This stuff tastes like…



I’m eating the oatmeal.

Instant, to be exact, and I don’t like it. I’d much prefer a fresh made ham, cheese and egg sandwich, but I’m trying to eat healthy, so I’m eating something that is purported to scrub the arteries as opposed to slathering them with gunk.

But I don’t like it.

I am sitting at my desk – eating ‘al desko’ as its termed. This is instant oatmeal, surely one of the lowest forms of the stuff. About the only level below this is a generic brand. To be fair, it is cinnamon flavored, which is only a rung or two higher than the detested ‘maple and brown sugar’ variety, or any of those ‘fruit and cream’ concoctions they purvey.

More or less freeze-dried yakk, if you ask me. Just add warm water. (You know, yakk…don’t make me add synonyms, please…)

Losing weight? I doubt it. The beer counters that effort. Satiated? Not hardly, but at least I’m not nauseas from hunger.

Yeah, yeah, I know, there are poor people who would gladly take my cup of crap.
If there was a way to get it to them, right now, they could have it while it is still warm.


No thanks, Bruce

The following is a re-worked piece I originally posted in 2009, when Bruce Springsteen came out publically in support of Barak Obama.

Then, as now, Springsteen, and a lot of other celebrities, made their party affiliation and discontent for the opposing party known in no uncertain terms.

Then, as now, I feel that I should make my disdain for such rhetoric known. I also want it known that the following is spread thick with sarcasm. I will also state that I am a fan of Springsteen’s music, NOT his (or anyone else’s) political stance.

Bruce Springsteen has come out publicly against supporting Donald Trump and if I am going to listen to anyone tell me who to support or not, politically, it’s going to be Springsteen.

Put aside for the moment that Trump was elected President by the same system that elected every previous president in recent memory. And, like every previous election, the losing party cries FOUL, whines endlessly and looks for ways to discredit the other.

As most of you know, I hold nearly all politicians in disdain, party loyalty not withstanding.  This election, like every previous election that I have participated in, I had to decide between two despicable people, whose negative marks far outweighed any good.

But, as a loyal, patriotic American, one must vote and when it is time to vote, who better to listen to than a wildly successful rock star or high priced celebrity?  I mean, you could listen to Meryl Streep, Oprah, the douche-bag Kanye West, or any one of a number of other wealthy mouthpieces instruct you in the proper way to cast your vote, because you, an educated, working, middle class, taxed to f-ing death commoner couldn’t possibly make up your own mind.

Of course not.  But Springsteen, the Boss, well, shiate.  How can you argue with him?  After all, who better to have a finger on the pulse of the hard working, blue collar, middle class than one who writes and warbles about such things in a down to earth, gravely voice – and wearing faded jeans, no less?  Ignore the fact that he has raked in so much money that he can afford to buy up every house, farm and plot of land around his home in Colts Neck, NJ, where real estate prices rival that of any other you can think of, including Beverly Hills, CA.

And that, dear readers, constitutes political savvy in my book.

Who among us has the time or stomach to navigate the pile of spin-doctored bullshiate being thrown at us continuously?  We are too busy, strung out on the wire, getting our backs burned, facts learned, in the darkness on the edge of town, or some rattlesnake speedway, looking for two tickets on that ghost city bus, all the while dodging the skeletons of burned out Chevrolet’s ‘neath Abram’s bridge.

It’s the working life, I tell you, just the working life, for us born in America, in our home town, while we wait on the rising. (or is it the Reisling? I think we would be better off waiting for that).

Ok, enough.  Now, Bruce (I include the word ‘boss’ in my list of ‘4-letter words’), I appreciate your wanting to stand up and lead us towards the promised land and all, thanks, but no thanks.  I feel that after 40+ years of listening to the same rhetoric spouting from the same pundit about the same issues and watching absolutely nothing change for the better, that I am fully qualified to make up my own mind.  And you could do us all a favor by conveying this message to your celebi-friends.  Save us all some time and yourselves some breath.

To be fair, should you, yourself, decide to run for office, you would have my vote. This is more due to my disgust with the ruling elite than it is with your political posture.  By the same token, I feel that I could do a better job than any of those idiots running at the mouth on the nightly news, but that’s just me.

In conclusion, I would say that, when the night’s quiet, and you don’t care anymore, and your eyes are tired, and there’s someone at your door
(let them in, for pete’s sake)
and you realize you wanna to let gooooooo-ooooooooooooo.  And the weak lies, and cold walls you embrace eat at your insides, and leave you face to face with streets of fiiiiiiirrrrre.

(hands down my favorite Springsteen song, and one of the best lead guitar breaks in rock).

You know, that’s not what I thought you were saying, all these years.  It must be that south Jersey accent thing, or a north Jersey hearing issue.  Thankfully the Internet and your website have set my @ss straight.

(man, I could use a cold beer right about now)

Of Italian decent

Fig tree

Fig tree

I have a fig tree (ficus something-or-another) in my backyard that I am particularly fond of. I haven’t been able to determine exactly what species of fig it is, as a search turned up more varieties of ficus than I was prepared to investigate. Bro says it is a Petite Negro. I’ll go with that.

I take very good care of my fig tree. In fact, I may worry about it more than most of the other plant life in and around the compound. You see, this fig has a long history that dates back to Italy itself.

My fig tree started out as a cutting from a tree in my grandparent’s backyard in Union, NJ., sometime in the late 1990’s. That fig tree was more of a large, prolific bush-tree, as fig trees tend to get when planted in a good location. Protected on all sides by the two story brick homes that are the norm in that section of town, it was rooted in good soil and exposed to sun for most of the day. It was a prolific bearer of fruit.

My grandparent’s fig bush-tree began as a cutting from a tree that grew in my great-grandmother’s backyard in Irvington, NJ. That tree grew from a cutting that she had brought to America with her from Italy. Not sure how she was able to do that, perhaps with a gift to the inspector of a few dried figs and some prosciutto as a snack? Then again, at the time, the inspectors at Ellis Island were more concerned with human diseases coming in-country than they were with foreign plants.

All of my grandparents children (my mother, aunt and uncle) have a cutting from that tree, as do most of the grandchildren (my sister and cousins). I might be inclined to give out a cutting or two as gifts or in trade for an equally valuable clipping, but I am stingy with them. Just can’t go gifting heirloom fig cuttings like they grow on trees, ya’ know?

Fig trees love sun – the more the better. They can tolerate some fairly poor soil, so long as they have water and sun. Not too much water, they don’t want wet feet, but my fig can slurp up a good 2-3 gallons per week, easily.

Growing a fig tree in NJ can be difficult. I would love to be able to plant my fig tree in the ground and let it achieve its full potential, but the winter wind will turn it into firewood before the spring. NJ winters are not fig-friendly and special care is needed to keep them alive. Some folks go so far as to bury their fig tree over the winter, but that is way too much work for my limited schedule and aging back.

Mine is growing in a half whiskey barrel (fitting, don’t you think?). I move it into the garage after the leaves drop in the fall, wrap up the bottom snug with corrugated cardboard and let it go dormant.

When spring arrives I expose it to as much sun as I can, until the threat of frost is past (usually after Mother’s Day, in these parts). Then I move it outside and carefully monitor the weather for the following few weeks, so as not to be surprised by a frost. If temps dip too low, or if a frost warning is issued, I build a tent and lovingly cover my fig tree with flannel blankets.

Yes, flannel blankets. Wouldn’t you like to be swaddled in flannel if you had to spend a evening outside with the threat of frost about?

That is more work than I do for any other herbaceous life, anywhere. It sounds like a chore, but if you watch the weather and don’t bring out your fig too early, you might only have to do it a couple of times. After that, the fig only needs water, a little lime and some fertilizer to take care of itself.

I’d be interested to know if the parent fig trees are still alive. I hope so. They have propagated quite a legacy.

Dot and company

tinfunnel orangecateye


The other day I was wandering aimlessly through the Castellano property, just checking things out, when I saw some vagrants. The must have been vagrants because I had not seen them on the property previously. That, and they were hooked arm-in-arm, skipping and singing. Not typical Jersey-like behavior. From what I could see it looked like a farm girl in a blue dress, a hobo, a lion and some dude dragging around a load of duct work.

I called out to them, but they glanced back and said something that sounded like ‘veer off and pee on a lizard!’. The hobo flipped me the finger. Then they started throwing apples at me.

Douche-bags. (That’s Jersey-speak for ‘how rude’).

Thinking that they might need a few marbles launched at them, just to establish authority, I pouched an orange cats-eye in me trusty slingshot and considered the target-rich environment.

I didn’t aim at the farm chick. She was cute and I didn’t want to hurt her. Not the lion, either, because lions eat people and it’s best not to provoke them. The hobo just seemed full of duff, what with his ratty clothes and lanky gait. I thought I saw some straw falling out of his sleeves. More of a tinderbox than a threat.

Maybe my lighter…?

But the tin-knocker was toting a two-handed axe. That made him armed and thus, a combatant. Not only did it seem like he could endure a direct marble strike, but it would make a nice sound…might even echo.


I drew back and let the marble fly, clocked him but good, knocking the conical hat off of his gourd. The bohemian quartet suddenly weren’t interested any longer in launching surplus fruit or cryptic insults in my direction and dashed off into the woods.

Take that, bitches! I’d bet they won’t be back around until monkeys sprout wings and fly about.

Upon inspection, the hat turned out to be a tin funnel. I picked it up and began searching for a goose with bowel issue, to test out a theory I had heard of…


A healthy dose of religion


There are no signs on anyone’s home saying ‘Burglars, thieves, or other malefactors keep out’, that is implied. Still, some folks just don’t get it.

I was musing the other day about the various weapons for self defense one might have laying around the house, when it occurred to me that, if I was going to wallop someone with something, I would be inclined to reach for a bible.

Not one to take the written Word lightly, I am in no way, shape or form taking a cheap shot at my faith.

Cold, hard facts and some college physics will prove that the average hard covered bible is a formidable works, indeed. If you have one of the ‘unabridged’ versions, all the better to ‘bridge’ the gap between the enlightened and the unenlightened.

What better to smite someone with than the printed word of God? What more weighty tome to land upon some uninvited cretin than a collection of holy verse? How better to correct someone’s swerve off of the path of righteousness than a solid clocking with the good book?

Stick with me, here. Not only would you be delivering a concussive blow to the head, but you would be instilling a good dose of the Almighty in them. And well deserved, too. I believe that lambasting some intruder with a bible would be more than just the sum of it’s parts. Swing for the stands, good sir (or lady), confident that your strike will carry with it a charged bolt from above.

And don’t forget to follow through. Some folks just don’t get it on the first shot. A good follow up walloping, several in fact, will insure that the lesson was received and absorbed. No sense in hoping the message got through; ensure delivery and demand a receipt. Concentrate your lessons to the head and neck areas. That is where most learning is absorbed. You’ll know your job is complete when the schooled one has assumed the proper praying position on the floor.

For good measure, after the cops arrive, revive your catechist with a dose of holy water. ‘Bless them’, as you might, with a full glass pitcher. No, don’t dump it on them, swat them with the whole jug. Again, head/neck area.

Barring a good bible, I would reach for my Roget’s Thesaurus, another weighty hard covered collection of the spoken word.

(Yes, I do have a hard covered Roget’s Thesaurus. I am a writer, after all).

NOTEWORTHY: I don’t expect anyone to take any of this seriously. Should you find an intruder in your home, I would suggest an (un)healthy dose of hot lead, from a safe distance. Judging from all that I have read, it really gets the point across. Also, when in the process of assaulting another person for the sake of personal safety, the crotch area is quite a bit more sensitive than some ne’er-do-well’s thick skull.

Amen, my brothers and sisters.

Cold Spring Road

I was going to title this entry ‘cold fish sandwich’ because that’s what I am eating while I write it. I would prefer that it was a hot fish sandwich, but these are leftovers from last night’s dinner and I am hesitant to put it in the microwave, as I have found that fish doesn’t reconstitute favorably that way.

Cold Fish Sandwich

Cold Fish Sandwich

As I am sure everyone has noticed, warm weather is slow in coming this year. It truly is a cold spring. But it is spring nonetheless and for that we should be grateful…and patient. No, the temperature is not what we would like it to be. But 50 degrees, plus or minus, is still better than either side of 30.

The trees sure don’t have an issue, as anyone allergic to them can attest to. My friggin’ allergies arrived right on time and are hanging around, just to underscore the effect.

But a cold spring, extended version or not, isn’t all that bad. Keep in mind that with the sudden onslaught of warm weather comes with it and equal eruption of undesirable insects – flying, biting, stinging, chewing, crawling, molting, pupating, cocooning and/or otherwise. And who couldn’t use a break from that nuisance while our bodies are adjusting to the warmth?

The sun is shining (when its not cloudy and raining), the spring peepers are peeping (longer than usual) and the a**hole brown wasps are slow to make their nests. Enjoy!

Sooner than later, when the warm weather settles in, people will start complaining that the temperature is too hot, their arm pits are fluid, their asses are swampy and they don’t need to salt their food as much, because the sweat on their upper lip takes care of that.

I say put on a t-shirt and a pair of shorts, open a cold beer and stfu.

We all know how fleeting summer can be.

Toxic Birdies

I usually spend one day per week at the manufacturing plant for the company I work for. The plant is located in Newark, NJ, a city notorious for, among other things, pollution and toxicity. The plant is unnervingly close to one of the flight paths of Newark International Aeropuerta. As it turns out, the ancient creek that runs through the middle of the plant is a Superfund site – none of which are good for the health of any living thing.

The plant itself manufactures chemicals in the form of liquids and powders, mostly by combining other chemical liquids and powders (‘better living through chemistry’). As in any manufacturing process, a certain amount of product gets into the surrounding ecosystem (if you can call the area around a chemical plant such) through spills, dust clouds, exhaust pipes, etc.

Now, let’s not get the wrong idea here. Modern society needs chemicals of all sorts and what better place to manufacture these substances than in the industrial section of an industrial city? Keep it all in one place, I say. It just seems like a good plan.

In addition to all of that is the jet engine exhaust constantly blanketing the entire area from above, like the polar opposite of ‘mana from Heaven’. So, the bushes, trees and grasses, the litter on the ground, the very dirt itself, is contaminated with one sort of poison or another.

But Nature always finds a way. Trees, plants and grasses grow all around. So does a certain cross section of animal life. You can tell they are not the healthiest specimens of their kind, but they have eked out an existence for themselves.

There is a small gathering of house sparrows (Passer domesticus) that live in and around the plant. Not enough to call a flock, they tend to be in small groups. They seem happy enough, always chirping, flying around, eating seeds and bugs, crapping on car windshields and doing whatever else it is that small birds do.

Because they have small brains (bird-brains), they have no clue that everything they eat, touch, drink and nest in has some level of chemical in it – toxic or otherwise. Not that they have much choice in the matter or could do much about it. They are truly a product of their environment. Thus, by extrapolation (and exposure), they are toxic themselves.

Toxic birdies.

There are other creatures in the area – cats, rats, mice and bugs – that crawl around at ground level, absorbing whatever chemical du juor is present. Some of those creatures eat the toxic birdies and thus are toxic themselves.

So the toxic bugs eat the toxic leaves of the toxic trees. Then the toxic birdies come along and eat the toxic bugs and toxic seeds and every so often die (of toxicity). Then the toxic rat and/or mouse comes along and eats the toxic carcass of the the expired toxic birdie, after which the toxic feral cat with the one eye and malformed tail catches and eats the toxic rat, then takes a toxic crap that gets infested with toxic maggots that turn into toxic flies that the toxic birdie eats.

A vicious (and toxic) cycle, indeed.

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