Friday, March 27, 2009


The past few months I've had a consistent morning routine. Wake up. Lay in bed. Wait for my wife to bring me some coffee. Watch "Morning Joe" on MSNBC. Channel surf when Joe's right wing rhetoric gets too much to bear. More often than not I watch the music video channels for a song or two then tune back in to hear about the fiscal crisis and other political banter. Occasionally the kids, one or both, make their way down the hallway to my bedroom and crawl into bed with me for a bit until they get bored then head out to the living room to watch cartoons. The other morning I switched from Joe to VH1 and there was Lady Gaga. She was writhing around by the pool, petting a dog, playing poker, practically 69 ing a dude all while wearing a skin tight one piece bathing suit, guessed it...camel toe.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm no prude. I'm all for glimpses of female anything. As a kid I couldn't wait for the Boston Sunday Globe to be delivered, mostly for the sports section and funnies, but also for the flyers. Every department store flyer had a section were there would be a "lady" modeling some underwear, bras or stockings. I would study these pictures trying to make out any shape or form that I could trying to picture what was underneath. There wasn't much to go on as I'm sure they airbrushed any detail out of those photos, but occasionally you could see the outline of a nipple or if really lucky something outlined down in the nether regions.

As I lay in bed the other morning I was thoroughly enjoying the fine art work and direction of Lady Gaga's "Poker Face" video (see here). So was my 6 year old son. He was staring at the screen, blankly. I could almost see the surge of hormones coursing through his system as he was studying the screen. I immediately switched back to MSNBC and with that he jumped up and left the room. I then switched back to VH1, not for my own enjoyment, but to really study this video putting myself in the mind of a six year old. The video ended and a new one started. "Beyonce" wearing a skin tight leotard with two other girls dancing around singing about "all the single ladies". More crotch shots.

I turned 16 in 1981, the year MTV made it on to our televisions by way of a new communication medium known as cable television. Not every community got cable right away. I had cousin's who lived in a neighboring town who got cable a few years before I did in early 1982. While visiting their house for a Sunday afternoon dinner I lay on the couch all afternoon watching corny, grainy, jumbled videos of musical acts like Styx, The Rolling Stones and Queen all had videos that mainly showed the band jamming away or playing out some ridiculously contrived skit that loosely went along with the theme of the song, or not. A few years later Madonna brought sex into the equation. Even when she was writhing around with a lion, moaning and groaning about having sex like a virgin, she was covered up albeit in some sexy garb, but covered up nonetheless.

No T. No A. No CT (and I don't mean Connecticut!).

When WhiteSnake came out with "Here I Go Again", model girlfriend of David Coverdale, Tawney Kittean draped herself over the hood of his car in various seductive poses, but never gave us a glimpse of what was underneath her flowing dress. It was hot, sexy and worthy of putting in the spank vault for another time, but quite tame. "Hot For Teacher", "Cradle Of Love", "California Girls", "Cherry Pie" were all sexy videos from the '80's that titillated without actually showing the actual tit. No camel toe in sight.

Moving into the '90's Chris Isaak's "Wicked Games" video had a teen aged Helena Christianson writhing around on the beach, showing some ass cheeks and snuggling with a much older Chris was the epitome of the sexy video. The buxom (and I mean that in a good way) Mariah Carey came on the scene in the '90's and upped the sexy ante a bit with videos like "Honey", but was still wholesome enough to let the kids watch. The 90's also brought us Brittany in her catholic school girl outfit asking the be "hit" one more time. Dirty, yep. Sexy, no doubt. Camel toe, no.

Then came the 2000's.

The video world has became a virtual Cameltoepia. Cisco's "Thong Song" (see here) seems tame compared to Christina Aguilera's "Dirty" (see here). "Dirty" seems tame to NERD's "Lap Dance" (see here). The 2000's leave nothing to the imagination. Raw, hardcore, unadulterated, its a Cameltopia. No need to scour the flyers for found porn. No need for binoculars at the beach. Glimpses of thong underwear peeking out at you from the top of some low rider jeans are no big deal anymore. Kids today just have to tune in to their favorite music video channel to have all their curiosities met. It's only a matter of time when full frontal nudity will be the norm then there will be nothing left to the imagination.

I clicked over to VH1 this morning to find a 50 year old Madonna, sporting a leotard, spreading her legs and shaking her money maker. A long way from her "like a virgin" days. I clicked right back over to "Morning Joe" and the kids wern't even in the room.

Some things are best left to the imagination.

(Click here for a cornucopia of Cameltoepia, Maxim's 20 Hottest Music Video's)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Póg mo thóin!

Last year I posted a piece that was semi-optimistic about the situation in Northern Ireland titled "26 + 6 = 1" (read here).

What a difference a year makes.

Two British Soldiers were murdered Saturday March 7th and a police officer, Stephen Carroll, was shot down March 9th by two separate splinter groups of the supposedly disarmed IRA (read here). People of the "north" need to brace themselves for a long summer of curfews, harassment and violence. Although people on both sides are condemning the violence this was bound to happen. As long as an occupying force continues to occupy the animosity never leaves (lesson to US: get out of Iraq ASAP). No one living on the Island of Ireland, Catholic or Protestant, Unionist or Republican thought the peace would be lasting.

There is a line in the movie "The Departed" where Matt Damon's character turns to his girlfriend when discussing their relationship and says "If we're not going to make it it'll have to be you that gets out. I'm fucking Irish, I'll deal with something being wrong the rest of my life". This sums up the Irish psyche as much as any quote I've ever heard. There is a somber, resignation about the human condition that is ingrained in every person boastful of their Irish heritage. If it wasn't an Irishman that came up with the saying "The more things change, the more they stay the same" I'd be genuinely shocked.

How do the Irish deal with their jaded and skeptical outlook on life? Living life to its fullest, living life like there's no tomorrow and by finding humor in the darkest of situations. "Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we may die" is the mantra many Irish live by.

My wife sent me this joke today.

*An Irishman moves into a tiny hamlet in County Kerry, walks into the pub
and promptly orders three beers. The bartender raises his eyebrows, but
serves the man three beers, which he drinks quietly at a table, alone.*

*An hour later, the man has finished the three beers and orders three more.
This happens yet again. The next evening the man again orders and drinks
three beers at a time, several times. Soon the entire town is whispering
about the Man Who Orders Three Beers.*

*Finally, a week later, the bartender broaches the subject on behalf of the
town. "I don't mean to pry, but folks around here are wondering why you
always order three beers?"*

*"Tis odd, isn't it?" the man replies. "You see, I have two brothers, and
one went to America, and the other to Australia . We promised each other
that we would always order an extra two beers whenever we drank as a way of
keeping up the family bond."*

*The bartender and the whole town were pleased with this answer, and soon
the Man Who Orders Three Beers became a local celebrity and source of pride
to the hamlet, even to the extent that out-of-towners would come to watch
him drink.*

*Then, one day, the man comes in and orders only two beers. The bartender
pours them with a heavy heart. This continues for the rest of the evening.
He orders only two beers. The word flies around town. Prayers are offered
for the soul of one of the brothers.*

*The next day, the bartender says to the man, "Folks around here, me first
of all, want to offer condolences to you for the death of your brother. You
know-the two beers and all"*

*The man ponders this for a moment, then replies, "You'll be happy to hear
that my two brothers are alive and well. It's just that I, meself, have
decided to give up drinking for Lent."*

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!!!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Dear Blogspot...

Dear Blogspot,
You may have noticed recently that we've been growing apart. I don't visit as often. I've neglected my readers. I've stopped reading other bloggers stuff. I just wanted you to know that I still love you, but things have changed.

I have found someone else.

Her name is Facebook.

She is fresh, attractive and non- judgemental. I don't feel any pressure to log on to her page. She has connected me with dozens of old friends with whom I can instantly reminisce about old times, instead of sitting around for hours trying to conjure up memories and hunt and peck them down on my keyboard. Many of the people I've shared with you on my webpage at Blogspot have now come to life over at Facebook. With you, those old friends just sit there, static, waiting for someone to read about them, occasionally. On Facebook old friends come alive. I can see that Sheryl from summer camp back in the '80's just "went for a hike". I can read that an ex-co worker "just put on a pot of coffee". I can see that a friend from the old neighborhood has kids that are uglier than THEY were at that age. Facebook is instant gratification. It's cocaine. You on the other hand are like an old, drunk, uncle, telling the same stories over and over and over.

You know that we first got together I was upfront with you. I told you that I wanted to have a place to write some stuff and archieve thoughts. I made you no promises except only to write when things were fresh, relevant and interesting. Lately you have been smothering me. I feel obligated to you when I am too young and active to be tied down. I need to be free and do what I want. I hope you understand. I know what you are going to say. "Facebook is just a fling. She'll rock your world, then leave you after she's had her fun." Maybe so. But I have to do this for me.

It's not you... it's me.

I still love you. I'm just not "in love" with you anymore.

I hope we can still be friends.

Your friend,

PS: Maybe this is just a phase. Please don't hate me.

PPS: I know that Facebook is pretty open about things, so maybe the three of us can go out some time? ;)

Monday, March 09, 2009

Six Years

My oldest son Matt turns six at 10:24 this evening. With maybe the exception of my own birthday, March 9, 2003 is the most important date in my life.

I am not going to wax poetic about the virtues of fatherhood. Fatherhood is what it is. Its a mostly thankless job wherein the rewards are few and far between.

Some might guess that having an absent father is why the day is so important. Wrong again. Although me not having a father around definitely impacted every aspect of my upbringing (read here), not having him around may have been for the best. He was not the most stable, nor upstanding individual (criminal, actually).

If its not love of fatherhood or being the "dad I never had", then what could it be?

I have led a semi-charmed kind of life. The first twenty were tough. Real tough. The next eighteen were lived with complete onanistic abandon (read here, here and here, and here). My first twenty years I bore responsibilities no kid should have to bear. (If you are a regular reader you've heard some of the horror stories, if new read here, here and here) I helped raise my brothers and sisters when my mother had checked out emotionally first and physically later on. When I had enough, I overcompensated and focused on my own needs to the point that no one else mattered. Not even my wife, who had helped me transition from adolescence to adulthood and helped spur me along to independence.

The driving force behind my self-absorption was my competency. I am one of those people to whom everything comes easy.

I have never had problems making friends. Girls, no problem. I maintained straight A's through fifth grade (except penmanship; you can't BS penmanship) and once I realized that I could get B's by simply listening in class, I rarely did any studying and only homework when necessary. I am good at all sports. I didn't pick up a golf club till I was 30 except for an occasional bucket at the driving range and within a year of playing I was shooting in the eighties. I have had some of the best jobs just fall into my lap. Summer camp counselor, after school coordinator, youth sports director, right up to my current job. Never the best paying, but jobs where the quality of life is so good that friends making three times as much have been enviable. I lived the "life of Reily" until March 9, 2003, because I could.

On March 9, 2003 it was the first time in eighteen years that I turned my focus outward. It was time to disengage the pause button and start the process of reciprocity. I welcomed the responsibility before me, but more than that, I welcomed the challenge. I honestly wasn't personally challenged by something since studying for a passing the entrance exam to Boston Latin (a prestigious Boston "exam" school) when I was in sixth grade (unfortunately I got my acceptance letter forwarded to me after we moved 100 west of Boston, to Northampton Mass, that summer).

I'm not complaining. The fact that things come easy for me makes life with kids easier than most. I have an extremely flexible job which allows me more time with my kids than any dad I know and most moms. My modest upbringing taught me to not want for much materially, so we live within our means. Life is as good as it was before Matt, but in a different way. I feel better about myself. I feel like I am part of something bigger than myself. Being challenged as a parent every day is more rewarding to me than scoring playoff tickets, getting on an exclusive golf course or being the last one standing after a night of drinking. I would love to get World Series tickets, play Pebble Beach or binge drink in Vegas, but I don't have time right now. I have more important things to do.

"An idle brain is the devil's workshop" is an old English proverb. After a successful eighteen year run the workshop is closed.

Thanks Lori and Matthew for changing my life...for the better.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Reports Of My Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

Alright, none of you thought I was dead, but I was closer than you'd think. The month of February was one of the most stressful months I've had in the past 20 years. I was in jeopardy of losing my job. My brother Mark was reported as a missing person. My kids were deathly ill. I watched my family's retirement money shrink down to pre 2000 levels. There were a few times in February that I thought I was having a stroke. Racing thoughts, heart palpitations, tingling of the extremities. I haven't had that much anxiety since I took a white shit (read here about my white shit). Don't laugh. You take a white shit and see if you don't feel like you've lost your mind.

Even though we here in New England got hammered with a 12 inch snowstorm, March came in like a lamb for me. My skating rink is back from the dead. I turned 44 on the first and got some great gifts. My troubles have subsided to manageable levels. St. Paddy's will be here soon which means spring is just around the corner. That means coaching baseball, watching baseball, playing golf, feeling alive again. Things are looking up.

When I started this blog thing I knew that it would Eb and flow. I hemmed and hawed for months whether to start a blog because I knew I wouldn't be able to be as prolific as I wished (ala my cuz, Suldog) due to my busy life. I realistically thought I could post once per week. That's been my average over the past two years. Some months I posted a dozen times and others I've posted once. I promised in my first post that I wouldn't write for the sake of writing, so my posts will be frequent when I have time and energy and be non existent when life is being lived instead of being written about. When I disappear for a week or a month it's most likely because I'm living life.

I AM alive and kicking!