Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Amusement-lover that I am, I am having the time of my life playing with my new Droid® phone, downloading applications that we all need for everyday life: a Stewie sound board, daily Calvin and Hobbes cartoons, a bubble level (handy for those whose bubbles are not...quite...level...)

But one of the nicer features is the voice identifier for messages. The keys on this dude are a little teeny for my non-teeny fingers, which tend to hit about three of them at a time, resulting in all sorts of hilarious misspellings. ("Peggy," for example, looked like "PEREGGGGY" the first time I tried.

But wait, there's more! Modern technology took guys like me into account and developed the voice-dialing technology. It's so simple! Why fumble with tiny buttons and keys, when I can just hit the picture of a microphone and speak into the phone? That way, I say, "Peggy" and the phone sort of nods to me in agreement and says "Dialing Pizza John's." So I hit the hangup picture, and say, with the exaggerated slowness that I used to use telling people the difference between a bike rack and a tightrope (don't walk on either of them!) "Peggy Cell Phone" and I can just hear the little person inside the phone saying "Ahhhhh! Gotcha! Dialing Parris Castoro Eye Surgery!"

Another talk-to-me feature is the GPS direction-giver. No matter where I am going, it always wants to get me on an interstate. I guess that way, the voice inside my phone will be closer to its brothers and sisters on the superslabs as we zoom along. But like when we were heading to Trader Joe's the other night, and I turned this feature on just to play with it, the phone told to get on the Beltway I-695 and proceed west. I kept going west, but on a regular road. Two blocks later, the voice was back, in kind of a sing-song delivery, telling me that I should have turned left and now was another chance to turn left and get on the Beltway. I stayed my course, and then got that resigned tone, as if to say, well, if you must stay on this road, drive WEST another three miles...

Man vs. technology. I can't wait to see who wins!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Booth Sides Now

Besides Garrison Keillor, the other personal favorite who wore red socks was the late writer/interviewer/radio host/actor/raconteur Studs Terkel. He did the coolest thing: he interviewed people - from kid to old timer, rich to poor, smart to dumb - on the radio and then edited the interviews into book form, usually all on one topic, such as World War II or the racial issues in our country, so the reader could learn a lot from a lot of people.

I guess his best-known book is "Working," and I find myself picking that volume up from time to time, reading again certain favorite parts. Reading the book, in which people just talk about their jobs, reminds us that there are good part and bad parts about every job, and that you might not want to spend too much time envying the other guy, whose job looks to be situated on a much greener lawn than yours does. There are drawbacks to every job, with the possible exception of being Little Richard.

I was thinking about this on the way to work because I had to stop for gas
, and I always feel a nice thought toward those who sit in booths all day long taking gas money, making change, selling loose cigars for blunts, surrounded by auto de-stink-alizers that either look like pine trees or skunks (the selling point there being irony), condoms, cigarettes and Slim Jims. One place where I like to gas up is over by the Parkville fire house and police station. It's convenient because it's on the right side of the road for me heading to work, the prices are reasonable, and there is a car wash, although my truck prefers Mother Nature's rainy days to the hi-pressure Suds-O-Matic.

The young woman who sits in the booth at this station is unfailingly polite and pleasant, and frankly, I don't know what the worst part of her job would be. Is the men who attempt to make time with her by hollering through the little voicebox in her bulletproof Plexiglass window? How many times, really, do you think she has to deal with someone commenting on the weather ("Hot one today, huh?") or the price of gasoline ("It's highway robbery - get it???") or how pretty they find her ("Looking gooooooooood today!") while the rest of us shuffle about in line behind them, eyes rolling, wondering why they just don't get it that they aren't going to get anywhere.

Or maybe the worst part is that at this time of the year, right around sunrise, the sun beams directly into her eyes, forcing her to wear sunglasses while she doles out change and fends off 1/2-ass Harry and his frustrated flirtation. I mean, really; you could perform an appendectomy in that booth at ten til seven this month, and still have plenty of light left over. It's that bright.

They don't offer squeegees there any more to clean off the windows; I guess they were tired of having them ripped off, right there in the shadow of the police precinct. Middle-aged guys riding mopeds and scooters - always a sign that they no longer have a license to drive a vehicle that requires one - stop in, people on their way to work who need ten gallons of hi-test and a pack of Kools run in, and I'm there a couple of times a week too, just because I like to see people in action.

Here's to you, nice gas-station lady, and I hope you have all nice days. I bet you have some stories to tell!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Wallaby damned

I love the scene from "Arthur" where Dudley Moore is telling Liza Minnelli that he is all set to marry this woman whom his parents are forcing him to wed..or else he will lose 750 million semolians. He tells her, "I can't mention her name; that would be indiscreet. Susan Johnson."

I can't mention the name of the steak 'n' burger chain involved here, but let's say they're not out front. So they must be Out back. They have great food and we like it there, but sometimes we just want to grab some carryout chow and dine in the regal splendor that our house lends to dignified pursuits such as watching Orioles baseball. Also, beer is much cheaper at home.

And they have a really good deal, too. When you've ordered your fodder, you drive over to the restaurant and park in a designated area, and a young woman comes running out and hands you a bag of food. I don't think there could be a more pleasant scenario in all the world. Oh sure, you have to pay her, but still.

The only rub is, when you call in the order, you have to listen to a guy doing a horrible way-over-the-top Australian accent. These guys just get a list of how-ta-say-it and go from there. Instead of saying "mate," just say "might." It's all vaguely jingoistic to me, I don't know. A little condescending. We have an Australian theme restaurant, so let's talk with a bogus Aussie accent. But you better pay in American bucks, buddy.

It strikes me that an Australian-themed place would have a natural term for when things are really hopping on a busy night.

And don't be thinking that I'll 'roo the day I made that joke. I am shameless.

And then after this bloke screams about what button to push for takeaway, all overmodulated and way too loud, then along comes the dulcet tones of Tim McGraw, threatening to make you go to Australia to hear him sing if you win a contest they're running. McGraw really hams it up too, and all you want to do is order some beef.

It seems to take longer than a Wimbledon tennis match before someone non-recorded actually speaks to you, and the sound of a nice warm human who isn't hollering at you is like honey for the ears. I don't know what happened to music on hold. You used to hear Walter Wanderley's "Summer Samba" every time you called an insurance office, newspaper circulation line or body-and-fender shop, but now you get hollered at by a heavily-accented guy you can't hardly understand, AND an Australian.

I hope I win the contest so we can go Down Under and hear McGraw sing "Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport." Or hear a kangaroo sing "Tim McGraw" while wearing McGraw cologne and eating a cheeseburger. Either way.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Then Came Bronson

Any mixtape or list of 80's hits invariably includes "Neutron Dance, " by the Pointer Sisters. It was a catchy, jumpy sort of tune, it went to #6 in Billboard in 1984, and it showed scenes from the Eddie Murphy picture Beverly Hills Cop intertwined with video of the Pointer Sisters parading around in movie usher-miniskirts. Great fun, and a really good movie. I'd recommend it! Two hearty thumbs up!

One of the co-stars was Bronson
Pinchot, as talented a performer as there could be in the category of playing a possibly-foreign, definitely-odd sort of foreign oddball. He would reprise the character of Serge, from this movie, in the tv show "Perfect Strangers," which I never once watched. Whereas Serge's gag line was "Don't be stupid," he turned it around neatly and had Balki say, "Don't be ridiculous." Subtly nuanced, yet funny either way.

And so I guess it is in the spirit of tribute to Mr Pinchot that I do one of the things I do. I mean, if Lynyrd Skynyrd and Led Zeppelin can have tribute bands, why can't Bronson have a tribute gagster? So what I like to do is go into a grocery store where I don't usually shop and walk up to someone who works there, and say, in a fey, vaguely European manner, "Pleazzze to tell, where are po-tay-to cheeeeeeps?" Palms upraised, eyebrows hoisted skyward, head slightly can picture that, right?

Sizing me up as European, the clerk will then figure I am also hearing-challenged (for the same reason that people holler to the visually-impaired) and bark back something like "AISLE SIX, SIR!"

And then I say, "OK dere, thanks a lot, buddy, y'hear?" And strut away giggling.

It's a small thing, but I do what I can.

TOMORROW: Is your refrigerator running?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

I Hades Hot Days

I'm up on my soapbox again, hoping for some sort of nice breeze up here, to decry the very need for summer. Just four short months ago, Heaven saw fit to send us not one, but two very nice-sized blizzards, and what we did do? We let all that wonderful snow - nature's air conditioner - melt away, like fools. Gone.

And for everyone (count me in) who said that at least the grass would stay nice and green this summer because of all the snow and rainwater that seeped in, look how wrong we can be!

I had to go out at lunch the other day, and stepping out of the building into the infernal midday heat was another good reminder why I am trying to lead some sort of good life, so as to avoid spending an eternity in a hot
climate. My eyebrows were at once singed by the unrelenting blast furnace known as the sun, which at this time of year in Baltimore is approximately 20 feet above the surface of the earth, and often scrapes buildings of more than three stories as we rotate. All around me, fellow noontime adventurers were falling to the street and were unable to get up, because their gabardine garments were sticking to the molten tar bubbling off the parking lot. From time to time, a low moan would escape someone's lips. Overheated cars were pulled off to the side of the road, spouting steam like Old Faithful as the few cars that were able to keep running whizzed by silently. To stop would mean getting stuck in the same bubbling road surface that had the fallen pedestrians looking like flies on a honeybun...unable to move, and tired of where they were. An enterprising vendor pedaled by on a pedicab, offering to hose down those still upright with either icy water or sun block for a dollar..not a bad deal, since those out in the sun for over five minutes were heading to the nearest Walgreens for Solarcaine.

I decided I didn't really need a cup of coffee that badly, so I dove back in to the air-conditioned office.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Hold the Schnitzel, Hold the Noodles

Magnets and flashlights and missing my last car
Sandwiches, photographs, not watching NASCAR
Lo mein and hearing Ms Taylor Swift sing,
These are a few of my favorite things.

Totebags and gladrags and lox on a bagel
pre-set phone buttons and Katherine Heigl
Blizzards with shovels and Dairy Queen kings
These are a few of my favorite things

Biting hot dogs
Hearing Elvis
Sleeping in til 5
I don't wanna seem like I'm all that self-ish,
But this makes me feel alive!

Rockports and red sox and khakis and polos
Wear them when Garrison Keillor sings solos,
Ringtones and rib bones and phones that don't sing
These are a few of my favorite dings.

Cold days and Old Bay and old cold Boh Ices
Bob Barker telling us what the Right Price Is
Loving my wife, with just one golden ring
Malls are a few of my favorite things.

Keychains, no champagne, a beer and some peanuts
Baseball with no rain and cheddar, no brie-nuts
Brown paper packages taped up,
no strings
Zese are a zew of my zavorite zings

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Difference Between Uniformed and Uninformed

Last night was Midsummer Eve, and according to medieval tradition, if you harvested fern seeds on that night and carried them with you, you would be invisible. Apparently, in those days, people thought that fern seeds were invisible. For all I know, they are, because I don't remember seeing any fern seeds around here. Maybe I left them in my other pants.

But I know who wishes he were invisible, and that's this General Stanley
McChrystal, the Army guy who is in so much trouble because he and his staff just couldn't stop criticizing the president and his top brass, even though there was a reporter from Rolling Stone magazine hanging around, gathering seeds and berries to whip up this article that really bakes McChrystal's poundcake.
President Obama read the article while flipping through the magazine looking for summer concert tour venues, and now he has called Stanley back the White House for a good old-fashioned gettin' fired.

Once again, it's the same old thing we've seen so many times. People just want to do their own thing, say what they feel like saying, express themselves no matter what the cost. And so Stan the Man got the heave-ho, and was forced to walk the plank, for his outspokenness. (I'm sure he would appreciate the Navy talk in that last sentence. Hey, maybe he could enlist in the Navy, now that it appears that his Army career is winding down like tired but chatty soldiers after a 50-mile hike.)

Now I was never in the service, but I have a feeling that the discipline might have been good for me. As it would have been for anyone! So what happened to this McChrystal? Wasn't he a general, for crying out loud? Where is his discipline? Why is his tongue a-flappin' so much? Isn't there a war he was supposed to be running? In World War II, did we see Eisenhower giving interviews to Ladies Home Journal about how he didn't like Franklin Roosevelt? What is he talking about in the article, his staff telling people that McC didn't feel engaged enough when he talked to the president for the first time? Is the president in office to make some general feel engaged? I mean, really?

I've had friends in all the armed services except for the Salvation Army. To a man or woman, they all said the same thing: the discipline that they mete out is singular in purpose. It takes away the individual and leaves the soldier/airman/sailor/whatever. And it makes sense. In a battle, or when something is wrong, there needs to be a person in charge and he or she needs to give orders and not have to explain or cajole. When an infantry captain tells his troops to throw a hand grenade into a certain location, he or she is doing so because that is part of the plan. To have a soldier say, "Hmmm. Is this what I feel like doing?" destroys all that and makes things fall apart.

Similarly, when you go to work, you may have all sorts of opinions about the people you work with, the customers you serve, and the bosses who tell you and the people you work with how to serve the customers. You may certainly express these opinions at home, where, heaven knows, they have heard it before but will listen again to how things would be if YOU
were only in charge. You can tell your friends about it, and you can write to your Uncle Ned in Oregon about it, and you can scream and moan the whole way to work and the whole way home. But you shouldn't tell a nationwide magazine about it, especially a magazine read by hundreds of aging hipsters dying to hear the latest about Keith Richards.

General McChrystal and his people are indiscreet, at least, and disrespectful, at worst. I have said it many times and will say it here again. We know that military people don't tend to like the president. But they owe him and his office the respect that a little bit of lip-buttoning and smart saluting would indicate. You think it's so easy trying to win a war when you have loose cannons rolling around on the battlefield?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Take a hint

I was talking to a lady the other day who has the daunting task of cooking for a family which includes two daughters who must live gluten-free. She said she often finds innovative ways to prepare tasty meals that involve no wheat, barley or rye. Always one to pick the brain of someone smarter than I (and they ain't too hard to find, I'll tell you that right now!), I asked her for a favorite recipe.

"I take an eggplant, slice it thin, long-ways, and use those slices instead of noodles to make lasagna," she said. Sounds great
to me. I skillfully probed the matter more deeply, as the conversation took a culinary turn. Turns out, you don't pre-cook the eggplant or anything, which is bound to be a real plus for anyone whose hands have ever made the plunge into a tub o' boiled water to pull out boiled lasagna noodles. Just layer sauce, cheese, whatever else 'twixt the eggplant slices and bake to a golden turn.

I enjoy reading those newspaper columns in which chefs give the little secrets of the trade: "Sauce too runny? Add some corn starch!" "For extra-crispy fried chicken, try using crumbled corn flakes as a breading" and "try a teaspoonful of honey instead of sugar in your iced tea for a refreshing summer lift" are examples I just made up.

But our local paper doesn't seem to carry the "Hints from Heloise" column, in which someone named Heloise would share, well, hints ("Put a couple of drops of lavender or peppermint essential oil on a cool light bulb to help repel bugs") and people would send in questions ("How can I get my canary to whistle "Yankee Doodle Dandy"?) or their own hints. That was always the part I liked. I used to imagine old Uncle Joe puttering around the house, asking Mildred where he could find a notepad, pencil, envelope and stamp, so that he could send in his hint. "Dear Heloise, It seems that every time I was on the phone I would need to write down a phone number or an address, so what I did, I started keeping a pad and a pencil in the drawer of the little table where the one phone in the hallway sits. (signed) Uncle Joe, Hooterville."

Good to know!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Double-D disappointment

If you're a regular in supermarkets, as I am (around here, the big chain grocery ads say "Dear Mark," in the upper left corner) then you get to see the tabloid ragmags that vie for space by the checkout counter with Dentyne gum, Zagnut bars and cigarette lighters.

The thing that gets me - and I know that in the big scheme o' things, this is not worth being gotten by - is the level of interest in this stuff. Even if you admit that people will always be interested in performers, actors, singers, comedians, that sort of thing...why is there an interest in non-performers?

As in, when I flip past Entertainment Weekly (as fast as I can!), why are they talking about the British royal family? What does that Opie-looking Prince William have to do with entertainment?

As I writing this last night, I checked to see what sort of stories they have planned for tonight's big show. Among them:

Joran van der Sloot: 'I Was Tricked' Into Murder Confession

Report: Prince Harry's Girlfriend Chelsy Davy to Move Out of London amid Breakup Rumors

and of course:
Jon & Kate Gosselin: Who Gets the Kids?

Now, we've talked about Kate Gosselin before. She and her hapless hubby have taken the country by its ears and shaken their way into our consciousness. Back when their show Jon + Kate + Eight = 10 was still on, people would ask me if I saw what they were up to the night before, and go on and on about what wonderful people they must be, to be willing to allow 27 cameras in their house to get video of everything that happened inside.

But these people are not entertainers! What do they do that holds the interest of so many? Lookie here a second: "Kate Gosselin Boob Job Shocker." There are people breaking their necks to buy this magazine to read about whether or not Kate Gosselin has fake frontage. And I aver that any job that has anything to do with KG is a boob job.

In Baltimore, people are talking about Jenna Bush Hager. She lives in south Baltimore. Her husband works for the electric company and you remember her father; he was president under Dick Cheney. But someone stole her bicycle and her husband's bicycle from the garage at their house! And it's on the news because...she is famous. She does reports on the Today show, and you wonder if she will cover this big caper. I'm not saying this should have happened, but it should have been foreseen. Downtown is a rough, tough district, and it's a good idea, if you own anything that is worth more than the price of a good lock, to attach that good lock to a good chain and hope it holds.

Meanwhile, back on TV, people are watching a woman who calls herself Snooki and a man who goes by the nickname of The Situation.

I don't know how much more I can stand.

Monday, June 21, 2010

A tailor-made swift kind of Love Story

It was a Thursday when June 21 rolled around in 1973.

Here we are, a scant 37 years later, and it's a Monday.

And not too much else has changed.

That was the fabled night in history when my friends, who had been planning a birthday party for one of our gang, decided that they were tired of seeing me with the women of lesser degree with whom I kept company in my wilder days, chronicled so faithfully in the hit movie "Animal House." So they said they would fix me up with a nice girl, a girl named Peggy.

I made my plans for the big night with the same sort of planning that Eisenhower employed for D-Day. I told the boys at the Bratwursthaus that if the fix-up-date was no good, I'd be there on my usual perch, and I told them that if ten o'clock got there and I hadn't, to forget me for that night and move on to our usual pursuits of guzzling draft beer and putting a fine cap on the night at the Bel-Loc Diner, without me for once.

As far as I know, at least some of the gang are still hanging around at the Brat, waiting to see how this date is going.

It's going very well. What happened was, I walked into her house with my buddy and his gf and took one look at Peggy's root-beer-barrel color eyes and long chestnut hair and slightly crooked grin and that was it for me. It was like that scene in the first Godfather movie..not the one where Abe Vigoda asks Michael if he would let him off the hook "for old times' sake," but the one where Michael goes to Italy and is struck by the thunderbolt of love when first he espies the lovely Appolonia.

I have told this story countless times, even more often than I have told the story about the one-legged British hitchhiker, and to this day I still see the furrowed brows of disbelievers when I say - and I would swear to this in any court of law or house of worship - that from the very first second I saw Peggy, I knew that she was the woman sent from above for me to love, cherish, honor, marry, and often obey. And who am I to gainsay Heaven?

But, with a remarkable ability that I have never had before or since to figure out how to do things in a suave manner, I decided to play it cool and not mention marriage in the first few minutes of our acquaintance. I mean, if the courthouse were still open, I would have gladly run over there that evening, but people tend to regard marriage proposals received from people they only met five minutes ago as bogus, so I held my ground.

The four of us chatted away the evening. '73 being the summer of the Watergate hearings, there was plenty to talk about. Later, I took Peggy out for a late snack at a little neighborhood joint called Dunkin' Donuts. Even then, there was no limit to how debonair I could be.

The next night was the birthday party and we went as a couple. I can't remember much about the party, because I must have spent the entire night in a lovestruck haze.

Saturday dawned and I had to go back to Salisbury, where I was working as a radio DJ - old school country, as it were. I drove back down to that chicken-pluckin' town on the Lower Eastern shore, still in the throes of love. Even hour of hour of "Little" Jimmy Dickens, Freddie Hart and the Heartbeats and Jack Greene and the Jolly Giants failed to take my mind off my beloved, who had never heard of any of those performers, 130 miles away.

Sunday, same thing. I believe I went swimming at the public lake in scenic DelMar, MD ("Where Delaware Meets Maryland") and then off to work til midnight. I do remember that after work I came home, had a burger and a beer, and tried to sleep, with no results. So, I called Peggy, for maybe the 27th time that weekend, but this one took place at 3 o'clock in the morning.

I asked her if she would marry me.

She said yes, she would, and I would I let her go back to sleep?

For the first time all weekend, I slept, all happy and in love. So, we met on June 21, and the proposal came in the wee hours of the 25th. We were married that December 8, in lavish ceremonies that came as a surprise to many, if not all, of the invited guests.

And from that day to this, I have never known a lonely night, and when I tell young couples that they shouldn't really rush into anything, I have to hold up the meaty palm of my right hand as sort of an asterisk and say, "But you know...sometimes, you know it's right...."

I love you, Peggy. Will you marry me again for the next 37 million years?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

H-Double O - L-I-G-A-N spells Hooligan

Remember in fifth grade, when the teacher went to the faculty lounge to Hoove two KOOLs in fifteen minutes to get away from a room full of fifth graders? And the time the new guy, just moved in from Jarrettsville, brought in a magazine with pictures of nekkid women and everything? And then the teacher came back in and wanted to know who left a copy of "Swank" back by the rabbit cage? And no one copped to it, the code of juvenile omertà being as it is?

So, everyone in the class got punished, the theory being that everyone was equally complicit in the coverup. So there was no recess that afternoon, and the new kid had to go home and explain to his older brother why his copy of "Swank" was missing. Everyone paid, in different ways.

Well, I think it's time that we, as a nation, took time to reflect on just what in tarnation is wrong with us as a nation. News story, please:

VIOLENT riots broke out in Los Angeles following the LA Lakers' championship-clinching win over the Boston Celtics in the NBA finals. The trouble began shortly after the Lakers claimed their 83-79 victory over their rivals last night at the Staples Centre in LA. LAPD officers clashed with crowds in streets surrounding the stadium, with rowdy fans smashing windows, starting fires and attacking passing motorists. At least one civilian was badly beaten and a police officer suffered a broken nose in street fights. A cyclist was also hit by a patrol car attending the crisis. Police fired non-lethal rounds to disperse mobs of troublemakers, as a cab was set alight and two newspaper stands ripped apart. In nearby restaurant La Bella Cucina, customers threw bottles, overturned tables and stole alcohol. Manager Christian La Bella said: "I think it's pretty sad, especially when customers turn on you so quickly. "They lost respect for themselves, they lost respect for the Lakers, and they lost respect for the restaurant. It's a shame for LA."

Calm was restored to the area by early morning following multiple injuries but no loss of life, police said. At least 12 people were arrested on suspicion of crimes including public drunkenness, vandalism and inciting a riot. The Lakers-Celtics rivalry is one of the most fabled in the NBA, with the two teams accounting for more than half of the 63 titles in NBA history prior to this season's finals.

Now, look at what Mr La Bella said above: people lost respect for themselves, for the Lakers, and for the restaurant. I can't state with certainty that the restaurant and/or the Lakers deserve respect, although the latter is a fine basketball team and the former must be a nice place, since its name translates to The Beautiful Kitchen. But even worse than people losing respect for themselves is the concept of losing respect for others.

Help me follow this logical path:
a) My favorite basketball team won the championship.
b) I get to run amuck through my town, breaking a cop's nose, setting fire to taxicabs, overturning cars and behaving like a true Hooligan.

We love to look at foreign countries and hear unbelievable stories about soccer stadia with moats engirdling the playing field to keep the fans from running onto the pitch (that's what they call the field). We hear about 10,000 Andy
Capps burning down the grandstand at Old Quimby, or whatever the stadium in England was that was Capp-sized.

And we tsk-tsk and tut-tut about these galoots.

And then the Los Angeles Lakers win a basketball game, the trophy held aloft by a player who several years back ran into the stands and opened a can of whupass on a heckler, and the City of Angeles goes all to hell.

And back here, whenever the University of Maryland basketball team defeats Duke University, it's time to call out the National Guard and cover the storefronts with plywood, because here come the drunks, all worked up because someone else won a game. Even though Duke is the law school which saw fit to award a diploma to Richard M. Nixon, there is still no excuse for this.

I could almost see it if the Laker players themselves were running around celebrating, but they just went home, it would seem, while the fans set fires, threw trash cans and acted in the manner of the Mongol Horde.

The entire country needs to go to its room for a weekend. No TV, and don't let me hear any noise up there, either. What is it with you kids, always causing such a racket?

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Too Bad, Eugene

"Under the trees in
the noontime I lie,
And we whisper together,
dear nature and I"

Eben Eugene Rexford, American Poet (1848 - 1916)

This little ditty was on my Old Farmer's Almanac calendar page the other day, and I could not agree less with the venerable Mr Rexford, who spent most of his life in the Green Bay, Wisconsin area, proving that they really do pack it deep and high up there.

For one thing, Rex, most of us are working at noontime five days a week, and going outside to lie beneath a tree would be frowned upon as soon as we came back to the office reeking of mulch and swatting away ants. That leaves the weekends, and if you think you're spending all day Saturday snoozing 'neath a cedar or a weeping willow, Mister, you'd better just think about that again real carefully. Sunday at noon, most of us are either getting out of church or getting out of going to church, and either way, we wouldn't be dressed for tree-lying.

See what you started?

And not to even mention how hot it is under a tree at this time of year, and if a thunderstorm is coming along, a tree is a very bad place underneath of which to be. Or not to be.

Now, if you want to whisper with nature, nature will answer you back in a thousand ways: a cloud will billow, a breeze will ruffle your shirt, a cricket will even tell you the temperature (count the number of chirps in 14 seconds, and then add 40 = the current temperature) but you just don't want to be disappointed if nature doesn't actually speak to you in English. Nature is Italian, so if she speaks back to you, you would need to speak the language of Dante and Michelangelo to know what was being said.

Or, just move to Green Bay, and look for the Eben Eugene Rexford statue near Brett Favre Park.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Idle Time

There's a little tableau that unfolds every morning in the parking garage at work. A car pulls up by the door that leads to the elevator that leads to where we work. A guy driver gets out, casually dressed, and comes around to the passenger side, where he opens the door for a lady who emerges, dressed for work. I think she is carrying her purse, a work tote, and maybe a lunch.

As the car idles, they talk, hug modestly, and exchange a little good-bye peck, and she walks on to the doorway as he heads out.

My take, and of course I'm only engaged in speculation here, as the syndicate attorneys like to claim, is that he is retired, she is still working and he enjoys taking her to work every day.

I suppose he comes back to get her in the afternoon, but I never see her except for the morning. For all I know, she has jogging gear in her tote, and runs home every night.

And I don't know how long they have been married. They are each a bit older than I, so there's a chance that they have been together for many decades.

Or, they could have each been widowed or divorced, and have only recently found each other, sinking new roots into a stony wasteland.

Or, they could have been lonely clouds for all these years and found love in the early autumn of their lives.

Or, it might not be any of my beeswax. That, we know for sure. But it's fun to wonder, and no matter where they have been for the years before this one, for now, they have love and tenderness, expressed in a tender morning scene as others park their cars and listen to the last few notes of Isaac Hayes's version of "By The Time I Get to Phoenix." (That would be I.)

You never know. I was talking to a friend who was a security guard at a hospital, and he told me there is a certain look that he saw on people who were walking out of the building, that look that told all who saw it that the bearers thereof had just received the worst possible news from a doctor, and were heading home to sweep up the pieces of the broken dish that their lives had just become.

And from the same building, he would see the happy smiles of people who had just found out that the procedure had worked or the cancer had gone into remission or that things were healing just as expected, and the worst that they had feared was not going to be.

And of course, the happy couples taking home a brand new member of the family. Nothing can beat the smile of new parents.

So, to the man and woman in the garage, I am the guy who scuttles past and looks the other way, so as to allow you all the privacy you need in the time you share.

But if you look, you will see the beginnings of a happy smile on my face. Or maybe you can just sense it.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Huh! Look Who Tied the Knot!

I always enjoyed reading the wedding announcements in the local Baltimore County paper, the Jeffersonian, when I was a lad. First, they had a small column listing all the wedding licenses issued by the county in the past week, but all you got there was something like: SMITH, John A, 21, Towson - - - JONES, Mary E, 19, Towson. Of course it was always pointed out when some guy of 57 was marrying some 19-year-old, but we always attributed those things to spring fever, even in the middle of October. Then the big day would come and the happy couple would be toasted in the pages of the "Jeff" with a picture not much bigger than a baseball card, and below, the following: John A. Smith of Towson and Mary E. Jones were wed on November 20 at the First Church of All That's Good and Holy. Following a honeymoon trip to Trenton, New Jersey, the newlyweds are living in the Lutherville area. Boom. That was it. Nowadays, some papers give it this treatment:
White-winged doves took to the sky on Saturday to celebrate the unification in love and holy matrimony of John "Daddy Love" Smith and his long-time flame, Mary "Puddin' Pie" Jones. Mr Smith, an overnight lubricant operator for Mother Truckers, Inc, a Laurel-based transportation and delivery service, was attired in his full dress uniform of Doc Martin saddle-toe oxfords, blue Dickies trousers with matching chambray shirt, and his lucky Ravens cap. For the occasion, he chose a neck tattoo of Wile E. Coyote. A vintage Montgomery-Ward gown in shimmery pearl, with chiffon bodice and six-foot train, was the highlight of the trousseau of the new bride, who is self-employed as a regional phlebotomist. Her shoes were quite old, her peace-sign bandanna was new, she borrowed twenty dollars from her uncle, and for something blue, she reached into her 'special' drawer for a cerulean bustier purchased in Tijuana on a pre-honeymoon visit. The ceremony was performed by Officiant Moonchild Harmony, a representative of a local faith. Music for the wedding was provided by Leonard Skinner, a one-man Lynyrd Skynyrd tribute band. The new couple send big love to family and friends back home.

I say, the less we know...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

I think it's best to have two ears

Not for me the heat and humidity, but there are two good things that come out in summer (and let's face it; even though it's almost still a week away, it's summertime when people start looking as wilted as Sarah Palin during one of those interviews when some smarty-pants reporter is askin' about who is her favorite Victorian poet and everything).

Those two things are corn and tomatoes. Fresh.

Back in the days of my bucolic boyhood, our house backed up to a 150-acre farm. Against all that makes sense, someone decided to turn it into a development and so they built 150 houses, and there went the really fresh corn and tomatoes that we used to enjoy. I can still hear Mama, ringing the old brass bell to call me in from my lollygaggin' and ballplayin', saying,"Son! Put down that baseball bat, put out that Marlboro, run on down the back 40 and fetch us a dozen ear o' corn and some nice plump 'maters!"

Actually, that quotation was somewhat stylized to make it more quaint. My real mother - and she's still with us, her base of operation having moved to a senior high rise several years ago - would no more use the term "fetch" than she would overhaul the transmission in her car. But you get the image, of a young man tanned from hours of indolence in the broiling sun, running around the fields in search of produce. Then on Sunday, right after meetin', we would stop off at the farmer's stand and settle up for a week's worth of chow.

And if you meet my Mom, you'll know why she was never called "Mama." She much preferred her standard nickname, "Mrs C."

Today, Mom calls Peggy and tells her what she needs from the store, and then Peggy texts me with the list and I stop at the Buy-Sum-More and run around the store to find everything. There is no bell involved, although I can change the ringtone on the cell phone to sound like an Old Fashioned Telephone, or Sir Mix-A-Lot performing that Big Butt Song. Of course, the Buy-Sum-More people want their money right away, so that saves me the return trip on Sunday to pay up.

We didn't know it at the time, but right after you slather your corn with pure creamery butter - and there is nothing better for your arteries than butter, widely regarded by Dr Nick Riviera as "nature's plaque remover" - the thing to do is turn that cob salmon-colored with Old Bay® seasoning, the seafood spice of the Gods. Folks around here discovered years ago that the best way to clean up around your crab-pickin' area is to wipe it down with a buttery ear of corn, so you get all that Old Bay® that otherwise would have been lost.

And then, you're gonna want a beer with that!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

You Never Sausage a Breakfast

I don't care what Ferris Bueller says. Abe Froman is not the Sausage King of Chicago, or any other town.

We lost the real Sausage King on Sunday night when Jimmy Dean died of natural causes at home in Virginia. He was 81, which means he had a long and, one would imagine, happy and prosperous life.

But before he gave the world the familiar ground-pork-and spices in silver and gold tubes, he gave us some good music.

And if you're one of my younger reader, you're saying,"whaaaaaa?"

This gets confusing. Let's go to colorcoding!
Lewis. Jerry Lee Lewis. James Dean. Jimmy Dean.

Mumbly actor.
Singer of hits such as "Big Bad John," I.O.U.," and
"The First Thing Ev'ry Morning (And the Last Thing Ev'ry Night)" AND actor AND the man who brought such luminaries as Roy Clark, Patsy Cline and Kermit the Frog to light. And then he went into the sausage business.

We make a lot of multitasking, and look at how many things Jimmy Ray Dean did in 81 years.

He didn't have advanced degrees in business or economics, but he did pretty well for himself.

And if you know a sage-ier treat than a slice of his best on an English muffin with an egg and some American cheese,
I wish you'd let me know what it is.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Private Benjamins

There's a lot of public discussion about privacy these days. Take movie $tar$ (and wouldn't you like to!) As young starving actors, working at Sizzler while waiting for their big break on CSI: Butte, Montana, they will do anything for publicity and attention, except bring you more salad dressing. They appear at supermarket openings, anti-nuclear power rallies, and premieres of movies they aren't in, but they figure that being photographed in the vicinity of Tara Reid's breasts will be good for them. They will pose for the "Who's Wearing What" foto-feature in the Enquirer, they will hope to be listed somewhere near the bullseye in that last-page thing in Entertainment Weekly, and they will be pose for the cover of Cigar Aficionado magazine, Dog Fancier magazine, or the ultimate: the new Cigar-Smoking Dog magazine. This is all good and natural; they are in show business and they need to be seen showing themselves off a little.

But then, a few movie$ down the line, and while they wait to be appointed as a $pecial Ambassador to the United Nations for The Prevention of Dipoxy, they need their privacy. Don't even LOOK at me, they explain. And don't try to take my picture! Jackie Kennedy, as much as I love her and her entire family, was The Inquiring Photographer for the Washington Post as a young woman, for the love of Pete, and then in later years she spent 1/2 her time running to court filing suits against people who took HER picture. And all 5' 9" of Sean Penn will be all up in your grill if you dare to pull out the Nikon and ask him to pose with Thelma and the kids at Marine World.

People who follow these things say that movie stars are bothered less in public than television stars, apparently because - this was in the pre-home video-era - we had to put on a pair of pants and drive to a theater to see Paul Newman, but we could just turn on the tv to see Don Knotts in our boxer shorts. And what he was doing in our boxer shorts, I'll never know.... So we felt much less circumspect about approaching Barney Fife for a grip 'n' grin than we did about Cool Hand Luke.

Funny thing, privacy. So many people walk around the mall with their junk on full prop-'em-up display, and then scream bloody murder if you ask for their work email address or something. They will send color video of themselves to America's Funniest Home Videos so that the entire nation - world - will see them drunkenly lurching into the Christmas tree, bellyflopping onto the grass next to the above-ground pool, and riding a bike off a pier. Where, then, the need for privacy, with our humiliations and twig-and-berries available on YouTube?

The next-to-last thing I have on my mind about privacy is people who take out a Facebook page, not under their real name of Amanda Sleepwith, but under the nom de net of Amanda Shedontloveyoulikeiloveyou Sleepwith. Interesting, and certainly a good way to hide from exes from Texas whose Lexus just tex'ed us.

And the last thing I have on my mind about privacy is private. See how easy that was?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sunday Rerun: The Little Different Drummer Boy

Every now and again I receive incontrovertible proof that I don't think like most other people. The continuing popularity of gluing oneself to a tv screen or metal bleacher seat in Talladega, Alabama, in order to watch other people drive automobiles, the willingness of so many to listen to right-wing demagoguery on radio and tv, and America's continuing fascination with wine snobbery ("One wine is softer, subtler and more approachable, and the other is tight and lean with concentrated fruit character and oak to age" is something I just copied and pasted from a wine review site, and I beg you to remember they are talking about fermented grape juice here!) ("approachable," for crying out loud!) are all mysteries to me, yet I'm in a tiny minority here. It's ok. I just need to remember to be a little subtle and not reveal my incongruence with most of the world. Maybe I am the only one in the neighborhood who worries about the efficacy of an eyeglass operation in the shopping center up at the corner - the sign says "Professonal Vision" and I worry about how good they can be with one "i" missing.

Take the other day, for instance. I was nuking my lunch in the staff break room - a truly delicious Lite Gourmet Salmon Mediterranean - and Family Feud was blaring out of the tv. "Name something that people are always running out of during a party!" cried the host,
who used to be Mr Peterman on Seinfeld and before that was Dr Grainger on Young & Restless. Now he's a quizmaster, and he asked a good question. Others in the kitchen hollered out their answers ("Beer!" "Ice!" "Plastic cups!") and then when I gave my answer, I got the slightly-raised eyebrow, head tilted askance glance because my response to what people are always running out of at a party is "The back door." It was pointed out to me that perhaps I attend the wrong kind of party.

As previously noted, I wear red sox every day and I love to wear stocking caps in cold weather. Would I be more properly attired in dark sox? Why would anyone be looking at my ankles? And the stocking cap keeps my ears warm. A fedora will not do that, since all it does for your ears is keep them in the shade. But Justin Timberlake struts around in a fedora and everyone is breaking their neck to get one atop their head. At least it's not a beret, which covers nothing but the crown of the melon, doesn't shade your eyes or even warm your ears, but Frenchmen, beatnik artists and soldiers wear them all the time.

As long as I'm doing a cheapo version of GQ here, attention young men who wear their pants down around their kneecaps: this is not an original look. Say hi to Grand Ole Opry legend David "Stringbean" Akeman:

Now, out of all the young men who dress like that, how many of them do you think would enjoy String's blend of good old mountain music? I like it, although he's been gone since 1973, but when I try to tell young guys about The Bean, they give me that same look I got in the lunchroom.

Now I'm wondering if the name of the guy above who supports car #3 in its efforts to encircle a track 500 times is "Harry Bachman." These are the things I keep in mind.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Soccer Bleu

Speaking of Soccer: There are a great many things that lots of people love and others, well, don't. Everyone has their list, and that smorgasbord quality is one thing that I really love about life as we live it. So my friends Fran and Dr V are avid soccer fans. And I use soccer as a metaphor for traffic on Joppa Rd, the main east-west thoroughfare in our zip code. Right around Spring Av (Google Joppa Rd & Spring Av 21234, and the chances are great that you'll see a police car in the picture) traffic slows down in Pavlovian response to the speed enforcement areas set up. It is a residential area, but the fact that the road is 5 lanes wide at that point tends to make some drivers confused and think they are in Indianapolis. The dearth of Peyton Manning jerseys ought to be a tipoff there. Or maybe they think it's next August, and they are on the qualifying lap of the Baltimore Gran Prix, where cars will race in the streets, and we expect throngs of people who like to stand on sidewalks to come to our town and do just that.

Here's where the soccer allusion comes in. Morning, noon and night, motorists who are wise to the ways of the local gendarmerie slow down to the speed limit as they pass through this section. But inevitably, just as there is always one joker at an REO Speedwagon reunion tour concert who hollers "FREE BIRD!," there is always some unaware person from out of town who breaks out of the pack and zooms along at 45 mph - or more! - only to drive right into the awaiting arms of radar. This is what reminds me of soccer, especially as played by the youth of our nation...the game resembles an eddying mob or an amoeba, expanding and undulating and breathing and moving en masse up and down the field, until suddenly the ball squirts out and there's a shot on goal.

That unsuspecting driver, operator of a Green Hyundai, is that ball suddenly zooming out ahead of the surging mob.

The police officer is the goalie, and you can bet that very little gets past him or her.

Speaking of police: no one in full control of their faculties thinks it was right or justified or proper for an off-duty cop downtown to shoot a guy outside a nightclub at 2:30 in the morning. This fracas started when the victim, a Marine veteran, may or may not have touched or groped the buttocks of the cop's date, a situation that, whatever really happened, led to words of anger, and bullets being fired, and so on down the road we go...again and again and again.

And when I tell you nothing good happens after midnight, especially outside of one's own home, it's because it's true. This country, in my humble opinion, needs direction and purpose, and maybe it's time to keep our
guns in our holsters and our hands to ourselves and our tempers in check and our eyes on the prize. There are people and problems and hunger and illness and the Gulf of Mexico is filling up with crude oil while we argue and bother and fight with and shoot at each other.

I just thought it needed to be said.

Friday, June 11, 2010


You know that malady known as Seasonal Affective Disorder, where, when the days get short and dark and dreary in December, some people have to run around with special heat lamps and appliances to make them think it's August?

Do you think there's a name for when you have it in reverse? As in, when it's cold, and rain is spitting in your eye, and the visibility is about nil and you have a chill and people are diving into diners to get soup and hot coffee...and that's the weather I love! And where is the special "Cold lamp" for me to use in August? Sure, I can take a cold, clammy shower and then hang around the garage for the darkness, but it's not quite the same as a REAL December day!

I never did care for too much sun; I don't tan easily any more. When I was a little tacker I would be wizened from the sun by mid-May and be a nice tan color all summer long. Today, if I'm out there for more time than it takes to walk down to the mailbox, I'm seared and blistered for weeks, all itchy and scratchy.

And the sun bothered my eyes before I had the cataract surgery. It doesn't bug me so much any more, but they gave me a perfectly good pair of Elvis-style big eye sunglasses, so I wear them.

I am a supporter of the underdog. I still either watch or listen to most of the Orioles games. Why not? They're my team, and just because they are not such a good team, there's no need to kick them down.

If there's a Burger Chef right next to McDonald's, I'm up for a Big Chef to go (if this were 1974.)

I rush past Tom Clancy books to read Tom Wolfe, I've never given up beer in favor of classy wines, and I watch as many shows on the CW network as I can, just to avoid the crowds.

So the other day during my physical, when I told the doctor that I have reverse-SAD...he furrowed his brow and made a notation on my chart. And that's like a Permanent Record Card!

You don't think that meant anything, do you?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Lowden Proud

What a shock to see that former television news anchor Sue Lowden lost the Republican primary election in Nevada. Once a heavy favorite to unseat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Ms Lowden instead had the chair pulled out from under her when she made some foolish statements along the campaign trail about how people used to barter chickens for medical treatments and how when she gave Sen. Reid $1000 in a campaign contribution some years ago, it wasn't because she supported him or anything!

So she lost the primary, and won't be moving to DC (unless it's to crash parties), but here, for posterity, is the quote that will live in infamy:

“You know, before we all started having health care, in the olden days our grandparents, they would bring a chicken to the doctor, they would say I’ll paint your house. I mean, that’s the old days of what people would do to get health care with your doctors. Doctors are very sympathetic people. I’m not backing down from that system.”

My co-pay, just to see my doctor, is $15. It's $20 for a specialist.

So, let's say I have a bona fide case of Louisiana Lightning, and they send me to a specialist, such as Dr Willie Stasick, Dr Pepper, or the noted Russian urologist, Dr Cutchanoodleoff. For $19.99, the doctor and his entire staff can have lunch
on me! Popeye's has a great coupon online: Buy one 11-piece mess o'chicken, and get 11 more tickets to heaven FREE!

The other day, during my annual physical, as the doctor's staff gazed in rapt amusement, seeing the EKG needles flying around like a Southern California seismology printout, we took time out from shuffling through the reams of reports sent in by neurologists, spine surgeons and nerve-block specialists to have a go at the paint
chip samples. I figure, if I have to paint his house to pay for my visit, I'd better get going soon!

Crazy thing: that's my doctor's name: Dr Chip Samples. What a nutty and colorful world. Thanks vermillion for being in it with me. I'll be cyan you later.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Take a powder

This was as predictable as Liz Cheney, daughter of the erstwhile vice president, claiming that there was no cronyism, no favoritism, no nepotism in the Cheney/Bush White House, while not explaining how she got her current job as a spokesperson for her silent father.

Bath and Body Works has introduced a line of toiletries for men.

Now, maybe I was foolish not to bury that lead a little deeper in the story, because I just heard a giant whoooooooshing sound as dozens of my faithful reader run out to their nearest mall to load up on Noir, Citron, Oak or Ocean - scented products.

Noir, as in Drakkar Noir, which I guess is a Dutch term meaning smell that enters a room before its wearer.

Citron, as in citrus, because men love smelling like grapefruit.

Oak, as in wood. No further elaboration required.

Ocean, because we love the sea breeze, the sand 'tween our toes, the sharp squawk of gull and tern, the salty fragrance of Thrasher's Fries.

I know just why B & BW has decided to take this bold marketing venture, selling stuff for men. It's because of all the men such as I who fecklessly stand by, holding both a basket and a conversation, as their wives stock up on stuff with names like Warm Vanilla Sugar, Misty Moonlight and Violet Tuberose.

Who knew that roses came in tubes?

Maybe there will be guys who buy this stuff. More likely, it will be women buying it for guys, justifying the purchase by saying, "But honey, you deserve the very best!" which is an American idiomatic expression meaning, "So while I was in there buying this for you, I also bought...."

Listen, Peggy buys their stuff all the time, and what's it to me? She is beautiful and if buying expensive goo, creams and powders makes her feel special, there is no one alive who better deserves to feel that way.

I, on the other hand, am a Dollar Tree guy. My shampoo is whatever bar of soap I just used to lather up the old face here. I just keep going north, and then head south down the back way. Deodorant, shaving cream, antiseptic, styptic pencil for shaving nicks, talcum powder so I can walk that way*: all come from the Tree, where the low-name product meets the no-name product. The Tree will either have some brand name you never heard of, or they will have a ton of some new stuff that a company made, but no one bought it at the regular high price, so they dump it off at DT for a single.

Which is why, come to think of it, I very well may be purchasing Bath and Body Works For Men stuff. As soon as Dollar Tree can get it on their shelves!
* Guy walks into a drugstore and says, "Pardon me, ma'am; can you show me where is the talcum powder?"
Lady says,"Certainly, sir. Walk this way."
Guy says, "If I could walk that way, I wouldn't need the talcum powder."

Listen, your grandfather thought it was funny too!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

D-Day + 66 Years

Sunday was the anniversary of the D-Day invasion. June 6, 1944, when 24,000 American, British, Canadian and French troops stormed across the English channel to land on the sandy beaches at Normandy, France, and begin the defeat of the German army. This was one vital aspect of winning World War II.

The name D-Day has been lost in the sandy beaches of time. People now use the term to refer to a day of impending doom: report card day, the day the boss calls everyone in to discuss some changes in the corporate lineup, the arrival of a letter from the IRS. "Daniel Simpson Day...has no grade point average. All courses incomplete" was funny in Animal House, where the character played by Bruce McGill was known by the collegiate nickname "D. Day." (Later, McGill played Sheriff Farley in "My Cousin Vinny," thereby rounding out the coveted double-play award for being in two of my favorite movies.) But I heard nothing about any D-Day commemorations taking place around town. It took place 66 years ago, so a young soldier or sailor who was 20 then would be 86 now, so every year as June 6 rolls by, we will see fewer and fewer participants, and fewer and fewer memories being shared. Just for the sake of history, here is the text of the remarks that General Dwight D. Eisenhower made to the troops on the eve of the invasion:

Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force!

You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have
striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The
hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you.
In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on
other Fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war
machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of
Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.

Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well
equipped and battle hardened. He will fight savagely.

But this is the year 1944! Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of
1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats,
in open battle, man-to-man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their
strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our Home
Fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions
of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men.
The tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to

I have full confidence in your courage and devotion to duty and skill in
battle. We will accept nothing less than full Victory!

Good luck! And let us beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great
and noble undertaking.

SIGNED: Dwight D. Eisenhower

Now, try to picture yourself as a young person in that war, across the ocean,
knowing that the next morning, it was quite possible that you would be
wounded or killed in defense of freedom. This involved, for many of those men,
jumping out of a landing craft in the ocean surf while people ashore and overhead
shot at you. Keep this picture in mind when you think
that your day today is gonna really bite.

I try to remember that every day.

Monday, June 7, 2010

The thief of Bad Gags II

Will you be in a relationship next month?
Next month, next year, next century. Love forever changes, but true love lives on and on.

Do you have feelings for anyone?
Of course and so I married her.

Name something great that happened today:
Someone we know and love is being cared for properly at long last.

What are you looking forward to in the next few months?
Fall, football, fixing my back, "Life Unexpected" coming back in the fall.

What is it you truly want right now?
For this nation to heal this horrible oozing sore upon the Gulf, trust less in fail-safe technology, and more in the abiding Spirit.

Do you like more than one person?
Of course. How can you only like one person? That would be like only voting for one political party! Hey, wait a minute...

Do you own a computer?
Contrary to popular belief, I was not around at the dawn of television (but I was there before it got real bright!) And they tell of the first people on the block to get a TV, and all the neighbors showing up to watch "Your Show of Shows," which was to comedy as licorice is to candy. But they flocked to the tiny box and watched Sid Caesar. I was around when people first got computers, although I was not one of the first.

How many showers do you take on average a day?
Summertime it can be two, or three if I grilled dinner.

Do you eat the crust when you eat sandwiches?
I always considered it a rather effect move to have the crusts cut off of a sandwich....almost as bad as removing the slices of olives from olive loaf with a paper punch.

What do you order when you go to the ice cream stand?
What I would LIKE to order would be a double-dipper Haagen-Dazs Vanilla Fudge Brownie. Unless I've been notified that I have less than a day to live, I'm more wise to pass by the ice cream stand.

Have you ever had DippinDots ice cream?
Oh listen, I knew Dot before she started dippin'.

How many different malls have you been to?
Would it really do any of us any good for me to count them? I've been to plenty. I was there when they built Golden Ring Mall and I watched 'em blow it up 37 years later.

Do you think once a cheater, always a cheater?
Well, not necessarily. The great sage Bo Diddley reminds us that "You Can't Judge a Book by Looking at its Cover," but if a candy bar wrapper says "nuts" on the outside, you can look for them nestled in among the chocolate. Maybe some cheaters can redeem themselves, but it would take a lot of years.

What do you honestly think of the last person who texted you?
One of the finest police in all of Baltimore County. Most assuredly, the smartest.

When was the last time you watched the Disney movie "The Lion King"?
Never saw it, never want to. I am not a Disney person. I know, I know, blasphemy!

Do you actually still watch American Idol?
Yes, but if next year sucks like this year did, then it's AMF, AI!

Does your cell phone have a key bored?
Yes. I tried to find a hobby or interest for that key so it wouldn't be so bored, but no luck so far.

Have you ever dyed you hair a unnatural color?
Nature is my colorist, and so far, all of my various hair colors (blond, brown, gray) have been quite natural.

The smell of honey makes you want to puke?
Is this a question or a statement? I like honey, by the by. If you find that your jar of spaghetti sauce is a little tangy, a tsp of honey will smooth it right out!

Spell your name backwards. Can you pronounce it out loud?
KRAM it!

Describe Britney Spears in 3 words.
Perfect heavenly angel.

Name one person on your mind right now? and your relation?
Peggy! She's my wife, but if you've known me for more than 13 seconds, you know that.

When you woke up this morning, the 1st thing you said was..?
Where is the remote?

So, what if you married the last person you kissed?
I already did, in a 1973 ceremony best described as lyrical and touching.

What was the last thing you hid?
I got a check for a retroactive raise and I cashed it in and hid the bucks for a rainy day.

Have you ever had a really big fight with a best friend?
Yes but I was sorry. Again, to quote from a great sage of our time, Mr Buddy Hackett: "While you're holding grudges, they're out dancing!"

If you could spend more time with someone you used to be very close with, who?
My grandfather. Just to give you an idea, when they make the movie of my life, his part will be played by Edward G. Robinson.

When will your next kiss be?
As soon as Peggy wakes up.

Where was your default picture taken at?
Bertucci's. Last winter, out with Tatum, Joshua and Kaiden, having a wonderful time and enjoying the thrill of awaiting a blizzard which sure enough arrived the next morning!

Did you ever like someone you know you shouldn't have?
See "Describe Britney Spears in three words."

Who was the last guy you had a conversation with?
Officer Doran, via text.

Do you plan on moving out within the next year?
What, have you heard something?

Last person you told a secret to?

What was the last thing to make you mad?
Someone we love was beaten.

What are you listening to at the moment?
Ernest Tubb, "A Month of Sundays."

What were you doing at 8:00 this morning?

Do you like to have long hair or short hair?
Just call me Coach Buzzcut!

What color shirt are you wearing?
Heather Grey. Oh, but she was great in "Two Arms to Hold Forever."

What are you doing tonight?
Wanna take Peggy someplace nice, which in our parlance means "Anywhere but Ollie's Bargain Outlet." Fran told me about an Amish scratch 'n' dent grocery store, but they close at sundown.

Can you leave the house without makeup?
I have to have a little blush, so I do something embarrassing.

What do you want?
Peace! When do we want it? Now!

Who knows a dark secret or two about you?
I am the biggest open book you ever saw. There are no secrets. People I don't even know know me.

Do you like Batman?
I like him as Mayor Adam West.

When was the last time you saw someone attractive?
When I woke the computer up.

What do you always take with you?
My perky self-confidence, my slightly askance views on the world, and my persistent faith in Man's better nature. And a cell phone and a bandanna and my wallet and change and keys and remotes and Leatherman® tools.

Is there someone you will never forget?
How can I remember the face I can't forget?

What was the first thing you did when you woke up?
Took the first train to Tinkletown.

How are you right now?

Do you currently have a hickey?
I have several doohickeys, three gimcracks and a whatsis.

Are you gonna get high later?
Duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuude! Noooooooooooo!

If someone liked you right now, would you want them to tell you?
Anyone can tell me anything.

What are you tired of?
Back trouble.

Who was the first person you talked to today?

How late did you stay up last night?
Almost midnight, so I slept til 5:30.

Have you ever been called heartless?
I would hate to think so. Not that I know of. Jeesh!

Is there anybody you just wish would fall off the planet?
Oh yeah and they know who they are!

Is there something right now that has you worried?
I try to let go and Let God.

How old were you when you got your first piercing?
Six, but it was a piercing giggle.

What did you do yesterday?
Work, dropped off a gift, went to Credit Union ( a highlight of any day - I love the people there!), dinner with Peggy, Dave Trembley got a can tied to him, Orioles lost.

What was the last bad news you heard?
Friend in hospital.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Thief of Bad Gags

- - Thank you, Lauren, for letting me rip off another quiz!

Is it ever too late to apologize? Why or why not?

Absolutely not. It's good for the soul, and one size fits all.

Do mistakes only harm your life? Or do they actually help? Why?
The only mistakes to regret were actions done out of malice. Honest efforts that fall short are still honest efforts.

Do you believe it is possible for someone to lose themselves?
Yes, and it's dangerous in certain sections of the city.

Honestly, does your mind focus on the past, present, or future?
I dwell in the past more than I ought to. It's because I don't know anything about the future, and I can't believe what's happening in the present.

When you say you don't really care, do you mean it?
I don't really care to answer this.

Is there anyone you can say you honestly hate?
"Hate" is a very strong word. "Like to see them boxed up, covered with syrup and dropped off on an anthill" is so much nicer.

Name a moment you felt you couldn't go on with your life.
Never had one and I don't think I will until the day when the Great Umpire calls me out at the plate. So to speak.

Have you ever felt you've fallen in depression?
Only when reading about the Great Depression.

All men are the same, all women are the same. Agree or disagree, why?
All generalities are ridiculous.

Honestly, have you ever purposely taken something or someone for granted?
I always took the leader of the Union Army for Grant.

Would you rather have a true best friend or a boyfriend/husband, why?
I've got them both all in one sweet person!

Would you date someone who had different religious beliefs than you?
People who spend a lot of time around me soon become deeply fervent in their prayers.

Honestly, have you built up your walls from the world yet?
I spend my life knocking down walls.

Your past experiences, did they just hurt you or help you?
"What's past is prologue" - William Shakespeare

Is there anyone you can say really understands you?
Just Peggy. Everyone else is stymied.

Before you love anyone else, love yourself. Agree or disagree?
It's The Greatest Love of All!

Do you believe everyone eventually ends up harming you?
Absolutely not!

Do you always talk your mind or keep your words inside?
I always erase any doubt that anyone anywhere wonders how I feel about anything.

Quick, randomly tell me a quote!
"Don't go away mad, just go away"

Do you think it's possible to be 'different'?
You're asking ME this?

Have you ever walked in the rain while crying?
Yes, but I let a smile be my umbrella.

What has you feeling the way you feel now?
I'm hungry; dinner was 12 hours ago.

Are you a believer in karma?
People who don't believe in karma now will later wish that they had.

Is there anything you want to say to someone? Or has it all been said?
Yes. You know the popular expression, "You do the math!" (denoting that something adds up, with just a moment of reflection)? I want to start saying, "You do the English!" I'll let you know how that goes.

Tell me a promise you've promised to yourself:
Lose weight, get in shape.

Was the person you last texted single?

Do you get jealous easily?
Oh no. I would hate to think so. I think jealousy is the worst form of human emotion, even worse than that Jesse James.

Who were the last people you saw besides from family?
My work family.

Which of your friends lives closest to you?
Sam and Nancy, right next door.

How do you feel about Diet Dr Pepper?
I'm glad he went on a diet, for his sake and for Mrs Pepper too.

Do you ever work out?
Used to. Wish I still could, but it's tough when no matter what you do the pain shoots down my back and leg.

Do you go to the tanning bed on a regular basis?
If God wanted me tan, he'd have named me George Hamilton.

Does your bedroom need cleaning?
It's neat as a pin at all times.

Flowers or chocolate?
Neither, really.

Pretty Woman or Sixteen Candles?
Hint: Long Duk Dong!

Sushi of choice?
Sushi Q!

Do you ever hang out with someone of the opposite sex?

Are you comfortable with your height?
Yeah, the view is great from up here.

Anything on your walls?
den walls: Oriole/Ravens memorabilia, old photos, shadow box.

What do you bite more, your tongue, lip, or cheek?
I tend to gnaw on my tongue while sleeping.

What is the last non-alcoholic beverage you had?
Iced tea

Do you have a box where you keep all your important things?
I think there are like 150 of them

Most memorable thing that's happened to you over the summer?
It hasn't even started yet. I'd say the merciless, relentless, searing heat, wilting even the strongest among us, is something I can't forget.

Are any of your friends taller than you?
No. At 6'5" I tower over most people. I know if you clean the top of your refrigerator.

Ever liked someone whose name started with a B?
Bea Benadaret, Bob Brady and the Con Chords, Bobb B. Soxx and the Blue Jeans, Bebe Neuwirth.

Have you ever been on a motorcycle?
Yes, back in the restless days.

Where was the last place you were when you got sick?
It's always at home. Hmmmmm.