Summer Movie 2014 Wish List . . .

I make no secret of my general distaste for the "state" of movies these days. Reboots, sequels, prequels, franchises, re-imaginations of, adaptations of, movies made from books that were only written so they might be movies, etc. etc. etc. NO time of year typically bums me out, film-wise, more than summer.

THIS summer? A different story. I'm excited for a LOT of things being released this year. The question is . . . will they make it to Wichita?

"A Long Way Down", "Wish I Was Here", and "This Is Where I Leave You" are the ones I am MOST excited about (two of which are - admittedly and to my hypocrisy - adaptations of books that I LOVE).

Get the popcorn, pour on the butter, and silence your damned phones . . .

"Citizen Koch" (June 6th (Not here in Wichita - I doubt it will make it here.))

"Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon: (June 6th)

"Tammy" (July 2nd)

"The Last Sentence" (June 20th)

"Begin Again" (June 27th)

"Life Itself" (July 4th)

"A Long Way Down" (July 11th)

"Wish I Was Here" (July 18th)

"A Most Wanted Man" (July 25th)

"If I Stay" (August 22nd)

"One Chance" (August 29th)

"This Is Where I Leave You" (September 12th)


SOLD . . .

I almost forgot to tell you some truly great news. I SOLD my house a few weeks ago. Yes, yes. The house (once referred to as a home) I shared as a family for the first several years of my Wichita life was finally, mercifully separated from my financial obligation and great, unbridled stress and fear thanks to an investor.

I want to thank my fantastic, patient, very professional, and personally amazing Realtor Ria Farmer for her role and - frankly - abiding faith that the house WOULD eventually sell if we were just patient enough, played nicely with the bank, and kept our eyes on the prize and hour hearts on the sale.

To patience, relief, mercy, and closing a chapter I can simply say THANK YOU!


#YesAllWomen . . .

C'bawwwwwn, Suhn. This is just. plain. uncomfortable.
A horrible thing befell our country on Friday night when a pathetic little "man" - we should not bother to learn his name - killed six and injured thirteen people because he was horny and frustrated (that is the best I know . . . my emotionally stunted brain won't let me learn too much about these incidents) but there is a vague (and not worth the cost, I would like to clarify) upside to what happened . . . a discussion came out of it. TWO, technically.

The first was a father of one of the victims telling politicians their sympathy could, should, and perhaps WOULD suck it. For a grieving father to be so poignant and selfless is admirable.

The second (and louder - at least for those, like me, that seem to live their lives through social media when events like this hypnotize our nation) . . . the #YesAllWomen campaign.

If you are not on Twitter all day, errrrrryday (and good for YOU) the "#YesAllWomen" campaign was a sound off on how ALL women are/have been objectified, harassed, maligned, disrespected, and otherwise minimized in the raging libidos of their lesser counterparts. How big of a "thing" was this hashtag campaign? Click on this link, scroll down, and watch the time lapse video/map thingy that shows the campaign lighting up the world (or parts of (to be less dramatic)).

I'm not going to really wade in to the conversation. My sense of humor often gets me in trouble and I have a tendency to dismiss Internet phenomenons where participants try to out "deep" and out "philosophize" each other (and - to be clear - this campaign ranks high on the all time list for that) BUT I will simply say two things:
  1. I agree that no woman "deserves" to be marginalized, harassed, mistreated, or attacked in any way much less in a sexually aggressive way.
  2. All men (even the most saintly of them) are guilty of doing at least a shade of the above at some point in their lives - many so much so that the "men being animals" graph is not even a bell curve so much as a steep climb like that yoddler takes on The Price is Right
I am NOT excusing it. I'm a NOT accepting it. I'm NOT even trying to explain it. I've been reassured that it is part genetics, part sociology, part poor decision making, part ignoring, part whatever. It doesn't matter, sadly. You and I can't fix it (on our own). I'm simply acknowledging simple (and tragic) facts.

I am not shy about my lust cues (that sounds as creepy as humanly possible) and I have been known to flirt a few times in my life (to be clear my low self esteem and lack of confidence with "The Ladies" doesn't exactly find me toeing the proverbial line too regularly but I've had my moments). I pride myself on always backing away when even the slightest cue was given to do so but I am ashamed to admit I've certainly made women uncomfortable in my day and that is regrettable. I'd be a liar if I pretended that the pubescent (and by that I mean still-happening) brain of Sean Amore was not a leering dullard. I had a credit card devoted to pornography shortly after college. It was what it was. 

I love women (which also sounds as creepy as humanly possible in this context) and I respect them a great deal. I have a mother. I have an ex-wife. I have a daughter. I have loads and loads of women I am friends with and that I would dare say I "love". I have dated several women and have even laid with a handful of them (it is creepy words in a blog post day, clearly). I can not imagine NOT holding women in a minimal regard. I can't imagine blatantly and intentionally making them feel "less than" and/or to hate me in the process. To physically take advantage of a woman seems unfathomable and yet . . . it happens every day in America.

I can't imagine any man doing some of the things (much less all the things) mentioned in the Tweets tied to this campaign and yet - here we/they are.

It is all tragic. The death of these innocent people is horrible. The grief their death has caused is inexcusable. The pain, suffering, fear, and loathing so many women carry (those that participated in this campaign and the millions more they seem to (accurately) speak for) is unacceptable. 

I am sorry, ladies. For anything I've ever said or done - as unintentional as it was at the time - that might have negatively impacted you. More importantly, I'm sorry that so many men will not accept the reality that you are and have been hurt in the past. 


Ray Rice . . .

Well, well, well . . . I've seen a whole new LOW in the crazy, unacceptable, disgusting world of sports in America.

The Baltimore Ravens HOSTED a press conference where they put one of their players and his wife in front of their logo and their "official partner" sponsor (and Baltimore-born company) Under Armour (and shame on YOU, Under Armour for letting your logo be splashed behind this fiasco) for the lamest press conference in the history of the sad excuses for human beings making excuses for being pathetic.

If you're not sure what I'm raging over - Ray Rice is a FANTASTIC (as sports journalists insist on clarifying) football player and WONDERFUL COMMUNITY MEMBER (as the Baltimore Ravens and NFL Player's Union wants to remind you every chance they get) for the aforementioned Baltimore Ravens. He is also a full grown man and professional pugilist who knocked his then fiancee (now wife) UNCONSCIOUS in an Atlantic City elevator and then DRAGGED her from the metal box of punishment.

No. I never watched the footage. I don't like violence. I am pissed at Scandal for all the stabbings, shootings, teeth pullings, face spitting, and cheek licking this season. I don't need to see actual footage of actual people physically assaulting each other to know it would make me crazy. But the link above will show it to you in all its (non) glory.

Yes. Apologists . . .  I know it was an alleged "mutual" attack. A 105 pound woman attacked a 212 pound SPECIMEN of human being fitness and strength. I'm sure he had NO choice but to knock her out and drag her away. Seems totally worth injecting in to the conversation. Thanks for reminding me.

But - it's cool . . . he's really, really, REALLY sorry. Yeah. He held a seven-minute long press conference yesterday where he vaguely read notes from his spiffy iPhone and mumbled on about getting back up. You can watch the whole thing here. You should (especially if, like me, you like public relations, media relations, communication, speeches, and strategic communications - because this is the poster child for how NOT to do all of the above).

If you don't want to watch all 7:11 of it (and I don't think you will be a better person for enduring it) here are a few of my "lowlights" . . .

00:00 - You're really going to use your iPhone for notes and a guide? Who IS your publicist? Who IS the publicist for the Ravens? Do they know you are in front of their logo? Is Under Armour okay with their logo being tied to this?

00:32 - You MISSED one on your initial apology - your WIFE. Point of order you NEVER apologize to her during this horror show of a press conference.

00:49 - There is no WE, Ray. Unless your wife had a gun (or other mortal weapon) pointed at you and was 100% sure to use it - you acted ALONE in the ways that you need to apologize. Her job is not on the line. Her public perception is not on the line. You did this to you, dumby.

01:27 - Yes. You have a "very powerful job" . . . oh, oh. You meant playing a game for a living. I thought you meant being a father, husband, son, community member, etc. My bad. You're worried about your millions. Got it.

01:55 - Would you elaborate on the "failure" part of all this? In your own words? Yes - you can check your iPhone for talking points. I'll wait, silly pants.

02:00 - Rule #1, Ray - Don't use analogies like "Knocked down and getting back up" when the symbolism is so closely tied to the actual problem. And stop using the same analogy over and over again as we go on.

02:07 - Rule #2 - Ray, Ray, Ray (Can I call you "Ray"? You're not going to knock me out and drag me around if I do? Promise?) - You can't say "Make sure I HIT on everything." while the wife you knocked out is just feet away. Come on, man. You're wearing a tie. You woke up this morning intending to really TRY to do this the right way, right?

02:20 - We need to talk about your body language. You know - for the next time (yes - shame on me for presuming there might be a next time).

02:30 - Did you just take full responsibility for failing your "business relationships"? Very big of you. You don't want to share the blame for that elevator ride with Under Armor, and other sponsors like you do with your wife? Maybe you were wearing some dri-wick underpants or a Ravens logo somewhere. They might have been there, too. You're STILL going to take sole ownership? I'm proud of you, Ray. (eye roll)

02:50 - You are NOT likely to go down as a "role model" to your daughter. The statistics are against you here, Ray. Girls tend to distance themselves from the men who smack their mothers around in public (or in private).

03:42 - Yes, Ray. You are the SAME Ray Rice. You were always capable of knocking your wife out. Just like even at his most jovial, OJ Simpson was capable of (allegedly) killing his wife and her lover. Don't pretend like donating money and time at the soup kitchen makes this just a fluke in an otherwise good life. It is PART of that life. If you accepted that and spoke to that - I might find you vaguely respectable for a few seconds.

03:50 - Oops. Seconds are over. You would have had EIGHT seconds of my respect. Quick reminder . . . Stop. Saying. WE.

04:15 - No. No, no, no. You don't get to bring up that you really didn't have a dad growing up. That's not why you leveled a woman and dragged her from the scene. Stop it, Ray. You are trying to tell me you are a good, solid man and you're going to blame your deadbeat father? Tsk, tsk.

04:51 - Don't talk about "best interest" of anyone or anything. That ship has also sailed. You only care about YOU, Ray.

05:30 - Congrats, Chaplain. You are bringing some healing. (That is not sarcasm - that is the only positive thing I have to say about this whole debacle.)

05:55 - WE will earn back your trust? Is your wife lacking trust from people these days? Not getting invited to spring off season workouts? No longer welcomed by her friends and family? Daughter avoiding her? What trust did she lose when you knocked her out? Is it there in your iPhone? Scroll to the very bottom - it MUST be there.

06:05 - You lost 100% of your credibility when you just sort of SAY the ONLY reason you're at that mic is to get your job back and to remedy that part of your life. Thanks for trying.

06:35 - No. No. NO. Your hack, loser PR people who all but forced this woman to sit at that table and then SPEAK should have to walk planks in the harbor . . . NONE OF YOU (Ray Rice, publicists, lawyers, etc.) should NOT have ever, ever, ever, ever, EVER let her think she needed to apologize for "her role" in that night. I don't care what she did - truly not. She should NOT be apologizing publicly (let that be private between him and her - her career is not on the line - the logo of her employer (unless she works for the Ravens or Under Armour) is not there.

06:58 - Nice body language, kids. I believe you still love each other very much.

X:XX - Way to NEVER make eye contact with the woman you "love" and are so "sorry" about knocking out.

You failed, Ray Rice. You failed at all of this.

One could argue there are parts of the world where husbands abusing wives is considered part of marriage and considered none of our business and something we should just ignore in the context of everything else . . . those parts of the world apparently include BALTIMORE, MARYLAND!


Happy Ideas . . .

Bouncing across a trampoline bridge over the river Seine in the shadows of the Eiffel Tower? While (obviously) in Paris? How fantastically fun does THAT sound?

Why are we all sitting anywhere in the world (regardless of comfort level of chair or spectacularity (not a word) of the view) right now vs. bouncing across this marvel of fun and function? Simple. The bridge doesn't exist. It was proposed (in 2012) as part of a contest to design the 38th bridge to cross the beautiful Seine within the Parisian city limits. It came in THIRD. 

Sure, sure, sure . . . this bridge is dangerous and impractical and silly but how great did your brain feel when you first saw that picture and you thought this was a real option for crossing a flowing body of water? How many random ideas popped in to your head . . . "This would be great for ____." or "Why didn't I think of this?" or "A similar, slightly-changed idea that would also be wonderful fun is __________."?

Happy ideas beget happy ideas and happiness spreads through your brain like few other things can.

MORE happy ideas should come to fruition. We should not stop thinking them, working to make them real, or being encouraged to make the world as fun as possible.

HAPPY Friday, people. 


Must Eats . . .

After mentioned that the Beacon was my favorite "random breakfast spot" in town the other day, someone asked me what my favorite PLACES to eat in Wichita are. Here - in no particular order - are my favorites and why I adore each of them.

Please to enjoy/debate (and SERIOUSLY, Wichita restaurant community, your websites pretty much all suck - but you can click on the names of each place for their sites (where applicable)) . . .

1) The Beacon - I already told you why . . . classic greasy spoon diner and great people watching.
What I Get: Egg whites, melted cheese, (English) muffin. Don't worry - it all tastes like sausage anyway.

2) Ziggy's - The BEST pizza in Wichita and a fantastic little spot within walking distance of all three of my Wichita homes (two past, one current - I only have one home at a time). I've not been back for dinner since, the "incident" but . . . I will return.
What I Get: Cheese Johnson and as many Diet Dr. Peppers as they will pour me.

3) N&J Middle Eastern Cuisine - Wichita has a PROUD hummus history. This is among the better and most of their food is terrific but the ambiance is seriously lacking. Take good company with you and you'll never even notice.
What I Get: Hummus & Kafta

4) College Hill Deli & Catering - Another terrific small eatery in College Hill. Will seat about 20 - usually only has about half that. Delicious food and easy-going staff.
What I Get: Hummus

5) Bite Me BBQ - While not as celebrated as the better known Kansas City (of which more of is in Missouri than Kansas) barbecue scene, we have our fair share of good, slow cooked meats. This place is my favorite if only because it is in the space that was once the office of my ex-wife's creepy chiropractor. Go on Saturdays for lunch and hit Old Town Salvage before or after. Amazing shopping right next store.
What I Get: Sliced brisket sandwich with pickles and yellow mustard on top and regular fries on the side.

6) The Anchor - Wichita's favorite "always improving" eatery is fantastic for the scene, the bar options (for those who partake) and for the fantastic "pub" food. If you're really lucky you can see the Greteman Group Girl Army on selected Fridays. Fantastic women with killer shoes and cool attitudes.
What I Get: Pub-Grub Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup OR the side Caesar with chicken. Also . . . surprisingly good hummus there AND they have flavored iced tea from the Spice Merchant.

7) El Agave - Wichita has exactly 539 Mexican restaurants that are all EXACTLY the same. Seriously. El Agave is no better or worse than any of them but they are hardly ever crowded, the kitchen is even faster than average, and they have great friggin' queso.
What I Get: Cheese quesadilla (Mexican = Milk + Meat so my options are slim)

8) The Hill - I like Mike's Wine Dive (same owners) and I don't know why I prefer this place (it is 100 yards closer to my house, maybe?) but I love The Hill. I've had five or six great meals there including a blind-ish date (for KMUW) that went rather well in the fall. Good space and vibe.
What I Get: Black Bean Burger with fries but I do NOT use the salsa that comes with the burger (often very hot and really inconsistent in spice level - go yellow mustard instead).

9) Bella Luna -  The first meal I ever had in Wichita in 2004 and still a favorite spot. NOTHING on the menu disappoints and the crowd is always lively and fun. Great service, too.
What I Get: Hummus and fattoush (no olives) OR the sampler platter (Bradley Fair location only)

10) Public (at the Brickyard) - This place is a welcome refresh to the restaurant side of one of the better spaces for open air drinking and music partaking in Old Town. I've only been a handful of times but have never been disappointed and I love that the tabs come inside old books.
What I Get: Caprese sandwich. Fantastic portions of each ingredient.

11) Mediterranean Grill - You would not think a restaurant wedged between a car dealership, a Target, a mall, and a Red Lobster would be any good. You would think wrong. Not only does this place have a water feature inside for no apparent reason but it has great food.
What I Get: Hummus and lamb burger or fish sandwich

12) Da Cajun Shak - Yes. I'm suggesting you eat Cajun food in east Wichita. Yes. You can get gator there. No. You are not reading that wrong. The place has great prices, HUGE portions, and a stark enough environment that you'll never confuse it for the actual bayou.
What I Get: I have not been since ditching crustaceans and pork from my diet. Before that . . . Red Beans and sausage.

13) Zaytun - Fusion at its finest. This place is a KMUW underwriter (so you have to love it) and they are also one of the better kept secrets in Wichita food. Delicious. Truly. Great for a weeknight meal.
What I Get: Mutton Karhai or anything else that strikes my fancy. Sooooo good.

14) Riverside Cafe - You can KEEP your Copper Kettle. I'm all in on Riverside Cafe. Sure, sure, sure . . . breakfast all day, big portions, easy going atmosphere. All fine and well but they have the dessert to end all Wichita desserts (see below).
What I Get: Anything that won't take up too much space before my SUGAR FREE PEANUT BUTTER PIE!

15) Popcorn Express - No. It is not a restaurant. Yes. It is in a super awkward part of town (between 1st and 2nd against 135) but you can get flavored popcorn there by the garbage bag (or any smaller gallon increment) and it is cheap. Perfect for making gift baskets, hosting movie/slumber parties, or eating your way through a divorce . . . or so I have heard.
What I Get: Cheddar. Your fingers will be greasy and orange for days. Delicious, delicious days.

16) Tanya's Soup Kitchen - I didn't live here the first time spunky, wonderful, pixie-dust fueled Tanya ran her soup empire but I'm very glad she decided to reboot the soup machine and make us happy again. I love Tanya (she's a big KMUW lover and her food reviews make me happy and I had the pleasure of doing an hour of pitch drive with her and I'm smitten with her energy). VERY busy during lunch but you can go early or late and have no trouble getting a table.
What I Get: Croquadille and a vegetarian soup (they change daily)

17) My Tho - Random-assed pool hall on Central at the edge of downtown? Yep. Random hours? Yep. Frequent closings for months at a time while the staff goes home-home? Yep. Totally worth the battle to get in there when they are open? YEP!
What I Get: Whatever Carrie Rengers (I always go with her) orders for us but usually the pot roast tho.

18) Wings & Things - Like any other wing "joint" but better because it is not part of a chain, there are not 10 TVs within view of every seat in the house, and there is less crowd and noise to contend with.
What I Get: Wings. Duh.

19) Warren Old Town - It is no longer novel or exciting to have a movie theater that will sell and deliver food and snacks directly to and from your chair while you watch the movie but the Warren Old Town was once a true innovator. I worked diagonally from the theater for about four years and I still love to go on Wednesdays for $5 movies.
What I Get: Spicy Buffalo Wings and Fries. I would not even want to see what they look like in the light but they are DELICIOUS while watching a movie.

20) Cafe Asia - If you like your "Asian" food to cover a wide swath of the continent vs. just be Americanized crap over rice . . . Cafe Asia is for you. If you don't mind authentic, mom-and-pop-places where one of the dining room tables is the "office" for the management and another table is the play space for the kids of those making and serving your meals, Cafe Asia is for you. If you like sporadic hours, Cafe Asia is for you. If you want some amazing friggin' food - Cafe Asia is. for. you.
What I Get: Tomato Fried Rice w/ Medium "White Person" Heat


Busted . . .

I tell people this ALL the time and I think many of them I am going for some sort of "back handed compliment" and or " . . . protest too much" and or some massive, muscle straining eye roll but I am well, WELL aware of my personality flaws and - more importantly - my faults.

I own them ALL and at ALL times. While I'll certainly take an opportunity to clarify, inject facts, remove emotion, and generally keep things OBJECTIVE . . . when my weaknesses overcome my strengths and trouble comes my way (as it frequently does) I do the ONLY logical thing I can do - own it and APOLOGIZE.

This is NOT bragging but it is the simple truth - you can not carry yourself and behave in this world the way I do without knowing that apologies are part of the persona.

I will disappoint. I will hurt. I will offend. I will anger. I will drop heavy objects on toes. I will eat the last Triscuit. I will eat the last box of Triscuits. I will say the wrong thing at the wrong time in the wrong way and in the wrong tone. And when all those things (and more) happen . . . I WILL apologize.

I can do this because I'm not a bad person. I have never intentionally harmed anyone. I've never set out to hurt anyone with my words, actions, limbs, or behaviors. I'm not capable, I don't think, of offending someone for sport. There are times that I just don't care that your are more sensitive about X, Y, and Z (you're an adult, grow up) but I will ALLOW that you are and I will try to respect your boundaries and borders and soft spots . . . unless you want me to think you're a good person for "rescuing" friggin' dogs and cats and lizards and other of G-d's creatures. I digress . . .

I don't ever apologize disingenuously. If you hear the words "I'm sorry" escape my mouth - I mean it. I'm not a seven-year-old kid on the playground with a crouching teacher and a wagging finger in my face standing in the way of the teeter-totters and other shenanigans until I apologize for being a tattle-tale (yes, I was a little rat as a kid . . . I quickly outgrew it, thankfully). I'm an adult of reasonable intelligence, emotional instability, and generally anti-social mindsets. I GET what a real apology is and I understand why people appreciate them so much.

SAYING the words "I'm sorry that . . . " or "I apologize for . . . " or "I feel bad that I . . . " actually make me feel good. It is the rare moment that I step back and put you - fellow adult who should be of thicker skin - first. I am better the next time for getting the shock the collar administers when I cross the invisible fence of your personal comforts. I totally get that.

Now for ME . . . HEARING those words is hollow and useless. If you offend me (and good friggin' luck with that), save your breath. Save me a wheat cracker or two. Life goes on. If you can find a spot on me or in my life, belief systems, ambitions, or focuses that I'm not confident enough in that you can actually chip at that . . . I'm proud of you. If you apologize for it - you're just feeding the beast. It truly doesn't matter MOST of the time. Be better for me or the next person. You're welcome.

What is the point of all this? Simple . . . I disappoint and hurt people. I apologize. I try to be better. To clean up the mess is the right/minimal thing to do. If you feel you are owed an "I'm sorry" from me . . . let me know. I'll happily administer one where and when it is due and mock you mercilessly when and where it is not. Seriously - screw the animals . . . help your fellow man.


My Hebrew Name . . .

Feel free to shorten it to "Mesh". I'll answer to that. Seriously.
Since a handful of people have asked (and thank you very much for your interest) I wanted to clarify why I took Meshullam ben Avraham Avinu as my "Hebrew name" . . . .

Let me clarify the latter parts first . . . ben Avraham Avinu.

"ben Avraham Avinu", indirectly, translates to "of Abraham our Father." It clarifies, to life-long Jews and to temples and synagogues, that I am a proud, proud convert. Why go around my earthly father and go all the way back to Abraham (patriarch of the Torah)? Simple. My father is not Jewish. His father is not Jewish, etc. etc. etc. I have to go all the way back to the first Jew and hitch my wagon to his hard working horse. While not an absolute "must do" but it is traditional - and every now and again I like to do something conventional. For those wondering, if I were a female convert I would likely take ben Sarah Imenu (of Sarah our Mother)) as a "modifier".

Now . . . the (for me) fun part. Meshullam (Meh-shool-lawwm).

While there is no way my namesake would ever be considered a Hero of the Torah (trading cards or drinking glasses - and seriously . . . SOMEONE get me these glasses) that was sort of my point. I didn't want one of the classics - Moses, Abraham, Issac, etc. Why not? I would not ever make the cut as a Hero of the Jews either so why take on that pressure? Right now in America there are over forty kids named Derek Jeter . . . their parents happened to have the surname Jeter and they love them some #2 for the New York Yankees. I'm willing to bet NONE of those kids will ever take a cut in the big leagues and certainly never don the pinstripes of their namesake. I digress.

It turns out Meshullam (mentioned eleven times in the Torah) was a son, grandson, father, grandfather, levite/priest, teacher, and chief. His claim to fame (if he even has one) is building a wall because G-d told him to (again - I rarely follow orders and do what is expected of me but . . . if G-d wants something . . . ).

What is MORE important with Meshullam is the root and meaning of the name. Meshullam means, indirectly, befriended, at peace, and fulfilled. It means the debts are paid, everyone is in good standing, everyone is content (if not happy) with the outcome, and it means that honor and tradition were respected in the process. Listen to the end . . . Shool-lawn = Shalom. Peace.

So there you have it. I took inspiration from an otherwise unnoticed Jew who did what G-d told him to, lived a good life, wore many hats and was many things to many people, and - perhaps most importantly - found fulfillment and peace in his faith and in the traditions of it.

I think it suits me well. Also . . . Schlubby Shlomo Rosenbergensteinenkratz was already taken.


Booth Talk . . .

(Disclaimer - This story is months old. The identities of those involved (except me) have been modified slightly for the protection of all involved.)

Soooo I'm having breakfast the other day with an older guy that I know through a business arrangement. No. He's not my John or my benefactor. He's not my boss or a vendor. He does, however, provide a service to me. We chose to eat at my favorite random breakfast spot here in the Wichi-Wichi, The Beacon. (My FAVORITE spot for the morning meal is Denny's. I don't care - judge me. My skin is thick and layer of morbid obesity thicker-still).

I love The Becaon because it truly has everything there. Art for sale on the walls that no one is ever, ever, ever going to buy decorate the place. Hipsters curl their mustaches (and that is just the girls) and talk about the farmer's market and their bicycle dreams. Farmers sit and chat about the weather, their crops, and that no-good Obama at the White House. "Couples" sit for a "Wellll, we did have sex within hours of meeting so perhaps we should share some eggs and waffles and figure out if we actually do like each other or at least ask enough questions to not worry about the long term health impacts of last night" spell. There is a counter for the coffee-only people. Booths for the "slide in" crowd. Tables for the families and those that like their own space. Waitresses that will warn you they are about to go on their "smoke break" so you might be on your own for a few minutes. It. Is. Magic.

This particular meal was no exception. Let me set the scene . . .

It is me and my guy. He's in his late-60s. A self-identified "Christian" (yeah . . . you do not know where this is going), a married man, a happy father, a professional. He's eating the biggest breakfast I've ever seen anyone order at The Beacon and he's putting enough ketchup on it to actually frighten tomato plants in surrounding counties. He's on his EIGHTH cup of coffee and he's on story-telling-FIRE. He's talking about private piloting, and one night stands, and what is wrong with the state of Kansas, and "How many ____ does it take to screw in a lightbulb?" jokes and general lunacy when all of the sudden he interrupts himself. Stops DEAD in his story telling tracks. Deeply exhales over the top of his mug of coffee and gives someone over my shoulder three FULL, rather creepy, ups-and-downs. I try, casually, to look over my shoulder to see who he's stink eyeing. No success.

To my fortune, they are walking toward our booth. I look to the right and there is a woman in her early-70s. At least. She's got a perfect coif of pearly-white hair. She's got dazzling blue eyes, she's dressed sharply, and her orthopedic shoes are almost fully disguised as modified kitten heels. She's in good shape. I'm not going to lie. No Amore woman will ever look this good as a septuagenarian. She walks by us without incident.

My boothmate cranks his head around like it is on a proverbial swivel . . . watches ogles her all the way to the ladies room, turns back to me and simply says . . .

"Did you get a look at that f*cking bird? G-d D*MN! She was giving me the eye."

He puffs up his chest and sniffles with self-righteous pride.

I do the only logical thing . . . laugh.

He's NOT kidding. He's pretty sure this woman just checked him out and or gave him the "Let's meet in the bathroom and not risk having a baby as our old, post "the change", saggy butts collide in passion." face/sign/eyes.

I challenge him with the raise of my right eyebrow.

"I'm not kidding, kid. She wants it. I can tell. Damn!" (he turns and looks, wistfully, at the bathroom) "I wonder if she's here alone," he muses.

I quickly change the subject - of course now my mind is obsessed with the question of what age women (and men) stop giving/receiving these glares and if there is ANY chance this woman just gave this guy the ol' "How YOU doin'?" on her way to the powder room (we'll pretend The Beacon has a fancy powder room to give this woman her due grace).

A few minutes later, I get my chance to watch it in reverse.

I nod my head, not so slightly, based on his request that I do so when she is making her way back up the aisle to go back to the adjacent dining room. She is a beautiful older woman (note I said "beautiful" not "sexy" or "luscious"). She seems very confident in herself and her appearance. I'm now officially on the fence.

Then - it happens - she gets just about even with our booth. My guy cocks his head to his left to face the walkway and she looks in at him and he says "Hey, you."

She looks startled. "(uh) Hello?"

"You here alone?" my guy barks (for the record he has officially NO game. This is the worst semi-retired playa' in the history of poor, sex-driven diner behavior EVER.

"I'm here with a few girlfriends," she offers - looking at me trying to figure out if she knows me, him, or if there is any chance I will be chivalrous if stuff gets officially weird for her.

"I see," he says with some self-satisfaction (the "at least there is not a guy over there you might be WITH").

She wishes us a happy meal and walks on by, looking back twice (I know because now I creepily watch her walk away if only to monitor the lunacy he might soon insist upon).

She disappears and he says "Damn it, kid. We gotta' get over there and see what her friends look like. I'll bet she's the best of the bunch and I guarantee she'd rather be with me than them."

At this point I just want to fall through the floor or offer to buy every piece of questionable "art" in the place as a way to get directly out of there. I don't even know how to argue or correct and I don't know if it is worth it anyway.

I'll maybe (if curses are real and I deserve them all) be this guy in 30 years. Just sitting around a diner talking about my glory days and hoping that every old woman in the place is giving me "THE eye" yet, in the moment, I'm more horrified that this guy is so disconnected from reality.

Anywho - you'll be pleased to know that the breakfast ended without incident (four more cups of coffee were consumed and the ketchup bottle officially drained). I've not broken bread with this guy since but I presume he's still feeling pretty good about himself.

Seriously, though . . . at what age do we stop lusting for strangers? I was sorta hoping that would be sooner vs. later for me . . . No?


Totes Jewish . . .

Well . . . nearly twenty years after I first wanted to start this journey and a good 15 years since I tried to get it started - by the time the sun formally sets tonight, I will be a Jew.

To say I am excited and to say today is a big, important, and special day for me is an understatement. I am prone to emotion, I like the dramatic, I enjoy the big and bold moments in life, and I love nothing more than people doing the things that make them happiest (so long as no one else gets hurt in the process).

So today is going to be a HUGE celebration. Actually - it is not. Just me, my Rabbi, my congregation, and a few friends who are going to graciously make time to share the evening with me. In reality today, for me, is very quiet and humbling. It is more about where I have been than where I am and it is anticipation of where I can go from here and how I can continue to grow.

Jewish kids who celebrate bar/bat mitzvah have very different pressures on them. The day is about family and big celebration and becoming an adult. My parents raised me Catholic so there was none of this . . .

. . . but - even without the video, celebrity cameos, bad rap lyrics, and post production I am still very excited about tonight and very much appreciate all the love and support my parents, family, friends, new congregation, the Wichita Jewish community, colleagues, and even strangers on the street have shown me.

I hope as I hold the Torah, speak the sacred, Hebrew words that will mark my entry, and partake in a celebratory oneg that I honor them and all they have done to help get me here and all they might do for me moving forward.

It's going to be a GUT Shabbos, kids. I feel blessed.



The Heaviest Pop Song of All Time . . .

My child and I have very, very different tastes in music. Save for Adele, Lorde, Ben Folds, the soundtracks to The Muppet movies, and the prayers at temple, and the things KMUW's Strange Currency puts in our earholes we don't typically synch up on what to listen to.

Those creepy like moppets that make up One Direction are no exception. While I have bothered to learn their names (she goes between which one is her favorite) I've never really bothered to embrace their warbles more than needed (I am not - to clarify - critical of her tastes and I will share 50% of music time with her).

A few days ago (this is a post that has been in the drafts folder for many months - forgive me) she was listening to their latest single "Story of My Life" and something odd happened - I found myself emotionally challenged by the song. NOT because it spoke to me (it did) but because I was not sure how in the heck it DID emotionally speak to the boys singing it or their audience.

For your consideration . . .

So - to clarify - this boy is in love with a woman who wakes up and says "I just don't feel the same way about you" so he's alone - as per always - and he's once again found in the void of an empty heart (it is not entirely clear if his love for her is unmatched or she wants his love - something he can not give. This is for t(w)eens? Got it.

More depth . . . "The story of my life - I take her home. I drive all night to keep her warm and time is frozen. I give her hope. I use up her love until she's broken inside." Wow. For t(w)eens? I think (?) I've got it. No. I don't.

While I'm not entirely sure what these lyrics means (my daughter thinks the girl is cold and wants to watch the sunrise and he doesn't have any money so he uses hers and eventually, once they are out of money, takes her home) I think it means this kid is an emotional parasite. I fear I'm right.

To make it worse the video for the song shows these kids and their (presumed) families. So are these boys saying they are emotionally vacant and unable to truly be present with their own families? Really? Nah. WHAT IS HAPPENING TO POP MUSIC?! What is happening to kids? When I was a teen I was listening to songs about kisses and girls and maybe sex. There was never anything about freezing time so I didn't have to awake to the harsh reality that I was emotionally empty (that came much, much later when I moved out of my family home (I kid - but only sorta)).

I am not sure if art is imitating life here or if life is being dragged out of control by art but I hope that this trend doesn't continue. I always thought pop music was supposed to touch on the real world but only in ways that showcased the opportunity of it . . . not the pitfalls.

Anywho - the kid is currently wading her way through the collected volumes of Queen, Stevie Wonder, Wham/George Michael, Mariah Carey (the old stuff), and Prince. Sure, sure - they all covered their share of heavy topics and issues but none of them ever full on bummed me out in less than 4:07.


Be Your OWN Hero . . .

I never really "liked" Joe Rogan. He was, for me, the guy that made people eat random crap on his TV game show and/or the random character in the sitcom but I've become a fan over the last year or so.

I am not a fan because he and I agree on everything (we do not) or because we have so many things in common (we do not) or because he is so brilliant (he sorta is - and he can admit not knowing something or being wrong better than just about any other person I've ever known of) but because he is a guy that has gone out and made his own way, made a GREAT living from his passions, spent the time and energy to become an expert on the things he cares about, and he seems to want to help other people be happier and better.

If you can't be a fan of that . . . I can't help or be a "fan" of you.


The NFL Draft . . .

Is it over? Is it REALLY over? Can I come out from under the bed now? Is it safe to leave to the storm cellar? Do you PROMISE we're done with the NFL draft for a while?

Because for the last four months all I've been hearing is Johnny Football, Michael Sam, Scouting Day, Combine, and other speculation on who will be the next great criminal to make millions of dollars a year while their social and cultural transgressions are ignored OR who will be the next man to give his body, mind, and quality of life for you fans to scream and yell in support of until his body catches up with the abuse and he suddenly "stinks on ice."

If you've not yet figured this out - I hate football. I hate all sports (beyond bocce, mini golf, and sh*t talking) but football has a special place far, far, far away from my heart and as our culture gets more and more obsessed with the game I get grumpier and grumpier and more frustrated. My beloved NPR was even covering the draft by Wednesday morning (and not just my favorite sports curmudgeon Frank Deford). It is horrifying to me.

And here's the reason - for those not sure - why America "cares" about the NFL Draft. No. It is not because you want to know the stars of tomorrow. You could read that in the paper a week later and lose none of the "interest" - the draft itself is huge because it is human drama at its finest. Here, statistically, are poor, black young men who have beat the odds to make it from "there" to Radio City Music Hall and they have MILLIONS and MILLIONS of dollars coming to them if they are taken on opening night just for having their name called and any man taken in the four day "event" can and likely will make millions before their careers end (statistically within seven years - I'd like to point out). We love the notion of a "favorite" (like Johnny Manziel - who football fans have endlessly speculated about for two years now . . . and the speculation will continue for years and years just more cynically moving ahead). We like being "surprised" when Jadeveon Clowney is (who has had his "heart" questioned by pundits including men who are also former NFL greats that have been arrested for domestic abuse but championed by an NFL/Super Bowl MVP who won both awards AFTER being involved in a double homicide).

I won't even get started on the Michael Sam speculation over and celebration of being drafted (Bottom line - his sexual orientation is and should be seen as irrelevant - no one, to the best of my knowledge - has ever had sex of any orientation while playing football (they are too busy trying to kill each other). Every person in an NFL locker room has baggage, challenges, differences, and unique traits - if him loving and laying with another man is a distraction or problem in ANY way chalk it up to one more reason we should all loathe football.).

I know, I know. I'm in the minority here on not caring about football but in the majority on not caring about the draft but I just want it to stop. Let's NOT talk about football for 48 whole hours. Please?


Happy Mother's Day . . .

To all the women out there that have the courage, strength, focus, patience, love, and ingenuity to take a child and nurture it in to any more than a mound of cells and unknown potential - THANK YOU!

To my own mother (who doesn't read this blog anyway) THANK YOU for having the energy to have sex with my father while my older brother (then just a few months old) napped in the next room. I owe you everything. Literally. I'll never be able to thank you enough but I can and should try harder anyway. I love you.


Photo Back Up . . .

So I wanted to share with you how old, out of touch, and otherwise inept I am while trying to navigate the world around me - today in the context of digital photos.

I was, you might say, and "early adapter" in the world of digital photography. I got a digital camera in early-2000ish. It was a holiday gift from my then boss. It had the pixel/detail quality almost as good as a Minecraft tree and the storage was big enough for maybe 20 photos. And it. Was. Awesome. I felt like the king of the world. It was the camera used to take my first photo with Hillary Clinton. It, like that moment, was special.

Advance a few years and I got another one (slightly better - it took pictures on par with a Kodak disposable but without the winding mechanism to give it "pop"). A few more years - another one - this one would even take VIDEO (gasp).

By now I - and millions and millions of others around the world - have a camera within arm's reach at just about ALL times and I can store about a 1000 pictures on my camera with relative ease (I don't junk it up with a lot of apps). I use my phone's camera daily for all sort of crazy reasons (last night it was to take a picture of the fabric used to make the skirt of the woman in front of us at the ice cream shop (long story - I had her permission)).

The convenience is great but . . .  I am also a bit of a digital hoarder. I don't ever want to miss a shot of anything (I blame it on early parenting when we took 1,000 pictures of our daughter in the first six weeks of her life (that is a REAL number, folks)) so I have my phone, computers (work and home), and tablet set up to automatically back every photo I take (or save to the appointed folders of said devices) to BOTH Google Drive AND Dropbox the INSTANT I take them (WiFi required for tablet and computers).

This is great because I have accidentally deleted a photos from the devices AND from one back up service or the other and, again, g-d forbid I don't have all nine shots of my kid looking cute while sipping a mini-hot cocoa on a snowy day. Hashtag: No Filter

But there is a problem here, folks . . . it backs up EVERY photo so if you text or e-mail me a picture and I view it (and my phone and tablet saves all viewed photos and Google grabs all e-mailed photos by default so they all get backed up accordingly).

And this is all well and good until I have my laptop synced to a 65" HD television at work and a room full of colleagues and I open up my browser to demo something and my Google+ page is on the "top" tab and an image SORTA like the one above  . . . only instead of thumbnails of a few outfits I bought my daughter and the "Magic Tree House" poster she hung in her room it has images of a much more tawdry and illicit nature (both still appropriate for a bedroom) on display for those folks to see.

Then it is not well. It is not good. And I have to admit that I have a digital back up problem AND poor judgement of what photos I should send and receive with friends. AND a need to update my preferences for what gets saved, shared, and displayed.

I spent a few hours last night in Dropbox and my Google Drive folder. I deleted a few HUNDRED photos (and I am just scratching the surface) that I will never POSSIBLY need again (like a grocery list or selfies from ghosts of my past, etc.). I felt guilty getting rid of them (like the time I drove the three copies of The Bible that I had accumulated over the years to the Goodwill so they could be sold vs. put in the trash (I'm all Torah allllll the time now)) but it was the right thing to do.

How could I EVER explain to colleagues why I bought four boxes of CheezIts at once?!


THANK YOU! . . .

To the folks who participated in Seandraising and those who just endured . . . THANK YOU!

Marriage . . .

Seriously though . . . if you marry shiksa can you still have something this beautiful and happy? Maybe marriage isn't (beef) bologna. PS - My shul is just as beautiful as where they shot this video . . . just in a totally different way.


How We Met . . .

If you're like me (and I hope and pray you are not) you probably sit a fair amount of the time reading, and thinking, and pondering, and blogging, and occasionally chatting with people. I'm not selective in who I talk with but I notice, the older and more curmudgeonly I get, the more selective people become about talking to ME.

I'm LUCKY enough to have a few dozen folks that are always good for a chat and to exchange some stories and lately . . . our stories seem to be about life in the most granular, possible ways.

How long Bob (not his name) has been in a relationship. How much Amy (not her name) spent on groceries this week and why it was so much. Why my colleague Fattoush (not even a name at all - but, instead, a delicious salad) can't come to a meeting and why my father (his real role in my life and a real exchange) was trying to carry several pieces of luggage up the stairs at the same time when he fell and landed in the hospital.

I have been wrestling with why we pay so much attention to such small things as we get older - it should be the opposite, right? The older and fuller our lives the less we have "time" to fret and stew about every. little. thing. We're supposed to be 30,000 feet, broad brush strokes, and top line - all great cliches, I might add - about life. Instead we're sand on the beach and needle in a haystack - both miserable cliches, I might add - about stuff.

But I don't mind the details at all ESPECIALLY if they add up to a great story.

Which brings me, five paragraphs in, to the point of today's post . . . "How we met." No - this is not my thoughts on the finale of How I Met Your Mother (I stopped watching the show years and years ago but I thought it was crafty, charming, and sweet they way they allowed Ted to have his cake and still end out with Robin) but, instead, my thoughts on the answer to a question I've asked (and been asked) several times lately . . . "How'd you meet."

It BLOWS MY MIND how many people have social media or the Internet somewhere in the mix on their answer and how few have real people, civic groups, clubs, activities, religion, and grandmothers who live in the same retirement home in the early goings of the tale.

When my parents met (while both undergraduates at the charming St. Bonaventure University) they were classmates and they knew each other before they dated. When my former in-laws met they had mutual friends so they knew each other before their relationship started. When my grandparents on my mother's side met they had two nickles between them and my grandmother really, really needed to get married and my grandfather hit all the criteria so - BAM. Fast forward to how I met my ex-wife (mutual friend but we knew of each other for months and e-mailed and chatted by phone for a week before we actually met).

None of the above couples used Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram to meet their partner. No one "Googled" the other person to decide if it was a good idea to meet the other person or not. No one used any digital footprint to evaluate how the person looked or what they were really like . . . they trusted their instincts, their initial interactions, and their wants and needs.

What a strange concept that seems to be by the middle third of 2014.

What is the first thing you do when you hear about someone now? You GOOGLE them (or at least look online to see if you have overlapping circles with them). I had a friend mention the other night he is dating a woman in Atlanta . . . I tracked her down within an hour of getting home. Full name, photos, background, etc. etc. etc. (she's bright, beautiful, and seems to be the real deal - J-Hopp) in just a few mouse clicks. I got set up on a "blind date" last fall as part of some fundraising for KMUW and I resisted the urge to walk in knowing everything I could ever, possibly know about this woman in hopes that the twenty questions would at least pass the time (turned out I didn't need to worry - she was charming and fun the whole time). A friend of mine mentioned his (soon to be) ex-wife was dating and I tracked that dude down with relative ease (he's a total, total downgrade bruh - you keep your chin up)). I did a wee (sarcasm) investigation of the first guy my ex-wife dated after "us". It bummed me out (that he was my polar opposite AND that I cared so much) so I've stopped playing that particular game (she appreciates it, I have been assured).

Here's the thing (and if you read daily you will notice I am stuck in a groove/rut/trench/obsession on this one as I posted on the same basic topic yesterday) . . . I don't think it helps to explore people digitally. I would have liked my friend's girlfriend in Atlanta just fine based only on what he told me. Common sense told me my other friend's ex-wife was not going to improve upon him any time soon. It would stand to reason that you would date someone totally different after nine years with the same person. The Internet doesn't help me out - it just tells me what I already (would/could/should) know. OR it tells me things that don't help and are not worth the discovery.

I don't think we'll ever return, sadly to the way our culture used to work where we were active in the community and really, truly cared about each other if only because of common interests (I would suggest a fantastic read - by the way (very dated by now but still worth it) if you care about this topic like I do) but I do think we'll get tired of the digital opportunity of the life we live now (as relates to relationships and starting/developing/ending them). I, for one, can't wait.


Our (Digital) Lives . . .

I just finished reading this great article about the "death" of privacy and why assumptions about our lack of it online are sorta wrong.

Here is the key takeaway for those too busy, disinterested, or annoyed at the notion of reading a piece to turn around and read my thoughts on it anyway . . . our notion of privacy in the digital age is shifting and our sense of what and how to promote/publicize vs. what to keep private/protected is the only real variable.

I know. That makes NO sense. I'll step back a little bit . . . I don't care AT ALL what people can find about me in the public realm. I had someone - sorta recently - look in to my background. They "found out" the following about me . . . I was recently accused of owning four homes (I technically own one (for a few more days anyway) and I live in another that I rent but there are no third or fourth homes in the Sean Amore real estate empire. I was also recently accused of owing $40,000 in student debt. That's down to $18,000 (thank you payments every, single month for the last 13.5 years (6.5 to go)). I was also charged with ending my marriage and taking up with my ex-wife's best friend and former roommate . . . my ex-wife lived with a GUY (who introduced us to each other) and I didn't take up with anyone for a long time after our marriage ends and I can confidently say I don't  know or have any interest in any of my ex-wife's friends (and they, I am sure, feel the same way about me)).

They should have, instead, checked my Twitter feed, Facebook page, Google+ account, blog, and LinkedIn profile (in their defense they DID try to use all those tools but I gather the sheer volume of crap I put out there digitally overwhelmed them) to find out what was going on in my life and who I really was.

I have NO secrets. NO shame. I'm hiding nothing. I may not BROADCAST certain parts of my life but they are all there and if you ask me, directly and in the right spirit, about anything you can't find digitally - I'll tell you what you want to know . . . probably.

In the meantime I WELCOME big brother, big data, big business, and big, beautiful women to track my every move, decision, whim, and activity. As long as they are willing to share what they know when I disappear or when stuff goes officially crazy for me . . . they are welcome to the boring, lame life my body, brain, and behaviors live.

Search/web history? Tiny homes, social media, Paleo diet, Jewish learning, searching for photos for this blog, Craigslist for tables and lawn mowers, and lots and lots of activity around penny loafers. Mobile phone? Texts? 10 or 12 total people in this world - most of the communication involving plans, (potentially) funny jokes, and penny loafers. Driving patterns? Work, home, kid's school, temple, groceries, errands, penny loafer shopping, and taking the teenaged son of a friend to random places at random hours. Checking account balance? You'd DIE laughing.

Now all that being said . . . I get (sorta) why people worry about their privacy. I know people that have lost their jobs because of social media behavior. I know people who have had their cell phone bills used against them to end or at least modify relationships. I know people that like to look for very specific porn a little too often on the family computer and they worry about getting caught.

What do all these things have in common? Poor decisions and trying to hide things to begin with. WHY BOTHER? The ship has sailed, folks. I can use any Internet connection in the world to find my phone and car (within a few inches of its actual location) in as long as it takes to refresh my browser. I can change my passwords all I want but people will still hack in to my stuff if they really, truly want to. I could lock my doors but windows are still breakable. I could use pseudonyms for my online activity but I'd still talk, look, and act the way I do now so people would figure out it was me.

I'm not perfect. I don't try to be. You're not perfect. You should stop presenting yourself to be (if you try). I'm also not worried about where I am, what I'm doing, and how I'm presenting those activities to the world. And if you were there doing that stuff with me - you should not be either.

Let's all just settle in to the reality that the digital age changes who we are and how we are living . . . and let's all use better grammar, less stupid acronyms (I had to Google "SMH" the other day and it actually made me PUNCHY to figure out what it meant), post a few fewer (?) pictures of our fantastic, terrific lies (thou doth protest too much - right?), and share less of the guts of the real stuff that really matters as a way to save something sacred, real, true, and PRIVATE for the lives we live in something other than binary code.


Sunday Funday . . .

The world wide web is fully of happy little corners and pockets. I found this on an NPR blog a few days ago. You. Are. Welcome.


Nerves . . .

I had tea with a friend a few weeks ago and we were discussing "confidence". Specifically the "confidence" that is expected/required/summonsed/etc. when meeting new people.

It seems that many people are very, very nervous to meet people. I don't mean the Queen of England or your idols and heroes or even someone who might give you a job and change your career and life course . . . I mean PEOPLE. As in "you and I are both here at this house party with 10 other people and I know everyone but you so let me introduce myself" people. Is that a real type of people? Apparently it is. Are people really afraid to meet "those" people? Apparently yes.

I should clarify that I don't think "afraid" is the right word . . . I think nervous or intimidated or hesitant or unsure or too-small-balled might be a better way to go BUT seeing as I have never suffered from this weird subsection of the human condition I called it fear (when speaking with my friend over steaming cups of tea).

They seemed offended.

"I'm not scared" he insisted. "I'm cautious. I'm not going to just walk up to a stranger - stick my hand out and say 'Hi. I'm (first name). Pleasure to meet you' and look like a crazy person."

"A crazy person?" I asked . . .

"YES!" he barked.

If this guy sees those of us unafraid to say a simple introductory "hello" to someone as crazy . . . I'm sticking with calling him afraid.

I don't know where the lines are drawn between being respectful of strangers and boundaries and behaving like I behave (I have no filter, no fear, no hesitation, and no restraint when it comes to just being "myself" with people) and being afraid of strangers and thinking that saying "hello" to someone that is a mutual friend of someone who invited both of you in to their homes but I know that I'm very thankful that my parents, from a very young age, taught me that I couldn't climb in the back of a windowless van with a stranger but I could CERTAINLY talk to them.


May Day . . .

Older than Christianity, May Day is a traditional European holiday that marks the half way point of Spring.

When I was a kid my mother would have my brothers and I wrap some flowers in samples from a wallpaper book and then hang the flowers on the doorknobs of the two elderly women that lived in the houses next to our homes. I am still not entirely sure why and I refuse to Google it and find out . . . I like to let my mother keep a secret or two.

May Day, for me, has always had a certain happiness to it. I guess because the "April showers" have done their thing and the "May flowers" have sprung. It might be because this part of the world has greened again. It is at least a little bit attributal (not a word) to the fact that I have turned the heater off until the leaves fall (come what may (no pun intended)). Let's presume that (as a colleague once described it) skirt weather has returned (I'm not horribly manly but I am still, technically a dirty old man) doesn't hurt today's ranking in my mind. Finally - the fact that April (a month I never really love between tax day, and the gloomy weather that is not exactly UNCOMMON during the prior frame of the year) has ended is a happiness marker for me, too.

Long story very, very long . . . it is May Day. You're half way through Spring and summer (for you sick, sick people that love the heat and nastiness) is just about 45 days away. More importantly you are just 135 days (or so) away from Autumn . . . a season we can ALL get behind.

So get yourself to Home Depot. STEAL a few sheets of wallpaper from their awesome books of samples, stop by a florist and PAY for some flowers and make those old ladies on the block happy.