The Written Word, Features

Your 2016 Gaspee 5k Round-up

Comments Off on Your 2016 Gaspee 5k Round-up 12 June 2016

Enthusiasts,

The 2016 Gaspee Days 5k was one for the books. I know yours truly will not soon forget it!

Yes, it’s true, the entire staff is still mourning the (temporary) loss of Reins while he follows his dream traversing the Cascade Mountains in search of an audience with the rare Yeti-like creature Panboche. We all long for his poetic prose and miss his sharp reporting on deli meats, foot stink and digestion. However his absence is most sorely felt on The Shade’s athletic squad anchoring our running team. For years his odd posture and nimble feet earned him the nickname ‘Sour puss’. He became a fixture at the Gaspee Days 5k. Whispers of anticipation could be heard around dumpsters weeks in advance of race day.

Alas – since his departure – the entire Race Team had been fretting about where inspiration would come from this year. Luckily the guiding hand of Zoroaster brought us a gift in the 11th hour – Felicity Schlitz and the Shimmy Sham Handshakes.

  • Yes, she is a singular entity that prefers to be spoken of in pluralities
  • Yes, she’s a chicken nugget aficionado
  • Yes, she prefers ‘plain shirts’
  • Yes, she’s the newest member of The Shade staff heading up the new Youth Beat initiative

In short, she gave us the kick in the pants we’ve so sorely needed since Reins dumped us (sad face). She bobbed when everyone else weaved. Zigged when everyone zagged. Boom! She even tricked me into buying her a pack of madeleine cookies 30 seconds after I swore up and down that I would never do anything of the sort. Now THAT’S panache!

She showed up to the race, scrunchie in-hand (see: hair), working the crowd with a business-like attitude. Eyes always on the prize. As some of you know the Gaspee race course is a hilly, unforgiving little sucker. Upon zipping right through the course Felicity reportedly “kicked those hills’ butts”. While the rest of wheezed our way through we were all pleased as punch to be drunk on her youthful exuberance.

While Felicity was clear MVP she was almost outdone by her foil that day – the Public Address Lady. Boy, this lady was a tremendous shithead! Normally I can appreciate anyone who commits themselves so thoroughly to sucking every ounce of fun out of a good time. It truly is an artform I admire. But this lady…..ooooof! She brought no artistry to the endeavor. A real JV squad effort on her part. If the team didn’t have a luncheon date at Wendy’s immediately following the race I would have personally sought her out to give her a verbal dressing down she could have told her grandkids about. But, she escaped unscathed – an injustice we’ll have to endure, I guess.

In closing I’d like to welcome Felicity to The Shade family! Your shirt is currently in development and we’ll expect your dues check in the mail.

Still Wet with Sweat in Watertown,

Norm.

P.S. Mittens St. John (pictured below) was given a warm saucer a milk then tied up to a tree after reportedly attacking an elderly schmuck that was holding a Trump sign

IMG_1589

 

The Written Word

Hey July 4th, It’s me Memorial Day – A Quick Word?

Comments Off on Hey July 4th, It’s me Memorial Day – A Quick Word? 25 May 2016

How’s it going? It’s me – Memorial Day. Remember me? Just kidding – haha.

I get it. You’re ‘the best’. Your celebration is a living memorial of our independence. Softball games abound. The Marinas are chock full of fun-loving folks chugging light beers and listening to Bon Jovi. People from across the nation cram into backyards to eat burgers off the grill, play yard games and rejoice in all things America.

I’m in, I like it too!

Here’s the problem. What happens when the 4th falls on a Wednesday? Or a Tuesday? Sure, some of us have the luxury of taking the days off. But a good portion of us working stiffs have to go straight back to the salt mines the next day which can take a solid poo all over your July 4th fun. Am I right?

I mean, look at me! You can COUNT on me coming the last weekend of May. Every year, like clockwork, you’ve got a nice 3 day weekend kicking off your summer. I wish I could say the same about you.

It’s not your fault! We should be comrades. Me, you & Thanksgiving are the best secular holidays this goddam country has and we should be treated as such. Even Thanksgiving dumps into a 4 day weekend jamboroo of indulgence. People love it – as you know. Personally, I think you’re getting stiffed.

Here’s the plan:

  • For starters – the 4th of July is sacred in this country. It’s not going anywhere and will continue to be the celebration of our nation’s independence – no issues there.
  • The Gold Nugget – Independence Day Weekend. Yes! The first weekend in July is always a 3 day weekend where everyone really get’s their America on. Sometimes the 4th is on it, sometimes it’s not. Either way we all win no?

If you’re in text me back and we’ll bring it up on at the next convention eh? Viva Independence Day Weekend 2017!!

Patriotically yours,

Memorial Day

 

The Written Word, National Obituary Review

DPD Emeritus: Prince – A Remembrance

Comments Off on DPD Emeritus: Prince – A Remembrance 21 April 2016

Needless to say, sad day here at The Shade HQ. On the heels of Bowie and Toussaint I found myself asking ‘When is enough, enough?’. I paced around the house for hours chasing shadows. Not even Mingus could help me sort things out. I found myself in my rocking chair, cat on my lap, wrestling with the same questions about the passage of time we all do. What the fuck?

I can distinctly remember Prince at every transitional point in my formative years. Starting with Linda. I was 14 and had no job with parents that wanted me out of the house. The idea of a few bucks in my pocket seemed appealing. It was early Spring and my pal Steve had a job filing at some small potatoes appraisal company. By small potatoes I mean the business was run out of a slowly falling apart converted home with a pile of concrete in the back lot.

I had no idea what filing was really but Steve was starting baseball season and leaving the job. I could walk right in and take over. All mine. A few hours a couple of days after school and I’d get $40 a week. Big money. Believe it or not that was plenty back then.

I showed up, got the walk through from some dude that worked there:

  1. When you come in there’ll be a stack of files there
  2. You take them, sort them alphabetically, by name of client,
  3. Then put them in those cabinets over here.

Pretty easy. I was on my way. Then a curve ball. A file with no client name. Back then my problem solving skills weren’t what they are today.  I heard some conversation from the front room so I figured I’d check it out and ask my question

I come around the corner and see these women really hootin’ and hollerin’ with the stereo way up. I guess they didn’t hear me coming because as I approached I startled them. One of the women – Linda – caught my attention. While she was probably 50 she was all dolled up with tight jeans and dancing practically out of her seat. She had teased, dyed blond hair that would have been stark white otherwise and plenty of make-up. Lip liner, TONS of lip liner.

Without the slightest interest in answering my question she asked me if I was into Prince as she turned the volume up on the CD she was listening to. I wasn’t but I sure as hell wanted to be. At that time in my life I was into Kurt Cobain and the teen angst that came along with that. Back then, at no point did it occur to me that girls listen to music and get all hyped. At that point, and moving forward, it did – thanks to Prince. So I looked into him.

The Written Word, Short Stories

America At It’s Best

Comments Off on America At It’s Best 08 April 2016

I left a meeting, got in my car and tried to start the bastard. Lo & behold the goddam thing wouldn’t turn over. At first the radio worked, which was perplexing. What could it be? The first thought – the battery; but why would the radio work? It couldn’t be the starter because it wanted to turn over.

Luckily (I guess) upon further tries the radio stopped working so I knew I needed a jump. I panicked and called a lifeline asking for a hand-out. She had better things to do but, most importantly, I could figure this shit out on my own.

I thought – ‘Why not walk down to the gas station?’. They probably have a garage. Get a mechanic, offer some $ and he’ll drive down and jump your car. On the walk to the corner I called Cornish to see if I could catch him on his ride home.

Cornish was still at work and the gas station proved to be pretty limp. Luckily I saw a cab at the gas station. I walked up to the window and offered $10 if he came down the street and gave me a jump.

He hesitated at first then, ultimately, agreed. Would an uber driver? I jogged back down the street, he followed, and he graciously helped jump my car. Almost pleading with me after ignition:  “Don’t turn it off. Whatever you do, don’t turn it off.”

I was happy to give him $20 for his time. To his credit, when I handed him the $20 he started looking for change. No need. In a forward thinking world caught up in being in the future this was a throw-back experience. He took 10 minutes to do me a solid and, some would say, I overpaid. The favor really helped me out and I’m sure he was satisfied with the compensation.

There’s a simplicity about this situation that often goes lacking. America at it’s best.

 

Sexy Memoirs, Top Ten

Top 10 Things To Do In February to Buck Up

Comments Off on Top 10 Things To Do In February to Buck Up 11 February 2016

February stinks. Football is over, Valentine’s day is depressing and/or expensive plus it’s got a smug, silent letter. It’s the only month where the number of days are mucked around with on a seemingly random basis. Speaking of – no leap year has been skipped since 1900 and no others will be skipped until 2100. Spooky.

What gives with this goddam month?

We don’t know either, but we’re 100% with you on having a case of the frumps. Staffers have been moping around the HQ doing the sad dad dance now for going on 2 weeks. SO, we called a staff meeting and put our heads together to come up with the Top 10 Things To Do In February to Buck Up:

10. Learn some swear words in Esperanto

9. Watch the Coldplay halftime show for like the thousandth time

8. Do Djokovic-approved squat thrusts

7. Use your finger in a way that maybe you haven’t

6. Try a new Salad dressing (salad dressing Raphael perhaps?)

5. Read Sexy Memoirs Chapter 5: Brown House with Pink Shutters 

4. Work on new candle scents like “post nasal drip” and “moldy box of playboys”

3. Start research for your cell phone upgrade

2. Celebrate a holiday you have never celebrated before and go big.  Maybe host a party?

1. Intertwine things you want with things you need

Features

Community Voices: Riding the Bus

Comments Off on Community Voices: Riding the Bus 27 January 2016

To the guy who is merrily whistling on the bus,

Stop.

Sincerely,

Everyone else on the bus

reins

Review of the McPick 2 for $2 from McDonald’s

Comments Off on Review of the McPick 2 for $2 from McDonald’s 23 January 2016

I’m bold.  I went for the full monty- $4 for all four.  A McDouble cheeseburger, small fry, mozzarella sticks and a chicken sandwich.

The cheeseburger was equal parts wet and dry.  Thankfully it had an extra snicket of lubrication so it went down before the taste had a chance to set in.  The fries…definitely had salt on them.  How about a common app?  The mozz stick.  I’m pretty sure the requirements are as follows- McD’s area managers go to local Sam’s Club, buy as many gallon jugs of whole milk that will fit in their hatchback, let them sit in the basement for 3 months past the expiration date, slice open plastic jug with box cutter, pinch off and heavily bread chunks of the curdled milk, toss into deepfry, serve to people thinking they’re somehow going to receive a quality product from McD’s.

Lastly I face off against my mortal enemy.  Being allergic to poultry eating the chicken sandwich may seem ludicrous to those who know me but it’s possible it’s not real chicken.  If it is?  Well I was destined to start defecating wildly while vomiting the Lord’s praise anyway so why not induce symptoms as quickly as possible.

The only hope is that the Nic Cage movie I have picked out quells the violence within me.

Not this time.  Tomorrow I’ll try again reversing the order of the full monty.

Reins

Shades of Gray

Sexy Memoirs Chapter 11: A eulogy to my Barbie

Comments Off on Sexy Memoirs Chapter 11: A eulogy to my Barbie 17 January 2016

Her hair was always gold representing the value of her charm and that smile of her’s stood the hair up on my arms. She was a woman so perfect that every man desired but only a few ran the tread off her tires.
She was dedicated to the gym, tanning, looking good and always wanted a pierce in her hood.
The times we spent together on top or beneath, hotels or the pool and even the backseat.
She was an Angel on earth and a devil in the bed and although she’s gone she’ll be forever in my head.

Condolences to all those that didn’t

Rayburn

National Obituary Review

Allen Toussaint – A Remembrance (RIP)

Comments Off on Allen Toussaint – A Remembrance (RIP) 10 November 2015

When you talk about heavy hitters in the music that is most influential in my life you don’t get any heavier than Allen Toussaint.

The first time I came in contact with Toussaint and his music was a fortuitous coincidence. Many moons ago on my first trip to NOLA for Jazz Fest I was instructed by a very nice vagrant women in the Quarter that it was in my best interest to catch Toussaint’s show at some bar down on Frenchman street that night. Always up for adventure and never one to turn down advice from a vagrant I grabbed some shrimp and looked the place up.

The name of the place escapes me now but I CAN tell you it was a hole-in-the-wall place that seated MAYBE 30 people. To my surprise the place was PACKED. Luckily they had a tiny bar/anteroom at the front of the venue that was simulcasting the show on a few TVs that were non-strategically placed. Waves of people were milling around, getting drunk and excited for the show. All shapes, sizes, ages & colors (in true New Orleans fashion).

Everything was both starting to make sense and getting more confusing. As I mentioned the advice of a vagrant had never let me down. But when I caught a glimpse of Toussaint on the TVs as he was warming up I was somewhat perplexed that SO MANY people were turning out to see this old guy play piano by himself. I wasn’t very bright back then and have made little improvements since. Either way I did have that thought.

The next 2 hours were one of the handful of live performances that I will remember until the day I die. I got to see him the next afternoon at Jazzfest too. It was a hairy conglomeration of all the different sounds I was into at the moment but listening to separately. Jazz, blues, funk and heavy, heavy beats & rhythm. I was hooked.

Of course, the more I investigated I learned about The Meters and I’ve been enjoying the audio bath ever since.

The other somewhat notable memory of Allen Toussaint happened in Disney World of all places. I was subjected to that rat’s nest for a work conference many years ago. Three nights into the trip I was at a dinner with some colleagues and clients at a middling Italian restaurant. Not much to tell here other than I had about 7 of those small Sutter Home bottles of red and told a few off color stories.

After dinner I snuck off to one of those piano bars where two pianos face each other and the two pianists sort of ‘battle’. You know what I mean? Anyways, at least this place had liquor so my companion and I immediately ordered a few rounds of 1800. I was feeling good and full of zest.

The pianists were smug and putting together the worst list of music I’d ever heard. So I did what any of you would have done and started heckling. Well, to be fair, I was just aggressively suggesting they mix up their playlist of crap and include a few Allen Toussaint songs. I was also sitting in the front row….maybe 10 feet away from these guys. And I was drunk, so do the math.

Their shitty set went on as did my insistence on a Toussaint tune. Things boiled to a head and one of the guys stopped and asked what my ‘problem’ was. So I told him that as a professional pianist he should be more than happy to play a Toussaint song. His response was that he’d never heard of Allen Toussaint. Needless to say I didn’t leave at his insistence. I left in disgust.

I come out of this with a few conclusions:

  1. Allen Toussaint is a legend
  2. Assholes are everywhere
  3. Particularly in Disney

RIP Allen Toussaint and thanks for everything

Norm.

The Written Word

Sexy Memoirs: Chapter 10 – The waiting is the hardest part

Comments Off on Sexy Memoirs: Chapter 10 – The waiting is the hardest part 20 September 2015

I could still smell her lust on me…i take a deep breath and the memories prompted by her scent is the closest thing to a time machine since doc and the Delorean. Our desires have been fulfilled but already our patience for the next encounter is busting at the seam like a plus size woman shopping at Victoria’s Secret. The Snapchats and text messages temporarily fulfill each other’s appetite but nothing short of her getting her hands on my king size Snickers will leave us satisfied. It seems as though time slows in anticipation but speeds up during participation. It’s a cruel reality that most people who enjoy things will experience. So until I can move freely thru the past, present, and future I’ll be impatiently waiting while both of my heads are filled with the hope that our bodies touch again in the not so distant future.

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