Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Goodbye, 2014

This is, most likely, the 81st and final post for 2014.

I'm ready to be done with this year. In fact, I was ready just after Thanksgiving. That happens sometimes, but I'm not sure I've felt it this intensely.

Twenty-fourteen was, like every year, a mix of good and bad. Sure there was great stuff, and I don't mean to imply otherwise. The beast known as HAN Radio was nurtured this year.

There is a lot to be proud of. There is a lot to improve on. Like me, it's a work in progress.

Of course, I also worked harder than I probably ever have before, and that was often to my own detriment. At times, it was purely to keep my mind occupied. At other times, it was because I needed to. No complaints though. This is a great labor of love, and as anyone knows: it beats the alternative.

Personally, I loved and lost and loved again. Perhaps not in that order but the sentiment is fairly accurate.

I stressed. I obsessed. I was depressed. I found success.

I saw friends come and go. Even if it might have been for the best, I still didn't like it when I lost them. I loved the friendships that grew. Those who remain in my closest circle generally get it with me.

I stayed true to what I am, like it or not. I remained passionate, stubborn, open-minded, flexible.

I adapted. I compromised. Sometimes I don't think that goes both ways.

I found my voice and lost it. And I was probably never prouder of that voice.

I was never one to lose sleep, yet I feel like I lost more sleep in 2014 than I ever have as I agonized and over-analyzed.

Despite, bluntly (and not to whine or bum you out) some of the deepest stress and depression I've ever known, I don't know that I'd change a whole lot of what happened in the past 364-plus days.

Oh I can sit here and make the BS resolutions...exercise, eat better, go out more, push harder for better financial security, keep an eye on my stress level, etc. It's all foolish to me. I don't need January 1st for any of that to happen. Any day will do fine, thank you very much.

I can resolve to write more. Sure. I quite agree that these 81 posts weren't enough. I hope - sincerely - that you do as well.

I thank those who encouraged me to stay on the horse. Mick McGowan, Jon Field, Susan Shultz, and a few others spring to mind when I think of those who tell me to keep going here. Damn the stats. Who cares who is reading? Just. Keep. Writing.

I'm embarrassed to write, and have been ever since I joined Hersam Acorn, but I continue to. I've said that before, but Susan and John Kovach have been emphatically behind me, saying, "You belong."

John always says, "We'll get you through it." He hasn't been wrong.

Susan wrote a gorgeous editorial in the Darien Times about resolutions. That's a great writer (um, hello? The Blacksmith?).

I argue with myself about social media. I try to step away, then realize that it's a big part of my professional and personal life. To Chris Erway, Chris Kaelin, and Ryan DeMaria, it's how I stay in touch with them on a near-daily basis.

But I do love the interaction. The "likes" mean so much to me, and I've told a few of you that personally. Not the person who likes everything that is posted. I have those, and my mom and aunt mean well and, besides, they're my mom and aunt.

That's why, when my friends step up with support, I know it's real. They review it and don't just do it by rote. They don't simply like everything just because, and I won't do that to them either.

I had misunderstandings this year. Too many of them. To those on the receiving end, I'm sorry. Deeply. Understand where I'm often coming from. Again, I'm a passionate, emotional person. I take this stuff all very personally, and feel it when I hurt or upset someone, even if it wasn't the meaning. Most of what I do is well-intentioned, trying to be the big brother, or the understanding friend. I want to see people succeed, and I don't want to see loved-ones anchored with bad news around them.

It gets overwhelming to think about what didn't get done, and what I want to do. I don't need a shiny new year for any of that.

I hate New Year's Eve. Let me restate that: I. HATE. NEW. YEAR'S. EVE. I hate the ball. Carson Daly? Ryan Seacrest? Anderson Cooper? Get lost. I detest the whole thing.

For me, I want music, The Honeymooners on channel 11, and good people to be with.

But mostly, I don't see the need to celebrate because we aren't even close to finding peace, and I feel like we're a little further away than ever. But I stand firm in supporting our troops, our firemen, and yes, our police. There are bad apples in every bunch, but these are the people who keep us safe. They should be applauded. Thanked. Supported.

Peace. Jesus, is it that tough?

I know what I want in 2015. I don't know if it's obtainable, but I know it. I can feel it, and it's strong.

I'll still be me at 12:01. Nothing will have changed. The same things that I said out loud to my fathers' grave on Christmas morning will still be real. We just keep trying - as we have for a long time - to keep moving forward.

Thank you - all of you - for everything in 2014. Onward.

If tonight is your thing, enjoy. I'll see you on the flip side.

Friday, December 26, 2014

It's 4:39 in the Morning

Maybe a Star Wars bed would help me sleep? Wander, the mind does.
So I've been awake since about 3:15 or so.

Actually, that's not true. I dozed off around 11:30, following a Christmas of four movies:

- Silver Linings Playbook (very good)
- That Thing You Do (Tom Hanks and harmless 60s nostalgia)
- We're the Miller's (brash, bold, funny)
- The Perks of Being A Wallflower (pretty remarkable)

I'm not going to lie. That capped off the most introspective Christmas ever (I'm not complaining; it's a fact). The day featured a roughly two-hour walk around the cemetery my father is buried in, in which I stumbled upon gravestones from the 1700s.

I stood at my fathers grave for a stretch, just talking and thinking.

A Jehovah's Witness approached me at one point and said, "I know this is a private time, but I want to give you some literature."

I thanked him politely, but was probably just as thankful that he left as quickly as he approached.

Anyway, I've been awake off and on since 12:30, and consistently since 3:15. That was my original point.

I gave up a few minutes ago and grabbed my iPad. I scrolled through the selfies, family portraits, pictures of gifts, and deep thoughts from Christmas, 2014.

Having enough of that, I pondered something.

I have people in my life who say to call anytime. Never wanting to be a burden, I rarely do. Thus I really didn't communicate with anyone yesterday. I mean, it was Christmas. You all had much better things to do.

But what if I really needed to talk, say, now?

I know I'd answer the phone. There would be a reason that someone would be calling at 4:39 in the morning. Maybe the call would be placed by mistake, or it would be real.

I'd answer. Who else would?

I'm babbling. Deep thoughts in the depth of the night.

Maybe there are more movies on worth watching now.

It will be 5:00 soon.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas

It's officially Christmas morning as I'm typing. We have just past midnight, and I don't know that I have much more to add than to wish you and yours the best Christmas possible.

We have a lot of work to do, of course. It's a very concerning, strange time. For tonight, and later today, we'll put that all aside in the name of peace and joy.

That picture above. That's it for me.

So from us guys (Sean and Rob), Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Times Change: Christmas Edition

Well here we are: Christmas Eve and all that jazz.

I keep saying a secluded island would be nice for the month of December, and maybe one day (no, not likely).

It's a shame what the holidays have done to so many. It seems to wear us out. It seems to break us down with the crass consumerism of it all.

It bursts at the seams with stress of family and work.

It seems, most of all, to be an incredibly depressing time of year.

I try to watch it through Sean's eyes. It was he who decorated the Christmas tree, while I was unwrapping things to hang, etc. He worked diligently to get the train under the tree, just the way he likes it.

He's the one who is saddened over the like deluge of rain that will hit tonight and tomorrow. He would love to have a white Christmas, while I have no interest in shoveling, plowing, blowing, and driving in it.

I'll take the island, please. Or Florida.

Ah, Florida. The place where I spent every Christmas from 1969 until 1975. We were all together - mother, father, sister, brother, and the young blogger. We were with our fraternal grandparents right near Tarpon Springs. Thus we bottle the memories of youth.

You didn't wear anything but your "Sunday best" back then on Christmas.

Progress, I guess.

I fought the good fight for years. I would always wear a nice sweater or button-down shirt, business-casual or even dress pants, and dress shoes. Heck, some years even featured a tie, either on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.

Now? Nope. I finally caved. I saw everybody else was doing what they did. I saw time had marched on, and I was sitting on my front porch, imploring everyone to leave my strands of grass alone.

Maybe a nice pair of jeans will do. Maybe not. But put it this way: I feel no pressure.

Tomorrow morning, as has become the "new normal," I will drop Sean off. Then I'll probably watch movies (the 24 Hours of A Christmas Story always sounds good).

Maybe, just like the Parker's in the movie, I'll get Chinese food.

So it goes.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

ALL Lives Matter

Rafael Ramos, left, and Wenjian Liu
Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu. Learn those names.

They are two New York City police officers who were murdered this afternoon.

I'm sickened.

I'm pissed off, and not afraid to say so.

"They were, quite simply, assassinated," said Police Commissioner Bill Bratton.

There probably aren't any words, yet allow me to write a few.

The media will give it a special name, of course. It's what we do.

Channel 11 has already gone with "Ambush in Brooklyn." No fancy name, no hard-hitting graphic, helps it make any sense. If anything, it seems useless.

For the love of God. TWO cops are dead, and the suspect said it was coming on Instagram.

"I'm putting wings on pigs today," he wrote.

Oh there was more than that, including hashtags that indicated these murders would be revenge for the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.

Think about it. This guy shot his girlfriend in Baltimore, then came to Bed-Stuy. He had that much time to ponder what he was doing. Cold-blooded is perhaps the nicest way to put it.


Of course, the always-upstanding Al Sharpton said he is "outraged." Jesus, way to step out on that limb there. Then again, ol' Al and I have never been on the same page, so why should I be surprised?

The great City of New York is a mess right now, led by a mayor whom the police force turned their back on. That says a lot to me.

The same mayor, who said tonight, "Now is not the time for politics." Yeah, well too bad, pal. You put yourself there. You can't cherry-pick it.

While I should just stay out of it, I can't. I know police officers, and love them. What happened today was a clear message, and it's not a good one.

Let's be quite clear here: black lives should matter. Eric Garner's life should matter. Michael Brown's life should matter.

Yet so should mine. My mother's. My son's.

And cops lives matter also. They put their lives on the line every day, whether it's in Ferguson, New York City, or Carmel.

Is this hard to understand?

I understood the need to protest what happened in Missouri and on Staten Island, albeit peacefully. I don't - and won't - understand looting, destruction, and violence.

To me, tonight, the protest card is revoked. Done.

Will LeBron James wear a pro-police T-shirt? Will members of the Rams, Jets, Giants - whatever - take the field in NYPD caps?

Will there be editorials in local papers denouncing the behavior tonight?

Or is it all just agenda-driven?

Who is advocating for the police? Rallies? Protests? Will we see those?

Al Sharpton will surely advocate for the police, right? Not. A. Chance. EVER. Apparently, neither will Mayor de Blasio, unless needed to save his own political career.

It's a strange, scary time.

Tonight, hug your kids. Your family. Express condolences and thanks to a police officer. There are so many great ones, just trying to keep us safe and do an honorable job. I get that you might want to express something on social media - I mean, come on, I'm here - but think. Think a lot. Then think again. Then, after you've thought one more time, hit send.


They were two innocent cops sitting in a patrol car.

Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu.

They're now dead.

All lives matter.

The End of an Era

Sean and his dad. Traditions live. December 22, 2012

Traditions. I've always believed in them, to the point of being told I can be a "get off my lawn" type of guy. Seems strong, but OK.

I've tried to go The Big E every year, but came up short this year. Oktoberfest at Hunter Mountain? I got there in, er, October. I love Opening Day in baseball and calling a football game every Thanksgiving.

Traditions change, of course (baseball has done a phenomenal job screwing up Opening Day).

Traditions also end. One of those will die tonight.

Every year for over a decade or so, my family and I have gathered to visit the Christmas display of Rick and Joan Setti in Norwalk, CT. The group has changed over the years (people come and go) but a core group has gone for a long time now.

Yes, there's been a missed date here and there. For instance, I was laid up with kidney stones in 2010, so Sean went with the rest of the family. My mom missed last year due to her open heart surgery, but a group went on Christmas Eve, as a snap decision, with the snow falling furiously.

The Setti's have decided that it's time to stop the display. According to a report in the Norwalk Daily Voice, they're not moving to Florida, as was rumored. They're just stopping because they think it's time. It's a lot of work, and you know that if you've ever been there. The number of miniature houses, wooden figures, and lights are staggering.

The couple will have their Christmas village featured on an ABC Family channel show called "The Great Christmas Light Fight" on Monday, Dec. 22. Their Facebook page has more, including the possibility of an eventual tag sale.

Selfishly, I'm sad. This night - this display - could often melt the heart of a six-foot tall Grinch. What's worse is that Sean is sad.

This is all he's known. We first brought him when he was tiny. When he had parents that brought him. Later, his dad made sure to get him there. The general routine, which grew out of my sister going with her kids, became our tradition.

Later tonight, we will meet at Post Corner Pizza in Darien. This part was my idea, since we needed a spot to grab dinner. There will be pizza, salad, laughter, figuring out how to pay the bill, and we will all leave stuffed. From there, we'll make the drive to Norwalk to visit the display. Oh sure, some years the visit might have been shorter than others due to cold weather, snow, etc. Yet we went - without fail.

The night will finish just as a night of viewing Christmas lights should: at Stew Leonard's in Norwalk for ice cream (after walking around the store, of course). I have to have to cup of coffee to sip as we stroll and look for any taste samples (cookies, donuts, etc).

I noticed, as we made the plans for tonight, most of Laura's kids are going (all grown and out of high school now). They might not have pushed to go in another year, but we all know tonight will be special. I know Michael would love to bring his girlfriend and baby to see it, but he'll be thinking of us in Arizona. Mom is going, and that is a blessing. My niece Stephanie is joining us also, as always.

And Sean.

I suggested ways we could carry the torch next year to him, but he was succinct: "It just won't be the same."

He's quite right there. It won't. We can find other light displays (of course, the Guinness record-breaking drive-around ERDAJT in LaGrangeville, NY is phenomenal) but something will be missing.

Yet it's of course more than that, and any parent should agree. This is the end. Sean is 12, and different days are approaching. That wonder, that innocence, that willingness to hang with his "old man" and the family will likely be gone. There is a sadness that will hang over tonight.

I hope to run into other friends tonight, so that they can see this before it goes away. I hope we find other things to do but we all know that there will always be that nostalgia when we think about Rick and Joan's house in Norwalk.

Things don't come easy for families. Some members have no interest in going. Yet it was always nice to have something - this thing - that most of us agreed on.

Thanks to the Setti's for this wonderful tradition. We won't try to change your mind, but you'll forgive us if there is a long look, and maybe a tear, as we say good bye.

Don't Forget the Smiley Face!

Yesterday, I made an attempt to post something. Anything.

A friend, one of my closest confidants on the planet (among several in the close circle of Robland, a small enclave of Friendlyville*), reached out to me and patted me on the back for just getting back on the horse, so to speak.

* Friendlyville was the dirt under my parent's deck. Several of my neighbors and I created a whole town down there with rocks and plastic shovels and Tonka trucks. The good old days of filthy pants, a wiffle ball game, lots of sweat, and a cold drink. Magical.

My friend knows me as well as anyone, and I can't argue the truth: that by posting something, I'd begin to conquer whatever gremlin had crawled inside of me. Well clearly something is working because I'm here again. Still gremlins to beat though.

I need to get to the point.

In our modern-day world of tweets, blogs, Facebook (evil and otherwise), Snapchat, Instagram, and so on, we get so many characters. We write, and context is lost before the vultures circle. Or we have our moment that gets filmed or reported and, again, you don't know the whole story.

Think of the Doughnut Inn story from July, in which a four-year-old child was "banned" from the store. Ah, that was one side. Not so fast.

My great friend Kait Shea hammered the story home. Interestingly, the fury died on the vine after. Incidentally, the comments on Kait's story are, well, read for yourself. Typical. Yet a little research would have indicated there was more than met the eye. We have countless other examples, and if you don't think the recent situations in Ferguson and Staten Island aren't examples, then you're not paying attention.

But let's just rush to judgement - the same thing we've cursed about for hundreds of years. Tony Stewart thanks you.

Oh by the way, Doughnut Inn is still blissfully open on Connecticut route 25 in Monroe. I drive past it all the time. The coffee's great.

Earlier today, over on Gawker, I read a fascinating story by Sam Biddle on the Justine Sacco tweet of a year ago. Oh, you don't remember it? You will.

It appears that Ms. Sacco wasn't a racist monster. She tweeted something - a parody, basically, sans emoticon - and had her career (and her life) were nearly destroyed.

This is the firestorm we live in, from Mr. Imus and "hoes" (Don't. Get. Me. Started.) to anything and everything in between, we are always just a minor flub away from personal disaster.

We all experience it to a degree. We all know these constant misunderstandings - small or not. I truly believe that. Personally, it happens a lot with me. Whether it's a tweet, text, ichat, or blog post, more often than not I have the tongue firmly planted in cheek, demonstrating my love of the fantastical.

An example: I've told you about my friend Susan Shultz's novella The Blacksmith. It is brilliant, and is just the beginning for her. I've already seen a few lines from the next novella. Wow. (Oh, and The Blacksmith is still just $.99 from Full Fathom Five Digital. So do your friend a favor and buy buy buy!)

Anyway, my silly mood went off the rails earlier this week, and I concocted a Broadway musical version of the novella. Susan would rather have her lead character make a souffle of her than ever see that happen, but even she admitted that it was rather funny. The whole conversation went via ichat, which is our standard around HAN.

Conversely, if we somehow misread the whole thing (again, it happens all the time), it could have gotten weird, but laughter prevailed and all was well. But one things gets out of context, or one sentence - one word - dripping in too much snark? It can be game on. For anyone.

It's sad that we live in a time where an emoticon - a smiley face or whatever - is the key. I had somebody say that to me several years ago, when they were becoming "the standard."

Sigh. Yet it's true. Now would have helped Justine Sacco? Probably not, and I suppose that brings us back to the old thing about thinking twice (at least) before pressing "send."

I'm also often wonderfully misread in person. Don't ask me how. I've perfected it and it's my recipe.

So do we come back around to if we are too sensitive? (We are) Do we need to just take a step back? (We do, and we won't)

We all know we're too overworked, overtaxed, overstressed, and so on. The kids need to be bathed, fed, and put to sleep. The bills need to be paid. The plumbing needs to be fixed. Plus we all need an hour to watch Real Housewives of Ridgefield.**


A smiley face. That's what it's come to.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Awesome. Just. Awesome.

It's December 19.

In a year in which I have published a whopping 73 (74 with this) posts, I have put just TWO up in December.


Like, Derek Jeter. Bobby Murcer (1979-1983). John Football. Moses Malone. Mike Gallego.



And now I've done three. Granted, that's Babe Ruth, but still.

By the way, I'm going to miss that guy in the picture. You might be all sick of him, and so be it.

I'm Trying

Sorry, folks. I know there are three or four of you (and I owe you each a beverage or grape drink* for it) who regularly read the idiocy I post here.

* Those who enjoy grape drink know who they are, specifically when they got it in the Jeffseon Valley Mall.

Lately, I haven't felt it. Not because I have wanted to.

Just because, well, I don't know.

I've tried. Goodness knows, I've tried. I've written at least four posts in the past few weeks before deleting each of them. I've tried to find some anger with the NFL (still legit, as I think the product has suffered and I've lost some interest), and other things rattling around in my noggin.

Yet I felt like each post was rudderless. Just lost.

I felt it back when I wrote after Thanksgiving night. I thought I had made a cogent post regarding shopping that night, while not defending the actual action. I'm not really in favor of it, to be honest, but it was nice to spend that time with my sister..

After I hit publish, I thought about deleting it. Somewhere in the process from brain to fingertips, it just didn't fly.

Each post since then has suffered from the same thing.

Have I lost my fastball? Hell, did I ever HAVE a fastball? Am I a bigger wreck than even I thought?

Maybe. Honestly, I'm not quite sure.

I want better here. I want to keep writing. I think about it for a few minutes every day but normally those thoughts occur away from the keyboard.

I have topics but I can't seem to get them quite clear. Thus I frequently add to the reasons that I think I suck at life.

I've been told I'm bogged down. I have too much stress and too much on my mind. I can't argue. I try, but I can't.

Worst is that I feel like I'm hurting people I care about via my posts, and I have no interest in doing so. Lots of things are written here with tongue firmly planted in cheek, in the hopes of recognizing there is a lot of parody and sarcasm on this blog.

Daily conversations product topics and, yet, I feel like damage can be done if I bring them here.

Yet when you lose faith in your writing, what's next?

I feel like I have nothing to say. Nothing even remotely interesting. Even if I did, what scares me the most is that I can't articulate it.

Anyway, I'm babbling. All in the name of getting another scintillating post up. I'll shut up now.,

Carry on.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Dec. 10

Laughing. That's best way to think of him. My dad is 56 in this picture, with granddaughters Laura, Kristy, and Stephanie in front of him. A 17-year-old future blogger is at far left. Christmas Eve, 1985.
December 10, 2014 would have been my father's 85th birthday. Thinking of him as 85 years old is as strange to me as it was at 80, 75, 70, etc.

To me, to anyone, he'll always be 59. That's what life does to you. You're thought of as we knew you.

But I wonder. I wonder what the past 25 plus years would have been like. How do things change? That's how strong the impact of his loss has been felt. Lives were change forever.

I know. I've no doubt discussed this all here before. I wonder what he would have thought of the grandkids he never met. What would he have thought of career choices, spouses, splits, triumphs, and tragedies?

How would he have reacted to the '96 Yankees? Would it have been a father-son bonding moment or no big deal?

What would he have thought of my radio work?

Would he have an iPad? Would I have loaded it with countless music? Would he have an email address or care about social media?

Would there have been a retirement?

Would modern technology have given him comfort, instead of the constant physical pain he lived in?

It reminds me of a story. A story of, arguably, the saddest night of my life, until he passed away in 1989.

I was probably eight or nine. We're talking, roughly, 1977. The pain in his legs was miserable one night, and though he was usually the soundest sleeper not named "Sean Adams," he couldn't sleep on this night.

I'd heard him snore before. I'd heard him moan in pain, but generally sleep through it. This night was different.

I heard him in the living room with my mother. The pain, by my young ears, seemed unbearable. He moaned. He groaned.

He sobbed.

My mother was consoling. Comforting. But on this night, there was nothing but despair from the old man.

I couldn't sleep. I don't remember anything of my siblings, who may or may not have been home, as they were both deeper into their later teens.

I came out of my room at one point, only to be shooed back into it. While the pain was very apparent, it was still easier with me out of sight.

What sticks out at me - what really has stayed with me all these years - was him talking about not being able to take me to ballgames.

I went to two Yankees games with my dad. We went as a family in 1972 and 1973. They beat the Orioles in '72, and the Royals the next year. A guy named Murcer had a double off of Jim Palmer in that first game.

The hook of baseball struck and it's never left.

Indeed, my dad would get me to games and other events whenever possible. So I went to Yankee Stadium with relatives. Friends. Other fathers.

This is not some sob story. I loved whatever time I had with him, and never resented any of that stuff.  I just wanted to make his pain go away. He made sure my mom and his kids came first. Physically, he simply could not be comfortable at a game. You can say maybe he should have swallowed his pride for a wheelchair or whatever, but I'm not going to question that.

It was a different time. A different world. A different life. And I won't let the passage of time make things appear 20/20.

There's an awful picture of us, taken on the day of my graduation from high school. Long story short: he didn't go. The pain of knowing he's not going is apparent in his face.

I smiled. I knew he was proud of me, and he was my dad. Sure, I was sad he didn't go, but I understood. I can still recall calling the house before the ceremony began to see if he was coming.

I think about him every day. Every. Day. I probably mention him more than I should, and have often apologized in case you're sick of reading about him.

His impact on my life can't be measured. I want to believe we go somewhere special when we die. I'd like to think, maybe, he's watching Patton, or listening to The Drum Battle (he always said Gene Krupa was better than Buddy Rich).

Most importantly. He's in my heart, and by telling you about him, I often hope you'll love him just a little.

Happy 85th, Pop.


December 10th holds another significance this year. My friend Susan Shultz, editor of the Darien Times, wife, mother of Lucy and Annabelle, is the author of The Blacksmith: Tales From the Graveyard, Novella 1.

I expect you to say, "Rob. She's your friend. You're just supporting her." There is truth in that. I read it because my friend asked me to.

I was blown away. It's deep. Complex. Even, shall we say, mature.

So go visit the website, via her publisher, Full Fathom Five, and support a very talented person.