Sacked by Scylla and Charybdis

This is the hardest time of year for me, productivity-wise.

Glorious late summer gives way to temperate early fall to lure me out to the Starlight Lounge for a cigar and a drink while the pro football season gets under way. The combination is Scylla and Charybdis imperiling the creative journey, at least for me.

And it’s not just that I affix my butt to the chair in front of the television for the New England Patriots games. I must monitor postgame wrap-ups, halftime shows and local sports analysis programs. Then I must scour the Internet in search of box scores, out-of-town coverage and any manner of pigskin tidbits to slake my unquenchable thirst for the things of the gridiron.

And, of course, I have to share my own scintillating commentary on social media. Lately, I’ve taken to launching a jihad against the National Football League’s hapless replacement referees, tweeting an interminable fusillade of #ReplacementRefsFacts.

Probably the best one was “The @nfl #ReplacementRefs shine their shoes with kielbasa b/c it says “Polish” on the package.” (Haw!)

Of course, none of that translates to finishing my novel or generating billable hours. It’s fun, and it scratches an itch for attention, I suppose, but it’s hardly a productive use of my dwindling hours.

So … let this be yet another line in the sand, another not-quite-so-new year’s resolution to wrestle my important projects to the ground. If you have any tips to help an inveterate time-waster stay on track, I’m open to suggestions.


My dog, Bill Belichick and me

I knew something was wrong when I found myself scolding my dog for her lack of “situational awareness.”

Holly, the lovely impediment to my ambulatory progress

Actually, at least two things were wrong. First, it was clear I’d watched one too many Bill Belichick press conferences. Second, I had grossly overreacted to my dog’s tendency to pause whenever she crosses a threshold or otherwise stand in front of wherever I happen to want to go.

“Situational awareness!” I shouted as I nudged Holly with my knee, perturbed because it was taking an extra second to move into the kitchen. Then I started laughing at the absurdity of my actions. Later, though, on our walk with her brother, Buddy, I thought about what could be winding me up so tightly. (Still haven’t quite put my finger on it.)

I also thought about Belichick, his lexicon and his adroit verbal aikido during the press conferences the New England Patriots head coach clearly doesn’t enjoy.

“It is what it is,” has become a ubiquitous, impossible-to-refute mantra applied to any situation around these parts. Though Belichick certainly didn’t invent the phrase, he has popularized it. (See also “Football players play football.”)

In fact, I’ve contemplated fashioning a nifty bingo card from his nonresponses to reporters’ questions after each game. Just trying to compete … what’s best for the football team … all three phases of the game? Bingo!

Of course, some smarty-pants types at Harvard have already done me one better, writing a computer program that can spit out Belichickian responses in a variety of situations.

Situational awareness. The aforementioned program has it, so why doesn’t my dog?

Why don’t I?