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All this bad news makes me want to give up reading the newspaper

July 28th, 2014 No comments

As long as I remember I have been a news and newspaper freak. Anymore, the major headlines as well as the individual news stories make me want to give up reading.

Here’s what I’m talking about:
Civilians among dead as Libya clashes rage; cease fire urged
Fighting in Gaza resumes
Boko Haram kidnaps wife of Camaroon’s vice PM
Ebola patient who fled dies in Sierra Leone
Military attacks on army outposts in Yemen kill 8
California wildfire forces evacuation, ruins homes
U.S, sought Venezuelan general to be freed

What I really want is stories about third graders setting butterflies free and people adopting pets. (See my friend Ginny Wargo for Dobies)

On GMA this morning there was a great story about the Robin Hood Foundation and their Lemon-aid program in support of the imporverished. It was empowering and feel-good, all at the same time.

I know we have to take the bitter with the sweet. That is the nature of life. But sometimes I am overwhelmed at the bad, negative news that surrounds, engulfs us, every day.

Personally… I vote for more sweet, less bitter.

Feel Good Friday, July 25, 2014

July 25th, 2014 No comments

When your life and your work revolve around the Hospitality Industry, it’s natural to spend significant time in bars and restaurants. They typically feature an amiable atmosphere as well as food and drink.

A couple nights ago I had dinner out with some of my best friends. Most people have different groups of friends and they don’t always mix them together. This night I did. After a couple cocktails at the bar, we moved to a table where it was easier to talk.

The verbal dance of discovery, where strangers get to know one another better, is a beautiful thing to hear. “Where are you from” is usually right up front because in Florida hardly anyone is from here. As conversations expand we find out more about our friends and even find things we never knew about the ones we thought we knew so well. At times those conversations lead us to understand things we never knew about ourselves.

Of course we all know not to talk about religion or politics in a bar, but as soon as you tell someone not to do something, that’s usually what they do. I suppose it’s human nature.

The sharing and camaraderie brings us all closer. New friends and old friends mix together and become a new dynamic entity and we are all richer for the expansion of the “Friends Ring”.

I love these Feel Good Friday posts. They so often give me pause to reflect on how wonderful the simple moments in our life can be. Is there really anything more precious in life to share than a friend? I think not.

Best and Worst Cities in America

July 24th, 2014 No comments

I saw an article on MSN.com today about the 10 happiest and unhappiest cities in America. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, I have never lived in any city on either list.

Some of them I might have guessed. Some took me completely by surprise and one thing made me question my choice of city of residence for the first time since I moved to SE Florida nearly 40 years ago.

Starting with the worst, 10 through 1 included: Scranton-Wilkes-Barre-Hazleton, Pennsylvania, followed by Gary, Indiana, Jersey City, Detroit, Toledo, Evansville, Indiana, Erie, Pa, Southbend, Indiana, St. Joseph, Missouri and of course NY, NY. I’m slightly troubled by the purportedly “Greatest City in the World” also being the unhappiest city in America. But hey… not my list, not my town, no sweat off my back.

It was the happiest cities that caught me by surprise. The top 5, and 6 of the top ten are all in Louisiana. How does that happen? Only one is in Florida; #10, Fort Walton Beach. Nashville comes in at 9 and then back to Louisiana for #8, Lake Charles, followed by Corpus Christy, Texas and Rochester, Minnesota. The top 5 happiest cities in order are Alexandria, Baton Rouge, Shreveport, Houma and Lafayette, Louisiana.

I’ve never even heard of Houma. Maybe that’s why they’re so happy.

So my history of residences in Middletown, Ohio, Frankfort and Owensboro, Kentucky, a half dozen towns in Broward County Florida, as well as Brewster, Dennisport and Boston, Mass, don’t make either list. Maybe I shouldn’t complain.

Congrats to the winners, and a hearty “Better luck next time” to the also-rans. It’s subjective. I’m happy and content where I am, and my friends all over America make it all feel like home to me.

WEiRd WeDneSDaY, July 23, 2014

July 23rd, 2014 No comments

Oh, baby. We got it going on this week. Sex and stupidity… they seem to go hand in hand. Did you hear about the guy who tried to have sex with a beer can? How about the lady who shot her mate over what she thought was bad sex? That’s the sex, then the stupidity includes the bank robber who robbed the same bank and teller after he got out of prison for the previous heist. I love the one about the guy who ran from the cops and straight in to a Law Enforcement Training Academy. Brilliant! Speaking of cops, you may not be quite ready for the one who stole his son’s girlfriend’s underwear. Oh there’s more, my friends. It’s Weird Wednesday at Bolognabrain.com… relax for a few minutes and enjoy…

Maverick is the name…

July 21st, 2014 No comments

When I was a kid, Sunday night television started after dinner with Walt Disney, then shows my parents liked. Saturday and Sunday nights were the family nights because dad worked 3 – 11. There were great shows back then, that, even as a child, I enjoyed too. It was quality writing and acting. The Defenders, Perry Mason and others, but my favorite was always Maverick.

The situations in which brothers Brett, Bart and Beau would find themselves were always entertaining.

Over the years, and different television series I finally realized what I really liked was a certain kind of character. It was that nice guy who would really rather not get involved but who had a moral and ethical center that always made him do the right thing. And there was a lovely lady in distress… like it or not, they always came to the rescue.

I think of that character as the Brett Maverick, Jim Rockford, Travis McGee personality. But nobody did it better than James Garner as Brett Maverick.
He passed away a couple days ago and I was genuinely saddened.

While I sat at the computer and thought of the many different roles he played on television and in film, I decided to go to Wikipedia to check it out. I’ll give you the link in case you would like to visit yourself, but here, in a very impressive nutshell are his numbers:
He starred in several television series over more than five decades, most notably Maverick and The Rockford Files,
Garner also starred in more than 50 films, including The Great Escape (1963), The Americanization of Emily (1964), Grand Prix (1966), Blake Edwards’ Victor Victoria (1982), Murphy’s Romance (1985), for which he received an Academy Award nomination, Space Cowboys (2000), and The Notebook (2004).

Pretty impressive body of work.

He always had that sly smile that made you feel like you were on the inside of an inside joke. You almost could not help but like him. They don’t make many like James Garner. I’m certainly glad I could enjoy his talents during my lifetime. So long, Jim…

Feel Good Friday, July 18, 2014

July 18th, 2014 No comments

Summer vacation is nearly half over, depending on when your kids go back to school. Through the heat and the rain, it’s still all good.

This morning I played tennis with my buddies in Plantation and, at Central Park, where I play, they have a young person’s tournament going on. Between the teenagers, their parents, friends, coaches and judges, it’s a fairly hectic atmosphere. We were bumped from one court to a different court to accommodate the competitors. No problem. We are old guys who rather enjoy watching the youngsters coming up in the game as they hone their skills and dream of incredible futures.

Central Park in Plantation, Florida is a remarkable facility and in addition to the tennis tournament going on this week, there was a swim meet taking place at the aquatic facility across the parking lot. There were literally hundreds of cars and streams of competitors and their support teams making their way to the appropriate field, or pool, lay it all out there in search of victory. I love that.

For me… that’s the problem with the recent World Cup. (Yawn). For me sports is about victory or defeat. I want a winner and a loser. As proud as American Soccer fans were about how well our team represented the nation, I still can’t figure out how they lose and move on to the next round. I don’t understand games ending in a 0-0 tie. Somebody fix that for Christ’s sake. And while you’re at it, fix hockey, too. If you’re not going to be eliminated, why give your all?

In tennis, I warm up for a few minutes, but I want to get to the playing part. Here’s the difference. I don’t run down every shot during warm up. If it’s out of my reach, why bother. Now if there is a point at stake, I move my feet and my ass in every effort to make the play and win the rally. It’s as simple as that.

So here I am this morning leaving the park after losing straight sets. I really let my partner down today. Lost the second set in a tiebreaker. More like a heartbreaker. As I’m winding my way through the incoming traffic and myriad parked cars, I couldn’t help but think how great it is to have a superior park system and opportunities for kids, (and seniors) to get out and play, be with friends, make friends, compete and, no matter how you define it, try to be the best you can be. It’s a beautiful thing.

So you wonder what I feel good about today? In a word…EVERYTHING.

The Infernal Revenue Service

July 17th, 2014 No comments

Due to a misunderstanding, I have a rather substantial obligation to an agency of the United States Government which due to potential repercussions, I prefer to leave nameless. What I’ll do is change the name to protect the guilty. I’ll call them The Infernal Revenue Service.

After having discussions with numerous agencies within this Super Agency, I have made no progress in over a year of trying to make a deal with them. Monday, I showed up to speak with someone face to face. I arrived at 10:00 in the morning and they informed me they had no one available to see me until after 3:30 that afternoon. Could I come back then? I replied I had a job that not only helped me pay my back debt, but at the same time created a new income stream for them by providing additional taxable income; an absolute win/win for The Infernal Revenue Service.

This morning I set my clock for 6:30 so I could be there in line by 7:30 and could, hopefully, see someone today. At 7:30 I was number 15 in line. At 8:30 they allowed the first 10 people in line to enter the building and escape the heat and humidity that was making the wait outside nearly unbearable. By this time there were another 30+ people behind me in line.

I get in. My call number is #909. They immediately call #402. I think I’m going to die here. But it turns out all the numbers were not in order. Leave it to the government to make things run smoothly. At least I’m sitting and there is AC.

Finally, I get called and the lady behind the glass was wonderful. Yeah. Surprised me too.

After explaining the situation and what I hoped to accomplish, we came up with a solution that although, not exactly what I wanted, was acceptable to them and to me. But…

I had to leave. Go to my bank and bring them a Cashier’s Check, because they don’t take debit/credit cards. The lovely lady behind the glass did give me a “Get out of Jail Free” that allowed me to return without waiting another hour in line.

I give her the check. She’s happy. I’m not happy, but slightly content that I’m finally making progress towards ending this showdown.

As she sets me up for an on-line payment account, she mentions there is a fee to do this. I’m thinking it’s about $20 for a simple software app to do this in about a nanosecond, but it’s $120. But the good news is… they will deduct it from my first payment. Jump for friggin’ joy.

So progress has been made. I was compelled to write this out of aggravation. I have no doubt since it reflects negatively on an agency of the Federal Government, that they are watching, reading and probably tapping my phone. I will probably go to prison or be shot/hanged/lethally injected for daring to question my government that gives billions of dollars to foreign countries that hate us, but won’t listen to a simple explanation of how a simple mistake created thousands of dollars of debt for me and show a modicum of understanding and forgiveness.

Remember the old Peter Sellers movie, The Mouse that Roared, about Grand Fenwick, the tiny, insolvent country that declared war on America, then immediately surrendered and collected foreign aid? I think I’m taking my bean shooter and squirt gun and heading for Washington.

WEiRd WeDneSDaY, July 16, 2014- Almost Weird Thursday

July 16th, 2014 No comments

(Because of Usedtoy becoming a papaw, Weird Wednesday is a little late.)

It’s time for another installment of Weird Wednesday at Bolognabrain.com. Be forewarned, some of these stories are so ridiculously stupid you may actually scratch your head in wonder. Headlines include the latest rage to hit New York… butt facials. It may not be what you think. We have the guys smoking heroin at a favorite children’s pizza hangout, a Taco Bell employee shooting at a customer with his BB gun, and a man stabbing a watermelon in a manner that suggested impending violence. And that’s not all. We have the guy captured wearing women’s clothes he stole from Diddies and Doodads, and the dumbest thing ever said to a cop during a DUI stop. You know what it is. You know you want it. Welcome to Weird Wednesday…

Feel Good Friday July 11, 2014

July 11th, 2014 No comments

I am always aware of how blessed I am to be able to make a living playing music. The old saying “If you love what you do, you never go to work a day in your life” describes me pretty accurately.

I have encountered trying times in my life. Like now. But the music has always been there to carry me through. As I ponder my current circumstances, getting older, being alone, I could wallow in pity and despair. Instead, I seem to be playing/performing/working more; re-connecting with old friends and making new friends. And the beautiful thing is my music provides comfort and a release for tension and drama.
Music and brain
I am learning new songs, something I am not always so good about. Still, when I learn something new, it is probably old. I’m working on Five O’clock Somewhere and Darius Rucker’s remake of the old Dylan tune Wagon Wheel. Classic songs never grow old. Wish I could say the same for me.

Earlier this week I played a reunion party for a waterfront bar that happens to be the very first place I ever sang in Ft. Lauderdale. This coming January will mark the 40th anniversary of that night. The fun thing is that former owners, employees and customers came out to reflect and remember the old days at Durty Nellies Saloon on the Intracoastal Waterway. It was a great bar with a great location, a great reputation and, if I do say so myself… pretty damn good music.

They say music soothes the savage beast. Not many people think I’m savage. I think more believe I’m a pussycat. I like that better, anyway. Meow…

As we age, conversations about running out of time and enjoying what we have and what we have left seem to occur more frequently. I never thought I’d make it to 30 years of age. But once I did, I thought I’d live forever. I find myself re-thinking that belief as I realize I’m way closer to the end than the beginning. Still, the music never fails to get me through. My new idea is that I want to just keel over dead, sitting on a barstool with my guitar in my hands.

My friend, JC, insists he wants to go peacefully, in his sleep, like his grandfather… not like the people who were riding in the back seat of the car.

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Bang Bang

July 10th, 2014 No comments

The long forth of July weekend in Chicago featured 82 people who were shot and 14 of those people died. That’s only about a 17% kill ratio. Come on folks, we can do better than that…

Sorry for my sick sense of humor but those are unbelievably disgusting numbers. I’ve written about the gun issue in the past, but apparently no one is reading my opinions. Or trying to do anything about them.

As a kid raised on a farm I hunted with guns before I was 10 years old, I have no issue with owning or using a gun. I have no problem with hunters and sportsmen who play by the rules. However, no one needs an assault rifle to shoot Bambi or Gentle Ben.

I have maintained that the problem is handguns. Those cheap Saturday night specials are good for nothing except shooting another human; up close and personal. With those short barrels, they have so little accuracy one needs to be within spitting distance to hit a target. They’re not for sport. They’re for killing.

They should be outlawed, banned, confiscated whenever possible and melted down for scrap.

My heart goes out to the families of the wounded and killed. Although I have a feeling this may just be another day in the life for these folks. The article I read mentioned most of the shootings came in some of the most violent sections of South Chicago. I always heard the south side of Chicago was the baddest part of town.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said “All of us need to take a stand.” That’s the same kind of noncommittal leadership he endorsed when he jumped ship on Obama, seeing the end of the presidency might not be pretty. Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy was more pragmatic blaming the violence on the proliferation of firearms, while calling for tougher gun laws and prosecution.

Eighty-two people shot and or killed over a four day span. That’s sick. Multiply that by every major city in America. Toss in the small and medium sized towns and you start to talk serious numbers.

I know I sit here at my keyboard and whine without offering solutions, but I believe we need to start by banning the import of these small handguns. We have to provide incentives for American firearms manufacturers to forgo the production of these weapons and focus on quality and safety instead of cheap, affordable killing devices. When we get those weapons off the street, destroy them so they don’t recycle and live to kill again.

Too many people are dying because there are too many guns in the hands of too many crazies who should not have them. It may not be the most popular solution but it sure seems better than the status quo.

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