Friday, March 27, 2009

Reflections on Winter's Wake

As March goes out, kicking and screaming like it always does here in New England, it begins to look like Old Man Winter may finally be behind us in earnest. Of course, these thoughts had crossed my mind in the past, only to be sandbagged by a final parting shot in the form of a snowstorm. But, with the last banks of road-darkened snow diminishing daily, and crocuses, (“croci?”) becoming the more common lawn accents, odds are in favor of spring finally establishing its first real toehold.

It is without nostalgia or wistful longing that I reflect on this winter past. The arctic weather and freezing temperatures and driveway covered with snow and ice all too vivid in my recollections, I had a difficult time finding something positive to write about it. It was not too long back, however, on a particularly icy day, that events transpired that transported my mind back to two years ago, and the Winter Olympics Ice Skating events. Now, I’m not saying that I slipped and fell, mind you, nor am I saying that I did so with exaggerated gestures and motions in an enthusiastic, if ill-fated attempt to regain balance, but suffice to say that I sympathized with those skaters who had the world yanked from beneath them and got to taste gravity’s fickle ire.

Had I actually slipped and fallen outside that day, it would have been only shortly afterwards, while nursing a bruised, uh, ego, that I found myself contemplating why it is that most guys don't care so much for figure skating, (although, I have found that it can be kinda humorous with the volume turned off...)


My own biggest problem with skating events is subjectivity. A true sport, especially an Olympic sport, should not hinge on how judges interpret creativity, or artistic expression. In fact, I feel that  “judges” really aren’t needed for true Olympic-caliber sports. Referees, sure. Judges? No. Points are earned, scores are made, and one or another contestant wins, or not. Period. (Many fans of figure skating vehemently disagree with me on this, but I stand by this belief.)


And so, it is with this maxim as my banner that I, (humbly,) suggest the following sports for future events in what I refer to, with all due humility, as My Kick-Ass Winter Olympics...


(Incidentally, I had briefly considered  snow shoveling as an event, but after this winter there could be hundreds of thousands of New England residents acing the qualifying rounds! So the shoveling event was taken out of the running.)

New Event Number 1. SNOWMOBILE RACING!. Yes. Now we’re talking. The age of the Olympic internal combustion engine-powered sport is too long overdue! I suggest a track covering a mile or two, through woods, over a frozen lake, and some neat-o high bank curves. This event would have all those reddened necks of NASCAR fans turned T.V.-ward for certain! 

(Further development of this event may see each machine having a two-man, (or woman,) team. One to drive and one in the back with a long stick... we'll call it a "Pugil Stick." Guess what that's for...)


New Event Number  2. THE BOBSLED RACE. Yes, I know they have Bobsled races already. But I don’t mean competing against the clock, or another team’s time, I mean five bobsleds all at once in a 5-mile downhill rally! C'MON! Excitement enough for Pay-Per-View!


And lastly, New Event Number 3. THE ALL-MODE DOWNHILL. A final event. Skiers, toboggans, snowboarder, those silly "luge" things, all competing against each other in a high speed, downhill event. Only the winners of their respective exclusive competitions can enter; The best of the best! This event makes all the other events seem like qualifying! Hey, even the snowmobilers can compete in this one!


I know, I know. I'm a visionary. Hey! You don't spend 75% of your life in front of a T.V. and not know good watchin'! 


These events have the potential to be great Olympic competitions, (or, at the very least, really interesting television,) and almost guaranteed to do for the Olympic’s ratings what “wardrobe malfunctions” did for the Superbowl’s!

Oh sure, there are those who might well call these ideas the ‘silly rantings of an abnormal mentality’ or dismiss them saying, “He just doesn’t get the spirit of the Olympics” or perhaps disagree with any number of points raised from my ideas. That is fine, and the prerogative of anyone who reads this. But please, don't just judge me on "artistic expression."

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Real Life #8


Originally published, (by me!) in The Salem State Log, November, 1992.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Eomancy: Divination By Commute

First of all, I am a non-believer. It is important that it is understood the way it has been written; open-ended. As in “I do not believe in...” (Insert anything here.) 

Wait a moment for that to sink in.

Thank you. Okay, yes, I do NOT believe in ghosts, luck, love-at-first-sight, God, the devil, reincarnation, the Loch Ness Monster, most conspiracy theories, the media, or, (and this is the point of today’s posting,) psychic phenomena. 

That said, I have just recently become aware of an unnerving trend in my daily life. I have somehow developed the ability to predict the events of my day by reading my morning drive to work, something that I have named “Eomancy,” or divination by commute.

A terrible day befell me recently. I knew it was winding up to slug me hard that morning. Every part of my morning commute went wrong. Things that would not have gone wrong, under normal circumstances, went wrong. I got up late with a bit of a headache, (hangover, whatever,) I left my morning coffee on the kitchen counter. My debit card came up “Unauthorized” when I tried to use it. I was cut off in traffic twice, I caught every red light, and there was, for some reason, construction tying up all traffic that day, (and that day only!) and, upon arrival at work, my tardiness manifested itself in a parking spot very far from the door, (did I mention it was raining?)

No, I am not whining about that commute. I am listing those things because, although my commute is only 40 minutes in the morning, I knew it was indicative of my day.

And it was. My work day did suck. Far more so than usual. No details are necessary, everyone has a crap day. Whatever. Part of the job, right? Fine. Yes, but I FORESAW it!

So, I now need to learn how certain elements of my commute affect the events of my day. Does getting stuck behind someone who swings way out to the right and blocks the right lane in order to take a left turn during my A.M. travels mean that I will get stuck in a boring meeting/conversation for an unreasonably long time?

Or perhaps finding myself at every red light mean that I will not be able to make any progress on my overdue paperwork?

Perhaps being cut off in traffic may warn of a reprimand from a superior, or waiting for a light next to guy who wants to share some awful music with the world means an impending headache... I don’t know. Some research is necessary. I may have to take data, and try some experiments.

Who knows, maybe, just maybe, I can manipulate my drive to work to control the day’s happenings! Then, I would have the power to affect real and true change. I would become a GOD!

Incidentally, on that work day when, aside from my epiphany regarding my new ability, everything totally sucked, my commute home was also long and slow. Upon arriving home, the telephone rang. I was going to try to rush to get to it, but I stopped. I figured that since everything I did ended up in unpleasantness today, I was NOT going to answer it. I was home, dammit. My day was done.

I was right. It was my mother-in-law. 

Yes. I am the Eomancer; reading the signs... of the road.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Friday, March 13, 2009

Irish Lessons

No, not Irish Language lessons, but authentic Irish-American Saint Patrick’s Day Protocol lessons!

I consider myself fairly pedigreed in matters Irish-American. I was raised with strong cultural awareness and pride in my heritage,  I hold Irish as well as U.S. citizenship, I play Irish music on my Irish Bouzouki, (although the term “music” has been argued!), and I performed Irish Step Dancing as a child, (that is, until wearing a kilt on weekends became less glamorous amongst my peers!) 

Now, as much as all that sounds like bragging, (and it would be fully justified if it was!), I say these things only to make a point. You see, due to an upbringing entrenched with cultural awareness, I am less at risk of making a cultural faux pas this March 17th than those more unfamiliar with their Irish background, (or even, *gasp* those not Irish!) 

“Faux Pas?” you may ask. Yes! Although no Irish person has come out and whined, (or sued,) about negative stereotypes like the sensitive, thinner-skinned types, there are certain things that people think are Irish, but have no basis in any Celtic culture, whatsoever.

So here, now, is a brief tutorial in what is acceptable Irish-American St. Patrick’s Day protocol, and what just simply looks bad.

Lesson 1.

Lesson 2.

Lesson 3.

Lesson 4.

Lesson 5.

For further viewing on the “Crichton Leprechaun,” please go to either; or

Congratulations! You are now one step closer to authenticity and further away from the “Plastic Paddy” stigma. But if you feel that you still need some Irish Language lessons, then repeat after me: “Éireann go Brách,” “Céad Mile Fáilte,” & “Póg mo thóin.”

Sláinte, Chris

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Migration of the Couch Potato

Lately, and I blame this for the lack of quality television programming, (not counting Thursday nights, of course,) I have been spending a good time of time on the computer, and specifically, the Internet. I have found a crossroads between today's interactive and/or psuedo-social, high-tech, web-based, time-wasting entertainment options, and those commercial, “Boob-Tube” comfort programs that I grew up watching on T.V., (watching, mind you,  with the unblinking stare of post-traumatic housecat in the corner of a room full of sugar-addled children!) The location of this crossroads;, for those unaware of it, is a website that allows the visitor to view television shows at their own convenience, whenever they have the time for it, and not have to commit to the networks’ schedules.  You may have seen the Alec Baldwin commercial where he admits to his alien-hood:

Commercial interuptions are still present, (which I am assuming is responsible for 'free-ness' of the site,) but considerably shorter than most networks breaks for “Station identification” lasting only a single advertisement per interruption.

Televison episodes of shows as current as this week’s ‘The Office,’ or ‘30 Rock,’ to shows as, uh, “classic” as the 1970’s ‘Starsky & Hutch,’‘Battlestar Galactica,’ or that pinnacle of education-based television, ‘Welcome Back Kotter.’ (Webisodes of ‘Net-based shows are also offered, providing a forum for programs outside of the commercial television format, either  in content or episode length.) Movies are also available on the site, and the selection, though limited, is not too shabby. 

On a perculiar note, as I was signing up for, I came to the part  where I was to enter the year I was born. The site provides a drop-down selection and I was to click on my year of birth. The perculiar part was that  I had my choice from the years 1870 to 2009.  Now, I am having a difficult time believing that there are enough 139 year olds signing up for this stuff to warrant the inclusion of these years. And frankly, (and I hope this isn’t viewed as ageism,) I believe that anyone over the age of 100 should safely fall into the same age demographic, (Although I am sure that there are just as many people born in the 1870s signing up for Hulu as there are people born in 2009.) 

So, in the end, I applaud for, (among many things, frankly!) their generosity of age spectrum selection, but I fear it may not be necesary for an equally accurate demographics portrayal.

For those unfamiliar with, you may want to check it out, not only because it gets a big thumbs up from your humble author, but because I believe it may well be the future of television!

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