Tuesday Tips

Okay, so, not really “tips.”  But since I’ve over-used words like “Randomity” and any variation thereof, I had to come up with something.  Besides, there is one very strong recommendation in today’s blog, so the title is technically accurate.   Somewhat.

A little.

Okay.

Let’s jump in.  Item number one:

It’s St. Paddy’s Day, NOT St. Patty’s Day.

We (and by “we” I mean “Americans”) just celebrated the storied, auld Hibernian Holiday celebrating the great Irish (probably Scottish, maybe English or Welsh) Saint Patrick.  Yanks, as many of you know, enjoy a great deal of cultural stereotyping and drunken foolishness whilst celebrating the life and times of a Christian martyr.  We dress up in plastic green Bowler hats (or are they Derbys?) and drink watery American light beer with food coloring in it because…fuck, I really have no idea.  Prettier puke?  None of that matters, however, as I was trying to make a point and got sidetracked.  Probably because I was (am) drunk, being that at least a third of my lineage is Irish, as I am a good old-fashioned American Mutt.

'MURICAN MUTT!!  (Get it?  It's not too subtle?  Okay.)

‘MURICAN MUTT!! (Get it? It’s not too subtle? Okay.)

Anyway.

Something that sort of irks me is the ongoing misuse of “St. PATTY’S Day.”  I mean, it’s not the worst thing in the world (no, that’s the use of “DUCK Tape” in lieu of “DUCT tape”) but it just sort of grates.  I mean, I get it: Patrick.  Shortened and made more familiar.  Patty.  Sure.  Makes sense.  Only, that’s not the dude’s name.  Not originally.  It was/is Padraig.  Irish.  Padraig.  Ever heard of a police van (or other vehicle) called a “Paddy Wagon?”  That originated in an interestingly double-sided bit of stereotyping/profiling.  See, they’d send out the cops to round up the drunken brawlers in places like New York, Boston, and Chicago, and as we all know, the only drunken brawlers of yesteryear were Irish.  Hence, they sent out the “PADDY Wagon” to haul the lot to the drunk tank.  Not a “PATTY Wagon” although if Mr. Krabs had his way, that’s exactly what it’d be.  The fun counterpoint here is that most of the arresting officers and regular beat cops in those same cities were, you guessed it:  Irish.  Sean Connery in “The Untouchables?”  Yeah.  Lots and lots of Irish cops rounding up Irish drunks in their goddam Irish getups drinking their goddam delicious dark red, amber, and brown beers and anyway, it’s SAINT PADDY, YOU ENGLISH COCKSUCKERS!

Ummm...I don't know how to tell you this, Ireland, but other than potatoes, well...

Ummm…I don’t know how to tell you this, Ireland, but other than potatoes, well…

Speaking of the Irish (the OTHER Irish) let me drop some cool Mexican futbol knowledge on ya…

The UNAM Pumas = University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

I love me some footy.  Sure, hockey is always going to be number one in my book, but goddam…LOVE me some footy.  Particularly the English variety.  Italian, Spanish, French…they’re all a bunch of diving pussies.  (Except for Messi.  Messi never falls.)  Maybe that’s because he’s from Argentina, and South American and Central American footy players seem to be made of sterner stuff.  Anyway, my favorite Western Hemisphere club team is Club de Fútbol Universidad Nacional A. C, otherwise known as UNAM Pumas.

I’ll be honest, the main reason I began supporting this Mexican side was their logo.  I liked the kitty-cat head and the way his nose sort of reminded me of the steps of a large ziggurat (that never looks like it’s spelled correctly) and the color scheme.  I really dig the gold and blue colors.  They look regal, clean…and, yes, somewhat familiar.

Regal.  Yes.  Regal as a motherfucker.

Regal. Yes. Regal as a motherfucker.

That’s because they are directly copied from the University of Notre Dame’s Fighting Irish.  Seriously.  The Pumas were almost a direct copy of ND’s American football team.  See, the Pumas began life as a college club team.  To this day, they play at a college stadium and the acronym UNAM stands for Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México or “The National Autonomous University of Mexico.”  Back in the early decades of the 20th Century, American Football was more popular in parts of Mexico than good old-fashioned futbol.  The UNAM kids asked the Notre Dame guys to come down and teach them Futbol Americano.  The Notre Dame guys left a big impression, along with a ton of their warm-ups and training gear.  It was a great cultural exchange, despite the fact that South Bend still doesn’t have very good Mexican restaurants to this day.  Eventually the Mexican club embraced European football instead of American, went pro, and here they are. They still wear the Notre Dame colors and still rock their university affiliation and I think that’s awesome.

Regal.

Regal.

Read Hawkguy.

Okay, I know I tend to geek out here.  My buddy Ray likes it when I go on my quantum-physics = Buddhism tangents and such, but goddam it, sometimes the best thing in the world to talk about is something geeky.  My blog, my interests.  Sorry, gang.  And now and then I also try to enrich your life by giving you tips.  Brothers and sisters, I have a big one for you.

Hawkeye.

No, not the guy from M*A*S*H who happened to be named after a James Fenimore Cooper character and Daniel Day Lewis dreamboat.  No, I’m talking about the archer who wears purple.  Marvel Comics’ blatant rip-off of Green Arrow.  The pretty much useless dude in The Avengers movie.  That guy.  Hawkguy.

Guest-starring John Goodman

Guest-starring John Goodman

I have my friend, the brilliant and handsome Professor Tony DiSanto, to thank for recommending the most recent iteration of the Hawkeye character.  Prior to the moment when he said “DO IT, ASSHOLE!  PICK UP THIS BOOK!” (I may not remember Tony’s exact words with 100% accuracy, but it was something like that) I honestly didn’t give two shits.   Hawkeye was always the “trick arrow” guy and stupid.  His mask was designed to look like Wolverine’s, only it had a big “H” on the top.  Seriously, Marvel?  You took Captain American’s “A” and made it a consonant and…those stupid cuffed pirate boots…and…and a hover-scooter…and…just no.  How about no?  NO.  I mean, sure, I enjoyed Jeremy Renner’s interpretation of the character, and in retrospect think they should have used him better in Joss Whedon’s blockbuster flick.  But overall, there just wasn’t anything about the dude that drew my attention.

Navy and purple are usually such a great combination.  Don't know what went wrong here...

Navy and purple are usually such a great combination. Don’t know what went wrong here…

Then Matt Fraction stepped in.  I can’t say this strongly enough:  the Hawkeye book(s) are some of the most brilliant storytelling I’ve ever read, especially from a major publisher.  Added to the writing (which is clever, smart, exciting, and sometimes a bit dark) is the amazing minimalist artwork.  The color palette is perfect, and little touches like the obvious placement of a strategic old-school Hawkeye character’s head over the current Clint Barton’s privates during a naked fight remind you that yes, this is a comic book.

Head.   Giggle.  Snort.

Head. Giggle. Snort.

But when he tells an entire section of one story through the eyes of Clint’s rescued pooch (Pizza Dog!) you see just how clever Fraction really is.  Wow.  Seriously, wow.  At times heartbreaking, other times hilarious,  I can’t recommend it enough.  Even if you hate comics (or if you’re a hipster that usually shuns the big labels) you owe it to yourself to pick up the trade paperback compilations (I got mine at the Allen County Public Library) and dig in.  This series, more than any that I’ve read over the last few years, show why comics are their own art form.  The nimble written prose of a great novel and the stylized visuals of an art-house movie;  it’s neither fish nor fowl, and that’s what’s great about it.  Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye.  Check it out.

One Last Job

Quick backstory on this thing.  I live in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, and we’ve had one of the worst winters ever.  No, seriously.  Record amount of snowfall, record low temperatures.  Hell, one week the average temperature here was lower than either of the poles and all of Canada.  Absolutely true.

But then…suddenly…spring!  50 degrees!  Sunshine!  Melting snow!  And then…our dreams were dashed once again.  Tonight it’s supposed to start raining.  That rain will become sleet.  The sleet will become snow.  Up to seven inches worth, total.  Then, as the Midwest would have it, our high on Friday is once again near fifty.  It’s cruel, giving us a taste of Spring before hitting us in the nuts again with Winter.  And Winter isn’t going anywhere any time soon.  No, there are forecast highs in the 30’s off and on for the rest of the month of March.  It’s a goddam Greek tragedy.

As a bit of therapy, I had this little short story form in my head and decided to try and put it down in writing.  The formatting is shite because WordPress doesn’t let you import MS Word formatting without a great deal of coding and plug-ins and I’m sort of just throwing this together, so…try and enjoy it nonetheless!

    The bar was small and dim. Not pitch black, as there was a small rectangular pane of glass in the front door.  The glass had long ago been covered with what at one point must’ve been khaki canvas, but now resembled yellowed, dusty muslin.  It glowed faintly, but not enough for true illumination.  One interesting side-effect was the clear, black silhouette it presented whenever someone arrived at the doorstep

     At that hour, not quite midday, the place was almost empty.  There was Delores behind the main bar, her Salem hanging from the corner of her mouth and dropping ash while she perused the latest ‘Us’ magazine.  Slumped across her bar, sleeping or worse, was Dan.  Dan showed up each morning with a bag of McDonald’s breakfast burritos, sat down on his stool, and ate the burritos while drinking gin. He’d stir sometime after noon, shuffle to the men’s room for about fifteen minutes, then return and order rye. Nobody knew what Dan did (or had done) for a living or how old he was.  He was just there, and everyone was okay with that.

     The old man sat at one of two round tables near the front wall.  He could’ve picked one of the dirty, dark green-leather upholstered booths in the back.  That’s what he’d do if he were some rookie, some young fucker that’d seen too many movies.  He shook his head and smiled at the thought.

     “Who does that?” he mused.  “What dumb son of a bitch sits back there with no escape route, no way to outflank ‘em, no way to even see ‘em as anything but shadows against that bright light from the street?  Stupid.  Stupid fuckin’ kids, that’s who.”

      The old man couldn’t even recall being a kid, so ancient was he.  Anyone that knew him would agree:  he’d always just been…old.  An old man. 

     A dangerous old man. 

     That’s why he’d chosen that table.  It had a full view of the entire bar, and if someone were to burst through the front door, they might blow right past him. He’d be at their right rear-quarter, and have them dead to rights.

     He waited. He sipped his water, stirred the disintegrating piece of lemon until the seeds separated.  A rivulet of condensation ran down the outside of the Mason jar mug.  Another sip.  A glance at Delores and the immobile Dan.  Another sip.  Any second now.

     The room grew slightly, almost imperceptibly, darker.  A shadow at the front door.  It was time.

     The old man tensed.  The door swung wide, seemingly all by itself.  A pause, a beat…then the Company Man stepped in.  Double-breasted grey suit and matching fedora. He turned immediately and made eye contact.  He smiled.

     “Hello, Winter!  Sorry for making you wait.”  The Company Man doffed his hat and started towards the table.  Old man Winter’s tactical advantage was for naught, and both of them knew it. 

     The old man lifted his glass, finishing off the last of the water, eyes locked on his adversary.  He didn’t quite slam the empty jar, but brought it down with conviction.

     “What now?  What more could you possibly want?” He half-whispered.

     A bark of laughter flew from the well-dressed figure sitting casually on the other side of the table.  He had one leg folded, resting across the other, like he was sitting down to breakfast and the paper.

     “Well, you certainly get right to it, don’t you?  Got somewhere to be, Winter?  Hot date, maybe?”

     “None of your concern.  Don’t matter.  We had a deal.  Now it’s done.  Done, y’hear? I got no time for the likes of you, and don’t give a shit what you think.”

     “Don’t you?” the Company Man whispered.  His smile left his face, which somehow made him look less menacing. 

     “No,” came the terse reply.  The Company Man sighed.

     “You can save your glare for someone else.  This isn’t my fault, not my decision.  You know the way this goes.  You work until we say stop.”

     “I’ve done enough!  More than enough” Winter’s hands clenched into fists, and his nails pressed hard into his palms.

     “Not so.  We need one more job.  One more, and I swear you’re done for a while.”

     “One more.  It’s always one more.”

     “One more.  Then you can go, until we need you again.”

     Old man Winter leaned back in his chair, knowing that his protests were useless.  The Company would get their way, they always did. 

     “Why?  Why so much?  Why so…hard?  What have they done to deserve this?”  his old voice cracked, thinking of those that had already suffered and those that would continue to.

     “Not your worry.  Or mine. The Company doesn’t let us in on their plans, their schemes.  You know that.  It’s above our pay grade.”

     The Company Man leaned back as well, a reflection of old man Winter.  But while Winter’s body language whispered ‘resignation’ the Company Man’s stated ‘confident repose.’  They both sat, silent, unmoving.  After a minute passed, then another, the Man stood and replaced the Fedora on top of his head.

     “For what it’s worth, you know what I think?  I think this is more than a hit.  This is something else.  Do you ever question what they’ve done to deserve this?  Like, look at what they’ve done to Her.  Maybe we’re sending a message this time.  Maybe it’s payback.   I’m really curious to see what happens when they let Summer off the leash, if they ever do.  Just a thought.  An observation.  Maybe it’ll help you sleep.”

     The old man watched him go. 

     “One more job,” he muttered.  He wiped a hand down across his face, pinching the bridge of his nose.  One more.  Then it would be done.  Didn’t matter that Spring had jumped the gun.  It was cruel, sure, but not his concern.  The thought occurred that perhaps the Company had arranged that little bit of cruelty.  Give the poor bastards in the Midwest a chance to catch their breath, to let hope grow in their hearts, before slamming the frigid hammer down once again. 

     Cruel, yes.  But not his concern.  The Company Man was right about that.  Winter no longer cared.  The job.  One more job.  That was what mattered.  Then he could rest.  His cold, tired, aching bones could rest.

     One more job.

     He stood, and nodded at Delores, who, engrossed in the latest Brad and Angelina scuttlebutt, missed his parting glance.  Dan snored softly and gurgled.

     Winter turned and pulled open the front door.  The light was blinding, but he stepped out into the cold sunshine with ice in his heart.  The job.  The job was all that mattered.

     One more.