Trading in Nine Lives for Irish Silver

It occurred to me that this St. Patrick’s Day will be the ninth installment of The Irish Post. Which seems more impossible than Kelly Ripa’s love life. And as remarkable a thing as it is, and will be, I ain’t gonna lie. I’m already looking forward to next year.

Irish Post X. 

That is carazy with a capital Kong. It’s a hot Prada enchilada served up on a regatta in Nevada. To the ‘fo of ‘sho. To the legit of no quit. To the verve of swerve and to all of the many and mighty tilted verbs that sobered up inside the written word of a Holy Day’s debauched solemnity.

From the get, The Irish Post has been a crime of passion, and guilt its best defense. The annual Drinks post has never been content with the opaque formalities of absolution, where sins are treated as commodities which can be traded for free passes to the next not so great idea. Instead it regales in the fallen angel who doesn’t give a great good shit to apologize for the sins of every day and everywhere, and everyone.

The installments of this particular series have run wild with comedy and deep with tragedy, as if the flag of Ireland was whispering its tab to the man settling its check. It has tipped the velvet, slow danced with the mysteries and kitsched up the woebegone of days well spent and nights deigned less so.

And what a glorious thing this will always be, to paint pictures of the heavens from the warm embrace of the fiery pits. To dream in colors possessed by sounds. To walk through the wildest fantasies of Joyce and Wilde and all those brilliant madmen whose pens sang acapella with the cosmos. Imagine all that, dressed up in roman numerals.

I’m guessing this year’s Irish Post will just have to make due.

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Be sorry less, be certain always . . . or something like that

I was trying to figure out the best way to reveal the new WordPress crib I got going and then it hit me . . do a re-blog. But it’s pretty fucking pretentious to do a re-blog of your own shit, so I decided I would simply provide a link at the bottom of this post. Not exactly the most exhaustive way to go, but simple. And I am all about simple.

A quick spill on the new place? Sure why not.

Drinks Well with Others was akin to Michael Corleone’s promise to Kay about taking the family into legit business. His “gimme a year or two” turned into several times more than that. And so it was with Drinks, and its getaway driver Cayman Thorn. It lasted much longer than I planned on, and that’s entirely because the company I kept was so damned good.

It was a beautiful, unassuming stretch to be certain. But the plain simple fact is that this blog’s creation was borne of a runaway note. For years, my legs were a scoundrel of  muscle memory borne of the sprint from a wicked little tree. But now, my spirit has stopped giving a shit to hide. I needed some place, somewhere different. I needed to break free of the acrimonious pseudonym and just be me. I needed to be fair to yours truly, and I had to see if it was something that had legs to it. Which explains the lag time of this introduction.

A BIG thank you to all of ‘yall who sent me lovely emails wondering what had become of me. And as promised, here is the new place. You are under no legal obligation to check it out. If you dig Drinks and want to stick with Cayman, I totally understand. I’ll be dishing up my love on Sunday mornings. If you decide you want to take the red pill, it’s just gonna be different.

In the immortal words of Alan Shepard, let’s see where this fucker can take us!

 

 

A Christmas Eve Wish

Christmas Eve on WordPress is like Friday night in a newsroom. Ain’t nobody paying attention to what comes down, because there’s life to attend to. It’s the perfect time to drop this post in, really. Everyone is busy doing their Christmas Eve things, to be followed by Christmas Day things.

This post will just be.

It’s kind of the way Drinks has comported itself over all these many years. It has enjoyed many incarnations in its existence. Each chapter was unique, significant and full of a soulful earnestness that can only happen if you’ve got the attitude for the latitude. If nothing else, this place is all about the importance of being earnest. Over the last seven years, Cayman Thorn was able to choreograph a mostly symphonic facsimile of the voices in his head. It wasn’t always pretty, but it was always him . . . me. Both. He went all hard pipe hitting on the every day annoyances with the savage pith of a sailor on permanent leave. He deconstructed the daily grind whilst laying waste to the minutiae like a Minotaur on meth (say that one time fast). He micro waved the personal into a macro salad of big picture recipes whose meta was a dish best served bold.

I come here not to bury Cayman, nor to praise him (since, yanno . . . I’m him?). I come here to tell you, my beloved blogging friends, that he’ll be “retiring”. As you can see, I have utilized a dub hugging quotation device in order to qualify this retirement gig for Cayman Thorn. He ain’t going away. He’s just gonna work less so’s he can golf more. While I continue to work for the man, of course.

Scaling back on Cayman’s shenanigans means that I’ll be posting on Drinks once a week. The Sunday Morning Coffee Love post has always been a favorite of mine, and now it will become a summary of the week that was, with a musical spill attached. I figure the music videos will help my cranky rants go down just a ‘lil bit easier, so there’s that.

Oh but wait, there’s umm, more! I have a new blog. The new place is in its embryonic stages, but it is finding its legs and it is going to be a lot of fun to grow. I figure the new year is a perfect time to throw a reveal out there for anyone who might be interested in reading. No obligations or expectations, of course. If you’re down, coo. If not, that’s coo too.

But that’s for next week, and next year. For tonight, this night . . for Christmas Eve and for Christmas Day and for Christmas Week, Imma just say thank you for being the reason this place had legs. You made this place worth coming to. You made this place funny and passionate and interesting. You made this place worth it. You, every single you, are the Others that made the drinks friendly. You made this blog a home.

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas

 

Finding Zen from the voices in my head

I learned something about myself as far as storytelling is concerned. I’m really not the natural I thought I might be at this. Being an outgoing person is one thing. Getting up on stage in front of a crowd of complete strangers and producing a coherent story with a beginning, middle and end? It’s a completely ‘nother thing.

My experiences to this point are very much in keeping with my novice rank. I’ve forgotten my place in a story. I’ve left out really good lines. I’ve rambled at times. I cut a story short simply because my nerves got the best of me. Hell, I’m hesitant to take the mic out of its stand for fear I’ll drop it. The feedback I have received has been nothing short of amazing, and I love it when someone comes up to me and hits me with a line I used, it’s great stuff. Still, I grade myself much more critically than these peeps, probably because I know my reach better than they do.

The transition from writing something down to talking something out has necessarily taken on a greater degree of emphasis for me, and in the process has given me a window into my writing. It’s an interesting, and wholly unique, vantage point.

Who knew? I discovered what makes me tick as a writer by involving myself in a creative outlet where I don’t write down a blessed thing. I haven’t written down a blessed thing in what has to be a month’s time now, and yet I’ve been writing every single day. As a person who doesn’t abide by convention, this turns me on.

Storytelling requires a great deal of practice. It also means that I spend a ton of time explaining to people why it is that I’m talking to myself more often than usual.

The idiom that “practice makes perfect” can easily be misunderstood as being emblematic of a pristine finished product when really, there’s no such thing. Practice is growth, and well, growth is scraped knees. It ascribes to the tenets of Zen: The action is your landscape, the steps taken your true goal. Basically, if you’re looking for the way? You’re there.

I had kinda taken it for granted that my ability to write was borne out of some mystical design to which I had no control. And while I do believe there is validity to the “God given” ability to plant words that grow into stories, this mindset left me wanting. A gift is a living, breathing thing. Which means to say, it requires maintenance. And so it was that I learned this rather obvious fact whilst talking out stories.

Storytelling is the ability to borrow the listener’s mind and furnish it with plush scenarios that sate their hunger. You don’t have to be crystalline in your descriptions, but you do have to be bold and decisive. It’s all right there, in that moment. Whereas writing requires an ambitious decree whose evidence takes on a patina-like quality, story telling is akin to prospecting for quicksilver.

My favorite storytellers live and die in the telling of their tale. The connection is so visceral because the potion they’re serving up is a fiery passion whose immediacy hits you upside the head and takes you to wherever it is they’re going. My favorite writers possess an innate ability to connect divinity to that which is tangible. They weave the temporal into a devoutly stitched piece of work whose union is majestic.

I love both sides of this equation.

I’m not there, on either count; not even close. I’m still stepping and plying and learning my way along. Brokering a peace with the ebbs of my writing chops and forging an alliance with the flow of my story telling. I’m in love with how perfectly imperfect the whole process truly is. Honestly, it makes me feel like a kid on the first day of school.

I can deal with that.

The many truths of Momma Judge

It seems the world is going to hell in a hand-basket that was purchased on Amazon . . for twenty bucks, shipping included.

Reading up on current events is sorta like being the dude tasked with cleaning up land mines in Angola. And sadly, the events of the day are just as tragic in their consequences.

Barcelona is just the latest death knell whose reverberations exist in a horrible new age echo chamber whose next chime could be anywhere at any moment. It’s a madness that prospers on the clench of fear; a fear most of us are unaware we carry. Terror is notorious for its clandestine seep.

Sooo, out of the wreckage man has been leaving across the Blue Planet since forever, come questions of good and evil. Because you can’t have one without the other. Good only prevails when we look to grow it. For everyone. Evil has no mechanism for growth, other than what we give it because evil is all about ownership. Good knows there is no such thing. Dalai Lama said it best when he observed that people were created to be loved and things were created to be used, and the reason the world is in chaos is because things are being loved and people are being used.

Possessing true faith means never having to say I want it all. Because if you got faith? I mean, the real deal stuff? You already have it all.

And so it is with this beautiful creation of a story whose incarnations are still being peddled over at The Lovely Fire. It began as a once and done post and it morphed into a love story and now it has taken a turn into something else entirely. It’s a story about the madness of a world where evil reigns, and where the good exists in picking up the pieces and turning the quiet moments into loud and prosperous things.

It’s a reminder that for all the days evil can take from us, it can never take the one thing that will always see us through.

Faith.

The Lovely Fire

The latest round of posts here at The Lovely Fire will include many of the old, familiar faces while introducing a couple of new characters to the mix. This installment introduces us to Momma Judge- a character who crossed paths and became good friends with Sam and Dave in the pre-zombie world and who is looking to find her way to them in the new age. While Momma may not have been as close to these crazy kids as their adoptive mother Rosa, she has made a journey to the lighthouse thanks to the mysterious dreams of a man named Bob Marley and an unshakable faith in the tether of love and friendship. I hope you enjoy . . . 

Cayman 

(A huge shout out to Christy for her peerless editorial skills. Thank you Christy, for the beauty you bring to the drudgery of details. It’s very much appreciated.) 

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A Million Miles From Camelot

I figured out what it was. This inability to build a lucid narrative on Trump; an affliction I’ve been toting around since November of last year when reality TV met up with the real thing. It’s because to talk about the man would simply lead me down a rabbit hole whose confined space would force me to rant instead of reason. I would equivocate rather than elucidate. In other words, I would be screaming textually rather than arguing sensibly.

And then this past weekend happened. I was busy as all get out, but who can run away from that kind of news? I mean, really. There’s no place to run and hide when something like Charlottesville happens.  And when it happens inside of an already turbulent time, it kind of feels like Mephistopheles scored the deed to our backyard.

Horrible events such as this leave you with a dull ache- full of hopelessness and dread, for what might come next. Because the worst days always seem to have a sequel just waiting to be unleashed, especially nowadays. To be a true believer in this day and age is akin to being accused of witchcraft in Salem back in the day. You’re a freakish misfit to the villagers. And I guess that’s where I came to understand why it is that I have been silent for so long on Trump.

Out of disbelief? Partly. Out of dread for what comes next? Mostly. Out of fear that I wouldn’t be able to stitch the right nouns to the proper verbs and make it cohesive enough sounding without coming off as a fraternal member of the Young Turks? Definitely.

Until now. Until Charlottesville. And I really hate the fucking timing of this post, because it means that Saturday happened. It’s like a meteor crashed down on my clueless skull and opened me up to the truth of the matter, and how to express it.

I don’t believe in blaming others unless they are directly responsible, which is another reason why I couldn’t bring myself to write on Trump for the last ten months. Because I most certainly wasn’t blaming him for all those votes he got. And I wasn’t even blaming all the people who thought he was the best idea this country had left, even if they were woefully wrong on that point.

No, I blamed the people such as myself. The ones who voted for Hilary and thought that was all it was going to take, and all the others who didn’t think she needed their vote to win by a slam dunk. I was one of those people who made fun of a Trump presidency, over and over and over again. Until November happened, and all the humor of such a thing became an Orwellian story line come to life.

And now, none of it is funny or irreverent. Now, it’s just a series of piss poor comedic skits with no punch lines. Now it’s just a sad and lonely and interminably long truth.

I wish I had some pretty words to dole out, on how we all have to come together and how peace and unity is the only way. But right now, it feels as if that “I Have A Dream” speech by Martin Luther King happened inside another world. Right now, it feels as if there is more of Charlotteville where Saturday came from. Because we have a President who never met a middle ground he didn’t blow to smithereens. And now, he has the guns to do just that, in more ways than the horrible one.

I can’t blame Trump for what James Alex Fields did in Charlottesville. Because to do so would be to buy in to the trade off of accountability that has allowed us to arrive at this mess in time. Fields made the decision to kill and injure when he plowed his car into a group of people. Just as those Nazi’s of another mother country and the white nationalists with their Tiki torches made the decision to be moral degenerates long before Trump came into office.

My problem with Trump has nothing to do with the actions of these disenfranchised losers. I don’t blame Trump for their seething hatred and bitter ignorance. Trump didn’t make these people who they are.

My problem with Trump is that he accepted it.

Slugfests, Southpaws and a Summer Wind

The historian Bruce Catton once referred to baseball as the greatest conversation piece America ever invented. While it was a critique of the game’s leisurely pace, he unwittingly pointed out one of its best qualities. Because the game is meant to be talked over, in stops and starts for its better and worse.

I recently took in an Atlantic League baseball game with my pal Gus. It was the hometown Lancaster Barnstormers against the Sugar Land Skeeters. The league is independent, which means none of its teams is affiliated with a big league squad. As far as household names go, the ‘Stormers have Lastings Milledge, an outfielder who played parts of seven seasons with the Mets, Nationals, Pirates and White Sox before opting for free agency after the 2011 season. He hasn’t seen a big league clubhouse since that day, which makes him the baseball equivalent of Tom Hanks in Castaway; holding onto a slim and distant hope. And aside from owning one of my favorite baseball names, he owns a dream that won’t let him quit the diamond just yet.

The dreams these men carry aren’t big ones. Most of them would be ecstatic to score a thirty day contract with some minor league club. Because a thirty day contract somewhere else, is somewhere closer than the last exit outposts they’re toiling away in.

I told Gus that I had a good feeling about things, because our starting pitcher was a lefty. In my humble baseball opinion, left-handed pitchers are a magical thing. Never mind that I didn’t know his name and had no blessed clue whether he could pitch worth a damn. By the time the top of the first inning had concluded, I had received my answer to the tune of a 5-o lead by the visitors.

We made our way to the concession stands and dug into some barbecue while the home team began chipping away at the lead. The game settled for a bit and we watched as our lefty pitcher battled despite the fact his curve ball wasn’t curving and his fast ball was playing around with other men. And then the Skeeters were jumping him again and so me and Gus, we changed the subject for a while.

When it comes to the company you want to keep at a baseball game, you’re not going to get much better than Gus. His conversation chases the ebb whilst paying all due respect to the flow. Sitting in the stands on a summer evening is like listening to a thousand radio songs- filled with white knuckle debate and the laughter of reminisce.

Gus is from Lafayette, Louisiana- born and raised. His vowels are clipped and his drawl goes long when he’s slow dancing with a story. I asked him about Vietnam and he talked about his brother Roger who served in the Army, Special Forces. He made it back, but a part of him never returned; like a jigsaw puzzle with a few really important pieces missing. There was Anthony, his other big brother who served in the Marines before being sent home after stepping on a land mine. While the rehab on his mangled leg was tedious and painful, Anthony was one of the lucky ones.

My pal tells stories in thickly painted vignettes whose mystic is dressed in the scenes of a long ago time. In this instance, he had delivered up suede and bell-bottoms, long hair and peace signs with a fresh vinyl feeling to that Buffalo Springfield war song.

And so a baseball evening’s worth of conversation began in Vietnam as the home team tried digging out of a 5-0 deficit. The talk moved into family as they tied it at 7 and it nestled into thoughts on religion as the teams made the scoreboard operator earn his paycheck on this night.

It was at the end of the sixth inning when Gus took his leave. He had a lovely bride of forty eight years to get home to and so I walked with him to the outfield exit before I asked him for one more baseball night before the leaves turned.

I walked down to the benches behind the outfield wall and took a seat for one more inning. Baseball might lend itself to conversation, but there is plenty of come on to be had in the silence as well. The Skeeters were clinging to a 11-9 lead in the bottom of the seventh when Beau Amaral delivered up the kind of magic our starting pitcher wasn’t able to find. He smacked a 2-2 pitch into a gaping stretch of real estate in left field that Steve Bartman would’ve appreciated. He rounded second before the left fielder could turn to pivot and he was racing home as the throw hit the third baseman’s glove on the relay, and he was sliding across home plate with an inside the park home run as the ball went sailing over the catcher’s head.

Beau Amaral has a great baseball name, and he has something many of his teammates have run out of. Time. Twenty six and fresh off a stint with the Reds Triple A club, he’s tearing up the ball to the tune of a .359 batting average with the ‘Stormers. He’s killing it for another shot at the big time, in the hopes he can catch a scout’s eye and start that most time honored of baseball things.

A conversation.