Archive for the ‘ humor ’ Category

Sister Mercedes and the Temple of Doom FREE June 6, 7 & 8

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My ebook, “Sister Mercedes and the Temple of Doom” will be FREE on Amazon on Friday, June 6th, Saturday, June 7th and Sunday, June 8th!  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00C479TN6/

“Sister Mercedes and the Temple of Doom” is a collection of blog posts from this very blog!  From the depiction of the author’s upbringing as a fat, shy Catholic school boy to the vagaries of family life to trying to live hand-to-mouth while on disability, “Sister Mercedes” is a sometimes hysterically funny, sometimes tragic and always human glimpse behind the veil of parenthood, marriage, pop culture and the world in general.

If you’ve enjoyed reading this blog, please spread the word to anyone you think would be interested.  It’s FREE!

Thanks,

Brian

 

Patty Duke Sipped Here

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I have a story to tell my friends.

It’s a show-biz story. A story of perseverance, fortitude and a never-say-die attitude. A story of pluck, determination, ambition! It’s about going out there a simple chorus girl and coming back a star!

Except the star is an end table.

Allow me to explain. Those of you who know me may have received one of the 10,000 or so emails and Facebook posts regarding my play “Echoes of Ireland.” We’ve been on a bit of a Spring tour, performing the show in Newburgh this March, Catskill in May, and coming up in June—Goshen! Get your tickets! While supplies last! Act now! JUST THROW MONEY AT THE PRETTY COLORS!!!

Sorry, I got a little carried away. Anyway, the reason why we’ve been able to pack up the show so easily and visit these fine villages is that we have practically NO set. It’s literally four chairs, or stools, or boxes, or whatever the theater has handy for us to put our butts on. We have costumes—I mean, we’re not completely without theatrical sensibility. And props! We have…well, we have a couple. More than one. The lights get dim and then bright again. OK, it’s a good show, don’t judge a book by its lack of incidental music. Oh, and there’s one table. Little dark cherry deal, ’bout yea tall.

The table belongs to Dana, one of our cast members. She brought it in two days before we opened in Newburgh, and we were very grateful to have it. Not too big that it blocked the audience, nor to small to rest a cup of tea upon (or some grammatically correct version of that notion.) Through the course of the show laundry is folded on it, and a fake cigarette and ashtray rest atop it. Good, hard-working table that keeps its nose clean, does its job and doesn’t kill you to the rest of the cast as soon as your back is turned. A mensch.

We liked it so much that we brought it with us when we went up to Catskill. We could have used other tables, but this one had proven its worth and deserved more consideration than the rest. Again it took its place among the stools and turned in yet another useful, utilitarian, hard-working performance. The show in Catskill was glorious. A wonderful, receptive crowd in a beautiful, brand new theater space. We received–along with our table—a standing ovation. I mention that fact only to adequately set the scene, not because of any prideful vanity about the show and my cast…(it was one of the best days of my LIFE!) There was a pleasant post-show buzz, as the theater owners supplied free shots of Bushmills and some very nice Irish music. We all packed our costumes up and returned home with the pleasurable warmth of a job well done. And some Bushmills.

And without our table.

The theater owners informed us of the missing cast member and we arranged to pick it up the next week when my wife had a doctor appointment in Albany.  However, that was when fate intervened and decided it was the long suffering table’s turn to enjoy the spotlight.  At the last moment, the owners (a charming couple named Steven and John) made arrangements to bring PATTY DUKE to the tiny, insignificant village of Catskill for a “one night only” performance.  Her only demand?  A small table! Where to find one…hey, what about the one left here by those idiot “Echoes” people?

Thus, the table will soon have an IMDb credit.  With Patty Duke. What a world.

I agreed to this on Dana’s behalf, which you may consider forward of me. But I took for granted that she wouldn’t want to deny her table this once-in-a-lifetime experience to star alongside the original Hellen Keller. However, I took pains to insist I was not responsible for any water rings left by Ms. Duke.

The fact of the matter is that the table will soon have a more impressive resume than I do. My closest brush with stardom was when I almost sold furniture to Dianne Wiest. She didn’t buy. Dana’s fear is that when the table finally returns to her it will be so inflated with its own ego that it will refuse to hold her jar of Q-tips anymore. And this, apparently, would be my fault.

I told her every time the table starts talking about “that time I performed opposite Patty Duke,” just start flipping through an IKEA catalog.  Actors need to know just how replaceable they are.

 

The Super Bowl is the Straight Man’s Tony Awards

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If nothing else, this blog has always stood for truth, acceptance and freedom from judgment. Well, mostly it’s stood for snarky comments and self-indulgent stories about my family, but stay with me here, I’m trying to make a point. When I see injustice in any form I MUST stand and speak its name. Only when we come to find intolerance intolerable will we ever break the shackles of tyranny and evolve as a species to the point where other intelligent life in the universe might want to hang with us and smoke a joint. It is in this spirit of mutual understanding that I make the following complaint:

My gay friends are bullying me.

I know, right? Who would have thought? Oh, it started out innocently enough. An arch of the eyebrow when I peeked at the TV to catch the score of the Mets game. A snicker when I was two years off guessing when Mame debuted on Broadway. That barely contained look of disbelief when I confessed my love for the comedy of Kathy Griffin. Words may hurt, but an askance glance from a gay man can kill your ass dead.

All this and more I could endure. But a certain day is on the horizon, a day myself and my kind celebrate as the holiest of holies. A day of reflection, ceremony, prayer and hot wings. Yes Virginia, I’m talking about Super Bowl Sunday. I’m not a football disciple like some straight men, but I would still rank Super Bowl Sunday in the top five were it a national holiday. Which it is in essence, at least every bit as much as Independence Day, and you don’t have to sit on a blanket in the heat getting bit by mosquitoes to celebrate it. Food? Check. Party? Check. Watching TV on a comfortable couch? Got it. Replace the turkey with a 6-foot Italian hero and it’s Thanksgiving with a better game. In fact it’s just a few presents and some garland around the flat-screen away from being Christmas.

So last year I’m enjoying myself, waiting for the game to start, when I begin seeing posts on Facebook with a common theme. No less than ten of my gay friends post something along the lines of, “Is there some kind of big game today?” The mocking tone was undeniable. Then I see five more that say, “I hope Mike Tyson hits a goal in that tennibasebasketsnookerball game tonight.” Oh, the lacerating drollness. The daggers keep coming: “Why don’t we just skip the game and make it a four-hour Madonna halftime concert?” “Know what I’m watching today? Real Housewives marathon on Bravo! Suck it breeders!” and the straightforward, “They’re just running around chasing each other. What’s the big deal?”

Needless to say, I began to feel…insecure. Am I really a mindless sheep, subsuming myself to the pomp and circumstance of this societal circus? Is the Super Bowl I’ve watched since childhood really sound and fury, signifying nothing? Am I now chronically uncool in the eyes of my cool gay friends?

Well, scratch that last one. I’ve never been cool to anybody regardless of their sexual orientation.

I lived shamefully with these doubts, being careful not to in any way reveal my straight-leaning tendencies. I hid in plain sight. I listened to top-40 radio. I became incompetent using tools. I got really bitchy about bad acting on TV, and bemoaned the current state of Broadway.

Wait, I was doing all of that already.

I tucked my love of sports way, way back behind the mothballs and the Christmas decorations. I became a closeted heterosexual. Until…

The Tony Awards! Spectacularness! Musical numbers! Choreography! Tony parties! Neil Patrick Harris! Radio City! Jane Lynch! Pippin! Complaints! Vicious, catty contempt! Sparkly gowns! Superiority! More gay men in one place than a Cher concert!

And then it dawned on me. The Tony Awards is the gay Super Bowl!

I immediately posted “Is there some kind of big awards show tonight?” on Facebook. Yeah, I’m a jerk.

But it got me thinking. Like Linus in “A Charlie Brown Christmas” or Stan in South Park, I’d like to sum up what I’ve learned today. We are all fags. All of us have that something they value that other people can’t understand. Whether it’s a love of baseball or a penchant for musical theater or a spoon collection, we have it. And we look at those spoons in judgment and think, what the hell is interesting about spoons, unless you’re trying to eat soup? What would possess a person to search ebay or a local flea market to find the perfect spoon? Knives I get, even forks to a certain degree, but spoons?

Yup, spoons. It’s all good.

Katy Perry’s “Roar” Explicated As If It Were a Shakespearean Sonnet

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Roar” by Katy Perry 

I used to bite my tongue and hold my breath
Scared to rock the boat and make a mess
So I sat quietly, agreed politely
I guess that I forgot I had a choice
I let you push me past the breaking point
I stood for nothing, so I fell for everything

In this opening stanza, we see the central issue to which the entire piece devotes itself, vis-a-vis the subjugation of the female by what is implicitly a male-dominated hierarchy. Though one may in theory “bite one’s tongue” OR “hold one’s breath” to keep oneself from speaking (and typically not engage both tactics simultaneously), this combination of metaphors for failing to speak one’s mind uses the tried and true motif of “more is better,” used ingeniously, and to undeniable satirical effect by Christopher Guest in his masterwork This Is Spinal Tap (wherein it is said of a set of amplifiers “these go to 11”.) Ms. Perry, however, seems not to intend satire.

This initial theme, expressed in first-person narrative, coalesces in the line, “I stood for nothing, so I fell for everything”. The ambiguity inherent in this choice cannot be overstated. The line has been attributed to Peter Marshall (the Senate chaplain, not the host of Hollywood Squares), Alexander Hamilton (the British journalist, not the American forefather) and Malcolm X (yes, THAT Malcolm X). In referencing this line, Ms. Perry aligns herself either with 1940s American politics, 1970s BBC or the militant Civil Rights movement in 1960s, depending upon one’s reading of the surrounding text. I would tend to suspect that, given the tone of subordination in the rest of the stanza, Ms. Perry actually sees herself as the modern embodiment of Malcolm X, seeking to throw off the shackles of male suppression by “any means necessary”. Although it is equally possible that Ms. Perry does not know the allusion herself and just thought it sounded cool.

You held me down, but I got up (HEY!)
Already brushing off the dust
You hear my voice, you hear that sound
Like thunder gonna shake the ground
You held me down, but I got up (HEY!)
Get ready ’cause I’ve had enough
I see it all, I see it now

What first appears to be metaphorical, emotional “holding down” of the protagonist in the first line of the second stanza is immediately undone in the second line with, “Already brushing off the dust.” This connotes an actual, physical holding down, the type which would necessitate the brushing off of dust. This image, existing both metaphorically and in actuality, brings to mind John Keats’ idea of “negative capability”, wherein two seemingly paradoxical elements can exist in the mind harmoniously. Is the protagonist actually being held down, or is she decrying the emotional manipulation of her male counterpart? Perhaps future literary analysis is necessary to solve this conundrum.

In this stanza we also see the first use of simile in the piece, with the assertion that the protagonist’s voice is going to shake the ground “like thunder”. The most obvious antecedent to this is Eddie Floyd’s “Knock On Wood” (“It’s like thunder, lightning/The way you love me is frightening.”) Although Floyd’s superb R&B classic references a mate’s love, while Ms. Perry refers to being really, really loud.

[Chorus]
I got the eye of the tiger, a fighter, dancing through the fire
‘Cause I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me roar
Louder, louder than a lion
‘Cause I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me roar
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
You’re gonna hear me roar
 

Alas, the chorus. I must take a moment to explain that this is not the chorus of Greek antiquity, developed as a dramatic device to insert authorial explanation of plot summary and characters’ actions into a play. The chorus in modern parlance refers to the mind-numbing repetition of a musical and verbal phrase (colloquially known as a “hook”) designed to force an audience’s capitulation to the fact that he/she cannot, no matter what means are used, shake said repetition from controlling his or her brain. Examples are too frequent to mention, although radio advertisements that repeat the same phone number 87 times during a 15-second spot serve to explain the point. That, and the seminal mid-60s work of Lennon/McCartney. The stanza above is a particularly strong example of this latter definition of a chorus.

Divorced from its musical component, however, there are a few key literary issues. The images and metaphors are, to put it mildly, mixed. The “eye of the tiger”, an image most notably used by 80s pop band Survivor in its theme song for one of the twelve Rocky movies, leads directly to the the term “a fighter”, ostensibly referencing Mr. Sylvester Stallone’s boxing character. Then the protagonist imagines herself dancing through (a) fire, a metaphor for rebirth and the achievement of sexual maturity performed by such disparate cultures as the Chinese and Polynesians, perhaps intended to mirror the protagonist’s own bildungsroman. Then, inexplicably, the image is transformed from “tiger” to “lion”. There is some historical precedent to using these images together (such as “Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!” from Yip Harburg in The Wizard of Oz), but mixing them as Ms. Perry does here is unprecedented. Perhaps she is intending to convey a “liger”, the 900-pound behemoth resulting from a lion mating with a tiger in captivity. But there is no textual evidence to support such a theory.

What we are left with, then, is the image of a lion with tiger eyes who vaguely resembles Rocky Balboa in a hula skirt performing a ritualized fire dance. Whether this is what Ms. Perry intended is debatable, to say the least.

Now I’m floating like a butterfly
Stinging like a bee I earned my stripes
I went from zero, to my own hero
 

Yet another prizefighting image, as the protagonist references noted poet laureate and sometime boxing champion Muhammad Ali. Note that Ali was also a proponent of Civil Rights and a member of the Nation of Islam, as was the aforementioned Malcolm X, underlining the recurring motif that Ms. Perry seems to think she is an African-American symbol of social justice. Except, you know, with white prepubescent girls.

It is also unclear whether the “stripes” referenced belong to the bee or the butterfly.

At this point in the work the chorus is reprised for approximately 16 hours, in keeping with repetition theory of countless radio commercial advertisers.

Mention should be made of the lyric “oh”, which is repeated in Tarzanic fashion a whopping 90 times over the course of the piece. This can be likened to Shakespeare’s use of the phrase “except my life” in Hamlet, quite famously repeated three times by the title character. In contrast to this repetition indicating Hamlet’s desire to end his own life, however, Ms. Perry’s similar use of repetition serves to make one want to kill themselves. A fine point of disparity, to be sure, but an integral one.

(Authorial note: Full disclosure: I LOVE this song. I had a fight with my youngest son to keep it on the car radio, which is the first recorded instance, I believe, of an adult male arguing with a prepubescent in favor of Katy Perry. I suppose behind my Springsteen-fan street cred there is a pop-trash, knobby-kneed 11-year-old girl who just wants to stop the world and melt with you.

I also didn’t know what “bildungsroman” meant until I wrote this.)

The Christmyth List

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Halloween is behind us, so you all know what that means. We are hurtling head-long into the holiday season at 1000 miles-per-hour. The decorations that were being barely held at bay in the Wal-Mart warehouse have now erupted into our consciousnesses with a saccharine vengeance. Time to be jolly and spend lots of money, for Christmas sake!

Now I am no Scrooge. In fact I love Christmas. I love most of the music, and I enjoy buying gifts for my family. I like the shiny lights. I’d get into the whole “special feeling in my stomach” stuff too, but I have a reputation to uphold here. Nobody likes an enthusiastic cynic, unless he’s being enthusiastically cynical.

For all the wonder, joy and profit the season brings, it also brings a bunch of big fat lies we all have to live with, especially as we start turning the corner of our 40s and head, screaming and kicking, further down the road. OK, maybe they are little white lies. But they’re lies all the same. Such as…

Wouldn’t it be magical if there was a white Christmas this year?” Well…no. Not really. Here in the Northeast, we’re going to get pounded with snow from January to mid-March—and I don’t want to start early, thank you. Plus, the whole snow on Christmas thing is a pipe-dream for most of the country. Unless you live in Maine, upstate New York, northern Minnesota, Wisconsin or Colorado, odds are you’ll be wistfully looking out the window through your breath-frost, wishing in vain for a stray flake. Everybody loves that first sprinkling of snow. Then reality sets in, and you find yourself with a heating pad attached to what’s left of your spine after shoveling your car out of nine feet of blizzard hell. Ask the folks in Buffalo, Green Bay and Denver how much they love snow. You’ll get a tired, disgusted look. They’d punch you in the face, but they can’t lift their arms.

There’s nothing like the face of a child on Christmas morning!” Says anyone who has never had kids, or has conveniently forgotten the truth. You know what the majority of parents would like to see on Christmas morning? The backs of their eyelids. Or anything but their dear children, shaking them awake at half-past-too-friggin’-early-to-breathe to come out to the livingroom and watch them tear apart their presents. My wife Mary Ellen makes a breakfast casserole the night before so she can come out in a blanket, see the first fifteen minute of destruction, then return to her blissful sleep. That’s the kind of thinking that gets you promoted in this man’s Army! I fight the good fight with the help of copious cups of caffeine, but by 10am or so I’m a cranky, sleep-deprived zombie who doesn’t want to play any more games, and doesn’t want to put anything else together, and JUST WANTS TO BE LEFT ALONE TO SLEEP, DAMMIT! Merry Christmas, boys, now get out of my room! I don’t care, go play with reindeer! Nothing to do? You have 1,251 dollars worth of something to do under the tree! I don’t know, ’cause Santa showed me the bill. Now go away!

Every Christmas album ever made is an instant classic, and I want to hear it over and over as I shop!” OK, here’s the deal: Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You” may be indispensable for many, many 12-year-olds during the holiday season, but the rest of us JUST DON’T EVER WANT TO HEAR IT AGAIN! Please, for the love of all that’s holy! Let us shop in peace. Play some Bing Crosby, Andy Williams, the Halleluiah Chorus. Play Phil Spector, Burl Ives, Nat King Cole, Springsteen. The Ray Coniff Singers, the Peanuts Special soundtrack, The Mormon Tabernacle Choir, The Muppets, “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.” I’m easy, I love lots of it. Stop pounding Mariah Carey and Justin Bieber into my brain like a metal spike, over and over and over. And as wonderful as the Beatles may have been and continue to be, those Christmas songs John and Paul cut are soooo baaaad. Paul’s sounds like it was written on the back of an envelope in the limo on the way to the studio (probably the one his big ol’ check came in). And Yoko…oy vey. If I wanted to hear high-pitched shrieking on Christmas I’d visit my family. War is over, but what is this fresh hell? Plus, Christmas albums are the number one cynical, sell-out, quick buck stratagem for any artist with at least 15 seconds of fame, and some who are famous already and should know better. Susan Boyle, Rod Stewart, Jewel, the guys from Duck Dynasty. And noted goyim such as Neil Diamond, Bob Dylan and the irrepressible Barbra Streisand, who has about 12 of them now because she obviously needs the money. I don’t think I want to hear an album that would make the artist’s mother cringe and give a disapproving look.

And don’t get me started on movies. ABC Family starts showing the most treacly straight-to-video Christmas-themed crappola in existence in mid-November and calls it the “25 Days of Christmas” even though it takes six weeks. And “Home Alone” is a mean-spirited, nasty movie about mean-spirited, nasty people and it has about as much to do with Christmas as emergency surgery. And I should know, because I’ve had a few and none of them reminded me of Jimmy Stewart.

Christmas presents need to be wrapped within an inch of their ever-loving lives, like skin stretched on a drum, secured with enough tape to ensure that said present can be used as a flotation device and is impenetrable to human tampering—then festooned with an impossibly knotted colored ribbon and a kicky bow.” Again, this may be split along the children-having divide. At 3am Christmas morn, I would cover their presents with tin foil and chewed gum if I had to. And since the tape usually runs out an hour before I’m done, I’ve frequently had to. What the presents look like before they are opened matters to grown ups, NOT kids. Kids want to get from “A” to “X-Box 360” as quickly as humanly possible, and are only annoyed by the delay of well-wrapped presents. Ribbons and bows? Lost in the flood of paper garbage that is piled shin deep in the livingroom 45 seconds after Christmas commences.  

I think people who spend a lot of time wrapping air-tight presents are a. childless or have grown children, b. gay, c. people who want everything to be absolutely PERFECT this year! or d. really nice people who I just happen to disagree with about this topic. A, b and c can also be d.

So let’s end this on a positive note. I’m the big fat liar. One of the best Christmases I ever had was when we had a huge snowstorm and we couldn’t leave the house to visit anyone. The kids and I went sledding on a neighbor’s hilly lawn and nearly killed ourselves, but it was a blast.

Then we went inside to hot cocoa, a Bob Dylan Christmas and “Home Alone”.

Eat, Spray, Love

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You know what’s a lovely smell? Cat spray. It’s like the natural aroma of the Siamese jungle. If there’s a jungle in Siam, I’ve never been. Though I have seen The King and I.

Actually, cat spray doesn’t have an aroma, it has a pung. An earthy stench most closely related to stale urine covered in sticky maple syrup. Sorry to all of you who had to put your coffee down after that one.

Why bring up such an unpleasant topic? One guess. Our damn cat Shea, whose feral hindquarters have been christening our new apartment since we got here, causing the stock of Kids ‘N Pets to spike precipitously.

We first found Shea under the house we were living in in Pine Bush. He was uncollared, untagged and freezing cold and cried until we found him. We saved his cross-eyed, Barbra Streisand-looking face, and he loved us in that big, retarded, tom-kitten way of his. Our female cat Tess found a playmate, our older fixed cat Max found a new place to aim his resentment, and a new member of the family was anointed. Everything was swell.

Until his testicles started to explode in a testosteroney rage. He grew about 10 times his size, like the Grinch’s heart, and began mounting the laundry on a regular basis. All of a sudden, his “play” with Tess resembled the late-night fumbling of sex-starved teenagers at the drive-in. (If this were the 1950s, apparently. Timely reference, Brian!) Our little tom-kitten was turning into a tom-cat. With pimples and the beginnings of a mustache. And the sex drive of souped up Lamborghini.

Coinciding with our darling boy’s growth spurt was our move to a new apartment. Dealing with Shea’s burgeoning ball-sac had to be put on the back burner. We had to come up, somehow, with the money to pay off electric, cable, etc. while scrounging up a deposit and first month’s rent. With some creative accounting (and the help of a family member), we were able to pull it off. We stumbled into our new apartment exhausted and poorer than ever.

The whole deal was even harder on our cats. We live in an apartment complex and they can’t have the run of the place anymore. They had to go from inside-outside to inside only. Needless to say, they were a little on edge for a while. Boundaries needed to be set, claims made, territories divided. Apparently our front door and our son Conor’s bed have been commandeered by Shea, because he sprayed there like he had a runaway garden hose. Which, in essence, I suppose he did.

When we could finally afford it, we made an appointment with the local spay and neuter van, which collects its mewing victims at a Petsmart parking lot in Middletown. We stood on line with the other owners and stray-finders, talking about how our homes were beginning to smell like a WWII Parisian whorehouse. After VE day. With maple syrup. Ewww.

Mary El made with the Kids ‘N Pets and the steam-cleaner, fighting the battle to reclaim our front door (the mattress was beyond repair). After a few hundred passes, it almost began to smell like new rug again. Our wayward Shea returned to a brand new, unsullied home, minus most of his testicles and all of his mojo.

Or so we thought.

Shea’s mojo is apparently stronger than modern science, ’cause within three days we recognized the tell tale stank of the renegade male feline. This can’t be, we thought. He left the best part of himself back there in that spay van! They can’t grow back, right? Did the vet have bad aim? What gives here?

Apparently…having your male cat fixed is NO GUARANTEE that the sprayer will stop spraying. According to the internet, which is of course never wrong.

Okay, what!?

Seventy-five bucks to do right by the damn cat and we still have to live with a four-legged spray machine? What do we have to do, convince him he’ll make himself blind? He wasn’t raised Catholic to my knowledge, so I doubt that would work. Maybe we should have had him circumcised instead of neutered.

I am RIGHT NOW, as soon as I finish writing this, going online to buy more Kids ‘N Pets. I hope you can order it by the gallon.

Obsession, Thy Name is Fantasy Baseball

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I’ve heard that the role of the artist is to persuade his audience to share his obsessions. With the risk of elevating my measly blog to the level of “art”, let me tell you about my fantasy baseball team!

Intrigued? I didn’t think so. I’m well aware that besides my 11-year-old son (who HAS to listen because I don’t give him a choice) and my young adult stepson (who shares my baseball obsession and wants to play next year), I’m pretty sure NOBODY wants to hear about my damn fantasy team. Most people are like my wife: “Are you in first place? Good. No need to explain further.”

I AM in first place by about 10 points, which is a lot, and there are only two more days left in the season. Things are looking very, very good. So good. I won’t pop the champagne until the final out Sunday night, but suffice to say it will be very hard to catch me at this point.

This fills me with indescribable joy. How to explain?

I am a Mets fan. For those who don’t know what that means, let me safely say that it is not a good thing. I didn’t have many expectations of my crummy team this year, and they did not disappoint. Our best position player got hurt, our young star pitcher needs to get his elbow reconstructed, and the team was safely out of the pennant race by June. By far the most interesting thing about watching the Mets this year has been wondering what their insane broadcaster and former star Keith Hernandez was going to say next. Not a great year, although I’d rather be watching even bad baseball than go fishing or some other such nonsense.

So usually my baseball season is tied to the fate of my beloved but lousy Mets. If they are out of it early, which has been the case as of late, I’m stuck watching them be lousy.

Not this year!

This year I had my own team to examine every day, and examine them I did. All the time, with every spare minute. I turned over roster moves in my head for days, and would often wake up out of a dead sleep with the perfect idea about how to improve my team. I started examining pitching match-ups, looking up scouting reports on up-and-coming rookies, checking out lefty-righty splits for potential line-up changes. I even started to (gulp) listen to fantasy podcasts, hosted by guys who were even sadder than me.

Before you ask, no, there is no money on the line. There is no trophy, unless you count the pathetic little virtual one ESPN offers. I only know one other person in the ten person league, so there’s no trash-talking bragging rights. If I win, I won’t even get a handshake.

So why? Why spend all the time and energy? Why obsess over something so relatively meaningless?

I could answer that question existentially, I suppose. Why do we do anything, from seeing a movie to bowling? To stem the overwhelming dread that our lives are finite and we will all sooner than later be dead as a doornail and long forgotten within a generation. Happy, huh? But that would be too reasonable an explanation.

I could get all Freudian. That obsession in any form is just an avoidance of deep psychological issues that would invariably come bubbling to the surface if we stopped to think about them for more than a millisecond. I’m sure this is more than likely true of my situation, since I try never to miss an opportunity to suppress problems whenever I have half a chance to do so. That or it’s about my penis. Either or.

It might be writer’s block, that ridiculous, naval-gazing notion that somehow the stars need to be aligned with the moon in order to pick up a damn pen and write something already. What a perfect excuse! How can I possibly write the next Pulitzer Prize winner when I need to find a new closer?

It could be a distancing technique with my kids. Really, they’ve taken up an inordinate amount of my time so far in their relatively brief lives, and this is more important than your freaking homework, dammit!

It may be that my marriage is on the rocks, or that I am in the throes of deep depression, or that I’m a pathetic loser, or that I don’t drink so I have to do something, or that a butterfly flapped its wings and caused a tsunami, changing the usual barometric pressure in the northeast, causing all bald, pale, Irish-Italian disabled playwrights to spend all their time obsessing over fantasy baseball. Maybe it’s all of that.

Or maybe I just like it. I might have mentioned this before, but I remember seeing a talk show about obsessive-compulsives where this guy couldn’t close an envelope without checking 20-30 times to make sure he wasn’t sealing his daughter inside. They asked him if he suffered with his obsession, and he replied, no, actually, I quite enjoy it. Making ABSOLUTELY sure his daughter wasn’t going to Buffalo with the phone bill made him feel better. Unhealthy? Absolutely, no doubt about it, you bet. Did he feel better? Yeah, he did. The crazy lunatic obsessive nut-log did.

So, I don’t expect you, dear reader, or anyone else to really, really get this. And that’s OK. I don’t know why people watch the news. I don’t get gardening. I would rather be beat with kumquat than have to change the oil in my car. I don’t care who wins American Idol, nor do I really give a damn about ANY awards show, Oscars, Emmys, Tonys, Grammys, Golden Globes, what have you. I don’t understand why people take and post pictures of their food. There hasn’t been a movie released in the last ten years or so that I’ve felt the need to see in a theater rather than waiting for it to show up on basic cable. I think Jennifer Aniston’s personal life struggles are none of my damn business. Unless there’s nor’easter enveloping the eastern seaboard, I don’t know the weather until I look out the window. I don’t own a device that can take pictures besides my camera, and I have no desire to acquire one. I don’t play first-person war-based video games, and watching them gives me a bit of vertigo.

I do have a pretty good idea who next year’s St. Louis Cardinals closer is going to be. I fully support Paul Goldschmidt’s MVP candidacy, since he was instrumental to the success of my fantasy team this year. I followed the twists and turns of this year’s baseball season more closely than any season since the Mets won the World Series in 1986 when I was 16 and didn’t have a girlfriend. This is my thing.

Still don’t get it? That’s OK, you don’t have to. Just ask me on Sunday night if I’m in first place.