California Dreamin’ – 1982 to 1984 – That’s Not a Guitar. Put it Down

I was with my bandmates passing through Santa Barbara CA. headed to Orange County where we had a gig the next day. While walking around browsing stores and enjoying the nice day we found ourselves in this huge store that had a little bit of everything including a lot of used items. I ran across an odd sized guitar case that was leaning up against the wall so I opened it to see what it contained. Turned out to be one of those latin style instruments with the courses of 3 strings together, can’t think of the name at the moment, but I had never seen one in person and was kinda thrilled and excited to mess with it.

I was plinkin’ away and about that time this kinda dumpy old Hispanic man came up and tried to take it from me. He couldn’t speak English and though not getting especially angry or too physical he was obviously trying to get it from me. I’m like “Hey gramps, I saw it first”. But he wouldn’t let up. I finally gave him a pantomime of “Dude, back off”. With that he walked away and I look at my buddies like what was that all about? A few minutes later the guy comes back with a younger man that could speak English. Turned out the old man was a street musician and that was his personal guitar. He was friends with the store owner and he would set it in that particular spot whenever he took a break.

I was so embarrassed. I told the young guy to explain what happened and that I was very sorry. He was actually pretty cool about it smiled and shook my hand.
But I got ribbed about that the whole weekend. My band mates were all “You big bully stealing an old man’s guitar”.

 

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Netflix and Marie Kondo have People (serenely) Bulldozing their Closets, and Thrift Stores are Riding the Wave

 

I love her and I’m going to do this to my place in Rittenhouse!

 

https://www.cnn.com/2019/01/12/entertainment/marie-kondo-konmari-tidying-up-netflix-trnd/index.html

 

 

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Murder Mystery Weekend – Chapter 2

As I expected, Eric had no plans for Thanksgiving weekend. He found the whole concept a bit twisted. He understood the appeal of trying to solve the mystery, but not the costumes.

– “You mean people dress up to do this shit?” he asked.

– “They do indeed.” I told him. “And so will you.”

– “Alright. Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum. There will be rum, right?”

Sheila was a lot more enthusiastic, when she answered my phone call.

– “And we get to dress up? Like pirates?” she asked.

– “That’s the plan.” I agreed.

– “I don’t have to be a saucy wench, or a watery tart?”

– “No.” I laughed. “That’s Monty Python, as you well know. This is Teresa we’re talking about: women can be pirate captains, and swashbuckle like the men. If that’s a word.”

– “What part do I get?” Sheila wanted to know.

– “Teresa will be letting us know once we’re all aboard.” I said.

– “Ooh – ship puns. Or is it that shit puns?” she said. “I better start practicing.” She held the phone a few inches from her face, and let loose a loud ‘Aaaaargh, matey!’ With her deep, mannish voice, it sounded awesome. “I love the idea, Colin. You can tell her I’m in for sure.”

I called Teresa with the good news.

– “Perfect.” she said. “Thank you, Colin. We’re almost ready to start. I’ll send out the introduction and the character descriptions. But I’d like to use you as a guinea pig, if you don’t mind. Can I show you what I’m planning to send the others, and get your feedback?”

– “I would be glad to help.” I told her.

We met at the cafe again. Teresa greeted me warmly once again, and then turned her laptop around to show me the screen.

– “Here’s the intro.” she said.

For more than three decades, the dread pirate Redbeard terrorized the Caribbean, plundering and pillaging far and wide. No one was safe: Spanish, Dutch, English and French ships and towns were all targets of his insatiable greed and bloodlust. In the course of his far-flung depredations, Redbeard was said to have accumulated a considerable treasure hoard. According to legend, the old pirate was too paranoid to bury his ill-gotten gains on some deserted island. Instead, he carried them with him, aboard his pirate ship, the notorious Sea Demon.

Finally, justice caught up with the dread pirate. An anonymous tip led the Governor of Jamaica’s soldiers to the Mouldy Maggot, a dockside tavern where Redbeard and members of his crew were drinking and roistering while the Sea Demon rode at anchor in Kingston harbour. Thoroughly inebriated, Redbeard was easily overcome by the redcoats, and captured. His erstwhile crew scattered to the four winds. The Governor loaded the dread pirate with chains, and confiscated his ship, the Sea Demon. The vessel was appropriated by the Royal Navy, and re-christened HMS Retribution.

The Governor has ordered Captain Teresa Fairwind to transport the prisoner to Bermuda, where he will face a swift trial and public execution. Captain Fairwind has been given the Royal Navy’s newest vessel, HMS Retribution. A new crew was swiftly recruited from the experienced local sailors and sea-dogs.

YOU are a member of the crew.

Read the description of your character, and dress appropriately. Further instructions will be made available upon arrival.

When I had finished reading, I looked up at her.

– “What do you think?” she asked.

– “Honestly?”

– Aren’t you always honest with me?” she asked, with that bewitching half-smile. It had been one of our favourite ‘pet’ phrases when we were dating.

– “It’s cute.” I said. “A bit melodramatic, a bit campy – like an old Errol Flynn movie.”

– “That’s fine.” she said. “Kind of what I was aiming for.”

– “And you’re the Captain?”

She nodded. “I thought it would be easier than coming up with complicated instructions for one of the players. Speaking of which: here are your instructions.” Teresa spun the laptop around, opened a new file, and then turned it back to face me again.

You are NED MULLIGAN.

– “Ned Mulligan?” I asked her. “Really?”

– “Remember that time you took me golfing?” she reminded me.

I did. Like most novices, Teresa missed the ball completely several times, but she also managed to knock three golf balls into the water, and hit two golf carts and a vending machine. She was able to laugh at herself, and enjoyed the outing, but she found the whole concept of a ‘mulligan’ fascinating’.

– “You mean I get to hit it again?” she wanted to know.

– “Yeah. Go ahead and tee it up again.” I said.

– “And it doesn’t count as a stroke?” She looked at me sideways, squinting, as if suspicious that I was trying to trick her.

– “That’s the whole idea.” I confirmed.

– “Isn’t that cheating?” she asked.

– “You wouldn’t do it in a tournament, or if you were playing for money. But it’s only a friendly game, and I’m the one inviting you to take a mulligan. A do-over.”

Now she just smiled at me. “Keep reading.” she said.

As a young man, you were a pirate, and a member of Redbeard’s crew. You were brave and clever, so that Redbeard made you one of his lieutenants. But he grew too bloodthirsty for your taste, and also promoted some unsavoury characters alongside you, including the Falcon, and the Scar.

You chose to leave his crew, and jumped ship at Tortuga, taking a bag of doubloons with you. Redbeard swore revenge, and offered a bounty for your head. Both the Falcon and the Scar vowed that they would earn that bounty. The Scar, in particular, promised to drink a toast from your skull. You have been on the run ever since.

You were in Kingston, Jamaica, and horrified to learn that the Sea Demon was in port. But you were equally delighted to learn of Redbeard’s capture – serves him right. You hear the gossip in the dockside taverns: Redbeard’s crew are all over the place. What if one of them recognizes you? The ship HMS Retribution is leaving for Bermuda. Is Redbeard’s treasure still hidden aboard?

You sign on as a sailor …

YOU HAVE – A PISTOL

YOU KNOW:

– THERE IS A PLOT TO FREE REDBEARD AND HELP HIM ESCAPE

– THE FALCON IS ABOARD, DISGUISED AS A MEMBER OF THE CREW

– THE TREASURE IS HIDDEN SOMEWHERE ABOARD THE SHIP

– YOU ONCE CAUGHT A GLIMPSE OF A LETTER BELONGING TO REDBEARD. IT MAY HAVE CONTAINED THE SECRET OF THE TREASURE’S LOCATION. UNFORTUNATELY, YOU ONLY SAW ONE LETTER … IT WAS THE LETTER ‘C’

– “There’s a treasure, too?” I asked. “Or is that instead of a murder?”

– “Both.” said Teresa. “I’m going to space out the murder mystery clues, so that no one can solve it on the first day. But I thought a treasure made sense. This will keep people searching. Plus, we can have multiple winners – solving the mystery, or finding the treasure.”

– “Very clever.” I told her.

– “How about the character description? What do you think?” she asked me.

– “Couldn’t I be ‘Wicked Ned’, or ‘Lusty Ned Longsword’?”

– “You’re Ned Mulligan.” she told me, firmly. “Get used to it. If it’s any consolation, that’s your secret identity. Until somebody else guesses or uncovers who you really are, they’ll only know you as Able Seaman Colin. Everybody will use their real name as an alias.”

– “How many letters are there in the treasure code?” I had to try.

She wagged a finger at me. “No more clues for you. Seriously, Colin – what do you think?”

– “I love it. The description gives me enough of an idea to base my character on. And I’m all pumped up to go out and get a costume. How does the pistol work? Do I have to get a replica pistol?”

– “No.” she said. “I’ll put the items on pieces of paper, so that people can hide them in a pocket, or wherever.”

We discussed the mechanics of the game, without getting too specific. Knowing the people who were participating, I thought it would work well. I was more than looking forward to it: I was ready to start that very day.

Teresa and I discussed the weekend and the game for a long time. We both had two large coffees, and were beginning to feel the effects of too much caffeine.

– “Walk me home?” she asked.

As we walked, we continued to discuss her ideas. She seemed quite taken with some of my suggestions, but wouldn’t give me any hints about whether she planned to use them or not.

– “And you’ll help people get costumes?” she asked, again.

– “I promised.” I reminded her.

– “I’ll hold you to that.”

 

https://lapetitemort17.wordpress.com/?p=41

 

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Christmas – 2018 and Beyond – Part 2

I’m happy to see her fade from my view like all of the other beautiful women in my life. Like beautiful Christmas ornaments on the tree of my life. Some are gone. Some fallen and broken, some stolen by guests and strangers.

I had been talking last Sunday about how I had been searching for the Christmas spirit before my sister’s annual holiday party.

All of the Christmas carols, the lights in Rittenhouse, the hustle and bustle of the season. None of it gave me the surge I was expecting.

But if you read that post, (Christmas 2018) you’d know that the holiday season had been in me all along.

What a blissful feeling it is.

My life is so simple and elegant now. I finally get it. You don’t need a bunch of stuff and events to be happy.

Live simply, and simply live.

 

Before the event I stopped at the liquor store. Every year I have a ritual where I present my sister Janice’s husband with a quality bottle of liquor.

I figure, I come into his home, and eat and drink as much as I want and am surrounded with all of my favorite people in the world. So give the guy a good bottle of booze!

I pick it up the night before and settle in at home after work listening to Christmas music and writing. My favorite place to be most evenings.

I’m really looking forward to seeing my whole family tomorrow.

 

The next morning I get up and grab a healthy breakfast. In years past I always had a great deal of anxiety when I had to travel. Just an old ailment. Usually there were several moving parts to traveling to my sister’s party. There would be daughter Lorelei, my then girlfriend Michelle. We had to pull it all together and get to 30th Street Station.

It was always stressful for me. But the end result once we got to my sister’s was always so good.

I had to get all of the tickets at a machine I always struggled with at the station. I would sometimes go out there the day before and buy all of the tickets just to take the edge off.

I always got a large bottle of water and a package of crackers just to put something in my stomach. Just nerves and anxiety and travel.

All of that is long gone.

The plan has changed. NJ Transit is doing track work and not running. (Now what do I do?) I’m not getting any younger, and my lovely daughter Lorelei takes charge and I love it.

I get the text. “Dad. Take the 10:15 train at PATCO and take it to Lindenwold, NJ. You’ll get there a half hour later, and we’ll pick you up in the car and drive you to Janinice’s house.”

I love it.

I’m finally at a point in my life where I don’t have to figure everything out and manage everybody else.

After a nice breakfast, I head to the PATCO station at 16th and Locust. Normally for a solo mission to Absecon NJ on New Jersey Transit it used to run me $40 round trip.

I enter in my coordinates into the ticket purchasing machine at the station and it tells me it will be $6 round trip!

Six bucks! It’s a Christmas miracle!

I grab my ticket and hop on the train.

It’s been a while since I’ve set foot on PATCO. They’ve replaced all of the trains with newer models! Lovely train cars. I step into one of the cars and figure out if I want to sit forward or backward.

I know it may seem odd, but that’s part of the trip.

I go with my instincts and decide to sit at a window seat and actually decide for some unknown reason to sit backwards.

It was a great decision.

I don’t travel much and I don’t know why I chose this. Normally people like to face the way they are going and so do I. That’s just normal existence. Makes sense.

Underground in the subway at 16th and Locust there’s no wifi or cell contact. So I sit in silence waiting to go.

The bell rings and the train lurches forward. I’m just chilling in the darkness thinking about all of the wonderful people I’m going to see this afternoon.

This one day a year.

This one day in time.

A party that someday I will no longer be around to attend. Just like my parents before me.

The train is traveling east and then south. It will leave Philly underground and then rise from the depths of the subway and traverse the Ben Franklin Bridge which crosses the Delaware river into New Jersey.

I always took New Jersey Transit to get to my sister’s house. But like I said,  NJT is having construction done through January, so it’s down. I am taking PATCO for the first time to Lindenwold.

As the train roars up along the side of the Ben Franklin Bridge the view is spectacular. I watch my beloved city stand in the cold winter sun glistening under the blue blue sky on this Sunday before Christmas.

I love her.

I want to die in this city.

I’m happy to see her fade from my view like all of the other beautiful women in my life. Like beautiful Christmas ornaments on the tree of my life. Some are gone. Some fallen and broken, some stolen by guests and strangers.

I know I’ll be back around dusk to see her again. I’ll feel the snap in the air and the flash of her holiday season as her heart beats in every household, restaurant and chest of every Philadelphian in my city.

 

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14 of the Weirdest, Craziest, Philly-est Stories from 2018

Greased poles, profane potholes, farm animals roaming the city. Just another year in Philadelphia.

https://billypenn.com/2018/12/27/14-of-the-weirdest-craziest-philly-est-stories-from-2018/

 

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The Gift of the Magi – By O. Henry – Part 1

One dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all. And sixty cents of it was in pennies. Pennies saved one and two at a time by bulldozing the grocer and the vegetable man and the butcher until one’s cheeks burned with the silentimputation of parsimony that such close dealing implied. Three times Della counted it. One dollar and eighty- seven cents. And the next day would be Christmas.

There was clearly nothing to do but flop down on the shabby little couch and howl. So Della did it. Which instigates the moral reflection that life is made up of sobs, sniffles, and smiles, with sniffles predominating.

While the mistress of the home is gradually subsiding from the first stage to the second, take a look at the home. A furnished flat at $8 per week. It did not exactly beggar description, but it certainly had that word on the lookout for themendicancy squad.

In the vestibule below was a letter-box into which no letter would go, and an electric button from which no mortal finger could coax a ring. Also appertaining thereunto was a card bearing the name “Mr. James Dillingham Young.”

The “Dillingham” had been flung to the breeze during a former period of prosperity when its possessor was being paid $30 per week. Now, when the income was shrunk to $20, though, they were thinking seriously of contracting to a modest and unassuming D. But whenever Mr. James Dillingham Young came home and reached his flat above he was called “Jim” and greatly hugged by Mrs. James Dillingham Young, already introduced to you as Della. Which is all very good.

Della finished her cry and attended to her cheeks with the powder rag. She stood by the window and looked out dully at a gray cat walking a gray fence in a gray backyard. Tomorrow would be Christmas Day, and she had only $1.87 with which to buy Jim a present. She had been saving every penny she could for months, with this result. Twenty dollars a week doesn’t go far. Expenses had been greater than she had calculated. They always are. Only $1.87 to buy a present for Jim. Her Jim. Many a happy hour she had spent planning for something nice for him. Something fine and rare and sterling–something just a little bit near to being worthy of the honor of being owned by Jim.

There was a pier-glass between the windows of the room. Perhaps you have seen a pier-glass in an $8 flat. A very thin and very agile person may, by observing his reflection in a rapid sequence of longitudinal strips, obtain a fairly accurate conception of his looks. Della, being slender, had mastered the art.

Suddenly she whirled from the window and stood before the glass. her eyes were shining brilliantly, but her face had lost its color within twenty seconds. Rapidly she pulled down her hair and let it fall to its full length.

Now, there were two possessions of the James Dillingham Youngs in which they both took a mighty pride. One was Jim’s gold watch that had been his father’s and his grandfather’s. The other was Della’s hair. Had the queen of Sheba lived in the flat across the airshaft, Della would have let her hair hang out the window some day to dry just to depreciate Her Majesty’s jewels and gifts. Had King Solomon been the janitor, with all his treasures piled up in the basement, Jim would have pulled out his watch every time he passed, just to see him pluck at his beard from envy.

So now Della’s beautiful hair fell about her rippling and shining like a cascade of brown waters. It reached below her knee and made itself almost a garment for her. And then she did it up again nervously and quickly. Once she faltered for a minute and stood still while a tear or two splashed on the worn red carpet.

On went her old brown jacket; on went her old brown hat. With a whirl of skirts and with the brilliant sparkle still in her eyes, she fluttered out the door and down the stairs to the street.

Where she stopped the sign read: “Mne. Sofronie. Hair Goods of All Kinds.” One flight up Della ran, and collected herself, panting. Madame, large, too white, chilly, hardly looked the “Sofronie.”

“Will you buy my hair?” asked Della.

“I buy hair,” said Madame. “Take yer hat off and let’s have a sight at the looks of it.”

Down rippled the brown cascade.

“Twenty dollars,” said Madame, lifting the mass with a practiced hand.

“Give it to me quick,” said Della.

Oh, and the next two hours tripped by on rosy wings. Forget the hashed metaphor. She was ransacking the stores for Jim’s present.

She found it at last. It surely had been made for Jim and no one else. There was no other like it in any of the stores, and she had turned all of them inside out. It was a platinum fob chain simple and chaste in design, properly proclaiming its value by substance alone and not by meretricious ornamentation–as all good things should do. It was even worthy of The Watch. As soon as she saw it she knew that it must be Jim’s. It was like him. Quietness and value–the description applied to both. Twenty-one dollars they took from her for it, and she hurried home with the 87 cents. With that chain on his watch Jim might be properly anxious about the time in any company. Grand as the watch was, he sometimes looked at it on the sly on account of the old leather strap that he used in place of a chain.

When Della reached home her intoxication gave way a little to prudence and reason. She got out her curling irons and lighted the gas and went to work repairing the ravages made by generosity added to love. Which is always a tremendous task, dear friends–a mammoth task.

Within forty minutes her head was covered with tiny, close-lying curls that made her look wonderfully like a truant schoolboy. She looked at her reflection in the mirror long, carefully, and critically.

“If Jim doesn’t kill me,” she said to herself, “before he takes a second look at me, he’ll say I look like a Coney Island chorus girl. But what could I do–oh! what could I do with a dollar and eighty seven cents?”

 

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