Offtheshelf's blog

Vote Whig Party!

Good morning, my fellow Masachusetonians. The polls are opening ... and Mickey just found the miniature golf pencils under a pile of dirty laundry ... so it looks like we're ready to move forward with our write-in campaign. Let me take this moment to reiterate my position on a number of key issues:

Not only am I in favor of rolling back the tax for Masachuset* residents, I'm also in favor of annexing the state of Maine in order to tax those residents up there as well. With all that tax income, including income from a soon-to-be profitable prison system, we will be able to fund education, fund services for the elderly, and fund the building of oil rigs in Nantucket Sound so that the residents of this great commonwealth can tap an abundant energy source just offshore (maybe).

Under a Whig administration, we will eliminate Mass Turnpike trolls (and gnomes), move the Big Dig three feet to the left, exhaust all of our state's natural resources, and come up with a snappy state song (I'm leaning toward "Tessie" by Dropkick Murphys).

We'll eliminate jobs, attract new crime ... I'm sorry, hahaha, that's attract new jobs, eliminate crime ... improve health care, outlaw rotaries, continue to turn right on red, and bring peace and order to the universe.

I have received endorsements from such groups as the Massachusetts Unlicensed Electrical Workers' Union, the Whalers & Harpooner's Union, the Veterans of the Spanish-American War, and the Massachusetts Residents Against the US Invasion of Grenada. Though I did not receive endorsements from the Boston Globe, the Boston Herald, the Worcester Telegram, nor from the Cape Cod Times, I did receive a wonderful endorsement from the Quabbin Reservoir Reader, a semi-annual publication with a readership of 75 really ticked-off individuals whose homes now reside at the bottom of that body of water so that the good folks of Boston can have a shower in the morning and a glass of water before bedtime.

So please, as you go to the polls today, ask for a miniature golf pencil and write in the Whig Party as your choice for Governor. And together we'll "Take Back Maine!"

God bless the great state of Masachuset (*new spelling, please make a note of it).

Jack Sheedy - Whig Party Candidate

Sunday Morning

There are two things they tell you never to discuss - politics and religion. Well, since I've been dabbling in politics of late (Vote Whig Party!) I figured why not touch on religion. After all, it is Sunday morning.

Yes, it is Sunday morning ... and I am not in church. Raised Catholic in a very Irish-Italian Catholic neighborhood just south of Boston, I certainly know the importance of being at mass on a Sunday morning. In those days, we lived close enough that we walked to our church - St. Clair's. When I became older, I walked alone to either the 7:30 or 11:30 mass, depending on how late I was out on Saturday evening. I enjoyed those walks to and from mass, and truth be told, I enjoyed the church service in between.

During adulthood, after my move to the Cape, I became an "on again/off again" Catholic in terms of church service attendance. There was a time, a few years back (for the period of three years) when I attended mass regularly - every Sunday and even during feast days. I wasn't a Holy Roller by any means, just a good Catholic boy reconnecting with his religion. I mixed it up, sometimes going to 7:00 mass, sometimes 10:00, and sometimes 11:30. Each mass had its own feel, its own personality, and I particularly enjoyed the 11:30 because I liked the way the noon sun played through the stained glass windows. Attending made me feel good about myself. It left me cleansed, absolved, and prepared to face the week ahead.

Of late I have not been attending mass, but will most likely fall back in with the flock one of these days. Occasionally, I tune in to it on the TV or radio, just to have it on in the background. I offer up an "Our Father" and a "Hail Mary" and then proceed with my day.

But just because I'm not in church doesn't mean I'm not seeing the religious elements in my life. For instance, earlier this morning I drove my daughter to work and my son to his driving education class. A frosty morning full of autumnal colors and filtered sunlight through semi-bare tree branches, it provided me with a beautiful backdrop to these precious moments with my dear children.

Then it was on to the transfer station/landfill (before the crowds arrived) with a minivan full of leaves raked from the previous day. With the classical station on the radio, the sun rising in the southeast, billowing November clouds off in the distance across the capped fields of our town's previous landfill - how could anything be more peaceful upon a Sunday morn?

In today's world - in which crusades are being waged in the name of God - religion has become a very personal thing. And I sense that religion - from person to person - exists where you find it. Some find it in a church. Some find it in their children. Some find it in the sunrise. And some find it emptying leaves at a landfill early on a Sunday morning, with classical music lilting through the crisp November air.

Jack Sheedy

A Day in the Life (of the Campaign)

Whig Party campaign limps into last week 

2006whigpartyposter_016:00 am - Woke up, fell out of bed, dragged a comb across my head.

7:00 am - En route to the Whig campaign headquarters. Picked up a cup of coffee. Stopped short at a red light. Spilled coffee.

7:30 am - Arrived at campaign headquarters. Door was locked. Forgot the key. Went back to the car. Bored, opened glove compartment and flipped through the '91 Chevy Lumina owner's manual for an hour until my campaign manager arrived. At least now I know how to reset the Chevy's clock.

8:30 to 9:30 am - Perused Healey's website. Perused Patrick's website. Perused Mihos' website. Had a thought -- I need to get myself a website!

9:30 to 11:00 am - Campaign meeting. In attendance: campaign manager, public relations director, volunteer coordinator, and some guy named Mickey who appeared to be there just for the free coffee and doughnuts. Went over poll numbers - still running fifth place. Went over campaign funding - we have no funds, although I get a paycheck this Friday. Went over advertising campaign - no ads scheduled. Went over volunteer assignments - all three volunteers are going away to Foxwoods for the weekend. Mickey then asked if we had any more jelly doughnuts.

11:00 am to noon - Discussed my position on key issues with campaign director. 1) Tax rollback to 5% - sure, why not; 2) Eliminate Mass Pike tolls - sure, why not; 3) Hire more teachers - sure, why not; 4) Make college tuition more affordable - sure, why not; 5) Hire more police officers - sure, why not; 6) Create more jobs - sure, why not. Boy, this Governor stuff is easy!

Noon to 2:00 pm - Attended fundraiser luncheon at Buckey's Sports Cafe. Good turnout ... I think we got a dozen people (including campaign staff, volunteers, and Mickey). I had the turkey club. Mickey had the roast beef. Presented a brief speech, played a little keno, threw some darts, discussed the origins of the universe with the wait staff. Left an 18% tip.

2:00 to 3:00 pm - Back at Whig campaign headquarters. Mickey and I searched for the missing supply of miniature golf pencils. No luck.

3:00 to 4:00 pm - Stopped by the Dennis Public Library to return some books and to congratulate the staff on winning the town's Halloween costume contest (they all dressed as Pirates). Upcoming events:  Nov 7 at 1pm - "Mom & Baby Time";  Nov 8 at 11am - Microsoft Word computer class;  Nov 9 at 10:30 am - Story & Craft time.

4:00 to 5:00 pm - Back at Whig campaign headquarters to work on victory speech, using Lincoln's "Gettysburg Address," FDR's "Fear Itself," JFK's  "Ask Not," Carter's "Malaise," and Nixon's "Checkers" speeches as inspiration. Put in another call to Patrick's headquarters to see about setting up a one-on-one debate. This time the woman on the other end made whistling noises, claimed we had a bad connection, and asked that I try calling back tomorrow.

5:15 pm - Mickey finally left!

6:00 pm - Back home for dinner and to study campaign notes: Massachusetts capital = Boston; Massachusetts state bird = chickadee; Massachusetts state flower = mayflower; Massachusetts senator who just blew his chance for another presidential bid = John Kerry.

7:05 pm - In front of TV for Bruins game.

9:50 pm - Bruins lose to Buffalo in  OT 5-4.

Sometime just before midnight - Nod off reading Famous Quotes of Calvin Coolidge. Vote Whig Party ... Zzzzzzz .....

Jack Sheedy - Whig Candidate

All Hallow's Eve

October 31st, besides being Halloween, is a significant day in a more personal way. You see, back on October 31, 1985 I had my first published article appear in the Barnstable Patriot newspaper at the tender age of 23. For a freelance writer, that's something special - even 21 years and some 500 articles later I still remember the thrill of that first article, to see it in print, with my own byline.

That short article was Halloween-themed, and so I thought it would be appropriate to rerun it here to celebrate the night. (Be kind, I wrote it long ago when I was a much younger person!)

All Hallow's Eve 

jackolanternHalloween is a night which somehow seems very different from the other 364 nights of the year. On, say, the night of January 23rd or the night of August 12th, witches, ghosts, and goblins are imaginary beings which only lurk, if at all, in the minds of men and women. But on the night of October 31, All Hallow's Eve, or Halloween as it is now called, these creatures come to life. They are, for at least this one night, very much real. On this night, anything is possible.

Over the years the meaning of Halloween, the power of Halloween, has become lost inside of bags of candy and behind plastic masks. The real Halloween lies dormant, hidden beneath the fallen leaves, waiting to surface.

In the past this night received more respect. To our predecessors this eve held more significance. On this night the Druids believed that Saman, the lord of the dead, called his servants to rise from their graves and haunt the earth. In an effort to protect themselves from these spirits, the Druids lit large bonfires. Today, those bonfires have been replaced by meek candlelight. The flame exisits, but the meaning is lost, clouded behind candy bars and lollypops.

Halloween has not truly accomplished its task unless each of us is in some way frightened. It attempts to do this by capitalizing on our primeval fears. In recent years, though, we have set aside our primitive beliefs for we now consider ourselves to be educated beings. But no matter how far we evolve, there will always be something in the far reaches of our educated minds which will bring us back to a time when we feared the moon itself. We cannot escape it, for deep down we are still animals. We will always be haunted. We will always know fear. That is why Halloween "spooks" us.

This particular night frightened our ancestors, and it will continue to frighten their descendants. As soon as the sun sets and All Hallow's Eve is upon us, witches, ghosts, and goblins awaken from their long sleep.

On this night there is no escaping it. We are afraid.

Jack Sheedy

Falling Back

"Ticking away, the moments that make up a dull day - You fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way" - Pink Floyd

Tonight we fall back. We gain an hour - a gift from the great celestial spirit. Of course, that hour is taken away from us come springtime in this annual tennis match of time. But for now, we're up an hour. And in a world of two-something per gallon gasoline, three-something per gallon milk, rising mortgage rates, rising food prices, rising real estate taxes, rising college tuition, rising homeowner's insurance rates, rising electric costs, and meager raises in income barely keeping pace with inflation ... we'll take anything we can get. Even if it's just a lousy hour caught somewhere between 2am and 3am. So, what are you going to do with your hour?

"Time keeps flowing like a river (on and on) to the sea, to the sea, till it's gone forever, gone forever, gone forevermore." - Alan Parsons Project

An hour. What's it worth? For some people an hour is worth what they are able to earn during those 60 minutes. For others, it's an opportunity to do a little reading, or to visit with a friend, or to clean the gutters, or to make something out of papier-mache. For most of us, though, that hour is chalked up to the extra sleep account as a little credit under the category "Zzzzzz." Yet, when we wake up the next morning we're a bit confused by the strange sunlight pouring through our windows and how it doesn't quite match up with the hands on the clock. Though we've been through this a number of times before (in my case, 44 times before) something just feels amiss. It's an odd day ... the noontime sun seems to arrive before the hands on the clock reach their zenith. Afternoon plods along, the clock chasing the sun hour by hour. And then it all comes crashing down when the sun sets and there's still time to kill before dinner. Oh yeah, I remember this, you say -- the early twilights, the shortening days, the lengthening evenings.  So, what are you going to do with your hour?

"Precious time is slipping away" - Van Morrison 

This weekend always reminds me of how quickly time is unfurling. I look at my journal - which I've kept now for the past 15 years - and flip through the pages, reading about my plans and dreams. They are the plans and dreams of someone in his late 20's, then early 30's, then mid-30's, late 30's, early 40's, now mid-40's. Precious time is truly slipping away. Or as the Moody Blues put it: "22,000 days, 22,000 days, it's not a lot, it's all you got, 22,000 days." In those terms, I'm now at day 15, 900. Time to stop frittering and wasting my hours in an offhand way ... before springtime comes along and takes back that extra hour I've been given.

So, what am I gonna do with my hour?  I don't know ... but perhaps it's time to kick myself in the butt and get working on that novel that's been cluttering up my brain!

Jack Sheedy

News from the Campaign

Well, we've had some setbacks. First, I had a campaign rally scheduled for this afternoon - after my day job - but I was running late and missed the whole thing. You see, I was doing this new mail route that I really had never done before and the minutes seemed to tick by like ... like ... well, like half minutes. At one point during the route I grazed a curb and my hubcap came off (which I was able to retrieve -- how humiliating) and another time my car wouldn't restart (at which point I started to whimper a bit ... believe me, it's not pretty when a mailman cries). Anyway, I finally finished the route but by the time I got to the rally it was over. I'm truly sorry, folks. Hope you all enjoyed the nachos and Juicy Juice.

Second, I've been calling Deval Patrick's office trying to get a one-on-one debate scheduled but his campaign keeps giving me the runaround. One time the lady on the other end pretended she was the operator and insisted that I insert another 55 cents to complete the call. I then told her that I was on a cell phone and as far as I could tell there was no place to insert the coins. Another time she pretended that she was a prerecorded message informing me that the number had changed to a new number with a "555" exchange like you always hear on television and in movies, so I knew it wasn't for real. Next time I called she said I was calling a laundromat, then she said I was calling an Irish pub, and then the Boston Bruins locker room (don't get me started on last night's game!). The last time I called she spoke in a made up foreign language - just complete gibberish, not even well done, really pretty bad with a bizarre Australian accent. Anyway, I understand that Kerry Healey is getting the same runaround in her attempts to debate Patrick one-on-one.

Third, I've misplaced my supply of miniature golf pencils. That could cost me some votes.

The good news is that I'm running a solid fifth place in the race, just a few percentage points behind Ross. So, let's keep up the momentum, and tell your friends - republican, democrat, independent, green-rainbow, whatever - to Vote Whig! (By the way, were there any nachos left? I'm starving!)

Jack Sheedy - Whig Candidate

On the Campaign Trail - Part 4

The Whig/Take Back Maine campaign keeps on truckin'. And endorsements are beginning to roll in from all across this great state of Masachuset:

Massachusetts Unlicensed Electrical Workers' Union - What a shot in the arm to receive their endorsement. Of course, they are unlicensed, which means all their members can do on the jobsite is install lightbulbs.

The Whalers & Harpooners Union - Yes, yes, I know whaling is outlawed. But they don't! They assemble each month at the old whaling church in New Bedford to sing chanties and to dream of the glorious old whaling days. At their last meeting I made the mistake of yelling "Thar she blows!" and was nearly hit by a flying harpoon! That'll teach me!

Long Kesh Irish Pub - Being half Irish, it's a wonderful feeling to get an endorsement from my own kind. Especially from the folks at the Long Kesh - who are near and dear to my Celtic heart. In fact, if you'll pardon me, I'd like to offer them a special message in the language of the old country: "Gibarrg sloncha blagglera figg loch guinnessee southie" ... which means, "How 'bout another pint before we swim home."

Veterans of the Spanish-American War - A small but influential group (let's not forget their impact on the election of 1900).

Connecticut River Swim Club - Massachusetts Chapter - To raise funds for my election, a group of 50 attempted to swim from the Vermont/New Hampshire border to the Connecticut border. Twenty made it, there's been no sign of the others. Next of kin are being notified ... and are being asked for their vote.

Massachusetts Mathematics Club - They're on board, but only because I said I would fund a study to - once and for all - find the value of pi.

Massachusetts Residents Against the US Invasion of Grenada (MRAUSIG) - Though it's been 23 years since this two and a half hour war that saw the largest fighting force on the planet trounce a small island the size of Cuttyhunk, the MRAUSIG is a passionate group of peaceful individuals who will never forget. Their slogan: "Don't Let Iraq Become Another Grenada" has never caught on, though.

The Bourne Bridge Painters Guild - There's nothing more refreshing than a crisp fall day, watching the painters hanging hundreds of feet above the Cape Cod Canal doing their craft. Their current exhibit is "Bourne Bridge in Gray" which runs through the end of 2007.

Jack Sheedy - Whig Candidate


On the Campaign Trail - Part 3

Well, the gubernatorial debate is over. At the last minute I received an invite to attend, but unfortunately I was positioned just off camera all night and was not asked any questions. Actually, I take that back - I was asked one question during a commercial break, but it was just some guy looking for the men's room. I told him it was the second door on the left and that I would appreciate his vote on Nov 7.

I noticed that some of the other candidates have published booklets stating their position on a number of important issues - taxes, education, jobs, those Mass Turnpike Trolls I mentioned in an earlier blog. Healey calls her publication "Tough, Smart Solutions to Change Massachusetts" while Patrick calls his "Moving Massachusetts Forward." I've decided to publish a booklet as well, though I haven't quite decided on a title. So far, I've got: "Masachuset - We're Just East of New York State" or "Masachuset - Feel Free to Turn Right on Red" or "Masachuset - Yes, the Mayflower II is a Replica and Plymouth Rock is Probably Not the Actual One the Pilgrims Stepped on When They Got Off the Boat, But Why Don't You at Least Buy Some Salt Water Taffy for Your Neighbors Back Home Who Have Been Watching Your Dog All Week While You've Been Out Here on Vacation." Meanwhile, a PR firm I've hired has come up with "Strange, Bizarre Decisions to Move Masachuset Back and Forth in a Jerky Fashion." It certainly is a touch decision, but it's my decision and I'm up to the challenge.

I've been out in public shaking hands and passing out miniature golf pencils for my write-in campaign. You may have seen me waving at people at the Airport Rotary in Hyannis, but watching the cars go round and round made me ill so I had to go home and sleep it off.  The next day I went down to the Sagamore Rotary to wave at motorists going on and off Cape, but you wouldn't believe it -- somebody stole the rotary! It's gone! When I become Governor I'll assign a task force to look into this missing Sagamore Rotary and make sure it's returned.

Health care is a key concern to Masachuset residents. Costs are skyrocketing -- the cost of medical care, the cost of prescriptions, the cost of insurance premiums, even the cost of parking garages strategically located near the big medical centers in Boston. Let's face, getting sick is darn expensive! So, when I become Governor I'm going to suggest -- no, I'm going to insist -- that everyone take a daily multi-vitamin. That'll keep us all healthy. Heck, those Fred Flintstone chewables are darn tasty! Also, I'm going to insist that people start listening to more Louis Prima music ... if that doesn't put you in good spirits then nothing will.

Until next time, Vote Whig Party! And Let's Keep Turning Right on Red!!

(FYI to those just joining the campaign: Masachuset is the new, shorter spelling of our great state. Oh, by the way, the city of Quincy will now be spelled Quinzy in order to cut down on mispronunciations by those from out of state. Please make a note of it.) 

Jack Sheedy

On the Campaign Trail - Part 2

The campaign has hit high gear. We're getting the word out to Vote Whig! Take Back Maine! And Take Little Rhody While We're At It!!

My platform is coming together. I've given deep thought to the big issues ... taxes, education, why Setucket Road in Dennis becomes Satucket Road when it crosses over into Brewster, why there are seven "Main Streets" in the town of Barnstable, why cranberries can't be used as currency (heck, we'd all be rich!!!). Anyway, as you can see, deep thought. Here are some other issues I've been working on:

Crime - Let's face it, there's just too much of it. I've never met a criminal, but they must be out there because I see stories about them all the time on the evening news. So, why is there crime? Because there are criminals on the street. And why are there criminals on the street? Because they're not in prison. And why are they not in prison? Because the prisons are overcrowded and it costs something like $40,000 per year to house and feed a prisoner and that's darn expensive. Hmmm. Let me think this through. We can't build more prisons because of the expense. Hmmm. So, all we have to do is make prison profitable. Doesn't seem like that tough a problem to me. If somebody could work on this and have a solution to me by Friday, that would be great. (There's a Lieutenant Governor position in it for you.)

Jobs - We have to attract high-paying jobs to southeastern Masachuset*, specifically high-paying Bank Marketing Copywriter positions. (Let's see, what did I do with my resume?) How can we do this? One of two ways. We either offer huge tax cuts to businesses that move into the area. Or else, we bribe the CEO and maybe the CFO, oh heck, all right, the COO, too. In fact, I think we can use some of the profit we make off the prisons as bribe funds. See, it all goes right back into the economy!

*Formerly Massachusetts (see earlier Campaign blog)

Moustaches - Under Whig Party rule, all men will be required to grow a moustache. It'll be like being back in the good old days. We'll all look like Lifesaving Station keepers!! Awards will be given to those with the most robust moustaches -- thickest moustache, best handlebar moustache, moustache that looks most like Stalin's, etc. It'll be great fun. And think of all the shaving cream we'll be saving for future generations!

Laundry Chutes - I'm proposing that all houses install a laundry chute. This business of carrying dirty laundry downstairs to the cellar day after day is for the birds! I made one just this morning and it took me only an hour. All you need is a circular saw, a handsaw, and the nerve to cut a hole in the floor of your bathroom closet. 

Jack Sheedy - Whig Party Candidate

Cleaning Windows

This past Saturday I had a rare day off. So first thing that morning I wrote out a list of weekend chores to be accomplished by Sunday night, and then set off toward crossing them one-by-one off my list.

Saturday morning: Went to the bank, went to the dump, went to the hardware store, went to Benny's, went to CVS, stopped by the library (yes, on my day off), stopped by the post office (yes, on my day off), and finally arrived home sometime after noontime to begin washing windows. Little did I know I'd be washing windows until sunset of the following day!

Yes, I admit it, we've been in the house for a year and a half now and this is the first time I've tackled the windows. Gross, huh? Not that we have a lot of windows. And not that the windows are hard to get at - we live in a small, one-story ranch (in fact, the house is so small that I can vacuum the whole place by plugging into one centrally located electrical outlet!). It's just that I've been ... well ... lazy in the area of window maintenance.

Anyway, as I began spraying Windex and paper toweling the panes I realized that the caulking in many places was in disrepair -- heck, it was falling out! So for nearly each window pane I had to pry out some of the old caulking and apply new caulking (putty). This slowed things down to a crawl. So, instead of it being a cleaning job it also became a repair job. Window by window I repeated the cleaning and puttying (is that a word?), realizing that my weekend was quickly becoming consumed by just one item on my to-do list -- one item which I had earlier figured would take me two or three hours max.

But isn't that how life works out. You expect one thing and you get another. You come armed with Windex and Bounty paper towel when what you really need is a putty knife and window caulking. But it doesn't end there. Now next weekend I'll need to paint the caulking, and then scrape with a razor any paint I get on the panes, and then wash the windows all over again! How maddening!!

So, now I'm working on a new to-do list for next weekend, though something tells me I'll be on window detail come late Sunday afternoon. And that, my friend, is how life marches on ... one window pane at a time.

Jack Sheedy - Window Washer