Boy’s Life By Robert R. McCammon – a Review

Do you remember the magic of summertime in your youth? Do you remember how bright the sun was or how blue the sky was back then?

I remember. Somewhere between the walks home from the baseball park through the cemetery and my first car/first girlfriend, I seemed to have misplaced that magic, though. I wish I could find it again; maybe when my second childhood starts and I revert all the way back to messing in my diapers (Depend®) again.

If you’ve forgotten the magic, then maybe you should pick up a copy of Robert R. McCammon‘s Boy’s Life. It will go a long way to reawakening that magic for you. If you were a child of the 50s or 60s as I was, you’ll be taken along for a ride by McCammon that won’t be too very unfamiliar to you at all.

Sure, the settings might be bit different (Alabama in the book) than those you remember, but they’ll be eerily familiar. McCammon did not lose the magic when he aged. If he did, he was definitely able to conjure it once again to write this story. Or maybe writers just never lose that magic. Who knows?

Boy’s Life is a story about a boy. How ’bout that, huh? His name is Cory. He’s 12 years old in the summer of 1964. A year removed from a tumultuous 1963 and a few years prior to latter historical events like Tet of ’68, Watergate, and the Summer of Love (’69). From Spring through to that year’s waning days, young Cory narrates his adventures growing up in the small town of Zephyr on the Tecumseh River in southern Alabama.

The events and the tragedies and the strangeness all whirl around one another weaving a story filled with that pure and simple magic of youth. You’ll meet characters who seem oddly familiar. You’ve met them in your own lives, in your own hometowns, in your own eras. They’re common to everyone, I think.

You’ll learn a bit of history while reading this book. It’s OK, though. It won’t hurt you none. If you didn’t know anything about the Civil War, the Wild West, dinosaurs, WWII, the Nazis, the Holocaust, etc., Cory’s telling of related events in his own childhood may lead you to the library to do a bit of research on these things. That’s a good thing.

I have a couple favorite “coming of age” type books: Stephen King’s IT and Dan Simmons’ Summer of NightBoth authors manage to bring back the magic long gone from my soul whilst reading these works. I think that’s why they both left lasting impressions on me. Anything that revives the magic is a good thing. There’s so little magic in adult life, sadly.

This would be a great book to curl up by the fire with one of these dark, cold winter nights. Oh, and you won’t have to be a boy to appreciate it. Little girls had a magic all their own. They’ll understand, too.

That’s it for now, folks. Stop being so busy. Get yourself a good book and sit down and read awhile. It’s a magic that we can still enjoy at any age.

~Eric

2014 In Review – It Was a Slow Year

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,400 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 23 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Baseball Games Too Long?

I just don’t think I’m going to like some of the changes that are being tossed around and tested for shortening game times in baseball.

Why Baseball Games Are Too Long - an article from About.com/Sports

MLB will be trying out some new rules in the Arizona Fall League to speed things up. Good idea. Baseball set a record this year for longest games averaging over 3 hours.

Roughly 30 years ago games took about half an hour less. Not all of that time is the extra commercials and promos. So in the Arizona League they’ll be limiting visits to the mound by catchers, managers and coaches to three per game, other than pitching changes. No more pitching on intentional walks. Hey, just take your base buddy. And hitters have to stay in the batter’s box. That’s key. They can’t step out to unfasten and then refasten their batting gloves on each hand after EVERY pitch.

Nope. I just don’t think I’m going to like this. They’re not just attempting to shorten games; they’re changing the game of baseball altogether. No intentional walks? Limited mound conferences? Nah… this ain’t gonna’ fly, I don’t think.

The MLB really stirred the nest up with its institution of the instant replay this season. I wasn’t for that, either. However, I must admit, it’s been used/handled very well so far. It may need a few more refinements, though, before its working optimally.

I’m a traditionalist. I’ve been a baseball fan for nearly 50 years. I just don’t like some of the things they’re considering these days. If you want to shorten games, get rid of the commercials. Yeah, I know… good luck with that. It’s always all about the $$$, ain’t it?

Well, we’ll just have to sit back and see how this all turns out. In the meantime, enjoy the World Series this coming week!

GO KC ROYALS!!!

Later…

~Eric

 

The Boys of Summer Are Done

I just finished watching the Tampa Bay Rays lose their last game of the 2014 season.

Rays 2014 season total: 77 wins85 losses

It’s been a bad one. Rays fans have seen worse, though. Back in the Devil Rays era, a losing season like this was a sadly common occurrence. No one expected it for this year and this group of Rays. As a matter of fact, I’m holding in my formerly nicotine-stained fingers* a Tampa Bay Times Sports section insert from 20 March of this year. In big bold font on the front it says, “Trophy Case – The Rays have done all they can to make their title argument.” It’s accompanied by a big mock World Series trophy with the Rays players on the little flags and “World Champions – 2014 – The Tampa Bay Rays” on the base plate.

Hmm… some really wishful thinking on the part of the Times sports writers, evidently. The Rays did NOT have what it takes to make it even to the playoffs this season. They do have some valid excuses, though. They lost their ace pitcher in a trade. They lost numerous key players to injury. Some key players did not perform at the levels expected of them. Et cetera. Excuses don’t win championships. Whatever went awry, whatever plans didn’t pan out, whatever players had issues of one type or another; I’m confident that, under the continued leadership of Joe Maddon, all will be analyzed and solutions will be discovered and implemented.

Maybe that pretty trophy will end up in the Rays’ trophy case in 2015.

We’ll see…

The cold and dark winter is nearly upon us now, but the spring will come… and with it a renewed, refreshed, and ready Rays organization. Can’t hardly wait to hear that “Play ball!”

Later…

~Eric

*This phrase about the formerly nicotine-stained fingers was a trademark phrase used by a favorite talk radio host of mine from many years ago toward the end of his career. His on-air name was Bob Lassiter. I pretty much stopped listening to talk radio after he retired. There will never be another like him.

Congratulations to Chris and Diana Pirillo

In what seems like forever ago, I started blogging on Chris Pirillo‘s old LockerGnome Blog site.

So, I suppose that means that Chris was probably the one who got me started on this addictive, time-consuming, but FUN avocation. Thanks for that, Chris.

Anyway, the real reason for me posting here today is just to say CONGRATULATIONS to the new mommy and daddy, Diana and Chris P., who very recently had a visit from the stork.

Said stork delivered this bundle of joy to the Pirillos. Here’s wishing this young lady a long and very happy life. All the best to mom and dad, too. They’ll have their hands full now.

Later…

~Eric

Image credits: stork from http://www.clipartbest.com

Baseball Loses Another Legend…

Tony Gwynn, San Diego Padres Hall Of Famer, Dies

Hall of famer Tony Gwynn, who spent 20 years playing for the San Diego Padres, has died.

The team , saying it was “terribly sad to say goodbye to our teammate, our friend and a legend.”

Read more about this sad event HERE.

R.I.P., Mr. Gwynn.

 

 

 

 

Major League Baseball Loses a Legend – Don Zimmer

A legendary icon of America’s once-favorite pastime, Donald William “Zim” Zimmer leaves us at age 83; elevated to whatever is beyond Major League.

Zim was loved and respected by all. He was as much baseball as anyone who was ever associated with the game. He’ll be missed by many.

Mostly, Donald William Zimmer was a delightful sort who defied comparison and became too renowned in later life to remain what he had been as a player, an everyman. He produced a long, memorable resume in the game he loved, though he was neither an accomplished player nor a manager of great success. He was merely Zim.*

*from this MLB article posted this evening.

Zim is probably getting ready for his next game somewhere right now. The smell of the fresh cut grass is in the air. He can hear the vendors yelling about their peanuts and red hots. It’s a bright sunny summer day on a diamond somewhere and Don is there with a big smile on his face and a twinkle in his eyes.

R.I.P Donald William Zimmer b.1931, d.2014

 

Metal Weekend – Play It Loud!

I’ve been in a head banging mood recently, so I’ve been listening to some seriously kick ass metal music this weekend.

We started out Friday evening by listening to Black Label Society‘s new release Catacombs of the Black Vatican. Zakk and the boys do not disappoint.

Later, just for some balance, I mixed in a some classic Black Sabbath, the ultimate metal.

On Saturday morning, I advanced to something a bit heavier… Pantera. Dime Bag and the boys really gave my Logitech X-540 a workout, lemme tell you!

Long Live Darrell “Dime Bag” Lance Abbott!

Pantera ROCKS!

Again for a bit of balance and variety, we also fed some high amplitude audio pulses through the speakers with a little number from Lemmy and the boys of Motörhead.

So, here it is Sunday evening and I’m wrapping up Day 3 of Eric’s Memorial Day Weekend Head Banger’s Ball with…

… aw, what the hell? Some more Pantera!

Hell yeah, Anselmo’s broken. Look that the way he’s jumping around in that video. The man literally broke his own back for the music. No shit.

Serious jam, huh? I might wrap up tomorrow with some Slayer and SlipKnot. How’s that sound, metal heads?

Let me close this with Zakk Wylde‘s tribute to his friend Dime Bag Darrell.

Oh, and just so you know… all my listening this weekend took place on my favorite online music site, GrooveShark. You can check out my personal Favorites and Playlists by clicking on my Profile page there.

And one last thing…

Tomorrow is Memorial Day. Go out and hug a vet. You owe your ass to them for that freedom you enjoy so much every moment of your life here in the U.S.

Peace!

~Eric

Image credits: Dime Bag borrowed from http://greatest-rockers.blogspot.com

Some Days, You Just Wanna’ Cry

When you’re down, the world just seems to poop on you even more.

I’ve been maintaining my health and sanity over the last 3+ years by riding my bicycle every day. Back in November, my trick knee decided to blow out for no apparent reason other than the world wanted to poop on me because I’m down. I couldn’t walk for exercise or ride my bike. So, what happens to a fat ass who doesn’t get much exercise? His ass gets fatter, which is exactly what happened to me.

I have a friend who recently went through a health emergency very similar to one I experienced myself back in 2010. I wrote about my experience here, if you care to read about it. Anyway, in the process of nagging (advising) my pal who is dealing with nearly the same afflictions at the moment, I pepped myself up to get back in shape and quit screwing off.

With this in mind, I decided to renew my daily bike riding regimen. My knee hasn’t been giving me hell too much lately. I think it’s gone dormant again. Unfortunately, I had been having some repeat issues with a front tire on my bike that keeps going flat. I changed out the inner tube twice and still developed the same issue (flat tire) within a few days. It was causing me to lose faith in the bike, which had me avoiding longer rides.

I needed to get this fixed. I normally like to ride 10-15 miles a day. I can’t do that with a bike I can’t trust. So, this past Saturday, I went to an old-time bike shop that’s been owned and operated by the same fellow for 40 years or so here in Tampa. It’s Joe Haskins’ Bike Shop on N. Florida Avenue. It’s not far from my house. When we were kids, we’d ride our bikes to Joe’s for parts and other goodies.

My bike is a Specialized Crossroads Sport. It looks like this one here…

The tires for this thing from the local dealer cost $65 each. That’s just the tire… no tube, no rim band, etc. At Joe’s I was able to get two brand new Giant (Kenda Kwest) 700x38c tires, two inner tubes, and two rim bands for $46 bucks and change (tax included). I brought my goodies home Saturday morning and installed them right away. I changed clothes and took my new tires for a nice little spin of about 8 miles or so. Wonderful! Sunday morning I went for an even longer ride of about 12 miles or so. All was fine and dandy.

Then today happened. I woke up itchin’ to take the bike out again for an even longer ride today. I managed to finally get on the road about 1:30PM. It was overcast and hot, but nice… as long as you’re moving. I rode for nearly 15 miles today. It was a really nice ride. I did notice something, though. My chain was skipping every once in a while when I would accelerate. It’s been doing this more and more lately. I know it’s wear/tear on the chain and sprockets. I just haven’t had the money to replace them.

The way my luck is with my automobiles, motorcycles, and bikes is that they nearly always break down at home or very near to home, at least. I’m very lucky that way. My friends hate me for this. ;) Well, as I crossed over the last street before the one I live on, accelerating to get across the intersection, the rear dérailleur assembly just blew apart and got jammed in the rim, tearing off two or three spokes and stopping me pretty efficiently; better than brakes, actually.

The dérailleur above is the way it’s supposed to look. Mine now looks like some mutant metal pretzel. The cause of all this is just wear. The derailleur gears were worn down to sharp points, as were the cassette (rear sprocket set), and the crank (pedal sprocket set). I’ve tallied up all the parts I’m going to need to rebuild this bike and it looks like I’m going to need about $150 or so. I don’t have the means to purchase these parts at this time, so I guess I’m going to have to start my walking regimen instead of biking. Hope my knee cooperates.

I do have a really nice set of tires and tubes now, though. They only have about 35 miles on ‘em.

That’s all for now, folks.

Later…

~Eric

Wet Day, Wet Paper – Customer Venting

What you’ll be reading here is an actual email that I sent to my local newspaper as a result of a soggy, single-bagged morning paper that I found in my driveway this morning.


Dear <name redacted by author to avoid legal issues>,

I am a long time subscriber/reader of your fine publication. I’m also an advocate who has converted numerous family and friends who live in Tampa to the <name redacted> over the years, saving them the frustration and disappointment of reading that fish-wrapping rag known as the <name redacted>.

Unfortunately, I am writing this email to you today for two reasons:

  • your automated customer service line is extremely annoying, time-wasting (for the caller), and aggravating… people want to speak to people when they call a “customer service” number; there’s no joy in screaming maniacally to a recording

and

  • my morning paper will be dry enough to read sometime later this weekend, unless I dry it with a blow dryer before then… yes, I could check out the website for the latest news, but if I liked doing that, I would never have subscribed to the <name redacted> home delivery in the first place.

OK, so to elaborate a bit…

Yes, I know that no one likes automated phone answering systems. Even friends and family who call my home hate my answering machine. It is what it is, I suppose. If this were 1965, you’d have a full time staff of folks getting a decent wage to answer phone calls and resolve issues like wet newspapers. Sadly, those days are gone forever. Enough melancholy reminiscing, though.

Now to the main issue of today’s venting…

Is it too much to ask that these normally hard-working and competent newspaper carriers take two minutes of their valuable time when they first get to their distribution spot to check the weather forecast IN THE ACTUAL PAPER that they’re preparing to deliver that morning? Maybe then, they would know that rain was expected and double bagging of the papers would be a fine thing to do.

Or has the exorbitant cost of that extra bag become such a drag on your bottom line that they’ve given specific instructions to their independent carriers to not use them under any circumstances. If this is the case, I would be willing to save all my bags (and the ones the inconsiderate neighbors toss in their yards that eventually blow into mine) and donate them back to the carrier early one morning so that he/she would then have the means to protect my paper from becoming a pile of disintegrating pulp before I awake and have a chance to retrieve it from the 3″ deep puddle in my driveway.

A highlight of my day is the ability to sit down in my comfortable chair, put on the ol’ specs, sit back and sip my coffee while reading my morning paper. How 1960s, huh? Well, maybe so. I don’t care for eBooks or online news sites either. I prefer my reading materials to be made using old fashioned materials. No, not papyrus. I’m not that damned old. Coffee in the morning at my desk staring at the <name redacted> website just isn’t the same as rustling that nice DRY paper in the comfort of my easy chair.

I love the <name redacted>. Please take this venting in the spirit it was intended; a slightly tongue-in-cheek rant that should have maybe given you a laugh or two, but still got the point across.

Regards,

~Eric


And there you have it, folks. I felt ever-so-much better after clicking that Send button. I have to go blow dry my paper now. :(

Later…

~Eric

Note: Any inferences you as a reader may make as to the actual identities of the publications whose names have been redacted by me in this article are yours alone to infer. My implications in the article are vanilla enough that I should be able to avoid any multi-million dollar defamation lawsuits, which is a good thing.