, they’re to blame. Decomp will take its toll on all of us.

It’s just that, most likely, we won’t be sunbathing in the front yard well into October.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Embracing Fall

I embraced the fall yesterday...at about 3:42 PM.

I was wearing shorts at the time, but still embraced it, nonetheless.

So that’s done....

And, surprisingly—or not so surprisingly, depending on your point of view—the whole thing occurred pretty seamlessly.

No great rumbles...or swirling winds. 

Not even a bolt of lightning.

It actually just slipped into the middle of my very ordinary afternoon while I was stuck waiting for the light to change, outside the Stop & Shop.

You know, the endless light that takes forever to cycle through a half dozen different traffic patterns before you get your very brief turn to go.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Getting Squirrely

The squirrels around here have been acting...well, squirrely.

Which is probably better than acting fishy...at least for the squirrels.

I guess it’s that time of year when squirrels figure the days are running short where it comes to completing all their pre-winter chores before the NFL season starts getting serious.

So they’re running around the yard...this way and that...gathering nuts, burying nuts and digging up the same nuts they just buried.

Nutty, huh.

I’ve had my issues with squirrels in the past and even employed my own personal squirrel whisperer to “reason” with them.

But, since then, I’ve come to terms with the fact that squirrels will be squirrels and all those small little holes in my lawn are just the price of doing business in suburbia.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Never Done

I’ve come to realize...I’m never going to be done.

Which, to most of you, must seem odd, since it probably appears I’ve never gotten started.  

So there’s that....

Most folks have things in life they want to accomplish, so they develop a plan, work hard, stay the course...until one day...they’re done.

Free to rest easy knowing they did all they could do, as best as they could and achieved what it was they set out to achieve in some form or another, to some degree or another.

Throw a line in the water, open a book, sleep on a beach or travel the world...they’re done.

They’re done and now they get to reap all the peace of mind being done entails.

Like that feeling you had on the last day of school...done.

Oh, I don’t mean they won’t have new challenges and more mountains to climb...not that kind of rocking chair done.

And I don’t mean they didn’t achieve all kinds of smaller goals along the way.

I’m sure they did and after every such accomplishment they kicked back and smoked a celebratory stogie, metaphorically or literally...depending on how much they value their taste buds.

And I envy that...I envy that peace of mind.

Because for the most part I have a very not so peaceful mind.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Magic in the Night

The sound of crickets fascinates me… mostly in the summer, cuz let’s face it…if you hear crickets in the winter, you’ve got more to worry about than crickets.

Right now, they’re on their last noisy legs, fighting the change of season and the ensuing evening chill.

Taken alone, most of you probably wouldn’t even notice a cricket...similar to my experience in High School.

You probably don’t even know what one looks like...and no, there’s no top hat and tails involved.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Summer Says So Long with Fall Felicitations

Summer slipped out of town early this morning, and to tell you the truth, it was ready. 
Summer worked hard this year and even put in some late season OT, cranking out mid 80 degree temps and sunshine, right up until the end. 

So believe me, there was no season more relieved than Summer to see Fall skipping into town carrying its assortment of pumpkins,cider, colorful foliage and all the other autumnal trappings Fall is famous for.

There was even a brief exchange between the two, right on the equinox, just before Summer happily slipped over the edge.

I have no idea what was said, but I think it might have had something to do with how tricky it is to operate the new toaster oven we picked up in July.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Big Brrrrrrr

The Big Brrrrrrr has arrived.

In some ways, it’s a bit hard to believe.

Septem-brrrrrrr, already.

La-brrrrrrr Day, knocking on the door.

Seems as if it were just Janu-wary.

And by this time next week, a lot of people will be declaring summer over...at least unofficially.

But we were able to squeak out a couple of extra weeks from summer this year...unofficially I mean.

Summer, the official  season, is still the same number of days as it is every year, as it is for every season; approximately 90 days.

However, being the media brainwashed, marketing puppet pods that we are, we follow the rules of Memorial Day to La-brrrrrrr Day, to define our unofficial summer...and this year they are as far apart from each other as they could possibly be; May 25th to Septem-brrrrrrr 7th .

Last year the unofficial end of summer was Septem-brrrrrrr 1st and some folks had already curled up into a fetal position in their beach chairs by now.  

Now I get a whole extra week before I...I mean...they have to do that.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Mad at the Moon

I was sitting on the beach the other day pondering some of life’s more ponderous questions; like why use “pondering” or “ponderous” when I could just say “thinking” or “difficult”?

Because it sounds smarter?

But what’s wrong with sounding smarter?

I know...ponderous...huh?

Or do we really have to add stuff to pretzels to make them taste better than they already do?

Cheerios, maybe....but pretzels?

There’s enough questionable stuff going on in the world that we really don’t need to pile on with anymore nonsense.

Do we?

So of course I have a few things to add that we all just take for granted as everyday occurrences, and merely look the other way.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Humid is as Humid Does - From Aug. 6, 2012

I know...I've been scarce lately.  Except around the belt line...I've been plentiful there.

We were off on another vacation last week.  Nothing dramatic as the last one.

Down at the shore for a few days, a hike in the woods, a baseball game, across to the shore over there.

So now I'm two vacations behind in my tale telling.

But I'm getting closer...I can feel it.

Unless that's just remnants of last night's eggplant parmigiana ....

Hard to tell.

In the meantime, while I ponder that....here's something from 2012 that seems pretty relevant....

 From August 6, 2012:

Humid is as Humid Does 

The humidity the last few days has been insidious and unrelenting.

Okay, maybe that’s a little harsh.

Perhaps insidious is too strong a word and not one really applicable to a large warm air mass…unless you’re referring to one of my distant cousins, twice removed (but always returns), on my great aunt's side.

I mean literally, the guy is attached to my great aunts side.


I guess the better word for it is insufferable, because that’s what it is…insufferable, defined:

“So annoying, unpleasant, or uncomfortable as to be unbearable….”

Hey...why does that make me feel self-conscious?

Even weirder, huh?

Maybe I was a little too quick to heap all those nice words on August the other day.

It’s not really keeping up its end of the bargain, is it?

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Fat Summer! - From August 8, 2011

I was thinking of declaring this "Repeat Summer" since it seems that's all I've been capable of turning out here on these pages since July.  But in truth...and sometimes lies...I regret to  say, I must once again go back to the summer of 2011 and drag Fat Summer out again...both in spirit and in girth. 

Yeah, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Fat Summer just seems to be a mainstay, with me.

In fact it just plain stays on me...year after year after belly busting year.

From August 8th, 2011:


Fat Summer

It’s official.

Vacation is over and it's time to declare….

In the past we’ve had Dragon Fly Summer, due to the unusual proliferation of dragon flies in the area.

Flip Flop Summer, for they seemed to be everywhere that year, too, even though, as I said in the recent past, I disdain them for personal use due to my hairy toes.

Turtle Summer (see Dragon Fly Summer above).

Nasty Rash Summer, of which I won’t trouble you with the details.

And now.…

The moment you’ve all been waiting for…..

As 2011 was...now 2015 has been officially designated as….

 Fat Summer….

Yep...that's right....

Fat Summer....

I thought in February it could be avoided. Thought there was oodles of time (oodles?) to shed a few pounds or 15.

Thought the same in March, April even May.

But once June settled in, I knew…I was sunk.  Those 15 pounds weren’t going anywhere. 

Too many G & T's and Summer Brew enhanced sunsets on the deck.

Too many bagels and cream cheese breakfasts as I retorted.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

About August - From August 1, 2012

I couldn't help noticing that it's suddenly August; the month that creates pits in some summer folks' stomachs.  But, for the most part, August gets a bum rap...back to school ads be damned. 

Here's why... 

From August 1, 2012:


About August

The best thing about August is it’s not September…or October…or any of the other brrrrrrrrrrr months.

But they're getting close….and that makes a lot of us feel a little claustrophobic, as if the season of lilting leaves is starting to close in on us.

Yeah…I know…a little dramatic.

Some folks call it the dog days of summer....

Not sure how the dogs feel about that...let alone August.

August is actually one of the busiest vacation months there is; probably one of the nicest as well.

After a hot sweltering start, a gift passed on from its pal July, August often begins to cool a little, especially in the evenings.

The muggy haze of a sweltering mid-summer begins to give way to a succession of clear comfortable nights where the stars are just a fingertip away.

So enjoy it and stop your whining….

August is really kind of like the Wednesday of months.  Kind of stuck in a bad spot on the calendar, through no fault of its own.

I mean really, when you think about it, it’s not that much different than July…without the fireworks.

Besides...have any of us been all that thrilled with July's performance this year?


The beaches are in peak form in August. The water is warm, when you need it to be warm and cool when you need it to be cool.

August is very accommodating in that way…in a lot of ways…it has to be.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Back Attack - From May 21, 2012

It's been an interesting week, so far.  The other day, I was attacked by the propane tank I was putting in the trunk of my car, which resulted in this odd popping sound emanating from the front of my shoulder. It was kind of cool actually. I mean except for the excruciating pain that followed for a period...not to mention the semi-colon and a comma.  But I'm okay, I mean, as long as I don't use my right arm for anything.  It also makes it difficult to manipulate my mouse, which makes it difficult to type...which means I'm off the hook for at least another week.  Plus the mouse is pretty happy, as well.

Not to hog the injury spotlight, I should also mention that Z pulled her back out of whack over the weekend, as well. But, once again, she had no business bending over to pick up that grocery bag...even if it was an empty grocery bag. 

But the sliver lining is I was reminded of this little ditty from a few years back, so to speak, and thought I would take it out for another spin around the block...seeing as neither of us will be seeing the other side of the block for a few days, ourselves....

From May 21, 2012:

Back Attack

Z threw out her back on Saturday.

Yep…just got tired of it and put it out in the garage with the rest of the trash.

I told her that maybe she should have waited until she got the new one before throwing out the old one…but nope…out it went.

Actually, all kidding aside, she really did do something to her back. 

I’ve been warning her to be more careful. Not to take all those risky chances she's so fond of; but she doesn’t listen.  She just plows ahead and does crazy things like picking up that bottle of Clorox in the grocery store.


So now someone's paying the price.

I know….

But I guess it could be worse.

I mean she could be screaming and moaning A LOT more than she is.

Which would be even more annoying.

So I’m dealing….