Friday, October 31, 2008

I'm all Mixed up

Jonie and I got to e-talking (as she lives in California, it's hard to holler loudly enough to be heard) and the topic turned, as it so often does, to Chex Mix.

Salty snack of the holidays, sometimes known as Nuts and Bolts, Chex Mix is more than the sum of its parts. Breakfast cereal never had it so good as when you toss it around in some butter, with nuts and Worcestershire sauce and pretzel sticks. Here is the classic recipe:

1/2 c. butter
1 1/4 tsp. seasoned salt
4 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 c. Corn Chex cereal
2 c. Rice Chex cereal
2 c. Bran Chex cereal
2 c. Wheat Chex cereal
1 c. salted mixed nuts and/or pretzel sticks
Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Heat butter in large shallow roasting pan (about 15 x 10 x 2 inches) in oven until melted. Remove. Stir in seasoned salt and Worcestershire sauce. Add Chex cereal and nuts. Mix until all pieces are coated. Heat in oven 1 hour. Stir every 15 minutes. Spread on absorbent paper to cool. Makes 9 cups.

"Don't bother looking for a Tupperware© tub to store it...there won't be any left over."

And here is the look of the classic Chex Mix. Note the use of the disposable foil pan: it's great because you can cook it in what you serve it in.

I found this picture on Google. If you Google "chex mix recipe" you get over 93,000 hits, and they're all bound to be good. As we closely examine the texture of this batch, we note that the cook has added Cheerios - always a nice touch, and when you serve Chex Mix at your holiday party and a Freudian is in the crowd and notices his pretzel stick and a Cheerio are hooking up, well, there's your entertainment for an hour. Also, looks like Mr or Ms Fancy Pants here added cashews along with peanuts...interesting. And to add a dash of cheddar-licious goodness, I always go with a good pile of Cheez Nips. I once wound up with a Cheez Nip that was stained by Worcestershire sauce so as to accidentally create a tiny cameo of Eve Arden, although none of the cracker museums I contacted wished to buy it for their permanent collection, so I went ahead and ate it.

New Year's Eve around our house always had the aroma of Chex Mix and Old Bay; the folks would serve the Mix along with steamed shrimp while their friends watched Jack Paar and listened to Guy Lombardo. But give me a little bowl of C'Mix and a beer and that's what I call good snackin'!

And if anyone knows anyone at Yankee Candle Headquarters, let them know that if they made a candle that smelled like freshly made Chex Mix, they would not be able to keep them in stock! Free, money-making idea, courtesy of Castles!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

It's the Cool Thing, #4

You are the director of a live televised sports event.

A quarterback throws an interception. After you show us the jubilant player who picked off the pass, it's the cool thing to show us the humbled quarterback sauntering off the field, head bowed, shoulders down.

Then, in short order when the intercepting team suddenly strikes for a touchdown, as soon as their guy crosses the goal line, you must cut at once to a shot of the forlorn quarterback, crestfallen and disconsolate.

Same deal for when a baseball pitcher throws a pitch that the opposing team's slugger deposits two counties away for a titanic clout - a tater, a Ruthian home run, a Ballantine blast, in baseball patois - as soon as the hitter touches the plate, quickly show us the pitcher on the mound. He'll generally be the guy removing his hat and wiping his brow with the sleeve of his shirt, facing in the opposite direction.

Similarly, as tonight, when Philadelphia won the World Serious, after seeing a few moments of jubilant Phillies rolling around, huggin' and a-slappin' (it IS the City of Brotherly Love), we were required to see shots of lachrymose Tampa Bay Rays, dressed in blue, watching the frenzied hubbub with clearly less zeal than their red-clad counterparts.

I wouldn't take that color contrast as any sort of harbinger of the outcome of next Tuesday.

Speaking of which - Old McCain - if I could have a minute of your time? You remind me of that old joke. No, I mean the one where the grandmother says to her granddaughter, "There are two words in your vocabulary that I wish you would not use. One is 'swell' and the other is 'lousy'."

To which the granddaughter replies, "OK, Granny, what are they?"

I'm here 'til Friday folks; try the veal. But can someone tell him that the word is "pundit," not "pundint"? And another challenge for him is "Millions." He keeps saying "MEE-yuns," as in "MEE-yuns of people are not going to vote for me."

And I can give you millions of reasons why.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

How Bill Gates got started

I used to get hollered at all the time for being a dumpster diver, until the day I came home with a door that happened to match all the other doors in our old house, at a time when my Dad and I were clubbing out the basement. We used it on the basement bathroom, and since it made the whole house uniform, door-wise, Peggy loved it and I got a lifetime pass on hauling anything "nice" home any chance I got.

But let's hear it for the richest man in the country, Mr Bill Gates, of Seattle Washington. Here's what he did at 14. How many of us can say we found stuff that we turned into a gazillion bucks?

from today's Writer's Almanac:

It's the birthday of the founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates, born in 1955 in Seattle, Washington. When he was in 8th grade, the Lakeside Mothers Club had a rummage sale and used the money to buy computer equipment for the school. Gates and his friend Paul Allen got completely swept up in the excitement of this new technology. They rummaged through dumpsters at the nearby Computer Center Corporation to find notes written by programmers, and with that information, they wrote a 300-page manual. He and Paul Allen moved to Albuquerque and started Microsoft in 1975.

When I was 14, the only thing I had written that would fill up 300 pages was 300 sheets of lined notebook paper, upon which I had written "I will not holler out in class." Turns out, there was no money in that!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Oh, and one more thing...

Yes. In reference to yesterday's rant about making signs neat and fonts uniform, may I add the following requests? How about using a dictionary, or at least asking that high-schooler down the street, to verify the spelling of "maverick" and "socialist"? No one would deny your right to express yourself as you see fit, but spellin' words "right" and "stuff like that there" help you make your point with greater clarity.

Got to hand it to this guy, though. It sure looks like he drew pencil guidelines before he lettered up his plywood placards.

And to answer your question sir, no, I guess I am not.

Here's my Matt Lauer impersonation! Switching gears now, here's a story to make you feel happy, from Reuters:

Hero dog risks life to save kittens from fire

Sun Oct 26, 11:06 am ET

SYDNEY (Reuters) – A dog was hailed as a hero on Sunday after it risked its life to save a litter of newborn kittens from a house fire, rescuers said.

In a case which gives the lie to the saying about 'fighting like cats and dogs', the terrier named Leo had to be revived with oxygen and heart massage after his ordeal. Fire broke out overnight at the house in Australia's southern city of Melbourne, where he was guarding the kittens.

Fire fighters who revived Leo said he refused to leave the building and was found by them alongside the litter of kittens, despite thick smoke.

"Leo wouldn't leave the kittens and it nearly cost him his life," fire service Commander Ken Brown told reporters.

The four kittens also survived the fire and Sunday Leo, whom fire fighters nicknamed 'Smoky', was again back at the house.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Do me a favor?

IF you own a bar called "Sweeney Mc Drinky's" and one of the E's falls off during a windstorm...
IF your house number is 742 Evergreen Terrace and you went out to Plunderer Pete's Hardware and Salvage and bought those reflective sticky numbers to stick on the mailbox, but some kids peeled the '4' off...
IF you are the president of your neighborhood improvement association, and it falls on you to replace the missing I and A in the brushed aluminum letters on the brick entrance parapet that announces to all that they have reached LITTLE NEWARK...

Please, either get perfectly matching replacements, or replace them all. OK?

Nothing looks cheesier than mixed fonts, but you see it all the time on signs and mailboxes and I'm asking nicely that we all strive for a certain uniformity.

And if you're going for the homespun look on your mailbox where you just dip a brush in some old Rustoleum and slather on the RFD address, could we pencil in some guidelines first?

And think about this one night when you're coming home after dark. Pretend that you're driving an ambulance or fire engine or police car, and try to find your house on your street just by the numerical address. If it's not readily apparent, you really could save some valuable time by posting the numbers somewhere where responding units could see them.

I've had just about a lot to say about the world's mailboxes today, have I not? Thanks for reading!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

"MY fault? How can that be MY fault, Carmine?"

"I made a mental note to go out and buy a Club© when I read in the local paper that car thieves were targeting Dodge Intrepids like mine in my neighborhood, but I didn't get around to it, and then two days later, my car was stolen."

Actual statement made on WBAL-TV news by a car theft victim who cannot say she was not amply warned. Emphasis mine.

This all goes back to that sense of responsibility that we seem to lack. Next, she will point out that the police should have posted an officer 24-7 alongside her car until she "got around" to purchasing a Club©. Of course, had she gotten around to protecting herself against this crime, she would have been intrepid.

I remember a call to 911 reporting a dwelling fire. The captain of Engine 6 told me later that the fire was caused by a man on one of those oxygen tanks, sitting in his living room, smoking a cigarette. The captain asked the man's daughter why she allowed her ill father to light smokes around oxygen. "It's his one pleasure," came the reply.

Drive around on a rainy day, and see how many street drains are clogged with the unwanted detritus of everyday life: McDonald's bags, Red Bull cans, copies of the Baltimore Examiner. How many people do you see going out to the curb with a rake or even their hands, to clear the grate and open the drain?

A Canadian woman, whose 9-year-old son tunneled under a fence into an electric sub-station and was badly burned, is suing a Manitoba power utility for negligence. (UPI). They should have made the foundation a mile deep, and of granite, you see.

In Texas, the Patterson Nissan dealership held a contest awarding prizes to the participants who could hold their hands on a car the longest. One contestant dropped out, ran to a nearby store where he broke a gun out of its case, and shot himself. The dealership has now settled the lawsuit by Richard Thomas Vega II’s widow claiming that the stress and sleep deprivation of the event amounted to “brainwashing” and that the sponsors failed to make allowances for temporary loss of sanity. (AP/

15-year-old honor student and SADD member Lindsey Billman snuck out of a slumber party with three of her friends and had an alcohol-fueled night with two 18-year-old boys. Around 2:45 a.m., two boys and two girls had the clever idea of stacking milk crates to reach an air-conditioning unit that allowed them to clamber onto the roof of Anna S. Kuhl Elementary School. The two couples went to separate sides of the roof. Billman and Nicholas Moscatiello then had the further clever idea of doing whatever they were doing while sitting on a skylight, which didn’t support their weight, and the 33-foot-fall onto the gymnasium floor below killed Billman.

This is, alleges an Orange County, New York, suit filed by Lindsey’s parents, the fault of the school district and the city of Port Jervis, New York. After all, the district was “irresponsible” stacking milk crates by the school. (UPI)

Back here in Baltimore, a few years ago a teenaged girl was systematically and routinely beaten by her mother's boyfriend, until she finally succumbed. People who had been working with the family testified that yes, they knew about the horrible abuse, had even documented it in their files, but did not see that it was their place to report it to the police.

Calvin once talked about how the world had failed to empower him. Calvin is supposed to be a child. The rest of us are not.

Red Forman would know what to do.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

"And if Elected, I..."

We picked up our official Voter's Guide, published by the League of Women Voters, and as always I read through it, to see the various sides of bond issues and minor elections. For Circuit Court Judge in Baltimore County, the ballot will say "Select no more than two" and there are only two names, plus space for a write-in.

Have you ever heard of anyone anywhere winning an election because of a write-in groundswell of support so awesome that it shakes the established power structure to the ground? Swell. Neither have I.
Ever written in the name of someone who is not on the ballot? From what I hear from election officials, people only tend to so when they are try to make a point, either political (Ross Perot) or comical (Mickey Mouse.) Or was that the other way around? Almost as odd, and certainly a large part of the colorful pageantry of American elections, is the guy no one ever heard of, with no chance to win. I'm not talking about people from two blocks off the mainstream here, people on their way up in community service. We're talking about Joe Schlabotnick, with little or no education or experience, just wanting to get into the mix a little bit. Most famous of these around here was a fellow named Cornish. He was running for mayor of Baltimore a quarter-century ago. He had no experience, no background, and he seemed a bit...I dunno...monotone. At a televised debate among the candidates, Mr Cornish answered every question put to him with "Aw, that's a lot of garbage." And then when the topic turned to the city's rapidly-filling trash disposal sites and how he would manage the crunching load of refuse that soon threatened to engulf the city in a miasma of effluvium, Cornish replied, "Aw, that's a lot of garbage." He later accepted an offer to join the Literalist Party, I heard.

Just like Holden Caulfield became depressed when seeing someone else's crummy luggage, it just brings me down to wonder if anyone even runs out to the Bag-It-UrSelf and gets a pack of Chex Mix
and some birch beer for the victory parties that never ever had a chance to come true. And how embarrassing is it to call the apparent winner and offer your concession, only to hear, "And who is this again?"

Friday, October 24, 2008

Some pictures that caught my fancy

This is Victor Mature, an actor from the 50's. He is famous for saying, "I can't act, and I have 146 movies to prove it." Jim Belushi, please take note.

If you're from Baltimore, hon, then you know your french fries and gravy. My diet has taken a radical turn toward the green since this was taken, but they can't take away my memories. Or my cholesterol, or so it would seem.

Don't ask me why I like this closeup of a the opposite end of a horse's ass. I just do.

I'd love to see these two back on tv.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Call me anytime!

I think it was about 1976; I was still a DJ at the time and I was rooting through the engineer's office to look for something to read while waiting to go on. I found a Popular Science or Popular Mechanix or Popular Ventriloquism - one of those popular magazines or the other - and there was inside a little blurb about how, many years in the future, you would be able to "take your phone with you wherever you go!" I am a limited visionary, meaning that I can only see about five minutes into the future, and even at that, it had better be brightly lighted. So all I could picture was lugging around the kitchen wall phone, cords and all, and I thought, my heavens, how impractical!

Twenty years later we got our first cell phone and it was such a cute little bugger, no bigger than the average brick, and as heavy. At least we missed that early 90's generation of cells where the battery pack was so heavy, the whole thing had to be carried around in a canvas sack, which reminded me of all those post-WW I Weimar Republic Germans having to carry around their paper money in straw baskets, because it took more than the average wallet could hold just to buy a sauerbraten und bier special at McDusseldorf's.

That first cell sort of looked like a TransFormer; both ends flipped out. And while I'm on this phone thing, have you seen any early 90's sitcoms lately? People walking around their apartments while their nutty neighbor comes skidding through the door and their highly attractive female friend can't find love even in all the wrong places? And the first good cordless phones - again, the size of a Weejun, with a two-foot antenna to carry the precious signal three feet back to the base.

So tonight, it was time for us to get new cells, and what would the author of that long-ago article have to say had he seen the dizzying array of phones and options available? Not enough to make and receive phone calls while you're ahead of me in line at the supermarket, no! Text messages! Instant messages! Still photos! Video images! Email and "internets" access! GPS direction finders! QWERTY keyboards! And all in a little tiny package, not much bigger than a pack of TicTacs!

We are so glad that the same kind lady, Joyce at Verizon, has been our guide through the maze of cell options for many years. Without her, I'd still be walking around with a pocket full of quarters, looking for a pay phone. How old does THAT sound?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

You Can Dress 'Em Up

That photo in yesterday's entry of Levi Johnston, baby daddy to Soccer Mom's prized daughter, reminded me of all the times I have been to court in my life. When you go to court as often as I have, you see this all the time: someone dressed up in a brand new dress shirt (you can still see the fold points from where the shirt was just removed from its wrappings, with all the pins and that clear plastic collar binder) and a clip-on tie. Their lawyer told them to wear a shirt and tie for their trial. In many cases, the lawyer went out to the Try 'n' Save and bought the shirt and tie for the defendant. It's a lot like when Ray Lewis stood trial in Atlanta: attorneys (several of whom were dead ringers and sound-alikes for Matlock) representing the Ravens linebacker told him to wear glasses to trial. Clear glass, no doubt, but it did give him an almost professorial bearing, right? And the Menendez brothers who killed their father out in Hollywood - they wore sweaters to trial, in a (vain) effort to make them look like a couple of frat boys on trial for nothing more serious than a beer bust.

My former position required me to attend trials on a regular basis, bringing in vital information, usually for the prosecution. The stories I could tell! But I can't tell them. But I can say that if you have nothing to do on a slow afternoon, you might think of heading over to the local District Court, or whatever they call it in your part of the country. There is no better free entertainment anywhere. I'm sure that up in New England, they throw a certain amount of that homespun cottage cheese nomenclature at it and wind up calling it "Chancellor's Magistrate Court" or something. Now, your Circuit Courts, where there are juries and felony trials, are not so much on the entertainment meter. You might find yourself in the middle of a long trial concerning property lines or debentures or eroded fiscal fiduciaries or what-have-you. District Court is where the laughs are, where the traffic cases are heard, where I have absolutely heard the following statements:

---"Your honor, my client freely admits to having had one glass of wine some four hours before leaving the party."

---"Your honor, my client is a family man; he has 6 children by his three different women friends."

---"It may seem that my client did indeed leave the scene of the accident. However, there is an explanation. Shortly after the accident, my client suffered an act of involuntary defecation."

Judge: "You mean he messed himself?"

Lawyer: "Yes, your honor."

And then there was the trial for a truck driver who had driven some hapless motorist off the road early one April morning. Ah, the case that the prosecutor built against him, skillfully weaving in all the complexities that dot the Maryland Motor Vehicle Laws like shells on a beach. As the case wound down, we arrived at the climactic Perry Mason-style moment when the Ass't State's Atty. asked his sworn witness, "And do you see the driver of that truck, the man who so violently forced you off I-95 on April 16 of this year, seated in this courtroom today?" With a confident shake of his head, the prosecutor turned away to enjoy the moment of triumph that should have been his.

Except, the victim pointed to me.

"Yes, he is sitting right there!" he cried.

Ever have one of those moments when you're only half paying attention to something and suddenly you realize all eyes in the classroom, barroom or, in this case, courtroom are beamed on you? I must have smirked or something and the judge intoned blandly, "Let the record show that the witness has indicated that the custodian of records from the 911 Center, who is here for another case, was the driver of the truck that morning." He then asked me if I were in fact driving an 18-wheeler up the superslab that day. No? No.

And so the guy says, "Oh well, it was THAT guy!" pointing to someone else, some dude who was there to repair the water fountain for all I knew.

"You only get one guess," said the judge.

I tell you, this stuff is free! Go check it out.

Monday, October 20, 2008

All Spears, All the Time

It’s important that we keep up with Spears family news, what with Britney being on the comeback trail and her kid sister having to go through that is-she-pregnant-again-for-the-love-of-Pete-she-just-had-a-baby-like-two-weeks-ago-don’t-they-sell-condoms-down-where-she-gets-her-gasoline-Dr Pepper-and-Moon Pies? scandal machinery.

Here’s the latest: A stolen photo (not this one!) of Jamie Lynn Spears
breast feeding her baby girl has sparked a federal pornography investigation.

Federal and local authorities are looking for someone peddling 12 photos of Jamie Lynn, her older sister Britney Spears, her infant daughter Maddie and the baby's father Casey Aldridge.

One of the pictures taken on Aldridge's digital camera shows Jamie Lynn breast feeding Maddie. Clever photographer Aldridge took the camera's memory card to his local Wal-Mart in Louisiana for copies, and after that, the law figures that some wise guy clerk at Wal-Mart may have made extra copies and then tried to sell them.

Jamie Lynn being a minor, buying or selling the photos could be against federal laws about child pornography. Peddling pictures of a minor's breast could send the seller and buyer to federal prison if they are marketed across state lines for the purpose of being lurid.

From all this, two thoughts arise:

1 - Is this Casey Aldridge about the dumbest guy you ever heard of? It’s like when Andy Griffith used to say, “You beat everything I ever did see.” Not only to snap photos of Ms Spears, but to run ‘em down to the Wal-Mart and figure no one will be printing out a couple thousand copies to show the boys down the diner…

2 - Do you figure that Levi Johnston will take note of how these delicate matters are handled?

Here's what it says on his third finger, left hand:

Alaskan Elegance all the way.

And, when young McCain, the Admiral's son, was running around the DC cocktail circuit, do you think he ever in his wildest imagination thought he would be involved with these ridiculous people?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

What do ya know?

I think that one of the great copouts of our age is people saying, "I'm not voting; they're all _____" (fill in adjective of denigration.) Most popular adjectives? "Stupid","crooked" and "out to get us."

The current salary of the president of the United States is $400,000, plus expenses. Although that sounds like pretty doggone good bucks to both Joes (Sixpack and The Plumber), it's not really so much. Cindy McCain, popular trophy wife of Old McCain, and a beer baron's daughter in her own right, brought home more than 6 million semolians in 2006, the last year in which she had to pay taxes. In 2007, she reported income of $4.2 million, placing herself in line for a tax refund of almost $1 million. Instead of asking for a refund, she applied the excess tax payments to next year's bill. Sounds a lot like your 1040, doesn't it?

So, we have to figure that people don't run for president because of the money they stand to earn. You could earn that much as a rookie punt returner in the NFL, or by having the Avon franchise that includes Ci-Mac on its route. Even old McCain could earn more by doing other things, so it must be that people just want to do something good for the greatest country on earth.

But it was distressing to me to read that, while more than 50 percent of Americans knew that the Democrats have a majority in the House, only 42 percent could identify the secretary of state (Condoleezza Rice). Less than 30 percent could name the prime minister of Great Britain (Gordon Brown).

So, here are two ways to say to end debates with that pesky co-worker who corners you near the Mr Coffee and starts in with his or her monologue about how Obama is a Muslim devil, born in a foreign village and schooled by America-hating zombies from hell.

1. "Do you vote in every election?" If answer is no, then say, "Then you don't get to complain. One side!" And then make a lateral 90-degree hand motion like Cindy does when she's choosing a new facial tone or hair dye. If answer is yes, go to #2.

2. " You have a valid should write to your U.S. congressperson" (or County councilperson, U.S. Senator, mayor, pick one.) "Who IS your congressperson?"

End of debate. Pass the Cremora, please.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

I was working in the lab, late one night...

The photo above, taken from the other night's debate, shows the two candidates preparing to speak. Future President Obama, left, appears capable and ready to take on the challenges of a new and demanding job. Old McCain, right, appears to be doing the 60's dance craze The Zombie to amuse his trophy wife.

Notice also that FP Obama is wearing an American Flag pin, while O McCain is not. What, is he ashamed to be an American? We know that he's been "pallin' around with domestic terrorists" such as G. Gordon Liddy and George Bush. Does he consider this nation imperfect?

I keep hearing the Hannitys and Savages on talk radio, Monday-morning quarterbacking their man's imminent loss. The latest technique is to alert the great unwashed that "as soon as Obama and Nancy Pelosi take over, they will take away all talk radio and your voice will be stilled." That's what I heard Hannity say. Of course! Suppress dissent, cloak oneself in patriotic glory, control the media. Right out of the Rove master plan.

Friday, October 17, 2008

"Finley" means strong, fair-haired warrior

Well, the word is out. My nephew Drew and his wonderful wife Laura, parents already of the most wonderful twins since Scarlett Johansson, are having another baby in early '09 and her name will be FINLEY!

The twins, as regular listeners to their proud great-uncle all know, are named Preslee Grace (for the King and his great home in Memphis, it would seem - and the Lee denotes Laura's maiden name) and Mason Elizabeth (I'm stumped on the Elvis connection with her names, but it is a fairly well-known fact that both James Mason and Elizabeth Taylor were regulars in attending EP movies.)

Meanwhile, Elvis's daughter Lisa Marie just gave birth to twins - one of whom is named Harper, and the other, FINLEY! The only other famous Finley I can think of is the Irish-American newspaper editor and creator of comic bartender Mr. Dooley, and he wasn't even born Finley Peter Dunne, but took his mother's maiden name as his first name upon her death. Of course, Steve, Chuck and Charles O. Finley are names from the baseball world, but as surnames.

How I look forward to seeing the twins and Finley and their cousins Alex and Isabella grow to maturity. I see plenty of babysitting opportunities for me and Peggy, in which we'll discuss great epochs in American History: Early Elvis, Army Elvis, Movie Elvis, Vegas Elvis, and Goodbye Elvis. We'll thrill as they dress up in tiny jumpsuits with giant sunglasses, handing scarves to supplicants and dining on deep-fried peanut butter and banana sammies.

I think I just lost the babysitting job.

By the way -just have to ask - how in the h-e-double toothpicks does one still remain an undecided voter at this late stage of the game? When will minds be made up? Thanksgiving?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A few seconds either way

Depending on how long it takes me to pull up my socks in the morning, I'm always leaving the house within two minutes of the same time every day. I cannot stand tardiness.

But today, right around the corner from work, I came upon a traffic accident that had just occurred. A guy had run his car off the road into a roadside ditch (why they even have roadside ditches, I'll never know) and a mom with a van load of kids had pulled over. I would have stopped, but a police was just pulling up on the scene, so I kept going. And on the way to work, I saw another police car and an ambulance apparently heading toward the scene.

It didn't appear that the accident itself was bad enough to have injured the man all that badly. He was still behind the wheel of the car when I drove past, so maybe there was some other medical emergency that precipitated the accident in the first place.

As for the mom and the kids, I don't think they were involved other than to be Good Samaritans. But of course the mind races, and I got to thinking: if I hadn't stopped to ask Peggy to mail a card for me this morning, and then come back into the house to tell her I saw a rabbit running across the yard, I might have been there when it happened. Who knows?

I always think about a girl named Marion, a year behind me in high school. About ten years out of high school, Marion had married and moved up to Carroll County, and was imminently expecting a child that night when she was driving down Falls Road into Baltimore City when some yahoos playing with a gun (attn: National Board of Redundancy Board! He said "yahoos playing with a gun"!) fired the gun, sending the bullet through the night air, and into Marion's head as she drove along.

Ignorant of the laws of nature and man, the young men involved claimed not to have reasoned past the point where " the gun go BOOM! and we go WHEEE! with glee!", a landmark defense that Bush's attorneys just might wish to bookmark for the future. It didn't matter. Marion and the baby were both dead.

Of course, thoughts ran along the lines of "What if the last light she had come upon had been red; she wouldn't have been there when the bullet came along!" A second - half a second - either way, and they would both have lived to greet another dawn.

Of course, we assume that these young men were members of a well-regulated militia, which as any Constitutional scholar or drunken hunter can tell you is necessary to the security of a free state, so what was happening that Thursday evening in a park along Falls Road was certainly some sort of bivouac or ComServPac Eagle Squadron Second Platoon Doomsday Brigade NinComPoop elaborate military drill, exercise or practice session. No gun owner would be so irresponsible as to simply fire a gun into the night air.

But poet Alan Seeger (who only lived to be 28 himself) wrote "I have a rendezvous with death, at some disputed barricade." After we do all we can to push that barricade far into the future, after our best efforts, we just never know when we'll hit it. We live and learn and strive, and why not try living happily, learning to love and striving to make others happy? It might not move the barricade at all, but just maybe it will give us something nice to look back on when that great Summing Up day rolls around.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Today we went up across the state line to Pennsylvania (say it Pensa-VANE-ya if you wish to be authentic.) No doubt about it, this is my favorite time of the year. The weather started turning autumn-cool last week, but the last few days have been warm, so go figure. And we thought we'd get a little shopping and sight-seeing done before it's time to head to Anchorage, Alaska, since we're quite likely to be invited to Bristol Palin's wedding, which is quite likely to occur.

Funny, though, for those who love pumpkin pie. Pumpkins are all over the place around here, and they make great decorations! They even look wonderful all lined up for sale at roadside stands...sort of like targets at a boardwalk shooting gallery. People carve faces into them, paint them, and place them about in all manner of beautiful fall arrays. But if you love pumpkin pie, do not buy a pumpkin and try to make a pie. My nephew Jay did that once and he wound up schlumping through a pulpy, seedy mess, and the pie itself was far from stellar, he reported. For most other types of pie - apple, blueberry, cherry, the whole entire fruit pie group, nothing beats fresh fruit. The canned filling is way worse. But trust me, for pumpkin pie, look for the Libby's Libby's Libby's on the label label label.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Pride and Prejudice

I woke up this morning all in a spin. For years I have taken a perverse delight, upon seeing especially egregious examples of stupid thought or behavior, to point out to fellow witnesses that “His vote counts just as much as yours or mine.”

But having seen that addled woman who reminded me of the battleaxe neighbor on “Desperate Housewives” saying to John McCain, “I can’t…trust that Obama…he’s a…a….an Arab!” I feel compelled to point out two things.

First, the way she displayed her ignorance so proudly in a hall packed with fellow Republicans was stunning. There were gasps and guffaws to be heard, but no roar of condemnation. And you had to like the way she was so proud when she completed her sentence! Just like W when he manages to read a complete sentence that someone wrote for him to say and, when he has mouthed the final word, he looks up hopefully, like we’re going to hand him a cookie.

Second, I point out that Robert Benchley
covered this ground many years ago. I commend this essay of his to your attention (please pay particular attention to the bold sentences):

Isn't It Remarkable?

On a recent page of colored reproductions of tomb-paintings and assorted excavations from holes in ancient Egypt there appears a picture of a goose with the following rather condescending caption:

Remarkably Accurate and Artistic Painting of a Goose from Pharaoh Akhenaten's Palace, Drawn 3300 Years Ago.

What I want to know is—why the "remarkable"? Why is it any more remarkable that someone drew a goose accurately 3300 years ago than that someone should do it today? Why should we be surprised that the people who built the Pyramids could also draw a goose so that it looked like a goose?

As a matter of fact, the goose in this particular picture looks more like a goose than that of many a modern master. Just what we think we are, in this age of bad drawing, to call an Egyptian painting "remarkably accurate and artistic" I don't know, but we have got to get over this feeling that anything that was done correctly in 1000 B. C. was a phenomenon. I say that we have got to get over it, but I don't know how. People managed to drag along in ancient Egypt, from all that we can gather. They may not have known about chocolate malted milk and opera hats, but, what with one thing and another, they got by. And, presumably, every once in a while somebody felt like drawing a goose. And why not? Is there something exclusively twentieth century about the art of goose-drawing?

We are constantly being surprised that people did things well before we were born. We are constantly remarking on the fact that things are done well by people other than ourselves. "The Japanese are a remarkable little people," we say, as if we were doing them a favor. "He is an Arab, but you ought to hear him play the zither." Why "but"?

Another thing, possibly not exactly in this connection, but in line with our amazement at obvious things. People are always saying: "My grandfather is eighty-two and interested in everything. Reads the paper every day and follows everything." Why shouldn't he be interested in everything at eighty-two? Why shouldn't he be especially interested in everything at eighty-two? What is there so remarkable about his reading the paper every day and being conversant on all topics? If he isn't interested in everything at eighty-two when is he going to be? (I seem to be asking an awful lot of questions. Don't bother answering them, please.) It is probably this naive surprise at things that keeps us going. If we took it for granted that the ancient Egyptians could draw a goose accurately, or that Eskimos could sing bass, or that Grandpa should be interested in everything at eighty-two, there wouldn't be anything for us to hang our own superiority on.

And if we couldn't find something to hang our own superiority on we should be sunk. We should be just like the ancient Egyptians, or the Eskimos, or Grandpa.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Fall Festival

Today we went to the annual Fall Festival at St John's Church in Jacksonville, MD. Church folk call it Phoenix, MD, but since it's right around the corner from the Jacksonville Volunteer Fire Company, I'd stick with that. But as we approach mid-October, the leaves are beginning to change. My favorite time of the year is at hand. Add cider and stir.

Our friend Deana is a police officer and a long-time friend whom we love a lot. She and I have two things that send us both into paroxysms of laughter - the gulp-for-breath-as-if-you're-drowning kind of laughter that makes her spouse and mine both look at us, eyebrows knit, and curious looks of "whaaaaaaaaaaaaaa?" Any time the word "beatnik" is used, forget it. We're gone. This official Beatnick (sp) Cigarette holder was for sale at an antique stand, but I thought a picture of it would be as good to have as the real thing. And that song "Black Betty" -

'whoa, black betty (bam-A-lam)
whoa, black betty (bam-A-lam)
Black betty had a child (bam-A-lam)
The damn thing gone wild (bam-A-lam)'

Deana used to call my cell while on patrol if she heard the song come over the oldies station and just hold her phone up to the car radio while the police radio was sending her from one shooting to another armed robbery. The song just puts us into hysterics! And then the day after the Ravens played the Cowboys at M & T and some drunk from Dallas staggered up to her patrol car and asked where he could find a train back home to Texas...

Good times.

Three Things I Heard Today

1 - On an NFL weekend-preview radio show, referring to Denver QB Jay Cutler, "He's more athletic than people give him credit for." He is a quarterback in the National Football League, and even people who don't care for football would have to admit that it takes a certain athletic proficiency to lead the offense of any of its teams.

2 - Same show, "Make no mistake about it; the Cleveland Browns would love to beat the New York Giants this weekend." Hold the presses! A team wants to WIN its game. And they probably will, as long as they are more athletic than people give them credit for. It just depends on whether their guys truly come to play, and make sure to give it 110%. It's really a matter of scoring more than the other team.

3 - On the phone, the outgoing voice mail message of a fairly prominent local businessman: "Hi, this is uh "Hugh Janus" ; uh leave me aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa message and I will uh call you back."

Now. I've talked with the guy plenty, so he is not afflicted with any sort of speech problem. So now I wonder, it's either a) he was too busy to re-record his greeting or b) this was take 27, and the best he could do (although, again, I have spoken with him and seen him speak to a fairly large group, so it's not a speech problem) or c) he figured he's cool, mistakes and all.

The uh only people who are uh allowed to insert uh into their speech are the uh airline pilots.
Here's noted airline Captain Glenn Quagmire speaking to a plane full of freakin' fliers:

[over the plane's intercom] Good afternoon ladies and gentleman, this is your captain Glenn Quagmire, uuuhhh we're lookin' bout a four and a half hour flight time today, uhhhhhhh got clear skies, good visibility. The temperature in Atlanta is sixty-four degrees, uhhhhhhhhhh the flight is gonna be a little longer than we've expected, uh we've got some very strong head winds, gigity. Uh, flight attendants, please prepare for takeoff.

Friday, October 10, 2008


When paramedics, at the scene of an accident, come across your cell phone,
here's a great way to ensure that they know how to get in touch with your
loved ones. You never can tell! This is compliments of dear friend Corey, who has
worked for 911 for 22 years (she started out in middle school) and she and I are the only two people alive who know why I call her 'Corky" and always will. I always will love her, too. She's a great person.

I did my ICEing just before I sat down to blogulate and I am glad I did. Did you ever find a cell phone and scroll through all the numbers, trying to figure out whom to call, and then you call some friend of the phone-loser and they're all "Why are you bothering me about this?"

Go grab some ICE. We'll wait here.

ICE - 'In Case of Emergency
We all carry our mobile phones with names & numbers stored in its memory but nobody, other than ourselves, knows which of these numbers belong to our closest family or friends.

If we were to be involved in an accident or were taken ill, the people attending us would have our mobile phone but wouldn't know who to call. Yes, there are hundreds of numbers stored but which one is the contact person in case of an emergency? Hence this 'ICE' (In Case of Emergency) Campaign. The concept of 'ICE' is catching on quickly. It is a method of contact during emergency situations. As cell phones are carried by the majority of the population, all you need to do is store the number of a contact person or persons who should be contacted during emergency under the name 'ICE' ( In Case Of Emergency).

The idea was thought up by a paramedic who found that when he went to the scenes of accidents, there were always mobile phones with patients, but they didn't know which number to call. He therefore thought that it would be a good idea if there was a nationally recognized name for this purpose. In an emergency situation, Emergency Service personnel and hospital Staff would be able to quickly contact the right person by simply dialing the number you have stored as 'ICE.'

For more than one contact name simply enter ICE1, ICE2 and ICE3 etc. A great idea that will make a difference!

Let's spread the concept of ICE by storing an ICE number in our Mobile phones today!

Please forward this. It won't take too many 'forwards' before everybody will know about this . It really could save your life, or put a loved one's mind at rest . ICE will speak for you when you are not able to.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Neither Have I

Speaking of people who are famous for wanting to be famous - junior division - Kim Kardashian is telling us on her blog that she never has had plastic surgery. Great. Kim Kardashian has a blog, so now no one will read mine.

I know how to fight back.

I have never had plastic surgery either. I've had metal surgery, in which they sawed my leg in half to install a knee replacement, but it did not land me on "Dancing With The Stars."

I've had spinal taps, arthroscopic surgery, cavities, clogged ears, been pecked by a rooster and bitten by a donkey, got knocked off my bike by a Great Dane, and had the croup, the grippe and the measles. I tell you this in the interest of complete disclosure.

Oh, in other Kardashian news, her dad's former client Orenthal J. Simpson is headed for the Ironbar Hilton for five-to-life.

I don't think he's ever had plastic surgery either.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

It's That Time of the Year

Nervous days, sleepless nights. That's how it is every year around this time when I'm waiting for the Nobel Prize committee to call and say I've been honored in the Cooking Husband or Safe Driver category. I keep my cell phones charged, I try not to leave the house after dinner, and still, no call. Perhaps if I had gone and actually learned to do something laudable...

But, while waiting for the phone to ring, I checked to see how the selection committee was coming along with their other, less important, categories. Such as, say, physics. This year, the Prize in Physics goes to Yoichiro Nambu (born 1921) of the Enrico Fermi Institute, University of Chicago “for the discovery of the mechanism of spontaneous broken symmetry in subatomic physics” and to Makoto Kobayashi (b. 1944) of the High Energy Accelerator Research Organization (KEK) Tsukuba, Japan, and Toshihide Maskawa (b. 1940) of the Yukawa Institute for Theoretical Physics (YITP), Kyoto University Kyoto, “for the discovery of the origin of the broken symmetry which predicts the existence of at least three families of quarks in nature”.

Ahem. I believe it was the groundbreaking work by our entire class back at Towsontown Junior High School that predicted the existence of three families of quarks. That was back in the days when Steve Allen was popular, and part of his schtick was making odd noises like "Schmock! schmock!" so it was a short leap for us to holler "Quark" and set up in our minds little imaginary families. Messrs. Kobayashi and Maskawa deserve a lot of credit for their work, and you can see how they'd be hanging around the laboratory until all hours, because you know how it goes: You get all excited delving into spontaneous broken symmetry in subatomic physics, and the next thing you know, it's way past dinnertime, the kids are already rearranging their subatomic particles and the Safeway is all out of rotisserie chicken.

That's always a cool thing about the Nobel winners: no matter how brilliant, no matter that they think and work in an intellectual area where I dare not tread, they always have to pose like Gerald Ford on his first day in office, toasting an English muffin, scooping up dog poop from the yard, or dropping the kids off at hockey practice. That way, brains or no brains, we can all say "he is truly one of us."

What I really did in eighth-grade science lab was some rather noteworthy investigation into the magnetic arrangement of iron filings.

Post # 100

I keep promising myself that I won't always go political on this blog, because I have good friends and kinfolk for whom I feel tremendous affection and respect whose views are at total variance with mine. But damn it all, I really have to say something when this old man who cheated on his wife and had to run around with the beer baron's daughter and do all those cheesy things as if he were starring in a Tony Curtis movie, this old man who at one time tonight called Ronald Reagan his hero and then ten minutes later called Theodore Roosevelt his hero, who nonetheless calls everyone "my friend," this playboy son and grandson of admirals who got into the Naval Academy and was graduated with the stellar academic record of being #594 in a class of #599, this temperamental superannuate who so callously and disingenuously selected a running mate solely on the basis of her gender, who even tonight rails on about his insane "I will follow Osama bin Laden to the gates of hell," who stirs up the alta cockers with his worrying about Russia, as if this were 1957: when this man wants to be president of the United States, I say it will be a very sad United States should that ever happen.

But it won't, so what the hey. And there were five lesser students than he in his USNA class, so let them run, too.

As Sidney Freedman said on M*A*S*H* -

Ladies and Gentlemen, take my advice:

Pull down your pants and slide on the ice.

A whole 'nother topic:

The Baltimore SUN recently dropped Zippy the Pinhead from its daily comic lineup. Zippy's brilliant creator, Bill Griffith, has asked for support in convincing the editorial board of the local fishwrap to reinstate the Zip. He received support from the owner of the Senator Theatre, the last of the gilded movie palaces in B'more. When you go to the movies in the mall, it's a lot like seeing one of the "See It Now" documentaries in Eleventh Grade Social Studies, except that while the popcorn is better, no one ever remembers to make finger puppets in the projector beam, or hoot and holler when the film breaks and goes flapflapflapflapflap and the teacher is down in the faculty lounge hooving on a Lark. My friends, please contact my friends down at the SUN, my friends, and ask that they bring back my friends from Zippy, my friends.

Hey, I could be a McSpeechwriter!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Coming back from the car place on Saturday, I turned on the truck radio, only to find that all the radio presets had been lost, since they had changed the battery. So on the way back down the long and winding Harford Road, I scanned the bands and tried to remember my 6 AM and 12 FM stations. Eclectic as I am, you can punch up NPR on my radio or you can punch up country or oldies or nutjob talk stations.

But on one station that must number its listening audience in the dozens, I caught one snippet of conversation as my nimble fingers nimbly punched and scanned. A guy with pious overtones said, "Did you hear that, brothers and sisters? He's going to do all he can to have 'Gossip Girl' taken off the air!"

I don't know what "Gossip Girl" is all about. I've never watched it, but I did see the face of an actress who appears on the show on the cover of a slick magazine while I waited in a supermarket line the other day, and I did not see the sign on the devil in the young woman's image, so I'm confused here.

Could someone tell me why it's so important for someone to have this show removed from the air? More important, can someone explain why this person, who could be the president of whatever television network beams "Gossip Girl" into our cables and dishes every week, or a pecan cracker from Baking Soda, Alabama for all I know, would find it necessary to have this show removed from the viewing choices of the multitudes?

Sir, if you don't like "Gossip Girl," I urge you to avoid watching it. If you are responsible for assisting the maturation of a child or some children, and you find the show deleterious to their development, then by all means you should tell them not to watch it. Those are options within your control. Don't worry about the rest of us. Believe me, I am worried enough about you.

Monday, October 6, 2008

It will look just like this again if I ever wax it.
I had to take my pickup in for routine 60,000 mile maintenance, and it wound up costing over $3100, so it looks like I will be spending the next several years behind the wheel of a classic unwaxed 2000 Tacoma. I guess it’s a gamble, but I just don’t feel like going in debt for a new truck and car right now, what with my looming patriotic obligation to bail out the capitalists of Wall Street and all. So we’ll spend a few dollars getting the old machines fixed up and see what happens. At the dealership - the outstanding Jones Toyota/ Scion/Subaru/Hyundai/Nissan/Chrysler/GMC/Tonka Dealer up the road a few miles, I was startled to see a 1971-or-so Chevy pickup sitting in the showroom. It looked immaculate, as you might expect a truck that old with only 39 miles on its odometer to look. Someone very smart bought that truck, likely for less than I invested in mine today, stashed it away through Watergate, MTV and Zubaz pants, and now they are asking $49,995 for it. And the only source of entertainment within? No GPS system to guide your trip, no MP3 player, no CD or cassette deck…just an AM radio. Still, someone is gonna buy it for the 50 thousand semolians they’re asking. Guys were hanging around buzzing on it like yellow jackets on a fallen Fuji apple. Another gold mine shot to heck. If only I had had the foresight to scoop up a vehicle or two 30 or 40 years ago and park them in an old barn, only to wheel them out when the price had peaked, I would be writing to you from the luxury condo at the beach I would own had I had the vision to snap up some beachfront property when the only living creatures interested in living there were sand crabs and sea gulls.

But I was wondering how it comes that cars today have such odd names. Do you really know the difference between an Acura TL and an Acura TSX? Was there an Audi A8 K before the A8 L model came along? And all these three-letter code names: Cadillac CTS, Chevy Malibu LTZ, Chrysler 300C SRT, Dodge Stratus SXT…in my puckishness, were I to find myself at the helm of a big automaking firm, I might be pleased to preside over the launch of the 2010 Hyundai BFD this time next year.
And how about the Hyundai Sonata? Does it make you burst into song? The Nissan 350Z Enthusiast - does it fire you up with zest and vigor? Does your Suzuki Reno make you want to go to Nevada? On the other hand, how good and solid did it feel to tell the gang, “I’ll be around about 7...let’s hop in the Galaxie and go for a ride…” or the Impala, or the Belvedere or the Biscayne. Now, the best you can do is to say, “Why don’t you get in your Kia AMF and say ‘Adios, My Friend’? ” or something like it…

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Oh! So that's how it is!

On Friday I was flipping around the tv dial at lunch time, while sluggishly scooping tuna chunks out of a Pyrex® container with lo-fat lo-carb lo-sodium lo-taste soy chips. and I stumbled across the FOX News channel. Normally, I hit the "ch up^" button as quickly as possible when I land on Faux Noise, but I was up to my wrist in Bumblebee, so sorry, Charlie, I left the tv where it was.

And I am so glad that I did, because a woman came on and explained why, in the face of the current economic crisis that we face, the unemployment rate continues to rise. "Why, it's because of poorly-managed federal fiscal policies and unwise deregulation of the banking and mortgage industries!,"you might exclaim. But according to this woman, that would be wrong. She calmly explained, using little itty-bitty words, that, you see, there were a lot of people who were like "housewives" (been a while since you heard that word, I'll betcha!)

And anyway, they heard rumors of things getting bad in the economy - they may or may not have been true - and then they thought, "well, I might need a job, so I better go and look for one," and when they couldn't find one right away, they counted as unemployed!

So OF COURSE the unemployment rate is going up if you look at like that, for Pete's sake!

In other news, it turns out that we don't really get hungry at dinnertime. We just hear that everyone else is chowing down and we figure it's the thing to do.

This explains the last two presidential elections.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

It's only words, and words are all I have

New wordform (new to me, Mr. Last-to-Hear) heard on talk radio th' other day: sigoth. Meaning, significant other. Use it in a sentence:
"Would you go home to tell that story to your sigoth and expect to have a pleasant evening after that? I don't think so!"

Apparently, this neologism is spreading like cream cheese. It's listed in The Urban Dictionary between 'Sigonella High" and "Sigournierrr Weavierrrr." I have reporters on the ground checking for further damage.

Oh - that's the other one! This is from those gossip TV shows that clutter TV between 7 and 8 pm, when your only choices are "Inside Billy Bush" and a rerun of "No One Can Really Stand Raymond, If You Want To Know The Truth."

staccato, high-pitched delivery:

"Petticoat Junction's Bea Benadaret is all set to adopt a British bundle baby, and we have reporters on the ground with all the late-breaking details!"

"John F. Kennedy! That final trip to Dallas! Nephew Patrick shares his memories, and we have reporters on the ground with the family's sorrow."

My two questions:

How much more time and effort does it take to say "significant other"?

How can a reporter not be on the ground?

Friday, October 3, 2008

Just the tip, just for a second

"Are we gonna get hopped up enough to make some bad decisions?" It dawns on me that millions of people make lousy decisions, some hopped up and some not so hopped, and those decisions affect millions and millions, some as yet unborn, some as yet unaware.

So? So I watch "Wedding Crashers" with the avid devotion that a Kennedy scholar pays to the "Berliner" speech footage. I make this promise: if you watch the first 9:04 of this Vince Vaughn - Owen Wilson classic, your troubles will roll away faster than Hockey Mama can drop the "g" from her gerunds, makin' her sound a lot like someone poppin' up in the cornfield on "Hee Haw."

My old firehouse buddy Johnny L. was the first wedding crasher I knew. Near us was a semi-swanky banquet-reception hall called Martin's Eudowood. Johnny, whose work schedule most weeks called for him not to work Monday through Friday, with weekends off (and he
was his own boss!) used to slip into some khakis, a shirt and (clip-on) tie and sports jacket on Saturday afternoons, hang around the parking lot near Drug Fair ("Don't say 'drug store,' say 'Drug Fair!' There's a big difference!") and loiter near the entrance to Martin's, positioning himself for a rapid entry - a surge, if you will - right about the time that the snackage was over and the salads were being placed in front of the guests. By the time that the bride's Uncle Peter was reaching for the fake bleu cheese dressing, still smarting over being placed at table 10 with the distant kin from Bowie while big-shot Cousin Tom and his inbred brood were perched up near the band at table 2, Johnny slid into a vacant seat, introducing himself as a guy who worked with the groom, or as distant kin from outside Bowie, or as a boyhood neighbor of the groom who hadn't seen him since they "played Greek dodge together in 3rd grade!"

In the movie, the crashers researched their "roles" so they had acceptable backstories as to who they were, why they belonged there. But Johnny, armed only with the audacity of youth and a sort of preternatural hunger that was rarely sated by just one dinner per night, always went in there a nobody and came out a star. He would even go so far as to approach the groom and bride in the post-dinner, let's-get-dancin' phase of the festivities, making the recently betrothed peer quizzically as he recounted how they "met" at "work."

What really set Johnny apart from the rest of us, pretenders to his crown as King Of All Moochers, was that he would secret Ziploc® baggies within his sports jacket and somehow walk out with goodies à la carte. Testing the limits of his nerve, his stealthy ability with a serving spoon, and the renowned strength of the Ziploc
® seal, Johnny would often show up back at the firehouse with a baggie full of seafood newburg. Other pockets would have slices of wedding cake, cheese cubes, lasagna, and bottles of imported beer.

There's always someone who doesn't show up for a wedding - couldn't get off work, kid has the croup, unexpected company from Amarillo shows up the night before - and let's hope there's always a Johnny to step up to the plate. And the dessert table, and the open bar.