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Sunshine on the sports page: A Piece of My Mind

One morning a while ago I sat down with my morning coffee to read the paper. The list of headlines included:

•┬áTech job engine cooling off?

Unpresidential politics: No Shoes, Please

“Don’t feed the trolls” was advice offered by a political commentator in 2011 during the Donald Trump-manufactured hysteria over President Barack Obama’s birth certificate. What he meant was: Don’t encourage fringe elements to express nonsensical viewpoints, don’t fan the flames of discord among people driven by irrational fears, and don’t bestow the mantle of leadership onto someone simply because he’s the one holding the biggest pitchfork in a crowd of angry townsfolk.

Well, obviously, nobody in the Republican Party was listening back then, because Trump is on his way to becoming their presidential nominee, bolstered by droves of supporters who love his swagger, his condescension, his insufferable ignorance and his incendiary rhetoric. It’s incredible to watch Trump feed his audience the kind of dog food that was sold 50 years ago, and then see them gobble it up like it’s steak. Remember Gaines-Burgers? Resembled a hamburger patty but was actually a toxic plastic?

Light hearts and heavy metal: A Piece of My Mind

I am at the Caravan Lounge in San Jose, the darkest, smallest public space I have ever visited. I am surrounded by black T-shirts, black denim jeans and black leather jackets. A singer at the other end of the bar is screaming over the noise of two extremely amplified electric guitars and a snare drum set. I have earplugs in my ears, but the vibration of the bass guitar is still rattling my breastbone and echoing in my shoulder blades. I am wearing black slacks and a black T-shirt emblazoned with two skeletons, one of which is stabbing the other. My sister M is standing next to me wearing the same shirt. She turns to me with a wide grin and mouths above the din, “Isn’t this great?”

I am here basically because my sister’s husband was brought up in Brazil. When M heard that a trio of Brazilian women musicians needed a place to stay while they recorded their next album, she and her husband volunteered their spare bedrooms, expecting perhaps a nice string trio. Instead they got Nervosa, an up-and-coming Brazilian thrash metal band.

Inside the lines: Haugh About That?

Curled around my down-feathered pillow as chicken pox created a polka-dot motif all over my body, my father stood at the end of my bed with the best pill for relief.

“Honey, I have a gift for you,” he smiled. “I know how much you love to color.” Then, handing me a Shirley Temple coloring book, along with a fresh box of Crayola crayons, I instantly forgot the feeling that a thousand mosquitoes had just attacked my body.

Death and life: No Shoes, Please

I like funerals. This isn’t to say that I’m happy when people die, or that I’m perversely attracted to sorrow and grief. But over the years, I’ve attended my fair share of services, and there are certain attributes – respect, gratitude, love and kindness – that in a funeral reach depths that I don’t see very often on display either in everyday life or on other special occasions.

You would think that given its commanding name, Thanksgiving is the day when cups runneth way over, or that Christmastime – with its governance over peace on earth, goodwill toward men – would be swollen with magnanimous behavior and serenity. But that’s not always the case. I’ve found that stress around major holidays often brings out the worst in people – in stores, seasonal parties and even at family dinner tables.

Deep in the rye: The Villaj Idiut

We had a death in our family recently.

My son became a teenager.

Six days left: Haugh About That?

Staring into the imploring eyes of the woman sitting across from me, I cringed. What she was asking was so beyond my comfort zone, I actually felt fear seep into every pore of my body.

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