🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩
Books & Covers 🕮
Seeking Balance ⚖️
We’re taught at an early age to not judge a book by its cover. If I remember correctly, that was impressed upon me sometime around the first grade. Yet to be honest, I don’t think it’s a lesson that ever really sunk in. I imagine I’m not alone.
Case in point: It’s been a long while since I’ve watched American Idol. Yet when I did watch it, every season started out with auditions, and there was always this one person who would come out to eyerolls from Simon and that “Oh, honey, I’m so sorry” smile from Paula. She or he might look like a frumpy old woman — think Mrs. Doubtfire — or a skinny, awkward nerd. I and the rest of America would wait for something William Hung-esque to stumble forth … and then the person would start to sing.
We’d be wowed that this person so unlike what we think of when we imagine a great singer starts belting out such a powerful song. We’d be awed at the range and the power of their voice. We’d scream into the kitchen, “Honey! Come here! You’ve got to hear this!”
Simon would apologize sheepishly before voting to send the person to Hollywood, and Paula would jump over the table to hug her, and we’d feel good about ourselves because, hey, most of us at times feel like that awkward person up there on the stage of life, standing before those who would judge us by what we looked like instead of what is inside us.
If you haven’t heard the name, you’re not alone. If you haven’t heard the voice, you’re missing out on something. Boy The Elder, his girlfriend, Div, and I went to The Pageant in the Delmar Loop of St. Louis last night. It was about a year or so ago that BTE texted me, telling me I had to listen to this guy. BTE is very much like Wifey Poo in just about every way, but his deep love and appreciation of music comes from me — and he’s taken it to the next level.
I listened to Marcus King and was wowed. The voice is soulful, rich, powerful, able to go from sweet, soft melodies to James Brown-like screams in an instant. He is music. He’s what we all should be listening to.
He also looks like this:
Here’s the thing: I don’t want to write anything about how he looks. He is perfect just as he is. His story doesn’t need to be “look at the music that comes outta that guy.” No, this is about us, this is about how we do judge a book by its cover.
I’ll admit to my own failures here and put myself out on a limb in the hope you’ll nod your head. But I do look at a dude with a sleeve of tattoos and make judgments on everything from his career to his personal life. I do look at a woman with short hair, a more athletic build, no makeup and a certain walk and form opinions on her sexuality without any other evidence. I do see a large Black man walking toward me and think something completely different than if that person were a smaller white dude or a middle aged Asian woman. I don’t like any of these things about myself, but if I’m being honest, though I’m working on making this not true, right now, it still is true.
Marcus King can sing. Marcus King can perform. Marcus King can play the guitar like few others ever have… ever have. Marcus King is at home on stage entertaining people like he did the crowd last night in St. Louis. I was blessed to be there, blessed to be with my son and his amazing girlfriend. I’m exhausted this morning, as Marcus kept rolling until the very last second before the curfew kicked in, and then I had an hour drive home. It was 1,000% worth it.
Give the man a listen:
There’s something that’s been increasingly bugging me. It probably belongs more in the “Wrestling With Myself” section of this website, which is where I deal with figuring out who I am, why I am who I am and how I want to live my life, but here we are so here we go: I am not happy with the box I’ve been put in, put myself in and allowed myself to be shoved back into for a lot of my life.
Let me explain.
I was a good kid. No, I was far from angelic, and I got in my fair share of trouble and should have been in more trouble than I got in, were it not for being wily, wise and innocent-looking. I grew up doing The Right Thing and taking The Right Path. I Just Said No and was Kind To Others.
I worked relatively hard in school, got good grades (except for high school math. Fuck letters in math), graduated, went to college, figured out life through a myriad of trials and struggles and always kept going. I’ve been a good husband (better, these days), a good father (ditto), a good employee, a good basketball coach, a good home-fixer and a good whatever else I needed to be in the moment.
Again, have I been perfect? Absolutely not. But have I been good? Absolutely.
Around my 44th birthday, I started feeling really penned in. There was something inside me that was growing and struggling to get out, but I kept pushing it down, pushing it down, pushing it down. Then, in one week in July, I stopped fighting against it and decided to see what it was all about.
And here’s the thing: I loved it. That person was still good. That person still did The Right Thing. But it was The Right Thing by a different judge, a different standard. This John was less uptight, was more into living and being free and finding a path of his own choosing. This John felt alive.
Old John looked at This John and said, “tsk tsk tsk.” He wasn’t alone in doing that. Sadly, This John immediately got stuffed back deep down in his hole. The problem was that This John had seen the sunlight and wasn’t content to being shoved back inside. So he fought harder to get out. Oh, and did he ever get out.
This John grabbed onto the pendulum that had been stuck over in that “good” area and swung it way the hell over to the other side. Yes, there were many really amazing things that came from that. But a lot of good people got hurt in the process. This John had been given a few inches and took a few miles. And there was Old John, standing there saying, “Ya know, just because you got out doesn’t mean I’m not still here … that I don’t need to still be here.”
So Old John fought back.
And so it has gone for, well, far too fucking long. The four years since that time has been largely a constant struggle for control and numerous false starts down various paths in search of the ultimate destination: Contentment and Peace.
I have had too many “this is a significant moment!” moments to say this moment is significant. Too many of those significant moments have been those false starts or, when looked at with the benefit of some time and space, been just another swing of the pendulum. Here’s the thing: The pendulum needs to be centered. It needs to be motionless, or, at least, as motionless as possible in this wild, spinning world in which we live.
So maybe this moment? This moment right here? Maybe this is a significant moment, as I feel as if I’ve discovered the roots of some of what has been plaguing me for, well, 48 years or so.
Here’s the deal: I am many things, yes, but above all, I am me. And me is a combination of Old John and This John. Both are good. Both are necessary. Both need each other. Allowing others, allowing myself, allowing the dominant circles I’ve traveled in to constrain This John hasn’t been any healthier than giving This John the keys to the Ferrari. There’s a balance out there, and I have yet to find it. Part of the reason I haven’t found it is because Old John has been refusing to let This John look for it.
Perhaps they can find it together.
Here’s something about This John: He’s not conventional. He’s, well, kinda weird. He believes in things like trips to There and soul traveling companions and in his empathic abilities to feel other people’s shit and discern things through his intuition that appears to be more finely tuned than the one in your av-er-age bear.
He likes restorative yoga and meditation and reiki (maybe) and Taoism and the Dalai Lama. He believes firmly he’s been dead and seen There and came back. He thinks that the reoccurring image in his not-dreams comes from a different lifetime, which he guesses means he’s ended up in a camp that believes in some sort of reincarnation though he doesn’t quite now how he got there.
He’s not sure about the power of crystals but gives latitude to the fact that they could do what fellow weirdos think they do. He wants to go to the drum circle down in Delmar Loop. He’s curious about psychedelics’ use to treat mental health and to find greater spiritual significance. He sees how organized religions are all based on attempts to understand what’s really not understandable and that none is right — yet none is wrong. He has stopped trying to explain things that have no explanation simply because humans don’t have the words for them.
He’s lonely — lonely as fuck — because this path doesn’t seem to be inhabited by a lot of people in his everyday existence … and because it seems like the few he does cross paths with are female and he wants dude friends.
This John is much more aware of the injustices throughout history and the failures of his nation from its inception. This John seems to have a huge heart for the homeless, though he’s not sure exactly why.
This John understands a lot about the mind, about consciousness and about the limitations of our brains — and the limits we place on ourselves because of the limited understanding of our brains. This John knows there’s more. There’s not just five senses. There’s not just this ordinary life. There’s more. This gives This John purpose, which he sorely needs and is only just beginning to tap into.
Everyone, please meet This John.
Since Then … Every morning holds that moment Every mile, a reminder Every night sighs a silent prayer Since Then … The music tends to a hurting heart Harmonizing with the memories of what was Before ripping the wounds open once again Since Then … A million words haven’t fixed what I didn’t know was…Keep reading
Today’s Reasons to Keep Living
- Looking forward to the weekend.
- Looking even more forward to having our basement drain issue solved today.
- Looking even more forward to the eye doctor today and hopefully a report that all is clear.
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🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Baseball Gear-Grinders ⚾Sunrise Woes 🌄Heavy Pumpkins 🎃 There are a few baseball-related indignities in my home that, as the saying goes, grind my gears. The first is that there is a state championship trophy on the mantel above the fireplace in our Humble Country Home with a gold-plated baseball player, bat…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Weird Wound Treatment 🧂Phillies Bring Doom ⚾Meetings Suck 👎🏽 Apparently, I’ll take medical advice from waitresses and allow myself to receive medical treatment from busboys. This, I learned last night. I have a tendency to get hurt in really interesting ways. When I tell you that I once got a concussion…Keep reading
Welcome to Issue No. 8 of Listicles, the feature that presents the Top 10, Top 5, Top 3, Top 100 or Top 1,000,000 of whatever it is you want to know about. Email your Listicle suggestions to email@example.com. No. 5: I held an epic car concert If you were anywhere in the vicinity of my…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Football Picking God 🏈Fish Story 🐟Free Floating ☁️ A few months before Boy The Elder was born, I had about $100 set aside to buy Wifey Poo a gift that I intended to give her after she ushered our child into the world. It was the least I could do for,…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩New Route Home 🏎️Confirmed Weirdness 🤪Here’s Your Sign 🤦 I took a new route home from the western part of Missourah yesterday after doing the whole open-house thing for work in St. Joseph. Rather than shoot down to I-70 and traverse the state on that familiar road, I went across Hwy.…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Woo-Woo vs. The Beast 🛻Dart Throwers 🎯My Job 📋 I am not used to driving a tank. My normal vehicle is Woo-Woo, AKA The Shitty Little Car, AKA a Nissan Versa. It’s practical. It gets great gas mileage. I hate it. Woo-Woo normally accelerates as quickly as a child asked to…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Unwitting Guinea Pigs 🐹False Bragging 🦹♂️Put Me In, Coach 🚀 My regular readers (hey, you three!) know that I have a hatred for social media’s influence on society with an intensity rivaled only by the heat of a thousand suns. The latest bit of “Are you fucking kidding me?” comes from…Keep reading
Welcome to Issue No. 7 of Listicles, the feature that presents the Top 10, Top 5, Top 3, Top 100 or Top 1,000,000 of whatever it is you want to know about. Email your Listicle suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org. No. 5: I reached out to a friend I have not been shy about sharing that I’ve…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩More Stupid Human Stuff 📱KC Trip ⚾Miserable Missourah 😠 Quick: Take a look around you. If you’re in a room with five other people, one of them thinks you’re financially struggling if you don’t have the latest iPhone. That’s according to a new survey following the release of the iPhone 14.…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Loser Species 👶Email Win 📧Dad Pride 👨👦👦 I’m pretty sure I’m not normal. Normal people respond to that statement with, “Oh, John, nobody’s normal,” which is just a sign for us non-normies that the person we’re talking to is normal. Yesterday, I was waiting for Wifey Poo to pick me up…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Concert Thoughts 🧠Marriage 💍Drunk Idiots 🧉 There’s this scene in the 2004 movie Garden State in which Sam (Natalie Portman) looks at Andrew (Zach Braff) and notices … … And yeah, that resonated with me then and resonates with me now. Ever since then, being “in it” has become a thing…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Sadness 😥Beautiful Skies ⛅Two Terms For 2022 ✌️ Back in our early days at Pound Ridge Elementary School, Sarah was the fastest girl runner in the class, which bought her some serious playground cred. There were only a few of us boys who could hang with Sarah in the 50-meter dash…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Ear Flushing👂Grunge God🎶Tech Guy📺 If you have to have a doctor tell you a body part or yours is small, I suppose one of the least offensive would be the ear canal. That’s what a doctor told me this morning, after I finally broke down and actually went to said doctor’s…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Toys in the Hall🪅Idiot Governors🗳️Flopping FedEx✈️ Last night in my hotel in Springfield, Missourah, I set out a glass of milk and a plate of cookies before going to bed. It’s not that I don’t know how to read a calendar or have any particular belief in a fat man in…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Which One?🗺️Leave Introverts Alone🤫Oxford Commas🤪 I’m on the road for work this week, in Springfield. Ahhh, but Springfield what? There currently are 35 populated places in the United States named Springfield, spread out over 25 states, including five in Wisconsin. In addition, there are 35 Springfield Townships, and Ohio owns 11…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Surrounded 😷Wood Splitter 🌲Morons 🤪 I’ve had COVID. Twice. The first time fucked up my life for a year. I’m still not back to the me I was before it came into my home, and I’m pretty sure that now, nearly two years later, that’s not going to change. The second…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Sunday audible🤒Fantasy Failure 🏈Anal Chess♟️ Sunday was supposed to be a romantic day spent in a canoe with Wifey Poo, the two of us paddling leisurely down the Meramec River. Mother Nature was not in the mood to play wingman and decided to pick the one day in the midst of…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Finish Line Scene 🏃♂️Baseball’s Better ⚾M-I-Z! Z-O-UC-H! 🏈 I have never understood the modern-day purpose of running for the sake of running. Sure, I understand it’s a great form of cardiovascular exercise and it’s a convenient way to get from Point A to Point B, yet the desire to strap on…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Book Guy 📚Queen Stuff 👑Bernard Shaw 📺 I’ve decided I want to own a copy of every Stephen King book ever written. That’s about 75 books at the moment. I have a built-in bookcase in my mancave/home office. I don’t think it would hold all 75 in hardcover, but perhaps it…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Beginnings 📚School Start 🚌Real Baseball ⚾ I was thinking this morning on my drive to work how we rarely know when the significant times in our lives begin. So frequently, the most important things that happen to us start with nothing noteworthy. Of course, there are exceptions, the “love-at-first-sight” moments or…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Fallin’ Thoughts 🤕Shinedown 🎸Sleepy 😴 The brain can be surprisingly efficient when the meatsack it’s attached to is in the middle of falling off a ladder while holding a revved-up chainsaw. This, I learned yesterday morning while attempting to saw a limb off a tree that was getting way too close…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Overview📅Fantasy Football🏈Elite Bonding🤼♂️ Days that start with chainsaws and lighter fluid and end with four hours of really good professional wrestling are bound to be added to the “good” column for review when the scales are weighed at the end of a life. Yesterday was such a day for me. In…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Funeral 😢Glimmers ☁️Meat 🥩 If you’re lucky, you’ve had a second mother. Whether your first mother was or is an amazing person who nurtured you and raised you among calm consistency or if she was lacking in certain maternal fundamentals, having a second mother is a blessing. Today, we were there…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩We’re Dumber 👎OnlyFans Thrives 🍑Shinedown 🎵 Official statistics put the COVID death toll in the United States at 1.04 million, with another 713 deaths yesterday. More than 4,000 people are in the ICU right now suffering from what the former Moron-in-Chief called that one person coming from China and a situation…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Dethroned Queen 👑Gravy Wrestling 🤼♂️Dog Talk 🐕 Don’t fuck with the Bucyrus Bratwurst Festival board. That’s a message Abigail Brocwell is learning the hard way. Brocwell was expected to be inaugurated as the queen of the festival in the northern Ohio town earlier this month, but she was stripped of the…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩3, Unassisted ⚾A Sad Day 📅Tracking Your Vagina 🌸 The last time Boy The Younger was on a baseball field, the “coach” of his team removed him from a game in the middle of an inning because I had privately messaged him to not attempt to steal home with my kid…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Hydrogen Issue 🚀Karting 🏎️Lake Life 😌 I was all excited to watch the launch of the moon-bound Artemis 1 rocket this morning, only to see the clock stopped at T-minus 40 minutes because of a “hydrogen issue.” Don’t know about you, but I’m thinking having an issue with hydrogen is a…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Karen in Control ⌚Karting 🏎️What podcast? 🎧 In the winter of 1993, I went to a comedy club with a friend and, in the spur of the moment, decided to be one of those who came forward to join the fun and be hypnotized. This was decidedly out of character for…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Little League Flap ⚾Grandpa Joe 🤦Psychedelics 🍄 Boys are interesting creatures who aren’t easily understood. One of the many, many weird things boys do is mercilessly make fun of their best friends. My closest friends in middle school and early in high school were affectionately nicknamed Goon, Tree Frog, Butt and…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩 Death Cometh Sooner 💀Twitter Security 🔓Game Over 🌑 Average life expectancy in the United States dropped in 2020 by almost two years in 2020, the biggest decline since World War II. Every state and the District of Columbia saw a drop. Guess it was a little bit more than that…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Worm brain 🧠Chicken Big Mac 🐔Eye Twitch 👁️ Caenorhabditis elegans is probably too elegant of a name for something that is really just a disgusting little worm about a millimeter long and most easily found in rotting fruit. It is more commonly known as a lab roundworm and was the first…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩The Agliata Homeschool Academy 🚌Hypnosis 😳Sunburn 🌞🔥 When you tell people you homeschool your children, you typically receive one of three responses: An enthusiastic: “Oh, that’s so cool!”An I’d-rather-be-dipped-in-acid: “Oh wow! I could never do that!” A you’re-one-of-those-weirdos: “Oh… really… homeschooling, huh?” The percentage for each has changed in the wake…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Indycar 🏎️Best Friends 😎Baseball Irony ⚾ There are certain people who look at car racing as an endless series of left turns. These people are idiots on whom nuance is lost. Boy The Elder and I crossed the border yesterday late-morning to head just past the fine city of East St.…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Swine Inflation 🐖Swamp Thing 🎥Phone Calls 📱 Life was different when I went to college in Iowa after growing up in suburban New York City. This isn’t to suggest I was a city kid. I wasn’t. The city was a place we went to a few times a year, and where…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Triple-Threat 🖥️🖥️🖥️Tasmanian Tiger 🐅Video Work 📹 Humans were not meant to stare at laptop screens. At least, humans of a certain age were not meant to stare at laptop screens. I say this after successfully lobbying for a second monitor at work, which effectively turned my laptop screen into a third…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Look Before Brewing ☕Hoop Construction 🏀Nuclear War ☢️ If you’d like an indication of how much of a Monday yesterday was for me, know that I ended up with an orange in my coffee. Well, to be fair, it wasn’t a full-blown orange. It was something called a Cutie, which is…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Weird Date 🪦Nature Walk🌳Bulldog Bath 🐶 If you have a date walking around a cemetery, you’re either weird or goth, and neither Wifey Poo nor I were wearing black today, which I guess tells you all you need to know about us. Old cemeteries are something of a fascination for us,…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩So Long, Kid 👨👦Steak Celebration🥩Chip & Joanna 🪚 Regular readers of my drivel know that I’m kind of an emotional guy, which is like saying that Jack kind of could have fit on the spacious floating door with Rose in Titanic. So it should come as no surprise when I say…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Cash 4 IRS 💰Cash 4 Workers 💸Sound of Silence 🤫 Be extra careful on your taxes this year. The IRS is expected to receive nearly $80 billion when The Inflation Reduction Act eventually becomes law, and its plan is to hire 87,000 full-time workers. More than half of the $80 billion…Keep reading