Where did all my BILFs go?

bubbles

When Brown Road Chronicles was at its peak back in late 2013 before I took my fourteen month-long sabbatical, I had a long list of BILFs. This list was an extraordinary compilation of BILFs culled from many intensive years of blogging, liking, reading, and commenting. Sometimes even just a quick glance at a blogger’s avatar and I instantly knew that they’d be a strong candidate for my list of BILFs. More importantly, a timely, well thought out blog post or comment, full of voluptuous and shapely words that exemplified years of writing experience was sure to get a blogger on my list of BILFs.

So, what had once been a short list of BILFs when I had first started blogging had over time grown into a long list of about seventy-five BILFs.

What was I going to do with all these BILFs? I could barely keep track of all of them. I felt overwhelmed.

Several times I tried condensing my list of BILFs. But it was challenging and complicated because once you’ve determined a blogger is a BILF it’s difficult to just scratch them off of a list.

Plus these were all BILFs who wrote words that were fresh and polished and sexy. These were BILFs who wrote words that exuded sophistication and competency. These were BILFs who were no doubt seasoned and mature, full of deep metaphors and profound thoughts and humor.

Especially humor. Because, although a blogger can dress their site up with lots of fancy imagery, a good sense of humor is one of the primary means of becoming one of my BILFs.

But something had to give.

One day I dug down deep and found the strength. I fired up WordPress and sorted through the long list of BILFs, hour after hour, contemplating whether each was really still a BILF or if I was hanging on to old memories, remembering old posts, focusing on days gone past. Some of the BILFs had long since abandoned their sites, given up, stopped trying. Those were the simplest BILFs to say goodbye to. They weren’t BILFs anymore and they were easy to cross off the list, although there were a select number of these inactive BILFs who were my very first BILFs and who I decided should always remain.

Then there were the BILFs who were still around but who just didn’t have the same appeal as when we had first met. They had become old and stale and boring and with some clarity of thought I was able to determine that they were no longer BILFs either and they were removed from my list. It was a long process but I was able to narrow the list from about seventy-five BILFs down to about fifty BILFs.

That’s about how many BILFs I have now, approximately fifty. I have met a few new BILFs since I reopened Brown Road Chronicles at the beginning of the year and I am looking forward to getting to know those BILFs better. But on a recent scan through those original fifty or so BILFs I discovered that only about twenty, at best, are still active. Perhaps it’s time to sort through the list of BILFs again.

Now let’s be frank here, in this widespread community of talent there’s certainly no shortage of BILFs. And now that I’m back at this on a pretty steady basis, I’d definitely like to discover some new BILFs.

So here’s your job.

If you’re a regular here, you should have a good read on my personality and sense of humor. In the comments section, please recommend one or two of your BILFs… bloggers that you like to follow… that you think I might like to follow as well.

I’ll take a look and perhaps they’ll become one of my BILFs too.

My Bloggers I Like to Follow….

What did you think I was talking about?!?

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Playing like a Kid

I limped my way into the house about 9:15 pm, dragging my left leg along the ground like some kind of Quasimodo. I dropped my basketball shoes into the giant, overflowing pile of footwear by the door and took off my coat.

“Short night” I grumbled to my family as they looked up, surprised to see me home earlier than usual.

I play basketball on most Monday nights with a bunch of other older guys ranging in age from late 30’s to mid 50’s. That along with working out three or four times a week keeps me in not great, but pretty good shape. I play because I love the game. I play because I love the competition. I feel like a teenager when I’m out there and it’s so much more fun than tedious time spent lifting weights or doing endless amounts of aerobic activity. Plus I want my kids to see that even at forty-seven years old I can still go out and run around and play like a kid. They’ll remember that some day when they reach my age and they’re questioning whether to put on their athletic shoes and tie up the laces.

As a group us old guys play hard but we are careful to avoid injuries. None of us need that at our ages. Recovery time is a lot slower now than it was when we were younger.

Occasionally it happens though.

I blew out my left calf muscle this past Monday night, about ten minutes into our first game, while stealing a pass and breaking down the court to score a basket. As I accelerated I felt a sharp pain, a “pop” if you will, and knew it wasn’t good.

Recounting the story to my family when I got home, my daughter asked “so you scored though right?”

“Yeah I scored” I answered.

“That’s what’s most important” she said with a grin on her face.

“I guess so” I said as I frantically tried to secure a bag of ice my wife had retrieved for me around my calf muscle using an old t-shirt.

It hurt like hell. It was rapidly tightening up like a rubber band being turned on a toy propeller car. It swelled up and for the first time in my life, at least on my left leg, I had what I would consider a normally sized calf muscle and not the usual matchsticks that hold me up.

I finally got the ice secured with an elastic bandage rather than the t-shirt.

I drank a big glass of water, took a few ibuprofen and felt a little nauseous.

I tried to pretend that I didn’t feel like I was going into shock.

I Googled Aaron Rodgers calf injury because if you aren’t aware the famed quarterback for the Green Bay Packers was dealing with a similar injury during the last several games of his season. I thought about how people crack jokes about him and call him things like “the golden boy” but that he must be some kind of a serious bad ass to have played several PROFESSIONAL NFL FOOTBALL GAMES with what I can only imagine was a similarly painful left leg.

The articles I read said his recovery was expected to take 4-6 weeks.

What? 4-6 weeks? I don’t have 4-6 weeks!

Oh well, it is what it is. And hey, if anyone asks I can boast that I have the same injury as Aaron Rodgers, just us two pretty boys sitting around with torn calf muscles. Pretty good company I suppose.

When I get the occasional injury like this, playing a game that I probably should have stopped participating in years ago, I always contemplate “retiring.”

“Retiring” from playing like a kid.

In fact, I pretty much consider it every Tuesday morning as I haul myself out of bed, creaking and in pain from the previous night’s exertions. It usually goes something like this:

On one shoulder, a yogi, dressed in spandex and doing a Downward Dog while gently advising me: “Steve, maybe you’re too old to be playing basketball. Perhaps some gentle stretching would be better for you.”

On the other shoulder, my late grandfather, who spent his career as a teacher and football coach at a private boarding school yelling his now infamous quote: “look down between your legs and see if you’re a man!” (You can read more about him here)

But I just can’t seem to retire yet. I still want to play like a kid.

It’s kind of like that morning when you wake up with a really bad hangover and you tell yourself “ugh… I’m never drinking again.”

Never seems to work out like you planned.

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Anyone know where I put my keys?

“Who was it that went to the piscine?”my wife asked the other day as she walked into our family room where I was sitting watching television.

I wasn’t sure what sparked the question, although conversations about the French language have recently been popping up in our home as my son is taking the class in middle school. It’s a story I’d shared with her before.

“Phillipe” I responded. “I’ll remember that for the rest of my life!”

***********************

When I started taking French classes in New York, in 7th grade of Junior High (that’s what us old people called “middle school” back in the day) we had a French textbook that we would read from.

“Open up to lesson one, we are going read aloud” the teacher would say. She would always read the lines first so we had at least some guidance as to how we should sound.

Speaker 1:  “Où est Sylvie?”

Speaker 2:  “Au lycée.”

Then she would point out some poor kid in the front row to start and one by one each student in class would read the two-line conversation, trying desperately not to mangle the words.

Once the last student had read, the teacher would continue.

“Please turn to the next page.”

Again she would read first before asking each student to read aloud.

Speaker 1: “Où est Phillipe?”

Speaker 2: “À la piscine.”

Some kids would get it right, some would get it sort of right. Some kids, especially those with the thickest Long Island, New York accents, would read the text and the teacher would follow-up with a long dissertation on tongue placement, including lots of nasally sounds and exaggerated lip formations.

During that one year of 7th grade French class I’d estimate each student read those four lines somewhere in the neighborhood of 4,726,864 times. Who says rote school lessons don’t work?

I never really learned much French even after taking four years in secondary school and another two semesters in college. I just was never very interested, I guess. But, I’ll tell you this… when I’m on my deathbed someday, I’ll still know where the hell both Sylvie and Phillipe were!

***********************

In my junior high school there was this kid named Peter Curto. He was an eighth grader when I was a seventh grader. Peter was a tough kid, with long, sandy brown hair and always dressed in jeans, heavy black boots, a t-shirt and even while inside the school he’d be sporting one of several denim jackets he owned that were decorated on the back with full-size appliqués of rock bands like Led Zeppelin and Blue Oyster Cult. Our school called these kids “heads” back then or “dirtbags” if you really wanted to pull out a derogatory description for someone.

Peter was not a mean guy, at least not that I remember. He wasn’t necessarily intimidating like some of the kids in junior high that looked like they were thirty-five years old with beards and muscles and thick silver chains connecting their wallets to their belts, while I was working my hardest to just barely sprout out a few pubic and armpit hairs.

I knew Peter smoked cigarettes and assumed he was involved in plenty of other illicit activities. I sometimes wondered what his home life was like, but in reality I didn’t really know him very well. But for whatever reason he would often sit at the same lunch table with me and my posse of unbelievably dorky friends. There we would be, clustered around a table in the cafeteria, my friends and I dressed in khakis and Izod polo shirts and eating Wonder Bread Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches that our Mom’s had made and packed up in a brown paper bags for us to bring to school. And there would be Peter Curto, in the middle of all of us, perhaps like a bouncer or security guard, but more likely standing out like a Biker at a Mensa convention.

One day during lunch, Peter came to the table a little bit late, carrying a banana. He sat across from me and I watched as he cracked the stem of the banana and started tearing its yellow peel off. He didn’t say anything to the group, just worked on peeling that banana until he was holding the bottom like a handle with three or four sections of peel hanging over his hand. Then he took a big bite, chewed it up and swallowed it, looked over at me and said “man, I fucking love bananas!”

That’s it…that’s the story.

***********************

I don’t know why I remember that day or more specifically that five or so minutes of my life. Or those four lines from my 7th grade French textbook. It’s really not information that needs to be socked away in my brain like some important document or cherished family heirloom tightly secured in a lock-box at the bank. There are many other seemingly irrelevant moments in my life that I clearly remember as well, to the point where I have this mental list in my memory of minor events, conversations, passing happenings, that frankly I shouldn’t be remembering but likely always will. Remembering each one, of course, reinforces it even stronger.

Sometime as I get older and more forgetful, I wonder how much brainpower and space this stuff is taking up.

If I could get rid of some of these memories, maybe I wouldn’t have such a hard time remembering where I put my keys.

Perhaps I left them “á la piscine.”

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DeflateGate: The Political Debates

TOM BRADY

Democrats: Bush deflated the balls to trick us into believing the Patriots are a national threat.

Republicans: Obama deflated the balls so he could hand out free air to everyone.

Libertarians: Hey, it’s a free world, the Patriots can do whatever they want, screw these big government rules.

Green Party: We deflated the balls, we shouldn’t be wasting scarce, high quality air inside footballs anyway.

Tea Party: Who is paying for all this anyway? Let’s have a protest!

Constitution Party: George Washington didn’t lie when he got caught cutting down the cherry tree!

Independents: Could we please stop arguing about this and get something relevant accomplished?!?!

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Psssst… George, you’re killing us over here.

Clooney

George, c’mon, seriously?!? You just said all that gushy, romantic shit on TV? At an awards ceremony no less? Dude, what the fuck, did you not read the handbook they gave you when you got married? C’mon, it’s the handbook… THE HANDBOOK… and you were supposed to read it! But obviously you didn’t. Or maybe you just skimmed through it like some kind of savant and thought “whatevs, I got this, I’m George Fucking Clooney.” But you should have read it… especially the part about not showing up all your fellow men in front of other women… especially millions of other women!

The morning after the Golden Globes my family and I were sitting around with the TV on and all the stations were recapping the highlights of the previous evening’s festivities. I didn’t watch the awards, it doesn’t really interest me. Maybe the rest of the family watched some of it, I don’t really know. But the highlight among highlights was apparently when George Clooney got up on stage to accept a Lifetime Achievement Award and after thanking a bunch of people he (more or less) said this:

“So congratulations to all of you for having a very good year. I’ve had a pretty good year myself. Listen, it’s a humbling thing when you find someone to love. Even better if you’ve been waiting your whole life and when your whole life is 53 years. Amal, whatever alchemy it is that brought us together I couldn’t be more proud to be your husband.”

Upon seeing a short recap of this part of the speech that morning, my 14 year old son turned to me and jokingly asked “Dad, how come you never do that for Mom?”

I smiled and listened closely for the inevitable chortle from my wife.

“Do what?” I answered.

“Give a romantic speech like that” he said, egging me on.

I thought for a minute and then replied with the best I could come up with. “Well, I guess because no one has ever thought I deserved to receive a really prestigious award like that.”

“That’s because you don’t” chimed in my 17 year old daughter with a smart-ass smirk on her face.

Wow, tough crowd!

Look, I can dress up nice and “product” up my hair and stand around and look handsome with the best of them. But I’ll admit, I’ve never been that great in the “romance department”. Apparently a lot of guys aren’t if you take a long stroll through the ROMANCE section at the local Barnes and Noble.

But what really is romance? Is it what you see on the screen at a movie theatre? Is it what you read in a $6.99 paperback you found in the book section of a Wal-Mart? Is it pouring your heart out at a gala event of overpriced celebrities while our materialistic, gossip driven world watches in awe?

Perhaps on rare occasion it’s those things.

Or is it climbing onto the whirling carnival ride of life with someone you love and frantically pulling down the security bar… a ride that starts slow but before you know it is moving and spinning and you’re hanging on for dear life through weeks and months and years of changing shitty diapers, not sleeping, driving to a million of your kid’s sporting events, lifting them up when they’re down and guiding them to places you’d always felt you should have gone, celebrating victories and mourning losses, working endless hours to pay endless bills, watching family and friends battle illness and tragedies and everything else the world wants to fast-pitch, 90 miles per hour at you on a daily basis… only to be the happiest two people on earth when you’re given ten minutes at the end of the day to share a glass of wine and talk about anything other than the carnival ride that’s just stopped for a short moment to let a few people off and welcome a few new people on.

“Three tickets please.”

No author or screen-writer is making a living off of that story. Maybe no one is even writing that story. But maybe that’s what romance really is.

Had I actually been watching the Golden Globes, when those words poured out of Clooney’s mouth like an oversize serving of mushy cream-of-wheat being scooped from a cast iron cauldron into a cereal bowl, I imagine I would have heard the collective swooning sighs of millions of breathless women and the sounds of flapping pages as all of the Nicholas Sparks books sitting on shelves lifted off in unison and began flying around houses like doves at a royal wedding.

That’s a tough act to follow.

But it’s fiction. He’s a celebrity. He’s not real life.

I have nothing against George Clooney. I like him as an actor. He’s probably a great guy and he gave a speech that evening that was honest and moving and inspirational. He’s certainly one of the most handsome celebrities around right now. MAN is he fucking handsome! He seems compassionate and whether you agree with his politics or not, he actively uses his fame and wealth in many philanthropic ways and I respect that.

He and his new wife have probably just climbed onto their own version of the whirling carnival ride.

The toothless “carnie” is standing in the control booth with a pocket full of tickets, ready to push the start button.

George, you need to read the damn handbook…

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An Ode from Naughty to Heath

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Our goat Heath died back in July of 2014. Although this is not current news, as I was not writing at the time, this milestone did not make it onto Brown Road Chronicles. To those that have not been around since the beginning of this blog, Heath was one of the first two goats we had here at Brown Road and half of the “World Famous Goats” Naughty and Heath, stars of many-a-story as BRC was growing into an epic World Famous blog. Heath was a storied creature with painted fur, regal horns and an exquisitely coiffed beard. If you are interested, some of the highlights are here:

Goats in Coats

A Primer on the Rampant Stereotyping of Hillbilly Goats

When Goats Eat Remotes

A Cease and Desist Letter to  McDonald’s from My Attorneys

Lost… Goat Style!

A Moment in Time

Brown Road Chronicles T-shirts

Heath was an old goat and died peacefully of old age. He had been failing for some time and although the thought to put him down was constantly in the back of our minds, he seemed mostly content and so we put off the inevitable. He laid on his side one night in a stall in the barn, unable to get up, and we knew nature would take its course.

In good hillbilly fashion, we cremated him the following evening in a large bonfire, while we sat around and reminisced. Kim and I drank a bunch of wine and got drunk and cried a little bit. That night when I went into the barn I saw Naughty scratching something into the dirt floor while the other goats watched. I sat down on a stump of wood in the barn, sipping from my glass and waited for him to finish before running inside and grabbing a note pad and pencil.

This is what it said:

Oh Heath, my friend, I’ll miss you now, so here I share this simple ode
To honor thou, the life we shared in grassy fields on old Brown Road
Transcendent summer days we spent in speckled sun and dappled shade
And hunkered down inside our barn when winter brought its white cascade

Our days went by with scarce a thought what legacy we’d soon behold
But fame it grew in local lore with anecdotal stories told
In fictive tales and epic yarns of life amongst the Warner brood
Your star shined bright amongst the breadth of stories read and photos viewed

But battles, though we may win some, against thine adversary, age
That time must come, when all that’s left is that which dons the printed page
So I move on to coming days with Holly, Ella, Jack and Moo
But filled with cherished memories of special times I spent with you

Yeah, I was impressed too. RIP Heath, we’ll keep the Brown Road Chronicles legacy going!

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Traveling to Canada: A Guide for Dumb Americans

I recently spent some time in Ontario, Canada for a business trip. I’d been to Canada before but only for very brief visits. This time I had a whole week though so I was able to thoroughly engulf myself in the whole culture and society. I know us American’s sometimes are not the most well liked when we visit a foreign country because we seem either dumb or elitist or arrogant. So here are six general things I learned that might help you assimilate easier in case you ever need to travel to Canada. I have a lot of Canadian friends that subscribe and read this blog too, so please don’t hesitate to help out if there’s anything you’d like to add.

1. Canadians can speak a lot of languages. Even though the national language is Canadian, like a lot of foreign countries, most of the people are capable of and willing to speak English when talking to Americans. They’re pretty good at it too, except some of them are hard to understand when saying words like “out” and “about” and “trout” and “pout”. One guy said he was “out and about” and I thought he said he was “oat in a boat” and I got confused and pretended I got a phone call and had to excuse myself. In Canadian they also call the bathroom the washroom instead of the restroom which is confusing because it implies people are washing in there instead of resting and bathing and for the first several days there I didn’t know where to go to the bathroom. There’s also a lot of people in Canada that speak French which is weird because I didn’t think Canada was anywhere near France.

2. Canadians are really nice. I mean really nice! Maybe the nicest people I’ve ever met. I’d heard that about Canadians before but now I’ve confirmed it’s most definitely true. Every last one of them that I bumped into was super nice, even the one I bumped into with my car apologized for getting in my way. I bet the two Gopher’s from the Warner Brother’s cartoons were Canadian. Sure, I haven’t traveled extensively, only to Mexico and a few tropical islands and now Canada so I’m sure there are some mean Canadians out there. Probably not very many though. Even the Canadian Border Agents were really nice. They were very polite and smiley and happy to see me as opposed to the U. S. Border Agents who seemed very snarly and mean and had a lot of scary attack dogs around.

3. Canadians have money that’s very colorful and some of it has little plastic windows where you can see through the money. It’s pretty weird and you can waste a lot of time looking through the plastic part to see what the world looks like through money. They also have weird names for some of their money like Loonies and Toonies. When I first got there I went into a bank to exchange $40 and had this conversation:

Me: Hi, can you exchange out some American money for me? Just an assortment, but include some quarters please, as I need to pay parking meters.

Teller: Would you like any Loonies and Toonies?

Me: Excuse me?

Teller: Would you like any Loonies and Toonies?

Me: (panic) Uhhhh….. je ne don’t speaké…. uhhh…. Canadian… eh?

Teller: Yeah, I’ll just give you some bills.

4. Canadians use something called the Metric System. I know, I have recollections of this stuff being taught to us in the 1970’s too. On the highways Canadians are allowed to drive 100 which I really liked because it was super fast and I could get places quickly even though most of the locals didn’t seem to be driving that fast. But I got a bunch of speeding tickets while I was there too which I didn’t understand because I thought I was only going 100. Maybe the police aren’t as nice as the rest of the Canadians. The whole metric system is really weird though, apparently people there think it’s easier to measure and count everything in increments of 10’s rather than dozens and 4’s and 8’s and 16’s and the difference between 32 and 212. I don’t get it.

5. Canadian cities are very clean and safe with not a lot of vagrant types or homeless people. In one city I actually saw a female city worker climb out of a white official city work truck and pick up two or three leaves from the side of the road. I thought that maybe she was just working extra hard or that maybe she was working on a craft or something that needed some leaves. The cities also seemed very safe and a man on the radio said there were only about 500 homicides in Canada last year which I thought couldn’t be right since there were probably at least that many in Chicago alone during the same period. So I called up the radio station to ask if he had made a mistake and he said no, but then he was so nice and said I was the 12th caller and I ended up winning two tickets to a Maple Leafs game which was pretty cool.

6. It’s hard to buy wine in Canada which is weird because I’d always heard that Canadians liked to drink. In the U.S. the average grocery store has an aisle the length of two football fields full of wine. In Canada, if you can find a grocery store that actually sells wine, it’s in these little mini-stores inside the grocery store which are about as big as a bathroom and you have to actually talk to the clerk and pretend to be a sophisticated sommelier American while you are frantically scanning the shelves to find the cheapest wine they sell. They also sell some of their wine in Milk Cartons. On the other hand on every corner are these giant stores called “BEER STORE” so apparently they’d rather have you drinking beer than wine. I didn’t see a single place to buy actual liquor though. Maybe that’s why there are not very many vagrant types or homeless people.

So that’s all you need to know about traveling to Canada! Oh, and make sure your passport is up to date.

Safe travels!

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