Don’t Talk About This, Talk About That


I never submit my tax return until the last day, unless I’m getting a refund, which is not the case this year. It’s a bummer having to shell out extra money at tax time, so instead of writing about that, I’m going to write about my favorite poet, T. S. Eliot, whose epic poem The Wasteland is often quoted around the tax deadline. It’s just the first line of the poem: April is the cruelest month.

Here’s the first four lines of the poem to provide a little context.

April is the cruelest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain

Eliot wrote notes for the poem at the request of the publisher, but later disavowed them as bogus, so it’s not clear what the poem refers to. When I first read it I thought it was about Europe emerging from the dark winter of world war. Here’s one of my favorite lines:

There is shadow under this red rock,
(Come in under the shadow of this red rock),
And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust

This seems to refer to the dawn of nuclear weapons, but the poem was written in 1922. Come in under the shadow of this red rock. Gives me chills.

David Bowie is reported to have said that when fans would meet him they’d often quote his lyrics and offer an explanation of their meaning. He would always listen to the explanation and say “Yes, that’s it exactly,” even if he didn’t have that explanation in mind when he wrote the lyrics. He said he did that  because it’s fun for people to project their own meaning into art and by so doing make it more meaningful for them.

T. S. Eliot is probably best known for his series of poems about cats, which served as inspiration for the musical play, “Cats.” The cool thing about the cat poems is you can match your cat to one of them. My cat’s name is Rocky and I’ve matched him with the poem Bustopher Jones: The Cat About Town. Here’s an excerpt.

Bustopher Jones is not skin and bones–
In fact he’s remarkably fat.
He doesn’t haunt pubs–he has eight or nine clubs,
For he’s the St. James’s Street Cat!
He’s the cat we all greet as he walks down the street
In his coat of fastidious black:
No commonplace mousers have such well-cut trousers
Or such an impeccable back.

Rocky’s old now, but when he was younger he weighed about twenty pounds. Now he’s down below ten pounds, but still hanging in there. Speaking of cats…


There’s a business near where I work called RAWR. I’ve walked by it a few times but never stopped to figure out what it was. At first I thought it was a restaurant, but then noticed there are no tables; just a service counter and a cold box with neatly aligned cylindrical containers, so I thought maybe it was a grab and go lunch place.

One day I decided to end the mystery and as I went inside I noticed that the door had the phrase “Eat Like A Lion” stenciled on it. The nice lady at the counter explained that RAWR sells cat food. RAWR is a boutique cat food outlet. Seriously. According to the nice lady at the counter they source chickens and fish locally and use the entire animal. You buy the food frozen and let it defrost before feeding it to ditty fuzz. I was going to buy some, but my cat is on a prescription diet.

Poor Rocky. I’ll miss him when he’s gone.

Baseball 2015


It’s a little hard to see in the twilight, but that’s a baseball on the seal’s nose. The statue is in the plaza at the rear of AT&T Park, where the San Francisco Giants play. I went there last week to see a pre-season game featuring my hometown team, the Oakland Athletics, who won handily. It was pre-season so it’s meaningless, except that the Giants are the reigning world champions, so it might say something about the A’s prospects for the regular season.

Then on Monday I went to opening night at the Oakland Coliseum. People complain about the Coliseum  for many reasons. For one thing, the Oakland Raiders also use it for football. But mostly they complain because it’s an old facility that lacks the glamour of AT&T Park, which is widely considered to be one of the premier facilities in the majors. Here are dueling photos from the seats at both parks.

Here’s AT&T. If the photo was enlarged you could see the splash counter, which shows the number of times players have hit a home run out of the park and into San Francisco Bay, or what the locals call McCovey Cove.


Here’s the Coliseum. It’s earlier in the evening, so it’s not an apples-to-apples since you can see the beautiful sunset.


OK. Let’s just acknowledge that the Giants have a nicer house. In defense of the Coliseum, it is a serviceable facility that has its charms. For example, true A’s fans know what is meant by the phrase “sun hit.” You see, during day games there is a fair probability that an outfielder on the opposing team will lose a lazy fly ball in the sun. During mid-season the sun goes down behind home plate, so the hapless opposing outfielder, who is not used to playing at the Coliseum, will have to battle the sun to try and catch a fly ball. I’ve seen a lot of sun hits.

Another advantage of the Coliseum is that it is in Oakland, which means that the ambient temperature at game time will be much more comfortable than at AT&T. Here’s a tip: if you go to a night game at AT&T, dress warmly; wear layers. It doesn’t matter the time of year, or what the daytime temperature is. Once I went to a night game at AT&T in the middle of July when the daytime temperature was in the mid-80s. I arrived at the game dressed in shorts and a polo shirt. In the third inning I had to go the team store to buy something; anything, to keep warm. $100 later I was swaddled in Giants gear (oh the humiliation) and still freezing.

But the best thing about the Coliseum is that it embodies the spirit of the team that plays there. It resides next to railroad tracks in what used to be an industrial corridor. It is the blue-collar counterpoint to everything that goes on at AT&T, with its damnable wine and crab cake concessions and clam chowder sourdough bread bowls. At the Coliseum no self-respecting A’s fan would be caught dead eating a crab cake while sipping on a fine Chardonnay. No, we prefer the very large corn dogs that are called “Actual Size.” I’m not a Giants hater, even though they have an irritating tendency to win championships when their regular season play suggests they should collapse in the playoffs.

Man, I love baseball. I love this time of year, when everything is fresh and new and you don’t have to worry about the playoffs because everyone has a shot.

Let’s Go Oakland!

Spring Cleaning


It started with a visit to the tax preparer. I was asked to present certain documents that I thought I had received and knew I had received, but that I’d misplaced, being the single parent that I am. So I went home and searched every nook and cranny. I never found said documents and concluded that I had to embark on an effort to clean up my home office.

Nothing nefarious. It’s just that when you’re hit with the death of your spouse due to illness, there’s a natural tendency to avoid looking at old records because you’re reminded of your married life, which is traumatic; if you loved the person involved at the time of their death, which was the case with me.

I kept stumbling upon stuff that triggered memories. I won’t go into that here.

I’ve spent the last few weeks spending all my free time cleaning out my office and getting rid of dated material. All this paper needed to be shredded; or so I thought; to keep it private; to prevent identity theft; it’s so hard to recognize the line on something like that; it keeps evolving. Anyway, I shredded a lot of stuff. I’ve spent most of my free time doing that the last few weeks, which is why I haven’t posted on this blog.

I think this has larger applications to the population of people who are aged. We may, someday, be visited by some regulatory authority that says we’re out of compliance. I hope to be one of the evaluators rather than the subject under evaluation.

Now I’m blogging about it and wondering if that’s the best way to go. Oh well. I did it to clear out my home office so I wouldn’t feel like a hoarder.

You need to move on from things, and I felt I needed to seal the silver mine as regards the records related to my spouse; who is deceased through no fault of mine, and who I miss terribly every day.

I love you Lisa, if you can hear me. I’ve kept the good stuff.

I’m moving on now.