Boston


I don’t know how to express how I feel about what happened at the Boston Marathon. I have a hollow empty feeling in my stomach. It is not only because it was the first place we lived in when we got to the US. It’s not only because I see Boston as my US hometown. It’s not only because I am part of Red Sox Nation. It’s not only because I have so many friends who live there and watch the race each year. It is not only because I was worried sick about them all. It’s not only because the 2nd bomb went off 25 yards from my old office. It’s not only because I started running to one day do “The Boston”. It’s not only because I am angry and sad because of the death and injury to all of those out on a beautiful Patriots Day. It’s also because I am a runner…

My first marathon in 3:59:32

My first marathon in 3:59:32

I am a runner…

I am a runner. I run because we have no politics. We runners represent the world. We don’t represent any organization or country. We run as runners. We run and we are equal. We just run. No hidden agenda. Nothing but us and the road. We run because we can. We run as equals whether we are at the front or the back – we all run the same path. We are comrades battling ourselves and not each other. We are ordinary people doing an extraordinary thing for a few hours of running. And cheering each other on. We run for many reasons but in a single spirit. I am a runner free.

I am a runner. I run and I smell. I hear my wife and kids complaining and moaning about how I stink when I get back from my run. But I do it for the smile and kiss I get when I’ve done a race. I run for my kids to say how cool the medals are even though everyone got one. I run because my wife makes a little shrine of my running stuff. I run for them.

I am a runner. I run when I travel. I used to stay in my hotel room and just do nothing. Now I run. I see the cities and places that used to just flash by while I sit in a cab on my way to my meeting. Now I run and find the beauty in places so unexpected. I am a runner for beauty.

I am a runner. I run with my mates and sometimes we talk and sometimes we just run. When the world and all our problems feels a little bit too heavy – we run. All we need is the road and our running shoes to make it a little bit lighter. I am a runner for friendship.

I am a runner. I can run in silence or listen to the music of the world flash by. It can be on the road and cars roaring past or on a treadmill listening to my latest playlist or the trails and nothing but wind through the leaves and grass.  I am a runner for music.

I am a runner. We don’t run to write long stories because we know that we can never really tell you how we feel while running. Runners know. We just know. It’s freedom. Just you and the road. And sometimes a few mates.  I am a runner in silence.

I am a runner. I run and think of the funniest most politically incorrect jokes I will never tell the world. I think of the funny runners I have met on the road – the guy with the long socks or the girl with the fairy wings. I am a runner for jokes.

I am a runner. I imagine I am as graceful as a gazelle running free. I see myself gliding over hills and mountains. I know none of that is true. But I run sweating and struggling, and I run free. I am a runner running free.

I am a runner. I think I run alone but I never do. I hear the voices of my friends telling me to push a little harder. I hear the voices of strangers encouraging me to do one more mile. I am a runner with others.

I am a runner. I know I am no Haile Gebrselassie and won’t even win my age group in a local race. I won’t even get close. But I run because I can. I am a runner for me.

I am a runner. I run to be free of the worries of the world – even though it is just for a few miles. To clear my head and recharge. I am a runner for tomorrow.

I am a runner. It isn’t complicated. It’s a very simple thing. It’s just you and the road. We put our shoes on and we run. I am a runner because I can.

I am a runner. For every mile we fight pain and ourselves. Never others. We push and pull each other to do 26.2. I am a runner for marathons.

I am a runner. For the people cheering us on. Feeling our pain and giving us strength. I am a runner for them.

I am a runner. For every mile that will never be the same. I will never run alone again. I am a runner.

I am a runner. For every mile. For them.

I am a runner. For every mile.

I am a runner.

I am.

Running in my Red Sox cap

Running in my Red Sox cap

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You know I have written quite a bit about gay rights. Actually, it still irritates the living hell out of me that I even have to talk about “gay rights”. As if it is a different set of rights than “normal” rights… Anyway, you might remember The Idiot’s Guide to Bigotry and The Gay Agenda. Or that time I wanted to say Just One More Thing… Actually, gay issues have been central to many posts over here. Present every time I talk about justice and equality.

Why? Why would a “straight” guy like me even bother? I am happily married to a woman. This isn’t my issue, right? Actually it is. It is core to who I am. I hate it when anyone is being oppressed or their rights limited and denied. I am “white” (wow, big surprize – shades of white in any case), but I hate racism. I am a man (really!), but I hate how women are being put down by society in general. My rights as a human being is in danger and threatened each and every time a fellow human being does not have their rights respected. I am discriminated against when they are discriminated against. Argh! I get pissed off when I have to write about this. This is so stupid. WTF? Wake up people! We are talking basic human rights here! You are threatening MY rights when you deny someone else their rights. Ubuntu, remember? I am because we are…

Anyway… I can feel another blog about this coming up damn soon. (The anger is starting to flow back.) But not today. Today I want to remind you about the battles in California and Florida this election. The battle for equal rights. I have no clue how a country that preaches liberty, freedom and equal rights can even have this kind of “voting”. Some things are not open to public opinion. Should you have a vote on whether woman should have the right to work? Or whether African Americans should be able to study? Or whether Latinos should be able to vote? Maybe your right to own property? Or to have kids? Or whether theft should be allowed? Should people be able to murder when they feel like it? No. And neither should the right of two people to marry be open to debate. Certain things are just stupid to debate. And this is one of them.

Remember, you don’t have to like it to accept it. I don’t like blatant racism being spewed out at meetings or in the public in general. But I know my rights are protected because their rights are protected. Hey, I don’t even have to like you but I can accept the fact that you have the same rights as me. Don’t like it… Just live with it…

Whether Americans truly believe in equality, freedom and liberty will be put to the test in California and Florida this election. Proposition 8 and Amendment 2 are both about what America stands for. Truly stands for. Not the issues. But whether America is true to its word… Freedom, equality and liberty for all. These two pieces of bigotry must be defeated. We have no choice. If these two pieces of crap wins it is not only a step backwards for America but will send a message to the world that discrimination is still okay. Kill Christians in India? No problem if that is who you hate. Blow up bombs in Israel? No problem if that is the group you want to target. Shoot fellow Muslims in Iraq? Hey, go ahead if that is how you feel. Jail rights activists in China? Make my day. Remember, discrimination is only one step away from persecution…

But we don’t always have to do it in anger. Sometimes we can poke a bit of fun at how stupid this is. And someone did! And they were so bloody good at it that the Boston Comedy Festival gave them the audience award. Yeah. Good old Boston. Always ahead of the pack – I had to rub that in a bit.

9in10dotorg made brilliantly funny and creative short comedies to show the stupidity of it all. They are helping to fight this bigotry. And to stop the California and Florida restrictions on rights be executed. But they did it in a very, very funny way. Go and have a look and share with other.

This one is in favor of gay marriages, but not for the reason you think. Damn funny!

And this one is against it. But look at the backdrop. Haha!

Like I said. We can make our anger be funny as well. You want some more gay-themed shorts? Go and have a look at their site. Some funny and some not. But everything to the point. Just click the pic…

The vote for justice is coming. There shouldn’t be a vote. But there is. Go out and show the world what America really stand for. Go and fight for the rights, equality, liberty and freedom for every American. Your choice. You either go back in time or you can go and make history. Your choice. Don’t do it for “them”. Do it for yourself. And your rights.

I can’t vote. But I wish I could. To protect my rights. And to protect those rights I would vote to give everyone else the same rights as me. To live with the one you love. In marriage.

Stand by your fellow Americans…  …in sickness and in health… …’til death do us apart…

I was in New York last week. No, that isn’t the story. Just the start. I had this meeting way down at 8th street. Or is that way up? No idea which way is up and which way is down when I am there. Who knows? Who cares? Anyway… My meeting finished way before my flight was to leave and I decided the day before to try something new. Take the bus back to the airport. I had more than enough time to get there – about 5 hours. How difficult can it be…

Well. More difficult than it seems. Especially if you have my navigational abilities. And street savvy…

Wait. Let’s just take a step back for a moment. I had this all planned out. I planned my whole trip the day before – back at the office. Printed out a map of the city. Marked the spot where I should catch my first bus. Where I should get off. Where I should catch the bus to the airport. And how long it should take to get to the airport. Everything was ready for me to fly off on a new adventure! I was prepared…

But I got home realizing that I left my whole stack of maps, directions and info back at the office. Right where I put them so I won’t forget them. Next to my bag… But hey! I can remember all the details right? What can possibly go wrong?

Now back to NY.

I said my goodbyes and left the building (AA has left the building.) I just flipped on my hat on and off I went… I jumped on a bus heading toward the direction where I should catch my bus to LaGuardia. Damn. Didn’t have the right change on me. And they only take coins. I got kicked off the bus by the bus driver. He could have been friendlier, but no problem. I’ll just grab a few coins from the shop. I bought some gum and a packet and off I went. Back on the next bus. Handed over my coins and settled in on my seat.

Bloody hell. It stops at every single block! And I am on 8th Street. I only have to get off at 95th. Or was that 116th? Maybe 125th? Anyway, I’ll sort that out later. But really. It is taking forever. And people aren’t that friendly either. I get a few stares. But I don’t mind. I got my iPod playing so don’t give a damn. But no “Love is in the air” from them. Grumpy bus people.

The ride took about an hour! It stopped for every single soul in NY and bloody everywhere. And people got on. And on. And a handful got off. I got up a few times to make way for pregnant women, women with kids, old ladies and gentlemen, and anyone who looked like they could do with a seat a little more than me. But hardly a smile or a thank you. Nada. Nothing. Zilch. Zero. They just sat there with their Yankee hats on and stared at me. The only one who gave me a smile was a Muslim woman who was visiting NY and didn’t speak English at all. New Yorkers? No sirree. Not a smile or a nod of the head. I just shrugged and did my own thing. Who will ever understand these people from the Big (Rotten) Apple?

But now I was struggling with another problem. What street should I get off at? I couldn’t remember if it was 95th or 116th or 125th. Don’t ask me how I got these three numbers stuck in my head. But I did. So the plan was that I’ll get off at 95th and then walk up to 125th. My bus to the airport will be around there somewhere. I think. Easy plan right? Yeah, right…

So I got off at 95th and started walking up towards 125th. On the same day that they had a huge event with McCain and Obama and Clinton and everyone speaking at Columbia about volunteering or national service or something. Whatever. It just meant that there was cops everywhere. And no taxi’s… But hey. I was going to catch the bus right? I can swear I see the right road just ahead…

An hour later I realized that I am hopelessly lost. I had no clue where I was. I knew that there was not a bus in site anywhere. And I passed 125th a long, long time ago. I have been walking and walking with no luck. And 116th didn’t look like anything where buses would use for a major stop. 125th didn’t make sense either. Maybe it’s just ahead. Morningside Heights have come and gone. Let’s go to Plan B. Catch a cab. Now that should be easy right? And I still have about 3 hours left. No problem…

But there wasn’t any cabs around. Cars yes. But not a single bloody cab. No problem. I must have picked the only spot in NY that is not covered by yellow cabs. But I know where I am. I think. I’ll just turn right and walk until I start hitting the main sections of Manhattan. Sounds like a plan. Let’s do it. So I turned right. Towards cabby land.

Mmm. Still no cabs. Let’s see. Where am I? Check out a few names of shops. Harlem. Cool. Never been to Harlem. But this isn’t a visit. It’s a mission. Get a cab and get to the airport. So I made another right turn down the main street of Harlem. Wazap my heavies! That’s to the dudes at the Hip Hop store. Lookin good! With the Yankee caps and hoodies. Lookin smooth bother! Hope they didn’t hear me listening to Enrique singing Hero… And why do the people give me the beady eye? What? What did I do dude? Is there something in my teeth?

Where the hell are the taxi’s? Oh wait there is one. Flagging down taxi! I am going to the airport!

He slows down as if he was ready to pick me up and then… Zoom! He hits the gas and off he goes. WTF? He didn’t have anyone in the cab! Oh well. It’s just one cab. And I still have loads of time…

Two hours later…

And I am still stuck in Harlem. Completely lost. Cabs refuse to pick me up. They slow down and then hit the gas. Some even flipped me a finger. I stopped guys at the traffic lights. But they just wave their finger at me and shake their head. Can you believe it! I stopped guys at a gas station filling up. And still nothing. They mumbled something about “Sorry sir… time… off” and other bull. I got into a taxi who dropped someone off and he turned around and his face just dropped when he saw me. Told me to get out the cab as he had some other business to do. Bloody rude cab driver! Everyone just ignored me or showed rude signs. And this went on for almost two bloody hours!

I started to panic. I am going to miss my plane back to Boston. I had just over an hour to get to the airport before my plane leaves! I gave up. I just stood on a corner seeing cabs everywhere but no one to pick me up. I just stood there. The iPod wasn’t even playing anymore. Head down. Shoulders hanging. And then the dude showed up.

“Looking for a cab?” I looked up. It was one of the hip hop guys. He was smiling. An odd smile. The smile you give to someone you want to laugh at but you know the person is really lost in so many ways. “Yeah, please”, was all I could say with a whimper. He shook his head and turned to a cabby on the other side, “Hey! Come here!” The cabby drove over and I got it. I looked at the dude that just saved me and said, “Man. Thank you so much for that. No one wanted to pick me up! You saved my life.” He just smiled, shook his head, and slapped the roof for the driver to take me.

The driver didn’t speak. I said, “LaGuardia please. My flight leaves in an hour and I still have to check in.” He just nodded. And then stopped to put some gas in. Well, after he drove on the wrong side of the road to take a shortcut to the gas station.

And he drove slower than Miss Daisy on a Sunday afternoon leisurely drive. And never spoke a word. Just looked at me every now and again with his Yankee hat on and gave me a rude stare. Like all New Yorkers did that day.

But thank God I made it in time. I got there in 30 minutes, checked in and got on the plane. I was tired from all the walking and just pulled my hat over my eyes and slept all the way to Boston. Ready to catch a cab home.

This time I didn’t have a problem. It was an easy ride home. Had a chat to the cabbie about Haiti where he is originally from. Got home and said goodbye. Walked into the house and took off my hat. Well, my hat… That’s it! My bloody hat I always wear when I travel!

My bloody Boston Red Sox hat! I had it on the whole time. The whole day. Everywhere I went in NY. The bus. The streets. Harlem. The cabbies. You name it. No wonder the Yankee loving bastards glared at me and refused to give me a lift.

Oh man. They hate the Red Sox. Especially now. They lost out to the Red Sox and didn’t make it to the playoffs. Back when they refused to give me a ride it was still a close contest. Now it’s over. We won. You’re out. You Yankee loving bastards. I got the final revenge. Go eat this Yankee! I win. You lose! Red Sox Nation 1 : 0 Yankee Losers. Revenge is sweet.

_______________________

Note: To those “Souf Efrikans” reading this. The Red Sox and Yankees is like Province vs. Blue Bulls in rugby, South Africa vs. Aussies in cricket and Chiefs vs. Pirates in soccer. I’m the Province type of guy.

Look, from an American sporting perspective I am pretty happy to be living in Boston. The Red Sox won the World Series. Again. The Patriots are still the team to beat after so many Super Bowl wins and finals in the last few years. The Celtics made history in basketball when they whipped the Lakers for the crown this year. The Revolutions are top of the league in soccer after making the finals for 3 years in a row. Hell, even the Bruins improved this year on the ice. Yep, it is pretty good to be in Boston if you like American sport. Or what they call sport.

But Americans really don’t play any sport. Oh they call it sport, but it really isn’t. American football (known incorrectly as Gridiron by some) are really only played by bunch of wimps. So much steroids, protective gear and stop-and-start kinda play that they look more like Transformers running low on batteries. Basketball is really just netball played by guys in over-sized pajama pants. Ice hockey is for guys who are too sober to get involved in a proper bar fight. Their soccer is watched by an average crowd of 7, including family, friends and coaching staff. And baseball is for guys who can’t play cricket.

Ah, cricket. Good old cricket. Nothing like watching the swing of the willow sitting on the Oaks at Newlands. Have a braai and a beer (and Klippies offered by your neighbour). I miss good old cricket. It isn’t shown on television over here. Americans just don’t get it. Their eyes glass over when I try to explain that it is a game played for five days from 10 am to 6 pm with a lunch break and two tea breaks each day – and you are still not guaranteed a result. Except if it is England playing and you pretty much know they will lose. But Americans can’t handle anything that will potentially interfere with the trip to the mall or watching daytime soaps. Or work for that matter. Short attention span. They have ADD when it comes to cricket.

And they don’t get the names either. Here it is all blood and gore – Steelers, Cowboys, Jaguars, Giants, Bears and more in the NFL (football). The Devils, Thrashers, Hurricanes, Avalanche, Predators, Flames and more in the NHL (ice hockey). Fire, Revolution, Earthquakes and more in MLS (soccer). We have the Warriors, Hawks, Rockets, Timberwolves, Grizzlies, Raptors and more in the NBA (basketball). And MLB (baseball). Well, let’s just say that the Brewers, Royals, Twins, Blue Jays and Sox don’t quite have the same bite to it. And what the hell is an Oriole? Is it a breakfast or a bird? Can you imagine them being known by the proper Latin name – The Baltimore Icterus Galbula? Anyway… The Proteas just doesn’t have the same ring or sting to it when it comes to the more blood and gore type names Americans love so much. (Note to self – look if there is a link between President Bush’s approach to foreign policy and the violent names of American sport teams.)

But I follow the cricket. Especially now when South Africa is doing their yearly humiliation of England. (Did I hear anyone say 1 up?) Like I said, I can’t watch it. But I read it. On my mobile phone. Via the live texting of the BBC. It is brilliant. Not the actual cricket, but the commentating. I know South Africa will win, but I keep on following the live texts because of the sense of humor and descriptions given by the BBC team. They are really special. Got to love the English for that. They might be getting their backsides kicked by Kallis, Ntini, Prince and the gang, but they sure know how to commentate. And keep you laughing all the way. It might be all they have left in sport – a good sense of humor. The play cricket, rugby and soccer like a bunch of clowns in any case.

I now check the updates every hour or so. It’s less about the cricket score than the wisdom and wise cracks from the BBC team. I want to share a few with you. It’ll hopefully give you an insight into British humor. Unfortunately it won’t help you understand cricket any more than eating a burger will help you drive better. There is no link. But I hope you enjoy these. I’ll might try to update these over the next few days. Now, sit back and enjoy the company of the BBC cricket commentators – in their words. It all started with their first text update this morning… (It’s in UK time and remember to read it in a ‘proper’ English accent.

And Nel takes another England wicket...

And Nel takes another England wicket...

10:33 – New Kid’s out on his ear because he upset ‘team unity’ (is the England dressing room actually some delicate eco-system?) and Colly’s back on the back of a few runs in a Twenty20 knockabout. If I was Owais Shah or Ravi Bopara, not only would I be a different colour, I’d be a little bit irritated as well.

It’s all so chummy, I wouldn’t be surprised if the England team all bundled round Vaughany’s mum and dad’s house for a pyjama party after today’s play. Maybe Colly’s back in the side because he can get his hands on Porky’s?

11:28 – The man to the left of me has just pulled out a plum of a lookalike – Morkel and 1980’s ‘Brat Pack’ stalwart Anthony Michael Hall. If you were to stretch Morkel on a rack like a Catholic martyr, you wouldn’t be able to tell them apart.

Vaughny was pricklier than the famed Jungle Book paw-paw in his Aggers interview. He said it with a laugh but it was saucer of milk for table two stuff.

11:54 – Plenty of empty seats at Edgbaston, not sure why that is. It’s got all the atmosphere of a nursing home Christmas party at the moment.

12:06 – Nel – or is it Gunther? – strolls down the wicket and spits a few verbals Cook’s way. I’ve got to be honest, Nel seems more simple than intimidating. It must be like batting against Lennie from Of Mice and Men. He drags another one in short – not sure why he keeps doing that, this pitch has the consistency of a lemon drizzle cake.

12:16 – A few more strokes like that and the ball will be speaking the Queen’s English.

Send back the defibrillators, I think this pitch might already be dead…

12:36 – Umpire Dar had no doubts, although Vaughan looks at him as though he’s just found him heavy petting with his mother on the sofa as he leaves the field.

12:46 – Cook gropes at an away-cutter from Nel and the South African paceman grins maniacally, like a staggering drunk who’s just seen up a lady’s skirt.

13:39 – I have o report that the England skipper is getting absolutely slaughtered in your email, anyone would think he’d nutted the pope.

13:59 – Another wicked delivery from Morkel Cook nibbling before pulling his bat out of the way as if he’s just been caught with his hands in his mother’s handbag.

14:12 – He actually has pretty good figures in test and first-class cricket but he’s had about as much cutting edge as a jam roly-poly in this series so far.

14:16 – If Graeme Smith is the nasty prison governor from Shawshank Redemption, Nel is the bully-club wielding prison guard.

14:25 – I’d hate to be there when something genuinely bad actually happens to Nel – he reacted to Bell hitting that four as if he’s just seen his car. Nel lets out a primeval roar – Gunther is clearly a very angry man.

14:42 – This England team reminds me of when I used to want to hang about with my older brother and his mates when I was a kid. My brother used to tolerate me, but you could tell he never really wanted me there. I got a bit choked up writing that.. such sad memories…

14:52 – Nel roars in Smith’s direction – Smith better watch his back, drop another catch and Nel will make his ears into a necklace.

15:00 – There’s former England skipper Graham Taylor in the stand – black shades, black shirt, white tie, he looks like he’s going to pull out a Tommy gun and start strafing the South African fielders.

15:05 – And he’s tighter than the elephant man’s hatband today.

15:11 – Thank God for that, watching the Durham man trying to get off the mark was like watching open heart surgery.

15:18 – The Durham man staggers out of his crease like a man emerging from solitary confinement.

15:26 – Does anyone else feel like trying to understand the England selectors is like banging your head against a brick wall whilst wearing a straight jacket and being held upside down in a vat of marmalade?

15:37 – As an England fan, I would rather smash my arm repeatedly in a car door than watch much more of this…

15:43 – Ambrose – another in the England batting line-up who makes Bill Wyman look like Gary Sobers at the moment. Old Nel is madder than a box of frogs.

… that’s tea. I’m sure it will be a cosy one in the England dressing room, all chums together sharing out the Werther’s Originals and telling tales of the 2005 Ashes series. I can just imagine Vaughany leaning forward in his armchair like Uncle Albert and proclaiming every now and again: “During the 2005 Ashes…” I wonder if they’ve got an open fire up there?

16:04 – Regarding the reference to the Elephant Man, whatever happened to him, he made on good film and no-one’s seen him since?

16:13 – Surely a couple of Ambrose failures here will lead him to being dropped – the Warwickshire gloveman looks like he’s been batting with an upright hoover for most of this summer.

16:19 – Nel chuntering down to the deep mid-wicket rope like a startled rhinoceros.

16:35 – Watching Flintoff having to bat like this makes for rather painful viewing, it’s like Maradona playing at full-back.

16:49 – Nel licks his fingers and grins, like a naughty boy who’s just polished off a sticky bun.

17:11 – Watching these two batsmen scratch away, I just had the sudden urge to start singing Onward Christian Soldiers. I’ve also got this image in my head of Freddie and Ambrose under siege in a dilapidated building, poking their heads round the corner every few minutes to fire a couple of shots.

17:30 – Good job Ntini ducked or his team-mates would have had to rechristen him Anne Boleyn.

17:37 – If you’d have believed my nan, her glory years were spent wearing a tin helmet in a coal shed fending off rats the size of rottweilers while the German bombs fell all around her. A deeply miserable woman, she didn’t tend to go out much after the War ended.

17:47 – Most of the England players are looking a little bit sheepish in the field, like schoolboys shuffling nervously outside the headmaster’s office awaiting to hear their fate.

18:02 – The South Africa openers could only look more relaxed if they were basted in butter.

18:05 – A day spent browsing for ceiling tiles in B&Q would have raised the spirits higher than this.

End of day 1… With the South Africans way on top. England all out for 230 and South Africa sitting pretty at 38 for one. Now, where is that beer and braai

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I go to Back Bay station every working day. That’s where I get off to go to work and that’s where I get back on to take my trip back home. Sometimes I stop by one of the stalls to have a bit of popcorn for my trip (Ssshhhhh! Don’t tell my wife.) That’s where I saw the popcorn girl the first time.

She works at on of the stalls. Selling loads of goodies – burgers and chips and drinks. And, of course, popcorn. A dollar fifty a bag. Nice and hot. And I love the smell of popcorn as I walk into the station. Don’t know why. It doesn’t remind me of anything other than the movies. But I still like the smell.

Always salty for me thanks. That’s how God wanted popcorn to taste like. Just a pinch of salt. None of this fancy sweet stuff. And the horror of toffee popcorn. Really. It’s salty or it’s nothing.

Popcorn girl is somewhere in her mid-thirties. Latino. But she could be younger. Because I never saw her smile. And that makes you old before your time.

I always wondered if she enjoyed her job. Because she never smiled. Maybe it was me. I don’t know. But I always smiled politely and said thank you like my mother taught me. But she never smiled. Just said, “A dollar fifty” and that was it. I’ll hand over my money and she’ll hand over the popcorn. But I still couldn’t stop wondering what her life was like. Behind the frown. And the non-smiling face.

Was she happy? Was she happy with her life? Was it what she wanted from life? Did she have a good partner? Was she married? Why did she never smile? Did she own the stall or did she just work there?

The stall moved to a new spot. Don’t know if it was sold or just moved. But it was even better for me. It was now right in front of my little entrance to the platform. but still no smiles.

I knew she had a kid. Because he would sometimes come and sit there by her. He must have been about 7 or 8. He sat there and colored in or read or just ate some popcorn. Sitting by his mother. And her stall.

And then she was gone. The stall closed down and she was gone. They still sell popcorn at her old stall. They re-opened a stall there. Two guys. I think it was her old stall. because the popcorn machine looked pretty familiar. But she is gone.

The two guys aren’t the same. They run it like a business. All smiles – fake and sometimes genuine. But I have no questions about their lives. They seem… well… you know… just two guys selling stuff at a stall. And she is gone. Don’t know where and don’t know why. Just gone. And now I wonder if she is smiling at home? If she is happy not working at Back bat anymore? Happy to not sell popcorn to the guy with the funny accent? Happy to be home with her kid? or is she out of a job?

I don’t know. Popcorn girl is gone. And I never saw her smile.

Oh, and the two new guys? They charge $2 for a bag! Bloody rip-off. Now I am not smiling anymore.

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You thought you beat the British hey. The mighty Patriots. You got independence. Started it all. The great and good men of Boston. So wrong. You are so wrong. You lost and you didn’t even see it. Or notice it. The British won. By stealth. And I saw the proof of it all today.

I was just minding my own business. Walking to work from Back Bay Station. Got my Starbucks and taking a slow stroll – enjoying a bit of sun. And then I saw it. But I didn’t know it was the British invasion, or rather the Enlgish culture conquest.

I saw these barriers. You know, the type the police put up to control crowds or keep them behind the “line”. I stared at it for a little while. It was just so odd. I haven’t seen it since the Red Sox won the World Series and paraded through town. But these were different. It had two sets of barriers running paralel to each other – maybe 6 feet apart. As if trying to control the crowd within these barriers. And it went down the street and around the corner and further down to where I couldn’t see anymore. What the hell? This is one heck of a crowd they are expecting.

Is Bush coming to town? It made sense. They had police all over the place. But Bush tend not to pull big crowds over here in Boston. Proud Democrats thanks. Obama? He can pull a crowd. But that was just wishful thinking from my side. No reason for him to be here. He’s over on the other side for a while now. And he lost Massachusetts to Hillary in any case. I was dumbfounded. Who the hell could be coming to town? Must be a big wig.

I started walking again and deep in thought trying to figure out who could this superstar be? And then I saw it. It wasn’t a “who”. It was a “what”.

There were already 15 to 20 people standing in queue. Or rather sitting on their chairs in the artificial corridor created by the baracade. Patiently waiting. Drinking their coffee. Chatting to each other. Stealing a glance in the direction of what they are waiting for. I looked and couldn’t help but burst out laughing. They were all waiting for the new Apple store to open. Suckers. The British won the bloody war. And they didn’t even know it.

You see, the British invented queuing. Or as I call it – standing in a line, wasting time and doing nothing a.k.a. standing like an Englishman. They love their queuing. Nothing makes a Pom happier than standing in a queue. They can do it for hours. And they can do it for nothing. Create a queue from nothing. I’ve seen it happen you know. Someone walks down the road and drops something. They stop and bend down. In that split second that they stopped five people queued up behind them. Just in case it was a queue forming. A true Brit never wants to miss a good queuing. It’s just not British.

They’ll do it for anything. And they’ll do anything to form a nice and orderly queue. Here is a typical scene. A Pom walks into a shop to buy a packet of fags (smokes or as you know it, cigarettes). But there is no one there but the person behind the counter. They look at each other for a split second. They know the drill. The Pom hangs around the magazine rack that is strategically placed close to the counter. He makes as if he is reading something – but he isn’t really reading. He is waiting. The door walks in. Another customer. Aah. Relief. He looks at the new guy and nod his head. The new guy nods back – a knowing nod. And waits. Guy #1 slowly walks to the counter. And waits for the other guy to come and stand behind him. Join the queue. The Poms are happy. They have formed a queue. World order has returned. And life goes on.

See what the proud Bostonians did? They formed a queue. For the opening of a store. Just a bloody store guys. And it was 7:30 am. AM – that’s in the morning. Guess what time the store opened? 6 pm. PM – that’s early evening. Ten and a half hours of waiting. For the opening of a store. No big specials. No free computers. Or free gas. Not even much of a store. Just an Apple store. Selling apples. Sorry, Apples.

The Poms won. Because they exported their most soul destroying tactic. Queues. Nice orderly queues. Just standing around and looking stupid British. Their propoganda worked on you. After all these years of thinking you beat the British and can sit back and enjoy your freedom – they were working all the time. Slowly but surely destroying you. Like a virus you never saw coming. Like Asian flu. That’s what British queuing is – Asian flu. It creeps up and bites you in the… hum… posterieur.

It starts innocently enough. They first make you fall for their accent. They only let you hear the BBC English. The one that sounds intelligent. So… worldly. What you don’t hear is when they switch off the cameras and start going, “Oi mate, pass I uh fag there guv”. It’s not a pretty site. They will smile for the first time as well. Can never do that on camera. You should see their teeth. It’s definitely a “before” photo. You don’t want to see that in broad daylight. It’s as yellow as the sun. And the smell. Hali-bloody-tosis. And you thought the French and garlic don’t mix. Try deep fried pizza (yep, they do that up North), deep fried cheap bottomfeeding fish (the stuff we throw away), deep fried chips (fat fatty fries) with loads of salt and vinegar, bad (really bad) curry they won’t touch in India, and pork pies (the less said the better).

Yes. You don’t see the ugly part where their stomachs hang out from under their vests, fag in the mouth, warm beer in their hand, yellow teeth gleeming, food flying from their mouths as they laugh at how they caught out those suckers in America. Come on people. They sell you Sella Artois and make you believe it is a fancy beer. Over there they call it “A can of divorce”. Bad stuff that. You fell for it and are now being taken over by their clones. Almost like “Invasion of the Body Snatchers“. Of course without the public killing. They just kill the soul.

And you think their humor is so great. So refined. Those funny Brits with ther funny accents. Here’s some inside info on their humor. You think John Cleese is funny right? Just remember what his mother said, “He is not funny”. And you think Fawlty Towers is a comedy right? Have you seen the service in the UK? Try buying something or eating out and see how you are treated. Remember, they all believe they are actors or something important. Not a waitor. So un-French. No. They suck at service. Fawlty Towers isn’t a comedy. It is a hard-hitting documentary.

(I stole that one from Greg Poops).

Come on proud Patriots. Fight the British. Don’t queue. You never what might happen next. Taking up a sport and waiting for almost a 100 years before you win another trophy? Oops. Sorry. Done that. At least you don’t play cricket, rugby or soccer. Oh, you do – just badly. So British. Or start driving badly? Oops? Known for their less friendly driving over here in Boston… Or crap weather. Oops… Have that. Okay, it could be worse. You could have an odd accent, expensive property, drive crap cars, expensive gas, gas – the other type, drink too much beer, have high taxes or… Bloody hell. Why don’t you just surrender and sing “Rule Britannia”.

Sad. Just sad. John Adams won’t be happy. Sam Adams – now that is a totally different story.

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Let’s see if May will be better. Because April was pretty weak.

1. Bob, it’s getting stupid now

Bob “Crazy Bastard” Mugabe is just not getting it. And I really mean he is not getting it. The vote. He lost the general election even though he controls the media. He lost the election even though he gave government employees a raise. He lost the election even though the police and army intimidated people. He lost the election even though he selected the “independent” body running the election. And then he arrested a few of those election officials he put in place. And he let his dogs loose on the people who voted him and his puppets party out. And had he demanded a recount. And he still lost the election! But of course he isn’t going anywhere. Bob, really. Even the Liberian President thinks you should go. You just aren’t getting it hey? Just piss off and go now. You are giving tyrants a bad name.

2. Happy birthday dear Adolf

Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction. Republican congressional candidate of Indiana, Tony Zirkle, went to celebrate the birthday of Hitler. A big bash given by the American National Socialist Workers Party in Chicago. WTF? Just follow the link. They even have a photo of the guy in front of a Hitler picture. And you bitch about Obama guys? Start cleaning that pigsty out right away mista! But here is the part I just love – his reason for going… Because he was invited. But wait! The best is yet to come. He says he that he goes to everything he gets invited to. “I’ll speak before any group that invites me,” said Zirkle “I’ve spoken on an African-American radio station in Atlanta.” WTF? Hitler and an African-American radio station? WTF? Do I need to say more?

3. Does it count as an extra shot?

Well, now that my coffee secret is out… It seems as baristas have been blabbing as well. About their top ten things us coffee drinkers should know. The little things that really peeves them off and a few dark secrets as well. A few stood out for me. They want you to know that not every shop is a Starbucks. Thanks people. I know that. Sad evidence that there is more work to be done. I sometimes have to walk to the next corner before I get to my beloved Starbucks. I guess it works off the sugar rush. Did you know baristas get black fingers from all that coffee? Makes sense. It accounts for 80% of my tan. But what I want to know – does it count as an extra shot if they dump their fingers in my coffee? But the one that stood out for me, and made things so much clearer… They develop crushes on their customers. It makes perfect sense. My barista always asked for my name and now she remembers it (still not spelling it right though). And she knows my order. And she smiles at me. It must be a crush. Why else would she do all that? It can’t be the service or the fact that I am there every hour or so. I know it is a crush. It can’t be just the grind of the coffee shop.

4. Hillary, you are still a Senator – act like one

Okay, maybe I just don’t get American politics. But tell me, if you run for President – are you still a Senator? I thought you were? So how come they don’t act like it? All of a sudden Hillary and McCain talks about a “gas holiday” for the poor American drivers during the summer holidays. It’s open for debate whether this is a good thing or not. But Senator McLame and HillBillary, you are still Senators. Why don’t you push for that at the Senate? You can if you really believe in it. That is part of your current job. Or have you forgotten? But I tell you why you don’t. Because you are pandering and opportunistic. You will attack Obama for standing up for what he believes on gas prices. But you don’t want to tell the truth to Americans. You don’t care about the gas prices or else you would do something about it now. The gas holiday can be done by you now if you really want to do something. And not just use it to score a few points while running. Yes, attack the guy with the unpopular position. Because you will sell your soul to sound like you care. There is a difference you know – between caring and acting like you care. Go do your job if you really care. If not, shut up and run for President in an honorable way. Stop the bull. Gas as I know it is also known as hot air. You both are full of it.

5. Thank God for Global Warming

You know I think we might fry over the next few years. But it seems as if that won’t be happening soon. Nope. The “experts” are actually predicting cooler weather over the next 10 years. Damn. I just thought I got the hang of this Global Warming thing. Isn’t it meant to say that the world heats up a bit. Or is it just my limited command of the English language that is confusing me here? Whatever. it will now get cooler over the next few years. And I live in Massachusetts. It gets damn cold for an African over here. We think 70 Fahrenheit is a nice day to wrap up in some nice warm clothes, start the fire and get the pot going. So 15 Fahrenheit is a bit chilly for us. I can’t even start explaining what all freezes when it gets this cold. In short, we don’t handle cold weather well. So thank God for Global Warming. It has a positive purpose after all. At least in the short term. Imagine how cold it would get over the next 10 years if we didn’t have Global Warming. The Big Freeze is controlled by the Big Heat. Something to look forward to. Some balmy weather for the next few years at least. Now. Guys. Please. Can we just stick to one story at a time? It’s getting a bit hot in the kitchen right now. Too much hot air. Or not.

Have a good one all. Back with more views next week. I am off to collect some wood to stockpile for the Big Freeze coming.

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