PATRICK MCVAY

WRITER

My Musings

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They Lack That In Great Quantities

I wish I had the job of a baseball color commentator. Some of them know a thing or two about the game, having played it at the big-league level, sometimes well, but often not terribly well at all, though well enough to have made it to the biggest stage in the world before embarrassing themselves with two out in the bottom of the ninth and the whole world watching. Most don't know so much more than you or I about baseball. They just know some of the game's famous players, having showered alongside them when they were having their so-called "cup of coffee" in the majors. 

And yet, here they come into our living rooms with important-sounding titles such as "analyst," which suggests that they have received advance training to interpret your dreams or pick apart your psyche. Maybe they just know how to read data tables. In truth, they are there because fans would rather listen to former ballplayers talk about the game nostalgically and with a modicum of objectivity, rather than listen to you whine about a call that, in truth, was probably correct.

This may be how Lou Merloni, who played a bit part for his hometown Red Sox from 1998 to 2002, is allowed to "commentate" (a word that needn't ever have been created, given the existence of "comment") on Red Sox radio broadcasts now and again. This season, early on, Lou managed to concoct a phrase that I had never heard a baseball analyst utter. Speaking of the young Red Sox, Lou noted that Alex Cora's squad had "a ton of inexperience."

This turn of phrase – indicating that the absence of something – experience – was really the presence of something else – inexperience, was clever, even if Lou didn't mean it to be. It's like saying that you have an infinite amount of nothing.

Reminds me of a former roommate I had when I lived on Murdock Street in Brighton, who once replied affirmatively, sort of, to some question I had tossed his way by saying, "For sure, probably." 

Thanks for being clear. 

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No, Canada!

Firesmoke Time to quit smoking, Canada

On and off in these pages, I've been known to allege that my children are Canadians. I don't mean they act like Canadians by being overly friendly, drinking maple syrup, and wearing toques, but they nevertheless had what seemed to be an airtight legal entitlement to live and work in the 51st state, given that their grandma was Quebecois.

Mais non!

Despite the fact that my kids were born (or "borned" as we little kids often said back in the 1960s) prior to the laws changing in 2009 and were bona fide citizens when they emerged into our cold world, they are not grandfathered under previous law. Changes in 2009 that eliminated citizenship being conveyed by a grandparent unless you had already applied for "proof of citizenship" (i.e., not citizenship per se, just proof that you are a citizen, which at the time they were) means that our friendly northern neighbors will bar these two from entering their smoldering country if/when the next US Civil War gets approved.
On the plus side, they won't be expected to doggedly defend any ice that still exists up there in the Canada parts of the arctic region, if ice continues to exist, which is not a given.

As if to put an exclamation point on the denial of their citizenship, Canada is blowing smoke at us Americans, preventing us from playing bad tennis outside thanks to terrible air quality. It's like they're trying to push us away from their border, or mimic the Vatican by sending messages via smoke signal. Sacre Bleu!

This issue is something short of tragic, I suppose. We are not Ukrainian refugees, or Sudanese trying to escape civil war. But with the US south sweltering, our government and society divided, and all those guns floating around, having an escape hatch would be great. (As would the tuition relief they would see if they managed to get into McGill.)

I'd like to say that we're going to protest the government's decision by boycotting Canada altogether, but the fact is that just last week we went to The Shaw Festival in the town of Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, with our tails between our legs, and yes, we had a really nice time. I guess there are reasons to be north of the border beyond escaping our heat, guns, and the US Supreme Court.   






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Gods and Fathers

Did you hear that Geoffrey Hinton, aka the "Godfather of AI," decided to quit his job at Google? Apparently, he wanted to speak freely about the dangers of artificial intelligence without his bosses, who employed him to develop AI, suppressing his speech. Not that bosses have ever tried to suppress employees' speech. Or read my blog to see if I'm saying something negative about them. Heh heh

Although Hinton has been anointed a godfather, don't confuse him with the recently deceased Godfather of Poker, Doyle Brunson. Or Godfather of Soul, James Brown. Or the Godfather of Blogging, me.

Yeah, OK, maybe I'm not yet known as the Godfather of Blogging, but get this: I am an actual godfather, having been anointed as such when I agreed (apparently) to raise my nephew Erich as a Catholic if his parents met an untimely death before he was confirmed. This was back when my sister and brother-in-law could reasonably be called Catholic, and I had already become a borderline atheist. Now, Erich's parents have left Catholicism for the Abundant Life Church, while I'm pretty sure that Jesus Christ never existed, let alone was "The Son of God." So, I'm wondering if I need to renounce my godfather status.

Sorry, I've gotten off topic.

Whoever first decided to use the term "Godfather" to refer to individuals who have made a substantial mark in certain areas of industry and the arts aimed pretty low. Godfather is not a legally recognized title. It's not like Bill Monroe, who was called the "Father of Bluegrass." He's an actual father, which means he ranks higher than all those godfathers out there. Even a great uncle outranks a godfather.

If you wanted to aim high, you could name yourself a king, like Elvis Presley, King of Pop, or BB King, King of the Blues.

Dinah Washington dubbed herself Queen of the Blues and might have thought this moniker made her the world's chief blueswoman, but Bessie Smith was known as "Empress of the Blues," outranking Queen Washington.

Joan Jett was the Godmother punk, but other than that, there aren't a lot of Godmothers out there in the music world. I've heard that Morrissey was called "The Pope of Mope," which in a sense makes him among the highest-ranking musicians in the w orld. Kings rule nations, emperors rule empires, but popes transcend such boundaries.

Ultimately, I'm not yet wellenough known to be called a king, or pope. I'm currently shooting for Second Cousin of Blogging, Once Removed. Wish me luck as I petition the US Trademark Office on that. 

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Where Have The Tube Men Gone?

Tube-Men-2

In my family, we buy a car once every 7 or 8 years, which may be hard to imagine given how pleasant the car-buying experience is. Some people de-stress by doing yoga, or meditating, or engaging in mindfulness, but I prefer to pull into a car dealership in my rusty old Mazda 3 on a Saturday afternoon and let the soothing car buying experience wash over me. The blaring muzak, the smoking grills (who doesn't want to spend an afternoon eating hotdogs at a car dealership?), the helium-balloon archways – these things help to focus my mind and relax me when it's needed most. Alas, all the fun devices that dealerships formerly used to reel in buyers have been stowed away. What used to feel like a carnival now has the ambiance of a wake.

Car buying used to be complicated by the negotiation process, where you haggle over prices, colors, and incentives, but these days there are no cars to buy, so the haggling is over before it has started. Instead, you're told which vehicle you're going to purchase, even though it hasn't been assembled yet let alone shipped from Korea, what features it will have, and how much over MSRP you're going to pay. So much easier and more refreshing than back when MSRP was the most you'd ever pay for a car. Frankly, no one paid MSRP. There were always cash incentives. Back then, after sitting down with a salesman who shamefully compliments your threadbare canvas jacket and gives you the bad news that you're going to be buckling under the weight of backbreaking monthly payments, you say thanks and get to up walk out, whereupon you are tackled by a higher-ranking associate before you can reach the door and are dragged back to learn that the price of the car has suddenly dropped by two grand. This might go on for several tension-relieving hours. 

These days, if you stand up and threaten to walk out without signing on the dotted line, a higher-ranking sales associate jumps up and opens the door for you on the way out. "Good luck out there!" they say.

They know you'll be back, and you'll give them a check for $2,000 to reserve a car you have never seen and will never get to drive until you have pilfered money from your children's college fund and are maneuvering your overpriced purchase off the lot. 

Stop complaining. You have no one to blame but yourself. You knew last year, when interest rates were low, that you were going to need a car soon, but you let gas prices surge and inflation take root before dragging yourself off to enjoy the car-buying experience. Let that be a lesson to you.  

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Daily Haiku

 

Cats oft’ void their guts.

They cough out fur balls. They puke.  

We tread carefully.  

 

College Tuition

We dig ourselves a deep hole

Need a second job.

 

Now that I’m sixty

People think I’m a wise man

Probably, I’m not

 

I’m in my Fifties

But tomorrow I’m Sixty

Will need a sports car

 

My PCP Says

“Keep doin’ what yer doin’”

Prob’ly I should not

 

It’s St. Patrick’s Day

We eat beef that has been corned

Whatever that means

 

Robots and A.I.

I will make use of these soon

To do my taxes

 

Strange Oscar night end

Pacino failed to mention

Best pic nominees

 

Who’s this Katie Britt?

Scary. Wierd. We could have used

A Trigger Warning

 

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