Streets of Fire

Some things written by Jeff Kelley, a man in Richmond, Va. He likes aircraft carriers but doesn't really know the intricacies of them (weight, length, etc.)
Someone sent this to me. Ellen read today this thing I posted like two years ago. Then, in my mind, we danced.

Someone sent this to me. Ellen read today this thing I posted like two years ago. Then, in my mind, we danced.

I’d look like that too.

I’d look like that too.


I’ve written lots of print advertisements and a billboard or two and speeches and press releases, but never a moving picture. Here’s a little web advertisement for reading glasses that I dreamed up and wrote. I appreciate the outcome.

A Pretty, Bad Shirt

Today would be the shirt’s last chance. I would give it just one more attempt to not act like a complete fuck-up right off the hanger, or else we would finally part ways.

It’d been months since I’d worn it: a gifted J. Crew oxford with navy and olive-colored checks across a white backdrop. Made in a country that no one can point out on a map (Mauritania, don’t even try, I’ve looked and Google can’t even find it), the five-year-old shirt has always had a penchant for somehow ruining my day within just a few hours with its odd fit and even more peculiar feel, despite the material being 100 percent cotton. It’s as if the neck is too large despite the shirt being my size, or it’s not cut correctly, or the second button drops too far down, or the collars are too flimsy and sit improperly on what I believe to be my well-formed clavicles.

Sure enough, it took only 40 minutes and getting a distance far enough away from home to allow for a quick wardrobe change to instill in me a sense of insecurity and discomfort that would last the rest of the day.

"Morning Jeff, is that video finished? We need it by 3 o’clock."

"This shirt completely hides my upper body form, doesn’t it? It’s like a blanket. Look at it. Look at it. You have no sense of what my body profile is like underneath this thing, do you?"

"I don’t really…"

"Is it just me this collar larger than the other? Look how these things sit on my clavicles. Watch, when I move my head, watch what happens to the collars. Watch. See how they move? See that?"

In addition to the shirt ordeal, it was a humid Virginia day, so my hair was frizzy and unmanageable; the elasticity on my socks has been giving out, so they kept sliding down my calves; and earlier this week, I read an article about Nazi Germany which sent me on a substantial and ongoing Wikipedia kick to learn everything I can about the Holocaust, and I can’t seem to pull away. I’ve learned a lot about World War II Germany and the Third Reich, but for what cause? Himmler was a horrible guy - as bad or worse than Hitler, who seems to have simply been a super convincing public speaker - and YouTube offers computerized, recreated tours of some of the camps (viewing them easily eats up a common lunch break). This afternoon, I also noticed that the right knee region on my jeans is lighter than the other, leading to an asymmetry in denim coloration that I fear will be noticed by acquaintances someday. What is with that guy’s jeans’ knees? Is he properly educated?

Much of the shirt problem, I have come to believe, was due to not wearing an undershirt today. This morning I lacked clean V-necks, which are my preferred undershirt over the O-neck and the less common &-neck. I had some O’s, but they hang long - longer than the overshirt - and I wanted to reserve the option of an untuck if things fell to shit early on in the tucked day. That being said, the button-down is still too long when it’s untucked, yet not quite long enough to tuck without popping out and giving the wearer an awkward front-opening at the top of the belt, which leads to multiple re-tucks throughout the course of a day - an average of one per hour as opposed to the men’s standard of one every 180 minutes. 

There were moments today when I considered walking down the street to the men’s clothing store to buy another shirt. But I didn’t. There was also a period, on the way home, when I thought of pulling up to the Goodwill trailer and handing them the shirt off my back, then driving away freed from the pain and misery brought upon me by that shirt. But I didn’t. It’ll be in a Goodwill soon enough, though. Indeed, the next time this shirt is worn, it’ll be by some college kid who needed a costume for a Halloween party he’d been looking forward to all year, only to have his night ruined by a single article of clothing that just doesn’t seem to properly fit.

Sees Guy Selling Doughnuts

  • Me: How much for a box of Krispy Kremes?
  • Guy: Five dollars!
  • Me: Hell yeah! What's the cause?
  • Guy: Fundraising for our church.
  • Me: Heck yeah, I mean!

Haven’t posted on here in a while so here’s a video from tonight of Olive going apeshit for a squeak toy.

Great To See You

It’s so great to see you!

I mean, under the circumstances, it is great to see you. There are certainly times when it would be greater, in terms of the context of where we are seeing one another at this very moment, to be in your presence. I don’t want you thinking I am having a great time right now, as this is not a happy occasion and we are here as a showing of respect for the deceased and the benefactors of those the deceased has left behind. Benefactors. Wrong word there, “benefactors.” I meant whatever the term is for those here who are directly impacted by this death, is what I should have said. I didn’t really know the guy, to tell you the truth. Although I hear he was pretty rich so there is likely some new money in the room right now. But wealth is not important at a time like this, although to be sure, technically my use of the term benefactor would be correct after all, so I wasn’t too far off. Just the wrong place. Anyway, great to see you.

And you look great! 

For the occasion, that is. There aren’t too many clothing options besides black, particularly for such a violent end as the guy met, you know? I might pull out a gray or even dark blue suit for some of these things, particularly if the person was old and it’s more of a bittersweet life celebration. But a flaming jackhammer through the windshield? Black is really the only option for something like that. But you do wear the black well. And you also look great in terms of weight and skin-tone, too. Kind of an overall looking-greatness about you, although black is rather slimming so that could be it.

Fuck, I didn’t mean it that way. Shit, I didn’t mean to swear in church just then.

Anyway, I hope you understand that this time right now is not fun for me, and that I am here out of respect, and that it is great to see you (under the circumstances), and you look great (even though you had to wear black due to the manner of his death, which was a flaming jackhammer to the windshield), and that my swearing just now was completely unintentional. 

So, are you going to the dead guy’s post-funeral party afterward?

Horse meat and Americans, why it is taboo


A horse is a horse of course of course, unless it’s served up on a sesame bun. Why do meat eaters refuse horse yet eat cow in the USA? Looking for educated opinion on cultural standards on this.

During my job I see many media inquiries for various stories on a number of topics, so I’ve decided to start compiling some on a blog. These requests sound a lot weirder when they are taken out of the context of a mass email and the sender information and publication is removed. The title is the same as the inquiry’s subject line, and the body is the same, minus a sentence or two if the request drags on.

Anyway, I’ll try to post a handful of the more bizarre ones each day.

Toplessness And Her Father

It’s a wonder to think that only seconds prior to seeing the olive-skinned French woman remove her top with both hands - the way women do seemingly only in movies, each hand on the opposite hip, arms rising slowly above the head in an almost ballerina-like motion - I’d fortuitously positioned my beach chair in a direct line of sight to capture the moment. No pretending not to stare, no secret glances when I thought she wasn’t looking, just a free front row seat to a pair of supple, twenty-something breasts on a white-sand beach.

I’d heard and listened intently to all those stories of topless beaches containing the type of nudity that one doesn’t want to see, and in most cases that claim rings true. Still, I hypothesized going into this foreign land, at least one in 10 women must be worth ogling a bit, and I found my own speculation to be equally as accurate. On this particular vacation day I’d seen eight or nine unsightly half-nude bodies, so I knew it was only a matter of time. And sure enough, moments later, directly before us, was the one in 10 - who also happened to be a solid 9 - standing in the calm blue waters of Anse Marcel. The mountains rose from the Caribbean behind her as if torn from a page of Travel + Leisure or, at a minimum, a trashy convenience store postcard that you might send home as a joke. And then there, on the shore, kicking a soccer ball to the young topless woman in the sea was her equally shirtless father.

While I knew the French were casual with female toplessness, I didn’t realize such a lighthearted attitude extended to doing so in front of family members. In particular, dads. And while decent in some areas of life, my maturity level will never rise to the threshold of viewing breasts as anything other than excellent, sexy things. No matter how abstract or impressionist the piece, I giggle in art museums. I have no idea how male plastic surgeons do their job with professionalism, once asking a breast augmentation specialist, after I’d had some drinks, if he ever openly gapes when he creates a particularly great set. He walked away immediately thereafter. And while I was having a difficult time attempting to see the innocence in this beautiful French girl goalie-diving in the sea as her father attempted to slip one past (I was equally impressed with their soccer skills), the scene became even harder to comprehend and more bizarre when mom emerged and began taking pictures of the two. Where are those photos going to end up?

I imagined a dinner party in a few years at their house back in Toulouse. “And zis vas in tventy-certeen, vhen ve took Sylvie to ze islands,” the mom would say in actual French, showcasing a photograph of her now late-20s daughter, mid-air, falling horizontally into the water as her long brown hair and olive breasts flew gloriously skyward. And if the viewers of this photo looked at the picture close enough, in the background they would notice an American couple with mouths fully agape. Both would be wondering how two cultures separated by one sea could be so radically different, while one would also be thinking about how awesome the whole thing was.

Coffin Face

After a long day that included a white chicken Crock-Pot chili that cooked for six hours and smelled amazing yet ultimately tasted like inedible garbage and ended up in it, I found myself in a bad mood. It all started earlier in the day, when I’d been, well, actually the rest of day was fine. Great, even, come to think of it. Honestly, the only reason I was in a bad mood was because the chili I’d been thinking about all day tasted like garbage. I guess there was also some heavy traffic on the way home, which I was not fond of. But mostly it was the chili-in-the-garbage issue. I also read that there has been abnormally bad smog in Beijing lately, so things really could have been worse.

After I dumped the taste-free pot of chili into the trash can, I laid down on the sofa. I let out a few audible sighs to get attention and claimed to wish I was dead due to the chili I’d so desperately wanted to eat; plus, claiming you want to die is a superb attention-getter, even if you don’t mean it. Yet as I laid there sprawled out we started wondering why dead people are always buried with the same face: serious, straight-laced, and rather sad looking, as they are dead. “Not my face,” I told my wife. “I’m want to lay there like this,” I said, unfastening my jaw and opening my mouth agape as I slapped my hands to my cheeks and widened my eyes. After a bad day that mostly involved a single instance of bad white chicken Crock-Pot chili but could have involved Beijing smog or, say, an escaped zoo lion entering our home and mauling us, we laughed.

We decided that, at my funeral celebrating a long, lustrous life that ends at age 111 and includes many opulent vehicles, I will lay in an open casket with my hands on my cheeks and mouth agape with eyes wide open. People will want laugh at my face, but, as it is a funeral, that won’t be allowed. “Please,” my wife will tell my last two remaining friends as she feigns sadness, “don’t laugh. This isn’t funny. He wanted it this way.” But of course, my coffin face will be our last little joke, born decades earlier amid a good day that ended with a bad batch of chili.