Frank’s Place: Best of 2015

best 2015Another year come and gone. We’re really starting to log some miles here at Frank’s Place. Like every year 2015 had some serious ups and downs. But like every year, since 2011 at least, we have blogged about it.

And since blogging is what we’re here to do, lets get to the posts with the most, the verbal stylings that y’all liked better than the rest.  As always they are in ascending order of popularity based on views each post got.

 

Frank’s Place hit the bigs! One of the surprising Ups for 2015. Two of Frank’s Place stories were published in an actual book. With real words, by a real publisher, that paid real money. Do I have to say it? Doesn’t get any more real than that folks.

 

A Night on the Tracks Another Up sort of. This from the back to work saga that became my life in 2015. More on that later. Needless to say going back to work required a car to get there. This is the fateful night of car shopping.

 

The plan begins to unravel

The plan begins to unravel

Oh Crap! They’re Gonna Make It!   This is a new development. The very first post of 2015 made the list. We decided to let the kids, then 5 & 2 years old, try to make midnight on New Years Eve. One of many tragic parenting decisions throughout the year.

 

Balloons on the Ceiling: A Birthday Tale.  How does one good deed lead to a week of punishment and pain. Read on McDuff. You’ll see.

 

Inside the Dust Jacket: A dedication.     The passing of my Father brought out some neat, sad, funny, great memories and thoughts. This one made it to print. What would I say to my family in the event I ever had my own book published. And why wait to memorialize them, just say it now. So I did.

 

Naked & Afraid: 2 Hours in the Mall Without My Phone!  This was the most fun post of 2015. My favorite. An editor’s choice if you will. Is it possible to experience the world without your smart phone? Who the hell cares. I don’t want to know.

 

It was that kind of year.

It was that kind of year.

3 Years Home! It’s Anne Marie’s birthday week. Who survives, who doesn’t?! The answer is me on both counts. Plus bonus birthday pics!

 

And we have reached the top 3. Yep, the three posts that had the most. Views that is. These three cracked the 250 mark for views on the day they were posted. That’s a first for Frank’s Place.

 

One Actionable Thing.  Our first guest author at Frank’s Place and she lands in the top 3. How do you like them apples? Mrs Frank’s Place took to the key board after the one of many mass shootings this year.

 

Stay at Home No More  Not sure how to take the response to this one. Over 320 views on the day it posted. Either people really wanted to read about the story of me going back to work or… they were really glad I was going back to work and thus not writing as much any more.

Francis John Linardo: An extraordinary, unknown, life.     We end this year on a major downer. I wrote this one in my head on my 10 hour drive home to Knoxville after my Father’s funeral in Jersey. That was in March so I’m not sure why but I thought then it might end up on this list at the end of the year. It’s truly amazing how your mind can work and wander when you have 10hrs of silence to let it.

 

In a German forrest made famous not 10 years earlier.

In a German forest made famous not 10 years earlier.

 

So ends the year that was. It had some sorrow to be sure, but there was a lot of joy as well. For that Frank’s Place is grateful!

Happy New Year!

The Candy Land Confessions

Church has changed a lot in my years of existence. When I was a kid you kept all your dirty secrets secret. Then on the first Friday of every month you lined up as a class, walked down to the Catholic Church and unloaded you horrifying sins on an unsuspecting priest through a strange identity concealing screen, took your 48 Hail Mary’s as penance, went to communion and got on with your life. No one is the wiser.

If you were light in the sin department that month you may have fabricated a few just to make it seem like you were a penitent kid. Nuns loved that stuff. Now though the church has become more progressive. You sit face to face with the priest, kids are not as ashamed of the stuff they did and the stuff they do is way worse than anything I could have conceived in my day.

The point being, kids are more open and forthcoming these days, more ready to confess to anybody who’ll listen. It’s like they have no fear of repercussion, of the mountainous stream of Hail Marys and Our Fathers that await them for their transgressions. It seems that way to me anyway. My son, by way of a board game, has become such a confessor. Before we get to that let’s discuss the evil that is Candy Land.

Plotting the entire time!

Plotting the entire time!

Candy Land: A Game of Confessions (not real title), was given to our kids by a person who shall  not be named. Pic to the left. Here we have a relative, an Aunt to our kids, holding our daughter in the NICU in 2012. It’s the picture of the dark side. Much like no one could have known Annakin would become Darth Vader, no one seeing the picture on the left could have known the evil plot that lurked within.

We’re not really sure why or how, but what could be pieced together from the archives shows it was some sort of revenge for a previous noise making Christmas gift. Ultimately the details of the attack are unimportant. The fall out however, is ongoing. How could such a benign gift pack such destruction? How could such a pleasant looking person perpetrate such evil? Well pull up a chair and I’ll tell ya.

Candy Land is a game without end. Not like Chutes & Ladders or Hi Ho Cherrio, games that can absolutely never be completed. No Candy Land can be played rather quickly. Getting to the ginger bread thing at the top doesn’t take much time. So the first time you play it you think, “Awesome that took no time at all! Yeah let’s play again.” Boom you’ve just be tricked, hoodwinked, bamboozled. As Malcom X once said, “I didn’t land on Candy Land, Candy Land landed on me!” Or something like that.

No matter. The hook is set. Candy Land games end so quickly relative to all those other kid’s games that drone on and on they make Monopoly seem like a Minute Clinic, you get tricked into playing again. And again. And again. And again. And… You get the point.

The dreaded Loli-pop forest, where parents go to die. Or something...

The dreaded Loli-pop forest, where parents go to die. Or something…

So does the kid. They know they have you. They know the hours of trying to pick all the damn cherries from your cherry tree only to land on the f*%*ing basket symbol on the spinner and have to put them all back. They know you will wise up and make excuses on why you can’t play. They also know you can’t escape the allure of a quick four games of Candy Land, where you get the added benefit of feeling like you just spent quality time with your kid and are therefore a good parent.

It’s the dark side people. Believe it.

However some light has shone through the darkness of Candy Land and was the impetus for the title of this particular screed.

In the midst of a rather length Candy Land marathon I needed to run upstairs and deal with midget #2. When I got back my #1 had a strange look on his face. His look got stranger when I turn over the next card and was rewarded with the Cinnamon Bun symbol, putting me almost to the end. Two cards later: victory, and the chance to play again, and again, and again. His look of consternation at that moment finally made sense. He fixed the cards while I was out. Frank realized he counted wrong when I got the cinnamon bun before him.

The next time we played we had just finished and I had to run upstairs again. I told him to shuffle as I would be back in a few ticks. He looked down at his feet and said he shouldn’t be allowed to shuffle. “I’m a cheater daddy. I’ll just make the cards so I can win.” Yes Frank, yes you are cheater. Not much of a card counter apparently. Gonna have to perfect one or the other son.

I wasn’t really too concerned with the deck fixing. He’s six. I sort of looked at it like he’s becoming competitive. My job will be to channel that into winning within the rules. But what surprised me the most was his openness with the whole thing. Reference the paragraphs of evil above, Candy Land games run together like the sands of an hour glass. I had completely forgotten he tried to cheat me mere hours, yes hours, before. I’m still not currently sure what day it is, having just extricated myself from gum drop mountain. He could have taken that little secret to the nether world with him and no one would have been the wiser.

Silly kid. Quit making me parent. Save it for First Friday.

 

Back to Work: A Stranger in a Strange Land

Editors Note: Ok so this work thing sucks. Not the job itself mind you, that’s been great. Great people, great environment, great schedule. The greatness of it is great. No, it’s my inability to sit down and write stuff.  I have stuff, a lot of stuff. I’m still trying to get myself on a good schedule here at home so I can post that stuff on a regular basis. Hang with me gang, I’m working on it. Speaking of work, enjoy my tale of travel to a far off land called West Texas.

 

Back to Work: A Stranger in a Strange Land

West Texas man. You gotta want it. You gotta want it real bad. As a friend who lives out yonder way said to me, “It’s West Texas my brother, home of the rugged, get yourself a gun and go hunt something.”

He’s not kidding. These folks are rugged. How rugged? Well I got there on Sunday and it was 80 degrees. Monday the hail was so thick you couldn’t see. By Monday night a mile wide tornado, that’s 1 mile across people, passed us in Amarillo and hit a small town called Pampa.

How you doin?

How you doin?

The tornado, an F4 I think,  sent several houses on the edge of Pampa into the stratosphere and it leveled the entire Haliburton plant. Human casualties – 0. As in zero, none, nada, zilch. No deaths at all. These people know how to do tornadoes. The next day it was 34 degrees and snowing. Not kidding. It snowed all day. No one batted an eye. By Wednesday the sun reappeared but we had straight line winds in excess of 40 miles an hour. Still no one flinched. Except me. I left at 5am the next day, it was calm and warming. What in the actual hell?

Are the people of West Texas rugged? I’d say so. Crazy? Probably. I mean they’re crazy by default right? Why would you willingly live in a place that limits your ability to golf unless you were “a little touched in the head?” But the weather is only part of the fun in West Texas. Driving in the Panhandle is a life experience all it’s own.

Somewhere over the rainbow on old RT66.

Somewhere over the rainbow on old RT66.

The phrase you can see for miles and miles and miles is not just a catchy song lyric. In the Panhandle it’s the God’s honest truth. In the day time it’s pretty cool. The pic on the left is me unwisely and probably illegally taking a picture as I drive down old RT 66 back to my hotel. My speed here is moderately fast. Which is to say I was haulin the mail. Hey when in Rome…

But the fun really starts when it’s dark. My trips to the work destination were early morning, like 5am. That’s actually 4am for you eastern standard time kids. So it’s freaking dark. Look at that picture again. Imagine it with no visible horizon, no lighting, no landmarks to separate the ground from the sky. Now, pretend for a second you can see the dash in the that pic. It would read about 75mph.

That would be about 15mph slower than every other freaking car on that road at 5 o’clock in the AM. How do I know that? Well, on the first day driving in they all passed me, that’s how. It took me two days of driving into that void to get my bearing. On the third day I felt comfortable enough to let the smoke out of the engine of that Mazda 3 rental they gave me. Aside from being a little rocket on wheels, the M3 was like a smart car. As it turns out it was smarter than me. And thank god for that.

Tiring of spending $11.50 American on an egg & cheese croissant from the hotel lobby I decide on the third day I would stop at one of the numerous truck stops on I-40. Apparently I was getting too cocky. This little smart car came with a giant key and key fob. But it was a push button start, so other than unlocking it, the keys were useless. I got in the bad habit of dropping them in the console after engine start.

As I’m walking back to my little rocket on four wheels with about 3800 calories of morning goodness, (that’s a #3 with a diet coke and extra hash brown from the golden arches), I realize the friggen keys are snug as a bug in the console of the rental car I just locked. For reasons I can’t go into, I was not able to carry my cell phone for most of the trip. So guess what the keys were resting on?

Yeah so I’m in the middle of no where, I know no one, and that wouldn’t matter cause I have no way to contact anyone. I have sustenance and shelter in the form of the McDonald’s, but if I want help I’ll need to engage a stranger. Not exactly my strong suit. In desperation I keep walking toward the car. It did make a strange beep when I shut the door on my way into heart attack alley, so maybe, just maybe…

HA HAH! VICTORY! The smart car is smarter than the driver. It won’t lock with the keys in it and no one in the seat. Must be a weight sensor or some such thing in the driver seat. I don’t care because I’m eating, I’m mobile again, I won’t be late, and more importantly I need not the help of strange people. That’s just a straight up win for everybody involved. I mean there is a good chance I’d still be wandering around out there in the middle of God’s country, having long exhausted my #3 with diet coke if not for the smartness of the key fob.

Of course, it’s West Texas. I could have just picked up one of the random guns lying about and hunted something.