The Annual Thanksgiving Mudbowl

Bookmark and Share

mudbowl-1434436-1598x1062Bring an old weathered football up to your nose, close your eyes, and take a good whiff. Can you smell it? Do images of sweaty muddied gruff men, caked with sweat and blood, move in slow motion within your brain? Do your muscles tighten in pleasant anticipation at the thought of the gridiron? If so, then congratulations. You are part of a dying breed, a member of a secret society that long ago closed its doors to new applicants.

Well, not exactly. Those doors  remain open today and they will forever stay open. It’s just that, in an era of prefabricated microwave cooking, no one wants to go through the Continue Reading “The Annual Thanksgiving Mudbowl”

What The University of Chicago Can Teach Yale

Bookmark and Share

nathan_hale_statue_flanked_by_two_soldiers_yale_university_1917They took all incoming freshman on a special tour within a day of our arrival at the campus in New Haven. Those were ancient times, when many (like me) had neither the time nor the treasure to visit colleges prior to matriculation (let alone application). To this day, one fact from that introductory outing stands out in my much more crowded brain – the visit inside and around Connecticut Hall. Completed in 1757, this last remaining survivor of Yale’s “Old Brick Row” served as a dormitory for nearly two centuries. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1965.

But that’s not what I remember.

Here’s what I remember: First, there was some obscure graffiti left on an interior wall. Supposedly more than a century old, I don’t remember what it said. All I remember feeling upon hearing this story is that college students have always been rascals and Yale apparently didn’t mind – and even glorified – these youthful misdemeanors.

The second memory carried far greater weight. Outside of Connecticut Hall stands a Continue Reading “What The University of Chicago Can Teach Yale”

You Can’t Go Home Again… Or Can You?

Bookmark and Share

20160806_130542“δὶς ἐς τὸν αὐτὸν ποταμὸν οὐκ ἂν ἐμβαίης.”

Heraclitus of Ephesus (535 BC – 475 BC) said this. He’s also the guy who introduced the term “Logos,” meaning “order” and “knowledge.” It’s more commonly referred to as “logic” and, together with Ethos and Pathos, represents one of the three modes of persuasion identified by Aristotle in Rhetoric (350BC).

Oh, yeah, if you’re like me and can’t read Greek, Heraclitus’s quote translates to: “You could not step twice into the same river.” And therein lies our tale.

Oddly, I found inspiration for this Commentary while researching for my upcoming book Continue Reading “You Can’t Go Home Again… Or Can You?”

To The Final Frontier… and BEYOND!

Bookmark and Share

Star_Trek_300As a kid, when you visit older cousins you rarely see, you step tentatively. Going through the front door of their house, you step tentatively. Pacing through their immaculate living room, you step tentatively. Finally, when the adults take their leave and you’re left alone with your cousin and he invites you into his play room, you step tentatively.

First of all, he’s older than you. That makes him smarter, which means he can trick you in almost every dimension. Second, he’s Continue Reading “To The Final Frontier… and BEYOND!”

Soaring With The Eagle… and Beyond

Bookmark and Share

Sam Carosa - IMG_7127-300x395It snows a lot in the towns south of Buffalo. That’s why they call them the snow belts. So when a young dad wants to teach his two small sons the fundamentals of football, he only has one option: The finished basement of the raised ranch home he built for his family.

That young dad was my father, and those two young sons were the six and seven year-old version of my brother and me. There we were, in our bare feet (lest we slip on the linoleum tiles), running and defending simple pass patterns drawn by our father on the cold basement floor. We’d take turns. One series of plays I was the receiver and Kenny was the defender. The next series of plays Kenny was the receiver and I was the defender. We could barely catch the oversized ball, let alone comprehend the intricacies of basic square outs, buttons, and hooks.

Yet we persevered. Such was our enthusiasm to play the sport that no amount of failure could discourage us. More important, though, were those reassuring words I remember my Continue Reading “Soaring With The Eagle… and Beyond”

America’s Pastime Sadly Past its Time

Bookmark and Share

worn-out-1423626I’ve been blessed to have lived a Norman Rockwell youth. Sure, I grew up in the gritty shadow of the Bethlehem Steel complex in the snowbelts south of Buffalo. Indeed, my elementary schools and my church were literally in those shadows. And, with my house abutting the New York State’s most famous interstate, the rush of Thruway traffic lulled me to sleep every night. (To this day people wonder how I can get to sleep when staying on the lower hotel floors in noisy New York City.)

Yet, despite the seemingly urban nature of my childhood environs, it endures as an idyllic Continue Reading “America’s Pastime Sadly Past its Time”

Always Open the Peanut Butter Jar First

Bookmark and Share

IMG_3093_cropI can’t remember what grade it was, but some teacher long ago taught me a valuable lesson. In fact, this lesson was so memorable I’m sure many other teachers have used it. I definitely know this was a grade school class, back in the days we only a handful of people knew how to program computers, so this was definitely not pertaining to the subject of coding digital devices. But it could have been. It’s a lesson every single technical writer must learn if he wants to keep his job.

You know what I’m talking about. How many of you have bought a kit of unassembled furniture, brimming with confidence you’ve outwitted Ruby Gordon (a popular furniture store that delivers ready-to-use products right to your door step). You open the box, dutifully sort all the pieces, and boldly open the instruction to begin the rest of your afternoon.

By early evening, your frustration exasperated by a delayed dinner, you suddenly realize Continue Reading “Always Open the Peanut Butter Jar First”

Don’t Confuse Grades with Accomplishments*

Bookmark and Share

optical-page-1-1561577By the time I reached the rank of college sophomore this real world adage had slapped me in the face. OK, that’s not quite the truth. It wasn’t the first time the concept slapped me in the face, and it wouldn’t be the last. Despite all this slapping and resulting sore cheeks, it has taken decades for the true meaning of this bromide to slowly ooze into my psyche. When I look back into my past, at all the times I failed to live by this maxim, my only response is a Homer Simpson-esque “D’oh!”

But I get ahead of myself.Continue Reading “Don’t Confuse Grades with Accomplishments*”

Cross Country Training (Notes from Riding Through the Heart of America)

Bookmark and Share

20160304_095457Nobody likes to hear the principal call your name through the loudspeaker. This is an eternal fear. It’s like one of those dreams where you wake up realizing you have a test you haven’t studied for (let alone in a course you’ve never attended class for). You never ever want to hear your name blared from some public address system (unless there’s a reward involved).

So, when I’m anonymously sitting in the makeshift shaft they call the Rochester train station (the new one is supposed to be ready this fall), you can understand why I suddenly Continue Reading “Cross Country Training (Notes from Riding Through the Heart of America)”

Here’s What Goes Through Your Mind When You’re About to Appear on a Live Network Broadcast

Bookmark and Share

WPIX.2016.05.04The alarm finally buzzed at 4:30am. I had already been up for three minutes. It’s weird. No matter what strange hour I need to get up for something, I’m always wide awake well before I need to be. I’m sure many of you won’t seem surprised by this, but my sleep cycles are not quite, shall we say “eastern time zone.” In general, 4:30 in the morning is a lot closer to when I usually go to bed than it is to when I usually get up. And I do more often than not get the requisite eight hours of sleep.

For some reason, I just wasn’t excited about this television appearance. To make sure we’re on the same page here, I must remind you that I am not famous enough not to get Continue Reading “Here’s What Goes Through Your Mind When You’re About to Appear on a Live Network Broadcast”