Monday, April 25, 2011

Never Did The Twain Meet a Traffic Consultant

15 clever quips

If Mark Twain had lived in my southern Connecticut ‘burb instead of up in our state capital of Hartford, he might have complained that everybody talks about the traffic, but nobody does anything about it.

mark twain opinions facts quotesHe would have been wrong, of course.

We also spend stacks of tax dollars on studies that talk about traffic.

Stamford has a couple of these in the works now. One is a $560,000 federally funded report on how to perform angioplasty on our two main north-south arteries, known as High Ridge and Long Ridge roads. The other spends up to $100,000 to analyze whether the city, for safety’s sake, should straighten and widen winding cut-though street called Oaklawn Avenue.

This is a boondoggle I need to get in on!

First, I’ll offer some free advice that’ll knock their eyes out. After I knock their eyes are out, I can charge ‘em anything I want.

Here goes …

Narrow, curvy streets discourage speeding. If city officials had actually driven on Oaklawn Avenue this winter, they'd know that so do potholes. Hence, this  road should not be widened, straightened or paved! Bonus: Less tax money spent on asphalt means economic stimulus to local auto repair shops.

As to High Ridge and Long Ridge roads, some in the city have already suggested adding bicycle and HOV lanes, trolley lines, bus service and commuter lots in hope that people will use them. Just as easily, I could write Kim Kardashian‘s name on a sheet of paper and put it under my pillow at night in hope of finding her beside me come morning. In either case, we'll both wake up to cold showers.

The rush hour clogging of these roads are an unavoidable product of our city’s commuting/suburban sprawl design and lifestyle. The true solutions (double-decking, adding lanes or building express under- or overpasses) would cost gazillions in construction, lawsuits and headaches. In the meantime, the most cost-effective answers are simple: add a few turn restrictions here, do some fiddling with the timing of traffic signals there, and pray that someone perfects the personal jet pack.

Piece o' cake! That gives me room to take on a couple other traffic-related issues.

  • Connecticut lawmakers want to stiffen the penalty for driving with one hand on the wheel and the other on a cellphone by increasing the fine and revoking the offender's license for 24 hours. Pfft! Nothing like toughening up a law no one enforces. Next up – sterilization for people with more than 10-items in the supermarket express lane! My solution: First offense, the cops confiscate the driver’s cellphone for 72 hours; second offense, the cellphone goes under the tires of the cops’ car.
  • Five more local schools will soon have radar signs installed nearby to slow speeding drivers. These signs are effective except when they routinely don't work as is the case outside of my neighborhood. Instead, the city could hire a certain at-home dad and his dog to send scofflaws an effective and smelly message.

All this proves Twain was wrong about another thing. In the first place, God made idiots. That was for practice. Then he made the people who pay traffic consultants.

mark twain ignorance success consultants

Thursday, April 14, 2011

When Boy Meets 1st Mitt, It’s A True Glove Story

21 clever quips

Baseball is as much a game of history as it is of skill. That's why I'm putting Thing 2’s recently retired first mitt in our safe deposit box.

first baseball mitt baseball gloveNot that I think Cooperstown will come calling for it. The boy has a fairly live pitching arm for a third grader, but in our Wiffle ball matches he's already displaying serious issues hitting the hard inside breaking stuff and the 23-foot-high moon ball.

I want to lock up his mitt for a selfish reason: I wish I still had my first ball glove.

That long-gone relic had been given to me the spring I turned 7. My mom passed it to me from a friend whose own child had graduated from wanting to learn to turn the perfect double play to wanting to teach how to turn the perfect pirouette.

Yes, my first mitt was a hand-me-down from a ballet teacher.

Specifically, my sister's ballet teacher.

I had recently followed the light to the Church of Baseball so this was quite the baptismal gift. I accepted it without hesitation, too excited to worry that the cowhide might be a carrier of girl cooties. As a quick study of the game, I was prepared should anyone peer under the wrist strap to discover the name of my glove's original owner. I would say that if Shoeless Joe Jackson could hit .400 with a bat named "Black Betsy" then I could win a Gold Glove with a mitt called "Sheila W."

Most people wouldn't bother with my mitt anyway. The lining of the ring finger turned slightly inside out, causing borrowers to complain about the awkward fit. To me, though, it felt just fine.

We spent many hours together that year. Catching sky-scraping flies my dad threw until his shoulder ached. Snaring imaginary line drives as I lay on the playroom floor listening to Bob Murphy describe the play of another pitiful Mets team. Snagging tennis balls off the wall in my parent’s basement, which today still bears a strike zone I fashioned from masking tape.

Spring turned to summer, summer to autumn. The air turned crisp and others turned to football, but I stayed in my backyard, single-handedly catching all 27 outs to win another imaginary World Series until I was called in for lunch. I dropped my mitt next to the tree serving as the Green Monster and went inside.

That was the last I saw of it.

When I returned 20 or 30 minutes later, ball and glove had vanished.

Since we lived in a town where zoning and woods hamper most contact with civilization, my first thought that desperados, hell bent for third-hand leather, rode though and swiped it while I downed a grilled cheese didn't register. My parents concluded that a never-before- and never-since-seen dog wandered through and took it home as a chew toy. As I grew older, I started suspecting convenient scapegoating to counter an early request I made to Santa for a puppy.

Instead, for Christmas I received another glove and it was good, serving me through Tiny League and my first year in Little League. That one is gone, too, though I suspect it fell as a silent and unmourned victim during a zealous spring cleaning.

Also gone are the baseballs from my only two home runs in organized ball and the one from the night I went 5-for-5 with the game-winning RBI single in a 13-year-old All-Star game. Someone broke into my parents' house several years ago and stole those, along with some of my mom’s costume jewelry, and some other odd items of relatively little value.

Maybe it was not someone. Maybe it was something.

Maybe the same mysterious hellhound who visited our backyard years before made a return visit. Who knows? I just hope those old baseballs and memories eventually found their way to the comforting leather pocket of my old reliable Sheila W.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Pinch Hitter Lacks Power

11 clever quips

A bit of the magic went out of Opening Day last week when we had to place Thing 1 on the disabled list.

She woke at 3 a.m., crying and moaning. Fever. Headache. Pain in the pee department and up into the plumbing.

It’s no fun having a urinary track infection as an adult, so I’m sure it was worse for an 11-year-old girl. But there are worse and more embarrassing reasons to go on the DL. Just ask former Mets flop Kaz Matsui, whose “injury” may or may not have given a double meaning to his being a switch hitter.

Not that there’s any thing wrong with that.

It was strange being at my first Opening Day without my baby girl in tow since 1999, but her little brother stepped up his game and was nearly perfect.


No complaining about the cold, damp weather.

No whining that he was bored or that he wanted to go home.


Shut off which ever of the 67 different Pokémon games he has for his Nintendo DS the first time I asked while we waited for lunch, then put it away and never brought it out again until the ride home many hours later after the game finished and we toured the gift shops and Mets Hall of Fame exhibit. (Yeah, yeah -- it was a pretty small  exhibit.)mr. met meets T1

As we sat watching the rather lackluster play of the Mets, he listened politely as I prattled on about the no-doubles infield defense and seemed genuinely interested as I demonstrated how to make a rally cap when his team stood four runs down in the ninth.

“Dude, we need more than rally caps,” I said to him as our home team batters continued to flail meekly at the Washington Nationals’ pitches. “You need to conjure up all the special Pokémon powers you can to make the Mets score some runs and get them a victory!”

“Dad,” he said back without missing a beat, “I don’t think there’s ANY power for that.”

cold but uncool at a ballgame

Friday, April 8, 2011

My First Day of Spring

13 clever quips

The “Always Home and Uncool” offices will be closed today for its annual rite of spring – Opening Day of baseball season.

(Technically the season opened 8 days ago, but not at the home field for my beloved and, as usual, beleaguered, New York Mets. I’m all about location, people.)

mets 2011 opening day ticket This will mark my 17th Major League home opener: 8 for the Mets, 7 for the Texas Rangers when we were cast out in the bland Dallas suburbs by corporate America, 1 for the Baltimore Orioles in college (Joan Jett sang the National Anthem, the original President Bush tossed out the first pitch then helicoptered the heck out of there because, hey, Charm City is no Kennebunkport, Mumsy) and 1 – bleech – for the Yankees.

I say that not just because the Yankees are the “ic” in America (greed, sense of entitlement, pinstriped business attire in a park setting and – the real kick in pants – $11 beer) but because, hands down, it was the worst time I’ve ever had at a baseball game. Ever.

The year: 1991. Some friends from the newspaper I worked at asked me to the game, which was great because I had never been to the legendary Yankee Stadium and, hey – it was Opening Day!

It was also 38 degrees and damp with a wind that brought what felt like a thousand razor cuts with every gust as we sat with our feet soaking in the puddles in the upper right field deck. 

I missed the top half of the first (and a Robin Ventura home run) waiting in line at the concession for nonexistent hot dogs.

Well, they existed before I got there. Specifically five people before I got there.

Yes, the Yankees – this richest, most fabled sports franchise in baseball – if not all sports – ran out of hot dogs.

On Opening Day.


(To be fair, this was not the glory days of the Steinbrenner Era. Even if you don’t know a baseball from an avocado, this will give you all you need to know: your manager is named “Stump” and though everyone calls your starting left fielder “Bam Bam," his full name is the less than intimidating Hensley Filemon Acasio Meulens.)

In the third inning I waited in line for coffee. That ran out in the previous inning. Meanwhile, I missed the Yanks rally for 4 runs.

I finally gave up on hot food or beverage and opted for beer. I took it back to my seat and, three sips in, accidentally kicked it over. Luckily, the people in front of us didn’t notice because they had come properly dressed for day in blankets and garbage bags.

Today it will be better.

Today the sun is expected to peek out from behind its winter covers over Flushing, Queens, and show us its its unkempt bed head.

Today whatever they use for mercury these days might reach the mid-50s.

Today I’ll hurry the Things out of school early and into the minivan so we can sit in traffic on the Whitestone Bridge.

Today My Love will again try to teach Thing 1 how to keep score and I’ll try to teach Thing 2 that there is more to going to the ballpark than sucking down tortilla chips covered in glowing orange glop. Undoubtedly, I'll fail again but I won’t care until tomorrow morning.

Because today …

Today you'll dig in the closet for your glove and snap a ball into it while sipping your morning coffee.
Today as the toast comes out of the toaster, you'll still remember how to execute a perfect "pop-up" slide.
Today you'll drive to work and admonish yourself to "keep your head down" and your eye on the road.
Today your team will be in first and planning to stay there.
Today you'll end your contract holdout.
Today you'll still be able to turn the double play.
Today you won't lose a business deal in the sun.
Today you'll find yourself rotating your arm around your head to stretch the shoulder and keep it loose.
Today someone asks if you'll be at the meeting and you respond by saying, "Let's play two."
Today you spend an hour in the attic with old baseball cards and dusty Sports Illustrateds.
Today sunflower seeds strangely find their way into your back pocket.
Today you find yourself muttering something about "Bill freakin' Buckner."
Today you'll think of wearing a black suit to match the eye black.
Today you'll have the steal sign.
Today you slip up in a meeting and mention "our sales team ... vs. lefties."
Today a hot dog and peanuts for lunch will sound about right.
Today you tell a co-worker to "warm up."
Today the only strike you'll know about is above the knees and below the armpits.
Today you'll wear your jacket only on your pitching arm.
Today you'll buy two packs of gum and stuff them in the side of your mouth.
Today, during lunch, you'll wonder why Coke doesn't come in a wood can.
Today you'll scratch yourself and spit for no apparent reason.
Today you'll wonder why stirrup socks never caught on.
Today you'll be the rookie looking to make it big.
Today you'll be the wily vet with just a little something left.
Today you'll look for the AM dial on your radio.
Today your glove is hanging off the handlebars of your bike.
Today seems like a good day for an ice cream before you head home.
Today is box scores and "Baseball Tonight."
Today is Donnie Sadler and Keith Osik.
Today is Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds.
Today your first coach is cheering. Still.
Today mom's watching.
Today dad's in the backyard -- with his glove.
Today it'll still be a kids' game.
Today you'll be a kid.
Today is Opening Day.

Poem: “Today” -- By Greg Shea, Copyright © 2000 The Closer

* * *

BTW, if you like talkin’ baseball (or just listening to two guys babble in-depth about it), check out “Just Talking to the Cornfield” with my pal B.E. Earl on Sunday night. Sybil Law will be there with booze and gratuitous Dave Grohl photos.


Friday, April 1, 2011

The Uncool Sell Out

21 clever quips

After much consideration and consternation, I have decided to sell the massive assets of “Always Home and Uncool.”

This site will now be run by KRP Communications Inc., a Hoboken, N.J.-based public relations firm that in the last several months has won me over with their endless email pitches for life-changing products aimed at you, my 42 semi-loyal readers.

From now on, KRP Communications will pimp their clients’ wares and host giveaways on this site for such amazing items as:

ENVYSPERM - A groundbreaking new nonprescription formula growth and conditioning serum for fuller, longer and stronger little swimmers. Endorsed by Jim Bob Duggar!

my beautiful mommy plastic surgery book for kidsMY BEAUTIFUL MOMMIES – The groundbreaking new children’s book on plastic surgery among lesbian parents. “Plastic surgery among married lesbians, especially the lipstick variety, is very popular and becoming a common reality. Cosmetic surgery can be a difficult topic to understand for people who get all their news from Fox, and even more so for children who can’t understand why mom’s fun bags are now the size of basketballs,” said author Dr. Mickey Schlock. “I wanted to provide my female lesbian type patients with a tool, to coin a phrase, that speaks to kids in a kid-friendly way. I kid you not.” 

THE GETTHEE2ABAR METHOD PREGNANCY DVD – Developed and perfected by drunken singles all over the world, the GetThee2ABar Method is the proven way to get knocked up without really trying! Britney Spears and her little sis, Jamie Lynn, swear by it!

Why did I sell my blog? Let me share with you the cunning insight that  KRP CEO, Kathleen R. Plotzwit, recently passed on to me:

“Hi Mr.,

We love your blog! Especially that post about your kids! They say/do the darned things, don’t they? I wouldn’t know – I’m barren.

Would you be interested in running this photo of Cocoon: The Return star Steve Guttenberg standing next to an unidentified dog that is standing next to our client’s product? Let me know if you want me to send you hi-res images and/or Steve Guttenberg in a shiny, short wet suit.”

steve guttenberg shiny body suit and a dogHow can I continue to fight that kind of tenacity, drive and determination to give you what you didn’t even know you needed? I mean, Steve Freakin’ Guttenberg!

Have a nice life, friends! Come visit me on the Riviera!


My Uncool Past