Last weekend Kish and I saw some of the kids in the neighborhood running around on a warm spring day.  I listened carefully, but didn’t hear the dreaded cry of “Tag!  You’re it!”

Every kid loves summer, and games like kickball and red rover were were as much a part of summer as hot dogs and riding bikes and roasting marshmallows.  But I hated tag.  The reason?  I was a tubby youth who was by far the slowest kid in the neighborhood.

Every game of tag that I was involved in followed the same humiliating pattern.  Someone else would be chosen to be “it.”  That kid would then immediately scan the kids in the neighborhood.  His eyes would find me and light up with a feverish gleam.  As I tried to run away — in reality moving at a stately pace that could be timed with an hourglass — he  would zip up, easily tag me, and dart away.  Then I would spend seeming hours trudging unsuccessfully after other lightning-quick kids.  After a while the speediest kids would come closer and closer, taunting me with their proximity and daring me to tag them — but I couldn’t.

Hide and seek wasn’t much better, but at least there I could hope to find a good hiding place, then trot to the base while the seeker went far away after somebody else.  But with tag, there was no hiding option or strategy that could compensate for the lack of quickness and speed.  After I was reduced to a hot, sweaty, red-faced mess and the game got boring, another kid would inevitably allow me to make a “pity tag” so the game could go on.  I didn’t care.  I was just happy to not be “it” for a while — or at least until the second-slowest kid decided he needed an easy target.

From Ex to X

In a few weeks filming will begin on six new episodes of The X-Files.  The mini-series of new adventures of Mulder and Scully will be broadcast on Fox starting next January.

We shouldn’t be surprised by this, really.  Any good TV series that goes off the air is capable of being reintroduced years — in the case of The X-Files, more than a decade — after the network run ended, so long as the actors who played the main characters haven’t kicked the bucket.  TV shows spawn movies, and movies spawn TV shows.   They are working on a Galaxy Quest TV show based on the classic 1999 movie, and planning another version of Celebrity Deathmatch.  Old ideas, characters, and settings get recycled, and the writers and producers hope they can connect with new viewers while not offending the diehard fans who want the new to stay true to the old.

The X-Files is a classic example of the challenges presented by this exercise in threading the needle.  The original show ran from 1993 to 2002 and was fresh, interesting, and delightfully creepy; it was one of the first adult shows we let Richard watch, and I always hoped he wouldn’t be permanently scarred or haunted by his exposure to people with black oil in their eyes or serially inbred families.  The early years of the team of by-the-book Dana Scully and true believer Fox Mulder and their encounters with the paranormal and sprawling governmental conspiracies were brilliant, distinctive and memorable.

But the show seemed to lose steam, and then there were X-Files movies, too.  Where did the plot line leave off?  I can’t remember — are Mulder and Scully married now?  Is The Lone Gunman still around?  What about Skinner?  I’m betting that I’m not alone in not remembering everything that happened in a series that ended 13 years ago and a movie that also sees like it came out long ago.  I need a refresher course.

I want to believe — just remind me what it is I’m supposed to believe, will you?


We’re still in the adjustment period, of course, but we’re already getting a sense of what life will be like in our house post-Penny.

DSC04122There’s been a noticeable change in Kasey.  In the Penny era, Kasey had to eat her food immediately, because if she left anything in her bowl Penny would promptly chomp it down; now the dainty Kasey is happy to let her food sit for a while, aging like a fine wine, and might eat only a bit and leave the rest for later.  The dog anxiety level in the house seems to have dropped, too.  Penny always followed Kish around and would suddenly get to her feet and trot off as soon as Kish left the room, causing Kasey to bolt after her.  Now, without the Penny impetus, Kasey doesn’t seem to mind one bit if Kish is not in her line of sight.

The rhythms of the house have changed, too.  Penny was our canine alarm clock, whose voracious appetite ensured that no one in the house slept in past 5:30, and the official household greeter who wanted to get a scratch and pat on the head from everyone who came through the door.  I also thought of Penny this morning, when I noticed a stray crumb of bread on the kitchen floor from last night’s sandwich prep; Penny’s constant patrolling for any consumable item kept the kitchen floor spotless and free of all food debris.  And there are fewer scratches on the floor and dog hairs on the furniture.

It just shows that, when dogs are part of your family and household, they touch your lives in many ways, and you might not really notice all of them until the dogs are gone.

Guess Where I Am


That’s right — I am everywhere and nowhere, in the Generic Airport Concourse Zone, where the gates and walkways and vendors all look precisely the same, indistinguishable in their drab sameness.  It is a temporary, soulless, transitory place, suitable only for moving on.  

This particular outpost of the GACZ is at DFW.  And like every exposure to the GACZ, this one has only one benefit — it makes home feel even more like heaven.


IMG_5394The Ex-Neighbor works in the west Franklinton area; I work downtown.  So when we were looking for a spot for lunch on Monday, we split the difference and picked Strongwater Food and Spirits.  Located at 401 W. Town Street, just across the river from downtown, it’s about halfway between us.

Strongwater looks like it would be a good place for an adult beverage after work.  It’s got an interesting interior space, with a large bar area and side rooms that in an Irish pub would be called snugs.  You can imagine a lot of energy in the room on a crowded night.

IMG_5398As a lunch spot, Strongwater is a pretty strong choice, too.  I had the excellent and huge Kick’n Chicken sandwich, which featured some very juicy, crunchy, tasty fried chicken with pepperjack cheese, spicy aioli, and pineapple salsa.  All of the Strongwater sandwiches are served with a side of truffalo sauce that can be applied to either the sandwich or the sides (kettle chips or fries).  I liberally applied it to both, and the result was some Kick’n Chicken that had a very pleasant mouth-warming zing.

The E-N went all in for the vegan reuben and said the seitan in the sandwich — chunky wheat gluten — that is made in-house had the same kind of bulk and consistency as meat.  Of course, that’s the highest compliment that can possibly be paid to a vegan dish.  I never thought I would say this about a non-meat offering, but his grilled sandwich did look pretty darned good, and the E-N wolfed down every bit of it.

Strongwater is one of the pioneering businesses that is helping to lead the renaissance of the east Franklinton area.  It’s on the same block of brick industrial buildings as Dinin’ Hall and its neighboring art studios, just past the railroad overpass.  On our visit the Ex-Neighbor and I also noticed The Land-Grant Brewing Co., a brewery and tap room, just across Town Street from Strongwater, and the Rehab Tavern down the block.  East Franklinton looks to be heading in the right direction.

The Penny Chronicles

My name is Penny.

IMG_0086Lately I like sleeping more and more.  I am tired, and my leg hurts, and now my belly does, too.  But when I fall asleep all of that is gone.  I sleep, and suddenly I am a young puppy again, quick and light and playing with my brothers and sisters in a green field with cool grass.  We see a squirrel far away and we run, run, run to chase it.  Our tongues hang out and even though the squirrel gets away, it is okay.  We drink cool water and then run some more, then plop down next to the pond in the shade of a tree.

When I sleep, I remember the good food I have eaten.  So much very good food!  I am eating the food the Leader has given me, and the special treats I get from her when the old boring guy isn’t looking.  I am eating the scraps the Young Master has given me when he thinks the old boring guy isn’t looking.  I am eating the meat the old boring guy gives me when he thinks the Leader isn’t looking.  And I am eating the food left out for Kasey when Kasey isn’t looking.  Sorry, Kasey!

These days, I like sleeping even more than food.  I seem to have a hard time eating now, and when I do it I get sick.  But those dreams are sweet.

Changing Commencement

With yesterday’s Cranbrook Academy of Art ceremony under our belts, Kish and I have now endured more than a dozen commencement ceremonies for ourselves, the boys, and assorted family members.

IMG_20150509_063237We’ve clutched the colorful programs with the year prominently noted and the lists of graduates and degree recipients.  We’ve heard the strains of Pomp and Circumstance and student musical offerings.  We’ve nodded at the ponderous welcoming remarks of principals, deans, and dignitaries, watched countless honorary degrees be conferred, and seen thousands of students march by to receive their sheepskins.

And we’ve heard commencement addresses.  Boy, have we ever!  And with only two exceptions, they instantly were flushed down the memory hole, never to be recalled or considered again.  The two exceptions were Chip Reid’s funny and graceful address at Vassar a few years ago, and the other is another commencement address so shockingly bad — so lengthy and leaden in its delivery, so self-absorbed in its rambling year-by-year account of the speaker’s career, so oblivious to the rumblings of the benumbed and increasingly agitated audience, and so pointless and irrelevant to the lives of the graduates and everyone else — that it will forever be treasured, perversely, as a part of family lore.  That commencement address, at least, was unforgettable.

Yesterday, Richard posed a reasonable question:  why not change the hoary model that every rational person despises?  While a public awarding of degrees is an appropriate way of recognizing true achievement, why not ditch the banal speeches and cookie-cutter programming and jettison forever the dreaded “commencement address”?  Why not give the students a larger role and allow them to at least display the uniqueness of their class, or instead do everyone a favor and get right to the photo ops and degree handoffs?

Any change to the pompous ceremony would be welcome.  There has got to be a better way.