Simple Thing

There is something mystical about a simple gesture. I was driving to work yesterday afternoon when I witnessed just such a thing whilst stopped at a red light. It involved a young homeless man, a veteran I think; he takes up residence at a busy intersection near the local mall. I’ve seen him several times over the last week, dressed in his ratty jeans and a cardboard sign asking for help. His belongings fit inside a beat up old backpack, and I am ashamed to admit that yesterday was the first time I took notice of these things. Thanks to an older gentleman who performed a simple and totally random act of kindness on a Thursday afternoon.

It was getting hot and I had the AC pumping and Live humming its way through my sound system, caught inside my titanium sheathed bubble in which the whole wide world was my sovereign child. All that mattered to me was recording a story idea I’d come up with for the local Story Slam, and then reality was smacking me upside the head as I watched this older gentleman doing this kid a favor. Doing the whole world a favor, really.

The kindly old fellow got out of his car and opened his trunk, where he fetched a baseball cap for the kid dressed in struggle who calls the intersection home. That was it, the whole thing, that. The gift of a baseball cap that was making me feel as if a million dollars had just changed hands. And I wondered if the other witnesses to this beautiful moment were paying the same kind of attention as me. I wondered if they saw the purpose of such a thing, and the lessons it was dealing up.

And I stopped recording while Ed Kowalcyk railed on about misery and hope being maternal twins of an earth whose best days are hard to come by. And I cried, a glorious feeling kind of cry that wasn’t ashamed or self conscious. It just was. And I prayed for that kid some, and I gave thanks for that old dude. And the world seemed to make sense, if only for the moment, at that busy intersection . . on a Thursday afternoon in the middle of another working day.

You really shouldn’t sweat the small stuff. You should embrace it.

 

 

Why rent out my mind when it’s a seller’s market?

It occurs to me that my brain gets more interesting every day. Too bad my long term memory has gone all short term on me. Or is that a good thing? Anyways, here are a few of my favorite thoughts since sitting down to dinner. As Keanu Reeves would say, Vaya Con Dee Ohs.

-Watched the Halloween as per of a Rob Zombie reboot this evening. Fucking A, the man has a genius to him that I crush on madly. His rendition is actually . . . oh  . . how did I refer to it today? Oh yeah. My ‘happy place’. Yep, I’m gonna be residing in the fiery pits on the other side of all this hilarity. Fun people? Hit me up!

-I got one of my best pals (And a huge Tebow hater) to say the following . . . verbatim. “Tim Tebow is God’s homie.” And it only cost me a couple of Heineken big ones to coax it out of him. Okay, maybe you had to be there to get the satisfaction.

-Wait a minute! Ice Cube created a 3 on 3 league? And it starts tonight? In Brooklyn? And . . I’m curently watching it as I write this post . . .

-Deep dish pizza is the best pizza. Yes, this Bronx born son just said that. But hey, I have made both of these pie plates by hand with genuine pizza dough (not the store bought crap), and well . . . deep dish is still winning. I went all Luca Brasi with my sweet Italian sausage version last night. Which is the mafioso way of saying . . . Killed It! 

-The Cubs? Not so much winning going on there. And I think I love that fact more than deep dish.

-And not for nothing, but if the Red Sox win it all this season? Welp, they bought a title. Hey, as a Yankees fan who has been hearing that shit forever . . . it’s all about the fair play of a turnabout.

-Oh shit, I almost forgot. As far as the Rob Zombie masterpiece of a Halloween reboot goes, I can’t stop falling in love again with his music placement. Going with one of my all time favorite Rush songs . . Tom Sawyer? In the truck stop scene? Only a writer on the level of Isaac Newton (Or Quentin Tarantino . . . same diff) would be able to grasp that kind of gravitas. Wow? Meet za.

(Since I have a sweet spot finish for this post, Imma throw one of my favorite Rush spills in right here.)

-Ann Curry, you are my Joe DiMaggio in curls. And please, please, please! Come back!

-Katie Couric? Stay wherever you are.

-That Friday the 13th game I have actually been playing on PS4 . . . kicks. Ass.

-I can’t believe I just said that. Much less . . . meant it.

-And might there be a future post on this Friday the 13th game? Call Vegas right now, and win big with the yes.

-Speaking of . . . What if you would have gone to Vegas, like thirty years ago, and tried to lay money on this here bet? That America’s Father (at the time) Bill Cosby would be known as a sexual predator . . that the saintly Joe Paterno was covering up child rape (he was), and that Donald Trump would be elected President in 2016? Vegas books would’ve been like, “Yeah, and the Raiders are moving to Vegas.” And well, there’s that.

-Just finished watching Season 3 of Fargo, and while I didn’t find it to be the strongest of the entries thus far,  it was still plenty satisfying. Which is why this show is still my favorite. Because its not lazy in the buildup, and it’s not predictable in the end. And if you’re a fan of writing for writing’s sake, you understand.

-The Yankees woeful present tense is still better than what I had imagined for this season. So, nope . . I’m not fluxed. Even the slightest bit.

-And as far as the Red Sox are concerned (because I can’t bring myself to stop brawling with Yawkey Way) . . . I have been in touch with Neil Diamond’s agent, and he is open to a Buffalo Wild Wings dinner. Soooooo . . . that fucker is gonna be mine. Figure out your late innings anthem from here, Beanies!

-I promised myself I wouldn’t fall for a Starbucks drink this summer, so . . . umm. Well, damn you Midnight Mint Mocha and S’Mores fraps!

-I miss smoking every single day. So thank you running, thank you for keeping me from going back.

-Hey, I damn fraps and I give thanks to running. It keeps me even. Because the meds . . . are way more expensive.

-The idea of D Wade joining up with the Cavs next season? I am totally fluxed. Because guess what King James! You only started winning anything after you rented a room in D Wade’s house on South Beach! And yes, that’s how I feel about it.

-Still, if Carmelo joins up with the James Gang, Imma be excited for the Land. Much.

-But D Wade? Please go anywhere else, with the anywhere else meaning the Lakers. Or Heat. Or hells, just hit up Ice Cube.

-When did commercials become philosophy class? Have we become that shallow? Ugh, people!

-I haven’t watched CNN, FOX or MSNBC in over a month now. And to think, once upon a time, politics was my favorite swing. Damn. How times have changed.

-Is Trump still President? Wait . . don’t answer that. I’ve tricked myself into believing Harrison Ford is running things.

-Harrison beat out Michael Douglas in my imaginary (enough) America.  The runoff was decided in a Chopped showdown. Which is no more ridiculous than what actually happened. In fact, it’s much less so.

–If Ice Cube is reading this . . . I can still hit a spot up 3. With much certainty. Just. Saying.

-I bought myself a Harambe stuffed animal yesterday. Because as far as my stuffed animals go, I Never, Ever, Forget.

-Shared a cool story with my son’s girlfriend tonight about how me and some of my peeps once sat outside the Trust Building in Lancaster City, Pa and listened to Ed Kowalczyk of Live do his thing. It was one of my all time favorite free concerts. Right up there with the late great Robert Palmer’s Jones Beach gig, which I took in from the parking lot whilst waiting on my girlfriend back in high school.

-So lemme get this straight. Peter Jennings is dead and Bill O’ Reilly . . oh, never mind. Life ain’t fair.

-Was that too soon? For O’ Reilly?

-Well, it was too soon for Jennings. So let’s call it a tie.

-3 Headed Monsters WIN! Bill Clinton would be proud.

The high five of a cosmic smile

As far as serendipitous involvements are concerned, there are few cooler moments than tuning in to someone’s hum of a song that was busy playing through your head moments earlier. Unfiltered, unfettered and so very fine. As in . . all feng shui with none of the aforethought. That’s how it happened for me yesterday afternoon, after work; as I waited on my pal so’s we could get busy with some much needed java whilst ruminating on the carnival of NFL free agency buzz.

I was busily strutting through the big fat middle of freshly pressed varietals when I passed this kindly looking retiree aged woman who was throwing down on some Gladys Knight. She was wearing an olive green turtleneck sweater and a white beaded necklace and a hat straight out of Carly Simon’s closet- a brown cowgirl hat with figure eight patterned leather hugging its waist.

“Save the Overtime” is what this lady was humming, and I just locked in. It was a metaphysical evaluation, gone to the solid quick of my way back in time preferences. And by the time it was too late to turn back, I was already digging in.

“Gladys Knight.” I said.

“What?”

“You’re humming Gladys Knight.”

“Yes.”

“Save the Overtime For Me.”

“Yes!” She smiled.

“Love it.”

There’s a definite restorative quality to such a simple thing as this. And especially so when the song in question wasn’t plucked off the FM dial. And it wasn’t fiddling off the roof of this Starbucks coffee bar. And it sure as hell wasn’t something easily found on the A side of an album’s 9-5. Nope. This was solid gold, half court prayer, power ball chance. It was solid? Meeting gold. Yeah it was.

So from there, I had to share something, anything.

“I saw her in Vegas back in 2005.” I said.

“Oh, I’ve seen her live . . like everywhere. It’s my church time.” She giggled. And she pulled this amazing fucking laugh all the way from the ’70’s, and the smile that lit her face in the doing left my skin bristling with the kind of harmony that is far too brilliant for a price tag.

“Thats . . . some crazy stuff right there.”

“Yes!” She laughed. A laugh so resonant that it will reside in my noggin for a spell. And I thought to myself that I might remember this particular occurrence that long, and longer. To the benefit of absolutely no one but me and this wonderful lady dressed in Gloria Steinem. It was a mighty fine place to find myself in the middle of a Thursday afternoon.

“Thank you.” I said.

“Oh, honey . . that was fun.”

A few moments worth of magical trespass, sent straight from the cosmos and delivered right to the tip of my nose- betwixt my moon risen eyes and my slack lower lip that was too busy chewing on the some kind of wonderful to worry about manners.

It was found money. No, fuck that. It was so much better than found money, because with found money you’re just gonna end up blowing it on stupid shit because . . . it’s found money. This moment was more similar in nature to found bacon (the gold standard of delicious occurrences). Found bacon . . attached to a humongous breakfast spread . . . no, wait . . brunch. On Sunday. With Bobby Flay at the wheel and candles spiraling in perfumed agony, with the moon’s silhouette going all last chance opera. And, of course, with Gladys Knight peeling away the innocence of a vinyl wrapped prayer.

My pal arrived and I shared the story with him, and then we were making Darth Vader jokes and then he was trying to convince me to go see the movie Logan sometime and then everything else got lost again. Gone to the hard burn of a still happening day. But not forgotten so easily, or at all.

I’m still smiling.

(This just felt like the musical spill to hop on. Because this is what drove me home, and it’s got a supernatural fix on me currently. Yes, I’m that easy.)

 

 

George Bernard Shaw’s Opine, a Split Decision and The Middle

George Bernard Shaw once wrote that youth is wasted on the young.

No. Shit.

It’s not their fault, really. Most of us did the very same thing and acted the very same way once upon a time. Personally, I’m quite impressed with most of the young people I come across. I dig their angst, the cool economy of their ever changing lexicon and most of all . . their smart phone cases. So I’m willing to give them a hall pass on their whiny bitching about early mornings and their curious addiction to those Godawful energy drinks.

The cynicism of a young person is a mostly fabricated tempest seeing as how they do not yet possess the jaded inlay which provides the fuel that stokes the fire that makes for a legitimately pissed off human being- otherwise known as middle age. Put another way; if your wick is still smooth and waxy then you best acquaint yourself with old George’s opine. And quit your bitching.

I spend half my time around people who are much younger than me and I spend the other half of my time around people who pay very close attention to any and all bright lights. As the middle man in this spectrum, I can say with all honesty that bitching transcends a birth certificate. Young people bitch about having to wake up early, while old people bitch about having to be thankful for such a thing.

Alright, this feels like the middle of my post (pun intended) so here’s my movie review. If you have an issue with the totally unprofessional nature of this review, contact Sean Spicer.

Cayman’s Review on Split: 

To those peeps who say M. Night is back, I say the dude never left. Listen, there is a ton of lazy writing out there that gets rewarded with big box office numbers. Any criticism of Shyamalan for his less than stellar performances at the ticket window since his big winner Sixth Sense ignores the ambitious quality of his works. I’m a huge fan who was quick to forgive Lady in the Water, because I know one thing. The dude can write stories. When he comes out to play, it’s gonna be fantastic, be it The Village or The Visit. Both. The former was unfairly panned and the latter put M. back in the good graces of the mainstream movie going public, but rest assured that his fans never left.

Split isn’t about a big twist ending, but man does it have the fingerprints of Hitchcock everywhere you look. See, there’s this guy named Kevin who is playing host to twenty three different people. And oh by the way, they’re inside of him. Hell, I haven’t seen this many people inside one person since Jenna Jamison was still, ahem . . doing movies. James McAvoy as Kevin is, in a word . . . fucking brilliant. I know, that’s two words. And believe me when I tell you he deserves the double down praise. He moves from one person, place and crazy thing to the next at a furious yet diabolically methodical pace. I’m pretty certain his teenage captives (played by Haley Lu Richardson, Jessica Sula and Anya Taylor-Joy) weren’t acting. They seriously were scared shit. I didn’t prepare any sneak treats for this one. The story was the thing.

Anyways . . . being in the middle of these two crazy sides of the same full moon makes me realize how lucky I am to have such a vantage point. I have arrived at a glorious age. On the one hand, I feel much younger than I am (most days), and yet? I can still bitch about, basically . . anything, and it’s expected!

Like, a couple weeks ago I got into a conversation about running with a young (punk) co-worker. I told him about a three mile run I had taken. It was a beautiful run to which I didn’t possess a time stamp because I’m all about the Zen involvement (i.e.-I run slowly, okay?), and I was painting the kind of picture LeRoy Neiman used to rally the guts out of a paintbrush to. And then he proceeded to tell me that he ran a six minute mile the day before. So I ended the conversation with a simple Fuck You. I really did. And he was plenty alright with it . . . downright happy about it, in fact.

Conversely, I found myself in negotiations with a fellow recently who was born in the year of the stock market crash, which resulted in the great depression. It was really kind of frustrating because I had a million Zoloft jokes at the ready and nowhere to go with them.

So this cranky as all get out character gets to talking up this positively righteous piece of furniture. An antique oak chest of drawers, complete with beveled mirror and curlicue accented spins and dovetail work, which is the signature of a craftsman who knew his shit. The old bastard wanted more than I was willing to pay, but he knew I wanted the piece so he was aiming high. What he didn’t know was that I had a buyer in mind who happened to be younger than his entire wardrobe.

You don’t always have to buy low to win the day. And I ended up winning this one, while at the same time making both sides happy. Young. And old. It’s why the middle is a pretty cool place to find myself in. Because I no longer have to be the fastest, and I don’t yet have to drive the hardest bargain. I can be practical with my magic and still come out smiling.

I’d like to think old George would approve.

Black diamonds are forever

You wake up one day and it occurs to you how incredibly routine you have become.

It happens in much the same way as water sips at a compromised point of entry; in the deep and cumbersome sleep of gravity’s lonesome push. And then one day, the breaking news is crashing down on your head. All those days of before, the ones that would sunshine themselves into a disco melody, have lost some of the boogie and some of the flash and most of that midnight funk.

Listen, shit happens. You get older and then Father Time gets together with Mother Nature and they start tinkering around under the hood and before you know it, you’re hearing one fucking noise after another. And all those noises come with bills. So you grab routine, because routine is predictable and predictable is better than noises and bills.

So it was that I had my day all planned out: Coffee, breakfast and the papers. Some meditation, a run. Do some writing and then get to some work stuff. Routine? Sure. Chill? Absolutely. Hey, I didn’t say routine was painful, I just said it was . . . well, routine.

Wat up homie?

This particular pal of mine (We’ll call him Brian since that’s his name) begins every single text to me the same way. I could bitch about it, but he’s part of my attempt to ditch the routine and get back to some modicum of unpredictability. The dude is the Ted Bundy of grammar, but he’s also inspired the return of poker nights and a St Patrick’s Day game plan, so Imma give him his props for getting the band back together; even if he wasn’t an original member. It still counts.

Getting ready to do some meth.  I replied.

Haha! Wana go ski? 

When? I replied.

Now. 

As in RIGHT now? I replied.

Yes. 

At this point, I felt like telling him that I really had a date with some crystal meth. What in the hell gave him the idea I was ready to launch my ass off the side of a mountain without an oxycodone/bourbon drip at the ready? Oh yeah . . . I did. Because I’d been talking about carving up some white powder for the last month as if I was Tony Montana after a wholesale jaunt to Bolivia.

Sure I replied, because I really had no choice.

Wel be there in 20

Nah, I’ll drive up and meet you. I replied. Because breaking from the routine doesn’t mean I’m squeezing my ass into a quarter of a seat and listening to music I ain’t tuning up. No, it don’t mean that. Predictability has its privileges.

Back in the day, my pre-game for a day on the slopes used to consist of a donut stop, a fresh pack of smokes and a speeding ticket. It was the kind of clockwork that has allowed Switzerland to remain neutral in perpetuity. But that was back when I had my own ski gear and season passes and . . . oh you know what? Fuck Father Time and Mother Nature.

My piss poor New Years resolution was to go skiing three times this winter season. And just when it looked like I would have to mark it zero, I got a reprieve from the routine. And from the meth too. I’m not gonna lie, I still miss the shit out of the donuts and the smokes. But that’s what hitting 70 is gonna be all about. Because I’ll be damned if I’m gonna waste my golden years on applesauce and blood thinners.

So I did the black diamonds and it really was just like riding a bike. And falling off the bike, in gruesome fashion. Again after again after mind numbing again. And you know what? It was wonderful, to pick myself up out of those ugly bits of mayhem and to be thankful that all my parts were still attached to all the right places. And so I did it again until the again was director cut worthy, as if I was imploring that hill to give me its best Conor McGregor because if there’s one thing I know how to do plenty well, it’s take a punch. Mind you, I’m not nearly as pretty about the whole thing as I used to be, but that’s where routine is a Mother Nature’s helper- because it humbles you sufficiently, and it allows you to be grateful for the try.

I came to own that particular moment in time and it was a righteous bit of disco, tell you what. And the next day proved no big deal to me, because . . . as it turns out I’m more limber than I’ve been in ages thanks to a routine of running and meditation.

Funny how that works.

 

 

 

 

Bullies, Free Coffee and Verbal Judo

 

wp-1486502257883.jpgBullies piss me off.

I was bullied when I was younger and lemme tell you, it’s no cupcake party. The fifth grade was a mostly forgettable year for me. I was my own person, even from the time I was a kid. Unwilling to fit in just because it was everybody else’s way of doing business. As it was, there were a couple boys who let me know this kind of independent thinking wasn’t cool with them. We were kind of schizophrenic because there were times when the three of us were pretty tight and then there were times when they’d put their bully caps on and have at it. Larry was in my class and Peter was a grade higher than us, not to mention built like a fire hydrant. It was with great relief that Peter stopped coming to school one day, after which we found out he’d been picked up by the cops trying to steal a car.

It was closing in on the end of the school year, and right smack dab in the middle of peace time when Larry decided he was gonna challenge me to a fight after school. Nothing like a 3 o’clock high appointment with a bully to fuck up your entire school day.

No Peter meant no chance for Larry. After a brief wrestling match in which we took turns calling our respective families every kind of swear word we could muster up, I ended the intrigue with a single punch to his face. He stepped back to reveal a bloody nose, and then he started crying. All the kids started laughing as he picked up his books and ran home, but I didn’t feel especially good about kicking his ass. So I picked up my books and parted the crowd of kids and walked home. Truth be told I was more afraid that Larry’s mother was going to show up at my door than I was about Peter or anything else. But that, became that. It would be the last time I ever let a bully tell me the what’s what.

Fast forward to forever and a day later, and it’s early morning and all I was asking was for an iced coffee and a few minutes worth of alone time with it. And that’s when Larry and Peter came along; well, it wasn’t actually Larry and Peter in front of me, because not even yours truly is that lucky. It was just a couple of douchebags with nothing better to do than nothing better. The conversation taking place between these two sock puppets and the barista had been serving as background noise, until it became apparent this wasn’t playful banter going on.

When I tuned in to the conversation, they were giving the girl shit about her nose ring and insisting they should be getting their coffees for free. The look on her face told me everything I needed to know.

“We have a problem here fellas?”

“Huh?” The one dude said, doing a half turn to check me out.

“Do. You two guys? Have a problem?”

“No.”

“Do you know this girl?” I asked.

“No.”

“Okay well . . I do. And if you guys ain’t ordering, you’re holding up the line. This isn’t the free coffee Starbucks, I’m not sure what gave you that idea.”

I call it Verbal Judo, and I use it . . . yeah, judiciously. It’s like you’re karate chopping someone without having to go to jail, so there’s that. It’s the tone that settles the matter, and this one? Done got settled, as they ordered their drinks and got to stepping. They never looked my way again, and as with Larry on the playground, I wasn’t looking to embarrass them. They’d done a fine job of that on their own.

The barista thanked me for saving her job, because she had been holding a couple NSFW adjectives for the two stooges and was dangerously close to launching them. And then, as I went to pay for my drink, the lady in back of me let the barista know she was taking care of that.

Call it playground justice, Imma go with instant karma. It’s free and it’s delicious.

 

Heaven is running up a high bill

It’s been a sad month for kids like me. No matter how many gifts you received, you’re more likely to remember the one that was taken from us on Christmas Day when George Michaels succumbed to heart failure at the way too young age of 53. The eighties were one great big, wonderful science experiment when it came to music and Michaels launched his songs into orbit with videos that framed his musical talent for posterity.

We lost Carrie Fisher, who played a Princess in the movies but was so much deeper and darker and more fascinating than all that galactic business. She fought every kind of battle over the course of her life, and she always seemed to come back stronger; and with another story to tell. She really must have been a tough act to follow, because her mother Debbie Reynolds followed her a day later. What I remember of Reynolds was thanks to my own mother’s cinematic ventures- and it’s where I came to understand what the ‘girl next door means’, in technicolor splendor.

And while I don’t know nearly as much about Mary Tyler Moore as I do about Michaels or Fisher, I hurt just the same when I heard about her passing yesterday. She overcame a lot in her long and well lived life, and her contributions to theater, film and television left an impression for the footprints of others; and it had been doing so for decades. But my tribute is a lot simpler and more heartfelt than all the accolades I might throw to the heavens.

She was my big girl crush.

I imagined marrying her when I was seven years old. I thought she had the voice of Marilyn McCoo, the elegance of Grace Kelly and as far as I was concerned, she was infinitely more powerful than President Nixon. To a boy intent on learning the wonders of a girl, she was legit. Here was this beautiful creature who kicked ass by day and turned the night into a better way of doing business. Her delivery was smart, wickedly humorous and quite often nerdy. I knew, even from all the way back there, that us guys had no chance against the likes of something that potent. She taught me how to laugh at myself and boy, could she make me laugh and think. And dream. And while it was Mary Richards who was doing all of those things to me inside of a half hour’s time, it was Moore who channeled them into being. I was a fool for a strong woman, even back then. So the other boys could have their Mod Squad and their M*A*S*H . . . because I had Mary Tyler Moore. 

No use changing now.

Ronda Rousey: An Appreciation

ronda-rouseyI’m more than a little sick and tired of all these people who trash Ronda Rousey. Now.

It’s funny, but I didn’t hear a peep about how Rousey was “overrated” when she was busy kicking ass and taking names. But the hateration industry for this damsel of disaster has become a really popular thing over the past year, since she lost to Holly Holm at UFC 193 in Melbourne Australia in November of 2015.

And it’s weak shit.

Is Rousey the best women’s division UFC fighter ever? No. I’m not saying she was. But it’s important to remember she was the first. Rousey was the first female to sign on with the UFC in 2012. She was the first female bantamweight champion. She was the first time I even paid attention to the UFC. There is no Amanda Nunes, no Holly Holm, no Miesha Tate. Not without Ronda Rousey there isn’t.

And that bout in which Holm wrested the title belt away from Rousey set an attendance record for a UFC event (56,214). It’s a record that still stands. It’s a testament to the box office muscle Rousey commanded during her title reign in a sport that has grown exponentially thanks to fighters who exhibit mad skills inside the octagon and a swagger outside of it. And Rousey was the epitome of swagger; with legs as strong as a catamaran and as dangerous as missiles. She became a billboard beauty, a morning show must have, a hero in heels- sans the heels.

There are plenty of critics who would assail her for falling in love with the fame she earned, in the hardest of hard ways. Which makes her different from most fighters, how exactly? Hell, she deserves the much more pleasant flip side of all those ass kickings she doled out and the last couple she received. She didn’t make it to the top on wishes, she busted her ass to get there. She was a master saleswoman of her profession, and yes she was brash and yes she was polarizing. But you know what else she was? Interesting as all get out. She did what the great ones do, she made you watch.

I hope she hangs them up, because it’s quite apparent she’s lost the edge that fighters need in order to compete at the highest level. The fighting game- be it boxing or ultimate fighting- is a brutally thankless deal. Nothing less than a total commitment is required if you plan on plying your trade in some place other than a gym. Unfortunately, when it’s time to go, a fighter usually doesn’t. Not easily. The lure of another big payday, the ability to hush a crowd and then make them roar . . . it’s gotta be impossibly tempting.

Hopefully she’s learned enough to know the old days ain’t coming back. As much as she made us feel as if she could do this forever, it never works that way. What she left us? Yeah, that’s gonna stick around for a good long time. Because she left a legacy whose wing span is mighty. She was transcendent inside her brief reign, because she changed a sport forever.

Mighty bold talk, I realize. And much deserved.

Talking a good game

I was talking with someone about high talkers versus low talkers. It’s not like we had a preference, it was more a deliberate and rather hilarious take on what makes each end of this vocal spectrum so much fun to pontificate on. By high talkers, I don’t necessarily mean people who speak loudly at all times on account of the fact they are either a)socially challenged, b)the President or c)both.

High talkers insist on yelling shit instead of saying shit. Like, instead of saying We’re gonna kick some ass today, which happens to be a proclamation with little to no need for red pepper flaked inflection . . .they have to upper case the thought. As in We’re gonna kick some ass today! It’s a waste of oomph, really. You already introduced the mission statement, leave the exclamation points for some other obligation.

The above example isn’t what makes a high talker, a high talker. Nope. Because while the above example is understandable enough, there are scores of other statements spewed by these peeps that do not fit the upper case effect. Five examples? Why not.

Black coffee! Love it!
I’m having a turkey sandwich for lunch!
Computer’s running slow!
It’s Monday!
Papercut!

You could argue that high talkers are just overly enthusiastic but really, they simply possess a volume malfunction that wasn’t caught when they were being built at the factory. It’s plenty fine with me, because high talkers are trapeze artists of curb side walking. They bring an excitement to the everyday, a chemical spill-like tone to spilled milk, they go heavy metal to the highly mundane. Without even trying! I’m a provocateur, so these people really turn me on. I love high talkers because they make language jump. Off buildings. And I’m usually the one to do the pushing.

The low talkers are an entirely different story. These people talk in whispers. You get the feeling they couldn’t stir you from sleep if their hair was on fire. It’s a fantastic journey into the unknown when you attempt to engage in conversation with a low talker, because you never know what in the hell they are talking about. It’s a passive aggressive power trip, to be certain. These people are always right . . . about everything. Simply because it’s impossible to challenge what you cannot hear.

Top five examples of what comes out of a low talker’s mouth? No clue.

Low talkers are like knuckle ball pitchers in that they manipulate the language until it is impossible to draw a bead on it. Be forewarned, a conversation with a low talker is always a one sided affair because . . . yep, they’re always right. Eavesdropping on their conversations is like listening to someone talk on the phone. Unless they happen to be talking to a high talker, in which case it’s like listening to someone scream into the phone.

So it was that yesterday morning I provoked such a head on collision before fleeing the scene like a pyromaniac with his popcorn and binoculars in hand. The high talker started off with several big punches, all of which I can only assume landed. But it was all for naught.

The low talker kicked his ass.

A tit for tat inside the nine circles

“That fucking Justin Timberlake should burn in hell.”

If the following statement got your attention, imagine how felt considering I was sitting right next to the fellow who uttered this curiously hateful dig in the middle of an otherwise placid coffee break. It’s curiously hateful to me, because I can’t imagine anyone could possess that much hatred of Justin Timberlake. The dude seems imminently likable, and I’d probably feel that way even if he dumped me for Jessica Biel; considering she’s way hotter than me.

I was faced with a dilemma, not unfamiliar to those of us who pay attention to breaking news that’s actually breaking news. I could stay put and learn where all this enmity for Timberlake was coming from, or I could take my coffee and get to stepping before some bad shit went down. I never considered running, because I figured that would only have made the bad shit happen a lot more quickly.

And so I remained in my seat, sipping at my coffee whilst anticipating what the nut job in the next seat over was talking about. I’m not proud of the fact that I was prioritizing his explanation while forsaking my personal safety, but I’m guessing it has something to do with a writer’s DNA. Sad to say.

Then it happened, he began his explanation. Initially, I was relieved he wasn’t screaming about the voices in his head and I was even more relieved that his missives weren’t dressed up in metal jackets. To the contrary, he was rather calm and collected in his approach. When I thought about it, a calm and collected bat shit crazy fellow with a celebrity grudge kinda did seem scarier. Even if a screaming bat shit crazy fellow with a celebrity grudge is pretty fucking scary too. Yanno what? Both.

“You might be wondering why I think Justin Timberlake should burn in hell.”

Personally, I was overflowing with a morbid curiosity as to how an event which occurred thirteen years ago could be used as a conversation starter. In need of an exorcism. I can’t see wishing anybody eternal damnation. Not even Marie Osmond.

Then it occurred to me that the person sitting with him was an unsettling individual in her own right because, really . . if you’re an associate of the dude in the tin foil hat, then you too should be fitted for a tin foil hat, and restraints. Unless you’re a vastly underpaid mental health babysitter who is just trying to get through the day without becoming the lead story.

“Well, do you remember that Super Bowl halftime show with Janet Jackson where they showed her nipple and everybody turned her into a villain?” He asked his friend (hostage?).

What? Dude, I can’t figure out whether you’re even dumber than you are nutty, so I’m gonna say it’s too close to call!

I didn’t actually say that, I simply thought that.

“So people hated her while Justin Timberlake became a star!” He said with a full throttled indignation befitting a person who watches reality television for a living, without actually making a living out of it.

“He’s a fucking star and Janet Jackson disappeared!” He continued. There were more words, laden with clueless adjectives and mindless observations that were the conversational equivalent of daily marijuana use; the only difference being his words were killing my brain cells without any payoff whatsoever.

Alright, Spam brain . . for one thing Janet Jackson was vilified by peeps who should’ve been banished to that village in the M. Night movie for having their heads up their puritanical asses. And for another thing, Timberlake wasn’t one of those peeps. And not for nothing, she was deified by dudes such as myself for the moment AND the moments after it when she didn’t bow to the bashing but confronted it head on. Oh, and the album she launched after the controversy overcame the initial backlash to go platinum. And YouTube was born as a result! And what? Justin Timberlake’s master plan was to loose her areola so’s he could catapult into stardom? Because I don’t remember the part where he was a Walmart employee before Janet’s boob went solid gold viral. So why don’t you finish your coffee and head back to your padded apartment Chachi? 

Again, I didn’t actually say any of that.

The episode did make me realize just how costly the price of fame really is. You have the paparazzi who scavenge your personal life for morsels and you have to deal with the fickle nature of executives who bottom line your talents into a little glass jar. You have to navigate trolls and bloggers and Kelly Ripa without a safety net. And if you’re really lucky, you never come face to face with a nut job who hopes you burn in hell for something that happened thirteen years ago.

Cary Grant had it easy.

(Note: If you’re simply interested in doing some research into this ancient history of a conversation gone wrong, it’s at 4:06.)