O’er the Rampart we watch.

I was scrolling through Facebook today and somebody announced the birth of a new baby in the family. We are THRILLED to announce today’s arrival of Baby X! she gushed enthusiastically. 7 lbs, 8 oz., 19 1/2 inches long.

I think it’s time to stop sharing a newborn’s weight and height. Doesn’t every single full-term baby exiting the womb weigh 7 lbs., 8 oz. and measure 19 1/2 inches long? Give or take an ounce or an inch, but that’s close enough for government work, as my grandpa used to say.

Just kidding. My grandpa never said that. My great uncle Frank, on the other hand, might very well have uttered those words. He served several terms as mayor of Ewing, New Jersey in the 1950s and ’60s, and even has a park in town named after him. Politics are literally in my blood. Pretty cool, huh?

Anyway. You get what I’m saying, right? The difference between a 7 lb. 6 oz. baby and a 7 lb. 9 oz. baby is negligible. I say only share information that is noteworthy. If your kid is born weighing 10 lbs., 3 oz., first of all, I’m terribly sorry for you. Ouch. But at least that’s out of the ordinary! Then again, I don’t condone fat shaming either, so maybe we should just stick to a more generic unit of measurement. Isn’t a newborn roughly the size of a bread box? Perfect! We are THRILLED to announce today’s arrival of Baby X! He’s bigger than a breadbox!!

Works for me. And if you want to add in some other distinguishing feature, e.g., a heart-shaped mole on the left buttocks or webbed fingers, I would not be opposed.

About once a year, Tara and I pick a new-to-us television show to binge. They’re generally popular or critically acclaimed series that we never got around to seeing when they originally aired. I know it’s hard to believe that an esteemed arbiter of pop culture taste such as I did not jump on The Sopranos bandwagon until 2020, more than two decades after it debuted, but ’tis true. Same goes for other great series like Curb Your Enthusiasm, Arrested Development, The Wire, Deadwood, Mad Men, and The West Wing. All great series that rival anything produced during the Golden Age of Television, even if it did take us awhile to get around to them. Hey, better late than never!

Our 2023 binge-worthy selection is The Shield. This gritty crime drama about a dirty cop named Vic Mackey (Michael Chiklis) and his experimental Strike Team task force, who took moral ambiguity to a whole new level, had been on my radar for years. It ran for seven seasons (88 episodes) starting in 2002. We started it the week after Christmas and are midway through season two, 20 or so episodes.

All I can say is, holy shit. What a wild ride. The Shield is based on the real-life Rampart scandal that involved police corruption in the LAPD in the late ’90s. It’s thrilling and heart-wrenching and difficult to watch at times…but impossible to turn away from. One of the greatest police dramas that ever aired, for sure. As much as I liked The Wire — the closest example I can think of, right down to the anti-hero you can’t help but cheer on — I feel that after the first couple of seasons, that series went off on some weird tangents and kind of sank under its own weight. I don’t know if The Shield will continue to hold up through to the end, but we are hooked and looking forward to finishing. Sometime in the spring probably, but hey, what else do we have going on?

By now it should be obvious that I am not participating in Bloganuary. You can all breathe a collective sigh of relief that I’m not hijacking your blog feed this month (though I have been posting every other day as of late…what’s up with that?).

The prompts are still emailed to me every morning, and I did say I might be inspired to follow a few of them. The Jan. 6 prompt spoke to me:

Why do you write?

Oh, but do I have a choice? I write because it’s a compulsion impossible to resist. A creative outlet that cannot be denied. Writing, to me, is like breathing. If I stop, I cease to exist.

And I mean that in the best way possible.

Everybody has at least one thing they’re passionate about. With Tara, it’s gardening. My mom loves wine. My dad’s a traveler. If you happen to be good at the thing that inspires you most, congratulations: you just won the lottery. (Though I don’t think you can be bad at drinking wine. Unless you love Chardonnay.)

At the risk of sounding immodest, I consider myself a pretty good writer. Or so people tell me. I’m lucky in that words come easily to me. I think I have a pretty good knack for stringing them together, for telling stories that are entertaining (if occasionally long-winded). Humor is my crutch; I love making people laugh. And creative writing, my very favorite kind, gets me high. It’s a literal rush, one I can feel pumping through my veins when I’m in the zone. A buzzy feeling that is pure addiction.

Somehow, this whole combination seems to work. It allows me to pay the bills. To dream big. To take leaps of faith and always land in a better place.

I write because I can, and I write because I can’t not. Double negatives and all. As long as words pour forth, I’ll know that I am still here. That I exist.

In that sense, I write to live.

Am I crazy for thinking we should skip all those newborn stats? If you’ve watched The Shield, what did you think (in as non-spoiler a way as possible)? What’s your favorite binge? Why do YOU write?

67 thoughts on “O’er the Rampart we watch.

  1. Worse than the stats (unless the kid played baseball in the Womb League) are the “he or she looks like this or that adult or subling” (or mammal). A newborn doesn’t look like anybody or anything except itself.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I never got to see the WestWing when it came out years ago. A station here in Greensboro did a whole week all day Thanksgiving week and over Dec-Jan. I watched all day every day. I really enjoyed it. woulda loved to have had a job like those folks had in the White House staff. Of course the being president , well I could have…

        Liked by 1 person

  2. You’re kind of killing me, but I can’t not keep up, especially after I gave YOU a hard time about missing MY post. So, yeah. Baby stats are weird and I agree with you. Interesting info only, please. I feel like there’s gotta be new parents out there who don’t really want to share the weight, height thing but feel like it’s somehow compulsory. This suddenly reminds me of an episode of Little House on the Prairie when someone shared these stats to some guy, and the guy was like, “Who cares?” and then went on to say essentially what you wrote above. It was shocking and awesome!
    Haven’t seen those shows. Currently watching Frasier for like the third time through. So old but the humor stays timeless.
    With you on the whole writing thing.
    BK out. I’ve got shit to do, yo!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’d have fun following a few of the bloggers I do. A couple of daily posters, one twice daily. As in, two posts a day. Every day for the past three years or so. Point is, this ain’t nothin’!

      I’m currently re-watching “Cheers” so I get your “Frasier” fixation. I’ll probably do that one next.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I hope my daily poster friends (twice daily? forget that) understand when I only come over on Sundays and read a few from the previous week, then call it done. I’m basically the worst. I don’t know how y’all keep up with one another let alone post that often yourselves. It’s like you don’t have four kids and a job and a house to run or something.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. As much as I complain, I’ve been wanting to post something again, but have been waiting for a couple of people to see my last post first. I didn’t want you and him to miss it. Haha. Now that you’ve both weighed in, I can proceed with a new post.

        Feel special. Although, his comment was super punny and might make you feel like he’s horning in on your territory.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I love how you write about writing. The way you write about writing is an explanation of both your talent and predisposition in and of itself.

    You remind me that I’ve never watched Arrested Development. I’ve got to fix that. But I did watch the Shield back in the day. An intense show for sure. I’m not sure I lasted beyond the first two seasons but that’s typical of my tv watching (or not watching).

    As to the baby stats, all I can say about announcements is what else are you going to say? It’s like why everyone calls a baby in the first few months cute, beautiful or whatever else. Because not enough of the systems have come online yet to differentiate one from the other. Right? And maybe that’s what the weight is good for – knowing which baby is yours? I’m writing my way into this weird explanation… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Do you remember the Seinfeld episode about the ugly baby? We all think that sometimes; we’re just not brave enough to say it.

      The first two seasons of “Arrested Development” were brilliant. The third season, pretty good. The fourth sucked, and the fifth, I never bothered with. So, choose your viewing carefully (or at least know when to quit).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ah, yes – that might be true about not being willing to say when a baby isn’t cute. In that case, thank goodness we can talk about weight! 🙂

        Thanks for the heads up on Arrested Development. I started watching last night!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I think ‘We gave birth to a breadbox’ is a perfectly wonderful announcement, though I’m not sure what the appropriate gift is. Butter or jam?
    January blogathon? Prompts? Don’t need ‘em. I continually crank out daily nonsense with no help whatsoever.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I had two daughters who were 6lb13 and one of them just gave birth to a son who was 6lb13. I think that’s a huge deal! 🙂 And he looks just like his dad, or perhaps like a 50-year-old man with big cheeks and jowls?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I don’t think I even read that part of a birth announcement. I look at sex, name and just let the rest go. However- I meandered to Google and found that 1) in general it is a way to tell the world that your baby is within “normal range” ie: a sign of good health, 2) a totally subjective way to measure how difficult labor may or may not have been as in “holy crap you pushed out a 10lb baby!” 3) may also be seen as a judgement of mom on how well she cared for herself and thus her baby during pregnancy.
    You sir, can send my payment at once for all this research I just did for you 😉

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, I’m definitely not loving one of the season 2 storylines, but still liking the show overall. I googled it out of curiosity and it sounds like season 3 is expected this spring. Hopefully 🤞🏼

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve heard great things and definitely want to watch it someday, but I don’t (and won’t) subscribe to Apple TV. I’m hoping it’ll eventually be available on Netflix, even if it’s just the DVD service.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I have not watchedThe Sopranos. Same goes for all the other series you mentioned: Curb Your Enthusiasm, Arrested Development, The Wire, Deadwood, Mad Men, and The West Wing. I haven’t seen a single episode of any of them, which doesn’t concern me in the least. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

      1. We don’t watch much on commercial TV ~ just Jeopardy, Young Sheldon, and Ghosts

        We gravitate to PBS for most TV viewing ~ NOVA, Nature, All Creatures Great & Small, Vienna Blood, Scarlet & the Duke, Lucy Worsley, etc.

        Plus MOVIES! We get DVD’s from the library and from Netflix to watch 3-4 times a week.

        And I read. A lot. At least one book a week.

        So, I’m not starved for entertainment or lounge time. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I have a hard time watching cop shows, given that the majority are copaganda (looking at you, Dick Wolfe). At least you are watching a show that’s a bit more honest. I lived through the Rampart scandals in LA, which was not remotely a surprise to anyone in LA who was paying attention. Most recently we’ve had Sheriff Villanueva and his Gardena gang of officers who bend the points on their star-shaped badges when they shoot and kill suspects. All these police forces believe they are the law unto themselves. Heaven help you if you cross them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I find “The Shield” both unique and timely in that regard. It’s not afraid to dwell on police corruption, and it certainly doesn’t glorify it. You like Vic Mackey for his compassion and concern when it comes to abused women and innocent children, and you hate Vic Mackey for stealing a brick of cocaine from the evidence room. That’s the true definition of an antihero!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I get it, baby stats are boring unless it’s your own kid or grandchild. My kids were all 8.5 – 9 pounds, so I did want some credit for doing natural childbirth with those monsters.

    The only two series we’ve binged is Mad Men and Breaking Bad. I binged Superstore alone and my spouse also binges his own shows while working out. Right now, we are together bingeing The White Lotus, but there have only been 2 seasons. It’s magnificent.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I didn’t exactly binge “Breaking Bad,” but I got a late start. I think I jumped in midway through Season 2(?) so I did have to catch up on the earlier episodes. Something like that. Same thing with “Lost” (though I wish I hadn’t bothered with that one).

      “The White Lotus” is getting tons of great buzz. Which means I’ll probably get around to it in 2031.


  10. Nah, I’m okay with the newborn stats. If Tom Hanks can pound his chest about creating fire in Castaway, those who have created and brought a new life into the world can brag a bit – especially before the sleep deprivation kicks in and they can no longer string two thoughts together. I write because I have to. There are always stories to be told, where they are real-life or fiction.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I haven’t watched the shows you mention, but we are catching up on shows we like: Doc Martin, Murdoch Mysteries, Ghosts. Also just started watching Only Murders in the Building. All great.

    I know that you’re a “pretty good writer.” Consider me a people who has told you. I like that you write to live. Better than adding up numbers to live, imho.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, duh…we just binged “Only Murders in the Building” last month. Great show! With just two seasons’ worth of short episodes, I forgot to mention that. It barely seemed like a binge compared to some of these. “Mad Men,” “The Sopranos,” and “The West Wing” all took many months.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I always thought the formal announcement thing as something that only society folk or people in the upper classes did, let alone providing details of weight & dimensions. It all seems rather outdated, even a tad unnecessarily braggy – but that’s judgemental me getting an airing, as it has to stay outside the room when I’m doing my coaching 😀

    The Shield sounds interesting. I shall mention it to He who handles the viewing schedule 😉

    Liked by 1 person

      1. No, it’s done here too. I know many of the women I went to school with did announcements of their children’s weddings and will doubtless do an announcement of the birth of their grandchildren. But then I did go to a posh private school. It’s just not me.


  13. “Bigger than a breadbox” made me laugh. My younger brother weighed 12 pounds. That’s all I have to say about that.

    Is your family from New Jersey? I saw your uncle was in NJ and was curious because my dad grew up there.

    I’ve never seen The Shield, but after reading the Wiki article (and this post), I’m pretty sure I will.

    Several months ago, I discovered a writing project called 100 Reasons Why I Write, and I started creating a list in the notes section of my phone of why I write. I’m only on number 30, and I think there are several repeats. It’s not an easy question to answer.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep, both my mom’s and dad’s families are from Trenton, New Jersey. My dad was so desperate to escape, he joined the Air Force. Ha! My grandparents, most of my aunts and uncles, cousins, etc. all lived or still do live there. I have fond memories of visiting; the state gets a bad rap, but I loved the Jersey shore (before the Kardashians ruined that), tomato pie, lightning bugs, corn on the cob, etc. It’s really not so bad.

      Twelve pounds?? Holy cow. Your poor mom…

      Liked by 1 person

  14. You are a fantastic writer, and you inspire me. Also Chardonnay? Ugh, Gag.

    I’ve not watched The Shield, and as it sounds interesting, I have issues seeing police doing the ‘wrong’ thing. As you know, I’m surrounded by law enforcement, and they strive to do the ‘right’ thing daily. Seeing otherwise hurts my soul. I know it’s TV, but still.

    Bigger than a breadbox, smaller than a toaster. 😳

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Why, thank you! That’s very kind of you to say. 🙂

      And I get why you don’t like to watch bad-cop shows. Trust me, if there was a hit show about a group of writers misbehaving (dare to dream!), I’d skip it, too.

      Hopefully smaller than a toaster oven, too.


  15. I’ve never been able to see the “he’s got his mother’s nose” routine. To me, it looks just like the nose of the baby in the next basket over. Maybe a slightly different shade of pink – I don’t see many babies.

    I haven’t seen any of those “classic” TV shows you mentioned. We’ve never watched much religiously, and tend to veer towards PBS and movies. (Ok, the wife does Hallmark, occasionally I’ll watch one.) Sometime we’ll binge Netflix. The last one was called “From Scratch”, which my wife sucked me into by claiming it was a cooking show. Um, not quite. I mean, one of the main characters was a chef, but that was more a side note of a plot line that was much more intense and went a whole ‘nother direction. Zoe Saldana was the lead, and was not clad in blue or green paint for a change. Solid actress.

    Why do I write? It’s not because writing is like breathing. Maybe it’s because for me it’s a challenge – to try to do something that doesn’t come naturally in at least a semi-competent way. It takes a lot of editing. About the only “must” is to give some context to the photography and travels that are the primary theme of my blog, without sounding like a junior high reject.

    Liked by 1 person

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