The Luck of the Irish

wpid-2011-03-26_14-29-20_594.jpgThis St. Patrick ’s Day I’ll be flying to Wisconsin.  Why Wisconsin you ask?  I say, “Why not Wisconsin?”  Unlike many other of the jobs I have in life, I have one that pays me, and they are sending me to Wisconsin.  So while you are downing a green pint of brew, on the sunny porch of some Irish pub, remember me, sitting in Philadelphia Airport, waiting for the plane, and then my layover in Detroit.  Have a second shot of Tullamore Dew or 18 year old Jameson Whiskey, and drink a toast to me (if you can’t think of Mother, potatoes, corned beef, whiskey, beer or anything else to toast.)

St. Patrick’s Day has always been something sacred in our family; a shot of Tulllamore Dew (gross stuff) with The Old Man, some Killian’s Irish Red beers, and old Phillies Cigars (my Dad’s favorite, I don’t know why), freezing our asses off in his garage.  This was our big bonding movement of the year, the one time we accept that we do have some Irish blood in our veins, and soon to be Irish vomit on the floor of the garage.

My Aunt Betty and Uncle John (Murphy) used to have St. Patrick’s Day parties in their suburban NJ, detached two car garage, but like all of us in later years, it’s become too much work.  Grand parties they were.   Everyone turned out for their parties, neighbors, friends, relatives, and anyone else that might have passed by the blocked off street.  All were welcome and everyone had a grand time.   It was also a chance to catch up with the relatives I don’t get to see;  my Cousin Renee, Cousin Danny, and Cousin Jimmy as well as to have a drink with Uncle John (who used to call me, “Palsy Walsy” and everyone after a few).  A big bear hug from my uncle, or a crushing handshake, and you felt part of the family.  There was a one person band playing (guitar, harmonica, drum, and a bass pad with his feet) old Irish tunes that a few knew the lyrics to, and the other just made it up through their slurred speaking.  Some songs were sad some had us doing a jig, and after a few beers there were a bunch on the dance floor, enjoying the day.  Bad snows be damned on a party day, and cold?  After a few beers there wasn’t any cold; the keg was flowing and the whiskey too and the music kept you moving.   I miss those parties, but the greatest part is I can always remember them, the people and the fun I had.

Have a happy and safe St. Patrick’s day.

Believe it or not this was a Blue Moon with green food dye I had one St. Patrick’s Day.

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Skippy, Mippy, Moo

yulelogI was sitting home alone on Christmas Eve; my girlfriend opted to spend her time with her family and her daughter (who came in from NY.)  I was on-call at the hospital, or I would have joined them.  As I was flipping through the channels I was taken with a few things.  The perennial,  A Christmas Story, with its sarcastic wit and glorious story telling about a mid-west boy and his quest for a Red Ryder BB Gun from Santa, is all ways a chuckle.  Also a perennial, It’s a Wonderful Life, the first movie Jimmy Stuart made after being in the war, was a triumph of pathos brilliance.  Who among us hasn’t tried to mimic the Jimmy Stuart drawl when he says, “Mary…Mary!” No matter how many times I watch it, I’m crying through a box of Kleenex.  I love the film so much, that when it was first released on VHS, I got a copy.  Not sure it would even work anymore.  The 1951 version of Scrooge/A Christmas Carol (with Alastair Sim), to me, the only real version of Scrooge, was a delight to watch.  Even the clips of Patrick Macnee, from the original cast, breaking in to tell us little things about the production was a pure wonder to watch (although the introductions were recorded some 22 years ago.)   Another joy was to watch the Yule Log.  For those unaware of this programing, it has a picture of a burning log in a fire place, sometimes recorded from the 1960’s era Gracie Mansion, while in the audio background songs of the season.  Watching the Yule Log takes me back to my childhood.

It wasn’t too long ago I was a child (anyway that’s what I tell everyone.)   There were two things for sure on Christmas week that would happen in the Eisman family home:  one, my Dad, after having vacation for a week would have to drive 45 minutes, one way, back to work to pick up his holiday check (the company could never seem to be able to mail it to our home), and two, my mother and father would get into an argument on Christmas Eve day, only to make up by the evening.  It was a strained evening, but the two fighting factions would sit with my brother and I, after scrambling to clean up for the next day’s guests and watch the Yule Log on WPIX channel 11, New York.   Somehow, all the yelling is discourse between these once polar opposites would be forgotten when they were sitting on either side of my brother and me.  Beyond magically, this Yule Log seemed to make everything OK.  I’m not sure why, but perhaps it was a reminder of what Christmas was about; it’s for the kids.  We weren’t religious in our household.  Yeah, we knew the holiday was about Christ’s birthday, but as a kid it was all about presents, and how you needed to behave around your grandparents.  I never asked for a Red Ryder BB Gun, because I knew what my parents thought about guns.  I looked for electronic things that I could take apart and try to understand how they work.  I guess those were my first step into computers.  And here I am.

The evening quietly passed without incident.   Good memories, bad memories.  At this age, I think I’ve moving them all into the good category, and chalk it up to life experiences.

Count Down To CLAWS!

christmasedAs the time ticks down to the time when the furry red covered, jolly guy shows up with packages to stuff under the tree I’m thinking did I get everything I wanted for my loved ones?   I know it’s probably too late to purchase anything else at this late an hour.  I’m scheduled at work until 4.  Most shops will be closing early Tuesday night, if they have any stock left.  After seeing the fights on the news over Christmas stuff, really doesn’t encourage me into wanting to leave the house, now, or ever!  Thursday is going to be mayhem with returns and super sales that more fights will break out for.  I’m not very religious, but I don’t remember the passage in the Bible about “pummeling thy neighbor” over a set of new Nike’s.    Perhaps it’s in a new King’s version?   I’m not that old, but it seems to be that people could be civilized when it came to dealing with people that weren’t their family.  Parents used to save their beatings for their kids.   Take that away and now they are lashing out at complete strangers.  I say bring back the beatings for society sake.  For that matter, violence used to stay at home.  Now it is all over the place.  Crimes are up.  Poverty is up.  We have the greatest spilt of rich and poor ever.  Not saying that beating your kids will help, but just look what has happened since Dr. Spock told us kids to go “time out.”  Just saying.  Like the polar ice caps melting, that kind of shit didn’t happen in the fifties.  Where has civilization gone?   Can it be recaptured?

EJ Eisman is the author of the novels Spoon Girl and Malaise, published by AuthorHouse. He resides in Reading, PA and is also a blogger, musician, artist, playwright, actor and filmmaker.

Peter O’Toole

200px-Peter_O'Toole_--_LOA_trailerI am saddened with the passing of Peter O’Toole.  I loved the actor.   I loved the fact that he could sound so calm and relaxed staccato cadence in his articulate voice and then suddenly he would be shouting, grabbing your attention, in the style of British theater of the era.  He made it work.  His voice was honest and true to whatever he was thrown into.  Laurence of Arabia, Becket, Lord Jim, Lion in Winter, Creator, The Stunt Man, My Favorite Year, and Venus are just some of the movies I loved him in and some were incredible performances.  Mr. O’Toole being nominated more than anyone for an Academy Award and not winning speaks volumes of his acting abilities.  He could be funny, poignant, bullying, but most of all he was himself.  He was able to be so vulnerable in a lot of his movies, exposing more of him, the person, versus him the character.  Seeing him in a movie elevated it to a new level for me.  Although he hadn’t been acting since he expressed a “profoundly grateful farewell”  to acting in 2012 and I am grateful to have seen him on the big and small screen, and look forward to seeing him in re-runs and DVD’s.  If you have the opportunity, watch some of his films.  You won’t regret it.

If there is one moment that comes to mind when I think about him now, it is him sitting in a limousine in the movie My Favorite Year.  He hasn’t had the guts to get out of the car to see or acknowledge his daughter, Tess that plays just outside the tinted windows.  The longing on his face and his haunting eyes say it all, as the car pulls away.

Goodnight, sweet prince.

 

EJ Eisman is the author of the novels Spoon Girl and Malaise, published by AuthorHouse. He resides in Reading, PA and is also a musician, artist, playwright, actor and filmmaker.

The Pope is Coming

popeIt’s a yearly ritual, my parents coming over on Thanksgiving.  This is the only time in the whole year that I get to see them over my place, as they are getting on in years.  They like to say, “I’m too busy, “ for them to come over but it really is logistics.  My Dad is using a walker, and my Mom has to take breaks when she’s in a store when she’s walking.   While I don’t have stairs to my apartment, the parking lot does slope down.  I have trouble in the winter driving up the hill when it’s icy, so I get it. It was good to see them yesterday.

I took a day off from work, the day before to clean.  Not just a dust and a vac, I go all out.  As this is the only time they see my apartment in a whole year, I want them to see it at its possible best.  So I’m all out scrubbing, and dusting, and cleaning like a mad man so when they come over they don’t have a bad opinion of me.  I was even cleaning the dust off of the back of the dining room chairs, the ceiling fan, the kitchen, you could have eaten off of the floor.  I mopped the floors of the kitchen, bathroom, and the entrance way.  I cleaned the light bulbs on the bathroom mirror.  I even Windex’d the mirrors in the entrance way and the bathroom.  I must have emptied the vacuum cleaner five times just in my tiny one bedroom apartment.  A lot of that junk was from cat hair.

I did all this cleaning.  The house was presentable.  I try to keep it presentable, but I did some slacking, it was time to clean up.  My ex-wife used to have a term for how I would go all out cleaning, “The Pope is coming.”  Maybe now I know the old joke about the Italian family with the plastic over the furniture.  The plastic only came off, if the Pope was coming over.  My great aunt Anne had plastic over her living room furniture at their house on Long Island.   Very Italian!  My grandparents would take us out there to visit.  My grandmother was her sister.  Just miles away from LaGuardia, the planes would fly over and shake the mirrors covering the walls.   My great aunt would continue talking to you in the same voice loudness, totally unaware of the plane over head, so you only got so much of what she was saying.  Just shook my head, while I sat there on the plastic.   It was a trip.

So my parents enjoyed the day, but I can’t help remembering the comment she said as she sat down at the table.  Audrey, my cat was playing around her legs.  My cat can’t help being attracted to dark color pants, and she has a long fluffy tail that seems to be always seems to be shedding.  “You should teach that kitty to use her tail as a feather duster to clean up the table legs.”  OUCH!  The table legs.  Didn’t even think of them nor would I think she would be looking at them for dust.

I’m glad, Pope, you enjoyed the day.

EJ Eisman is the author of the novels Spoon Girl and Malaise, published by AuthorHouse. He resides in Reading, PA and is also a musician, artist, playwright, actor and filmmaker.

Things to be Thankful For (not necessarily in this order)

turkeyIn this time of Thanksgiving, I, like the pilgrims, that will look back over the year and think about the many things to be grateful for.  Now, I didn’t cross a great ocean for 66 days and start a new colony for the Pilgrims where they could practice religious freedom.  I didn’t have the help of the Wampanoag Indians to get me through the first year.  I am grateful for a lot of things as this year rapidly comes to an end.

Blue cheese stuffed olives.  This is a flavor explosion in my mouth.  I’ve heard about them, but I never tried them first until six or seven months ago, in a martini at JB Dawsons, down in Lancaster, PA.  They alternated garlic stuffed olives with these blue cheese stuffed olives in a dirty martini that blew me away.  SO GOOD!  When I was in the liquor store last month, while looking for something else I saw that they had them.  I bought a jar, which is almost gone, now.  LOVE THEM!  They had the garlic stuffed olives also, but I didn’t pick them up.  Next time.

My Girlfriend.  I met Kim in January and we’ve been we’ve been together ever since.   I’m really looking forward to her moving in.  I can’t wait.  I think the two of us match so well.  We have so much in common, and she is so awesome.

My job.  Yes, I can bitch about being on call 24X7 for a week every five weeks, but when I look at Kim and all the shit she has to do just to try to get a High School English teaching job, I feel lucky.   Honestly, I’ve never been without a job.   I think it would drive me crazy.  I think there is always a love/hate relationship with something you have to rely on to pay ones bills, but as jobs go, mine is the best.  I’ve been with the hospital eleven years, and although they’ve stopped some benefits,  I realize I’m really lucky.

My parents.  I’m grateful that I still have my parents. They can be a handful now they are both in their seventies.  My Dad has gone from just having bad knees to a walker within a year, after prostate cancer, but he’s still kicking.  My Mom, she has her own issues.  Kim and I spend breakfast with them on the weekends, and I’m grateful for the time with them.   I didn’t spend much time with my Dad when I was a kid, every weekend I get to make up for.

My apartment.   I love my apartment!  I’ve been here six years now and I’m really loving it. Kim suggested moving this set of book cases, which I would have never thought of moving, and by doing that have made this apartment newer than it had been in the six years now.  I love it!  She has renewed my excitement to be at home, most especially when she’s around.

My new guitar amp.  How can you go wrong with RED?  My new red amplifier is fuckin’ awesome!  I love it!  I can play for hours just changing knobs and buttons and all kinds of shit making all kinds of sounds.  Fuckin’ awesome!   The best part is it’s a Fender.  I’ve always wanted a Fender guitar amp.  I’ve had a Fender PA system, but that doesn’t count cause I used that for DJing.

I’m sure there are a lot of things I’m also grateful for that didn’t make this list, like all the people that have supported me by buying my books or have Facebooked me, signed up for Twitter, etc.   I am so grateful for all of those people as well.  I’m also grateful for my friends, who look up to me and think of me as an “author.”    I don’t feel it yet, but I’m working on it.  Have a Happy Thanksgiving and remember to be thankful for the things in your life.

EJ Eisman is the author of the novels Spoon Girl and Malaise, published by AuthorHouse. He resides in Reading, PA and is also a musician, artist, playwright, actor and filmmaker.

I Wasn’t There

kennedy
There is much to do about the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy being assassinated this week. I can remember my parents telling me about where they were when he was shot or when they heard he was dead. The whole world mourned over this young president’s assignation. I was filled with Oliver Stone’s JFK and how it made me felt after watching it. Angry. How could the whole world be so stupid to believe that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone gunman? That is still in dispute to this day, for some people. Conspiracies abound, and I guess they are still talking about Lincoln aren’t they?

Well, as much as my generation didn’t have JFK, RFK and MLK being assassinated on our TV screens, can any of you remember where you were when Reagan was shot? Who shot him? How about the Challenger disaster? Discover burning up on reentry? Columbine? Wako? Oklahoma City? Virginia Tech? Tucson? Aurora? Sandy Hook and many others? For those of you in Pennsylvania, maybe you remember the State Treasurer, R. Budd Dwyer, putting a gun into his mouth and pulling the trigger? How many times has the news dragged out these video clips and played them over and over in our living rooms until we couldn’t stand it. We had to look away. Isn’t enough to know it happened? The rapes and murders daily on the evening news aren’t enough? Do we have to look into these people’s eyes and see the murder, suicide, or the killing? I suppose we have the Zupruder film to blame. The film was the first to bring this into our living rooms, the first to ignite a nation of news producers that wanted to show more, to realize that if you are there when it happens, you can show the world. Reality TV plays on this on a smaller scale. Let’s face it, if you don’t see a fight it’s not really worth the thirty minutes of space on your DVR. It’s so much more fun to see someone get they ass kicked, than it is to see they pick out furniture. It’s much more fun to see people arguing than it is to see them making up. I turn away. I don’t like reality TV, and I’m sure it will run its course like the Western or the Sci-fi show. They all take their time and then the audience moves on.
I will be taking that moment of silence at 1:30pm for JFK, not for what he was, but what millions thought he could be. I will also be saying a prayer for all the others. It’s sad that we remember them for this, their most vulnerable moment.

EJ Eisman is the author of the novels Spoon Girl and Malaise, published by AuthorHouse. He resides in Reading, PA and is also a musician, artist, playwright, actor and filmmaker.

Peculiar Sunday

I was dropping off recycling on Sunday with Kim when she asked to see the gym I have at the apartment complex.  The two of us are planning to move together sometime over the holidays.  The two of us will be in my one bedroom plus den apartment.  I’m doing what I can to make her feel at home.   She’s been spending more and more with me and I think the two us will do well together.   We already told the news to our parents (yes, even at 45+ years old we feel the need), with positive responses.

On the way back there is a yellow 4X4 upside down in the road.  The scene was chaotic.  If we hadn’t stopped to look at the gym we might have been involved with the accident.  If I had headed directly to recycling, and back we might have missed the accident all together.  It was strange.  There were two other already on their cells calling in the incident.  Kim tried to comfort the gentleman who tried to climb out of his car’s missing driver’s window.  There wasn’t anyone else in the vehicle.   The police got there fairly quick and told us to take off, as none of us saw the accident.

In the evening, Kim and I were watching Happy Madison, a movie Kim thought I should see, and had been on TV.  At 8pm the lights went out.  Black.  The whole neighborhood was black.  I’ve had blackouts frequently in that apartment that lasted a few minutes but after 9 it appeared it was going to much longer.  I scrambled for candles and a flashlight and we sat and drank orange Tazo tea and the donuts from Smokey Bones we had brought home.

The two of us sitting in the near dark brought us thoughts of the day.  The man in the car was one of them.  Was he ok?  Was he a ghost in the flickering flames of the candles?  Audrey, my cat, was also acting weird.  Her eyes would bug out and look through us.  The two of us got chills down our back as we started to freak out.  That tapped into our memories of peculiar paranormal from our childhoods, which added to our shivers.   We decided to go to bed and hide under the covers, because, of course, ghosts can’t go.

The lights came on at 2am.  I went around resetting the clocks and turning off the lights.  About 3am a storm came on, whistling through the windows and the rain pounded.   Dramatic night!

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EJ Eisman is the author of the novels Spoon Girl and Malaise, pubished by AuthorHouse. He resides in Reading, PA and is also a musician, artist, playwright, actor and filmmaker.