Ghost's House of Maladies and other Sardonic Fare
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Tuesday, January 10
"The great thing in this world is not so much where you stand, as in what direction you are moving." -- Oliver Wendell Holmes

I hope everyone's New Year is going swimmingly. If you're reading this and you didn't get a Kwanza Card, Hanukkah Card, Christmas Card, Festivus Card, Ramadan Card, Saturnalia Card or some other form of Holiday greeting from me, I apologize. That means I didn't have your address. If you sent me a card and didn't receive one, I apologize even more deeply, because that means I threw out your envelope before realizing I didn't have your address. Sorry! (Robyn!!)

My New Year is going well so far and one reason is that I'm no longer a free agent. I know, THAT lasted a whole two months. And she's NOT from any of the online dating services I signed up for. I'm now dating someone I met last year but didn't get serious about until recently. We had been sort of on and off friends throughout the year, but I was dating someone else and, well, she was married. When we met, she was just beginning the process of getting separated, leading to divorce.... which is now final! Yea! All mine!

I'm taking a "winter session" class right now. For those that have never taken a full semester class in 4 weeks imagine you're in a Chinese fire drill at every light on Jericho Turnpike (or use your own long street with a lot of lights) but in addition to getting out and going to the other side of the car, you have to read a text book, write a midterm, write a final, and write 5 page paper in between the lights... with your hair on fire. That's kind of what it's like. Only crazier. But it's 3 more credits out of the way.

School is going well so far. Grades are good and I'm progressing nicely. It seems though, the more I look at it, the less likely I'm going to be done at the end of this year. I may have to finish next spring. It all depends on when certain classes will be available. I'm going to student teach this coming fall and quite frankly, it sort of puts a hurtin' on my schedule. Student teaching uses up a lot of time, and I have to take a seminar class along with it, so taking other classes isn't in the cards. Ah, but I can see the horizon and the finish line regardlesss.

So, after 5 years... yes 5 years of being here on blogger, I think I'm moving. I've opened up a myspace. The address there is -

myspace.com/attentionmustbepaid

It's just getting underway, so there isn't much there yet, but you can add yourself to my friends list (I only have 3 right now... I need more friends!) Make comments .. and help me understand what the hell I'm doing over there. But you can have pictures, music etc. It's kind of like it is here, but less complicated. It's not going to be sudden, but gradual. I still have to print up all my blog entries and figure out what the hell I'm doing over there, but over there I shall be ... eventually.

I have to get to bed... we're approaching the next light and the first fire drill is coming up

mahalo


Wednesday, January 4
"Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right." -- Oprah Winfrey

That's right, bitches.... I quoted Oprah. What of it?

Happy New Year!

mahalo


Sunday, December 25
"And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which be to all people." -- Luke 9-10

Just remember what this time of year is supposed to mean... whatever you believe.

And incidentally, if you should find any babies lying around in swaddling clothes, call 911.

Be happy.

Shalom


Thursday, December 8
"Lots of people who complained about us recieving the MBE recieved theirs for heroism in the war--for killing people. We recieved ours for entertaining other people. I'd say we deserve ours more. Wouldn't you?" -- John Lennon

MBE just for the record stands for Members of the most excellent order of the British Empire. The Beatles were awarded their medals in 1965 and there was some controversy. One veteran said "The British house of royalty has put me on the same level as a bunch of vulgar numskulls." I gotta say... I agree with John. We should recognize the good people do on the same scale. Well, I guess the Queen did.

So, why do I choose this day, the 25th anniversary of the shooting of John Lennon, an Englishman rather than yesterday, the day that will live in infamy? Probably because I was alive when it happened. I mean the attack on Pearl Harbor, one of the most genius and successful military operations ever executed will always be remembered and it's effects are still being felt. But sadly, it's beginning to fade. The survivors are slowly dying away. All we have is the same shaky black and white footage of the Arizona slanting and up in smoke playing time and time again on the History channel and of course the books and school curriculums.

But John Lennon is with us nearly everyday somewhere on your radio. And today of course, in NY at least 104.3 will have it all day. But the fact is that listening to the music is so much more visceral, you can attach memories to it, good and bad. You hear "that" song, and suddenly you're driving a car, or drinking coffee with "that girl" from school, or coming back from "that trip" with your friends. Lennon's music was with us when we did "this" or "that." I just went to see Paul McCartney for god's sake! It's tangible.

As important and tragic and devestating as Pearl Harbor was over 60 years ago, to kids today it's just history. It's sad in a way. In one of my classes we talked about how everything fades in memory. Everything. Someday no one will remember who Julius Caesar was. Hell, to many he's just a character in a Shakespeare play. Don't forget that it was Shakespeare who put "Et tu Bruti?" into his mouth, and that's one of "his" famous lines. Perhaps more so than "Veni, Vidi, Vici." I'm sure the Romans would have laughed if you told them that, and harder yet when you told them that their whole language would be "dead" in a matter of centuries. We do remember the most recent stuff best, sadly. Lewis Carroll said "It's a poor sort of memory that only works backward."

This is the time of the year when we need to do most of our remembering regardless of what you believe in, someone is thinking of you.

Okay, I must be tired, I'm getting trite.

mahalo


Friday, November 18
"Personally I think birthdays and anniversaries are like menstrual cramps, a regular pain in the ass that's somehow connected to birth." -- Hugh Elliott

Wow. A whole month and a half has flown right by. Not much has happened really. I swear you didn't miss that much. I've been busy with school as usual, papers, presentations, quizzes and whatnot. All going well so far. I have to register for spring soon, probably next week. I'm already unhappy with the schedule.

Since I've started my Master's I've had school twice a week, Mon & Wed. It's been working out nice. Three classes, two days. Perfect. Now I'm not only going to have to add a day because times aren't working out, I'm going to have to go to entirely different campus once a week. I know. I can't believe it either. Oh well. There's other troubles, minor ones, but troubles none-the-less. Not worth getting into here, at least until I look more into it. Okay, maybe just a little... I don't have an advisor, so the trouble relates to finding out what classes will be available when, should I take two ed. classes now, or wait until the summer and take some Lit courses now. There's no one to answer my query. All that matters is that I'm done at the end of next year. Which so far, is going to be the case. Hopefully.

Anyway, Paul McCartney. You know... I wasn't blown away. It was fun and we had a great time, but over all, it was just pretty good. I got to see a Beatle and that's what really mattered. He opened with The Magical Mystery Tour which was fun and put everyone in the mood. I was excited to see Jet of all songs. It's my favorite Wings song... that and Band on the Run. He of course did some Beatles, but only the ones where he sang the lead. Which made sense, but I kinda wanted him to sing a Lennon song, sort of as a tribute. I thought it would have went over well, but I could see why he didn't. We were particularly impressed with his voice. He sounds great. He really does. Very strong, hit all the high notes, and seemingly didn't have a prompter with the words. We didn't see anything like that, but I did hear that he did. Either way he sounded great.

I'm 38 today. It's sort of a boring year to be. At least at 37, I graduated NYU. And started grad school. That's what I'll remember about 37. I'll remember 32 as the year I started school. So far, those are the only two years of my 30's that will remain significant. I won't even finish grad school at 38. That'll be 39. So I have to create something this year that will be memorable. I don't know... something else responsible ... like pay off a credit card? Buy a house? Get married? Probably not. But I can dream.

So I've started dating again. Dating. Like what you read about. Just dates, usually coffee, stroll around the bookstore or perhaps even a small restaurant. 4 to be exact. One was a troll. Okay that's harsh. But she didn't look like her picture. In fact, she only had one picture and it was teeny tiny and I couldn't really see her. Turns out that there was a reason. She was not attractive, or even remotely pleasant to talk with. One cup of coffee and I was out.. "I'm sorry, I just don't think we have much in common." That's what I said. Why the hell was I sorry? I'm not sure, but guess I didn't want to hurt her feelings. I'm sure she had to get back under her bridge though to scare more billy goats. Others have been nice.

I find that I'm a little intimidated actually. There's a movie director, who's actually on the IMDb. She's fun we had a nice evening. She lives in Brooklyn though. I do have distance issues. There's a doctor. And not of the Ph.d variety. An M.D. type. She's a neurologist. And there's an editor. There's no hierarchy, there all very nice. I should probably mention that I've met them all through on line dating! You're smart so you figured it out already, but it's my first time trying it. Never before had I met anyone this way. It's really fun. If nothing else comes of it, I've met some nice women... and one troll. And how often do you really get to meet a troll?

I'm used to conventional dating, you know... meet in a bar.. have a drink talk about sports, politics, jobs, ice cream, doggie style... go home make out drink wine and do like the bunnies. Right? Oh... sorry, that's just my Penthouse Forum story. Sorry. But I am used to meeting women that way, or through friends or at school. Only now I can't meet women at school... because I'm almost 20 fuckin' years older than most of them. The best part is when I tell them I'm 38 and they go "Wow, really? I didn't think you were THAT old!" That's great, gets ya right here.

I haven't dated like this in a long time. I've been prone to getting involved in relationships right away, usually right after one ends. I'm kinda liking this havin' coffee with different interesting people once or twice a week. Expands one's horizons.

I wanted to end of something more witty and clever... but .. I got nothin. Just deal.

mahalo


Wednesday, October 5
"Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted." -- John Lennon

I'm going to see The Beatles tonight. Okay, well, just one Beatle.

I figured it was my last chance, we are running out of Beatles. There are two left, you figure it out. In paraphrasing Mr. Lennon, my friend Al would like to say thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves for anyone else not being able to go.

I suppose I'll have to tell you how it went. I'll think about it.

mahalo


Thursday, September 29
"A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you the less you know." -- Diane Arbus

Just a short note. If you are interested, I've got the photos from the ride. Just click HERE to see them. It's the same set up as the pictures of Italy. If you haven't seen those click ITALY. Just keep in mind that there are 190 pictures of Italy, but only 42 of the ride.

The first person you'll see is my friend Kathryn. She's great. I've known her since the very first ride I did back in '96. We've ridden or crewed together at least a half dozen times. What makes her so special is that we don't really talk much over the year... outside of a couple of emails. But come ride time, we talk quite a bit; then on the ride we're like best friends that haven't been apart for 20 years. It's strange, I don't have that kind of relationship with many, but she's certainly one.

I'm posing with a couple of other people, Peter (dressed as a lovely lass and later as the Dominatrix) Rachel, who shares my last name. So we pretend like we're married and fake other people out. I don't know why, but we do... and we make ourselves laugh. I've known her almost as long as I've known Kat. Mark, who was my roommate for two days of the ride. There's a very upclose shot of me and Stephanie. It was a long day and we've both just ridden 75 miles and at this point we're being staged to ride into the "Victory Celebration" in front of the center. Don't be too critical of our appearance. She's very pretty. There's a later shot of us together from farther away. I like that one better.

Next is Mary. A wonderful lady with whom I rode the second and third days. I helped her fix a flat. We wound up staying together because we rode at about the same pace and it's fun to ride with someone. Stephanie was with two friends of hers, so she and I caught up at "oases" or pit stops or I would have ridden with her as well. Steph is a great rider. If I had a roadbike, I would have kept up a little better. My mountain bike is set up for the road, but a roadbike, like the one Lance Armstrong rides is better suited to the ... well... road.

Next is Chip. Chip won the Amazing Race. Yes the TV show. He's a great person who's going through a lot right now, his sister is very ill. He was invited to speak often at the hotels during the ride after dinner. He spoke with enthusiasm and passion. About the ride, and just helping others in general. Then there's the check. Thanks for helping raise 263K for the center. Not bad for 101 riders.

Lastly is Kathryn, myself and Christian. I've known Christian for as long as I've been doing the rides as well. Someone else with whom I feel like I have known for 20 years when we get together. The pictures aren't the greatest. I don't stop along the ride to play photographer. I always regret that when I get home, but I'm so in the moment that it's tough to remember that I want to capture every moment.

I hope you like them. I love being a part of the ride for many of the reasons I've just mentioned. It really is about the people. Those that are part of the ride and more importantly those that would like to be but can't, because they are too sick... or sadly, not with us anymore. It's not only about helping, but remembering. You can't be part of something like this and not be touched by the devastation the disease has caused. Thanks to all of you that supported me and the center.

mahalo


Friday, September 23
"From the end spring new beginnings." -- Pliny the Elder

Pliny was a Roman living South of modern Naples in the first century A.D. Or C.E. as scholars refer to it nowadays. A.D. is of course the shortened form of the Latin - Anno Domini Nosti Iesu Christi "the year of our Lord Jesus Christ;" and C.E. is "Common Era." Or if you believe in that, Christian Era. Science uses the former. It is because of Pliny however that we know what happened in Pompeii in A.D. 79 and the events of the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. Pliny the Elder died as a result of the poisonous air from the volcano, but his son, Pliny the Younger continued his father's work. And there's your history lesson for the day.

I want to thank everyone again who helped me raise over $3000 for the AIDS Ride which took place last weekend. If you didn't get a chance to donate, or forgot, or didn't have it at the time, or was hoping that I would forget... you still can help me out. I actually still need about 400 more dollars. You can still help by going to brakingthecycle.org finding my name and my rider #109.

The ride went very well. The weather was wonderful, the hills were tough and the people were great. Pretty much everything you want in your AIDS Ride. We went from Aberdeen MD to NYC in three days, no thanks to the friggin' mountains we encountered through Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Okay, maybe they weren't mountains per se. But really big friggin' hills to be sure. The first day was about 88 miles. I say about because the milage they tell us always differs from the mileage anyone's bike has. The second day was about 95 miles and the third was 75 miles or so. I performed well. Although it isn't a race.... and they remind you of that over and over. And I know, I really know it's not a race. But in my mind... it's a race.. kinda. I just sort of want to see how well I perform next to my peers. That's healthy right? Just wanting to know where I stand.

So the first day I finished 7th. Not bad. There were 101 riders... so I'm better than 94 people or so. Day two I finished about 14th or so. I say about because I arrived with several other bikes some just before, some just after, so my count was off a bit. It's time for a new bike methinks. If I had a roadbike, as opposed to the mountain bike that I have I would probably be a stonger rider. But, alas, it was a fantastic weekend.

Then of course I have to get back in the routine of my normal life... which includes being on a schedule 180 degrees away from what the weekend was about. I'm still struggling with the hours. Another day or so, I'll be fine. Although at this time last weekend I was about an hour away from waking up, rather than going to bed as I usually do.

I look forward to the event everytime I'm signed up for it, but I have to admit, I'm glad it's over. I felt like it sucked up all my available time. If I wasn't doing school work, I'd have to be riding my bike. I can't imagine how Lance does it every year. That's just crazy.

Ah well. One last bit of news. I am once again a free agent. The relationship I've been in for the last year and a half or so came to an amicable end last night. But I'm told that I have to report that I was dumped. She's a wonderful person with a lot to give. However, I just wasn't in love. I do hope to maintain a nice friendship with her in the future. I do want to be in love. Someday perhaps I may find it, but I'm not letting it, or the lack of it, get in the way of the things I need to do... finish school... be a teacher... pilot a steam boat on the Mississippi. All very important goals to me, which are absolute and immutable goals. Well, at least two of three. One might just be a hobbie.

mahalo

ps - living on the edge as I do, I'm so tired... I'm not even going to edit and proofread. Have fun!


Friday, September 2
"The difference between a moral man and a man of honor is that the latter regrets a discreditable act, even when it has worked and he has not been caught." -- Henry L. Mencken

I did something last night that I'm half ashamed of, half because the guy partially deserved it, but I'm still regretful. I was having a conversation with my friend who is the bartender at the dive bar that I visit occasionally about how officials in New Orleans (the Government was my word) is letting people down by not providing enough assistance to those who need it. Which is true, even Fox News reported the lack of aid they are receiving. There was a guy sitting next to me, who I later found out was a Korean War vet, who jumped all over my left wing, liberal, communist views on how our Government ought to react. His point was that it was a natural disaster and the Government has no control... or responsibility apparently, to those who need help. Then proceded to call me every foul adjective he could think of, which evidently was limited to "Fuckin' Asshole." That's how every sentence that came out of his mouth started, or ended. With really not much in between. He was painfully underinformed about the situation in NO.

After about 10 minutes, and I'm saddened that it took me that long to figure it out, I realized that he was completely irrational. There was no talking to him and his "It's our way or the Highway" mentality. So I played into it for a while. Hell, I even tried to make peace with him later on trying to get him to talk about his time in Korea. I am, after all a veteran. He would have none of it. In fact, he tried to throw inane "military knowledge" at me to no avail. He won the Combat Infantry Badge which is a rectangular badge about one half inch high and about 3 and a half inches long, colored blue and has a rifle in it. You have had to serve in the infantry and been under hostile fire to get it. My uncle received one in Vietnam. I'm very familiar with it.

In a move that was replicated over the evening he would become belligerent with me for no reason. He didn't like me and attempted all night to antagonize me, which of course he couldn't do. He yelled over to me about the CIB, asking if I "even knew what it was," I told him of course, and his response was "He just fuckin' knows everything, don't he." Which when measured up to the likes of him... yes, yes I do. I continued to ignore him, which got even more under his skin, much to my delight. But then, on my way out I got stupid. My ego just had to have the last word, and antagonize him to the point that I wanted to see his head blow up.

On my way out I said goodnight to him, and told him, sarcastically, that I enjoyed our pleasant conversation. He simply said "Fuck you, you asshole." I've been an asshole before. I know when I've been an asshole, and usually I know it while I'm being the asshole. I wasn't an asshole for one second last night. Until the very last second of course.

After his remark, I asked him why he chooses to yell at me and call me names for no reason, he grumbled something, but it had to do with him knocking me out. Now mind you, and I'm not afraid to admit it, I did threaten him by saying that I would knock him out of his chair if he didn't stop spitting on me and yelling at me for no reason. I did threaten him. So he threatened back. I simply said... and here I knew I was actually becoming the asshole... I said... "I dare you." He laughed. I got closer... expecting him to make a move... I got closer and said... "I DARE you." He stopped laughing and looked at me like I punched his mother. He didn't say or do anything for a full 30 seconds. I stared at him, I laughed and said "That's what I thought. You're a chicken shit." I tapped him on the shoulder and said goodnight. As I walked past he gave a feeble backhanded swing at me and missed. I knew I succeeded and got so far under his skin that his liver spots are now shaped like my face. I knew I was wrong the minute I said it. I have no excuse. The man, as much as an idiot as he is, as obnoxious and foul a person as he is, is probably close, if not over 70. It's a lose lose situation for me. I could apologize. But it wouldn't do any good. He morally unsalvagable and, as I mentioned earlier, completely irrational. You just can't talk to someone like that.

So now I've told you and I feel somewhat better. Ah well. There are stupid people out there, but they have to be there, just so we know how far we've come as a society and how far we still need to go.

I need to tell you about my 20th class reunion and my hectic August with school. And now school starts up again next Wednesday. It's crazy piggies, just the way I like it.

mahalo


Friday, August 5
"When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race." -- H. G. Wells

All right everyone. The website once again is brakingthecycle.org. I'm rider 109. It's getting to be that time, the ride is next month. If you've already contributed and are tired of hearing about it, I thank you, but you'll understand that it's important that I beg, plead and nag everyone else to help. It's a great cause that helps great people, in addition I'm riding a freakin' bike 275 miles. And you'll receive a personalized handwritten note of gratuitous thanks from me.

I was out yesterday riding/training for the ride and I learned a very important thing about myself. I'm never so primal, so relying on brainstem only functions as when I'm 43 miles into a 51 mile ride.

The fact of the matter is that for the last 15 years I've been a truck driver and before that I was in the military. And I spoke and continue to speak like that when in certain company. Essentially, I have a pretty foul mouth. My mother, who by the way is prone to pretty foul language herself, given a certain circumstance, is often offended when something unwittingly flies out of my mouth.

Now, when my ride starts, I'm usually footloose and fancy free. If I should get cut off at the beginning or first 10 or 12 miles, which is inevitable and happens 3 or 4 times during the course of a ride, I sort of mumble "watch it!" and keep riding. By the time 43 miles rolls around I unleash the kind of language that David Milch, the writer of Deadwood (my new favorite show, more on that in another blog) might even be offended.

In the past week "Cocksucker" flew out of my face before I even knew what I had said. Of course the guy deserved it, he missed me by inches to beat the two whole cars he would have had to wait for should he decided not to cut me off. That was last week. Yesterday, there was an SUV full of kids and a mother driving, who like the cocksucker last week, decided to cut me off to avoid waiting for a few cars that would have caused her delay by perhaps 2 whole minutes. Well, I was close enough to see the beautiful blue eyes of the 7 year old girl strapped into the back seat with the window open when I posed the query to the mother "What the Fuck is wrong with you, you Cunt?" I giggled to myself afterwards imagining the mother explaining those words, and hopefully the reason they were loosed upon her.

Strange though, riding actually relaxes me. Well, so does yelling at oblivious drivers, none of whom seem to know the rules of the road.

Well, as you may have deducted for yourselves, I've very nearly given up on giving a play-by-play of Italy. All you need to know is that we had a great time. And you can view the pictures by clicking on the link from the previous blog, if you feel the need to envy me or feel like you were actually there yourself. I won't tell.

I will say that taking the picture in Pisa of "holding up the tower" is the most difficult picture to get...ever. It seems everyone, no matter origin, culture or creed, everyone seems to need the picture of themselves "holding up the tower." It was quite the ordeal getting the one that you see in the album. It seems that as she squatted 10 feet away to take the picture while I stood at that awkward angle with my hands up, was no indication that something might be happening when two German women came by and decided that the place I was standing made a great angle of the tower (Campanile) and proceded to sit RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME. It was actually so obnoxious, that all I could do was laugh and wait for them to move. Such audacity should be applauded, if you can get away with it, and I suppose they did.

That's all for now piggies. Now, get to that website!! Hurry!!

mahalo