Friday, July 31, 2015

Gracie at Forty

My great friend Lisa is celebrating her fortieth birthday today.  One of the world's genuine, old souls, it has been more than a decade since she left me here at the Firm for greener pastures.  I knew when she left that her decision was the correct one.  Ten years further on up the road, I still know it. 

When Gracie (a nickname bestowed upon her in recognition both of the fact that she fell and broke a bone in her foot while attempting to teach her niece how to do a cartwheel ("Not like this!") and her deft comic timing) announced, way back when in February 2005 that she was leaving the Firm, I rather glumly reported the news to Margaret.  The very next day, my wife called the office - not to talk to me but to talk to Lisa directly.  She did so to wish her well and to ask her to stay.  Margaret reminded her that in having worked with me for five years, she had assumed the responsibility of keeping me sane (Code for "Acting like less of an Asshole") at work, which allowed Margaret to focus on performing that task in every other facet of my life.  

I must confess that Gracie's 40th birthday snuck up on me.  No, not her birthday, which I remembered, but the milestone associated with this particular one.  It was not until I recalled that Margaret and I had gone to a surprise party for her to celebrate her 30th birthday, which party had taken place only a few months after she left the Firm in 2005 that I worked out the math in my head.  In the decade-plus since our work lives headed off on divergent paths, they have overlapped for just a brief moment in time.  When I stepped away from the Firm in 2009 for what proved to be a brief, ill-fated adventure, the sole redeeming part of the experience was that it reunited us.  It turned out to be a very brief reunion but, while it lasted, it was fun. 

Had my arrival as their sixth child, with my Jupiter-sized head and epileptic seizures, not convinced WPK, Sr. and Joanie K that God no longer wanted them to go forth and multiply, then perhaps there would have been a seventh Kenny sibling.  There is not.  For the past fifteen years or so, I have considered Gracie to be the cool, hip younger sister I never had.  

And when I consider the journey she has made in the time that I have been fortunate enough to call her my friend, I beam ear-to-ear in a way that, I imagine, a proud older brother would.  

In honor of her birthday, I offer a song.  And since it is her birthday, the voice singing it shall not be mine...




-AK


   

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Renaissance Men

True confession:  I had no inclination - none at all - that as the summer careened its way towards the end of July the New York Yankees would be two weeks above .500.  While I have no affinity for the taste of crow - for it tastes not at all like chicken - I am happy to eat it.  Their success thus far this year has been - for me at least - nothing short of a revelation.  Whether it lasts long enough to allow October baseball to return to the Bronx for the first time since Sunday, October 14, 2012, which was a Game Two loss in the American League Championship Series to Detroit in a series in which the Tigers would sweep the Yankees 4-0, I do not know.  However, with one hundred games played the likelihood that the Bombers will play in the post-season this year look better and better.  Joe Girardi has once again this season done a job that has been nothing short of extraordinary.  It has been damn fun to watch the Yankees this season.  I could live without the angina that Chris Capuano brings to the mound with him during his "every once in a while" start.  I have no argument however with the way in which his mates picked him up in Texas on Tuesday night.  I am not certain, but I believe the top of the 2nd inning finally ended about thirty-seven minutes ago. 

Second true confession:  While I tend to pay little to no attention to any teams other than (a) the Yankees; and (b) the team the Yankees are playing on a particular day, the New York City area has been energized as well by the terrific performance of the New York Metropolitans.  It has been a very, very long time between sips from the fountain of success for the Mets and their fans.  This season, on the almost-unworldly arms of the young core (DeGrom, Harvey, Syndergaard, and (before he was hurt) Matz) of their starting rotation, they have engaged the heavily-favored Washington Nationals in a good, old-fashioned street fight since Opening Day.  Although the Mets thus far this season have, generally speaking, swung the bats in a manner that could fairly be described as terrible, which has led them into a couple of fairly dark stretches, they have not flinched.  Terry Collins has a fairly resolute bunch of fellows in his clubhouse, including but not limited to the one who looks back at him in his bathroom mirror every morning.  Washington arrives in Citi Field on Friday night for a three-game weekend series, which could end with the Mets in nothing less than a flat-footed tie for first place in the NL East, and in which the home team shall pitch Harvey, DeGrom, and Syndergaard.    

A baseball summer in a great baseball town.  It is more than just a hell of a thing.  It is a renaissance.   



-AK 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The System of Touch and Gentle Persuasion

- Tears for Fears

For everyone who lives here in the State of Concrete Gardens who spent February cursing the cold and praying for the advent of Jersey summer weather, congratulations on the favorable response to your prayer.  All across the state that I call home this week, there are but two temperature settings on every bank and backyard thermometer...and for all intents and purposes there is actually just one.    

If one lives his or her life as I do, which is to say that I am fortunate enough to live in a home that is air-conditioned, work in an office that is air-conditioned, and commute between one and the other in a vehicle that is air-conditioned, then extreme heat such as that which we shall endure in these parts the next few days is an inconvenience and nothing more.  

For those among our number who are not as fortunate - especially the men and women who earn a living working outside, which they shall do today just as they do on a sixty-degree day and just as they do on a zero-degree day, it is something far more than that.  Their need to earn a living and their desire for self-preservation might well find themselves at loggerheads today and for the remainder of this week.  May they ensure that they honor the command of the late, great Sgt. Phil Esterhaus.  

It shall serve all of us well to do something that we do not do especially well here in New Jersey - with the exception of the great folks of Robbinsville (read this story and try not to feel good about your fellow humans - at least those who are mentioned in it) - which is take life a half-step or two slower these next couple of days and pay a half-beat or so more worth of attention to those around us who usually escape our gaze, including the very young and the very old.   

This spate of extremely hot weather shall be over before we know it and, as sure as the winter that shall be upon us in less than six months from now, sooner rather than later we can resume bitching about the bitter cold weather.  Until it cools a little bit, we simply have to manufacture our own.  We shall get through this in one piece.  All we have to do is try.  


-AK 



Tuesday, July 28, 2015

A Workhorse's Victory Lap

I watched none of it on Sunday but, nevertheless, I am pleased as a baseball fan that John Smoltz was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame as a member of the class.  While he and his fellow classmates may not rise to the level of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, the quartet of Craig Biggio, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and Smoltz is certainly one hell of a high-quality group.  

Smoltz's induction followed fast on the heels of his Atlanta Braves' brothers-in-arms Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux, both of whom were enshrined in 2014, along with the manager under whom all three of them thrived while in Atlanta, Bobby Cox.  In the mid-to-late 1990's, when it appeared as if the Yankees and the Braves were destined to do battle in the World Series, which they did twice during that span, I used to pay a fair amount of attention to who was doing what in Atlanta.  While Glavine and Maddux both clearly earned their HOF status, for my money the biggest bad-ass in Atlanta's rotation was Smoltz.  He was a competitor who rose to his highest level when the stakes were the highest.  His team did not always prevail but Smoltz never failed to provide them with an opportunity to win.  

I think that my favorite thing about Smoltz is that when Atlanta needed him to become their closer, he did.  He lost the 2000 season to injury and upon his return to the Braves he went from being a front-line starter to the back-of-the-bullpen stopper.  Between 2002 and 2004 (from ages 35 through 37), he saved a total of 144 games.  When his twenty-one year career finally ended after the 2009 season, he retired with 213 victories and 154 saves.  He pitched in twenty-five post-season series, during which he earned 15 victories (against only four defeats), 4 saves and a 2.79 ERA.  

John Smoltz pitched for more than two decades in the major leagues.  During his career, he never threw a single pitch for a team for which I root.  In fact, he toed the rubber against a team for which I root on more than one occasion.  Yet, while he played he was always a player for whom I found it especially easy to cheer.  I have never been to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.  It makes me happy, however, to know that if and when I ever get there, his plaque will be there for me to see.  

-AK 

Monday, July 27, 2015

Forrest and Trees

An interesting weekend of running this weekend.  On Saturday morning I ran in Sea Girt in a two-mile race known as the Parker House Run.  The starting line of the Parker House Run was four miles from our house in Lake Como.  So, I figured why not run to it.  And I did.  

Thirty three minutes or so after I left my driveway, I reached my destination.  Shortly thereafter I ran with Gidg and Jeff in the Parker House Run.  Nice little two mile sprint.  15:43 later I crossed the finish line.  By 9:30 am I had six miles under my belt. Gidg and Jeff and I spent a bit of time post-race at Fratello's.  Sufficiently "motivated" when our post-race celebration wrapped up and they headed south to 'Squan, I headed north to home.  Four miles later, I got there.  Ten miles by twelve noon.  All in all, a productive and satisfying morning.  

Yesterday, the plan as I envisioned it called for a four-mile run.  That plan went south quickly.  Actually it went north quickly.  Instead of simply heading north to Bradley Beach.  The southern end of Bradley Beach is two miles from our driveway in Lake Como.  But it was such a nice morning on which to run that when I reached my designated turn around point, I did not. I simply kept going north.  I continued north through Bradley Beach and thereafter through Ocean Grove.  I kept going north until I reached Convention Hall in Asbury Park.  Then, and only then, did I turn around and head for home.  

A four mile run turned into an eight mile run.  Twice the mileage.  At least twice the amount of satisfaction.  An eighteen mile weekend.  Not too damn bad.  Not at all.  

-AK

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Wee Small Hours and White Noise

It will likely not come as a surprise to anyone who frequents this space and who actually knows me that my favorite part of any day is the early morning.  I excel removed from the company of others.  And in close to a half-century of tenancy here on the Big Blue Marble, every indication is that the feeling is mutual.  

I particularly enjoy the early morning at the beach.  Our home is not close enough to the ocean that I can see it.  It is however close enough to allow me to hear the beautiful sound associated with waves reaching the shore.  It is among my favorite sounds. It is one unspoiled by the white noise of human beings.  

And punctuated by the occasional bark.  But only if Rosie feels sufficiently motivated.   If you know my Rosie then you know how infrequently that occurs.  

-AK

Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Clock's Tick

I do not do subtle well.  I never have.  If you are eagerly anticipating the apology for this obvious failure of my character, then here is to hoping that you have a comfy cushion upon which to sit as you read this.  Also, a lifetime's worth of free time. 

Margaret's mom, Suzy B., died in the wee small hours of June 2, 2009 after fighting like hell against breast cancer and its associated ravages for the final five-plus years of her life.  Beginning in 2009, we have organized a team, which Suzanne and Megan christened "Sue's Crew", which annually participates in a 5K Run and Walk whose principal stated charitable purpose is breast cancer-centric.  In 2014, we ran for the first time in the Janice Garbolino 5K Run and Walk, which is held annually in Roosevelt Park in Edison, New Jersey.  In the 2014 iteration of Sue's Crew - Sue's Crew VI - we had our largest team ever.


Sue's Crew VI - 
Jersey Crew


Sue's Crew VI - Suz & Margaret
The obligatory "mid-race" Selfie


Sue's Crew VI-
Colorado Crew


To borrow a phrase from the Poet Laureate of Freehold, "...sure as the ticking of the clock on the wall" we shall once again this year lace 'em up at the Janice Garbolino Memorial 5K Run and Walk.  Proving that we have more faith in the ability of the average American to recognize Roman numerals than does the NFL (Super Bowl 50 - really?), this year's edition is Sue's Crew VII.  I had hoped to persuade my wife to agree to a slogan of "Sue's Crew VII - We Demand Replevin!" but she refused.  Methinks she is still regretting the decision five years back to not have put the kibosh on the slogan I came up with for Sue's Crew II, when we ran in the Komen Race for the Cure:  "For the Cure We've come to Race, to kick Breast Cancer in the Face!"  I thought it was hysterical.  Then again, based upon what is almost a half-century's worth of overestimating just how effing funny I am, my point of view on the matter is probably skewed. 

For one and all interested in becoming a Crew member, we thank you for your interest and for your support.  Please send me an e-mail to akenny@weinerlesniak.com and I will happily send you the registration form, which is a PDF document... 



...and which in real life, is much bigger and easier to read.  Even I was able to read it.  And remember, when you register, to shoot me an e-mail (a) confirming you have signed up; and (b) providing your t-shirt size for a Sue's Crew VII team t-shirt.  We shall likely place our order for team t-shirts not later than the final week of August.  

-AK 


Friday, July 24, 2015

A State of Grace

The true measure of a man
Is how he treats someone 
Who does him absolutely no good.
- Samuel Johnson

Inasmuch as Samuel Johnson never made the acquaintance of my sister, Kara, the precision with which he has described her is nothing short of extraordinary.  Then again, neither is she.  

The Sextet of Siblings that comprise the Kenny clan are fairly neatly divided into two trios (with the first three being "Kingston" and the second three being "Dallas" or some other time-forgotten town in Northeastern Pennsylvania).  Kara is the "Tip of the Spear" for the second threesome.  Approximately two years separates Kara's date of birth from Jill's and essentially the same amount of time separates Jill's from mine.  We are close enough in age that I graduated from 8th grade the year that Kara graduated high school - with Jill sandwiched neatly between us as a 10th grader getting ready to move on up to her junior year. 

I have, through the entirety of my life, marveled at Kara's willingness to expend the effort to create a positive out of practically any set of circumstances.  Her endless reservoir of patience and understanding is something with which I did not come equipped from the factory.  When we were younger I used to think on occasion that it was something into which I might possibly grow.  Life has taught me that it is Grace that Kara has in such abundance.  It is not something into which one grows.  It is something that one simply has.  Kara has it.  

Today Kara celebrates her birthday and I hope that both this day and the year's worth of days that shall follow in line right behind it do her justice.  She deserves nothing less. 

-AK  

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Bears and Bowls


A bear in the office?  I have never actually seen one.  Ever.  Not once in the close to sixteen years that the Firm has called its present home...well, "Home".  Empirical evidence suggests however that one - or perhaps more than one - is loose within the four walls of the office.  At the very least, on the loose and confined to the 3rd floor. 

There are few places I encounter in my day-to-day that approach the inherently vile nature of the men's bathroom on the Firm's 3rd floor.  While the overwhelming majority of us who use it practice proper bathroom etiquette, within our tribe we have colleagues who engage in rituals that even when seen cannot be properly explained.  The sum and substance of what they do and what they fail to do is simply foul.  A little-known secret around our shop is that the reason I start my work day hours before everyone else is it affords me the chance to attend to my "bathroom business" without first getting a tetanus shot. 

By comparison, the men's room on the Firm's 2nd floor is something akin to Shangri-La.  Earlier this week, I was downstairs for something during the early afternoon and availed myself of my colleagues' bathroom.  Although it was shortly after two o'clock, the bathroom was pristine.  It appeared so well kept that I actually thought for a moment - as I stood over the sink washing my hands - that I might well have been the first person to have used it all day.  It was delightful.  Had I not had a lot of work to get to, I well might have gone to the water fountain located just outside of its door and consumed an amount of water sufficient to require me to take one for the road as it were.  

I know not whether a bear shits in the woods, although I presume one does.  Judging by the day in/day out condition of my little piece of porcelain heaven, it seems to me that they do their business on the inside as well.   

After all, only a creature without fully-developed and functional opposable thumbs could make the mess that is made in our men's room on a daily basis.  You might believe that to be true.  I assure you, sadly, it is not. 

At the risk of being sued for violating another's intellectual property rights, I plan on printing up a copy of this sign and taping it to the walls of our bathroom.  


It will not solve all of our issues ("Hello, hand washing is not optional!") but it will be a step in the right direction.

-AK 
  

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

When the Moon Hits Your Eye...

...like a big pizza pie, it may very well be Amore.  Of course, when it does so on a July Wednesday night in Westfield, New Jersey, it may very well be the annual Downtown Westfield 5K and Pizza Extravaganza.  Tonight it is the latter.  Well, for me at least.  You might very well have something completely different on your menu as it were. 

I think tonight marks the fifth or sixth summer that I have participated in this event, which is one of my favorites.  Gidg and I make the pilgrimage to Westfield for it, as does my law partner, Mr. Gerst.  He has an ability that I do not, which is the ability - upon completing what is normally a hard 3.1 mile run on a a sultry July night - to actually eat a slice of pizza.  To my memory, I have yet to break my maiden on the topic of post-race pizza.  I do not believe that Gidg has ever eaten any of it either.  We have simply permitted Mr. Gerst to exercise our pizza consumption rights by proxy.  

It is an arrangement that has worked out well for all concerned.  

Take it away Dino...

-AK 




Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Price is Wrong

We live in a world in which the most vulnerable of people
end up taking the brunt of disasters, resulting both from
natural processes and from human beings. 
- Kai Erikson

Those of us who live in the State of Concrete Gardens have been reminded again that irrespective of the Mercury readings, Mother Nature is not the most fearsome force on the planet.  Nope.  Not even close. 

William Price of Linwood, New Jersey pleaded guilty in court this past Friday to defrauding an elderly couple out of $125,000.  Price's plea was to 2nd Degree Theft by Deception.  He shall serve five years in state prison and be required to reimburse the couple.  Curious as to how Price, 57, made the acquaintance of the innocents who he swindled out of their hard-earned money?  He met them, in 2006,  while he was doing his job a caseworker for Atlantic County's Adult Protective Services.  The classic case of hiring the wolf to watch the door at the hen house.    

Price was part of a conspiracy headed up by, of course...an attorney!  Barbara Lieberman, whose area of specialty was Elder Law (No,  I am not making any of this up), had previously pleaded guilty herself to operating a ring that stole $2.7 Million from twelve elderly clients.  Thank you very much Ms. Lieberman for playing your part in giving the rest of us who are not thieving bastards a bad name.  I for one was concerned that the world might actually run out of material upon which to base lawyer jokes.   

Ms. Lieberman shall henceforth be required to confine her practice to the jurisdictional limits of Cell Block B.  In March 2015 she pleaded guilty money laundering, which netted her a 10-year prison term, including a 3 1/2 year parole dis-qualifier, the loss of her law license, and the forfeiture of $3 Million.  Presumably the government made sure that the money she forfeited had actually been hers to begin with and was not simply ill-gotten gains.  

Those among us who target the weak are particularly despicable.  It is impossible for me to look at the mug shot of the esteemed Mr. Price without wanting to punch that smarmy fuck's teeth down his throat.  Hopefully where he will be spending the next few years, there shall be no shortage of people willing to perform that task. 

-AK 

Monday, July 20, 2015

Marathon Man

Week Two of marathon training got off to a very hot and humid start yesterday morning.   The bitter cold of February was just a distant memory as I trudged my way south into Sea Girt on the outward three-mile leg of the six-mile run.  By deliberate design I stayed inland.  Not much air to speak of but one hell of a workout.  

It's a long way to November 1.  But on the other hand it will be here before I know it.  

-AK

Sunday, July 19, 2015

A July Saturday Night

Deviation from the norm today.  Usually when I need to spend a weekend day at the office the day I spend is Saturday.  It fits well with my God complex.  Neither of us works on Sunday.  

I am happy to have changed things up this week. Doing so enabled us to spend the weekend at our little Paradise by the Sea.  It also enabled us to spend Saturday evening enjoying the company of Denise and Joe.  Every time we do I am reminded why it is no surprise to me at all that my daughter-in-law is the woman who she is.  She is her parents' daughter.

All in all, a damn fine July Saturday night...

-AK

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Semper Fidelis, Numquam Obliti

On Thursday afternoon, in Chattanooga, Tennessee, four members of the United States Marine Corps were murdered.  Killed in cold blood by the latest in the never-ending line of fucking cowards whose production we appear to have perfected in these United States.  We are fortunate enough to live in a nation where the battlements are manned by men and women who volunteer to do it.  It appears to me that at the very least we should be able to protect them while they are here within the geographical boundaries of the United States.  

Once upon a lifetime ago, I foolishly believed that "reality television star" was the 21st Century addition to the American lexicon I would hate most of all.  Then I was forced to familiarize myself with the term "domestic terrorist".  Not even I can pretend that a legitimate comparison can be made between even the most repugnant Duggar or Kardashian and one of these pieces of shit.   

To paraphrase a line from an otherwise forgettable Clint Eastwood film, the Marines are mourning four good men.  As should we all...

Sgt. Carson Holmquist
Gunnery Sgt. Thomas Sullivan
Lance Cpl. Squire "Skip" Wells  
Staff Sgt. David Wyatt 




...and the United States Navy mourns one of its own.  On Saturday morning the family of Petty Officer 2nd Class Randall Smith announced that he had died from the wounds he sustained in Thursday's attack.  A terrible story just got even more terrible. 

-AK

Friday, July 17, 2015

The Sound of Footsteps

I have been having a bit of a shit week at work.  It is a circumstance that I have in part helped to create so I am well-advised to cease my pity party long enough to pull my big boy pants all of the way up.  No one wants to be exposed to this particular ass crack.  I assure you.  

Whenever I feel especially self-involved, it is useful for me to remember how people deal with an actual, real problem.  It tends to bring a fairly hasty cessation of hostilities as it were to whatever douchebaggery in which I am then and there involved.  And it especially does the trick when the people who are the ones doing the reminding are the great folks from the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation.  

I wish that the reason for the Tunnel to Towers 5K in New York City did not exist.  But it does.  I know without a moment's hesitation that each member of the Siller family wishes with all of his or her heart that the reason for this event and for their Foundation did not exist.  But it does.  And because it does, and because of their commitment to not only honor the lives of those who were murdered that day but to provide for those whose sacrifice is almost incalculable, the Foundation's undertaking is remarkable, its mission incredible.  

Margaret and I shall participate in the NYC Tunnel to Towers Run on Sunday, September 27, 2015. This shall be our sixth such pilgrimage, accompanied as we always are by Gidg and by Jeff.  While we registered months ago, I took my receipt of an e-mail earlier this week regarding registration for the race as a sign that I should use both hands to forcibly remove my head from my own ass and, instead use them to help point those who perhaps have not yet taken part in this great event in its direction. 

It is a 5K race the principal focus of which is not the destination, but rather the journey.  It is a journey comprised of countless thousands of footsteps...


2010 T2T Sand Sculpture 


2011 T2T Sand Sculpture


2011 T2T:  FDNY Receiving Line
View upon entering Manhattan from BBT


2012 T2T Sand Sculpture 



2013 T2T:  Sunrise over the Brooklyn Bridge



2013 T2T Sand Sculpture


2013 T2T:  FDNY Receiving Line
Manhattan as you emerge from BBT


2014 T2T Sand Sculpture


2014 09/11 Memorial: 
FDNY John Michael Collins Ladder 25 / IHS Class of '76


2014 T2T:  FDNY Receiving Line
Manhattan as you emerge from BBT


2014 T2T:  Starting Area
Red Hook, Brooklyn


2014 T2T:  
National September 11 Memorial and Museum


2014 T2T:  
"New" World Trade Center

...each one of which is both breathtaking and heartbreaking.  And absolutely worth taking.  

-AK 






    

Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Master Motivator

The will to win means nothing 
without the will to prepare.
- Juma Ikangaa, Winner,
1989 NYC Marathon 

Week One of New York City Marathon training is underway.  I was going to write "well underway" but that suggests a qualitative level that has not been reached and - if history is any guide - likely will not be reached.  My motivation for preparing as well as I can for New York City is fear.  Fear of being left on the Manhattan side of the Hudson River at race's end.  

In April, Margaret tried to energize our friends who were with her at the finish line of the New Jersey Marathon to leave a sign that said, "We Were Here.  You Were Late.  We Left." when it took me longer than I had anticipated that it would to finish.  While making it home from Long Branch would have proven difficult, it would not have been impossible.  A trip across the river to the Jersey side on a cold November afternoon, with ability to carry cab fare minimized by my running attire damn well might be.  

An eventuality that I must, at all costs, be certain to avoid.   

-AK 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

In Tenths

July 15th already.  Wow.  It was right about this time of the summer, way back when I was a little boy who loafed away his summer days at Harvey's Lake, Pennsylvania, when the reality of summer's end would begin to creep into my day-to-day.  From mid-July through the end of August always seemed to me to be a time period I experienced as a free fall.  By the time I was in high school Dad was dead, the house at Harvey's Lake was shuttered, and August's second half heralded the arrival of pre-season, double-session soccer practice, which somehow made the transition to September's first day of school somehow easier to take.  

It makes me more than a little insane that this life I have chosen for myself is measured in readily discernible units of time.  I have spent close to two decades measuring my life in tenths of an hour.  And for what?  Far too often the client whose ass you are attempting to keep out of the sling is as difficult to deal with as is the adversary who is attempting to sling it.  Everyone likes his or her lawyer...right up until the point in time when the lawyer has to inform the client that the client's position on a particular issue is not as favorable as the client may wish to believe it to be.  Then, predictably, everyone is an expert.  

Everyone except the lawyer of course.  The lawyer?  The lawyer is simply an asshole.  

Everyone has a role to play I suppose.  

In my next life, I shall audition for a different one. 


-AK 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Return of Opus Van Winkle...

With apologies to Ms. Taylor Swift, from my admittedly selfish point of view 1989 was a noteworthy year for reasons having nothing at all to do with her arrival.  1989 marked the departure of Bloom County from this nation's newspapers.  

August 6, 1989 was the date on which the Anxiety Closet's door was left ajar, the meadow was left vacant - with nary a soul afoot to stomp upon a dandelion, and our hero, Opus, set off into the great unknown (which turned out to be Outland).    Approximately one month shy of the 26th anniversary of his cessation of his great strip, Berkeley Breathed announced its return.   Yesterday, Opus awoke from his long nap.   

I am very much looking forward to reading the updated adventures of Opus, Bill the Cat, Milo, and everyone's favorite lawyer, Steve Dallas, as well as those of the rest of the Bloom County gang.  If you are too young to remember it as a daily strip and/or are one of the eleven people in the English-speaking world who has never looked at one of the several Collections that have been released in the past twenty-five years, then welcome aboard.  If you are -as I am - someone who has loved this man's work from the first time you read it, then enjoy this wholly unexpected (by me at least) second helping.  

As young Ms. Swift can attest, certain things never go out of style.  Genius is one such thing. 

Welcome back, meadow dwellers.  Remember, the "No Stompin'" rule remains in effect. 

-AK 

Monday, July 13, 2015

And Then There Was Five

The 39th Annual Belmar Five Mile Run was a terrific event - as it is every year.  Margaret very much enjoyed the fact that instead of having to drive to the race with me she was able to hang out at home with Joe.  As I understand it, she put our rehab star in his wheelchair and pushed him up to the boardwalk.  From my perspective, their Saturday morning was considerably more enjoyable than mine.  

I missed seeing my friend Jerry on Saturday.  I never see him on the course, he is far too fast a runner for he to keep up with him.  He was out-of-state, which meant that we were denied the opportunity to enjoy our traditional post-race Bloody Mary at Bar A.  Good news is that Jerry will be around for the Sea Girt 5K on August 1.  The race is two miles shorter but the post-race cocktails are the very same size.  Bank error in our favor.  

And how often - if ever - does that happen? 

-AK 

Sunday, July 12, 2015

A Midsummer's Pause

Whenever the final game on today's MLB schedule is completed, baseball shall herald the arrival of the All-Star Break.  As a kid, this three-day respite from baseball used to make me pretty nuts.  I mean, after all it is three entire days without baseball.  When the hell did November arrive?  

At least, once upon a lifetime ago, I sort of looked forward to watching the All-Star Game.  Now?  If I watch any of it on Tuesday night, it shall be by accident, I assure you.  And I am even less likely to watch any of the contrived silliness that masquerades as baseball one night earlier.  I find the Home Run Derby particularly tedious.  

I am pleasantly surprised however by the fact that the Yankees, who I had mentally penciled in for 78-85 wins at season's end appear to be well on their way to proving me a liar, a fool, or both.  I hope that whatever mojo Joe Girardi has been able to wave over the bench in their dugout thus far lasts another two and one-half months.  Whether it shall, I do not pretend to have any idea.  All I can offer is hope.  

Which is fine because that is all I ever expect the Yankees to offer to me.  So far, so good. 

-AK 

Saturday, July 11, 2015

A July Jaunt

Joe not only finally blew out of the Popsicle stand that was in-patient rehab yesterday, he managed to reach the beach as well.  It is nice to see him finally able to enjoy all of the trappings of "Joe-Topia", which is what the Missus and I have christened his room in our little Paradise by the Sea.  

This morning is the 39th annual Belmar Five Mile Run, in which I have been an annual participant since (I think) 2010.  Today, however, marks the first time - of what I hope shall be many, many times - that I can simply roll out of bed, throw on my running gear and walk on over towards the starting area.  Our home, which is nestled between 17th Avenue and 18th Avenue, is on the opposite side of town from the starting line, which is at (I think) 3rd Avenue and Ocean Avenue.  So, in order to get from my home to the start, I shall have to walk approximately fourteen blocks.  Here's my thought on that:  If I cannot walk fourteen blocks, then I probably should not have signed up to run five miles.  One is a bit more strenuous undertaking than the other.  

If history is any guide, then today's race shall be an experience akin to spending forty to forty-five minutes inside of a blast furnace.  But it is an annual rite of summer and, while I do not necessarily enjoy it to pieces while I am participating in it, I very much enjoy taking part in it each summer.  

And if you are also channeling your inner Rocky Burnette this morning, then perhaps I shall see you out there.  Unless, of course, you are my friend Jerry Della Torre, who always finishes so far ahead of me that I never catch up to him...

...until we reach the outside bar at Bar A, which very well may be my all-time favorite finish line. 

-AK 

Friday, July 10, 2015

Insides Out

Surroundings change but that's all superficial stuff.
You go out there with what's inside you; 
You close your eyes and you could be anywhere.
So where you are doesn't matter.
- Bruce Springsteen

With all due deference to the Bard of the Boardwalk, who is now and forever my musical hero, every now and again where you are does matter.  The exception that proves the rule?  Perhaps. 




Today, the streets of lower Manhattan shall be lined by well-wishers as the World Champion United States Women's National Team, five days removed from their 5-2 triumph over Japan in the 2015 World Cup, is saluted by a ticker-tape parade up the Canyon of Heroes.  The current tenant of Gracie Mansion has so consistently revealed himself to be a tone-deaf, asshat to this point in his first (and likely only) term in the Mayor's Office that it strikes me as slightly short of amazing that he managed to get behind this terrific idea.  Of course, given his propensity towards tardiness at high-profile, public events it would not surprise me in the least to see him arrive today just as the New York City Sanitation Department cleans up the last remnants of ticker-tape. 

I do not know what the forecast calls for this morning on the Hudson's other side but it is a safe bet that it shall be hot and humid.  It is mid-July after all.  I have a hunch that irrespective of the weather that those being honored and those doing the honors shall have one hell of a time.  

As well they should.  




-AK



Thursday, July 9, 2015

The Short-Timer

As of this morning, Joe has just one more sleep until he returns home.  Four weeks to the day after having total knee replacement surgery on his right knee - and after a successful three-week run at in-patient rehabilitation - he shall make his triumphant return to his home tomorrow.  

Quite frankly, his attitude through all of this has been nothing short of extraordinary.  I must confess that it has actually surprised me - at least a little.  I suspect that his daughter - who has been beyond extraordinary through all of this, which has not surprised me at all - has had quite a bit with his recovery.  

One more sleep...

...and then home he shall come.  

-AK 

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Time and Flight

Einstein's theory of relativity.  Grad hold of a hot pan, 
second can seem like an hour.  Put your hands on a hot woman,
an hour can seem like a second.  It's all relative.
- LL Cool J "Deep Blue Sea" 


The Colorado branch of the family tree spent a little bit of time in the state of their births this week. Although it was for just a cup of coffee (figuratively speaking - in actuality we ate an entire meal together) as they made their way off to the Continent where hopefully they shall not channel their inner Griswold.  

Time spent in the company of those you love but see only infrequently reinforces Einstein's theory of relativity.  And not necessarily in a good way.  Well, not necessarily in a good way for you, perhaps.  

But most assuredly in a way that is necessary.  

-AK 

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The Gospel According to Mike

Iron Mike Tyson that is...


I have little doubt that the Japanese Women's National Team entered Sunday's World Cup Final against the United States with a plan.  I also have little doubt that whatever plan they carried with them into the arena was resigned to the dust bin of history in the face of the American onslaught that opened the game:  two goals in the first five minutes followed by two more less than ten minutes later.  One third of the way through the first half and the Japanese found themselves trailing 4-0, courtesy of, principally, the exploits of USWNT Midfielder Carli Lloyd. 

Lloyd did what Lloyd does in big spots:  She rose to meet the occasion.  Her first-half hat trick was punctuated by one of the smartest goals you shall likely ever see as she looked up to see where the goalkeeper had positioned herself prior to launching the ball on net from midfield.  Lloyd came into Sunday night's final with a well-earned reputation for being a stone cold killer in the USWNT's most important games.  Her performance further burnished that reputation.  

The resolve of the Japanese team was commendable.  At one point in the second half they closed the gap, momentarily as it turned out, to two goals.  In a game however where the Americans had multiple answers for everything the Japanese tried to do, Tobin Heath responded to the Japanese's second goal by scoring the Americans' fifth goal a little bit more than two minutes later.  

Carli Lloyd and Tobin Heath are both Jersey girls as are USWNT Captain Christine Rampone and Heather O'Reilly.  Their performance on Sunday night was extraordinary.  How extraordinary?  So much so that for the evening at least, it served to remind a certain candidate for the GOP nomination for President of the United States from where it is he hails.  

According to a recent survey, more Americans dislike New Jersey than any other of our nation's fifty states.   Methinks that if such a survey is conducted in the not-too-distant future in Japan, the State of Concrete Gardens is not likely to fare much better.  

Oh well...

-AK 

Monday, July 6, 2015

The Great Escape

Rumor has it that Bridgeway's rehabilitation star might well be kicking off his final week there.  Joe's total knee replacement surgery was a little more than three weeks ago, which means that he is on track to have completed his in-patient rehabilitation four weeks post-surgery.  A fairly amazing accomplishment.  

If everything goes according to Hoyle, then Bridgeway will evict Joe on Friday.  Presuming that occurs he shall be sprung in time to make a trip to the beach with us Friday night...

...which is good since I have signed him up for Saturday's Belmar Five Mile Run.  He may not finish first overall but I like his chances to win his Age Group.  

-AK 

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Some Fins in The Water

Tonight at 8:00 pm Eastern Time, the Discovery Channel's annual "Shark Week" programming begins its week-long run.  To my knowledge, this marks the earliest that Discovery Channel has aired it.  I have watched it for a number of years and for as long as I have viewed it, it has been a staple of August.  While I am quite certain there is a reason for the programming change, I know not what it is. 

While I enjoy annually a number of the programs that air during Shark Week - for I find sharks to be utterly fascinating while more than a bit terrifying - it is undeniable that over the course of the past several years, the train has jumped the track at the Discovery Channel.  When your network's new boss is constrained to declare to the media that the era of "the fake documentary" (what a wonderfully inane 21st century turn of phrase) is over, your less-than-sterling standing in the scientific community is easy to understand.  

It does not appear as if all of the programming kinks have been worked out, but there is enough on the menu this year to hold my interest, such as "Tiburones:  The Sharks of Cuba" and "Sharks of the Shadowland".  The stuff that appears to be programmed for the audience that gladly endures repeated viewings of the Sharknado movies will neither be viewed as it airs nor occupy any space at all on my DVR.  It never does.  

If enough of its viewers were similarly inclined, then Discovery Channel would be forced to either trim "Shark Week" down to "Shark Night" or to work with additional, well-regarded scientists and experts in the field to develop more legitimate programming to replace the (shall we say) less legitimate fare.  
Remember:  Why don't sharks eat lawyers?  Professional courtesy.  

I am here all week.  As are these magnificent fish.  Allot your time appropriately. 

-AK   

Saturday, July 4, 2015

We're Something To See...

Oh but ain't that America, for you and me
Ain't that America, we're something to see baby
Ain't that America, home of the free, yeah...
- John Mellencamp

America is two hundred and thirty-nine years young today.  As is the case with if not all of us then pretty damn close to all of us, its two hundred and thirty-nine years have included years that have been better than others.  Every year includes moments that are unforgettable.  Sometimes for an extraordinarily beautiful reason.  Sometimes for a reason that is decidedly less so.   

For generations, we the people of these United States have prided ourselves on our willingness to think big and then to do the work necessary to accomplish a goal that others might consider unattainable.  In fact, writing checks with our mouths that our hands CAN cover has been a defining characteristic of Americans for at least two hundred and thirty-nine years.




A wise man once reminded his audience that, "In the end, nobody wins unless everybody wins."  Food for thought on this, our Independence Day.  

Indivisibility.  It is a hell of a thing.  Tricky to spell.  Harder still to maintain.  But maintain it we must.  

One Nation.  

One Canoe.  




-AK 


Friday, July 3, 2015

Vinko Bogataj, Forever Man

At 5:00 EDT on Sunday, the Women's National Team of the United States shall play the Women's National Team of Japan, in Vancouver, British Columbia, in the Final of the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup.  This Sunday's match is, of course, a rematch of the 2011 World Cup Final in which Japan defeated the United States in a penalty kick shootout, a method for resolving the outcome of an evenly contested sporting event that has always struck me as asinine (even when the team for which I am cheering triumphs).  

The United States vanquished the world's top-ranked team, Germany, in its semi-final match on Tuesday night.  The 2-0 victory marked the fifth consecutive game in which the United States posted a "clean sheet", which is soccer-speak for "a shutout".  Through three games in Group play, its Round of Sixteen match against Colombia, its quarter-final match against China, and Tuesday's semi-final match against Germany, the USWNT has allowed a single goal.  

Should the American side win the World Cup on Sunday and do so while posting its sixth consecutive clean sheet, then Lisa De Vanna may very well end up being the answer to a trivia question:  Who was the only opponent to score a goal against the USWNT during the 2015 World Cup?  De Vanna, captain of the Australian team, scored in the twenty-seventh minute of the Cup opener, which goal tied the score.  Since then, the ball has not found its way into the American net - not even off of a penalty kick.    

I shall watch the game on Sunday evening and shall root enthusiastically for the USWNT.  And while I hope that the 2015 World Cup Final is not decided by penalty kicks as the 2011 World Cup Final was decided, I hope that its outcome is not decided in a way similar to the Japan vs. England semi-final was, which game was played on Wednesday night in Edmonton.  With approximately forty seconds remaining in the match and two fifteen-minute overtime halves beckoning, Laura Bassett of England - while attempting to break up a pass into the penalty box - inadvertently redirected the ball into her own team's net.   It was one of the most heartbreaking ends to a sporting event I have ever seen - and Kara and I were in Giants Stadium on a cold, rainy Sunday a lifetime ago and watched the Giants fumble away a victory to the Eagles in that game's final seconds. 

Victory's thrill.  Defeat's agony.  Flip sides of the same coin.  


-AK 

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Ordering Something Not On The Menu...

Yesterday was not the typical Wednesday.  At least, it was not my typical Wednesday.  

I had a meeting in New Brunswick that wrapped up at three o'clock.  Rather than trek back to the office I ran over to Bridgewater to visit Joe at his in-patient rehab.  I had not been over there in slightly more than a week.  The principal reason I do not stop by very often is that since Margaret spends so much of her time there, I focus on making sure that things on the home front remain status quo.  The secondary reason is that I am not a fan of such facilities.  

But yesterday neither reason prevented me from checking on the Pilgrim's progress.  And was I ever glad that I did.  His progress is remarkable.  He attacked his therapy with vigor.  It did me good to see him in action.  And I think that perhaps it did him some good to know that I was there. 

Nope.  Not the typical Wednesday.  Instead, it was one hell of a day. 

-AK 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Only Way To Get There Is To Take That Step

You either are a runner or someone with seriously unresolved mental health issues - presuming that those two things are mutually exclusive (a point Margaret is prepared to argue quite vociferously I assure you) - when the calendar transitions from June to July and your thought turns not to the upcoming 4th of July holiday weekend but, instead, to the fact that it is now time to begin training for the 2015 New York City Marathon.  

Today is 07/01/15.  On Sunday, 11/01/15 I shall resist the temptation to hurl myself off of the Verrazano Bridge in response to the sound of the starting horn and instead move forward off of the bridge for a 26.2 mile trek through New York City.   I kid, of course, although I do so only to have a bit of fun at my own expense as a marathoner and not because even someone as obtuse as I am thinks that someone hurling himself off of a bridge - or taking his own life by any means - is a laughing matter.   Believe me, I do not.  In the course of close to a half-century of life thus far, I have known too many families comprised of really, really good people that have suffered the loss of a loved one - also a really, really good person - by suicide.  

All poor attempts at self-deprecating humor aside, I am very much looking forward to November's first Sunday although there is more than a little part of me that finds the prospect of participating in this marathon to be significantly more terrifying than any other one in which I have run previously.  I am both eager and anxious to be a part of it.  If only the course map was to scale.  I have every confidence that if it was, then I could complete it in less than one day's time.  

I have been on cruise control - in terms of running - in the two months that have passed since the 2015 New Jersey Marathon.  July's entry onto the stage signals the end of my vacation.  As the song says, "It all begins anew once more.  It all begins anew."

Indeed it does.  So shall I. 

-AK