Friday, December 31, 2010

Starting At Birth

Thought I should put one last post on my blog before 2011 starts.  I have less than 2 hours to think of something to write about.  Talk about pressure.

How about a little personal history?  I was born in the same hospital where my mother had a bed.  Being born was quite stressful.  I couldn't walk or talk for about a year or so.  I also had lousy bladder control in the beginning.  That may be why the hospital booted me and Ma out.  Luckily, Dad was in the parking lot and he offered us a ride.  So we hopped on his back and off to Goulburn Street we went.  Goulburn was on the north-east side of Detroit.  This is back when Detroit prospered; decades before the war zone atmosphere of today.  But Goulburn did not house our little family for long.  Dad's dream of being a landlord was realized when he and Ma bought an income house in Center Line; a city named after the white stripe found in the middle of the road.  We were a mere two miles from Detroit yet we were in the country.  People riding horses roamed the dirt roads.  The roads were sprayed regularly with oil.  Sidewalks had not been invented yet.  Most homes had no fences to alienate the neighbors.  But all was not a bowl of cherries, although cherries were abundant from our back yard tree.  The sewer system was amateurish which resulted in turning our basement into a swimming pool several times a year.  The electricity failed on a regular basis.  We had to keep a lit candle in the refrigerator.  Air conditioning consisted of my waving an opened newspaper towards my parents. And in the winter, turning up the heat meant putting on a fourth sweater.  It was not unusual to find rabbits, frogs, snakes and other varmints in the neighborhood.  The local high school had a pet alligator which one of the students had found in the nearby swampy ditch that defined the Center Line-Warren boundary.

A side note about Center Line.  In the 1700s, what today is Ten Mile and Sherwood, was the first trading post in Macomb County.  At the time, Macomb County was mostly swamp that the French and Indians used for trapping.  With the trading post came farmers who dredged the land and planted crops.  On Saturdays they would gather at the trading post and indulge in liquid spirits.  The wives did not approve of this, so they got together and sent for a priest.  A priest named Father Hendricks arrived and built the first church in the area.  The congregation for the church covered close to sixty square miles; from Eight Mile and Jefferson to Fourteen Mile and Woodward.    Today that church is Saint Clemens.

This Church was located on Van Dyke and Engleman.

This is Van Dyke looking towards Ten Mile. 
The first St. Clemens Church can be seen center left.

I am always fascinated by old photos of familiar grounds.  If you are reading this from Russia or Japan (and I know some of you are) then this is meaningless and can be boring to you.  So I will limit this time spent on my  history to what I have already written.  I will change the subject and talk about foreign readers.  I recently discovered a stats page for my blog and I see since I started this, 54 of you readers reside in Russia and 37 hail from Japan.  I am curious on how you found me and if you can translate my words into your native tongue.  I would appreciate any input.  That goes for anyone from anywhere.  I know of only one follower (and thank you Ms California) and am eager to have others join.  I promise, I will not reject a single soul.  All are welcome.  I get tired of complimenting myself and would relish having another stroke my ego for a change.

Well, its drawing close to 2011.  I have to put on my flak jacket and hide in the basement to avoid all the gunfire at midnight.  I don't know when New Years Celebration changed from whistling noisemakers to Smith & Wesson widow-makers.  Something seems wrong when to express happiness endangers other peoples lives.  

Speak of the devil.  I just heard a shotgun blast.  Good night.  

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Ghost of New Year's Past

Looks like the first decade of the first century of the second millennium is about complete.  As my friends, the kangaroos say, "Have a hoppy new year."

Allow me to talk about auld lang syne.  When I refer to auld lang syne, I do not mean the stroke of midnight, January 1st song.  I am using the phrase for it's actual meaning; "times past fondly remembered."  So without further delay I set the wayback machine to the last day of the year 1959.  

The new 50 star flags have been ordered and will soon replace the 48 starred ones in all our school rooms.  Eisenhower is entering the final year of his presidency.  Vice-President Nixon has thrown his hat in the ring to be Ike's replacement.  Senator Kennedy, with his father's help, will challenge the VP in the upcoming year. Russia is winning the Space Race being first to have orbited an artificial satellite around the planet.  They will also be first to send a man into orbit within the next two years.

Bud Abbott will enter 1960 without his partner Lou Costello. Actors Errol Flynn, Victor McLaglen and TV's Superman. George Reeves will not be around to greet the sixties.  Rock and Rollers Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper also made their exit in 1959.

The only death that had a effect on me was that of Alfalfa from the Little Rascals.  They use to show the Little Rascal shorts everyday. I was only six and thought the Rascals were around my age.  I had yet to grasp the concept of rerun ad nauseum.  When I heard Alfalfa had died, I thought it was the boy that had died, not the 32 year old actor Carl Switzer.  It was quite upsetting.

On December 31st, 1959, I was being babysat by our neighbor, Carol.  My parents had gone out for the night.  My parents had told Carol it would be alright if I stayed up until midnight, but I was to go to bed right after.  I was so excited.  This would be the first New Year I would usher in.  Not only a new year, but a new decade!  I knew it would be fantastic.  Carol had Guy Lombardo on the television.  Guy Lombardo was the original Dick Clark.  Carol told me when the countdown to 1960 began and I ran to the window.  As cheers and applause and noisemakers rang out of the television, I was staring up at the sky.  Where were the fireworks?  Why wasn't the sky lighting up?  I had envisioned the entire sky exploding into bright letters announcing 1960.  I had anticipated parades and bands on every street of the city,  yet nothing happened.  The world of Center Line, Michigan, remained calm without a ripple of noise nor a single waving sparkler to greet the new decade.  Very disappointing.  Very Y2K.

If I had paid closer attention to who had passed away in 59, I would have understood why the New Year was not a big production.  1959 was also the year that Cecil B. DeMille had died.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Money For Sale

There is an ad on TV selling gold nickels for $9.95.  These replicate the buffalo nickel in every detail with the exception of the mint year which is 2011.  I don't see how this is possible.  If it is true United States currency, the value would be five cents.  If this is not U.S. currency, then these nickels are counterfeit.  In either case something is wrong here.  If this is a perfectly legal operation, then I should be able to use my photo copier to duplicate twenty dollar bills, and sell the copies for ten dollars each without ever stating that it is not legal tender.

For a limited time, John has opened his vaults and is presenting an opportunity for you to purchase crisp new twenty dollar bills for an unbelievable ten dollars apiece. You must act fast, there is only one ream of xerox twenties available, and they're going fast.  You will spend untold hours examining Thomas Sully's portrait of President Andrew Jackson etched with exquisite detail into each and every bill. The reverse side features the home of our U.S. Presidents, the White House.  Act today and send ten dollars for each Twenty.  Sorry, but the demand is so big, that we have to limit you to ten Twenties per order while supplies last. (shipping and handling charges are extra)

While writing this, another commercial caught my eye.  I can do better than the ten dollar nickel.  For that same ten bucks I can purchase, not one,but two U.S. Two Dollar bills!  Now that's a deal.  If I order the two dollar bills, I wonder if they would take a gold nickel as payment.  Or better still, I can use one of my photocopy twenties.  They go for ten simoleans also.

Yogi (Berra, the Yankee catcher, not the bear nor a master of yoga) had a saying about money.  I will leave you with it: A nickel ain't worth a dime anymore.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

As Promised, Charcoal Drawings

One day of winter completed.  Eighty-nine more until spring.  On a happier note, there is 52 shopping days left until my birthday.  So take your time and pick out something nice.

Here is one of my charcoal drawings.  It's my hand on another sketch.  If you take a close look at the cuticle on the thumb, you will recognize it as mine.

Here's another charcoal drawing of mine.  You can tell it's mine because the wine bottles are empty.  I left the water in the vase and glasses.  I don't want drink anything that fish procreate  in.

If you click on the pictures, you can get a better look.  I don't know why they keep coming out grey. The drawings are too big for my scanner, so I been taking pictures of them with my camera.  Guess I just don't have a flair for photographer.  I use to have a flair for pants but that went out of style.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Prattling On.

I have nothing to write about, but that hasn't stopped me yet.  Have you noticed how I will start typing on one topic and suddenly veer off on to another?  I get this from Linda.  She is notorious for taking the furthest route for getting to the point. Here is an example of how she talks:

"Did you hear about Blake Edwards?  He was the guy that did all those Pink Panther movies with Peter Sellars. What was the name of that movie where Peter Sellars played all those different characters?.  Eddie Murphy played a bunch of characters in the Nutty Professor.  That was a remake of that Jerry Lewis movie.  He's still doing those telethons for that disease.  I wonder if they will ever find a cure for cancer?  The lady down the street was a Cancer.  Her husband was a Capricorn.  Boy, could that guy drink!  One time he was so drunk, he walked into our house thinking it was his..."

And finally, about a half hour later, she would say, "He died the other day."  Meaning Blake Edwards, but by this time, I have forgotten who she had started talking about.  If I were to ask who died, she would get mad saying I'm not paying attention to her.

Of course, that particular scenario would never happen.  I would be the one who tells her about Blake Edwards.  It is my job in our relationship to keep track of who is dead, when it happened and by what means.  When we watch an old movie, it is my duty to point out the actors and relay the current status of their mortality.  On a side note, if I don't recognize the actor, I will substitute another actor's name.  "That's Johnny Depp playing the Yankee who sets fire to Atlanta in Gone With the Wind.  He's still living."  When Linda calls my bluff by saying Johnny Depp wasn't alive when they made Gone With the Wind, I simply respond with two letters: "C.G."  That's "computer graphics" to those that don't know.  Hey, if Tom Hanks can shake Kennedy's hand in Forest Gump, then Johnny Depp can burn Atlanta in Gone With the Wind.

Johnny Depp leading horse and buggy in Gone With the Wind.

James Cameron, the director of Avatar, the Titanic and the Terminator, stated that with computer graphics, it is now possible to have any actor in any movie. Cary Grant, Bette Davis and Humphrey Bogart can once again grace the silver screen, starring opposite Robert Downy, Julia Roberts, Brad Pitt or any actor of your choosing.  It is completely possible.  All you need is a script, a director and a 100 million dollars.  In fact, you don't even need the real George Clooney for your movie.  The graphics department can edit his image in.  

In closing, I would like to get back to Blake Edwards.  If you ever get a chance to see "S.O.B.," do so.  It is a 1981 film by Blake Edwards that stars his wife, Julie Andrews, and William Holden.  It is one of the funniest films ever made about making films.  Julie Andrews plays an aging actress who has to decide if she is willing to expose her bosom in a movie before she gets too old to have her exposure appreciated.  The tension is titillating.  If you enjoyed the Pink Panther movies, then you will enjoy "S.O.B."  Basically  the same type of humor, only more risqué.

That's all I got for now.  Goodbye.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Do It Yourself

Another exciting day over.  A fascinating night commences.  Don't I wish that were true.

My day started off with bacon and eggs.  Then back to the TV.   Until I started watching DIY (the home improvement network), I had never realized how many female contractors there are.  It has to be harder for women to become a licensed contractors than men.  Apparently, if you're female, one of the requirements for certification is good looks.  No such mandate for the  males.  Any ugly guy can install toilets and kitchen cabinets. In separate rooms, of course.  But it takes a women of beauty to shingle a roof or build a deck  Shapely legs and ample bosom doesn't hurt either.

One of my favorite shows on DIY is "10 Grand in Hand."  This is a show about home owners that are doing their own labor on their home renovation.  The host of this show tells us what the home owners are doing wrong.  "Looks like Bob is about use the wrong tool on their marble counter top.  It'll shatter and he'll have buy another one.  Doesn't seem like Bob and Mary are gonna save money on this project after all."  Don't tell us, tell the idiot with the chisel!  He's watching the guy and doesn't give a clue to the mistake about to be made.  This is a very sadistic person.  He would have made a great commandant for a concentration camp.  If you enjoy watching America's Funniest Videos with guys getting whacked in the crotch or people falling on their ass or getting bopped in the head (...and who doesn't?), you will enjoy "10 Grand in Hand."  There's a little schadenfreude in each

Then there is Vanilla Ice, a guy with enough tattoos to be a carny sideshow attraction.  He claims to be a hip-hop star of yesteryear.  That's probably why I never heard of him.  I hate hip-hop.  I have no idea what rap music has to do with bunnies, but I find the noise emitted to be dreadful.  Anyways, this Vanilla Ice guy is a licensed contractor (I guess that hip-hop thing didn't work out) and now he has a show on DIY.  I like when he's talking with his work crew.  It's like a roomful of Don Rickles' trying to out-zing each other.  It's amazing these guys remain friends, let alone get anything done.

Last of all, DIY has a little blond bombshell with a Munchkin voice.  She's from Detroit, but has left for greener grounds in Wisconsin.  As she describes the renovations she's planning, I half expect her to break out singing The Merry Old Land of Oz.  "Ha, ha, ha... ho, ho, ho... and a couple of tra la las..."   Above all, this little gal really wants us to know how close to bankruptcy she is.  She mentions this at least twice each episode.  If she doesn't turn this house around in the next two weeks, she'll be out of business.  So it is safe to conclude that the DIY network doesn't pay their show's hosts very well.

If watching DIY has taught me anything, it's that the next time I need home improvement, I should hire a female contractor.  They're gorgeous.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

A Few Words About the Sponsors

I watch a lot of television.  My motto in life is "Entertain me!"  Of course it is impossible to view as much tv as I without also taking in commercials.  Try flipping channels when a commercial starts.  Every channel you stop at will also be showing a commercial.  The bastards time these things.  For some reason, these people think we enjoy watching commercials.  They even have half hour blocks dedicated to a product; the infomercial.  "Let me set my TiVo to forever save the half hour show about the Snuggy."

Billy Mays, the king of the infomercial died over a year ago.  Yet his image is still being used in advertisement.  "You know what Billy always said..." proclaims the replacement barker.  I know how Billy died, so I can imagine what he always said.  "Save me some of that cocaine.  I have a second nostril to fill."

A current commercial has a young girl asking her mother if she has seen her favorite blouse.  The mother says no, but we then enter flashback mode and see the mother out barhopping and partying her ass off while wearing the fore-mentioned blouse.  Mom is so soused that she spills food all over the front of it.  Next we see mom retrieving the soiled blouse and washing it.  Later still, the daughter is wearing the cleaned blouse and tells mom she must have overlooked it in the back of her closet.  The product this commercial hawks is laundry detergent, but it also is telling mothers that it is okay to steal from your kids, leave them alone at night to go out drinking, and if confronted, lie your ass off.  This ad does not show the outside of the mother/daughter's home, but I bet if it did, it would be a trailer park.

I also get a kick out of "We Buy Gold" commercials.  "Are you tired of having all that gold jewelry taking up half your sock drawer? Are you constantly tripping over bars of gold in every room of your house? Well, send it to us. No need to worry about weighing it, or the price of gold being in constant flux. We'll send you the amount of cash we deem feasible. You can trust us."  Yes, I can trust faceless strangers that only means of contact is some PO Box in some unheard of part of the country.

I do have a favorite commercial.  I haven't seen it in years but it goes like this.  Man comes home from work and yells out, "Hi honey, I'm home.  What's for dinner?"  The wife, downstairs, yells back, "What's for dinner?!!  I spend the whole day mopping up this damp leaky basement and you want to know whats for dinner!  Mop water soup, that's what's for dinner..."

We now return you to your regular scheduled program...

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Astral Projection

I can always tell when Christmas is near because my liquor is suddenly packaged in a box containing two free glasses.  The glasses always appear ready to use, but Linda insists I wash them first.  I'll splash a few drops of water inside, give a quick twirl, and hope I have met the standards of Linda's discriminating eye.  If I have not, she will snatch the glass from my hand and wash it herself.  Hell, I'm just gonna pour booze in it.  Everyone knows that alcohol kills germs.

In any case, tonights mode of inebriation is Saint Brendan's Irish Creme Liqueur.  Perhaps not as respected as Bailey's, just a smidgen above Carolan's rating.  Still, a pleasant way to dull ones wit.  To assure you I am responsible dipsomaniac, I have made it clear that if I happen to start slurring this text, I have appointed Linda as my designated typist.  Her nightly drink is ice water.  No booze for her.  We all can sigh in relief.

Time to let imagination fly.  Not like a bird nor a plane, but like an OOBE.  Raise your hands if you know what OOBE stands for.   Keep them up, also.  Someone will be right over with a cookie for you.  OOBE is a anagram for a term meaning astral projection:  Out Of Body Experience.  The most common type of OOBE is when a person dies, but only for a moment.  He or she will get the feeling that they are floating out of their body and towards a bright light.  Yet, it is not the only way to have the experience.  Yogi's (as in masters of yoga.  Not as in a bear, or a Yankee catcher.) claim to go so deep in meditation that they will leave their bodies and fly around the planet, checking up on their friends, or political leaders, or maybe sneaking into movies or hovering over nudist camps.   Basically, they can go wherever they want.  No holds barred.  They have been tested scientifically and the results weigh in their favor.  If OOBE is some sort of parlor trick, no one has been able to debunk it.

Well I'm sitting here with my feet propped up on opposite knees, back arched straight, and eyes shut tight.  My arms are crossed my chest, and the pulse of my being is slowing down.  As my breathing becomes barely detectable, I feel my inner self rise.  I can look down and see myself sitting posed.  I have the ability to soar, to traverse across the continent, the seas, foreign shores...  Any destination is possible.  If I wish I could visit other planets, other galaxies, other universes and dimensions.

As I ready to take flight to destinations unknown, I give my body a final glance and notice that on the table next to me, my glass is empty.  This will not do.  Quickly I rejoin my physical self and bring about my awakening.  I take the glass to the kitchen, add ice cubes, and refill with Irish Creme.  My journey to strange lands are put off for another week.  I will make plans for next Saturday for an OOBE.  Maybe I'll visit the bottling plant of Saint Brendan's.   It's a shame that OOBEs do not allow gathering of souvenirs.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Turkey Necks

My plate is empty.  The turkey will not be ready for several hours.  Still I stay near the kitchen, plate in one hand, silverware in the other.  No one is behind me, but I fear if I leave my post for even a second, a line will form in my absence.  Today will not turn out like the last few Thanksgivings.  I refuse to once again watch all the others devour legs and wings and white meat while I suffer the remains of a turkey neck and scrapings from the bottom of the mash potato bowl.  I shall do more than drink the juicy remains of the vegetables.  Attention yams and green beans, be ready for consumption.  At long last, I will finally learn the flavor of home-made stuffing.

I shall have desert!  This year I will actually taste the hot apple pie instead of being taunted by the lingering aroma that proved it had once existed.  And I will have it  ala mode!  I can already envision a hearty scoop of French vanilla slowly melting over the piping hot wedge of pie.  Or perhaps I would rather enjoy a slice of cheddar dissolving into the crust.  The decision will be hard.  But wait, I am first in line, I can have my pie in both fashions.  No dilemma here.

Checking the clock, it is still two hours before dinner will be ready.  The roasting bird has spread its tantalizing smell throughout the house.  My mouth salivates in anticipation.  I set my plate and silverware momentarily down.  Fearful of drooling, I tuck a corner of a napkin into my collar, smooth the opposite corner to my belly, and pull the cross corners to each shoulder.   I retrieve my place setting.

I hope this plate is large enough.  I try to estimate how I will divide the portions onto it.  Right away I know half the plate will be dedicated to holding meat. That leaves the other half for stuffing, mash potatoes, green beans and a roll.  It's going to be a tight fit, and I haven't even calibrated the gravy coverage.  Gravy should cover the white meat and the potatoes, but what about the stuffing.  Should I give the stuffing a healthy dose of gravy?  Decisions, decisions...

Oh, no, I forgot about the cranberry.  The plans I made for my plate did not include cranberry.  Perhaps I can slide a portion between turkey leg and the roll.  If necessary, I can place my roll on top of the white meat.  This should free up about two inches for the cranberry.  That won't work, I just recalled that the roll will be setting atop the green beans.  Should I mix the cranberry with the green beans?  This is getting harder and harder to figure out.  I should go grab pencil and paper so I can create a scale design for my thanksgiving plate. Yes, that's what I'll do.  No guests have arrived yet.  I think I can risk going into my study for sketch materials.  I set my dinner plate and silverware down, and head to the room down the hall.

I find a drawing pad and start to look for pencils.  I want a number 6b lead for drawing.  6b is a soft lead good for either light or dark lines.  Looking through a drawer of pencils and pens, I'm not having any luck finding a 6b.  After a fruitless search, I settle on a substitute lead, a 4b.  4b is a little harder than 6b, and leaves a lighter mark.  It will have to do.  I use a sharpener on the pencil and bring it to fresh point.  Now to find an eraser.  I'm not as picky about erasers, and a grab a pink pearl.  This will suffice.

Upon my return to the kitchen, I discover Bob standing in my place.  I lost the top spot on my venture to the study.  I look at the clock and see that almost two hours has gone by.  I had been so busy planning out my plate and looking for pencils, that two hours had sped by.  I will have to settle on being number two.  This is still a big improvement over my prior year position as dead last.  I greet Bob and wish him a happy Thanksgiving.  He shakes my hand and returns the good wishes.

I hear a commotion from the living room as more guests arrive.  Linda, my better half and holiday chef, greets them by saying they are just in time.  Dinner is ready.  She returns to the kitchen and pulls the bird from the oven.  I hear Sheila call out for Bob.  They have been married for over a decade and have four children.  Bob yells to her that he's in the kitchen.  Sheila greets me as she passes by and stands next to Bob.  She then calls out to the kids to come get in line.  The little brats join their parents and have brought another brat with them.  I have been shoved back to the eight position in line.  The extra brat belonged to Jim and Marsha.  They saunter up to their child and thank him for holding a place for them.  I have been relegated to the tenth spot.

Bob and Sheila are being served as two more guests arrive.  It is Sheila's parents.  She instructs the kids to make room for Grammy and Grampy.  These old people haven't been in the house a full minute and they were already at the head of the food line.  The line is slowly moving along.  I stare up ahead to watch the vittles slowly vanish.

I have ended up being last again. By the time it is my turn the choice delights have been taken.  I am left with half a turkey neck and the scrapings from the mash potato bowl.  Once again, I am the last person to get Thanksgiving dinner.  Next year, I shall get in line a day earlier.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Fun at the Grocery Store

Went to Krogers today to buy Thanksgiving foodstuff.  Found a box of donuts, 12 powder sugar lumps, for the price of forty-nine cents.  Who could resist?  Having unpacked the bags at home, I opened my donut purchase and took one out to consume.  The treat immediately dehydrated my mouth.  Apparently, when whoever it was made these, they neglected to include any fluids in the batter.   I checked the box and saw that the expiration date was 6:00 o'clock.  The time was 6:05.  Just missed it.  The turkey was also forty-nine cents.  That's per pound.  I examined the turkey and stamped on the packaging was "Best if used before yesterday."

Krogers has a sale on cereal; four boxes for ten dollars and two gallons of milk are thrown in as a bonus.  This is not a bad deal, but the cereal has to be a General Meals product and weigh between 9 and 16 ounces.  I enjoy Cheerios.  I have to remember to save a few of the tiny O's and plant them next spring.  Its always cheaper to grow your own.  Anyways, I took 3 boxes of Cheerios and one box of Trix.  (I know who Trix are for, but I am a kid at heart.)  In the checkout line, when I passed the cereal and milk over the scanner, the price came to nineteen dollars and change.  This was wrong.  I called over the... (checkout girl? checkout woman? female attendant? grocery clerk?)   ... the person who assists shoppers in the self-serve lanes and commenced playing descan/rescan with the cereal.  I would hand her a box.  She would pull the purchase price off my receipt.  I would then rescan the cereal.  We did this for several minutes.  Finally she had all but one box of Cheerios.  She had me scan this single box four times.  And it worked.  The ten dollar total finally appeared and I paid it.  Unfortunately, I only had one box of cereal for my two gallons of milk.  The lady then instructed me to go to the service desk and they would give me the other three boxes.

Don't you just love waiting in lines?  So, now I have to explain to the Service Desk personnel about the cereal.  It was a man this time, and he examined my receipt as if he were Sherlock Holmes.  He stated that I was only charged for four boxes and the price was ten dollars.  "Yes," I agreed, "but I only received one box, my shopping cart is right here, you can count for yourself."  He asked why I would pay for one single box of cereal four times.  I told him that was what the lady said to do.  He gave me a look like I was either a total idiot, or a con man.  What lady? he wanted to know.  So I went through the whole rigamarole about how the price was scanning wrong and how I was instructed to give back boxes and rescan and so on and so forth.  He decided to check out my story and phoned the self serve aisle attendant. Luckily she remembered who I was and concurred that I was owed three additional boxes of cereal.  Service guy tells me go and bring back three boxes of cereal and he will scan them for me.  This I do.  I fetch back two boxes of Cheerios and one box of Trix, and the service guy proceeds to scan them.  He then picks up the Trix and reads the weight.  This is only 9 ounces, he exclaims.  I need the larger size; fourteen ounces.  Whoa!  Mystery solved.  Service guy leaves his post to get the correct size box for me.  When he returns, he hands over three boxes of cereal and my order is finally complete.  

My ten minutes of shopping had turned into two and an half hours.  I don't think I'll be shopping at Krogers anymore.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


So I'm taking this Basic Drawing class.  Not for drawing, but to fulfill the Associate Degree requirements. Anyway, since posting pictures is easier than writing, I now present to you several of my drawings. Drum-roll please...

This is what happens when you stuff a Teddy Bear into a tuba, use a candlestick for ears of old corn, add a boot with a crab leg, a motorcycle helmet, and place it all on a cloth draped table.

Here is bunch of block shapes and such sitting on a movable platform.

Here is the hallway outside my art classroom.

This is a miniature Pepsi bottle, an old camera, and a toy barrel.

This is the torso and head of a mannequin wearing a nasty wig.

And finally, it's me holding a broken pocket watch.

In case you didn't notice, I named everything I drew.  That's just in case you are having a hard time trying to figure out what you're looking at.  All these pencil drawings were assignments. The next time I post drawings, they will be in charcoal.  That is the media we are currently using.  Betcha you're on the edge of your seat with that news.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Until I Think of Something Better...

 I will state for the millionth time, "I am not prone to exaggeration."  I don't know why everyone on the planet makes this accusation.


I enjoy spying on paranoid people.  It gives their delusions merit.


When it rains, tall people are always the first to get wet.  But fat people get wetter.


Bumper sticker: "I Brake for Lawsuits"


I have become obsessed with food.  I even dream about hot dogs chasing donuts.


Old joke time:

There was a man named Benny who was walking along a beach and came upon a lantern.  Benny rubbed the lantern and a genie appeared.  The genie said that he would grant him any wish as long as Benny obeys the single rule of the lamp: Never shave.  Benny thought this was a great deal.  He could have any wish and all he had to do was grow a beard.  Benny agreed and asked that his wallet would never run out of money.  The genie said a few magic words and "Poof," Benny's wallet had an inexhaustible supply of twenty dollar bills.

For the next several years, Benny bought anything he desired, and his beard grew long.  At first, Benny did not mind having a beard, but after ten years, his beard was dragging on the ground.  A few years more and Benny had to use a wheelbarrow to haul his beard.  Twenty five years of beard growth and Benny could stand it no longer.  He figured the genie would have forgotten about him by now, so he took a chance and shaved off his beard.

As soon as Benny's beard was gone, the genie reappeared.  The genie told Benny how disappointed he was. How he would have to punish Benny for not keeping up his end of the bargain.  So with a few more magic words, the genie turned Benny into a coffee urn.

The end.

Wait.  There is a moral to this story:  "A Benny shaved is a Benny urn."

That's it for now.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Remembering Morgus, Jingles and Johnny Ginger

Today, for some obscure reason, I recalled Morgus. I mentioned this to Linda (the lady who shares my bed) and she has no idea who Morgus was. I tried to explain that he was a mad scientist weatherman that popped up daily on TV at 5:55 and also an M.C. on a Friday night television horror movie show. Linda was alive when Morgus was on. Sure she may have been pre-kindergarten, but she was in existence and television ready. She should have known about Morgus! (She also does not recall Johnny Ginger the Dancing Bellhop. More on that later.)

Morgus was the first horror type host in the Detroit area. He was on TV before the Ghoul or Sir Graves Ghastly. Morgus could put Rita Bell to shame, and make Bill Kennedy cry uncle. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed Bill's gangster films, even when he would freeze the movie to highlight the bit part he played in crowd scenes. He was also the narrator of the 1950's Superman series. I think his biggest part was playing one of the suiters of Bette Davis as Mrs. Skeffington.

Bill and Rita had their shows on in the afternoon. So if they weren't showing Cagney or Bogey or the Bowery Boys, then I was outside playing. But Morgus was on at night, Friday night, and my parents were in bed and I was alone to enjoy his humor, and be scared by his movies. I think this was the last time in my life, that I looked forward to a movie's commercial break. Durring those breaks was when Morgus came back on and made me laugh at his experiments gone awry. Sure, his humor was juvenile, but I was only 11 or 12 years old. Juvenile humor was perfect for me.

I mentioned Johnny Ginger earlier.  He was a host of a cartoon show on Channel 7, Detroit.  He was on before I had to leave for school.  Channel 9, Windsor, also had a host for cartoons at the same time.  The Canadian host was a clown named Jingles.  Clowns were used a lot to present kid shows.  There was Jingles, Milky the Clown, Ricky the Clown, and Bozo the Clown in the Detroit area.  Jingles outfit was like a court jester's.  Milky had an all white outfit with a white dunce cap.  Ricky was in bum's clothes with a charcoal beard and a red rubber nose.  And Bozo wore...  wait. If you don't know what Bozo looks like, then you were raised in the wild by a pack of wolves. I haven't heard you baying at the moon, so I assume you know what Bozo looks like.

Anyhow, one morning during the Kennedy administration, I woke up and immediately turned on Channel 7.  In the lobby of Johnny Ginger's set was Jingles.  What kind of madcap mayhem was this?  I clicked over to Channel 9.  On the castle set of Jingles, was a flummoxed Johnny Ginger.  He was looking for Jingles and Jingles was nowhere to be found.  Back on Channel 7, Jingles was looking high and low for Johnny Ginger.  I was yelling at the television that they were on each other's channels.  But neither cartoon host paid attention to me.  Perhaps they could not trust an eight year old.

I truly believed they missed each other.  They hadn't.  It had all been planned out. In any case, it makes a great memory.

From left to right: Poopdeck Paul, Milky the Clown, Captain Jolly, Jingles the Clown, Johnny Ginger and You-Know-Who.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Surfing the Time Stream

This is the farthest into the future I have ever traveled.


Just went a little further.

I have to figure out a way to reverse this. Don't like the way the future is treating my body. Not everyone who started this journey with me has survived. I don't want to end up as one of the casualties thrown out of the time stream. It must be horrible to be cast into a pile of discarded Double Cola bottles, 8 track tapes, coonskin caps, Nehru jackets, 45 rpm records, Lincoln logs, VCR tapes, et cetera, et cetera. The time stream continues. Not everything will make it to end. DVD's are being pushed out. They should be gone soon. Computers also stay in the time stream about as long as house flies.

The time stream also draws items and beings into itself. Babies are constantly popping in. So are cell phones. Most babies last longer than cell phones. Many babies will surf the time stream for close to a century. Some even longer. With modern medicine, millions will surf along smoothly. The time stream use to be very bumpy. Far too many were thrown out by surprise and/or earlier than expected.

On inspection of the board I use to surf the time stream, I see it is not as sturdy as I would like. But surf boards can be deceiving. You would think that alcohol soaked, tobacco stained boards would not last. My uncle has such a board. And he is still surfing, pushing ninety. Hi ho!

(Note: I stole that "hi ho" from Kurt Vonnegut Jr. He fell off his board a couple years back and is unable to complain about my thievery. His board lasted 84 years.)

Some people like to surf the wild dangerous end. Some succeed such as Robert Downy Junior. Some don't; i.e. Steve Irwin. I rode the deadly side for many a year, yet for the last twenty, I have mostly stayed in the shallow end.

If you are reading this, you are a fellow traveler. I hope your board is in good condition and may you ride it for a long time. I intend to be surfing as long as you, if not longer. So until the next time; Hang ten.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Tune In

Had to glue another key back on my keyboard. I use epoxy for reattachment. As of this writing, out of 66 keys, 10 of them are held in place by epoxy. Who would have thought Walmart sold such inferior merchandise? Have to wait until tomorrow before I can test out my repair work.

I am getting pretty good at intros. I can bang out the opening chords to "Stand By Me," "The Tracks of My Tears," "Surfer Girl," "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" and "Benny and the Jets" among others. But by the time I have mastered the beginning chords, I am bored with the song and start learning a different one. I can read music somewhat. I know what notes on the staff correlate to the keys, and I know length of the notes by their shape. My trouble is like a child who has learned the alphabet and has to sound out each word he reads. If I know the song, then reading the music is relatively easy, but if I am looking at sheet music to something which is new to me, then it takes time for me to come up with a reasonable facsimile of the song.

By the by, it is not only classic rock I torture the neighbors with. I also tickle the ivories with Berlin, Cole, Debussy and Ludwig Von. Or at least eight or ten bars of each. The latest bit of music I am currently abusing is "Stranger on the Shore" by Acker Bilk. My keyboard can imitate a clarinet if I so desire, so if you know this song then you know how I appreciate having this option.

("Acker Bilk!" Somebody was in a nasty mood when they named him.)

I will end this post with a musician anecdote. Al Capp, who drew the comic strip "Lil Abner," had lost a leg when he was a child. He wore a prosthetic. Capp would appear on talk shows in the 1960's and 70's. On one talk show, Al Capp was seated next to Frank Zappa. Zappa is the musician I referred to earlier. Capp was a rude individual and tried to insult Zappa by saying, "What's with the long hair? Do you think you're a girl?" Zappa fired right back with, "What's with the wooden leg? Do you think you're a table?"

[snare drum rat-a-tat followed by cymbal crash]

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Leave It To Beaver - The Last Episode.



down an aisle of refrigerators and freezers.

Why'd you wanna come in here, Larry?

Well, its cooler in here than outside. They got air conditioning. The only other place that has air conditioning is the movies and you got to pay to go in there.

Wow. Thats good thinking, Larry. It must be a hundred degrees outside.

LARRY stops to look inside a freezer. Impulsively he jumps inside.

Hey, Beav, look at me. I'm a side of beef.

LARRY tries to imitate a dead cow.
 BEAVER giggles at his friend's antics.

You look more like a pig than a cow...

LARRY gets a hurt look on his face.

Gee, Beaver, you didn't have to say that. Why do you have to call me a pig?

I don't know, Larry. I guess its because you remind me of a pig.

The store manager, BILL ROBERTS, appears at the end of the aisle.

Hey, little boy, where is your mom

BEAVER slams the freezer lid shut 
and turns to face the approaching manager.

She's home, sir.

Are you here with your father?

No, sir, his office already has air conditioning.

Well this is no place to be playing. You have to go.

BILL ROBERTS takes BEAVER by the arm and walks him out the store. 
 Camera zooms in on freezer latch showing that LARRY has been locked inside.




WALLY is laying on his bed, wearing a baseball mitt
and repeatedly tossing a ball and catching it.
 BEAVER is standing by the window and nervously looking outside.

Hey, Wally, can I ask you something.

Long as it aint something stupid.

How am suppose to know if I'm asking something stupid?

Well... Go ahead and ask me. If it's stupid, then I'll throw this ball at you.

Gee, Wally, I don't want to get clobbered by a baseball. Can't you throw a pillow instead?

You're lucky I don't throw a brick at you. But since you're my little brother, I guess I can throw a pillow at you this time.

But if its not a stupid question, you won't throw anything at me, right?

Just ask your stupid question!

I don't know if I should...

If you don't hurry up and ask your question, I will throw this ball at you. I'll bean ya' right in your big stupid head.

Okay. Okay. I just wanted to know how long someone can breathe inside a freezer.

Why do you want to know that?

BEAVER bursts into tears. Wally sits up to look at his brother.

BEAVER (Talking fast while crying)
I think I killed Larry. I locked him in a freezer at the appliance store. I didn't mean to do it. I just didn't want the manager to catch him so I shut the lid.

When did you do this?

Last week. And Larry hasn't been to school since.

Relax you little goofball. If Larry was dead or missing, his parents would have called or something.

I know. That's why I cut the phone line.

You jerk. No wonder I wasn't getting any calls.

I'm sorry, Wally, please don't be mad at me. I was just scared and didn't know what to do.

Okay. Quit your crying. If Larry's parents couldn't get through on the phone, they would just come over...

Mrs. Mondello did come over.

Really? What did she say?

I saw her coming up the walk and ran up behind her and hit her in the head with a baseball bat.

Oh no, Beav, not my good Louisville Slugger...

I wiped off most of the blood.

If you ruined my bat...

I didn't, Wally, honest. I only swung it one time.

Well, you couldn't have hit her very hard. She must have got up and went home. I didn't see her laying outside.

That's because I dragged her body down into our cellar.

Dad always goes down there. He's gonna find her body for sure.

I thought about that, too. That's why I wired the handle of the cellar door to a wall socket.

Come to think of it, I haven't seen Dad for a couple days. But Mom would have told us if Dad was dead.

I thought of that, too. I put rat poison in the coffee pot.

Gee. I thought it was funny that Mom was sleeping at the breakfast table. She's been sleeping at the
table all week.

Yeah. I don't think she'll be waking up.

You really did it this time, Beaver!

It's all that manager's fault. I'm gonna get him for this.

WALLY shakes his head in astonishment
while BEAVER grins and schemes



Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Salesman of Death (as opposed to Death of the Salesman)

I hate it when I'm told to act my age. I've never been this age before, so how would I know how to act. Today I was driving with Linda as passenger. A squirrel was contemplating suicide and was about to dive under my wheels. I quickly pulled the vehicle out of its path. Linda, who did not see the death-hungry rodent, made a snide remark "Do you have to jerk when you drive?" I responded "Can't help it if I'm driving with a jerk." I never could resist a set-up line. Much to my chagrin, Linda scowled "Act your age."

I'm at an age where I'm being targeted by mortuary sales literature. Seems like these people are determined to sell a cemetery vault to me. Before the price goes up! I could save some money if I die soon. That reminds me of the old Jack Benny skit. Jack gets held up and the robber says, "Your money or your life." Jack doesn't respond. The robber says, "Well whats it gonna be?" Jack comes back with "I'm thinking! I'm thinking!"

AARP is also requesting my enrollment. In their literature, they boast of a funeral plan that can save me money. If I had been smart, I would have died years back when it was cheap. I wonder if funeral homes ever have a penny sale. You know, "Die now, and for one penny more, you can take a friend with you."

Who is the least expensive, undertakers or taxidermists? It may be cheaper to be stuffed than to be buried. (Note to self: Price taxidermy over funeral arrangement.)

Do funeral homes have lay-away plans? Thats a pun all by itself.

How can someone remain and be gone at the same time? When a person dies they say the person is gone. But wait, here's his remains. Hmm?

Several years back, a crypt solicitor had weaseled his way into our home with promises of some luxurious gift for listening to his spiel. Linda and I sat at our kitchen table with this salesman. In somber voice he presented a hypothetical situation where I was late coming home from work and the phone would ring. Linda would answer and receive the message that I had been in a car accident and she should come to the hospital. When she got to the hospital, she was placed in small waiting room and awaited word on what was going on with me. The salesman's tone took on what he imagined Linda to be thinking. "Oh please, let John be alright. Oh, what would I do without him?" At this point, I know where the story is going and I'm restraining myself from laughter. I look at Linda, and this guy has brought tears to her eyes. Needless to say, he drags the story out for several minutes before announcing that I have died, and Linda has no place to put my body. Now wouldn't it be nice to already own a crypt? he asks. Linda is a wreck, she would have given away the house in exchange for a crypt. Good thing I was there to pull the plug on this guy. No thank you, sir. Just give us our gift and get out of our house.

It took a while to get this guy out. He kept prattling on with his sales talk. He had an argument for every "No" I gave him. He must have been there for over an hour delivering a speech that was suppose to be five minutes long. At long last, he gave us our gift and left. The free gift was a form for creating a Last Will and Testament. A box of Kleenex would have been better. Linda sure could have used that. We still have the unfilled out form. The only benefit I got out of listening to this guy is this anecdote to put on my blog.

(Note to self: Find Last Will and Testament form. Perhaps in the attic.)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Adventures in Steubenville

In the late 1980's, when my father was dead but my mother was still alive, a friend of mine drove Sophie and me to Steubenville, Ohio. I always referred to my mother by her first name; Sophie. Not to her face, only when I talked about her. I shall continue that here.

After my father died, Sophie was without transportation. She never had a driver's license and felt she was too old to learn to drive. For some reason, she would rather ask one of my friends for a ride than ask one of hers. It turned out that my friends enjoyed Sophie's company and were more than happy to take her to the store or wherever else she desired to go. It would not be odd for me to wander into the house and find one of my friends sitting around and drinking beer with Sophie. One such friend was a girl named Janice. Sophie had told her about having relatives in Ohio that she had not seen for years. Janice announced that she would be happy to drive Sophie to Ohio. The trip was planned out before I even knew about it. It had been decided that I, too, should visit these long lost relatives. And so should Louise, a cousin of my mother's that lived near us. I believe my unwarranted invitation was more to share the driving time than to meet unknown distant relations. In other words, I was shanghaied.

Louise was a recent widow whose only son had been killed decades earlier in a hunting accident. Janice, Sophie and I arrived at Louise's house and I was sent in to fetch and carry whatever luggage she may be bringing along. Inside the house, Louise's suitcase in my hand, I was ready to exit when I heard Louise say "Okay, boys, I left sandwiches for you in the fridge. Behave and don't break anything while I'm gone." I turned around to see with whom she was talking. There was no one there. Apparently her husband's death had pushed Louise over the edge. She had mentally resurrected her husband and her son, and carried on conversations with both of them. It eased the lonely nights of her empty house. Sophie had known about this. She whispered the details to me on our drive to Ohio. I was glad Louise had left the boys at home. It was already cramped enough in the car with the four of us.

When we arrived in Steubenville, I was grateful to get out the car and away from the female chatter. As it turned out, the relatives who was putting us up for the next few days was another widow woman who had three daughters. They all were third or fourth cousins, four or five times removed. CSI, with all their magnifying glasses and state-of-the-art microscopes, would have a hard time finding a iota of testosterone in this household. And although I was treated courteously, my presence was appreciated about as much as Ted Bundy at a sorority slumber party.

The first day dragged on. Yet, after dinner, drinks were served and a much-needed inebriation commenced. Unfortunately, Sophie kept her eagle eye on the bottles in my hand. When I was offered a third beer, Sophie chimed in to say "Johnny has had enough." I left the women inside and went to sulk on the back porch. The youngest daughter, who was about a decade older than I, came outside to see how I was doing. She had brought with her a six-pack of Miller. As it turns out, she was my favorite third or fourth cousin, four or five times removed. We split the beer. During our conversation, she let it be known that a liquor store was three blocks directly behind their house. I volunteered to go buy something a little stronger.

If you know anything about Steubenville, it would be this: Steubenville is very hilly, almost mountainous. Okay, you may also know that Steubenville is where Dean Martin is from. If you meet someone who is from Steubenville and mention Dean Martin, you will get one of two responses. If that person, either him or one of his friends or family, has never had any direct links to Dino, then he will brag about sharing their hometown. If he, or friend or relatives of his, happened to have had a direct connection to the late singer, he will state that Dean Martin ran out of town after borrowing money from everyone he knew. But enough about Dino, let's get back to the Steubenville terrain.

Steubenville, in different areas, can be very steep. In fact, on many hillsides you can find wooden stairs as easily as finding fire hydrants. I wish my distant cousin had mentioned this before I trekked off to the store in the darkened night. It is very disconcerting to think you are walking down a thirty degree slope and suddenly you are imitating Wile E. Coyote. For a microsecond I was suspended in mid-air, then disappearing straight down, leaving behind a slowly dissolving cloud of smoke shaped into a statue-like copy of myself. Falling off a mountain may sound like fun, but trust me, it is not. The only reason I did not break any bones was because they had been softened by the evenings alcohol. I bounced off the side of the cliff, hurdling down at a ever increasing speed. The bottom of the hill had a big curve in that turned my fall into a roll. My tumble came to a sudden halt due to a fence that surrounded a neighbor's property. Staggering to my feet, I saw, twenty feet to my left, a wooden staircase that went up to edge of the cliff I had just departed. At least I found an easier route for my return trip.

I got on the path that started at the stair's end, and followed it to the main street of a business district. I spotted a bar and figured because of what I had just gone through, I deserved to be waited on. When I got to bar's entrance, I found the door to be locked. There was a diamond shaped window in the door, and I could see a few customers sitting at the bar. There was a button on the side of the door, and I pressed it. The bartender looked towards me, and I raised my hand to the window in a friendly gesture. He buzzed the door open and I entered.

I went up to the bar and ordered a rum and coke. (On a side note, it is very rare that I order anything other than rum and coke. Keep this in mind if you are ever in the position to buy me a drink.) Sitting on a stool, I grabbed the drink and took a sip. I enjoyed the drink while studying the wall behind the bar. The tiny hairs on my arms stood on end as I recognized a picture from an Olympics of yesteryear. The picture was a box of V.I.P. seating overlooking the field. The men photographed in the box were smiling and laughing. The year of this Olympics was 1936. The V.I.P.'s enjoying themselves were Adolph Hitler and his cronies. There was also a mirror behind the bar. In the mirror I spotted a back room with a pool table. The men shooting pool and observing the game wore leather vests with a motorcycle club emblem on their backs. They all had shaved heads. I had stumbled into a den of Aryan skinhead bikers. Apparently, my initial wave to gain entrance resembled a "sieg heil." Oops.

Needless to say, I quickly downed my drink and made my exit. Luckily, the rest of my evening was uneventful. I found a liquor store, purchased a liter of rum and two more of coke, and made my way back to the stairs and up to my cousin's house. Repeating the incident to my distant relations, it was confirmed that the area did have a bad element, but as long as they didn't break any laws, they had as much right to exist as anyone else. Kind of like today with the proposed mosque near ground zero. They may be legally in the right, but morally it is so wrong.

So if there is any final thoughts on my adventure, it is this: If given the opportunity, you should buy John a rum and coke.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Back in the Day...

I've been thinking of changing my name to Methuselah. As I sat in my art class today, I overheard a fellow student say, "Man, back in the day, you could smoke in restaurants. They had ash trays for you and everything."

Back in the day??? What? That was only six months ago! There has to be a minimum set to qualify using "back in the day" statements. You should not be allowed to use those words unless you are referring to five years ago or longer. I am willing to accept a five year minimum for teenagers. Five years back to an 18 year old seems a lot longer than five years back to senior citizens. But if you are over 35, when you say "back in the day," you better be referring to the 1980's or earlier. In fact, let us come up with a reasonable rule for using that phrase: Round off your age to the lower ten year mark and cut that number in half. If you are in your thirties, cut thirty in half. You can use "back in the day" for events fifteen years ago or longer. People in there forties have to go back twenty years. Teenagers require a five year minimum. And those that are nine or younger should never use that phrase. In fact, if you hear a seven year old start a sentence with "Back in the day...," you should immediately slap the little bastard before he can finish the statement.


After thinking about it, let's quit using that phrase altogether. Either that or let's decide on a specific date in the past that the phrase is referring. How does October 12th, 1979, sound? Okay? I don't hear nay votes. Okay, it's settled. From this moment forth, when anyone says "back in the day" they are talking about October 12th, 1979. If you're not happy with that date, then it's your own fault. You should have nominated a different date before the final vote was taken. Sorry.

What's next on our agenda? Rap music and its roots. Just a few words. Today's rap music is an extension of Beatnik poetry. In the 1950's, in coffee houses across America, beatniks would take to the stage and recite rhymes while bongos were being thumped and guitars were being strummed. Poetry to background music. In other words, rap is actually derived from the Eisenhower era, bohemian white culture. Bet you thought it was a black thing, didn't you?

[Warning: Subject is subject to change!]

John Lennon, if his life had not been stolen by bullets, would be celebrating his 70th birthday next month. There will celebrations all over the planet. If you are curious, a Lennon fan, or perhaps a closet Beatlemaniac, you can go to to find numerous places on earth that will be paying tribute. You may be lucky and already be near one. At any rate, this is very informative site for one that just went online this week. I imagine it will be updated daily. (I used the word "imagine" in a John Lennon reference. This is either serendipity or synchronicity. I always mix up those two.)

Well, I used up my blog time for the night. My television schedule keeps me substantially occupied. That and a dog who always seems to demand my attention. I just fed her the other day and here she is, begging again.

Talk again later. Ciao.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Something Different: A Stupid Poem

Ones a pond a dime
in a far far away land
stood a master of rhyme
no one could understand

He delivered a speech
for want to be heard
Many strangers besieged
by his impromptu word

They listened in horror
to his nonsense verse
wishing it over
but it only got worse

They walked away
but he followed their trail
refusing to say
goodbye or farewell

His voice droned on
burrowing into their brain
The man was no fun
only boredom and pain

Even at full trot
he equaled their stride
relentless he sought
to state diatribe

Their timing was exact
the street they ran cross
he was just three feet back
when he was heavily struck

And a crowd gathered round
he laid there near dead
Finally an audience found
as his last words were said

"I would not have cared
if someone interrupts
by yelling 'Hey, there
watch out for that bus'"

His time on earth ended
and as you would know it
so quickly forgotten
the unquoted poet

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Groaning and Moaning

I use to joke with my friends about old people. I would tell them to avoid old people because old age was contagious. I had a whole spiel about how the only people who got old were those that had come in contact with old people. "Stay away from your parents," I would warn, "and for god's sake, don't even consider talking to your grandparents!" That was close to forty years ago. Perhaps I stumbled onto a truth without realizing it. The old man in the mirror tells me I should have took my own advice.

I do not appreciate aging. Why does my body grow old and not my mind? Inside my head I am still the sassy brat of yesteryear. I would love to party all night, but my body refuses to go past ten p.m.. I yearn to jump out of bed in the morning eager to start another day, yet when the morning comes the only reason I get out of bed is use the toilet. It seems to take longer and longer to motivate myself. I have spent entire weekends in my pajamas. In my youth I wouldn't waste an hour of the weekend on sleep.

I exaggerate only slightly. I still have my moments, but those moments seem to happen less and less often. To quote the old country song: "Poor, poor, pitiful me."

That's not entirely true. I called it a country song because it was made famous by Linda Ronstadt. The song was written by Warren Zevon, the English bloke who sang "Werewolves of London." He wrote that one too. He's dead nowadays. But before he died he wrote "Lawyers, Guns and Money" and "Excitable Boy" and a trunk-load of other songs. The ones I mentioned are the most famous. If you don't know them, then Warren wasted his time.

And I apparently am wasting your time also. Nothing of note in this post. At least I'm running true to my course. Give me a minute and maybe I can come up with something humorous.


Okay, here's a blast from the past. When Groucho Marx was alive and Lawrence of Arabia was just released, Groucho remarked "The ladies will love this Peter O'Toole fellow. He's got a double phallic name."


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Reading The Girl

I've been busy reading. I just finished "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" by Stieg Larsson. It is one of those books that I could not put down. I won't go into any details of the plot. This will avoid any potential spoilers for those of you who wish to read the book. If you enjoy a mystery/whodunit, pick up a copy immediately. You will not be disappointed.

The reason I bring up this book is because of the author; Stieg Larsson. He has a very sad story. This man spent years writing "The Millennium Trilogy." "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" was the first, followed by "The Girl Who Played With Fire" and then "The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest." These books were written in Swedish, Larsson's native language. He spent years writing, during which time he was married, divorced, and moved in with another women. When he finally completed the series, he took the manuscripts to a publisher. The publisher bought the stories and made plans for the release. Stieg was paid roughly $5000, and would get a percentage of the book sales. The books were printed in Swedish and did not sell very well. Stieg would not receive any more money.

One of the people who bought a copy was a British publisher, who was in Sweden on other matters. He loved the book, negotiated for the English rights, and made arrangements to translate it for re-release in Great Briton. Stieg was so happy about this, that he had a heart attack and died.

The English version of the book sold like hotcakes. (I never understood this analogy. Do hotcakes really sell that well? IHOP must be making out like bandits.) The first book ended up being translated to most every language on the planet. The sales of this book equaled that of Harry Potter. It was a #1 best-seller the world over. The following year, the second book did better than the first. The third book is currently the #1 fiction hardcover. The money this trilogy has generated is in limbo. Stieg's divorced wife has a lawsuit claiming she should get it. The girl who was living with Stieg at the time of his death has a similar lawsuit. So does Stieg's parents. Not one of the three parties are willing to split the multi-million dollar estate. Whoever wins, it will be the lawyers who will end up with the lion's share.

I don't have the slightest clue on who should get the money. I just find it very sad that the man who generated the books and money died before realizing an iota of the fame and fortune.

Stieg did not sit around between the sale of his books and their release. He was working on another manuscript at the time of his death. For the most part, it is complete but in need of editing. It was left on his laptop. The girl he was cohabiting with has it in her possession. She will reap the benefits of at least one publication no matter the results of the lawsuit. Or so I have been led to believe.

Sweden already released a movie based on "Dragon Tattoo," but I do not like subtitles. The U.S. is currently casting for it's own English version. This one I will see. Two of the main characters will be portrayed by Daniel Craig (Bond, James Bond) and a newcomer named Rooney Mara. Max Van Sydow is currently in talks to play a major supporting character. I know which actors will play which characters but I will let your own curiosity discover this yourself.

If you have read this far, I can guarantee that if you go buy a copy of "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," your next few days will be a reading fury. As for myself, I will be headed to the store as soon as I finish these words and pick up "The Girl Who Played With Fire." And off I go...

Monday, August 9, 2010

Thinking Out Loud

I had an idea but its gone.


How is it possible to forget? If the information is stored in the brain, why is it not always accessible? Is there a glitch in the thinking process? Some sort of loose connection that only works part of the time. What if something major is forgotten? What if I go swimming and forget how to hold my breath? I have forgotten to eat. Is it possible to forget eating long enough to starve to death? That would be a big whoops. If it is a loose circuit in my cranium, can it be repaired? I would like to have everything I ever learned to be available at any given moment.


Total recall would be wonderful. The ability not the movie. Although I did like it when Arnold's eyes bugged out. Did you know they are doing a remake? I can't imagine a better version than the one with the Governator. Do they still call Schwarzenegger that? I see that he's in a new movie with Bruce Willis and Sylvester Stallone. It's getting good reviews already and it hasn't been released yet. The movie critics must get advance screenings. Either that or they decide if a movie is any good by its trailers. That would be great career. To get paid to see the latest flicks and say what you think about them. My opinion is as good as anyone else. I even had a class in "Cinema." I got an "A+." So I know a lot of the technical jargon. Here's some terms for you to ponder: Dolly Shot, Pan Shot, Sync Sound, Superimposition. Three points for anyone who can correctly relate what those terms mean.


Here's a money making idea for the next Christmas season: Mistletoe belt buckles!


In case you're curious about my typing "pause" every so often, it's because a significant amount of time has passed since my last words. It is not an instruction for the reader. You do not have to pause because I did. You can read straight through.


Just watched a bit of the telly. "Rules of Engagement" is on. I have only watched this show two or three times. This is a repeat of one of those times. What are the odds of that happening? 13 to 1. I just figured that out as I was asking it. If there has been 26 episodes and I have seen two, then the odds of my random viewing a repeat is 26 to 2 which is 13 to 1. A mathe-freaking-matical genius I am.

I just remembered that I forgot to make a drink for myself. I am debating whether to keep typing or start tonight's inebriation. If this ends suddenly, then you will know what happened. I don't have to make a drink. I just have to pour one out. Tonight's lubrication is amaretto on ice. A frugal elixir that I enjoy as a change of pace. I generally consume Bacardi and coke with a lemon wedge. On rare occasions I will dabble in tequila, either with salt and lemon or with orange juice and grenadine. Beer once in a while and wine every now and then. After all variety is the spice of life.

Well, I made myself salivate... Gotta go. Good night.

Friday, August 6, 2010

City Hall

Yesterday I paid my house taxes. What fun that was. While at city hall I also paid my water bill. My water bill was $117.76. I'll have to stop using so many ice cubes in my liquor.

Anyways, as I gave the clerk my money I said "Let me see if I got a penny." I hate having a pocketful of loose change, so whenever possible I will try to get rid of what I already have, or use what I can to reduce the number of coins given back. I did not have the penny and stated so. A man who was walking by had overheard me, said he had change and asked what I needed.

Before I could say anything, the clerk showed him my water bill. I don't know why, but I did not like the idea of the clerk sharing my water bill with someone I did not know. (This is strange because I openly share the amount of my bill here on this blog for anyone to see.) I didn't say a word, holding my indignity in check. The man plopped seventy-six on the counter, and continued walking to wherever he was going. Perplexed, I thanked him. He didn't turn back. He merely raised his arm in a wave and said he was glad he could help.

As he disappeared from my view, I asked the clerk "Who was that guy?"

She replied, "The mayor."

"Really," I said, "what's his name?"

"Hanselman," she told me.

I must admit I was slightly embarrassed by my ignorance of local politics. It wasn't until I got home did I think about the whole incident. This is an election year. Did Mayor Hanselman just try to buy my vote for seventy-six cents? I hope not. I would want at least twice that amount.

Speaking about local politicians, I have another story about a different Mayor of Center Line. Back in the early 1960s, the Center Line Mayor was a man named Okras. I am not certain if that is how its spelled, but the pronunciation is "Oak-ress." I was singular digit in age at this time. It was the beginning of winter and my mother told me to put on nice clothes because the Mayor was coming over. My father had gone to pick him up and they would be at our home real soon. I recall putting on my going-to-church shirt and pants. My mother put on a nice dress. She applied makeup and lipstick to herself. This must be a special occasion to be so dressed up in the middle of the week.

My father arrived alone. My mother wanted to know where Mayor Okras was. Dad told her that the mayor followed in his own car. He would be in as soon as he parked. And sure enough, as soon as Dad had said this, their was a knock on the side door. Dad went to let Mayor Okras in. But they did not return to where Mom and I waited. Instead they went into the basement. Mom was not surprised by this. She went into the kitchen to busy herself with either cooking or cleaning. My curiosity got the better of me and I headed to the basement.

In the corner of the basement I saw my father standing and the mayor sitting on the floor shining a flashlight into our furnace. Mayor Okras was dressed in overalls and he was fixing our furnace. You see, being mayor of a small city like Center Line was only a part-time job. The population of Center Line was about one tenth of what it is today. So Mayor Okras was a part time mayor and a full time furnace repairman.

I never understood why my mother wanted us to dress up for some guy fixing our furnace. I guess she saw him as the mayor, and wanted us to be presentable for a man with political clout. At the age I was, I thought being a furnace repairman was more exciting than being mayor. Unfortunately, I wasn't allowed to get near to watch the repairman do his craft, and I really wanted to see. My father ordered me back upstairs. He didn't want for me to dirty my good clothes. He said I shouldn't have put them on. It wasn't Sunday!

At times my parents worked against each other and it was I who suffered the consequences.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

No Subject

Once again I type out words without the slightest notion for a topic. This is Wednesday. This is at night. This is boring. Not boring in a drill bit sort of way, although that may be more fun. Doctors used to bore holes in the heads of mental patients to let out the demons. I wonder why they never considered that the holes they drilled might be presenting an opportunity for demons to get in. Another fun fact about doctoring is bloodletting. When people felt sick they would have a doctor cut them and have the sick blood drained out. Bloodletting became so popular that the doctors could not handle all the cases presented. They contracted out their bloodletting duties to free up more time for amputations and head drilling. The contracts went to the barbers. Cut your arm along with your hair. This is why barber poles are white with a red stripe swirling around and down; to symbolize a bloodletting specialist.

I am running out of thoughts.

I wonder how fast a person thinks. Is there a way to time a thought? When I write, my thought process is in sentences, yet when I am not writing, I think in complete ideas. For instance; when I am hungry I visualize a sandwich and picture the items for its creation all at once. I never think out the process "I will go in the kitchen and take two slices of bread..." When I recollect an incident from my past I see the entire event all at once. When I tell someone about an incident from my past I regress the incident into a time line and form complete sentences in my head before speaking them.

Another thing I am curious about is if I see the same colors as everyone else. If all my colors are reverse from your colors, how would I ever know. What you see as red may appear green to me, but I have always known it as the color red.

I have seen many car accidents during my life. Yet the only time I have seen a car explode into flames is on TV or the silver screen. Someday I will have to get an old junker of a vehicle, find myself a cliff and push the car off. According to the movies and television, vehicles that go over cliffs always ignite into a fireball. I've got to see this happen, at least once, before I die.

Speaking about movies, why is it when the phone rings, the person answering waits for the caller to say the first words? This doesn't happen that much nowadays, but take a look at some old movies and you'll see what I mean. Also, in the movies, when someone calls someone else, if the phone isn't answered before the second ring, it goes to voice mail. Who in their right mind has their phone go to voice mail after only one ring?

This exercise in blathering is almost over.

Mitch Miller died last week. He was 99 years old. I thought he had been dead for decades. I was wrong. All these years gone that I could have sung along with Mitch. Now it is too late. I guess I am doomed to never learn all the words to "You Are My Sunshine" and "Oh, Susanna."

Well its time for me to "follow the bouncing ball" out of here.

Hopefully, next time I will have a topic. TTFN

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Another Harebrained Scheme

I have come up with a scheme to improve the economic status of my hometown. This scheme may be harebrained but I will state it none-the-less.

I love coleslaw. I considered myself a connoisseur of coleslaw. To my knowledge there is no coleslaw capital. So why not make Center Line, MI, "the Coleslaw Capital of America?" This can be true if enough people claim it to be so. Imagine this: an annual coleslaw festivity where people from all over the United States bring their coleslaw recipes to Center Line in hopes of being crowned the King or Queen of Coleslaw. I would offer my services to judge such a contest.

You may ask "How will this help the economy?" I shall explain. We will insist all entries for the "Coleslaw Crown" must use Michigan grown cabbage in their recipes. This will enhance the Michigan cabbage market. The cabbage farmers will make more money. There will be a demand for more vehicles to bring the cabbage to market. This will put a boon to the auto industry's truck divisions. They will have to hire more workers to supply the demand.

Local hotels and motels will be filling up for the month long "Coleslaw Bowl." Yes, their will be parades and floats and football. The crowning of the Coleslaw King (or Queen) will be during halftime of the Pay-Per-View stadium game. Do you see where I'm going with this? New jobs will become available in every field. We will need everyone from laborers who will build the floats, run the carnival rides, sweep up the confetti, work in the restaurants and bars, to the professionals who will design the floats, work the cameras and special effects of the live broadcasts, administer pharmaceuticals to those overzealous attendees whose eyes were bigger than their stomachs. We will need people from all walks of life; doctors, police, chefs, artists, lawn care workers, electricians, plumbers... the list goes on and on.

So how do we get started? Word of mouth! Its now in your hands. If you want to see a return to prosperity, you must start spreading the word: Center Line, Michigan, is the Coleslaw Capital of America. Try saying it a few times. "Center Line, Coleslaw Capital" has a nice ring to it. Add the words to all your emails. Make people curious. Before long we will have the first annual coleslaw competition.

For those of you who are not fond of coleslaw, I will be more than happy to eat your share.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


Suddenly, without warning, the blog starts up again.

It's been a month so you would figure that I should have many new insights to share. I don't. The only event of note that has occurred is the passing of Donna. Donna was married to Charlie who is Linda's brother. Thus, Donna was Linda's sister-in-law, and since Linda and I have been "spousal" for over nineteen years, I can consider Donna to have been my sister-in-law also. Yet, by being an only child, the concept of brothers and sisters remains to be a vague experience for me. Without sharing my childhood with a sibling, I can never truly know what it is like to have a brother or sister. But I can state with certainty that if I were lucky enough to have had a sister, I could not do better than having that person be Donna. I am not alone in this perception.

Yesterday was Donna's funeral. It was the biggest turnout I have ever seen for such an occasion. I knew Donna was loved and had many friends, but I was dumbstruck to see the size of the crowd that attended her burial. If my own demise has one tenth of the attendance, then I will have left this existence knowing I was rich beyond measure with friends.

Donna died from skin cancer last Sunday. Linda and I went out there earlier that day. It was a somber party that gathered, a sad conference of friends and relations praying for miracles. The only miracle was Donna's pain and suffering ending. Bittersweet the release when the time came for the final goodbye.

Yesterday, as friends and relatives celebrated her life, the earth still revolved on its axis, its pulse noticeably dulled. Those left behind have had their lives enriched by crossing Donna's path. We are saddened she is gone, but oh how grateful we are that she once was.

Friday, June 18, 2010

A Few Brief Words

I have derelict in my blog duties. I admit this freely. About a week back I went to a doctor. It seems I have something called "peripheral neuropathy," a condition that makes my toes burn and go numb. This getting older crap is starting to really bother me. It seems like every year or so I get another form of aches and pains. At this rate, by the time I'm at retirement age, I will have to start coffin shopping.

Now that I'm thinking about it, I should go out pricing caskets now. I want to make sure I get a comfortable one. I plan to be in there for a long time. Do funeral homes let people test drive their coffins? If they want my business, they better!

Sorry, I got sidetracked. I was talking about my new ailment. The doctor prescribed a new pharmaceutical to ease up my symptoms. It may be working, I am not certain, for I am knocked for loop by this stuff. I take it before bed and then I sleep like I haven't slept since my teenage days. The next afternoon when I finally wake up, I feel alright although my powers of concentration seem to drift away. I'll be watching a TV show for about a half hour and then realize I have no idea what I'm watching. But that's okay, most of what's on television today is crap anyways.


What was I gonna write about? I did have a topic when I started this, but I can't seem to recall it at this moment. Oh well, I'll try again later. It's time for my medication.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A Faery Story

On January 1st of 1974, I was in the Ozark Mountains strolling along the banks of the Buffalo River when I came upon a large rock with a small door. I thought it was strange to find a four foot door on a five foot rock. Curious as I am, I tried the handle and pulled the door open. Inside was a staircase that led towards and under the river. I could see a hundred steps down to a landing that glittered with the diffused light of the waters above. Without a second thought I headed down.

When I neared the bottom, the landing swelled wider and I could see a beautiful village amidst a spectacular woods of exotic trees and colorful fauna. I was flummoxed on how such a place could exist beneath the waters. On arriving at the bottom I looked up to witness the underside of the river floating without any visible support. The law of gravity was being broken and I knew not how. The waters should be cascading down drowning all beneath, yet it flowed overhead appearing as if a mirror image of itself. The river flowed without a sound. I felt a bit of fear race over the back of my neck as I looked up at the tons of water mystically held in rippling torrents. After a few moments I found my nerve and proceeded towards the village.

There were people in the village and they scurried away and hid as I neared. I was unable to get a steady look at anyone, yet I knew that they were the same in appearance as the rest of mankind. If I were to guess, I would say they were originally from the British Isles, perhaps Wales. But this was only a guess. I had read that the Ozark Mountains population held a great number of people of Welsh ancestry. This may have been the reason behind my guess, but like I say, this was only a guess.

Standing in the middle of the road at the outset of town I realized that I was creating more fear than I was receiving. Not a soul in sight. I would estimate the population to be around five hundred and each and every one of them were hiding behind closed doors. I chose not to push myself upon these people. I smiled as innocently as possible, waved my hand in a friendly gesture, and announced that I was not a threat; that I would leave them be. I turned back towards the stairway, hoping that one of these people would take a chance, approach and talk to me. Slowly I walked down the road. I reached the stairs and turned back. Only one person was in view; a young lady. She stood were I had stood at the entrance of the village. When I looked at her, she bolted and ran into the closest dwelling. I shrugged my shoulders in disappointment and started the climb back to the surface.

I decided that I would give it a day and return to the underwater village. Perhaps if I returned alone a second time, the inhabitants would see that I mean them no harm and engage me with conversation. I walked along the river's edge, keeping a clear picture in my mind of the rock and its exact location, and headed back to my car.

I was staying with friends in Arkansas. They owned a piece of land in a remote area and used it for farming along with housing a commune. In the 1970's, there were communes everywhere. A couple friends from high school after graduation went down south and bought property in the Ozarks. They invited everyone they knew to come down and party with them. Many did, and many stayed on. There was around thirty people staying there when I went down for Christmas vacation in 1973. I enjoyed myself so much that I stayed for the New Years celebration. I was the first one to wake up on New Years day and had decided to take a ride and check out the Buffalo River. That is how I happened to be alone when I discovered the hidden village. On my return to the commune, I chose not to divulge my discovery. I was apprehensive that others may try to intrude on this unknown Eden before I could become friends with its villagers.

On January 2nd, I made a feeble excuse to my friends at the commune that I needed some alone time. I grabbed a few bagels from the kitchen before I drove off and returned to the river. The Buffalo River was a mere two miles from the commune. The public parking was about three miles from the rock. I trekked once again along the river's edge. About forty minutes later the rock was in sight. Unfortunately, the door was not. Some time in the past 24 hours, the door in the rock had vanished. I did not dwell on this because about twenty feet onto the river sat a young lady. She was sitting on the water without sinking and not so much as a single drop of water dampening her dress. She was using her reflection in the water to comb her long wavy hair. Such lovely, reddish blond hair that fell in gentle curls from her head to her waist, and she had a flower of unique color and design propped behind her ear. I do not know all the flowers on this planet, but I would bet that this one would only grow in the underground woods. The young lady was perfect in physical beauty and I stood spellbound taking in her splendor. She looked over at me and pointed to the bag I carried.

I had only eaten one of the bagels I had taken earlier. I still had three more in the bag I held. I opened the bag, removed a bagel, and offered it to her. She did not approach. Instead, she motioned for me to throw it to her. I did so and she caught it. Inspecting the bagel, she spoke for the first time. "This bread is too hard," she said, and threw it back to me. She then rose to her feet and lowered quickly into the water. She was gone before the bagel landed at my feet.

I sat on the riverbank praying for her return. As I sat, I contemplated on the mystique of the young girl and experienced a strong desire to be with her. I was in the first stage of falling in love. When it started to get dark, I reluctantly returned to my car and drove back to the commune.

On January 3rd, 1974, alone I made my way back to the rock. This time I brought fresh donuts. Once again, the door was not in the rock, and the young girl was sitting on the waters. I was delighted to see her again. She returned my smile as I pulled a donut from the box of a dozen. I tossed it over to her and when she caught it, her tight grasp collapsed it flat. She said, "This bread is too soft." And once again, like the previous day, she disappeared into the waters.

I sat on the banks knowing that she would not return until the next day. I held the image of her smile as the focal point in my thoughts. Without ever holding a conversation, I had found the love of my life. I planned the next days offering. It would be a fresh loaf of pumpernickel. I knew she desired bread, and I was determined to give her the best I could find.

The fourth of January, I finally pleased the young lady I loved. I tossed the dark loaf to her. She was happy with the texture and broke off a chunk. Upon tasting, she giggled in delight. I had made her happy. She motioned for me to wait and she descended into the waters with the bread.

Several minutes later the river opened up and three people emerged. Two of them looked like the young lady I had fallen for. My love was an identical twin. The third person was an older man with a stern look on his face. He stood closer to me than the girls, as if their protector. It turned out to be their father.

"My daughter has a desire to be with you. Do you feel the same?"

I answered that I did.

"This would mean marriage. Are you willing to marry my daughter?"

I replied affirmatively.

"Then point out which daughter it is you want to spend your life with."

This took me by surprise. The girls were identical. How could I tell one from the other. I knew if I picked the wrong one, there would be hell to pay. I looked back and forth, studying each girl. They both wore the same style dress, and both had a flower behind their ear. Yet when I looked at the flowers, I could see that one was slightly different than the other. I recalled that the flower on my love had three petals at the core. There was four petals at the center of one flower and three on the other. The young woman on the right had the same flower as the girl of my dreams. I pointed to her and announced to her father that it is she who I wish to be my bride. I had selected correctly. She ran over the water towards me and into my arms. I was overcome by bliss.

My bride's name was Lilith, and she was a descendant of the Gwragedd Annwn. The Gwragedd Annwn (pronounced "goo-RAHG-eth AHN-oon") were giants back when years were not recorded. With the spread of Christianity the giants shrank until they finally were our size and fearing to prevent further shrinkage, they took refuge beneath mountain rivers and lakes. Most of these clans were in Wales, but there was one branch of the Gwragedd Annwn who had moved to the Americas and started up a colony in the Ozark mountains. These were the people I had stumbled across.

Lilith's father told me how that outsiders could gain entrance to their land only one day of the year, January 1st, when a doorway would appear on a rock. That explained why the door wasn't there when I went back the second day. Her father also told me that it was Lilith who had stood in the road when I was leaving their land. She had become as enamored with me, as I with her, on first sight. She went to the surface on January second in hopes of finding me. Luckily she did, and very luckily I had had the required gift, the bagel she thought was bread, that allowed her to keep coming back. Once I provided bread that would please her father, she would be allowed to marry me. If I hadn't brought anything the second day, the courtship would have ended then. The Gwragedd Annwn would allow three gifts, and only three gifts, for a surface dweller to be accepted by a family. It must have been by subconscious intuition that I gave a gift that pleased the father. The father then tested me again by presenting both Lilith and her twin for my selection. There was one last custom for me to complete before Lilith and I could wed.

The Gwragedd Annwn firmly believed in dowries. Who was I to object? Lilith's father would give us cattle to start our married life. I was to take a deep breath and count, starting at number one, and see how many numbers I could count off before running out of breath. The last number I can say would be the number of cows to be presented as Lilith's dowry. I had no idea what to do with one cow, let alone a small herd, but I did my best and counted off sixty-seven before having to inhale. That's a pretty good number for one breath. Try it yourself and see how high you can count.

Lilith's sister had returned to her village to retrieve a minister while her father told about their clan. He told me that I must be careful never to strike Lilith because three causeless strikes will nullify our marriage and not only would I lose my wife, but also the dowry. I assured him that I would never hit Lilith. Little did I know that a nudge is considered a strike by the Gwragedd Annwn.

Lilith's twin arrived with the minister and the cattle. How she knew only to bring sixty-seven cows is still a mystery. I had done the counting while she was away. The minister read from a bible, but his words were so heavily accented I did not understand one. The wedding went fast and the next thing I knew I was walking my bride and herd of cattle back to the commune. I would have to pick up my vehicle on another day.

I stayed with Lilith at the commune. It had been a vegetable farm that I turned into a cattle ranch. Slowly the people who were staying started to move on. After the birth of our son, Michael, my friends who owned the land sold it to us and returned to the north. The few stragglers that were left also moved out by the time Lilith gave birth to our second son, James. Lilith and I were not into slaughter and instead of making our living by selling beef, we earned our money by selling dairy products; milk and cheese. We did quite well as dairy farmers. By the time our third son, Daniel, was born, we were well established and earning more money than we could ever hope to spend.

The neighbors, who initially mistrusted the "hippy" people, came to consider us part of the community. We were invited to all the social events in the county. We attended a wedding and right in the middle of the church service, Lilith began to wail as if in pain. I nudged her to let her know that she was interrupting the proceedings. She quit her sobs and gave me a glare.

Another time a neighbor had stopped by our house and was telling us of the passing of his mother. Lilith broke out laughing. I gave her a nudge and apologized to the neighbor. Lilith quickly added her apology to him and gave me another glare.

On Michel's last day of 1st grade, the school called us to come in and discuss our son's future. We were sitting in an office with the elementary school principal and our son's teacher being told that Michael was an exceptional student and they wanted to advance him two grades when Lilith began sobbing in grief. I nudged her and she immediately quit her cries, stood up and walked out of the room. I apologized for my wife's behavior, little realizing that I would never see her again. I approved of the school advancing our son and returned home. Lilith was gone and so was all our cows.

I was suddenly single raising three boys all by my lonesome. We did not stay on at the farm very long. I found work in Little Rock and moved my sons into an apartment near my employment. We got by on my wages. It was a paltry amount compared to what the dairy had brought in. Luckily Lilith and I had put money away for our son's education. All three would become doctors and those college expenses could break a wealthy man. All three won scholarships, so all I had to pay for was their housing and food. I was always amazed at how well they did and are still doing.

Recently, I asked Daniel if his older brothers had helped him with his schoolwork. He assured me they hadn't. He then told me about his mother, my Lilith. It seems that although she had left me thirty years ago, she did not abandon her sons. The Gwragedd Annwn are skilled physicians and pass their knowledge on to their kin. She had tutored all three of the boys without my knowledge. Her side of the family had taken hold our sons thirst for the medical profession, and each had fared well. My boys take care of me nowadays, both physically and financially. They are good sons.

I still miss Lilith. I wish her father had been more specific about "causeless strikes." And I really wish he would have told me about the Gwragedd Annwn having opposite emotions. They laugh when they are very sad, and they cry when they are very happy. Perhaps if I had known, we may have stayed together.

I still go every January 1st to the rock by Buffalo River. I've been doing this for thirty years now. I have never seen the door again. I may be tainted and not allowed to see it. I don't know, but I try just the same. I am the one these days that has mixed emotions. I am so proud of my three doctor sons that I cry. And every January 1st, when I don't find the door, I am so disappointed that all I can do is laugh at myself.

Maybe next New Year's day...