The story of a boy, who enlisted in the Navy, who became a man, who still retained the emotional maturity of that boy, yet convinced a woman to marry him.

Friday, July 29, 2011

So Long, We Hardly Knew You

  I never liked Sunday afternoons as a kid.
  Sure, there was the chance we could get invited to Grandma's for a wondrous feast which would make the Pilgrims look like the Donner party.  If the old folks were either in Atlantic City for endless buffets (gambling in New Jersey being non-existent at that time) or the Pequot Indian Reservation to drop serious wampum at the bingo tables, we'd have to settle for Mom's "What's-In-the-Fridge" safari.
  At least football was usually on-the New York Giants, always the New York Giants in my house.  Big Ken bled big blue.  And gravy, I suppose.  And never underestimate the joyous thrill of chasing your sister around the yard with dog poop on a stick.
  Still, Sunday afternoons meant we were that much closer to Monday morning and school.  Somehow,  weekends always flew by and two days just wasn't enough of a break from Sister Caligula and her ilk.
Instead of enjoying what still remained of the weekend, I watched the clock and bemoaned the fact that  school loomed like Lindsay Lohan at a frat house kegger.
  The fact that I hadn't yet started my homework-a diorama of Jamestown using elbow macaroni-didn't help things.  I usually never started that until Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom came on.
   I feel the same way about the impending ending (hey, that rhymed) of Wawa's Hoagiefest 2011.  Of course, intellectually I know that there is plenty of summer left in the tank.  Many family vacations to the Jersey Shore have yet to be taken (gotta get those henna tattoos and fried lard on a stick, dontcha know?).  Heat Wave #5,000 or something like that is due to hit this weekend like a blast furnace from hell (Keep the old people, dogs, and small children inside where it's cool!!  But, you can leave the poor people outside.")   Pre-season football hasn't begun (football of any kind has barely begun).  And the local communities have yet to issue dire drought warnings (a sure-fire way of spurring flash floods).
  Finally, I also know that fall (or 'autumn' to snooty rich people who probably have central air) doesn't actually begin until September 21st...or 22nd...or a few weeks after Labor Day (which has nothing to do with pregnancy).
  That being said, I view the end of Hoagiefest and its cute little spokesman dropping sandwiches on the heads of beachgoers (even that bald weightlifter guy) with some sadness.  For those people who nit-pick:  "Hoagieman" was driving a lunchmeat van this year.  I suppose the balloon was eaten by seagulls.  Or knocked out of the sky by a seriously hacked-off weightlifter.
  On July 31st, we begin the slow, but inexorable process that will have us back to school, sharing the road with fleets of schoolbuses, raking leaves, passing out crappy candy to trick-or-treaters (you nuts?  I'm keeping the Snickers for myself), and craving Shorti hoagies (even the sucky toasted roadkill and cheese ones) while snowflakes swirl about our heads.
  Like young Ken shoveling roast beef down his throat while Grampa falls asleep with his hand in his pants, old Ken starts cranking about a summer which seems to be going as fast as Charlie Sheen through a poppy field.
  Thankfully, I still have a couple days to go get me a Wawa hoagie.
  Then, I'll have to go see what's in the fridge.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Hot Enough For Ya?

  What once were lush carpets of green are slowly withering away to crinkly, brown fire hazards.  Frantic warnings about checking on the elderly are front page news.  Dr. Mike, eschewing his white coat and for-show-only stethoscope, appears on Fox-29 to pontificate on the necessity of choosing the right sunblock (NOTE: these were called "suntan" lotions when I was a kid).  Roy Oswalt lurches from the mound at Wrigley Stadium in a heat exhaustion haze.  A section of I-95 (or is that 76?  Or 476?  Or Roosevelt Boulevard?  No matter.  It's a road) buckles under the pressure of oppressive heat.  Cicadas belt out warning cries of "What the heck is wrong with you?  Get inside!"  The general populace sweats more than Mel Gibson at a B'Nai B'rith convention.
  Don't get me wrong.  I'm no Heat Miser.  I enjoy basking in the pool like an overweight sea lion as much as anyone (as long as there are no killer whales around), but I often wonder:
  What did mankind, the elderly, and small children do before air conditioning was invented a little over 100 years ago?
  As recently as the 19th century, people were walking around wearing more clothes than you'd see at the Playboy Mansion in any given decade.  Women, especially, had to endure a wardrobe which must have been as brutal as any afternoon on the Schuykill Expressway.  What with all the lace, linen, crinoline (I think that's cloth), whalebone corsets, bonnets (for the love of all that's holy), and stays made of...something, it's a wonder there weren't more Lizzie Bordens around to go crackers with an ax.

  Men had it a little better, I suppose.  At least they didn't have to walk around with their abdomen stuffed into an hourglass.  And, unless you were Walt Whitman, they probably never wore petticoats (if there are any Whitman descendants reading this, I apologize). However, the men had to go to war with all that went with that particular little hobby.
  From what I read (I'm not old to have actually experienced it. Close) the weather was absolutely horrendous in Gettysburg in July, 1863 when the Southern army wandered into Pennsylvania looking for some tank tops and board shorts at Ye Olde Forman Mills.  What with the long-sleeve wool uniforms, it's no wonder there was a huge fight for three days.
  What I'm getting at is, that while I agree this weather is dreadful, it could be worse.
  If nothing else, winter is coming.

Thou should quit your whinin' and pick up a hammer

Monday, July 18, 2011

Same As It Ever Was

    Whole lotta griping and moaning going on about the doings in Washington (that’s sure a bunch of “ing’s” in one sentence).
    Don’t get me wrong.  People have a point.  When one of the biggest stories to come out of our nation’s capital is that of a congressman’s colorful use of his Twitter, it’s apparent that something stinks on the Potomac.
    Sure, I have my opinions.  I’m probably not much different than this pundit or that.  Many’s the time I’ve blasted off a letter to my representative in Congress to give them a piece of my mind.  Only to get a form letter and solicitation to subscribe to their free newsletter in return.
    That being said, I try to couch my viewpoints respectfully and without personal rancor.  I have little patience for remorseless, vitriolic, ad hominem attacks (pulled out all the stops for that literary gem, huh?).  One would think they are at levels which are unprecedented in American history.
    If you think that, you would be wrong.
    In this age of the internet and the 24/7 news cycle, we have instant access to news around the world and a dog which can say “I love you.”  It wasn’t like that when I was a kid.  Television doesn’t go to a test pattern at 2 am anymore and there's an alphabet soup of news channels from which to choose.
    We live in a wonderful “Age of Communication.”
    Of course, Anthony Weiner might disagree about that “wonderful” thing.
    So, with all this finger-pointing going around at the speed of light, it just seems like we live in a new era of personal attacks.
    Actually, we’ve been complaining about each other pretty much ever since we threw England out of here.
    The bickering between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson was remorseless, Andrew Jackson was accused of wedding a married woman (well, he kinda did), Lincoln was called a “baboon,” Grover Cleveland was lambasted for fathering a love child, Harding for the same (before he died of a stomachache), people swore Kennedy took his orders from the Vatican, and Nixon was called “Dick.”
    (NOTE: The above “March Through American History” was done completely by memory.  I’m too lazy to look up any facts.  If there are any inaccuracies, please don’t consider this an indictment of the Pennridge School District.  I grew up in Connecticut).
    So, even though you may think personal slurs are a new wrinkle, they’re really not.  Animosity towards those in power hasn’t changed since Aaron Burr left a flaming bag of dog poop on Alexander Hamilton’s front porch (before he shot him).
    Whether a donkey, elephant, or whatever, we’re all the same.  Americans who feel genuine love for their country.  And, even though some of us profoundly disagree with our politicians, I have to think we haven’t lost sight of that which makes us special.
    (NOTE: Yes, I know there are those who couldn’t care less about being an American.  I’m not that naive.  But, I’m positive they’re in the minority.  Certainly not like those Spanish-speaking gentlemen who sat behind me at a recent Trenton Thunder game and sang-sang!-the National Anthem).
    Unemployment is up, our credit rating is threatening to go down, and there’s a long line of people around the world who want their free “Death To America” tee shirt.  But, be of good cheer.  We’ll get through this.  We always have.
    If you doubt the optimism out there, I encourage you to take a walk along Perkasie’s 3rd Street, between Menlo Park and Walnut Street.  One of the most stirring spots in the local area, it seems like every house is festooned with an American flag (okay, there’s one Swiss flag, but I think that’s for the Ski Patrol).
    You’d think you’d wandered into a Used Car lot.
    But, no.  You’ve wandered into a street of Americans.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Good Evening, Mr. and Mrs. America and All the Ships At Sea

PLEASE NOTE:  "Ships at sea" really have nothing to do with this post.  It just had a nice ring to it.

Dear residents of Hilltown, Silverdale, Perkasie, East Rockhill, West Rockhill, Sellersville, and Bedminster,
  This is the first of what I hope to be a series of observations about the area I call home.  And not just because most of my stuff is here and I just paid off the pool.
  In the virtual pages of this blog, I will be providing you with a collection of those bon mots (French for candied mots) about what it is which makes Pennsylvania's Upper Bucks County one of the finest places in which to live (please note:  I did not end my sentence with a preposition.  You're welcome).  Along the way, of course, I'll also comment on things which strike me as odd, funny, strange, weird, or which belong in Congress.
  For example, did you ever notice that the covered bridge which spans the Perkiomen Creek adjacent (NOTE: snooty word for "next to") to a soccer field and parking lot has a sign on it which says it was built in 1874?  Yes, yes, I know the original bridge was built then, but it was destroyed by fire (more specifically, dopey arsonists) soon after the Y2K frenzy (remember that? Ahhhh, good times).
  The good fathers (which sounds eminently more polite than good mothers) of East Rockhill decided to rebuild it.  Bravo, I said.  As tragic as the heinous act was, that span was due for a redesign, I said.    
  So, they did.  A grand reopening was held in 2009 with funnel cake, livestock, Bono, and I think that Amish comic guy.
  Please don't think this will be a diatribe on the "wisdom" of rebuilding it exactly how it was.  No, no, that would be too easy.  It wasn't their fault that "Bridge Building For Dummies" was checked out of the Pierce Branch library that day.
  What I find amusing is that the new bridge still has the original sign stating it was built in 1874.  Which just ain't true.
  Imagine tourists from, oh, say, Ohio who, deciding to get a jump on the crowds, are on a leaf-peeping trip in July.  Deciding they needed to get a drink at Giant, a pizza from Dominos, and their nails done at that...uh...nail place (I don't go there so, ergo, I don't recall its name):
  "Gee, Martha, ain't that somethin'?  Those Pennsylvania master craftsmen built bridges to last.  This thing is over 235 years old!  But, why is the dang road only one-way??"
  I'm quite sure the local poobahs have a perfectly good explanation for putting that sign up.  I just hope it wasn't because they ran out of money to buy a new sign.  Gotta put that turf field in at the high school, dontcha know.
  Anyway, yeah, this is the kind of stuff I plan on writing for your reading enjoyment.  Or because there's nothing on television in the summer.
  Who knows?  Maybe you'll see yourself here.  Then, you can shoot me the name of that nail place.
best fishes,