Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Gertrude's Story

If you have read any of my other posts, you know I enjoy being silly at times. I like to stretch my imagination to the absurd. When I was still a teenager, I was dating a girl who was in high school, a couple years younger than I. We spent a lot of time on the phone debating all the important things in life such as current movies and rock stars. One afternoon she called and told me she had to write a story for her English class. She had no idea what to write about and was flummoxed.

The phone in our house was in the kitchen. It was directly above a cart that held a breadbox. I told her (for purposes of keeping her identity a secret, I will refer to her from now on out as Gertrude, a fictitious moniker that I find amusing) that it is easy to make up a story. Looking at the breadbox I said, "You can make a story up about bread crumbs if you wanted."

Gertrude doubted that this could be possible. I went on to describe a scenario with two breadcrumbs called Rodney R. Rye and Peter Pumpernickel. Rodney was a crusty old sort who lived in a crevice of the breadboard and had existed there for quite a long time. Peter was fresh to the cutting board, having just been released (born) from a loaf of pumpernickel as a knife cut off a slice. Peter was full of life and rolling all over the vast wooden flat. Rodney tried to tell him to find a crevice and wedge himself in, that a giant would soon be using a cloth to wipe off the board. Peter had a daring spirit, he felt invincible, and would not contain his youthful exuberance. He continued to roll free on the cutting board. The cleaning rag showed up and in order to save Peter, Rodney freed himself from his crevice and rolled out into plain sight. The rag gets Rodney but Peter manages to flee to safety and wedges himself securely in a crevice of his own.

Gertrude liked the story idea and the next thing I knew I was at her house writing it out for her. I managed to stretch the episode out over several pages. The following day she turned in the assignment. Her name on it, not mine. I quickly forgot about it.

Several weeks later, Gertrude calls me and is frantic. She wants my assuring that the breadcrumb story was original. Yes, indeed, I say. She goes on to inform me that her teacher had enjoyed the story so much that she had entered it into a state wide high school composition competition. Gertrude was worried that I had plagiarized the short story and she would be caught for my theft. I had to reassure her that the idea was original, that up until that day when it was written it had not existed anywhere. By the way, at this time, Gertrude and I had quit dating. You know how rapidly you can go through teenage flings. I sated her worries and said goodbye.

About a year or so later, I ran into Gertrude again. I asked her about the contest in which she had been entered. She told me she had won her school district, placed second in the county, and lost in the state wide competition. For her participation she had been rewarded a $500 scholarship which she never used.

I tell you, I am very disappointed in those Statewide Composition Competition judges.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Alice Roo

I have always liked kangaroos. I like watching them jump around. I like movies where they box humans. They usually cheat doing this by balancing on their tails and kicking their opponent. I wouldn't penalize the roo for this, after all its the human idiot that got in the ring to fight a marsupial, he deserves what he gets.

Kangaroos are also cute in the face. They have an innocent look about them, a certain pet-like quality that I find appealing, along with a slightly puzzled expression. They look like they are trying to find the humor in a joke that was just told to them. Or perhaps they are trying to keep a straight face after pulling a prank. Its hard to judge a kangaroo's expression. Maybe that is why so many people have tried to box them; man misreads the roo's face and thinks the animal beatable. They are not. That is unless a gun is involved.

There is a movie called "Australia" wherein Nicole Kidman is being driven across the outback by Hugh Jackman and his fellow Aussies. She is fresh to down under from England. A kangaroo is keeping alongside their truck, hopping at a fast pace. Nicole comments how beautiful the creature is a moment before the poor roo is shot dead by one of the men on the truck. Quite shocking, disgusting, and funny all at the same time. Apparently, kangaroos are thought of as pests in Australia.

Another movie that features kangaroos is "Kangaroo Jack." This time a kangaroo, thought to be dead, is dressed in a windbreaker, baseball cap and sunglasses, and used as a prop for a photo shoot. The animal is not dead. He comes to, kicks the humans that are manhandling him, and hops off. He loses the cap and glasses right away, but the rest of the movie he is wearing the windbreaker. (The plot of the flick is trying retrieve the windbreaker which has gangster money in the pockets.) The humans in this comedy are only fair actors, but the kangaroo's performance is outstanding.

There is also a "Beverly Hillbillies" episode that has Granny Clampet mistake a kangaroo for a giant mouse. She believes her eyes are playing tricks on her and goes straight to the moonshine (for medicinal purposes only). This is not the only time kangaroos are mistaken as mice. Warner Brothers has several cartoons with Bugs Bunny, Speedy Gonzales, and others being mystified by a giant hopping mouse.

It is because of the various media attention to kangaroos that finds me longing to own one. I would like to have one in the back yard and teach it tricks (of course I would have to make my fences higher). I have a small dog so the kangaroo could carry her around in it's pouch. I think Roxy would like that. Roxy is my dog's name. Yes, I could throw a stick, Roxy would jump in the roo's pouch, the roo (I think I'll name her Alice) will hop across the yard to the stick, Roxy will jump out of the pouch, fetch the stick, jump back in, and Alice would hop back to me with Roxy and the stick. I'll have to find some kangaroo treats to reward Alice. Roxy will probably enjoy kangaroo treats also. Roxy enjoys just about anything that isn't dog food. I wonder if Purina makes "Kangaroo Chow."

I would also teach Alice to use a trampoline. Imagine how high that marsupial will bounce. Neighbors several blocks away will be able to see my kangaroo bouncing high above the tree line. Perhaps I can rig a harness to Alice and sell tickets for children to ride her up to the clouds and back down. I would like to sell rides to everyone but being realistic, Alice wouldn't be able to handle over fifty pounds, so that means only small children and tiny midgets could go for a ride. Five dollars for five bounces. That seems like a fair price. I would have to have the parents sign a waiver so they couldn't sue me if their children got hurt. You never know when some tyke will squirm out of the harness while in a cloud. If the "kangaroo trampoline bounce" catches on, I would buy additional kangaroos and trampolines. I would then lease the additional ones to other entrepreneurs in other cities. I can see the greenbacks stacking up already...

Stacks so high that even Alice can't top...

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Death Comes in 3's

The last week saw the death of three of my childhood TV idols; Davy Crockett (Fess Parker), Jim Phelps (Peter Graves) and Kelly Robinson (Robert Culp). Davy Crockett was a mini-series showed on "The Wonderful World of Disney." Jim Phelps led the Impossible Mission Force on "Mission Impossible." Kelly Robinson was half of the team on "I-Spy."

Yes, I said "The Wonderful World of Disney" not "Disney's Wonderful World of Color." That was what it was called when I watched it. Color had not been invented yet. (Sex also had not been invented, but that's another story.) On Friday's my father would go bowling and I was allowed to control the television. We only had one TV. It was pre-owned by my uncle who had given it to us when he had bought a newer model for his family. In the late 1950's, television was a luxury, not a necessity. Today you can pick up hundreds of working televisions on any trash night if you were so inclined. Just drive down any side street and you will find several sets on the curb waiting to be disposed. Many in still good working condition. People buy flat screen TVs and throw out there old picture tube sets. They have to throw them out, nobody wants them. In 1959, you hung on to your TV. If it wasn't working, you had it fixed, or fixed it yourself by taking out the tubes, use the tube tester at your local electronics store, and buy a replacement for whichever tube was broken.

So on Friday nights I would watch Disney. It was a different type of entertainment. Every week was something different than the week prior. You may see "Spin and Marty" (the adventures of a couple kids), or a travelogue (this week the Netherlands), cartoons (Mickey Mouse and the gang), or a western (Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier). When I first saw Davy Crockett it was a rebroadcast. I had only been 2 when it was first aired and I had been too busy poddy training to watch TV. I watched a repeat performance and instantly wanted a coon skin hat. (By the way, the poddy training was a success.) I had very few favorite television shows, but Disney was one. Two others were "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet" and "The Donna Reed Show." Most of my memories of the 50's have faded, but some are still vivid. When the "Beverly Hillbillies" debuted in 1962, I was surprised to see Buddy Ebson (Davy's sidekick George) had not died at the Alamo.

In the early 60's I listened to comedy albums. The popular ones were Alan Sherman's "Camp Granada," Vaughn Meader's "The First Family," The Smothers Brothers "Mom Always Liked You Best," and Bill Cosby's "Why is there Air?" Bill Cosby was hilarious and so when he began his TV show "I-Spy," I watched. I loved the banter between Cosby and Robert Culp. They were spies who's undercover identities were tennis pros. After I-Spy, I would recognize Robert Culp when I saw him. Remember "Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice?" Robert Culp played the husband of Natalie Wood in this classic wife-swapping movie.

As I recall "Mission Impossible" I can hear the theme music; the heavy bass beat with the staccato blast of horns. I loved the way Peter Graves playing Jim Phelps would get his assignments. Computers had not advanced as of yet, so he would get an envelope of photos along with a tape recorder that explained the mission, should he choose to accept it (which he always did). The tape recorder would then self-destruct. Peter Graves went on to play a pilot in "Airplane," a spoof of all the "Airport" movies of the 70's. He had the greatest lines in that movie. While showing the cockpit to small boy, he would ask the boy, "Joey, do you like movies about gladiators?" and "Joey, have you ever been in a Turkish prison?" and "Joey, have you ever seen a grown man naked?"

So in memory of these three actors, you should put on a coon skin hat and use a tennis racket to destroy a tape recorder. It will be appreciated. Especially by the companies that sell these products.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Spring Madness

Spring sprung Saturday last and a dark overcast crept upon us. It has been dreary outside until today. The sky drizzle has ceased and its shadowy clouds have parted. So be it the 4th day of Spring, today is the first day of the lamb.

I wonder why they (whoever they are) chose lions and lambs as metaphors for March. Couldn't we say, "March comes in like a drunken sailor, and out like a flower child," or "March comes in like a strip club bouncer and out like a sleeping ballerina?" Then again, March does not always have only two weathers. To be more accurate we should say, "March comes in like dandruff, cries a little while, slams into a wall, does an Irish jig, takes a nap, drinks an energizer drink like Red Bull, and ends up sitting in front of a heat lamp."

A lot of sayings are outright stupid. The quickest way to a man's heart is through his stomach. Wrong! It's through his rib cage. Ask any heart surgeon. Never look a gift horse in the mouth. How would you put on its feed bag? A penny saved is a penny earned. I find pennies all the time. They give them away at check out counters. Who the hell saves pennies? And if the work you do only earns you a penny, then you better find another job. Curiosity killed the cat. All my life I've seen cats being curious. Not one dropped dead from this. Don't count your chickens before they hatch. If they're not hatched then they are eggs. How can you count something that doesn't exist? It's like asking how many ducks don't you see. Don't put your all your eggs in one basket. I don't know about you, but all my eggs are in the refridgerator.

What about Spring fever? What happens if its not treated? Will those men become perpetual targets for ring toss? Will those women be forever test driving washers and driers?

That's enough blattering for now. Next month we will cover showers.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Today is Tuesday. Way back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, when I had just started high school, I was in a elite circle of kids who smoked marijuana. The herb had just reached the suburbs and the number of kids who smoked weed could be counted on one hand. Within two years the number who hadn't tried pot could be counted on that same hand. Sorry to admit, but I was one of the people who endorsed the new product and coaxed others to turn on.

Like I said, today is Tuesday. Forty odd years ago, I would have said, "Today is Monday" or "Today is Wednesday" or any day other than Tuesday. The reason I would name the day wrong would be to indicate that my head had been filled by smoke. Tuesday was the code to find out if a person was high. On any day other than Tuesday, if you asked a person what day it was, they would respond "Tuesday" to let you know they were high. If you had not yet toked the minimum daily requirement and you were still straight, then you would respond correctly when inquired upon the day. On actual Tuesdays, the code was reversed. On Tuesdays, if you were buzzed, then you would give the wrong answer when asked what day it was.

Let's test. I say today is Tuesday. In 1968 I would have responded "Today is Sunday." Am I high now? Or was I high back then? The answer: I may have partaken of the herb during my high school daze, but I have not smoked weed in thirty-eight years. I use to smoke, but after several years, I found I did not enjoy the effects. I was only smoking because the people around me were. I did fall prey to other drugs, but marijuana was the first I crossed off my "to do" list. Weed gave me tunnel vision, like taking your fingers to imitate glasses and holding them to your eyes. I also found it difficult to concentrate on a single subject; if you asked if I was hungry, I would think about eggs, then chickens, then country farms, then country nights, then the stars, then the solar systems, and I would finally answer that "yes, I think there's life on other planets."

I know people today that still indulge with cannabis. This is after an additional four decades of hybrid pollination, cross breeding, hydroponics and experimentations to achieve the most potent pot on the planet. My brother-in-law abuses marihootchie on a regular basis. It seems possible to get a contact high off him when he calls you up. You can see the reefer smoke emitting from the telephone while it is still ringing. A typical call from him sounds like:
Me: "Hello"
Him: "Man, what a coincidence, I was just thinking of calling you."
Me: "You did call me."
Him: "Really? What'd we talk about?"
Me: "We haven't talked yet."
Him: "That's too bad. We should do that one of these days."
Me: "We can talk now."
Him: "Okay, I'll hang up so you can call."

Today is Tuesday. But not for all of us.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The People Upstairs

I never had a dog when I was a child. My parents owned what was called an income house; a two story house with the upstairs being a unit unto itself. So essentially my folks were the landlords to the people living above us. The basement (or "cellar" as my New Jersey relatives refer to it) was common ground to both households. There were two large cages in the basement. These were used as storage facilities; one for us, one for the people upstairs. Ours held suitcases, Christmas decorations, "For Lease" signs, and an assortment of boxes of keepsakes and family memorabilia. The second cage was generally empty. My parents preferred renting the upstairs to recently married couples without children. These type of people rarely had extras that needed separate storage. They were generally starting out in life and had not yet accumulated enough furniture and other household items to fill a home, let alone a storage locker. I always thought that the second cage would be a perfect place to keep a dog. My parents did not agree. They did want a dog, in fear of its canine manners disturbing the people upstairs.

The People Upstairs! Those dastardly bastards that deprived me of a normal childhood. I lived the first fourteen years of my life walking on eggshells, trying not to disturb the people upstairs. "No, you can't have a radio. The people upstairs will hear it." "No, you can't play in the backyard. The people upstairs are hanging their clothes to dry." "No, you can't have friends over. There are people living upstairs." "Be quiet, Johnny, the people upstairs are gonna hear you." "Don't talk to the people upstairs unless they talk to you first. AND BE POLITE!"

When I was in fourth grade (the year the Beatles first appeared on Ed Sullivan) I had created some type of noise that could potentially drive out the tenants. I tried using the metal kitchen trash container for a drum. It had a hinged lid that opened with a foot peddle. It reminded me of a bass drum. After letting it slam shut five or six times in a row, my mother appeared. She was furious. As punishment for making the noise, she was going to throw out my comic books. It would also be a demonstration of the proper way a trash can should be used. She had a few comics in hand and was about to rip them up when I lunged to grab them from her. All I wanted to do was protect my comics. I had no intention of hitting my mother. Yet I did. It was an accident. While trying to get hold of the books, my mother turned away from me, and in doing so, my reaching hand struck her shoulder. She was not harmed, except for her Motherly dignity.

Needless to say, when my father got home from work that night, I was given a spanking. My father kept a well-maintained razor strop for just such an emergency. I never seen my father use anything other than a safety razor for shaving. To my knowlege he never possessed a single bladed collapsible razor, the kind professional barbers hone to sharpness with a strop. I can only assume the reason he kept a strop was for corporal punishment of his child. His father had used a strop on him, so in a way he was keeping alive a family tradition. Funny how my parents never worried about disturbing the people upstairs during my screams and cries when being punished.

That was the only time in my life that I had hit my mother. And I strongly reiterate "it was completely by accident." Yet, up until the day she died some thirty years later, everytime we got in a disagreement my mother would say, "Go ahead. Hit me again!"

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Big Jim

When I started working at Ford Motors, I met my first giant. He was a lead in the I.T. department and he was known as Big Jim. Jim stood about 6’9” and looked similar to Andre the Giant. Jim slumped to try to bring his height down to our atmosphere. Jim was in his 50’s and had white curly hair. Jim’s handshake would engulf any hand he ever shook. I never could understand how he managed to only type one key at a time. He was menacing in appearance, so he compromised by always having a joke ready. His voice boomed with deep resonance. He was a notorious tease, yet it was always in good fun. He was adamant about following procedure, but he could also find loopholes in procedures when it would benefit others. The employees at Sterling Plant either loved him or despised him. He was definitely one of a kind, and he was my friend.

Whenever I needed help, Jim was one person I could rely on. One day in the winter of the late 1990’s, on my way to work, a truck driving next to me had a sheet of ice fly off its hood and shattered my windshield. My insurance did not cover it; I only had the bare minimum in order to be legal. It was a few days before payday and I did not have the funds for a replacement window. Jim had heard me at my desk calling around trying to find a place that would fix my car that day and let me pay them on Friday. No such luck. I went to do a service call out on the floor, and when I returned to my desk, I found $500 sitting on my keyboard.

At this point, I did not know Jim that well. Even though I had been working in the plant for a couple years, I had just moved into the main office about a month earlier. Jim looked over at me from his desk and said, “Better get that window fixed. I don’t want you calling in tomorrow that your car’s out of commission.” I told him I would pay him back on Friday and he said, “What? Ain’t you got no other bills to pay? Just give me what you can when you can. There’s no hurry. Make it easy on yourself.”

That was how Big Jim was. In 2003, Big Jim took a buy out and retired. He was still in his 50’s. We remained friends. I would stop over his house every couple months or so. His wife, Beverly, was on dialysis. Jim was constantly taking care of her even though his own health started to fail. He underwent brain surgery because of his gigantism disease, but he kept his humor and good nature through it all.

The last time I saw Jim was in November at Beverly’s funeral. Diabetes had taken his lover and companion. His legs could no longer support his body and he was in a wheel chair. The big man looked small for the first time since I met him.

Throughout the years, Jim kept in regular contact. We talked on the phone every month or so, and we exchanged emails several times a week. Most emails were jokes or what is called “viral videos” of short funny movies. Not once did he mention his deteriorating health. In January he was hospitalized for a week, and when released, he was given a home care worker to help with his daily needs.

Last Sunday Jim felt chest pains and called 911. He suffered a heart attack. When the ambulance arrived the emergency workers revived him and took him to the hospital. In the hospital, Jim suffered another attack. This time more severe and he did not survive. He will be laid out on Friday at the same funeral home where his Beverly had just been. He will be buried on Saturday. These will be the last days I will ever see Jim and I miss him already.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Excuses and Cigarettes

I am not being diligent in my postings. It has been a few days since the last one. But I can't help it. I have been attending other web sites. Like the man said who fell in the wood chipper, "I'm all over the place." Several years back I planned on starting a procrastination society. It was something I have planning to develop until recently. About a month back, I heard that there had been a procrastination club created in the mid-1950's, fifty-six years ago. They are currently planning their 50 year anniversary party. Since I do not have to create the organization, I can now join the one already in existence. I will do that as soon as I get a chance. Maybe in time for the party.

It's not like I'm lazy, it's just that I have short bursts of enthusiastic ambition or creativity that are separated by great spasms of time. I am currently waiting for the next energenic cycle to occur. You know that feeling like anything is possible and you accomplish it as proof.

The last time I felt like I could conquer the world is when I successfully quit smoking. I hope the word "successfully" remains. It's been seven and a half years since I last partook of nicotine pleasure. Not true. I still inhale second-hand smoke. Let me correct myself by saying "It has been seven and a half years since I last held a tube of tobacco to my lips and sucked in the fumes from the burning opposite end."

I did not intend to quit smoking. I had a choice: Quit smoking or quit breathing. My lungs were inflicted with emphysema. If I walked up a flight of steps, I would have to sit on the top stair to catch my breath. I complained to my doctor. He did various tests on me and came to the conclusion that I only had 65% lung capacity. But he assured me that with enough cigarettes I could cut that number in half, and I could smoke for the rest of my life, which would have been two or three years. My mind figured that the doctor was just trying to scare me, but my lungs suspected he was telling the truth. I asked if it would be better if I cut down to two packs a day. Could I stretch that two or three year mark to ten or fifteen? I was told that the damage done would stay that way, but if I quit, there would not be any additional harm. So reluctantly I quit my Camel filters. I use to joke that I had saved enough Camel coupons for a chest x-ray but my goal was save up for the Smokin' Joe Iron Lung. I still have a shitload of coupons and no desire to see for what they can be exchanged.

On May 1st, Michigan is going smoke-free. That is to say, that smoking in public places will no longer be legal. All the bars and restaurants can throw away their ashtrays. They will not be needed again. Linda, my significant other, still smokes and claims that this new law is a personal assault upon her. I try to tell her that the new law also includes households and that after May 1st she will have to smoke in the back yard. Unfortunately, she knows me too well and has already gone online to read the full regulations of the law. It would be nice if all smoking materials were outlawed, and the U.S. was completely nicotine free. I know people will initially gripe if this came to pass, but after a few years they will all be grateful. I know I hated having to quit, but today I wish I had done it decades earlier.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Church daze

This is where I grew up. If you were to use google map and enter Center Line, MI, you could find the intersection of 10 Mile and Van Dyke. This is a picture of 10 Mile and Van Dyke. This picture was take about 100 years ago. I wasn't born yet (although sometimes it feels like it). When I was child, I attended the church you see in the background. It is the original St. Clemens Church which was torn down in the 1960's. Mass was all in Latin back then, so for one hour, every Sunday, I would sit next to my mother and go through the exercise of sitting, kneeling, standing, kneeling, sitting, kneeling, standing, kneeling, et cetera, and never know the reason for doing it. I do know that the amount of kneeling outnumbered standing and sitting.

In my kneeling position, with head bowed, I was able to go into a semi-dream state. Unlike the overnight dreams that controlled me, I was in control of the pew dreams. I could transform myself into a superhero, like the Green Lantern or the Flash, and fight villains to save the world. It was quite a remarkable ability that vanished with my childhood. I can daydream today, but it is not the same as those dreams I controlled as a 7 year old. The vividness, and almost real quality of those youthful daydreams was remarkable. I don't believe I appreciated that ability back then. When I recall those times, I know what I dreamt did not happen, but those dreams are as strong in my memory as any actual event of that time.

After the building of the replacement church, that is still in use today, my mother lost interest in attending weekly. She felt that holiday masses would suffice. For her, not me. I was instructed to continue attending every Sunday, that I was the family representative. My father never went to church for anything other than a wedding or a funeral. He had given his salvation proxy to my mother, who in turn gave his and hers to me. Their immortal souls were now in my hands. Quite a responsibility for an eight year old. This chore was inflicted upon me after the completion of my first communion. Every Saturday I would go to confession (big sinner I was, reading comic books in stores without buying them) and on Sunday the priest would complete the ritual of cleansing my sins by placing a wafer on my tongue.

Whoever created church wafers was an imp. Those little white cardboard bingo chips were designed to glue your tongue to the roof of your mouth. Unlike today, you did not get a snort of wine to wash it down. That is something else I still do not understand. The wafer supposedly represents the body of Christ, and the wine represents his blood. Does this mean that Catholicism endorses cannibalism?

I mentioned going to confession. Confession became a turning point in my religious beliefs. At the end of confession the priest issues your penance; ex.: recite four "Hail Marys" and six "Our Fathers." If the priest was feeling particularly mischievous, he could demand you recite two or three rosaries. That's one "Our Father" for every small bead, a "Hail Mary" for the larger beads, and a grand finale when you land on the cross by repeating "the Act of Contrition." You have to be kneeling at the altar while reciting the prayers in your head. When I did penance, it wasn't because I felt God was watching, but instead because I feared that the priest was peeking out of his confessional stall to make certain I was doing as instructed. When I finally put together that the only reason I was doing penance was to please my mother, and that the priest would not be calling her to rat me out if I skipped a few Hail Marys. ("Hello, is this John's mother? This is Father Murray. I hate to tell you this but your boy missed doing 3 of his Our Fathers. I hope you straighten him out. We don't want to see the boy end up in hell.") So I began pretending to pray. I would kneel at the altar and create a daydream for about 20 minutes or so, and then be on my way. Eventually I foregone the priest and was creating my own confessional at the local soda shop by issuing my own penance of two cheeseburgers and one chocolate malt.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

An Aging Joke

Boy this life is just speeding by. I remember 1995 like it was yesterday. That was fifteen years ago. Fifteen years from now, I'll be in my 70's. The reason I bring up 1995 is because I just saw a movie on tv called "Heat" starring Robert De Niro. It was made in 95 and I saw it in the theater when it was released. It feels like only 5 or 6 years ago, yet it has been fifteen. I still remember how loud it was, sitting in the show, when they have the big shoot-out. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised to find I have hearing problems because of it.

I do have trouble hearing. When I am not concentrating on the speaker, I tend to mix up what is being said. Linda will say to me "Do you want to go out, honey?" and I hear "Do you want a colonoscopy?" Linda is the lady I have been cohabitating with for almost 20 years. There are pictures of us when we were young, thin, and healthy. It feels like the pictures were taken recently, but in reality, today's Playboy centerfolds are not as old as those photos. To be a centerfold you must be born on or before today's date in 1992. Being a stacked female also helps.

One of my favorite expressions about aging is: "Life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer to the end, the faster it goes."

You will have to forgive me on my talk of aging. I have never been this age before. It is a new discovery to me. The only thing I know for certain is that this moment will soon be history. In fact all time will become history. And you can't change history. That must mean you can't change the future. My life is a roller coaster ride; up and down, scary and exhillerating. I know it will end, but I hope its one of the longest rides on the planet. Which reminds me of a joke.

A 90 year old man goes to the doctor. He tells the doctor, "You know my wife passed away 2 years ago?"
says the doctor.
"Well, after she died, I was lonely as hell. I started going out to bars. Every night I would try a different saloon, and one night I ended up in a strip club. Those places have the most wonderful young ladies you should ever hope to meet. And I met one. I met one of the dancers there, and we started going out."
The doctor says, "Really? Tell me more."
The old man continues, "Well, I know she was only interested in my money. I saved quite a bit over my lifetime. But I didn't care, I enjoyed being with her. Besides, you can't take money with you."
the doctor prompted.
"One thing led to another, and soon we flew off to Vegas and got married. She is beautiful to behold. I thought just having her marry me would be a miracle, I didn't expect anything more than just a companion. Well, it turns out that she has a sexual appetite thats insatiable. For the last year, she's been ripping my clothes off twice a day and having her way with me."
The doctor says, "Did she give you a S.T.D.?"
"No! She's got a clean bill of health."
"Did she hurt your back?"
"No... She usually takes the top. After all she's only 22 and I'm 90."
"Okay, then why are you telling me all this?"
the doctor asks.
The old man replies, "Hell, I'm telling everybody!"

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Being a Smart Ass

I answered one of those ads that says "add size to that certain part of the male body" and now the big toe on my left foot is 8 inches long. I can no longer put a shoe on that foot. Another time I tried a viagra and got it caught in my throat. I walked around all day with a stiff neck.


I would love to be a stand-up comic. Unfortunately I have a fear of addressing crowds. This is something I do not understand about myself. I can sit in a classroom and not have a problem speaking up (mostly cracking wise), yet if I were to stand in front of that same class, I would have a hard time formulating a sentence. I had an English class in the fall of 2009, and I constantly spoke up from my desk:

Instructor: Who can tell me what is a pronoun?

Me: Someone in favor of nouns.

Instructor: Who can give an example of an incomplete sentence?

Me: A person on death row.

Instructor: When is it okay to use a slang?

Me: When you hurt your arm, you put it in a slang.

Yet, to stand in front of that class and read from scripted material, I unwillingly start doing a Don Knotts impersonation. Too many eyes on me at the same time. I am more comfortable being a sneak-attack smart-ass. In a recent history class, the instructor was asking the class why were the colonists revolting and I interjected, "Because they rarely took baths." Sometimes it feels like everyone is giving me set up lines.

I love to screw with people at fast food restaurants. When I pull up to the menu at Burger King, I order a Big Mac. They tell me they don't sell Big Macs. I ask if they will go to McDonald's and get me one. Of course I'm told that they don't do this, to which I point out that it's a "Special Order" and they advertise that "Special Orders" won't upset them. I've actually had employees check with their managers before turning me down. When that happens I change my order to a small cheese and pepperoni.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Nighttime Adventure

I was so busy straightening out rainbows and hurtling them at fictional characters, that I hadn't notice the moonbeam sneak up behind me to slap the back of my head. The SHMAK!! sound echoed in my ears as my vision doubled. I turned to face the moonbeam and instead found a naked Nicole Kidman. She smiled and leapt into my arms. We tumbled backwards onto a king size bed made with glass sheets. The sheets shattered and slivers of glass tore at my back. Nicole had turned into Nancy Reagon, revelling in her 90 year old birthday suit, with makeup that look as if applied by a blind child. My blood pooled up around me, dunking my head. I held my breath, looking up through the redness to see Nancy laughing with maniacal glee. Skeletal arms reached up and grabbed me around the waist. The bony arms pulled me through the mattress and I was in a free fall miles above the earth. As the planet rapidly approached, Daffy Duck flew next to me saying "That's all folks!" I accuse the duck of plagerising Porky Pig and he lays a giant egg. I am falling with this giant egg falling beside me, and I see a door appear on the egg. The door opens and the Hunchback of Notre Dame reaches out and pulls me inside just before I hit the earth. No longer falling, the inside of the egg is huge. I am in the middle of a playground. Quasimodo starts swinging on the jungle gym. I look up to the sky and see the egg falling directly towards me. I look for the door that brought me into this playground and it is gone. The shadow of the egg circles around me. I am too scared to look up because I know that as soon as I do, the giant egg will land on me, squashing me flat. I can hear sound of a bomb falling, just like the sound in all those old war movies. I curl up in the fetal position and close my eyes tight, waiting for certain death. There's a tap on my shoulder, and I peek up to see Nicole Kidman once again. She is no longer naked. She is wearing a dominatrix outfit of skin tight black leather, and knee high boots with spiked heels. Her smile hinting at her intended evil. She motions to her left and I look there to see Quasimodo and Nancy Reagan gratifying each other with oral delights; a hideous performance so completely nauseating yet impossible to look away. Nicole bends down and grabs me by the hair. She yanks my head in her direction. She asks if I am ready to join in. I scream "No" as everything dissolves away and I wake up safe in my own bed.

Enough about me. How'd you sleep last night?

Monday, March 8, 2010

♫ ♫ ♫ ♫

"Monday, Monday... Can't trust that day..."

That's all of the old Mamas & Papas song lyrics that I can remember. So I just keep singing those words over and over. "Monday, Monday...♫ ♫ Can't trust that day...♫ ♫ " The tune is stuck in my head like a skipping record. I wonder why John Phillips was so wary of Mondays. John Phillips was the songsmith for the Mamas & Papas songs. He was one of the Papas. Mackenzie Phillips, an actress who played the older daughter on the 70's tv show "One Day at a Time," was John Phillips daughter. She recently revealed that daddy was into incest, and she had had sexual relations with Papa John for over 10 years. John Phillips is currently dead and will remain so. Thus he cannot dispute the allegation. He may have been a perv, but he did write some good music.

Song titles that come immediately to mind: "California Dreaming" (all the leaves are brown) "Go Where You Wanna Go" (do what you wanna do) "Words of Love" (soft and tender, can't win a girls heart anymore) "I Saw Her Again" (last night) "Creeque Alley" (John and Mitchy, were getttin' kind of itchy)

more later...

(pause 2 hours)

I'm back. Just went on a cattle call. I interviewed for a position that I could do blindfolded. I asked the interviewer how many are applying. He told me that out of over 300 submitted resumes, he has selected 60 to interview. So far I am in the 60 out of 300 category. He told me that out of the 60 he will be calling back 25 to re-interview with him and a contract house representitive. He more or less implied that I was going to be selected. I don't know how true this is. He may have been just saying this to apease my appetite for employment. I will find out for certain by Wednesday. And then out of the 25 applicants, 3 will be selected for the final competition. I doubt if I stand a chance there, I no longer look that good in a bathing suit. I'm up against people 1/3 my age. I'm at that point on weekends when the younger crowd wants to go soak up some sun, I want to go soak my feet. The good thing about this job is that it pays half of what I previously earned. I won't have to worry about spending money frivolously anymore. What a relief.

Now what was the original topic of this post? Oh yeah, the Mamas & Papas. "Monday, Monday" is no longer running rapid around my brain. The last song I heard in the car before I came inside and back to these writings, was "Walk on the Wild Side" by Lou Reed. Now I have "doo da doo do doo da doo" echoing in my skull. You may wonder at this point if I am stuck in the 60's & 70's for my music selections. Not all the time. I like that new band called Green Day. I know, they've been around over 20 years. That's still new to me. And I really like The Killers and My Chemical Romance. If you get a chance, listen to the entire album called "The Black Parade" by My Chemical Romance (aka: MCR). I firmly believe this has some of best material written this millenium.

Its strange how my taste in music has changed. I enjoy everything from Toby Keith to Mozart. The only styles of music I dislike are polkas and rap. If I was forced to choose between "The Beer Barrel Polka" and "Its Hard Out Here for a Pimp" then I would have to jab hot pokers in my ears.

And I really, really love the piano. One of my favorite piano pieces is de Bussey's "Claire de Lune." And I have to mention Tom Waits and his song "The Piano Has Been Drinkin'." Those early albums of his are pure bliss. Over thirty years and I can still listen to him daily. Same goes for the album "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" by Elton John. I usually find 2 or 3 songs that stand out on every Elton release (are they still referred to as albums? or is everything now called CD's?), but GYBR is perfect. Not a sloacher in the entire batch of seventeen tunes. Let's not forget the Rolling Stones release "Black and Blue" with the piano strong on "Memory Motel," "Melody" and "Fool to Cry."

The one song I want to mention is one that I do not know its name. It's a classical piece that can be heard in the movie "The Shawshank Redemption." If you know this movie, then you will recall the part when the Tim Robbins character takes over the warden's office. The music he plays over the prison speaker system is to which I am referring.

When I was in the hospital, to fill the time I would pick a recording artist and try to name as many songs as possible. I had a lot of time to fill. I was there for almost six months. I would select someone such as Ricky Nelson and write down every song I could remember him performing. Sometimes I could hear a melody of a song in my head but not the words. That made it harder to recall the title. Try it some time. Lock yourself in a room with no distractions and see how long it takes to write the names of all the songs done by the Beatles. It's a pretty good mental exercise.

Okay, thirteen extra points for the first person to remember the title of the hit song by Hedgehoppers Anonymous. No fair googling.

Thursday, March 4, 2010


Are the squirrels taking over? I see them everywhere. I cannot drive 50 feet without spotting a squirrel at the curb staring at traffic. At the college where I am taking classes, the squirrels are so bold as to approach students and beg for food. Little panhandling bastards. I have seen squirrels gang up on single straggling students, force them into a corner, and demand something to eat. If the student does not have a treat to offer, the rodent will claw their pant legs. Next thing you know they will be carrying weapons. Small armies of squirrels packing switchblades and nunchucks.

A neighbor of mine thought he could make a pet out of squirrel. He would set food out for the animal. At first he put food in the middle of his back yard. The squirrel would eat it. He then proceded to place the food closer and closer to his back door, luring the animal nearer to where he waited. Finally, after several weeks, he was able to feed the animal from his own hand. My neighbor was so proud of this accomplishment. He was soon holding bits of food between his teeth allowing the squirrel to climb up his chest and eat the morsel. We call our neighbor "Lipless Bob."

I have a dog that is ever vigilant for squirrel invasions. If a squirrel enters our yard, it doesn't matter if its noon or 3am, our dog yelps out a warning at the top of her lungs. You can't imagine the number of times I've awaken from a sound sleep by my dog pouncing on my chest, barking her demand to be let outside for pursuit of the enemy.

I would be interested to know if there has been a dramatic increase in the squirrel population. Or perhaps the reason I have been noticing so many more is because they have been migrating from the woods into the suburbs. One squirrel would say to another, "Hey, Sid, let's get out of this forest and move to Center Line. It's a regular smorgasbord 24-7."

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Dead Thoughts

I don't have life insurance. To me, life insurance is a no-win wager. "I'll bet $50 that I will die this month." Nope, didn't die. "Okay, let's try another $5o on the next month." Of course, at some point I will win the bet. Unfortunately, I will not be available to reap the winnings. Too bad I can't wager on someone else's life. I'd put $50 every month on Jimmy Carter. Even if the payout is only $10,000 I am certain that at some point I would make my money back and then some.

What about funeral expenses, you may ask. I don't care what anybody does with my remains after I am gone. Use me for teaching medical students, or turn me into a ottoman, or just dig a hole in the back yard and plant me there. At least the following season's crop of veggies will be properly fertilized. Funerals are for people to say their last goodbyes. Hey! I'll be dead! Ears don't work no more! So what will I care if people talk to the shell that is no longer me. I do not want a funeral. Especially if I have to pay for it.

If I knew who I would be in the next life, then I would try to make that person the beneficiary. I imagine life insurance companies would be happy to accept my policy with the beneficiary yet to be born. I am not sure if I believe in reincarnation, but that is easier for me to accept than a heaven or hell. If there is a rebirth, then I hope it will be in human form. I'd hate to come back as a mosquito only to be swatted dead at my first meal. I wonder if time would be a factor. Could I be born into the middle ages, or a thousand years into the future? What if the next person I become is you? That would mean that you are now reading what you had wrote in a previous life. Do you recall being me?

Then there is the possibility of having to lead this life again. What a horror show that would be if this life kept recycling like an old 8 track tape. Although, I would love to see those close to me that have passed on, it would be bittersweet not to able to prevent their demise. I am certain of that. If this is a reliving of my life, then I have no recollection of living it before. Therefore, I am unable to knowingly alter the flow of events.

In the next paragraph I am going to use the words "celluloid collar." When I use "celluloid collar" in conversation, it is a rarity that the person knows to what I am referring. So I am going to tell you beforehand what a celluloid collar is. Have you seen Laurel and Hardy films? You should have no matter your age. They wear vests over celluloid collars. A celluloid collar is a shirt front that is made of the same substance as movie film. Can you picture Laurel or Hardy tucking a phony shirt front into their vests? It was popular apparel around World War I for those who could not afford a dress shirt. It was stiff and reacted like a window shade when not tucked in place.

Kurt Vonnegut Jr., one my favorite authors, said in one of his last books that when he dies he imagines the universe will roll up like a celluloid collar. I liked that imagery, but he was wrong. Vonnegut did indeed die and yet, the universe remained the same. Perhaps it is when I die the universe will roll up like a celluloid collar. I like that imagery more.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

VCR Tapes

It's time for me to write in my blog again. I know I am not regular with my postings, but that's okay, for I am my only fan. And not that big of a fan either. I've been debating on if I should share this site. "Who am I debating with?" you ask. The answer is "myself" and I am losing the arguement. Now it is up to you to figure out which side I am on.

So far, I haven't been approached for money, by either the good people at or a 3rd party affiliate. This is good. I have no money. All I have is VCR tapes. Do you realize how hard it is to pay the mortgage with old VCR tapes? How many copies of Die Hard will it take to even up the tab?

Here's a true story. About twenty years back, I bought a VCR camera. It was a fun toy for a while. I still have the tapes I made then, but I haven't watched them since. I do not know if they will still work. I also was a big fan of rental movies. I would rent everything on the shelf. Tuesdays were especially nice since that was the day of new releases. After viewing all the new releases I would scan the rows of movies in search of old, yet unseen entertainment to rent. On one occasion I came accross a film that was supposedly a comedy. It was filled with one unfunny bit after another. It had to be the worst movie of all time. So undesirable is this bit of cinema, that I cannot retain it's title. Nor do I want to. I was so furious at the waste of the two dollars rental fee, that I wanted to share my frustration.

VCR pre-recorded tapes have an indentation in them that prevents accidently recording over. If you look at an old tape you will find either the hole on a pre-recording, or the hole covered by a break-away plastic tab for recordables. It's break-away in case you record something that you wish to safeguard. Once you have completed your taping, you can snap off the tab and your VCR is protected against re-recording. That is unless you cover the hole with a piece of tape. Then it is possible to record on the tape, pre-recorded or otherwise. This is what I did to the tape of the unmemorable comedy. At the beginning of the spool, I taped over the coming attractions. The next person to rent this tape will start their evening's entertainment with an image of me sitting in my lazy-boy. I tell the viewing audience that they have just wasted their monies. I am sarcastic and cruel in my diatribe, calling the audience bourgeois idiots.

I returned the altered tape to the video store and time marched on. About two years later, I came home with a fresh supply of rented tapes. Upon starting the first tape, I was treated to a lecture by me. I had rented the unfunniest comedy a second time.