Thursday, March 14, 2019

The 10 Films That Influenced You Challenge


True confessions.  These past 10 days have been agonizing.

“Why?”

Because there has been a challenge on social media, primarily Facebook, concerning one of my favorite things—film.  Oh, it starts simple enough, "The rules are, once a day, for ten days, post an iconic image from a film that influenced you... with no explanation necessary... feel free to join in if you would like..."  That's how it all starts.

The challenge is to post, “an iconic image from a film that [has] influenced you…with no explanation necessary”.  This challenge still lingers, which is why I had to post it right here on Chicken Scratch.  This has been agonizing for three solid reasons: 1., gathering ONLY 10 films that have an influence, 2., narrowing one’s scope to one image that fits the film, and 3., not explaining why.  I’ve been meticulous in this process.  I even set up a specific file for images, pondered films, and asked myself why these films—in particular, had such an impact on yours truly.  Meticulous, I say!  I, could not—in good conscience, let it rest…   


NOTE: if you don’t care about movies—or, more specifically, my choices of iconic films—move along.  No harm—no foul.  I’ll see you next post or so.  Thanks for stopping by.

Now then, fellow film geeks, here’s the explanation & the honorable mentions…


Day 1: “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea”, 1954.  This movie blew my young mind.  It was released 14 years before I was born but it runs deep.  The Nautilus was my introduction to steampunk and the mysterious Captain Nemo—his motivations & character (which are fully realized in the book by Jules Verne) captured my imagination & attention.  Brilliant stuff.



Day 2: “Airplane!”, 1980.  I’m not saying it’s the most quotable movie of all time, but I’m not saying it’s not either.  This makes me laugh.  Laugh hard.  Still.



Day 3: “Raiders of the Lost Ark”, 1981.  Pound for pound, a perfect film.  Adventure, excitement—all the things that Jedi do not crave are in abundance surrounding the exploits of Indiana Jones.  I like the sequels—in fact number 5 is slated to be in the theaters in 2020, but there will NEVER be another Raiders of the Lost Ark.



Day 4: “Blade Runner”, 1982.  There are so many layers to this film.  At first glance it’s a futuristic noir detective story—however, the more one looks at this one the more one will see.  This film is an exploration into what life is, it’s precious nature, and who gets to say what is deemed to have a soul or not.  This one runs deep.  Mary Shelley, the mother of Frankenstein, would approve.



Day 5: “JAWS”, 1975.  JAWS horrified a generation of filmgoers, me included.  I was scared to get into the bathtub after seeing JAWS.  The scene on the Orca (Quint’s boat) when Robert Shaw/Quint is talking about the Indianapolis—one of the finest character driven scenes ever put to film.  ‘Bruce the Shark’, kept breaking down so Spielberg was able to keep the genie in the bottle until seeing the shark was the most impactful.  It’s a heck of a film that can make yellow barrels being drug along the water’s surface so terrifyingly menacing.  Brilliant stuff.



Day 6: “The Road Warrior” or “Mad Max 2” if you were not seeing it in the United States back in 1981.  This film strummed all the right chords for me.  It’s a western set in a post-apocalyptic future where the cowboys ride V-8 Interceptors & motorcycles instead of horses.  Max, a lone figure from the wastelands, comes to save the day.  Shane would be proud.



Day 7: “Superman – The Movie”, 1978.  “You will believe a man can fly”, was the tagline.  Even after all these years, Christopher Reeve’s performance as the Man of Steel still has me believing.  When Clark first introduces Superman to the world, ripping open his shirt—revealing the “S” on his chest, saving Lois, and the crowd below from the falling helicopter—chills.  Even now.  Seminal stuff.



Day 8: “Escape from New York”, 1981.  I love John Carpenter. He had a distinct style and it was a style that I lapped up. The pairing of Kurt Russell and Carpenter produced some of my all-time favorite movies.  This one introduced, for my money, one of the absolute best anti-heroes of cinema—Snake Plissken.  It took me a long time to find the right image for this one.  I settled for Snake in Hauk’s office holding up his bound hands, with the American flag in the background.  It is just before he delivers the line, “Call me, Snake”, for the first time and just before he tells Hauk, “I don’t give a fuck about your war—or your president.”  Hell yeah.  Every now and again there are rumbles about a remake.  I hope it doesn’t happen—not while Russell & Carpenter still have time to make Old Man Snake.  …To the gods of film, make this happen.



Day 9: “Planet of the Apes”, 1968.  This one scared me.  I came to it after it’s release since I was born the same year it was released.  I remember getting caught sneaking into our living room to get a glimpse of the sanitized, edited for TV version, when it came to the small screen.  I was not allowed to see it.  This was probably a good call since that what I saw disturbed me—especially since I can remember at that time hearing about guerrilla wars on the evening news.  My young mind couldn’t recognize the difference between guerrilla and gorilla, so my, ‘Planet of the Apes’, horror was compounded by my own ignorance.  The stark beauty of POA is that, hidden under a thin veil of ‘science fiction’, the story pokes holes into so many tropes of our institutions—religion, government, authority, control, freedom, anti-intellectualism.  It’s from the sixties but the messages are eternal.  It still holds up. It still has things to tell us. …And then, there’s THAT ending.



Day 10: “Star Wars – A New Hope”, 1977.  This hit my generation right between the eyes.  The image I chose for this one is Luke, gazing at the setting twin-suns of Tatooine, wondering about what the future may hold for him.  He has no idea at this point—no idea, whatsoever, that he will spark a revolution that rocks the seat of power in the galaxy. No, not yet—he’s just another soul looking at the suns set, wondering about tomorrow.  Luke, at that moment, represented each audience member sitting in that theater in ’77, at one point or another in our lives—staring into that uncertain future.  Would our futures involve going to Alderaan, learning the ways of the Force, and becoming a Jedi like our father—perhaps, even, helping to overthrow an evil galactic Empire?  One never knows.  As influences go, this one was—and is, seismographic in scope.  This one changed me.  No exaggeration.  Star Wars inspired wonder and made me want to tell stories—to write—to dream.  I’m not alone in this sentiment.  Countless other storytellers were touched by this space-opera homage to Saturday afternoon serials, Samurai movies, and westerns.  They still are.  The Force is still working.    

And then there’s the honorable mentions… 

“Treasure Island” with Wallace Beery as Long John Silver in 1934

 “King Kong” 1933 

“Frankenstein” 1931

“Conan – The Barbarian” 1982—which could have easily made the top 10

“Star Trek II – The Wrath of Kahn” 1982—which is STILL the greatest Star Trek movie to date 

“Goldfinger” 1965

“Moby Dick” 1956 – with a screenplay written by Ray Bradbury 

“A Fist Full of Dollars” 1964 

“Caddyshack” 1980 

“Big Trouble in Little China” 1986– another one from Carpenter & Russell that is STILL ahead of it’s time…

I could go on, but I should probably end this here…

The agony is too great to go on.




  

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Hello Oscar, My Old Friend


Gentle Reader, if you kindly would indulge me, please start humming Simon & Garfunkel’s, “The Sound of Silence”…  YES--that's good--just like that!  Now then...

Hello Oscar, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again
Though your movies I have been missing
I still have hopes that story is a thing
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within my picks, for Oscars

I can’t afford the ticket price
Nor the popcorn, would be nice
But I still do love the medium
Though, self-importance still at premium
When my eyes were stabbed by the flash on a silver-screen
Know what I mean?
And thus, my picks for Oscars

The Academy bowed and prayed
To the golden god they made
And the net started a-Blog-ah-ging
And the words that they were form-ah-ing
And those words said, “The work of the artists is what this event should be about.
Haters, don’t pout”
And whispered my picks, for Oscar

<<<>>>
<<<>>> 

Now that this is off my chest, here are my picks for this year’s Academy Awards…

Best Actor: Rami Malek, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’
Best Actor, Supporting: Mahershala Ali, ‘Green Book’
Best Actress: Lady Gaga, ‘A Star is Born’
Best Actress, Supporting: Amy Adams, ‘Vice’
Best Animated Feature: ‘Spider-man: Into the Spiderverse’
Cinematography: ‘Roma’
Costume Design: ‘The Ballad of Buster Scruggs’
Director: Spike Lee, ‘BlacKkKLansman
Editing: ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’
Makeup: ‘Vice’
Music: ‘Mary Poppins Returns’
Original Song, “When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings’ from ‘The Ballad of Buster Scruggs’
Best Picture: ‘BlacKkKlansman’
Production Design: ‘Black Panther’
Sound Editing: ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’
Sound Mixing: ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’
Visual Effects: ‘Avengers: Infinity War’
Writing – Adapted Screenplay: ‘The Ballad of Buster Scruggs’
Writing – Original Screenplay: ‘Roma’

What are your picks my fellow film-loving, Gentle Readers?




Saturday, January 26, 2019

WING WARS III


This is a wonderful event sponsored by, Atlantic City Weekly and 103.7 WMGM, the radio station.  It is held at the Golden Nugget in their ballroom.  There were 1,300 people in attendance this year.  20 local (and one not so local) battled it out for Wing supremacy – and the battle was one for the ages.  Each of these establishments brings their A-Game – they must.  This showcases their talents around that wonderful delicacy, the Wing (much more often than not – a Chicken Wing). 

Upon entry you are given two tokens – a red chip and a blue chip.  The red chip is to vote for your favorite wing and the blue chip is to vote for your favorite dipping sauce.  Fair enough.  And then you enter the ballroom.  There are ten contenders down either side of the venue, bars in the middle, and a stage with the band, LeCompt playing.  LeCompt is a great cover band.  They did the honors last year and did them again today for Wing Wars III.  Their version of “War Pigs” from Black Sabbath brought a smile to my face.  Great stuff. 

LeCompt

My wife saw that the far-right back corner was the least populated, so we started there.  It was Vic & Anthony’s from the Golden Nugget.  It was a maple glazed, quail wing and it was delicious.  IDK, if quail is a constant on their menu but they should consider it.  Very good first entry.  From there we made the rounds. 

But, before we go further, let’s talk strategy and science.  This is our - my wife's and mine, second Wing Wars.  We have been to the Burger Bash, too.  We now have a little experience when it comes to how these two events work.  We know to bring wipes, we know that if we find a seat one of us will sit so that the other will forage for two wings from each establishment to bring back to the table and enjoy.  We have upped our data collection.  Behold the Wing Wars III Data Collection Form.  Those stains were earned, the notes may look like hieroglyphics, but I can read ‘em – and this is how this blog was formulated.

Data sheet - for SCIENCE!

So, there it is.  My wife would hold down the fort and I would hunt and gather.  Oh, and there was so much to hunt and gather.  But that’s okay – it’s all part of the fun.  We sampled ‘em all – some twice.  As it turns out, wings are temperamental.  It’s best to have a fresh wing.  If the wing sits it can get cold, soggy, and nasty.  Not an establishment’s A-Game.  So, timing is important.  The temp, the texture, and flavor of a wing – all have an expiration time.  Fresh wings need to be replenished since this is YOUR establishment’s good name on the line.  There were times that I was pleasantly surprised.  I think that Hooters and Margaritaville upped their game from last year.  Hooters had their, “Daytona” sauce and Margaritaville did something fresh and fruity – they made a blueberry chipotle wing sauce.  My wife didn’t like it, but I did.  It showed initiative.  There were some true stand outs this time out.  Okatshe, made a tempura battered wing with a ginger scallion & chili sauce which was wonderful fresh but not so good if it was been sitting too long so that the oil can pool.  This wasn’t too much of an issue and it was great.  One contender, The Blind Rhino, came all the way from Norwalk, Connecticut to compete!  I’m glad they made the trip.  Theirs was a dry-rub, brown sugar concoction that strummed all the right chords.  Guy’s Bar-B-Que Joint was able to make a stop at Flavor-town for their excellent smoked wings.  The Tennessee Avenue Beer Hall had a great flavor too.  Their offering was a Citrus Sweet Chipotle wing and it proved to by my wife’s favorite – so much so that she red & blue chipped them.  The VUE Rooftop Bar’s offering was a lime-zest and cumin seasoning with a honey-lime crème sauce.  Very tasty.  Toll Man Joe’s got my blue chip – there was something tangy about their sauce that captured my imagination.  Villain & Saint, for my pallet, did something magical.  


Villain & Saint's alchemy at work

Their offering was something they called, KFC – Korean Fried Chicken that was batter fried with an Asian glaze, and ginger ailoi.  This one earned my red chip.  I fell in love with it.  The fact of the matter is, you couldn’t do wrong with any of these contenders.    

And then there was the judging – the people’s and the judges.  By popular, blue chip, vote the Dipping Sauces were…

Third:            Vagabond
Second:         Tennessee Avenue Beer Hall 
First:              Michael Patrick’s

By popular, red chip, vote the people’s favorites were…

Third:            Tennessee Avenue Beer Hall 
Second:         A.C. Burger Co.
First:             TIE! – The Blind Rhino AND Michael Patrick’s

And then came the professional judges.  And the winners were…

Third:            Villain & Saint (my pick for the shootin’ match)
Second:         Guy’s Bar-B-Que Joint 
First:             Chelsea 5 Gastropub

Other wonders beheld this very day…






Congratulations to all of the winners from this year’s Wing Wars!  All of the contestants, too, including; AC Burger Co., Bill’s Bar & Burger, Blue Water Grill, Chelsea 5 Gastropub, The Blind Rhino, Guy’s Bar-B-Que Joint, KURO, Michael Patrick’s Brasserie, Hard Rock Café, Manco & Manco, Okatshe, Hooters, Margaritaville, Rose’s Garden Grill, Villain & Saint, Tennessee Avenue Beer Hall, Vic & Anthony’s, Toll Man Joe’s, Vagabond Kitchen and Tap House, VUE Rooftop Bar – remarkable offerings, ALL!  You brought you’re A-Game.  The hosts should be congratulated, as well.  This was a Wing Wars for the record books.  I’m looking forward to Burger Bash in the spring – it, too, shall be GLORIOUS


NOTE: The data gathered for this particular blog is based upon the descriptions from, “A Wing And A Prayer” by Ryan Loughlin from the January 24th – 30th, Atlantic City Weekly magazine, my data sheets, and my notes.  Your results may vary, which is why I encourage you to get out there and to try these establishments out for yourself.  They are worth the trip – even to Connecticut! 






Thursday, January 24, 2019

So, There Was This Video...


So, there was this video that surfaced early this past weekend.  It was appalling and it incensed a nation.  Why wouldn’t it?  What was presented in the video was an affront to decency – here we were again, a group of MAGA hat wearing kids tormenting a Native American elder trying to bring a bit of peace to what was an escalating situation between the MAGA kids and some African American group that had been reported as being there as well.  That is what was being sold in the video.  That’s what I reacted to.  “Camera’s don’t lie”, right?  I saw the original video but chose not to push that one forward on my Twitter feed.  Instead I found the epilogue video of Mr. Phillips, the tribal elder, he was in tears saying that he wanted to help defuse the situation.  It was this that I saw and it was this that I tweeted about…


And the Tweet had legs – it was retweeted and, as Twitter does, shared and liked to thousands of other possible users.  The video struck a chord.  Real people are sick and tired of the entitlement and hatred that permeates our nation.  By liking or retweeting the post there is a sense of like-mindedness a sense of “there are still people out there who give a damn that when something is wrong it can be righted.”  ALAS, aye’s the barb.  The dirty trick is that the original viral video was a half-truth.  A half-truth that launched an explosion on social media that we are still feeling the aftershocks from.  For the record, a half-truth is still a lie.  When you lie to support your premise, you cannot claim to have the high ground.  A lot of reactions were generated by this video and it gave cause for a lot of people, myself included, to react and, apparently, to act too quickly. 

To the Covington School, I apologize.  You should not have to shoulder the full brunt of this situation.  In the end we are marked by our deeds and not necessarily our words.  Actions do, in fact, speak louder.  You were waiting on a bus, bad things happened, and they escalated.  The internet took it from there.  I reacted to the information that I had.  This is not a complete, ‘free pass’, the chanting and the ‘tomahawk chops’ that some of you were doing lacked class but you don’t deserve the scrutiny that you have been receiving.  Truth be told, which is something I am extremely fond of, if MAGA hats weren’t involved this never would have made the news. 

“So, who was this third group?”

The third group were the “Black Hebrew Israelites”.  A nearly two-hour video surfaced on Sunday – after the internet blew up concerning the initial video was released.  It showed that the Black Hebrew Israelites were shouting slurs at both the Native Americans and the Covington School group.  The Covington School group started a school chant to drown out the racially charged attacks.  Mr. Phillips saw it as a sign of escalation and, in his way, attempted to deescalate the situation.  There.  That’s about as close to the truth of what happened that anyone sitting at their computer who was not there at the event can glean.  Mr. Philip DeFranco did an excellent piece on the situation.  Apparently, I am in very good company in acting too fast…


“So, where did the original video come from?”

@2020Fight, was the source of the initial video.  They have been identified and Twitter has shut down their account for spreading false information.  From the link below…  The Twitter account that helped spread the initial video has been removed. The user -- @2020Fight -- claimed to be a teacher and advocate named Talia from California with a photo appearing to show Brazilian model and actress Natalia Cardoso. In a statement, a Twitter spokesperson said "deliberate attempts to manipulate the public conversation on Twitter by using misleading account information is a violation of the Twitter rules."”  One can no longer claim the high ground once such tactics are used.  Never give away the high ground to those who do not deserve it.  As the old saying goes, “If you lie down with dogs, you will get fleas.”  @2020Fight crossed a line, for whatever reason and, unfortunately, he/she took thousands of people along with them – me included.  Twitter responded appropriately.  Here is a CBS news segment identifying the perp or perpetrators…


Please, do me the favor of watching this video (I believe it’s still up).  In it is something I have never seen before.  Something that has affected me more and more each time I see it.  There is a man, possibly a school representative, talking to one of the Native American protestors who have set up outside of the Covington School.  He is wearing a MAGA hat and, instead of screaming at the protester he is talking to him.  In fact, he “suggested they sit down and share a cup of coffee or a meal. 

This is important.  At least it should be.  Yes, this is important.  You see, ever since the MAGA hat was invented I have never seen anyone attached to one talk to anyone who is opposed to their line of thinking, let alone an offer to share a meal or a cup of coffee.  No, for me the hat has always been associated with screaming, yelling, Kool-Aid drinking, hatred, and rage.  That is all that I have ever seen from MAGA.  Ever. 

Here's the mind blower.  The converse is also true.  I can show you MAGA who feel the exact same way that I do about them.  “The Trump hating crowd does nothing but scream, yell, bleat like sheep, hate, and rage.”  As it turns out, we are more alike than we think we are.  For the record, I don’t see anything that resembles either extreme in the above picture.  I see two men trying to come to some sort of resolution and this – THIS, is what has to happen on a national scale. 

There is a massive miscommunication happening right now and the only way to fix it – the only way, is to communicate.  Yes, I too have been polarized.  These are polarizing times.  But we need to look beyond that.  Sure, this man could be doing it for the cameras, but I don’t think that’s the case.  The camera’s happened to be there.  I believe that this was probably the case for Mr. Phillips, as well.  Both this MAGA hat wearing fellow and the elder, Mr. Phillips were trying to deescalate a situation.  What jarred me is the fact that my assumptions of this fellow in the hat are the same assumptions that, more often than not, leveled against me for being a, “Trump troll” or “Hater”.  Facts are scarce things these days, but the fact of the matter is I’m a centralist with the occasional left leaning tendency.  I’m slightly left of middle on the bell curve.  The lunatic fringe – the extremes of either side have always made me squirm.  They will always be there, but I don’t think I’m alone.  I bet I share that belief of being more, ‘middle of the road’, with people who claim allegiance to the right and to the left.  I don’t believe that our country is only made up of two extremes – us & them.  But the only way to test that theory is to talk and to listen.

So, could this be a watershed moment?  Wouldn’t that be something?  The fact of the matter is we need to talk.  We need to communicate.  Perhaps, “Let’s sit down and have a cup of coffee or buy a meal and let’s just figure this out,” is the sage advice that we need right now as citizens of these United States.  I believe that this gentleman, this MAGA hat wearing gentleman, is correct.  That is a sentence I have never typed before.  We must talk to each other – we are the WE, in We The People.  We need to start acting like it. 

So, what say we grab a cup of coffee?

We have much to discuss. 





Sunday, January 20, 2019

Hello Stranger


Okay, so my family and I found ourselves at Wheaton Village recently.  For those of you who do not know what Wheaton Village is, it is a tourist spot in Millville, NJ that has a glass museum and a main street with shops.  Wheaton’s used to be a big glass company in Millville – hence Millville’s nickname, “Glasstown”. 

So, we were wondering along, and found ourselves in the paperweight shop.  There are some amazing and expensive things to see in there – being the “paperweight shop”, most of them are paperweights.  One paperweight caught my eye and reminded me of a viral video that went nova earlier in the year.  Without thinking, I announced to my family and anyone else within listening distance – in this case it was a man in his sixties and the lady who was working in the shop, “This one reminds me of that meme with the naked man!

The very moment the words slipped from my lips, my brain kicked in with the ‘Say, you shouldn’t say that out loud’ warning.  It was far too late.  “I didn’t mean that the way it sounded.” I announced to the quintessence.  It was then that I started to giggle.  Then I began to laugh.  Then the pitch of my laughter escalated that way it always does when I’m about to roll on the floor, snotting, & weeping with gut wrenching laughter. 

“Here he goes,” I heard a member of my family say.  “You should get out of here before you knock something over,” said another.

So, I told you that so I could ask you this; don’t these two compliment each other?  First is the picture of the paperweight and, second – is a picture from the stop motion animation short film, “Hi Stranger”. 

The paperweight.


"Hi Stranger."

Here is a link to the short film. "Hi Stranger"  Enjoy. 

I must remember my 'inside voice'.  Alas, that whole, "inner monologue thing" eludes me.





Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Packing & Unpacking


I intentionally forget things. I pack bad memories and experiences up on a fairly regular basis and funnel them away to be dealt with at another time, on another day.  Maybe.  I can do this and, as it turns out, I can do it with relative ease.  Debilitating heartbreak? Pack it down.  The world has changed forever? Forget and move forward.  Unpack later – or don’t.  Substitute the space left with a distraction or with something happier.  Dwell there.  Rinse, repeat.  Perhaps this is what my Alzheimer’s journey will be like; where I’ll keep making substitutions for the holes and the missing pieces.  I’ll just keep smiling holding onto the shadow of pleasantries long past.  I don’t know.

Most of the time I’m good.  I look back on all of the good things and I smile, I have context on which to hang my memories and, no lie, I have every reason to be thankful.  Still, every once in a while something hits you, unexpectedly.  Case in point: a friend of mine on Facebook posted this, “Do you remember (especially the CCS class of '87) what we were all doing on a very warm day 31years ago today?”  As it just so happens, I do.  It was the day we graduated high school, 6/19/87 and the world was going to hell.  My dad was released from the hospital, University of Penn, that very day.  A tennis ball, sized tumor had been scooped out of his head and I was about to start taking him for his radiation treatments for the summer.  He couldn’t make my graduation but that was okay, he was home with us again.  That was 31 years ago, today.  He was diagnosed with the brain tumor while we, my class and I, were on our senior trip only a few weeks prior.  Due to the aggressive nature of his cancer and the location of the tumor, the doctors did not hold out too much hope but it was a chance and we took it.  The sores, the hair loss, the erosion of conciseness & self (the insidious, cruel nature of diseases of the mind), the loss of speech, mobility, and his body’s failure - each took their toll.  He was gone five months after being diagnosed.  I was 18.  It was 1987 and the world went to hell.       

Every now and again it is important to unpack.  I can say that you never get used to loss.  The world changes and it does not go back.  “Time heals all wounds” – this is a lie.  The world moves on with a hole in it.  This is how it is now.  Nothing can change it.  It doesn’t get replaced.  It is what it is.  So, I made remembering my mission because if I remember then he is still a presence – still an influence.  I am the only one who holds these memories and they will die with me but I have made a point to tell my girls about the man he was – the man he became.  I know it to be true that we do, in fact, stand on the shoulders of giants and that to know me is to know him.  Dan Fogelberg’s Leader of the Band, he sings, “I am the living legacy to the leader of the band.”  I weep when that song sneaks its way onto the radio or over the sound system of the supermarket where I may be shopping.  It hit far too close to home.  To this day, I weep.

The world can change a lot in 31 years.  It kills me that he has not been here to see it.  Paul Leo Scully would have been amazed at how far sweeteners have come.  No saccharin these days.  I have seriously missed his counsel during the last 31 years.  I have often wondered, “What would dad think about this?”  He would have loved Linda, my wife.  He would have absolutely loved his grandchildren.  I would like to think that he would have come to some sort of resolution with Paul & Susan – my half-brother and half-sister, the children from his first marriage.  He owed it to them.  He owed it to himself.  But none of this happened.  None of it could.  For unfathomable reasons, God or fate or the universe had other plans.  If there ever was a plan then healing was, clearly, never on the table.  In the song, ‘American Pie’, Don McLean sings, “And the three men I admire most – the Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost, they caught the last train for the coast, the day the music died.”  I was at the train station when they left.  The unfillable hole remains, and it always will.  I think of my father every day.  I have done so for the last 31 years.  Usually I don’t unpack so many things but today was special – it’s the 31st anniversary of my high school graduation. 

My father’s life shaped me, and his death did as well.  I knew what mortality was early on.  I could see the precious, gossamer threads that hold together this thing we call life.  I knew from the age of 18 the importance of appreciating what we have, what we have earned, and what we’ve been given.  It gave me a different perspective than most of my peers and it still does.  I am beyond the unanswerable questions.  We are here and then we are not.  Make the most of that time.  It is precious.  Be kind along the way.  Be someone worth remembering.

Paul Scully II was one of the good guys.

He was my dad.

He came home from the hospital 31 years ago today.

It’s time to pack things up again.  I’ve said far too much or perhaps I’ve said far too little.  It’s hard to tell.  It’s time to concentrate on happier things.  Pack it in.  Unpack it later - or don't. 

Congratulations to Cumberland Christian School’s Class of 1987, wherever you are.